May 8, 2000-- Newsletter #79

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
May 8, 2000--Newsletter #79
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Question of the day: If the U.S. Government breaks up Microsoft into two companies, what are we going to call the second? One will, of course, be called Microsoft. My guess is that the company that keeps the operating system will remain Microsoft. What will we call the other? Some suggestions: Microsoft 2; Macrosoft; Billcrosoft; Not Microsoft; Really Microsoft; SoftMicro; El Microsofto; and finally, MacSoSoft.

Did you hear...

The creator of one of the most popular pieces of software on the Web has died. Phillip W. Katz, the inventor of PKZip, passed away at the age of 37 due to complications brought on by chronic alcoholism.

A court in Turkey has ruled that a man did not "incite hatred" through email. Apparently the Turkish courts are keeping a close eye on the Internet and email. Turkish police checked the email of one Ahmet Sahin and found some of his emails to be inflammatory. Sahin's lawyer Sebnem Capin, was able to beat the rap by proving that Sahin only sent the letter to himself.

First it was Napster and now it's U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff decided last Friday that MP3 is guilty of copyright violation for its service, which lets you stream music you already own over the web in mp3 format. The lawsuits will start flying from all angles now.

Kevin Mitnick, the hacker who released in January after serving five years for costing companies like Motorola, Novell, Nokia and Sun Microsystems millions, has been ordered off the lecture circuit. Mitnick has over $20,000 in speaking engagements set up, but won't be hitting any. Apparently his speaking is in violation of his parole agreement.

Now on to today's topic...

I wrote in a newsletter, not too long ago, that the upcoming Web generation had different views regarding information, friendships, and the like, than the generation before it. The survey I was quoting also went onto say that the upcoming Web generation had the belief that there was truly a "free lunch".

Those who were Web-oriented believe that they should get most things free because the Web allows it, namely communication (maybe you've seen the commercial where all of the people are holding a burning phone bill?), software, and music.

Just above, I reported that was hit with a copyright infringement verdict. Earlier last month, a music-trading site called Napster was hit with copyright lawsuits from Metallica and now a rap artist named Dr. Dre. (for those of you my age and better, these are two very popular artists in their music genres.)

Both of these dot.coms deal with MP3 format music files. Napster is a program that helps you to find and play MP3 files online. MP3 is company offers mp3s for download andalso allows you to play music online.

I've read's copyright statement. It reads:

"Napster does not, and cannot, control what content is available to you using the Napster browser. Napster users decide what content to make available to others using the Napster browser, and what content to download. Users are responsible for complying with all applicable federal and state laws applicable to such content, including copyright laws."

That's fine as long as those on the other end of the Napster application follow their state's applicable copyright laws.

They don't.

We could get into the question, "are those who distribute the Napster software responsible for what other people do with what their product?" Ask the tobacco companies. But I'm not interested in that.

What does interest me is that we are seeing the first signs of a "generation gap" brought on by the Internet. In this case, I'm not talking about generations in terms of parents-and-children. I'm talking about a generation gap between those who have embraced the Web and those who have not. A digital-versus-analog generation gap. Not one of age, but rather one of technical acceptance.

The shouting match at the dinner table has apparently begun.

Members of the web generation believe that once music is recorded, they should be able to do with it as they please. Understand that I am making a generalization here. I went round and round with a large group of adults and students on this topic. There was a blatant divide between the Web-heads and those who could basically get their email.

One young woman truly believed that once she purchased an album, she should be able to do with it as she pleases. If that means recording the tracks to MP3 and putting them on the Web, then so be it. She bought the CD. It's hers. She can do with it as she pleases. At least she bought it.

Another young man believed that rock stars were rich enough as is and if he could grab the latest Dr. Dre album on line, then somehow he had scored a blow for the poor college student.

Another person claimed he hadn't purchased a CD in a long time thanks to MP3, yet he listened to music all day. His thinking was that it's going to happen, you can't stop it, and the music industry had just better get use to it.

What struck me so hard was that the people fighting for Napster and allowable copyright infringement really believed their views. These people did not give me the impression they were being tongue-in-cheek, or were simply arguing because they wanted free music.

They felt that the Web had somehow liberated the music audience, and that it is their right to do with the music as they wished whether or not they had paid for it. They weren't like a giggling group of kids who got away with stealing something; their arguments were well thought out. They were loud in their views and seemed willing to meet opposition head on.

And before you think that this is only a group of college students, it isn't. One of the persons arguing with me was older than I am.

The conversation continued with one young man who said it was only a matter of time before someone starts scanning in the latest books and offering them in Adobe format for anyone who wants them.

After another person suggested that because that would take a great deal of memory, he should just transcribe the text. Everyone agreed.

The group of Web-heads talked about not having to pay for textbooks because they will soon all be online. Long distance will be a thing of the past. They wanted free movies streamed right to their desktops. If not the entire movie, then they should certainly get the trailer online. Any image online should be up for grabs. Any text online should be yours for the taking. In fact, anything, no matter if it was put there by the author or not is fair game.

I attempted to turn the tables and ask how they would feel if someone took their music, their poetry, or their thoughts and used them.

The overwhelming response was that the people could have it as long as credit was given.


I felt like a fuddy-duddy. I had somehow crossed the boundary and become the "older" generation. I can't condone free everything. I don't believe that just because it's out there for the taking, we should take it.

Whatever your thoughts on the topics of copyright, get ready. The generation gap has begun to show itself. Those who live digitally are about to clash with those who live in the analog world.

MP3 and Napster will not go away without a fight. I saw the proof. This will go to trial and, if we're lucky, a serious debate will spark. Those who want the free music are not going to go quietly into that good night.

They believe what they say is correct and they have no problem saying it. Soon they'll say it in a court of law. They'll probably lose the first few times around, but sooner or later some court somewhere will side with them. Then it'll get real fun to watch.

For the times, they are a changing...

I love it when I can quote Bob Dylan.


That should do it. Thanks for reading. It makes it worth writing.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: Have you every heard of a "Jiffy"? Ever waited "Two shakes of a lamb's tail"? Did you know they are true lengths of time? Apparently some mathematicians had a sense of humor and used the titles to represent some calculations. Jiffy: 3.3357 times 10 raised to the -11 (3.3357x10^-11) seconds. It's named for the length of time it takes light to travel a centimeter in a vacuum. Shakes of a lamb's tail: This one was named during the "Manhattan Project". One shake = 1x10^-8 sec. That's the time is took for an imploding shell of uranium to reach the center of the sphere. That's fast, huh?

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