“Offbeat?” Only To Strict ©onstructionists

Isle of Man Plans Unlimited Music Downloads (pdf)

The island, a rainy outpost in the Irish Sea, is promoting an offbeat remedy for digital piracy, which the music labels blame for billions of dollars in lost sales. Instead of fighting file-sharing, the local government wants to embrace it — and it is trying to enlist a skeptical music industry’s help.

Under a proposal announced this month, the 80,000 people who live on the Isle of Man would be able to download unlimited amounts of music — perhaps even from notorious peer-to-peer pirate sites. To make this possible, broadband subscribers would pay a nominal fee of as little as £1, or $1.38, a month to their Internet service providers.

Ron Berry, director of inward investment for the Isle of Man, said the music industry needed radical approaches because of the “utter failure” of its current strategies. Global music sales have fallen nearly 25 percent since 2000.

Groping Around in the Privacy Space

Basics – Sharing Selectively on Social Networking Sites (pdf)

Much of the danger lies in the fact that, increasingly, our “friends” on social networking sites are actually a mix of people — friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues — with whom we would normally share only a piece of our lives.

The good news is that the sites, eager to prevent jittery users from scaling back what they share, have been busily adding features to give us more control over our information. These privacy settings are not always easy to find and use, and they can get downright complicated. But if you think before you post and put the privacy settings to work, you can socialize and network in the way that is comfortable for you, with less worry about mishaps.

A Test of Deep-Linking Avoided

Gatehouse and New York Times Co. settle lawsuit (pdf)

A clerk to U.S. District Judge William Young said the two sides reached an agreement over the weekend just before the case was set to go to trial Monday in U.S. District Court.

No details have been announced. Lawyers for GateHouse and the New York Times Co. declined immediate comment Monday morning. Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for the New York Times Co., did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Also: while I know that there aren’t many of you still reading this blog, given my poor showing of late (which I hope to get more assiduous about in a week or so), you should also know that FurdLog is going to be “off the air” for a day or so as I change office location at MIT this week. Note also that, because MIT organizes subnets by building, the address for this server will change, so it may also take a day for the domain name servers to update, too.

Later: NYT, Gatehouse release settlement details (pdf)

Ouroboros and the News

It works, of course, only if you grow faster than you consume: Lawsuit over website links in spotlight (pdf)

A copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit filed last month against The New York Times Co., owner of The Boston Globe and its Boston.com website, is being watched closely by news organizations, Internet researchers, independent bloggers, and companies that aggregate news online by linking to a variety of news sites.

At the heart of the complaint, lodged by GateHouse Media Inc., which publishes 125 community newspapers in Massachusetts, is the question of whether Internet news providers will be able to continue the practice of posting headlines and lead sentences from stories they link to on other sites. The case has been scheduled for trial in US District Court in Boston as early as Monday.

[…] Times Co.’s counterfiling argued GateHouse is seeking to thwart Boston.com’s local sites. It cited an e-mail from Rick Daniels, a former Globe executive who is now chief operating officer of GateHouse Media New England. Daniels told his staff, “We have to . . . work like hell to kill the Globe’s Newton baby in the cradle.” The filing quoted other documents, obtained in discovery, in which GateHouse executives suggested they recognized posting headlines, a few paragraphs, and a link to stories on other sites was “fair use” of copyrighted material.

A good archive here; earlier Globe article: GateHouse sues Globe’s parent over websites (pdf)

Initiatives and Contention

House panel clears $3 billion Internet grants

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over most Internet and telecommunications issues, cleared the Democratic-written provisions for high-speed Internet and wireless expansion into rural and hard-to-serve areas.

A contentious part of the package requires Internet service providers that receive grant money to abide by so-called “open access” principles, which bars providers from discrimination of applications and content.

The Tiger Changing Its Stripes?

Or getting so thin that you can’t see them anymore? Music Industry Imitates Digital Pirates to Turn a Profit (pdf)

Online and mobile services offering listeners unlimited “free” access to millions of songs are set to proliferate in the coming months, according to music industry executives.

Unlike illegal file-sharing services, which the music industry says are responsible for billions of dollars in lost sales, these new offerings are perfectly legal. The services are not really free, but payment is included in the cost of, say, a new cellphone or a broadband Internet access contract, so the cost to the consumer is disguised. And, unlike pirate sites, these services provide revenue to the music companies.

“Two thousand nine should be the year when the music industry stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb,” said Feargal Sharkey, a former punk rocker who now heads UK Music, a trade group for the British music industry.

Latest IFPI Stats

Global Music Sales Fell 7% in ’08 as CDs Lost Favor (pdf)

Music sales worldwide fell by about 7 percent last year as another sizable jump in digital sales failed to make up for a deepening decline in the compact disc market, according to John Kennedy, chief executive of the industry’s main international trade group.

Revenue from music sold over the Internet, via mobile phones and in other digital forms, rose by 25 percent last year, to $3.7 billion, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said in a report set for publication Friday. Digital sales accounted for 20 percent of the industry’s revenue, up from 15 percent a year earlier.

But a nosedive in sales of CDs in the United States, aggravated by the economic downturn and widespread piracy, took its toll in the fourth quarter of the year, when the industry typically posts its strongest sales. […]

A Going Away Present

Intelligence Court Rules Wiretapping Program Legal (pdf)

A federal intelligence court, in a rare public opinion, is expected to issue a major ruling validating the power of the president and Congress to wiretap international phone calls and intercept e-mail messages without a court order, even when Americans’ private communications may be involved.

The court decision is expected to be disclosed as early as Thursday in an unclassified, redacted form. It was made in December by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which has issued only two prior rulings in its 30-year history.

The decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers. In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has constitutional authority to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping.

[…] The court ruling grew out of a previously undisclosed challenge from a telecommunications provider, which questioned the constitutional authority of the executive branch in ordering it to capture and turn over international communications without court authority, according to the person with knowledge of the opinion.

The telecommunications company, which was not identified, apparently refused to comply with the order and instead challenged the legal basis of the order under the 2007 law in a claim before the FISA court.

The FISA court rejected the telecommunication companies’ challenge. […]

Observing the Process

Better from a webcam than from the dock! US judge allows webcam to cover music-download suit (pdf)

In the first such ruling in the federal judiciary in Massachusetts, a judge in Boston agreed yesterday to allow video cameras in the courtroom to provide live Internet coverage of a high-interest lawsuit against a Boston University graduate student accused of downloading music illegally.

US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner said she will allow Courtroom View Network – a New York-based company that webcasts trials, primarily in state courts – to chronicle a key hearing Jan. 22 in the suit against the student, Joel Tenenbaum, by a group that represents the US recording industry.

Another Excuse For Control Torpedoed

Well, on the other hand, the arguments are rarely grounded on actual consideration of such things. I am confident that “Think of the children” will continue to be a part of the landscape of this political discussion for a long time: Report Finds Online Threats to Children Overblown (pdf)

The Internet may not be such a dangerous place for children after all.

A task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem.

The findings ran counter to popular perceptions of online dangers as reinforced by depictions in the news media like NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series. One attorney general was quick to criticize the group’s report.