Articles by PJ Doland

PJ Doland runs a web and database development company in the Washington, DC area and has developed custom content management software for numerous public policy research organizations. He dreams that one day every American will know the difference between a forward-slash and a back-slash and use the appropriate term when applicable.

So you want to know what all the cool kids (read as content pirates) are up to these days?

There’s a new Java BitTorrent client called Azureus that supports plugins. Some enterprising fellow wrote an RSS parsing plugin, which enables a user to point the application to an RSS feed and download anything that matches specified filter settings.

In practice, this allows the user to automatically download HDTV television programs with the commercials already edited out.

This is particularly interesting for a number of reasons:

  1. Most people’s computer monitors are capable of displaying an image of significantly higher resolution than their television. I don’t own an HDTV, but my LCD computer monitor can handle 720p without breaking a sweat.
  2. You don’t even have to bother fast-forwarding through commercials. TiVo is so 2003.
  3. The HDTV files you download are even better than the DVD content you would get if you bought the complete season of your favorite program.
  4. Programs turn up on the feeds much quicker than you would expect, often within an hour of the time the broadcast aired.

There are already enough HDTV capture cards out there to keep this going until television becomes completely irrelevant, so the broadcast flag isn’t going to mean jack. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the networks try to fight this one.

And Here’s Why…

by on August 31, 2004

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but your “brilliant” idea to eliminate spam will not work. And before you waste my time with details, please take a moment to run a sanity check by filling out this checklist.

Don’t Get Too Excited

by on August 19, 2004

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision today in the Grokster case. It’s a significant victory for developers of decentralized peer-to-peer file-sharing systems, whom cannot now be held liable for the copyright infringing activities of users.

The last paragraph of the ruling, however, will undoubtedly prompt today’s losers to direct even more resources toward the INDUCE Act:

Indeed, the Supreme Court has admonished us to leave such matters to Congress. In Sony-Betamax, the Court spoke quite clearly about the role of Congress in applying copyright law to new technologies. As the Supreme Court stated in that case, “The direction of Art. I is that Congress shall have the power to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. When, as here, the Constitution is permissive, the sign of how far Congress has chosen to go can come only from Congress.” 464 U.S. at 456 (quoting Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp., 406 U.S. 518, 530 (1972)).

Remember Streambox?

by on August 17, 2004

In an attempt to woo customers from Apple’s iTunes Music Store, RealNetworks halved per-song prices today for its music download service. The company will also be initiating an ad campaign espousing “Freedom of Choice.”

I have some serious difficulty mustering sypathy for RealNetworks in their current spat with Apple over Real’s new Harmony technology (which allows users to play files downloaded from Real’s service on an Apple iPod). Remember that Real is the same company that invoked the DMCA to crush Streambox several years ago.

If you do buy Harmony-enabled songs from Real, don’t expect them to always work with your iPod. Apple has already warned that future firmware upgrades may eliminate compatibility.