So the iPhone 4S looks like an awesome phone, and I agree with those who argue that — viewed in a vacuum — yesterday’s announcement was not a “disappointment.” The phone may look the same, but it’s completely souped up and new inside. It’s a big upgrade.
However, we do not live in a vacuum. Apple’s secrecy game — and its likely side game of spawning rumors to build up excitement — laid the foundation for the disappointment many are feeling. There have been rumblings about an iPhone 5, sporting a new hardware design, for months. I knew of several friends waiting to see what the iPhone 5 was like before deciding on their next phone. Then more recently, there came rumors of two iPhones being announced — an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 4S. Two iPhones on one day? That would be big.
I don’t know if Apple started these rumors, or if they were true and Apple recently changed its plans, or if it’s just the case of third-party-guesses-turned-predictions… but people are finding yesterday disappointing because Apple did nothing to react to the clamoring rumor mill pre-launch. The launch was disappointing, but the product launched was not.
EFF posted an update on the situation regarding the export of digital speech tools from the United States to sanctioned countries like Syria. The good news is that in its recent escalation of sanctions against Syria, the Obama administration provided a general license for certain Internet technologies related to the exchange of personal communications online. The bad news is that the Commerce Department continues to prohibit the export of certain tools and services. EFF is stepping up and offering to help willing companies get licenses or advisory opinions to make their tools available.
Underneath all of this is an important issue: under several amendments to the President’s export regulation powers, these executive agencies arguably do not have the power to control exports of digital speech tools in the first place. The Berman Amendment — and later the Free Trade in Ideas Amendment — prohibit the President from regulating the export or import of “information or informational materials.” The President may not regulate information either directly or indirectly.
A couple of weeks ago, the William and Mary Law Review approved my proposal to write my student note on this very argument. I will study cases from the past decades that have interpreted those amendments in the context of other media — such as book publishing, live sport broadcasting, and paintings — and then go through both a statutory analysis and policy argument that will show that it is not only illegal for the President to regulate the export of digital speech tools, but also in our best foreign policy interests.
More to come as I develop my research, but kudos to EFF for keeping the pressure up and offering to help out here. It’s an important issue and will likely continue to be so as the “Arab Spring” and related movements persist.
Apple launched iCloud yesterday, which includes the “iTunes in the Cloud” service. Apple is comparing this to Amazon and Google’s cloud music offerings (see above chart pulled from Apple.com). PCMag has a more detailed comparison chart.
When you duck outside the warmth of the reality-distortion field, you realize that Apple is offering a substantially different type of service than Amazon and Google. It’s a little misleading to compare them on only the factors Apple has detailed above.
This story about how Facebook and Apple are connecting their credit systems is less interesting to me for that news than it is for this little nugget: the new Tom Clancy Ghost Recon game “is being released over the next years on multiple platforms, including Facebook, mobile, console and the Internet.”
I doubt this means what I want it to mean (not too much time now to research further)… but wouldn’t it be cool if it means you buy the game once and play it across all those platforms? I don’t mean playing parallel versions of the same title on different platforms. I mean actually playing the same game across multiple mediums.
Seriously though, what a fascinating context for copyright. Could a court order a tattoo removed or covered if it infringed another’s copyright? Can a tattoo artist really assert exclusive rights when the medium in which their work is fixed is the skin of another human being? What counts as “making money” from a tattoo? Does a tattoo — especially one on the face — become part of the bearer’s persona so as to implicate their exclusive right of publicity?