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Monthly Archive for May, 2005

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Grokster Challenge Straight and True

Bethany Lobo offers challenge to my Grokster position. With her permission I post her challenge here and here will meet it or be vanquished.

In 2005, the international battle being waged between the recording industry and millions of peer-to-peer (“p2p”) file-sharers rages onwards. Increasingly desperate to regain customers who have halted their music purchases and reestablish the social illegitimacy of downloading music without compensation, the industry urges that legal action to halt online file-sharing is needed to ensure a market for socially beneficial musical works.
The situation in the United States reached a boiling point on March 29, 2005 in Washington, D.C., when the entertainment industry and two p2p networks appeared before the Supreme Court to plead their case. The former asked the Court to hold liable the p2p network providers that facilitated the widespread illegal dissemination of their copyrighted works. The p2p networks no less vigorously contended that to find for the industry would undermine a legal standard in reliance on which numerous widely-used technologies had developed, and would deprive society of the potential legal benefits of p2p networks before they could become widespread. As we wait for the authoritative word of the nine justices, we speculate how the battle should be resolved.
All involved agree that the continued creation of the musical works involved is desirable. It is certain that the music industry has sustained sales losses attributable in indeterminate part to online file-sharing: year-end physical record shipments for 2004 decreased twenty-one percent relative to 1999. On the other hand, society has benefited from creators’ ability to innovate both in cyberspace and real space; the ability to generate technologies for lawful uses should not be unduly abridged. We must seek an equitable solution that will balance these competing interests.
Lawrence Lessig posits a four-part modality which interacts to support or weaken each law or regulation: law, market, social norms, and architecture. The social norms pertaining to obtaining copyrighted music for free without permission radically altered after the debut of p2p networks. Beginning with college students, the idea that there was no worrisome harm in these Internet-facilitated copyright infringements spread quickly to the general population, which adopted the innocuous term “file-sharing” to describe the activity. This norms-based shift is in significant part responsible for the overwhelming popularity of p2p networks.
How should the law, market, and system architecture pertaining at this intersection of the Internet and copyright law adapt to compensate?

I argue that the law does not currently provide the music industry a viable legal remedy for the infringing file-sharing in which millions participate, but that an adaptation of the law coupled with an industry shift in the market offerings will remedy this. Because this change in law is best made by Congress, and the recording industry controls its market offerings, this paper advocates that the Grokster Supreme Court should affirm the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation of Sony.

Hi Bethany, Your introduction is solid. Your selectors are locked. We are engaged. May I have your permission to post your introduction on my blog.

Cyber School

Date: Wed, 4 May 2005
From: “Marvin G. Hall”
To: Charles Nesson
Subject: Re: Cyber School

Here’s the picture Charlie.
By the way…..l am looking for individuals or organizations to
sponsor 200 inner-city kids to attend Halls of Learning’s Digi-School,
July 4-29, 2005. This year it will cost USD 200 per child per week
inclusive of tuition, transportation and meals. Children can pursue
courses being held at UWI’s computer labs in:

1. Robotics (1 week)
2. Digital Music (1 week)
3. Video Game Programming (2 weeks)
4. 3-D Animation (2 weeks)

Would be interested or do you know of anyone who might be?
We are trying to change the course of lives……for the young man who
would have taken up a gun in July, we want to replace that with a
digital tool or for the young lady who would have lost her virginity
in July and become pregnant by September, we make her create a 3D
animation instead.

Nuff respect,

Jamaica Reprise

I went to Jamaica in 1998 to see if cyber understanding could help a developing nation. This expressed the Berkman Center aspiration that cyber should benefit poor peoples as well as big corporations. We did not go to Jamaica with a specific project in mind, thinking it unwise to come in with a program from outside. Our goal was (and has continued to be) to amplify an indigenous Jamaican program. We were pointed to a rehabilitation program that had taken root in Kingston’s prisons. The hope for our involvement was that we could help change the culture of the correctional system to turn its focus from punishment to rehabilitation and re-entry, and by doing so, help attack the problem of crime. Our mode of doing this is by teaching digital skills, by creating a digitally facilitated communication space in which work can be featured and issues discussed, by stimulating and moderating discussions among adversaries designed to bring them together, and by doing research and evaluation studies of the process of justice. It is on this last that I am particularly seeking collaboration.

On March 31, 2005, an attempted escape fromthe General Penitentiary in Kingston by an inmate, perhaps by a group of inmates, sparked the deaths of a guard and the deaths of three inmates, with many more beaten. This event has focused attention in Jamaica from all quarters on the need for aggressive implementation of our program of rehabilitation and skill training by both inmates and warders, and program for constructive re-entry by inmates back to civil society when they have completed their period of incarceration.

The Commissioner of Corrections, Major Richard Reese, is a man of vision and extraordinary managerial skill. He is determined to bring about constructive change. He has partnered with Kevin Wallen, the leader of the S=SET program of computer labs and digital skill training. The three of us together are establishing a cyber school. We offer training to both inmates and staff. Richard Reese is our principle, Kevin Wallen our head tutor. We have a curriculum so far of introduction to programming through robotics; music-making, and audio-visual editing; story telling and recording workshops, and finding new roles by exploring alternative scenarios of situational ethics.

We are building a financial base to support the program (1) by running benefit music concerts in Kingston on the first Sunday of each month, proceeds going to the SSET program, and (2) the Harvard Alumni School Assn of Jamaica will host an executive education program titled “Cyberspace and Business” as a benefit to raise corporate support for the program.

We have the attention and participation of the UN Development Program in Jamaica. I believe that our approach to the problem of crime and corrections has merit and is generalizable to other places.

We have the opportunity not only to help Jamaica address its deepest problem, but also to demonstrate new ways of using technology to help a poor country.