New Oregon Laws for 2009 list anywhere?

My dad reminded me today that he enjoyed reading about the 700 new laws that went into effect in California today, so I set out to find an equivalent list for Oregon.

So far, after half a dozen Google searches I can only come up with the 6 laws listed here from yesterday's Oregonian. Quick summary: smoking ban in all bars and restaurants, bottle deposits, free electronics recycling, DMW checking immigration status, ATV safety for kids, and increased drug offender sentences.

Six new laws doesn't seem like much, is there a more complete list anywhere? Every other newspaper and TV site seems to be pointing to these same six laws as the sum total of legislative changes going into effect and that doesn't sound right to me.

By listening to this you acknowledge you are: Brian Davidson

I’ve been getting some annoying robot phonecalls recently on a daily basis. They always give me menu options to hear more, but never an option to tell them they got the wrong number (or some guy put down the wrong number). The robot leaves messages with half of their recorded message so when I was deleting a slew of them today I noticed one sounded very different from the rest, so I took a quick recording of it.

There’s something almost melodic in how the robot says the name and the message is pretty amusing in the way it reads like the worst EULA ever and that part of it sounds like the Miranda Rights being read to you.

Here it is, enjoy:
[audio:|titles=Brian Davidson|artists=Brian Davidson]

Anyone that wants to download it and put some beats or throw it into a mix is welcome to this direct link to the file.

One thing the internet got right

In reading about the copyright insanity of Wal-Mart and Ofoto, I’m reminded of how much better the copyright prevention approach works online. In the (much criticized and abused, but in this case, forward thinking) DMCA, there’s a safeharbor provision for ISPs so that they aren’t responsible for what happens on their network, their members actually doing things illegally are responsible. This makes perfect sense and does have methods and rules about what an ISP needs to do to help remove offending material, but never puts the ISP on trial for the work of their customer. Without this, ISPs wouldn’t be able to fund the manhours to babysit and question every single byte on their disk drives.

Wal-mart and Ofoto are making really bad business decisions as the result of pressure from professional photographers, presumably to prevent lawsuits directed at the photo developers themselves. But like Ernest said, this is a silly approach. Every service can have unintended uses and consequences like getting wedding photo duplicates made without the photographer’s permission, but the person that took possession of the negatives is in the wrong, not the photo developer. The same goes for Kinkos watching your every move when you use their copiers.

Maybe we could see an end to these silly stories if safeharbor provisions were more widespread. It seems like the one thing in internet law we really got right.

Worst “journalism” ever.

This Reuters article on critics of Creative Commons is just about the most ridiculous article I’ve seen about CC to date. It reads as if the president of the National Music Publisher’s Association knew the author and basically wanted to get a anti-CC article out there. It contains a few quotes from CC board members and CC supporters (including Hilary Rosen and the current RIAA president) but generally lets the songwriter representitive dub the movement a “trojan horse” and claims that when you license a song under CC “it is really an argument why others should be forced to give away their property.” (my emphasis) Then the article confounds the Eldred case into Creative Commons because Lessig is behind both but the real gem is at the end.

They cover one songwriter that found success. Nevermind that Tim O’Reilly’s quote in the same article explains how 1 in a million songs are successfull and that CC exists for letting the other 99.999% of people that didn’t hit it big share their works with the world. In a wonderful bit of journalistic gymnastics they mention how this successful songwriter has contracted the AIDS virus, and bring it all back to Creative Commons. I quote from the article:

Had he given up his rights to those early hits, he would not have the resources to cover his treatment for AIDS.

Such a decision might have been tragic. Fraser says he has been kept alive by medication, radiation therapy and experimental medical treatments — largely paid for with his song royalties.

“No one should let artists give up their rights,” he says.

That’s right, you just read a Reuters article try to make the claim that Creative Commons can kill those living with AIDS.

So to recap, the only legitimate point made in the article is that a musician may not know what rights they are giving away, and I’ll grant you that it may be true, provided an artist ignored the page explaining the licenses and the page explaining the rights in all licenses. While the article contains comments supportive of Creative Commons from music industry giants like the RIAA, the article’s author turns some minor confusion about a name appearing in an amicus brief into unwanted support for a supreme court case that is somehow CC’s fault and the author lets the songwriter association president call the movement names, construe that it is unfair to artists, and finally, twist some emotion out of a ailing songwriter, equating a CC license with a death sentence.

I’m sure Reuters will be getting a Pulitzer for this bit of drivel.

update: Lessig has more to say and mentions previous (and similar) articles from the same Billboard Magazine reporter. Also, it occurred to me that the ailing songwriter in the article could still be alive and paying for medications through royalites, if he chose a non-commercial Creative Commons license for his song. As they say, share your music and good things often follow.

Strange bedfellows

There’s been a lot of talk about the DVD filtering bill on various copyright/law sites, but what I find most interesting is watching reactions to it outside of the tech law realm. It turns a lot of traditionally friend and foe relationships on their heads.

It all started with CleanFlicks, which rents and sells what are essentially derivative works, movies clean enough that they could be played on an airplane. There are obvious legal issues when they resell and rent modified works, and Hollywood directors were not happy. Then came ClearPlay, a DVD player that takes regular DVDs and has essentially a text file associated with movies, telling it what to skip when you play them. Like CleanFlicks, but in a device. This one skirts most legal issues because it’s a box running in your private home, on your own DVDs that are unaltered. But still, some Hollywood folks disliked the idea of it and this bill passed through congress to protect them.

The best part for me personally is watching where people fall on the issue when they discuss it online. A lot of folks fed up with the rise of religious influence in this country have a knee-jerk reaction against the bill, due to the backers. A lot of artistic types are also reacting against the bill and these services because it doesn’t consider the original artists’ work and how it was meant to be displayed.

Personally, I’m happy to see it, and not because I’d ever use a device or service like this, but for the sake of the law surrounding technology and art. In a way, President Bush just signed a law making derivative works legal and home hacking projects OK for sale to others. There’s not much of a difference in the abstract between a DVD player that skips scenes and creates a new movie and a XBOX that can be turned into a web browsing, weather reporting, movie and music jukebox. Selling a copy of a DVD with scenes removed and language tweaked by an outside company unrelated to a movie studio has obvious parallels with DJ Dangermouse making the Grey Album.

To further complicate matters, the bill also upped the crimes of taping a movie in a theater and pre-releases of music and films online, but it also allowed Orphaned Works to survive.

There’s a lot of good and bad in this bill, but I look forward to seeing what can come from it, in the realm of sampling and hacking.

Lessig Keynote from Etech

Lessig Keynote and afterwards discussion and questions, recorded on my iTrip and very lofi (9Mb and 12Mb, respectively). I’m sure high quality versions will be online in the next few weeks, but for now there’s this.

Lawrence Lessig Keynote, Etech
Keynote talk and discussion at the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference.
Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig Keynote, Etech
Keynote talk and discussion at the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference.
Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig


When bad copyright law hurts good singers

My one reality TV show indulgence is American Idol. I accidentally caught an early episode during the second season and I haven’t missed one since. During the two years I’ve watched it, I’ve long wondered why singers choose the songs they do, since song choice is everything in the competition and frequently folks seem to choose from a fairly narrow pool. At one time I thought that maybe they could only sing songs that 20th Century Fox had the rights to, or that labels were friendly with.

Tonight, during the voting off phase, a contestant let slip that they do actually have to deal with song rights clearance, right up to the moment the show airs. Watch the clip to catch the explanation, and how the chosen song didn’t work out. She was voted off the show moments later.

I know there are rights built into music law that anyone can do cover songs, but I suspect that’s only for recordings, not performances, and the rights holders of songs have a say whether their song can be sung on a national show or not. It’s a shame because often you’ll see someone do really well in the audition phase where they seemingly can perform any song they want, then flounder on stage when limited to the cleared song pool. Aloha was a pretty good singer, but I guess performance rights can get in the way.