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Enturbulation: To agitate or disturb; to upset, harass.

I’m dropping Google Ads from my site, in part due to their loyalty to one of their customers, the Church of Scientology. a website dedicated to the peaceful dissemination of the truth about the Church of Scientology.

Apparently a lot of the advertisements through Google’s Adwords/Adsense campaign were being paid for by Scientology when the site itself was against the church. As a result Google has disabled their adsense account. They don’t want a customer (ie, Scientology) to stop giving them money. D’oh.

I’m ditching advertising on this site. I don’t get hits enough to justify the added space and added load times. Plus, some of the ads on this page that would accompany my own posts about Scientology or politics were actively clashing. I don’t support John McCain, yet ads for his campaign would appear.

In the past I handled that disjointness by ensuring the content I put here was clear about my feelings toward those companies or organizations. But as of today I’m ad-free. Google does a pretty good job in most things and I still respect the company. That said, their siding with Scientology on this matter as well as obvious aspects of their YouTube censorship lead me to conclude that the less direct affiliation I have with their advertising, the fewer thetans that might come my way.

Originally I put ads here because I wanted to get an idea of what they were about. It was easy and I recognized that I didn’t get enough hits to worry about making money off them so I let them stay. Time to kick the money changers out of this here temple. Heeeee-yah!

“Making Available” is Not Infringement

Give it five years and the RIAA will want everyone to be “making available” the knowledge of which content they possess so they can keep tabs on what’s hot. They’ve got their backwards pants on for years now, but within the five next years they will finally wake up.

Via SlashdotNewYorkCountryLawyer Debates RIAA VP:

From the debate transcript:

MR. BECKERMAN: The law runs the country. This is a nation of law, not a country of lawyers who are best paid by large content owners.
PROF. HANSEN: Ray, let’s not get ad hominem. You know what ad hominem means? You’ve got a losing argument and you’re desperate. So just stick to the merits. […]

I guess the insinuation there is that calling someone a lawyer paid by large content owners is an ad hominem in the eyes of Professor Hansen. I found that funny, because it colored the prior statement by Mr. Beckerman darker than it originally read for me.

Anyway, this debate was all about whether simply “making available” equates to an infringement of copyright. That is, whether anyone actually downloads the files, is simply allowing the possibility equal to dissemination in terms of infringing the copyrights of the files?

First and foremost, making available in a more concise definition is simply the announcement of existence some file that is labeled in some way. If I write a hyperlink here: Buy a Time Machine from Jesus I’m making a certain representation about the contents to be found at that link. In practice that link could contain anything.

It could even actually contain Jesus’ ecommerce website where he sells time machines. Without executing the link (that is, generating a HTTP request to the server it specifies for the document it specifies, or otherwise executing whatever command is intended by the semantics of this hypertext document) one cannot know what it leads to.

And yes, that can actually be proven by looking at the halting problem from Computer Science. Basically, if you could prove for all cases what clicking a hyperlink would do, then you could solve the halting problem. Because it can be shown the halting problem is unsolvable, it follows that the link-clicking problem cannot be solved either.

Now, for a subset of links, or in this case the subset is the filesharing software’s function to execute the downloading of a file, it is conceivably provable. But then, it must be shown, in court, that executing that function of the software would result in the transfer of copyrighted content which is particularly described and proven to be owned by the plaintiff. And even then, you’ve only proven that the defendant is in fact “making available” said content.

Now, can making available constitute an infringement on the rights of a copyright holder? Typical infringement refered to as distribution or dissemination is infringing because without authorization from the owner some third party gives possession of the content to another party. This differs from making available drastically. Making available is more like mentioning you have the content.

A software anthropomorphization:

Bill: Anyone got the Hill of Soap song, “Noodles are Cruel?”

Steve: Hey I got that song.

Ah, but that’s even still an overbroad example of making available. One wouldn’t even have to ever respond to a query for the content’s availability! It just has to be in a folder that the software has marked as “shared” to be considered “making available.”

And we have reached the pintacle of the absurdity of “making available” as infringing copyright. You download the file sharing software. You install it. Instantly you have infringed countless copyrights because the software automatically scanned your drive and marked all multimedia folders as “shared.”

So, frankly, making available cannot possibly constitute infringement of copyright. Copyright is there to give an incentive to create content. The incentive is that by creating content you have the exclusive right to distribute, perform, profit from, etc. for a period of time. That right does not include “keeping people from discussing your work,” or announcing or responding to a query about whether they have that work on their computer.

Give it five years and the RIAA will want everyone to be “making available” the knowledge of which content they possess so they can keep tabs on what’s hot. They’ve got their backwards pants on for years now, but within the five next years they will finally wake up.

Saboteurs in Silicon

Via Slashdot (DARPA Sponsors a Hunt For Malware In Microchips) & BoingBoing (Hunt for the kill switch in microchips) — A story making the rounds today discusses the possibility of embedded instructions that could disable or allow spying through hardware chips.

This may be one more reason to look toward the model Transmeta was pushing several years ago: hardware chips that rely on software (firmware). Code is easier to audit than silicon, and it would also potentially mean that the life of the hardware could be extended.

Obviously using such tech for every chip is price-prohibitive at this point, but critical chips could use a mixture of this model and blind redundancy (whereby two manufacturers build chips to spec and both are soldered, either one is arbitrarily used when that part of the hardware is invoked).

Non-critical chips should be vetted and reused in future projects with a battery of tests to verify integrity. A chip lifecycle should be established to upgrade the approved chips list on a regular basis.