August 8, 2007

Net Neutrality? Who Cares? (updated) [6:14 pm]

How about Pearl Jam: Lollapalooza Webcast: Sponsored/Censored by AT&T? [via Machinist]

When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.

During the performance of “Daughter” the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” but were cut from the webcast:

  • “George Bush, leave this world alone.” (the second time it was sung); and

  • “George Bush find yourself another home.”

This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

[...] What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it’s about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band.

Later: AT&T works the fallout: AT&T errs in edit of anti-Bush lyricspdf

Lyrics performed by Pearl Jam criticizing President Bush should not have been censored from a webcast by AT&T Inc., a company spokesman acknowledged Thursday.

[...] AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said that the silencing was a mistake and that the company was working with the vendor that produces the webcasts to avoid future misunderstandings. He said AT&T was working to secure the rights to post the entire song — part of a sing-along with the audience — on the Blue Room site.

[...] Jenny Toomey, executive director of the Future of Music Coalition [their blog entry], said that although net neutrality wasn’t being violated in this case, it still raises questions about whether AT&T and other service providers can be trusted not to hurt artists.

[...] AT&T and other providers would like the ability to charge more for transmitting certain kinds of data, like live video, faster or more reliably than other data but have insisted such premium services would help, not hurt, consumers.

Coe said, regardless, the issue of net neutrality is entirely separate from the mistake during the Pearl Jam show.

“This was our own Web site,” he noted.

I see — nothing to do with net neutrality, nothing at all — that’s crazy talk. Move along, nothing to see here.

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Wow (updated, again) [9:51 am]

Police arrest French teen over Potter translationpdf

Police have arrested a high school student suspected of posting his own translation of the latest Harry Potter book on the Internet weeks ahead of the official French release date, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Later: More details in Rowling’s legal team takes aim at a teen wizard of translationpdf

Author J.K. Rowling’s lawyers say networks of other illegal Potter translators span the world, seeking to profit from the boy wizard’s global appeal, and growing more sophisticated with every new tome.

The French teen translator, a high school student from Aix-en-Provence in southern France, likely had less sinister intentions.

“He just wanted to get the book online,” and did not appear to be seeking commercial gain, Aix prosecutor Olivier Rothe said yesterday. The boy apparently compiled the entire translation himself, Rothe said.

The teenager, whose name was not released because he is a minor, was picked up Monday following a complaint from police in Paris and was released Tuesday after questioning, Rothe said. He said the boy could face charges for violating intellectual property rights.

Later: A little backpedaling going on, demonstrating that the politics of strict copyright enforcement can start to make even the powerful copyright-holders a little anxious — Potter author worried about translation networkspdf

J.K. Rowling and her French publisher said on Thursday they were worried about organized groups of translators, not individuals, after a boy was arrested for posting a translation of the last Harry Potter book online.

[...] Britain’s Rowling and Gallimard Jeunesse filed an official complaint, but on Thursday Gallimard spokeswoman Marie Leroy-Lena stressed that their concern was organized networks of translators seeking to profit from the huge interest generated by the books.

“This complaint in no way concerns isolated translations published on the Internet … by disinterested fans not fully aware of the illegal nature of their action,” she said in a statement.

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Slow Moving Negotiations [8:55 am]

Producers and writers deal on digital futurepdf

As amusing as it may be to envision TV and film writers as an unholy Shia and Sunni alliance battling the godless, capitalist overlords, the tenor of the contract negotiations has been relatively civil so far, despite the writers’ discomfort with the producers’ initial residuals rollback proposal three weeks ago. But the rhetoric is heating up.

“More and more, the business of Hollywood is not about finished product — the script or the teleplay,” said Bart. “Now, the obsessive activity of the community is all about how to slice and dice that material so it can be recycled, re-purposed, downloaded and whatever. … What piece of the action does the creator of the original material really possess anymore?”

Verrone acknowledged the ethical fuzziness of the user-generated revolution, even volunteering that he used his own first VCR in the early ’80s to cut “Citizen Kane” into chronological order.

“We as writers feel very strongly that this industry is changing,” said Verrone, a lawyer and former editor of the Harvard Lampoon who went on to write for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” “Futurama” and “The Simpsons.” “We don’t know how these things are gonna evolve and develop. But because we don’t have crystal balls, we need to have the other kind. . . . If we can develop systems with them that allow us to get our fair share — and by “us” I mean the writers, the directors and the actors — that’s really ultimately what we’re after.”

“Ethical fuzziness” or “legal fuzziness?”

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Qualcomm Smackdown [8:10 am]

Judge: Qualcomm misled on patentspdf

A federal judge has found that Qualcomm Inc. waived its right to enforce two patents on compressing video signals because it deliberately concealed them from a standard-setting group.

The company’s behavior suggests “extremely foul play” and exposes “a carefully orchestrated plan and the deadly determination of Qualcomm to achieve its goal of holding hostage the entire industry” that would use the H.264 video-compression standard, US District Judge Rudi Brewster wrote.

The SignOnSanDiego article cites even more damning elements: Federal judge rules Qualcomm withheld documents; must pay Broadcom legal feespdf

“The court concludes that the conduct of Qualcomm’s employees before trial, and its employees and hired witnesses during pre-trial, trial and post-trial outlines misconduct even more extensive than the Court previously found,” he wrote in his order.

The judge went further, impugning Qualcomm’s business practices with regards to the standard-setting body overseeing the development of video compression technology.

He wrote that Qualcomm failed to disclose its relevant patents to the body even as its employees helped craft the new standard, which would require them to reveal its patents. The judge said evidence in the video compression trial made it clear that Qualcomm intentionally attempted to shield the patents from the standards body so it could then be “an indispensable licensor” of the technology and exact royalty revenues.

Judge Brewster said that through “constant stonewalling, concealment and repeated misrepresentations” the company attempted to hide its plan.

“The Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that Qualcomm, its employees, and its witnesses actively organized and/or participated in a plan to profit heavily by …wrongfully concealing the patents…and then actively hiding this concealment from the Court, the jury and opposing counsel,” he wrote.

Order for exceptional finding; order on remedy. The latter makes for particularly interesting reading, insofar as it documents several witnesses’ blatant and egregious lying under oath — kind of like watching Alberto Gonzales speak.

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