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June 18, 2007

Right of Publicity [5:50 pm]

She’ll probably win, too: Britney Ballistic Over Billboards

Britney Spears is threatening legal action against a Florida radio station that used a bald-headed photo of the pop star on billboards that appear to call her sanity into question. In a June 14 letter to Clear Channel Communications lawyer Donna Schneider, Spears’s counsel claims that the billboards promoting the MJ Morning Show were “outrageous to the extreme” and demanded their removal. A copy of the Spears legal letter can be found below. The three outdoor advertisements, which are reproduced at right, pair a paparazzi photo of a bald, snarling Spears with a picture of WFLZ morning show host Todd Schnitt (who uses the air name MJ Kelli). They are headlined, “Total Nut Jobs,” “Shock Therapy,” and “Certifiable.”

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O…M…G…! [9:39 am]

Will people think about this for even a second? Ancestry.com adding DNA test resultspdf

For less than $200 and a cheek-swiped cotton swab, amateur historians will soon be able to add DNA results to family tree Web sites.

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Airplay, Promotion and Royalties [9:29 am]

But you can always ask for more: Journey’s Song Gets a Bump From TV Once Again

“The Sopranos” is over, but the last song featured on the show, “Don’t Stop Believin’, ” which the band Journey released in 1981, keeps going as its lyrics say, “on and on and on and on.”

According to Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, downloads of the song from iTunes went from about 1,000 on the day before the episode to 6,531 the day after. For the week, the song climbed to No. 17 in popularity on iTunes, while the band’s “Greatest Hits” also cracked the Top 20.

On the radio, airplay of “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” increased 192 percent Monday through Thursday over the first four days of the previous week, according to Nielsen BDS, which tracks airplay.

It was not the first time the band had television to thank for a royalties windfall.

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An FCC “Decency” Fallout? [9:19 am]

Or an indication of the mindset (or, worse, agenda) of certain television networks? Pigs With Cellphones, but No Condoms

IN a commercial for Trojan condoms that has its premiere tonight, women in a bar are surrounded by anthropomorphized, cellphone-toting pigs. One shuffles to the men’s room, where, after procuring a condom from a vending machine, he is transformed into a head-turner in his 20s. When he returns to the bar, a fetching blond who had been indifferent now smiles at him invitingly.

Directed by Phil Joanou (“State of Grace”), with special effects by the Stan Winston Studio (“Jurassic Park”), the commercial is entertaining. But it also has a message, spelled out at the end: “Evolve. Use a condom every time.”

[...] But the pigs did not fly at two of the four networks where Trojan tried to place the ad.

Fox and CBS both rejected the commercial. Both had accepted Trojan’s previous campaign, which urged condom use because of the possibility that a partner might be H.I.V.-positive, perhaps unknowingly. A 2001 report about condom advertising by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that, “Some networks draw a strong line between messages about disease prevention — which may be allowed — and those about pregnancy prevention, which may be considered controversial for religious and moral reasons.”

Representatives for both Fox and CBS confirmed that they had refused the ads, but declined to comment further.

In a written response to Trojan, though, Fox said that it had rejected the spot because, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.”

[...] “We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can’t use sex to sell condoms,” said Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing for Ansell Healthcare, which makes LifeStyles condoms. “When you’re marketing condoms, something even remotely suggestive gets an overly analytical eye when it’s going before networks’ review boards.”

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‘Sicko’ Gets to YouTube Before US Theatrical Release [9:10 am]

Pirated `Sicko’ Turns Up on the Internetpdf

Viewers hoping to get a free look at Michael Moore’s newest film, ”Sicko,” were out of luck Monday after YouTube pulled links to pirated versions of the health care documentary that surfaced on the video-sharing Web site over the weekend.

YouTube cited a copyright claim by Lionsgate, which is distributing the $9 million documentary with Weinstein Co.

A 124-minute version of the film had been posted on YouTube by at least two users. It could be watched in 14 video clips. Each segment had received 500 to 600 views before it was removed.

Weinstein Co. was ”responding aggressively to protect our film,” spokeswoman Sarah Rothman said in a statement this weekend.

A later Reuters piece: pdf

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Cute Father’s Day Story — And A Look At Making, Rather Than Playing, Music [8:59 am]

The Boys in the Band Are in AARP

Joe Lamond, the chief executive of NAMM, started the program when he was working in a music store in Sacramento and began noticing a change in the store’s clientele. “I started seeing customers coming in who you’d think would have been shopping for their kids,” he said. “But they were shopping for themselves.”

Mr. Lamond said the program has burgeoned in recent years, as the rock ’n’ rollers of the ’60s and ’70s become empty nesters with time and disposable income on their hands.

Nostalgia provides the backbeat for this movement. “The music we carry through our lifetimes is music we listen to in our late teens and early 20s, because it was such an emotional time,” Mr. Lamond said. “That music is literally locked into your system — your brain, your body, your emotions.”

For those now in their 50s wanting to turn back the clock, that means playing “Brown Eyed Girl” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” And “Mustang Sally,” in the key of C.

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Another Shot in the Next-Gen DVD Standards War [8:49 am]

Blockbuster Says It Will Back Blu-ray in DVD Format War

The move, which is to be announced Monday, could be the first step in resolving a format war that has kept confused consumers from rushing to buy new DVD players.

Blockbuster has been renting both Blu-ray and HD DVD titles in 250 stores since late last year, and found that consumers were choosing Blu-ray titles more than 70 percent of the time.

“The consumers are sending us a message. I can’t ignore what I’m seeing,” Matthew Smith, senior vice president of merchandising at Blockbuster, said.

Later: Blockbuster to expand its Blu-ray DVD offeringspdf

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Heating Up The Rhetoric About The Upcoming Spectrum Auction (updated) [8:11 am]

Sides press for advantage in airwaves auctionpdf

With a slice of radio spectrum valued as high as $20 billion coming up for auction, academics, consumer advocates, and small businesses are pushing federal regulators to set rules that ensure that the space is used to foster innovation and not simply sold to the major wireless carriers.

“What we’re really looking at is the building blocks of a new broadband service, with all sorts of new equipment and all sorts of new services,” said Art Brodsky , communications director for Public Knowl edge, part of a coalition of consumer groups pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to use the auction to create new competition. “An opportunity like this won’t come around again any time soon in the wireless area.”

[...] Despite the competition in the wireless world, some draw an analogy between today’s wireless world and the telephone industry of the 1950s, when consumers leased their phones from the phone company. In the landmark 1968 “Carterfone” decision, the FCC ruled that AT&T could not restrict which devices could be hooked up to the network, making way for innovations such as answering machines, fax machines, and modems.

“Nobody predicted any of that,” said Vanu Bose, chief executive of Vanu Inc. in Cambridge and a partner in Frontline, which has proposed building an open network for public safety and commercial use. “In many ways what we’re advocating for is Carterfone for wireless.”

See earlier posts: Revising the FCC Spectrum Auction (updated) and Followup: Google Spectrum Plan Panned

Related: Google launches public policy blog — the blog — Google Public Policy Blog, which has its own post on the subject of the auctions — Using Auctions to Make Better Use of Spectrum

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Wikis and Utah Politics [8:04 am]

Wiki politics cedes power to the peoplepdf

Steve Urquhart, a local lawyer and state legislator, launched wiki-based Politicopia.com in January hoping to create a virtual town square where Utahans could debate issues coming before the Legislature.

Debate they did, creating an online forum between elected officials and their constituents that ultimately changed state policy.

“The language can be incendiary, but [the details] are in black and white for policymakers like me,” said Republican state Rep. Keith Grover, who credits debate on the site for persuading him to vote for a controversial school voucher program — which passed by one vote. “People have salient points, points that are founded in facts, not emotions.”

Although the experiment was limited — the issues were local in a lightly populated state — experts say Politicopia is among the first websites to deliver on the Internet’s potential to amplify individual voices and counter the political power of special-interest groups.

The potential effect for broader political discourse has stirred excitement among advocates who believe the Internet can be used to increase citizen participation in politics.

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LATimes on OhMyNews [7:59 am]

Citizens are the media in S. Koreapdf

Kim is a writer for OhmyNews, a free online news service that has been held out by some as the future of journalism. Amateur reporters across South Korea submit some 200 news and feature articles a day, which are fact-checked and edited by a professional staff of about 65 at its newsroom in Seoul.

Although traditional newspapers and magazines around the world are cutting jobs amid declining circulation and a shift toward the Internet, OhmyNews continues to recruit. It currently has a reporting corps of 50,000. The company’s motto, posted outside its crammed office in central Seoul, is a big help-wanted sign: “Every citizen can be a reporter.”

The experiment has been lauded by the Economist and other publications. OhmyNews’ founder and chief executive, Oh Yeon-ho, a onetime writer for a dissident magazine, has traveled the globe extolling the virtues of “participatory citizens’ journalism” and offering a new business model for a struggling industry. “I find some universal applicability in the OhmyNews model,” says the wiry 42-year-old.

But as the news service has matured, a bit of the sheen has worn off. The headline on OhmyNews’ story could be “Business Is Depressed, Readership Is Down and Backers Are Worried.”

Also, you can listen to the leading naysayer from his NPR interview: Does the Internet Undermine Culture? — an interview with Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture

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What It Really Means To “Live Online” [7:40 am]

Googles breakneck changes stoke privacy fearspdf

As people spend more time online and realize just how much information Google is collecting about their habits and interests, the fear develops that true or false revelations of the most personal, embarrassing or even intrusive kind are no more than a Web search away.

The company mission statement reads: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and, famously, “You can make money without doing evil.”

With Google search a fact of life, some suggest our notions of privacy need to move with the times.

See also Is It OK that Google Owns Us?

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