1. Editor's Note: Will You Join The DRM Dance? 2. Today's Top Story - PC Sales Climb, HP Gains On Dell - Google Profit Doubles In Quarter 3. Breaking News - Judge Denies Request To Throw Out AT&T Spy Suit - Free Tool Scans Sites For Threats - Microsoft Spells Out Terms For Windows XP, 2000 Users Upgrading To Vista - Alaskan VARs Stand Behind Sen. Ted Stevens' Internet Flubs - Flash Drive Study: A Second Growth Wave Is Brewing - Digital Vault Said To Thwart Hackers - Blogging Is All About Me - Cisco Patches Several CS-MARS Vulnerabilities - AT&T Settles Customer Information Investigation - Yahoo Licenses Zillow.com Home-Valuation Engine - Arrest Tests Legality Of Online Gaming Rules - Dell Knew Of Burned Laptops Before Recall: Source - Microsoft Beta Tests Outlook Express Replacement 4. Grab Bag: - How Do You Like Them Apples? - Technology Rewrites The Book - The Wired 40 5. In Depth: Social Networking - Journalist Sues YouTube For Copyright Infringement - Mining For Data In Blogs - Review: Radar.net - Review: Flock Offers A Firefox For Bloggers - Hollywood Victory In Film-Sanitizing Suit Imperils Mash-Ups 6. Voice Of Authority - The 'Drama Queen' Of Software Installations 7. White Papers - Examining The Total Cost Of Ownership Of On-Demand Applications 8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek 9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
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1. Editor's Note: Will You Join The DRM Dance?
Back in the bad old days of the 1970s, Sony came out with a wonderful machine called a Betamax videotape recorder. The idea was that consumers could tape their favorite programs off of their televisions and watch them at their leisure. No longer would people have to rush home in a panic in order to catch that week's episode of All In The Family—you could watch Johnny Carson at 9 a.m. and your favorite daytime soap at 1 a.m., if you wanted.
Universal City Studios didn't see it that way. Together with Walt Disney Productions, Universal took Sony to court, charging that the ability to copy shows and movies off of TV was copyright infringement. This led to the now well-known October 1979 legal decision stating that using VCRs to tape for personal entertainment or time shifting constituted fair use. VCR sales soared, and the technology became a given in most U.S. homes. And the movie studios? They coped—by creating a market for rental tapes that kept profits coming.
These days, entertainment companies are instituting the lawsuits and trying to stem the tide of digital downloads. One can hardly blame them for panicking—when you have thousands of potential buyers pulling music and videos off of the Internet for free, you can hardly call that fair use, even by the broadest interpretation of the term. If you want to listen to a copyrighted song or read a copyrighted novel or watch a copyrighted movie, you should pay for it.
However, I always assumed that it was the entertainment companies' (and the legal system's) job to handle the problem—not my operating system's. This is why I was a bit bemused when my colleague Alexander Wolfe said in his well-written article Top 10 Windows Vista Hits & Misses that he considered the digital-rights management (DRM) feature in the current prerelease version of Vista to be one of the operating system's hits. Why? Because DRM as implemented in Vista doesn't interfere with the user experience.
This strikes me somewhat like giving kudos to a policy of handcuffing people who want to walk in the park so that they won't pick the flowers—because the handcuffs are now more comfortable.
Let me be clear here: I have no objection to entertainment services instituting methods to enforce the copyright of the tunes and video that they peddle. If their products are good enough, people will use the services; if their methods of enforcement don't work, people will find other services. And I'm not naive—since Microsoft owns the underlying DRM format, it's not terribly surprising that it would incorporate it into its brand-new operating system.
However, I'm still not convinced it's the role of my operating system to enforce copyright on behalf of music and film companies. I keep having nightmares where my copy of Windows Media Player suddenly says to me, "You can't play this song—it hasn't been authorized."
"No, no," I scream, "you don't understand—I downloaded this in 1985! The recording dates back to 1923! It's not being sold anywhere anymore!"
"Sorry, dear. I've deleted the file, locked up the computer, and sent an e-mail to the RIAA. The police should be at the door any minute now..."
What do you think? Does Vista's implementation of DRM annoy you, thrill you, or is it simply one more Windows feature to be coped with? Let me know at my blog post.
PC Sales Climb, HP Gains On Dell Worldwide shipments are hot—except in Europe, where, IDC said, potential PC buyers were distracted by the soccer World Cup, and increased shipments failed to meet expectations.
Google Profit Doubles In Quarter Second-quarter net income rose to $721 million, compared with the year-earlier quarter's $343 million. International sales were particularly strong.
3. Breaking News
Judge Denies Request To Throw Out AT&T Spy Suit That means the lawsuit will go forward. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is charging that AT&T broke the law by assisting the National Security Agency's efforts in eavesdropping on millions of Americans' telephone conversations.
Free Tool Scans Sites For Threats The tool, called LinkScanner, allows users to enter a URL, and then the tool checks the target page for threats and exploits and reports back on its findings.
Blogging Is All About Me Most bloggers are interested in creative personal expression, and many blog to share practical knowledge or skills with others. But only one out of 10 bloggers focuses on politics and government, according to a new study.
Cisco Patches Several CS-MARS Vulnerabilities The CS-MARS appliance monitors multiple network devices for security problems by examining configurations on routers and switches, and it allows companies to verify the security of their infrastructure against predefined security checklists.
AT&T Settles Customer Information Investigation In response to allegations about its customer privacy practices, the company agreed to supervision and review of its opt-out processes for releasing proprietary customer network information and some other measures.
Arrest Tests Legality Of Online Gaming Rules After this week's arrest of a gaming kingpin, a former New Jersey gaming regulator says online gaming can't be effectively stopped because there are so many sites, at least 70 of them according to a recent count.
Dell Knew Of Burned Laptops Before Recall: Source Dell grappled with apparently severe overheating problems in scores of notebooks for at least two years before it announced a recall of 22,000 notebooks last year, according to a source close to the company.
Benchmark Your Security Practices Security attacks are evolving and growing in number, making it challenging to protect your critical systems and data. We invite you to benchmark your security approach against those of your global peers with this fast, informative, and confidential security tool from InformationWeek and Accenture, a management consulting and technology services company.
Do You Access Our Content From A BlackBerry Or Treo? Many of our readers do, and we want to ensure that you get the best experience in using our content. So we've created a PDA-friendly version of our news content, with similarly streamlined content pages that should make the PDA experience a good one. Check out our latest enhancement.
Technology Rewrites The Book (New York Times) The print-on-demand business is gradually moving toward the center of the marketplace. What began as a way for publishers to reduce their inventory and stop wasting paper is becoming a tool for anyone who needs a bound document.
The Wired 40 (Wired) Wired lists the companies it considers the most innovative. New this year: Verizon, Lenovo, InfoSpace, and more.
5. In Depth: Social Networking
Journalist Sues YouTube For Copyright Infringement Robert Tur, a reporter and owner of the Los Angeles News Service, argues that YouTube is encouraging copyright infringement by hosting his footage, including the beating of trucker Reginald Denny, on YouTube servers.
Mining For Data In Blogs As the market evolves, it's become increasingly important for publishers to understand if an RSS can draw more traffic than the actual Web site, for instance, and what type of information in the feed is too much. New tools can help.
Review: Radar.net Radar.net is a simple service that lets you share photos with family, friends, and small groups.
The 'Drama Queen' Of Software Installations For a truly epic installation, David DeJean gives the Oscar for Best Drama to Symantec's Norton Internet Security upgrade. He just went through it not once, but twice, and says it's longer than the death scene from "Camille" and more emotionally draining.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 7, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program!