Internet and e-mail policy and practice
including Notes on Internet E-mail


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26 May 2010

What are e-books worth? (Part I) Copyright Law

For us authors who have been writing paper books, e-books are the savior of the industry, or a a disastrous pact with the devil, or maybe both at the same time. The splashy launch of the Apple iPad, of which there are now over a million in users' hands, has coincided with a power struggle among Amazon, whose Kindle makes them the dominant retailer of e-books, Apple, who wants to muscle in using the iPad, and the major book publishers. Google also plans to enter the market this summer through their Google Editions store, selling copies of many of the books they've scanned in Google Books.

There are two main problems with the e-book market--e-books are not much cheaper for a publisher to produce than paper books, but they are for the buyer a far inferior product.

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  posted at: 16:22 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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22 May 2010

Verisign leaves the security certificate business Internet
Earlier this week in a
press release, Verisign said that they are selling their SSL certificate business to Symantec. Verisign is the dominant player in this market, having absorbed competitor Thawte in 1999, and Geotrust in 2006. Three years ago, when Verisign decided to divest its non-core businesses, they kept the certificate business. So what's changed?

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  posted at: 01:02 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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16 May 2010

Photographers pile on to the Google settlement bandwagon Copyright Law
Last month the American Society of Media Photographers and other professional photographers filed
a class action suit against Google that bears a startling, dare I say, near photographic resemblance to the Authors Guild vs. Google class action. The latter case came to a proposed settlement that, in the opinion of many people including me, would be a breathtakingly aggressive rewrite of global copyright law in favor of Google and the members of the Authors Guild. (I'm a member, but they've never asked me or any other member whether we want them to do so.) The settlement has been in and out of court for the past couple of years, having provoked objections from parties ranging from the US Department of Justice to the State of Connecticut to the Federal Republic of Germany to the Open Book Alliance.

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  posted at: 01:32 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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15 May 2010

The most confused spam suit of the year Email
Last year, Russ Smith of filed a
most peculiar suit against Comcast (his home ISP), Microsoft, Cisco, and TrustE, pro se, claiming a long laundry list of malicious behavior and privacy violations. Last week the judge threw out the entire suit, but gave him one more chance to refile and try to correct the flaws. Among Smith's claims are that Comcast and Microsoft's Frontbridge subsidiary have blacklisted him personally. To the surprise of many observers, the judge did not accept Comcast's defense that 47 USC 230 (the CDA) gives them blanket immunity for good faith spam filtering. Smith claimed that Comcast said they'd unblock his mail if he paid them more money, which he interpreted as pay to spam, which if true would mean the blocking was in bad faith. While Comcast may well have said something like that, it didn't mean what Smith claimed. Having exchanged some mail about the suit with Smith last fall, I think I understand what was going on, which was that despite having some sort of certificate called a CISSP, Smith fails to understand the way that e-mail works, and he has imagined a vast conspiracy to explain what was really configuration errors, a poor choice of server hosting, and perhaps malware infecting his mail server.

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  posted at: 01:50 :: permanent link to this entry :: 7 comments
Stable link is

14 May 2010

What are e-books worth? (Part II) Copyright Law

In our last installment we learned that most of the cost of a paper book is in spent the editorial process, not the physical printing and binding, so even though e-books cost nothing to produce physically, the cost to the publisher is nearly the same, so they can't afford to sell them for much less than paper books.

Today we'll look at the reasons that, even though they have some undeniable advantages, e-books are worth a lot less to book buyers than paper books. Assuming you already have a reading device like a Kindle, an iPad, or a Sony reader, you can store hundreds of e-books in it. In some cases you can share the books, along with your bookmarks and notes between devices, e.g., a Kindle and an iTouch or Blackberry running the Kindle app. The problem is that the "book" you buy to read on your device is not really a book, it's what publishers wish books were.

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  posted at: 01:22 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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08 May 2010

The real issue about ICANN and .XXX ICANN

Way back in 2004, ICANN invited applications for a round of new TLDs. They got quite a few. Some were uncontroversial, such as .JOBS for the HR industry. Some were uncontroversial but took a long time, such as .POST which took five years of negotiation, entirely due to the legal peculiarities of the registry being part of the UN. But one was really controversial, .XXX. By 2005, the applicant, ICM registry, had satisfied all the criteria that ICANN set out in the 2004 round to get .XXX approved, and ICANN has been stalling them ever since, including an ICANN board vote against approval in 2007. Most recently, ICM used a reconsideration process specified in ICANN's bylaws to review the board's actions, and the report not surprisingly said that ICM had followed all the rules, and the board had not.

Before discussing what the issue with .XXX is, here are some things that the issue isn't.

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  posted at: 01:46 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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06 May 2010

Why aren't there more spam lawsuits? Email
The CAN SPAM act has been in place for five and a half years. Compatible state laws have been in place nearly as long. Anti-spam laws in the EU, Australia, and New Zealand were enacted years ago. But the number of significant anti-spam lawsuits is so small that individual bloggers can easily keep track of them. Considering that several billion spams a day are sent to people's inboxes, where are all the anti-spam lawsuits?

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  posted at: 01:33 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
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It turns out you don’t need a license to hunt for spam.
63 days ago

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