February 16, 2007

“Stealing” TV [4:00 pm]

Not so much, apparently: Viewers Fast-Forwarding Past Ads? Not Always

People with digital video recorders like TiVo never watch commercials, right?

Add that to the list of urban — and suburban — myths.

It turns out that a lot of people with digital video recorders are not fast-forwarding and time-shifting as much as advertisers feared. According to new data released yesterday by the Nielsen Company, people who own digital video recorders, or DVRs, still watch, on average, two-thirds of the ads.

See an earlier posting, Paying For Content, and let’s not forget Jamie Kellner’s interview

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Making Sausage [3:44 pm]

Or, devising copyright policy (see earlier A Look at Learning About ©): Russian Judge Dismisses Any Penalty in Piracy Case

A Russian judge convicted a provincial school headmaster on Thursday for using pirated Microsoft software in school computers, but declined to impose any penalty, saying that Microsoft’s loss was insignificant compared with its overall earnings.

The case has been closely watched as a test of how Russia will enforce intellectual property rights as it moves closer to membership in the World Trade Organization. The verdict was broadcast on Russian state television.

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Being In Public Does NOT Give Consent [2:50 pm]

At least, not for the moment. But it’s going to take a lot more than this to curb casual surveillance: Judge Limits New York Police Taping

In a rebuke of a surveillance practice greatly expanded by the New York Police Department after the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal judge ruled yesterday that the police must stop the routine videotaping of people at public gatherings unless there is an indication that unlawful activity may occur.

[...] Jethro M. Eisenstein, one of the lawyers who challenged the videotaping practices, said that Judge Haight’s ruling would make it possible to contest other surveillance tactics, including the use of undercover officers at political gatherings. In recent years, police officers have disguised themselves as protesters, shouted feigned objections when uniformed officers were making arrests, and pretended to be mourners at a memorial event for bicycle riders killed in traffic accidents.

“This was a major push by the corporation counsel to say that the guidelines are nice but they’re yesterday’s news, and that the security establishment’s view of what is important trumps civil liberties,” Mr. Eisenstein said. “Judge Haight is saying that’s just not the way we’re doing things in New York City.”

The decision

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OT: A Truth From An Unexpected Source [10:46 am]

As I’ve been heard to say on more than one occasion when challenged on my reasons for not watching reality TV, the parallels are blindingly obvious, on all sorts of levels. I just wouldn’t have expected Ron Jeremy to say so — and he’s certainly in a position to know: Porn star seeks fame with clothes on - pdf

Would he like to do more reality television?

“To me, porn and reality TV are similar. I don’t mind being in them,” [porn star Ron Jeremy] said. “I just can’t stand watching them.”

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Real Piracy Statistics [9:02 am]

Which will be employed, I am sure, to talk about digital downloads, too: Piracy robs L.A. economy, study says - pdf

Pirates are pillaging Los Angeles’ economy.

At least that’s what a publicly funded study to be released today concludes, making the case that bootleg DVDs, CDs, prescription drugs and other merchandise such as handbags cost nine industries across Los Angeles County more than 100,000 jobs and about $5.2 billion in lost sales in 2005.

Conducted by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., the study lists the motion picture industry as accounting for about half the losses — $2.7 billion — followed by the recording industry, which sustained $850 million in losses, according to the report.

[...] The spread of piracy in Los Angeles and elsewhere is partly related to gangs, officials say.

Det. Rick Ishitani, one of six detectives with the LAPD’s anti-piracy unit, said gangs were moving into the counterfeiting business because the profits were so high. A counterfeit DVD costs only about 50 cents to produce, he said, but sells for at least $5 on the street.

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LATimes on the MySpace Decision [9:00 am]

MySpace isn’t Mommy - pdf

Sparks’ decision to dismiss the lawsuit was based mainly on the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which exempted websites and Internet service providers from responsibility for what their users said online. The law also states that those providers can’t be held liable for adopting imperfect protections against indecent or harmful content — a provision aimed at encouraging sites to do the best they could to safeguard users. To its credit, MySpace has taken several steps to guard against sexual predators, such as limiting the contact between adults and users who say they are younger than 16 years old. It is also lobbying state legislatures and Congress to require convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses, and it plans to unveil software that could help parents see how their children are identifying themselves on MySpace.

These steps, however, probably won’t turn MySpace into a predator-free zone. Nothing short of direct monitoring of every user, page and post could do that, and that’s just as distasteful as having an Internet service provider monitor e-mails or a phone company listen in on calls. And even if all of MySpace’s new safeguards had been in place last year, they probably wouldn’t have stopped the alleged assault on the Texas teen. After all, the most vulnerable youths often are the most resourceful ones. Their parents and teachers are in a much better position to arm them against the risks than a website could be.

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