January 20, 2006

Good Luck With That! [7:18 pm]

Tells me something about at least a few of Stern’s listeners: Stern Sirius about silencing Web stream [pdf]

The King of All Media is fighting some feisty subjects who don’t want to pay to hear the popular shock jock.

Sirius and Stern’s production company, One Twelve Inc., fired off a cease-and-desist letter to at least one Web site that was rebroadcasting the radio host’s show — billed the “Show” — as an audio stream.

[...] But a Boston area man who says he is the administrator of www.hearhoward.org said he didn’t consider streaming Stern over the Internet theft.

“We’re not making any money off of it. We’re not selling it,” the administrator said, adding that he was a subscriber to Sirius. “I don’t think that they should be charging someone to listen to their service, especially . . . people who don’t have the access to the service.”

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Reaction to the Google’s Subpoena Snub [3:01 pm]

And yet, still only the occasional mention that other search engine firms already have complied: Privacy experts condemn subpoena of Google [pdf]

“This is the camel’s nose under the tent for using search engines and all kinds of data aggregators as surveillance tools,” said Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute who also runs Privacilla.org, an Internet privacy database.

[...] The Justice Department said on Friday that America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft had all complied with similar requests.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales rejected concerns that the subpoena might violate individual privacy rights.

“We’re not asking for the identity of Americans. We simply want to have some subject matter information with respect to these communications. This is important for the Department of Justice and we will pursue this matter,” he told reporters.

[...] But others were not reassured. Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey (news, bio, voting record), the ranking Democrat on the telecommunications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he would introduce a bill to strengthen consumers’ Internet privacy by prohibiting the storage of personally identifiable information Internet searches beyond a reasonable time.

“Internet search engines provide an extraordinary service, but the preservation of that service does not rely on a bottomless, timeless database that can do great damage despite good intentions,” Markey said.

Chris Jay Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center worried that the government could follow up its initial request with a demand for more information.

[...] On the other side, the Cincinnati-based National Coalition for Protection of Children and Families, a Christian fundamentalist group, said search companies should be willing to help the government defend children from pornography.

The WaPo article: Google Refuses Demand for Search Information [pdf]

Later: Boston Globe’s Google subpoena roils the Web [pdf]; WaPo’s Forgot What You Searched For? Google Didn’t [pdf]

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Two Commerce Committee Hearings [12:24 pm]

One just past, Decency, with which Sen. Ted Stevens has already making some press by threatening to regulate online content [pdf] and an upcoming one for next week (1/24): Broadcast and Audio Flag

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Early Indicator on DVD Format Wars? [12:01 pm]

Adult film maker Digital Playground picks Blu-ray [pdf]

But while Digital Playground, known as an innovator for bringing porn to personal computers, is endorsing Blu-ray, it has not yet found a company prepared to mass-produce its films in the new high-definition format.

[Digital Playground's] Joone said companies who replicate DVDs are hesitant about embracing the porn industry and are committed in putting mainstream Hollywood’s movies onto the new discs.

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Pre-loaded Video iPods Raise Questions [11:48 am]

IPods pre-loaded with video tred legal gray zone [pdf]

A tiny Massachusetts company named TVMyPod is selling iPods that come with movies and TV programs already loaded on them, a practice that raises questions of legality as it addresses consumer demand for convenience and portability.

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OT: Constitutional Law Prof Throws Up Her Hands [9:47 am]

A challenging op-ed by Rosa Brooks, a law professor from the University of Virginia School of Law: Political footballs and constitutional law [pdf]

ON MONDAY, my constitutional law class will meet for the first time this semester, and I don’t have the slightest idea what to tell the students about the subject we’ll be discussing for the next 13 weeks.

I’ve taught the class before, and by now I know most of the canonical cases as well as I know my own phone number. My problem is that I’m no longer sure there’s really a subject to teach.

[...] But as we move further and further from 1787, it becomes less and less possible to find any “correct” approach to resolving constitutional dilemmas. The Constitution was drafted by a small group of men writing at a time when the entire population of the United States was smaller than the present-day population of South Carolina, when the enslavement of human beings was considered acceptable, when women had few legal rights, when the cotton gin was still a high-tech dream. No matter how thoughtful the framers were, why should anyone imagine that a short document drafted more than two centuries ago could possibly contain the answers to every modern question?

But that’s the deep oddity of American constitutional culture. Despite its all-too-human origins, we treat our Constitution as revealed truth, and we want our judges to serve as its infallible priests.

And this, perhaps, is the best I can offer my students: the suggestion that in the United States today, constitutional interpretation is best understood as a form of theology rather than law.

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