Rumors, Disappointment, and Opportunity

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.

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More on Syria from EFF

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.

One More Thing*

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.

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Want: A True Multi-Platform Game

come play
by-nc-sa /​ jaymiek (Flickr)

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.

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Copyright, in your face!

Iron Mike
cc-by-sa

Just had to point to this copy­right lit­i­ga­tion over Mike Tyson’s face tat­too.  I hope this does­n’t set­tle — I really want to read the judge’s fair use analy­sis.

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?

See?  Copy­right is awe­some.