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October 19, 2007

Feeling The “Chill” and Fighting Back [10:58 am]

Standing Up To Takedown Noticespdf

On a chilly February day, Stephanie Lenz decided to show her family and friends what her bouncing baby boy could do. She plopped 13-month-old Holden, then learning to walk, on the floor, cranked up Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy” and whipped out the digital camera.

In the 29-second YouTube video that resulted, Holden smiles and bobs up and down to the music. According to Universal Music Publishing Group, he also helps his mom commit a federal crime: copyright infringement.

In June, Universal, which owns the rights to Prince’s song, sent a notice to YouTube requesting the video be taken down but did not take action against Lenz. On the contrary, Lenz sued Universal for abusing copyright law.

[...] [R]ecently — in part because of backlash among users and advocacy groups who say copyright holders are abusing the law and wrongfully taking down content — the challenges to these copyright claims also appear to be increasing.

“These companies are trying to shoot a mouse with an elephant gun,” said Gigi Sohn, director of Public Knowledge, a public-policy think tank that focuses on intellectual property. “They like to accuse their customers, the music fans and TV fans out there, of not respecting the law, but I don’t think they respect the law.”

ChillingEffects website

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Glenn Greenwald On A Roll [8:08 am]

The Weekly Standard mentality and the Senate Intelligence Committee

Every now and then, a right-wing pundit says something that illustrates the underlying mentality of their movement so vividly that it is worth pausing and briefly examining. In responding to one of my posts on telecom amnesty, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb explains the obligations of patriotic corporate citizens in America:

[I]f federal agents show up at a corporate headquarters for a major American company and urgently seek that company’s officers for assistance in the war on terror, the companies damn well ought to give it as a matter of simple patriotism, whether the CIA wants a plane for some extraordinary rendition or help in tracking terrorists via email. . . . [T]o expect a company to resist a plea from the government for help in a time of war is ridiculous.

So when “federal agents” come knocking at your door and issue orders, you better “damn well” obey — you had better not “resist” — otherwise we’ll lose our freedoms. As always, the heart of “patriotism,” in the Weekly Standard worldview, is blind faith in our Leaders.

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Media Consolidation Redux [7:50 am]

The waning months of the Bush Administration is likely to be peppered with even more of these administrative moves, since Congress is completely deadlocked (except when posturing over testosterone levels): Plan Would Ease Limits on Media Owners

The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.

[...] “This is a big deal because we have way too much concentration of media ownership in the United States,” Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, said at a hearing on Wednesday called to examine the digital transition of the television industry.

“If the chairman intends to do something by the end of the year,” Mr. Dorgan added, his voice rising, “then there will be a firestorm of protest and I’m going to be carrying the wood.”

Remember, this is the same FCC that’s actively worked to circumvent the Administrative Procedures Act when it suits them.

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Seeking Consensus, Or Strong-Arming Outsiders? [7:44 am]

Pre-empting the DMCA’s Safe Harbor provisions: Media companies in copyright pact, Google absentpdf

A coalition of major media and Internet companies Thursday issued a set of guidelines for handling copyright-protected videos on large user-generated sites such as MySpace.

Conspicuously absent was Google Inc., whose YouTube site this week rolled out its own technology to filter copyrighted videos once they’ve been posted.

[...] Internet attorney Andrew Bridges of the San Francisco firm Winston & Strawn called the guidelines more of a treaty than a contract, noting that the coalition members specifically stated that the guidelines did not preclude any company from seeking legal remedies in a dispute.

The new guidelines require Internet companies to have in place by the end of 2007 filtering software that blocks all content that media companies flag as being unauthorized.

The guidelines also require that user-generated video sites keep their filtering technology up to date, and they call for cooperation between media and Web companies to allow “wholly original” user-generated videos to be posted and to accommodate “fair use” of copyrighted material as allowed under law.

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Building The Infrastructure For Digital Distribution [7:38 am]

Starbucks deal brings Akamai closer to customerspdf

Akamai Technologies Inc. of Cambridge said it had signed a deal yesterday to install server computers in thousands of Starbucks Corp. coffee shops nationwide, in a bid to speed the delivery of music downloads from Apple Inc.’s iTunes Music Store to customers waiting in line for lattes.

It marks the first time Akamai has worked with a bricks-and-mortar retail chain to improve the delivery of Internet-based services to customers in their stores. “With Akamai-enabled servers in our stores, we are able to ensure the highest quality music downloads while providing a very personalized music experience for our customers,” said Ken Lombard, the president of Starbucks Entertainment.

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Murdoch Reads The Writing On The Wall [7:35 am]

But still playing coy: News Corp. may halt WSJ.com fees — pdf

News Corp. will probably end subscription fees at WSJ.com and will open the MySpace social-networking website to developers in a push to add readers and advertisers, chairman Rupert Murdoch said.

A decision on WSJ.com will be made by year-end, Murdoch said yesterday in an interview at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. MySpace plans to open itself to outside developers in the next two months, the site’s chief, Chris DeWolfe, said.

After all, with Google’s most recent earnings report, it’s increasingly clear that being seen online is worth more than any subscription: Google’s Strong Quarter Widens Gap With Rivals

The Internet search and advertising giant, whose shares have risen more than $100 in the last month, said net income in the third quarter surged 46 percent compared with the period a year earlier. Sales rose 57 percent, topping Wall Street’s already bullish forecasts.

The results show that Google is growing roughly twice as fast as the overall online advertising market, which itself is booming, and that it is expanding far more quickly than any large Internet company.

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Living in a Surveillance Society [7:30 am]

The home of George Orwell now leading the way? In Britain, law has long arms, eagle eyespdf

The closed-circuit television camera lurking just down the street from the fast-food restaurant bellows menacingly at the first sign of danger to the flora, or a cast-off cigarette butt or fast-food wrapper, for that matter. “Pick it up,” commands a booming voice from . . . where, exactly?

The CCTV cameras in Gloucester and several other British towns now come equipped with speakers, meaning Big Brother is not only watching, he’s telling you what to do.

“When people hear that, they tend to react. They pick up the litter and put it in the bin,” said Mick Matthews, assistant chief police constable in this old cathedral city of 110,000 in the rolling Cotswold hills.

For all the increased anti-terrorism security measures in the U.S., there is probably no society on Earth more watched than Britain.

[...] But a growing number of people, including some police officers and the country’s information commissioner, are beginning to wonder whether Britain isn’t watching itself too closely.

[...] In a worldwide survey conducted by Privacy International, a London-based civil rights group that monitors government infringement on privacy, Britain was roughly keeping company with Russia and China near the bottom, colored in black on a world map, with the U.S. not far behind, in red.

Britain has no written constitution, no bill of rights, and no privacy act. Its privacy protections are enforced mainly through the European Convention on Human Rights and a limited data protection law passed in 1998.

“In the area of visual surveillance, we are so far ahead of the field that it’s beyond measurement,” said Simon Davies, the group’s director. “If we had a color that moved from ‘black’ to ‘black hole,’ we’d be talking about” Britain.

The national information commissioner, Richard Thomas, has warned that Britain is “waking up in a surveillance society,” and has called for greater public discussion of what it really means to make one’s life a virtual open book.

“The U.K. has more CCTV cameras per head of population than any other country in the world, but it’s not only that,” Thomas said. “Every time we use mobile telephones, every time we use credit cards, every time we use the Internet for shopping or a search, every time we interact with the government for social security or taxes or passport checks, every time we go to our doctors or hospitals now, we are leaving an electronic footprint. And this of course is not just a U.K. issue, it is an international issue.”

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It’s Not Just About MP3s [7:15 am]

Patriots get StubHub users namespdf

Seeking to enforce their policy prohibiting ticket resales, the New England Patriots have obtained the names of 13,000 people who sold or bought the team’s tickets using the online site StubHub Inc.

The Patriots obtained the list last week as part of a legal dispute with StubHub, an online marketplace for individual buyers and sellers of tickets, over who can resell Patriots tickets and how. The team, which has taken an unusually strong stance against scalping, has indicated in court that it may revoke the tickets of people who resold on StubHub.

StubHub, which is owned by eBay Inc., yesterday began notifying the 13,000 customers that their names, addresses, and phone numbers had been turned over to the Patriots following a ruling by Superior Court Judge Allan van Gestel.

“We take the privacy of our customers very seriously, so we made every effort to appeal this ruling. Unfortunately, our appeals were not successful,” StubHub said in an e-mail to the customers.

[...] The Patriots sued StubHub last November, alleging the company was encouraging fans to resell their tickets on the website in violation of the team’s policy prohibiting resales and the state’s antiscalping law. StubHub countersued, alleging the Patriots were attempting to monopolize the resale of the team’s tickets.

The LATimes has the APWire version: Patriots win bid to ID fans who used ticket resale sitepdf

The Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based advocacy group, said the court order to turn over the names infringes on the privacy rights of Patriots fans.

“The Patriots, just at the beginning of the season, were filming opposing teams and accused of surveillance, and given a slap from the National Football League about that. Now they’re turning the cameras on their fans, so clearly there is a lack of understanding about what privacy is,” said Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the center.

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