In honor of Independence Day, we have two essays about issues surrounding personal freedoms, copyright and encryption. If more technical information is to your liking, Mark Anbinder reports on the LaserWriter 810 coming off the disabled list and a new company being formed from the old Advanced Software. Finally, an article talking about all of Apple’s Internet resources fills out the issue.
Sorry this issue is a day late. Between Independence Day (a solemn American holiday during which we attempt to affirm our proud heritage by blowing things up) and finishing the second edition of Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, there wasn’t time. Also, I accidentally let a title slip through in TidBITS-232 with a too-long underline. Easy View users may not have noticed Mark’s OneWorld review in TidBITS-232. Sorry! [ACE]
Software and Support
Software and Support — We’ve been thinking about the relationship between good software design and technical support, and rather than blather about it and then run follow-up articles, we are requesting opinions from those who have shipped software products. How do you minimize support issues? What would you do differently if could do it over? Is it possible to create a program that has minimal support needs? Send comments to <[email protected]> and I’ll use them in the article, although I probably won’t be able to reply to each one individually. [ACE]
Owners of GlobalFax software
Owners of GlobalFax software for the Duo Express Modem may purchase the Global Village PowerPort/Mercury for the PowerBook Duo (see TidBITS-232) as a $270 "upgrade" if they order directly from the manufacturer. Global Village wants to return the customer’s investment in GlobalFax, which retailed for $129. [MHA]
Global Village — 800/736-4821 — 415/390-8200 –[email protected]
AOL TCP/IP Updated
AOL TCP/IP Updated — America Online has a new version of its client software, complete with a non-expiring TCP tool. It is, however, still in beta, and thus may have problems and is not supported by the telephone tech support folks. To become a beta tester, send your AOL screen name to MacBeta once you log on. Set your FTP client to binary before retrieving the file since it’s an unbinhexed binary file. [ACE]
The Power Macintosh 7100
The Power Macintosh 7100 can display up to 32,768 different colors at a 640 x 480 display resolution with 1 MB of VRAM, not 16.7 million colors, as incorrectly stated on electronic data sheets. Apple corrected the error on the printed version of the data sheets before distributing them a few months ago, but the version on the Apple Reference, Performance and Learning Expert CD (ARPLE), and on eWorld has the error. [MHA]
Algorithmic Animation and El-Fish
Jonathan Kurtzman <[email protected]> writes:
There are several interesting things about El-Fish, reviewed in TidBITS-231. Its fish breeding capability, which follows genetic rules, is fairly well-known. Less known is something which may in the end prove more important, namely that its animation is algorithmic and not frame by frame. This is why it is so life-like. The program was developed in Russia. The animator emigrated to the Boston area where I met him in a computer store. He explained and demonstrated for me how he had developed mathematical descriptions of the possible motions. This was necessary because the program will breed incredibly odd-looking, impossible fish, making frame by frame animation impossible. Because the fish move by rules, they essentially choose where to swim from moment to moment. To prove this wasn’t a fluke, he then showed me a program of horses trotting which he said he put together in a few days. It was eerie to watch the horses run next to each other, cross, turn away, etc. While much animation is moving toward captured motion (optically, magnetically), the potential of algorithmic animation is vast. By the way, he hated the straight at you / away from you azimuths (because they look squashed) and was upset that they were added to his work. I hesitate to tell you how little he was paid.
LaserWriter Taken Off Suspension
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
The LaserWriter Pro 810 printer was on quality hold for several weeks while Apple investigated an unusual number of problem reports, but the company has announced that the printer is again available. Users reported problems with fuser life, manual feed skew, and print quality. The LaserWriter Pro 810, a large printer almost identical to the discontinued Compaq PageMarq printers, offers high speed output (up to 20 pages per minute) and high resolution (400 to 800 dots per inch), as well as extensive paper-handling capabilities and large-format (11 x 17 inch) printing.
LaserWriter Pro 810 owners whose fusers fail prematurely may obtain a replacement at no cost. (The printer’s page count must be less than 100,000.) The fuser assembly is the component that melts the tiny plastic toner pellets onto the paper. Also, users experiencing paper skewing and misfeeds when using the manual feed may obtain a new manual feed guide. Apple is negotiating for an improved toner cartridge to improve overall print quality, and will release details as available.
Other than the toner, improved LaserWriter Pro 810s should already be making their way through the dealer channels, and repair parts should now be available as well. If you have a LaserWriter Pro 810 with one of these problems, contact your service provider for assistance. Apple customers in the U.S. can call 800/SOS-APPL with any questions.
— Information from:
Apple Internet Plans?
Happily, it turns out that the rumor from Pythaeus in TidBITS-231 about Open Transport not being backwardly compatible with MacTCP is false. Instead, Apple will support the MacTCP API for some time to ensure that current applications don’t break. Programmers can find information on Open Transport on (although it has been down the last few days):
The concern might have arisen, as one MacTCP developer said, not because of the MacTCP programmers, who have consistently done the right thing, but because of the decisions of Apple’s upper management, whose ways are mysterious and often plain confusing.
Shortly after the correction of the Open Transport rumor came another rumor about an Apple program, supposedly code-named Cyberdog, that integrates existing Internet programs. I have no specific information, except that apparently Apple is among the companies that have licensed the Mosaic source code from NCSA. Cyberdog reportedly comes from Apple’s Advanced Technology Group, and is slated to ship in the same package as System 7.5 (which will also include MacTCP). The world doesn’t need an integrated Internet program, but it would be interesting to see one that works with the excellent existing programs such as Eudora, Anarchie, Fetch, TurboGopher, and NewsWatcher. Speaking of NewsWatcher, John Norstad just released 2.0b2, an impressive upgrade. It’s at:
AppleLink Mirror — Enough rumors, it’s time to both praise and chastise Apple for resources they’re providing on the Internet. In the recent past a number of Internet servers have sprung up to distribute software to the Internet community, and <ftp.support.apple.com> (also available via Gopher) is now a mirror image of the software available via AppleLink and eWorld. That doesn’t inherently meant that it has everything that the other Apple sites have. The problem <ftp.support.apple.com> suffers is that because it’s an exact mirror of AppleLink and eWorld, some filenames aren’t standard. Apple suggests enclosing such directory and file names in quotes, although that may not always work. Apparently FTP clients such as Fetch and Anarchie don’t suffer from this problem.
MAE Resources — Chuq Von Rospach of Apple recently announced three ListProcessor mailing lists and another FTP site designed to support users of Apple’s Macintosh Application Environment (Macintosh emulation for certain Unix workstations).
The first list, MAE-ANNOUNCE, is a moderated list to provide information and announcements from Apple. The unmoderated MAE-USERS and MAE-BUGS are for more informal discussion and bug-reporting.
Since ListProcessor lists work much like LISTSERV lists, you subscribe by sending email to <[email protected]>, putting the appropriate ListProcessor command in the body of the message (pick one from the list below), and leaving the Subject line blank.
HELP SUBSCRIBE MAE-ANNOUNCE your full name SUBSCRIBE MAE-USERS your full name SUBSCRIBE MAE-BUGS your full name
If you have comments, send them to <[email protected]>. Chuq mentioned that they intend to add Gopher, WAIS, and Web services at a later date.
New Web Server — Speaking of Gopher and Web services, Apple has had a Gopher server up and running for some time at:
However, in keeping up with the Internet, Apple recently added a Web server as well at:
The Web site has links to other Apple Internet resources and information related to Apple (and much more promised).
Confused Yet? — All this sounds wonderful, but when you add in the existing FTP and Gopher sites that Apple has had around for a while, you end up with a confusing melange of resources. Apple’s other Internet sites include:
Between six FTP sites, three Gopher servers, and a Web site, it’s downright difficult to figure out where to go for a something specific. I don’t think it’s possible (or even a good idea) for Apple to give one group control over all the FTP and Gopher sites, but I’d like to suggest that the folks who run Apple’s Web site take on the chore of making Apple’s Internet resources coherent and easily accessible from a single place, since Web servers can provide links to all the rest. For example, WAIS indexes of all files available (descriptions would be nice too) and where they live would be incredibly helpful, and if done right, that Web server could become not only an incredible resource and an indication of how far Apple is willing to go to support its customers, but also provide a competitive advantage for Apple with large companies that are on the Internet. And hey, then it might even fly with the upper management.
Prairie Group Grows
The Prairie Group, the same Midwest-based investors who brought us PrairieSoft last year (see TidBITS-188), now introduces Advanced Software, L.C., the Group’s second operating company. Advanced Software, L.C. late last week completed the acquisition of InTouch, DateView, and QuickTools from Advanced Software, Inc., of Sunnyvale, California. The shuffling allows The Prairie Group to bring these Macintosh programs and Advanced Software, Inc.’s technical staff to West Des Moines, Iowa, where they’ll share PrairieSoft’s headquarters.
InTouch (see TidBITS-153) has been Advanced Software, Inc.’s flagship product since its introduction. The $99.95 package is a free-form address book and contact management utility. DateView, introduced early this year, integrates with InTouch to provide calendaring and to-do list handling. QuickTools is one of several collections of Macintosh utilities on the market. While none of the components is extraordinary, QuickTools provides several useful items in an affordable ($79.95 retail) bundle.
Larry Lightman, CEO of Advanced Software, Inc., had been interested in selling the products so he could pursue other opportunities, according to Richard Kirsner, president of the new company. Paul Miller, PrairieSoft’s chief operating officer, commented that "the arrival of Advanced Software allows both companies to build on each other’s strengths in product design, development, marketing, sales, and support." The pairing also allows the small companies to share some of the overhead and infrastructure costs that can be troublesome for young software businesses.
PrairieSoft’s products include DiskTop, a file management utility; personal scheduler Alarming Events; and In/Out, an electronic in/out board for small offices. According to public relations manager Sue Nail, The Prairie Group plans to introduce additions to each company’s product line in the future, as well as updates to existing products.
Advanced Software, L.C. — 515/225-9620 — 515/225-2422 (fax)
— Information from:
Advanced Software propaganda
Sue Nail, The Prairie Group
Encryption Quagmire Ahead For Education?
Recent postings in the Electronic Frontier Foundation forums have reported that MIT, ViaCrypt, RSA, and Phil Zimmerman have reached an agreement on the encryption system Phil has been distributing, called Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, so that the current version, PGP v. 2.6, is available via FTP from MIT. This indicates that MIT will probably advocate PGP, rather than the Clipper encryption standard being pushed by the Clinton administration. For more information on PGP, check out:
One weekend in May of this year, some of my brother sailors and I were stringing cable at a local elementary school, as part of our Adopt-a-School commitment. We had to thread the cable around a variety of computers and it occurred to me that TCI, who donated the cable, is one of the companies seeking to expand the scope of telecommunications services they provide. It is likely in the near future that same cable we were stringing for educational television will be used to link the school to the Internet.
When considering how Internet access will benefit public education, the area of standardized tests (such as the SAT) seems a natural candidate for encryption. Teachers could download tests in encrypted form and only release the keys to decrypt the tests at the beginning of the exam. The students would finish the exams, then re-encrypt them with another key. The teacher would download the answer sheets, using yet a third key, and there would be less likelihood of cheating allegations. (Did anyone else have to retake the SAT because the principal didn’t believe you knew that much?)
When the practice of downloadable encrypted testing pervades our education system, there will come a dilemma for education – do we use "government standard" Clipper-style encryption (and might the government mandate its use for schools to receive federal funding?), or do we use PGP, the encryption standard in use on the Internet, now made legally and freely available by FTP from MIT? Either way, a group of midshipmen just cost the government an expensive four years of education at Annapolis when they got caught hacking into electrical engineering exams, and the only way to ensure that won’t happen again is to encrypt the exams.
Will education go for PGP or the Clipper standard? That remains to be seen, but MIT students already use PGP to digitally encrypt signatures and thus authenticate their email messages. If the Department of Education adopts the Clipper standard, I anticipate a lot of griping about other departments holding copies of their keys "to allow for legal wiretaps." Disk space may be getting cheaper, but there is little economy in having a bunch of computers in Washington D.C. keep track of the crypto keys used by elementary schools in Key West, or Anchorage, Alaska.
Your Work On TV? A View From The USA
The pictures are familiar. Television reporters find online messaging easy to quote, and easy for a camera crew to reproduce. The Internet boom has TV reporters reaching a critical mass in their efforts to translate the net for broadcasting. Turn on a TV news program, and hear the text of a message, or watch the camera pan an office and then zoom in on a monitor connected to an online service or the Internet.
The list is long. A recent MacNeil/Lehrer PBS report on the Clipper chip, coverage of the NRA (National Rifle Association), an ABC magazine segment about selling sex online, an ABC News "Nightline" special report on privacy, last winter’s NBC coverage of the Winter Olympics, CNN’s May report on email stalking, and the same story on a recent ABC "A Current Affair" all incorporated direct quotation or representation of text on a computer terminal. The author of such a message is often not present, and unlike guests on TV talk shows, may not even be aware that his or her words have been aired.
My hope is that this article will defend what rights of authorship, ownership, and privacy exist, in the face of increasing press coverage of online messaging. To my knowledge – and I am neither a lawyer nor a journalist – no case law establishes these rules for TV either way. Certainly, the act of posting to a public BBS is evidence of the author’s intent to make the work available to others who access the board. However, it is far from clear that such an act gives reporters license to reproduce that text without attribution.
For most purposes, the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, as amended in 1992, holds today. When anyone creates a written work, whether trivial or of great value, he or she is the author and automatically receives rights of ownership at the time of creation. U.S. copyright extends through the life of the author plus 50 years, and affords the rights to copy the work, to distribute copies, and to make and profit by "derivative works," such as abridgment, translation and adaptation. (An aside here, only about one quarter of the world’s 189 countries and 46 dependencies agree to the Berne Convention covering copyright.)
I asked the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) whether posts on public paid services enjoy more protection than Internet posts, and for verification that online messages are copyrighted. The consensus was that a paid service offers no extra protection to its authors. Stanton McCandlish, EFF online activist, reassured me that Internet postings are instantly copyrighted. Mike Godwin, staff counsel for the EFF, wrote, when I asked him about TV coverage of online messages, "I regard this as an insignificant problem – one that causes no significant harm to the individuals involved, at least insofar as their copyright interests go. The relevant legal principle is ‘De minimis non curat lex.’" This was the first of several prominent EFF member opinions I found disconcerting – "The law is not concerned with trifles."
An EFF co-founder, John Perry Barlow, is well known for writing and speaking about what he perceives as a dying set of laws governing intellectual property (an umbrella term covering copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets). Mr. Barlow described an "enigma" surrounding digital expression in his "The Economy of Ideas," Wired magazine 2.03.
He asks, "If our property can be infinitely reproduced and instantaneously distributed all over the planet without cost, without our knowledge, without its even leaving our possession, how can we protect it?" I believe he is wrong to suggest that creators of work distributed digitally have no rights of authorship. The answer to his question might be to strengthen what rights the U.S. gives the owners of such work, rather than to encourage the evaporation of those rights. Whether one is a famous lyricist such as Barlow – for the rock ‘n’ roll band, the Grateful Dead – or an average person, composing and posting messages online, the law protects copyrighted work, and copyrighted work must be attributed if quoted.
It is usual in discussions of these issues to hear strong opinions. These include abolishing copyright, defense of the First Amendment rights of a writer taking precedence over the right to privacy of the individual being reported upon, bitter attacks on reporters who have overstepped guidelines, as well as delight upon discovering that one’s name has been used without one’s knowledge. Although I believe that defending copyright is critical, for every claim to ownership, there appears a cry for enrichment of the public domain. For every desire expressed for privacy, there is a defense of the doctrine of fair use.
Debra Young, Corporate Communications Specialist for CompuServe, confirmed in a 25-May phone interview that CompuServe upholds member copyright on all postings to CompuServe message boards. CompuServe does not advocate indiscriminate use of the service’s vast text base by TV or print reporters. "What we’re trying to do is protect privacy. If a camera were to pan over a message and leave it illegible there is no problem." If it focused on a third-party supplied database, permission would have to be given by that supplier, since CompuServe is merely the means of transmission in this case." She continued, "For the time being we follow basic law. However, each situation must be examined to measure its social and legal impact on both the online community, and everyone else watching." From what I can tell, CompuServe can be commended on its ability to state a position on copyright.
Of all the people I talked to, Gail Ann Williams, Conferencing Manager of the WELL, seemed to have the most experience with members complaining about reporters using their messages. The WELL cannot prohibit people from reproducing its message base, nor can it promise to take legal action at the request of a member who feels taken advantage of. She said, "If a journalist is careless, they will damage their reputation. The prudent journalist would take the time to determine the intentions of the author, and get permission if it was considered created property. Some people think they’re talking; others think they are writing and composing."
To quote America Online’s surprising Terms of Service, "Message Boards shall not contain copyrighted material and anyone posting information in these areas thereby consents to the placement of such material in the public domain." Margaret Ryan, spokesperson for AOL Corporate Communications, made it clear that America Online has rules and wants to "protect members’ privacy." I hope other services do not adopt the America Online model, which is the flip side of CompuServe’s – the message base and chat areas may be reproduced freely as long as screen names are changed or blocked out.
Ed Garsten of CNN’s Detroit bureau produced one of the first national TV pieces on alleged electronic stalking (27-May-94). CNN is an America Online partner, America Online was not mentioned, and we agreed he was within even strict interpretations of fair use. However, in A Current Affair’s rendition of the same story (09-Jun-94), America Online was identified on ABC – the interface, exact screen names, and email text were legible. Also Donahue’s CBS shows about America Online were not approved by America Online prior to airing.
CBS-owned WCCO-TV, Minneapolis/St. Paul, has produced a weekly feature about online culture for the past year as part of its newscasts. To his credit, reporter Alan Cox said, "Not even fleetingly would we put private material on-screen," because he is aware that his audience has VCRs with pause buttons. But Mr. Cox’s policy on televising text is based on this erroneous idea, "Basically, our philosophy on the Internet is that messages are in the public domain." Citing deadline constraints, he said WCCO has run messages without permission, with the author’s name removed.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Senior Writer at Time magazine, whom I talked to regarding a PBS broadcast he produced that quoted net messages without attribution, gave this some thought. In an enjoyable phone interview on 25-May he decided, "After all the legal rigmarole, I suspect that even CompuServe or the WELL, which takes a very high moral position on this, will find that if it comes to a court of law, that they cannot stop somebody from publishing writing that somebody has posted on a public bulletin board. This is my guess. But it’s wrong for a television program to run this stuff on TV without getting permission. It’s just bad form."
Stanley Hubbard, President, Chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., is one of about 40 people who form the NIIAC (National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council), appointed by the U.S. Commerce Department to create reports for the U.S. government through early 1996. He is a member of the NIIAC subcommittee on intellectual property, security and privacy. Mr. Hubbard agreed in a 28-Jun phone interview that the difficulties arise when TV programs cross U.S. boundaries, and disagreed with my stance on the copyright status of some electronic messaging. He was intrigued by these questions, and said "We [the NIIAC] are not law makers. We are only advisors to the administration."
TV’s interface with online messaging is changing fast as these media merge, both technologically, and by shared financial and legal interests, like TV Guide / The News Corporation / Delphi / Internet and CNN / TIME / Warner / NBC / The New York Times / America Online / Internet, to name two huge notable associations that already exist. Apparently it is legal for TV reporters to do what I’ve described if authors are credited, and not legal if no credit is given. But there are exceptions, like America Online, and new precedents are being set. Maybe the watch dogs of the industry need to be watched.
Policy makers, journalists, and key players I spoke with seemed ready to defend fair use exemptions for the TV press, and reticent to give people posting to the net credit for their work! I was astonished to hear an NIIAC member say that the value of the average person’s postings may not be great enough to disallow its use in a broadcast. If a reporter finds a posting interesting enough to televise, how can it not have value, is that reporter not profiting by it, and is it not U.S. law and good practice that the source be credited?
I am afraid the consequence of becoming accustomed to such use without attribution will be erosion of the U.S. right to instantaneous copyright. By making simple acknowledgments of copyright and authorship, TV reporters covering electronic messaging can increase the value of the wealth of information stored online – to its owners!