20 August 2004

In the Betamax case, the Supreme Court held that VCR manufacturers were not liable for copyright infringement by VCR users. VCRs have substantial noninfringing uses (copying home movies, time shifting broadcast content, etc.), and the manufacturer is not able to police what its customers do.

Following the same reasoning, the Ninth Circuit has held that authors of file sharing software are not liable for copyright infringement by their users. (PDF link) File sharing software is used for distribution of public domain works and as an alternative distribution channel by copyright owners. The software vendors are not able to police what their users do: if Grokster shut down tomorrow, file sharing among Grokster users would be completely unaffected. Hence the Betamax precedent applies.

The court also observed:

The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the Copyright Owners' immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context....

The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well established distribution mechanisms. Yet, history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine, or an MP3 player.

Posted 10:33 AM

19 August 2004

Jakob Nielsen explains why pageviews are irrelevant. The key to a successful website, he says, is reader loyalty. Loyalty in turn comes from analysis and insight, not just pure information.

He doesn't mention weblogs, but his results help explain their popularity. Weblogs are all about insight and unique perspective.

Posted 11:32 AM

Five reporters have been held in contempt of court for refusing to disclose the sources of their articles on former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee.

"The threat to First Amendment rights that's going on this summer is unprecedented..." said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press. "All this has to do with secrecy. The government is trying to keep more and more secrets all the time, and journalists are working harder to uncover those secrets. Given the terrorism climate, all this has come to a head."

I'm a big fan of freedom of the press, too, but it's actually a little more complicated than that. Wen Ho Lee's career was destroyed by government officials who are now hiding behind the press shield. The reporters in this case were not fearlessly uncovering governmental abuse of power, they were shamelessly abetting it.

Posted 11:11 AM

Kitchen Etc. is going out of business. From the store near me, I can see why. Even several weeks in to the going out of business sale, the store still has very large inventories of top-tier pots, knives, and other toys for serious chefs.

The problem is that there aren't enough serious chefs out there. Kitchen Etc. carries four or five different lines of "professional grade" pots and pans. It's high quality stuff, and their prices are as good as any I've seen. Still, $100 is a lot to pay for a two quart saucepan. Multiply that by four or five different lines with ten or twelve components each, and you're maintaining an enormous amount of inventory while serving a relatively small market. On top of that, replacement sales are small or non-existent -- $100 saucepans don't wear out -- and the market for any kind of luxury good shrinks even further in a recession.

Kitchen Etc. tried to bring the superstore concept to boutique merchandise. It didn't work.

Posted 10:51 AM

18 August 2004

Bill McClean explains why he expects a weak IC market in 2005.

Silicon Strategies article. Free registration required.

Posted 11:55 AM

17 August 2004

Interesting. AMD is shipping 90-nm notebook chips before 90-nm desktop chips. That suggests that they have the leakage and power consumption problems that plague many 90-nm designs more or less under control.

(Silicon Strategies link. Free registration required.)

Update: Spoke with AMD's Tom Sonderman today. He explained that the biggest change in the company's 90 nm process is the use of strained silicon. SOI and low-k dielectrics were both introduced at the 130 nm node, reducing the noise that plagues many 90-nm designs and also reducing the magnitude of changes at the 90-nm node. In fact, 80% of the equipment used at the 130-nm node is still used at 90 nm. Sonderman declined to discuss details of AMD's strained silicon technology, but said the company is using local, rather than wafer-level, strain.

Posted 09:56 AM

What happens when a Class 4 hurricane encounters a small plane? The plane loses. Fortunately, these were all on the ground at the time.

Posted 09:45 AM

15 August 2004

Cool! I didn't know I could do this! These are the most current links from my Furl archive on nanotech.

Posted 07:58 PM


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