Library mosquitos

I really don’t get it.

This petition came to my attention today — it asks to have the Mosquito Device removed from a library in Wales.
A mosquito device is one of those things that makes an annoying noise that cannot be heard by adults, and exists to discourage children (well, teenagers, presumably) from congregating in areas they are not wanted. The petition does a fine job of making points as to why the mosquito device is of a dubious ethical nature, as does the BoingBoing post that sent me there.

But what I really don’t get is … a library? During opening hours?

The authorities in Milford, Wales have actually installed a device for the express purpose of preventing children from going to the library during opening hours. They appear to be fighting the scourge of childhood literacy.

It seems like a new dimension of wrong.

The morning coffee and the copyright wrongs

It’s hard to condemn people, these days, for copyright infringement — even blatant copyright infringement.


Because those people who hold those copyrights do things like try to extort money from libraries for reading to children.

Yep, that’s right. Trying to force libraries to cough up money for reading to children.

It baffles the mind. There are actual people who work for this SABAM – the Belgian rightsholder group in question – writing letters and making phone calls to try to extort this money. There are managers who decided on this course of action. A whole organisation of people who somehow rationalize this behaviour.

You know your legal framework is broken when there exist entire organisations full of people who presumably look at themselves in the mirror each morning, and then go to work and do despicable things. I preferred it when it was only lawyers embarassing themselves with silly cease & desist letters to law schools.

Ah, the halcyon days of youth.

Photo is of Hallstatt, Austria, by Akos Major, found on The Behance Network.
Webcomic is Up Up Down Down, by Khon, Sheflin and Ewington.

Copyright madness

When it comes to copyright, the world simply seems to have gone insane.

The UK music industry thinks it loses £200 million each year to piracy. So the UK government is now trying to push through a new set of regulations that would cost £500 million to implement. Which not only does not meet the most basic of cost-benefit analyses, but also would force an estimated 40,000 people offline due to the additional costs that would be passed on to consumers.

Meanwhile, my ISP has promised to start to spy on everything that I download. I cannot recall agreeing to allow them to do this.

But copyright issues in music are old news; the new battle is in books. Book publishers have now realized that many avid readers are now e-book readers, with more to follow on the iPad — now they are beginning to jump into the copyright act. Using the same sorts of measurements that the music and movie industries use, they are claiming to lose $3 billion a year to online piracy. A more interesting analysis takes the same methodology and applies it to libraries, finding that American libraries “cost” the publishing industry nearly $1 trillion every year.

This, of course, demonstrates how silly the claims are. Once one takes into account that those who violate copyright by downloading music, books, or movies are also the industry’s biggest customers, expenditures like those being made in the UK are revealed for being complete farces — rather than protecting profits, it takes away the ability for customers to discover the material in the first place.

There are interesting and sane views out there. Go To Hellman outlines the benefits of library sharing of books. Cory Doctorow discusses the possibility of creating an intelligent copyright system, rather than a one-size-fits-all system that doesn’t work.

None of that intelligent thinking is likely to be finding its way into the Anti-Conterfeiting Trade Agreement, however. The public, of course, is not allowed in on the multilateral negotiations — but big business is. What is sure to emerge are a set of rules to make the demise of the pre-Internet model as painful as possible for consumers and new start-ups, rather than a set of rules that still make sense given the technology available.

And yes, almost all of this has happened during the first 31 days of 2010. And there is no sign that anybody will adopt a system that has any chance of working anytime soon.

(Image from 917press)

The morning coffee and the black screen of death

The wise consumer is never an early adopter of Microsoft operating systems — for whatever reason, Microsoft seems unable to get them right in the initial release. While security patches are an inevitability for any popular Operating System or browser, Microsoft always seems to face other issues. For instance their first update since the release of Microsoft 7 introduces us to the Black Screen of Death. Which might be a step up from the previous blue screen of death, but is still entirely unwelcome.


Presenting the UK’s smallest library.

Here at the morning coffee, we enjoy reading Science Based Medicine, but seldom link to it. For the most part, this is because it’s all the same: vaccines don’t cause autism. Homeopathy, acupuncture and other alternative “treatments” do not work, and are potentially harmful as they pull patients away from medicine that could treat their conditions. While it makes for informative and interesting reading, variety is the spice of the morning coffee. Today they write about a traditional Indian remedy that works. So go clean out your nose with salt water. It’s good for you, in moderation.