June 16, 2008

FCC Chair Martin To Approve SatRadio Monopoly? [6:52 am]

Hey, if folks keep swallowing the notion that the “introductory rate” is good enough reason to get cable or whatever, of course this makes sense — but I’m not sure that you can really fool enough people to get the satellite radio market to grow much. But, hey, I won’t buy cable TV so what do I know? F.C.C. Chief Backs XM-Sirius Deal (pdf)

he chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is recommending approval of the $5 billion merger between the nation’s two satellite radio broadcasters in exchange for concessions that include turning over 24 channels to noncommercial and minority programming, The Associated Press has learned.

That condition — along with others, including a three-year price freeze for consumers — convinced FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on Sunday to recommend approval for Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.’s buyout of rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. [...]

[...] ”As I’ve indicated before, this is an unusual situation,” Martin said in a statement. ”I am recommending that with the voluntary commitments they (the companies) have offered, on balance, this transaction would be in the public interest.”

The companies also agreed to an ”open radio” standard, meant to create competition among manufacturers of satellite radios, according to FCC officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not yet been made public.

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Parody [6:43 am]

‘Goodnight Bush’ - Bashing the President, With Nods to a Classic

The manuscript — unsolicited and addressed simply to “Editor in Chief, Little, Brown” — arrived at its destination in a clear envelope, “which was very clever,” said Geoff Shandler, the Little, Brown editor in chief who received the package. “Without opening it, I could see some of the cover image they had designed.”

Such was Mr. Shandler’s introduction to “Goodnight Bush,” an unauthorized parody of the 1947 children’s bedtime classic “Goodnight Moon,” written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.

[...] “I thought it was brilliant,” said Mr. Shandler, whose company also published the parody “Yiddish With Dick and Jane.” That book, from 2004, prompted the owner of the rights to the classic “Dick and Jane” primers to sue in 2005, alleging copyright and trademark infringement.

The publisher of “Goodnight Bush” is counting on the fair use doctrine, which allows limited amounts of copyrighted material to be used without permission. [...]

Wonder how this would fit with the AP’s construction of the term?

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June 15, 2008

Creepy Technology [11:47 pm]

Glad to know I’m not the only one uncomfortable with emails that have return receipts: Digital Domain - In the E-Mail Relay, Not Every Handoff Is Smooth

Some entrepreneurs have seen that uncertainty and offered senders the ability to obtain receipts that a given message has been read — without the recipient’s knowing that a confirmation has been sent back to the sender. ReadNotify, based in Queensland, Australia, started in 2000 and promises to report not only on whether a message is read, but also on how long it is opened for reading on the recipient’s PC. It can also send the message in “self-destructing” form, preventing forwarding, printing, copying and saving. I admire ReadNotify’s ingenuity in presenting booby-trapped messages as being feature-rich.

Last week, Chris Drake, the head of ReadNotify, defended his company’s service. Some experts have questioned whether such technology is legal under American law, but Mr. Drake says “e-mail tracking is legal because e-mail is ‘owned’ by the author.”

A similar service, MsgTag, based in Wellington, New Zealand, does not want its features to seem overly intrusive. “We’re interested in peace of mind, not spying,” the site says. Its distinction? It does not report on how long the message was viewed.

There are many technical reasons that these services cannot reliably detect when a message has been read. But even when they work, I find their furtive nature offensive. [...]

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I Didn’t Know the AP Was Empowered To Adjudicate © [11:36 pm]

But, hey, who knows how large their budget for campaign contributions might be: The Associated Press to Set Guidelines for Using Its Articles

The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.

The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances.

[...] “As content creators, we firmly believe that everything we create, from video footage all the way down to a structured headline, is creative content that has value,” [Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P.,] said.

But he also said that the association hopes that it will not have to test this theory in court.

“We are not trying to sue bloggers,” Mr. Kennedy said. “That would be the rough equivalent of suing grandma and the kids for stealing music. That is not what we are trying to do.”

Good luck with that

Later: I got an email from Simon Ownes that points to his very detailed article on this DMCA takedown fight:

Hey Frank,

I saw your post today about Rogers Cadenhead receiving DMCA takedown requests from the AP. I spoke to Cadenhead on the phone this weekend and he filled me in on many of the details of the struggle he’s having with the AP. It turns out this isn’t the first time he’s butted heads with them. I published an article about my conversation with him over here:

http://bloggasm.com/associated-press-sends-dmca-takedowns-to-blogger-for-short-excerpts

Anyway, I thought this was something you and your readers might find interesting.

Take care,
Simon

Well worth a read!

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An IPR Fight North of the Border [11:32 pm]

Purchase of Theme Song, a Staple of Canadian Culture, Upsets Hockey Fans

Imagine if Fox bought up all the rights to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and decreed it would be heard only on its own broadcasts. Then you might get some sense of how Canadians feel after the beloved theme song for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Hockey Night in Canada” was purchased last week by the rival private broadcaster CTV.

CTV’s coup followed a long-running legal battle and negotiations with the song’s 80-year-old composer in a process that caused some Canadians so much anxiety that it provoked calls for an intervention by Parliament. [...]

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The Value of Botnets [11:30 pm]

I look forward to the second-guessing of these clearly self-serving statistics, but it’s certainly a problem/perception that those who’ve reframed the advertising business are going to have to confront: Drilling Down - Rogue Computers Used in Ad Fraud

“Botnets were once primarily used to perpetrate spam,” said Tom Cuthbert, the president of Click Forensics. “Because there’s been better detection and efforts made around stopping that, these botnet masters have identified that click fraud is a really good use of that technology.”

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Struggling With Refining The Business Model? [11:27 pm]

And not doing terribly well with it so far, apparently: EMI’s New Boss Sees Cracks in Music World

It has been almost 10 months since Mr. Hands, through his private equity firm Terra Firma, bought EMI for about $6.4 billion, and by several accounts, including Mr. Hands’s own, it has been a chaotic time.

The company now wobbles under a huge debt load, a leadership vacuum — it has no chief executive and most major decisions are made by Mr. Hands — and low morale among many of its employees. Mr. Hands said about 80 percent of the $6.4 billion paid for EMI was for the music publishing unit, which owns copyrights and provides a steady flow of cash.

It is the other side of the business, recorded music, that he says he overpaid for, and could wind up selling if market conditions do not improve.

[...] [A]according to Mr. Hands, the company was doing worse than commonly thought. An analysis by McKinsey and KPMG found that EMI had lost £750 million ($1.5 billion) from selling new music over the last five years.

“We didn’t believe it at first,” he said, explaining that the figures that EMI previously reported counted sales of re-releases of music from old acts like the Beatles as new music revenue.

“They were doing everything they could to hide the fact that they were losing huge amounts of money in new music,” he said. “The good news was they were making a fortune in catalog.”

[...] Mr. Hands’s vision appears to be this: split the marketing function from the development of talent — called “A&R” for “artist and repertoire” in the parlance of the music business; and sharply cut costs by reducing artist advances and paying less on marketing music.

In a confidential business plan showed to investors last year, Terra Firma said one way to reduce costs would be to use social networking sites to “source new acts and as a means to test public reaction to individual acts.”

“Getting rid of management teams and starting afresh is something we’ve always done,” Mr. Hands said. And some of the biggest new hires have come from outside the music industry. An executive from Google was hired to run the digital business, and the creator of Second Life, the Web-based virtual world, was recently hired to work on digital initiatives.

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June 14, 2008

The Hooked Scenario? [11:33 pm]

I read Hooked today - and this article is of a piece with the primary thesis of the novel - we’re allowing ourselves to be hooked on information — or what passes for it these days: Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast

Some of the biggest technology firms, including Microsoft, Intel, Google and I.B.M., are banding together to fight information overload. Last week they formed a nonprofit group to study the problem, publicize it and devise ways to help workers — theirs and others — cope with the digital deluge.

Their effort comes as statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.

The big chip maker Intel found in an eight-month internal study that some employees who were encouraged to limit digital interruptions said they were more productive and creative as a result.

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A Nice Summary of the Bill-by-the-Byte Issue [11:27 pm]

But summary only: Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic

The Internet “is how we deliver our shows,” said Jim Louderback, chief executive of Revision3, a three-year-old media company that runs what it calls a television network on the Web. “If all of a sudden our viewers are worried about some sort of a broadband cap, they may think twice about downloading or watching our shows.”

Even if the caps are far above the average users’ consumption, their mere existence could cause users to reduce their time online. Just ask people who carefully monitor their monthly allotments of cellphone minutes and text messages.

“As soon as you put serious uncertainty as to cost on the table, people’s feeling of freedom to predict cost dries up and so does innovation and trying new applications,” Vint Cerf, the chief Internet evangelist for Google who is often called the “father of the Internet,” said in an e-mail message.

But the companies imposing the caps say that their actions are only fair. People who use more network capacity should pay more, Time Warner argues. And Comcast says that people who use too much — like those who engage in file-sharing — should be forced to slow down.

[...] As the technology company Cisco put it in a recent report, “today’s ‘bandwidth hog’ is tomorrow’s average user.”

One result of these experiments is a tug-of-war between the Internet providers and media companies, which are monitoring the Time Warner experiment with trepidation.

“We hate it,” said a senior executive at a major media company, who requested anonymity because his company, like all broadcasters, must play nice with the same cable operators that are imposing the limits. Now that some television shows are viewed millions of times online, the executive said, any impediment would hurt the advertising model for online video streaming.

Mr. Leddy of Time Warner said that the media companies’ fears were overblown. If the company were to try to stop Web video, “we would not succeed,” he said. “We know how much capacity they’re going to need in the future, and we know what it’s going to cost. And today’s business model doesn’t pay for it very well.”

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June 12, 2008

Yes, We Have No Bananas [4:44 pm]

But at least we do have us some habeus

Sad that it was a 5-4 decision, but thank goodness it came down this way — something to think about in the voting booth this November: Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts — the opinion

The real tragedy is this quote from our leader in this Reuters article: Top court rules for Guantanamo prisoners (pdf). Yes, it may be out of context, but as written it suggests a need for a return to the civic textbooks:

“We’ll abide by the court’s decision. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with it,” Bush told a news conference in Rome, where he was on a weeklong European visit. “We’ll study this opinion and we’ll do so … to determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate.”

Hmmm — what do you think?

The Framers viewed freedom from unlawful restraint as a fundamental precept of liberty, and they understood the writ of habeas corpus as a vital instrument to secure that freedom. Experience taught, however, that the common-law writ all too often had been insufficient to guard against the abuse of monarchial power. That history counseled the necessity for specific language in the Constitution to secure the writ and ensure its place in our legal system.

[...] This history was known to the Framers. It no doubt confirmed their view that pendular swings to and away from individual liberty were endemic to undivided, uncontrolled power. The Framers’ inherent distrust of governmental power was the driving force behind the constitutional plan that allocated powers among three independent branches. This design serves not only to make Government accountable but also to secure individual liberty. [...]

[...] Post-1789 habeas developments in England, though not bearing upon the Framers’ intent, do verify their foresight. Those later events would underscore the need for struc­tural barriers against arbitrary suspensions of the writ. [...]

[...] The prudential barriers that may have prevented the English courts from issuing the writ to Scotland and Hanover are not relevant here. We have no reason to believe an order from a federal court would be disobeyed at Guantanamo. No Cuban court has jurisdiction to hear these petitioners’ claims, and no law other than the laws of the United States applies at the naval station. The modern-day relations between the United States and Guantanamo thus differ in important respects from the 18th-century relations between England and the kingdoms of Scotland and Hanover. This is reason enough for us to discount the relevance of the Government’s analogy.

[...] Abstaining from questions involving formal sovereignty and territorial governance is one thing. To hold the political branches have the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will is quite another. [...]

[...] We hold that Art. I, §9, cl. 2, of the Constitution has full effect at Guantanamo Bay. If the privilege of habeas corpus is to be denied to the detainees now before us, Congress must act in accordance with the requirements of the Suspension Clause. Cf. Hamdi, 542 U. S., at 564 (SCALIA, J., dissenting) [...]

[...] To the extent any doubt remains about Congress’ intent, the legislative history confirms what the plain text strongly suggests: In passing the DTA Congress did not intend to create a process that differs from traditional habeas corpus process in name only. [...]

[...] We do hold that when the judicial power to issue habeas corpus properly is invoked the judicial officer must have adequate authority to make a determination in light of the relevant law and facts and to formulate and issue appropriate orders for relief, including, if necessary, an order directing the prisoner’s release. [...]

[...] The absence of a release remedy and specific language allowing AUMF challenges are not the only constitutional infirmities from which the statute potentially suffers, however. The more difficult question is whether the DTA permits the Court of Appeals to make requisite findings of fact. [...]

[...] There is no language in the DTA that can be construed to allow the Court of Appeals to admit and consider newly discovered evidence that could not have been made part of the CSRT record because it was unavailable to either the Government or the detainee when the CSRT made its findings. This evidence, however, may be critical to the detainee’s argument that he is not an enemy combatant and there is no cause to detain him. [...]

[...] MCA §7 thus effects an unconstitutional suspension of the writ. In view of our holding we need not discuss the reach of the writ with respect to claims of unlawful conditions of treatment or confinement.

But here’s the real killer:

Officials charged with daily operational responsibility for our security may consider a judicial discourse on the history of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 and like matters to be far removed from the Nation’s present, urgent concerns. Established legal doctrine, however, must be consulted for its teaching. Remote in time it may be; irrelevant to the present it is not. Security depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our Armed Forces to act and to interdict. There are further considerations, however. Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers. It is from these principles that the judicial authority to consider petitions for habeas corpus relief derives.

Because our Nation’s past military conflicts have been of limited duration, it has been possible to leave the outer boundaries of war powers undefined. If, as some fear, terrorism continues to pose dangerous threats to us for years to come, the Court might not have this luxury. This result is not inevitable, however. The political branches, consistent with their independent obligations to interpret and uphold the Constitution, can engage in a genuine debate about how best to preserve constitutional values while protecting the Nation from terrorism. [...]

It bears repeating that our opinion does not address the content of the law that governs petitioners’ detention. That is a matter yet to be determined. We hold that petitioners may invoke the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus. The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law. [...]

*snap*

And imagine the outcome if, say, John Yoo were to get a seat on this court.

See, for example — Brown Faces New Protests Over Terror Bill (pdf); Terror Bill Passes Narrowly in Britain

Later: Newt Gingrich gives us the talking points for those who can’t bear this decision: Face The Nation: Gingrich Thinks SCOTUS Gitmo Decision “Could Cost Us A City” — as the commenters point out: “you mean in addition to New Orleans and Grand Cedar Rapids?” (I couldn’t believe it when I heard him say it on Face the Nation myself)

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June 11, 2008

The EU To Go Where MA Could Not? [10:39 pm]

Harsh Words for Microsoft Technology - NYTimes.com

The European Union’s competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, delivered an unusually blunt rebuke to Microsoft on Tuesday by recommending that businesses and governments use software based on open standards.

Ms. Kroes has fought bitterly with Microsoft over the last four years, accusing the company of defying her orders and fining it nearly 1.7 billion euros, or $2.7 billion, on the grounds of violating European competition rules. But her comments were the strongest recommendation yet by Ms. Kroes to jettison Microsoft products, which are based on proprietary standards, and to use rival operating systems to run computers.

“I know a smart business decision when I see one — choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed,” Ms. Kroes told a conference in Brussels. “No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one.”

The speech can be found here (local pdf)

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This is a news topic? [10:30 pm]

What’s going on? American Exception - Unlike Others, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech

Some prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech.

“It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken,” Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher, wrote in The New York Review of Books last month, “when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.”

[...] Harvey A. Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Cambridge, Mass., disagreed. “When times are tough,” he said, “there seems to be a tendency to say there is too much freedom.”

“Free speech matters because it works,” Mr. Silverglate continued. Scrutiny and debate are more effective ways of combating hate speech than censorship, he said, and all the more so in the post-Sept. 11 era.

[...] Mr. Steyn, the author of the article, said the Canadian proceedings had illustrated some important distinctions. “The problem with so-called hate speech laws is that they’re not about facts,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’re about feelings.”

“What we’re learning here is really the bedrock difference between the United States and the countries that are in a broad sense its legal cousins,” Mr. Steyn added. “Western governments are becoming increasingly comfortable with the regulation of opinion. The First Amendment really does distinguish the U.S., not just from Canada but from the rest of the Western world.”

I’ve been out of town for a while and I am always surprised what constitutes news in the town I grew up in, but what is the Times playing at here?

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June 8, 2008

The Economist on Behavioral Targeting at Your ISP’s [5:40 pm]

Watching while you surf (pdf)

IS IT a worrying invasion of privacy for web surfers, or a lucrative new business model for online advertising? A new “behavioural” approach to targeting internet advertisements, being pioneered by companies such as Phorm, NebuAd and FrontPorch, is said to be both of these things. The idea is that special software, installed in the networks of internet-service providers ISPs, intercepts webpage requests generated by their subscribers as they roam the net. The pages in question are delivered in the usual way, but are also scanned for particular keywords in order to build up a profile of each subscriber’s interests. These profiles can then be used to target advertisements more accurately.

The LATimes notes that Groups appeal to Congress on ISP snooping (pdf)

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Variable Pricing == DRM-Free? [1:21 pm]

Labels eye variable pricing for digital sales (pdf)

Arguably the No. 1 item on record labels to-do list for the year is, “Establish variable pricing for digital downloads.”

As luck would have it, the No. 1 item on the to-do list of digital music services not named iTunes is converting their library to digital rights management-free sales. So it comes as no surprise that the labels have made an openness to variable pricing a prerequisite of any DRM-free licensing negotiations.

That digital music sales are not yet compensating for falling CD revenue is no secret. Whether experimenting with the price of digital music will make any difference remains to be seen.

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June 6, 2008

Krugman on the Digital Economy and IPR [5:16 pm]

Op-Ed Columnist - Paul Krugman - Bits, Bands and Books, Paying for Creativity in a Digital World (pdf)

Now, the strategy of giving intellectual property away so that people will buy your paraphernalia won’t work equally well for everything. To take the obvious, painful example: news organizations, very much including this one, have spent years trying to turn large online readership into an adequately paying proposition, with limited success.

But they’ll have to find a way. Bit by bit, everything that can be digitized will be digitized, making intellectual property ever easier to copy and ever harder to sell for more than a nominal price. And we’ll have to find business and economic models that take this reality into account.

It won’t all happen immediately. But in the long run, we are all the Grateful Dead.

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Missing the Point [1:57 pm]

Cellphone Tracking Study Shows We’re Creatures of Habit — The opening line shows just how out of it a report can be:

News flash: we’re boring

New research that makes creative use of sensitive location-tracking data from 100,000 cellphones in Europe suggests that most people can be found in one of just a few locations at any time, and that they do not generally go far from home.

“Individuals display significant regularity, because they return to a few highly frequented locations, such as home or work,” the researchers found.

That might seem like science and mountains of data being marshaled to prove the obvious. But the researchers say their work, which also shows that people exhibit similar patterns whether they travel long distances or short ones, could open new frontiers in fields like disease tracking and urban planning.

I can think of a few others….

The Nature letter: Understanding individual human mobility patterns (Nature 453, 779-782 (5 June 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06958; Received 19 December 2007; Accepted 27 March 2008)

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My Tax Dollars At Work [1:53 pm]

Tracking the Trackers: Investigating P2P copyright enforcement. And what do you think they conclude? From the technical report: Challenges and Directions for Monitoring P2P File Sharing Networks – or – Why My Printer Received a DMCA Takedown Notice

Abstract— We reverse engineer copyright enforcement in the popular BitTorrent file sharing network and find that a common approach for identifying infringing users is not conclusive. We describe simple techniques for implicating arbitrary network endpoints in illegal content sharing and demonstrate the effectiveness of these techniques experimentally, attracting real DMCA complaints for nonsense devices, e.g., IP printers and a wireless access point. We then step back and evaluate the challenges and possible future directions for pervasive monitoring in P2P file sharing networks.

More generally from their WWW page:

Although the implications of being accused of copyright infringement are significant, very little is known about the methods used by enforcement agencies to detect it, particularly in P2P networks. We have conducted the first scientific, experimental study of monitoring and copyright enforcement on P2P networks and have made several discoveries which we find surprising.

  • Practically any Internet user can be framed for copyright infringement today.

    By profiling copyright enforcement in the popular BitTorrent file sharing system, we were able to generate hundreds of real DMCA takedown notices for computers at the University of Washington that never downloaded nor shared any content whatsoever.

    Further, we were able to remotely generate complaints for nonsense devices including several printers and a (non-NAT) wireless access point. Our results demonstrate several simple techniques that a malicious user could use to frame arbitrary network endpoints.

  • Even without being explicitly framed, innocent users may still receive complaints.
    Because of the inconclusive techniques used to identify infringing BitTorrent users, users may receive DMCA complaints even if they have not been explicitly framed by a malicious user and even if they have never used P2P software!

  • Software packages designed to preserve the privacy of P2P users are not completely effective.

    To avoid DMCA complaints today, many privacy conscious users employ IP blacklisting software designed to avoid communication with monitoring and enforcement agencies. We find that this software often fails to identify many likely monitoring agents, but we also discover that these agents exhibit characteristics that make distinguishing them straightforward.

While our experiments focus on BitTorrent only, our findings imply the need for increased transparency in the monitoring and enforcement process for all P2P networks to both address the known deficiencies we have exposed as well as to identify lurking unknown deficiencies.

Fun with NSF money!

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“Everybody Into the Pool!” [8:40 am]

German government supports giving police enhanced surveillance powers (pdf)

Despite strong criticism from the opposition and even its own coalition partners, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed yesterday to give Germany’s police forces greater powers to monitor homes, telephones, and private computers, maintaining that an enhanced reach would protect citizens from terrorist attacks.

But opposition parties and some Social Democrats who share power with Merkel’s conservative bloc criticized the measures in the draft legislation, saying they would further erode privacy rights that have already been undermined, after revelations of recent snooping operations conducted by Deutsche Telekom, one of the country’s biggest companies.

See earlier: Germans Weigh Civil Rights and Public Safety (pdf)

And, of course, today’s Adviser Says McCain Backs Bush Wiretaps (pdf)

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Copying and Fashion [8:27 am]

The Revolutionary (pdf)

“Designers have been copying Yves Saint Laurent for more than 20 years,” said Keni Valenti, a vintage fashion dealer in New York. As recently as this spring, he said, his downtown loft was a magnet for designers rifling his racks of vintage YSL. Many of them, absorbing the designer’s ideas down to the subtlest details, openly look to him for validation.

“I and a couple of friends would always say, ‘How would Saint Laurent do it,’ ” Mr. Jacobs told Women’s Wear Daily. “It’s a little, funny gauge of a thing being right, a kind of standard for chic, for youth, for sex appeal without vulgarity and with overall beauty.”

Citing Saint Laurent is a long-held tradition. “When Yves was alive, all the huge names in fashion — Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Claude Montana — could not help but be affected,” recalled Marian McEvoy, who befriended the designer in the mid-’70s, when she worked in Paris as an editor of Women’s Wear Daily.

“His was a very profound influence,” she said, noting that there was no shame or hesitation in knocking off his most compelling ideas. “If you were a designer at the time, you gave in to that influence kind of joyfully. It was: ‘Hey, that’s a great piece. Let’s copy it.’ ”

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June 4, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering About The Business Model [8:11 am]

YouTube puts demographic feedback to work (pdf)

Insight is part of a trend on the Web. The social networking giant Facebook offers account holders a weekly report that, like Insight, is free — and has a similar name, Insights. The information it provides is used by individuals and companies that have Facebook pages and want to hone their marketing.

Before Insight, success on Google Inc.s YouTube was measured primarily in one way: by the sheer number of “views,” or times a video was watched. The data available through Insight include age, gender and geographic location as well as the identities of the Internet sites that viewers came from and where they went after watching a clip. Marketers and advertisers use the data to decide how to target their next round of ads or where bands should tour, said Tracy Chan, product manager of YouTube Insight.

“YouTube is becoming the worlds biggest focus group,” Chan said.

The YouTube data are more specific than what bands typically can get from television and radio, said Ben Patterson, who worked on Weezers digital marketing strategy.

“What’s distinct about YouTube Insight is the immediacy of the information and the discovery element — how viewers found the content,” he said.

Also note that the CA legislature failed to give landline folks what cellphone users already have: Why your privacy still comes at a cost (pdf)

In case you missed it, your elected representatives bowed to intense pressure from phone companies last week and voted to allow them to keep charging whatever they want to protect your privacy.

I’m talking, of course, about the up to $24 a year that millions of Californians are charged to keep their numbers out of the phone book and its electronic cousins.

[...] “In a competitive marketplace, the Legislature shouldn’t be in the business of setting prices for features,” said Jon Davies, a spokesman for Verizon Communications Inc. “They should let consumers decide which ones they want to pay for and which ones they don’t.”

But, hey — amnesty *is* something that the legislature should get into, right?

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