Cory Doctorow lecture about freedom, surveillance and technology

Angry cat with a network cable criticizing the NSAI just listened to a Cory Doctorow lecture he gave at the Central European University in Budapest.

The lecture recounts the same themes and ideas he talked about in numerous other lectures and wrote about in his book “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free“. The difference about this lecture is that it was targeted at a somewhat less-technically oriented audience, and therefore includes basic high-level explanations as to why there are no such things as “golden keys” to cryptography.

I recommend sharing this with less technically inclined friends and family who care about freedom, surveillance and related policy.

Also, this cat.

They are trying to add DRM to HTML. Really?

StopI can’t believe that in 2011 people still think DRM can work for anything but limit end user choices, security and privacy. Here is an article from EFF  explaining what is going on with this on the HTML standardization front. Please join this struggle and sign EFF’s petition.

In case you don’t know or understand what this is all about, here is my attempt at explaining, by writing a fictional conversation between a DRM Programmer and a Technology Literate User.

DRM Programmer: I want you to buy my data (Movie/Music/Book/Game) and then be able to read (Watch/Listen to/Play) it but not copy it.

Technology Literate User: That is impossible, on computers reading is copying.

D: I will protect the data by encrypting it.

T: If you encrypt the data I won’t be able to read it.

D: I will give you a decryption key so you can decrypt the data and read it.

T: If you give me the decryption key, and let me read the data, I can then write (E.g. save) it, unencrypted, to somewhere else, and therefore copy it.

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I got a letter from Amazon/Audible

Having heard them being promoted aggressively on almost all the Podcasts I frequent, and having recognized the practical comfort of audiobooks, I’ve been wondering about purchasing some audiobooks from Audible. However, I’ve heard that Audible uses DRM, even worse, they mandate the use of DRM even when the book author wishes otherwise. I find this to be unacceptable.

Therefore I was happy to take the opportunity offered by this page to make my voice heard.

I’ve followed the instructions on the page and and send a message to Amazon stating that while I’ll be happy to purchase audiobooks from Audible, I will not spend my money on such books if they are encumbered by DRM technology that by its very nature will limit my choice of audio players and operating systems (on the very least it will most probably not support the cheap mp3-only players on the market).

Today I got a reply from Amazon, I’ve posted the full text below.

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Blogs and Internet

While I do not wish to put the wind out of Salo’s sails, I haven’t much positive things to say about his recent post, nevertheless, since he touches upon issues that are close to me heart I can’t avoid pingbacking it.

The core of my contention with his post, is that what seems to be the gist of it, e.g. blogs influencing politics and traditional media, isn’t news. Also, the idea that not the media nor “the people in power” know best should be clear to any citizen of a democratic state.

It is interesting to note that similar issues to those he mentions, e.g. state-mandated censorship of internet pornographic material and copyright laws, are being discussed now days in Israel as well. On a personal note I should probably find the way to become better informed of the public debate of those issues in Israel.

Copyright maximalizm in Israel

While it shouldn’t be a surprise that copyright maximalizm, like any other American “fashion” was adopted in Israel, cases such as this one should be noted.

While in my view most copyright maximalist claims are based on shallow or even downright lack of understanding of the philosophical principles behind the copyright laws, it seems that copyright claims of organizations in Israel are based on even shallower understanding.

Not once have I seen a case where an Israeli organization attempts to enforce a certain policy, touting copyright laws as a reason, while in fact mimicking the behavior of American organizations without bothering to check what does the Israeli law has to say on the matter.

Copyright law in Israel

I’ve been an avid reader and listener of both Cory Doctorow and The Command Line and hence I’ve heard a great deal of discussion about copyright issues and had become concerned about those issues myself, hence I began to wonder what was going on with regard to those issue here in my own little pond of Israel, all I had was a vague notion that here the copyright law was a little less restrictive then the US DMCA.

This is why I was both surprised and please to hear The Command Line mentioning Israel in his last show and specifically noting that a new copyright law had been passed recently.

Wishing to learn more about this I did some searching and found this, overall it seems to be good news, there is no (in my view, stupid) anti-circumvention legislation, and there was an emphasis put on civil and consumer rights.

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