Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Grokster is reasonable

I’ve actually had time to read the entire decision, and I find this totally reasonable.

This is the text of the decision, and I’m surprised that this was turned into such a landmark case to begin with. It’s meaninless – all it says is that if you promote a service meant to contribute to copyright infringement, you can’t hide behind the defense that your service also has other uses.

Discovery revealed that billions of files are shared across peer-to-peer networks each month. Respondents are aware that users employ their software primarily to download copyrighted files, although the decentralized networks do not reveal which files are copied, and when. Respondents have sometimes learned about the infringement directly when users have e-mailed questions regarding copyrighted works, and respondents have replied with guidance. Respondents are not merely passive recipients of information about infringement. The record is replete with evidence that when they began to distribute their free software, each of them clearly voiced the objective that recipients use the software to download copyrighted works and took active steps to encourage infringement.

This isn’t about freedom of technological expression, unless I’m missing something big here. These guys were running a service encouraging people to trade copyrighted content, giving them tech support on it, and then hiding behind the claim that other people were using the service for legitimate means.

We can argue about whether that should be legal or not, but as far as I can tell, there isn’t a strong case for the argument that it actually is legal. This isn’t about protecting the rights of technologists to develop new ideas – this is about actual copyright infringement. There are two different cases here:

1. You release a tool that enables people to infringe copyright and you have no control over that.
2. You release a tool that enables people to infringe copyright and you advertise it as such, promote it with that goal, and help people out when they can’t download the latest Britney album.

Sounds like #2 to me.

Grokster is lost

The Supreme Court has unanimously decided that filesharing companies should be held liable for copyright infringement performed on their networks.

“One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright … is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device’s lawful uses,” Justice David Souter wrote in the ruling.

[Update - I think this is reasonable. Here's why.]

Psychonauts is fun

Filed under: — adam @ 10:24 am

I’ve just started playing Psychonauts, and it’s tremendous fun. I’ve been a fan of Tim Schafer games for a long time – I’ve played all of them except Day of the Tentacle.

It’s rare to find kid friendly games that aren’t boring for adults.

I’ll be posting a review to Buy Adam when I’m done with it, but there’s one piece of dialogue I just have to share (possibly slightly inaccurately quoted from memory):

Raz: They’ll be looking for Raz, the boy, but they’ll find Raz… the Psychonaut!
Dogen: And then you’ll make their heads explode?
Raz: What? No! You do that?
Dogen: No…
Dogen: Except that one time. But now I wear this special hat. Do you want to try on my hat?
Raz: No, no, that’s okay.

UK government considering selling ID card data to pay for ID system

What’s that slightly coppery smell? It’s irony mixed with incompetence.

So, let me get this straight. The UK government decides to implement a national ID system amid serious criticism of its effectiveness at all and its cost-effectiveness in particular, and now is considering selling the data to pay for spiraling costs.

I bet that idea is guaranteed to reduce identity theft and abuse of the system.

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