Updated: Now the Fun Begins (Or Not!)

French lawmakers approve ‘iTunes law’pdf

French lawmakers gave final approval Friday to legislation that could force Apple Computer Inc. to make its iPod and iTunes Music Store compatible with rivals’ music players and online services.

Both the Senate and the National Assembly, France’s lower house, voted in favor of the copyright bill, which some analysts said could cause Apple Computer Inc. and others to pull their music players and online download stores from France.

The vote was the final legislative step before the bill becomes law — barring the success of a last-ditch constitutional challenge filed last week by the opposition Socialists.

Later: a revised view – France adopts toned down version of download lawpdf

[T]he final version of the law allows online distributors to retain significant control over so-called Digital Rights Management (DRM), the technical measures that control access to digital data including songs, films or software.

[…] [A]fter amendments introduced in the upper house of France’s parliament, the Senate, the law allows companies to restrict the compatibility of songs or films sold online if they have the agreement of the copyright holders.

Building on a Joke, Online

A long-term running joke online, this movie’s producers have decided to build upon the online buzz for “Snakes on a Plane” by incorporating online suggestions into the story. Will this process mean blockbuster sales or the explosion of a peculiar experiment using the internet “echo chamber?” When Fans Hissed, He Listenedpdf

The film’s title says just about everything you need to know about the plot: On a transpacific flight, a Hawaiian mobster trying to eliminate a protected witness uncorks a carton of poisonous serpents. But as websites posted details during preproduction and as shooting got underway last summer, B-movie fans began to react. They wanted more creative snake attacks, more gore, more nudity and more of star Samuel L. Jackson’s signature four-syllable obscenity.

How much of the chorus was sincere and how much of it was a desire to propel an already quirky plot over the top is unclear.

Nevertheless, based in part on the comments, director David R. Ellis went back and reshot scenes to make the attacks more violent, the sex more explicit and the language more profane — including adding an expletive-laden line of dialogue for Jackson.

“I had the luxury to go back and tailor the film exactly like the fans demand and they expect,” said Ellis, whose experience with “Snakes on a Plane” reflects the increasing influence that Internet fan communities have over what’s playing on multiplex screens.

It’s as if thousands of people worldwide are sitting in on daily rushes, in which the crew and studio executives offer advice and commentary on movies during production. Although most common with films based on superheroes such as Superman and fantasy worlds such as in “The Lord of the Rings” — franchises with established rabid fan bases — the Internet’s reach is gradually turning the already collaborative process of moviemaking into a global endeavor.

What *Is* Reality?

With a Cellphone as My Guide

The phones combine satellite-based navigation, precise to within 30 feet or less, with an electronic compass to provide a new dimension of orientation. Connect the device to the Internet and it is possible to overlay the point-and-click simplicity of a computer screen on top of the real world.

[…] Only two American carriers are using the G.P.S. technology, and none have announced plans to add a compass. As a result, analysts say Japan will have a head start of several years in what many analysts say will be a new frontier for mobile devices.

“People are underestimating the power of geographic search,” said Kanwar Chadha, chief executive of Sirf Technology, a Silicon Valley maker of satellite-navigation gear.

Saw This In The Herald Tribune

Should be quite the interesting fight: Complaints Filed Against Group That Gave Data to U.S.

A human rights group in London said today that it had lodged formal complaints in 32 countries against the Brussels-based banking consortium known as Swift, contending that it violated European and Asian data protection rules by providing the United States with confidential information about international money transfers.

[…] “Swift appears to have violated data protection rules in Europe by making these transfers without the consent of the individuals involved, and without the approval of European judicial or administrative authorities,” Mr. Davies said. “The scale of the operation, involving millions of records, places this disclosure in the realm of a fishing exercise rather than a legally authorized investigation.”

The Bush administration has defended the program as an important part of its campaign against terrorism. But Europe and the United States are increasingly at odds over how to protect civil liberties while pursuing terrorists.

You Have Got To Be Kidding

What’s disgraceful?!?!? Bush Says Report on Bank Data Was Disgraceful

President Bush on Monday condemned as “disgraceful” the disclosure last week by The New York Times and other newspapers of a secret program to investigate and track terrorists that relies on a vast international database that includes Americans’ banking transactions.

See also Surveillance Disclosure Denounced

Maybe something the Chinese have come up with will make him happy.

Spinning Net Neutrality

Let’s see if you can guess whose side this opinion columnist from the WaPo is on: No Neutral Ground in This Internet Battle

Net neutrality.

Sounds benign, but no two words have stirred more passion this year. The mere mention of the issue is enough to make a wonk explode.

Yet the public advocacy on this important topic has concealed far more than it has illuminated. Commercials on either side of the issue are confusing, opaque or downright deceptive.

More about this obfuscation later. But first, a definition.

Net neutrality, which is shorthand for network neutrality, is one of two possible answers to the following legislative question: Should cable and telephone companies be allowed to charge add-on fees to others for access to their networks?

Hold your nose and check your shoes before wading too deeply into this argument:

Put another way, if net neutrality passes, the AT&Ts of the world will be forced to pay for all of their equipment upgrades themselves and could not subsidize that effort by imposing premium fees for premium services. If net neutrality fails, they will be able to recoup more of those costs than they can now from the likes of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other major users of the World Wide Web.

Hmmm – so AT&T is paying for network development now, gratis? I wonder what all those bills people get in the mail are for, then.

Ultimately, this article purports to point out that neither side has made a good case to the public, but it’s also got a decided slant.

Economics and Urban WiFi

What if They Built an Urban Wireless Network and Hardly Anyone Used It?

Peter Shyu, an engineer, spends most of his day out of the office, and when he needs an Internet connection he often pops into one of the many coffee shops in this city that offer free wireless access.

He could use WiFly, the extensive wireless network commissioned by the city government that is the cornerstone of Taipei’s ambitious plan to turn itself into an international technology hub. But that would cost him $12.50 a month.

“I’m here because it’s free, and if it’s free elsewhere, I’ll go there too,” said Mr. Shyu, hunched over his I.B.M. laptop in an outlet of the Doutor coffee chain. “It’s very easy to find free wireless connections.”

Piracy — Taking on the Real Thing

Film Piracy Saga Is Pure Hollywoodpdf

Major Hollywood studios aren’t the only victims of movie piracy. Ask the owners of Southern California’s many small production and distribution companies, and they’ll tell you their very survival depends on curbing counterfeiting. But saying it needs to be stopped is one thing. Doing it is another.

That’s what sets Borsten apart. The Santa Monica native is a short, spirited woman who is fluent in five languages and harbors a passion for Russian fairy tales.

She and her husband used their actor friends and their knowledge of the Russian emigre community to infiltrate a world that often confounds even Hollywood’s anti-piracy agency, the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

Second Guessing Hudson v. Michigan

Scalia twisted my wordspdf

OF mine e-mailed me last week with some exciting news — the Supreme Court had cited one of my criminal justice policy books in an important, late-term decision. My law professor friends tell me that being mentioned by the court is a huge deal. And my 93-year-old mother in Cleveland will certainly be impressed that her son has finally done something worthy of note.

Alas, as I surfed the Net for news about Hudson vs. Michigan, my excitement quickly turned to dismay, then horror. First, I learned that Justice Antonin Scalia cited me to support a terrible decision, holding that the exclusionary rule — which for decades prevented evidence obtained illegally by police from being used at trial — no longer applies when cops enter your home without knocking.

Even worse, he twisted my main argument to reach a conclusion the exact opposite of what I spelled out in this and other studies.

Electoral Politics in the Digital Age

The GOP knows you don’t like anchoviespdf

Some of the GOP advantages are recent developments, such as the database called Voter Vault, which was used to precision in the San Diego County special election. The program allows ground-level party activists to track voters by personal hobbies, professional interests, geography — even by their favorite brands of toothpaste and soda and which gym they belong to.

Both parties can identify voters by precinct, address, party affiliation and, often, their views on hot-button issues. Democrats also use marketing data, but Voter Vault includes far more information culled from marketing sources — including retailers, magazine subscription services, even auto dealers — giving Republicans a high-tech edge in the kind of grass-roots politics that has long been the touchstone of Democratic activists.

As a result, Republicans have moved well ahead of Democrats nationally in their ability to find previously unaffiliated voters or even wavering Democrats and to target them with specially tailored messages. Voter Vault, although it is a closely guarded GOP trade secret, is nevertheless easily accessible to on-the-ground campaign workers and operatives should they need to mobilize votes in a hurry.