December 02, 2004

Cites & Insights, December 2004

People sometimes argue to me that I underestimate the extent of where I'm heard. I tend to regard that argument as mere kind words (after all, well-wishers aren't going to say to me that it's hopeless, I'll never win). But every once in a while I do wonder about it.

I've learned that Walt Crawford is a "blockbuster" ("In the library world he's like Madonna, ..."). So I should note his latest library 'zine (not his blog) issue, "Cites & Insights" December 2004. And I'm mentioned (my links below, but emphasis in the original):

One quick note in a rare three-issue sequence. In Cites & Insights 4:12, I discussed the Sima GoDVD! box, which "enhances" video in the analog domain so that you can convert it to digital form to burn to DVD, and in the process appears to undo Macrovision copy protection (which works by degrading analog video in a specific manner). In the following issue, I noted a clarification from Seth Finkelstein to my presumption that GoDVD! couldn't be prosecuted under DMCA because it operates entirely in the analog domain: DMCA had a special provision to protect Macrovision even in analog cases. I commented that GoDVD! was still probably in the clear, because the DMCA clause discusses recording devices, and GoDVD! isn't a recording device. An October 13 post at Finkelstein's Infothought blog (, highly recommended) quotes my full discussion, highlights the last sentence ("'s just a video enhancement box"), and suggests that GoDVD! probably doesn't violate the letter of the law. "On the other hand, this looks very much like what a hostile judge would view as a loophole. Or at least fodder for a quick amendment." His conclusion: "Even if it's true now that the GoDVD! box does not violate the Macrovision section of the DMCA, I'm not optimistic as to how long it will remain true."

Leaving shameless self-promotion, the sections recounting the recent history of the INDUCE/IICA, and the by now typical chop-suey of copyright legislation, are extremely useful overviews. Walt writes in-depth coverage, but with enough context so that someone new to these topics will be able to understand it.

For something completely different, I have a comment on the following part:

I'm sure every Cites & Insights reader knows that any PC with any connection to the internet -- even a dial-up connection -- must have an active firewall as well as full-time virus software updated at least weekly. ... Or let your machine be used to attack other machines and spread spam even further, while taking most of the CPU power you're paying for. It's your choice.

As the saying runs: Remember: it's a "Microsoft virus", not an "email virus", a "Microsoft worm", not a "computer worm".

Linux machines do need firewalls for additional security. But these days, it's almost to the point that before I'd use a Microsoft program for email, they'd have to pry my keyboard from my cold dead fingers. Quite seriously: The need for full-time virus software is not a fact of life, it's a fact of Microsoft. There's reasons for that, design constraints and deliberate decisions which favor convenience over security. But those decisions have costs. I've long conjectured that one of the best selling points for Linux, in terms of just a little concrete detail which may be worth more than any abstraction, is the sheer relief of not having to worry about the @#$% Microsoft Word viruses and Microsoft Browser security holes.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight , security | on December 02, 2004 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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