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June 12, 2006

More on the Porn Industry and Infringement [10:09 am]

The Pornographers vs. The Pirates - pdf

Nowadays, the pornography business, once relegated to a dark corner of the media world, has become a powerful, if unlikely, ally with mainstream Hollywood in the battle against digital piracy. But where mainstream companies fret endlessly before deciding how to proceed with new technologies and business models, the never-bashful porn industry is making some moves that may well show the way for Hollywood — whether in thwarting pirates or adapting to digital realities. Representatives of the big studios declined to comment about what they might learn, but clearly they are keeping a close watch on the skin merchants’ business decisions.

Case in point: Some producers of porn are starting to share revenues from online movies with the distributors of their DVDs, who might otherwise feel endangered by digital distribution online. Bolder yet, one large studio is allowing fans who buy movies online to burn them from their computers onto DVDs, with some protections included, of course.

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Ruling Backs Internet-Phone Wiretapping [8:30 am]

Ruling Backs Internet-Phone Wiretapping

In a 2-to-1 decision, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a Federal Communications Commission directive treating such companies the same as conventional phone companies for law enforcement purposes. Comcast and other cable companies offer Internet service over their networks, and Vonage is the biggest provider of Web-based phone service.

Under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, known as Calea, phone companies must ensure that their networks are accessible to authorities for wiretapping.

Not yet posted at the DC Court of Appeals WWW site

InsideHigherEducation’s coverage: A Loss on Internet Rules

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Progress? [8:20 am]

A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears

In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cellphone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear.

In settings where cellphone use is forbidden — in class, for example — it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.

[...] The technology, which relies on the fact that most adults gradually lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, was developed in Britain but has only recently spread to America — by Internet, of course.

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Selling Records, and Pushing Controversy [8:15 am]

How the Dixie Chicks Hit the Charts Without Radio Support

In February, eager programmers at the nation’s top country music stations got their first chance to hear new music from the Dixie Chicks in four years. But in a suite at the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, brows soon furrowed over what would be the band’s first single, the angry “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which jabs at fans and programmers who ostracized the trio after its lead singer, Natalie Maines, disparaged President Bush in 2003, just before the start of the Iraq war.

“It took our breath away,” Julie Stevens, program director of KRTY-FM, a country station in San Jose, Calif., said of the song. Before hearing it, she said, she had figured “fans would forgive and forget as long as she shut up about it.” Now, she said, “that’s not going to happen.”

But surprise: even though the Dixie Chicks’ new album, “Taking the Long Way,” has been shunned by country and other mainstream stations, it has spent its first two weeks at the top of the Billboard chart. That is one of the best starts ever for a country album receiving scant airplay. Has it broken the mold?

Probably not; but it is something to see.

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Old News: House Passes Barton Bill [8:12 am]

(Sorry: MIT graduation/TPP 30th anniversary/etc. put a serious crimp in my blogging last week)

House Votes to Ease Cable TV Licensing for Phone Companies

The bill, which passed by a 321 to 101 vote, would allow companies such as Verizon Communications Inc. to get television franchises by applying to the Federal Communications Commission rather than by negotiating them one by one with thousands of municipalities.

[...] The House rejected by a vote of 152 to 269 an amendment sponsored by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) that would have required phone and cable companies to run their networks in a “nondiscriminatory” manner.

Instead, lawmakers adopted a weaker provision that would seek full access to content for consumers but would not explicitly forbid network owners from giving some content favorable or unfavorable treatment. The provision also bars the FCC from writing detailed rules to enforce “net neutrality.”

“The telephone companies have made clear that they can create a fast lane that will require extra payments and a slow lane for everyone else who can’t afford it. That is a fundamental change in the history of the Internet, and it will adversely affect millions of Internet users across our country,” Markey said in an interview before his amendment was voted down.

Later: An interview with Verizon’s chief lobbyist: Net neutrality: Meet the winner

Later: Senate negotiations continue over Net neutrality

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