Totally Believable Announcement

After all, how will you know? I mean, consider the source. And his source. Bush won’t reauthorize eavesdroppingpdf

President George W. Bush has decided not to reauthorize the controversial domestic warrantless surveillance program for terrorism suspects and to put it under the authority of a secret special court, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Wednesday.

Unless you think the Judiciary Committee has developed a spine: White House Says Judiciary Will Monitor Spy Program; Gonzales’ memo to the Committee; Tim Grieve’s thoughts

Note nothing about the military’s role in spying

Later: Glenn Greenwald seems to agree: Maybe Bush didn’t back down on wiretaps: Stop celebrating — it’s not yet clear whether the administration really intends to start obeying the law.

Later: the LATimes’ editorial – The administration that cried wolf on spyingpdf; and Slate’s read on how this announcement may merely indicate a compromising of FISA’s dictates: Gonzales’ Trojan Horse

NPR on the Zyprexa/Eli Lilly Case

NPR : Leaked Documents Spur First-Amendment Debate

For a couple of days, you could judge for yourself, because the Zyprexa documents were posted on the Web by individuals to whom they were also leaked.

On Dec. 18, Lilly obtained a temporary court order to get its documents back. The New York Times refused, but the Web links were shut down. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein will be asked to restore the links.

Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Freedom [sic] Foundation in San Francisco will argue that the order to shut down the Web links violated the protections of the First Amendment.

PERFORM Act

Hi, everyone. Sorry for the hiatus, but trying to get everything back on track after breaking my ankle has been a little more difficult that I imagined. I know, I have lots of catching up to do (Santangelo developments, for example). but I figured I’d start small and ramp back up. So, here’s the Summary for S.256, the PERFORM Act (cited in my last post). Here’s at least some of the language that raises the specter of an effort to make sure that home recording never becomes more technologically sophisticated than it is today::

  (d) Definition- Section 114(j) of title 17, United States Code, is amended–

    (1) by redesignating paragraphs (10) through (15) as paragraphs (11) through (16), respectively; and

    (2) by inserting after paragraph (9) the following:

      `(10)(A) A `reasonable recording’ means the making of a phonorecord embodying all or part of a performance licensed under this section for private, noncommercial use where technological measures used by the transmitting entity, and which are incorporated into a recording device–

        `(i) permit automated recording or playback based on specific programs, time periods, or channels as selected by or for the user;

        `(ii) do not permit automated recording or playback based on specific sound recordings, albums, or artists;

        `(iii) do not permit the separation of component segments of the copyrighted material contained in the transmission program which results in the playback of a manipulated sequence; and

        `(iv) do not permit the redistribution, retransmission or other exporting of a phonorecord embodying all or part of a performance licensed under this section from the device by digital outputs or removable media, unless the destination device is part of a secure in-home network that also complies with each of the requirements prescribed in this paragraph.

      `(B) Nothing in this paragraph shall prevent a consumer from engaging in non-automated manual recording and playback in a manner that is not an infringement of copyright.’.

Looking Out For … Whom?

Some weird new players: Senators aim to restrict Net, satellite radio recording

Satellite and Internet radio services would be required to restrict listeners’ ability to record and play back individual songs, under new legislation introduced this week in the U.S. Senate.

The rules are embedded in a copyright bill called the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act, or Perform Act, which was reintroduced Thursday by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). They have pitched the proposal, which first emerged in an earlier version last spring, as a means to level the playing field among “radio-like services” available via cable, satellite and the Internet.

By their description, that means requiring all such services to pay “fair market value” for the use of copyright music libraries. The bill’s sponsors argue the existing regime must change because it applies different royalty rates, depending on what medium transmits the music.

Some Upcoming Boston Athenaeum Events

For those in the area, I got a mailing from the Boston Athenaeum about a couple of upcoming lectures in their Bicentennial Series that are notable (this link right now points to their fall events only, but I hope it will be updated to match the mailing I got yesterday — the overall spring events calendar is here). The basic format will be a panel discussion, with one speaker supplying a historical perspective and the other providing the contemporary one:

  • 2007 February 22 — Libraries and Copyright: Who Owns What, and for How Long? Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library, 6:00 pm (Siva Vaidhyanathan is listed as one of the panelists)

  • 2007 March 15 — Collecting and Preservation in Libraries: Buy it? Shelve it? Scan it? Weed it? Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library, 6:00 pm

  • 2007 April 26 — The Cultural Influence of Libraries: Will the library continue to serve as the record keeper for humanity? Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library, 6:00 pm

  • 2007 May 10 — Libraries, Censorship, and Freedom of Information: Beyond mere shushing, Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library, 6:00 pm

  • 2007 May 17 — Libraries and the Organization of Knowledge: Where did we come from– and where are we going? Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library, 6:00 pm

Disney’s Iger Trying To Thread the Needle

Disney to unveil website revamppdf

“We’ve seen a lot of announcements out of Disney with respect to the Net. Now the expectations are higher,” UBS analyst Aryeh Bourkoff said. “This year, the focus has to be on execution.”

Since assuming the top Disney job from Michael Eisner 15 months ago, Iger has won praise for dropping Disney’s previous antagonism toward Web innovations and striking such pioneering deals as being the first one to sell prime-time television shows and movies over Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes store.

But for all of Iger’s proclamations about finding new ways to reach consumers over the Internet, Disney’s own website has changed little, and the zealous policing of its creations has limited the Web environments that children can create using its characters.

[…] More than any other big media company, family-oriented Disney must worry about navigating between the strict controls that appeal to parents and the increasing expectations of freedom held by their children.

[…] The new Disney.com will present itself differently to various age groups, though all will get expanded video, games and other interaction. As on MySpace, visitors will be able to create their own websites, communicate with each other and mash together and share music and videos — as long as they’re Disney music and videos.

Parents will have to use their credit cards to register their children as regular site visitors and will get detailed options for limiting what their kids can do and how they can do it.

Current and former Disney Web executives said the balancing act would be a tricky one to pull off, especially on the older end of the target audience.

Interview with Google’s David Eun

Google and content: Google an ally, not a threat, media exec sayspdf

Google, as they see it, is a “frenemy” — an enemy who acts like a friend, or part friend, part enemy. Martin Sorrell, chairman and chief executive of advertising giant WPP Group, recently used the term. He is among the media executives who can’t decide whether Google is trying to help their business or kill it.

That’s where David Eun comes in. As vice president of content partnerships, the former NBC and Time Warner Inc. executive is Google’s ambassador to the television, movie, publishing and local-media industries.

[…] Q: One of your jobs is to be the guy who says, “We’re not the enemy” to media companies. What do you think when you hear people like Martin Sorrell call you a “frenemy”?

A: At the end of the day, I just point to actual data. [In the third quarter], we paid $780 million out to partners in our AdSense program. Clearly, we do best when our partners do well. Our whole business model is structured around partnering. As we think about our mission of connecting users with information — beyond Web pages, into what’s printed on newspapers, magazines or a book, or what’s on video — we think about it in a partner-centric way.

When people say we’re to be feared, I never quite know what to make of that. You can always opt out: We never force you to work with us. We typically don’t do exclusive deals, so you’re never stuck working with us. And it’s public that in most cases we still give the majority of every dollar we create from a partnership to the partners, so you still get the lion’s share of the money. What about that sounds so unfriendly?

You have a company that’s 8 years old, that’s growing very quickly, that’s created a new business approach. And meanwhile, you know, there are challenges to your current business. So there’s a lot of questions, sometimes a lot of anxiety. Sometimes I think that it’s displaced on us.

We represent the new way of doing things — the unknown. A lot of that is placed on us. We must have an agenda, we must be aspiring to be a media company, when in fact we have no such aspirations. We kind of like the way our business runs as it is. If anything, we have an incentive to make sure our media companies are as successful as possible so they continue to make great content because we don’t do that, we don’t know how to do it.

Profile of a Lobbyist

Still working hard: Still in the spotlight

“He was oftentimes wrong, like he was about the VCR … but nobody can spin words together like him,” said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a group that advocates easier access to digital information. “He’s one of the most eloquent people I’ve ever come across.”

Valenti’s silver-tongued phrases, often mined from the far reaches of the thesaurus and delivered with a hint of his Texas twang, have made him one of the most quotable people in town. But in Washington, words really matter only when the right people hear them. Valenti has spent decades nurturing relationships with Democrats and Republicans that continue to open doors for him.

“When Jack calls, people are available to see us,” said Edward W. Scott, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who founded Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

A Law & Order Episode In the Making

With a very important question: A Pretend Web Romance, Then a Real-Life Murder

He told her he was a young marine, recently back from Iraq.

She said she was an attractive 18-year-old woman eager to meet men, even if they were far from her West Virginia home.

As with many relationships born on the Internet, neither was telling the truth.

In reality, the man was Thomas Montgomery, a 47-year-old married father of two teenagers, who had spent the last 12 years working at a factory in this suburb of Buffalo. His cyber-lover from West Virginia was also in her 40’s, the police say, but had adopted her daughter’s identity, including the younger woman’s e-mail address and Web page, as her online persona.

Still, no one would have been hurt had the real world not collided with the pair’s middle-aged fantasies.

Instead, a 22-year-old co-worker of Mr. Montgomery’s was shot dead one September night as he left the power-tool plant where they were employed. Mr. Montgomery was arrested in November and charged with second-degree murder.

So, what’s the question? It comes near the close of the article, with this pronouncement by the local police:

The woman in West Virginia, whose true age became known to Mr. Montgomery only after his arrest, does not face any charges.

“She was doing absolutely nothing wrong,” Chief Rankin said. “She obviously didn’t realize what was going to happen, or that there would be a ‘love triangle.’ ”

He added: “Mr. Barrett was a completely innocent person who was, from all appearances, a fine, upstanding young man who was putting himself through college. He was simply looking for a friendship on the Internet and ended up dying for it.”

Was she “doing absolutely nothing wrong?” What do you think?

Later, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an APWire version of the story: 22-year-old killed amid Internet lies; pdf

A Dimension of the Lindor Suit

From ArsTechnica: RIAA fights to keep wholesale pricing secret

The record labels are strenuously opposing Lindor’s attempts to gain access to the pricing information. They have argued that it shouldn’t be divulged, and if it is, it should only be done so under a protective order that would keep the data highly confidential. The RIAA regards the wholesale price per song—widely believed to be about 70¢ per track—as a trade secret.

[…] The pricing information could be crucial for Lindor as she makes the argument that the damages sought by the RIAA are excessive. In this and other cases, the labels are seeking statutory damages of $750 per song shared. Lindor argues that the actual damages suffered by the RIAA are in line with the wholesale price per song, and if that is indeed the case, damages should be capped accordingly—between $2.80 and $7.00 per song—if infringement is proven.