January 7, 2003  ·  Lessig

As cable companies continue to increase the cost of broadband service, and as telcom monopolies are strengthened by changes in FCC policy, it is now absolutely clear what the broadband endgame will be in the US: wireless. Think of a city where every single street light is a node in a mesh (for an example, see meshnetworks), and thus where the cloud of the internet sits on the street like the fog in San Francisco. For almost nothing, cities could provide IP light, as cities provide street lights. Neutral, end-to-end, fast, and cheap. (Apologies for this uncharacteristically optimistic post. Just a preview of the moot.)

January 7, 2003  ·  Lessig

The ever-sensible (save about his ALL CAPS TENDENCIES) InstaPundit has taken some heat for his very sensible link to Virginia “a really great ‘Future‘ book” Postrel’s post about John Edwards. Glenn echoed Virginia echoing John Hood that Edwards being a trial-lawyer was not a bad thing.

But Glenn, et al., are absolutely right. Whatever people say to pollsters, Edwards will build a wealth of capital by telling the story of his clients. Say Erin Brockovich three times and then tell me Americans hate trial lawyers.

The real challenge for Edwards will be the “media filter.” “A friend” (who doesn’t want his/her name here) writes,

“Fitness for office, gravitas, experience, these things matter little to the men and women trapped on a bus covering these guys for the next two years. Being a good guy, not being a phony, they matter more to the working press. It’s hard to overstate the effect of Bush’s genial personality and Gore’s cloying, arrogant style. The worst thing you can be is a phony, in the eyes of the press. I fear that Edwards is going to be made to look like a phony.”

Forget the liberal bias of the press. Who’s writing about the frat-boy bias?

January 7, 2003  ·  Lessig

Bruce Perens has extraordinarily great news about a deal he’s struck with Prentice Hall to permit “open source” publication of a series of books. It was no surprise that Tim O’Reilly got the value of adding work to the commons (as O’Reilly press has with a bunch of titles donated to the public domain and a bunch of content to be licensed under a CC license: read here). But it is a real testament to Bruce’s skill that he convinced Prentice Hall. Congratulations. I only hope we can help make the licenses part of the semantic web.

January 5, 2003  ·  Lessig

I’ve been a subscriber to POBOX.COM for many years now. It has solved many email headaches and is a great service that deserves some pro bono praise. So click more for the praise (and obviously, I’ve got no financial connection (except my annual bill) to this great company at all).

The primary aim of POBOX.COM is mail forwarding. You sign up for an address (it gives you five aliases with any account), and it then forwards mail to that address to any number of mail servers. So, when you send mail to lessig@pobox, it gets routed to two separate email accounts.

I originally wanted this facility because I wanted to be able to redirect my mail to a local server. That’s become less important over time. More important now is simply the ability to echo mail. All my mail goes to two separate servers. I use one as my primary server, and one as my backup. The backup is a webmail service, so it is easy to get access to mail on the road.

The key benefit to this is that always, inevitably, one server is down at a critical moment, and I can bounce to the second if I need to. (I use AT&T as my primary email account, mainly because of the international dialing numbers. It has this annoying flaw, however, that if you get dumped from the line midway through downloading mail, it can remain “busy” for up to 10 minutes. I’d be eager to discover a replacement with an equally broad international dialup network.)

The one hassle to the email backup system is that sometimes the backup account gets full, and it can be a hassle to go through erasing all the emails on the account. But here’s where a classically-internet story comes in: I sent an email to the developer of a program called PopMonitor, asking whether he knew of a utility that could quickly delete the contents of a mailbox. PopMonitor allows you to do that, but only after downloading all the headers. In the spirit of the internet, this good soul from the Netherlands wrote such a program (called MailTrasher), and gives it away for free. So now, every week or so, it takes a second or so to trash my backup mail account.

POBOX.COM has been a great company. It provides lots of other services (like spam and email filtering), and has been extremely fast in responding to technical problems. Highly recommended for anyone who either (1) can’t keep a job, (2) is running from the law, or (3) needs the reliability of multiple systems to store and access his or her email.

January 5, 2003  ·  Lessig

We’ve posted a page on the Emily Somma Peter Pan case with a FAQ about the case. There’s a link at the end of the FAQ with a suggestion for more questions. I’d be grateful for any suggestions, about new questions or old.

January 4, 2003  ·  Lessig

So in 1998, as a Christmas present to my parents, I promised to give them broadband service when it became available. They live just outside Hilton Head, SC. No San Francisco, no doubt (where broadband at 1.5 mbs is available at about $50 a month), but still, no backwater.

For the first time this year, service is getting close. A company called Hargray promises 768kbs for the amazing low price of $100 a month. No cable service available from AT&T. And no service available from anyone in the 1.5 mbs range.

Meanwhile, to repeat again: Here in Japan, they are selling 100 mbs for $50/month, 12 mbs for $25.

January 4, 2003  ·  Lessig

The Nikkei is reporting today that the government will propose a law to “enhance copyright holder protection.” You can’t read the story without buying a trial subscription (aka, that’s bad enough). But worse is the substance of what the Nikkei reports. The story reports what has been reported often before: That the legislation will increase copyright terms for movies and games from 50 to 70 years (again invoking the bogus harmonization argument). But the most amazing proposed change is this:

“Plaintiffs in lawsuits defending their copyrights often have difficulty submitting evidence that offenders have infringed upon their rights. So the government aims to shift the burden of proof to the defendants, requiring them to prove that they have produced and marketed their products without violating the plaintiffs’ rights.”

That’s a quote from the story, and as the story has a bunch of factual mistakes in it, I can’t be sure it is accurate. But if true, it means that in Japan, you’re guilty until proven innocent.

I’ll be reviewing the draft law as soon as I can, and reporting more. But the bottom line is the same: IP extremism continues unabated. There’s so much to praise in this amazing country. It is sad to see them following the extremists.

January 4, 2003  ·  Lessig

Joi makes a great point about the character of different spam control methods. While in the narrow sense, this is not an end-to-end issue (as Saltzer, Clark and Reed framed it), in a general sense, spam solutions can be divided into those that respect end-to-end values, and those that don’t. The label+bounty solution (which has a nice discussion on /. and which I’d lose my job over if it doesn’t work), I’m happy to acknowledge, is end-to-end respectful.

January 3, 2003  ·  Lessig

Bill Fitler has put together an interesting page of CodeLaws, by which he means technology designed to implement some sort of policy. The list is an important step is mapping all the ways in which behavior gets regulated. He’s eager (as am I) for any input to make the list more complete. His weblog is here.