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Jonathan Zittrain Responds
Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 07:20 AM EDT

Jonathan Zittrain would like to continue his conversation with Groklaw. He says your comments so far have been incredibly helpful to him. He's written up a new FAQ just for Groklaw, explaining what he wrote so that those of you that had trouble understanding his article or had style issues will be able to give him your input without any barriers. He also answers some of the questions you asked him. He really appreciates your comments and emails and would like more, and he tells me he only just today finished answering the last email from you, so that's saying something, so please take a look and give him any additional thoughts.

Just as a reminder Zittrain is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation, Oxford University and Jack N. & Lillian R. Berkman Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, Harvard Law School.

If there are other lawyers who would like input from the tech community here at Groklaw, just let us know. One of the things Groklaw is aiming for is to build a bridge between lawyers and the tech community. We understand how important it is for lawyers to understand the technical aspects of intellectual property law cases, and we're happy to help. Of course, you need to really want to know what readers think, because Groklaw folks will tell you. But if you're like Jonathan Zittrain and you can take a licking and keep on ticking, you will surely get helpful information. We can provide input either privately or as here, in public, for the stout at heart.

And with that, I'll let Jonathan speak. He answers some of your main criticisms, and he defines what he meant by "generative," because so many of you asked about that. And now that he clarifies, you'll likely be interested in what he writes about Tivo, which relates to our other main topic of the week.


Dear Groklaw readers,

Thank you for checking out my paper. The responses were overwhelming, and extremely helpful, both on style and substance. Here's a FAQ I've been working on to collect and respond to what I've seen -- and to try to state the thesis succinctly for those who didn't make it much past the abstract. You'll see that I'm essentially sticking to my guns, but the debate is helping me to think much more clearly about just what I mean to say. I'm hoping the book can be that much better than the paper thanks to this. I look forward to continuing the discussion.


Jonathan Zittrain
Groklaw Generative Internet FAQ 1.0
31 July 2006

1. Your paper is densely written and to many people it's, uh, unreadable. Can you explain its point in a straightforward paragraph?

I am worried about the "appliancization" of the Internet. I see a possibility that the physical devices that mainstream Internet users commonly use to access the network will be much more limited in the outside code that they can run, and more directive to users about what to do or where to go online. In other words, the Internet will become as boring as television, and as limited in the audiences who can contribute to it. This concern connects with free software issues, but it is not identical to them. This is because, for example, a box can be built using free software that is not readily modifiable by mainstream users (TiVo is a good example), while PCs running proprietary operating systems can be nearly completely reprogrammed and repurposed with a click or two, or a CD-ROM. The more that mainstream users access the network using information appliances, the fewer opportunities there will be to easily deploy innovative new applications, especially those whose value increases as more people use them (e.g. Internet telephony or filesharing networks). I see reasons why regulators might want to push information appliances, since they are more regulable than open PCs (consider the way that TiVo can set up its box so that commercials can't be automatically skipped, or certain flagged shows can last only a short period of time).

2. PC sales seem to be doing quite well, and TiVos seem like extra appliances in a house, not substitutes. WebTV was a joke. So is this a real problem?

It could be. I see more and more TiVo-like devices out there -- xBoxes, mobile phones, Blackberries, and iPods. None is easily reprogrammed by their users, even if it's a matter of them wanting to run someone else's code rather than write it themselves. Further, PCs themselves are heading in a more locked-down direction. The paper argues that a set of worries loosely grouped under "security" will cause users to favor such lockdown, even against their own interests. I see the virus problem as part of this phenomenon, and poor OS design can make PCs more vulnerable to viruses than they should be. But there's a more fundamental trade-off at work here: if users are to be in control of their machines, they need to make decisions about what should and shouldn't run on them, and many users don't have enough information or patience to make that decision. Interventions having to do with secure application environments, access control lists, or a better idea of what scope of privileges a particular piece of code is supposed to have, can be helpful, but they don't solve this bigger problem. If we limit what outside code can do, in order to minimize the harm it can wreak as a virus, we are also raising barriers to how easily *good* code can come to run comfortably on a user's machine. The magic of the Web is that you can go to a page and click to download and run something immediately -- it's a piece of functionality that comes at the cost, today, of users potentially making the wrong choices. Log them in as mere power users rather than admins for OSs that easily support such functionality, and it's better, but not completely solved. Asking that a user logout and back in as a superuser in order to approve certain code can be a good idea, but it also greatly complicates the steps a user needs to take to make new code work, especially new code that makes big changes to the way the machine operates, or that seeks to change the way another piece of software (and its data) work on the machine. The problem is analagous to that of firewalls: they're helpful against some kinds of attacks, but at end of the day either (1) the user must decide whether to let a particular program open a port, or (2) the user must be disempowered from making such decisions so he or she doesn't make any mistakes, moving the firewall upstream -- and limiting user freedom. Bad programs might themselves still find ways around blocked ports or NAT, and in the meantime non-bad programs such as Skype have to go to greater lengths to interoperate, making for more effort and investment to build them.

3. What does "generative" mean?

I wanted a label to capture the idea of a general-purpose platform in someone's hands that can be easily repurposed by that person, using code written by others. I chose the word generative, since it gets at the idea of something that's able to produce new things. To me, both the Internet and the PCs traditionally hooked up to it are that way, in particular because they allow people to build and distribute new code (and have that code itself use the network) with no major barriers. There are lots of academics in the cyberlaw space worried about keeping the Internet open, and I'm more or less in that camp. But no one has focused on whether the PC itself will stay open. Without an open PC, the ability of the Internet to generate new things is severely limited. I know that some people think that so long as any device has a browser and can get to anywhere on the Web, there's little need to reprogram the device, but I think that's short-sighted. The browser is just one way to use the Internet.

4. What aren't you harsher on Microsoft, or more focused on the difference between Windows and those OSs that don't share its vulnerabilities?

Because I see the real problem as how to empower users to run the code they want, allowing that code to change as much as it cares to on the users' machines, without having bad code get in and do bad things to the machine. Choice of OS can help with some security vulnerabilities -- such as how often the user might unknowingly encounter self-executing content that then slips its leash and does more to the machine or its data than the OS designer intended -- but it does not alone solve this larger problem. (For those who asked: I run Windows, OS X, and Debian GNU/Linux.) For the purposes of my argument, which seeks to shed light on a way of thinking about these problems that isn't the same as the standard free vs. proprietary debates (on which I've also weighed in, at papers.cfm?abstract_id=529862), I want to highlight that *today's* MS system still allows nearly any plank of functionality to be tweaked or rewritten without gatekeeping. Whether that will be true for Vista or future OSs is exactly the question I want to raise. I'm worried that the next MS PC OS will be a la XBox, with only licensed coders being able to distribute their apps, and the public not gravitating towards alternatives -- or even knowing that they exist.

4.5. Isn't OS monoculture really the problem?

I think monoculture is a serious problem, but monoculture can transcend any given OS -- consider the ASN.1 or Kerberos bugs that affect multiple systems since they inhere in the points of interoperability. In that sense the Net itself is a monoculture. This doesn't take away from the monoculture point, which I think is powerful, but the problem I point to is a more fundamental one. Aside from the bugs that are magnified when the buggy system is run so widely, we face the problem that e2e suggests users ought to get to make the call as to what to run on their powerful machines -- and then make the wrong call.

5. Suppose we assume you're right about the general problem. What do you say should be done?

I suggest a few things in the paper.

a. I'd like to get ISPs to take action against obviously compromised machines on their network (more on that in #8 below).

b. I think that virtual machine environments -- simplified in the draft to a "red/green" architecture -- may offer some technical help, since users could then run "risky" software and not find it catastrophic if the software turned out to be destructive. That's because data from important apps would be in the "green zone," and the red zone would have a quick "reinstall me to my original pristine state" switch. This has some of the drawbacks I discuss in #2 above about secure application environments, and it raises the issue of there needing to be a checkpoint Charlie to decide when to move data from one zone to the other. Plus there's the problem of deciding what belongs in what zone, and deciding who makes that decision. The comments so far here have been very helpful to my thinking about this solution.

c. Solving the sorts of problems that get the regulators up in arms -- "they're pirating all my movies" -- will reduce pressure to produce locked-down PCs. I don't know how many people here followed the Grokster case in the U.S.; I think that case is a prelude to a larger question the regulators will soon ask themselves: if people can build software that automatically updates itself, why shouldn't we force them to, and that way we can make them update software that turns out to have bad uses or effects? I'm against this, but I think it will be very tempting. Also, one might see regulators asking OS or anti-virus makers to try to "cancel" bad applications, treating them as if they were spyware/viruses/etc. If this were done to wildly popular software there'd be an obvious backlash -- people would rush to uninstall the antivirus software that was commandeered that way -- but in many environments like libraries, schools, and corporations, that choice may not exist for the end-user.

d. I'm interested in distributed solutions to the badware problem. I propose a distributed application, not unlike SETI@home, that users could download and that would monitor certain innocuous demographics -- number of crashes, restarts, hours in use, code running on the machine. Perhaps sometimes asking people how happy in general they are with the way their machines are behaving. With n large enough, we can statistically say that all else equal, a particular piece of code tends to make the machine (or its user) happier or not. (I realize that it might find that after TurboTax is installed people might get unhappy for reasons not having to do with the quality of the code.) Users could, before running certain code, query the system about how long the code had been in the wild, and how many machines were currently running it. Risk-averse users might wait before loading a program that didn't exist last week but now seems to be all the rage.

6. Are you in favor of DRM?

No, I'm not. I think DRM gets in the way of interoperability, and worse, it embeds assumptions about how people will or won't want to use the material so protected. To me, the generative qualities of the Net and PC have shown again and again that unexpected uses from unexpected corners can be socially valuable and commercially significant too. I think we're starting to see that in the tired debate over filesharing and copyrighted music. The really important functionality to preserve isn't about copying songs wholesale; it's about allowing people to create mash-ups and other derivative works that are valuable unto themselves and that can enhance the value of the original. Systems like iTunes are convenient but limited. They assume that what people want is a big remote control to watch or listen to what professionals produce. (The inclusion of podcasts in iTunes is a happy feature in the opposite direction, but Apple reserves the right, and will no doubt use it, to determine which podcasts to promote and which to exclude entirely.)

7. Why didn't you talk about IPv6?

I'm not sure I see how the introduction of IPv6 changes any of the dynamics I'm concerned about. I'm not even sure IPv6 will take hold, since enough hacks have been made to keep IPv4 beating. I'd like to know more from those who think it makes a difference here. Same for Internet2. I'm on Internet2 myself some of the time, depending on where I'm connecting, but I don't see it as affecting the PC/Internet appliance situation.

8. Where are you on net neutrality? Your paper seems to be against it.

No, not exactly. I'm sympathetic to worries that ISPs, not just wanting to be commodity carriers of bits, will try to privilege some bits over others, and that may end up squeezing out the little guy who has bits to offer but isn't worth the ISP's trouble to deal with. I do think that ISPs could help in the medium term with the problem of bad code -- for example, by disconnecting spam- or virus-spewing machines from the networks, and helping their users to fix them. If ISPs did this, it would not only help with the spam and virus problem, but it would make non-locked-down PCs a more attractive choice for users. I see "shallow" fixes like these as better for maintaining generativity than some of the possible alternatives, like locking down PCs. A locked-down PC, or one that listens to a gatekeeper like a virus-detection company to decide what to allow and what not, is topologically in the "middle" of the network rather than an endpoint for these purposes, since the user can't easily affect how it operates.

9. Are you "of an academic neo-con bent who thinks the whole 'net should be controlled by elitists, and not left to the vulgar techies who just got lucky this one time"?

No. I think the "vulgar techies" have a continuing role to play. I'm concerned that many come up with solutions for themselves and fellow "vulgar techies", without those solutions being easily adopted by Internet masses. In that sense, I'm anti-elitist. I think we need an open Net for everyone, not just for the tech types.

10. What's with the shorl links? Shorl is stupid.

I will never use shorl again. And if I do, which I won't, I will encapsulate the right url into it.

Jonathan Zittrain
Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation
Oxford University
Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Visiting Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies
Harvard Law School


Jonathan Zittrain Responds | 319 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: MathFox on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 07:26 AM EDT
For Pamela or Jonathan to pick them up easily.

If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within
itself, then it is inconsistent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: feldegast on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 07:30 AM EDT
Please place off topic comments here and if posting links submit in HTML mode to
make them clickable.

The above post is (C)Copyright 2006 and released under the Creative Commons
License Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: capt.Hij on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 07:43 AM EDT
I'm concerned that many come up with solutions for themselves and fellow "vulgar techies", without those solutions being easily adopted by Internet masses. In that sense, I'm anti-elitist. I think we need an open Net for everyone, not just for the tech types.

This statement is problematic. First, he argues for liberty with respect to technology but then complains when a subgroup does something that they enjoy but is not easily used by others. You can't have it both ways. If you want people to have the freedom to do what they want then that means some folks will do things that can't be easily used by the majority (or even approved of),

Second, the answer to elitism is not to dumb down the tools but to raise the level of knowledge of the non-techies. To turn the argument around I could say that the legal issues of DRM and closed systems is an argument for the law nerds and is too elitist. If I used this guy's same logic then the answer to that problem is to eliminate the lawyers and politicians. Ironically, the author is instead doing the right thing. He is working to raise the level of awareness and discourse.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 07:55 AM EDT
Is there another internet I haven't heard about yet???

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Google is your friend! - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 07:58 AM EDT
    • HiHi? - Authored by: NetArch on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 04:18 PM EDT
  • Internet2? - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:01 AM EDT
    • Internet2? - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 09:01 AM EDT
A few responses.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:19 AM EDT
1) Currently, people expect a rather large amount of web functionality to be
available to them, and become upset if it isn't there. Most especially, this
includes the ability to run fairly arbitrary Javascript. Javascript provides a
"complete" programming language in the sense that it is turing
complete. However, Javascript on websites is meant to be sandboxed, in the sense
that it is not normally allowed to make permanent modifictions to the users
computer. Java applets are similar, but slightly less necessary for a user to
have a good browsing experience.

For many purposes, this is an excelent compromise between giving the website
power, but not trusting it entirely. Because it is more or less impossible to
browse the web without giving the website this much power, there is already a
limit to what I can see regulators successfully taking away.

5 b) Users aren't entirely stupid. A major issue with malware is that because of
the interaction (allowed by Windows) between Javascript and software
installation, users can and do see odd looking popup boxes which, if you click
yes, allow malware to be installed. Active X controls, etc. In my experience, a
simple user/superuser account breakdown almost completely eliminates this. This
is true even when the user in questions is not very technical and both accounts
have no password.

I see two reasons for this. One is that it matters less what random buttons the
user is encouraged to click ok to by a website. The other is that by raising the
bar to install dancing elephant weather monitor bars, users are more likely to
think twice about installing. Basically, it is a UI problem. Simply increasing
the time and effort of installation to be in some sense proportional to the risk
seems to help a lot.

For these reason, the sort of approach that you propose seems a bit
overcomplicated to me, and to be honest strikes me as a technical solution to a
human problem. On the otherhand, the sort of technical solution that you
describe might have the effect of encouraging reputable software vendors to do
more to prevent their software from causing crashes, etc.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Role Of ISPs
Authored by: AlsoNickFortune on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:42 AM EDT
I do think that ISPs could help in the medium term with the problem of bad code -- for example, by disconnecting spam- or virus-spewing machines from the networks, and helping their users to fix them.

I can understand Prof. Zittrain wanting to keep ISPs onside, but I think this proposal opens obvious avenues of attack for the control minded.

If we are to require IPSs to segregate infected PCs, then we're going to need a list of malware requiring segregation. It's going to very tempting for certain industry association to try and get, say, BitTorrent included in that list. Other groups might like it Freenet was disallowed.

Or we could mandate the use of an anti-virus app from an approved list. Then all you'd need do is make sure that only windows apps get approval and anyone who wants to get online has to pay the Redmond tex.

If the ISPs are to make the decision then it's not so bad. Some of them have already been known to do this in the case of the more virulent virii. I don't think I'd like to give them formal justification for such a policy though.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: philc on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:47 AM EDT
As with all group human endevors there comes a time to organize and set rules to
govern the group. The internet is such an organization. I feel we need to start
to think of what is good for the internet at large and explicitly surpress use
that is exclusively good for a few at the expense of the whole and to suppress
use that is distructive. Basically form an international government to care for
the internet for the betterment of all. OK, so that won't happen.

People that deliberately cause trouble by interfering with others using the
internet for their own gain at the cost to others need to be punished in some

In this vein are two major trends that come to mind: viruses and (for lack of a
better term) DRM. People that enable virus writers by providing porly designed
product as well as the virus writers themselves should be held accountable for
the cost of repairing the damage. People, such as ISPs, that choose to
"look the other way" should also be held responsible for letting the
problem continue.

DRM and other attempts to lock down the internet really need to be delt with in
harsh terms. Appliances that lock out or in users are bad for the internet as a
whole. Most of the damage can be eliminated by requiring the use of open
standard protocols that anyone can implement. Anyone should be able to make a
device to access any service (respecting the terms of using the service). Things
like iTunes only working with iPods is bad for the internet as a whole. Anyone
should be able to buy from iTunes and iPods should be able to access any
entertainment service.

Somewhat off topic: something has to be done with copyright in the digital age.
The old model where the copyright owner could control distribution because of
the few available distribution points is long dead. Anyone with a connection to
the internet can publish. Going after "pirates" is just not going to
work. The RIAA and MPAA really need to find a way to make money when their
"valuable IP" flows around completely out of their control. Suing
people in federal court for having a collection of their songs that could be
bought for a few hundred dollars is way over the top. Here in the USA you can be
found with a single song, which they will sell you for $1.00, that you cannot
prove you bought and it can cost you $150,000.00 fine, 5 years in federal
prison, and a criminal record for life. How many of you have CDs in your
collection that you can't prove you own by showing a receipt? How about songs
that you paid for on your MP3 player that you can't prove you paid for? This is
way over the top.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Small point - Authored by: DaveJakeman on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 11:27 AM EDT
  • Government - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 02:21 PM EDT
  • Government - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:47 PM EDT
    • Government - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:57 PM EDT
  • Government - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 04 2006 @ 06:39 PM EDT
Limited v general devices.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 09:00 AM EDT
I think you have missed a major point that is quite well illustrated by a couple
of your examples; Blackberries and mobile phones. When these devices appeared a
mobile phone was used to make phone calls and a Blackberry to send and receive
email. No longer. Now the chances are your mobile phone runs a fully fledged
operating system, can run its own native apps and a variety of Java ones if the
one you bought this year can't out Blackberry most Blackberries next year's one
will. It was probably supplied locked to one telephony suppliers network but
your son, or a local shop for a tiny fee, removed that restriciton. This year's
Blackberries have all the functions of mobile phones, both of them double as mp3
players and soon as TVs and radios. All of this functionaility is programmable.
Most Windows users really use a very tightly constrained single use appliance.
It's a web browser, or maybe a word processor but rarely anything else. This
doesn't mean a PC isn't versatile it just means the user has limited imagination
and limited desire to explore. This will always be true for many people. Exactly
the same applies to all the other devices you mention, the way the world is
built means they will increasingly be general devices used and configured to
favour a few specific roles but these roles will be different for each of their
users. Many of these users will explore and expand the devices and wise makers
will encourage this, because that is where the next big idea will come from.
Regulators will whinge and whine when people do things they haven't thought of,
but as usual we the real people will ignore them.
The course of human history shows tools oscillating between the general and the
specific, this will always continue.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: WirelessComGuy on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 10:43 AM EDT

Thanks for the FAQ. I have a better understanding of what you are trying to say.
I didn't understand the original text (as far as I got) to mean what I read


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Word substitution - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 11:39 AM EDT
    • Word substitution - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 02:28 PM EDT
Hold Users Responsible
Authored by: Simon G Best on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 10:56 AM EDT

The user/owner of a computer should be held responsible for what they have/allow that computer to do. (Of course, life isn't perfect, and sometimes things'll just go wrong, and trouble-makers will still occasionally manage to take control of some others' computers, etc.)

It's a bit like with cars. Drivers don't need to be engineers or car mechanics to be able to drive safely and responsibly. The owner of a car is still responsible for making sure that car's in road-worthy condition, and the driver is still responsible for driving safely. Of course, there are mechanics, driving instructors, etc, who sell services in relation to such responsibilities and opportunities, helping the owners and drivers to enjoy the benefits without needlessly endangering others.

Users and owners of computers should similarly be held responsible for what they have, or let, their computers do on their behalfs. Of course, many users won't like the idea of being held responsible for 'allowing' their spambot-ridden PCs to flood the internet with junk. After all, computers are like TVs, aren't they? You plug them in, switch them on, and away you go. Except, of course, that's not how it is. When you watch TV, you're not broadcasting. But when you're on the internet, you're both transmitting and receiving. You own the computer, you're responsible for what software you've put (or accepted pre-installed) on it, so you're responsible for what your computer then does.

Ah, but what about when others, without your authorisation, install unwanted software on your computer? Well, did you make sure your computer's reasonably secure against intruders? Do you leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition? How did the intruders gain access to your machine if it wasn't by exploiting the software already on it?

Of course, many users still won't be satisfied by this. When they paid their money, in the shop, for their nice, new computer, or their nice, new operating system, they were expecting to get quality products. At least, they were expecting the software to be up to the job. You wouldn't accept a brand new car that was dangerous to drive, would you? It's reasonable to expect - and assume - that the software you pay good money for is going to behave. And anyway, everyone - or most, at least - use Windows, so I have to, too - don't I? That's too often the attitude - consumers with rights, rather than citizens with rights and corresponding responsibilities.

But this means there's a market, already in place, but in which the customers are being served badly, if at all. It's a market for services, where the service providers take responsibility on the users/owners behalves. Actually hold the users and owners responsible, and they'll demand more - and better - from that market place. The users get better managed computers, the service providers profit, and the internet's a better place for everyone (except the spamboteers, and the like).

How would it all work in practice? How would it be implemented? Well, that's for entrepreneurs, business innovators, ISPs and operating system service providers, users/owners and the market to discover and decide. (Yes, this is very free-market of me :-) )

I think a part of it might need to be that network service providers (backbone owners, ISPs, etc) agree to only accept traffic from networks that are reasonably free from junk. This could be done through contracts between the various providers, such that if a particular network turns out to be a source (from other networks' perspectives) of unwanted, unsolicited traffic, that would trigger a severing of the connection(s) with that network. That would give each network service provider an incentive to keep their network 'clean'. In turn, this kind of arrangement would be made with other network service providers (as no network provider would want to get cut off as a result of other network providers sending rubbish through their own network), all the way to the ISPs, and on to the ISPs' customers. The result would be the customers, the users/owners themselves, being held responsible for what they have, or allow, their computers to do :-)

That's just a thought, but I do believe we won't get much improvement until we do start taking, and accepting, responsibility as users. It's a matter of being responsible citizens, not merely consumers.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Governing and Regulating the Internet
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 11:20 AM EDT
Firstly, thanks for the simpler explanation.

Doesn't the title "Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation"
make it impossible for you to be impartial about this? Is a poacher watching
over the game? Could a Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation come out
and say "the internet should not be governed or regulated" if that
were genuinely the best way for the internet to be governed and regulated?

You talk about ISP's having the ability to disconnect spammers from the internet
and at the same time play down the significance of Microsoft security issues.

- a huge volume of spam issues from bot-nets and those bot-nets comprise
Microsoft security-compromised systems;

- the great majority of end-user PC's still run Microsoft and are therefore
vulnerable or already problematic.

I would say that the huge number of insecure Microsoft PC's on the internet
*ARE* the problem, not the internet itself.

Any compromisable appliance, whether it be general-purpose, or having
locked-down idiot-only operation is capable of being subverted if its underlying
O/S is full of holes. That is the first problem that needs to be addressed.
Once that is out of the way, the user choice/handcuffs issue you are talking
about becomes relevant.

You rightly point out that the current security problems could be used as an
excuse for a clamp-down, but fail to point out that the bulk of the security
issue is due to Microsoft and the legacy of insecure Microsoft PC's, now
connected to the internet. It's an exploiter's dream come true, thanks to the
influence and actions of one monopoly.

If the internet today were based largely on Linux-run PC's, it would be a very
different piece of cyberspace. Programmers would still be able to program and
dumb users would still be able to use dumbly, but much of the internet chaos
would become ordered.

You said: "I do think that ISPs could help in the medium term with the
problem of bad code -- for example, by disconnecting spam- or virus-spewing
machines from the networks, and helping their users to fix them."

That sounds like common sense, but wouldn't be straightforward in practice:

What's the difference, from an ISP's point-of-view, between a spammer and a
company doing a marketing mailshot to their customer database? Or a customer
database passed to the company legitimately by an associated company? Or a
customer database they have bought from another non-associated company? See any
shades of grey there? Are you saying the decision over whether something is or
isn't spam should rest with ISP's? I don't see it that way, even if spam is a
wretched nuisance. I see the primary purpose of the internet as *delivering*
stuff that is *sent*, without *losing* it. It's primarily a communcation

What's the difference, from an ISP's point-of-view, between a rogue company
releasing spyware onto the net and Microsoft's WGA? Should Microsoft be
disconnected from the net? Should that be a choice of the ISP's?

Supposing I have a real problem with someone that repeatedly phones me up and
hurls abuse down the phone. Is that a problem with my handset? The telephone
line? The telephone company? I might ask the telephone company to block a
certain telephone number, but should the telephone company decide on my behalf
that "this is abuse" and block those calls without my say?

The beauty of the internet is that it is not governed (unless you live in places
like China, where it's not so beautiful). The moment you appoint a gatekeeper
and give that gatekeeper the keys, you need an absolutely perfect mechanism for
ensuring the gatekeeper is incorruptible and could never, ever, possibly be a
poacher-turned-gamekeeper. I'm sure the Chinese population fully trust the
gatekeepers that have been appointed to protect them from outside influences

In case you hadn't guessed, my view is that the internet should only be under
"Governance and Regulation" insofar as its end systems should be
suitable for connecting to the internet and that responsiblity rests with the
end user in exactly the same way as the end user should get to choose what
software his internet appliance runs.

Microsoft operating systems are too frail for direct connection to today's
internet. I see that as a self-healing process. As Microsoft end-user PC's
become disabled, their owners will eventually switch to something less
troublesome, or their friends will point them in the right direction. Microsoft
are assisting this process by failing to address their part of the problem.
Governments are in there pitching too, with their adoption of ODF. This has
started a shift that will grow exponentially. Certainly, the internet will look
very different in one year's time. When these few things have shaken out, I
think your article will be more relevant.

A point I think you may not have considered is that of education. It isn't just
a question of the population being fed locked-down or read-only web surfing
devices, it's a question of the end-user's actual capability to program. If
that ability isn't there, then a general-purpose development appliance would
seem pointless. If the end-user's education includes computing fundamentals and
programming experience, that user is more likely to shun the locked-down
appliance and choose one he can develop with.

In my view, education is the way the internet should be governed and regulated,
not by restriction or force. There is no more powerful a generative tool than
Education. Well, communcation maybe.

Unfortunately for us, common sense is not very common.
Should one hear an accusation, try it out on the accuser.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IPv6 dynamics
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 12:06 PM EDT
"7. Why didn't you talk about IPv6?

I'm not sure I see how the introduction of IPv6 changes any of the dynamics I'm
concerned about."

IPv6 has the potential to fundamentally change the Internet.

First, and least important, it means that we can get rid of Network Address
Translation (NAT), the hack that allows multiple devices to share a single
public IP address. That means that all devices will once again be able to talk
with all other devices. This facilitates deployment of Voice Over Internet and
other applications which require "reaching out" directly from one
device to another.

Second, multicast is built into IPv6. This means that a broadcast to 1000
people does not use 1000 times the bandwidth required to deliver the data to 1
person. In fact, it requires exactly the same amount of bandwidth as that
required to deliver the data to 1 person. At least from the
"broadcaster" up to the point where recipients are on different
networks. At that point the data is duplicated by the router and sent along
both networks. So, on any one network, the bandwidth needed is only that
required to deliver the data to a single user.

This means that anybody can broadcast. Cheaply. This could bring about as
large a social change as that which occurred when the Internet became popular.
If anybody can broadcast, then people will want the freedom to do so, and will
want all the flexibility that goes along with it.

Of course, it's sure that the traditional ISPs, with their ties into the current
media and communications oligopoly will resist. The could, for instance, block
multicast, and no doubt they will if they can.

Karl O. Pinc kop atat meme dotdot com

[ Reply to This | # ]

Elaborated comments.
Authored by: blang on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 12:44 PM EDT
Reading the FAQ, I think I agree with the ultimate goals.
I don't share all the worries, though. We're moving in teh gray area between
regulation and technology. There are legal issues that can be solved with
technology, technical problems that can be solved with regulation, and then
there are areas where legislation needs to be avoided.

" a. I'd like to get ISPs to take action against obviously compromised
machines on their network (more on that in #8 below)."
Agreed. This is both technically feasible, as well as legally sound. After all,
teh subsriber, wether he knows it or not is causing harm to the ISP's property,
and to that of other subscribers. That ISP's are not doing this I believe is
simply lazyness, not a principle. Should the ISP be required to do this by
regulation? Probably not. Should the ISP be required to respond timely to
customer complaints about roggue machines? Probably not, unless the ISP is a de
facto local monopoly. I believe the best regulation that could be enacted, is
that an ISP's repeated failure to properly secure it's network from inside and
outside threats is a contract violation. The best thing regulators can do, is
to make it easier for teh consumer to get out of contracts when the ISP fails to
deliver. Currently the contract you sign with and ISP are consumer unfriendly.
The ISPs make no warranties about levels of service, but claim the right to
collect monies.

"red/green" architecture "
While this solution (which is already available today) protects the user from
harm, it does not prevent the "red zone" from causing harm to other
users. Fortunately a "red zone" is normally frequently reset, so that
a comnpromized OS image will cause harm only for a limited time.

" c. Solving the sorts of problems that get the regulators up in
I think this is more an issue of education and philosophy, not of coming up with
technical solutions. Pirating of movies is illegal. The means by which a movie
is pirated should not be subject to regulation. There will always be crackpot
legislators who are luddites and unable to even use a TV remote. There will
always be Californian and Utah legislators that will do almost anything to
increase movie studio and hymn composer's revenues. For the rest of the
legislators, what is needed is education, and a reminder that we have a
constitution. And when they fail that, we always have the Supreme court. No
matter how draconian technology becomes, the IP-lobby will apply pressure on
legislators to help them increase revenue further. Popular technology tends to
trump legislative kneejerkery in the long run. I bet a lot of the legislators
own ipods, and would be offended by the assertion that they could be considered
pirates, because they own a device that could be used to play pirated songs.

" d. I'm interested in distributed solutions to the badware problem."
I have an alternative proposal, namely cooperative security. Every machines is
tasked with keeping an eye on a few other machines, which could belong to
family, friends, etc., or even just a pair of your own machines. Once badware is
discovered, the cooperative will perform actions based on the owner's policy.
These could include triggering the dead man button, sending an SMS, making a
system copy, perform simple corrective action, etc. Such a system will of
course open it's own security issues, the most likely exploit being to wilfully
do something that will trigger a system's dead man button as a form of denial of
service attack. The benefot of such a system, though, is that the security
system has built-in redundancy, similar to what NASA requires for computer
programs in space vessels.

Wholeheartedly agree. DRM usually limits fair use rights, and also complicates
or makes archival impossible. If you have a large collection of perpetually paid
for/licensed content, registered to use for just one device, what happens 5
years from now? The DRM administrator might not be in business anymore, and your
device is broken, and your paid for content can not be transferred to the new
device without DRM admin's approval. Countries with strong consumer rights
protections will hopefully slow the march of the DRM trolls.
DRM does not address piracy. DRM can ALWAYS be circumevented, unless there is
only one copy of the work, only accessible in a vault, and access requires
x-rays, body cavity search, and post-view memory erasure.

"I'm sympathetic to worries that ISPs, not just wanting to be commodity
carriers of bits, will try to privilege some bits over others, and that may end
up squeezing out the little guy who has bits to offer but isn't worth the ISP's
trouble to deal with."

I can not share this sympathy. The ISP's quest for bandwidth segmentation is
entirely based on their wish to become the sole provider (a micro-monopoly) in
their field.
We have come full circle with horizontal and vertical deregulation (breakup of
Mama Bell). Now legislators are opening for a return to the old days, where you
might have a single provider, who can charge anything for the combination of
services. I have already seen cases of broadband providers attempting to
prevent the use of competitor's VOIP systems. If anything, we should warn
legislators an regulators about this trend, and hold the telco's with monopoly
ambitions feet to the fire.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think I get it now - it's a FUD problem.
Authored by: PJ on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 01:16 PM EDT
No politics on Groklaw, please. Please read
again our comments policy. Thank you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The cell phone network is locked down
Authored by: ssavitzky on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 02:04 PM EDT
The cell phone network is a perfect example of a network of locked-down
appliances. Even though a smart phone may be running an OS (like PalmOS or even
Linux) capable of running general applications, the carriers -- the oligopoly
that controls the network -- won't permit them. So, for example, you may not be
able to use bluetooth or USB to put MP3's on your phone, or to get photos off
the phone and into your computer, because the carrier wants you to spend an
additional $10-50/month for a data plan.

Never anger a bard, for your name sounds funny and scans to Greensleeves.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Jonathan Zittrain has two hats
Authored by: grundy on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 02:33 PM EDT
Clearly, Professor Zittrain has qualifications as a lawyer and is a
Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. He is also "Professor of
Internet Governance and Regulation" in the Oxford Internet
Institute unit of the Social Sciences Division of Oxford University
and it is this hat that he is wearing here, not the lawyer.

The paper that Professor Zittrain published on Groklaw and on the
Social Science Research Network is, IMO, not legalese, but what
I (and few others) call the "Academic Post-Modernist" style, which
professors of art criticism, and similar otherworldly subjects, have
developed into an effective method of making their, IMO, inane
nonsense seem to be Profound and Important. Unfortunately, this
style seems to have affected all of social science, even those who,
like professor Zittrain, do have something significant to say, and
may well be the most appropriate style for the professor's intended
audience, who in turn may well be influential with congresscritters.

Meanwhile, it does make his article hard to read for us in the physical

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: jplatt39 on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 04:54 PM EDT
I hate to say it, but Cyberpunk stories (William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Paul
DiFillippo and anyone I've forgotten) are worth bringing up as an argument
because the protagonists tend to be hackers but they do not necessarily come
from Western cultures.

Above in the Off-topic there is a debate over one laptop per child, where at
least one poster wants to impose the economics of the developed world on them.
Obviously this is what the treaties the government is fighting so hard for is
about. Unfortunately, among the groups that have been globalized is organized
crime, and a considerable amount of the intellectual property they have
developed is out on the web or in Eastern Europe, where the US is not likely to
be able to stop it in the foreseeable future.

A controlled global network will be vulnerable to this kind of action, and
therefore render us all that much more vulnerable to theft of identities and
everything else. This means if we want to be safe, and they are criminalizing
what we can do to be safe--a large number of us are going to be criminals

Cyberpunk therefore becomes a reasonable model for the future. We ourselves, at
one time, had a reputation as Intellectual Pirates. Until the late nineteenth
century, I believe. It changed when we began to get significant IP of our own.
Frankly, there are many countries which do not have significant IP or the
infrastructure to get it and I do not believe that the actions our government is
taking will have significant impact in those parts of the world.

I really do believe the next chapter in this story is a truly global one.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Cyberpunk? - Authored by: Wol on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 03:43 AM EDT
a better term for "generative" ?
Authored by: vruz on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 06:20 PM EDT
In computing, the term "generative" and derivates of the verb 'to generate' particularly "generator" have several different meanings, none of them conveying the same meaning you wanted to express.
(see: disambiguation page for the term 'generator' on WikiPedia)

Nowadays, I think it's safe to say the mind of a technically oriented reader when confronted with the term will probably evoke first something related to "code generators".

Code generation is the process in which a program has the special ability to produce code or content previously inexistent. (i.e. a program that writes programs) See: Code Generation in WikiPedia for a more exact definition

Although it is probably a neologism, there is a widely used term that seems to me like a better fit for your idea, that is: 'repurposable' (also seen as: 'repurposeable' on the Internet)

A 'repurposeable' device can be an apparatus that at the moment of its inception was designed as a general purpose machine, or one that had a designed special purpose but allows for a (perhaps unforeseen) change of purpose.

Maybe it doesn't sound as a pretty word, just the opinion of a non-native english speaker software developer.
Congratulations and good luck with your endeavor Prof. Zittrain.

--- the vruz

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hardware appliances
Authored by: jig on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 06:32 PM EDT
Short and sweet.

"I see more and more TiVo-like devices out there -- xBoxes, mobile phones,
Blackberries, and iPods. None is easily reprogrammed by their users, even if
it's a matter of them wanting to run someone else's code rather than write it

The various appliances you mentioned, xbox, tivo, ipod, cells, all have been
hacked in a way that is easily approachable by the general public (those that
aren't scared away by fearmongering politics anyway), and each can be used to
run homebrew code, most of which is open source (educational). I've walked
non-technical 14 year olds through "hacking" their various appliances
and they found it easy.

Granted, the original hacks weren't generally something that could be discovered
by laymen, but I'm not sure that matters. If it does, I'm not sure how that
differs from the relationship between a consumer using a common (still
reasonably open) PC and the guys who write the code the consumer runs on it. If
there is eliteism in one camp, it's in both. If there is freedom in either, then
it's in both.

So, I wouldn't characterize the reprogramming as not easily done, except as sort
of a fox news type talking point that hopefully gets throughly deconstructed
later on rather than used to justify a blind argument for what I'm reading as
fear for what might come in the future, I guess the "appliancization"
of the Internet.

I do sense an inner struggle in your writing, on one side you want to put the
internet on an almost nostalgic pedestal, and on the other you want to move it
forward and make it pervasive and common. I think you need to make a clearer
choice and then rewrite with that in mind, even if your choice is
"both" (you'll have to confront that).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Jonathan Zittrain Responds
Authored by: urzumph on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:09 PM EDT
I still think a non-generative internet is a solution in search of a problem. I
don't understand what this would solve.

I think in the last article we reasonably demonstrated that this will not solve
security problems, and could potentially make them worse (If not, I can try to
re-explain that).

So what does this non-generative internet solve?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thanks for sticking with us.
Authored by: dht on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 08:28 PM EDT

My 2 cents..

Observation 1.
There seems to be a part of your premise/assumption that is based on controlling or managing the tools. If applied in any other area of human society, this would be pointed out very clearly. You don't seem to see or make a distinction. Lawmakers (and anybody advising such) need to focus on the social aspects, not the tools used. Computers, and programming code, is just a tool to be used or misused like any other.

You don't try to incarcerate the kitchen knife used to commit a murder, nor do you charge the automobile with a DUI (Driver Under the Influence). To bring it into the computer programming world, a very useful tool for doing remote computer diagnosis and assistance can be easily subverted into a tool to subvert an unsuspecting user's data and computing resources.

There is no such thing as "bad code" and "good code" from the social aspect. To paraphrase a common saying; programs don't hack computers, people do. Hacking computers is simply anti-social behaviour by an individual (or group), and has nothing to do with the tools. We put virus scanners and firewalls in place for exactly the same reason we put locks on doors and alarms on automobiles.

Observation 2.
You seem to be stuck on the business/technology model that Tivo is using as a example of a non-generative "purposed" device. This is only one example and there are many others that refute this model. Take a look at the OpenWRT project or the various code being built for the Linux based Nokia 770 for examples that are going the other direction.

Your point about many devices being "closed up" to user additions or modification does strike a chord, but I feel it is much more alarmist than it needs to be. Certain users will always prefer to "pay" (and wait) for someone else to build a closed purpose device that only does a closed set of functions. Other users actively seek open ended devices just for the flexibility and the ability to extend or customize the devices for themselves. I know my preferences, but I also know my mother's preferences - and they are not the same.

If I were to have any advice for lawmakers, that advice would be "hands off the technology". Laws that defined approved social behaviour are well within the purvey of lawmakers capability to understand - and they usually are a reaction to what society as a whole desires. But laws that try to define or control the technology itself will always be misunderstood, poorly implemented, and out of date within months.

Observation 3.
Style. Although I appreciate your FAQ and definitions, I still feel your style is too pompous and academic (there, I've said it). Your early use of the word "generative" threw me off right at the start in your original article. It set up a cognitive dissonance that resonates even now. At the very least, you needed to clearly define exactly what you meant by the term before you ever used it. If done right, you would never have lost your audience (me) and later usage of the term would have seemed natural and easy.

As a technologist I am constantly asked to simplify or paraphrase my explanations. It can be frustrating to lose the precision that certain terms indicate, but if I am to actually impart the knowledge I have no choice. In fact, I use a "sliding scale" of terms and descriptions depending on the particular audience I am dealing with.

Your style could use a bit of the same brush. I certainly wouldn't expect you to understand if I started a technical explanation with undefined precisionist terms. Would you expect anything more or less with your audience?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Zittrain, Moglen, and Software Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 01 2006 @ 11:06 PM EDT
Mr. Zittrain makes several of the same points that Mr. Moglen of the Free
Software Foundation made at the session at OSCON2006 I attended.
1) GPLV3 is necessary. GPLV3 is trying to address the issue of 'Tivo-izing' GPL
code. (among other things) The objective is to preserve freedoms, not just to
specify a distribution method (i.e. source)

2) As devices converge (iPOD + PDA + CELL-phone + Camera) the battle will be for
real estate in the user's pocket. If the user's pocket is occupied by a
proprietary 'device' as Mr. Zittrain seems to fear, then there will not be room
for an open device, and innovation will be curtailed.

3) A fundamental question is: Does the User have rights? The current MS-XP EULA
would seem to say no, not really. But we need to get that question answered in
the affirmative, and by a body with real legal standing such as Congress.

My own personal theory is that MS will introduce 'Trusted Computing' (which
means they dont trust the users, only their own code) and Intel will build
support for it into the chipset, and the RIAA/MPAA will get Congress to pass
laws mandating it. I think this is the real reason Apple switched to Intel. They
can see this coming and they did not want to be left out of the entertainment

Support the Free Software Foundation. Coding is not a crime.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Perception of the parts
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 01:30 AM EDT
This paper presumes that the technology architecture that we are using today, is
the architecture we should be using, and it won't change.

I think the problem here is one of perception of the parts that make up a
networked personal computing system, how far along the development path we are
at the moment, what we can expect during the next 10 years because of
technologies like Linux, and what we will do with it then.

The parts or layers of a networked computing system architecture are as

Public Information Centre Layer
Computing Layer
Human Interface Layer
Networking Layer

These were defined in the mid '80s by technologists of the time. (I'm sorry I've
lost my references)

Today's Microsoft designed Wintel PC is contrary to the model as it combines
both the Computing and Human Interface layers into one device. This limits its
ability to optimally perform the tasks of the layers it incorporates. Also by
focusing development within its design, it has effectively held up development
and functionality of these two layers for the last 20 years enabling a lot of
money to be taken out of the normal development process.

These things happen, usually caused by clever marketing, but generally only last
for about 20 to 25 years, when disruptive technologies appear to put development
back on track. This is much the case at the moment as Linux and Open Source
disrupt Microsoft's careful plan, and AMD the same for Intel.

But the problem here is that both these new technologies on x86 devices are
subscribing to Microsoft's contrary design.

It is the devices in the home entertainment space that are primarily designed
for the Human Interface layer, that are the leading edge of disruptive hardware.
The upcoming PS3 which also run Linux. plays DVDs, has fantastic graphics, and
connects to a server driven gaming network is another good example of disruptive

In these devices we start to see the computing as separate from the Human
Interface. Separate in locality as well as functionality. And why not? Who wants
to use capital for the hardware for computing when the user is more interested
in Human Interface devices.

The optimal Internet experience will have all computing done on a world wide
virtual networked computer. The advantages here are that at any given time at
least 30% of the population will not be using their computing power, the whole
computing network will be the "red" zone, and computing power can be
distributed by leasing "red" zone devices to individual users and

Like the old POTS, the virtual red zone computing network will be transparent to
users and will run a completely seperated OS configuration from any other layer,
and depending on each user's preferences, could receive malware that affect
their Human Interface devices, but cannot affect the red zone computing network
as it won't be using the same configured OS.

Any strategy that bases itself on users owning red zone devices is bound to fail
as can be seen from the problems MS is having with security on their desktop
solution and mainly because they cannot afford to secure it their perception
that the desktop model is now dead.

Hope this is a help.
Kind regards

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is digital really what it is, or is it a trick (that now has patentable legal meaning)?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 01:36 AM EDT
Is digtial really what it is, or is it a trick. Is digital what it is, or is it a trick?    Because of so much "Digital Intellectual Property law" is based on it being real, then is the examination of the "reality of digital" worthy of the world's attentions?  View the below C-SPAN segment first and then decide and expand on the debate, if you so please?

This speaker at the C-SPAN Digital Future Series ( ngress/digitalfuture.asp ) really drives the point home as to what is digital, if anything, really?

Is "DIGITAL" the worlds biggest marketing success of a definition that is really an illusion?

Are we seeing digital for what it is?  Or are we making more of it then we really should?    Is digital really the magic that it is really made out to be (in our minds), or is it just a new slight of hand upgrade to older technology (such as morse code, think RIM Blackberry patents, etc)?  Is Digital just a trick?  Brian Cantwell Smith has some insights that the Governments around the globe and their Patent Offices should take seriously?  Exactly, what is digital?

Is all this stuff that is digital really not new, as it is just the inside sandwich layer of "advanced Morse Code" that sites between two layers of actual reality based analog layers?    All this "one click" patents, "rail road switch control" patents, etc are really just expressions (like literature) of something we have been doing right along anyway. 

Clip 4 Monday, January 31 - Brian Cantwell Smith,  dean of the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto Smith, the author of "On the Origin of Objects," combines degrees in computer science and philosophy and is an expert on the interdisciplinary convergence brought about by digitization. His talk is titled, "And Is All This Stuff Really Digital After All?"

Manual start of video if clicking on red arrow does not work?  You can use Real Player maually, so do this File->Open Location->and copy and paste the url for the files into the location area of the Real Player.

Clip 4 Monday, January 31 - Brian Cantwell Smith

Other Digital Future clips:

Clip 1 Monday, November 15 - David Weinberge

Clip 2 Monday, December 13 - Brewster Kahle

Clip 3 Monday, January 24 - Juan Pablo Paz
rtsp:// .0

Clip 4 Monday, January 31 - Brian Cantwell Smith

Clip 5 Monday, February 14 - David M. Levy

Clip 6 Thursday, March 3 - Lawrence Lessig
rtsp:// 305.rm?start=1:25.0

Clip 7 Monday, March 14 - Edward L. Ayers
rtsp:// 05.0

Clip 8 Monday, March 28 - Neil Gershenfeld
rtsp:// 2805.rm?start=:03.6

[ Reply to This | # ]

Again - if you missed it from before - ISP help can be voluntary and friendly to copyright, no?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 02:15 AM EDT
Use Creative Commons idea(s) not DRM

Title: Use Creative Commons idea(s) not DRM!

To: those who don't want DRM, but might want to protect digital copyright,... use Creative Commons Metatag as an easy and as an open tool that is easy for ANYONE TO USE FREELY... (and get congress to endorse it by law)!  Also, endorse the idea of an ammendment to the constitution that will allow your creative commons content to flow freely over the wires, a.k.a  - Net Neutrality)!


An Artist's choice of Creative Commons ALLOWED WORKS FILTERING and OPEN and FREE USE with no royalty tax, is Key to making everyone happy! If you want to watch free content you can! Choice should always be a free process that exists between the end user (or fan) and the artist...

DRM is a control choice, by technology interests who want to sell or control the gateways on the interent, in order to maintain income flows that are traditional, and this does not have the artist (all) in mind, and certainly does not have the fan in mind at all (only the middle folks, that have the wires, and the gateways, and the patents, are favored by DRM)!    If they own the gateway, or the DRM patents, or a standard use DRM established by wide usage, so that it then becomes a standard because it is used by everyone (like MS Windows, Office, or like the proprietary MP3 format that was given out freely at first, until it was everywhere, then the company that OWNED it, began to collect licensing income from whoever they could....).    DRM is this kind of tool (and Microsoft has a whole portfolio of companies that it has bought simple to get as many patents for DRM as it can!  If the cost is high to the USE of DRM technologies, and it becomes a standard by wide usage, then the economic interests of the internet, or the entertainment industry (example: TRADITIONAL MUSIC COMPANIES and THOSE THAT CONTROL TRADTIONAL MOVIE DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS),  can then have the needing of an RECORD LABEL contract or a MOVIE distribution contract mean something again...!    If an artist can go direct to their consumer, then what good is that (from the traditional record label or movie house point of view)?

We do not need DRM... and this is how we do that!

ARTISTS do need to be protected.... with the ability for those who don't want absolute copyright protection to have only the protection that they want. This only can be done with Creative Commons! Not DRM, and Not with exclusionary laws that control our computers (aka devices that can record)! Yes, it is possible to mandate levels of play and record depending on allowed (not excluded) creative commons metadata tagged files and thus the files as they stream over any network to devices that could be mandated to follow certain rules of polite behavior when encountering certain levels of artist requested copyright protection.

There is only one way to make everyone happy...

Use Creative Commons, with a meta-data tag, that gives a digital file a digital ID that is search-able, filterable, and then protect that meta-data from changes or removal by creating a law that prevents the change or removal of a file or it's meta-data. ISP's could filter the meta-data - like how anti-virus software works, and notify a user (ISP has their email address for billing purposes) that the users account is being used to exceed "fair use" of copyrighted material, beyond a quota, or established "fair-use" limit. Of course Creative Commons or the government needs to establish a Creative Commons style of "commercial only" license with a way to register (on-line) a creators digital meta-data. Shareable meta-data (See Creative Commons Share-alike) would be not filtered or audited, only commercial only meta-data would be filtered. The notification process would first be friendly, then a process of questioning by the ISP could happen if the "commercial only creative commons meta-data" continued to be shared beyond fair use! If all friendly attempts to stop the infringer from exceeding fair use quota did not affect the traffic the ISP could then notify a central world wide infringer data base providing a "hidden" Pseudonym email address to the database where others could email this Pseudonym address and the ISP would then forward the email to the infringer (the creator of the works, owner of copyright, or fans of the work could then ask the infringer to stop (could be digital and automatic once the infringer's pseudonym email address hit the database listing the files meta-data along with the pseudonym's email address. Friendly notification, only amplified could continue, before enforcement action via law suit or criminal process could continue. IP v6 could allow an ISP customer a "assigned IP address" and even if the user had a open wireless network that was usable by anyone, they could be advised in a friendly way to investigate the users of the network or be able to "block the sending of certain files on their network" at a central router or firewall. Final penalty for user who infringes on "commercial only creative commons copyright digital meta-data" would be the termination of the Internet account by the ISP (private ISP or public if the municipality were providing free Internet access)! No one would like to loose their Internet access, would be worse than fines (as a repeat infringer could be targeted in a database with the risk of being black listed for X amount of time from using other ISPs). Of course, other Internet anonymous use could continue as only "commercial only" meta-data would be filtered or audited! China does a similar thing now to control Internet access there, only in violation of human rights. Blocking content is possible as well and the creative commons license, once violated, revokes future use of the licensed work (meaning that the ISP could block, or rather only allow by following the applicable license and enforcement of the license chosen by the artist, that one file from being shared, etc). Auditing traffic of certain file types is possible because of the meta-data idea with creative commons! 12 year olds sharing files should not be criminal, yet does need attention of parents who don't want to lose their Internet access due to illegal sharing. Remember that Creative commons can also have meta-data for sharable works that use the various degrees of creative commons protection and notification of the terms of use with the license.

No DRM at all!

DRM plus DMCA plus Traditional Copyright excludes by design all rights, and the right to fair use the art as you want!

Creative Commons Meta-DataTag (allowing artist controlled levels of filtering) plus DMCA, allows play of what the artist allows by the rights of the license that the artist chooses and preserves fair use! CC is much more friendly to all.

The Prior Art to the filtering is the same as traditional networking has allowed via security logins with user rights of execute, read, etc since the start of networking and the need for security. All that devices could be mandated to do, is to prevent or monitor, unfair use and at some point step in, allowing law enforcement the tools to enforce an artist's right to make a living.

See Creative Commons web site and use your imagination as to see how easy this would be to get going all over the world.

The music, movie, and other artist's are a bit paranoid. Some industry folks have a second interest in DRM (protected by law), and that is to profit from the sale of many different and changing types of digital formats and thus force the customers to pay a 2nd or more times for the fair use of the same content they already paid for! Many who owned "records" with content and thus fair use, bought CDs and the record companies profited. That is wrong. Once a work is acquired there should be fair use where the copyright user can take a file and use it on various devices (and not be locked-in to one manufacturer's device by DRM, where once the device changes that all the media is worthless as there is no device that will play the content, meaning that the user then has to go out and re-buy the content again, and again. Forcing users to re-buy content they have already paid for, by changing digital formats or creating new devices with different DRM, is stealing from the consumer). Where is the “copyright consumer's” protection in the DRM world? A company like SONY would like nothing better then to have consumers re-buy DVD or CD content that they already paid for once! Hey – they think of music as one thinks of a hot dog. They are wrong because hundreds of years of copyright is something that a hot dog does not have (they, by using DRM, DMCA, and changing digital media formats and devices, want to change those rules, and make more money)! This game they are playing is not to protect the artist's interests! It is a pure business play.

Artists who want to allow for freely sharable files have that option with Creative Commons license that would allow users to freely share their works. With a DRM play device only, then will such a device then allow an artist's work that is independently produced without the DRM to even play?

Using Creative Commons and easy filtering, artists who want digital control of a file with the idea that they could feed their children and send them to college someday, could also have the right to preserve their way of life... and it could be enforceable in a friendly way as well, again using creative commons (if creative commons and the government worked together to create a "commercial only" license with meta-data with some guidelines for device folks as to how to use is to allow play of all levels of creative commons licensed material, including the ability to play traditional copyrighted material).

From Creative Commons FAQ:

"What happens if someone misuses my Creative Commons-licensed work?

A Creative Commons license terminates automatically if someone uses your work contrary to the license terms. This means that, if a person uses your work under a Creative Commons license and they, for example, fail to attribute your work in the manner you specified, then they no longer have the right to continue to use your work. This only applies in relation to the person in breach of the license; it does not apply generally to the other people who use your work under a Creative Commons license and comply with its terms.

You have a number of options as to how you can enforce this; you can consider contacting the person and asking them to rectify the situation and/or you can consider consulting a lawyer to act on your behalf. For information about how you may be able to locate a suitably qualified lawyer, please refer to this question and answer".

" What is the Commons Deed? What is the legal code? What does the html/meta-data do?

Creative Commons licenses are expressed in three different formats: the Commons Deed (human-readable code), the Legal Code (lawyer-readable code); and the meta-data (machine readable code).

The Commons Deed is a summary of the key terms of the actual license (which is the Legal Code)—basically, what others can and cannot do with the work. Think of it as the user-friendly interface to the Legal Code beneath. This Deed itself has no legal value, and its contents do not appear in the actual license.

The Legal Code is the actual license; a document designed to be enforced in a court of law.

The meta-data describes the key license elements that apply to a piece of content to enable discovery through customized search engines".
 see for more! ut/licenses/


No DRM (no DRM viruses owned by paranoid media industry types), Free Fair use again to what it is meant to be. Use Creative Commons. The Creative Commons Meta-Data is better than DRM.

See more about Meta-Data here: http://creativecommons. org/technology/usingmarkup

It is easy to choose a license to use:

This work is hereby released into the Public Domain. To view a copy of the public domain dedication, visit
http://creativecommons. org/licenses/publicdomain/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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VOIP news on-topic (Verizon Loses Land-Line Customers, Profit)
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 03:22 AM EDT
VOIP is something on Verizon's radar... it is a competitor that they must match to beat... and IPv6 reduction of retransmission on the internet, and the other benefits (regarding overall speed improvements per user, without the ISP or TelCableCo having to spend much money, the fiber is there already and some folks at some school, MIT I think, have discovered the ablity to send vastly more amounts of data down one fiber strand, vs anything imagined before)!  Meaning, that if true, the need to expand the fiber network, a very high labor cost, is not a factor in the need for money tier arguements of the TelCableCo interests.

Competition is now with VOIP, really competition... and it is a scary world for the near monopoly that has not had to compete before. /AR2006080101540.html

"Verizon Loses Land-Line Customers, Profit, By Arshad Mohammed Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, August 2, 2006; Page D05

"Verizon Communications Inc. said yesterday that its profit fell 24 percent and it lost 1 million land-line phone customers during the second quarter."

"Verizon said its number of landlines fell 1 million in the second quarter, to 47 million. In contrast, Verizon Wireless customers increased 1.8 million, to 54.8 million, while Verizon's high-speed Internet connections rose 440,000, to 6.1 million, in the same period."

"In a further sign of how competitive the alternative telephone market has become, Vonage Holdings Corp., a pioneering provider of Internet phone service, reported mounting losses yesterday even as its customer base continued to grow. Vonage is spending more to acquire those customers, who can also choose from cable-based phone service or free Internet voice offerings, such as Skype."

Comment:  Hey guess what... Verizon also knows that there are MOBILE VOIP phones
( see: tions/Handsets/WiFi/    )
...and don't forget this...

There are many cities are looking to do FREE WIRELESS INTERNET  - for example Boston: 
Hub sets citywide WiFi plan
Boston Globe, United States - Jul 31, 2006
... The mayor created the task force in February to enable Boston to catch up to the dozens of other US cities working to spread wireless Internet access. ...
< b>Boston wireless plan would put nonprofit in charge of city network Eyewitness News
Reeve will select nonprofit to build network in the city Boston Globe
Non Profit to Run Boston City-Wide Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Planet

EVEN with Verizon doing very well in the wireless (traditional) space... this FREE internet and the new mobile VOIP phones is something that is on their "hit" list and a good reason for tiering and a good reason why they are against anything that puts Net Neutral into being a law or an ammendment to the constitution  (these TelCableCos, in order to maintain their near-monopoly, due to owning the wires (but not the internet)  need a tool to control the damage and quickly, and tiering is such a tool).   The writing is on the wall... and VOIP is something that some TelcableCos WANT in order to control internet service speeds that competing VOIP providers need to freely compete.  However, the Vonage Holdings Corp and it's losses are chickens that will come home to roost... meaning someone will buy them out, OR they must becomre profitable and that might mean fee increases to do that.  Note: that Vonage does not own the entire VOIP delivery "stack" as they do contract with others to provide parts of their service.

ANYWAY, Skype, might just be the spoiler for all of them and guess who owns SKYPE (could it be one of those companies that the TelCableCos want to put on tier based "content" fees schedules to use their internet)?

Hey - one good friend I know, now has TV, PHONE and Internet services all on one bill for about $100 per month.  That is why Verizon is looking at all this like a "deer standing in front of the headlights of a fully loaded 75 MPH 18 wheeler"..>!

Net Neutral needs to be an ammendment to the constitution.

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By the way...
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 05:31 AM EDT
...welcome to Groklaw.

Please stick with us. Your input will be useful, both here and elsewhere.

And you never know what you'll learn at Groklaw.

We can educate you :)

Unfortunately for us, common sense is not very common.
Should one hear an accusation, try it out on the accuser.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What with all about the children...
Authored by: Jon S on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 06:13 AM EDT
Some scattered fragments that may/not become a coherent post:

o 'sandbox' notions are viable engineering to allow progress while you collect
enough data to figure out what you might have done given foreknowledge

o disclaimer: i'm apparently approaching Old :) my mother told me her parents
just signed some form indicating she could drive and she took it in to get her
driver's license

o ISP-as-user scaling/reduction seems sane and viable but privacy vs. overt
traceability of the 'last mile' will mandate a broken chain for a while

o ipv6 is indeed relevant esp wrt Transmission (historically irresistable to

o from high altitude, this is just another "the good of the many" v.
Doe instance unfolding. from very low altitude, it's just another battle for
the pipes

o "you can't legislate stupidity" (too busy legislating
ultra/hyper-stupidity to have time)

To a degree, many parties are "winging it" (like me in this post).
Opportunities for income wait for none of us to understand. Metaphors in this
context (much like in say eric/lessig's loss) have contemplative use, but fall
short except in the aggregate...unless the sum is limited to ~7+/-2 in which
case (with apology), it can actually be grokked. Market history can predict a
trajectory "band". Techno-history can provide the same. Complete
history reveals the spin that the climate in which the hatching occurs trumps
all. Duh. We're all watching it happen as we stand in the middle of
dogs drinking while standing in a large puddle. Except we dogs have seen it
before and can (with certainty) predict an outcome...just as soon as someone
will kindly tell us which puddle we're standing in.

Alternatively: if we can divine a way in which the political can proclaim (say)
"We need this for The Children", we will have one cardinal point.
Cynicism would hold that another low-hanging point comes from resolving that
which allows the exercise of unbridled greed. Given those, defensible
triangulation is possible, but I am insufficiently informed to speculate which
of the aggressive will prevail, and which of the remaining will counter...let
alone how.

From my Joe Public chair, we remain "winging it". The metaphors and
accompanying arguments are persuasive within their respective scopes. The
continuum bounds are cake--universal power tool & heavily-engineered,
industry-supported Service Delivery Platform (tm?). Market people tell us that
forks happen given market demand & freedom. History of technology shows us
intermediate snapshots of how. Only the climate supports why.

At this time on the planet in my market, many vendors have been kindly trying to
enlist me into everything-as-subscription for so long that such a proposition
has zero potential for success, and I suspect that I'm not alone. Really
well-engineered, dumb boxes are still dead--even if we need them to Save The

Re maturity/evo: When my Mom learned to drive, The State entity Trusted her
parents to act Sufficiently Responsible. Cars were only slightly more involved
to operate than they were for me, really little different from any showroom
floor today. We can all discern fatal uses of vehicles and yet never mistake
them to be a saw.

Re climate, I have only biased arm-wavings...actually, this whole thing is
biased arm-waving, but that's no deterrent to pushing keys. Perhaps the bio,
soc and psych people can help. Then again, that's where you come in. The
"fringe of a fringe" perspective that we collectively represent has
been provided.

What we can probably say is that the layered approaches (aka flock-shooting) to
malware/zombie control stand the least resistance ergo increased chances to
prevail. Good old attrition will aid some with time as well.

If I'm trying to turn that paper into enough of a book to make a point, I hit
the history to find the trajectories and, more importantly, what put them over
the top in their "day". Synthesize those as well as you can.
Especially those. I would also need to map today's corresponding dumb-box v.
power tool state on corresponding trajectories. Add minor windage for
historical amnesia, bank on incremental & repetitive technological
advancement, bank also on an intermediate muddy "solution" which is
180 degrees Wrong (ie guile and greed triumph short term), then flip a coin and
take the gut reaction to the coin flip :)

Seriously, it appears that you are already leaning far enough to have made your
bet, yet you're open enough to solicit comments (wish there were more of
you...). If you're not burdened by enough ego to feel compelled to convince
your readers that you're right, just lay-out The Preponderance or whatever the
objective of your book would have you present. I am relatively certain that you
may feel that you have already done so (and in the most concise and complete
manner possible). At least, that's how I felt when I wrote stuff that read like
that :) Hey--if it's a journal article and written like every Accepted article
for that journal, okay--fine--we get it. Semicolon comma However, it turns out
that it's never unfashionable to communicate more clearly (this exhibit
notwithstanding). Inflating to a book, you will be able to subdivide and expand
on the high-density sentences so much of the style commentary will no longer be

I applaud your apparent openness and earnestness. Your premises may actually be
fully formed and sound, but I need more support to fight my way on to your
bandwagon. Unsolicited/free advice: (re?)skim some pages of Free Culture. And
maybe buzz a few paragraphs of Clue Train. No, not remotely the same audiences
or purposes, but that's the perspective from which, IMO only, the premises
require support. I believe that we see (and smell) the same messy clash on the
horizon, and it might even look similar to your outline, but consider this
biased perspective.

Too many genies are already out of the bottle. Repeating the cliche of
"route around it" would seem fitting, here. This patch of history has
a bit of momentum--people have got to sate their techno-jones. IMO, it's too
late for that--what you're addressing, at least on this cycle of the ebb and
flow of the Tao. To be complete--we see the Appliancization (hey--we aid it in
exchange for pay), and my view is that there will be more and it will indeed
affect significant numbers of humans. Big masses will swallow it all up until
they cough. And they'll cough, once they figure-out what's been foisted. Not
to mention another crop of humanity weened on devices. And we've all already
swallowed barrels...doesn't even resemble kansas, anymore. At this juncture,
your kind assistance in saving us from saving ourselves is resembles yet another
offer we can't refuse (no offense).

Escape velocity would seem close (if it has not already been attained), barring
the most draconian. (Even MS can only hire or buy voices at a finite rate.)
"Eat-your-own" competitive greed will provide the balance of required
instability ("we more fully protect The Children than they do").
Finally, by the time the jockeying shakes out, there will be another cohort of
youthful humanity seeking applications for their portable, late-model rebellion.
Purveyors may need to try the massively draconian, but this wouldn't seem the
best time for'd have to be formed into a package that saves A Lot of
children. That leaves only the completely underhanded, War, and Acts of God...

Then again, there has been much lately about the Apocalpyse...and someone just
told me Hasselhoff is in a musical--go ahead, try to refute that.

Like the X people have been chanting for a generation--mechanism, not policy.
For you in this campaign, it's the reverse. To the degree possible, keep
mechanism out of your policy--markets & geeks will fill the blanks in.
Saving the children is policy. Anything more "solves" a non-existent
problem by constraining the, erm, generativity. Mistakes are okay provided they
permit graceful and timely self-corrections.

So goes my completely unsubstantiated arm-waving (in which i extoll you to
provide support). Thanks for the bandwidth and good luck saving us from saving
ourselves. (Again.)

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Jonathan Zittrain Responds appliance will reside on net.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 03:46 PM EDT
Dear Mr. Jonathan Zittrain,

I apologize for not reading everything before jumping in here, but I have

noticed a development that is really troubling to me, and perhaps it is
something you might want to consider, though it will seem to expand the
scope of the problem you are working on.

An example of the problem I am refering to is Windows Live. Notice I said

an example.

We recently removed the windows machine from our home, replacing it
with a Mac, not without some pain. The problem is there was a tie in to MSN
Hotmail. MSN has a home/user page with plenty of content. A fair portion
of that content requires IE Explorer 7 and MS Media player 10. Neither of
which is available on the Mac.

You were concerned about the appliance type computer. But this thing
does not propagate in a vacuum. It is the integrated environment of the
internet content and the home machine.


A Groklaw Reader

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IPv6 Relevance
Authored by: barnowl on Tuesday, August 08 2006 @ 01:51 PM EDT
I believe you may want to look again at thw IPv6 situation. While I fully
agree that IPv6 is mostly irrelvant, I believe that may actually have more to do
with network enabled appliances than hack's to IPv4. For example, here at work
we have a lot ip-enabled projectors, door lock systems, flat-panels, printers
and a couple of odd applainces. About the only class of network devices that
understands IPv6 are the printers.
In such an enviroment what is the incentive? Certainly it is not to convert
things over to the technically suppior IPv6 and then have to maintain portals or
support for large numbers of IPv4 devices. The drive then becomes to find ways
to make IPv4 last longer, thus all the hacks. If the network appilances where
either IPv6 ready or easily convertable then alot of the tricks and hacks to
IPv4 would not be need and there would be a much stronger push IPv6 adoption.

Evan Hisey

[ Reply to This | # ]

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