May 15, 2003


So, in the continuing story about the cease and desist notice with respect to my linking directly to a publicly available store of journal articles, a lawyer told me to

"revise your website as your publication of the means by which you illegally obtained access to our website is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
As you may know, the DMCA imposes both civil and criminal penalties on those
who circumvent or assist others in circumventing technological protection
measures applied to copyrighted works. Our online system is protected
through various authentication methods and your publication of any type of
work-around for others to follow in avoiding having to be properly
authenticated as an authorized user of our copyright protected products and
services is a violation of the DMCA.

So, I've "unpublished" my last post. Because the last thing I need to do right now is have arguments with lawyers.

What I found odd, though, is that it's supposedly illegal to write about a publicly-available workaround. Now, for argument's sake, let's say that instead of linking to a publicly accessible article, I robbed a bank. Now, to the best of my knowledge, it would be perfectly legal to write about the details of how I went about robbing a bank -- scouting the place, disarming security systems, etc. etc. People have written about the details of committing crimes forever.

Yet, as this lawyer is having me understand it, it's not legal for me to write about how I stumbled upon a trove of publicly accessible, though copyright-protected, information, because of the DMCA. Is this true? I don't know.

I do know this. I just donated $500 to the EFF. I ask that you do something, too.

Posted by peterme at 10:41 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

May 14, 2003

Ceasing and Desisting. received it's first-ever cease-and-desist letter today. The folks at Proquest were none too happy that I pointed out a backdoor to their database.

I've decided to take that link down, but I'm also going to tell you how I found it through rather innocent clicking around on the publicly available Web.

UC Berkeley features "Pathfinder", a web-based search engine for the library's materials. I am an alumnus of UC Berkeley, and can check out materials from the library, so I occasionally see if they have stuff I want.

I'm doing some research on design issues, and discovered that the Design Management Journal had stuff that I was interested in. So I typed "design management journal" into Pathfinder.

The fourth result, for "Design Management Journal", is what I wanted. You'll notice a link to "Selected article text for 2001: link removed due to DMCA Gestapo at ProQuest".

I clicked on that link, which popped open a new window, and then redirected me to the authenticated ProQuest site. I cut and paste the URL from the address bar, and provided the link.

If you click on the link removed due to DMCA Gestapo at ProQuest link now, you'll see that they've blocked that redirect. So, someone woke up.

I'm still not quite sure how I feel about all this. I mean, I like getting stuff for free. Though, I'm also willing to pay for it at a reasonable price (as my burgeoning "Purchased Music" folder in iTunes shows). I also don't think I should be held responsible for someone else's thoughtlessness. It's as if a box of Design Management Journals had been left, open, with no one around.

Since the redirect no longer works, I've taken the direct link down -- it's clear now that that door was not meant to be gone through.

Posted by peterme at 11:53 AM | TrackBack

May 12, 2003

Way more about paths at UC Berkeley than you'd ever want to read.

Walking on the UC Berkeley Campus, I saw this:

Hrm. That seems like an odd place to put a barrier. It's not like there's a cliff to fall over.

Another angle makes things a little more apparent:

Still don't quite get it? How about this bird's eye view, taken 3 years ago, from Kevin Fox's "Berkeley Paths" photos:

Look in the upper-middle-to-right-hand corner. See how there's an asphalt path, heading from up-and-right to down-and-left, which is then continued by a dirt path, linking to the bend in the road??

Well, as this new photo demonstrates...

...that path is now gone. So, that barrier was designed to protect the grass.

In a presentation I gave a long time ago on emergent information architecture, I used the first birdseye photo to demonstrate how people will take a planned design and modify it to fit their needs. In the face of this, designers have two choices -- allow the modification, or throw up obstacles (God forbid you digress from the original Vision!).

So, the landscape folk at Berkeley, in their foolishness, have chosen the latter. Not that it matters. People, being what they are, simply walk around it...

For shame!

There's another interesting development. Look at the center of the first birdseye photo, and the bottom-right of the second. In the first, there's a wide dirt path cutting across the corner. In the second, there's a darker green patch, showing where it's been re-sod.

For some reason, Berkeley would rather spend it's money reinforcing it's poor landscape architecture with barriers and re-sodding, then recognizing that the paths suggest a valuable will of the people.

Though, this is not always the case. In another part of the campus, diagonal concrete paths were laid where it was clear that people walked, and are still in use:

Pretty soon, Berkeley is going to have to face a new situation:

As you can see, a path is getting worn in across this field, crossing from the top-right to the bottom left (it continues paths already set in asphalt). Will Berkeley choose foolish fascism or opportunistic organicism? Time will tell...

Posted by peterme at 09:04 PM | Comments (35) | TrackBack


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Way more about paths at UC Berkeley than you'd ever want to read.
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