The Opening Line Says It All

TorrentSpy loses Calif. copyright lawsuit

TorrentSpy may be its own worst enemy.

A federal judge has ruled against the BitTorrent indexing service TorrentSpy.com saying that its hiding and destruction of evidence made a fair trial impossible.

A Los Angeles court agreed with the Motion Picture Association of Americas attorneys that the extraordinarily harsh sanction of terminating the case was necessary because TorrentSpy operators actions impacted the ability for the movie studios to prove its case.

“The court finds that plaintiffs have suffered prejudice, to the extent that a rightful decision is not possible,” the ruling said.

The New Music Model?

Singing Her Way From Obscurity to Fame on the Internet

Ingrid Michaelson, a 28-year-old singer-songwriter whose self-produced album “Girls and Boys” reached No. 2 on the iTunes pop chart, is enjoying an enchanted transformation as a recording artist.

Ms. Michaelson’s climb out of obscurity started, as is so often the case these days, on the Internet. Now she is known to many “Grey’s Anatomy” fans for her quirky, heartfelt songs that were featured over the past year on the ABC television series. After a cross-country music tour, she is performing on Wednesday at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan, and she pointed out that the concert sold out a month ago without any advertising. (She has added a concert on Feb. 15 at Webster Hall.)

Not bad for someone who, until May, was teaching in an after-school theater program in the Stapleton neighborhood of Staten Island, where she still lives with her parents, a dog and a pet rabbit in the house she has inhabited since she was born.

[…] She called those shows a sobering experience. “I learned pretty quickly that just because you’re playing at a good venue doesn’t mean people are going to come see you,” she said.

So she decided to throw caution to the wind, or, more specifically, to the Internet. She completed “Girls and Boys” in 2006 and loaded the music onto a MySpace page, where it caught the attention of Lynn Grossman, the owner of Secret Road, a music licensing and artist management company in Los Angeles.

It’s A Done Deal

And our goose is cooked: Bushs immunity demand wins Senate test votepdf

President George W. Bushs demand for immunity for telephone companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program won a test vote on Monday in the Democratic-led U.S. Senate.

On a vote of 76-10, far more than the needed 60, the Senate cleared a procedural hurdle and began considering a bill to increase congressional and judicial oversight of the electronic surveillance of enemy targets.

Also Telecom Industry Wins a Round on Eavesdropping

Later: Well, not yet, but soon, I fear — Telecom Immunity Issue Derails Spy Law Overhaulpdf

Is The “Cloud” The Future?

This article seems to think so: Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft

The growing confrontation between Google and Microsoft promises to be an epic business battle. It is likely to shape the prosperity and progress of both companies, and also inform how consumers and corporations work, shop, communicate and go about their digital lives. Google sees all of this happening on remote servers in faraway data centers, accessible over the Web by an array of wired and wireless devices — a setup known as cloud computing. Microsoft sees a Web future as well, but one whose center of gravity remains firmly tethered to its desktop PC software. Therein lies the conflict.

Digital Bullying

Megan Meier, adolescence and online anonymity, revisited: When the Bullies Turned Faceless

In some ways, the hoax was a tragic oddity. Most mothers don’t pull vicious pranks, and few harassed adolescents become depressed and commit suicide. But Megan’s story is also a case study about cyberbullying.

Cellphone cameras and text messages, as well as social networking Web sites, e-mail and instant messaging, all give teenagers a wider range of ways to play tricks on one another, to tease and to intimidate their peers.

And unlike traditional bullying, which usually is an intimate, if highly unpleasant, experience, high-tech bullying can happen anywhere, anytime, among lots of different children who may never actually meet in person. It is inescapable and often anonymous, said sociologists and educators who have studied cyberbullying.

If only Wondermark’s explanation of the Internet were more well-distributed

Taking the Easy Way Out

If we can’t frame our sophistries around defending “the children,” we always have blaming technology. Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry

The federal government’s reliance on private industry has been driven by changes in technology. Two decades ago, telephone calls and other communications traveled mostly through the air, relayed along microwave towers or bounced off satellites. The N.S.A. could vacuum up phone, fax and data traffic merely by erecting its own satellite dishes. But the fiber optics revolution has sent more and more international communications by land and undersea cable, forcing the agency to seek company cooperation to get access.

And while the heart of this assertion is true, it fails to point out that there are many ways that the desired surveillance can be done — and that the (lazy) choice of the easiest method is almost certainly the most brutal when it comes to democratic ideals.

See Glenn Greenwald’s The Lawless Surveillance State

See also Jack Balkin and Sanford Levinson in their paper The Processes of Constitutional Change: From Partisan Entrenchment to the National Surveillance State

PRO IP Hearing Notes

Macworld | Lawmakers raise questions about copyright enforcement bill

A handful of lawmakers, law professors and consumer groups have raised objections to a new U.S. copyright bill that could significantly increase the fines for copyright infringement.

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (or PRO IP Act), debated before a congressional subcommittee Thursday, would allow courts to assess copyright infringement damages for each piece of a compilation or derivative work found to infringe copyright, instead of treating the compilation as one infringement.

[…] The bill would also make it easy for courts to forfeit computers and other property alleged to be used for infringement in civil copyright lawsuits, and it would allow the U.S. government to pursue criminal copyright enforcement before the creator registers a work or product with the U.S. Copyright Office.

“While we agree that enforcement of intellectual property laws is essential to encouraging creativity, certain provisions in the proposed act risk undermining this essential goal by threatening consumers with an overbroad and inapposite enforcement regime,” [Gigi] Sohn told the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. “These provisions of the bill …. represent a step away from a rational, realistic copyright regime.”

The bill will hurt the consumer electronics industry, with companies that make recording and copying devices scared to introduce new products because of a fear of lawsuits, added Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat.

“The effect on innovation will be real and it will be adverse,” Boucher said.

Broadband Emmys Blocked

NATAS blocked by Emmyspdf

An arbitration panel has halted the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ plans to launch a bevy of new Broadband Emmy awards.

Instead, the panel sided with the Los Angeles-based Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, which had accused its New York rivals of attempting to establish a new Emmy infrastructure without permission.

As a result, NATAS has also been forced to back off plans to award Broadband Emmys in categories such as comedy or drama, and scrap a previously announced deal with MySpace to hand out awards.

“This is a resounding victory for our Television Academy and duly establishes that NATAS’ misguided actions were clearly inappropriate,” said outgoing ATAS chairman-CEO Dick Askin. “The ruling is a confirmation that NATAS was in violation of our existing agreement and must cease and desist on any future violations of any unauthorized usage of the prestigious Emmy Award and brand without our approval.”

A Change Is Gonna Come

Because a fight like this is only going to mean that they all lose: Screenwriters Dig In for an Extended Brawl

After days of haggling over complicated formulas for Internet pay, the latest round of talks blew up over the deeper issues that had been buried inside the writers’ contract proposals.

Accusing guild leaders of pursuing “an ideological mission far removed from the interests of their members,” representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expressed outrage over continuing demands of the writers that were not strictly related to pay.

These include requests for jurisdiction over those who write for reality TV shows and animated movies; for oversight of the fair-market value of intracompany transactions that might affect writer pay; and the elimination of a no-strike clause that prevents guild members from honoring the picket lines of other unions once a contract is reached.

The tone of shock in the producers’ statement seemed a bit artificial, as Mr. Verrone has for months laid out his plan to elevate the writers’ industry status. Yet their anger is genuine. Executives know that to concede the writers’ noneconomic demands would lead to a radical shift in industry power. […]

An LATimes column points out the pending threat: In the strike, the studios are playing to winpdf

The studios have little to lose by stonewalling, since it’s all too clear that they can win any prolonged strike. Their pockets are too deep, their weaponry too strong. But at what cost? Even many studio supporters admit that squashing the WGA after a prolonged strike would be something of a pyrrhic victory. If network TV turns into a 24-hour reality TV and game show channel, it will simply accelerate the trend of young viewers deserting the tube for the Internet.

For the writers, their best defense now is a good offense. As I’ve argued before, their future lies in becoming more entrepreneurial. This would also be good strategy for future strike negotiations. With the studios stuck churning out reality sludge, the barriers for entry for an outsider are lower than ever. What’s to stop Google, Yahoo or Mark Cuban from striking a deal with a top TV show runner who has a proven ability to create characters and stories that would bring eyeballs to the Internet?

I suspect the guild is already in the process of setting up interim deals that would allow writers to work with companies not represented by the studios. It would be a way to show the WGA rank and file that other opportunities exist outside of the traditional studio model while sending a message to the other side that, when it comes to negotiating, the guild has other arrows in its quiver.

A Strange Gamble

After all, selling on the basis of something that no one can define is always going to be a problem. Worse, as the article points out, it’s not like user privacy is under Ask.com’s control anyway: Ask.com Puts a Bet on Privacy

Will privacy sell?

Ask.com is betting it will. The fourth-largest search engine company will begin a service today called AskEraser, which allows users to make their searches more private.

Ask.com and other major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft typically keep track of search terms typed by users and link them to a computer’s Internet address, and sometimes to the user. However, when AskEraser is turned on, Ask.com discards all that information, the company said.

Ask, a unit of IAC/InterActiveCorp based in Oakland, hopes that the privacy protection will differentiate it from more prominent search engines like Google. […]

[…] But underscoring how difficult it is to completely erase one’s digital footprints, the information typed by users of AskEraser into Ask.com will not disappear completely. Ask.com relies on Google to deliver many of the ads that appear next to its search results. Under an agreement between the two companies, Ask.com will continue to pass query information on to Google. Mr. Leeds acknowledged that AskEraser cannot promise complete anonymity, but said it would greatly increase privacy protections for users who want them, as Google is contractually constrained in what it can do with that information. A Google spokesman said the company uses the information to place relevant ads and to fight certain online scams.

Some privacy experts doubt that concerns about privacy are significant enough to turn a feature like AskEraser into a major selling point for Ask.com.