In serving big company interests, copyright is in crisis

Copyright rules are made with the needs of the entertainment industry in mind, designed to provide the legal framework for creators, investors, distributors, production houses, and other parts of the industry to navigate their disputes and assert their interests. Read the rest

Podcast: Inaction is a form of action

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my latest Locus column, Inaction is a Form of Action,, where I I discuss how the US government's unwillingness to enforce its own anti-monopoly laws has resulted in the dominance of a handful of giant tech companies who get to decide what kind of speech is and isn't allowed -- that is, how the USG's complicity in the creation of monopolies allows for a kind of government censorship that somehow does not violate the First Amendment. Read the rest

Three years after the W3C approved a DRM standard, it's no longer possible to make a functional indie browser

Back in 2017, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) approved the most controversial standard in its long history: Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME, which enabled Netflix and other big media companies to use DRM despite changes to browsers extensions that eliminated the kinds of deep hooks that DRM requires. Read the rest

The New Deal was partly motivated by a desire to kill the fake news epidemic of the Gilded Age

100 years ago, wealthy people bought up newspapers as fast as they could, then used them to smear progressive reformers, inventing lies ("Congressmen don't pay taxes!") to discredit the entire project of dismantling American oligarchy. Read the rest

Permitting the growth of monopolies is a form of government censorship

In my latest Locus column, Inaction is a Form of Action, I discuss how the US government's unwillingness to enforce its own anti-monopoly laws has resulted in the dominance of a handful of giant tech companies who get to decide what kind of speech is and isn't allowed -- that is, how the USG's complicity in the creation of monopolies allows for a kind of government censorship that somehow does not violate the First Amendment. Read the rest

2019: EFF enters the competition fray

None of us signed up for an Internet composed of "a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four", but here we are, watching as hyper-concentrated industries rack up catastrophic victories against net neutrality, right to repair, security auditing, and a host of other issues. Read the rest

Americans should definitely be worried about the EU's new copyright rules

The passage -- through MEPs erroneously pushing the wrong buttons! -- of the new EU Copyright Directive last March means that online platforms operating in the EU will have to implement filters that allow anyone, anywhere, to claim anything as their copyright, whereupon the platforms will have to detect any attempt by anyone else to upload those claimed works and block them. Read the rest

Insulin prices doubled between 2012 and 2016

The historical excuse for pharma monopolists who conspired to rig prices on insulin was that hardly anyone paid full price -- everyone got their life-saving, non-optional medicine through health plans that negotiated a knock-down price. Read the rest

Distinguishing between "platforms" and "aggregators" in competition law

There's a lot of political will to regulate the Big Tech companies in both the US and the EU at the moment, which is a very welcome juncture to have arrived at after 40 years of antitrust inaction during which companies were permitted to grow by buying nascent competitors, merging with major competitors and cornering vertical markets -- all classic anticompetitive behaviors that Reagan and his successors legalized. Read the rest

Prasad's Law: there's always enough health spending to concentrate wealth, never enough to diffuse it

In a recent installment of his Plenary Session podcast, hematologist-oncologist Vinay Prasad observed that "There are interventions that disperse wealth, … and they give people jobs, and they send them out in the community; and there are implantable drugs, implantable devices, there are drugs, there are cancer screening tests, and we will always prioritize interventions that consolidate money in the hands of the few, over interventions that disperse money to the hands of many, with the same levels of evidence." Read the rest

Talking Adversarial Interoperability with Y Combinator

Earlier this month while I was in San Francisco, I went over to the Y Combinator incubator to record a podcast (MP3); we talked for more than an hour about the history of Adversarial Interoperability and what its role was in creating Silicon Valley and the tech sector and how monopolization now threatens adversarial interop and also how it fuels the conspiratorial thinking that is so present in our modern politics. We talk about how startup founders and other technologists can use science fiction for inspiration, and about the market opportunities presented by challenging Big Tech and its giant, massively profitable systems. Read the rest

Debullshitifying the Right to Repair excuses Apple sent to Congress

Apple's response to the Congressional committee investigating monopolistic behavior by tech giants contains a chapter on Right to Repair, whose greatest enemy is Apple -- the company led successful campaigns to kill 20 state level Right to Repair bills last year. Read the rest

Leaked internal docs show that Facebook shuts down access to user data to kill competitors, but claims it is protecting users

7,000 pages of leaked documents from the Six4Three lawsuit against Facebook reveal how the company provides or restricts access to user data as part of its overall strategy to crush potential competitors who rely on its platform, and deliberately manufactures cynical explanations about "protecting users" to justify the actions. Read the rest

Talking science fiction, technological self-determination, inequality and competition with physicist Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a physicist at JPL and the author of many popular, smart books about physics for a lay audience; his weekly Mindscape podcast is a treasure-trove of incredibly smart, fascinating discussions with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Read the rest

Bipartisan legislation would force Big Tech to allow interoperability with small competitors

The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching” (ACCESS) Act was introduced by Senator Mark Warner [D-VA] and co-sponsored by Senator Josh Hawley [R-MO] and Senator Richard Blumenthal [D-CT]; it mandates the creation of "third party custodial services," regulated by the FTC, that will allow uses of Facebook and other Big Tech platforms to switch to smaller, direct competitors who would then act as an intermediary between these new entrants and the platforms. Read the rest

What it's like to have Apple rip off your successful Mac app

Companies that make successful Mac apps live in constant fear of being sherlocked -- having Apple release a feature-for-feature clone to compete with your product, bundling it in with Macos. Read the rest

Not only is Google's auto-delete good for privacy, it's also good news for competition

Earlier this month, Google announced a new collection of auto-delete settings for your personal information that allows you balance some of the conveniences of data-collection (for example, remembering recent locations in Maps so that they can be intelligently autocompleted when you type on a tiny, crappy mobile device keyboard) with the risks of long-term retention, like a future revelation that you visited an HIV clinic, or a political meeting, or were present at the same time and place as someone the police have decided to investigate by means of a sweeping "reverse warrant." Read the rest

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