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This is the TBTF Log, an experiment in reporting important breaking news in a very timely way. The TBTF newsletter continues unchanged. The most recent issue is TBTF for 2000-02-06: Privacy at the boil.

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[Sat. 2000-03-19, 6:25 pm EST:] Looking for the article on Distributing DeCSS via DNS? Try here.


Thursday, March 30, 2000

3/30/00 9:49:51 AM

  • Demon Internet settles Usenet libel case. This case will have repercussions for British ISPs -- they may be forced offshore by the high cost of monitoring users' postings, or by a declining customer base, or both.

    A Canadian notorious in certain Usenet circles had sued Demon for libel in the UK courts. Demon had refused to remove a posting that Laurence Godfrey claimed was forged and libelous. Under English law, an ISP is not treated as the publisher of material on the Net, and therefore cannot be sued over its content, if the ISP takes "reasonable care" to assure that illegal material is not published, and takes steps to remove such material once notified of its existence.

    OBTW, Demon is now owned by the Scottish telecomm company Thus [sic]. It is the first and, I fervently hope, last company ever to change its name to an adverb. Each sentence in the BBC story that refers to Demon's parent is a marvel of stumbling awkwardness. You cannot write a sentence in which an adverb acts as a noun and have it turn out otherwise.

    Thanks to Marcus Price for the quick note on this development.

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

3/28/00 1:14:02 PM

  • Interview with the search engine. FNwire has got me ROFLASTC, as they do just about every week. This time it's their interview with Jeeves, currently employed by Ask.com. No one could make up the stone non-sequiters that Jeeves comes up with -- did you know the Internet is somewhat like a non-arthritic New Zealand bee? Credit to the FNwire folks for the concept and for delicate editorial selection.

3/28/00 11:19:39 AM

  • Mattel undone by CPHack GPL?. Mattel may have claimed victory too quickly in their lawsuit against the creators of CPHack, the program that reveals Cyber Patrol's list of banned sites. Eddy Jansson and Matthew Skala initially released CPHack and their research paper under the GNU Public License. Even though both programmers have now signed over rights to the program to Mattel in order to settle the copyright lawsuit against them, the GPL may guarantee that the corporate giant will never control the program's distribution. Here's Eben Moglen, FSF general counsel and a law professor at Columbia University:

    GPL is software that cannot be revoked. Anyone downstream who possesses a copy of the software may redistribute it. It's a very amusing case.

Sunday, March 26, 2000

3/26/00 11:32:47 PM

    The APEX AD 600A Loopholes menu
  • updated "Loopholes" menu opens up DVDs. In case you haven't followed this amusing development on alt.video.dvd.tech, Circuit City has been selling a Chinese-made DVD player called the APEX AD 600A. It sells for between $139 and $179 and has a number of attractive features out of the box, such as a nice interface and the ability to play MP3 CDs. But its real selling point is a software backdoor that you can access by an keying in an obscure sequence on the remote control. The "Loopholes" menu lets you turn off DVDCSS encryption, disable regional codes, and cripple Macrovision, which normally functions to prevent copying the DVD to a VHS tape. Here's a Washington Post's take on the story; it seems that many, if not most, DVD players to reach market may have similar backdoors, they just haven't been discovered by the Slashdot community. And see this considerably more pointed article in LaWeekly; it points out the absurdity of the MPAA's legal pursuit of Scandanavian teenagers when hardware such as the APEX AD 600A is available at Circuit City.

    The Canadian California distributor of the APEX AD 600A has promised to close the loophole, but any unit you find on the shelves for at least the next 2 to 3 weeks is likely to sport this embarassing feature.

    Thanks to Monty Solomon for passing it along, and to Chuck Bury for straightening out the confusion between Ontario, Can. and Ontario, CA.

    Let's follow Bury off on a promising tangent on makeshift top-level domains:

    [The CA/.ca confusion] reminds of a domain registration issue. California's state goverment improperly uses the domain ca.gov, which I'm sure has resulted in a lot of accidental visits to the site [from Canadians], though it wouldn't be the right domain for Canada's government either. If you do some hunting you will find there are several country TLDs that could easily be confused with US states: .ca, .md., .ky, .ma. As a result, some fast-thinking entrepeneurs have registered domains like Baltimore.md and LosAngeles.ca.

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This venue represents an experiment in more timely and less "cooked" TBTF news coverage. You'll read here things that came through my desktop machine mere minutes before. The TBTF Log replaces the Tasty Bit of the Day feature.

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