March 19, 2004

Ernest on "Profane" [4:33 pm]

Prof Solum points to Ernest Miller’s discussion of the FCC’s characterization of Bono’s "fucking brilliant" as profane speech — and now he’s getting Slashdotted, although the Corante server seems to be holding up ok.

The first thing that struck me, however, was not that the use of “fucking” as an adjective was found to be indecent. I understand the FCC thing about indecency. I don’t agree, but I understand it. What struck me and what I don’t really understand is this whole “profane” thing. Isn’t “profane” something like blasphemy or contempt for the sacred? Well, it used to be. Used to be, as in people are seldom prosecuted or fined for it anymore, and the FCC never used it.

Turns out, where most anti-indecency folks would have been happy with overturning the original “fucking” decision, the FCC decided to go one big step further and has decided to basically create a doctrine of the profane. Why they would want to do this I have no idea. Nevertheless, this renewed doctrine seems to have the strong support from every commissioner:

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Some Slashdot Stories [9:53 am]

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SXSW Writeup [8:25 am]

Wired News: Pessimism Can’t Keep Music Down

Music is not knocking at death’s door, contrary to the canned doom-and-gloom predictions from the recording industry.

Instead, it’s enjoying a golden age because missteps by the big labels have provided opportunities for independent musicians and entrepreneurs to steer the industry in a new direction, said Mark Cuban, co-founder of Broadcast.com and now owner of the Dallas Mavericks and president of HDNet.

“If you’re a music consumer, this is the glory days,” Cuban said. “It’s a golden age if you’re not trying to protect your arcane business practices.”

Instead of listening to music lovers who want to take the path of least resistance to hear their tunes, the labels “are trying to get you to do it their way,” he said. “There are a lot of untapped opportunities that are not being utilized.”

[...] As music companies fret about piracy, it’s clear that digital technology has given more control to some artists. Independent musicians, in particular, are using it to make and sell their own recordings and build their fan bases through websites and e-mail.

[Mary Hodder supplied the Cuban Blog pointer] And don’t forget his earlier contributions to the discussions around webcasting rates

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A Look At Free WiFi [8:16 am]

Without raising the spectre of RIAA lawsuits: The Free Lane on the Information Highway

There is a market failure here: quasi-monopoly companies provide a service and try to prevent users from realizing returns to scale (that is, using one node for multiple laptops). The result is inefficiency (more hubs than we need, not distributed for maximum coverage) and inequality (between the free riders and those who pay for Internet service).

The public interest would be better served by the government stepping in and providing a public good — an open wireless network — while compensating the private companies that laid the wired part of the system for their one-time investment. To quote Benjamin Franklin, the founder of the first lending library in North America back in 1731: “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” How about both?

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