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June 30, 2009

Competing With the Renminbi? [1:58 pm]

Seriously? China Limits Use of Online Currency Used by Game Players

China made public on Tuesday regulations aimed at cracking down on the use of virtual currencies amid worries that a huge underground economy was developing out of the country’s online gaming community.

[...] Beijing said the regulations would curtail trading in virtual currencies, prevent online gambling and restrict virtual currency from being exchanged for cash or used to buy real-world goods.

Among other things, Chinese officials have worried that online currencies could ultimately serve as an alternative to China’s official currency, the renminbi, and have an impact on the country’s financial system.

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Delaying, But Not Really Reversing Course [1:55 pm]

Beijing Delays Rule on Software Censor

China’s state-run news agency said late Tuesday that the government had postponed a requirement, set to take effect Wednesday, to equip all newly sold computers with software to filter out objectionable Internet content.

[...] As a practical matter, the abrupt postponement bows to reality, because most of China’s computer retailers have large stocks of machines, manufactured months before the decree was announced, that have yet to be sold. Many global computer makers have declined to say how they would comply with the requirement, apparently hoping that the government would delay or reverse its decision under international pressure.

China’s industry and information technology ministry has cast the order as a move to shield children from obscene or violent Internet sites. But critics and technology experts here and abroad have called it an ill-concealed effort to rein in online criticism of the government and other speech that Beijing considers subversive.

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A Future for the Pirate Bay? [1:53 pm]

Outside of the parliament, I mean: Global Gaming Factory Buys the File-Sharing Site Pirate Bay

A small Swedish software company said Tuesday that it would buy the Pirate Bay, a notorious Internet file-sharing service whose founders were recently sentenced to prison for copyright violations, and hoped to turn the site into a legal source of free music and movies.

The company, Global Gaming Factory, said it had agreed to pay 60 million Swedish kronor, or $7.75 million, for the Pirate Bay, which says it has 20 million users worldwide. The site, the most prominent target of the international recording industry and Hollywood movie studios in their battle against digital piracy, continues to operate despite the guilty verdicts against its four founders in April.

Hans Pandeya, chief executive of Global Gaming Factory, said the company planned to turn the Pirate Bay into a legal provider of digital content through a new business model.

“Content owners hate file-sharers, but this is going to change,” Mr. Pandeya said.

Under the new system, he said, the Pirate Bay would generate revenue from several sources, including advertising.

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Cert Denied; DVR Decision Stands [12:20 pm]

Supreme Court Clears Way for Wider Use of DVR (pdf)

The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a blow to the television networks when it declined to hear a case about a digital video recorder technology, opening the gate for wider use of DVR systems.

The case began in 2006 when Cablevision Systems, the New York-area cable operator, announced plans for what is called a network DVR system. With it, a customer would use a remote control to digitally record a program like “60 Minutes” but instead of storing the show in the customer’s at-home DVR box, the technology would store the show on a faraway Cablevision server.

The technology would let Cablevision convert set-top boxes into boxes with DVR capabilities without requiring an installation or new equipment.

“It opens up the possibility of offering a DVR experience to all of our digital cable customers,” Tom Rutledge, Cablevision’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. Programmers including Turner Broadcasting System’s Cartoon Network, CNN and television networks sued Cablevision, saying the system violated copyright law. In March 2007, a lower court agreed, ruling that Cablevision “would be engaging in unauthorized reproductions and transmissions of plaintiffs’ copyrighted programs.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York reversed that decision in August 2008. The plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, but the Supreme Court’s refusal essentially reinforced the Second Circuit’s decision.

See the EFF page on this case. Also SCOTUSBlog entries.

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