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EFF Creates Endangered Gizmos List 213

Posted by michael
from the going-the-way-of-the-dodo dept.
linuxwrangler writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week announced the creation of the Endangered Gizmos List. According to their press release, this project highlights 'the way misguided laws and lawsuits can pollute the environment for technological innovation.' The site categorizes technologies ranging from the Betamax to the Advanced eBook Processor as 'Saved', 'Endangered' or 'Extinct'."
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EFF Creates Endangered Gizmos List

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  • by dim5 (844238) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:34AM (#11503045)
    For God's sake, don't feed them after midnight!
  • by natedubbya (645990) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:37AM (#11503080)
    The one-button mouse is always at risk of being an endangered gizmo, but Apple keeps reintroducing the species into the wild, where they are promptly eaten by 2-buttons and scroll wheels.
    • I take it that is not Darwin's survival of the clickiest?

    • Damn one-click patents...
    • No, it's OK, there are millions of them out there quietly hibernating for as long as possible, in boxes, in attics where they have been safely and warmly tucked up by Apple owners who WANT A SECOND FUCKING BUTTON!

      J.
      • I don't know any Mac users that wouldn't like Scroll wheels and second buttons.

        I think people, as a whole, are generally smart enough to handle a two button + wheel mouse and all the "complexities" that come with it.

        The second button can be so useful! And the wheel indespensible for scrolling any type of documents.

        I sorta-kinda like MacOSX's UI. I think I'd like it a lot more if full mouse functionality wasn't an add-on that most people probably don't have.
        • by iainl (136759) on Friday January 28, 2005 @11:12AM (#11503450)
          Actually (and I say this as a non-Mac owner, admittedly), in my experience the shipping of the one-button mouse is a Good Thing.

          Because not all users have a right mouse-button, it maintains the very sensible UI rule that you should be able to do everything without using it - all features you'd RMB for are available in the menu.

          Windows is horribly inconsistent about what the RMB is actually for, and you don't know whether or not a feature actually exists until you try right-clicking on random objects to have a look.

          Extra buttons and wheels are undoubtably useful things for shortcuts, but the design principle that everything should be available in a consistent manner without HAVING to use them is great for those of us that don't use them very often.
          • Windows is horribly inconsistent about what the RMB is actually for

            It is? Windows *applications* may be, but in Windows, the RMB is used, afaik, for context menus only. In almost all cases, any actions in the context menus can be done through the standard menus, as well. The only wacky things I can think of are right-clicking the start menu or taskbar. These items can be reached other ways, but it isn't very straightforward (control panel).

            Generally, it's not until you get into specialized applications l
          • You should be able to do everything without using the damn mouse at all - does that mean that PCs should be shipped without a mouse to make sure?

            It's a daft justification for a very good point though - you really should be able to do everything with menus, and also with keyboard shortcuts or the arrow keys. I can tell you there are things I, as a keyboard jockey who hates mice, want to do for which keyboard shortcuts don't exist.

            Justin.
            • You should be able to do everything without using the damn mouse at all - does that mean that PCs should be shipped without a mouse to make sure?

              I don't know about making it a requirement, but that certainly did the job. If I remember correctly, a mouse was merely "recommended" for Windows 1.0, and as a result, nearly every element of the early Windows UI could be accessed via the keyboard. OK, so those underlined Alt-letters get ugly (which is why MS is now hiding them by default), but if you care abo

            • Like the other poster has mentioned, in Windows you can key just about everything.

              I've never had a hard time navigating a Windows system with a busted mouse. With my Notebook, I often just use the mouse for everything. The only time you run into some problems is with some 3rd party softare - but most of it works just fine.

              "It's a daft justification for a very good point though - you really should be able to do everything with menus,"

              I've never once seen a single application in Windows that you cannot
          • Extra buttons and wheels are undoubtably useful things for shortcuts, but the design principle that everything should be available in a consistent manner without HAVING to use them is great for those of us that don't use them very often.

            That is simply preposterous! Everybody knows that its better to have buttons and wheels festooned all over one's gadgets inasmuch as is possible. Luckily with USB gizmos, gamepads, controllers, and multimedia keyboards, you can now far surpass the classic Space Cadet Keyboa [std.com]

          • Because not all users have a right mouse-button,

            99% of users have two or more mouse buttons.

            it maintains the very sensible UI rule that you should be able to do everything without using it - all features you'd RMB for are available in the menu

            For moronically simple programs, yes, that's true. For programs that are involve multiple tools, preferences, whatever, what you do is essentially bury things in the menu that could also be contextual. I'd rather right click and see the options that pertain to

          • shipping of the one-button mouse is a Good Thing.
            Because not all users have a right mouse-button


            Holy circular logic Batman!
            All users would have a right mouse button if they hadn't been shipping one-button meese in the first place.

            -
        • Actually, only having one button would make helping people do stuff over the phone much easier. Telling someone to click the icon, then having them ask "which button" is a pain in the ass sometimes. God forbid you have someone right click and icon, then tell them to click on rename. They invariably will ask me "wait, right click on the icon then right click rename", or some other bastardization of what I said.
          • Yep, and just wait till you have a leftie who discovered that they can not only move their mouse to the other side of the keyboard, but also switch the buttons. There's a frickin nightmare and a half.

            • Haha, that reminded me of something. When we got our first computer in 92(I was 12, I believe), my dad is a lefty, so we would move the mouse to the left side. We kept the normal button configuration until the left mouse button started going out, then we switched the right and left buttons.
              The way it ended up, on any given day, the buttons could be switched, and the mouse could be on either side of the keyboard/desk. I just learned to go into windows(or civilization 1), click something and see what happen
        • For one, full mouse functionality is not an addon. Having replaced many a one button mouse with multi button mice, I can tell you it's fully supported.

          That said, while I prefer a multibutton mouse on the desktop I DESPISE multi buttons or scroll "zones" on laptops. It gets in the way more than it's useful and since on a laptop my keyboard is right there next to the trackpad, using a modfier key is not an issue at all.
          • The problem is, since the majority of Mac users won't upgrade a perfectly working mouse, many 3rd party softwares won't take advantage of it.

            You might get mouse wheel functionality, maybe it will be consistent maybe it won't. If all Mac users had a multi-button mouse, there would be more uniformity in the way they work. Sure, Windows apps don't all do the same thing, but for 99% of the time when you right-click something it brings up a menu of operations you can do on the current mouse target.

            I like a
          • If you have to go out and buy a multi-button mouse because no Mac's come with them, it is an add-on. Supported, sure. But not standard equipment.
        • I don't know any Mac users that wouldn't like Scroll wheels and second buttons.

          Have you ever watched young kids with a computer? A one button mouse is waaay easier to handle.

          How about someone with fine motor difficulties due to anything from advanced age to arthritus or neuological problems

          The one-button mouse is easier not only in concept, but physically easier to use. So a company that wants to sell the easiest-to-use computer would bundle the easiest-to-use mouse.

          Of course a Mac can be easily "upgra
  • Coral link (Score:5, Informative)

    by ControlFreal (661231) * <niek@bTOKYOergboer.net minus city> on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:39AM (#11503096) Journal

    When linking to a site like this, consider adding .nyud.net:8090 to the hostname; that creates a cached Coral link. This prevents slashdotting.

    So here [nyud.net].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:41AM (#11503124)
    FCC Chairman Michael Powell calls TiVo "God's machine," and its devotees have been known to declare, "You can take my TiVo when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!" But suppose none of us had ever been given the opportunity to use or own a TiVo -- or, for that matter, an iPod? Suppose instead that Hollywood and the record companies hunted down, hobbled, or killed these innovative gizmos in infancy or adolescence, to ensure that they wouldn't grow up to threaten the status quo?

    That's the strategy the entertainment industry is using to control the next generation of TiVos and iPods. Its arsenal includes government-backed technology mandates, lawsuits, international treaties, and behind-the-scenes negotiations in seemingly obscure technology standards groups. The result is a world in which, increasingly, only industry-approved devices and technologies are "allowed" to survive in the marketplace.

    This is bad news for innovation and free competition, but it also threatens a wide range of activities the entertainment conglomerates have no use for -- everything from making educational "fair" use of TV or movie clips for a classroom presentation, to creating your own "Daily Show"-style video to make a political statement, to simply copying an MP3 file to a second device so you can take your music with you.

    Rather than sit back and watch as promising new technologies are picked off one-by-one, EFF has created the Endangered Gizmos List to help you defend fair use and preserve the environment for innovation.

    DVD X-Copy
    DVD X-Copy
    Species: DVD X-Copy
    Genus: DVD archiving program
    Closest Surviving Relatives: DeCSS, libdvd, and more powerful CSS decryption utilities are liberally available online.
    What it is: A DVD backup utility.
    What it allowed you to do: Create backup copies of your DVDs, record fair-use excerpts of DVD movies.
    Why it's extinct: Hollywood sued the company that made DVD X-Copy out of existence, successfully arguing that it violated the highly controversial "anti-circumvention" clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
    What you can do about it: It's too late to save DVD X-Copy, but you can use EFF's Action Center to tell Congress that you support the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA; HR 107) -- a bill that would amend the DMCA to restore your ability to circumvent copy protection to make legal, personal uses of your DVDs.
    Replay TV 4000
    Replay TV 4000 Series
    Species: ReplayTV 4000
    Genus: Personal Video Recorder (PVR)
    Closest Surviving Relatives: TiVo's "Tivo-to-go" is heavily encumbered by DRM and its 30-second skip is hidden. Build-your-own PVRs like MythTV let you skip commercials and export files to your heart's content.
    What it is: A personal video recorder with user-friendly features.
    What it allowed you to do: Skip over commercials and send recorded TV programs to another ReplayTV device.
    Why it's extinct: Former Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner called skipping commercials "theft" -- and evidently the major motion picture studios agree. They sued the manufacturers of ReplayTV out of existence, and the company that purchased it buckled under and removed the contested features.
    What you can do about it: EFF intervened in the case to fight for ReplayTV users' right to make perfectly legal, non-infringing uses of their PVRs, but we couldn't stop the subsequent settlement and sell-out. That means it's too late to save the original ReplayTV -- but by joining EFF as a member, you can support our efforts to stop the adoption of international trade agreements that would make it against the law in many countries to include ReplayTV-like features in new devices.
    Streambox VCR
    Screenshot of Streambox VCR
    Species: Streambox VCR
    Genus: Recorder for "time-shifting" RealAudio streams
    Closest Surviving Relatives: Gizmos like the TotalRecorder, which can capture audio streams later in the path by emulating the soundcard device.
    What it is: A software program for recording and playing back RealAudi
  • by Meostro (788797) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:43AM (#11503149) Homepage Journal
    Actual list is http://www.eff.org/endangered/list.php [eff.org].

    Mirrored here [wetsexygirl.com], but the link is NSFW so I can't check to make sure I got it right.
  • Funny, even the cached Google pages are slow.

    Main page [64.233.167.104]
    Endangered Gizmos List [64.233.167.104]
  • EFF Server (Score:2, Funny)

    by enoraM (749327) *
    EFF Server endangered - ummh - make that extinct /.
  • Missing species (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antonymous Flower (848759) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:48AM (#11503205) Homepage
    Missing from their endangered species list is none other than: The Internet [wikipedia.org]. The most important 'gizmo' in our lives today.

    RIAA and MPAA attack every peer to peer network because of illegal filesharing. Peer to peer networks can be abused, this is true. However, so can social networks, radio networks, cable networks and etc. Yet, if these organizations had their way peer to peer networks would cease to exist. Shall I remind you that the Internet operates on protocols [wikipedia.org] that essentially make it a peer to peer network?
  • by Evil W1zard (832703) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:49AM (#11503212) Journal
    From my viewpoint although a lot of these laws and mandates are a pain in the ass they do lead to people trying to find new and possibly better products/methodologies to get around them. Its the strengthen the product versus develop new/different products argument and sometimes new/different is definitely better. (Hell I bet if there was a law that was detrimental to Windows we might actually get a better product from them!)
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:51AM (#11503235)
    Every item in every category on the list features an appeal to "join the EFF" so that the evil, toy-snatching corporations can be vanquished for good yadda yadda. If the EFF's legal team was half as as adept as their Marketing and Promotion departments, they might actually amount to something more than a 90's-era anachronism...

    Hey, but I've still held onto my old orange cyber-rights clenched-fist-on-a-field-of-lightning-bolts T-Shirt after all these years, so I guess I should give props to their Creative Services Department as well...
  • Dead Media Project (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Urban Garlic (447282) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:53AM (#11503261)
    Along similar lines, Tom Jennings has a database of obsolete formats and devices of various kinds, at deadmedia.org [deadmedia.org].

    His site is more focussed on older (nineteenth-century, early twentieth-century) stuff than the EFF site, and of course, not everything dies of regulatory or copyright strangulation.
    • That project was started by Bruce Sterling, the futurist. Unfortunately, his latest project, the Viridian Design movement [viridiandesign.org], looks to be just as uncannily insightful. And that spells extinction for more than just some media, though it might just spell survival for some of us.
  • by old_skul (566766) on Friday January 28, 2005 @10:55AM (#11503292) Journal
    This isn't about companies and artists being "stolen" from. It's about corporate entities finally having the kind of leverage to exert full control over content distribution from inception to consumption.

    If a company can control the distribution of its "intellectual property" - e.g. a song - from the moment it's recorded until it hits your ears - then there's additional opportunities for a revenue stream at any point in that line. For instance, you can purchase a song from iTunes. Or you can pay XM $10 a month for the privilege of listening to that same song on their satellite service. Or you could go to the record store and purchase a disc you can put in your CD player and play.

    But the act of copying said content, and giving it to a friend - that's completely outside the revenue stream, and the content companies seek to stop this type of action. Even if the creator of the content - the artist - would see benefit from this action. (An example: a friend recently made a copy of the Secret Machines album for me. I bought a copy for my brother, and then a copy for myself. How is this bad for the artist?)

    Music, video, and other entertainment content is *not* intellectual property. Trade secrets, manufacturing methods, software - that's IP. But music in specific is undergoing a transformation. Content control is not natural in the broad scope - it's an artificial control mechanism put in place to generate revenue.
    • (An example: a friend recently made a copy of the Secret Machines album for me. I bought a copy for my brother, and then a copy for myself. How is this bad for the artist?)

      Because anecdotes don't mean shit. For all we know, for every 1 of you, there's 10 people copying the album and never buying it. Or maybe for every 10 of you, there's 1 person copying the album and never buying it. We simply don't know.
      • Because anecdotes don't mean shit. [...] We simply don't know.

        That is correct. So, we have the MPAA/RIAA lying to Congress in order to make letting a friend borrow a CD a criminal offense that you can be jailed for. Personally, I'd prefer not to throw people in jail for an undefined, possibly non-existant problem. I would like to see the problem identified and addressed directly, if a problem is found.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday January 28, 2005 @11:00AM (#11503347) Homepage
    I once read that the Teddy Ruckspin doll was supposed to play and "sing along" to all music cassettes. But the lawyers decided that they might get sued because it might be considered a "performance" which would require payments to the copyright holders. To play it safe, they stuck with proprietary tapes.
  • Great but funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DenDave (700621) on Friday January 28, 2005 @11:09AM (#11503417)
    EFF Defends the apple Ipod here [eff.org] and will defend ThinkSecret against Apple there [thinksecret.com]

    Funny world but it shows that EFF and their staff/volunteers are standing for principles and not products/behaviour
  • So, after reading the article I came to think in something. This DMCA law, it is supposed to be for the US only isn't it? so, if I, make some software as the DVD-x-copy in another country, and distribute it, I am allowed to do that provided that the laws of my country allow it no?

    Now, it would be then "Illegal" for the people who buys it inside united states, but I think nothing stops me for selling it from, say, somwhere in south america or europe...
    Am I wrong?, maybe one of the "solutions" for all t
    • This DMCA law, it is supposed to be for the US only isn't it?
      The DMCA itself is, but DMCA-like laws are now being introduced all over the place. The EUCD is another, if anything even worse, example that EU countries have to implement.

      Am I wrong?, maybe one of the "solutions" for all this would be simply to move the company to another place out of US.
      Provided that you find a country where the creation and distribution of such a product is legal, you're okay.
    • by Garabito (720521)
      I live in a tiny country in Central America. A "free -trade agreement" has been negotiated between the U.S. and five Central America countries plus Dominican Republic.

      Because of geographical and political reasons, the United States of America has been the most important trade partner for these countries, so this agreement seems very important for the economic future of the region. Some people talk about the dangers of this treaty not being approbed, how many jobs will be lost and so forth. (Some of these

  • So no one will ever have a soundcard in their computer? Or a CD player?

    Not sure what qualifications they got but whoever puts D/A converters on a endangered list has proven that they don't have much understanding of electronics...

    Peter.
    • I think the issue is with unencumbered D/A and A/D. Currently you are free to convert freely between digital and analogue media, but eventually all DRM material could contain a watermark which would only allow it to pass through the conversion after a small degradation in quality, and then only if you had a license to do the conversion.

      This has already happened in the world of picture scanning. Try putting a bill though a colour photocopier. The image of paper money is no longer able to pass through this c
    • Plus, A/D and D/A converters are ubiquitous in electronics. I guess that consumer devices related to audio / video applications are only a fraction of that.

      Perhaps there will be a lot of DRM-crippled A/D D/A converters in such applications but there will ALWAYS be non-crippled parts available to the industry.

      • there will ALWAYS be non-crippled parts available to the industry

        Unless congress actually passes one of the bills declaring them illegal.

        -
    • Not sure what qualifications they got but whoever puts D/A converters on a endangered list has proven that they don't have much understanding of electronics

      Exactly. But it's the RIAA and MPAA and the freaking IDIOTS in congress that put A/D and D/A converters on the endangered list. And as you say, they have absolutely NO CLUE about electronics or about technology in general. There has been lobbying and draft bills floating around Capitol Hill that would outlaw the manufacture of any new non-DRM-compliant
  • Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of ReplayTV owners who are quite happy. The only two features they removed were internet sharing and automatic channel skip. You can still happily suck shows off of the unit over ethernet in MPEG-2 format until the cows come home. I am *still* laughing at people who purchase TiVo units.
  • Chip Control (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday January 28, 2005 @11:43AM (#11503751) Homepage Journal
    Thats what worries me the most, is that if they do manage to get control of the raw silicon, then we are screwed.

    We wont be even able to build our own hardware proejcts with out it being crippled, and having to license it ( at costs the average hobbiest cant afford ).. Regardless if it might 'infringe' something or not.

    • if they do manage to get control of the raw silicon, then we are screwed.

      It is already shipping in some desktop systems and most notebooks. It is slated to become "standard hardware" for all motherboards, if not inside the CPU itself. And it is planned to be used even in HDTV's and Playstation3. You did catch the Cell processor story not so long ago, right? And that DRM enforcement will be rolled into the CPU silicon itself, right? All of the major CPU manufacturers, Intel, AMD, Transmeta, and more, they
  • I recall reading in the 80s that K&E was dumping all the elaborate brass ruling engines used for making slide rules....darn those bowmar brains !!
  • Morpheus die already (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dwedit (232252) on Friday January 28, 2005 @12:34PM (#11504371) Homepage
    Morpheus can go off and die for all I care. Their latest program release is a modified version of the GPLed file sharing tool Gnucleus, except they added spyware and ads to the program. They are a big scam to say the least.
  • as far as i can tell, my replay 5000 series does everything the 4000 series did, except share shows over the internet - a dubious feature at best (when the service was available, there was no bittorrent to make the bandwidth burden easier. when a show i copy from my 5080 over to my mac takes a half hour over ethernet, i cringe to think how long it would take to upload to a friend over cable/DSL)

    there's still a 30 second skip button, and it doesn't take a hack to activate it. for that matter, if you press t
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday January 28, 2005 @02:47PM (#11506113) Homepage Journal
    ...you must be a criminal by the MPAA and RIAA's definitions.

    At this point, I've accepted that there are things I do that may someday be considered a crime. I don't plan to stop:

    -Record TV shows from my DirecTV reciever that I pay a monthly subscription fee for into my computer using a Hauppauge PVR250 card for archival purposes (to show friends and family when they come over)
    -Rip all CDs that I buy to the infinitely more convenient Ogg Vorbis format so that I can listen to my music anywhere
    -Stream any audio or video from my house to wherever I happen to be using a VPN connection and broadbad. This means I can listen to my music collection, watch my DVDs or even DirecTV as long as I have an internet connection
    -Build custom digital media devices that don't have the limitations that commercial products do

    The way things are going, I'm sure these things will become illegal eventually. It's a wonder it's not illegal to use a hammer, nails, screwdriver, drywall, plaster and screws to build or modify your house any way you want to.
    • It's a wonder it's not illegal to use a hammer, nails, screwdriver, drywall, plaster and screws to build or modify your house any way you want to.

      There are building codes, so in some way, it is illegal. Also, for those who bother to ask, there are permits and regulation requirements. This means that in order to conduct a legal alteration of your house, you need at least a permit in many cases, and in cases where certain wiring needs to be done, or work is being done for a tenant (even if it's your ho
      • You're correct in a way. But I think there is still a difference between reasonable application of building codes and what the MPAA and RIAA are doing. The buildig codes are put in place to protect your best interests if the city is reasonable. I live in a fairly reasonable inner ring suburb. I have completely rewired my circa 1914 house to code. That's reasonable. But I have heard of some other cities nearby fining people because they didn't use a metered torque wrench on their water main. In that c
        • Regulation is perfectly fine as a first cut ... but as I implied, and you noted anecdotally, secret rules are bullshit. If we are going to regulate home construction and alterations, we MUST disclose these regulations so the homeowner can comply.

          You're correct that this is not exactly what the *AA are doing. What they are doing is Fascism. They are merging corporate power with state power. Since Fascism must eventually be fought outside courtrooms and legislative halls with a hail of bullets, I reall
  • I laughed at the "Endangered: Unencumbered Digital-to-Analog (D/A) and Analog-to-Digital (A/D) converters" . Any EE with half a brain can build a converter with a single I/O pin, a couple of resistors & capacitors costing pennies from Radio Shack, and enough CPU speed. Good luck getting rid of those!
  • by imkonen (580619) on Friday January 28, 2005 @05:03PM (#11507891)
    How is it gun manufacturers can get away with manufacturing semi-autos that are a easily converted into full-autos, but a (say for example) HDTVtuner card manufacturer couldn't make the broadcast flag decoder dependant on one little easily removed jumper? Then somehow the knowledge of this jumper would work its way onto the internet and coincidentally their sales jump through the roof. Of course it's still illegal for you or I to remove this jumper, but that's not their fault that there are so many criminals in the world, is it? After all, PC cards don't violate copyright...people do.
  • Shouldn't that fall under "died of natural causes"?

I wish you humans would leave me alone.

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