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July 18, 2007

You Have Got To Be Kidding [6:23 pm]

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: Inmates accused in name copyright schemepdf

Forget about digging a hole with a spoon to escape from prison. Four federal inmates are accused of going above and beyond that call.

The four were indicted Tuesday on allegations that they copyrighted their names, then demanded millions of dollars from prison officials for using the names without authorization.

The indictment alleges that inmates Russell Dean Landers, Clayton Heath Albers, Carl Ervin Batts and Barry Dean Bischof sent demand notices for payment to the warden of the El Reno federal prison and filed liens against his property. They then hired someone to seize his vehicles, freeze his bank accounts and change the locks on his house.

Then, believing the warden’s property had been seized, the inmates said they wouldn’t return his property unless they were released from prison, according to the indictment.

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RIAA Plays With Fire … [5:03 pm]

Judge Awards $68,685.23 in Attorneys Fees Against RIAA in Capitol v. Foster

Also RIAA spends thousands to obtain $300 judgment

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Trade, Copyright and Enforcement [4:32 pm]

US targets Chinese music download rulespdf

The United States is seeking consultations with China over rules on music downloading and cinema rights that appear to discriminate against foreign sound recordings and films, a U.S. trade official said Wednesday.

[...] “Music from foreign sources needs to undergo content review before being distributed in China. Chinese music doesn’t have to face that process,” [Office of the U.S. Trade Representative spokesman Stephen] Norton told The Associated Press. “The review delays Chinese Internet providers and Chinese consumers from accessing foreign music.”

The same discrimination exists when Chinese consumers seek to download music onto mobile phones, he said. The problem for American music providers is compounded by rules that prevent foreign companies from owning or investing in businesses that distribute music over the Internet in China.

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Once It’s Available, People Will Find Uses [4:26 pm]

For example: Met given real time c-charge data - via Slashdot

Police are to be given live access to London’s congestion charge cameras - allowing them to track all vehicles entering and leaving the zone.

Anti-terror officers will be exempted from parts of the Data Protection Act to allow them to see the date, time and location of vehicles in real time.

They previously had to apply for access on a case-by-case basis.

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Hmmm, Another CD Format [4:23 pm]

Disney music label offers new CD formatpdf

Walt Disney Co. NYSE:DIS - news music label Hollywood Records is offering a new CD format with extra features to encourage compact-disc purchases in a bid to reverse declining CD sales.

Hollywood Records on Wednesday unveiled its new CDVU+ (CD View Plus) format with digital magazine extras, song lyrics, band photos and other extras to boost fan loyalty.

The press release - pdf

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Some Privacy from the EU Courts [10:14 am]

Music file-sharers get boost in top EU courtpdf

Telecoms companies in Europe are not required to hand over information on clients believed to be running music-sharing Web sites in civil cases, an adviser to the European Union’s top court said on Wednesday.

[...] But advocate general Juliane Kokott, whose role is to advise the judges, said on Wednesday that it is compatible with EU law for European countries to exclude communication of personal data in the context of a civil, as distinct from criminal, action.

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Speaking of Whack-a-Mole…. (updated) [8:36 am]

whack·a·moledef: Trying to distribute millions of copies of the Harry Potter finale while simultaneously suppressing any revelation of plot elements in an era of inexpensive and semi-anonymous global distribution channels: Harry hits the Internetpdf

It was a plot twist even J.K. Rowling did not see coming. Days before Saturday’s release of the eagerly awaited “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the final installment in the British author’s hugely popular series, news of the book’s content spread across the Internet on Tuesday in the form of digital photographs of pages from the 700-plus-page novel.

[...] Throughout the day, photos of pages from the book had spread from more sophisticated personal file-sharing sites — which do not store copies of the illegal material but rather offer much smaller “torrent” files that are pieced together by computer — to the Web’s mainstream.

By afternoon, one anonymous posting, on http://www.zendurl.com/h/hallows , which included photos of chapter titles and the entirety of an epilogue, was linked from across the Web.

Although the photographs of individual pages were blurred or poorly lit, they were readable. The site also had bullet-pointed text that claimed to offer detailed information about Rowling’s final installment, including the fate of Harry Potter and other key characters.

If the online material is genuine, it would represent a major breach of the security that publishers in America and Britain have been working feverishly to preserve.

And yet, other mechanisms of control (in this case, culture, to borrow Larry Lessig’s framing) step in:

First there was confusion. (Was it real?) Then there were legal threats. (Publisher Scholastic Inc. went after the alleged online spoilers.) And finally there was outrage as fans staged a revolt of their own against the leak, vowing to remain in the dark about what happens until Saturday.

“Not cool,” said Max Slavkin, 19, a USC junior, summing up fan response to the online revelations.

Later: U.S. publisher takes action over Harry Potter leakpdf

But Scholastic is unable to remove all the photographs, which first appeared on Monday on BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing system that links personal computers.

Unlike the Napster music-sharing service that was shut down by authorities several years ago, such exchanges do not go through a central service, which makes it almost impossible for the book’s publishers to stop the file from being traded.

BigChampagne Media Measurement estimated that by Wednesday about one copy of the Harry Potter photographs was being downloaded per second and that 50,000 had been exchanged since Monday.

Even later (July 19): NYT reviews Potter before publicationpdf. The review: An Epic Showdown as Harry Potter Is Initiated Into Adulthood

Even later: count on the LATimes to speak of the unmentionable — Embargoes on ‘Harry Potter’ boil down to money — pdf

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Living on the Digital Frontier [8:03 am]

And not in a good way. A look at the Massachusetts efforts to ensure universal access to broadband in an era of telecommunications deregulation and the institutional dysfunction arising from the persistent, if archaic, conceptual split between voice and data services: Towns left scrambling for touch of broadbandpdf

On any given day in this rural town of about 1,000, a few people park their cars in front of Town Hall while they log onto the Internet.

But they aren’t typical WiFi poachers. They are dial-up refugees.
In a high-tech state known for its knowledge economy, residents of Goshen and 31 other towns are living in a telecommunications Third World, relying on the equivalent of a horse and buggy to ride the information superhighway.

“We are creating a new kind of ghetto,” said Don Dubendorf , president of Berkshire Connect Inc., which works to bring high-speed Internet connections to Western Massachusetts businesses and institutions. “It’s morally wrong. It’s stupid economically, it’s dangerous from a public safety point of view, it’s absurd from a public education point of view.”

[...] The Legislature has created a new position, director of wireless and broadband development, to identify solutions for unserved communities.

And Governor Deval Patrick’s cable commissioner, Sharon Gillett, has said making broadband ubiquitous is her top priority.

Verizon, Comcast, and others offer high-speed Internet in 90 percent of Massachusetts communities, but no providers offer broadband Internet access in 32 towns, and an additional 63 municipalities have limited service areas, according to a study by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s John Adams Innovation Institute. (The study did not include satellite Internet.)

It can be extremely expensive to build systems in areas where houses are often miles apart. But as everything from pop culture to presidential campaigns plays out on the Web, people who use dial-up are left out a lot. [...]

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