September 22, 2005

Closing? Capitulating? Or Heading Undeground? [9:24 am]

P2P music sites closing doors in legal fallout [pdf]

Popular file-sharing site WinMX.com ceased operating and the New York office of another, eDonkey.com, appeared to be closed, in the continuing legal fallout among underworld peer-to-peer music services, industry sources and users said on Wednesday.

[...] The latest developments come on the heels of a pending deal in which file-sharing service Grokster Ltd. is set to be acquired by Mashboxx LLC, a new company formed with the intent of establishing a legal peer-to-peer music company, sources familiar with the matter said.

[...] The current generation of file-sharing networks are all descendants of the original music-sharing phenomenon Napster, which was forced to shut down, and now operates as a legal music service.

However, peer-to-peer technology has lived on in programs like WinMX, which represent a sort of transitional generation of media-sharing programs between the pioneering Napster and more modern programs like Gnutella and eDonkey.

Despite the legal wrangling, free file-sharing has persisted and many in the industry believe it is about to embark on a new era in which it will finally be embraced commercially by media companies for legitimate purposes.

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Chinese Embrace of IP? [8:21 am]

Ummm, not really: Clinton, Lewinsky Condoms Sold in China [pdf]

A new line of Chinese condoms is attracting headlines, legal scrutiny and more than its share of bad jokes. The products’ names: “Clinton” and “Lewinsky.”

[...] “We chose the name because we think Clinton is a symbol of success and a man of responsibility. And Lewinsky is a woman who dares to love and dares to hate,” said Liu Wenhua, the company’s general manager.

[...] Liu added that because the names were registered properly with the central government’s trademark office, he didn’t anticipate any legal problems. The registration process normally takes a few months and costs about $35.

But Zheng Zhangjun, a trademark attorney with the Fengshi law firm in Beijing, said given Clinton’s fame and the evident intent to use his name for commercial gain, the former president appeared to have a strong legal case against the company.

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Verizon, Fiber Networks, and Piracy Enforcement [8:02 am]

Two articles on Verizon’s moves into video over a fiber-optic net:

  • Increased competition, maybe: Verizon Starts TV Service in Texas [pdf]

    Verizon Communications Inc., the largest U.S. telephone company, will begin offering television service today in a Texas town, a step that may eventually pressure cable companies to lower prices.

    Verizon’s launch of commercial TV service over fiber-optic lines in Keller, Tex., begins competition between cable companies and regional telephone giants to offer customers video, voice and high-speed Internet services.

  • And what does it take to get Disney onboard? A level of cooperation not seen (or at least formally acknowledged) before: Verizon, Disney in Programming Deal [pdf]

    The companies also said they plan to work together to address Internet piracy. Verizon will forward notices to subscribers allegedly pirating Disney’s works.

    Verizon will cancel Internet service for subscribers who have infringed Disney copyrights and received multiple notices, or identify them in response to subpoenas.

    Should make for an interesting court case, if true.

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Moves on EU Record Keeping Standards [7:49 am]

European Commission Shortens Time That Phone and Internet Records Must Be Kept

Seeking to break a four-year impasse, the European Commission offered a compromise on anti-terrorist legislation yesterday that would require telephone network operators and Internet service providers to keep records of phone calls and Internet traffic for a shorter amount of time.

[...] Privacy advocates and telecommunications operators reacted warily to Mr. Frattini’s plan. Gus Hosein, a lecturer in technology policy at the London School of Economics and a member of Privacy International, a group based in London that opposes data retention, said the law’s chance of approval was “slim at best.”

Europe’s national privacy laws, he noted, are far more restrictive than those in the United States, where Internet data retention is not required, though phone companies are required by law to keep call log records for six years.

Michael Bartholomew, director general of the European Telecom Network Operators Association, an industry group, said in Brussels that network operators already routinely cooperated with law enforcement officials, providing them case-by-case with information that operators collect in the normal course of business.

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Commerce Stepping Up IP/Anit-Piracy Efforts [7:47 am]

U.S. Discloses Moves to Stop Piracy of Intellectual Property

Carlos M. Gutierrez, the commerce secretary, announced on Wednesday a series of initiatives aimed at curbing the global trade in pirated and counterfeit goods, a problem that American businesses say is costing them $250 billion a year.

As part of the plan, the Commerce Department will send intellectual property experts abroad to monitor cases in the countries where much of the counterfeiting and piracy appears to be centered, including Brazil, China, India and Russia.

The department will also start an educational program offering two-day seminars for American small businesses on how to protect their intellectual property rights. The agency has also established a training program for foreign officials.

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