September 15, 2005

Warning the P2P Services [4:06 pm]

Record labels send more letters to P2P services

The Recording Industry Association of America has sent letters to seven peer-to-peer companies, asking them to halt what the RIAA alleges is their practice of encouraging users to illegally distribute copyrighted material.

The RIAA’s actions follow a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June against P2P services provider Grokster and marks one of the first actions the recording industry trade group has taken against P2P services beyond Grokster. In a unanimous decision, the court said companies that build businesses with the active intent of encouraging copyright infringement should be held liable for their customers’ illegal actions.

[...] In a copy of the letter obtained by CNET News.com, the RIAA states: “We demand that you immediately cease-and-desist from enabling and inducing the infringement of RIAA member sound recordings. If you wish to discuss pre-litigation resolution of these claims against you, please contact us immediately.”

The letter, dated Tuesday, Sept. 13, goes on to say that the U.S. Supreme Court decision involving Grokster applies equally to the company and certain individuals at the company.

Related Slashdot story on the evolution of P2P: P2P Now and Then

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How Much Monitoring Can One Stand? [9:13 am]

And note that, as usual, it’s “for the children:” Dutch to Open Electronic Files on Children [pdf]

The Dutch government plans to open an electronic file on every child at birth as a tool to spot and protect the troubled kids of the future.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, all citizens will be tracked from cradle to grave in a single database — including health, education, family and police records — the health ministry said Tuesday.

As a privacy safeguard, no single person or agency will be able to access all contents of a file. But organizations can raise “red flags” in the dossier to caution other agencies about problems, ministry spokesman Jan Brouwer said.

Slashdot: Dutch to Open Electronic Files on Children

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Lego Hacking [8:16 am]

Hacking’s a snap in Legoland

When Lego executives recently discovered that adult fans of the iconic plastic bricks had hacked one of the company’s new development tools for digital designers, they did a surprising thing: They cheered.

Unlike executives at so many corporations, who would be loathe to let their customers anywhere near the inner workings of their software tools, the Lego honchos saw an opportunity to lean on the collective thinking of an Internet community to improve their own product while bolstering relations with committed customers.

All it took was being open-minded enough to see that their biggest fans weren’t trying to rip them off; they were trying to improve Lego’s products in a way that, just maybe, the company’s own designers hadn’t thought of.

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IPTV: The Future (As They Know It) [8:14 am]

Lovelace Consulting and informitv have put out a report on IPTV that is getting a push from the BBC’s Broadband to rule the TV waves. Do they have anything to say? You can read the BBC article, or you can pony up the cash — or you can think a bit about just how long it’s taken to transition to, say, HDTV……

Multichannel television of a few hundred linear channels will soon seem archaic. Viewers will eventually be able to choose from thousands of programmes and channels from around the world, much as it is already possible to stream radio services today. The network will in effect become an indefinitely expandable personal video recorder.

This presents many threats and opportunities to the existing broadcasting industry and represents a real revolution in digital television.

In response to recent unprecedented global interest, informitv and Lovelace Consulting have produced this exclusive executive briefing that explains the key issues in simple terms that cut through the hyperbole and jargon to provide a clear picture of the next revolution in communications.

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Lolita and Copyright [7:31 am]

Forever Young

Only at the end of the year did Graham Greene, in London, relieve “Lolita” of her obscurity. Greene was not always good to little girls; he had lost a lawsuit for having proferred a few remarks about Shirley Temple and her “dimpled depravity.” But asked to name the best books of 1955 he cited among three titles an obscure English-language work available only in Paris. He created an uproar in England, and a moral panic in America.

[...] There were a few additional wrinkles, given American copyright law and “Lolita’s” foreign birth. Nabokov offered another consideration, possibly only as a negotiating tactic with editors. Warned by Jason Epstein that he could neither avoid an obscenity trial nor expect a fair one, he explained that he had no choice but to publish. He could not survive on his Cornell salary alone. The decision was “not a matter of principle but a matter of money.” It is perhaps noteworthy that in the course of a year on the road with Lolita, Humbert spends the equivalent of Nabokov’s Cornell salary on food and lodging alone.

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Something To Think About: EBay [7:05 am]

A snippet from this LATimes article on the loss of ephemera and cultural artifacts in the New Orleans flooding: A record of the everyday [pdf]

A few days after the disaster, a measure of the sentiment toward New Orleans appeared on EBay. “We often find that what happens on EBay is reflected in society, and vice versa,” said spokesman Hani Durzy. [emphasis added]

Collectors offered up their memorabilia of the city for auction on the site’s “Giving Works” page, a program where sales support nonprofit charities.

Though few bidders offered extra-generous prices for items, the sellers generally donated most, if not all, of the proceeds to Katrina disaster relief. If there has been an overall increase in the number of New Orleans items for sale or their prices, the site doesn’t officially track it, said Durzy.

Durzy said the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the death of Pope John Paul II created a noticeable uptick in related items.

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The Uses of Cellphones [6:58 am]

Many more than an old fuddy-duddy like me ever knew of: Holding a key to the city [pdf]

“Oh my God, Logan’s here!” she announced, reading the message delivered via Dodgeball. A sort of Friendster for mobile phones, Dodgeball is a social-networking program that lets subscribers announce their location to a preselected group of friends and friends of friends that has been established online.

“The big thing in L.A. is you just need an ice-breaker in order to start talking to someone,” said Elizabeth, who moved to L.A. from New York a year ago.

“[Dodgeball] sends you a photo, and if you find them, it’s like, ‘Hey, you’re on the website,’ and it’s not as awkward as randomly approaching someone for no reason,” added Elizabeth, who met her friend Daniel Hengeveld because she saw his picture on Dodgeball.

Community or social-networking services such as Dodgeball, TextAmerica, FotoShare and VeriChat, which, respectively, allow people to meet, moblog, share pictures and IM with friends via their cellphone screens, are enormously popular for a generation that’s been weaned online. But of the four main mobile content categories — personalization (ring tones, etc.), entertainment (games, songs), information (news, maps) and community (chatting, blogging) — such networking is not the biggest part of the market.

That would be ring tones, which are widely accepted by consumers in part because they’ve been around longest.

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