Sweden sues The Pirate Bay for copyright infringement

January 31, 2008

News:  Sweden has charged four individuals related to the website The Pirate Bay with copyright infringement.  They reportedly are the operators or financiers of the site:  Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstrom.   (More)

Analysis:  From the description, The Pirate Bay helps people find movies/songs being shared through BitTorrent by locating the files and providing links to them.  I haven’t explored the site myself, but it does sound at least somewhat like Napster.  Not sure if it has a centralized index of titles stored on its servers (like Napster did), but it helps to locate unauthorized files of third parties.  By the write-up on Wikipedia, The Pirate Bay seems committed to leading a movement for online file sharing and against the traditional copyright approach.


John Edwards ends campaign

January 30, 2008

“I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters. We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much.

“It is appropriate that I come here today. It’s time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path. We do not know who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history. We will be strong, we will be unified, and with our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November and we’ll create hope and opportunity for this country.”

Analysis:  John Edwards was the first candidate to announce his bid for the presidency in 2008.  He did so on YouTube first, while working to rebuild New Orleans–with his own hands.  Below is that video.  Edwards provided a strong voice for the poor of this country and took a courageous stand on not receiving money from lobbyists.  My guess is that the timing of his departure — before Super Tuesday next week –may be intended to help Barack Obama do better against Hillary Clinton.


Caroline Kennedy: JFK + Obama ad

January 30, 2008

FCC fines ABC for airing Charlotte Ross’s naked butt in 2003

January 29, 2008

News: On Friday of last week, the Federal Communications Commission issued a $1.43 million “indecency” fine against ABC for airing the naked butt of actress Charlotte Ross on an episode of NYPD Blue in 2003. The fine is based on $27,500 per ABC affiliate stations that aired the show in Central time at 9 p.m. — 1 hour before broadcasters apparently can air naked rear ends on TV. (more from Wash Post)

Analysis: The FCC “indecency” rules need to be overturned. They are outdated in the age of the Internet and they seem nothing short of censorship masquerading as a legal rule. Although the Supreme Court in 1978 did uphold (in a plurality opinion) the FCC’s power to regulate “indecent” material broadcast on the airwaves (see Pacifica), in 2008 the basis for that decision is more and more suspect. Pacifica was based on the Court’s view (i) that TV has a “pervasive presence” in American homes and (2) is available to children. The Court upheld the FCC’s sanction against a radio for broadcast of George Carlin’s “filthy words” routine at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

First things first: 9 p.m. is different from 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

Second, why is the FCC worried about something that happened in 2003? NYPD Blue no longer exists as a show.

Third, the Internet has, for many Americans, an equally pervasive presence that is available also to children in the same way as TV. Indeed, the lines between TV and the Internet have become increasingly blurred. Yet the thought of the U.S. government issuing fines for “indecent” content on the Internet would probably scare most Americans into thinking that the government was following the censorship policy of China.

Also, I wonder whether the FCC has been engaging in arbitrary enforcement of its “rule.” As I seem to recall, NYPD Blue used to routinely show naked butts on their show. The joke was that every actor would eventually have to show off their naked behind, including even Dennis Franz as Andy Sipowicz. I’m not sure if the FCC ever challenged ABC’s nudity in all those other shows. (Maybe it did, but I don’t think so.)

In the last day, clips of the “indecent” episode of NYPD Blue have been posted on YouTube.   Within 1 day, one clip received over 1 million views on YouTube–thanks to the FCC’s action in trying to regulate “indecency.”  You can judge for yourself what you think about the nudity in the clip and whether a $1.43 million fine is what you want the government to be handing down for such content. Of course, viewer discretion is advised.

Here’s a link to the NYPD Blue “indecent” nudity involving a naked butt.


Author Toni Morrison endorses Obama

January 29, 2008

Dear Senator Obama,

This letter represents a first for me–a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.

May I describe to you my thoughts?

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or “new-centrist” ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me “proud.”

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can’t train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace–that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country’s citizens as “we,” not “they”? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.

Toni Morrison


Warner Brothers v. Seeqpod

January 29, 2008

News:  Seeqpod is a search engine that locates music files on the Internet and allows you to play whatever you find on a music player that appears on the Seeqpod page.  The music is not stored on Seeqpod, as I understand it, but on third party sites that are identified in the search engine.

Warner Brothers Music has sued Seeqpod for copyright infringement.  Seeqpod will be invoking one of the safe harbors under the DMCA for search tools.  Ars Technica has an excellent discussion, as does EFF’s Fred von Lohmann.

Analysis:  I’ll have more to say after I read the complaint.


Huckabee backs GodTube

January 29, 2008

News:  Mike Huckabee (a pastor himself) has posted a video on GodTube — the Christian video sharing site — backing the site.  He states:

Well, the reason GodTube is an important part of the election process is because this myth that Christians ought to keep to themselves in the church, and never get outside — that’s like saying, let’s never let the salt get onto things that are spoiling. Let’s never let the light actually show up in a dark places to illuminate the path.

That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. The whole point of being a Christian is to penetrate the darkness, is to preserve the things that are spoiling, and I don’t know of anything more spoiled, more decadent, than politics.

So if there’s ever a place where there ought to be a concentration of Christian activity and involvement, I’d say it’s in politics and government.

So GodTube is helping to be that bridge to get people from the world of the spiritual into the mission field of politics.”

Analysis: Smart move for Mike.


Kennedys endorse Obama

January 28, 2008

News: Caroline Kennedy, daughter of JFK, and Senator Ted Kennedy have officially endorsed Barack Obama. Caroline’s endorsement of Obama yesterday in the NYT op-ed was very moving: She described Obama as the only person she has witnessed in her lifetime who could be a “President Like My Father.” That’s a remarkable statement from a remarkable woman.

Ted Kennedy still knows how to deliver a speech!

Caroline Kennedy endorses Obama

Interview


YouTube enhances mobile phone playability

January 28, 2008

News: Here’s part of the announcement from YouTube last week:

Today we’re excited to announce the official debut of YouTube for Mobile, featuring a new and improved mobile website, m.youtube.com! Until today, many of you who tried watching videos on m.youtube.com from your mobile phones may have longed to see a wider selection of videos and more community features that you’ve come to know and love on YouTube.com. Now you can, and here’s what’s changed:

  • Millions of videos: YouTube for Mobile now features tens of millions of videos, which includes most of the videos already available on YouTube.com and your own uploaded videos.
  • Community on the go: You can now access your YouTube account, your Favorites, your own uploaded Videos and your favorite Channels. You can also share, rate, and comment directly from the mobile website to other YouTube users.
  • Mobile phone uploads available within moments: Now if you upload videos from your phone to YouTube via email/mms, they will appear within moments on both m.youtube.com and www.youtube.com. This means you can easily share videos you capture on your phone with your friends and family. All you need to do is create a mobile profile at www.youtube.com/mobile.
  • Global: Global: YouTube for Mobile is available and localized for the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, Germany, and Russia.

As long as your phone and mobile operator support streaming video, anyone can access YouTube for Mobile simply by going to ‘m.youtube.com’ in their phone browser. There are a couple requirements for supporting YouTube for Mobile:

    1. Your device has to support RTSP streaming. To determine if your mobile device supports this type of streaming, you may want to check your device’s manual to find a description of its specifications.2. Your service carrier has to allow streaming videos. You may want to contact your carrier for more information about the availability of data streaming on your mobile device.

In addition, we’re also releasing a beta version of a YouTube for Mobile downloadable application. It’s different from the YouTube for Mobile website (m.youtube.com) because it is a Java (J2ME) application you install on your phone, whereas m.youtube.com you access via your phone’s web browser. The app is available in US and UK English and supports the following phones:

  • Sony Ericsson k800, w880
  • Nokia e65, n95, n73, 6110 navigator and 6120 classic

To download the app, simply point your phone browser to m.youtube.com and if your phone’s one of the above, you should be prompted to download and install the application.

You may be wondering, “Is YouTube for Mobile the same as what’s available on the Helio Ocean or Apple iPhone?” In a nutshell, yes — YouTube for Mobile is all about bringing video to mobile phones. We believe in providing the best user experience possible for all users, which in some cases means different YouTube solutions for different phones. Overall, we’re pretty excited about working with our partners and users to make YouTube for Mobile better and better over the next year.

Analysis: I need to upgrade my phone. The iPhone is tempting, but I just learned you can’t shoot video on it.  Steve Chen’s big project was to expand YouTube on phones.  Well, he must be happy now.


Barack Obama victory speech in South Carolina

January 27, 2008

What is Web 3.0? Eric Schmidt’s view

January 26, 2008

I’ve been meaning to blog about this video clip of Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s take on Web 3.0.  It’s a fascinating explanation and prediction of the next phase of the Internet.  His explanation is so good, I’d rather let you just listen to the explanation rather than attempt to paraphrase it.  You can tell this guy has a Ph.D.

We’re probably not yet there at Web 3.0, but the possibilities seem fast approaching.  We’ve barely had time to digest Web 2.0, but here’s a video with a good explanation of the history behind the term Web 2.0.

In my legal scholarship, I try to analyze complications created by new technologies for existing paradigms of law, usually in the area of intellectual property.  Right now, I’m continuing my exploration of how Web 2.0 affects our copyright laws.  Hopefully, I’ll have a draft soon to share online.


Barack Obama on Letterman, Top 10

January 25, 2008

Video of the week: Is Bigfoot on Mars?

January 25, 2008

I’m not a scientist, but this is pretty good visual proof for me.


YouTube changes design–again!

January 24, 2008

News: After implementing a new design to its website a few months ago, YouTube has abandoned (apparently) some of those changes. The drop down menu for categories of videos (such as Most Viewed, Most Recent, Most Discussed) has now been replaced with those categories being placed individually on the Videos page. Basically, it’s returned to something closer to what it was before the last change.

New design

youtube-new-ui.jpg

Analysis: The changes are disruptive. YouTube should stick to one, and avoid going back and forth. Just when I was used to the drop down menu and actually liked it, poof — it’s gone.


Don’t call home number of Fairfax Chief Operator of Schools Tistadt for snow day — here’s why

January 24, 2008

News: Here’s the latest viral video on YouTube. It involves no video, just a voice mail left by the wife of Dean Tistadt, Chief Operator of Fairfax County schools in Virginia. His wife, Candy, left this message for a student named Dave Kori who had earlier called their home. Suffice it to say that Candy doesn’t like students phoning.

Analysis: This is why I don’t leave voice mails, although I still love snow days.


Is President Bill Clinton completely out of control?

January 24, 2008

It seems beneath the dignity of a former President of the United States to be the attack dog in a political campaign.  I don’t remember President George H.W. Bush playing that role for his son.


YouTube launches in Korea

January 24, 2008

YouTube has launched a Korean-language channel, making it the 19th foreign country YouTube has designed a special site for.

However, according to The Korea Times, YouTube faces stiff competition from Korean video sites, a preference for local sites such as Daum, Pandora TV, and Afreeca among Korean  Internet users, and strict government censorship of Internet sites.


So who’s on YouTube?: Carrie Underwood

January 24, 2008

I love this woman, but sadly I picked Bo Bice at the start of the competition to win Idol in the year she won.  I did think that she had one of the most amazing tryout performances on Idol, but that year I was rooting for a rocker.


Clinton and Obama throw off the gloves in South Carolina

January 22, 2008

News:  Senators Clinton and Obama took major shots at each other during the CNN South Carolina debate.  Things got ugly.


President Bill Clinton falls asleep during MLK service

January 22, 2008

NBC supports mash-ups and remixes of NBC shows

January 22, 2008

News: The General Counsel of NBC Universal Rick Cotton has stated that NBC supports the ability of users to reuse and remix copyrighted shows. As I reported last week, NBC already allows free download copies of many of its shows on its website. When you couple this free dissemination of NBC copies online with Rick Cotton’s statements, it appears that NBC has bought into the mashup/remix culture of user-generated content that relies upon preexisting copyrighted works.

Here are some of Cotton’s statements:

“They can choose to download commercial free episodes of our TV shows or watch free, streaming, ad-supported programs on our websites. We’ve offered fans material from “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Office” to create mashups. And we expect to expand those offerings both on our websites and on Hulu.com.”

“But, looking forward, one of the exciting characteristics of the new, digital world is that technology will allow us greater flexibility to respond to consumer desires.”

“It bears repeating that short-form mashups, parodies and the like are NOT the primary focus of content owners’ anti-piracy activities. Let’s be clear that sympathy for parodies and “re-interpretations” should not be used as a justification for inaction in addressing aggressively the wholesale trafficking in complete, unchanged copies of movies and TV programs. Having said that, most major content owners today want to see fans fully engage with their favorite content and are working hard to provide legitimate ways to do that.”

Full article

Analysis: NBC Universal should be applauded for its stance on remixes and mashups, as well as for allowing free downloading of many of its shows online. If I take Cotton’s statements at face value, he basically gives his blessing to noncommercial remixes of NBC’s copyrighted shows. I would not have expected this kind of position from a Hollywood studio.  But I hope NBC doesn’t scale back the free stuff and start selling all of its shows on iTunes (for more, see Mashable).


uTunes: Dry September, “Back to Birmingham”

January 21, 2008

Review: One of my friends introduced me to this LA band called “Dry September.” You can visit their MySpace page here and download their music for free. You can also buy the entire CD here.

I love their music. Lead singer, David Tokaji, has a killer voice. The video below contains their original song, “Back to Birmingham.”  There’s also a “One” cover video, but the audio is not as clear.

dryseptember2.jpg

If you like the music, visit Dry September’s MySpace page (download the music for free) and email the link to your friends.  Thanks! 


Video of the week: Driving in India, complete chaos

January 20, 2008

submit a question to the Davos forum

January 20, 2008

You need to submit by January 21 to this link.


YouTube continues to dominate

January 18, 2008

News: comScore just issued this press release about the growth of online video watching. The numbers are getting bigger and bigger. For YouTube, 74.5 million people viewed 2.9 billion videos on YouTube.com (39 videos per viewer)” in November.

RESTON, VA, January 17, 2008 – comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released its comScore Video Metrix report for November 2007, indicating that more than 75 percent of U.S. Internet users watched a video online (including both streaming video and progressive downloads), averaging 3.25 hours of video per person during the month. Google Sites, which includes YouTube.com, increased its video market share by more than two percentage points to 31.3 percent from October to November.

Google Expands Lead in Online Video Market Share

Americans viewed nearly 9.5 billion online videos in November, with Google Sites once again ranking as the top U.S. video property with 3 billion videos viewed (31.3 percent share of all videos viewed), 2.9 billion of which occurred at YouTube.com (30.6 percent). Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 419 million videos viewed (4.4 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 328 million (3.5 percent) and Viacom Digital with 304 million (2.6 percent).

Top U.S. Online Video Properties* by Videos Viewed

November 2007

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore Video Metrix

Property

Videos Viewed

(MM)

Share (%) of

Videos

Total Internet

9,491

100.0%

Google Sites

2,966

31.3%

Fox Interactive Media

419

4.4%

Yahoo! Sites

328

3.5%

Viacom Digital

245

2.6%

Time Warner Network

184

1.9%

Microsoft Sites

181

1.9%

Disney Online

96

1.0%

ABC.com

88

0.9%

ESPN

87

0.9%

Break

47

0.5%

*Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.

In total, 138 million Americans – approximately three in four U.S Internet users – viewed online video in November. Google Sites also captured the largest online video audience with 76.2 million unique viewers, followed by Fox Interactive Media with 46.3 million and Yahoo! Sites with 37.3 million.

Top U.S. Online Video Properties* by Unique Video Viewers

November 2007

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore Video Metrix

Property

Unique Viewers (000)

Percent of all U.S. Internet Users

Total Internet

138,383

75.9%

Google Sites

76,187

41.8%

Fox Interactive Media

46,349

25.4%

Yahoo! Sites

37,300

20.5%

Time Warner Network

31,212

17.1%

Microsoft Sites

28,470

15.6%

Viacom Digital

23,522

12.9%

Disney Online

10,361

5.7%

ESPN

10,128

5.6%

ABC.com

9,969

5.5%

CBS Corporation

8,336

4.6%

*Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.

Other notable findings from November 2007 include:

  • 74.5 million people viewed 2.9 billion videos on YouTube.com (39 videos per viewer).
  • 43.2 million people viewed 389 million videos on MySpace.com (9 videos per viewer).
  • Online viewers watched an average of 3.25 hours (195 minutes) of online video during the month, representing a 29-percent gain from the 2.52 hours (151 minutes) watched in January 2007.
  • The average online video duration was 2.8 minutes.
  • The average online video viewer consumed 69 videos.

Steve Jobs MacWorld 90-minute keynote in 1 minute flat

January 17, 2008

Fantastic editing!

According to Forbes, though, Jobs failed to wow the rabid Apple fanatics at MacWorld, who were underwhelmed by this year’s announcements.


NBC allows free copies of its shows online

January 16, 2008

News: You know that the (copyright) times are changing when NBC is now allowing download copies of some of its most popular shows (instead of just watching them online). It’s part of “NBC Direct” (beta) and it’s all free. I’m assuming the free video downloads contain no DRM, but I haven’t verified that yet.

If you go to this menu, you’ll see that over 20 NBC shows are downloadable, including 30 Rock, Law & Order SVU, The Office, ER, and Heroes.

Analysis: The speed with which the video market is evolving is dizzying. Last year, I never would have expected NBC to allow free downloads of its shows. Presumably, by allowing the free downloads NBC has licensed at least a user to collect the episodes for personal use on her computer, if not also some other noncommercial re-uses. I don’t see a specific statement by NBC on terms of use, though.

The free downloading of NBC shows is also a little surprising, given the rather hard-line copyright position expressed by Rick Cotton in this NYT debate.  I wonder what the difference, as a practical matter, between NBC allowing copying of its free broadcast shows and third parties doing it on their own with their own devices for those very same shows.  If the market for free TV shows eventually adopts a free download practice, then the “piracy” rhetoric seems hollow.  (Movies are different since they are not usually free, either online or offline.)


Library of Congress + Flickr project: “The Commons”

January 16, 2008

News:  Flickr and The Library of Congress announced a joint project called “The Commons.”  It includes wonderful photographs from the 1930-40s and 1910s — for which there are “no known copyright restriction.”  Apparently that means in this case of the 1930s-1940s photographs they were taken for the US government and did not get copyrights (I’m guessing).  For the 1910 photographs taken by a news service, they are simply too old to be conceivably under copyright protection today.

This is a terrific idea (and I love the incredible photos), but the copyright description by Flickr and The Library of Congress is a little bit vague.  They don’t come out and say that you can freely copy and re-use the photos, at least not on my first reading of the site.  They simply encourage you to add tags to the photos.   

Analysis:  I would think the more common use that the public wants to make of these old photos, however, is copying and disseminating.  If there is “no known copyright restriction,” the Library of Congress should come out and say that it’s in the public domain, free for all to use and copy. 

The closest they come to stating that is a statement buried in their FAQ, which I’ve copied below:

Enjoying and Re-using Photos

Q: Can I reuse the photos the Library has made available on Flickr? What are the rights and permissions on these? Can I reproduce these pictures? 
A: Although the Library of Congress does not grant or deny permission to use photos, the Library knows of no copyright restrictions on the publication, distribution, or re-use of these photos. Privacy rights may apply.  For further information see the rights, see the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection color photographs rights information and the George Grantham Bain Collection rights information.

Q: Are higher resolution copies available?
A. Yes. Higher resolution TIFF versions of the photos are available through the Prints and Photographs online catalog. Example: Click on the ”Persistent URL” link in the data information for the photograph (the URL looks like “hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsac.1a35075”) and when the new catalog record displays, click on the picture for the larger images.

Q: How do I get copies of these pictures?
A: You can download and print copies of the pictures yourself.  Higher resolution TIFF files are available through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.  Alternatively, you can purchase copies through the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service.  For further information on purchasing copies, see the Reproductions information page on the Prints & Photographs Division Web site.


Steve Jobs announces MacBook Air + iTunes movie rentals at MacWorld

January 16, 2008

News: MacWorld is the annual pilgrimage for all the obsessed Mac devotees in the world. Steve Jobs’ keynote presentation is, of course, the main event. This year, Jobs announced a new super-thin laptop called the MacBook Air, as well as some tinkering with the disappointing AppleTV. Tech Crunch has the play-by-play.

As techdirt reports, another significant announcement was Apple’s entry into video rental market via iTunes. You can now rent movies through iTunes. Techdirt, though, questions Apple’s per-video rental fees, instead of the NetFlix “all you can eat” subscription plays. Techdirt also questions the use of DRM on the iTunes movies, something that has backfired in the music world — in part because Steve Jobs criticized it.

The new MacBook Air is priced at $1,799, which Tech Crunch says is too expensive.


FOX on demand (beta) is fantastic

January 15, 2008

Review: I’ve just looked at FOX’s new “on demand” website. Go here.  I really wonder how this beta FOX site will exist alongside FOX’s joint video project with NBC, www.hulu.com.   That part is not yet clear. To access FOX’s new beta site, you may have to download a plug-in to start watching. But once you do, it’s well worth it. The menu starts out with this cool spin wheel, like on the Price is Right.

fox-on-demand.jpg

And then once you watch a show, the picture is in high def (at least for The Sarah Connor Chronicles). It’s breathtaking.

t3.jpg

t3-20.jpg

I only hope that FOX puts American Idol on the Internet.