Are you a criminal if you share music?

According to Wired in this article, Congress would like to make it a crime to share music. Shouldn’t it also be a crime to share books too then, or at least to photocopy them? Isn’t that what copyright is for? That requires the owner to prosecute, and if you donate enough in campaign contributions then I guess the government will take care of it for you.

Of course it isn’t right to share copyrighted works. However, it is interesting to note that cable television wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for the theft of copyrighted materials. Just think – no Sex in the City, no Sopranos – if someone hadn’t stolen network television programs and “shared” them. Why wasn’t that illegal?

How not to treat your customers.

Electronics Boutique purchased some stolen video games. They got caught, but are willing to sell them back to the rightful owned for only what they paid the thief. They had already sold her Playstation and memory card, so she couldn’t get those back. I’m not clear why police are not just charging them with posession of stolen property, and returning it to the owner. This is probably not the best impression to leave with customers.

The price of progress.

When I was about 10 years old I got a set of World Book encyclopedias for my birthday. They got me through a lot of school projects. Unfortunately, thanks to the internet, encyclopedias are going the way of the dinosaur. The internet provides more timely information quicker. And now collaborative efforts like Wikipedia are driving another nail in the coffin.

My encyclopedias still look really nice on the shelf in the den, but they don’t see a lot of use anymore.

We have assumed control.

In what could be a script from the old “Outer Limits” television show, on July 1, 2005, the Motion Picture Association of America will assume control of your television. Based on an electronic flag that they insert into programs at will, the digital outputs will be shut down. You have no say in the matter, courtesy of the FCC. Does this signal the end of time-shifting or commercial skipping? What other control will be taken away from me?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m also tired of being forced to watch certain previews on DVDs, when my fast forward is disabled courtesy of the manufacturer. And even more ridiculous is forcing me to watch the Interpol warning at the beginning. What does this achieve? If I’m going to break the law, then the warning won’t stop me.

Does the customer still have any rights? Not unless you have your own lobby I guess.

Flash in the pan.

Advertisers are increasingly using rich media with technologies like Macromedia Flash to deliver ads to web users. This has been necessitated by the prevalence of pop-up blocking software. Companies are now beginning to offer blocking software for rich media like Flash. Perhaps those companies that insist on forcing me to watch a Flash production to enter their website will now cease and desist. I’d actually prefer useful information to flashy video.

This means war.

Seems that Ask Jeeves is jumping into battle with Yahoo over credibility. Ask Jeeves will no longer accept paid inclusions, as a way of differentiating themselves. After studying the issue, the decided that paid inclusion resulted in more commercial and irrelevant lists of web sites, this hampering the search experience. Oddly though, they indicate that they will still allows operators to pay to submit their sites, but that payment would not guarantee inclusion in the index. Isn’t that kind of like paying for a car, with no guarantee you’ll actually get one?