By Stephen Downes
April 25, 2003

Judge: File-swapping Tools Are Legal
Wow. "A federal judge in Los Angeles has handed a stunning court victory to file-swapping services Streamcast Networks and Grokster, dismissing much of the record industry and movie studios' lawsuit against the two companies." The judge ruled these are legal tools, even though they can sometimes be used for illegal purposes. This is the same logic that allows hardware stors to sell crowbars and video stores to sell VCRs. At last, sanity from the U.S. judicial system. By John Borland, CNet, April 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

File Sharing Forfeits Right To Privacy
The argument accepted by the court is seductive: "If users of pirate peer-to-peer sites don't want to be identified, they should not break the law by illegally distributing music." That sounds fine, but in today's surround-sound world, everyone is a suspect, and so everyone has forfeit their right to privacy. The fact is, the RIAA (or anyone else, for that matter) cannot establish that a person has shared copyrighted materials without already having done a little packet-snooping or hard-drive hacking. After all, a Madonna MP3 looks pretty much like the soundtrack from one of my talks from the outside; you have to actually intercept and read the file to determine that it's contraband. So it's a bit much for them to allege that only the guilty will be punished. Everyone is punished is the suurveillance society. By Jonathan Krim, Washington Post, April 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Venture Capital: Seattle VCs are Starting to Take Notice of Canada
Not that I am one to wave the flag or anything... aw, who am I kidding? This article summarizes what I have been saying about Canada all along: we are absolute leaders in the field of information technology, including e-learning, and as the article suggests, "If you are in the venture business and you are not looking at Canada, you are negligent." This article focuses on Vancouver, but a similar story could be said of every major centre in the country, including right here in New Brunswick. By John Cook, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Higher Education, Upping the Ante
Review of Derek Bok's Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education. The argument is familiar. Universities are in need of ever more money, and so the prospects offered by commercial enterprises are alluring. But such ventures, as is evidenced in the management of university sports teams, leads to a distortion of the university's priorities. The reviewer argues that Bok should have assumed a more outraged tone, and while I am inclined to agree, I would observe that such a tone would simply alienate those for whom the book was written. By Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post, April 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Federal Rules on Privacy
In January, 2004, Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) comes into force. This website was launched by the Chartered Accountants of Canada providing information, background and guidelines to the Act. The Act prohibits the collection of personal information (with some rare exceptions) without the individual's consent. It will have wide applicability, including within the education sector. By Various Authors, Chartered Accountant of Canada, April, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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