Major US ISPs set to limit repeat infringers with throttling, limiting access to 200 websites, and copyright reeducation school

Four of the largest ISPs in the USA are on the verge of approving a deal with the RIAA and MPAA that'll require ISPs to limit people who repeatedly infringe copyright to visiting only 200 websites, throttled bandwidth, and/or sending them to copyright re-education school.

These are characterized as an alternative to outright disconnection, but as the entertainment execs behind it know that heavily throttled connections or limited access to a small collection of websites are tantamount to disconnection when it comes to the diverse benefits accrue to Internet users. And being sent to a copyright school designed by the entertainment industry isn't likely to deliver a decent understanding of education.

After years of negotiations, a group of bandwidth providers that includes AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon are closer than ever to striking a deal with media and entertainment companies that would call for them to establish new and tougher punishments for customers who refuse to stop using their networks to pirate films, music and other intellectual property, multiple sources told CNET.

The sources cautioned that a final agreement has yet to be signed and that the partnership could still unravel but added that at this point a deal is within reach and is on track to be unveiled sometime next month...

Participating ISPs are given plenty of choices on how to respond to the toughest cases. They can select from a "menu" of responses outlined in the plan, such as throttling down an accused customer's bandwidth speed or limit their access to the Web. For example, a suspected pirate may be allowed to visit only the top 200 Web sites until the illegal file sharing stops. The subscriber may also be required to participate in a program that educates them on copyright law and the rights of content creators. In the past, a graduated response was also supposed to lead to a complete termination of service for chronic file sharers. Kicking someone off a network is not required under the proposed agreement, the sources said. As for who pays for all this, the ISPs and copyright owners will share the costs of operating the program, sources said.

Exclusive: Top ISPs poised to adopt graduated response to piracy (via Ars Technica)

Model net neutrality rule for municipalities


Jeff sez, "Recently, Boing Boing shared our post suggesting that local communities could take inspiration from Pittsburgh's City Council ban on fracking and make net neutrality law, instead of waiting for Congress. Working with CELDF, the author of the Pittsburgh law, Envision Seattle has authored a model ordinance to legislate Net Neutrality . This post contains the first draft of the model net neutrality ordinance which we will ask the Seattle City Council to pass. We encourage other communities to study the ordinance and adopt it in their own jurisdictions. Our ordinance is meant to be used as a template for municipalities around the U.S. and globally as a starting point in codifying their right to a free and open Internet. p.s. Today, the Netherlands became the first European country to make Net Neutrality law."
The Seattle City Council and the people of Seattle find that access to the broadband internet creates opportunity for more direct civic engagement and increased educational attainment and free speech; and that such access enables people to more fully participate in a democratic process. To date, the network design principles fostering the development of the broadband internet - an end-to-end design, layered architecture, and open standards - promote innovation at the edge of the network and gives end users choice and control of their online activities.

The City Council and the people of Seattle find that those network design principles have led to the network neutrality of the internet, where there are no paid-for premium fast lanes and best effort slow lanes. We recognize that technologies now allow network operators to distinguish between different classes of internet traffic, to offer different qualities-of-service, and to charge different prices to each class of internet traffic. We also recognize that broadband internet access service providers have an economic interest to discriminate in favor of their own or affiliated services, content, and applications, and against other providers of such services, content, and applications.

Model Net Neutrality Ordinance for Seattle (Thanks, Jeff!)

(Image: Net Neutrality News Tag Cloud, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from seanweigoldferguson's photostream)

Campus hookups: college sex isn't new, but hookups are different

Lisa Wade, a sociology prof at Occidental College, presented a talk on "The Promise and Perils of Hook-Up Culture" at Franklin & Marshall College, explaining her research findings in a survey of students' attitudes to casual sex on campus. She affirms that casual sex on campus is nothing new, but that the "hookup culture"'s expectations and demands are a serious impediment to sexual and emotional happiness:

In her own research, Lisa has found that students want sex to be pleasurable, empowering, or meaningful. But, alas, they seem to have difficulty achieving any one of those things in great measure. The culprit, she concludes, isn't hooking up, it's hook up culture. When a hook up culture dominates, all other ways of being sexual are repressed, and that leaves many students involuntarily celibate or having sex they don't really want. The solution: an opening up of sexual options that allow students to truly, genuinely explore their own sexualities safely.
"The Promise and Perils of Hook-Up Culture"

Palin denies quitting bus tour

A reminder of one of the differences between Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann illustrated in the Matt Taibbi piece Xeni linked to yesterday: Bachmann is a natural political campaigner, whereas Palin is not. [Jezebel]

Why fair use doesn't work unless you've got a huge war-chest for paying lawyers


Last year, Waxy released Kind of Bloop, a chiptunes tribute to Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. He meticulously cleared all the samples on the album, and released it for $5 (backers of his Kickstarter project got it for free -- Waxy is founder of Kickstarter). One thing Waxy didn't clear was the pixellated re-creation of the iconic cover photo he commissioned. He believed and believes that it is fair use -- a transformative use with minimal taking that doesn't harm the market for the original, produced to comment on the original. Jay Maisel, the photographer who shot the original, disagreed, and sued Waxy for $150,000 per download, plus $25,000. Waxy ended up settling for $32,500, even though he believes he's in the right -- he couldn't afford to defend himself in court. He's written an excellent post on copyright, fair use, and the way that the system fails to protect the people who are supposed to get an exception to copyright:
In practice, none of this matters. If you're borrowing inspiration from any copyrighted material, even if it seems clear to you that your use is transformational, you're in danger. If your use is commercial and/or potentially objectionable, seek permission (though there's no guarantee it'll be granted) or be prepared to defend yourself in court.

Anyone can file a lawsuit and the costs of defending yourself against a claim are high, regardless of how strong your case is. Combined with vague standards, the result is a chilling effect for every independent artist hoping to build upon or reference copyrighted works.

It breaks my heart that a project I did for fun, on the side, and out of pure love and dedication to the source material ended up costing me so much -- emotionally and financially. For me, the chilling effect is palpably real. I've felt irrationally skittish about publishing almost anything since this happened. But the right to discuss the case publicly was one concession I demanded, and I felt obligated to use it. I wish more people did the same -- maybe we wouldn't all feel so alone.

Kind of Screwed

Pentax Q

pentaxq.jpg Pentax's Q has similar looks to rangefinder-style digicams from Fujifulm and Leica, but is smaller and, at $800, less expensive. Like Micro 4/3 and NEX models in that bracket, it has interchangeable lenses—with five on offer and a 47mm-equivalent, f1.9 lens bundled with the body. A major caveat, however, is its 1/2.3" sensor, which puts the spec sheet closer to cheap point-and-shoot models a third of its price. It'll be out in the fall. [Pentax]

Abandoned Australian Deco power-station, rusting and covered in graffiti


Abandoned Journey visited Fremantle Power Station, a giant, rusting Art Deco building in Australia on the Indian Ocean. The graffitied ruins are spectacular.
Much of the complex is rusting and rotting beyond any salvation, and quite dangerous to explore. The four major chimney stacks have been demolished, leaving a huge gaping holes throughout the complex. This allows rain to get in, which is the worst nightmare for any building trying to remain standing. Combined with the seaside location, and the local winds, the future for the abandoned Power Station is very predictable - mother nature has begun it's relentless reclamation. The daily winds are so reliable and regular in nature, the locals have actually named the breeze the "Fremantle Doctor". As in, "the Doctor is blowing hard today". We explored the complex extensively, and it became apparent that in some areas, we were probably taking far too great a risk. The rusting metal overhead walk-ways did not seem stable at all.

Rough on the outside, and yet with warm hearts and good-will, the locals from the port-side town of Fremantle warned of the danger of visiting this site. There were various tales of unconfirmed murders at the abandoned Power Station. In the dark labyrinth of tunnels beneath the complex, it was not hard to imagine the heinous crimes that could be easily hidden. Genuinely, brutally, this was a spine-tingling place to be. Indeed, there was a feeling of alarm during various traverses of the underground maze. Reportedly, the tunnels extend for some distance, indeed, out to the ocean.

Abandoned 1940's Power Station - Urban Exploration Photos | ABANDONED JOURNEY (Thanks, Dr. Hank Snaffler Jr.!)

Happy Birthday, Alan Turing

Today is Alan Turing's birthday. Happy birthday, old bean! Thanks for all the crypto and the foundations of modern computing and the seminal AI work. Sorry about the bigots who murdered you. (Thanks, dr.hypercube!)

University of Michigan to stop worrying about lawsuits, start releasing orphan works

Bobbyg sez, "The University of Michigan Library will be sharing digital copies of their orphan works, that is, copyrighted works which have no identifiable owner, with the University community. Paul Courant, the University Librarian, says that the project is integral to the mission of the library, and that the sharing of the orphan works is a 'fair use' of the material, stating that 'sharing these orphan works does no economic harm to any person or organization, while not doing so harms scholarship and learning...'"
The Orphan Works Project is being led by the Copyright Office of the University of Michigan Library to identify orphan works. Orphan works are books that are subject to copyright but whose copyright holders cannot be identified or contacted. Our immediate focus is on digital books held by HathiTrust, a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future.

This effort is funded by the HathiTrust and is part of U-M Library's ongoing efforts to understand the true copyright status of works in its collection. As part of this effort, the Library will develop policies, processes, and procedures that can be used by other HathiTrust partners to replicate a task that will ultimately require the hand-checking of millions of volumes.

Orphan Works Project (Thanks, Bobbyg!)

Phone-tree navigator waits on hold for you

Fonolo automates navigating stupid, complex corporate phone menus: browse through its maps of large companies' menu-systems, decide which department you want to speak to, and give it your phone number. It calls the company, navigates to the appropriate spot, and waits on the hold queue until it reaches a human, then calls you and bridges you in. They use online forms to gather the information the person on the phone is going to ask you and transmit it to her/him. I don't know how secure or private the system is, but it's basically what I've wanted since the first time I encountered a hold-queue (if it works, I'll even forgive them "cloud-based" and "voice 2.0" buzzword-compliance). (via /.)

A Brief History of the Corporation: understanding what an attention economy is and where it comes from

Venkatesh Rao's tour-de-force blog-post, "A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100," is an attempt to synthesize several accounts of economic trends and the institutions that fuel and benefit from them, primarily corporations. Beginning with the age of mercantilism and the East India Company's many bubbles and busts (not to mention ruthless conquests and brutal consolidations); Rao moves onto the "Schumpeterian" era where growth was driven by innovation and the "colonization of time" in the form of "labor-saving" devices that let corporations capture more value from their workers. Rao concludes with a brief section on the current era, the "Coasean" period in which individuals, coordinating among each other, are at center stage -- basically, maker culture. Part history lesson, part economic speculation, Rao's essay is provocative, a little esoteric, well-written and challenging.
Take an average housewife, the target of much time mining early in the 20th century. It was clear where her attention was directed. Laundry, cooking, walking to the well for water, cleaning, were all obvious attention sinks. Washing machines, kitchen appliances, plumbing and vacuum cleaners helped free up a lot of that attention, which was then immediately directed (as corporate-captive attention) to magazines and television.

But as you find and capture most of the wild attention, new pockets of attention become harder to find. Worse, you now have to cannibalize your own previous uses of captive attention. Time for TV must be stolen from magazines and newspapers. Time for specialized entertainment must be stolen from time devoted to generalized entertainment.

Sure, there is an equivalent to the Sun in the picture. Just ask anyone who has tried mindfulness meditation, and you'll understand why the limits to attention (and therefore the value of time) are far further out than we think.

The point isn't that we are running out of attention. We are running out of the equivalent of oil: high-energy-concentration pockets of easily mined fuel.

The result is a spectacular kind of bubble-and-bust.

A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100 (via Futurismic)

(Image: Red Wing Shoes Factory Tour, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 94693506@N00's photostream)

Spitalfields Nippers: East London street-urchins of 1912


From Spitalfields Life, a collection of Horace Warner's "Spitalfields Nipper" photos, of the barefoot urchins that haunted the neighbourhood around London's Spitalfields Market in 1912. I'm typing these words within spitting distance (ahem) of Spitalfields, and I'm pretty sure I recognise some of the buildings. The kids' expressions are a mix of plucky cheek, premature cynicism and desperation.
Little is known of Horace Warner and nothing is known of his relationship to the nippers. Only thirty of these pictures survive, out of two hundred and forty that he took, tantalising the viewer today as rare visions of the lost tribe of Spitalfields Nippers. They may look like paupers, and the original usage of them to accompany the annual reports of the charitable Bedford Institute, Quaker St, Spitalfields, may have been as illustrations of poverty - but that is not the sum total of these beguiling photographs, because they exist as spirited images of something much more subtle and compelling, the elusive drama of childhood itself.

Update: Bill Gibson's Twitter comment on these photos: "Those Spitalfields nippers grew up to successfully fight the battle of Cable Street, breaking Moseley's British Union of Fascists."

Spitalfields Nippers (via How to Be a Retronaut)

Danish police proposal: Ban anonymous Internet use

The Danish police had proposed abolishing all anonymous Internet access, under the rubric of fighting terrorism. ISPs and companies would be required to gather strong proof of identity (official ID cards and similar) before connecting users, and would be required to retain records.
Thus, a working group at the Ministry of Justice started with a recommendation to parliament that would require all persons on the open Internet connections from such libraries and the café's wireless network, identify with a personal code for being able to get online.

The idea is that the police or the police intelligence service, with data from the open network connections will be able to investigate terrorism more effectively when the police can see who is logged on to the open network and not least, what sites network users have visited and whom they interacted with.

Suggestion: You can no longer go the web anonymously (Computerworld.dk, via Google Translate) (Thanks, Agger!)

Bell-dummy for training pickpockets


The Feb, 1930 issue of Modern Mechanix carried a story about Scaltiel, a stage-performer whose act revolved around picking pockets. Scaltiel claimed to have learned his trade after being inducted into a guild of pickpockets who tested him on a "bell-dummy" whose every pocket "was wired so that the slightest touch would result in the ringing of a bell, showing that the amateur thief was clumsy."
Sometimes a thief will go to great lengths to "contact" his victim. He will drop a glove under the seat of some innocent party without being seen. Then the thief will retrieve the glove and offer it to his victim who believes that some polite person has made a mistake. He will speak to the thief, unaware that while he is looking at the thief, the nimble fingers are exploring his pockets or extracting a stick pin or "lifting" a watch. The thief is holding out the glove with his right hand while his left "mit" is at work.

The public is most in danger of being robbed while in a crowd. The theater lines and groups near cloakrooms often harbor pickpockets. Although you may often suspect an innocent party if you are carrying valuables in a crowd beware of the man who holds a newspaper or magazine or has a coat slung over his arm. The pickpocket with a coat over his arm can work easily with one hand shielded by the folds of the garment.

Women who carry their valuables in handbags swung from handles are a constant source of inspiration to pickpockets for even while walking on the street or standing in a streetcar a pickpocket can open the bag, extract the valuables and close the bag without being detected and without much chance of alarming the victim.

The profession of the pickpockets is not by any means limited to men for some of the most skillful of such thieves are women and girls. Often a man will be crowded against a young woman and while he may be embarrassed the girl is not for she may be taking his watch or pocket book. Very often such girls operate with a confederate to whom she will pass her loot. The confederate will then disappear in the crowds.

Amateur PICK POCKETS Study in CRIME College

First-ever Barbie ad

According to the description, this 1959 Barbie commercial was the first-ever advert for the doll; it's got a sweet naivete. Also, Barbie cost a lot when she shipped: $3 in 1959 is $23.30 in 2011 constant dollars -- today, her MSRP is about $10, and you can get discount mint-in-package versions for $6.

1959 First EVER Barbie Commercial High Quaility HQ! (via How to Be a Retronaut)