October 14, 2004

UK Courts Order Names Released to BPI [7:29 pm]

Music firms win ‘pirates’ ruling

The British music industry has been granted a court order forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to reveal the names of illegal music swappers.

ISPs have 14 days to hand over names and addresses of 28 alleged uploaders - those who make music available to share with others - to the BPI trade group.

“We will not hesitate to take action against those who infringe our members’ rights,” said Geoff Taylor of the BPI.

The 28 individuals will be given the chance to settle out of court.

Slashdot: UK High Court Orders ISPs to Identify File-sharers

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McCain Breaks Ranks [5:37 pm]

Jason finds something in the Congressional Record (page S11291; article #53 in this list): Senator McCain shows spine on IP; defends controlling your own TV/DVR

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I wish to briefly remark on H.R. 2391 and H.R. 4077 , a package of bills referred to as the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2004. I have objected to the further consideration or passage of these bills by unanimous consent.

From the text of the bills that have been available to date for Senators to review, I believe that one part of this broad legislation, the Family Movie Act, may actually harm consumers while appearing to help them. To be clear, I support the stated goal of the act’s authors: immunizing from legal challenges a technology that enables parents to skip offensive material from prerecorded copies of films and television. While I applaud the merits of their stated intent, I fear that the very exemption designed to achieve this laudable goal simultaneously creates an implication that certain basic practices that consumers have enjoyed for years–like fast-forwarding through advertisements–would constitute criminal copyright infringement. I note that Consumers Union and Public Knowledge, as well as a host of others parties interested in protecting consumers, share my concerns.

Americans have been recording TV shows and fast-forwarding through commercials for more than 30 years. Do we really expect to throw people in jail in 2004 for behavior they’ve been engaged in for more than a quarter century?

I look forward to working with my colleagues in this Chamber to address not only these concerns, but also the uncertain liability created for manufacturers that bring other innovative and pro-family products to market in the face of continual threats of extinction from powerful interests who seek to thwart their entry.

For these reasons, I do not intend to remove my hold on these bills until I am satisfied that consumer interests have been protected in this legislation.

Note that Sen Patrick Leahy (page S11290) was not too pleased: (See Item 51 in the CongRecord - McCain’s is item #53) Somewhat disgustingly, he seems to want to make a partisan issue out of this!

Senator Hatch and I, and many of our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, have been working on this legislation for some time now–most recently doing so late at night and through the weekends. We have done so because of the crushing need to ensure that the intellectual property laws are adequate to the legitimate and pressing concerns raised by many about the effectiveness of those laws. We have a package of strong and significant measures that would bolster protection of the intellectual property that drives our nation’s economy and that would ensure law enforcement has the tools it needs to offer that protection. There was no reason not to send this package to the House immediately, and work with our colleagues there to ensure it became enacted into law, as soon as humanly possible.

In blocking this legislation, these Republicans are failing to practice what they have so often preached during this Congress. For all of their talk about jobs, about allowing the American worker to succeed, they are now placing our economy at greater risk through their inaction. It is a failure that will inevitably continue a disturbing trend: our economy loses literally hundreds of billions of dollars every year to various forms of piracy.

Instead of making inroads in this fight, we have the Republican intellectual property roadblock. [...]

We can foresee the disappointing result of this roadblock: our copyright holders will suffer, our patent holders will suffer, and so too will the American worker. In yet another important area, the Republicans that control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House, have failed to respond to the needs of the American people. That is a shame.

As I said, disgusting.

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Starbucks Really Going To Do It? [4:34 pm]

Starbucks Serves Up Digital Music [via TechDirt]

Starbucks will install what it calls Hear Music media bars at 45 of its coffeehouses in Seattle and Austin, Texas between next week and the end of November, the first phase of a national rollout that will continue in 2005, the company will announce Thursday.

The Hear Music media bars will feature the necessary hardware and software, provided by HP, for customers to search Starbucks’ digital song library, choose and listen to tracks, and burn them to a CD. CDs whose song lists are compiled by customers will cost $8.99 for the first seven tracks and $0.99 per additional track.

Customers will also be able to purchase full-length albums at prices that are similar to what conventional retail outlets charge. They will be able to burn these albums off the digital song library or buy them in the standard shrink-wrapped format if they are in stock at the store.

Starbucks implemented the first Hear Music media bar in March in a Santa Monica, California coffee house, and starting next week will put them in 15 of its stores in Seattle, where Starbucks is based. Starting October 25, Starbucks will begin installing Hear Music media bars in 30 of its coffee houses in Austin, Texas.

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Some Off-Topic Inside Baseball [8:38 am]

Jockeying for position on the Supreme Court: A Big Question About Clarence Thomas

A little-noticed bombshell was dropped by Justice Antonin Scalia in a recently released biography of Justice Clarence Thomas. It poses an interesting dilemma for President Bush this election season, in that it raises the question of whether he should continue to cite Thomas as one of his model Supreme Court justices.

The evidence, of course, suggests that a repudiation of Thomas by the president is extremely unlikely. Indeed, Ken Foskett, the author of “Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas,” claims that top Bush administration officials have discussed with Thomas the possibility of his succeeding William Rehnquist as chief justice.

But Scalia’s pointed comments to Foskett complicate Bush’s support for Thomas considerably. Specifically, Scalia told Foskett that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period.” Clarifying his remark, Scalia added that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

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FCC Prepared To Say Cu == SiO2 [8:30 am]

FCC to Act on Fiber-Optic Networks

The Federal Communications Commission is planning to approve today a proposal to give the major telephone companies more leeway in the design of new fiber-optic networks, sparing them from the regulation that governs traditional phone lines.

Under current rules, fiber networks are not subject to the same regulations as existing copper phone lines if they are used to connect homes in new neighborhoods, a policy pushed by the FCC to spur investment in the high-speed lines.

The Federal Communications Commission is planning to approve today a proposal to give the major telephone companies more leeway in the design of new fiber-optic networks, sparing them from the regulation that governs traditional phone lines.

Under current rules, fiber networks are not subject to the same regulations as existing copper phone lines if they are used to connect homes in new neighborhoods, a policy pushed by the FCC to spur investment in the high-speed lines.

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Experimenting With The EU (c) Directive [7:56 am]

How to kill a website with one email

How much effort does it take to get an ISP to pull public domain material using unsubstantiated legal threats? Distressingly little, according to a recent study by Dutch group Bits of Freedom.

Bits of Freedom signed up with 10 Dutch ISPs and used the websites to host text by Dutch author Multatuli, dating from 1871. Multatuli died in 1887 and his works are now in the public domain. A notice to that effect was attached to the published content.

The organisation then posed as the copyright holders of the work. A “legal representative” of the fake E.D. Dekkers society sent a “complaint” demanding that “copyright infringing” content be pulled forthwith to the 10 ISPs. The complaint - sent via a Hotmail account - cited notice and takedown provisions in the recent European E-commerce Directive.

Under the Directive, ISPs risk liability for hosting apparently illegal content on behalf on their customers. Once they are notified, they are obliged to render content inaccessible. Bits of Freedom wondered what would happen if complaints lacked legal validity. Its research is alarming for anyone concerned about online freedom of speech.

[...] “Out of the 10 providers only UPC demonstrated distrust about the origin of the complaint (the free and unverifiable Hotmail address), and only XS4ALL gave evidence that they had looked at the page, and were aware of the fact that the author had died in 1887, 117 years ago,” Bits of Freedom notes.

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Halo 2 Leaked - And Ashcroft’s On The Case? [7:53 am]

Halo 2 leaked onto the net

The game, a key title for MS’ console in the run up to Christmas, is believed to have surfaced on Usenet and the web last night, possibly in the form of a localised French version, according to early reports. The download is said to weigh in at 3GB and lack support for Xbox Live multi-player gaming.

Recall elements of the DoJ Cybercrime Report on the value that should be assigned to copyrighted materials leaked before the first sale. Wired News has a report today - Ashcroft Vows Piracy Assault. As Jason Schultz points out: “This is a clear example of getting taxpayers to fund the RIAA’s private war” — not to mention a formula for a full-employment law enforcement economy.

Update: Slashdot reports Bungie Speaks On Halo 2 Leak

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Gates on TV and TV2 [7:41 am]

From the Hollywood Reporter, an interview with Bill Gates. Note that it perpetuates this notion that things will be just fine once we turn the internet into TV: Gates: Broadcast model faces irrelevancy [pdf]

The fundamental difference, he said, will be the demise of today’s concepts regarding channels and schedules. “The idea of just having that one linear thing — you don’t change your channel, so the local news leads to the whole lineup getting this great popularity — that’s on its way out,” Gates said. “But slowly.”

This change is being caused today by DVRs and by the breadth of available cable and satellite channels, he said. In the near future, however, the advent of Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and other technologies will offer more options and flexibility to creators and audiences alike.

“The ideal for many content people would be that they just put their content on the Internet and then they have a direct relationship with the viewer,” Gates said. “That model for low-volume content is the future.”

[...] Also known as IPTV (HR 8/25), this technology delivers television directly into the home via the Internet and therefore bypasses existing satellite and cable television services. Microsoft is undertaking a trial in partnership with Swisscom subsidiary Bluewin in Switzerland — SBC in the United States, Reliance Infocomm in India and other broadband companies are planning to roll out trials before the end of next year.

“The infrastructure of cable and telco has to be built out, but that’s where you can deliver personalized ads,” Gates said. “It doesn’t cost you anything to say, ‘OK, for this household, let’s send these, for these households, let’s send that.’ And if they want to stop and interact with the ad, that’s fine — the show is going to be there.”

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More Patent Shenanigans [7:33 am]

Patent case challenges Microsoft’s ‘AutoPlay’

Judge Jeffrey White of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied three Microsoft motions for summary judgment in a suit filed by TV Interactive Data (TVI), a small Monte Sereno, Calif., company specializing in interactive television technology.

Each motion sought to invalidate TVI patents cited in the case, on grounds of prior art and other causes. White ruled Microsoft offered insufficient evidence against the patents, and the case should go to trial as scheduled.

TVI filed the suit in 2002, alleging that AutoPlay technology included in every PC version of Microsoft’s operating system since Windows 95 infringes on its U.S. patents 5,795,156 and 6,249,863.

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Sony Relents [7:29 am]

Decides that selling MP3 players that don’t play MP3s is a bad strategy: Sony retuning to pick up MP3s

“We fell asleep for a little while, now we’re awake,” Glasgow said. “Our performance has been less than good. We’ve been late to market. Maybe we were resting on our laurels, maybe it had something to do with being related to a music company.”

Sony has historically been a leader in the portable device market, thanks to its Walkman line of tape players. However, the company missed the boat with digital audio players, insisting on supporting its own Atrac music format and not natively supporting MP3 files on its players–instead converting them to the proprietary format.

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