The unconnected iphone

Not sure about the source (One FPS) of this but it is interesting

A little birdie says that about 50 percent of Apple Store customers who need to get their iPhones swapped have never plugged them into iTunes after the initial activation and sync. This is a big reason, according to this birdie, for why Apple Store Geniuses are excited about iCloud.

What I find interesting is thinking about what the lack of syncing means? Sure the “Geniuses” are excited about iCloud but my interpretation is different.

The lack of connections between the iPhone and a computer could indicate that many users do not use the phone in its full potential. But they prefer to use the phone for its stand alone features: talking, texting and taking photos. If this is the case then most of these users have bought a phone that is much more sophisticated than it need be. Image is everything?

It also means that the iCloud will not solve the “geniuses” reported problems as the users will still not connect.

GikII speakers & presentations

This year I am fortunate to be the local organizer for the wonderful GikII conference. This is GikII’s 6th year and its first time in Sweden so its time to be extra proud. In the call for papers we included:

For 2011, this ship full of seriously playful lawyers will enter for the first time the cold waters of the north (well, further north than Scotland) and enter that land of paradoxes: Sweden. Seen by outsiders as well-organised suicidal Bergman-watching conformists, but also the country that brought you Freedom of Information, ABBA, the Swedish chef, The Pirate Bay and (sort of…) Julian Assange. We offer fine weather, the summer solstice and a fair reception at the friendly harbour of Göteborg.

Now the conference is fast approaching and organization is steaming ahead. We have a schedule & information about the venue online. And check out these presentations!

This is going to be good! But then again, GikII always is.

Toilet brush covert surveillance camera

Via BoingBoing comes the story of a creepy man secretly filming women in a Starbucks restroom.

A 25-year-old man hid a video camera disguised as a plastic coat hook inside the women’s restroom of a Starbucks in Glendora, CA, and secretly recorded more than 40 women and children using the toilet over two days. The man “downloaded the device about every hour to his laptop computer while sitting in his car,” according to police. (LA Times)

Most of us would be in agreement that the actions of the man are creepy. But what I find interesting is the point that nowhere in the original story (LA Times) is the manufacturers responsibility discussed. What moral responsibility does a manufacturer/designer have for a camera, disguised as a plastic coat hook, that can be affixed to a wall?

The coat hook is – in this context – an almost a reasonable product. There is a whole range of hidden bathroom camera devices on the market. How about the toothbrush camera, toilet brush camera, shower radio camera, bathroom light camera, toothpaste camera, hair clipper camera, soap dish camera, shower mirror camera, shampoo bottle camera… (all from the same manufacturer)

There may be certain situations where invading someones privacy with the help of covert surveillance cameras is legitimate – maybe even necessary. But the mass market for goods to cover these situations is hard to envision. It is even more difficult for me to understand when it could be a legitimate need to covertly film people in the bathroom. And yet there are mass market cheap goods that cover this particular situation.

So when the creepy 25-year-old uses these products – he is being creepy. But when would the use of this stuff not be creepy?

Does the fact that these products exist and are easy to buy promote and encourage creepy behavior?

Technological progress & business models

The problem with technological change is that the original technological stage creates business possibilities, followed by the creation of business models based upon established technology.

Not all technological change needs to be great. Some small changes in socio-technical arrangements just create shifts that end sustainability in business models. A beautiful elegant example of this is the nylon stocking vending machine in use in Stockholm in 1956.

Life Magazine has a fantastic photo essay In Praise of the Automat

Removing civil rights without appearing to be a dictorship

Many of the civil rights that we today claim to be “natural” or “fundamental” have their roots in an ideology of the individual which dates back to the 18th century. The importance of a free press, free speech, democracy and the fundamentals of integrity can be traced back to the enlightenment period which believed that all were created equal and that people – not systems – were valuable and important enough to be in control.

Since then these ideologies have been slowly been implemented into law. Not uniformly nor quickly but still the ongoing process of bringing implemented, real civil rights has been measurable. But lets not get carried away. One thing lacking in our (for example) right to expression has been our ability to express ourselves to a wider audience. Sure we have the right to do so – but do we have the ability to do so?

The fact that not everyone could speak was seen as unfortunate but inevitable and this scarcity created a marketplace of ideas. Well, in reality, it created a marketplace of platforms from which to speak from. If you fit the profile of the platform you may (still if you are lucky) exercise your right to speak to a larger audience.

In this way many of our rights are strongly linked to the platforms which give us the ability to carry out these rights. And what are the Internet, the Web & Web2.0? They are a form of easily accessible platforms. The barriers to entry to these platforms are widely reduced (compared with old or traditional media). With the lowering of barriers to entry millions (?) of people have been exercising rights which have previously only been theoretical.

Unfortunately this does not suit everyone. What we have seen is that with the removal or reduction of technical or economic barriers to entry the law is often being used to create an artificial barrier to reduce or minimize the impact of our rights.

Now the interesting thing is that no politician today would dare to challenge the enlightenment ideal. No politician today can openly say that they want to reduce our fundamental freedoms even if they are tempted to. What happens instead is the interesting removal of rights by creating levels of control in our communications intermediaries. What this means is that instead of telling people that they will reduce their rights governments are applying burdens of surveillance and control on the companies that provide our infrastructure.

And what can we do? Well not much really. Most of our infrastructure use is voluntary. If we want to use the net we are forced to play along with the conditions of the companies that provide the net to us.

A recent example of this process (one of many) reported by Wired is that the Obama administration is urging Congress not to adopt legislation that would impose constitutional safeguards on Americans’ e-mail stored in the cloud.

As the law stands now, the authorities may obtain cloud e-mail without a warrant if it is older than 180 days, thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act adopted in 1986. At that time, e-mail left on a third-party server for six months was considered to be abandoned, and thus enjoyed less privacy protection. However, the law demands warrants for the authorities to seize e-mail from a person’s hard drive.

A coalition of internet service providers and other groups, known as Digital Due Process, has lobbied for an update to the law to treat both cloud- and home-stored e-mail the same, and thus require a probable-cause warrant for access. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on that topic Tuesday.

The companies — including Google, AOL and AT&T — maintain that the law should be changed to reflect that consumers increasingly access their e-mail on servers, instead of downloading it to their hard drives, as a matter of course.

But the Obama administration testified that imposing constitutional safeguards on e-mail stored in the cloud would be an unnecessary burden on the government. Probable-cause warrants would only get in the government’s way.

The process is an excellent example of the cynical application of power. On the face of it government still maintains its support for rights, while in reality slashing the practical application of rights at the point of the technology upon which the rights stand.

Notes from a lecture: Copyright – One size fits all?

The setting for my lecture yesterday was the venerable SERI and the event was the annual “birthday” lecture: It was 41 years ago that the first seminar on law and computers was held in Oslo and this event launched what is today SERI.

The title of my lecture was Copyright – One size fits all? Unpacking Sophocles. The goal was to demonstrate that by bending and twisting copyright to fit new technologies and expressions we will eventually “break” copyright.


The lecture began with a brief introduction to cultural relativism and presented a quote from Franz Boas

“…civilization is not something absolute, but … is relative, and … our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes.”

Franz Boas 1887 “Museums of Ethnology and their classification” Science 9: 589

To visualize this I showed a clip of Siberian/Thuvan throat singing and explained that while we lack the tools for judging the quality of this singing this was an example of Siberian/Thuvan singing and it is a genre quite different from other forms of throat singing.

The same applies to the concepts of right and wrong but we are so embedded in our values that we are, at times, unable to see what is right or wrong.

In addition to this we must, especially in the world of copyright, pay attention to technology. And in particular to the fact that technology is not neutral and comes with particular affordances (i.e. limitations and/or possibilities).

I showed the audience the image of the tube bench and asked if they saw the ethical problem.

image from Yumiko Hayakawa essay Public Benches Turn ‘Anti-Homeless’ (also recommend Design with Intent)

This is an excellent example of regulation without rules. There are no signs explaining how to use the bench, there is no need to patrol the park to ensure misuse. In fact you could argue that this bench is equally inviting to all. But this bench is unfair in its equality. If you do not fit in you are not welcome. A homeless person cannot sleep on the bench. Without specific – and unpleasant – rules we regulate “correct” behavior in this park.

Now if you mix technology and cultural production we get a heady mix. But skipping head we touched down just briefly in 1631 with an example of the dangers of technology (printing). The example was the Wicked Bible.

This bible was a reprint of the King James bible but contained a serious typo in Exodus 20:14, where the Seventh Commandment reads, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” The printers were fined 300 pounds and their printers’ license was revoked. Today there are only 11 copies of the original 1,000.

It was not the event with the bible that created a need for copyright but there was a concern with the power of the printers and a recognition that society needed more cultural works. So in 1710 the Statute of Anne was enacted with the purpose of:

Wheras printers, booksellers, and other persons, have of late frequently taken the liberty of printing… books, and other writings, without the consent of the authors… to their very great detriment, and too often to the ruin of them and their families: For preventing therefore such practices for the future, and for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books…

The first copyright act was not about culture it was about science. It was for the production of useful books.

But this was too good to last. The gift of monopoly was going to be used in more and more places and ways. Copyright expanded from useful books to other forms of cultural writing. The length of time the monopoly lasted was increased. Copyright was made international via conventions. And most problematic it was tweaked to suit new forms of technological expression.

For the latter I told story of Napoleon Sarony and Oscar Wilde and the case of Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony where the US supreme court explained that photographs were equal to text and deserved protection under copyright.

Copyright became a natural part of our thinking. It became hegemonic and natural – we could not image a world without it.

At about the same time we began to embark on the social century. Everywhere common folks were demanding to be part of – and have a say in – life. In politics, in the workplace, in economics, in the schools… the people demanded their “right” to be part of the decision making process.

Aided by technology ordinary people entered the realm of professionals. Kodak nr 1 was released in 1888. It was the first mass-produced cheap easy to use camera. It was portable and had a short exposure. What this all meant was that Kodakers (amateur photographers, see “’Kodakers Lying in Wait’: Amateur Photography and the Right to Privacy in New York, 1885-1915”, American Quarterly, Vol 43, No 1 March 1991)

The problem was that even with the development of cheap recording devices for sound and vision – transmitting these to others was remained in the hands of larger organizations.

But technology was changing this too. With digitalization the expense of copying all but vanished, with connectivity the possibility of communicating to a wider audience became possible for “everyone”. With new digital devices we began to change our behavioral patterns. Here I exemplified with MP3 players that can contain so much music that choice is not an issue. It is interesting that we praise the selling of devices that almost cannot be used legally. What message does an iPod that has 160gb of storage (that’s 40 000 songs according to apple) send? (1) please go buy some music or, (2) download the internet here.

The final major change was storage. Storage is both similar to the iPod example and different to it. Storage means no longer having to decide what to remove. Storage today means that the only problems we have are how to organize our information so that it can be retrieved later. And what about letting people forget? Forgetting is a social necessity and is quickly becoming a scarce commodity (Mayer-Schönberger has written a fascinating book on the subject “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age”).

These changes pushed the social century into the next phase: the social decade. All the points made earlier come together. The theoretically possible becomes the inevitable.

At this point it is a clash of norms mainly in the form of an end of passive consumption. But what does it all mean? To ease into this stage I took the help of Douglas Adams and his amazing quote from The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

With this quote I wanted to point out that the Swedish Copyright Act was enacted in 1960. The group of people who thought long and hard about its content, form and scope were probably around 50 years old. The technological acceptance level (i.e. what is a normal use of technology) was developed before they were 35 so this means around 1945. Think about it – what level of technology was dominant in 1945?

It is not unfair to say that this group had no chance to enact legislation capable of suiting our technological reality today.

At this point in the lecture I wanted to bring in law and morality in relation to copyright so I drew a simple taxonomy

As an example of Homage I showed clips from the Odessa Steps scene in The Battleship Potemkin (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1925) and the station steps scene in The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987). This is acceptable and praiseworthy. The artist building on the past, Eisenstein’s opinion does not matter.

In Cross Culture I showed a clip from the Kill Bill (Tarantino, 2003 & 2004) trailer and argued that we take offence when someone in Asia copies a dvd but profiteering from another’s culture is art. (Laikwan Pang: “Copying Kill Bill”, Social Text 83, Vol. 23, No. 2, Summer 2005.)

In the remix corner I showed an Anime Music Video (AMV) combining ABBA and Anime cartoons called FMA AMV Gimme a Man After Midnight – Abba

Here is a form of cultural creation building on the past re-using and copying. It is unfortunate that this is not supported by law. The AMV practice is huge with groups and subgenres in the same way as Siberian Throat singing. It is culture, it is an entry point for artists and it is a legitimate form of artistic expression. (Check out The rewards of non–commercial production: Distinctions and status in the anime music video scene by Mizuko Ito. First Monday, Volume 15, Number 5 – 3 May 2010)

For pure downloading I did not show any clip. What I meant was of course illegally downloading copyrighted material. While I understand the desire… it is simply a parasitic behavior.

Now the problem is that when our technology makes it easier and easier to break the law there are cries from those who are invested in the current system and who profit well from it who cry that something must be done. Unfortunately you cannot put the technological genie back in the bottle. And this is not what they want. They want all the advantages of technology – but they don’t want it to change everyone’s behavior and negatively impact their business models. They want to have their (and our) cake and eat it. So they call upon the law to create artificial barriers.

In doing so they further twist and stretch copyright to the boundary of imagination.

The copyright industry/lobby (incredibly bad term so I ask you to understand me) also attempt to explain their actions to us – the consumers. This is done to lobby themselves into a better political position. Unfortunately this group seems to have forgotten themselves and the world in which they live.

The message they send is very top down. It comes, as if we were still living in the radio age, like mass media from one to many. To explain what I mean I showed the anti-piracy advertisement Piracy – it’s a crime

The problem with this advert is that is filled with the most bizarre and bad arguments. In attempting to portray illegal downloads as wrong they say things like: you wouldn’t steal a car.

Naturally today we no longer live in the top-down world. We the people no longer respect… We respond. One such response makes a joke out of the Piracy – it’s a crime advert. I showed a clip from The IT Crowd – Series 2 – Episode 3: Piracy warning parody

OK so what should we do?

Now the pirates (how’s that for another hugely vague and silly term) or anti-copyrighters may say “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” Shakespeare Henry VI (Part 2) Act 4, scene 2 but that may be going a bit too far.

Lawyers need to adapt in two main ways. (1) We need to be better a arguing and legitimizing and (2) we need to change the law.

First off we need to accept polycentric regulation. In Antigone the playwright Sophocles argued that if the law went against morals (natural law) then you could act in accordance with natural law. This gave a nice choice between following one or the other depending on the way you feel about a particular thing. In other words you could do what you like and find a way of legitimizing it later.

But Sophocles had it easy. Today it is not an either or situation. We are regulated and controlled by masses of factors from the law to culture to technology etc. Learning to navigate and understand this is incredibly important for any law that attempts to balance interests of several groups. But if the law fails to be relevant it is quickly going to become useless.

In the case of copyright this means abandoning the heavy-handed “one size fits all approach” in two ways. First copyright should not be used for everything and second it should not be applied in the same way on the things it is used for.

What we see today is a failure in these two areas and it is killing the usefulness of copyright.

I closed the lecture by presented a list of changes I would like to see in relation to copyright law.

Free Digitalization of cultural artifacts: There should be no additional copyright protection for simply digitalizing anything in the public domain. Also material bought and paid for by Public Service radio and tv should be released freely much earlier than today.
Limit terms of protection: Some copyrightable stuff is pointless and irrelevant as it is produced. Most is pointless and irrelevant and forgotten within five years. So 70 years after death is simply ridiculous. Sure some will suffer but today the few are supported at the cost of the many. The well known are pushing the obscure into the vacuum of the eternally forgotten.
Allow refusal of copyright: If you do not want to copyright something you should not have to! Freedom should be a default.
Allow creative use: Increased rights of fair use. Nordic law does not allow the quotation of images and video clips. This is a simple oversight which the legislators could not imagine that we would need when they enacted the law 50 years ago.
Public domain protections: There is no term for the concept public domain in Nordic languages. This means that the public domain – which is under attack everywhere – is handicapped in all discussions since there is no accepted term of reference. The default is copyright, this is not a level playing field upon which to have a discussion.
Resolve Orphan works problem: Seriously! Do it. Do it now!
Promote Multiple Creators: Copyright is built on the myth of the single author. The content creation of today is much wider. Recognize the fact that multiple creators exist and need to be supported.
Folklore & traditional knowledge: end cultural imperialism…

It was a great lecture with an interesting discussion that lasted well into the night. Thank you SERI.

Call for Papers: GiKII VI

26-28 June 2011
IT University
Göteborg, Sweden

Call for papers
Is GikII a discussion of popular culture through the lens of law – or is it about technology law, spiced with popular culture? For five years and counting, GikII has been a vessel for the leading edge of debate about law, technology and culture, charting a course through the murky waters of our societal uses and abuses of technology.

For 2011, this ship full of seriously playful lawyers will enter for the first time the cold waters of the north (well, further north than Scotland) and enter that land of paradoxes: Sweden. Seen by outsiders as well-organised suicidal Bergman-watching conformists, but also the country that brought you Freedom of Information, ABBA, the Swedish chef, The Pirate Bay and (sort of…) Julian Assange. We offer fine weather, the summer solstice and a fair reception at the friendly harbour of Göteborg.

So come one, come all… Clean your screens, look into the harder discs of your virtual and real lives, and present your peers with your ideas on the meaning of our augmented lives. Confuse us with questions, dazzle us with legal arguments, and impress us with your GikIIness. If you have a paper on (for example) regulation of Technology & Futurama, soft law in World of Warcraft, censoring social media & Confucius, the creative role of piracy on latter day punk or plagiarism among the ancient Egyptians – We are the audience for you (for a taste of past presentations see ).

Application process

Please send an abstract not exceeding 500 words to Professor Lilian Edwards ( or Dr Mathias Klang ( The deadline for submissions is 15 April 2011. We will try to have them approved and confirmed as soon as possible so that you can organise the necessary travel and accommodation.


As with previous years, GikII is free of charge, and therefore there are limited spaces available, so please make sure you submit your paper early. Priority is always given to speakers, but there are some limited spaces available for students and non-speakers. Registration will be open shortly at

Gikii 2011 in Göteborg

Sharpen your pencils and polish your mice its soon time to submit abstracts for GikII 2011 which will run 26-28 June in Göteborg. The cfp is being tweaked as we speak and I am both honored and intimidated to be the local host of this great event – the sixth annual GikII.

For those of you who have not met the GikII check out last years call for papers:

GikII is a workshop concerned with exploring the legal interaction between popular culture, speculative fiction, and new technologies. It has been described unimaginatively as trail-blazing, innovative, fun and informative. We like to think of GikII as the legal workshop equivalent of a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, in other words, it is “like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”. GikII is where the bravest, fun-est (not to be confused with funniest) and zaniest ideas about law and technologies are discussed. In some instances we explore technologies so new that in fact there is not even a term to describe them, while some other times we have discussed technologies long gone. We only ask that you are imaginative and think of your fellow travellers instead of yourself. GikII is all about giving legal scholars the opportunity to engage in blue skies thinking (variations of the visible electromagnetic radiation spectrum may occur depending on which planet you may currently inhabit). If you have a paper that is languishing at the bottom of your hard drive and is crying out to see the light of a USB stick, GikII is the place for you. We laugh in the face of tradition and make rude comments about scholarly convention.

Or why not browse the five earlier events at Edinburgh 2006, Oxford 2007, Oxford 2008, Amsterdam 2009, Edinburgh 2010

Information overload

It seems that ever since we began with computers the term information overload has been with us.

However the concept is not new. In The Chronicle Review Ann Blair writes in the article Information Overload, Then and Now

Early negative responses include Ecclesiastes 12:12 (“Of making books there is no end,” probably from the fourth or third century BC) and Seneca’s “distringit librorum multitudo” (“the abundance of books is distraction,” first century AD). But we also find enthusiasm for accumulation—of papyri at the Library of Alexandria (founded in the early third century BC) or of the 20,000 “facts” that Pliny the Elder accumulated in Historia naturalis (completed in AD 77). Though we no longer care especially about ancient precedent, we hear the same doom and praise today.

In addition to this in 1755 Denis Diderot wrote in Encyclopédie

As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes.

The issue gets more problematic by the fact that our computing powers have been increasing over the past decades. This increase in computing power tends to cloud the problem of information overload by alleviating the problem but it does nothing to resolve the fundamental problem.

Bad wifi SUCKS

Sorry about the shouting but I need to get it out of my system. While I am attending the most interesting conference for a long time (Personal Democracy Forum) it is located in a sub-standard technical environment. While this is sad it can be explained by the inability of the venue to deliver what they promised to the organizers.
But this is not what is really pissing me off. This is the second (or maybe third?) time I am at the University of Barcelona and staring at the wonderful Eduroam network. Eduroam is

eduroam (education roaming) is the secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community.

eduroam allows students, researchers and staff from participating institutions to obtain Internet connectivity across campus and when visiting other participating institutions by simply opening their laptop.

The system works everywhere I have come across it and I have been able to rely on it in several places in Sweden, Austria & UK. It is an amazing initiative and a fantastic idea. But my irritation is aggravated by the fact that Eduroam NEVER works when I visit the University of Barcelona. Why is this? What have they got against visitors? Why do they even have Eduroam if they don’t what to use it to its full potential?

There is nothing worse than implementing technology badly. Unless of course the point is to cause the users suffering and frustration…