Help CC Fisk Sun’s DReaM

Is it possible to design non-defective DRM? – Creative Commons

If not and admittedly, we suspect this is the case, all the more reason to hasten the abandonment of DRM and the hindrance it poses to innovation, and to embrace technologies that make content more useful and empower users.

CC are cool, and they’ve handled this very diplomatically.

DRM is defective by design. You can have Fair Use, or you can have DRM.

Rather than shunning Sun’s snake oil let’s take this as an opportunity to show, once and for all, that DRM is legally, technologically and probably mathematically incompatible with the Fair Use that has driven demand for Sun’s servers during the Internet era.

Please forward CC’s post as broadly as possible and get every DRM and Fair Use expert you can contact aware of this.

Why I Didn’t Like American McGee’s Alice

Scene: A restaurant, interior, night.

A man sits at a table, holding a menu.

A waiter approaches.

Man: Ah, waiter. I’m ready to order. I’ll have the pate for starter, steak (rare, please) and fries with a side salad for main course, and the creme brulee for pudding. Can you recommend something to go with that?

Waiter: Certainly, sir. If I might recommend the zinfandel this evening?

Man: Yes I think I shall have a glass of that. Thank you, waiter.

The waiter walks off.

The man gazes off into the distance as he waits for his starter.

After a few moments the waiter returns, pulling a ruminating cow behind him on a piece of rope.

Sound effect: Moo!

Waiter: Your steak sir.

Man: What?!

Waiter: Your steak, sir.

Man: What?!

The waiter holds up a chainsaw and pulls his goggles over his eyes. He pulls the starter cord on the chainsaw.

Sound effect: Chainsaw petrol engine revving up.

Man (shouting): Look I just want some steak, cooked rare, in its capacity as part of a satisfying meal of subtle and varied flavours!

Waiter (revving down chainsaw): But sir, you ordered steak.

Man: Yes, about twelve ounces of it, prepared in the kitchens, as part of the main course of a meal. With fries and a side salad. After a starter.

Waiter (stopping chainsaw): But sir, surely if you want steak, you want more steak than you can possibly eat, steak to eleven as it were? Forget the rest of the meal, forget the subtle richness of the experience, don’t you just want to go for the full-on core proposition of the meal qua meal, i.e. the hacked up dead cow?

Man: What?

Waiter: The full experience of everything that steak can possibly mean, an immersive sensurround of steak! The visceral experience of steak, the subtexts of steak desublimated and given full reign to finally realise what we all know steak to be, steak set free! Steeeeaaaaaakkkkk!

Man: What?

Waiter: You want a bloodbath of steak you tart, don’t deny it!

Man: I bloody well do deny it.

Waiter (Pulling the starter on the chainsaw again): Ah, shut up you reactionary old square. You don’t have the first clue what you’re talking about. Steeeeaaaaaakkkkk! Steeeeaaaaaakkkkk!

Beyond Irony

– Primary Sources on Copyright 1450-1900

Copyright statement

You may copy and distribute the translations and commentaries in this resource, or parts of such translations and commentaries, in any medium, for non-commercial purposes as long as the authorship of the commentaries and translations is acknowledged, and you indicate the source as Bently & Kretschmer eds, Primary Sources on Copyright 1450-1900

You may not publish these documents for any commercial purposes, including charging a fee for providing access to these documents via a network. This licence does not affect your statutory rights of fair dealing.

Although the original documents in this database are in the public domain, we are unable to grant you the right to reproduce or duplicate some of these documents in so far as the images or scans are protected by copyright or we have only been able to reproduce them here by giving contractual undertakings. For the status of any particular images, please consult the information relating to copyright in the bibliographic records.

Does it not affect your fair dealing rights when your right of private copying for research is made conditional on obeying the demands of the nice people who are claiming copyright on material from before the Statute Of Anne?

NonCommercial Sharealike Is Not Copyleft

Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial (BY-NC-SA, NC-SA for short) is not copyleft.

This may seem counterintuitive. After all, ShareAlike is copyleft isn’t it? Well, no it isn’t.

Copyleft is, as its name implies, a reversal of copyright. It restores and protects the rights that copyright removes and makes alienable. The rights, not some rights.

ShareAlike takes a gift economy-style view of one of the effects of copyleft; the effect of quid pro quo. Copyleft has, as a side effect of its operation, the effect of requiring that people share their work in order to have access to other people’s work. They have to share, and everyone has to share and share alike. Hence the name of the ShareAlike module of CC’s licences.

But we can share and share our work alike without maintaining people’s rights. Linus’s argument that Tivo should be able to share their source without respecting people’s rights to actually be able to do anything with it illustrates this. For Linus, quid pro quo trumps people’s rights. Quite how he could have developed Linux if everyone else had respected his rights so little is a mystery for another time.

And we can use the legal mechanism that copyleft uses to protect people’s rights, reciprocal licencing, without using that mechanism to protect people’s rights. You could make a reciprocal EULA for a proprietary operating system that required you to charge anyone you give a copy to a hundred dollars and send ninety to the corporation that publishes that operating system. That would be reciprocal licensing, and you could share the software under the same terms your received it. So the corporation’s marketing department could easily argue that this is ShareAlike as well as reciprocal licensing. It is obvious that this is not copyleft. It has neither the intent nor the effects of copyleft. It would be very useful for marketing and political reasons for people who don’t actually want to respect the rights of others to be able to call this copyleft and gain kudos by association with actual copyleft, but very few people would be fooled.

All this said, ShareAlike has most of the practical effects of copyleft. So it is probably a reasonable substitute for copyleft at the moment. It is only when confusing copyleft with some of its effects leads people to ignore what copyleft actually does that it becomes a problem.

For example when people confuse reciprocal non-commerciality with copyleft.

NC-SA is not copyleft because the presence of NonCommercial restrictions breaks copyleft. It removes rights, and even in the terminlogy of ShareAlike it does not Share Alike with the originally licencing author. Arguing that NonCommercial ShareAlike restores some rights, that copyleft is just reciprocal licencing, or that you are still sharing the work does cannot make NC-SA seem any more like copyleft. NC removes enough of copyleft from SA to no longer qualify as copyleft.

Calling NC-SA copyleft is therefore a mistake. I am not saying that it is necessarily or always a malicious mistake. Far from it, it is a mistake that people seem to make from the best of intentions. But it is a mistake that people should avoid making and should explain when they come across others making it.

Ben: Line Drawing

I think that AARON’s basic line drawing algorithm is probably the one described in Harold Cohen’s essay “On Purpose”, or at least a descendant of it.

I’ve implemented a version of this algorithm to use for Ben. It needs tuning up but here’s an example:


Approved for Free Cultural Works – Creative Commons

Approved for Free Cultural Works – Creative Commons

We've just added the seal you see at right to Creative Commons licenses that qualify as Free Culture Licenses according to the Definition of Free Cultural Works ” Attribution and Attribution-ShareAlike. Public domain is not a license, but is an acceptable copyright status for free cultural works according to the Definition.

This is brilliant.

New R.E.M. Videos Under Free Software License

R.E.M. Releases New Videos Under Open Source License – ReadWriteWeb

R.E.M. today released 11 videos for the first song from their forthcoming album, all in MP4 format in HD and under an open source license. “Supernatural Serious,” is the first single from the bands next album, “Accelerate,” due to be released April 1st.

They’ve used a software licence, the Perl Artistic License Version 2, rather than a cultural works licence such as CC-BY. Which is a strange choice but it is a Free licence so woohoo!


After reading the excellent “Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming” by Peter Norvig, I’ve started on a toy re-implementation of Harold Cohen’s AARON. It’s based on AARON circa 1978, so it’s production-system and pixel based, but in Lisp rather than C. After some deliberation I’ve named it Ben, which follows AARON alphabetically, and is smaller.

Here’s a test of the current version:


This isn’t a replacement for draw-something, which is inspired by AARON but very different both in terms of how it’s programmed and the images it produces.


Scene: A bank boardroom somewhere in the North of England. Eight bored-looking old men are sat around an oval table.

A sharply-dressed young MBA walks in, opens his laptop, and connects it to the video projector currently throwing a silent re-enactment of Derek Jarman’s ‘Blue’ onto the wall. A powerpoint slide flickers into view.

MBA: Right guys, so what we’re looking at here is the increase in the bank’s monetarizably leveragible resourcary instances this year. This is an annuitized fiscalistic product, a complex of offset and re-contextualized future elements with contingencies virtualized and re-incorporated. Now if you remember, my incentivisatory package stipulates that I will get a million pounds for every 100% increase in profits, so five million pounds are being wired to my account as we speak.

Old Man 1: I didn’t understand a word of that, so it must be good.

Old Man 2: And of course we get bonuses based on this as well.

Old Man 3: Wonderful. So let’s see the projections for next year.

MBA: The what?

Old Man 3: The projections. For next year.

MBA: Oh I see. Nope, I don’t have any.

Old Man 4: You don’t have any idea how the business will increase next year?

MBA: Look, you said to me “grow the revenue streams this year” and I have. It’s a bit late to start worrying about what you are going to do next year now!

Old Man 5: What do you mean?

MBA: Well I’ve just lent seventy billion pounds worth of mortgages to idiots who couldn’t afford to repay them if they sold their kidneys to Gordon Ramsey! How else do you think I got the arrangement fees so high!

Old Man 6: Ohhhhh…

MBA: Next year. Pffff.

Old Man 7: So, young man, how did you get the money for these mortgages?

MBA: Oh I borrowed it. Don’t worry, it’s only short-term loans so it won’t show up on the books as a long-term commitment and depress the share price.

Old Man 8: And what happens when these short-term loans expire?

MBA: Well that doesn’t happen until next year. So it really isn’t part of my remit.

Old Man 3: So what you are telling us is that you have caused this bank to take on a hundred and forty billion dollars of short term loans in order to get the arrangement fees from selling mortgages to people who cannot possibly afford to repay them?

MBA: Absolutimondo.

Old Man 3: And you did this because you would get a bonus based on poorly chosen short-term indicators?

MBA: Booyakashan!

Old Man 3: Without any consideration that this might destroy not just this company but the wider economy?

MBA: Kapow!

Old Man 3: You do know you shouldn’t have done that…

MBA: Pfff. Based on which principle of microeconomics?

furtherfield review – Addressable Memory

furtherfield review – Addressable Memory

Michael Takeo Magruder is portraying this landscape of digital memory with its own tools, producing portraits of its inhabitants with its own palettes. In Addressable Memory the first draft of history is allegorized as a process of combining and quantizing disparate experience and telemetry. Of mashing-up and composing. The technology and aesthetics of mobile phones, Internet news feeds, video screens, computer image processing and virtual reality are all turned on themselves. At TheSpace4 in Peterborough this show takes up all three rooms. It will be touring the UK throughout 2008.

My latest review at Furtherfield.