Google and China

Brin says Google compromised principlespdf

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse course.

Missed This

Z’s latest at SSRN: The Generative Internet


The generative capacity for unrelated and unaccredited audiences to build and distribute code and content through the Internet to its tens of millions of attached personal computers has ignited growth and innovation in information technology and has facilitated new creative endeavors. It has also given rise to regulatory and entrepreneurial backlashes. A further backlash among consumers is developing in response to security threats that exploit the openness of the Internet and of PCs to third-party contribution. A shift in consumer priorities from generativity to stability will compel a response from regulators and markets and, if unaddressed, could prove decisive in closing today’s open computing environments. This Article explains why PC openness is as important as network openness, as well as why today’s open network might give rise to unduly closed endpoints. It argues that the Internet is better conceptualized as a generative grid that includes both PCs and networks rather than as an open network indifferent to the configuration of its endpoints. Applying this framework, the Article explores ways – some of them bound to be unpopular among advocates of an open Internet represented by uncompromising end-to-end neutrality – in which the Internet can be made to satisfy genuine and pressing security concerns while retaining the most important generative aspects of today’s networked technology.

British Study on DRM Legislation

Study: Don’t legislate DRM

In a new report released Monday, a group of lawmakers advised the British government not to make DRM (digital rights management) systems mandatory, citing concerns over how the technology restricts access to digitized files.

The All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APPIG) said it is not aware of efforts in Europe to make DRM enforced by law, although some publishing groups favor it.

Since November, APPIG has held hearings with book and music publishers, technology companies, and attorneys about how to deal with increasing conflicts and concerns over DRM, releasing a 30-page report on its findings. DRM refers to encoded restrictions on how digital files can be used and manipulated.

A Different Look To Video Gaming

The Video Game Goes Minimalist: Nintendo Comes Full Circle

SOME new media, like the Internet and cellphones, begin life in a niche, as curiosities even, before becoming everyday elements of mainstream culture. Others evolve in the opposite direction.

Think about video games. Once upon a time, call it the 1980’s, video games were simple. Facing one joystick and at most a couple of buttons, most anyone could simply drop a quarter into a Galaga or Ms. Pac-Man machine and have some cheap thrills. And because the games were simple, they were practically ubiquitous in bars, waiting rooms and other public places. Remember arcades?

Inevitably progress got in the way. As game machines have become cheaper over the years, they have mostly disappeared from public spaces and burrowed into bedrooms and dens. And as the machines have gotten more powerful, the games have gotten more complicated. Both avid gamers and the industry have come to fixate on the ever more impressive graphics and ever more complex scenarios that faster chips can create.

The results can be downright intimidating. People now in their 40’s who might have just walked up to a Centipede machine and started playing when they were in college now might look at a Sony PlayStation 2 (which has 17 buttons and joysticks) and think, “I’ll never figure that thing out.”

Reader Luis Villa suggests the following background reading – Nintendo’s Genre Innovation Strategy: Thoughts on the Revolution’s new controller

Digital Distribution and Bookselling

Digital Publishing Is Scrambling the Industry’s Rules

Hovering above the discussion of all these technologies is the fear that the publishing industry could be subject to the same upheaval that has plagued the music industry, where digitalization has started to displace the traditional artistic and economic model of the record album with 99-cent song downloads and personalized playlists. Total album sales are down 19 percent since 2001, while CD sales have dropped 16 percent during the same period, according to Nielsen BookScan. Sales of single digital music tracks have jumped more than 1,700 percent in just two years. What writers think about technological developments in the literary world has a lot to do with where they are re sitting at the moment. As a researcher and scholar, Anne Fadiman, author of “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” and “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader,” thinks a digital library of all books would be a “godsend” during research, allowing her to “sniff out all the paragraphs” on a given topic. But, she said: “That’s not reading. For reading, you have to read a book in its entirety and I think there’s no substitute for the look and feel and smell of a real book — the magic of the paper and thread and glue.”

[…] For many authors, the question of how technology will shape book publishing inevitably leads to the question of how writers will be paid. Currently, publishers pay authors an advance against royalties, which are conventionally earned at the rate of 15 percent of the cover price of each copy sold.

[…] In the context of history, the changes that today’s technology will impose on literary society may not be as earth-shattering as some may think. In fact, books themselves are a relatively new construct, inheritors of a longstanding oral storytelling culture. Mass-produced books are an even newer phenomenon, enabled by the invention of the printing press that likely put legions of calligraphers and bookbinders out of business.

That history gives great comfort to writers like Vikram Chandra, whose 1,000-page novel, “Sacred Games,” will be published in January. Mr. Chandra, a former computer programmer who already reads e-books downloaded to his pocket personal computer, said he saw no point in resisting technology. “I think circling the wagons and defending the fortress metaphors are a little misplaced,” he said. “The barbarians at the gate are usually willing to negotiate a little, and the guys in the fort usually end up yelling that ‘we are the only good things in the world and you guys don’t understand it,’ at which point the barbarians shrug, knock down your walls with their amazingly powerful weapons, and put a parking lot over your sacred grounds.

“If they are in a really good mood,” he added, “they put up a pyramid of skulls.”

AllofMP3 Update

On a Russian Site, Cheap Songs With a Backbeat of Illegality

Operating through what music industry lobbyists say is a loophole in Russia’s copyright law, offers a vast catalog of music that includes artists not normally authorized for sale online — like the Beatles and Metallica — at a fraction of the cost of services like the iTunes Music Store owned by Apple Computer.

[…] AllofMP3 asserts its legality by citing a license issued by a royalty collecting society, the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society, known as R.O.M.S. for its Russian initials.

In most countries, the collecting societies that receive royalty payments for the sale or use of artistic works need reciprocal agreements with overseas copyright holders, according to agencies that represent rights holders.

According to Russia’s 1993 copyright law, however, collecting societies are permitted to act on behalf of rights holders who have not authorized them to do so. The result is that numerous organizations in Russia receive royalties for the use of foreign artistic works, but never pass on that money to the artists or music companies, according to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, the umbrella organization for collecting societies.

LATimes Gives A New Meaning to “ISP”

Internet surveillance providerspdf

USING THE INTERNET IS LIKE walking on a crowded beach. Your movements leave a trail online that others can retrace, but tides and time eventually wash away your footprints. Now the Bush administration wants to make those footprints more enduring.

The administration has opened talks with leading Internet providers and search engines about preserving their records. The Justice Department apparently wants Internet companies to keep two years’ worth of data on where users go, what they search for and to whom they send e-mail. The ostensible purpose is to combat child pornography and terrorism. That’s a laudable goal. It’s not at all clear, however, that this plan would put more bad guys behind bars. It’s more likely that the new troves of data would attract hackers or trial lawyers.

[…] Before Internet companies or lawmakers agree to this plan, the Justice Department should have to show that the change is needed to put more child pornographers and terrorists behind bars. How many cases, if any, have foundered because investigators had access to only a few months’ worth of data rather than two years’ worth? The benefits of the new approach may be questionable, but the risks are not.

Skype, PCs and Telephony

Internet Phones: Please Wait for the Next Available Opportunity

THE telephone and the PC are ubiquitous desk mates, separated by a few inches and about a century.

How soon we can use our home phones to exploit the efficiencies of the Internet, where calling costs are too small to be worth metering, is a question of no small import for every telecommunications provider — and for every household with a phone.

The prospect of modernizing the telephone seems close because broadband services have solved the so-called last-mile problem, bringing relatively fast Internet connections from local switching centers and cable offices into customers’ homes. But connecting home phones to the Internet — spanning the last foot and a half — remains a problem, unless one subscribes to one of the new Internet phone services offered by cable companies here and there.

One Online Exemption Means Universal Exemptions?

A look at eBay’s legislative clout: How eBay Makes Regulations Disappear

As the company has spread its innovative and influential wings across the Internet, it has also woven together a muscular and wily lobbying apparatus that spans 25 states. “It is a fast-moving train, and if you get in front of it you’ll get flattened,” said Sherrie Wilks, an official with Louisiana’s licensing agency, who is concerned that eBay flouts regulatory oversight by persuading state legislators to take the company’s side.

Regulators in other states also say that when they try to erect guidelines around eBay’s activities, they quickly encounter the realities of the company’s political power, raising anew the perennial questions about the proper balance among public policy, consumer protection and business interests. EBay’s lobbying tactics, meanwhile, illustrate the spoils to be won when a savvy, resourceful company combines local political persuasion and grass-roots rallying to get lucrative regulatory exemptions that allow it to safeguard its profits.

EBay’s efforts have been remarkably successful, and the company, which has worked tirelessly to cultivate its image as a friendly neighborhood bazaar even as it engages in hard-nosed lobbying, is not shy about boasting of its victories.

Right of Celebrity?

So that’s how we get Paris Hilton?  Star powerpdf

But the right of publicity is not the right to be famous, it’s the right to control-and profit from-the commercial uses of one’s persona. According to Mark Lee, a lawyer who has represented clients like Tiger Woods, Barbra Streisand, and Sylvester Stallone in right-of-publicity and other intellectual property cases, the right of publicity is essentially a protection against “other people making money off of you without your permission.”

Although formally recognized in 28 states, including Massachusetts, publicity rights remain controversial. […]

[…] If the question of who owns a batting average has a koan-like quality to it, that’s to be expected in right-of-publicity jurisprudence. Landmark decisions have involved Bette Midler’s voice, Vanna White’s letter-turning, the pitcher Don Newcombe’s wind-up, the phrase “Here’s Johnny,” and, in the sole Supreme Court right-of-publicity case, a human cannonball’s circus routine.

Despite the hint of the surreal, litigators and legal scholars take such cases quite seriously, since what’s at stake is the boundary between free speech and property rights. Some worry that publicity rights have already expanded too far, allowing celebrities unilaterally to dictate how the rest of us can portray them. Others respond that it’s simply the law’s reasonable recognition of the economic value of celebrity. The issues and arguments can be similar to those in trademark and copyright cases. In a unique way though, right-of-publicity disputes are also about fame-who owns it, and what it’s worth.