Net Neutrality Guarantees Scrapped

Republicans defeat Net neutrality proposal

A Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday defeated a proposal that would have levied extensive regulations on broadband providers and forcibly prevented them from offering higher-speed video services to partners or affiliates.

By an 8-to-23 margin, the committee members rejected a Democratic-backed “Net neutrality” amendment to a current piece of telecommunications legislation. The amendment had attracted support from companies including Amazon.com, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and their chief executives wrote a last-minute letter to the committee on Wednesday saying such a change to the legislation was “critical.”

Before the vote, amendment sponsor Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, assailed his Republican colleagues. “We’re about to break with the entire history of the Internet,” Markey said. “Everyone should understand that.”

[…] “This is not Chicken Little, the sky is not falling, we’re not going to change the direction of the axis of the earth on this vote,” said Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican. He said overregulatory Net neutrality provisions would amount to picking winners and losers in the marketplace and discourage investment in faster connections that will benefit consumers.

Last week, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton said: “Before we get too far down the road, I want to let the market kind of sort itself out, and I’m not convinced that we really have a problem with Net neutrality.”

[…] A CNET News.com report published last week, however, showed that the Internet industry is being outspent in Washington by more than a 3-to-1 margin.

AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon spent $230.9 million on politicians from 1998 until the present, while Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo spent only a combined $71.2 million. (Those figures include lobbying expenditures, individual contributions, political action committees and soft money.)

Slashdot: Republicans Defeat Net Neutrality Proposal

The Reuters news article in the WaPo pushes another angle: US House panel backs help for telcos on TV service

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet voted 27-4 to allow companies to apply for a nationwide license to offer video service, instead of the current process in which they must negotiate with thousands of cities for individual licenses.

[…] Democrats offered numerous amendments, including provisions aimed at preventing Internet service providers from favoring certain content over others and require new video providers to build out their service to ensure poor areas are not left out.

Most were defeated by the Republicans who have a majority on the panel, including the Internet neutrality amendment. But lawmakers approved by voice vote a provision requiring high- speed Internet providers to sell the service without tying it with voice or other products.

Business Method Patents: More Evidence

Is this really what the patent system is supposed to protect? How does this promote a vibrant, innovative and competitive marketplace? How is this innovation worthy of protection, given that the incentive to develop the innovation is to make money? Shouldn’t that be the reward, rather than giving a quasi-monopoly for a good business idea? I hope Blockbuster fights this to the bitter end, and I hope that the courts finally wise up on this nonsensical extension of patent protection. [Man, an I crabby this morning] Netflix sues Blockbuster to shut online service [pdf]

The first patent, granted in 2003, covers the method by which Netflix customers select and receive a certain number of movies at a time, and return them for more titles.

The second patent, issued on Tuesday, “covers a method for subscription-based online rental that allows subscribers to keep the DVDs they rent for as long as they wish without incurring any late fees, to obtain new DVDswithout incurring additional charges and to prioritize and reprioritize their own personal dynamic queue — of DVDs to be rented,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit says No. 1 U.S. rental chain Blockbuster, which launched its online rental service in 2004, was aware that Netflix had obtained a patent for its business method and was seeking a second, but willfully and deliberately violated the existing patent.

Netflix, which is represented by the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest, is demanding a jury trial and asks that Blockbuster Online be enjoined from using Netflix’s business method and be forced to pay damages and court costs.

The WaPo’s Reuters article: Netflix may face tough fight in Blockbuster patent suit

MashUps Come To Software?

Cheerleading like this is always suspect, but I just got my offer of a Google Analytics account, so I can see that I have a lot (more) to learn about this: Software Out There Of the many interesting quotes, I found this particularly notable, as well as pointing out how much I don’t know about this:

At the Emerging Technologies Conference, held in San Diego last month, Ray Ozzie, one of Microsoft’s three chief technical officers, showed a prototype effort that uses the Windows clipboard, which moves data among different desktop PC programs, to perform the same function for copying and transferring Web information.

Mr. Ozzie, who used the Firefox browser (an open-source rival to Internet Explorer) during his demonstration, said, “I’m pretty pumped up with the potential for R.S.S. to be the DNA for wiring the Web.”

He was referring to Really Simple Syndication, an increasingly popular, free standard used for Internet publishing. Mr. Ozzie’s statement was remarkable for a chief technical officer whose company has just spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars investing in a proprietary alternative referred to as .Net.

All I Hope Has To Be Said About This Venal DaVinci Code © Suit

And worse, it’s not even a terribly good (or well-written) book! Steal This Book

The co-authors of a 1982 work of nonfiction, “Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” are suing the novelist Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code,” for breach of copyright. They charge that Mr. Brown’s novel stole their hypothesis — which, in case you’ve been holed away for the past few years rereading Proust, is that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married, and a shadowy group called the Priory of Sion has protected their descendants over the centuries, fending off dark, contending forces inside the Vatican.

But what those in that London courtroom seem not to realize is that the novel has always been a confidence game. Early in the 18th century, the English novel came into being when a sometime jailbird gulled his readers with the counterfeit memoir of a certain Robinson Crusoe. Across the Channel, plenty of readers took narratives like “Manon Lescaut,” by the Abbé Provost, a convicted forger, as the historical accounts they pretended to be. No surprise that our ancestors’ mischief has lingered in the literary bloodline, especially when it comes to fiction masquerading as history.

“Writers have to avoid taking material from other writers,” one of the plaintiffs, Michael Baigent, has declared, unappeased by the fact that Mr. Brown’s book makes explicit reference to his. “It’s part of the deal, really.”

Tell that to the author of “A Tale of Two Cities,” who not only boasted of having read Thomas Carlyle’s history of the French Revolution hundreds of times but also credited it with having “inspired me with the general fancy of that story.”

Web-Based Self Promotion Pays Off

Webcast singer snapped up by Sony

Sandi Thom, 24, is now on the books of RCA/SonyBMG after signing with the label at her flat on Monday night.

She built up a daily audience of more than 100,000 people around the world.

Speaking on British television, Sandi said she could not believe what had happened and that her life had “changed dramatically.”

A Little Copyright Nicety

Buried in this article: Billboard to Begin Ranking Ringtones Sales [pdf]

Master ringtones have been popular for years in Asia and Europe, where use of handsets with better ringtone fidelity is more common than in the United States. But as more multimedia-friendly mobile phones have entered the U.S. market, users have increasingly opted to customize their phones with master ringtones.

That’s good news for recording companies and artists who perform on an original track, because they reap royalties from master ringtones along with songwriters and publishers. Recording companies and performers don’t get a cut of the synthesized ringtones.

The U.S. ringtone market is expected to exceed $600 million in sales this year, up from $500 million last year, according to BMI, a major performing rights organization that represents songwriters, composers and music publishers.

Billboard estimates global ringtone sales racked up $4.4 billion in 2005, up from $3.7 billion the previous year. Much of that growth was due to sales of master ringtones, according to the magazine.

Swamped!

Gonna be a little overwhelmed for a few days, so posting will be a little spare.  I hope to get a few things in, but it’s going to be iffy for a while.

Mesh Network Testing on West Bank

Nortel to test “Wireless Mesh” in Israel [pdf]

Nortel Networks (Toronto:NT.TO – news) (NYSE:NT – news) said on Monday it received Israeli government approval to perform a test of its “Wireless Mesh” network in the Jewish settlement town of Ariel in the West Bank

[…] In Ariel, the network will help with municipal law enforcement, provide video surveillance to limit vandalism, read water meters remotely, allow for wireless data and voice communications between municipal workers and employees at the local university, and enable wireless Internet for residents.

The network is expected to be up and running within a month and the test should be concluded in one year. Costs were not disclosed.

[…] The test in Ariel for Wireless Mesh — which links together multiple access points without the need for cables into a wireless network — comes after Taipei selected Nortel to provide high-speed wireless broadband access in the Taiwan capital.

The RIAA “Education” Campaign

A chance to be bullied into speaking to the public via an LATimes op-ed. Coerced communications to the public — wonder why that seems so familiar?  Sinking a music pirate [pdf]

THE WORD TO describe it is “shame.” The shame in realizing I’d been monitored for months, with paper logs of my online conversations; the shame of begging my university dean to allow me to remain a student; the shame of continuing to squander such a significant portion of my family’s savings on legal fees; the shame of pleading with professors to reschedule tests; the shame of desperately searching for landlords on short notice; and, of course, the shame of knowing I’d stolen the property of others like me who are passionate about the art of music.

The other word is “fear.” Fear that keeps me awake at night and distracted in class. Fear of my May sentencing date (I pleaded guilty in March) in the same courthouse as Zacarias Moussaoui; fear of the possible prison time I am facing; fear of my job prospects when I graduate college in December with a felony criminal record; and fear for the future I’ve recklessly damaged.

Everybody wants something for nothing, and I’ve come to learn that “free” music is anything but. The hidden cost is enormous. Although I am unqualified to opine on the price of piracy for the artists whose work is stolen, I can describe the price I’ve paid.

Stealing, no matter how little, or how easy, is never right. There is no justification for downloading music without paying. I’m not just saying this to reduce my sentence; I want to get the message out to young people who might not otherwise understand — copyright infringement, whether it is buying a bootleg album from a street vendor or downloading a song from the Internet, has very serious consequences.