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Lighten Up 24 August 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
Click To See
Windows RG
A very funny Flash site that debuts the new Windows RG (Real Good) version. This is interactive -- you will need to click the buttons and menus to see the whole thing.

Hoverboards
Did you see the movie Back to the Future II? Ever wanted one of those cool hoverboards? Well if you've got NZ$8,800 (yes!) then you can buy something that is nothing like one of those hoverboards.

Lighten Up?
Hey, this is the lighten-up section right? So what could be more enthralling than a site dedicated to antique light bulbs. "life, a, get" -- rearrange these words into a phrase that applies to anyone who spends their time collecting such antiquities.

Everything's Illegal Now
It seems as if some lawyers can find any reason to sue these days.

Take a look at the situation MP3.com finds itself in -- a group of songwriters and publishers are suing them for "viral infringements" of their copyrights.

"Viral infringements?"

Yes, it seems that because users of MP3.com were ripping music from CDs they'd already paid for, and uploading those files to their own "personal music locker" on the MP3.com site, MP3.com is allegedly guilty of "viral infringement."

The allegation is that since (in theory) anyone with the right password could log into your "personal music locker" and download or listen to your collection of MP3 tracks, the material stored there was free to escape to file-trading networks such as Napster.

That's a pretty long bow in my book -- but it hasn't stopped those who must have eyed the $160m settlement received by the recording industry from trying their luck.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Everything's Illegal Now... - Peter
  • You and I... - Ian
  • You and I and others... - Dennis
  • Have Your Say

    But wait -- there's more!

    What about that Russian programmer who cracked the Adobe E-book copy protection and encryption scheme and produced software to allow legitimate owners to transfer their e-books onto portable devices or computers other than the one to which the download was registered?

    Reverse engineering someone's encryption or protection scheme is illegal under the USA's somewhat draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) but it's not illegal under Russian law.

    Poor old Dmitry wasn't breaking the laws of his country when he cracked Adobe's encryption -- but when he traveled to the USA to speak at a Las Vegas security convention the Feds pounced and arrested him.

    What does this mean for you and me?

    If we obey all of NZ's laws and regulations -- can we be arrested when we travel to a foreign country where those very same actions may have broken some law of that land?

    Will our women-folk who visit the certain Middle-Eastern countries on holiday be thrown in the slammer because the haven't been wearing a veil in public while living here in NZ?

    Will you be arrested on an LA freeway because the cops look at your drivers' license and figure out that because you come from NZ you must have been driving on the left-hand side of the road before you came to the USA and driving on the left is a breach of the American law?

    Unless Dmitry cracked the Adobe encryption while actually living or working in the USA then surely the US authorities have no right to arrest and prosecute him.

    Again, perhaps the legal eagles who regularly read this column can provide some clarification here -- and maybe issue some caveats for our online activities.

    Are we, here in NZ, also going to be bound to adhere to the DMCA? Is the long arm of the US law really going to compromise our ability to visit the states if we've done the wrong thing while remaining completely within our own local laws?

    It's a worry!

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