Friday, August 31, 2007

DMCA - Why it reeks of moldy cheese...

By now everyone has heard about the RIAA and their efforts to maliciously destroy thousands of people financially by sending out spurious lawsuits in addition tot he handful of actual piracy lawsuits that they are entitled to. Included in this, is their efforts to destroy a business in Russia that obeys every single one of Russia's laws in regards to copyrights, and pays the licensing fees for the sales of MP3 files.

A somewhat unnecessary evil, but one that is there nonetheless.

But, hey, I'm not a music-geek, that's my wife. I read books, specifically science-fiction books, and you know, us sci-fi geeks, well we're smarter than that. Our content providers love us, because they love sci-fi as much as we do, and all any of us want to do, is to have more sci-fi out there for all of us to enjoy.

Or at least, that's what we thought.

Apparently, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) doesn't. Boing-Boing has an article up by Cory Doctorow concerning a recent DMCA takedown notice the SFWA sent to the file-sharing sent SCRIBD.

What's better is that these take down notices were given on behalf of some folks who had not authorized their works to be removed.

Additionally, this removal very well could have damaged Mr. Doctorow financially because his business model depends on the freely given novels to direct traffic to his for-pay works.

Frankly, this confused me. After all, the SFWA is not a licensing association. They are a writer's association. More like a union than an industry organization like the RIAA. I see nothing on their website which describes a function of their mission as being copyright watchdog.

What is more interesting is that Dr. Andrew Burt, the VP of SFWA responsible for all of this, is a computer scientist, and previously he had convinced the SFWA to hand over a large sum of money so that he could develop and attempt to sell to publishing houses a piece of software designed to basically damage unauthorized electronic copies of novels.

Ultimately, it never went anywhere.

Anyways, part of his re-election 'campaign' was that he would return those funds to the SFWA. Yet, while reading these things this morning, I noticed something in one of the emails that Dr. Burt was sending back and forth with Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO of SCRIBD. Specifically the following paragraph, from the second email:

I'm glad to hear you're working on one piece of a solution. I'm not sure what algorithm you're thinking of using, but I'll be interested to hear more about it. (I developed an algorithm to identify copies via statistically unlikely phrases. Happy to go into details if it's of use.)
To quote the Church Lady, "Well isn't that special?"

To me, that bit in the parans looks incredibly like an advertisement for the sale of his algorithm, or at best, an effort to get it in use somewhere. Once one site uses a piece of software like that, it makes it easier to sale to other business entities.

I'm a firm believer that whenever there's something odd going on, there's a good chance that money is involved somewhere and how, and this stinks of it to me.

Of course, I could be wrong. It's entirely possible that Dr. Burt isn't using these DMCA takedown notices as an effort to push the use of his algorithm. After all, one of the other things that I'm a firm believer in is that anything is possible, there's just a lot of things that are not very probable.

1 comment:

Omnitrix said...

Great article. I have the same opinion.

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