A Big Move By AT&T

And incentives for Apple to get cracking on the 3G iPhone: AT&T Buys Spectrum Licenses for $2.5 Billion

AT&T Inc. agreed to pay $2.5 billion for licenses that will allow it to expand wireless services or enable video broadcasts in much of its coverage area, the company announced Tuesday.

The deal to acquire all the licenses held by Aloha Partners LP in the 700-megahertz range will give AT&T 12 MHz covering 196 million people in 281 markets. Itll boost AT&Ts presence in most of the top 100 markets in the United States and make it the largest owner of licenses in the 700-MHz to 800-MHz range of the spectrum, a claim Aloha held before agreeing to sell to AT&T.

Another Bit of Fallout From The Duluth Conviction

One I’m truly sorry I missed until now: Analyzing a music pirate’s playlistpdf

It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely saboteur than Thomas. Aren’t the major labels being defeated by Bapes-wearing gamers jacking Kanye West and Arcade Fire tracks? Thomas does have two children — ages 11 and 13 — and the RIAA has made it a policy to go after parents first. We’ll likely never know whether she fell on a sword for her kids, but her playlist — the copyright-infringed songs she’s now paying for, at the cost of $9,250 each — tells another story. And it’s a sad one about the impoverished state of the corporate music machine.

Thomas’ list has hipsters groaning. It includes some of the most banal Top 40 songs of recent memory: songs by 1980s balladeers Richard Marx and Bryan Adams, quiet-storm beauty queen Vanessa Williams, and the feathered-hair kings in Journey. Teen tastes may be represented by the presence of Green Day and Linkin Park tracks. “In her defense,” one respondent posted on the pop-music blog Idolator, “I wouldn’t pay for any of these songs either.”

But look at the list beyond the prejudices of taste, and another quality surfaces: it’s eclectic. […]

Popular music has always been a leaky commodity, but the major labels have increasingly narrowed their scope to focus on a few superstars and one-hit wonders. The Internet has made eclectic listening easy again. Thomas’ crime (if we must label it that) was in not paying for the tracks she allegedly shared. But in a way, it was an act committed in self-defense, against the numbing effects of an increasingly narrowcast mainstream.

Also, there’s this from The Onion: File Sharer Fined $222,000

An Odd Defense of Internet Tax Exemption From the LATimes

Don’t tax Internet accesspdf

Taxes and other government-imposed charges can boost your phone and cable TV bills by 20% or more. To guard the Net against that kind of pile-on, Congress in 1998 adopted the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which temporarily barred state and local governments from taxing online access services or imposing discriminatory levies on Web-based businesses. The ban was renewed in 2004 but is due to expire Nov. 1. Before it does, Congress should make it permanent.

The Internet is transforming how people communicate, work, learn and play, especially as broadband proliferates. Although roughly half of U.S. Internet users have broadband at home, millions do not have any kind of Internet service there, and millions of others have only dial-up accounts. These folks are largely poor, elderly or rural, and the federal government needs to ensure their access to affordable broadband services.

Hmmm — seems like a call for universal service, without any means of funding it. The op-ed goes on to acknowledge this flaw, but the answer to all our problems, the market, is brought in to take care of it — since it’s worked so well so far. Will we ever get out of this dream state wherein we believe that wishing makes it so, instead of rolling up our sleeves and recognizing that we have to – gasp – pay for what we want?

Bloggers With Too Much Time On Their Hands?

What a stupid thing to get worked up over. And when that happens, you have to ask what’s behind it — payback for their open access network policy initiative? Something else? Google logo tweak sends critics into orbitpdf

Should the world’s most-used search engine be more of a Yankee Google Dandy?

Google Inc. occasionally features light-hearted doodles on its colorful home-page logo to commemorate special occasions. But now they are drawing criticism from conservatives for not being more patriotic.

The Mountain View, Calif., company bathes its logo in stars and stripes every Independence Day, but last week’s decision to honor the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch — the second “g” in Google was replaced with a drawing of the Soviet satellite — is being blasted by some conservatives.

Not only did Google honor an achievement by a totalitarian regime that was our Cold War enemy, they griped, but it did so without having ever altered its logo to commemorate U.S. military personnel on Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

Destroying Their Own Base

There’s been lots of crowing over the expectation that a Guiliani nomination will split the Republican base, but won’t this achieve the same thing on the Democratic side? Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers

Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency.

[…] As the debate over the eavesdropping powers of the National Security Agency begins anew this week, the emerging measures reflect the reality confronting the Democrats.

Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, they remain nervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on gathering intelligence.

[…] A competing proposal in the Senate, still being drafted, may be even closer in line with the administration plan, with the possibility of including retroactive immunity for telecommunications utilities that participated in the once-secret program to eavesdrop without court warrants.

[…] Perhaps most important in the eyes of Democratic supporters, the House bill would not give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications utilities that participated in the eavesdropping. That has been a top priority of the administration. The temporary measure gave the utilities immunity for future acts, but not past deeds.

Spinelessness doesn’t really seem like much of an electoral platform, and the Democratic Party is going to have to draw a line in the sand somewhere if they expect to survive this interregnum looking any better than the Republican Party. Deciding to run away from Ben Franklin on this question doesn’t inspire me terribly.

Granted, one might argue that, in light of their generally dismal performance in running this country, this Administration needs all the tools it can get. However, whatever this Administration’s failings, setting up the machinery of a police state seems to come naturally to them, particularly when it comes to finding wholly amoral individuals to put into the very watchdog roles that we have relied upon in the past to limit the potential excesses of legislative mandates. Make them explain to all our legislators, if not the public at large, why they need these extended powers. Giving this Administration a blank check on surveillance is too, too dangerous.

I cannot believe that retroactive immunity is *still* on the table! Maybe I *do* live in Prickly City.

Later: Glenn Greenwald sees reason to hope — as Tim Grieve says, we’ll see.