First Arlen Specter and the Patriots, Now This

This week’s indicted “ham sandwich:” Woman indicted in fatal MySpace hoax on girl (pdf)

A 49-year-old Missouri mother accused of using a fake MySpace persona to “torment, harass, humiliate and embarrass” a 13-year-old girl who hanged herself was indicted on Thursday on federal charges.

See earlier posts: this, this, and this and more

The LATimes article: L.A. files ‘cyber bully’ charges against Missouri mother in connection with girl’s suicide (pdf)

Invoking a criminal statute more commonly used to go after computer hackers or crooked government employees, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on Thursday charged a Missouri mother with fraudulently creating a MySpace account and using it to “cyber-bully” a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide.

[…] Local and federal authorities in Missouri initially looked into the circumstances surrounding Megan’s October 2006 death in Dardenne Prairie, an upper-middle-class enclave of about 7,400 people 35 miles northwest of St. Louis, but declined to file charges, saying they were unable to find a statute under which to pursue a criminal case.

O’Brien said attorneys in his office were aware of the case, saw a Los Angeles nexus because MySpace Inc. is a local company and began their own investigation with the assistance of prosecutors in Missouri and FBI agents in Los Angeles and Missouri.

Is Your ISP Blocking BitTorrent?

A report from From the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems: Glasnost: Results from Tests for BitTorrent Traffic Blocking

More than 8,000 users from locations around the world have used our tool, Glasnost, to test whether their BitTorrent traffic is being manipulated. On this page, we present preliminary results from these tests. The tests were conducted between March 18th and May 15th 2008.


  1. All hosts which observed blocking did so in the upstream direction (i.e., when the client host attempted to upload data to one of our Glasnost servers). Only a handful of hosts observed blocking for downstream BitTorrent transfers.

  2. We found widespread blocking of BitTorrent transfers only in the U.S. and Singapore. Interestingly, even within these countries, most of the hosts that observed blocking belonged to a few large ISPs.

  3. Both in the U.S. and in Singapore, all hosts that suffered BitTorrent blocking are located in cable ISPs. We did not see any blocking of BitTorrent transfers from DSL hosts in these countries.

Most (573 of 599) U.S. hosts that observed blocking are located in Comcast and Cox networks. In Singapore, all blocked hosts are connected using the StarHub network. While we did observe blocking for hosts in 10 other ISPs (7 of which are in the U.S.), we did not see widespread blocking of BitTorrent traffic for hosts in those ISPs.

A Name Out Of History

Harvey Schein, Promoter of Betamax at Sony, Dies at 80

Harvey L. Schein, who led the Sony Corporation of America in the 1970s and doubled its size in spite of championing the failed Betamax video recording system and clashing with Sony’s top Japanese executives, died Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 80, and had homes in Manhattan; Washington, Conn.; and Sanibel, Fla.

[…] In 1976, alarmed by what they saw as the parasitic nature of the home recording of television programs and fearing that people who recorded television shows to watch later would never tune in to reruns, MCA/Universal and Walt Disney Productions filed suit against Sony, charging copyright infringement and asking for an injunction against sales of the Betamax.

The suit was highly public. Mr. Schein appeared on Walter Cronkite’s nightly newscast with Sidney Sheinberg, the president of MCA/Universal, who called him a “highwayman.” And even though the publicity did not ultimately save the Betamax, it did help build consumer enthusiasm for new possibilities in home entertainment.

Android Projects

Building a better cellphone (pdf)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Hal Abelson put that question to about 20 computer science students this semester when he gave them one assignment: Design a software program for cellphones that use Google Inc.s upcoming Android mobile operating system.

In the process, they revealed the power of an open system like Android to shake up the mobile phone industry, where wireless companies are being pressured to loosen the control they have maintained over what devices do. If the brainstorms of these MIT students are an indication, phones will soon challenge the Internet as a source of innovation.

Brewster Kahle Gets the FBI To Blink?

What the heck is going on here? FBI Backs Off From Secret Order for Data After Lawsuit (pdfcomments)

The FBI has withdrawn a secret administrative order seeking the name, address and online activity of a patron of the Internet Archive after the San Francisco-based digital library filed suit to block the action.

It is one of only three known instances in which the FBI has backed off from such a data demand, known as a “national security letter,” or NSL, which is not subject to judicial approval and whose recipient is barred from disclosing the order’s existence.

TorrentSpy Case

Six studios win copyright award against file-sharing site (pdf)

The six major Hollywood studios have won a $111-million judgment for copyright infringement against shut-down file-sharing website

The judgment, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charged the operator of the website, Valence Media, $30,000 per violation.

Opinion not posted at the court’s site. See also Studios win $111 million judgment against TorrentSpy and TorrentSpy to appeal whopper legal judgment

Hmm – Speaking of “Tethered”

It’s a NYTimes blog, not the paper, but this is pretty provocative, even with the “may:” Microsoft May Build a Copyright Cop Into Every Zune

Late Tuesday afternoon I reached J. B. Perrette, the president of digital distribution for NBC Universal, to ask why NBC found Microsoft’s video store more appealing than Apple’s.

He explained that NBC, like most studios, would like the broadest distribution possible for its programming. But it has two disputes with Apple.

First, Apple insists that all TV shows have an identical wholesale price so that it can sell all of them at $1.99. NBC wants to sell its programs for whatever price it chooses.

Second, Apple refused to cooperate with NBC on building filters into its iPod player to remove pirated movies and videos.

Microsoft, by contrast, will accept NBC’s pricing scheme and will work with it to try to develop a copyright “cop” to be installed on its devices.

House Commerce Subcommittee Hearing Yesterday

Titled: H.R. 5353, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 (Bill Summary from Thomas)

Here’s an excerpt from Mitch Bainwol’s testimony in favor of a tethered internet HR 5353:

If we leave you with only one concept, it is the following: The Internet ought not be a place where chaos in the name of freedom is allowed to reign supreme. Rather, the Internet should be a place where freedom coexists comfortably with respect for property – with respect for order. Order means safety on the Internet, it means tools for parents to do their job raising their kids, and it means consumers enjoy the high speed pipes they purchased without degradation because someone in their neighborhood is downloading obscenity or child pornography, or stealing huge amounts of music. It means having an online environment that encourages innovation for legitimate commerce and social discourse and at the same time also has appropriate deterrents for online theft and other illegal behavior.

See also RIAA: Don’t let Net neutrality hurt piracy fight

Universities and the RIAA Suits

A new game challenging the “making available” argument? Mysterious Multiplication of Copyright Complaints (pdf)

[…] Indiana officials are now discussing whether they should continue to respond to complaints from the recording industry with the same aggressiveness. It’s not that university leaders have suddenly decided that illegal behavior isn’t wrong; instead, they are beginning to question the legitimacy of the notices the Recording Industry Association of America sends accusing network users of illegally sharing music.

That’s because, like many colleges and universities, officials at Indiana have seen an eye-popping increase in the number of complaints they’ve received at a time when campus administrators say they have not seen any sort of rise in traffic that would suggest more piracy. Instead, college technology experts — lacking an explanation from industry officials for the upturn — suspect that the recording industry has altered the standards it uses to allege illegal behavior, targeting not only instances in which computer users have actively shared music illegally, but instances in which they have stored downloaded music in a folder visible to other users, opening the way to a potential violation.

CRM and WiFi

A new wrinkle on Niche Envy: Free Wi-Fi, but Not for All

Travelers want to log on everywhere at no charge, while hotels, airports and coffee shops are looking for a way to pay for their Wi-Fi networks as visitors increasingly use greater amounts of bandwidth.

The compromise that is emerging is to offer both free and paid options, with the free services increasingly requiring something in return, like viewing an advertisement or signing up for a loyalty program.

[…] In other words, loyalty has its benefits — and these days, free Internet access is one of them.