Something to Watch

New rules for Britain’s airwaves

Regulator Ofcom is now planning to loosen control of the spectrum, allowing it to be traded on the open market for the first time in 100 years.

[…] “We are turning 100 years of regulation on its head,” said an Ofcom spokesman.

“In the past we have had a command and control approach in which we hold the keys and dole them out to people we think deserve it most,” he explained.

“The new approach is that we are not going to say who should use it or tell them how to use it,” he said.

The new approach will allow companies to trade licences to use different parts of the spectrum among themselves as well as developing new services for existing spectrum they own.

Architectures of Control

Ban hits Half-Life 2 pirates hard

About 20,000 people have been banned from playing the Half-Life 2 game.

Game maker Valve shut down the online accounts of the players because it had evidence that their copy of the game had been obtained illegally.

[…] Rob Fahey, editor of online news site, said the mass banning showed off the power of the Steam system.

Before now, he said, it has been hard for game makers to do anything about piracy once the game was being played.

“But with this, Valve is taking really effective steps against people using illegitimate copies of Half-Life 2,” he said.

If Steam proves effective at cutting the piracy of games to a minimum, said Mr Fahey, other game makers may be tempted to set up copycat systems.

I Wonder If They’ll Ever Collect

The end of Online Movie Pirate Ordered to Pay $23.8M

Leong ran the Web site and a company called MasterSurf Inc., which set up computer servers overseas to protect the business from liability, Malcolm said Tuesday.

The MPA said Leong previously ran a similar Web site,, which was shut down by officials in Taiwan. Dutch courts also shut down servers he later set up in Iran and the Netherlands, the MPA said.

Searching for the Business Model

3 Music Companies Will Use Online File-Sharing Service

Details of the software and pricing were not released, but the company said its service would allow consumers to buy and share music, video clips and other material, while ensuring “that artists and rights holders receive their due compensation for each file shared on the network.”

[…] “The online media market is presently split between authorized legal paid-download services and unauthorized free services,” Greg Kerber, Wurld Media’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. “The consumer is stuck somewhere in the middle, and that’s where Peer Impact comes in.”

Wow! 3-for3!

I don’t know if he can keep this up – Frank Rich’s The Great Indecency Hoax (see "FCC Reviews ‘Desperate Housewives’ Football Promo" for background)

The hypocrisy embedded in this tale is becoming a national running gag. As in the Super Bowl brouhaha, in which the N.F.L. maintained it had no idea that MTV might produce a racy halftime show, the league has denied any prior inkling of the salaciousness on tap this time – even though the spot featured the actress playing the sluttiest character in prime time’s most libidinous series and was shot with the full permission of one of the league’s teams in its own locker room. Again as in the Jackson case, we are also asked to believe that pro football is what Pat Buchanan calls “the family entertainment, the family sports show” rather than what it actually is: a Boschian jamboree of bumping-and-grinding cheerleaders, erectile-dysfunction pageantry and, as Don Imus puts it, “wife-beating drug addicts slamming the hell out of each other” on the field.

But there’s another, more insidious game being played as well. The F.C.C. and the family values crusaders alike are cooking their numbers. The first empirical evidence was provided this month by Jeff Jarvis, a former TV Guide critic turned blogger. He had the ingenious idea of filing a Freedom of Information Act request to see the actual viewer complaints that drove the F.C.C. to threaten Fox and its affiliates with the largest indecency fine to date – $1.2 million for the sins of a now-defunct reality program called “Married by America.” Though the F.C.C. had cited 159 public complaints in its legal case against Fox, the documents obtained by Mr. Jarvis showed that there were actually only 90 complaints, written by 23 individuals. Of those 23, all but 2 were identical repetitions of a form letter posted by the Parents Television Council. In other words, the total of actual, discrete complaints about “Married by America” was 3.

Larry Tries Something Different

Although, it’s not that novel (see What Federal Gun Control Can Teach Us About the DMCA’s Anti-trafficking Provisions and this Furdlog post — here’s an earlier one that also makes the point: 8 November 2002). On the other hand, it’s still a great argument to put up against those who want to make the Grokster decision out to be some kind of anomalous legal position: Bytes and Bullets [pdf]

I’m a strong opponent of this legislation, but not because I support copyright infringement. The technologies being attacked by this bill have plenty of important uses that have nothing to do with copyright infringement. This legislation would effectively eliminate them.

But there is a silver lining here, and it has to do with, of all things, a very old technology: guns. For if Congress passes this bill, on what principled basis can it then refuse to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the crimes committed with their technologies?

(Thanks to the EPA’s Bill Nickerson, TPP alum, who pointed it out to me — since I spent yesterday on an airplane, I would have otherwise missed it!)