Once again, American companies are facing a huge disadvantage against foreign competitors in an explosive growth industry that they invented and excel in. Laws that have infringed on constitutional rights like the Patriot Act, DMCA, Protect IP and more are also blocking US based cloud services companies from competing on the world market. Add to that seizure of hosted property plus non-existant enforcement of the right to privacy and it’s a wonder US cloud businesses can survive at all.
Unfortunately, whether inspired by polemics, protectionism or genuine privacy concerns, some European officials are speaking up against cloud computing because of unwarranted fears about the data-protection practices of U.S. companies. For example, in September, the Dutch minister of safety and justice cited the USA Patriot Act to exclude U.S. providers of cloud computing services from bidding on Dutch government contracts, and a member of the Dutch parliament proclaimed that “data from Dutch citizens that is managed by the government should exclusively be stored within Dutch borders using Dutch companies” in order to guarantee the privacy of Dutch citizens. (Washington Times)
In fairness, as far as Europeans are concerned our new IP and privacy laws aren’t much worse their own. That leads to a lot of political infighting and a likely cloud trade war. If the US Constitution were obeyed by pols, the US cloud would be the international gold standard of security and privacy. Adding insult to injury, existing and new laws do nothing to eliminate safe havens and no amount of enforcement can close them. Opportunistic countries will provide them and American companies who want an competitive advantage will set up shop there. A good many already have.
Present policy not only leaves American consumers with something less than they might have had, it steals a giant opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs and IT workers. The next time you hear a pol or beaureaucrat proclaim that these laws do not harm to law abiding Americans, think again.
I’ve mentioned more than once that elitists have traditionally derived most of their power from the control of information. The balance has been derived from the brute force of the military and law enforcement. The Internet continues to democratize information at light speed. Knowledge has gained its own right of freedom, and the seeker of knowledge is fining it at will with increasing ease. That spells big trouble for the ruling class. It also reveals the the true class warfare that is underway, but unreported. That is a war against the freedom of knowledge. Government agencies has been quick to criminalize activities of common citizens that pose little or no threat to anything other than the unchecked power of the status quo.
Cries that we are not ready for a Cyber War have been growing among pols and fed contractors over the last couple of years. For anyone who was been paying attention, so called Cyber Wars have been underway for some time. Potential for foreign based assaults plague the realm of every single Internet user, as they have for decades. This has grown largely thanks to rogue nations sponsoring these activities to others simply ignoring them. Private citizens and most businesses effected by them have found very little sympathy of aid from the feds. A entire industry has grown to protect against and mitigate these threats. That industry has largely kept threats in check, even with abundant interference from our very own feds. (more…)
It’s funny how even the most strict constitutionalists in government lose their standards when Hollywood and big music are involved. One can only surmise that the benefits of ignoring the supreme law to benefit big media must be compelling. As a consequence, our intellectual property laws have devolved into a one sided, unconstitutional mess. Enforcement has also devolved. US ICE has been guilty of wholesale domain seizures without due process. Many of those grabbed have been taken purely on suspicion and seized properties have often been held by parties outside of US jurisdiction.
Along with overstepping it’s authority, the collective federal stupidity acts without any understanding of human will and ingenuity. When government restricts access to something people want, a work around is found. With the ease of setting up alternative DNS servers, the feds will be fighting a battle they can’t win. Left to their own devices, the feds will spend unlimited sums of our money and trounce on more of our freedoms in a futile effort to try.
There always has been and always will be some piracy. The best defense if to make the paid product more attractive to most people. It’s time for the movies and music dinosaurs to get back to the basics of creating and selling value for value instead of buying new laws from corrupt pols. It’s also time to send the corrupt pols on a permanent vacation where they where the will be free to frolic with Hollywood without doing any more harm.
First a quick summary. Microsoft is considering using signed UEFI. They’re argument is that signing provides better security from root kit malware. That is agreed. The problem is once in place it locks out any other OS from installation. The court would then be in the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo to provide them. Will they? This could be a threat to Linux. A longer summary is here.
The real problem as the article mentions is that this is not Microsoft’s problem. Its the MFR’s. We are just helping them out by providing keys. Well yes, but couple that with their near monopoly on the desktop space and it becomes a deadly combination for other OS’s.
But there is a factor that few have considered. Salvage value. In the corporate space this is a salient factor in product selection. For the corporate space the average cost of a PC is about $400-500 per seat sans embedded labor costs. Corps refresh about every 4-5 years. CFO/CIO types consider that at the end of that life the PC has a 10% salvage value on sale to the secondary resale market. $50 bucks, so what? Numbers. A 100k+ desktop environment that most of the fortune 5000 have that translates to $5m.
So? Well the savvy CIO is going to take that $5m right off the top of the next refresh against the vendors margins which are tight enough already. That won’t happen you say! Wrong. That will and has occurred in the thin-client server market. Every project I have every been involved with the CFO types attribute $0 value to the terminals as they are useless in the marketplace without the server software and network.
Well that same consideration will be made by the CFO types when they realize they can’t offset the disposal costs with the salvage value. So they will discount the value of the deal right up front. Now on a $250m dollar refresh sale there may only be $5-10m gross out of the deal to begin with. So you could see why a company like Dell or HP might balk at seeing a exclusive signing deal for Windows 8 as a problem. Its in the fiscal numbers not the security.
Expect either the MFR’s will develop a common UEFI signing system or they will tell Microsoft no dice.
The commercial gaming business shares some aspects of the movie business. Development costs can go sky high with no guarantee of success. Flops often outnumber hits. Like Hollywood, game company management is more often than not at odds with its customers.
While piracy has been on gaming’s radar, it’s suits have been most offended by the lucrative resale market. Once beaten, the complex game becomes less interesting for its player. Since the cost is usually high, it makes sense for the gamer to sell or trade to help pay for the next challenge. Gaming’s suits have held a long standing vendetta against the resale market. That vendetta has brought lawsuits. and schemes like crippleware to thwart the the individual’s right to resell what he owns.
Startup Postgamer hopes to partner with game makers by paying them a portion of revenue to insure used games function like new.
PostalGamer.com, scheduled to launch this fall, will let gamers buy used games and trade in old ones by shipping them to the site’s warehouse in prepaid envelopes, not unlike Netflix or GameFly. In exchange for stuffing PostalGamer’s envelopes into packaging for new games, participating publishers will receive a 10 percent cut of sales generated by their titles from their catalogs. (Wired)
If game publishers buy in, this could revolutionize the used gaming market. There’s also a guarantee that Hollywood, big music and big publishing will be watching. So will the legal profession. These folks will want a cut of the transaction every time their product is resold too. The slippery slope on this one is steep. With the current level of legal trolling, it’s not much of a stretch to see Honda demanding a cut from the sale of every used Accord. The next intellectual property law rewrite could make this mandatory if a little common sense isn’t brought back into the system.
While I hope a solution can be found to the problem of crippleware and reduced functionality in the used game market, this is the wrong approach. Seemingly great ideas often create many more problems than they solve. Common sense dictates that the makers’ cut comes from the original sale. Once sold, it is the property of the buyer regardless of what sort of item it is. Copyright and patent law must protect against reproduction for resale for a limited time. It cannot not demand a never ending tax on the resale of the original item the maker produced. If that happens, we will have moved from a free market back to a feudal tribute system.
The portly songstress is serenading a wind down at Google Labs. Searchzilla’s skunkworks has yielded a few winners, and many more losers. That’s the way of well funded, open ended research. A blog post from
Last week we explained that we’re prioritizing our product efforts. As part of that process, we’ve decided to wind down Google Labs. While we’ve learned a huge amount by launching very early prototypes in Labs, we believe that greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead.
In many cases, this will mean ending Labs experiments—in others we’ll incorporate Labs products and technologies into different product areas. (Google Blog)
With very few exceptions, big, well funded research institutions do no perform well. It’s not just true at Google. Government, academic and corporate research funding rarely produce winners. There are notable exceptions like IBM’s labs, Xerox PARC, Bell labs and the Manhattan project. These institutions have been successful largely due to the secret sauce of extraordinarily exceptional talent and / or an extremely urgent, focused task. Consistently replicating that kind of success in nearly impossible. Even with an army of brilliance on staff, corporate politics usually squelch new ideas.
Big innovation will continue to come from the bootstrap funded basement and garage. Even Google’s biggest non search success (Andriod) originated there. While it’s sad to see its Labs fade into the horizon, Google may have correctly realized that innovation rarely happens in the big corporate environment. Mature organizations usually fare far better from buying – or stealing innovation.