March 10, 2005

What’s the Value of a Downloaded File? [6:21 pm]

An NPR bit, with a jumpoff on the AZ case: NPR : Slate’s Explainer: The Value of Downloaded Music

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Some Music Public Domain Summaries [6:09 pm]

A couple of nice resources have surfaced thanks to this Salon blog posting: Some answers on public domain

After slowly working my way through all the e-mails sent in response to my plea for information on copyright and public domain law as it pertains to audio recordings, it’s clear that the issue is a good deal more complicated and murky than I had assumed it to be. Although I still feel more confused than enlightened, here is, I hope, a reasonably lucid summary of what I’ve learned.

An interesting table: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States; 1 January 2005; the PD Info site

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What’s All This Then…Violins in Video Games? [9:40 am]

Oh, “violence.” Never mind. Md. Panel Hesitant on Video Game Limits

The increasingly realistic graphics and overwhelming popularity of such violent games as “Halo” and the “Grand Theft Auto” series, and games such as “Doom” before them, have given rise to concerns among consumer groups and law enforcement officials that the games are contributing to violence by minors.

They point to the fact that Malvo played Halo regularly before the sniper shootings, according to a witness at Malvo’s December 2003 trial. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine shooters, were obsessive players of “Doom.”

Opponents say the Maryland measure, sponsored by Del. Justin D. Ross (D-Prince George’s), runs afoul of the First Amendment. They point to several court rulings in recent years that say the government has no right to prohibit the sale of violent or sexually explicit material, regardless of how distasteful it is.

Several legislators said yesterday that although they may support the idea of keeping children from violent games, they are uneasy about banning them, even just for minors.

[...] “This is not a question of taste,” Thompson told the committee yesterday. “It is a question of public safety. . . . Nobody among the [nation's] founders would have suggested that children somehow have a right to purchase materials that are harmful to them.”

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Jockeying for Powell’s Job [9:33 am]

2 Front-Runners Seen for Nomination to Lead F.C.C.

Michael D. Gallagher, a senior official in the Commerce Department, and Kevin J. Martin, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, have emerged as the top contenders to become the next chairman of the F.C.C., administration officials said on Wednesday.

[...] Mr. Gallagher has worked closely with Mr. Powell, and aides to Mr. Powell have made no secret of their preference that Mr. Gallagher get the job over Mr. Martin. Mr. Powell and Mr. Martin have at times had a strained relationship, as Mr. Martin refused to go along with all of Mr. Powell’s regulatory proposals.

Mr. Gallagher is a former lobbyist at AirTouch Communications and Verizon Wireless. As head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, he played a major role in negotiations between the wireless industry and the Pentagon over steps to free valuable radio spectrum for use by the industry.

[...] Mr. Martin has long been viewed by industry lobbyists and Congressional officials as the front-runner to succeed Mr. Powell because of his ties to the White House and the fact that he would not need to be confirmed by the Senate to take the job.

[...] Mr. Martin angered some of the regional Bell companies two years ago when he broke ranks with Mr. Powell and voted with the agency’s two Democrats to leave in place rules that were meant to foster local telephone competition by requiring the Bell companies to lease their local networks to their rivals at low prices.

He has also been critical of the commission for not being more aggressive in enforcing indecency rules against broadcasters.

Later: The Washington Post coverage of Powell’s valedictory includes some more names: Powell Leaves FCC Admonishing Uncivil America

From earlier - Aaron MacGruder’s take

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Study Shows Ever More Kids Embrace a Plugged-In Lifestyle [8:12 am]

Study Shows Ever More Kids Embrace a Plugged-In Lifestyle [pdf]

America’s children are such savvy multitaskers that they pack 8 1/2 hours of media exposure into 6 1/2 hours of each day, seven days a week, reports the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation study.

[...] Regardless of race, in many of those homes, kids’ bedrooms have become media palaces. Sixty-eight percent of all kids have a television in their bedrooms, a statistic which has not significantly changed, but now 54 percent also have VCRs or DVD players, up from 36 percent in 1999, and 37 percent have cable or satellite TV access, up from 29 percent.

[...] “For older teens music has always had a special place,” Rideout says. “Teen TV use drops off and music listening goes up. TV has always gone down as teens are involved in more activities, gain independence and have more mobility.”

In this area, the biggest change from the 1999 study is how teenagers access music, with many more downloading and streaming music and using digital music players such as iPods, Rideout says.

“This is an absolutely significant phenomenon,” she says.

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EU Software Patents Power Play [8:06 am]

Last chance for EU software law

Commissioner McCreevy said: “If the parliament decides to reject it, then the Commission will respect your wishes.

“I will not propose a new directive.”

The European Parliament needs to re-read the proposals and pass, change or reject them before it is actually made law.

But Monday’s decision by the Commission to accept the proposals with no changes angered critics, especially since the parliament had rejected it.

They now fear that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive will be rubber-stamped by the European Parliament, despite what Commissioner McCreevy has said.

[...] “The ball is in your court. I’m sure that you will exercise your rights and your judgement wisely,” Commissioner McCreevy told members of the European Parliament.

Last week, Commissioner McCreevy threatened to scrap the whole proposal if governments critical of it continued to delay it.

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Municipal WiFi Fights In Chicago [8:01 am]

Chicago tries to sneak Wi-Fi network past Illinois

Chicago Alderman Edward Burke has gone into bureaucratic overdrive, hoping to craft legislation that will guarantee the city’s right to run its own Wi-Fi service. Speed is key in this situation because the Illinois General Assembly will soon consider a ban on city-funded broadband networks. Chicago officials see a citywide wireless network as a potential revenue source, a way to bridge the digital divide and a means of attracting tourists. State officials, meanwhile, appear intent on making sure service providers can control wireless networks.

See also Chicago Looking Into City-Wide Wi-Fi

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Patent Excesses? [7:58 am]

Or just a piece of ‘data mining’ now owned by Amazon? Or both?Amazon patent thinks pink

Amazon.com has been granted a U.S. patent on “Methods and systems of assisting users in purchasing items,” including the use of gift-buying habits to determine the age, gender and birthday of gift recipients, according to a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent concerns inferring information about gift recipients and using that information to suggest appropriate items and services, such as birthday or Valentine’s Day reminders and age- and gender-appropriate gifts. “For example, if the purchased toy is a dress for a doll, it may be inferred that the recipient is a girl,” the patent states.

“The gender information may be used in determining which gift wrapping colors and patterns should be suggested when the item is being purchased as a gift. For example, if it is inferred that the recipient is a girl, pink or pastel colored gift wrapping may be suggested first.”

Much of the patent’s descriptions relate to how a Web site can determine the age and birth date of birthday gift recipients.

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IP Law and French Software Security Research [7:52 am]

France puts a damper on flaw hunting

In 2001, French security researcher Guillaume Tena found a number of vulnerabilities in the Viguard antivirus software published by Tegam International. Tena, who at the time was known by his pseudonym Guillermito, published his research online in March 2002.

However, Tena’s actions were not viewed kindly by Tegam, which initiated legal action against the researcher. That action resulted in a case being brought to trial at a court in Paris. The prosecution claimed that Tena violated article 335.2 of the code of intellectual property and asked for a four-month jail term and a fine of 6,000 euros.

On Tuesday, the French court ruled that Tena should not be imprisoned but gave him a suspended fine of 5,000 euros. This means that he only has to pay the fine if he publishes more information on security vulnerabilities in software.

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Distribution and Music Discovery [7:32 am]

Music fans reach for the stars [pdf]

With infinite capacity and far-flung communication links, the Internet has opened a universe of options to music enthusiasts.

At first glance, it’s a small world. The same ubiquitous hits that define pop radio also top the rankings of online tracks purchased at legitimate networks and those downloaded from unauthorized sites.

But peer into the depths of cyberspace and a big-bang picture unfolds. The stockpile is boundless, a boom in availability that could change buyer habits. Fan forums are spontaneously sprouting around artists and trends, from teen girls touting Incubus, Green Day and little-known emo heartthrobs at Xanga.com to hip-hop buffs advocating regional acts at Down-South.com.

It’s a phenomenon the music business has yet to capitalize on, though some legitimate services are starting to court these cyber junkies.

Most of the action, however, remains outside industry confines. [...]

[...] “One of the major challenges the labels have now is trying to figure out how to expose people to new music,” says Inside Digital Media president Phil Leigh.

“Obviously the Internet does that. The Internet is the most logical successor to support new music now that radio is losing clout,” Leigh says. “The industry has to figure out how to harness it.”

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