UK Record Industry Lawsuits

Music labels file online piracy lawsuits in UK

Record companies in Britain are filing their first ever lawsuits against five people accused of illicitly sharing music online, after settling out of court with dozens of others.

The lawsuits come as the global music industry fights to control online piracy by suing users of illicit file-trading networks, while also promoting legal music services like Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Slashdot’s UK Record Companies Suing File Sharers

Friedman on Broadband Policy

Calling All Luddites

Congress is on the case. It dropped everything last week to pass a bill to protect gun makers from shooting victims’ lawsuits. The fact that the U.S. has fallen to 16th in the world in broadband connectivity aroused no interest. Look, I don’t even like cellphones, but this is not about gadgets. The world is moving to an Internet-based platform for commerce, education, innovation and entertainment. Wealth and productivity will go to those countries or companies that get more of their innovators, educators, students, workers and suppliers connected to this platform via computers, phones and P.D.A.’s.

[…] [Candidate for NYC public advocate’s office] Mr. [Andrew] Rasiej argues that we can’t trust the telecom companies to make sure that everyone is connected because new technologies, like free Internet telephony, threaten their business models. “We can’t trust the traditional politicians to be the engines of change for how people connect to their government and each other,” he said. By the way, he added, “If New York City goes wireless, the whole country goes wireless.”

[…] “One elected official by himself can’t solve the problems of eight million people,” Mr. Rasiej argued, “but eight million people networked together can solve one city’s problems. They can spot and offer solutions better and faster than any bureaucrat. … The party that stakes out this new frontier will be the majority party in the 21st century. And the Democrats better understand something – their base right now is the most disconnected from the network.”

Can you hear me now?

Glad To See This

Judge Posner’s Incorrect Verdict – He hacks on and on about the “crisis” in old media in the Times Book Review – let’s just say that living with a member of the “old media” gave me some insights that I enjoyed reading about in this piece:

Yet as Paul Farhi explains in a persuasive American Journalism Review feature, newspapers may be dinosaurs but “dinosaurs walked the earth for millions of years.” Newspapers still set the news agenda, he notes. Even with reduced readership and circulation, they still have the largest number of paying customers, who are much coveted by advertisers. And they are phenomenally profitable. Farhi writes, “[T]he mistake the newspapers-are-dead crowd makes is believing that trend lines continue in the same direction forever. It pays to remember that new communications media rarely eliminate the old ones; the old simply adapt to accommodate the new. So movies didn’t eliminate novels and TV didn’t eliminate movies or radio.” Who is more deeply invested in new media, especially the Web, than the old media? If they can turn a buck, they’ll willingly plow their newspapers into Web sites. In his rush to complete the piece, Posner also ignores the fact that millions more read quality journalism from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times because they’re available on the Web. The ability of these news organizations to profit off their Web presence might be lagging, but not their influence.

The article from the Book Review: Bad News

Phil Zimmermann+VoIP

Privacy Guru Locks Down VOIP

Now Phil Zimmermann, creator of the wildly popular Pretty Good Privacy e-mail encryption program, is debuting his new project, which he hopes will do for internet phone calls what PGP did for e-mail.

Zimmermann has developed a prototype program for encrypting voice over internet protocol, or VOIP, which he will announce at the BlackHat security conference in Las Vegas this week.

Why “Common Carrier” Still *Does* Mean Something

A Canadian Telecom’s Labor Dispute Leads to Blocked Web Sites and Questions of Censorship

Telus, the leading telecommunications company in western Canada, does not typically block its subscribers’ access to particular Web sites. But the company did play censor when it came to two sites related to its current labor dispute.

On July 21, members of the Telecommunications Workers Union went on strike against Telus. Strikebreaking immediately became a hot topic on www.voices-for-change.com, a pro-union Web site operated by a Telus employee and a second site (now apparently defunct) that featured photos of managers and union members who were still on the job.

On July 22, Telus blocked its Internet subscribers’ access to both sites. “What gets me is that Telus didn’t notify me,” said David DiMaria, the employee who operates voices-for-changes.com.

“We were very concerned for the safety of our employees,” Drew McArthur, the vice president of corporate affairs at Telus, said. “It was very intimidating.”

The company contends that its service agreement with subscribers allows it to block any Web site, a claim that some Canadian legal scholars question.

Later: Slashdot suggests it’s still going on (Aug 4): Hundreds of Sites Blocked By Canadian ISP