Distributed Proofreaders posts 5,000th ebook

Distributed Proofreaders has posted it’s 5,000th ebook to Project Gutenberg. The book, a Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, by John W. Cousin, was proofed for this special occassion by over 500 volunteers.

Distributed Proofreaders is a project that distributes the otherwise gargantuan task of correcting scanning and recognition errors in an OCR’ed text. The project has thousands of volunteers, of which many hundreds are active on any given day. It is currently the main supplier of etexts for Project Gutenberg.

“Akonix lies about BitTorrent”

According to BoingBoing, so-called ‘security firm’ Akonix “are telling lies about BitTorrent“. Presumably to help sell their BitTorrent blocker, which, as BoingBoing snidely notes, is just a name that can help you drive up the price for an ordinary firewall.

If you need a firewall, why not get Zone Alarm, which is cheap and good?

It’s ironic though. BitTorrent is not your classical P2P file sharing utility. It is P2P, but it is more of a Download Load Easing Utility. It has very legitimate purposes, and it is hard to be anonymous when offering downloads through BitTorrent, so you can only offer illegal content out in the open.

Since BitTorrent is suited for legal uses, it has been embraced by the pro-filesharers for their propaganda. This in turn creates a rich soil for con artists to operate in. “Ooh, file sharing bad. BitTorrent file sharing. BitTorrent bad.”

Bugmenot back up

BoingBoing reports that Bugmenot is back up. Apparently, their hosting company decided to flip the switch, although Bugmenot’s anonymous owner can only guess as to why. Most of the rest reads like a soap opera too, including the obligatory nazis who play a part in the story. I am not going to keep relaying the soap, so start tracking BoingBoing if you did not already do that.

Tit-for-tat sunk

I was writing an entry about how, if Brein wants to play hardball, we should perhaps engage them in the legal arena. The weapon I had chosen, or thought I had chosen, was an article from the Dutch authors’ rights law that I thought said that it is crime to misrepresent the copyright status of a work. This is something that record companies and book publishers routinely do: they put a legal text on or in the work that in an overly broad way claims copy- and usage rights on that work, even on parts of the work to which they do not own the rights.

Unfortunately for me, it seems that I dreamed that such a clause exists in the law. The closest I came is article 34: “Hij die opzettelijk in enig werk van letterkunde, wetenschap of kunst, waarop auteursrecht bestaat, in de benaming daarvan of in de aanduiding van de maker wederrechtelijk enige wijziging aanbrengt of wel met betrekking tot een zodanig werk op enige andere wijze, welke nadeel zou kunnen toebrengen aan de eer of de naam van de maker of aan zijn waarde in deze hoedanigheid, het werk aantast, wordt gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste zes maanden of geldboete van de vierde categorie.”

In English: “He will be punished with a prison sentence of up to six months or a fine of the fourth category, who wilfully and without right changes the title of a work of literature, science or art, or the designation of its maker; or who harms the work in any other way that could negatively affect the honour or the good name of the maker or [its/his] [value/dignity].”

So, did I imagine this mythical misrepresentation article, or did I just misinterpret article 34?

(Edit: made the translation of the article better English–or so I hope.)

Bugmenot no more?

The wonderful Bugmenot service is rumoured to be dead. Bugmenot helped you to circumvent the obligatory registration process that so many websites let you go through nowadays, especially the sites of newspapers.

BoingBoing reports that “someone understood to be the admin for Bugmenot.com says: ‘Our host pulled the plug. I reckon they were pressured. If anyone has got some secure, preferably offshore hosting in mind then please let us know so we can get the service back up as soon as possible.'”

Brein wants to sue file-sharers

Labour representative Martijn van Dam is asking questions of the Justice Secretary about the intentions and actions of the Brein foundation. This Dutch RIAA wants to do the same thing as its American counterpart and sue individual file sharers.

Van Dam is rightly concerned about in how far a private organization is allowed to perform actions that typically belong to the mandate of the government, although I don’t think he will achieve much this time. So far, Brein does not seem to do much more in the areas of privacy and law enforcement than, say, a detective agency does.

Quite frankly, I would be interested to see how far Brein gets. Not because I want to see honest citizens sued (far from it), but because I don’t think Brein will get anywhere.

AFAIK (but IANAL), there is no such thing as statutory damages for copyright infringement in Dutch law. The RIAA had a huge club to swing, because the American file-sharers could be fined 250,000 US dollar for every file they uploaded or offered; with RIAA only going after people that shared around a 1,000 files or more, the potential damages ran into millions of dollars. American teenagers may have more pocket money to spend than ever before, but I doubt most of them could pay a fine like that.

A Dutch judge will very likely only look at actual damages. Brein will have to convince the court that such damages exist. As such, they will have to argue points that have already been argued in the public arena a thousand times. A defense attorney should have little trouble convincing the court that the actual damages in most cases are negligible.

All this, in my opinion, would make it much more likely that file-sharers will actually let it come to court cases, instead of settling out of court.

Since Brein should know this in advance, any threats of legal action seem little more than a form of harrasment of people that just happen not to share your viewpoint. Isn’t there a law against this? Would the lawyers that work for Brein be open to criminal charges of barratry?

Linkin’ to the Olympics

The organizers of the 2004 olympic games are nuts: Retecool and others report that according to the organizers’ Hyperlink Policy, you can only link to them under strict conditions:

“a) Use the term ATHENS 2004 only, and no other term as the text referent

b) Not associate the link with any image, esp. the ATHENS 2004 Emblem (see paragraph below)

c) Send a request letter to the Internet Department stating:
* Short description of site
* Reason for linking
* Unique URL containing the link (if no unique URL than just the main URL)
* Publishing period
* Contact point (e-mail address)”

Do us a favour, and we’ll take you to court

The rift between early adopters of new technology and vested interests has never seemed so clear.

File-sharing increases the public’s exposure to new acts and new films, and works as huge free advertizing campaigns.

What do the record and film companies do? They sue the file-sharers.

Site make-overs alert organizations to the usability and accessibility problems their sites might have. What do some site owners do? They sue the make-over-makers.

Of course, it is the record companies’ right to decide themselves how and when they go bankrupt. It is the site owners’ right to get prosecuted or sued for breaking disability laws. Yet somehow I cannot shake the notion that a little bit more understanding would go a long way.

This is fifth-grader music. You’re such a loser!

It’s tough being a parent. You’re so out of the loop with what’s hip and what’s not these days. Of course, you’re still way ahead of me, because I did not even know about http://whatacrappy present.com, even though way hipper blogs speak of it as if it has been around for ages.

In case you thought of buying your kids a CD by their favourite artist, think again, says Downhill Battle. (No, that’s not a rap group. At least, not that I am aware of.) Very funny page, whether you agree with them or not.

The Tao of Error Messages

I came across somebody’s old blog entry that linked to the Haiku Error Messages page.

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

–Cass Whittington

An oldie, but there cannot be too many haiku error messages.