August 20th, 2004


Fantastic News Everyone!

EFF has won its Grokster case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- this is the case that establishes that if you make truly decentralized P2P software -- like Gnutella -- you can't be held liable for any copyright infringement that takes place on their networks. This is the "Betamax principle," from the famous Supreme Court case that established that Sony wasn't responsible for any infringement that its customers undertook with their VCRs.

The Studios' argument was that people who make P2P software should be obliged to build it in such a way as to make it easy to police -- i.e. not on Gnutella-like lines -- an idea so sickeningly dumb that it's a tremendous relief that the court refused to buy it.

Of course, having failed to sue the file-sharing corporations out of existence, that means attacking individuals instead...

Something good about the government

I’m not a massive fan of the current government.  I don’t trust Tony Blair further than I could throw him and David Blunkett seems to hold fairly opposite positions to me on some fairly fundamental points regarding freedom.

However, I get monumentally incensed by people claiming that there’s no difference between them and the Conservatives (a fact I’ve mentioned before).  Huge amounts of cash have been spent on public services (which have shown improvements), working time directives and rights for part time workers have been implemented, and we still have an economy in better shape that most other parts of the planet.

To give an example of one of the good things going on, today’s Independent has a piece on homeless people.  Did you know that the number of people sleeping rough is 1/3 of what it was before Labour came to power?  £200m has been spent getting people off the streets – teams of people working for a new Rough Sleepers Unit get people off the streets, help with their drug habit and into work.  They deal with all the paperwork, doctors, hostels and training institutions.

Of course, these people are categorised as ‘pen pushers’ in the recent attacks on the civil service.  Which only goes to show that pushing the right pens in the right ways can make huge positive changes to people’s lives.

Oh, and one of the major changes that’s made the changes possible?  Heroin prescription.  It transpires that if addicts are given heroin for free then they don’t need to spend all their time stealing from people, selling the items on and tracking down dealers, thus leaving them with enough time to actually work for a living (which most of them are perfectly capable of doing).

Of course, with the number of homeless people on the street dropping, attention has moved to people living in temporary accommodation – whole families living in rented accommodation one step up from the street.  Which is why the government is making changes there too – the number of families in B&Bs having been brought down by 5% in the last month.

Why, I’d like to know, don’t we hear more about this kind of thing?

Geekery and Birthday

Got home, installed the long-awaited RAM (should have shipped with machine, instead arrived 3 weeks late).  Took 30 seconds and I now have 1Gig of memory.  W00t!

On the other hand, opening the old PC revealed that the sound card took up two slots.  And was covered in dust.  Don't fancy the fiddliness of transferring all of that just for a microphone socket.  I'll just pick up a dirt-cheap sound card and leave that where it is.

Now, off to meet Ed/Erin for dinner.  Then on to cinema.

Tomorrow's my birthday.  So far everything is cancelled due to weather problems.  Hopefully it'll be bright after all and I'll be able to get some people together.