How Do We Get To Fair? The Video Industry and Tech Change

On Friday night, my son and his friend wanted to watch either Thor or Captain America. We don’t have cable, but I’m hooked up with iTunes and Amazon. All I wanted to do was rent one of them. But I couldn’t. I could not. I could only buy them. I was dying to give them $5, but it wasn’t available. So, either I have to have Netflix, find a video store (do those even exist any more?).

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Gruber on EFF

The incisive, insightful John Gruber on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s manifesto:

The piece is supposed to be a criticism of Apple’s platform design and policies, but really, what they’re doing is criticizing users for enjoying it.

On “Crystal Prisons”, Rights, and the Reality of Competing Values

A couple of days ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation released a manifesto on the future of computing, claiming that companies that offer closed computing systems (like Apple and Microsoft) are violating mobile user’s fundamental rights.  I use the term rights here because they use it at the end of the piece in the section “toward a bill of rights for mobile computer owners” and employ phrases like “deprived of liberty.”  The basic thrust of the argument is that all computing devices should be open, meaning that users should be able to add or modify the software and hardware in any way they see fit.  The piece is not long, and is worthwhile reading.

It has generated some pretty thoughtful critical responses within the Apple-using blogosphere.  I won’t go so far as Peter Cohen at the Loop and title this post “The EFF can suck it“, but I do think the EFF’s material is both poorly framed and poorly argued. As is probably the case with all manifestos, they ignore a host of reasonable principles and perspectives in order to try to motivate the masses.

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Senators Abandon National Priorities for Personal Ones

From TechCruch:

Today, Senators Charles Schumer and Bob Casey are expected to announce a plan they have to re-impose the taxes on Saverin, part of a bigger scheme to go after expatriates who give up citizenship in order to avoid taxes. On top of that, they want to make it official that people who do avoid paying their taxes by renouncing citizenship are unable from ever re-entering the country again.

So, let me make sure I’m getting this straight.  Eduardo Severin was born in Brazil and lived there for the first 16 years of his life. He has lived in Singapore for the past few years.  He created Facebook with Zukerberg, and with the impending IPO, is about to owe about $67 million in taxes.  So he renounced his US citizenship to avoid paying the taxes. And now he needs his own law.

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Apple and Foxconn Commit Some Cash

How much and in what percentage is unclear, but according to John Ruwitch at Reuters:

Apple Inc and its key supplier Foxconn Technology Group will share the initial costs of improving labor conditions at the Chinese factories that assemble iPhones and iPads, Foxconn’s top executive said on Thursday.

Good start, this.  Unfortunate, though, that it is not being covered more in the popular press.  Clearly, the public is not interested any longer.  That means that any hope that there ever was—even a small amount—of pressure being exerted on other tech companies to improve their labor practices has evaporated.

But They Did Nothing Wrong, or Who Really Owns The Courts

One argument I frequently hear from students in class in support of expanded surveillance is that spying is ok, because if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you don’t need to worry.  Nothing bad will happen to you.  Tell that to the folks who run the music site Dajaz1.com.  Their domain was seized by the federal government on the complaint of the RIAA.  Problem was, they didn’t do anything wrong.

Apparently, however, the RIAA and music labels’ evidence against Dajaz1, a music blog, never came. Or, if it did, it was not enough to build a case and the authorities returned the site nearly 13 months later without explanation or apology.

They didn’t have any illegal files on their servers.  And they were put out of business.

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