Apple Inc. will scrap online pricing policies across Europe for iTunes music downloads and soon charge consumers in Britain and the rest of Europe the same amount, the company and the European Union said Wednesday.
Apple charges about 9 cents more per song in Britain compared with prices in nations that use the euro. The company said it has to pay more to record companies in Britain for distribution rights.
A federal magistrate ordered the White House on Tuesday to reveal whether copies of possibly millions of missing e-mails are stored on computer backup tapes.
The order by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola comes amid an effort by the White House to scuttle two lawsuits that could force the Executive Office of the President to recover any e-mail that has disappeared from computer servers where electronic documents are automatically archived.
Two federal laws require the White House to preserve all records including e-mail.
But what other options are there? Paper ballots aren’t perfect. Ballot boxes can be stuffed or lost. Indeed, because of Florida’s paper-ballot mess in 2000, electronic voting is probably here to stay.
Fortunately, there is an elegant solution that lets us use modern technology while assuaging the growing fears about voter fraud. Ronald L. Rivest, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist, and Warren D. Smith, a mathematician and voting reform advocate, have proposed an ingenious method that would combine paper ballots and a Web site to achieve greater ballot security than is possible with paper or software alone.
Their basic idea is to allow each voter to take home a photocopy of a randomly selected ballot cast by someone else.
Google’s executives have become wiser about the company’s image. “The product brand was very strong,” Alan Davidson, Google’s senior policy counsel, who is a computer scientist as well as a lawyer, and who oversees Google’s Washington office, told me. “The political brand was very weak. Because we were not here to define it, it was being defined by our enemies.” He paused a moment, and added, “ ‘Enemy’ is a strong word. It was being defined by our competitors.”
The modest one-man operation in Washington has expanded considerably and now includes about thirty people, among them Robert Boorstin, a former speechwriter for President Clinton; Johanna Shelton, a former senior counsel to Representative John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Pablo Chavez, a former chief counsel to John McCain. In October, 2006, the company established its own PAC, called NETPAC, and since then it has hired three outside firms to lobby on its behalf: the mostly Democratic Podesta Group; King & Spalding, where Google works with former Senators Connie Mack and Dan Coats, both Republicans; and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which hired Makan Delrahim, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Bush Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
“We’ve been under the radar, if you will, with government and certain industries,” David Drummond, a Google senior vice-president, observes. Drummond, who is based in Mountain View, oversees all the company’s legal affairs. “As we’ve grown, we’re engaging a lot more. We’ve had to put a lot more emphasis on engaging.” Google’s Washington office reports to both Drummond and Elliot Schrage, the vice-president for global communications and public affairs, who is also based in Mountain View, and one of its immediate tasks has been to address the privacy issues raised by the proposed acquisition of DoubleClick. “Privacy is an atomic bomb,” a Google executive who does not want to be identified says. “Our success is based on trust.”
In the wake of Nash’s album, several articles about the “MySpace generation” of young British female singer-songwriters have appeared in the national press. Among the musicians frequently mentioned are Nash, Allen, the unbearable neo-soul singer Adele, the appealing rock songwriter Remi Nicole, and Amy Macdonald, a graduate of the Bono School of Unbridled Earnestness. Like most trend pieces, these articles identify a genuine surge—in this case, an uptick in the number of young talented women making music in Britain—but overstate its meaning. Whether or not these women were discovered on MySpace doesn’t change how their music is reaching the world: their recordings are released on major labels, and they are conducting the usual rounds of music- and beauty-magazine interviews. However, compared with the great female musicians who made their mark in the nineteen-nineties—PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Liz Phair, Courtney Love—these women are less political, less aggressive, and, so far, less inspired. Perhaps MySpace is partly to blame. Internet exposure seems to have become an acceptable substitute for experience, and many artists are getting signed before they’ve played a live show, mastered the art of songwriting, or found their voice. The promotion of young talent has always been a central activity of the music business, but now, on Web portals like MySpace, which encourage the complete documentation of one’s life in constantly updated photographs, video clips, and blog posts, amateurs are growing up in public. (In a blog post last year, Allen wrote that she felt “fat, ugly and shitter than Winehouse” and was “researching gastric bypass surgery.”) If such exposure doesn’t kill these young women, it could produce a very hardy breed of pop star.