October 31, 2007

Sen Rockefeller Wants Amnesty All Around [12:08 pm]

John D. Rockefeller IV - Partners In the War On Terrorpdf

The president’s warrantless surveillance program and his decision to go it alone — without input from Congress or the courts — have had devastating consequences. One is that private companies, which would normally comply with legitimate national security requests, now have incentive to say no.

Here’s why. Within weeks of the 2001 attacks, communications companies received written requests and directives for assistance with intelligence activities authorized by the president. These companies were assured that their cooperation was not only legal but also necessary because of their unique technical capabilities. They were also told it was their patriotic duty to help protect the country after the devastating attacks on our homeland.

Today there is significant debate about whether the underlying program — the president’s warrantless surveillance plan — was legal or violated constitutional rights. That is an important debate, and those questions must be answered.

In the meantime, however, these companies are being sued, which is unfair and unwise. As the operational details of the program remain highly classified, the companies are prevented from defending themselves in court. And if we require them to face a mountain of lawsuits, we risk losing their support in the future.

[...] The fact is, private industry must remain an essential partner in law enforcement and national security. We face an enemy that uses every tool and technology of 21st-century life, and we must do the same.

If American business — airlines, banks, utilities and many others — were to decide that it would be too risky to comply with legally certified requests, or to insist on verifying every request in court, our intelligence collection could come to a screeching halt. The impact would be devastating to the intelligence community, the Justice Department and military officials who are hunting down our enemies.

Wait a minute — aren’t we moving the goalposts here? If FISA is a bad idea, then let’s work on that, not on giving a blanket amnesty to firms who SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER!!

permalink to just this entry

ICANN, whois and Privacy [8:50 am]

Internet Policymakers May Punt on Privacy Issuepdf

Under the existing process, any person or entity that registers a Web site name is required to provide their name, e-mail and physical addresses, and a telephone number. The information is then entered into a publicly searchable database.

Privacy groups say the domain registry has become a data-mining dream for marketers and spammers, who constantly trawl the database for new e-mail addresses. Opponents of any change in the system counter that the data is essential in resolving intellectual property disputes, aiding cyber crime investigations, and helping computer security experts quickly shutter fraudulent Web sites.

Under the change being debated Wednesday at an ICANN meeting in Los Angeles, Web site owners would still be required to provide accurate contact information when registering a Web site. But domain registrants could opt out of having their personal information published to a public database. Instead, they would be permitted to list a third-party contact — such as the Web site registrar that sold the domain name to the registrant. The third party would then route any legal, technical or operational inquiries to the registrant.

[...] But Milton Mueller, a partner in the Internet Governance Project and professor at Syracuse University, said he believes ICANN is likely to punt on the issue by voting for a third proposal currently on the table, which calls for additional studies on the privacy impact of the WHOIS database.

Honestly, the most interesting thing about this article is the characterization of ICANN as a group of Internet policymakers.

See also this news report on Vint Cerf leaving ICANN: Internet pioneer leaves oversight group - pdf

Later: Whois Studies Approved, Privacy Deferredpdf

permalink to just this entry

The LATimes on Hulu [8:39 am]

Hulu hopespdf

But why bother creating a whole new distribution arm when YouTube and MySpace are already drawing millions of viewers? One reason is to get rid of the middleman youdon’t own (e.g., YouTube) in favor of one you do. Hulu’s founders also believe that they can be a more reliable source than the sites offering amateur videos and bootlegs. These assumptions are worth testing, for all of Hollywood’s sake. Unfortunately for Hulu, though, it doesn’t have a comprehensive library of content, and what it has will stay on the site for only a few weeks. Its distribution partners include few of the leading sites for online video and none of the file-sharing networks that have become major outlets for movie and TV bootlegs.

Most important, Hulu isn’t giving users the power they enjoy on YouTube and MySpace, which may be the most important factor in such sites’ success. Users not only supply videos for those sites, they curate them and provide the running commentary that glues the community together. Much like the television companies that feed it, Hulu seems to want complete control over the programming lineup. But the Net isn’t television. Content may be king, but the mob rules.

See Hulu Readies Its Online TV, Dodging the Insults

permalink to just this entry

A “Do Not Track” List? [7:49 am]

We’ll see — note that even the process of opt-out includes other opt-ins, and there’s still the chimerical hope that ads will be better-targeted — which puts us right back where we started: Online Marketers Joining Internet Privacy Efforts — pdf

Most consumers are familiar with do-not-call lists, which are meant to keep telemarketers from phoning them. Soon people will be able to sign up for do-not-track lists, which will help shield their Web surfing habits from the prying eyes of marketers.

Such lists will not reduce the number of ads that people see online, but they will prevent advertisers from using their online meanderings to deliver specific ad pitches to them.

[...] There is a silver lining for marketers, however: the AOL site will try to persuade people that they should choose to share some personal data in order to get pitches for products they might like. Most Web sites, including AOL, already collect data about users to send them specific ads — but AOL is choosing to become more open about the practice and will run advertisements about it in coming months.

Consumers who have already seen some benefits from online tracking systems — in the form of movie recommendations from Netflix, perhaps, or product recommendations from Amazon — might warm to AOL’s argument.

“Instead of having interruptive ads, instead of jarring things that will grab your attention, things are hopefully tailored to be suitable to your experience,” said Jules Polonetsky, the chief privacy officer for AOL. “We think tailoring advertising content in a way that is useful is a good proposition.”

permalink to just this entry

“Taking It To … YouTube?” [7:45 am]

Another example of the strange doublethink that the Internet seems to inspire in people: Castlegate and Morse Street gangs posting rap videos on YouTubepdf

The three-minute video is one of two posted on the Internet featuring teenagers who say they belong to Castlegate and Morse Street, two notorious Boston gangs whose members often turn up in police reports about shootings around the city. Now, the gangs appear to be staking out new turf with their work, which is appearing on the popular video-sharing website YouTube, alongside videos of celebrities, sports highlights, and amateur pranks.

One of the men in the video, a 19-year- old Morse Street resident who identified himself only as Millz, said the rappers are merely trying to launch a musical career online and grab the attention of hip-hop producers.

“We’re just rapping,” he said in an interview on Castlegate Road, a street off Blue Hill Avenue that is no more than two football fields long and is lined with attached low-rise brick buildings. “That’s all it is.”

But among their rap’s most rapt listeners are Boston police officers, who say the videos may help them identify gang members. If any of the men in the video should appear at an arraignment on a weapons charge, police said, they could use the video as evidence of affiliation with a gang.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Police Superintendent Daniel Linskey. “If we can play a video for a judge that shows they’re involved with criminal activity, that helps us, and bodes well when we go for dangerousness hearings. We like to use these videos to use their own words against them.”

permalink to just this entry

Norms, Architecture and Adaptation [7:33 am]

Chinese get the message on textingpdf

E-mail has become the new snail mail for many Chinese as they turn to the immediacy of text messages on cellphones and instant messages on personal computers. The most affluent and educated use e-mail, but by and large people here rely much more heavily on the shorter, faster and more conversational methods of electronic communication.

E-mail here is treated with the same disdain as the telephone answering machine, said Guo Liang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

“You won’t have a direct response; you have to wait,” he said.China’s mania for messaging — particularly mobile messaging — is largely a product of how technology developed here. Like other emerging global markets, rural regions of China lacked phones or even a television as recently as two decades ago. The country modernized just as mobile technology was broadly accessible throughout the world.

China is now the world’s largest mobile phone market.

permalink to just this entry

October 30, 2007

Slate’s Explainer’s Halloween Column [6:09 pm]

On the right of publicity: Can Hillary Clinton stop companies from selling Halloween masks of her face?

[...] Could Hillary Clinton order the companies to stop selling her face?

Not really. She and her lawyers could make a case, but it’s hard for public figures like politicians to sue and win in these situations. Depending on state laws, private individuals can control how their image is used under the “right of publicity,” the legal principle that applies if someone uses your name or likeness to sell a product.

permalink to just this entry

An Infectious Disease, To Which No One Is Immune, I See [9:17 am]

Amazing what becomes an acceptable proposal once one sacrifices the high ground: Germany seeks expansion of computer spyingpdf

What if law enforcement agents had been able to secretly scan the contents of the computer before the attempted attack was carried out?

To the unease of many in a country with a history of government spying through the era of the Gestapo and communist rule in East Germany, law enforcement authorities are using the suitcase bomb case to argue for measures that would significantly expand their ability to spy on the once-private realm of My Documents.

Expanded surveillance laws since the Sept. 11 attacks already have enabled many Western governments to monitor telephone and e-mail traffic, the conversation in Islamic militants’ chat rooms and the websites visited by terrorism suspects.

Now, along with several other European countries, Germany is seeking authority to plant secret Trojan viruses into the computers of suspects that could scan files, photos, diagrams and voice recordings, record every keystroke typed and possibly even turn on webcams and microphones in an attempt to gain knowledge of attacks before they happen.

[...] Here in Berlin, T-shirts with a photograph of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and the logo “Stasi 2.0,” a reference to the former German Democratic Republic’s infamous secret police, have suddenly become popular. Many fear a return to the 1970s, and the often-severe anti-terrorism measures wielded by then-West Germany to fight the devastating tactics of the leftist Red Army Faction.

And in today’s high-tech world, the proposed measure causes a chill to those who see hard drives as the new window to the soul.

Just think of the salivary gland activity among our own spying agencies!!

permalink to just this entry

Who’s Selling To Whom? [7:00 am]

Student’s Ad Gets a Remake, and Makes the Big Time (the original YouTube version of the new iPod Touch ad)

Consumers creating commercials “is part of this brave new world we live in,” said Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer at TBWA Worldwide, based in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Playa del Rey.

“It’s an exciting new format for brands to communicate with their audiences,” Mr. Clow said. “People’s relationship with a brand is becoming a dialog, not a monolog.”

See also A Consumer’s Spot for Apple Grows Up

permalink to just this entry

Working The System — “Leaks” and Promotion [6:55 am]

‘Blackout’ sheds light on pros and cons of album leakspdf

Jive, Spears’s record label, announced earlier this month that it was rushing “Blackout” to “avoid any future illegal distribution of songs.” Annoyed at sneak peeks popping up on gossip and file-sharing sites as frequently as Spears does in the tabloids, the label filed a copyright infringement suit against Web-based mudslinger Perez Hilton.

But then a funny thing happened on Jive’s way to stemming the tide. Last week, the label authorized MTV.com’s album preview site, “The Leak,” and Clear Channel radio websites like Kiss 108 (WXKS-FM) to stream “Blackout” in its entirety.

permalink to just this entry

Dispatches from the DVD Format Frontlines [6:52 am]

Battle rages for HD movie supremacypdf

Kushmerek, 39, a senior technical trainer at The MathWorks in Natick, said he wants no part of the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray battle until the industry settles on a unified standard used by all studios because the losing systems will “ultimately turn into glorified door stops.”

Kushmerek has lots of company. Research firm Adams Media Research Inc. of Carmel, Calif., says 35 percent of US households will have an HDTV set by the end of 2007, up from 28.6 percent last year. But a survey from Forrester Research in Cambridge found that less than 10 percent of people with HDTV sets have a high-definition video player. [...]

[...] “This has been a very, very ugly market,” said Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder. He thinks the ugliness will continue for some time, because neither camp has much interest in compromise.

permalink to just this entry

October 29, 2007

Studs Terkel on Wiretaps [5:06 pm]

The Wiretap This Time

EARLIER this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the White House agreed to allow the executive branch to conduct dragnet interceptions of the electronic communications of people in the United States. They also agreed to “immunize” American telephone companies from lawsuits charging that after 9/11 some companies collaborated with the government to violate the Constitution and existing federal law. I am a plaintiff in one of those lawsuits, and I hope Congress thinks carefully before denying me, and millions of other Americans, our day in court.

During my lifetime, there has been a sea change in the way that politically active Americans view their relationship with government. [...]

I have observed and written about American life for some time. In truth, nothing much surprises me anymore. But I always feel uplifted by this: Given the facts and an opportunity to act, the body politic generally does the right thing. By revealing the truth in a public forum, the American people will have the facts to play their historic, heroic role in putting our nation back on the path toward freedom. That is why we deserve our day in court.

See also The Information Highway Patrol

permalink to just this entry

October 26, 2007

Fighting Over Distribution [7:07 am]

Apple in a Fight for Rights to TV Shows - washingtonpost.compdf

Apple’s Steve Jobs helped save a sinking music industry, with his iPod and iTunes digital music store. Struggling record labels swallowed hard and accepted his 99-cents-per-song pricing because they had little choice.

When it comes to video content, however — hit television shows such as “Heroes” and “The Office,” and movies — Jobs’s bargaining position isn’t as strong. For the second time in a year, he is getting significant resistance from a content creator that would rather turn its back on the mighty iPod than capitulate to Jobs’s pricing demands.

And now, some music companies are starting to reexamine their relationships with Apple.

[...] Perhaps more important is the issue of distribution. Television companies don’t need Apple as much as music companies did.

[...] Who has more to lose in the fight?

“I don’t see video as the driving force behind iPod sales,” Adam C. Engst, publisher of Apple news Web site Tidbits.com, wrote in an e-mail. “Music is why people buy iPods, and that won’t be changing any time soon — you can’t watch TV while jogging or driving.”

Bajarin called NBC’s move “a mistake.”

But NBC Universal spokesman Cory Shields said his company’s programs help drive the sales of iPods.

“The iPod is only as good as the content on it,” he said.

Yeah — but haven’t we already seen that the problem is not getting hold of content, but getting it in such a way as the copyright owners get paid? The iTunes innovation is far more about creating a distribution channel that at least deflects some of that motivation for infringement. Complicating distribution or, worse, playing games with excessively complex pricing doesn’t seem like a formula for success.

But, maybe media companies are no different from children — they’re just going to have to get burned to learn the lesson not to play with fire. You just have to hope they don’t burn down the house learning the lesson.

permalink to just this entry

‘Red-band’ Film Trailers [7:02 am]

‘Red-band’ Web trailers show all the nasty bitspdf

[I]ncreasingly, more uncensored versions, referred to as “red-band” trailers, are popping up on the Internet, with studios using them as a marketing tool to reach older audiences not as likely to be offended by super-violence, sex or use of the “F” word. In the process, the more provocative trailers allow them to telegraph to moviegoers the edgier content of their films.

“It is the only way to give the target audience a true sampling of what the film is all about,” said Adam Fogelson, president of marketing and distribution at Universal Pictures. He noted that with red-band trailers, audiences can more accurately judge for themselves the content of adult-oriented, R-rated comedies such as producer-director Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which became big hits.

“Those films were made to be R-rated,” Fogelson said. “They didn’t accidentally slip into an R-rating. . . . I think Judd’s audience has come to expect they can find a true representation of the film online.”

But Fogelson said the studios have been having a difficult time persuading theater owners, who still prefer the sanitized versions, to run the red-band trailers.

permalink to just this entry

October 25, 2007

An Amazing Assertion [10:36 am]

Should ISPs take cue from post office?pdf

The post office forwards letters when a person moves, and telephone companies likewise forward calls. Should Internet companies be required to forward e-mails to customers who switch providers?

There is no mandate governing e-mail forwarding, and industry officials say imposing one would be costly and unnecessary. [...]

“Costly?” An entry in the mail server database? It’s not like it’s about spam — I don’t think junk mail gets forwarded by the Post Office, so it seems like spam filtering before forwarding should be perfectly reasonable.

The petition; the FCC notice

Also note that Declan disagrees: FCC asked to mandate ‘e-mail address portability’

permalink to just this entry

OT: MIT Marks The Start of the World Series [7:36 am]

With a little light art using the Green Building. I got to hang out with several folks trying to get a workable shot from next to Walker (hope you got some good ones, Ramya!) [Set your browser window width just right and cross your eyes for a 3D look at the scene.]

MIT's Green Building Showing Its ColorsMIT's Green Building Showing Its Colors

Maybe it’s me, but I think the anti-aliaising effect might have been more effective when viewed from the other side of the river.

permalink to just this entry

October 24, 2007

A Little Plagiarism-Copyright Primer [7:14 pm]

Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious is unoriginal, but it’s not plagiarism

Many people equate plagiarism with copyright infringement, yet these are different issues. Copyright is a technical, legal issue. It’s about ownership of work—whether written, musical, sculptural, or otherwise. If you copy this article, or a substantial portion of it, without permission, and you sell those copies (stop laughing), you’ve violated copyright laws. The same applies to audio, video, and other media. However, plenty of works are not protected by the copyright laws, such as the works of Herman Melville. Nothing published before 1923 is protected. Go ahead, make copies.

While Melville’s work may not be protected by copyright laws, it is entirely possible to plagiarize it. Just try to pass off Moby-Dick as your own and see what happens. Plagiarism isn’t about copyrights, it’s about dishonesty. It’s about pretending someone else’s ideas and work are your own, even if those ideas are paraphrased. (If you paraphrase, you’re no longer committing a copyright violation because copyright protection is about the form of expression, not the idea itself.) Plagiarism can’t exist, however, if you acknowledge your sources: As long as you say where you got your ideas from, it’s just called research. Moreover, it’s impossible to plagiarize common knowledge: You can’t steal the idea that the sky is blue, because everybody already knows that.

[...] Copyright protection is weak when it comes to recipes. The U.S. Copyright Office states, “Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds or prescriptions, are not subject to copyright protection.” Explanatory notes—like the paragraph before the recipe where the author reminisces about dinners on the family farm—are protected, but the recipe itself is not. That’s why Colonel Sanders has had to work so hard to keep his recipes a secret.

Plagiarism is another story, though. [...]

permalink to just this entry

The (R)Evolution Continues [11:16 am]

Radiohead Said to Shun Major Labels in Next Deal

Radiohead, the British rock band that is regarded as the pre-eminent free agent in the global music business, is close to signing a series of deals to release its next album independently and leave the major record companies behind.

The band, which stunned the industry this month when it let fans set their own price for the digital download of its new album, is close to a deal to release the CD version of the album domestically through a pact with the music complex headed by Coran Capshaw, the impresario best known for guiding the career of the Dave Matthews Band.

permalink to just this entry

October 23, 2007

OINK.CD Shutdown [7:20 am]

Music piracy Web site closed after UK, Dutch raidspdf

British and Dutch police shut down one of the world’s largest sources of illegal pre-release music on Tuesday and arrested a 24-year-old man.

The raids in Amsterdam and the northeast English city of Middlesbrough followed a two-year investigation into a members-only Web site, www.OiNK.cd, which allowed users to upload and download albums before their release.

[...] British police said they arrested the 24-year-old on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and infringement of copyright law. Dutch police seized servers and other computer equipment.

permalink to just this entry

Judiciary Showing Some Spine? Or Just Bellying Up To The Trough? [7:09 am]

Senators Say White House Cut Deal With Panel on FISApdf

Senate Judiciary Committee members yesterday angrily accused the White House of allowing the Senate Intelligence Committee to review documents on its warrantless surveillance program in return for agreeing that telecommunications companies should get immunity from lawsuits.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the ranking Republican, said any such agreement would be “unacceptable,” signaling that legislation granting immunity to certain telecom carriers could run into trouble. Leahy and Specter demanded that the documents, which were provided only to the Intelligence Committee, be turned over to the Judiciary Committee as well.

Sorry — until this becomes a public debate, I don’t see how this posturing by Judiciary makes much of a difference. I want to know what my government is doing.

For example, imagine what “amnesty” would have done in cases like this one (assuming, of course, that we can trust the testimony given now): Papers Contradict Nacchio’s Defense - pdf

The contract, valued at more than $2 billion and known as “Groundbreaker,” amounted to one of the most tantalizing aspects of Nacchio’s criminal defense. In essence, he argued that despite warning signals about waning demand for telecommunications services in 2001, he remained optimistic that Qwest would pick up millions of dollars in secret government contracts.

Those hopes were dashed, Nacchio contended, after he questioned the legality of an U.S. government plan in a February 2001 NSA meeting, he said in court papers.

Nacchio’s claims attracted substantial attention among privacy advocates and lawmakers as part of renewed debate over the boundaries of government eavesdropping and the possible financial liability of telecom companies that have been sued for their roles in the operations.

Arguments underlying Nacchio’s defense, with portions blacked out for security reasons, came into view this month. But the government responses only began to become public late yesterday.

“Qwest was not ‘left off’ the list of subcontractors for the Groundbreaker project,” prosecutors wrote.

permalink to just this entry

October 2007
« Sep   Nov »

0.209 || Powered by WordPress