Go Back   P2P-Zone > Peer to Peer
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Peer to Peer The 3rd millenium technology!

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 24-10-07, 09:12 AM   #1
JackSpratts's Avatar
Join Date: May 2001
Location: New England
Posts: 10,016
Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - October 27th, '07

Since 2002

"Finding a $1 million painting in the garbage is very unusual." – James Wynne

"Prison terms for this stuff run up to 3-5 years for first offenses, 10 years for repeats." – Maura Johnston

"The Court’s analysis in Chicago Architecture Foundation would be a big step toward granting courts 'universal jurisdiction' over online businesses, where website operators must anticipate being haled into any court in the United States to defend actions based upon their website content." – Jonathan D. Frieden

"You will dismantle the fundamentals of the democratic state, which is to be free in your person, your mind and your conversation from scrutiny and surveillance. So this is a really misbegotten idea." – Cory Doctorow

"How did I get to where I am? I mean, what happened? Where’s the guy who wrote the other songs? Where’s the guy who wrote a lot of the early songs? There are some songs I can’t even sing. I don’t even know who wrote them. But I know I did. When I listen to myself, I go, 'O.K., but I can’t do that now.'" – Neil Young

"Tonight, with Oink gone, I find myself wondering where I'll go now to discover new music. All the other options - particularly the legal ones - seem depressing by comparison." – Rob Sheridan

"Currently Listening To: Music I Didn't Pay For." – Rob Sheridan

Because We Share

This week OiNK, the world’s largest private music tracker was shuttered, its servers seized by tax agents, its 24 year old owner arrested. His employer’s offices searched, his father’s home raided.

Because we share.

In a permanent twilight zone of institutionalized panic where leaders fan flames of never ending terror, the world’s authorities found the years necessary to coordinate mass action with Interpol, Cleveland (UK) Police, Dutch enforcers from FIOD-ECD SCHIPOL and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Because we share.

This naked display of capitalist hypocrisy a massive waste of resources, this action a stark reminder there are few laws save those that subjugate.

Because we share few will change behaviors; none will change attitudes. Pro file-sharing. Anti corporate-media. Now more than ever.



October 27th, 2007

Police Swoop to Close Down Illegal Website OiNK

POLICE in the region have said they have closed down one of the world's biggest illegal music file sharing websites.

The site is understood to have been operating from a flat in Middlesbrough.

Up to 180,000 people were members of the private website.

They paid to upload and download music, some of it not yet released by record companies.

The home of a 24-year-old IT worker was raided in Grange Road, Middlesbrough, was raided in a low-key operation this morning.

At the same time his father's home and his employer, a large multi-national company, were also raided.

The website's server, which was based in Amsterdam, was also closed down by Dutch police.

The 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and infringement of copyright law.

Detective Sergeant Tony Keogh, who led this morning's operation, said the three-month investigation had involved Interpol, the Dutch authorities and the British Phonographic Industry.

He said: "This is an infringement of copyright law that in financial terms causes immeasurable lost to record companies.

"We have been working closely with Interpol and our Dutch colleagues in Amsterdam where the website server is based to ensure that it too was secured at the time of arrest."
http://www.thisisthenortheast.co.uk/..._web site.php

Oink Founder: We're Just Like Google
Paul Stokes

An IT consultant suspected of operating one of the world’s biggest pirate music websites from a Middlesbrough bedsit said he had done nothing wrong.

Alan Ellis, 24, was arrested on Tuesday as part of an Interpol-led operation to shut down a music file sharing website which has attracted around 180,000 members.

Mr Ellis set up the website, called Oink, three and a half years ago.

He was detained on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and copyright infringement and has been released on police bail for two months.

Computer equipment and documentation seized from his home, his place of work and his father’s home in Cheshire and are undergoing forensic examination.

But speaking after his arrest he claimed it was no more illegal than search engine sites such as Google which could also direct users to illegal music downloads.

Police and music industry investigators have suggested that hundreds of thousands of pounds a year could be made by the site.

Mr Ellis declined to comment on whether users had made financial “donations” to the site.

Mr Ellis was contracted to work as an IT consultant for Virgin Media’s contact centre in nearby Stockton-on-Tees, but was dismissed on the day of his arrest.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t believe my website breaks the law. They don’t understand how it works.

"The website is very different from how the police are making it out to be. There is no music sold on the site - I am doing nothing wrong.

"When I set up the site I didn’t think I was doing anything illegal and I still don’t. There are 180,000 users and there has been an outcry about what has happened to me.

"People who download music also buy CDs as well. A lot of people download music on the internet to get a taste of it and then later buy the CD.

"But I don’t sell music to people, I just direct them to it. If somebody wants to illegally download music they are going to do it whether my site is there or not.

"If this goes to court it is going to set a huge precedent. It will change the internet as we know it.

"As far as I am aware no-one in Britain has ever been taken to court for running a website like mine. My site is no different to something like Google.

"If Google directed someone to a site they can illegally download music they are doing the same as what I have been accused of. I am not making any Oink users break the law. People don’t pay to use the site.”

Oink, which used a cartoon of a pink pig as its logo, was one of the world’s biggest “peer-to-peer” music download sites, which have been targeted by music publishers and police because they allow users to swap music for free.

Anyone accessing it is met with the message: “This site has been closed as a result of a criminal investigation by IFPI, BPI, Cleveland Police and the Fiscal Investigation Unit of the Dutch Police into suspected illegal music distribution. A criminal investigation continues into the identities and activities of the site’s users.”

The website’s server, based in Amsterdam, was closed down by Dutch Police last week.

Among allegations being examined are that more than 60 major albums were leaked on an OINK site weeks before the CDs’ were officially released by record companies.

According to users, Oink had a daily throughput the equivalent of five million songs and registered members were able to download around 1,000 songs.

Detectives are thought to be analysing the databases for details of the invitation system and members’ downloads.

Users were offered the chance to buy a range of branded merchandise bearing a pink pig Logo and the slogan: “Music so good it could make your tail curl”.

A spokesman for Cleveland Police, responsible the Middlesbrough inquiries, said: “It is too early to tell if we will go after individuals, it all depends on what we find.”

Anti File-Sharing Laws Considered

The UK government could legislate to crack down on illegal file-sharers, a senior official has told the BBC's iPM programme.

Lord Triesman, the parliamentary Under Secretary for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said intellectual property theft would not be tolerated.

"If we can't get voluntary arrangements we will legislate," he said.

The comments could prove controversial with privacy advocates and internet service providers.

Lord Triesman called on internet service providers to take a "more activist role" in the problem of illegal file-sharing.

Data banks

There are ongoing talks between internet service providers and the music industry and these are, said Lord Triesman, "progressing more promisingly than people might have thought six months ago".

"For the most part I think there are going to be successful voluntary schemes between the creative industries and ISPs. Our preferred position is that we shouldn't have to regulate," he said.

He admitted that the technology necessary to track illegal file sharing would mean that "it is quite possible to know where it is happening and who it is happening with".

While he said that the government had no interest in "hounding 14-year-olds who shared music", it was intent on tracking down those who made multiple copies for profit.

"Where people have registered music as an intellectual property I believe we will be able to match data banks of that music to music going out and being exchanged on the net," he said.

"We have some simple choices to make. If creative artists can't earn a living as a result of the work they produce, then we will kill off creative artists and that would be a tragedy."

Mere conduit

The debate centre around peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, applications that allow internet users to exchange files with each other directly or through a mediating server.

Computer users with the same type of P2P application can connect to each other and directly access files from one another's hard drives.

Some people are using peer-to-peer applications to copy or distribute files including copyrighted material such as music, films and software without paying royalties.

People who do this may be infringing the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

There have been various crack-downs on such applications. Most recently the UK-run members-only site OiNK was shut down and several properties in the UK and Holland were raided.

'Misbegotten idea'

The Internet Service Providers Association has always maintained that it cannot be held responsible for illegal peer-to-peer traffic because it is "merely a conduit" of such material.

"ISPA does not support abuses of copyright and intellectual property theft," said an ISPA spokesman.

He said: "However, ISPs cannot monitor or record the type of information passed over their network. ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope."

"ISPs deal with many more packets of data each day than postal services and data protection legislation actually prevents ISPs from looking at the content of the packets sent," he added.

The British Phonographic Industry was pleased at the government's tough line.

"We greatly welcome the government reiterating its view that ISPs should work with us to tackle the problem of internet piracy, or else face legislation," said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI.

"ISPs operate the pathways to digital music consumers. Through our talks with the ISP community we are hopeful that together we can arrive at voluntary co-operative agreements that work to the benefit of the whole digital marketplace," he added.

The iPM programme also spoke to renowned blogger Cory Doctorow who described the idea as "misbegotten".

"It represents the opinion of someone who doesn't understand technology very well, and hasn't really thought through the implications of what he's promising.

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who's an actual computer scientist involved in digital signal processing who believes that you can accurately identify copyrighted works with any kind of reliability in a variety of situations," he said.

He believed the idea would createa "giant toxic pool of personally idenitifying private information" that ISPs would not be able to keep secret.

"You will dismantle the fundamentals of the democratic state, which is to be free in your person, your mind and your conversation from scrutiny and surveillance. So this is a really misbegotten idea," he told iPM.

House Committee Demands FTC Take Second Look at Dangers of P2P
Nate Anderson

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has asked the FTC to look more closely at P2P apps—but this time, the worries have nothing to do with copyright.

The committee has a bee in its collective bonnet about the issue of data security, and believes that P2P users across the country are inadvertently leaking private information and financial records into the tubes. Such information could be used for identity theft (and also has national security implications in some cases), and the Oversight Committee wants the FTC to do something.

This isn't the first time the issue has been raised. The FTC actually convened a hearing on the matter back in December, 2004, at which various P2P vendors showed up and pledged their support for an industry Code of Conduct intended to prevent government regulation. That code included principles about making it obvious to consumers which files and folders were being shared.

But a USPTO report earlier this year stirred up the issue again by claiming that P2P installs could adversely affect national security when they made confidential government information available. This has already happened several times, as the Oversight Committee learned in July when it held hearings on the USPTO report and its findings. At that hearing, representatives were also shown real-time P2P search data. While most of the searches were for porn, movies, and music, the committee noted a surprisingly number of searches for private financial information.

The FTC has repeatedly said that it is monitoring the P2P vendors for violations of the Code of Conduct, but that P2P installs are generally as dangerous as other "Internet-related activities," not more so.

The Oversight Committee questions this assessment in its new letter to the FTC, saying, "We have not seen evidence that any of these other 'Internet-related activities' leads to the wholesale information disclosures described at the Committee's hearing." In support of its view, the committee points out that the Justice Department recently prosecuted someone for committing identity theft with information gleaned from P2P networks. Before being caught, the suspect racked up $70,000 in fraudulent purchases. Of course, this sort of thing happens all the time over the web (phishing, anyone?), so the example seems to undermine the basic argument.

The committee wants the FTC to answer five questions about P2P apps, including one about whether the agency needs additional authority from Congress to regulate P2P vendors. If the Oversight Committee gets its way, P2P vendors may not escape government regulation for much longer.

Penguin Audio Ends EMusic Deal
Andrew Adam Newman

Last month eMusic, the company that gives Apple’s iTunes the most competition in song downloads, announced that it would go up against the market leader on another front: audiobooks.

But eMusic has been dealt an early blow. Penguin Audio, one of the five publishers that signed on initially, has bailed out, withdrawing 150 titles over concerns about digital piracy.

The issue comes down to a basic difference between eMusic and iTunes: while iTunes places strong digital locks on the content it sells in order to thwart illegal file-sharing, eMusic does not, and uses the freedom of its format as a selling point.

But what looks good to a consumer may not look great to a publisher. Audiobooks downloaded from iTunes face restrictions both in transmitting them over the Internet and in burning them to a CD. The opposite is true for audiobooks sold through eMusic, which uses a format, MP3. that lacks digital rights management, or DRM, technology.

“At this moment we’re not going to have our titles on eMusic or with anyone else who sells non-DRM until the landscape shakes out and we feel very comfortable and confident that our titles will not be pirated,” said Dick Heffernan, publisher of Penguin Audio.

He and his colleagues had signed up with eMusic as an experiment, he said, but higher-ups rejected the deal.

“We wanted to take a chance and see how it would work out, and our very senior management at this moment decided that we didn’t want to do that,” Mr. Heffernan said. “We hope to possibly come to some kind of agreement down the road.”

Madeline McIntosh, publisher of Random House Audio, part of Bertelsmann, said that a piracy monitoring firm has so far found no pirated eMusic copies of her company’s titles on file-sharing sites. Early eMusic sales are “really encouraging” and apace with “our top retailers,” she said.

David Pakman, chief executive of eMusic, said his site is selling more than 500 audiobooks a day, double the initial projections. It will not begin advertising audiobooks until December.

Mr. Pakman said eMusic, which is owned by an arm of JDS Capital Management, will soon sign up three more publishers but declined to name them. As for Penguin, he said, “We hope they come back. I think they will eventually.”

Provider of Free Public Domain Music Shuts Down
Mark Rogers

The International Music Score Library Project has provided access to copies of many musical scores that are in the public domain. It has just been shut down due to a cease-and-desist letter sent to the site operator by a European Union music publisher (Universal Edition). A majority of the scores recently available at IMSLP were in the public domain worldwide. Other scores were not in the public domain in the United States or the EU (where copyright extends for 70 years after the composer's death), but were legal in Canada (where the site is hosted) and many other countries. The site's maintainers clearly labeled the copyright status of such scores and warned users to follow their respective country's copyright law. Apparently this wasn't enough for Universal Edition, who found it necessary to protect the interests of their (long-dead) composers and shut down a site that has proved useful to many students, professors, and other musicians worldwide.

Danish Record Labels Float Flat ISP Fee Idea for Unlimited P2P Music
Nate Anderson

Ah, ha! Come, some music! come, the recorders!
For if the king like not the comedy,
Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy.
Come, some music!

Hamlet the Dane famously called for music more than 400 years ago, but he had no idea that it would one day come streaming down the tubes and onto computers in his home country for a flat monthly fee. The Danish music business is now proposing a plan to offer unlimited music downloads for around 100 kroner a month (about $19), and although questions remain, it could represent a real step forward.

Hamlet, with all his dithering and delayed revenge, is actually a good model for the music business. Despite knowing for years that bold action was needed to provide users a legal alternative to P2P downloads, the worldwide music industry has been slow to react. When it finally did so, the results involved things like DRM, low bitrates, and high prices for merchandise with little distribution cost: all measures guaranteed to keep legal music from rivaling illicit downloads in popularity. And of course, there were the lawsuits. (Unlike Hamlet, though, the music labels have yet to stab an overweight councilor hiding behind the arras.)

But if life imitates art, we're now moving into Act IV of the play, the part where Hamlet returns to Elsinore with some new ideas about how to deal with his problem. Andy Oram over at O'Reilly Radar noted the recent moves in Denmark to create a system where every ISP user might pay a monthly fee in order to access unlimited P2P music legally.

The proposal has drawn positive feedback from an unlikely source—the local "Piratgruppen."

"It's good that they admit that they cannot solve the problem of falling CD sales by suing their own fans," said Sebastian Gjerding from the Piratgruppen. "It looks like they have understood that they should offer something that is competitive compared to other, free music sources. It is an entirely new admission that hasn't spread internationally yet. IFPI Denmark is on the forefront in this matter. But it is annoying that no action has been taken so far to save many teenagers million-krone fines."

Certainly the idea is interesting, and the industry deserves real credit when it makes bold decisions to embrace such new ideas. The proposal isn't without problems, though. Among them: the fee would apparently be mandatory for all ISP users. Those who don't listen to much music or who don't want to pay $19 a month to do so won't be thrilled. Will it only apply to select ISPs (thus allowing those who don't want the deal to choose another provider), or will the IFPI try to make it mandatory at the national level?

Another issue: will the fee cover worldwide music? If it only covers Danish bands, it may also be of limited utility. But making payments to artists all over the world could be a logistical nightmare.

Finally, would the deal cover indie music or only that from major labels? If it only covers major labels, consumer confusion about what is legal to download and what is not will be widespread, and could certainly irritate bands that don't want their music distributed this way.

Similar ideas about compulsory blanket music licenses have been floating around for a while, but appear to be in no imminent danger of being floated in the US.

So questions remain, but the idea is intriguing. Let's hope that the end of this story looks less like the bloody end of Hamlet, however, and more like the conclusion of As You Like It, complete with music and dancing.

Web Radio Seeks Resolution

Senate Hearing to Take Up Royalty Fees for Online Stations
Catherine Rampell

Internet radio webcasters are hoping a Senate hearing today will renew legislators' interest in their negotiations with the recording industry over royalty fees.

The hearing, held by the Senate Commerce Committee, will focus on the future of radio, the number of women and minorities who own radio stations, expansion and protection of community radio, and other aspects of a medium that is rapidly changing through technological advances and the recording industry's crumbling business model. The most contentious of these issues, though, involves what online radio stations will pay in order to sustain both innovations in radio and the artists whose music they feature.

Webcasters have argued that a royalty fee schedule set by the Copyright Royalty Board last spring would put online radio stations, and the independent musicians whose work they often play, out of business. This spring, legislators from the House and Senate proposed legislation to set Internet radio royalty rates at the lower levels used for satellite radio and jukeboxes, but then asked webcasters and copyright holders to try to negotiate a compromise.

Webcasters have been negotiating since July with SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalties on behalf of music copyright owners, over a new fee schedule. Webcasters say they are growing impatient with delays in the discussions.

"We made a royalty rate proposal on Aug. 23, and we have not heard a reply back," said Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association, which is negotiating on behalf of a group of 27 large Internet radio providers. "With this hearing we're now working to gather support for the Internet Radio Equality Act." The House version of the bill has 143 sponsors; its Senate counterpart has five.

SoundExchange said that discussions are continuing and that the organization has been meeting with individual webcasters to better understand their finances.

"We're moving as fast as we can considering there are so many parties involved," said Richard Ades, a spokesman for SoundExchange.

SoundExchange has already proposed a fee schedule that is lower than the Copyright Royalty Board's rates for commercial webcasters whose annual revenue is less than $1.25 million, and Ades said about 30 companies have accepted it. SoundExchange and the Digital Media Association also agreed in August to cap the total amount of per-channel fees that a Web service would have to pay, an issue that was of particular concern for webcasters such as Pandora that have millions of channels set up by individual users.

Still, webcasters say that even if there are favorable results to the negotiations, they are hoping for long-term legislation that will force all radio platforms -- including traditional AM/FM radio, which does not currently pay any royalties to SoundExchange -- to pay the same rates.

"We are in a strange situation of offering services that compete directly with terrestrial and satellite radio but have a different rate structure," said Tim Westergren, chief strategy officer and founder of Pandora. "There needs to be parity if we are going to survive."

If It’s Retail, Is It Still Rock?
Janet Morrissey

AS torrents of money streamed into his wallet from multiplatinum albums in the 1980s and 1990s, Duff McKagan, then the bass player for the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, had little interest in tracking his cash. Instead, he relied on intimidation and his group’s reputation as the “most dangerous band in the world” to prevent managers from ripping him off.

“We knew nothing about money, and so we had this sort of gang mentality toward anybody who worked for us,” he recalls. “It sounds funny now, but that’s all we had to rely on.”

But he didn’t know the difference between a stock and a bond and lost money in real estate. So at the height of his career, he gave up partying and went back to school in 2000 to study business. Today, Mr. McKagan, 43, tightly monitors the finances of his current band, Velvet Revolver.

Like other rockers easing into middle age or seniorhood, Mr. McKagan is also experimenting with new partnerships in response to a music business in flux. Amid plunging record sales and Internet file sharing, rockers are eagerly plastering their names everywhere.

Their “brands” are now found in television commercials, tour sponsorships, and merchandise as diverse as cars, private-label wines and celebrity cruises. The rock band Kiss has been among the most prolific merchandisers, selling products ranging from condoms to the “Kiss Kasket,” a limited-edition coffin. The band’s latest offerings include musical toothbrushes, pool cues, window blinds and baby booties.

“It’s a different ballgame now,” compared with rock’s baby boomer heyday, says Joseph Bongiovi, who handles merchandise and partnerships for the rock group Bon Jovi.

Others concur. “Everyone is in agreement that taking advantage of the appeal music has as a marketing vehicle is in their interest,” says Michael Megalli, a partner at Group 1066, a strategic branding firm. Paul McCartney, in his solo career, made a deal with iTunes and Starbucks to distribute his music. That agreement was “the most radical transformation when you think about how the Beatles were so guarded about their catalog and the idea of using it commercially,” Mr. Megalli says.

Even the rock icon Mick Jagger, whose generation embraced the anti-big-business motto “never trust anyone over 30” in the 1960s, toots the corporate horn. The Rolling Stones have teamed up with the likes of Sprint and Budweiser for concert tours, and the band hawks everything from bras and panties to leather bomber jackets.

To be sure, some rockers, like Bruce Springsteen, still refuse to form corporate partnerships. “Bruce made a decision a long time ago that he didn’t want to rent his name or stage out,” says Jon Landau, Mr. Springsteen’s manager. “It just wasn’t something that was in his comfort zone.”

But others who don’t share that point of view say partnerships and branding have to be part of their musical portfolios, especially for little-known bands.

“The barriers are changing and we as artists are making less and less money, and we have to get creative,” notes Mr. McKagan, whose new band has licensed its music to a Victoria’s Secret commercial and movie soundtracks, formed partnerships with entities like the music video simulation game Guitar Hero, and appeared in ads for the clothing designer John Varvatos. “Fifteen years ago, it would have been totally not cool. You would have been selling out.”

BAND branding appears to know no bounds. The Black Crowes market rolling papers, Bon Jovi offers $1,000 signed canvas art prints and Mötley Crüe peddled Mötley Brüe, a carbonated drink. Celebration Cellars, a California winemaker, teamed up with several rockers, including Bon Jovi, Kiss, Madonna and the Rolling Stones, to issue special-edition wines that feature band logos and sell for $100 or more a bottle.

All of this has been set in motion by a well-known reality: record sales “fell off a cliff,” says Jonathan Daniel, a former musician and now a partner at Crush, a management company that represents such bands as Panic! at The Disco and Fall Out Boy. Shipments of CDs were $9.16 billion in 2006, down 31 percent from their peak of $13.21 billion in 2000, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

The branding wave makes some rockers wince. Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe recalls feeling let down as a teenager when he saw Kiss on a lunchbox. “I was devastated because all of a sudden they were like Shaun Cassidy and the Partridge Family,” he says. Even though it might be hard to distinguish branded lunchboxes from Mötley Brüe, Nikki Sixx rolls his eyes when he sees some of the products that musicians are endorsing. He says he drew the line at baby bottles, even after his advisers pointed out that his fans were becoming parents.

“I think you can go too far,” he says.

Jack Rovner, Bon Jovi’s manager, says commercial partners should complement musicians’ vibe, lifestyle and message. Mr. McKagan agrees, saying that there are plenty of companies he would not want as partners. He says he often consults with his two young daughters before signing up, to see if an item is “cool.”

The right commercials, television shows and movie soundtracks can make or break a band.

In 1999, the “Brand New Day” album from Sting was collecting dust until he appeared in a Jaguar commercial with his song “Desert Rose” playing in the background. The move raised eyebrows, considering that Sting was an avid environmentalist who was endorsing a gas-guzzling vehicle, but the commercial helped to sell records. The album won several Grammys in 2000 and sold more than three million copies by January 2001.

Kevin Federline, often painted in the press negatively in the breakup of his marriage to Britney Spears, helped to soften his image when he appeared in a Nationwide insurance commercial during this year’s Super Bowl. The ad poked fun at Mr. Federline, opening with him donning a fur coat and bling as a hotshot rapper before his daydream is interrupted by a boss at a fast-food restaurant barking at him to get fries.

An unusual recent pairing involved the appearance of Bob Dylan as a shadowy figure in a Victoria’s Secret lingerie commercial as a supermodel in angel wings paraded around in stiletto heels with Mr. Dylan’s song “Love Sick” playing in the background.

“That’s one of the weirdest of them all,” says Jim Guerinot, president of Rebel Waltz, a management company that represents Nine Inch Nails, among others.

Sometimes, though, fans push back.

“When Wilco did the Volkswagen commercial, their fans shredded them” on Internet message boards, says Mr. Daniel at Crush, the management company. The band tried to do damage control by issuing a statement on its Web site, explaining it was becoming tough to get commercial radio airplay and the ad offered a way to promote their music. “We feel O.K. about VWs,” Wilco’s band members said in a statement. “Several of us even drive them.”

In addition to Mr. Springsteen, other performers and bands, including Tool and Nine Inch Nails, refuse to form corporate partnerships. Mr. Guerinot says the Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor is a “purist” who puts the music and art first. Mr. Reznor even refuses to license his music for cellphone ringtones because he thinks that the 10-second snippets compromise the music’s integrity.

With branding lucre rolling in for those who do choose to indulge, some record labels are pressuring artists to share their promotional and merchandising income as a condition of getting record contracts — so-called 360 deals. Monte Lipman, president of Universal Republic Records, says labels, just like artists, are struggling with thinner profit margins, declining record sales and smaller rosters, making it tougher for them to recoup the costs of funding new talent.

“I don’t think there’s a deal being made today where the 360 model doesn’t come up,” Mr. Lipman says.

Some artists, aware of dwindling revenue from album sales, are quitting the big labels and working directly with experts in merchandise, touring and digital downloading.

Madonna recently ended a 25-year relationship with the Warner Music Group to sign a $120 million deal with Live Nation. Under the agreement, Live Nation will handle all of her touring, merchandising, an official Web site, DVDs, sponsorships and television and film projects. Her deal also gives her a 1.6 percent ownership stake in Live Nation, which positions her to share in partnerships that Live Nation strikes with other artists.

“The paradigm in the music business has shifted and as an artist and a businesswoman, I have to move with that shift,” Madonna said in a statement at the time of the deal. “Live Nation has offered me a true partnership and after 25 years in the business, I feel I deserve that.”

Madonna, known as the Material Girl in one of her earlier musical incarnations, said the partnership was necessary today. “I’ve never wanted to think in a limited way, and with this new partnership, the possibilities are endless,” she said. “Who knows how my albums will be distributed in the future?”

For his part, Mr. McKagan still has a business manager and financial planner, but he personally reviews music and merchandise contracts and is in daily contact with his advisers. While most musicians have not gone to business school as Mr. McKagan did, many now take a more hands-on approach to their finances, particularly artists who came of age in the Internet era.

“New artists coming up really understand business. They’re inquisitive, they read things, and they ask questions,” says David H. Chidekel, a principal at the law firm Fish & Richardson in New York. “Back in the hairband days, the bands didn’t really care. They just wanted to get a record deal, get on the road and get going. Now, these kids are looking at everything. They read voraciously, they’re all over the Internet, and they don’t get fooled very easily.”

HIP-HOP artists always understood branding, Mr. Chidekel says. As soon as they had a successful album, they started clothing lines, endorsed sneakers and jumped into Champagne commercials.

For corporations, the deals have both benefits and risks.

Bernd Beetz, the chief executive of the fragrance giant Coty, began seeking partnerships with musicians, including Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani, as part of a strategic plan to turn around his company. And it worked.

“We got into a part of the music world which had not been buying fragrance before,” he says, before cautioning that he scrutinizes each potential partner because what causes buzz can sometimes generate scorn. “We’ve turned down more than we’ve accepted.”

It is precisely because so much money is being raked in through partnerships and merchandising that corporate sponsors tread lightly when signing up with musicians — regardless of whether they are aging baby boomers or digitally up-to-date new acts.

“Good managers will not work with a band or an artist that doesn’t have their head screwed on straight,” Mr. Chidekel says. “There’s too much money involved. They’ll reject them — no matter how talented they are.”

The antics of Mr. McKagan and a fellow band member, drinks in hand, during an acceptance speech at the American Music Awards 17 years ago helped lead to taped delays for the live television show. Now, Mr. McKagan says that it pays to be business savvy.

“I’m in extra innings in rock ’n’ roll right now — extra innings as far as me earning money, writing and performing music,” he says. “I live a good lifestyle and I’d like to continue that lifestyle, and I’m doing everything I can do to ensure that.”

'Brega' Sound Turning Industry On Its Ear

This steamy city at the mouth of the Amazon river is a haven for pirates -- the digital kind who copy CDs and DVDs by the thousands for illegal sidewalk sales.

Belem is also home to one of Brazil's most thriving pop scenes: tecnobrega, a musical movement that's expanding exponentially thanks to musicians and producers who see copying as a marketing tool rather than intellectual property theft.

All around the city of 1.5 million, tecnobrega's cloyingly sweet melodies and synthesizer-driven shuffle beats blast from cars, river boats and curbside speakers set up by street vendors hawking the latest hits.

While piracy is the bane of many musicians trying to control the sale of their songs, tecnobrega artists see counterfeiters as key to their success. Artists, who make their money off of live shows, deliver their CDs directly to the street vendors, who determine the price that market can bear. This "mixtape" phenomenon is popular in other parts of the world, including Argentina and the United States, where it is an integral part of hip-hop.

"Piracy is the way to get established and get your name out. There's no way to stop it, so we're using it to our advantage," explains Gabi Amarantos, who frequently appears on Brazilian TV on the strength of bootleg sales of her CDs (from which artists don't get a cut).

Aspiring tecnobrega artists also e-mail MP3s of their latest efforts to producers and DJs who burn CDs that go straight to the copiers and street stall vendors nationwide, selling for as little as 50 cents. Legal CDs sell for around $15 at record shops.

"It's this really gritty tacky, sleazy jungle music. It's just genius," said John Perry Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates protecting free speech in the digital age.

Barlow sees tecnobrega as following in the footsteps of his hallowed "Dead heads," whose trade in bootleg Dead tapes boosted the band's popularity for decades.

"It's making it possible for every kid in Brazil to know their songs by the time they turn five," Barlow said. "It's actually good for a lot of money -- you give it away and it will come back. That's literally true with information, not with property."

Ronaldo Lemos, a law professor at Brazil's respected Getulio Vargas Foundation, an elite Rio de Janeiro think tank and research center, says tecnobrega and other movements like it represent a new business model for the digital era, where music is transformed from a good to a service.

"This year the multinational record labels will only release about 40 records by Brazilian artists, while tecnobrega artists will release around 400," said Lemos. "The record industry argues if intellectual property isn't protected there will be no innovation. But tecnobrega has shown that's not true."

Brazil's National Anti-Piracy Association dismisses tecnobrega as an insignificant movement that makes light of piracy, which it says costs the Brazilian economy two million jobs a year and $15 billion in lost tax revenues.

"Piracy in Brazil is undermining the ability of the music and film industries to invest in the next generation of local talent. Lower revenues from current sales mean less money to invest in new artists," the association's general director, Andre Borges, said when he announced the industry's plan to sue illegal downloaders in Brazil.

Brazil is one of the world's biggest markets for music theft, with more one billion tracks illegally downloaded each year, according to the London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Counterfeited discs account for around half of the all Brazilian CD and DVD sales.

But tecnobrega also is an economic engine -- moving about $5 million a month through Belem's economy, according to a study by the Getulio Vargas Foundation. The average singer makes about $850 a month -- about five times the minimum wage in Belem, and a decent salary for a musician.

Tecnobrega producer Beto Metralha said the music developed out of necessity in a place where few musicians could afford to pay a whole band and most music consumers don't take home enough money to buy non-pirated CDs. The average ensemble consists of little more than a keyboardist and a singer, sometimes accompanied by an electric bass. The signature shuffle rhythm is derived entirely from a single program on an electronic keyboard.

The distribution scheme also grew out of necessity -- few record companies were interested in tecnobrega, but enterprising copiers figured out there was a market to exploit.

Brazil's top-selling Banda Calypso, whose "brega" sound paved the way for tecnobrega, claims to have sold more than 4 million CDs nationwide, avoiding traditional distribution networks and marketing its CDs directly through news stands and other unconventional outlets.

The best songs are played by "aparelhagens," hugely popular DJs running shows with laser displays, smoke machines and giant video monitors that alternate images of the dancing crowds with psychedelic imagery.

"Before you couldn't get your record played on the radio if you couldn't afford payola. Now if a song hits big with the aparelhagens, the radio has no choice but to play it," says Metralha. "The dynamic has changed."

Radiohead Said to Shun Major Labels in Next Deal
Jeff Leeds

Radiohead, the British rock band that is regarded as the pre-eminent free agent in the global music business, is close to signing a series of deals to release its next album independently and leave the major record companies behind.

The band, which stunned the industry this month when it let fans set their own price for the digital download of its new album, is close to a deal to release the CD version of the album domestically through a pact with the music complex headed by Coran Capshaw, the impresario best known for guiding the career of the Dave Matthews Band.

The band is expected to market the album internationally through the British label XL Recordings, according to people briefed on the band’s plans.

The independent labels appear poised to win a bidding war for the band’s album that had included suitors like Warner Brothers Records, Columbia Records and, at one point, Starbucks, whose corporate label has signed artists including Paul McCartney.

Under the proposed deal, Radiohead would license the album, “In Rainbows,” for a specified period of time but retain ownership of the recording.

Side One, a fledgling label being spun off from Mr. Capshaw’s management company, Red Light, would release the album domestically in concert with another of Mr. Capshaw’s companies, ATO Records.

The music business had been buzzing with speculation over how the band would release its new album since it fulfilled its long-term contract with the music giant EMI Group with the delivery of its 2003 album, “Hail to the Thief.”

That album has sold roughly a million copies domestically, and the band’s managers have said they viewed the recent name-your-price offer, in part, as a test of whether the availability of cheap (or free) music online would reduce the band’s future CD sales.

Representatives for the band and Red Light declined to comment.

Our Entitlement Mentality

Imagine spending twelve months working on your new album. You shape the song structures a certain way to convey the emotion of each song, everything is precise. Your independent label pays for you to record the album at a professional studio, costing them $30,000, with a contract saying that you will repay the recording and reproduction costs if the album doesn’t sell fifteen thousands copies.

Everything is planned. Six months from now the album will be released. Marketing plans are formed, photo shoots are scheduled, and your website is being redesigned. You lay awake at night thinking about the expenses that are adding up, but you trust that enough people will buy the album and see you perform on tour.

Two months before the scheduled release, your marketing agency begins to send out promotional copies to trusted music blogs and media sources. You’re excited to read the response as bloggers give you exposure. A demand for the CD is created, and a few mp3s are given away for people to preview… but that was to be expected.

Then something goes wrong. Someone that received the promotional copy decided to place the album on a Torrent site. Now anyone can download your album for free and you won’t see a single penny.

Though you want people to hear your music, you also want to fulfill the part of your contract that requires you to sell fifteen thousand copies.

Questions flood your mind: When the album is officially released, will people buy it? Or will they download it for free? If you can’t sell enough copies you’ll be required by contract to pay the record label back.

This is the situation that most artists are facing today. As consumers, we seem to feel entitled to have full access to music, and we wince at the thought of paying for it.

Yes, artists are given more exposure when albums hit BitTorrent sites. If the album is loved, album sales reflect this and some of the loss is recouped. Recording and marketing music isn’t free, and music consumers shouldn’t expect it to be.

When you consider the costs that fall onto the shoulders of artists and record labels, it’s understandable why BitTorrent sites are caught in litigation. Today, Oink.cd joined the list of BitTorrent sites that have been shut down.

For this reason Puddlegum encourages you to support the artists by purchasing their music and buying tickets when they bus by your city. We don’t agree with exorbitant prices that are placed on CDs, but the list of options to purchase music DRM-free at an affordable price is growing.

Note: This story is not about the business model used in the example. We are not proposing this model as being ideal. There are better models and approaches that embrace the album leak. But the majority of artists take a risk with this established model.

Inside the Mind of a 9 Year Old File-Sharer

Everyone knows that a significant number of file-sharers are teenagers and young adults and they get their share of press. But what about the true kids - the under 10’s ? TorrentFreak makes itself feel old trying to keep up with the agile mind of a 9 year old file-sharer.

Like most publications, here at TorrentFreak we regularly interview adults. However, when a recent conversation with a child turned to file-sharing, we took the opportunity to give the P2P kids a voice. We had a little chat with a 9 year old girl who wants to be called “Hannah” (after Hannah Montana) and she talks to us about LimeWire, BEBO, YouTube and her perception of the rights and wrongs of copying - even her frustrations with DRM.

“Never work with children or animals” said WC Fields. TorrentFreak takes a chance:

TF. Hi Hannah! How old are you?

- I’m 10 in 12 days

TF. What sort of music are you listening to right now?

Sean Kingstone, Shayne Ward and High School Musical 2

TF. Where did you first get into music?

- On the music channels, on MTV.

TF. When did you get a PC?

- People had computers but I couldn’t go on them but my Dad bought me one last year. I have internet.

TF. What do you do on the internet?

- MSN, talking to friends and cousins, games and dressing-up games [dolls]

TF. When did you first start using the internet to get music?

- My cousin showed me YouTube and then LimeWire and I was like “whoa cool!”

TF. What was cool about it?

- Because you can put anything in and it will come up and you don’t actually pay for it. Well you have to pay for the internet and LimeWire comes with the internet but you have to pay for that so LimeWire isn’t really free.

TF. Ok…I see….Do you get music from anywhere else?

- My cousin gets it from BEBO. She copies it from other people’s pages and puts it on her own.

TF. Do you think it’s ok to copy the music?

- Yes it’s ok because she only does it to make her page better.

TF. So you’re sure that it’s ok to copy it? What do you think about copying?

- I suppose it’s not ok to copy but people copied it off her site so she just copies theirs. It’s like, you’re copying my t-shirt so i’m copying you on shoes.

TF. Ok, so a bit like copying school work?….Hmm….ok, let’s talk about copying on the computer again. When you started using LimeWire, did anyone ever mention that if you did certain things you might be breaking some laws?

- Why would they put it [music] on the internet and invent mp3 players if it was against the law?

TF. Confusing isn’t it?….You mentioned you like Sean Kingstone - what if I told you that Sean Kingstone’s boss might send you a letter asking for money because you shared his album on LimeWire? What would you say to him?

- W.E! [whatever!]

TF. Come on, play along with me. What would you say if he did?

- I’d say “tooooo strict!” and anyway he can’t make me do anything. He’s not the boss of me, he’s the boss of Sean Kingstone.

TF. What do you think might happen if you didn’t pay him?

- Nothing. I’m too young to be charged by the government so he can’t charge me.

TF. Would you carry on using LimeWire after he sent the letter?

- Yeah!

TF. Why?

- Because you can get good albums off there. Duh!! My CD’s don’t work in my mp3 player so LimeWire is the only way to do it. I bought High School Musical 2 on CD but it won’t go on my mp3 [player]

TF. How would you make LimeWire better?

- To speak to the person sending the music to make sure they send the right one, sometimes they send stuff that doesn’t even play.

TF. Do you know what a pirate is?

- They have parrots [effects ‘arrrrr’]

TF. Do you think its legal or illegal to copy a CD or DVD?

- Some men right, they sell you a DVD at the market but when you get home it doesn’t play, that’s illegal.

TF. Why is it illegal?

- Duh!! Because they tell you it works and when you get it home it’s rubbish and jumps in the middle and its a waste of money!

TF. Do you think you should be paying for stuff off LimeWire? You have to buy CD’s from the shop…

- You have to pay for CD’s because they’re actually on a disc not on the computer. My cousin, right, she uses LimeWire when she doesn’t have any money for CDs.

TF. Did you ever download anything by anybody and then go to see them?

- I got stuff by Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe and then I went to see Blue. Why don’t you ask me what my favorite hobby is?

TF. Ok, what’s your favorite hobby?

- Dancing to music, it’s fun!!

Thankyou, Hannah. That’s it! Have a nice birthday!

Frontman to File-Sharers: Steal Our Album, Help Bury the Label

Revolver Magazine called them part of “The Future of Metal” and they reportedly “destroyed” the second stage at Ozzfest. Now frontman of the band ‘Throwdown’ is calling on file-sharing fans to take action: “If you wanna really support a band, steal their album….help bury the label.”

For a record boss with piracy on his mind, it must be a nightmare. Rather than being able to bask in the glory of a record breaking punishment for a petty file-sharer for evermore, the very people the label claim to protect - the artists - turn round to the label and stick in the knife. Hard.

The frontman of hardcore band, Throwdown has done just that. According to Punknews.org, Dave Peters (seen here on the far left) wrote a letter to Santa Monica-based industry watcher, Bob Lefsetz. Peters told him:

“I play in a metal band. We have sold around 200k records across 3 releases. We’re not ‘huge’ by any stretch but do alright and live off (and ON subsequently) the road. Fans and friends ask me all the time how I feel about “stealing music.” I just told someone yesterday “I have a hard time seeing it as stealing…when I don’t see any money from cd sales to begin with.”

Bob Lefsetz, ex-entertainment business attorney and author of the “The Lefsetz Letter” email newsletter, covers important issues right at the heart of the industry, including the declines of the record label and physical music formats such as the CD.

As the world increasingly ‘goes digital’, some people still insist on using terms that only describe the physical world accurately. One such word used to erroneously describe downloading is ‘theft’, but clearly no-one has had their property stolen and Peters agrees: “What are they actually TAKING from me?”

Indicating his displeasure with the industry he goes on:

“If you want to squeeze an opinion on theft out of me, ask me about the dude that grabbed our tshirt off the table tonight in Detroit or better yet.. ask me about record contracts.”

..and a message to the file-sharers out there:

“I encourage our fans to acquire our album however they please. The philosophy I’ve adopted is that if you’re supporting disc sales, you’re keeping the old model around longer…the one that forces dudes like me to tour 9 mos/year if they want to make ends meet with a career in music.”

Ending with a final insult for the record business, Peters hits a sweet note that will likely resonate with many as they reflect on the record labels future usefulness:

“If you wanna really support a band, “steal” their album….help bury the label….and buy a tshirt when you show up at their show and sing every word.”

Throwdown’s latest album, ‘Venom and Tears’ came out in July and is, of course, available via BitTorrent.

BitTorrent Survival: The Way of the Hydra

As more and more people hear about BitTorrent, each day the major sites get bigger, with more and more visitors, members, seeds and peers. Mainstream awareness of P2P is driving this new surge but with copyright and law enforcement agencies clamping down hard, some are considering tactics for survival.

The BitTorrent community is growing at an almost alarming rate, its popularity is surging and more people than ever before are discovering its wonders. The mighty Suprnova captured the imagination of millions around the world, giving huge momentum to this file-sharing phenomenon, collecting millions of daily hits before its demise.

Today, sites like Mininova and The Pirate Bay are enjoying unprecedented levels of interest. Mininova served up 1 billion torrents in their first 2 years of operations, then stormed to 2 billion in just a further 6 months whilst capturing almost double the daily traffic of Suprnova in its prime.

The Pirate Bay almost needs no introduction, such is its size and comparable infamy. A jaw-dropping BitTorrent behemoth, gathering thousands of visitors each day who between them download 4 million torrents. Its vistors make 86 searches per second, its servers handle 1150 requests in the same timeframe and it tracks 50% of the world’s torrents.

That’s 50% of ALL public torrents. That is a dangerously high number of eggs in a basket that’s frequently coming under an attack of one form or another.

With the authorities always looking to take the biggest scalps to grab the headlines, sites such as LokiTorrent and EliteTorrents stood no chance, especially considering the huge financial implications of residing in the USA. Major BitTorrent site admins realized this and mainly moved their operations to the Netherlands, a location which is now looking less of a safe haven. The Dutch situation is of particular concern - there are dozens of strategically important torrent sites hosted there.

So what is the solution? brokep of The Pirate Bay has some thoughts that I happen to completely agree with.

“There are too few sites and trackers right now” he said, “things have been to concentrated to the big sites and that really sucks!”

Although it’s great initially for the mainstream to have visible big ‘brands’ such as The Pirate Bay, Mininova and TorrentSpy, it’s a precarious situation to have such a top heavy structure to the BitTorrent community. It’s great having a ‘multi-headed hydra’ but not so great when just one of those heads carries half of all the public torrents. This situation must be addressed. Resources need to be spread around in a manner which ensures that a few ‘big bombs’ are unable to dismantle major parts of the infrastructure.

There is a solution, as brokep says, “I really love the small specialized sites, I hope to see more of them. I would love to help out with starting up more, but it’s also important that we who already run sites do not start more of them.”

He’s right. The more sites like The Pirate Bay provide what the BitTorrent community want, the less likely it is that people will venture out on their own to create their own sites. In the current environment, the hydra needs thousands of heads which are resource-hungry to target, not just a dozen juicy fat ones which stay nice and still, with the authorities just waiting for a subtle change in, or interpretation of, the law. A change which is inevitable, in both Sweden and the Netherlands.

TorrentFreak asked the admin of a US-based tracker how they manage to stay alive, despite having 20,000 members. “People are too hung up on MPAA and RIAA content. There’s an enormous library of material out there which you can track and no-one bothers you. We’ve got over 4000 torrents and we’ve had just two or three informal takedown requests in the last couple of years. If people want to start a tracker, indexing non-RIAA/MPAA content and specializing in something else is a great way to start building a community, even when you’re hosted in the States”

brokep gets the last words. Very wise words;

“So public message to people - start up your own torrent sites, make the internet the hydra it is and needs to be. If there’s hundreds of sites, they can’t all be shut down. And well, if they shut down the few that are today, there will be hundreds of sites, I’m sure, but let’s start them before so we can spread the word of them easier.”

What to Use Instead of Oink (waffleswaffleswaffles and jam)

So, here’s a list of sites to use instead of OiNK.
Aka “what to use instead of pink”.

audionews.ru (Music production)
pj.sidewalkcrusaders.com (Pearl Jam)
smithstorrents.co.uk (The Smiths/Morrissey)
tracker.gunsnroses.us (Guns ‘n’ Roses)
mullemeck.serveftp.org/jps_beta/ (Japanese/Asian)
nipponsei.minglong.org (Anime OSTs)
tracker.shoegaze.lt/ (Shoegaze, Dreampop)
puretrance.org (Trance)
tracker.jpopsuki.com (J-pop)
zonebits.net (Primarily Danish music)
tracker.shoegaze.lt (Shoegaze, indie, post-rock)
proaudiotorrents.org (pretty self-explanatory)
u2torrents.com (U2)
and don’t forget:

Waffleswaffleswaffles and jam! Wondering about all the waffle talk? So do we.
But piracy is waffles of the 21st century.


TV-Links Replacements

I thought that for the first entry in my blog I would post something that is usefull to other people rather than a boring intro about myself (maybe I'll do that later hah!).

As we all know the nazi's have grabbed the TV-Links owner on Thursday and have/are probably threatening him with all sorts of nasty things if he doesn't admit he's a terrorist. Really, shouldn't the police be out stopping murderers and armed robbers rather than raiding some kid's home for a website?

Anyway, I've decided to give a list of what i consider to be the best TV link sites around, that is, sites where you can go find your favorite episode of Lost, Buffy or 24. I simply don't have the time to trawl through YouTube, DailyMotion or Guba for shows or movies so it's a godsend that the sites below exist. The list below is just my personal favorites, I'm sure you have your own and if so let me know, the more sites the better! Anyway without further ado......

These guys are without a doubt my favorite and that's saying something when I only found it a week ago. It's basically a clone of tv-links but with a few nice additions. I love the way I can subscribe to any channel or show via RSS which makes it easier to keep track of my fav shows. At time of writing they have *14,712* tv episodes. The site is in beta right now but personally I haven't come across 1 bug yet. The only drawback of this site is that the community is non-existent but I suppose that will change as the site becomes better known.

Alluc used to be so sloooowwwwwww but they seem to have upgraded their server and now theyre nippy as hell. They have a nice crowd there and you rarely get dead links as they're on top.

**The rest below I won't comment on because if I'm honest STC and Alluc gives me what I need so I don't go need much else. If anyone would like to comment about the ones below though I would be happy to edit to show people's thoughts.


Hope this helps some people, happy viewing!


The Home Video Prince Doesn't Want You to See

Pa. mom fights back with lawsuit against music company
Jim Avila, Chris Francescani and Mary Harris

A bouncing YouTube baby has be-bopped his way right into the legal cross-hairs of the pop star Prince, sparking a lawsuit that could test the boundaries of U.S. copyright law.

Holden Lenz, 18 months old, is the pajama-clad star of a 29-second home movie shot by his mother in the family's rural Pennsylvania kitchen and posted last February on the popular video site YouTube.

In the video, the child is seen bouncing and swaying for the camera, as, faintly, the Prince hit "Let's Go Crazy" plays on a CD player in the background.

Twenty eight people, mostly friends and family, had viewed the YouTube video by June, when mom Stephanie Lenz said she received an e-mail from YouTube informing her that her video had been removed from the site at the request of Universal Music Publishing Group, the recording industry's largest label, and warning her that future copyright infringements on her part could force the Web site to cancel her account.

'Frightened, Then Angry'

"All of my [YouTube] videos are home videos, so I thought it was some kind of scam,'' Lenz told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit. When she realized YouTube had actually taken her video down, she said she was shocked.

"At first it frightened me, because I saw who had filed'' the takedown notice, she said.

"It was Universal Music Publishing Group, and I was afraid that ... they might come after me. ... And the more afraid I got, the angrier I got. ... I was afraid that the recording industry might come after me the way they've come after other people for downloading music or file sharing.

"I thought even though I didn't do anything wrong that they might want to file some kind of suit against me, take my house, come after me.

"And I didn't like feeling afraid,'' she continued. "I didn't like feeling that I could get in trouble for something as simple as posting a home video for my friends and family to see."

Lenz filed a "counter-notice" with YouTube, and the Web site put her video back up about six weeks later.

What Constitutes a Ripoff of an Artist's Work?

But Lenz was angry, and she said she wasn't ready to let it go.

She contacted a leading cyber rights legal organization called the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and filed a civil lawsuit against the music publisher, claiming they were abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by sending out reams of what are known in the industry as "take down notices" to Web sites like YouTube, claiming their artists' copyrights had been infringed upon -- when in fact, sometimes they may not have been at all.

Universal Music Publishing Group has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, a spokesman said.

File-sharing and illegally downloading of music has devastated a once-booming music industry. Some observers say the industry is just trying to protect itself.

"I think the large copyright holders believe that if they do not police every single use of their copyrighted work -- no matter how benign -- that somehow that will open the floodgates to massive piracy,'' said Gigi Sohn of the Washington think-tank Public Knowledge.

"The problem with that is that viewers, Internet users, consumers, have rights under copyright law as well, and one of those rights is the ability to make fair, lawful uses of copyrighted work, for a variety of reasons," she said.

"The 'Let's Go Crazy baby?'" she asked rhetorically. "When you look at the facts, it's obvious that a take down notice should never have been sent. ... I mean, nobody downloads a video from YouTube with a song on it -- particularly 29 seconds of a song and says, 'OK, I don't have to buy the song' -- so clearly this was a type of use that didn't violate copyright."

Source: Prince 'Scours the Internet' Looking for Violations

For it's part, Universal said it was simply acting at the behest of one of its top artists.

"Prince believes it is wrong for YouTube, or any user-generated site, to appropriate his music without his consent,'' the company said in a statement released to ABC News Thursday. "That position has nothing to do with any particular video that uses his songs. It's simply a matter of principle. And legally, he has the right to have his music removed. We support him and this important principle. That is why, over the last few months, we have asked YouTube to remove thousands of different videos that use Prince music without his permission."

A well-placed source directly involved in the situation confirmed to ABC News that Prince was directly involved in seeking the takedown of Lenz's video.

"This guy scours the Internet,'' the source said of the legendary artist, who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and wrote the word "Slave'" on his cheek until he won back the rights to his music from another publishing company.

"He's really intense about this stuff," the source said, adding that Lenz's video "happened to be one of many'' that artist apparently located online and demanded be taken down.

A publicist for Prince directed ABC News to the artist's personal assistant's cell phone. The assistant did not return a call for comment.

The case is part of what some cyber rights advocates says is an alarming trend in aggressive copyright protection that can sometimes go too far. Entire companies have sprung up to troll the Internet and send thousands of take down notices, warning of legal action if videos that could be deemed to violate a copyright are not immediately removed.

"This is the first major case that we've seen where someone like a housewife is being targeted by a major recording company, but we're starting to see more and more of these kinds of abuses,'' said Jason Schultz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"Because of the way the law is set up, it's very easy for people to send copyright complaints to any Web site and demand that videos come down or music comes down, and a lot of providers can't verify.

"What's going on here is that people like Universal are abusing the copyright law in order to censor, take down videos they frankly don't like, but aren't actually infringing copyright,'' Schultz said.

"They aren't violating copyright law. So here Stephanie Lenz posted a video of her kids dancing,'' Schultz said. "It's just a home video. She wanted her friends and family to see it, and Universal had no right to [have it] take[n] down. And by sending an abusive copyright complaint, they really abused the law.''

Lenz and E.F.F. are seeking unspecified damages from the music company.

"I'd like to see [Universal] say that I wasn't a copyright infringer,'' Lenz said.

By Law, YouTube Honors Takedown Notices -- and Counter-Notices

A YouTube spokesman told ABC News that under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, hosting platforms like YouTube are legally obligated to take both the original takedown notices and the counter-notices at face-value, and to honor them.
"This litigation doesn't involve us,'' Ricardo Reyes, a spokesman for YouTube said.

"We are what the DMCA call a hosting platform," he said. "We provide a platform for people to post their content and share it. When we're notified that something is infringing, we take that [content] down. To not take it down would put us in violation of the DMCA. What we have to do is take them at face value. What you are saying under penalty of law is saying you are the owner. If you say you are the owner and you're not, you can be sued."

Conversely, Reyes said, "When we're counter notified, we basically have to take the counter notice at face value too. Our responsibility is to abide by the notices or counter notices."

Caught to some extent in the middle of the takedown notice wars, Reyes declined to address the Prince controversy directly, but said YouTube had been down this road before.

He cited the case of a North Carolina school board council candidate, Christopher Knight, who produced a daffy commercial in which he donned a "Star Wars"-like light saber and promised to protect the school district's students from a metaphorical Death Star.

The VH1 cable television show "Best Week Ever," which highlights amusing online content, featured a clip of the video on their show.

Knight "thought that was so cool he put up the VH1 clip up on his channel on YouTube,'' Reyes said. "And VH1 sent us a take down notice." (To view Knight's video, go to YouTube and search "Christopher Knight.")

Lenz, a blogger and fiction writer, said she's sympathetic to the plight of the music industry and its artists.

"I do understand where the record industry is coming from,'' she said. "They should go after people who infringe on their copyrights. Artists and musicians are owed the money for the product that they create, but I didn't take their product. I bought my CD at my local record store and I played it for my kids, and I wasn't trying to make any money or pass it off as anything other than a home movie of my child."

But the legal controversy has changed the way Lenz thinks, she said, every time she picks up her digital camera. "I'm constantly thinking about what's going on in the background, what's on the TV, what's on the CD player, the characters on my kids' clothes, the characters on the toys that they are playing with,'' she said.

"I'm cognizant of what's going on at every step, instead of focusing on my kids, which is where my attention should be."

As for Holden, the toddler has moved on to punk music.

"He loves music,'' his mother said. "He likes all kind of music. At the time [of the video] he liked anything that was funk or anything that was R & B, and Prince fit perfectly in with that.

"I haven't played Prince for him lately,'' she said, laughing. "But he's getting a little bit more into punk now, so I'm trying to turn him on to Nirvana."

You’ve Had the Root Canal. Now See the Movie.
Anne Eisenberg

THE dentist will see you now — on YouTube, that is.

YouTube, famous for its entertaining clips, now has a growing list of informative videos, too, posted by experts on many subjects — including dentistry.

A few enterprising dentists with a bit of the auteur in them have created discussions and demonstrations of root canals and other dental procedures for YouTube in unscripted, live takes with patients. The videos may turn out to be useful marketing tools, promoting the dentists’ abilities and attracting new customers to their practice.

Dr. Jerry Gordon, a dentist in Bensalem, Pa., (www.dentalcomfortzone.com) is the director and star of the video “Root Canal Demonstration.” Looking relaxed and friendly, Dr. Gordon explains the ins and outs of the procedure, treating a real patient, and showing each of the steps from painless injection to completion.

The video, which runs nearly 10 minutes, was shot by a local videographer and cost about $2,000. It has been viewed more than 11,000 times in the two months since it was put up.

“Do not be afraid of root canal,” Dr. Gordon says at the end, as the patient, who has looked remarkably calm throughout the procedure, heads for home. “This is not an actor,” he adds. “This is real and this is live.”

Images like that may do a lot to banish lingering thoughts of sadistic movie dentists like the ones played by Laurence Olivier in “Marathon Man” or Steve Martin in “Little Shop of Horrors.” Dr. Gordon said that his patients liked the videos, shown first on his Web site and later on YouTube. “People are genuinely appreciative of the information,” he said.

The videos have also turned out to be good for business. “They’ve definitely been a strong positive for the practice,” he said. “Ultimately a video on YouTube can drive some local people to your Web site.”

Some of them might become patients. Dr. Gordon has been keeping track of people who came to him through the Web, both before and after YouTube. In 2006, before he started posting videos on YouTube, 26 patients found him through his own Web site. Since then, the number from the Web has grown to 68.

Dr. Gordon is a bit ahead of most of his colleagues in adapting to the ways of Internet video. But other dentists may soon join him, especially if they have success with standard, static Web pages.

Dr. Kristy Vetter, for instance, who has a dental practice in Laguna Niguel, Calif., opened a Web site on Valentine’s Day this year (www.drvettersmiles.com). It showed results immediately, she said. People who typed “Laguna Niguel Dentist” into search engines seeking local dentists found her Web site, and some of them later went to her office.

“We’ve had three to five patients in the last month or so that came that way, instead of by referral,” she said.

The Web site reassured patients. “Going to the dentist is kind of scary,” Dr. Vetter said. “This way people check us out, and see the staff and the offices before they actually get here. They can fill out forms first. They feel like they know the place. It makes them comfortable.”

She says she thinks that adding video clips might do an even better job of showing off the business. “Every time I see my Web designer, she bugs me to do it,” she said.

Not all video clips on YouTube are reassuring. Some of the clinical tutorials on surgical procedures — dental implants, for instance — may be too gory for some people. That is one of the reasons that Dr. Roger P. Levin, chief executive of the Levin Group, a dental consulting firm in Owings Mills, Md., is skeptical of the overall prospects for dental videos.

“I don’t see videos of dental procedures on YouTube turning into much of a marketing tool,” he said. “Most people simply don’t want to see how our procedures are done.”

Still, people are coming to YouTube in increasing numbers for technical information, and not just about root canals. “We’re seeing an uptick in these types of instructional videos,” said Julie Supan, YouTube’s spokeswoman, like tutorials on math and wine-making and one of her favorites — on how to play the harmonica.

“People are drawn to this kind of information,” she said of the trend, which she first noticed several months ago. And it’s not just in the United States, she added: “We’re seeing this on a global scale. The appeal of video is universal.”

Fox Bars Candidates From Using Its Images
Marc Santora

The Fox News Channel sent notices to the campaigns of the leading Republican presidential candidates ordering them to stop using images from their Fox appearances in their campaign ads. The notices were sent out after the network was criticized for singling out only Senator John McCain’s campaign in barring use of the images.

Earlier in the week, Fox had demanded that the McCain campaign cancel an advertisement that prominently featured his performance in a debate Sunday night that Fox News had sponsored. The advertisement featured a video clip of Mr. McCain’s shot at Senator Hillary Clinton for pushing a $1 million earmark for a museum commemorating the Woodstock festival in 1969, ending with the biting observation that he was “tied up” during the concert. Mr. McCain was in a North Vietnamese prison at the time.

Earlier tonight, the Web site Talking Points Memo pointed out that the campaigns of Mr. McCain’s rivals, specifically Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, made liberal use of footage from Fox images to promote their candidates, but had not been told to remove the images.

“Our legal team has been alerted and there will be cease and desist orders,” said a Fox spokesperson.

Rival campaigns have privately suggested that they believe Fox unfairly skews its coverage in Mr. Giuliani’s favor, citing his long history with Roger Ailes, who runs the cable outlet. Mr. Ailes, a former Republican operative, worked as a media consultant on Mr. Giuliani’s first, failed bid for mayor of New York City in 1989 and the two have remained close ever since.

Mr. McCain, appearing on Fox immediately after Sunday’s debate, even joked with one of the hosts, Sean Hannity, about what he saw as his obvious support for Mr. Giuliani, without mentioning his rival by name. Mr. Hannity, who is the host of one of the most popular shows on the channel, begged off the assertion, saying he does not support any particular candidate.

ECA Steps Up Lobbying

Consumer group enlists a former ESA attorney to represent gamers' interests in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Sinclair

For years, publishers have been represented in Washington, D.C. by lobbyists for the Entertainment Software Association. Likewise, retailers have been represented by lobbyists for the Entertainment Merchants Association. Now there's going to be a lobbyist representing the gamers themselves, as the Entertainment Consumers Association today announced the hiring of veteran industry attorney Jennifer Mercurio to head its Government Affairs operations.

As a former attorney for the ESA, Mercurio worked on state-level legislative issues. In her new role, she will run the ECA's government relations and advocacy efforts.

"Her track record in successfully lobbying against anti-games legislation and being a part of the team that overturned the few bills that passed, speaks for itself," ECA president Hal Halpin said of Mercurio in a statement. "We've tasked Jenn with some big challenges, but she'll be working cooperatively alongside of our parallel trade association partners--many of whom she knows well, of course."

Exclusive: I Was a Hacker for the MPAA
David Kravets

Hacker Robert Anderson first approached the Motion Picture Association with a plan to help the movie studios' lobbying arm beat piracy. Among other things, Anderson proposed to implement an anti-piracy marketing campaign for the MPAA.

Promises of Hollywood fame and fortune persuaded a young hacker to betray former associates in the BitTorrent scene to Tinseltown's anti-piracy lobby, according to the hacker.

In an exclusive interview with Wired News, gun-for-hire hacker Robert Anderson tells for the first time how the Motion Picture Association of America promised him money and power if he provided confidential information on TorrentSpy, a popular BitTorrent search site.

According to Anderson, the MPAA told him: "We would need somebody like you. We would give you a nice paying job, a house, a car, anything you needed.... if you save Hollywood for us you can become rich and powerful."

In 2005, the MPAA paid Anderson $15,000 for inside information about TorrentSpy -- information at the heart of a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought by the MPAA against TorrentSpy of Los Angeles. The material is also the subject of a wiretapping countersuit against the MPAA brought by TorrentSpy's founder, Justin Bunnell, who alleges the information was obtained illegally.

The MPAA does not dispute it paid Anderson for the sensitive information, but insists that it had no idea that Anderson stole the data. "The MPAA obtains information from third parties only if it believes the evidence has been collected legally," says MPAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaltman.

The MPAA's use of Anderson is one of a series of controversies the movie industry is confronting in its zero-tolerance war on piracy. MediaDefender, a California company that tracks and disrupts file sharing of movies and music, was reported to Swedish authorities last month by The Pirate Bay, after an internet leak revealed the extent to which MediaDefender pollutes file-sharing services with fake, decoy content. And an executive at a national theater chain successfully pressed New Jersey authorities in August to prosecute a teenager for filming 20 seconds of a movie at a theater to show to her little brother later.

Anderson's account shows that the content industry may be willing to go to significant -- and some say ethically questionable -- lengths in its war against online piracy, and that it is determined to keep its methods secret.

"It was an understanding," Anderson says of the deal, "that it was hush-hush."

Anderson's brief Hollywood career began in the spring of 2005, after a online advertising venture with TorrentSpy founder Bunnell turned sour.

Looking to profit in other ways, Anderson approached the MPAA with an e-mail offering to help the movie studios' lobbying arm beat piracy, which the industry says costs it billions in lost sales each year. Among other things, Anderson proposed to implement an anti-piracy marketing campaign for the MPAA.

But he says he also offered to provide inside information on TorrentSpy, which, along with The Pirate Bay, is among the most popular BitTorrent destinations for downloaders looking for free movies and music.

"It was an opportunity to make money, because I knew how these networks operated," he says.

On June 8, 2005, within weeks of sending his unsolicited e-mail, Anderson says he was put in touch with the MPAA's Dean Garfield, then the organization's legal director. Anderson says he told Garfield that he had "an informant that can intercept any e-mail communication."

Anderson didn't tell Garfield he was the "informant," and that he'd already hacked into TorrentSpy's systems. The hacker, then 23 and living in Vancouver, British Columbia, claims he had cracked TorrentSpy's servers by simply guessing an administrative password. He knew the password was weak -- a combination of a name and some numbers.

"I just kept changing the numbers until it fit," he says. "I guess you can call it luck. It took a little more than 30 tries."

Once inside, he programmed TorrentSpy's mail system to relay e-mail to a newly created external account he could access.

There's a trace of pride in his voice as he details the hack. "The e-mails weren't forwarded using the mail command. They were sent actually before it reached anyone's mailbox," he says. "So it was more like interception before delivery. I could even stop certain mail from reaching their box."

In this manner, Anderson says, he sucked down about three dozen pages of e-mails detailing banking, advertising and other confidential information. "Everything they were talking about was sent to my Gmail," he says. "Everything they sent, anything sent to them, I got: invoices; in one case they sent passwords."

Among the purloined files was the source code for TorrentSpy's backend software, says Anderson. Anderson alleges this interested the MPAA, which he says wanted to set up a fake BitTorrent site of its own. According to Anderson, the MPAA said, "We'll set up a fake Torrent site. We'll contact the other Torrent sites. We'll get their names, address books, contact information and banking information.... (They) wanted to run this as a shadow portion of the MPAA."

MPAA spokeswoman Kaltman says the MPAA had no such plans, and says the accusation that the MPAA wanted to set up a phony Torrent site is "patently false."

On June 30, 2005, after Anderson collected the data, Garfield sent Anderson a contract to sign. The contract, seen by Wired News, says the information the MPAA was seeking would "include, but is not limited to, the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the owners of TorrentSpy.com."

The contract also requested information on The Pirate Bay, and called for Anderson to look for "evidence concerning and correspondence between these entities."

The contract prohibited both parties from disclosing "the existence of this agreement to anyone," and said the MPAA would pay $15,000 for services to Anderson's business, Vaga Ventures. Finally, the contract dictated that the confidential data would be obtained "through legal means."

But according to documents filed in support of TorrentSpy's wiretapping countersuit: "Dean Garfield expressly told the informant (Anderson), on behalf of the MPAA, regarding the information that he requested, 'We don't care how you get it.'"

It continues: "(T)he MPAA knew, or had reason to know, that such information was obtained from plaintiffs unlawfully and without authorization."

The details of Anderson's conversations with Garfield could not be independently verified, and Garfield -- now the MPAA's executive vice president and chief strategic officer -- did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

But MPAA spokeswoman Kaltman says the organization's contract with Anderson clearly required any information to be obtained lawfully.

Anderson says he signed the secret pact, and immediately sent in what he says was stolen information.

But once Anderson turned over the data and cashed the MPAA's check, he quickly realized that Garfield had no further use for him. "He lost interest in me," he says. Anderson felt abandoned: During negotiations with Garfield, the hacker had become convinced he was starting a long-term, lucrative relationship with the motion picture industry. "He was stringing me along personally."

Hollywood's cold shoulder put Anderson's allegiance back up for grabs, and about a year later he came clean with TorrentSpy's Bunnell in an online chat. "'I sold you out to the MPAA,'" Anderson says he told Bunnell. "I felt guilty (for) what happened and I kinda also thought at that point the MPAA wasn't going to do anything."

"He was kinda blown away," recalls Anderson.

Bunnell declined to comment for this story.

The MPAA sued Bunnell and TorrentSpy shortly after Anderson's chat. Bunnell then countersued the MPAA under the federal Wiretap Act. Bunnell alleged that Anderson's e-mail surveillance amounted to wiretapping under the law, and that the MPAA was exposed to vicarious liability for the crime.

As Bunnell's star witness, Anderson was not sued "because he took steps to advise us of his wrongdoing and to cooperate. We've made a decision to go after the bigger wrongdoing, the MPAA," says Bunnell's attorney, Ira Rothken.

But U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper in Los Angeles dismissed Bunnell's lawsuit Aug. 21 on the grounds that Anderson's intrusion did not violate the federal wiretapping statute. Attorney Rothken says he did not sue under the federal computer-hacking law, because it doesn't allow for vicarious liability.

Last week Rothken filed a notice of his intent to appeal Cooper's decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. For now, the court's decision has put the brakes on Bunnell's lawsuit against the MPAA, and freed the movie industry to use the purloined e-mail in its lawsuit against TorrentSpy for alleged copyright infringement.

That suit is ongoing and contentious. Cooper ruled last May that TorrentSpy must begin saving the internet addresses and download activity of its U.S.-based users, and turning over the information to the MPAA in pretrial discovery. In response, TorrentSpy began blocking U.S. users, and made changes on its site to protect user privacy -- drawing a fresh burst of outrage in legal filings by MPAA lawyers earlier this month.

The MPAA's Kaltman says the court's decision to throw out Bunnell's lawsuit against the MPAA left no doubt that Garfield's relationship with Anderson was aboveboard. Kaltman points out that the court took note of the contract language between the MPAA and Anderson that represented any data from Anderson as being lawfully obtained.

But Paul Ohm, a University of Colorado Law School scholar specializing in computer crime, is skeptical. "It's hard to say with a straight face that you can obtain that legally," said Ohm. "Ethical red bells should have been going off."

American Gangster Leaked Online
Peter Sciretta

“For Your Consideration” season has begun. I know this because the first Oscar screener of the season has been leaked online. A week and a half before the official release date, Ridley Scott’s new film American Gangster has been uploaded to the bit torrent networks and has already been illegally downloaded by tens of thousands of people. And that’s just in the first 20 hours online. As I write this, over 10,000 users are currently downloading the video off a popular bit torrent website.

Audiences usually stay way from pirated movies due to the notorious bad quality video camera-taped copies. But with Award Season screeners, the movie quality is as good as a retail DVD release. So what is to stop consumers from downloading this film early? American Gangster is set to hit theaters in he United States on November 2nd, but its release in other world territories happens as late as February of 2008. So while this might not have a huge effect on the box office in the U.S., it is likely to hurt foreign markets hard. And as for the U.S. results, that is debatable. Recently horror director Eli Roth blamed piracy for the lower than expected box office numbers of Hostel: Part II. The workprint for his film was leaked online a week before the movie’s national release.

American Gangster stars Russell Crowe as a detective who is working to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who is smuggling the heroin into the Manhattan in the coffins of soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this film. The movie currently has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 9.0 rating voted by users on the Internet Movie Database.

Also interesting of note: Paramount Vantage have uploaded free pdf versions of five screenplays to a public “For Your Consideration” website. Two of the scripts available for download (The Kite Runner and There Will Be Blood) have not yet been released theatrically.

Disclaimer: It should be noted that I myself have not downloaded the print, but instead have confirmed it’s authenticity through a message board in which users discuss the quality of bit torrent downloads.

After First Succeeding, Young Tycoons Try, Try Again
Gary Rivlin

Max Levchin is not easily distracted from his work.

A few years ago, Mr. Levchin, one of the young princes of Silicon Valley, bought his first home, a 12-room Edwardian high atop a hill here, for $3.4 million. But Mr. Levchin, who made a fortune at age 27 selling PayPal, the online payment service he helped start in 1998, never moved in. He sold it two years later without having slept there for even one night.

Since then, Mr. Levchin has moved into his second home, a more expensive one found for him by Nellie Minkova, his girlfriend of eight years who has become his fiancée. But so consumed is he by work on his second company, an Internet start-up focused on sharing photos and videos, that the cartons that contain what Mr. Levchin described as “85 percent of my worldly possessions” are still stacked in his living room, five months after moving day.

Mr. Levchin, who is now 32, is typical of a new generation of junior titans in Silicon Valley who might be called the prematurely rich — techies worth tens of millions of dollars, sometimes more, at an age when many others are just starting to figure out what to do with their lives.

The Internet, a low-overhead medium with a global reach, has greatly accelerated the wealth creation phenomenon, producing a larger breed of multimillionaires even younger and richer than in the past.

They are happy to be wealthy, of course, but many of these baby-faced technology tycoons often seem indifferent to the buying power of their money, at least at this stage of their lives. Instead, nearly all of them have chosen to throw themselves back into a start-up, not so much because they want a spectacular new home or a personal jet — though many of them do — but because they are in a competition with themselves and one another.

“For most of us, doing it again means surpassing what we’ve done previously,” said Peter A. Thiel, Mr. Levchin’s partner at PayPal, who has also started a new business, a hedge fund called Clarium Capital. “And that can be a really high bar.”

Even among this jittery group of overachievers, Mr. Levchin stands out. In part that is because outdoing PayPal may be an all-but-impossible goal. Mr. Levchin acknowledges that he has already earned more money than he could ever spend. But he said he would not consider Slide.com, the photo and video sharing site he founded in 2005 that is still in its start-up phase, a success unless it is ultimately worth, in real dollars, “at least $1.54 billion”— the price eBay paid for PayPal.

“Otherwise,” he asked rhetorically, “what have I learned?”

During his PayPal days, Mr. Levchin was so committed to seeing the company succeed that he often sacked out at the office in a sleeping bag he kept under his desk. Considering that he described his apartment during some of this time as “scary,” that had a certain logic. Cardboard boxes served as his living room furniture; a discarded computer desk was his dining room table.

These days, despite the phenomenal success of PayPal, which gave him the bulk of a fortune worth around $100 million, Mr. Levchin continues to work an average of 15 to 18 hours a day.

“We occasionally go out to eat, he sleeps a few hours, he works out,” Ms. Minkova said. “But other than that, Max works.”

Ms. Minkova half-joked that she might appreciate her occasional evenings out with Mr. Levchin more, if only he were not on his BlackBerry, answering e-mail messages and checking his Web site.

One friend, Dennis Fong, who sold a company to MTV Networks last year for $102 million (and is already at work on a new start-up), talks about the “weird growling sound” that Mr. Levchin tends to make when someone even mentions the name of his chief rival, RockYou.

And so committed is Mr. Levchin to seeing Slide.com succeed that he keeps a blood-pressure monitor on his desk. “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t start companies,” he said. “I’d probably think about slitting my wrists.”

Too Restless to Ease Up

Maximillian Rafael Levchin was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine, a Jew living under Soviet rule for 16 years. As the Soviet Union was crumbling, the family moved to the United States and settled in Chicago. But the worst year of his life, he said, was not when he was growing up but after eBay bought PayPal.

He thought he would spend the time after the sale “exploring my inner self.” Instead, he spent the better part of 12 months “feeling worthless and stupid” and baffled by what he might do with the remainder of his life. He felt too young to retire or downshift a gear or two — and too restless to become a philanthropist.

“I enjoy sitting on nice beaches and hanging out with my girlfriend and playing with my dog, but that’s three hours a day,” Mr. Levchin said. “What about the remaining 18 hours I’m awake?”

At first, free time was not much of a problem. Coming into a lot of money at a very young age, Mr. Levchin found himself forced to ponder things like irrevocable trusts and secondary beneficiaries. Several times a week, he would listen to the gentle hectoring of older, well-dressed men and women whom he playfully mimicked, employing a basso profondo, game-show announcer’s voice.

“Think of the kids you don’t have,” Mr. Levchin quoted them as saying. “Think of your unborn grandkids.”

As those obligations of his new wealth subsided, Mr. Levchin contemplated what he might do next. For a time, Mr. Levchin, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, thought about returning to college and earning a doctorate. That is what his mother, a physicist, had always wanted him to do, and it seemed to suit his temperament.

But discussions with a friend who teaches computer science at Stanford convinced him that academia was not the life for him. “This friend said, ‘Don’t kid yourself, you’re going to start another company,’” Mr. Levchin said. “It was one of those things where as soon as he said it, I knew it was true.”

He thought, too, about becoming a venture capitalist or an angel investor, a well-paved path for generations of entrepreneurs before him. Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture firms, gave him a desk to use while he figured out his next step. The partners at Sequoia would regularly invite him to join pitch meetings, but that experience taught him that he was hardly suited to the more nurturing side of the profession.

“I took this perverse pleasure in seeing if I could make someone cry,” he said.

At Sequoia, Mr. Levchin met James Hong, another successful entrepreneur who is one of his closest friends today.

“We’d go out drinking, and Max’d talk about how miserable he was, and I’d talk about how miserable I was,” said Mr. Hong, who was 27 when he and a friend started HotOrNot, a Web site popular with the under-30 crowd.

Mr. Levchin added, “We were both pretty pathetic.”

While not nearly as rich as Mr. Levchin, Mr. Hong describes himself as well off enough so that work is optional. He was collecting more than $1 million a year from HotOrNot, a project he and his partner had created in seven days and which demanded little of his time.

“All of a sudden, you have the luxury — or the curse — of being able to ponder the meaning of life,” Mr. Hong said. “You ask yourself, ‘Why am I not happier given how lucky I’ve been?’”

Only later did Mr. Hong diagnose the real source of his angst: he was not doing much of anything. So like most of his peers, Mr. Hong decided to throw himself back into work, in his case refocusing on HotOrNot in the hopes of transforming the Web site into a larger business.

In Silicon Valley, said Robert I. Sutton, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford and co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, remaining relevant, if not also admired and respected, requires that an entrepreneur continue to speed along in the fast lane.

“In other parts of the country, things like a great estate are the symbols people most respect,” Mr. Sutton said. “But here, the greatest status symbol is a person’s ability,” he added, to “still bring out hot new companies” and show that you are “working on the hot new technologies.”

Some, of course, choose to step off the start-up merry-go-round. Pierre Omidyar, 40, the founder of eBay, remains chairman of that company, but he gave up the day-to-day operations in the late 1990s. Since that time, Mr. Omidyar, who has a net worth of $9 billion, has devoted most of his work energies to philanthropic causes and investments in projects in the United States and in the developing world.

Mr. Levchin concluded that his competitive drive was too strong for that kind of life. During his time off, he competed with Mr. Hong over who was the more frugal of the two and challenged him to push-up contests at the gym. “No matter how many I’d do,” Mr. Hong said, “he’d have to do that many plus two.”

So Mr. Levchin did what any young titan in his position might have done. He dipped into his deep reserves of cash to pay for a large loft space and hired a half dozen of the smartest computer programmers he knew.

“I knew I wanted to be a C.E.O.,” Mr. Levchin said. “I just didn’t know the C.E.O. of what.”

Readying for the ‘Next Race’

Mr. Levchin proved vigorous in his pursuit of the right start-up. There are those in Silicon Valley who still create new companies out of a desire to crack a challenging technical problem. But not Mr. Levchin, who, like many of the area’s most highly regarded software engineers nowadays, views himself as the creator of potentially lucrative businesses more than simply the architect of a nifty new technology.

“It’s easier to start the next company than it was in the past,” said Marc Andreessen, who was a co-founder of Netscape Communications in 1994, when he was 22. It is also potentially more lucrative than it was even a dozen years ago, said Mr. Andreessen, who despite a net worth estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars is now at work on his third start-up, a social networking company called Ning.

“For the first time in history, you have a global market of 1 billion-plus people, all connected over an interactive network,” Mr. Andreessen said. “The opportunities are bigger than ever before.”

A site for sharing photos and video was not necessarily Mr. Levchin’s favorite among the dozen or so ideas he pondered. But he chose Slide.com precisely because he thought it had the greatest potential to become a business that could surpass PayPal in size and reach.

In 2005, when he started Slide, the Internet already had plenty of popular photo-sharing sites, but Mr. Levchin saw a new way to cash in on the desire of so many to express themselves in cyberspace: a service that gives people an easy way to dress up their blogs and personal pages with photo slide shows, videos and the like.

Facebook users, for instance, use Slide-produced playthings like its multimedia “FunWall” or the “SuperPoke” widgets that let them hug or punch a fellow member (figuratively speaking) or even throw a virtual sheep at someone (as apparently 20,000 people an hour choose to do, according to Slide).

More than 130 million people viewed at least one Slide multimedia presentation in June, according to the Internet traffic monitor ComScore.

“I’d run any company; it’s completely irrelevant to me,” Mr. Levchin said. “It’s really about this drive to win.”

Yet what Mr. Levchin calls “my particular brand of obsession” comes with a cost. He wishes he gave more to charity, but he can never seem to find the time. “It’s pathetic how much I give compared to other people I know worth considerably less,” he said. And his desire to earn even more means he pays little attention to the wealth he already has in the bank.

“This ‘next race’ attitude really shapes your brain,” Mr. Levchin said. “It’s ‘Ready, set, go,’ and nothing else really matters.”

The three-story, five-bedroom house he shares with Ms. Minkova cost him $5.3 million, but it seems to be his only big post-PayPal indulgence.

Indeed, Mr. Levchin has not binged on the pricey luxuries that some other Silicon Valley luminaries enjoy. Those twin kings of the Valley’s under-35 set — Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, with a combined net worth of more than $40 billion — have splurged on a fully loaded customized Boeing 767-200. But for Mr. Levchin, there is no six-figure car parked in his driveway, and dinners out tend to be at chain eateries rather than at high-end restaurants.

“Spending money is a fine pursuit, and anyone’s welcome to do it,” said Scott Banister, a close friend of Mr. Levchin’s since college who recently sold an antispam company to Cisco for $830 million and is now working on a social networking site, Zivity, which he describes as a “cross between Playboy and American Idol.”

“But then obviously at that point, you’re spending,” he said, “not producing.”

Companies Seeking Immunity Donate to Senator
Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane

Executives at the two biggest phone companies contributed more than $42,000 in political donations to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV this year while seeking his support for legal immunity for businesses participating in National Security Agency eavesdropping.

The surge in contributions came from a Who’s Who of executives at the companies, AT&T and Verizon, starting with the chief executives and including at least 50 executives and lawyers at the two utilities, according to campaign finance reports.

The money came primarily from a fund-raiser that Verizon held for Mr. Rockefeller in March in New York and another that AT&T sponsored for him in May in San Antonio.

Mr. Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, emerged last week as the most important supporter of immunity in devising a compromise plan with Senate Republicans and the Bush administration.

A measure approved by the intelligence panel on Thursday would add restrictions on the eavesdropping and extend retroactive immunity to carriers that participated in it. President Bush secretly approved the program after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mr. Rockefeller’s office said Monday that the sharp increases in contributions from the telecommunications executives had no influence on his support for the immunity provision.

“Any suggestion that Senator Rockefeller would make policy decisions based on campaign contributions is patently false,” Wendy Morigi, a spokeswoman for him, said. “He made his decision to support limited immunity based on the Intelligence Committee’s careful review of the situation and our national security interests.”

AT&T and Verizon have been lobbying hard to insulate themselves from suits over their reported roles in the security agency program by gaining legal immunity from Congress. The effort included meetings with Mr. Rockefeller and other members of the intelligence panels, officials said.

The companies face suits from customers who say their privacy was violated. Administration officials say they worry that the suits, pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, could bankrupt the utilities.

House Democrats have balked at the immunity, refusing to include it in a bill they drew up and saying they would not even consider it unless the administration produced long-sought documents on the origins of the program.

Mr. Rockefeller received little in the way of contributions from AT&T or Verizon executives before this year, reporting $4,050 from 2002 through 2006. From last March to June, he collected a total of $42,850 from executives at the two companies. The increase was first reported by the online journal Wired, using data compiled by the Web site OpenSecrets.org.

Neither Mr. Rockefeller’s predecessor as committee chairman or his House counterpart received increases in contributions from the phone companies, records show. But industry executives have given significant contributions to a number of other Washington politicians, including two presidential contenders, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain.

A spokeswoman for AT&T, Claudia B. Jones, said contributions from its executives related to Mr. Rockefeller’s role on the Senate Commerce Committee, not immunity or other questions before the Intelligence Committee.

“Many AT&T executives work with the leaders of both the House and Senate Commerce Committees on a daily basis and have come to know them over the years,” Ms. Jones said.

She added that although industry executives and politicians might not always agree, it is “commonplace for AT&T employees to regularly and voluntarily participate in the political process with their own funds.”

Ms. Morigi, in Mr. Rockefeller’s office, said the senator had had numerous meetings with his aides about immunity for a year and came to believe that the carriers needed legal protection to ensure cooperation on national security operations.

On other questions, she said, he has disagreed with the industry. Ms. Morigi pointed to his sponsorship of a separate bill to give cellphone subscribers more protections in their contracts. That bill, unlike the immunity provision, has been vigorously opposed by the industry.

She also said that the increased contributions from industry executives reflected a record fund-raising year for Mr. Rockefeller and that his contributions from many sectors had “skyrocketed.”

Mr. Rockefeller is up for re-election next year. No opponents have declared their intention to try and unseat him.

The senator has raised $3.1 million this year, in part through 107 campaign events, according to his office. He has promised not to use any of his personal fortune to finance his campaign.

“The idea that John Rockefeller could be bought is kind of ridiculous,” said Matt Bennett, vice president for Third Way, a moderate Democratic policy group that has supported immunity for the phone carriers.

“That these companies are going to focus their lobbying efforts where their business interests are is no revelation,” Mr. Bennett said. “That’s the standard Washington way of doing business. But you’re not going to buy a Rockefeller.”

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, a group promoting stricter campaign finance laws, said contributions like those to Mr. Rockefeller created an appearance problem that “corrode public confidence” in the political system.

“We have so many examples like this of people on relevant committees receiving these contributions from people who are under their jurisdictions,” Ms. McGehee said. “It’s sad to say, but it is pretty much business as usual in Washington. And it shows why so many Americans just shake their heads over the way Washington works.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

AT&T Profit Surges 41%, With Help From iPhone
Laurie J. Flynn

The Apple iPhone has raised AT&T’s fortunes.

The phone company said yesterday that its third-quarter net income rose 41 percent as the cellphone helped bring in new customers.

AT&T’s wireless unit added two million subscribers in the third quarter, an increase of 47 percent, for a total of 65.7 million subscriptions. The wireless growth offset a 4.7 percent loss of the San Antonio company’s landline customers.

“We had an excellent quarter in wireless growth,” Richard Lindner, AT&T’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call with analysts.

AT&T is clearly benefiting from Apple’s strong sales of the iPhone. It is the sole supplier of the cellphone service.

AT&T said it had activated 1.1 million subscriptions for iPhone users, and that roughly 40 percent of those subscribers were new AT&T customers.

Apple helped increase iPhone sales last month when it cut the price of the device from $599 to $399. AT&T reported net income of $3.06 billion, or 50 cents a share, in the third quarter, up from $2.17 billion, or 56 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenue nearly doubled to $30.13 billion, from $15.6 billion in the quarter last year.

John Hodulik, an analyst with UBS, said that AT&T’s gross subscriber growth was particularly impressive considering that four out of five Americans already had cellphone service. AT&T took some market share from competitors during the quarter, he said. The company’s churn, or turnover rate, for customers under contract fell to 1.3 percent from 1.5 percent in the third quarter last year.

The company said that excluding costs related to acquisitions, it would have earned 71 cents a share, up from 63 cents a share a year earlier, which was in line with Wall Street’s expectations. The company announced its results before trading opened yesterday. AT&T shares increased more than 2 percent during the regular trading session to close at $42.02.

Revenue in AT&T’s wireless business increased 14 percent, to $10.94 billion, aided by increased use of data services like messaging, said Mr. Lindner. Wireless data revenue increased 64 percent during the quarter.

Most of the increase in AT&T’s wireless sales can be attributed to the company’s acquisition late last year of Bell South, which made AT&T the sole owner of Cingular Wireless.

In the landline business, AT&T customers continued to drop the service or contract with other companies, like those offering Internet-based phone service. To hold onto customers, AT&T has offered video and data service.

The company has been pushing its Internet TV service, U-verse, in hopes of stemming defections to cable companies that offer bundles of services that include phone, television and Internet. During the third quarter, the number of U-verse subscribers increased by 75,000, to 126,000.

“We’ve made sound strategic moves to better serve customers and expand our potential in key growth areas,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and chief executive officer. Among those new offerings is a recent deal with Napster to offer a music download service, although critics have scoffed at the $1.99 price of a song when other new entrants to the business, like Amazon.com, are offering songs for 89 cents.

But while AT&T’s U-verse service is growing, it appears to still suffer from the quality problems — there was a major service failure last weekend — that have marred acceptance since its debut.

Furthermore, Mr. Lindner conceded to analysts, it still required about seven hours for AT&T technicians to install the service in a customer’s home.

Apple Limits Sale of iPhones: Two Per Person and No Cash

Apple no longer accepts cash for iPhone purchases and now limits sales of the cellphone to two per person in a move to stop people from reselling them.

The new policy started Thursday, said Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman. Before then, there was no cash restriction and the purchase limit was five per person.

“Customer response to the iPhone has been off the charts, and limiting iPhone sales to two per customer helps us ensure that there are enough iPhones for people who are shopping for themselves or buying a gift,” Ms. Kerris said. “We’re requiring a credit or debit card for payment to discourage unauthorized resellers.”

More than 1.4 million units of the hybrid cellphone-iPod have been sold since it was introduced June 29, according to Apple. It is expected to be a popular gift for the holidays.

Apple says it thinks some people have already purchased multiple iPhones to resell, including those looking to modify, or unlock, the phones so they work on networks other than Apple’s carrier partner in the United States, AT&T.

Apple estimated that buyers of 250,000 of the iPhones sold so far intended to unlock them, Apple’s chief operating officer, Timothy D. Cook, said in a conference call with analysts this week.

Apple’s attempts to prevent that unlocking activity, which included a software update that blocked the workarounds that hackers had developed, have frustrated users and prompted two lawsuits.

Comcast: We’re Delaying, Not Blocking, BitTorrent Traffic
Brad Stone

Last week, the folks at cable giant Comcast asked for more time to give a nuanced response to a report that the company was blocking some peer-to-peer traffic on its network. The public relations staff at the Philadelphia company seemed genuinely baffled by accusations that it was interfering with file-sharing applications like BitTorrent and Gnutella. They stubbornly insisted that they did not monitor or block any Internet traffic – despite strong evidence to the contrary.

Today, Comcast tried to do a bit better – while sticking to its guns. “Comcast does not block access to any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent” read a written statement. “We have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience and we use the latest technologies to manage our network so that they can continue to enjoy these applications.”

Speaking on background in a phone interview earlier today, a Comcast Internet executive admitted that reality was a little more complex. The company uses data management technologies to conserve bandwidth and allow customers to experience the Internet without delays. As part of that management process, he said, the company occasionally – but not always – delays some peer-to-peer file transfers that eat into Internet speeds for other users on the network.

The executive declined to talk in detail about the technology, citing spammers or other miscreants who might exploit that knowledge. But he insisted the company was not stopping file transfers from happening, only postponing them in certain cases. He compared it to making a phone call and getting a busy signal, then trying again and getting through. In cases where peer to peer file transfers are interrupted, the software automatically tries again, so the user may not even know Comcast is interfering.

The executive also noted that peer-to-peer network users represent a minority of Comcast customers, but that they use a disproportionate amount of bandwidth.

And that was about the extent of the explanation.

It seems unlikely that Comcast has a secret agenda to shut down file-sharing applications and combat piracy on its network. But the company is clearly trying to have it both ways. It claims it is a neutral Internet service provider that treats all packets equally, not blocking or “shaping” its Internet traffic. Meanwhile it also positions itself as the champion of average Internet users whose speeds are being slowed by file-sharing.

The result of that discrepancy is that Comcast has a major public relations problem on its hands. In the absence of a transparent explanation about what the company does to disadvantage certain applications in the name of managing traffic on its network, anecdotal reports and conspiracy theories are filling the vacuum.

Comcast's "We Don't Throttle BitTorrent" Internal Talking Points Memo

A Comcast employee supplied The Consumerist with the following internal email sent out to all the customer service staff at the Maryland call center. It's regarding recent reports that the cable company disrupts traffic between customers using the BitTorrent file-sharing program:

You may get customers who are contacting us with regard to several articles which were published recently, accusing Comcast of blocking or otherwise filtering customers' Internet traffic. An in-depth AP story suggests Comcast is hindering our customers' ability to use BitTorrent, a peer to peer file sharing program. If a customer contacts us to inquire about this, please use the following talking points.

Comcast does not block access to any applications, including BitTorrent

We respect our customers' privacy and we don't monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior, such as which websites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site...
We have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good experience online and we use the latest technologies to manage our network. This is standard practice for ISPs and network operators all over the world.

We rarely disclose our vendors or our processes for operating our network both for competitive reasons and to protect against network abuse.

If a customer asks:
I read that Comcast is limiting customer access to BitTorrent. Is this true?

No. We do not block access to any applications, including BitTorrent. We also respect our customers' privacy and don't monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior, such as which websites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site.

We have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good experience online and we use the latest technologies to manage our network. This is standard practice for ISPs and network operators all over the world.

Are you working with Sandvine as these reports claim?

We rarely disclose our vendors or our processes for operating our network both for competitive reasons and to protect against network abuse.

Please do not deviate from the responses above. If you have any questions about this issue, please reach out to Brian Becker, Gene Bridges or myself.

Michael S. Groman
Manager / IP Support
MD-DE-RCH Region

We guess it must have been a little devil or gremlin that stopped the AP from transferring that Bible.

The insider tells us that employees were told not to say a word outside the pre-ordained script. Management said that anyone who otherwise discussed the issue would be terminated. A meeting was held last week to cover the issue as well.

Our source says, "It is definitely being covered under tight wraps. Why else would they go through with all this if they didn't have anything to hide?"

Congressman to Comcast: Stop Interfering with BitTorrent
Chris Soghoian

While a class action lawsuit is definitely one way to get Comcast to behave, another perhaps more productive way to do so is to have politicians step in and regulate.

On Tuesday, I discussed the issue of Comcast's anti-BitTorrent "network management" with Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., who is a strong supporter of consumer rights and has led the battle to undo the damage caused by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.

He was named Politician of the Year for 2006 by Library Journal, largely due to his efforts to protect the fair-use doctrine and expand Internet technologies to rural areas.

"Comcast has made a major mistake in attempting to hinder peer-to-peer file sharing as an aspect of its network management," Boucher said. "The inability of customers to (share files) significantly diminishes their ability to utilize the Internet for one of its most important applications, which is user-to-user content." He also noted that "file sharing is already being used for a wide variety of perfectly lawful and appropriate applications."

Discussing the realities of limited resources that the company faces, Boucher said, "Comcast obviously needs to engage in some aspect of network management. The company has limited bandwidth, and there are times when there is more demand for service than the infrastructure can support." However, the congressman stressed that "(the) management needs to occur in a more evenhanded way" and that "(Comcast) should not engage in a blanket disqualification of any category of lawful applications."

Until last month, the opponents of Net neutrality were doing just great. The issue, which had become one of national importance in 2006, had shrunk to a mere footnote in the annals of tech policy history.

CNET News.com's Declan McCullagh wrote about the death of Net neutrality last month, stating that "(the issue) went from being the political equivalent of a first-run Broadway show, with accompanying street protests and high-profile votes in Congress, to a third-rate performance with no budget and slumping attendance."

Luckily for fans of a free Internet, the telecommunications companies are extremely shortsighted. Thanks to a number of their boneheaded moves, Net neutrality has gone from being all but dead to a major news story--all in just a matter of weeks.

The first company to breathe life back into the Net neutrality debate was Verizon Wireless, which decided in late September to block a SMS text message campaign by a pro-choice group.

Within one day (and after having its censorship techniques compared to those of the Chinese government in a New York Times article), Verizon quickly flip-flopped.

While Verizon should be commended for realizing that it needed to do the right thing, and quickly, the damage was already done. Net neutrality was back on the tech policy radar.

In mid-August, user reports began to surface alleging that Comcast was filtering the BitTorrent connections of its broadband cable customers.

While the story got a bit of press in some tech news outlets, it was ignored by the national media, primarily due to the flat-out denials issued by Comcast.

Fast-forward one month. This past Friday, the Associated Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation both released investigative reports, documenting the fact that Comcast is actively engaged in anti-BitTorrent behavior.

In spite of Comcast's best efforts to yet again spin the story, the truth seems to have come out, and major news outlets have picked it up: Comcast is actively sending out false data onto its network, which impersonates its customers' computers and deceitfully convinces them to terminate BitTorrent connections. Not only does the company have a major PR disaster on its hands, but it has in a matter of days become the poster child for Net neutrality.

Comcast's name is surely to come up in any future discussion of Net neutrality - which has gone from a theoretical "what if companies did this kind of thing" debate to something more akin to "do you want every Internet company to start acting like Comcast?"

In my blog post on the subject this past Tuesday, I explored some of the potential legal risks that Comcast faces. I spoke to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohmann, who revealed that "(the EFF has) already been contacted by attorneys, who are considering legal action against Comcast."

I asked Boucher what he would do if Comcast stuck to its guns and kept discriminating against BitTorrent. In particular, I asked him if he would propose legislation compelling the company to treat all traffic fairly.

Unfortunately for fans of Net neutrality, the congressman said he was not ready to go down this path and instead stressed market-based methods of fixing the problems. Instead of tinkering with packets, the congressman said that in the short term, Comcast should "simply tier their offerings and engage in a pricing structure that allocates more bandwidth to those who pay more, and less to those who pay less."

However, he said "the long-term answer is to deploy more capacity. That is what municipal broadband and other telecom companies are doing. Ultimately, the cable companies will have to deploy fiber to the house."

Columbia University cyberlaw professor Tim Wu recently pointed to a historical analogy regarding Verizon's SMS fiasco. He told The New York Times that in the 19th century, the telegraph company Western Union engaged in discrimination based on the political views of people who sought to send telegrams.

"One of the eventual reactions was the common-carrier rule," Wu said, which required telegraph and then phone companies to accept communications from all speakers on all topics.

Someone who believes in a market-based solution to this problem is Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute. In a phone interview on Tuesday, Harper noted that one of the main problems is Comcast's lack of transparency--something that can be seen through the fact that no one yet knows, exactly, what Comcast is doing. He said "Comcast seems to lack the capacity to communicate terribly well. They should fix that."

Harper believes that competition is the key to fixing the problem and that if customers truly care about the issue, they will choose another Internet service provider that is more BitTorrent-friendly. He did, however, note that without transparency, "consumers cannot make smart choices."

He also rejected calls for Net neutrality regulation, stating that he believes that the problem can be fixed by promoting competition. While acknowledging that the state of the market is far from competitive for many rural consumers, he noted that customers in bigger markets often have the choice between multiple phone, cable and wireless companies.

Harper said that instead of "dividing the current pie through regulation, it is far better to grow the pie" by encouraging new companies to offer service. One example of this, he said, was allocations of additional spectrum to broadband, such as the upcoming 700MHz auction.

Finally, Harper was somewhat skeptical of the importance of this issue to most consumers. He noted that Comcast is not blocking BitTorrent downloads but rather only the sharing of files--something that is not viable to most users. "If customers don't care enough to vote with their feet" he asked, "then how important is it, anyway?

Senators Want Probe on Content Blocking
Dibya Sarkar

Two Senators on Friday called for a congressional hearing to investigate reports that phone and cable companies are unfairly stifling communications over the Internet and on cell phones.

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the incidents involving several companies, including Comcast Corp., Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., have raised serious concerns over the companies' "power to discriminate against content."

They want the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to investigate whether such incidents were based on legitimate business policies or unfair and anticompetitive practices and if more federal regulation is needed.

"The phone and cable companies have previously stated that they would never use their market power to operate as content gatekeepers and have called efforts to put rules in place to protect consumers 'a solution in search of a problem,'" they said in a letter to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the committee's chairman.

A committee spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.

An Associated Press report on Oct. 19 detailed how Comcast Corp. was interfering with file sharing by some of its Internet subscribers. The AP found instances in some areas of the country where traffic was blocked or delayed significantly.

Comcast - the nation's No. 2 Internet provider - has acknowledged "delaying" some subscriber Internet data, but said the delays are temporary and intended to improve surfing for other users.

Verizon Wireless in late September denied a request by Naral Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, to use its mobile network for a sign-up text messaging program.

The company reversed course just a day later, calling it a mistake and an "isolated incident."

AT&T reportedly changed a service agreement that previously included language permitting the company to cancel accounts of Internet users who disparage the company.

Several lawmakers, including Dorgan, earlier this year introduced so-called legislation promoting "Net neutrality," which is the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equally by carriers.

Equal treatment of traffic is long-standing practice on the Internet. The legislation is a response to suggestions by phone companies that they would like charge Web sites extra for preferential treatment of their traffic.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Britain-based Vodafone Group PLC.

Comcast to Face Lawsuits Over BitTorrent Filtering
Chris Soghoian

The blogosphere is abuzz over an Associated Press investigative article this past Friday on the subject of Comcast's BitTorrent filtering. Briefly, there were a number of articles in early September which alleged that Comcast was using some fairly sneaky techniques to throttle BitTorrent traffic on its network. Comcast, of course, denied any such behavior. It took a month and a half, but both a mainstream media news organization as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation have tested and confirmed the previously reported claims. It turns out that Comcast is not only throttling BitTorrent, but Gnutella and, strangely, Lotus Notes are also suffering.

Comcast's PR people gave me the following statement on Monday: "Comcast does not block access to any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent...We have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience and we use the latest technologies to manage our network so that they can continue to enjoy these applications." I was also able to interview a Comcast Internet executive who would only speak on background. He bobbed and weaved, sticking to his talking points, yet a few things were clear: he would not deny that the company was sending out TCP RST packets, but stated that if it were being done, it was at a "low level" where average users would not see it.

A Comcast engineer who spoke to the Tech Liberation Front's Tim Lee confirmed this, stating that "most users wouldn't even be able to detect the traffic-shaping activities they use without special equipment and training." On the subject of why the filtering is done networkwide and not just to individual bandwidth hogs: "Comcast (doesn't) throttle on a user-by-user basis rather than a protocol-by-protocol basis, (as the company is) concerned with the privacy implications of that approach." Thats right folks, Comcast will sell network wiretaps to the feds for $1,000 a pop, but won't calculate a user's total bandwidth per month for "privacy reasons."

When your ISP receives a spam e-mail, and deletes it without delivering the message to your in-box, it is blocking access to your in-box. (This is a good thing.) When you install a firewall on your home computer and someone else tries to connect to you from another network, your firewall software "blocks access" to that other party. The packets attempting to initiate a connection to your machine will either be silently dropped onto the floor, or in some cases, a rejection message will be sent back to the session initiator telling them that their connection attempt was refused.

If Comcast deployed networkwide firewall rules that would drop any BitTorrent packets that came in and out of its network, Comcast would be "blocking access." However, it is not doing this. Primarily, because if it did so, the BitTorrent downloads of its customers would fail, and thousands of users would complain. Instead, Comcast is attempting to only target the sharing or uploading portions of BitTorrent, which are not nearly so noticeable for end users. Comcast will still see a significant drop in network traffic by targeting uploads, but is far less likely to suffer the wrath of its users.

So what is Comcast doing? It is letting BitTorrent traffic flow across its network, and thus is not technically "blocking" anything. Instead, it is forging TCP reset packets that are misleadingingly labeled as being sent by one of the two ends of the BitTorrent connection. That is, Comcast is masquerading as its customers, and sending out data with false sender information. When the BitTorrent clients receive the false reset packets, they themselves terminate the connection, as they think the other host has told them to go away. Thus, through sneaky techniques and network-level false statements, Comcast is able to trick users' software into terminating their own transfers.

Interestingly enough, were Comcast applying this same technique to e-mail, and falsifying the header information of e-mail messages, it would soon find itself violating the Can-Spam Act. That law states that "Whoever...materially falsifies header information in multiple commercial electronic mail messages and intentionally initiates the transmission of such messages...shall be punished...with a fine...or imprisonment for not more than one year."

As for the idea that Comcast is using the "latest technologies" to manage its network--hogwash. The concept of forging TCP reset packets is at least 10 years old, if not older. Purdue professor Gene Spafford and a number of his graduate students developed a "synkill" system to defeat SYN flood attacks that used the very same technique, back in 1996.

What about the argument that Comcast has the right to "manage (its) network so that (all customers) can continue to enjoy (permitted) applications?" The tactics that Comcast is using are 1. Probably a violation of its own terms of service, and 2. are being applied blindly across the whole network, instead of targeting those "heavy users" who use a disproportionate amount of the company's bandwidth.

Comcast's own "terms of use" state that Comcast reserves "the right to refuse to upload, post, publish, transmit or store any information or materials, in whole or in part, that, in (its) sole discretion, is unacceptable, undesirable or in violation of (the) agreement." Thus, if Comcast wished to deploy networkwide firewall rules blocking all BitTorrent traffic (that is, such packets would be either dropped on the floor or rejected by the network's routers), Comcast would be perfectly within its rights as outlined in the agreement. Comcast would probably lose a large number of customers, but it would at least be acting legally and following its own published rules. However, Comcast is not doing that. Nowhere in its terms of service has the company stated that it reserves the right to impersonate its customers, and to send false and misleading data out onto the network originating from or addressed to its customers.

In addition to the BitTorrent filtering technique being discussed, Comcast uses other methods to keep the amount of data flowing over its network to a minimum. Customers who use more than their "fair share" of bandwidth will eventually be terminated. How much is too much? Comcast won't tell you.

While this latter method of network management is not so popular with the Slashdot crowd, it at least makes some sense, since it is aimed at those users who are using the most of Comcast's seemingly scarce resources. Comcast's BitTorrent filtering, on the other hand, is being blindly applied to the entire network. Users who download 10 gigabytes of data per day, and little old grandmothers who wish to share a 4.5-megabyte copy of the King James Bible (as the AP did in their test) will both equally be filtered. This is not a technique aimed at abusive overuse by a handful of users, but is an all-out war against particular networking protocols.

I discussed this issue with Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Von Lohmann stated that "based on (our) own testing, as well as what has been reported, it seems clear that Comcast's techniques are bad for its customers and bad for innovation generally. The fact that Comcast's efforts are reportedly interfering with BitTorrent, Gnutella and Lotus Notes communications makes it clear that they are not narrowly targeted at particular users or protocols."

Regarding the effectiveness of Comcast's techniques, von Lohmann said that: "It's as though they are throwing a spanner in the works of the Internet, hoping that this will somehow reduce bandwidth usage overall.

As I mentioned in an article last month, Comcast's tactics may very well be violating the law. Many states make it illegal for an individual to impersonate another individual. New York, a state notorious for its aggressive pro-consumer office of the Attorney General, makes it a crime for someone to "(impersonate) another and (do) an act in such assumed character with intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another." (See: NY Sec. 190.25: Criminal impersonation in the second degree). I do not believe that it would be too difficult to prove that Comcast obtains a benefit by impersonating others to eliminate or reduce BitTorrent traffic. Less torrent data flowing over its network will lead to an overall reduction in its bandwidth bill, and thus a huge cost savings.

With regard to Comcast's legal liability, von Lohmann said that he could not comment as he had not yet had a chance to review the New York anti criminal impersonation laws. He did, however, state that "(The EFF has) already been contacted by attorneys who are considering legal action against Comcast." In the meantime, the EFF will "continue to perform tests in hopes of better understanding how this works and how it might effect Comcast subscribers and other Internet users."

While the EFF is holding back for now, it seems clear that other lawyers are circling in the water. They can smell blood. Not only is Comcast actively impersonating its customers on the Internet, but it has continued to deny it for the past two months. Should the court's approve a class action lawsuit, Comcast could be looking at a world of pain--and rightly so.

Dolans' Bid for Cablevision Is Defeated
Seth Sutel

The Dolan family, which built Cablevision Systems Corp. into one of the most successful cable TV providers in the country, is going to have to keep dealing with public stockholders for the foreseeable future.

Shareholders rejected a $10.6 billion bid from the Dolans Wednesday to take Cablevision private, clearly seeing the company as more valuable than the price the Dolans had agreed to pay. Cablevision has 3 million cable customers in the New York area and owns Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks.

James Dolan, the CEO, announced the results of the vote at a special shareholder meeting at the company's headquarters on New York's Long Island. Dolan said the family was "disappointed" in the outcome but still viewed it as a vote of confidence in the company and its leadership.

On that point, the Dolans and their investors agree. Large Cablevision shareholders, Wall Street analysts and shareholder advisory firms all opposed the Dolans' effort to take the company private.

Ironically, Cablevision's own success undermined the Dolans' buyout plans. The company has been a leader in signing up customers for premium services such as high-speed Internet and digital phone, a three-way package known as "triple play" which also tends to keep customers around longer.

Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein, called the outcome an "unequivocal vote" that the Dolans' price of $36.26 per share wasn't enough. Moffett called the vote "a courageous decision to make for any money manager," knowing that it was sure to result in a short-term decline in the stock price, but also "a tremendous vote of confidence in the company."

Sure enough, Cablevision's shares traded down after news of the vote came out, declining $1.04 or 3.3 percent to $30.82 in heavy trading, after the immediate guarantee of a $36.26 per share payout evaporated.

However, Moffett said Cablevision has a strong ability to generate cash and trades at a premium to its rivals, with a value of $5,000 per subscriber, versus $3,600 per subscriber at industry leader Comcast Corp.

Moffett said some investors were overly cautious about a potential threat to Cablevision from high-speed video and data services being rolled out from Verizon Communications Inc. over fiber optic lines.

Rich Greenfield, an analyst with Pali Research, said in a note to investors Wednesday that he values Cablevision at $47 per share and sees several possible opportunities for the company now that the going-private bid is off the table, including a possible sale of the AMC, IFC and WE cable networks.

The Dolans have tried several times over the past two years to take the company private, but couldn't agree on terms with a two-person committee of independent directors on their board. This May their board approved their proposal to take the company private, but one of the conditions of the deal was that it be approved by a majority of the shares held outside of the family.

Cablevision didn't release an exact vote count, but its two largest stakeholders had already said they would oppose the deal — ClearBridge Advisors, which has 14 percent of the stock, and funds controlled by Mario Gabelli, which have 8.3 percent. Gabelli gave notice in a regulatory filing Tuesday that he was prepared to go to court to seek a higher price for his shares if the deal went through.

ISS Governance Services, a leading shareholder advisory firm, recommended against the deal and noted that estimates by Wall Street analysts put the value of the company well above the Dolans' offer of $36.26 per share — HSBC seeing a price of $42.82, and Deutsche Bank with $50 a share.

The Dolan family controls about 65 percent of the company's vote through a special class of shares with powerful voting rights. James Dolan's father, Charles Dolan, is the company's chairman.

Unlimited Gall to Cost Verizon $1 Million
Paul McNamara

New York State has given Verizon Wireless a million new reasons understand that the word “unlimited” when used in advertising should mean what it means elsewhere in polite society.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that his office had beaten a $1 million “agreement” out of Verizon Wireless that will see the carrier compensate 13,000 customers it had summarily disconnected from their “unlimited” plans because they had taken the word to mean what it means.

From a statement issued by Cuomo’s office:

The settlement follows a nine-month investigation into the marketing of NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess plans for wireless access to the internet for laptop computer users. Attorney General’s investigation found that Verizon Wireless prominently marketed these plans as “Unlimited,” without disclosing that common usages such as downloading movies or playing games online were prohibited. The company also cut off heavy internet users for exceeding an undisclosed cap of usage per month. As a result, customers misled by the company’s claims, enrolled in its Unlimited plans, only to have their accounts abruptly terminated for excessive use, leaving them without internet services and unable to obtain refunds.

A million bucks is essentially petty cash for a company this size -- the public-relations beating will likely prove more costly – but the episode should nonetheless act as a deterrent for other carriers tempted to sprinkle their advertising with manure. At least that’s the theory.

“This settlement sends a message to companies large and small answering the growing consumer demand for wireless services. When consumers are promised an ‘unlimited’ service, they do not expect the promise to be broken by hidden limitations,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “Consumers must be treated fairly and honestly. Delivering a product is simply not enough – the promises must be delivered as well.”

As for Verizon’s take on the matter? Well, it’s priceless:

"We are pleased to have cooperated with the New York Attorney General and to have voluntarily reached this agreement," a company spokesman told Associated Press. "When this was brought to our attention, we understood that advertising for our NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess services could provide more clarity."

Corporate spokespeople earn good salaries to spout such nonsense, of course, but even by that standard we should take a moment to count up all the lies in this statement.

1. Verizon is pleased by this outcome. … Bet they had a big office party.

2. The settlement was voluntary. … Yes, in the time-honored way that criminals voluntarily confess after the cops show them the bloody glove (OK, this doesn’t always work, but still …).

3. Verizon only understood the problem after it was brought to their attention. … He meant after it was brought to their attention 13,000 times and the subpoenas started to fly, so maybe I’m being harsh on that one.

4. And the real whopper: What we’re talking about here is a lack of “clarity” in the advertising, nothing more. … You’d think a multibillion-dollar company could afford a dictionary.

Here at Buzzblog we like to believe that we go out of our way to accept business-speak for what it is and to not immediately presume the worst about corporate intentions.

Such latitude, however, is not unlimited.

Routing Economics Threaten the Internet
Lawrence G. Roberts

The Internet has some major problems. The big one involves the cost of supporting the amount of content and services being supplied over the Internet infrastructure. And if it's not fixed soon, the expansion of Internet traffic could outrun our ability to pay for it.

Here's why: Since it started, traffic on the Internet has about doubled every year. Remarkably, the router technology that we started with (best-effort packet routing) has supported this huge growth without any basic change except speed improvements resulting from the improvement in semiconductors.

Due to the improvements in fiber technology, the cost of increasing raw bandwidth capacity has been decreasing about as fast as the traffic grows. Fiber, therefore, is no longer the problem. But now that fiber technology has advanced, we have a different problem: routing technology. Internet traffic is now growing much more quickly than the rate at which router cost is decreasing per bit. Traffic is doubling each year, while routers follow the semiconductor trend, dropping in cost per bit by one half every 18 months.

The cost of Internet capacity would therefore double every three years without some key new innovation. The economy could not support this for very long.

Traditional routed IP networks provide reasonable quality by operating with huge overcapacity so the peak usage hardly ever overloads the routers. If a packet router becomes overloaded it seriously damages all the traffic, data, voice, and video. If we don't find a way to keep up with these increasing capacity costs, we'll start to see this damage.

I believe that the solution is flow routing. [Ed. note: Dr. Lawrence Roberts is the founder and CEO of Anagran Inc., a flow-based routing company.] Flow routing has introduced an important innovation that can help alleviate the capacity crunch: Routers do not need to route every packet, only the first packet in a flow. Thus, the inherent cost of these new routers is one third that of packet routers, and they provide an immediate 3:1 capacity increase when they are inserted into the network, eliminating the need to add capacity and cost for a year or two.

Flow router technology can be included at the access point where the overload may occur so that congestion and overload does not damage the traffic; lower priority, large file transfers are throttled back; and interactive voice and video stays protected. This allows the entire network to operate at much higher efficiency, often around 90 percent utilization day and night.

As the technology is further employed, the step function saving is on the order of 9:1 (cost and efficiency). This could extend the time that Internet traffic can continue to double at the current network cost by nine years. At that point, some additional innovation will be needed to keep cost under control or traffic growth will have to slow down.

The Internet's problems are not limited to cost, however. The aging IP technology in the installed base has other challenges.

Quality: Today, video can be easily downloaded just like data, but streaming video only works well if the network has enough overcapacity, with data users kept on a separate network. In many cases (like WiFi, for example), the same is true for voice. We can’t even start to consider many other applications like “telesurgery” -- robotic surgery performed remotely via the Internet -- due to poor video quality as a result of packet loss and delay variance.

There are really two problems to solve here: controlling the huge network load caused by video downloading, and the inherent inability of the current packet router design to support low delay variance, with low-loss streaming media mixed with lots of data traffic. Flow routing could solve both these problems. Based on observing and remembering the state of each ongoing data stream (flow), the router can protect video, voice, and any real-time stream from delay variance and loss.

Security: Security is becoming a serious problem. Although it is partly a computer issue, in large part it is also a network issue, since current networking technologies do not verify who is sending the data. Most known security problems (denial of service, spam, viruses) would be much easier to cope with if the network included three additional functions: authorizing users as they connect to the network; checking the addresses a user claims to be sending from, to insure it is not faked; and detecting traffic anomalies such as denial-of-service attacks.
Authorization is a known technology, but not very useful without source address verification. Source address verification is expensive if required for every packet, but with the advent of flow routing, it can be done once per flow, making it extremely inexpensive. Similarly, detecting traffic anomalies is virtually impossible at the packet level, but quite reasonable with flow routing technology, by simply looking at the flow information.

Thus, with the changes happening in routing technology, we should be able to pinpoint and identify anyone who sends spam or attacks a remote computer, and at least recognize and stop denial-of-service attacks, if not identify the originator. Once security attacks are traceable, law enforcement becomes possible.
Currently, we are expecting the same 40-year-old technology to support not only information exchange like Web browsing and email, but all our real-time traffic such as voice and video. Three basic problems must be overcome to accomplish this: quality, security, and economics. We need to improve packet forwarding design if we are going to fix these problems.

Verizon Discovers Symmetry, Offers 20/20 Symmetrical FiOS Service
Nate Anderson

For years, the broadband wars have been largely fought over download speeds, but Verizon has just thrown down the gauntlet and declared that it's going to fight over upstream speeds too, and in a big way. How does 20Mbps sound?

Some residents of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey who live inside the boundaries of Verizon's FiOS network will be the first to be able to take advantage of Verizon's new 20/20 FiOS service. As the name implies, 20/20 FiOS is a symmetrical 20Mbps connection (same speed in both directions), and it's one of the first symmetrical services to target the consumer market.

Available today, 20/20 will cost $64.99 per month and will include Verizon's Internet Security Suite and 1GB of online backup (up to 50GB can be purchased at "competitive rates").

Susan Retta, the company's VP of Broadband Solutions, was quick to compare the new plan to cable. "For more than a decade, the Internet has been defined by how quickly you can download content," Retta said. "Our 20/20 FiOS service changes everything by creating an entirely new category of US broadband where 'fast' means fast in both directions."

It's a category of broadband that cable companies have yet to embrace. Although Comcast, Charter, Cox, and other cable ISPs have bumped download speeds in areas where they are facing direct competition from Verizon, they haven't shown much love for upload speeds. Those typically remain stuck in the 256Kbps to 1.5Mbps range even as downloads soar above 10Mbps. If Verizon is able to effectively sell the advantages of symmetrical service to Joe Sixpack, cable companies may be forced to widen the upload pipe.
20Mbps upload speeds will enable a whole host of new services, many of them actually legal (symmetrical connections can also be a boon to P2P networks). Uploading high-def video to friends and family, for instance, suddenly becomes a possibility instead of a nightmare. Online backup systems like Mozy have been gaining in popularity, but it currently takes days to back up a media collection or large photo set. Verizon, of course, also touts the standard example that's always trotted out when speed claims are made: medical imaging.

FiOS now has more than half a million subscribers. How many of them actually need a 20Mbps upstream connection remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that the cool factor here is off the charts; we're confident1 that "Hey baby, want to head back to my place to see to me stream high-def video from my Mac?" will soon be the hot new pickup line at NYC nightclubs.

1Note: we are not sure of this at all. Use line at your own risk.

As fast as this seems in a backwards US market, it’s still 80% slower and 400% more expensive than broadband from Japan’s NTT – Jack.

Local Whiz Speeds up Broadband by 200 Times
Annalise Walliker

A MELBOURNE PhD student has developed technology to make broadband internet up to 200 times faster without having to install expensive fibre optic cables.

Harnessing the potential power of telephone lines and DSL broadband, the technology will deliver internet speeds up to 250 megabits per second, compared with current typical speeds of between one and 20 megabits per second.

Dr John Papandriopoulos, who has patent applications for the technology being processed in the US and Australia, won one of Melbourne University's top academic prizes yesterday, a Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD.

Telephone wiring was poor quality and was not designed for high-speed internet when it was created, Dr Papandriopoulos said.

"Back in the old days, if you picked up the phone you could hear your neighbour's conversation from cross-talking interference," he said.

"While that doesn't happen any more with voice calls, it does with the broadband internet - your telephone line interferes with your neighbours and everyone in your street's internet."

Dr Papandriopoulos' research, which took a year to complete, uses mathematic modelling to reduce the interference that slows down downloading.

High-Speed Wireless Video Transfers 100X Faster Than WiFi on Tap
Layer 8

IBM is looking to change the way you watch video. The company today is announcing microprocessor chipsets that can wirelessly transmit high-definition video between computers, televisions and handheld devices in the time it takes to push the Play button.

IBM will do this by teaming with MediaTek to launch a joint initiative to develop these ultra fast chipsets that will let users rid their homes and offices of the cumbersome wires needed to connect their HD-TVs to set top boxes and or other devices. The companies will be developing millimeter wave (mmWave) radio technology -- the highest frequency portion of the radio spectrum -- 60 gigahertz rather than 2.4 gigahertz -- and digital chipsets that enable at least 100 times higher data rates than current Wi-Fi standards, IBM said in a release. For example, users could upload a 10 gigabyte file in five seconds with the new technology versus 10 minutes using current Wi-Fi technology. mmWave wireless technology can be widely used at home and office for applications such as multimedia content downloads or uncompressed HDTV streaming from your DVD player. Users could wirelessly download and synchronize iPod-like devices with music and videos in seconds.

The companies will integrate IBM's new mmWave radio chips, antenna, and package technology with MediaTek's digital baseband and video processing chips.

IBM joins an increasingly crowded market aiming to speed networked video. Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, Texas Instruments also have plans for wireless chip packages targeting video applications.

The Levi-Prodi Law and the End of the Internet

Ricardo Franco Levi, Prodi’s right hand man , undersecretary to the President of the Council, has written the text to put a stopper in the mouth of the Internet. The draft law was approved by the Council of Ministers on 12 October. No Minister dissociated themselves from it. On gagging information, very quietly, these are all in agreement.

The Levi-Prodi law lays out that anyone with a blog or a website has to register it with the ROC, a register of the Communications Authority, produce certificates, pay a tax, even if they provide information without any intention to make money.

Blogs are being born every second, anyone can start one without a problem and they can write their thoughts, publish photos and videos.
In fact, the route proposed by Levi limits access to the Internet.

What young person is going to submit to all these hoops to do a blog?

99% would close down.

The lucky 1% still surviving on the Internet according to the Levi-Prodi law would have to respond in the case of the lack of control on defamatory content in accordance with articles 57 and 57 bis of the penal code. Basically almost sure to be in prison.

The draft Levi-Prodi law has to be approved by Parliament. When Levi was asked what would happen to Beppe Grillo’s blog, he replied with perfect Prodian-bottom-protecting words: “It’s not up to he government to establish that. It’ll be for the Communications Authority to indicate with regulations, which people and which companies will have to register. And the regulations will arrive only after the law has been discussed and approved by the Lower House.”

Prodi and Levi take cover behind Parliament and the Beppe Grillo Communications Authority, but it’s them, and the Ministers who were present at the Council of Ministers who are responsible.

If the law gets passed, it’ll be the end of the Internet in Italy.

My blog won’t close. If I have to, I’ll transfer lock stock, barrel and server to a democratic State.
PS. Anyone wishing to express their opinion to Ricardo Franco Levi can send an email to: levi_r@camera.it

Court Rules Pay-Per-Clicks Make Site Interactive

Website’s hosting of pay per click advertisements satisfies interactivity requirement for personal jurisdiction
Jonathan D. Frieden

Last week, in Chicago Architecture Foundation v. Domain Magic, LLC, 2007 WL 3046124 (N.D. Ill. 2007), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that pay per click advertisements found on the Defendants’ website made the site sufficiently interactive for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendants.

The plaintiff, Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAP) was founded in 1966 and is in the business of providing architectural tours, education, and book services pertaining to architecture in Chicago. It advertises its services on the Internet at www.architecture.org.

Defendant Domain Magic, LLC is a Florida limited liability company with offices in Hillsborough County, Florida. In February 2006, Domain Magic registered the domain name www.chicagoarchitecturefoundation.org on which it provided links to various businesses that offered bike, bus, and boat tours of Chicago, in direct competition with CAP. Though the website was primarily informational, the Court found that Domain Magic received payments based upon the number of clicks on each link. (This finding was not based upon any admission by the defendants but was a sanction imposed by the Court under Federal Rule of Procedure 37 for the defendants’ failure to properly respond to discovery requests propounded by CAP.)

Applying the now familiar standard first set forth in Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.Supp. 1119 (W.D. Pa. 1997), the Court found that the Defendants’ website was not purely passive (that is, a website that "merely makes available information about the company and its products"). The Court stated

Domain Magic earns revenue each time a user clicks on the links attached to the offending webpage. While users can look up services and tours on the offending website, it is Domain Magic who profits from the numerous "hits" it receives each day by unsuspecting users looking for information about CAF.

Moreover, the Court held that there was "no question" that Domain Magic’s actions satisfied the Illinois Long-Arm statute "as it has profited from individuals clicking on the hyperlinks that were posted on the offending website" and Domain magic "knew, or should have known that CAF would suffer injury in Illinois, as that is its state of incorporation, and principle [sic] place of business. Most telling, Domain Magic only listed businesses that provided services in the Chicago area on its offending website, thereby targeting individuals located in Illinois."

Given the ubiquity of pay per click advertisements, widespread adoption of the Court’s analysis in Chicago Architecture Foundation would be a big step toward granting courts "universal jurisdiction" over online businesses, where website operators must anticipate being haled into any court in the United States to defend actions based upon their website content.

Obama Asks FCC Not To Fast Track Ownership Decision

U.S. Senator and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama (D-IL) has called on FCC chairman Kevin Martin to take a closer look at the consequences of changing media ownership rules. Last week, Martin said he hopes to enact the rule changes by the end of the year. Martin's plan allows for public comments on the rules through October and November, with a vote from the FCC on December 18. The relaxing of the ownership rules would allow a company to own a newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same market. Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Trent Lott (R-MS) have already written a letter asking Martin to slow down on the decision, and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) has urged the FCC not to rush into a judgment as well.

In his letter, Obama called on Martin to launch an independent review panel to develop proposals to further promote media ownership diversity. He also asks for the FCC to reconsider the Chairman’s proposed consolidation timeline and start a public review of any specific proposed rule modifications, and to complete a study of the responsibilities that broadcasters have to the communities in which they operate.

"Minority owned and operated newspapers and radio stations play a critical role in the African American and Latino communities and bring minority issues to the forefront of our national discussion. However, the Commission has failed to further the goals of diversity in the media and promote localism, and as a result, it is in no position to justify allowing for increased consolidation of the market," Obama wrote. "Moreover, 30 days of public review of a specific proposed change is insufficient to assess the effect that change would have on the media marketplace or the rationale on which any such proposal is based."

Obama also said that he "object[s] to the agency moving forward to allow greater consolidation in the media market without first fully understanding how that would limit opportunities for minority, small business, and women owned firms."

He concluded, "I ask you to reconsider your proposed timeline, put out any specific change to the rules for public comment and review, move to establish an independent panel on minority and small business media ownership, and complete a proceeding on the responsibilities that broadcasters have to the communities in which they operate."

"Hello, Internet, I'm Home!"
Press Release

Zogby/463 Internet Attitudes Poll: One in four Americans say the Internet can serve as a substitute for a significant other

It won’t make you dinner or rub your feet, but nearly one in four Americans say that the Internet can serve as a substitute for a significant other for some period of time, according to a new poll released today by 463 Communications and Zogby International.

The Zogby/463 Internet Attitudes poll found that 24% of Americans said the Internet could serve as a replacement for a significant other. Not surprisingly, the percentage was highest among singles, of which 31% said it could be a substitute. There was no difference among males and females but there was a split based on political ideology. Thirty-one percent of those who called themselves “progressives” were open-minded to the Internet serving as a surrogate significant other while only 18% of those who consider themselves “very conservative” would consider it a substitute.

The Zogby/463 Internet Attitudes poll examined views of what role the Internet plays in people’s lives and whether government should play a greater role in regulating it. The online survey was conducted Oct. 4–8, 2007, included 9,743 adult respondents nationwide, and carries a margin of error of +/– 1.0 percentage point. The full survey included detailed demographic information is available at http://463.blogs.com/

Government Regulation of Internet Video: More than half of Americans believe that Internet content such as video should be controlled in some way by the government. Twenty-nine percent said it should be regulated just like television content while 24% said government should institute an online rating system similar to the one used by the movie industry. In contrast, only 36% said the blocking of Internet video would be unconstitutional.

The older you get, the more likely you are to support government restrictions. Only 33% of 18 to24 year-olds supported government stepping in on content, while 72% of those over 70 years of age support government regulation and ratings.

“Some view the Internet as their new best friend, others as an increasingly powerful tool that can infect our youth with harmful images and thoughts and therefore must be controlled,” said 463 partner Tom Galvin. “Our challenge as a society is to let the Internet flourish as a dynamic force in our economy and communities while not chipping away at the fundamental freedoms that created the Internet in the first place.”

Among other findings:

• Your (Digital) Identity. More than one in four Americans has a social networking profile such as MySpace or Facebook. Among 18-24 year-olds, it’s almost mandatory – 78% of them report having a social networking profile. More Democrats have a social networking presence than Republicans (32% to 22% ). But few Americans say it plays a large role in their identity as a person. Only 14% say the Internet is an important part of what they consider to be their identity; 68% responded it’s just how they identity themselves online; it’s not really who they are.

• Implant the Internet in Your Brain. Americans may love the Internet, but most are not prepared to implant it into their brain, even if it was safe. Only 11% of respondents said they be willing to safely implant a device that enabled them to use their mind to access the Internet. Interestingly, men were much more willing than women. Seventeen percent of men said they were up for it while only 7% of women wanted to access the Internet using their mind.

• Kids Chips. While most Americans don’t want the Internet implanted in their brain, they are more willing to insert a chip into a child 13 or younger to help track them if they are lost, abducted, or just tend not to be where they are supposed to be. Nearly one in five Americans said they would do so to track a child’s whereabouts. Interestingly, there was no difference in opinion among parents who had younger children and those who did not.

• The Internet and God. Most Americans don’t think the Internet has had an effect on their spirituality. Ten percent said it made them closer to God, while 6% percent said it made them more distant. Those who call themselves “Born Again” were the most likely to feel it affected them spiritually. Twenty percent of Born Agains said it made them closer while 11% said it made them more distant from God.

• The iPhone Isn’t That Sexy. Despite the hype surrounding the launch of the iPhone and the adoration that its biggest fans hold for the device, people still find other people more attractive. When asked who or what is sexier, the vast majority of Americans don’t think the Apple’s phone gets their blood flowing like Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, or Patrick Dempsey does. In the face-off of good-looking stars versus smart-phone, Berry dropped the most jaws with 27 percent of the responses. Johansson got 17% and Dempsey 14 percent. The iPhone shared a spot with Derek Jeter at 6%. It hasn’t been a good year for the Yankees. (31% were too flummoxed to answer.) Johansson was the favorite of those age 18 to24 (30% ), but Berry was selected the most by every other age group.

• What’s in a Name? And while there are well-documented fears about identity theft, many Americans would gladly give up their name for a cash windfall. If they were offered $100,000 by someone who wanted to adopt their name, more than one in five Americans said they would change their name to something completely different. Thirty-four percent of 18 to 24 year olds were prepared to take the offer.

The second installment of the Zogby/463 Internet Attitudes poll will be released in coming weeks and will focus on attitudes about the Internet’s future and its role in addressing the energy issue and impact on global economies.

Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web
Katie Hafner

Several major research libraries have rebuffed offers from Google and Microsoft to scan their books into computer databases, saying they are put off by restrictions these companies want to place on the new digital collections.

The research libraries, including a large consortium in the Boston area, are instead signing on with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit effort aimed at making their materials broadly available.

Libraries that agree to work with Google must agree to a set of terms, which include making the material unavailable to other commercial search services. Microsoft places a similar restriction on the books it converts to electronic form. The Open Content Alliance, by contrast, is making the material available to any search service.

Google pays to scan the books and does not directly profit from the resulting Web pages, although the books make its search engine more useful and more valuable. The libraries can have their books scanned again by another company or organization for dissemination more broadly.

It costs the Open Content Alliance as much as $30 to scan each book, a cost shared by the group’s members and benefactors, so there are obvious financial benefits to libraries of Google’s wide-ranging offer, started in 2004.

Many prominent libraries have accepted Google’s offer — including the New York Public Library and libraries at the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford and Oxford. Google expects to scan 15 million books from those collections over the next decade.

But the resistance from some libraries, like the Boston Public Library and the Smithsonian Institution, suggests that many in the academic and nonprofit world are intent on pursuing a vision of the Web as a global repository of knowledge that is free of business interests or restrictions.

Even though Google’s program could make millions of books available to hundreds of millions of Internet users for the first time, some libraries and researchers worry that if any one company comes to dominate the digital conversion of these works, it could exploit that dominance for commercial gain.

“There are two opposed pathways being mapped out,” said Paul Duguid, an adjunct professor at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. “One is shaped by commercial concerns, the other by a commitment to openness, and which one will win is not clear.”

Last month, the Boston Library Consortium of 19 research and academic libraries in New England that includes the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts, said it would work with the Open Content Alliance to begin digitizing the books among the libraries’ 34 million volumes whose copyright had expired.

“We understand the commercial value of what Google is doing, but we want to be able to distribute materials in a way where everyone benefits from it,” said Bernard A. Margolis, president of the Boston Public Library, which has in its collection roughly 3,700 volumes from the personal library of John Adams.

Mr. Margolis said his library had spoken with both Google and Microsoft, and had not shut the door entirely on the idea of working with them. And several libraries are working with both Google and the Open Content Alliance.

Adam Smith, project management director of Google Book Search, noted that the company’s deals with libraries were not exclusive. “We’re excited that the O.C.A. has signed more libraries, and we hope they sign many more,” Mr. Smith said.

“The powerful motivation is that we’re bringing more offline information online,” he said. “As a commercial company, we have the resources to do this, and we’re doing it in a way that benefits users, publishers, authors and libraries. And it benefits us because we provide an improved user experience, which then means users will come back to Google.”

The Library of Congress has a pilot program with Google to digitize some books. But in January, it announced a project with a more inclusive approach. With $2 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the library’s first mass digitization effort will make 136,000 books accessible to any search engine through the Open Content Alliance. The library declined to comment on its future digitization plans.

The Open Content Alliance is the brainchild of Brewster Kahle, the founder and director of the Internet Archive, which was created in 1996 with the aim of preserving copies of Web sites and other material. The group includes more than 80 libraries and research institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution.

Although Google is making public-domain books readily available to individuals who wish to download them, Mr. Kahle and others worry about the possible implications of having one company store and distribute so much public-domain content.

“Scanning the great libraries is a wonderful idea, but if only one corporation controls access to this digital collection, we’ll have handed too much control to a private entity,” Mr. Kahle said.

The Open Content Alliance, he said, “is fundamentally different, coming from a community project to build joint collections that can be used by everyone in different ways.”

Mr. Kahle’s group focuses on out-of-copyright books, mostly those published in 1922 or earlier. Google scans copyrighted works as well, but it does not allow users to read the full text of those books online, and it allows publishers to opt out of the program.

Microsoft joined the Open Content Alliance at its start in 2005, as did Yahoo, which also has a book search project. Google also spoke with Mr. Kahle about joining the group, but they did not reach an agreement.

A year after joining, Microsoft added a restriction that prohibits a book it has digitized from being included in commercial search engines other than Microsoft’s.

“Unlike Google, there are no restrictions on the distribution of these copies for academic purposes across institutions,” said Jay Girotto, group program manager for Live Book Search from Microsoft. Institutions working with Microsoft, he said, include the University of California and the New York Public Library.

Some in the research field view the issue as a matter of principle.

Doron Weber, a program director at the Sloan Foundation, which has made several grants to libraries for digital conversion of books, said that several institutions approached by Google have spoken to his organization about their reservations. “Many are hedging their bets,” he said, “taking Google money for now while realizing this is, at best, a short-term bridge to a truly open universal library of the future.”

The University of Michigan, a Google partner since 2004, does not seem to share this view. “We have not felt particularly restricted by our agreement with Google,” said Jack Bernard, a lawyer at the university.

The University of California, which started scanning books with the Open Content Alliance, Microsoft and Yahoo in 2005, has added Google. Robin Chandler, director of data acquisitions at the University of California’s digital library project, said working with everyone helps increase the volume of the scanning.

Some have found Google to be inflexible in its terms. Tom Garnett, director of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a group of 10 prominent natural history and botanical libraries that have agreed to digitize their collections, said he had had discussions with various people at both Google and Microsoft.

“Google had a very restrictive agreement, and in all our discussions they were unwilling to yield,” he said. Among the terms was a requirement that libraries put their own technology in place to block commercial search services other than Google, he said.
Libraries that sign with the Open Content Alliance are obligated to pay the cost of scanning the books. Several have received grants from organizations like the Sloan Foundation.

The Boston Library Consortium’s project is self-funded, with $845,000 for the next two years. The consortium pays 10 cents a page to the Internet Archive, which has installed 10 scanners at the Boston Public LibraryOther members include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University.

The scans are stored at the Internet Archive in San Francisco and are available through its Web site. Search companies including Google are free to point users to the material.

On Wednesday the Internet Archive announced, together with the Boston Public Library and the library of the Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, that it would start scanning out-of-print but in-copyright works to be distributed through a digital interlibrary loan system.

How Many Site Hits? Depends Who’s Counting
Louise Story

How many people visited Style.com, the online home of Vogue and W magazines, last month? Was it 421,000, or, more optimistically, 497,000? Or was the real number more than three times higher, perhaps 1.8 million?

The answer — which may be any, or none, of the above — is a critical one for Condé Nast, which owns the site, and for companies like Ralph Lauren, which pay to advertise there. Condé Nast’s internal count (1.8 million) was much higher than the tally by ComScore (421,000) or Nielsen/NetRatings (497,000), whose numbers are used to help set advertising rates, and the discrepancies have created a good deal of friction.

Other big media companies — including Time Warner, The Financial Times and The New York Times — are equally frustrated that their counts of Web visitors keep coming in vastly higher than those of the tracking companies. There are many reasons for the differences (such as how people who use the Web at home and at the office are counted), but the upshot is the same: the growth of online advertising is being stunted, industry executives say, because nobody can get the basic visitor counts straight.

“You’re hearing measurement as one of the reasons that buyers are not moving even more money online,” said Wenda Harris Millard, president for media at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and, until June, chief sales officer at Yahoo. “It’s hugely frustrating. It’s one of the barriers preventing us from really moving forward.”

Online advertising is expected to generate more than $20 billion in revenue this year, more than double the $9.6 billion it represented as recently as 2004. Nobody doubts that the figure will grow — particularly as advertisers hone their techniques for aiming messages to particular consumers — but the question remains how much the clashing traffic figures will hold the market back.

“This is a bit of an anomaly because this disagreement doesn’t happen offline,” said Jim Spanfeller, president and chief executive of Forbes.com. By his calculation, Forbes.com had 11.6 million United States visitors last month, far more than the 7.5 million estimated by Nielsen/NetRatings and 5.8 million from ComScore.

Of course, media companies have haggled with advertisers over audience numbers for decades. Television broadcasters cannot prove how many people watch their shows. Print outlets have circulation numbers, but those do not capture multiple readers of each copy. So media companies have needed companies like Nielsen to provide panel-based estimates.

But the Internet has given publishers a new form of ammunition: raw server data with precise numbers of site visits and page views. This data does not correlate directly to the number of visitors, but it does give them ballpark figures that they say are far more accurate than the extrapolations drawn by ratings companies based on panel samplings.

But far from solving the squishy-numbers problem, the Internet seems to have added more confusion. Many advertisers pay Web publishers each time their ad gets an impression, meaning that it is viewed by a reader, but each company uses its own methodology to count impressions.

“One of them can be right, or the other one is right, but they can’t all be right,” said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting System. “It’s interesting that people keep talking about it as much more accountable than other media, but we’re not finding that to be the case yet because there’s no agreement on metrics or accounting methods.”

To make matters worst, two agencies that buy huge amounts of ads — Starcom MediaVest Group and the MindShare unit of Group M, part of WPP — threatened major Web sites last spring that they would slow the money flow if the Web publishers did not get working on the discrepancies. Advertisers are concerned not only about how many people visit sites, but also how often their ads appear.

Media companies do track the number of times that advertisements appear on their Web sites, but so do ad delivery companies like Atlas, which was recently acquired by Microsoft, and DoubleClick, which will become part of Google if the Federal Trade Commission approves a merger. Again, those sets of numbers often dance to different tunes.

“If it’s 5 percent apart on a large campaign of $2 million or $3 million, then we’re talking about meaningful money,” John Montgomery, chief executive of MindShare Interaction.

A main source of the discrepancies is over how to measure Internet use in the workplace. Nielsen/NetRatings and ComScore both track the Web use of representative panels of people, and use those traffic patterns to extrapolate the total number of visitors to a Web site. But online publishers say that their systems drastically undercount people who use the Web during work hours, particularly in offices where corporate software makes the wanderings invisible to the tracking systems .

The issue is most pronounced at sites like CNN.com and Forbes.com, which say that high numbers of people read them in the workplace. Mr. Spanfeller of Forbes.com says the ratings companies’ figures at times have “no relationship to reality”; they in turn say that executives like Mr. Spanfeller are simply deceiving themselves about the popularity of their sites.

“It’s in their interest to make their audience look as big as possible,” said Gian M. Fulgoni, chairman of ComScore.

Manish Bhatia, executive vice president of global operations and U.S. Sales for Nielsen/NetRatings, agreed.

“If the panel numbers were higher, I don’t think you’d be having this debate,” he said. “People would love us.”

Asked if Web publishers are just unhappy that the facts do not align with their goals, Scott McDonald, senior vice president for market research at Condé Nast, said, “there’s probably some truth in that. Everyone likes bigger numbers.”

But, he said, the ratings panels still have problems. Condé Nast met with ComScore late last year to dispute the figures for Style.com. “They couldn’t really explain it, and they admitted as much,” he said. ComScore did not respond to a request to comment.

Condé Nast counts international readers and ComScore and Neilsen/NetRatings do not, but that does not fully explain the discrepancies, Mr. McDonald said. He finds fault with the panels that both companies use, saying that they do not include enough of the wealthier people whom Condé Nast says frequent many of its sites.

Complaints about the panels do not end there: some Web publishers say the panels lack representation from students on college campuses, Hispanics and other demographic groups.

“The results you get from a panel will reflect the choices you’ve made as you select the panel,” said Rob Grimshaw, advertising strategy director at The Financial Times. “There’s a natural bias from panels. And on the Internet, we can have a genuinely more accurate system.”

Media executives also chafe that some organizations are allowed to include groups of sites as a single entry for ratings purposes. Publishers that compete with Time Warner, for instance, call it unfair that CNN’s outside rating includes the sites CNNMoney, Fortune, Time, CNN, Sports Illustrated and Golf.

Both ComScore and NetRatings are cooperating with audits by the Media Rating Council, a nonprofit organization that has approved ratings systems since the 1960s. Among other issues, the council is investigating whether the companies’ panels actually represent all Web users.

The ratings company say they have improved their panels, and point fingers back at the Web publishers, accusing them of mixing international and domestic traffic and of double-counting people who visit a site from home and from the office.

To make matters more complicated, consumers who delete cookies — small bits of computer code that track their online wanderings — are also overcounted by publishers’ servers, by most accounts. Some news sites have tried to improve their systems by asking their visitors to register, but many people refuse.

“The irony is we’ve always called for more measurement,” said Stephen Kim, director for global trade marketing at Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions. “Now we’re getting it, but many people are somewhat frozen in how to deal with having more measurement.”

Parents Beware - Kids to play RFID Tag and High School plays Big Brother!!

A secondary high school in Doncaster, South Yorkshire is running a trial that involves tagging the uniforms of pupils with RFID tags.

What is an RFID tag?

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders.

An RFID tag is an object that can be applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radiowaves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.

In lamens terms, your high school will have the power to play Big Brother.

These particular “school uniform tags” will pull up data including academic performance, the child’s current location, and can even deny access to certain restricted areas - the girls toilet’s perhaps or vice versa?

As you can imagine, the trial has raised the usual questions of privacy and human rights. Although the trial is voluntary and provides convenience by auto-registering pupils, the current iteration of the trial isn’t a particularly great violation.

Are Microchip Tags Safe?
Siobhan Morrissey

You may not know what RFID stands for, but you're probably using the technology on a daily basis. RFID (that is, radio frequency identification) is in passports, in electronic toll-collection tags, in credit cards, metrocards, library books and car keys. Like conventional bar codes, RFID chips store and relay information, and allow for the identification of commercial products — and, now, of house pets and people too. Human "tagging" was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 to facilitate retrieval of private medical records, but the procedure has had few takers. It's still purely voluntary and last week, California Gov. Schwarzenegger sought to keep it that way, signing a bill that makes it illegal for employers to force workers to have RFID devices implanted as a means for receiving paychecks or government benefits.

But this summer, a large pilot program involving hundreds of human patients got under way at the Alzheimer's Community Care agency in West Palm Beach, Florida. The maker of the RFID chips used in the program, VeriChip Corporation, a subsidiary of the Delray Beach–based Applied Digital Solutions, is funding the initiative and wants to market its tags to the roughly 45 million high-risk patients in the U.S. with diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The company says these patients can benefit from having instant and accurate access to medical records, which the chip would provide. "The medical community understands the need for a comprehensive electronic medical record that has portability," says VeriChip Chairman and CEO Scott Silverman. "What goes on in emergency rooms and even in practices today is archaic. Pen-and-paper record keeping is 97% of medical records today; 98,000 deaths occurred last year in emergency rooms because of no information or inaccurate information."

To date 2,000 people worldwide have voluntarily had the VeriChip tag implanted into their upper right arms, among them patients with chronic or debilitating disease — as well as VIP patrons of a Barcelona nightclub and investigators requiring special access to confidential drug-trafficking case files at the Ministry of Justice in Mexico. Over the next two years, VeriChip and Alzheimer's Community Care plans to inject 110 patients with dementia or Alzheimer's with the chip as well. But VeriChip came under fire in September — shortly after the first 90 or so Alzheimer's patients received its chips in Florida — after an AP report unearthed studies suggesting the chips may cause cancer in laboratory animals. Within two weeks of the AP report, VeriChip's stock plummeted from just under $6 a share to a low of $3.50, a company spokesman says.

The AP cited three studies published between 1996 and 2006 that "found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous sarcomas — malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants."

In an exclusive interview with TIME, Silverman provided a list of 34 studies the company included in its FDA application, including one of the three mentioned in the AP article, which showed that less than 1% of 4,279 chipped mice developed tumors "clearly due to the implanted microchips" but were otherwise healthy, and that "no clinical symptoms except the nodule on their backs were shown." The second study, conducted in France in 2006, two years after VeriChip's FDA application was approved, found that while 4% of the 1,260 mice in the study developed tumors, none of them were malignant. As for the third study, Silverman says it was conducted in mice specifically bred to produce tumors, and was therefore omitted from the sheaf of studies included in the FDA application. Other studies that were sent to the regulatory agency also showed tumor growth, but associated only with vaccination sites.

Dr. Lawrence D. McGill, a veterinarian and leading expert in animal pathology says the tumor development in rodents is unsurprising. "Even if you put in a bland piece of plastic, it will produce tumors in rats and mice," says McGill, who assessed the studies on behalf of VeriChip. He says it would be a leap to apply the findings of studies in mice to cats or dogs — or to humans, for that matter — which are much more complex animals. Few official scientific studies have been conducted on the effects of microchip implants on house pets, but none have found a link between the chips and cancer, says McGill. If there were a problem, he says, we would have already seen lots of cancer among the approximately 10 million pets that have been chipped over the past 15 years. Says Silverman, "There are no reported incidents to the FDA of any cancer formation around that."

In fact, there has been one case of cancer — in a French bulldog named Leon — according to a 2006 study in Veterinary Pathology. But it remains unclear whether the cancer was caused by a microchip or as the result of an injection, or who the maker of the chip was. The dog's tumor was removed in 2004, and a later examination found no recurrence. It seems that no one notified the FDA about Leon, but his case doesn't appear to worry the agency, as evident from a statement it issued when the AP brought Leon's story to light in September. "At this time, we continue to believe that the VeriChip is safe for humans," the FDA said. "In all the safety data the FDA has reviewed for this device, including extensive animal data, we have seen no evidence suggesting toxic or carcinogenic effects."

News of the tumor studies haven't yet dissuaded other groups, including Alzheimer's Community Care and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), from encouraging the use of RFID microchips. Given the large number of Alzheimer's patients in South Florida and the potential for natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, the VeriChip comes in handy, says Mary Barnes, president and CEO of Alzheimer's Community Care, because, unlike a medical medallion, it cannot be taken off or lost. "In Palm Beach County and South Florida, we have projected over 200,000 Alzheimer's patients," Barnes says. "When you've got that kind of risk out there for our family members ... this type of technology is a godsend."

Over the next two years, Barnes will monitor how often medical records change for each of the patients in her agency's RFID program, and will track how the caregivers work with the new technology. "You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure out this has great possibilities," she says.

Meanwhile, a handful of concerned pet owners have expressed interest in removing RFID chips from their furry companions, but VeriChip hasn't heard of anyone doing so yet. The AVMA officially counsels against removing the chip, while assuring pet owners it will continue to monitor the situation. "At this point we do not recommend that people should stop microchipping," says Dr. Rosemary LoGiudice, a veterinarian and assistant director with the AVMA. "We are actively watching. For the number of animals that are said to actually have microchips, when you consider the number of animals that have been microchipped and returned to their owners, the benefits are huge compared to the few and suspect cases that have been reported to have tumor formation."

At VeriChip, the outlook remains hopeful. Silverman says his company is bracing for the negative press by gathering up studies that prove the safety of its product. Even though the public hasn't yet warmed to RFID tagging, Silverman says that sales are brisk and expects this year to double the 1.7 million chips sold in 2006.

In Millions of Windows, the Perfect Storm is Gathering
John Naughton

A spectre is haunting the net but, outside of techie circles, nobody seems to be talking about it. The threat it represents to our security and wellbeing may be less dramatic than anything posed by global terrorism, but it has the potential to wreak much more havoc. And so far, nobody has come up with a good idea on how to counter it.

It's called the Storm worm. It first appeared at the beginning of the year, hidden in email attachments with the subject line: '230 dead as storm batters Europe'. The PC of anyone who opened the attachment became infected and was secretly enrolled in an ever-growing network of compromised machines called a 'botnet'. The term 'bot' is a derivation of 'software robot', which is another way of saying that an infected machine effectively becomes the obedient slave of its - illicit - owner. If your PC is compromised in this way then, while you may own the machine, someone else controls it. And they can use it to send spam, to participate in distributed denial-of-service attacks on banks, e-commerce or government websites, or for other even more sinister purposes.

Storm has been spreading steadily since last January, gradually constructing a huge botnet. It affects only computers running Microsoft Windows, but that means that more than 90 per cent of the world's PCs are vulnerable. Nobody knows how big the Storm botnet has become, but reputable security professionals cite estimates of between one million and 50 million computers worldwide. To date, the botnet has been used only intermittently, which is disquieting: what it means is that someone, somewhere, is quietly building a doomsday machine that can be rented out to the highest bidder, or used for purposes that we cannot yet predict.

Of course, computer worms are an old story, which may explain why the mainstream media has paid relatively little attention to what's been happening. Old-style worms - the ones with names like Sasser and Slammer - were written by vandals or hackers and designed to spread as quickly as possible. Slammer, for example, infected 75,000 computers in 10 minutes, and therefore attracted a lot of attention. The vigour of the onslaught made it easier for anti-virus firms to detect the attack and come up with countermeasures. In that sense, old-style worms were like measles - an infectious disease that shows immediate symptoms.

Storm is different. It spreads quietly, without drawing attention to itself. Symptoms don't appear immediately, and an infected computer can lie dormant for a long time. 'If it were a disease,' says one expert, Bruce Schneier, 'it would be more like syphilis, whose symptoms may be mild or disappear altogether, but which will come back years later and eat your brain.'

Schneier thinks Storm represents 'the future of malware' because of the technical virtuosity of its design. For example, it works rather like an ant colony, with separation of duties. Only a small fraction of infected hosts spread the worm. A much smaller fraction are command-and-control servers; the rest stand by to receive orders. By only allowing a small number of hosts to propagate the virus and act as command-and-control servers, Storm is resilient against attack because even if those hosts shut down, the network remains largely intact and other hosts can take over their duties.

More fiendishly, Storm doesn't have any noticeable performance impact on its hosts. Like a parasite, it needs the host to be intact and healthy for its own survival. This makes it harder to detect, because users and network administrators won't notice any abnormal behaviour most of the time.

And instead of having all hosts communicate with a central server or set of servers, Storm uses a peer-to-peer networking protocol for its command-and-control servers. This makes the botnet much harder to disable because there's no centralised control point to be identified and shut down.

It gets worse. Storm's delivery mechanism changes regularly. It began as PDF spam, then morphed into e-cards and YouTube invites. It then started posting blog-comment spam, again trying to trick viewers into clicking infected links. Similarly, the Storm email changes all the time, with new, topical subject lines and text. And last month Storm began attacking anti-spam sites focused on identifying it. It has also attacked the personal website of a malware expert who published an analysis of how it worked.

At the moment, nobody knows who's behind this. Is it a Russian mafia operation? An al-Qaeda scheme? The really creepy thing is that, to date, the controllers of Storm have used it for such relatively trivial purposes. The suspicion has to be that they are biding their time, waiting for the moment when, say, 100 million naive Windows users have clicked on an infected link and unwittingly added their machines to the botnet.

Only then will we know what a perfect storm in cyberspace is like.


Storm Worm Now Just a Squall

The Storm Worm botnet has been shrinking steadily and is about 10 percent of its former size.
Robert McMillan

The Storm Worm's days may be numbered, according to a University of California researcher.

Brandon Enright, a network security analyst at UC San Diego, has been tracking Storm since July and said that, despite the intense publicity that the network of infected computers has received, it's actually been shrinking steadily and is presently a shadow of its former self. On Saturday, he presented his findings at the Toorcon hacker conference in San Diego.

Storm is not really a computer worm. It's a network of computers that have been infected via malicious e-mail messages, and are centrally controlled via the Overnet P-to-P protocol. Enright said he has developed software that crawls through the Storm network and he thinks that he has a pretty accurate estimate of how big Storm really is.

Some estimates have put Storm at 50 million computers, a number that would give its controllers access to more processing power than the world's most powerful supercomputer. But Enright said that the real story is significantly less terrifying. In July, for example, he said that Storm appeared to have infected about 1.5 million PCs, about 200,000 of which were accessible at any given time.

Enright guessed that a total of about 15 million PCs have been infected by Storm in the nine months it has been around, although the vast majority of those have been cleaned up and are no longer part of the Storm network.

Since July, it's been downhill for Storm. That's when antivirus vendors began stepping up their tracking of Storm variants and got a lot better at identifying and cleaning up infected computers, Enright said.

Then on September 11, Microsoft added Storm detection (Microsoft's name for Storm's components is Win32/Nuwar) into its Malicious Software Removal tool, which ships with every Windows system. Overnight, Storm infections dropped by another 20 percent.

Today, Enright said that Storm is about one-tenth of its former size. His most recent data counts 20,000 infected PCs available at any one time, out of a total network of about 160,000 computers. "The size of the network has been falling pretty rapidly and pretty consistently," he said.

Still, Storm has had a remarkably successful run. It's called Storm because it first popped up in mid-January in spam e-mails that offered late-breaking information on powerful storms that had been battering Europe. Users who clicked on the "Full Story.exe" or "Video.exe" attachments that accompanied the spam were infected by malicious software, making them part of the Storm network.

These machines were then used to send out more spam and launch attacks against other computers. The recent MP3 stock spam that was first spotted earlier this week was sent out by the Storm network, Enright said.

Storm was effective because its creators were really good at creating messages that victims would feel compelled to click, Enright said. In its first few days, it managed to infect more than 300,000 computers, making it the worst malware outbreak since 2005. Its creators have since been masters at creating timely messages for their spam and have also had success getting victims to click on fake e-greeting cards.

The Storm network itself is constantly changing, and has used a variety of technologies that have made it an interesting phenomenon to study. In addition to the peer to peer network, it has used rootkit software to disguise its presence on the PC and a server-switching technique called "fast-flux," which makes the Storm servers harder to find on the network.

It's also developed some interesting ways of keeping researchers like Enright at bay. "If you're a researcher and you hit the pages hosting the malware too much... there is an automated process that automatically launches a denial of service [attack] against you," he said. This attack, which floods the victim's computer with a deluge of Internet traffic, knocked part of the UC San Diego network offline when it first struck.

Lately Storm has been responsible for a large quantity of "pump and dump" spam, which tries to temporarily boost the price of penny stocks. But one area that does not seem to be of interest to Storm's creators is identity theft. "Believe it or not, credit card numbers aren't worth that much money," Enright said. "It's much better to make money... via pump and dump."

WARNING: Device Driver Updates Causing Vista to Deactivate
James Bannan

After weeks of gruelling troubleshooting, I've finally had it confirmed by Microsoft Australia and USA -- something as small as swapping the video card or updating a device driver can trigger a total Vista deactivation.

Put simply, your copy of Windows will stop working with very little notice (three days) and your PC will go into "reduced functionality" mode, where you can't do anything but use the web browser for half an hour.

You'll then need to reapply to Microsoft to get a new activation code.

How can this crazy situation occur? Read on for the sorry tale.

The Problem

Just over a month ago I swapped over the graphics card on my Vista Ultimate box. There were some new DirectX 10-based titles out and I couldn’t get the benefit on my old DirectX 9 card. The swap-over went well and I went on my merry gaming way.

Then a few days ago I got a Windows Activation prompt – I had three days to activate Windows or I’d be bumped back to RFM (Reduced Functionality Mode). What the? My copy of Vista was activated, and a graphics card change shouldn’t have triggered deactivation... surely!

I was able to reactivate easily enough, although as the product key was already in use (by me!) I couldn’t reactivate automatically, but had to speak to a Microsoft customer service representative.

I got the code easily enough, but it didn’t explain why Vista had deactivated, so I got in touch with Microsoft about the problem.

They sent me some special utilities to run which gathered the history of hardware changes on that machine since activation, and it turns out that my disk controller had changed, so the graphics card change was the final change which tripped deactivation.

The only problem? I had never changed my disk controller at any point. Apparently because I had upgraded the Intel Matrix Storage Manager application, this was reported as a major hardware change event.

On their own, neither event was enough to trigger deactivation, but cumulatively they were.

The Activation Process

The documentation is still being updated by Microsoft, but the activation process for Windows Vista and Volume Activation 2.0 is essentially unchanged from Windows XP, except that with Vista it’s supposed to be more tolerant.

When the machine is first activated, Windows establishes a baseline based on the installed hardware, but interestingly the information is not gathered from hardware IDs (which are not necessarily unique), but from hardware information as reported by device drivers. Any changes away from this baseline are weighted depending on the change (for example, a new CPU counts much higher than new RAM) and once the baseline threshold is passed, Windows deactivates and a new activation request is generated.

The problem with using device drivers as the basis for activation information is that a change in the driver model which has the result of changing the way that the hardware information is reported back to Windows can be enough to register as a physical hardware change.

For example, if you install and activate Vista using some Microsoft drivers downloaded from Windows Update (which is a very common practice) but then discover that a manufacturer driver gives better functionality (as is often the case for audio, video, storage and network drivers) you are running the risk that the drivers use different reporting models and will register as a physical change.

So what this essentially means is that keeping your drivers up-to-date is a potentially very risky process, with all changes monitored and changes weighted cumulatively.

The Problem with Activation

As most tech enthusiasts would be aware, activation (and particularly Volume Activation 2.0 which is applied to every version of Vista available), is designed for one thing – to curb piracy.

The idea is that Windows monitors the hardware it’s installed on, and if you create an image of an activated machine and drop it onto another system, it will re-register the hardware serial number changes (via the drivers) and realise that it’s been installed on a different system.

Of course, Microsoft needs to be able to protect its software. Piracy of Microsoft products is rampant and while many people find that amusing, no-one denies the company’s right to do something about it. However, it hasn’t worked. At least, it would have worked for Vista had not Microsoft bowed to pressure from OEMs to allow an activation loophole, which was quickly exploited.

Volume Activation 2.0 has not yet been cracked, but now it doesn’t need to be. There’s an official workaround for OEMs and the result is that anyone with a few minutes to spare can download a fully-functional pirated copy of Vista Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit versions) which needs neither product key nor activation.

So pirates haven’t been slowed down at all, and the rest of us -- the legitimate purchasers -- are left to live with Windows Activation. You really need to ask the question – who’s benefiting here? Certainly not users, and given the amount of discontent this is likely to cause, arguably not Microsoft either.

In its attempts to combat piracy, Microsoft has created a system which doesn’t focus on the problem correctly. After all, how do you define piracy? At its most basic level, piracy occurs when you install software on a machine when you aren’t licensed to do so. But the Windows Activation model isn’t designed to address this particular problem – as far as Windows Activation is concerned, there’s no difference between someone who tries to image two machines with the same activated version of Windows, and a legitimate user who wants to upgrade their system.

If you buy a retail version of Vista, as long as you’re not breaking the terms of the license, then surely it’s none of Microsoft's business what you do with that software. Legitimate users shouldn’t be monitored and inconvenienced to this extent.

The Solution?

There’s no denying that Windows Activation has a serious image problem. Not only is it inconvenient and cumbersome, but it creates a very strong impression in the user's mind that Microsoft doesn't really want to give you the software you paid for.

There are things going on under the hood which have nothing to do with you and which you’re not privy to, and, as I found out, it will affect you if you make an innocent wrong move such as updating too many device drivers.

Additionally, it has been completely bypassed by pirates, so the one group it’s aimed at is sailing blissfully past in a wonderful world where activation doesn’t exist.

At the very least, Microsoft needs to empower users in relation to activation, by involving them a bit more. Perhaps users could have a way of monitoring their cumulative changes, or maybe there could be some method where you could be informed when installing a device driver that it is contributing to your activation totals.

Ultimately, what annoys users more than anything is having something forced on them, and Windows Activation is absolutely one of those areas which causes a great deal of frustration and outrage.

APC has passed all this feedback back to Microsoft, which, to its credit, is taking the situation very seriously and has Vista developers working on a solution.

Apparently there are changes underway to make the whole experience more user-friendly. We certainly hope so. It’s absolutely in Microsoft’s interest to make those changes as widely known as possible. We’ll post information about that once it’s available.

More Gnashing of Teeth after Microsoft Update Brings PCs to a Standstill
Dan Goodin

Something seems to have gone horribly wrong in an untold number of IT departments on Wednesday after Microsoft installed a resource-hogging search application on machines company-wide, even though administrators had configured systems not to use the program.

"The admins at my place were in a flap this morning because Windows Desktop Search 3.01 had suddenly started installing itself on desktops throughout the company," a Reg reader by the name of Rob informs us. "The trouble is that once installed, the indexer kicks in and slows the machines down."

The blogosphere is buzzing with similar reports, as evidenced by postings here (http://sadjadbp.spaces.live.com/blog...DFA!263.entry), here (http://dblume.livejournal.com/78836.html) and here (http://www.davidarno.org/2007/10/24/...trikes-again/).

"I'm slighly pissed of [sic] at M$ right now," an admin in charge of 3,000 PCs wrote in a comment to the first aforementioned link. "All the clients have slowed to a crawl, and the file servers are having problems with the load."

A Microsoft spokeswoman said she was looking in to the reports.

According to Reg tipster Rob, Window Server Update Services (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/wsus/default.aspx) forced Windows Desktop Services 3.01 on the fleet of machines even though admins had configured their system to install updates only for existing programs and the search program wasn't installed on any machines (well, until then, anyway).

It's been a rough several weeks for managers running Microsoft's auto update services. Last month, bloggers disclosed the existence of a Windows patch that silently and automatically installed itself (http://www.theregister.com/2007/09/1...update_rumors/) even on Machines configured not to install updates. Critics cried foul on the principle that users should have absolute control over their machines. They also argued that the stealth update could hamper compliance requirements.

Microsoft said the patch was installed on machines only to make sure Windows Update worked properly in the future. Managers promised to be more transparent in the future.

The revelation that Microsoft is pushing yet more installations not explicitly agreed to by administrators is not likely to sit well with this same vocal contingent. Redmond may want to don the asbestos suits now.

Reversing Course, New York, 3 Other States Join Request to Extend Microsoft Antitrust Decree

Four states concerned about Microsoft Corp.'s market power are pressing a federal court to extend by five years its oversight of the software company, which began in 2002 as part of a landmark antitrust settlement.

The request, filed late Thursday, represents a turnabout for New York, Maryland, Louisiana and Florida. In August, the group signed onto court papers submitted by the Justice Department that said the consent decree reached in 2002 had achieved its goal of safeguarding competition in certain software markets.

In their newest filing, however, the states said that while "competitive developments in the industry today are encouraging, whether they have enough traction to enhance long-term competition" in the market for computer operating systems "is uncertain."

A separate group of six states - led by California - and the District of Columbia said last month during a court hearing that it would ask for a five year-extension of the settlement, to 2012. The decree is set to expire Nov. 12.

The so-called California group of states submitted its request in writing late Oct. 16.

Efforts to extend the decree may face an uphill battle. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said during a hearing Sept. 11 that she would consider the California group's request, but added that any extension would need to be for an "identifiable purpose."

Currently, Microsoft is on track to be in compliance with the antitrust settlement when it expires, Kollar-Kotelly said.

Shares of Microsoft fell 67 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $30.49 in afternoon trading Friday.

Microsoft Agrees to Accept European Ruling

The Microsoft Corporation agreed today to obey crucial parts of a 2004 antitrust ruling upheld by an appeals court last month, European regulators said today, cutting royalties for rivals and handing information over to open source developers.

The software company said separately that it would not appeal the decision, dropping a challenge of a European Commission order that found it guilty of monopoly abuse three years ago.

The competition commissioner for the European Union, Neelie Kroes, said that she reached the deal early today in a telephone call with the Microsoft chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, adding that she hoped this “dark chapter” was over.

“As of today, the major issues concerning compliance have been resolved,” Ms. Kroes said, but cautioned that Microsoft has ongoing obligations.

Ms. Kroes said she regretted that it took so long for Microsoft to comply, because consumers suffered a lack of choice for years as rivals were held back from developing better software.

If the software maker does not keep to the terms of the deal, competitors will be able to take the company to a British court to seek damages.

Microsoft has agreed to three substantial changes, according to the European Commission.

The company will now charge a one-time fee of 10,000 euros ($14,310) for companies that want “complete and accurate” technical information to help them make software compatible with Microsoft’s Windows desktop operating system.

It will also allow that data to go to open source systems such as Linux, and will cut the price it charges for worldwide licenses — including patents — to less than 7 percent of what Microsoft originally claimed.

“The agreements will be enforceable before the High Court in London, and will provide for effective remedies, including damages, for third-party developers in the event that Microsoft breaches those agreements,” the commission said.

The European Union’s executive arm said it would soon decide if the software maker violated European law by overcharging for interoperability information.

Regulators warned that Microsoft had further to go to comply with the 2004 ruling that found it guilty of monopoly abuse and ordered the company to share information with rivals, market a version of Windows without a media player and pay a fine of 497 million euros ($613 million).

Microsoft said it was committed to taking ”any further steps necessary to achieve full compliance” with the decision.

“We will not appeal the Court of First Instance decision to the European Court of Justice and will continue to work closely with the Commission and the industry to ensure a flourishing and competitive environment for information technology in Europe and around the world,” it said.

Microsoft lost an appeal at the Court of First Instance on Sept. 17.

Ms. Kroes promised that computer users would soon see real benefits.

Microsoft controls some 95 percent of the software running on desktop computers in offices and homes and has a 70 percent chunk of work group server software that control how a group desktops access each others and transfer tasks to printers.

Microsoft to Pay $240 Million for Stake in Facebook
Brad Stone

Microsoft has won a high-profile technology industry battle with Google and Yahoo to invest in the social networking upstart Facebook.

The two companies said on Wednesday that Microsoft would invest $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook. The investment values the three-year-old Facebook, which will bring in about $150 million in revenue this year, at $15 billion.

The deal ends two months of jockeying between three major Internet players for the right to invest in and forge close ties with Facebook.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will sell the banner ads appearing on Facebook outside of the United States, splitting the revenue with it. Last year, Microsoft struck a deal with Facebook to run banner ads on the site in the United States through 2011.

The astronomical valuation for Facebook is evidence that Microsoft executives believed they could not afford to lose out on the deal. Google appears to be building a dominant position in the race to serve advertisements online. Fearing it might lose control over the next generation of computer users, Microsoft has been trying to match and in some cases block Google’s plans, even if that effort is costly.

“We are now stepping outside what is typically a business decision,” said Rob Enderle, the founder of the strategy concern Enderle Group. “This was almost personal. I wouldn’t want to be the executive that’s on the losing side at either firm.”

A Google spokesman said the company had no comment. Facebook is planning to comment on the deal later today.

Representatives of Facebook say the investment will allow it to add employees, expand overseas and aggressively develop its own advertising system that will tailor ads to the personal preferences users make public on their Facebook pages. Facebook is expected to introduce such an ad network at an event in New York next month.

The Microsoft investment throws the value of the holdings of Facebook investors into the stratosphere. Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old Facebook founder who dropped out of Harvard to build the company, owns a 20 percent share which is now valued at $3 billion. Accel Partners, the venture capital firm that invested $12.7 million in May 2005 and owns 11 percent of Facebook, now holds stock worth $1.65 billion.

The high valuation also represents a belief that Facebook is creating an important new operating system — one that exists on the Web instead of on personal computers. In May, it opened its platform, inviting other companies and third party developers to create tools for the site and share in the advertising revenues.

The move unleashed a flurry of activity around the social network. More than 4,000 applications, like games and music-sharing tools, have since been created for the site, which in turn has accelerated Facebook’s membership growth. The company says it now has more than 42 million members and will exceed 60 million members by the end of the year.

“Once a social operating system takes over a country it’s like it becomes the native language of that country,” said Lee Lorenzen, a venture capitalist who is bullish on Facebook and notes that Google’s Orkut dominates Brazil, Friendster dominates the Philippines and Facebook is becoming the dominant forum in the United States, Canada and Western Europe.

Facebook boosters say that social networking represents the future of online activity.. Advertisers are attracted to these properties because they offer an opportunity to aim ads to particular users interested in their product or service.

Mr. Lorenzen and other Silicon Valley investors are often dismissive of MySpace, Facebook’s larger rival, which has more than 110 million active users and is owned by the News Corporation. “MySpace is not based on authentic identities. Facebook is based on who you really are and who your friends really are. That is who marketers really want to reach, not the fantasy you that lives on MySpace and uses a photo of a model,” he said.

Microsoft Sees Progress in Getting Windows on XO
Jim Finkle

Microsoft Corp has made progress in getting its Windows software to work on a low-cost laptop computer for poor children that currently runs on rival Linux software, an executive said on Thursday.

The world's largest software company is now working to adapt a basic version of Windows XP so it is compatible with the nonprofit One Laptop per Child Foundation's small green-and-white XO laptop.

"We're spending a nontrivial amount of money on it," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Will Poole said in an interview on Thursday.

"We remain hopeful with our progress to date, we still have significant work ahead to finalize our analysis and testing processes," he said. "At the end of the day, there's no guarantees."

The One Laptop per Child Foundation, a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, plans to start producing the $188 machines in China next month and eventually manufacture millions a year for elementary school children in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The foundation is also selling the machines in the United States and Canada for $400 apiece through a fund-raising campaign.

The laptops were designed specifically to run Linux programs. If the machines run only Linux, Microsoft will lose an opportunity to expose tens of millions of children worldwide to its Windows system.

If the foundation is able to meet its goal of producing millions of laptops for school children around the world and they are all loaded with Linux software, then they would end up being more comfortable with those programs than with Windows, said Wayan Vota, who publishes a blog that monitors the project. (http://olpcnews.com/).

"People will realize there is an alternative to Windows and they might like it better," Vota said."

But the new laptop uses some technologies developed by the foundation that haven't previously been used in personal computers, Poole said.

"We still have plenty of work to do in determining if the highly constrained performance, power, and memory in the first generation XO laptops will be compatible with Windows and popular Windows applications," he added.

Originally dubbed the $100 laptop, which is the group's target price for the machine, the XO features a string pulley to charge its battery, a keyboard that switches between languages, a digital video camera and wireless connectivity.

The laptop's designer, Mary Lou Jepsen, said in an interview earlier this month she expects the price to drop in the first quarter of next year because prices of memory tend to fall dramatically during that period.

The computer requires just 2 watts of power compared with the typical laptop's 30 to 40 watts and does away with hard drives, relying instead on flash memory and four USB ports to add memory devices.

The XO laptop's component makers include Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Software maker Red Hat Inc helped develop the device. Quanta Computer Inc will manufacture it.

The foundation will start taking orders for its Give 1 Get 1 campaign on November 12 at http://www.laptopgiving.org.

$100 Laptop Program Still Eyes India

The so-called $100 laptops for children may make it to India after all.

Children in a rural, one-room school in the Indian state of Maharashtra are using the computers.

Last year,India rebuffed One Laptop Per Child, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff that created rugged little computers for kids in the developing world.

India's education minister was quoted calling the project "pedagogically suspect," apparently because it demands children be allowed to take the laptops home to maximize exploration.

Being shut out of the world's second-most populous country seemed a defeat for One Laptop Per Child, which has had a tougher sell than it expected. Mass production of its roughly $190 laptops is expected to begin soon, but with fewer than the several million computers originally envisioned.

Even after hearing the minister's comments, One Laptop Per Child kept talking to Indian officials, companies and non-governmental agencies. And a pilot test began recently in which 22 children in first through fourth grades in a rural, one-room school in the Indian state of Maharashtra are using the computers.

Carla Gomez-Monroy, the education consultant who launched the test, said One Laptop Per Child has learned that working with local partners will be crucial in India, where dozens of languages are spoken.

It also helps that One Laptop Per Child has dropped its initial goal of getting each participating government to buy at least 1 million computers. Now, far smaller orders and donations are being encouraged.

"The model has evolved," Gomez-Monroy said. And in India's case, she said, it could mean distribution begins as soon as June.

OLPC Experiments with Cow-Powered Laptops ... Seriously

OLPC is experimenting with a cow-powered device to generate electricity for its low-cost XO laptop.
Sumner Lemon

The One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC) is toying with a novel source of power for its low-cost XO laptops: cows.

"We plan to drive a dynamo (taken from an old Fiat) through a system of belts and pulleys using cows/cattle," wrote OLPC's Arjun Sarwal, in an e-mail dated October 21 and posted to one of the group's discussion lists.

Sarwal and others are now finalizing the design of the cow-powered generator.

The goal is to develop a low-cost energy source that can be used in Indian villages. Working in a village close to Mumbai, Sarwal said the group considered using solar energy but sunlight near Mumbai was not "consistently strong." There was not enough wind or running water nearby to use these as sources of power, and the cost of running a gas-powered motor was too high.

"But the village had an abundance of cattle that were being used in the fields. So we decided to design something around that," Sarwal wrote in a subsequent e-mail.

The dynamo used in the system was taken from a Fiat car that is commonly used as taxis in Mumbai and therefore both cheap and readily available.

OLPC is close to putting its XO laptop into production, but has been beset by delays and rising costs. Originally intended to cost US$100 each, the cost has since risen to nearly US$200. And production is also moving slowly.

After a trial production run in August, OLPC had hoped to start mass production in late September or early October. That date has now slipped to November 12, according to a Reuters report that quoted the group's chief technology officer, Mary Lou Jepsen.

Canadian Copyright Might Follow U.S. Model

Reform likely to mean stricter enforcement
David George-Cosh

A single sentence on copyright reform in Tuesday's Speech from the Throne spoke volumes about what the future of managing digital media could look like in Canada and suggested a U.S.-style amendment to the Copyright Act is on the way.

"Our Government," Michaelle Jean, the Governor-General, said on behalf of the Conservative government, "will improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights in Canada, including copyright reform."

Legal experts say this suggests reforms that could ultimately harm some consumers if the federal government follows the U.S. lead in enforcing stricter controls over how digital rights are managed.

"The fact that this was included in the Throne Speech and many other issues were not, it's a clear indicator it's a priority," said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor and copyright expert. "And I think it'll be pretty drastic.

"There's been all sorts of cases where these kinds of [copyright] laws have been used not to protect copyright but for marketplace and competition concerns," he said.

Critics argue that current copyright laws do not prevent media users from circumventing digital locks set to impede distribution on such peer-to-peer networks as Kazaa or Bit-Torrent.

Further, they suggest the act's fair-dealing provision is not flexible enough to address commercial interests.

"We have a law that's certainly not the most up-to-date," said Howard Knopf, an intellectual property lawyer with Moffat & Co. and Macera & Jarzyna. "But it works pretty well to stop commercial piracy on every front."

"It's not clear that most of the stuff lobbyists want is really necessary."

A bill to reform copyright tabled by the Liberal government in 2005 was balanced but failed, said Mr. Knopf. It provided digital-rights management protection but also allowed users to circumvent the locks in certain situations.

Bill Rodgers. communications director for Jim Prentice, the Industry Minister, said in an e-mail the government will introduce new copyright legislation within the next few months, but declined to give details on what it could entail.

"The government is committed to improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights, including copyright reform," said Mr. Rodgers. "We need to move ahead with copyright reform, and intend to do so.

"It's a complex matter and the government wants to get it right."

In the United States, copyright reform resulted in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was passed by Congress in 1998 and centres around standards established by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The act has recently been criticized for giving copyright owners leverage against Web sites that are accused of having, arguably, infringing content. The act has also made it easier for record companies to subpoena Internet service providers to locate people who download pirated software. It has also stifled research in encryption technology.

Mr. Knopf said the music industry and the U.S. government will gain if copyright reform is accomplished in Canada are.

"The American record industry is trying very hard to get the same kind of drastic remedies in Canada as [it] can ? in the United States, so you can go around suing children and dead grandmothers, which is not a very Canadian thing to do," he said in an interview.

Mr. Knopf also said new laws are not required. "It's an enforcement problem, but not a problem with statute."

But the recording industry disagrees, saying new laws are needed, but it's not about to go after average consumers.

"We have among the weakest intellectual property rights protection in the world," said Graham Henderson, president fo the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

"The fact that the government has recognized this and [is] correcting the problem should be welcomed by all Canadians."

Mr. Henderson, along with a consortium of music-industry leaders who have lobbied for copyright reform, welcomed the mention of copyright and intellectual rights in the Speech from the Throne.

"This is not just about music. It's about entertainment software, recordings, business software, it's about everything," Mr. Henderson said.

He refutes accusations that copyright reform would mean Canadians would see people sued for downloading pirated music since that is not in CRIA's mandate

But it would like to focus on preventing people from circumventing digital locks placed on such media as MP3 players.

"We're concerned about hackers, the people who attack the business models," said Mr. Henderson. "Investors and creators do not want to introduce their product in a digital environment to get those products easily stolen."

Others, like Canadian Film and Television Production Association copyright advisor

Stephen Stohn and Canadian Music Publishers Association executive director Catharine Saxberg, prefer to see the law amended to allow digital media to be watermarked in order to easily track distribution for royalty payments.

But, as Mr. Henderson notes, there is still plenty of time to see what the government will do.

"The devil can often be in the details," he said. "Legislation will have to be developed and introduced into both of our houses before it gets into law. We won't know what will happen for another few months."

Wal-Mart Tries to Stop Early Black Friday Ad Posts

Wal-Mart's lawyers have an early holiday message for Web sites that post Black Friday ads ahead of their official release date: Don't do it.

Wal-Mart Stores said on Friday that its lawyers have sent letters to the Web sites, saying publishing the ads before their official November 19 release date violates Wal-Mart's copyrights and other rights.

"Such violations can give rise to liabilities and severe legal penalties," said the letter, posted on the bfads.net Web site. "To the extent that the methods of acquisition or use include criminal activity, criminal penalties may also apply."

November 19 is just four days before Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving Day holiday when shoppers throng to stores looking for deep discounts that retailers use as a lure to get the key holiday sales season off to a strong start.

But more and more of the advertising circulars retailers put out a few days ahead of Black Friday have found their way to Web sites weeks in advance instead.

"When that sort of thing happens, it's hard for our customers to tell whether (the ads) are accurate or not," said Gail Lavielle, a spokeswoman for Sears Holdings. "We can't vouch for them if we haven't actually placed them."

Wal-Mart has asked these Web sites not to post the ads in the past, but the ads have still been posted, said John Simley, a spokesman for the world's largest retailer.

Designers, printers and others all have access to the Black Friday sale information well ahead of time as the circulars are prepared.

"We've made notice everywhere in the custody chain of this information that the information is confidential until it is publicly released," Simley said.

Some of the Web sites are asking readers to contact Wal-Mart and urge the company to change its mind.

"Remember, if this is allowed to happen with one store, it can happen with them all and in the future no ads will be able to be released early," said a posting on blackfriday.gottadeal.com, which bills itself "the Official Black Friday Deal Site." The post includes a link to Wal-Mart's online feedback page and also has the Wal-Mart media relations telephone number.

While Wal-Mart has attracted attention with the letter to Web site operators, other retailers expressed concern about the early Internet ads but have not moved to crack down on them.

"We're not going to spend our time trying to track down all those sites," said Brian Lucas, a spokesman for consumer electronics retailer Best Buy. "Our focus is so much on trying to execute Black Friday well that we don't really want to be distracted from that."

Many other retailers are also protective of their own advertising materials.

"We encourage consumers to consult and rely on the Circuit City ads that actually appear in newspapers nationwide on Thanksgiving," Jackie Foreman, a spokeswoman for Circuit City Stores said. "We do not confirm or deny content that appears on the Internet other than information on our own site."

Judge Urges Colleague to Order White House E-Mails Preserved

A U.S. magistrate judge urged a federal judge yesterday to order the White House to preserve copies of all its e-mails, rejecting arguments by the Bush administration.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola said it is necessary to hold out the threat of a contempt-of-court citation to ensure that White House personnel safeguard backup tapes of electronic messages that may have been deleted.

The decision to issue the order is up to U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. The Bush administration has 10 days to say why Kennedy should not order the preservation of electronic communications by White House officials and aides. Kennedy had referred the issue to Facciola for a recommendation.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says the White House has deleted millions of e-mails. The group is suing to force the government to reconstruct from backup tapes any lost messages.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto declined to comment on Facciola's suggestion.

Life on the MCR Scene

Last night, I was one of the "lucky 200" who got to see My Chemical Romance at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ. The show was a no frills affair -- it was announced just eight days prior with little fanfare, and tickets were $100 each, as it was a benefit for cancer charities. Somehow, the planets aligned and I managed to beat the clock -- narrowly beating the "sold out" message on the ticket sales Web site.

So here's some news: last night's show was recorded for a DVD release. According to the video's producer, it is due in stores on February 9th, 2008. And trust me, you want this DVD.

The show started around 9:30pm, with a gorgeous version of "Welcome to the Black Parade" and the entire venue, which heated up to something approximating the temperature of the core of the sun, went insane. We were packed into the room and nobody wanted to give up even half an inch, unless, of course, it got them closer to the band. There were no barriers between the crowd and the stage, which honestly can't be more than two and a half feet tall by my estimation. Nonetheless, people were really well behaved, and the band did everything they could to keep people up front from getting flattened like little emo pancakes.

The setlist [see photo], by the way, is not entirety accurate. They did not play the songs in quite that order, they did not play "Ghost of You," and most importantly, they did play a new song. When people yelled out, "what was that called?" Gerard answered that he wouldn't say because, "if I change the title in a few months or a year, you'll all bitch at me."

There's so much that can be said about this show. After spending the past year touring arenas and playing huge outdoor venues on Projekt Revolution, you could see the band was living every minute of being in such an intimate venue. Multiple people commented on how they'd made eye contact with different members of the band, Mikey being the most likely to smile when it happened. They all seemed genuinely excited about being able to perform in a space they haven't been inside in over five years -- especially since the band has outgrown such a tiny room.

I'd also like to say that they are some of the nicest guys in the world. Many people met Bob before the show, and a bunch of us got to spend some time with Frank. He was really darling and infinitely patient with fan photos, signatures, and people just wanting two seconds of his time to say "thank you." And the band should be thanked for doing a show like that. Not only did they do something amazing for the fans, but they also managed to, in short order, raise at least $20,000 for cancer charities. And that moved me to tears, at the end of the show, when Gerard played "Cancer." He did this for everyone who has ever suffered cancer; my grandma, may she rest in peace. Two of my close friends. Me, even. I touched the jagged scar on my leg and wiped tears from my eyes and Gerard left the stage.

Say what you want about this band, but there aren't many bands out there -- certainly not bands of their caliber -- doing things like that. To sum: thank you, My Chemical Romance. Thank you.

Vintage Neil Young, Still Working for the Muse
Jon Pareles

NEIL Young was thrilled about an old car. Over chile verde at a Mexican restaurant near the landmark Fox Theater here, where he was rehearsing for his tour, Mr. Young’s grizzled face lit up as he described his Linc-Volt.

The car is a 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV, a 19-foot, two-ton behemoth. It was a commercial flop in the year of the massive tail fin, and in its original configuration the car is an ecological disaster, guzzling gas and leaving giant black exhaust spots on the ground as it starts up. That’s the Linc part. Volt is because Mr. Young is converting the car to battery power, with a biodiesel engine for backup, and he plans to drive it to its birthplace in Detroit to demonstrate the viability of electric cars. He’s making a movie about the trip. The film, “is so different from everything that I’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s totally positive.”

The converted Linc-Volt will still barrel along a highway, but silently. It should get up to 100 miles per gallon of fuel, since it runs most of the time on electricity. “The car is really heavy,” Mr. Young said. “It’s got a lot of inertia. So that gives it more power.”

The Linc-Volt makes an irresistible metaphor for Mr. Young’s career: a memorable profile, the inertia of four decades and the latest new start, an old-fashioned exterior that’s been rejiggered within. His new album, “Chrome Dreams II” (Reprise), takes a slice through Mr. Young’s present and past, time-warping through his career. He is also reconfiguring his past with the small-theater tour that will bring him to the United Palace in New York for six shows, Dec. 12 to 19.

Mr. Young, 61, is no fashion plate. The Fox Theater, which he has often used for rehearsals in recent years, was built in 1929 as a vaudeville house and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. But Mr. Young could almost be mistaken for a stagehand. Over two days of rehearsal he wore T-shirts, jeans and an old sport jacket, as well as a paint-spattered railroad cap that may turn up onstage during the tour. He speaks the way he writes lyrics: in terse, unadorned cadences full of plain one-syllable words. As far as career goes, he says, “I work for the Muse.”

He operates by whim and intuition, veering every which way: from the homegrown rock opera “Greendale” in 2003, which was staged as Mr. Young’s most elaborate arena production; to the pensive, made-in-Nashville “Prairie Wind” (and a Jonathan Demme film of it, called “Neil Young: Heart of Gold”) in 2005; to the quickly recorded protest-song broadside “Living With War” in 2006. When making albums, “it’s not like you have a real idea what’s going on,” he said. “You just start, and sometimes it happens easier than other times.” For the new album, “the songs came pretty fast, and they weren’t there in the first place, and they were there when I was done.”

But Mr. Young has also regularly combed through his archives. Lately — after years of nearly releasing old recordings, only to decide that they needed to be remastered once more for newer, higher-fidelity technology — he has put out albums of galvanizing live shows from 1970 and 1971. He plans to release a 1976 concert from the Fox Theater in Atlanta, where, for some reason, he imagined himself talking to the ghost of Judy Garland.

“Chrome Dreams II” also glances back to the 1970s. It is named after “Chrome Dreams,” a 1977 album Mr. Young never released. That album, widely bootlegged, would have introduced some of his best songs, among them “Like a Hurricane,” “Too Far Gone” and “Powderfinger.” The cover had been designed, and the album had been mastered, but it never appeared.

Why not? “Sometimes there isn’t a good reason,” he said. “It just passed me by. I did it, I got to a certain place, and then something would happen and distract me, and I would get into something else and forget what I was doing before. That’s happened a lot.”

The anchor of “Chrome Dreams II” is “Ordinary People,” an 18-minute song he recorded in 1988. Those people include drug dealers, factory workers, boxers, gun runners, vigilantes and models. “The people were real to me,” he said. “They’re all in there. I don’t know where they came from. I can’t make them go away. I didn’t invite them.”

Mr. Young recorded “Ordinary People” with his R&B-flavored Bluenotes band, in one take. “There is no Take 2,” he said. He considered the song too hefty to include on an album until now. (Ever the contrarian, Mr. Young is also releasing the full 18-minute song as a single. On vinyl.) Yet the main giveaway of the song’s age is a lyric mentioning Lee Iacocca, the Chrysler executive. “Ordinary People” sits easily alongside the rest of “Chrome Dreams II”; it uses three of the album’s core musicians and the same engineer in the same truck. When Mr. Young finds collaborators, he keeps them on call.

The band on the album, which is also his touring band, brings together musicians he has worked with in separate projects. Ralph Molina, from Crazy Horse, is on drums. Ben Keith, who has been in Mr. Young’s country-flavored bands since “Harvest,” is on guitar and pedal steel guitar. And Rick Rosas, who has backed Mr. Young in projects from the Bluenotes to “Living With War,” is on bass. Mr. Young’s wife, Pegi, is the opening act; she and her keyboardist, Anthony Crawford, sometimes join Mr. Young’s band during the set.

“Chrome Dreams II” is a miscellany, as “Chrome Dreams” was. It has distorted-guitar Crazy Horse-style stompers like the 14-minute “No Hidden Path”; it has wistful country-folk songs like “Beautiful Bluebird” (an old song finally getting a studio recording) and “Ever After”; it even has a 1950s-tinged ballad, “Shining Light.”

Many of the album’s songs revolve around a “spiritual quest,” Mr. Young said. “There’s a lot of thinking going on in the record, pondering and kind of searching for the experience that enlightens you in some way.” In “Ever After” he sings, with characteristic simplicity, “The world is full of questions/Some are answered, some are not/The only faith you’re keepin’/Is the faith that you still got.”

The album ends with “The Way,” a waltz featuring a children’s choir. “So many lost highways that used to lead home/But now they seem used up and gone,” he sings by himself; then the children promise, “We know the way.” He said that he told them: “You have to pretend that you’re singing to your parents and you know how to have world peace. They don’t. You have to tell them while they’re sleeping, so they know when they wake up, but you can’t tell them too loud or they’ll wake up.”

For Mr. Young, faith doesn’t involve organized religion. It’s about walking among the trees on his Northern California ranch, “trying to figure things out,” he said. “How did I get to where I am? I mean, what happened? Where’s the guy who wrote the other songs? Where’s the guy who wrote a lot of the early songs? There are some songs I can’t even sing. I don’t even know who wrote them. But I know I did. When I listen to myself, I go, ’O.K., but I can’t do that now.’“

On tour Mr. Young will be playing a solo set followed by a set with the band. “I want every song to be coming from me, not coming from who I was or who I’m trying to be or who people think I am or who they want me to be,” he said. “All those things are out. It’s just got to be: ‘Is this going to flow like water through me? Can I swim in this sound?’”

The solo set is something like the solo tour he did in 1992 for “Harvest Moon.” He brought back that tour’s lighting designers and has his old Univox electric organ, with angel wings, that can be lowered to the stage from overhead. The set lists are built from “Chrome Dreams II,” a few of Mr. Young’s best-known songs and many rarities. Among them are “Bad Fog of Loneliness,” a song cut from “Harvest,” and a mid-1970s song, “No One Seems to Know,” that says “time is better spent searching than in finding.”

“Some of them went right under the radar,” he said. “Some of them never came out. I’ll be doing a lot of songs that are only on collectors’ albums that are not my albums, that are bootlegs.” He continued, “It’s like if you were in a gallery and all the paintings were upside down or piled in a corner, and the ones that you knew, that you’d seen in the magazines, were all really. ...” He paused. “I want to know what’s in the corner. Put them on the wall for a while.”

For a man whose hair usually looks windblown and whose shirt is perpetually untucked, Mr. Young is surprisingly persnickety. He chose every theater on this tour. “I want to control the environment,” he said. “They have to be auditoriums. The audio part is very important. I prefer that they be old. I prefer that they be in cities. I prefer that the outside elements are totally blocked out. There’s no sunshine coming in through a window; I don’t want any of that. I don’t want to have anything to do with the real world while you’re in there. It’s not where we’re going.”

He had further stipulations. The stage lighting will be incandescent — no arc lights or halogens — and not automated or computerized. A spotlight will be operated by hand; changing the color of a light will involve replacing a gel. The equipment is vintage, like Mr. Young’s guitars — he has one he calls Hank, which once belonged to Hank Williams — or it has been made in the same way for decades.

Under the Art Deco Revival ceiling of the Fox, under those incandescent lights, the band sounded vintage. Mr. Young was still auditioning songs for the tour. There were keepers like “Cortez the Killer” and “The Loner”; there were possibilities like “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” After a run-through of “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” Mr. Young decided it had no life left. “Something else in that neighborhood would be good,” he said.

Through the years Mr. Young’s music has usually sounded rough-hewn, but it has never been haphazard. Backstage Mr. Molina — the drummer in Crazy Horse since 1969 — said that he still gets nervous every time he plays, trying to live up to Mr. Young’s standards. The band socked out the new “Spirit Road,” a chunky two-chord rocker, and it had the old Crazy Horse thrust: the slow, steady trudge of someone walking directly into a perpetual high wind. From the seats it sounded good.

When it was over, Mr. Young looked disgusted. “We’re going to do this again,” he said. “We’re going to fix this now.” He demanded better backup vocals, a different monitor mix, more attentiveness from the whole band and crew. And on the next run-through the song was twice as strong. “We’ll get it,” Mr. Young said. But he still didn’t look satisfied.

To Everything (Churn, Churn, Churn) There’s Techno
Nate Chinen

The iconography was brutally simple at Terminal 5 on Saturday night. Imposing stacks of Marshall amplifiers flanked both sides of the stage. Stationed between them was the French D.J. duo Justice, which had sold out the capacious room. And at the center of it all stood a large, pale-yellow illuminated cross.

At the start of the show, each piece of this set design drew what sounded like a recognition cheer, which made sense. Over the last few years, and especially the last six months, Justice — Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay — has amassed a following as familiar with its look as with its sound. This spring the group used the same stage getup for its triumphant stand at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. And when the first full-length Justice album appeared this summer, its title was simply a cross symbol, in a calculated show of irreverence.

Of course the visual aesthetic would mean little without the music. As it happens, the “Cross” album, released on Ed Banger/Vice, has received well-deserved acclaim for its visceral take on electronic music. With a sound partly inspired by heavy metal — hence the religious imagery, and the Marshall stacks, really just for show — Justice aims to bring a bruising energy to the dance floor. Judging by the deep churn in the crowd at Terminal 5, the strategy worked.

The show began like the album, with (what else?) “Genesis,” a portentous fanfare that gives way to irrepressible horror-show funk; on a subterranean level it resembles Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which is probably no mistake. There were only slight alterations to the track, at chest-thumping lower frequencies, but gradually “Genesis” diverged from its path on the album: instead of morphing into the pseudo-disco of “Let There Be Light,” it took on the robotic syncopations of “Phantom.”

Justice has been honing essentially the same set during its two-week North American tour, which ends tonight at Terminal 5. It went over resoundingly well on Saturday, even though (or perhaps because) it left out the more funk-fusion-oriented moments on the album and focused mainly on the four-four throb of techno, or disco. “D.A.N.C.E.,” the closest thing Justice has to a current mainstream single, cropped up only as a fragmented allusion. Playing the whole song would have required a lull in propulsion, and that would have been unthinkable.

As is usual with a D.J. show of this scale, it was impossible to tell just what the artists were doing behind their equipment. Mr. Augé and Mr. Rosnay bobbed in time as they hunched over their consoles. At times Mr. Augé, the more extroverted of the two, pumped a fist in the air.

The crowd easily matched his exuberance. There was a huge sing-along to “We Are Your Friends,” the remake of a tune by the British band Simian; this was the track that put Justice on the map in 2003 and won best video at last year’s MTV Europe Music Awards.

In the encore, Justice offered a characteristic mash-up of its own tune “The Party” and Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” pairing distorted guitar riffs with a timeless vocal exhortation: “Let’s get this party started right.” But the party was ending. After the duo left the stage for a second time, the crowd returned to the “We Are Your Friends” chorus, singing as one voice until the houselights came on.

Justice performs tonight at Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street, Clinton; (212) 260-4700 or terminal5nyc.com.

When Pigs Fly: The Death of Oink, the Birth of Dissent, and a Brief History of Record Industry Suicide.
Rob Sheridan

[Currently Listening To: Music I Didn't Pay For]

For quite a long time I've been intending to post some sort of commentary on the music industry - piracy, distribution, morality, those types of things. I've thought about it many times, but never gone through with it, because the issue is such a broad, messy one - such a difficult thing to address fairly and compactly. I knew it would result in a rambly, unfocused commentary, and my exact opinion has teetered back and forth quite a bit over the years anyway. But on Monday, when I woke up to the news that Oink, the world famous torrent site and mecca for music-lovers everywhere, had been shut down by international police and various anti-piracy groups, I knew it was finally time to try and organize my thoughts on this huge, sticky, important issue.

For the past eight years, I've worked on and off with major record labels as a designer ("Major" is an important distinction here, because major labels are an entirely different beast than many indie labels - they're the ones with the power, and they are the ones driving the industry-wide push against piracy). It was 1999 when I got my first taste of the inner-workings of a major record label - I was a young college student, and the inside of a New York label office seemed so vast and exciting. Dozens of worker bees hummed away at their desks on phones and computers. Music posters and stacks of CDs littered every surface. Everyone seemed to have an assistant, and the assistants had assistants, and you couldn't help but wonder "what the hell do all these people do?" I tagged along on $1500 artist dinners paid for by the labels. Massive bar tabs were regularly signed away by record label employees with company cards. You got used to people billing as many expenses back to the record company as they could. I met the type of jive, middle-aged, blazer-wearing, coke-snorting, cartoon character label bigwigs who you'd think were too cliche to exist outside the confines of Spinal Tap. It was all strange and exciting, but one thing that always resonated with me was the sheer volume of money that seemed to be spent without any great deal of concern. Whether it was excessive production budgets or "business lunches" that had nothing to do with business, one of my first reactions to it all was, "so this is why CDs cost $18..." An industry of excess. But that's kind of what you expected from the music business, right? It's where rock stars are made. It's where you get stretch limos with hot tubs in the back, where you get private jets and cocaine parties. Growing up in the '80's, with pop royalty and hair metal bands, you were kind of led to think, of course record labels blow money left and right - there's just so much of it to go around! Well, you know what they say: The bigger they are...

In those days, "piracy" was barely even a word in the music world. My friends and I traded MP3s in college over the local network, but they were scattered and low-quality. It felt like a novelty - like a digital version of duping a cassette tape - hardly a replacement for CDs. CDs sounded good and you could bring them with you in your DiscMan, and the only digital music you could get was as good as your friends' CD collections, anyway. It never occurred to any of us that digital files were the future. But as it turned out, lots of kids, in lots of colleges around the world, had the same idea of sharing MP3 files over their local networks, and eventually, someone paid attention to that idea and made Napster. Suddenly, it was like all those college networks were tied together, and you could find all this cool stuff online. It was easier and more efficient than record stores, it was powered by music fans, and, well, it was free. Suddenly you didn't have to pay 15 to 18 bucks for an album and hope it was good, you could download some tracks off the internet and check it out first. But you still always bought the CD if you liked it - I mean, who wants all their music to be on the computer? I sure didn't. But increasingly, more and more people did. For college kids, Napster was a Godsend, because you can all but guarantee two things about most college kids: They love music, and they're dirt poor. So it grew, and it grew, and it started to grow into the mainstream, and that's when the labels woke up and realized something important was happening. At that point they could have seen it as either a threat or an opportunity, and they, without hesitation, determined it to be a threat. It was a threat because essentially someone had come up with a better, free distribution method for the labels' product. To be fair, you can imagine how confusing this must have been for them - is there even a historical precedent for an industry's products suddenly being able to replicate and distribute on their own, without cost?

For quite a while - long after most tech-savvy music lovers - I resisted the idea of stealing music. Of course I would download MP3s - I downloaded a lot of stuff - but I would always make sure to buy the physical CD if it was something I liked. I knew a lot of musicians, a lot of them bewildered at what was happening to the industry they used to understand. People were downloading their music en masse, gorging on this new frontier like pigs at a troff - and worst of all, they felt entitled to do so. It was like it was okay simply because the technology existed that made it possible. But it wasn't okay - I mean, let's face it, no matter how you rationalized it, it was stealing, and because the technology existed to hotwire a car didn't make that okay, either. The artists lost control of distribution: They couldn't present albums the way they wanted to, in a package with nice artwork. They couldn't reveal it the way they wanted to, because music pirates got the albums online well before the actual release date. Control had been taken away from everyone who used to have it. It was a scary time in unfamiliar territory, where suddenly music fans became enemies to the artists and companies they had supported for years. It led to laughable hyperbole from bands like Metallica, instantly the poster-children of cry-baby rich rock stars, and the beginning of the image problem the industry has faced in its handling of the piracy issue. But still, at the time, I understood where they were coming from. Most musicians weren't rich like Metallica, and needed all the album sales they could get for both income and label support. Plus, it was their art, and they had created it - why shouldn't they be able to control how it's distributed, just because some snotty, acne-faced internet kids had found a way to cheat the system? And these entitled little internet brats, don't they realize that albums cost money to create, and to produce, and to promote? How is there going to be any new music if no one's paying for it?

On top of that, I couldn't get into the idea of an invisible music library that lives on my computer. Where's the artwork? Where's my collection? I want the booklet, the packaging... I want shelves and shelves of albums that I've spent years collecting, that I can pore over and impress my friends with... I want to flip through the pages, and hold the CD in my hand... Being a kid who got into music well past the days of vinyl, CDs were all I had, and they still felt important to me.

It's all changed.

In a few short years, the aggressive push of technology combined with the arrogant response from the record industry has rapidly worn away all of my noble intentions of clinging to the old system, and has now pushed me into full-on dissent. I find myself fully immersed in digital music, almost never buying CDs, and fully against the methods of the major record labels and the RIAA. And I think it would do the music industry a lot of good to pay attention to why - because I'm just one of millions, and there will be millions more in the years to come. And it could have happened very, very differently.

As the years have passed, and technology has made digital files the most convenient, efficient, and attractive method of listening to music for many people, the rules and cultural perceptions regarding music have changed drastically. We live in the iPod generation - where a "collection" of clunky CDs feels archaic - where the uniqueness of your music collection is limited only by how eclectic your taste is. Where it's embraced and expected that if you like an album, you send it to your friend to listen to. Whether this guy likes it or not, iPods have become synonymous with music - and if I filled my shiny new 160gb iPod up legally, buying each track online at the 99 cents price that the industry has determined, it would cost me about $32,226. How does that make sense? It's the ugly truth the record industry wants to ignore as they struggle to find ways to get people to pay for music in a culture that has already embraced the idea of music being something you collect in large volumes, and trade freely with your friends.

Already is the key word, because it didn't have to be this way, and that's become the main source of my utter lack of sympathy for the dying record industry: They had a chance to move forward, to evolve with technology and address the changing needs of consumers - and they didn't. Instead, they panicked - they showed their hand as power-hungry dinosaurs, and they started to demonize their own customers, the people whose love of music had given them massive profits for decades. They used their unfair record contracts - the ones that allowed them to own all the music - and went after children, grandparents, single moms, even deceased great grandmothers - alongside many other common people who did nothing more than download some songs and leave them in a shared folder - something that has become the cultural norm to the iPod generation. Joining together in what has been referred to as an illegal cartel and using the RIAA as their attack dogs, the record labels have spent billions of dollars attempting to scare people away from downloading music. And it's simply not working. The pirating community continues to out-smart and out-innovate the dated methods of the record companies, and CD sales continue to plummet while exchange of digital music on the internet continues to skyrocket. Why? Because freely-available music in large quantities is the new cultural norm, and the industry has given consumers no fair alternative. They didn't jump in when the new technologies were emerging and think, "how can we capitalize on this to ensure that we're able to stay afloat while providing the customer what they've come to expect?" They didn't band together and create a flat monthly fee for downloading all the music you want. They didn't respond by drastically lowering the prices of CDs (which have been ludicrously overpriced since day one, and actually increased in price during the '90's), or by offering low-cost DRM-free legal MP3 purchases. Their entry into the digital marketplace was too little too late - a precedent of free, high-quality, DRM-free music had already been set.

There seem to be a lot of reasons why the record companies blew it. One is that they're really not very smart. They know how to do one thing, which is sell records in a traditional retail environment. From personal experience I can tell you that the big labels are beyond clueless in the digital world - their ideas are out-dated, their methods make no sense, and every decision is hampered by miles and miles of legal tape, copyright restrictions, and corporate interests. Trying to innovate with a major label is like trying to teach your Grandmother how to play Halo 3: frustrating and ultimately futile. The easiest example of this is how much of a fight it's been to get record companies to sell MP3s DRM-free. You're trying to explain a new technology to an old guy who made his fortune in the hair metal days. You're trying to tell him that when someone buys a CD, it has no DRM - people can encode it into their computer as DRM-free MP3s within seconds, and send it to all their friends. So why insult the consumer by making them pay the same price for copy-protected MP3s? It doesn't make any sense! It just frustrates people and drives them to piracy! They don't get it: "It's an MP3, you have to protect it or they'll copy it." But they can do the same thing with the CDs you already sell!! Legal tape and lots of corporate bullshit. If these people weren't the ones who owned the music, it'd all be over already, and we'd be enjoying the real future of music. Because like with any new industry, it's not the people from the previous generation who are going to step in and be the innovators. It's a new batch.

Newspapers are a good example: It used to be that people read newspapers to get the news. That was the distribution method, and newspaper companies controlled it. You paid for a newspaper, and you got your news, that's how it worked. Until the internet came along, and a new generation of innovative people created websites, and suddenly anyone could distribute information, and they could distribute it faster, better, more efficiently, and for free. Obviously this hurt the newspaper industry, but there was nothing they could do about it, because they didn't own the information itself - only the distribution method. Their only choice was to innovate and find ways to compete in a new marketplace. And you know what? Now I can get live, up-to-the-minute news for free, on thousands of different sources across the internet - and The New York Times still exists. Free market capitalism at its finest. It's not a perfect example, but it is a part of how the internet is changing every form of traditional media. It happened with newspapers, it's happening now with music, and TV and cell phones are next on the chopping block. In all cases technology demands that change will happen, it's just a matter of who will find ways to take advantage of it, and who won't.

Unlike newspapers, record companies own the distribution and the product being distributed, so you can't just start your own website where you give out music that they own - and that's what this is all about: distribution. Lots of pro-piracy types argue that music can be free because people will always love music, and they'll pay for concert tickets, and merchandise, and the marketplace will shift and artists will survive. Well, yes, that might be an option for some artists, but that does nothing to help the record labels, because they don't make any money off of merchandise, or concert tickets. Distribution and ownership are what they control, and those are the two things piracy threatens. The few major labels left are parts of giant media conglomerations - owned by huge parent companies for whom artists and albums are just numbers on a piece of paper. It's why record companies shove disposable pop crap down your throat instead of nurturing career artists: because they have CEOs and shareholders to answer to, and those people don't give a shit if a really great band has the potential to get really successful, if given the right support over the next decade. They see that Gwen Stefani's latest musical turd sold millions, because parents of twelve year old girls still buy music for their kids, and the parent company demands more easy-money pop garbage that will be forgotten about next month. The only thing that matters to these corporations is profit - period. Music isn't thought of as an art form, as it was in the earlier days of the industry where labels were started by music-lovers - it's a product, pure and simple. And many of these corporations also own the manufacturing plants that create the CDs, so they make money on all sides - and lose money even from legal MP3s.

At the top of all this is the rigged, outdated, and unfair structure of current intellectual property laws, all of them in need of massive reform in the wake of the digital era. These laws allow the labels to maintain their stranglehold on music copyrights, and they allow the RIAA to sue the pants off of any file-sharing grandmother they please. Since the labels are owned by giant corporations with a great deal of money, power, and political influence, the RIAA is able to lobby politicians and government agencies to manipulate copyright laws for their benefit. The result is absurdly disproportionate fines, and laws that in some cases make file sharing a heftier charge than armed robbery. This is yet another case of private, corporate interests using political influence to turn laws in the opposite direction of the changing values of the people. Or, as this very smart assessment from a record executive described it: "a clear case of a multinational conglomerate using its political muscle to the disadvantage of everyone but itself." But shady political maneuvers and scare tactics are all the RIAA and other anti-piracy groups have left, because people who download music illegally now number in the hundreds of millions, and they can't sue everyone. At this point they're just trying to hold up what's left of the dam before it bursts open. Their latest victim is Oink, a popular torrent site specializing in music.

If you're not familiar with Oink, here's a quick summary: Oink was was a free members-only site - to join it you had to be invited by a member. Members had access to an unprecedented community-driven database of music. Every album you could ever imagine was just one click away. Oink's extremely strict quality standards ensured that everything on the site was at pristine quality - 192kbps MP3 was their bare minimum, and they championed much higher quality MP3s as well as FLAC lossless downloads. They encouraged logs to verify that the music had been ripped from the CD without any errors. Transcodes - files encoded from other encoded files, resulting in lower quality - were strictly forbidden. You were always guaranteed higher quality music than iTunes or any other legal MP3 store. Oink's strict download/share ratio ensured that every album in their vast database was always well-seeded, resulting in downloads faster than anywhere else on the internet. A 100mb album would download in mere seconds on even an average broadband connection. Oink was known for getting pre-release albums before anyone else on the internet, often months before they hit retail - but they also had an extensive catalogue of music dating back decades, fueled by music lovers who took pride in uploading rare gems from their collection that other users were seeking out. If there was an album you couldn't find on Oink, you only had to post a request for it, and wait for someone who had it to fill your request. Even if the request was extremely rare, Oink's vast network of hundreds of thousands of music-lovers eager to contribute to the site usually ensured you wouldn't have to wait long.

In this sense, Oink was not only an absolute paradise for music fans, but it was unquestionably the most complete and most efficient music distribution model the world has ever known. I say that safely without exaggeration. It was like the world's largest music store, whose vastly superior selection and distribution was entirely stocked, supplied, organized, and expanded upon by its own consumers. If the music industry had found a way to capitalize on the power, devotion, and innovation of its own fans the way Oink did, it would be thriving right now instead of withering. If intellectual property laws didn't make Oink illegal, the site's creator would be the new Steve Jobs right now. He would have revolutionized music distribution. Instead, he's a criminal, simply for finding the best way to fill rising consumer demand. I would have gladly paid a large monthly fee for a legal service as good as Oink - but none existed, because the music industry could never set aside their own greed and corporate bullshit to make it happen.

Here's an interesting aside: The RIAA loves to complain about music pirates leaking albums onto the internet before they're released in stores - painting the leakers as vicious pirates dead set on attacking their enemy, the music industry. But you know where music leaks from? From the fucking source, of course - the labels! At this point, most bands know that once their finished album is sent off to the label, the risk of it turning up online begins, because the labels are full of low-level workers who happen to be music fans who can't wait to share the band's new album with their friends. If the album manages to not leak directly from the label, it is guaranteed to leak once it heads off to manufacturing. Someone at the manufacturing plant is always happy to sneak off with a copy, and before long, it turns up online. Why? Because people love music, and they can't wait to hear their favorite band's new album! It's not about profit, and it's not about maliciousness. So record industry, maybe if you could protect your own assets a little better, shit wouldn't leak - don't blame the fans who flock to the leaked material online, blame the people who leak it out of your manufacturing plants in the first place! But assuming that's a hole too difficult to plug, it begs the question, "why don't labels adapt to the changing nature of distribution by selling new albums online as soon as they're finished, before they have a chance to leak, and release the physical CDs a couple months later?" Well, for one, labels are still obsessed with Billboard chart numbers - they're obsessed with determining the market value of their product by how well it fares in its opening week. Selling it online before the big retail debut, before they've had months to properly market the product to ensure success, would mess up those numbers (nevermind that those numbers mean absolutely nothing anymore). Additionally, selling an album online before it hits stores makes retail outlets (who are also suffering in all this) angry, and retail outlets have far more power than they should. For example, if a record company releases an album online but Wal-Mart won't have the CD in their stores for another two months (because it needs to be manufactured), Wal-Mart gets mad. Who cares if Wal-Mart gets mad, you ask? Well, record companies do, because Wal-Mart is, both mysteriously and tragically, the largest music retailer in the world. That means they have power, and they can say "if you sell Britney Spears' album online before we can sell it in our stores, we lose money. So if you do that, we're not going to stock her album at all, and then you'll lose a LOT of money." That kind of greedy business bullshit happens all the time in the record industry, and the consistent result is a worse experience for consumers and music lovers.

Which is why Oink was so great - take away all the rules and legal ties, all the ownership and profit margins, and naturally, the result is something purely for, by, and in service of the music fan. And it actually helps musicians - file-sharing is "the greatest marketing tool ever to come along for the music industry." One of Oink's best features was how it allowed users to connect similar artists, and to see what people who liked a certain band also liked. Similar to Amazon's recommendation system, it was possible to spend hours discovering new bands on Oink, and that's what many of its users did. Through sites like Oink, the amount and variety of music I listen to has skyrocketed, opening me up to hundreds of artists I never would have experienced otherwise. I'm now fans of their music, and I may not have bought their CDs, but I would have never bought their CD anyway, because I would have never heard of them! And now that I have heard of them, I go to their concerts, and I talk them up to my friends, and give my friends the music to listen to for themselves, so they can go to the concerts, and tell their friends, and so on. Oink was a network of music lovers sharing and discovering music. And yes, it was all technically illegal, and destined to get shut down, I suppose. But it's not so much that they shut Oink down that boils my blood, it's the fucking bullshit propaganda they put out there. If the industry tried to have some kind of compassion - if they said, "we understand that these are just music fans trying to listen to as much music as they can, but we have to protect our assets, and we're working on an industry-wide solution to accommodate the changing needs of music fans"... Well, it's too late for that, but it would be encouraging. Instead, they make it sound like they busted a Columbian drug cartel or something. They describe it as a highly-organized piracy ring. Like Oink users were distributing kiddie porn or some shit. The press release says: "This was not a case of friends sharing music for pleasure." Wh - what?? That's EXACTLY what it was! No one made any money on that site - there were no ads, no registration fees. The only currency was ratio - the amount you shared with other users - a brilliant way of turning "free" into a sort of booming mini-economy. The anti-piracy groups have tried to spin the notion that you had to pay a fee to join Oink, which is NOT true - donations were voluntary, and went to support the hosting and maintenance of the site. If the donations spilled into profit for the guy who ran the site, well he damn well deserved it - he created something truly remarkable.

So the next question is, what now?

For the major labels, it's over. It's fucking over. You're going to burn to the fucking ground, and we're all going to dance around the fire. And it's your own fault. Surely, somewhere deep inside, you had to know this day was coming, right? Your very industry is founded on an unfair business model of owning art you didn't create in exchange for the services you provide. It's rigged so that you win every time - even if the artist does well, you do ten times better. It was able to exist because you controlled the distribution, but now that's back in the hands of the people, and you let the ball drop when you could have evolved.

None of this is to say that there's no way for artists to make money anymore, or even that it's the end of record labels. It's just the end of record labels as we know them. A lot of people point to the Radiohead model as the future, but Radiohead is only dipping its toe into the future to test the waters. What at first seemed like a rainbow-colored revolution has now been openly revealed as a marketing gimmick: Radiohead was "experimenting," releasing a low-quality MP3 version of an album only to punish the fans who paid for it by later releasing a full-quality CD version with extra tracks. According to Radiohead's manager: "If we didn't believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD then we wouldn't do what we are doing." Ouch. Radiohead was moving in the right direction, but if they really want to start a revolution, they need to place the "pay-what-you-want" digital album on the same content and quality level as the "pay-what-we-want" physical album.

Ultimately, I don't know what the future model is going to be - I think all the current pieces of the puzzle will still be there, but they need to be re-ordered, and the rules need to be changed. Maybe record labels of the future exist to help front recording costs and promote artists, but they don't own the music. Maybe music is free, and musicians make their money from touring and merchandise, and if they need a label, the label takes a percentage of their tour and merch profits. Maybe all-digital record companies give bands all the tools they need to sell their music directly to their fans, taking a small percentage for their services. In any case, the artists own their own music.

I used to reject the wishy-washy "music should be free!" mantra of online music thieves. I knew too much about the intricacies and economics of it, of the rock-and-a-hard-place situation many artists were in with their labels. I thought there were plenty of new ways to sell music that would be fair to all parties involved. But I no longer believe that, because the squabbling, backwards, greedy, ownership-obsessed major labels will never let it happen, and that's more clear to me now than ever. So maybe music has to be free. Maybe taking the money out of music is the only way to get money back into it. Maybe it's time to abandon the notion of the rock star - of music as a route to fame and fortune. The best music was always made by people who weren't in it for the money, anyway. Maybe smart, talented musicians will find ways to make a good living with or without CD sales. Maybe the record industry execs who made their fortunes off of unfair contracts and distribution monopolies should just walk away, confident that they milked a limited opportunity for all it was worth, and that it's time to find fortune somewhere else. Maybe in the hands of consumers, the music marketplace will expand in new and lucrative ways no one can even dream of yet. We won't know until music is free, and eventually it's going to be. Technological innovation destroys old industries, but it creates new ones. You can't fight it forever.

Until the walls finally come down, we're in what will inevitably be looked back on as a very awkward, chaotic period in music history - fans are being arrested for sharing the music they love, and many artists are left helpless, unable to experiment with new business models because they're locked into record contracts with backwards-thinking labels.

So what can you and I do to help usher in the brave new world? The beauty of Oink was how fans willingly and hyper-efficiently took on distribution roles that traditionally have cost labels millions of dollars. Music lovers have shown that they're much more willing to put time and effort into music than they are money. It's time to show artists that there's no limit to what an energized online fanbase can accomplish, and all they'll ever ask for in return is more music. And it's time to show the labels that they missed a huge opportunity by not embracing these opportunities when they had the chance.

1. Stop buying music from major labels. Period. The only way to force change is to hit the labels where it hurts - their profits. The major labels are like Terry Schiavo right now - they're on life support, drooling in a coma, while white-haired guys in suits try and change the laws to keep them alive. But any rational person can see that it's too late, and it's time to pull out the feeding tube. In this case, the feeding tube is your money. Find out which labels are members/supporters of the RIAA and similar copyright enforcement groups, and don't support them in any way. The RIAA Radar is a great tool to help you with this. Don't buy CDs, don't buy iTunes downloads, don't buy from Amazon, etc. Steal the music you want that's on the major labels. It's easy, and despite the RIAA's scare tactics, it can be done safely - especially if more and more people are doing it. Send letters to those labels, and to the RIAA, explaining very calmly and professionally that you will no longer be supporting their business, because of their bullish scare tactics towards music fans, and their inability to present a forward-thinking digital distribution solution. Tell them you believe their business model is outdated and the days of companies owning artists' music are over. Make it very clear that you will continue to support the artists directly in other ways, and make it VERY clear that your decision has come about as a direct result of the record company's actions and inactions regarding digital music.

2. Support artists directly. If a band you like is stuck on a major label, there are tons of ways you can support them without actually buying their CD. Tell everyone you know about them - start a fansite if you're really passionate. Go to their shows when they're in town, and buy t-shirts and other merchandise. Here's a little secret: Anything a band sells that does not have music on it is outside the reach of the record label, and monetarily supports the artist more than buying a CD ever would. T-shirts, posters, hats, keychains, stickers, etc. Send the band a letter telling them that you're no longer going to be purchasing their music, but you will be listening to it, and you will be spreading the word and supporting them in other ways. Tell them you've made this decision because you're trying to force change within the industry, and you no longer support record labels with RIAA affiliations who own the music of their artists.

If you like bands who are releasing music on open, non-RIAA indie labels, buy their albums! You'll support the band you like, and you'll support hard-working, passionate people at small, forward-thinking music labels. If you like bands who are completely independent and are releasing music on their own, support them as much as possible! Pay for their music, buy their merchandise, tell all your friends about them and help promote them online - prove that a network of passionate fans is the best promotion a band can ask for.

3. Get the message out. Get this message out to as many people as you can - spread the word on your blog or your MySpace, and more importantly, tell your friends at work, or your family members, people who might not be as tuned into the internet as you are. Teach them how to use torrents, show them where to go to get music for free. Show them how to support artists while starving the labels, and who they should and shouldn't be supporting.

4. Get political. The fast-track to ending all this nonsense is changing intellectual property laws. The RIAA lobbies politicians to manipulate copyright laws for their own interests, so voters need to lobby politicians for the peoples' interests. Contact your local representatives and senators. Tell them politely and articulately that you believe copyright laws no longer reflect the interests of the people, and you will not vote for them if they support the interests of the RIAA. Encourage them to draft legislation that helps change the outdated laws and disproportionate penalties the RIAA champions. Contact information for state representatives can be found here, and contact information for senators can be found here. You can email them, but calling on the phone or writing them actual letters is always more effective.

Tonight, with Oink gone, I find myself wondering where I'll go now to discover new music. All the other options - particularly the legal ones - seem depressing by comparison. I wonder how long it will be before everyone can legally experience the type of music nirvana Oink users became accustomed to? I'm not too worried - something even better will rise out of Oink's ashes, and the RIAA will respond with more lawsuits, and the cycle will repeat itself over and over until the industry has finally bled itself to death. And then everything will be able to change, and it will be in the hands of musicians and fans and a new generation of entrepreneurs to decide how the new record business is going to work. Whether you agree with it or not, it's fact. It's inevitable - because the determination of fans to share music is much, much stronger than the determination of corporations to stop it.

Jace Clayton

A Pig Goes Oink

but oink goes croak. (first rule of oink: don’t talk about oink.)

More than anything else this year, music & software file-sharing site Oink changed the way I thought about the music industry & BitTorrent technology. I’d heard rumors of Oink for years but hadn’t seen the members-only site until early ‘07. Oink was anal, Oink was comprehensive. The site administrators were fierce about quality — only high-quality files from original CD/vinyl rips could be posted. Many releases were even posted as FLAC (lossless) files. Oink allowed only entire releases, with complete tracklist information (uploading an incomplete album or a poorly labeled MP3 could get you kicked off). No bootlegs or concert recordings or unfinished pre-release mixes were permitted.

In many cases, I believe that downloading an album from Oink would be both faster (more on this in a bit) and give you more information about the CD than sites like iTunes.

Think about that… a free website, which gives fast downloads of music at equivalent or higher quality than the paid music sites. And this free site has an incredibly deep collection of both new and old releases, usually in a variety of file formats and bit-rates. It’s overwhelming! First thought: wow, Oink is an amazing library. Second thought: wow, I really need to start selling DJ Rupture t-shirts, CD sales will only continue to drop & I gotta make money somehow!

My library metaphor for Oink makes more sense than economic analogies: for digital music & data, there’s lots of demand but no scarcity at all, which either requires that we rebuild an economic model not based on supply & demand, or start embracing commons analogies. I like living from my music but I also like libraries, the ideas behind libraries…

For fans, consideration of the music comes before questions of money and ownership - this is how it should be. Any system that doesn’t take that into account as a central fact is going to generate a lot of friction. When I say ’system’, I mean everything from Sony to iTunes to white-label 12″s that cost 8-pounds ($16.38!) in London shops and only have 2 songs on them. (I bought a bunch of these last week, and it hurt).

Oink didn’t offer solutions; it highlighted the problems of over-priced, over-controlled music elsewhere. Oink was an online paradise for music fans. The only people who could truly be mad at it were the ones directly profiting from the sale of digital or physical music. (Like myself! F%5k!)

Oink had everything by certain artists. Literally, everything. I searched for ‘DJ Rupture’ and found every release I’d ever done, from an obscure 7″ on a Swedish label to 320kpbs rips of my first 12″, self-released back in 1999. It was shocking. And reassuring. The big labels want music to equal money, but as much as anything else, music is memory, as priceless and worthless as memory…

About a week after I shipped out orders of the first live CD-r Andy Moor & I did, it appeared on Oink. Someone who had purchased it directly from me turned around and posted it online, for free. I wasn’t mad, I was just more stunned by the reach… and usefulness of the site.

If sharing copywritten music without paying for it were legal, than Oink was the best music website in the world.

Like many BitTorrent sites, Oink enforced share ratios. In a nutshell, share ratios mean that each user must upload a certain amount of data in relation to what they download. This feature encourages sharing. For example, a minimum share ratio of 0.20 (was that Oink’s? can’t remember) means that if you download 5 albums, then you must upload around 1 album’s worth of music, data equaling one-fifth the amount you nabbed from Oink users. If you only take (selfish leech) and do not give, or if you share, but not enough, then you eventually get kicked off.

With BitTorrent, most folks downloading the same files also upload the bits they grab, so everybody gets fast DL speeds (compare with popular files hosted on one server — incredibly slow speeds, or even server crash). Thus, a popular album (or legal linux distribution) can be grabbed in minutes with a decent internet connection. (uTorrent is a good BitTorrent client for Windows)

Watching Oink work helped me to understand the structural intelligence of BitTorrent architecture. Oink, like BitTorrent itself, became stronger & faster the more people used it - scalability writ large. Folks wanted to share - to maintain high share ratios. New releases were highly valued. But users kept older releases available as well (you never know when someone will want your Norwegian proto-deathmetal collection, so you keep your bandwidth open). Whether you call it distributed tape-sharing (to use an 80s term) or distributed piracy (to use a 90s industry term), Oink’s use of BitTorrent & careful quality control did it elegantly.

Aside: If Radiohead (the British rock band who achieved worldwide success via a long-term mutually-beneficial relationship with a major record label) were truly radical, they would have posted their new album as a BitTorrent file with a PayPal & bank account link for the fans who felt like paying. Not hosting it on some weird website with an awkward interface & requiring credit card info…

Aside: One thing I don’t understand is how Oink got taken down while Soulseek continues as it has for years… Slsk has always struck me as the least moral of the p2p systems. If you pay Soulseek $5 a month, you get ‘privileged download access‘ to files stored on Slsk users hard drives. Soulseek earns money by controlling access to the files stored on its users’ drives, users who never see any of this money. And if they don’t like the fact that paying people get special access to their data, there’s nothing they can do about it. Correction: with Slsk you have lots of control over who can access your shared files.

Oink was not “extremely lucrative” as the BBC boldfacedly claims. If I remember correctly, a one-time donation of 5 pounds would do something-or-other, but it was a far cry from Soulseek’s monthly privilege fees. Nor, for the record, did Oink “lead to early mixes and unfinished versions of artists’ recordings circulating on the internet months ahead of the release.” - this is strangely ironic, since Oink would strip user privileges if they were caught circulating unfinished or unofficial album versions. This was a site run by audiophiles and music obsessives!

But Pandora’s Box has been opened. Remember when Napster croaked? Piracy file-sharing is so much easier now. The anal-retentive British site admins kept Oink organized. Bittorent architecture kept Oink efficient. Oink’s alleged 180,000 users won’t forget how useful it was. The next Oink will be sturdier & more multiple. The overall movement is towards more ways to share music & ideas with like-minded individuals on the internet.

The way I see it, this can only be a good thing for music fans. And what musician is not first a music fan?
JackSpratts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-10-07, 09:13 AM   #2
JackSpratts's Avatar
Join Date: May 2001
Location: New England
Posts: 10,016

N, N, N…

Anger Over a Plan to Title a Record With an Epithet
Sewell Chan

A new turn in the strange political career of a troublesome word — the racial epithet known as the N-word — finds a state legislator denouncing a rapper who plans to use it as the title for his new CD.

The legislator, Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries, Democrat of Brooklyn, issued a blistering statement today aimed at the rapper Nas, who has said he would use the epithet as the title for his upcoming album. Mr. Jeffries called for the Universal Music Group, which distributes the artist’s music, to halt the plan.

This comes after the City Council approved a resolution in February calling for a symbolic moratorium on the use of the word.

“It is time for Nas and other hip-hop artists to clean-up their act and stop flooding the airwaves with the N-word,” Mr. Jeffries said, citing support from the Abolish the ‘N’ Word Coalition. “There are thousands of words in the English language. Nas and Universal can find another title for his upcoming album.”

“We must remove this offensive word from our lexicon,” the Rev. Clinton M. Miller, the pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church, said in a statement released by Mr. Jeffries’s office. “If Universal condones this action by Nas, they are in effect profiting from a racial slur that has been used to dehumanize people of color for centuries. It is a hurtful term and blatantly disrespects our ancestors and the civil rights movement that they fought and we continue to battle.”

Mr. Jeffries noted that the state pension fund invests money in Universal, one of the largest music companies, and he called for State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to “review the appropriateness of continuing the state’s multibillion dollar investment in the entertainment industry” if Universal does not budge.

Two spokespeople for Universal did not respond to an e-mail message requesting comment. There has been some lingering uncertainty about the music company’s plans. Last week, Fox News quoted an associate of Antonio Reid, the chairman of the Def Jam Music Group, which represents Nas, as saying that Mr. Reid did not support using the epithet as the album’s name.

But today, MTV News quoted Mr. Reid himself saying that he fully supported Nas, a native of Queens whose real name is Nasir Jones.

We support everything our artists do, everything! We stand firmly behind and beside our artists with pride and with pleasure. Anything Nas wants to do, I completely stand beside him. Nas is prolific, he’s prophetic, he’s a genius, an amazing artist of respect. So, while I’m not sure exactly all that [the title] entails, I know it’s smart, so I stand behind him. That’s real.

Numerous civil rights activists have called for hip-hop artists to stop using the N-word, along with the words “bitch” and “ho.” Whether Nas intends to move forward with the loaded title could be an important test case for that effort.

Sure, He Can Direct Hit Movies, but Can He Do Commercials?
Claire Atkinson

IN the film world, Michael Mann is well known as a producer and director, with credits that include the new action movie “The Kingdom” as well as “Ali,” “The Aviator,” “The Insider” and “The Last of the Mohicans.”

In the advertising world, Mr. Mann is a director, most recently of two Nike spots that started in August. He has also done work for Mercedes and Rolex, projects that suggest how important the small screen is becoming to filmmakers.

“As the Internet becomes the medium, normal TV programming will be streamed with commercials,” Mr. Mann said in a telephone interview. “How are you going to arrest attention?”

Hollywood directors have been doing commercial work for decades — usually to bring in extra cash, turn a project around quickly and show the range of their talent. These days, however, there are new reasons people with boldface names make ads: to keep up in a multimedia world where the ability to master various platforms is at a premium and where consumers are as likely to see their work on YouTube or TiVo as at the multiplex.

Moviemakers are in demand among advertisers, who have a growing appetite for cinema-quality video that can run on television, online and in theaters. The advent of high-definition television means commercials must be expertly filmed, advertisers say, and the rise of DVRs means people need compelling reasons to watch ads rather than skip them.

“Hollywood and the advertising world have been connected for a long time. What’s different is that consumers are in a different place,” said Diego Scotti, vice president for global advertising at American Express. In the age of outtakes and extra footage on DVDs, consumers want to see not just a single video, but also all the behind-the-scenes material, even for commercials, he said.

Wes Anderson, director of the new movie “The Darjeeling Limited,” is behind some fast-paced spots now running for AT&T, while David Mamet made his first television commercials in April for Ford. Ben Affleck, the actor whose first project as a movie director, “Gone Baby Gone,” came out on Friday, has just signed a contract with a company in Santa Monica that produces commercials; he has also been looking at storyboards for AT&T.

American Express uses Hollywood personalities both behind the cameras and in front of them: Martin Scorsese, M. Night Shyamalan and Mr. Anderson have all appeared in its ads.

“We want the best creative minds in the world thinking about our brand,” Mr. Scotti said. “It’s about creating a piece that’s going to be both art and commerce.”

Phil Joanou, who directs films and television shows, says there is “zero stigma” about making commercials — if anything, there is an element of prestige. “In the filmmaking world, they’re very excited to see your commercial reel,” he says. Sometimes, he says, it is the first thing a studio chief asks for. (Demonstrating the lack of stigma, some directors, like Ridley Scott, started out in commercials and moved on to movies.)

Mr. Joanou, whose movies have included “Gridiron Gang” and “Heaven’s Prisoners,” says that advertising projects are a pleasant change of pace. “I can do comedy for Budweiser, action for Allstate Insurance,” he said. “I can show the breadth of my work, and that generates interest.”

With broadcasters scheduled to switch completely to digital television in 2009, networks are pressuring advertisers to ratchet up their commitments to filming in high definition. Mike Shaw, president for sales and marketing at ABC, said he was seeing results. “Spots are definitely looking better.”

David Lubars, the chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO North America, said not all movie directors are able to switch nimbly from three-hour epics to 30-second spots, but those who can are eager to pick up the work.

“Movies take months. It’s a big long slog,” he said. With commercials, “they’re getting in and out in three days, and it exists in a few weeks.”

From an agency’s perspective, moviemakers bring freshness to a campaign, Mr. Lubars said: “Working with Hollywood gives you new colors to paint with.” Paying for prominent creative talent is a trickier business. A director without big-screen credits typically earns a fixed fee, perhaps $3,000 a day or $30,000 for a project, said Wayne Best, executive creative director at the New York office of Taxi, an advertising agency. For bigger-name talent, however, the size of the fee may depend on how strongly the client wants the director, and it is a gamble whether the money ends up on screen or simply to pay for creative vision.

As advertisers do more with interactive ad campaigns that play well online, animation and special-effects companies are also getting more work. Stan Winston Studios, which handled special effects for movies like “Jurassic Park” and “Pearl Harbor,” has seen a big jump in commercial work.

J. Alan Scott, an effects supervisor at Winston, said his company handled 123 spots last year, up from 17 in 2002. He said he now spends most of his time on advertising projects.

This year, Winston has worked on spots for Circuit City, Sears, Applebee’s and Burger King, as well as on the 700 figurines in a Microsoft commercial for the video game Halo 3.

To put their signature on a spot, moviemakers sometimes borrow from their films. Mr. Anderson, for instance, used actors from his “Royal Tenenbaums” from 2001 in his recent AT&T ads, while Mr. Mann used the theme music from “The Last of the Mohicans” in a Nike spot, which features professional football players. Mr. Mann describes his spots for Nike as short films.

The decision to make commercials, Mr. Mann said, is “a function of something that comes along that’s a great idea.” He added, “A two-hour movie and a spot — I don’t make a distinction.”

Devoted Moviegoers Show Up Early
Alex Mindlin

Frequent moviegoers tend to arrive at the theater 16 percent earlier than the average moviegoer, according to a survey by Arbitron, the audience research firm.

The survey was commissioned in part by the Cinema Advertising Council, a trade group, and it focused on the receptivity of audiences to movie theater advertising — not trailers, but the commercials that are often shown beforehand, as well as branded cups and popcorn buckets and other forms of advertising.

The survey found that 36 percent of Americans over the age of 12 find in-theater ads “acceptable.” Those numbers compare favorably with Internet ads (20 percent) or ads embedded in video games (12 percent).

“The ads before the movies don’t interrupt the movies themselves,” said Bill Rose, a senior vice president at Arbitron. “Viewers can go out to the bathroom or get popcorn. Whereas Internet ads can be very much in your face, and video games ads are actually embedded in the content.”

The survey was based on 1,010 telephone interviews with people 12 and over. It defined frequent moviegoers as people who had gone to the movies at least four times in the last three months.

‘Darjeeling’ to Be Paired With a Short
Lia Miller

“The Darjeeling Limited,” Wes Anderson’s fifth feature film, opened to mixed reviews in about 200 theaters on Sept. 29, but for its wider release to almost 800 theaters, next Friday, moviegoers will first see a short film — one that got rave reviews — and, the hope is, “The Darjeeling Limited” will get a bump in ticket sales.

A year before filming “The Darjeeling Limited,” Mr. Anderson made a 13-minute movie called “Hotel Chevalier” featuring one of the characters from “The Darjeeling Limited.” The short, in contrast to the feature, received nearly universal praise when it was shown alongside the longer film at some festivals. After being made available free on iTunes, it quickly became an online hit and has been downloaded nearly 500,000 times.

Now Mr. Anderson and Fox Searchlight Pictures, the film’s distributor, are adding the popular short to the start of the feature as sort of preface to the main movie.

“The Darjeeling Limited” is about three brothers, played by Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman, traveling together in India on a spiritual quest. “Hotel Chevalier,” which Mr. Anderson wrote, takes place in a fancy hotel room in Paris and tells some of the “back story” of Mr. Schwartzman’s character, Jack.

The short also stars Natalie Portman, and though she does not appear in the feature, her character is important to it, Mr. Anderson said in an e-mail message. (And just as important for publicity, the short features Ms. Portman’s first nude scene.)

Mr. Anderson, who paid to make the short himself, said he was not sure how its distribution would be handled. “The Darjeeling Limited” has a distinct “opening of the story” sequence that made him “reluctant to attach the short to it.” But he knew that he wanted audiences to see both films, “So it was a puzzle for me to decide how I wanted to present them.”

After some discussion with executives at Fox Searchlight the decision was made to offer it on iTunes (and since Mr. Schwartzman’s character pointedly uses an iPod and docking station, there was some inherent synergy there).

Nancy Utley, a chief operating officer of Fox Searchlight, said that her company did not even know about the short until “The Darjeeling Limited” was completed. Even though Fox was aware of the critical acclaim, the company decided not to release it along with the feature. She said Fox decided to remain “flexible” on what to do.

“We thought it would be too challenging to moviegoers to be exposed to the short in theaters right at the beginning of the run,” she said. “We wanted to make sure ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ got established first as a movie.”

With the wider release looming and “Darjeeling Limited” doing small business at the box office (just over $2.5 million so far), it seemed the obvious choice to include the film’s more popular little sibling as a bonus. Fox Searchlight also is hoping the short is Oscar-worthy and plans to promote it as a contender in the best live-action short category.

Microsoft Blames Hollywood for Record Halo 3 Sales
Brian Briggs

Microsoft executives blamed higher ticket prices and a "lack of originality" for record sales of Halo 3.

"We thought we'd get some good sales, but nothing like this," said Microsoft executive Bob Frederickson. "But with escalating ticket prices and the crappy movies Hollywood has been putting out. People are just hungry for entertainment."

Frederickson added that the record sales for Halo 3 have also caused booming sales for Xbox console as well as other Xbox accessories. "Gee thanks, Ben Stiller, with all this business our guys haven't gotten much rest."

Frederickson showed some internal data that demonstrated how an actually funny movie from Ben Stiller would've impacted sales. "This data shows a quality comedy starring Ben Stiller and not just some movie trying to recapture the "Something About Mary" magic, would've dampened Halo 3 sales by 10%. A movie where Charlize Theron appears nude would've decreased sales by 35%," said Frederickson

Many in Hollywood contest the data. Including Karl Goldsmith of Paramount Pictures. He said, "I don't think you can tie the record game sales only to bad movies. I mean the music and television industry isn't producing anything so hot either. Look at Caveman! Is that keeping anybody away from their Xbox 360?"

Fans of Halo 3 agree. Chad Phillips from Rockford, Illinois said, "I'm not going to pay $12 for another derivative Ben Still movie. I'd rather pay $60 for another derivative first-person shooter."
Microsoft sees even more reason to be sanguine about the future for video game sales. Frederickson said, "There's no Star Wars or Lord of the Rings on the horizon to slow sales. What have they got, Alvin and the Chipmunks?"

Wii Video Game System Becomes New Tool for Hospital Rehab Unit
Amanda Cuda

There are a lot of things Barbara Everlith can't do since she suffered a stroke. Grasping objects with her left hand doesn't come as easily as it used to. She can't stand or walk as steadily as she once did.

But there's one thing that Everlith, who lives in Stratford, can do. She can play tennis. Sort of.

Everlith has learned how to play tennis on a Nintendo Wii video game system at Bridgeport Hospital's Ahlbin Centers Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. The hospital is one of a handful to incorporate the gaming system into its physical therapy programs.

Unlike most other video games, the Wii requires players to stand up and move their bodies. For instance, those playing the tennis game must swing the controller as if wielding a real tennis racquet and hitting a real tennis ball.

Everlith has been at the hospital for six weeks and her physical therapist, Courtney Benedetto, said Everlith has already regained some function in her left hand. But other skills, such as walking and standing, still need work.

Benedetto said the game could help improve these skills.

"Just standing there and swinging the tennis racquet is going to be great for her," she said.

To help get Everlith used to the Wii, Benedetto played a couple of tennis games herself, showing Everlith how to swing and serve. The lesson over, it was Everlith's time to play. Benedetto helped Everlith out of her wheelchair and fastened a piece of fabric around her patient's waist. As Everlith stood, control fastened to her wrist, Benedetto grasped the fabric to keep Everlith from falling if her balance faltered.

It took Everlith a while to get the hang of the game, and Benedetto often guided her arm as she swung at the imaginary ball. Eventually, though, Everlith could swing on her own, and even won a game.

More important, she stayed on her feet the whole time, with little help from Benedetto.

"I've never seen her hold her balance steady for that long," Benedetto said.

"I've never stood for that long before," Everlith added.

The amount of physical activity required to play the gaming system has earned the Wii a sort of second life as a physical therapy tool. Facilities such as Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, Canada, have integrated the Wii into therapy programs.

Ahlbin director Patrick Schmincke said he got the idea to bring the Wii into the hospital after receiving the gaming system as a Christmas gift. After playing it a few times, Schmincke said, he noticed that his arms were sore from the activity, and that he was sweating while using the game.

"I couldn't believe how much energy it took," he said.

Schmincke decided that the Wii might be a good addition to the therapy program, and could help break up the monotony of traditional rehabilitation. Benedetto agreed. "I think it's a great tool," she said. "(Rehab therapy) does get routine. This can bring in more energy and more fun."

The hospital acquired two of the gaming systems, paid for through its ladies' auxiliary. The only Wii game they have is Wii Sports, which comes with the system and includes tennis, as well as bowling, golf, baseball and boxing. Benedetto and Schmincke said they hope to purchase more games, as well as more controllers. The latter would allow patients to play against one another.

Schmincke said the games also are great for rehab patients who are interested in a specific sport. For example, a patient who is an avid golfer might be particularly taken by the golf game.

Nintendo Seizes 10,000 Hong Kong Pirate Devices

The Hong Kong High Court has intervened, at Nintendo's request, to help stop a global distribution operation involving game copying devices and modification chips that violate the copyrights and trademarks of Nintendo DS and Wii.

On Oct. 8th, the court ordered the raid of Supreme Factory Limited facilities, through which Nintendo representatives seized more than 10,000 game copying devices and mod chips over the course of three days. The devices seized are used to copy and play Nintendo DS games offered unlawfully over the Internet, and the mod chips allow the play of pirated Wii discs or illegal copies of downloaded Nintendo games.

Documents recovered during the search also shed light on the scope of the operation, revealing that Supreme Factory Limited has ties to a French company, Divineo SARL, and its principal, Max Louarn, who are also named in the legal action initiated by Nintendo. The Hong Kong High Court prohibited the companies from further distribution of the devices and from disposing a portion of their assets worldwide, and ordered those assets frozen pending outcome of the legal proceedings.

The High Court previously awarded Nintendo more than $5 million in damages in 2005 against Lik Sang, a company found responsible for the widespread distribution of game copying devices. In another case, a U.S. judge ordered Bung Enterprises to pay Nintendo $7 million in damages in connection with its involvement in manufacturing and distribution of such products. Nintendo says it and the companies that create, license, market and sell its products lost an estimated $762 million in sales due to counterfeits in 2006.

Jodi Daugherty, Nintendo of America's senior director for anti-piracy, says, "Piracy affects the entire video game industry, from large companies to independent developers. It can destroy years of hard work by a team of very talented software developers, who strive to create games consumers enjoy playing. Copying the developers' work and spreading the game files globally is blatant stealing."

One Person’s Trash Is Another Person’s Lost Masterpiece
Carol Vogel

It’s hardly a place you would expect to find a $1 million painting.

But one March morning four years ago, Elizabeth Gibson was on her way to get coffee, as usual, when she spotted a large and colorful abstract canvas nestled between two big garbage bags in front of the Alexandria, an apartment building on the northwest corner of Broadway and 72nd Street in Manhattan.

“I had a real debate with myself,” said Ms. Gibson, a writer and self-professed Dumpster diver. “I almost left it there because it was so big, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Why are you taking this back to your crammed apartment?’”

But, she said, she felt she simply had to have the 38-by-51-inch painting, because “it had a strange power.”

Art experts would agree with her. As it turns out, the painting was “Three People,” a 1970 canvas by the celebrated 20th-century Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo that was stolen 20 years ago and is the subject of an F.B.I. investigation.

Experts say the painting — a largely abstract depiction of a man, a woman and an androgynous figure in vibrant purples, oranges and yellows — is in miraculously good condition and worth about $1 million. On Nov. 20 it is to go on the block at Sotheby’s as one of the highlights of a Latin American art auction.

Ms. Gibson said she did not suspect that the painting had any commercial value when she found it. “I am not a modern-art aficionado,” she said. “It was so overpowering, yet it had a cheap frame.”

The painting had been missing for so long that the owners, a married couple whom Sotheby’s would not identify, had long since given up hope of ever seeing it again. The husband, a Houston collector and businessman, had purchased “Three People” at a Sotheby’s auction in 1977 as a birthday present for his wife. He paid $55,000 for it.

Ten years later, when the couple were in the midst of moving from a house to an apartment in Houston, they put the painting into storage at a local warehouse. It was there that it disappeared.

The couple reported the theft to the local and federal authorities, and an image was posted on the databases of the International Foundation for Art Research and the Art Loss Register. They also offered a $15,000 reward to anyone who could help them recover it. But no credible leads surfaced.

The couple later moved to South America, and the husband died. It is his widow who is putting the painting on the market.

How “Three People” got from a Houston warehouse 20 years ago to the streets of New York remains a mystery. The painting’s disappearance so troubled August Uribe, an expert at Sotheby’s, that he volunteered to appear on “Antiques Roadshow” in a “Missing Masterpieces” segment in May 2005.

Ms. Gibson had hung the painting in her living room, but remained curious about it. She had gone back to the Alexandria the day after taking it home and asked the doormen there if anyone could tell her who had put it on the street.

“No one remembered anything,” she said. “All they said was that 20 minutes after I took it, the garbage truck arrived. This was truly an appointment with destiny.”

It took three years for her to realize that she possessed a stolen painting.

A few months after she hung it in her apartment, she said, she called a friend who had worked at an auction house and described the painting to him. “He asked me if it had a signature,” she recalled. It did. In the upper right-hand corner the artist had signed it “Tamayo 0-70.”

But her friend did not seem very interested in her discovery, she said.

More time passed, and one day she removed the painting from the wall and examined the back. There she saw several stickers — one from the Perls Gallery in Manhattan, now closed; another from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, where it had been exhibited in 1974; and a third from the Richard Feigen Gallery in Manhattan.

She called the Feigen gallery and told someone there about all the information on the labels. Days later, she said, the gallery called back to say it had no record of the painting.

A year or so after that, she said, she told another friend about the painting. “He showed me a Sotheby’s catalog where a Tamayo had sold for $500,000,” she recalled. He also went to the library and came back with a pile of books on the artist. One — a 1974 monograph of his work by Emily Genauer — had her painting on the cover. “I was stunned,” Ms. Gibson said.

She made an appointment to do more research at the Frick Art Reference Library, at the Frick Collection on East 70th Street. A librarian there directed her to the nearby Mary-Anne Martin gallery, which specializes in Latin American art.

She walked three blocks to the gallery, where she says she was told by someone that it was a “famously stolen” painting. “I was in a state of shock,” she said.

Realizing that she might have something very valuable, Ms. Gibson built a false wall in her closet to conceal the painting, carefully wrapping it in old shower curtains. After Googling the artist’s name, she discovered an image of “Three People” at the “Antiques Roadshow” Web site in reference to the “Missing Masterpieces” segment.

Searching the Web in May, she discovered that the episode would be rebroadcast the next day in Baltimore. She traveled to Baltimore by bus and checked into a hotel to watch the segment.

“It was very nail-biting, but the moment I saw it, I knew it was my painting,” she said.

Upon returning to New York, she immediately called Sotheby’s and made an appointment to see Mr. Uribe. “Just call me a Mystery Woman,” she says she told his office, not wanting to reveal her story until she was face to face with Mr. Uribe. She asked a minister from her church, the First Church of Religious Science, to accompany her and introduced herself as Mrs. Green.

“I asked her to describe the painting,” Mr. Uribe recalled. “And when she said it had a sandy surface, I knew it was the painting.” (Tamayo frequently ground sand and marble into his paint.) She also told Mr. Uribe about the stickers on the back, which offered further confirmation that she had the real thing.

Mr. Uribe visited Ms. Gibson’s Upper West Side apartment, and she began dismantling the false wall. “I saw only a corner of the canvas, yet I knew it was the painting,” he said. “The colors and surface were unique to Tamayo.”

Ms. Gibson will receive the promised $15,000 reward from the seller, as well as a smaller finder’s fee from Sotheby’s, which the auction house declined to disclose.

Sotheby’s informed the F.B.I. that “Three People” had been found. James Wynne, the agent in charge of the case, said that because a criminal investigation was continuing, he could not discuss whether the agency had any clues to who stole the work years ago.

“Finding a $1 million painting in the garbage is very unusual,” Mr. Wynne said. “It’s a real New York story.”

As Apple Gains PC Market Share, Jobs Talks of a Decade of Upgrades
John Markoff

It may have dropped the word “computer” from its name, but Apple is certainly selling plenty of Macs.

Driven in part by what analysts call a halo effect from the iPod and the iPhone, the market share of the company’s personal computers is surging.

Two research firms that track the computer market said last week that Apple would move into third place in the United States behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell on Monday, when it reports product shipments in the fiscal fourth quarter as part of its earnings announcement.

“The Macintosh has a lot of momentum now,” said Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, in a telephone interview last week. “It is outpacing the industry.”

On Friday, Apple will start selling the new Leopard version of its OS X operating system, which has a range of features that in some cases match those in Windows Vista and in others surpass them.

Mr. Jobs said that Leopard would anchor a schedule of product upgrades that could continue for as long as a decade.

“I’m quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We’ve put out major releases on the average of one a year, and it’s given us the ability to polish and polish and improve and improve.”

That pace suggests that Apple will continue to move more quickly than Microsoft, which took almost seven years between the release of its Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems.

Vista has had mixed reviews, and corporate sales have been slow so far. Mr. Jobs declined to comment on Microsoft’s troubles with Vista, beyond noting that he thought Leopard was a better value. While there are multiple editions of Vista with different features at different prices, the top being the Ultimate edition, Apple has set a single price of $129 for Leopard.

With Leopard, Mr. Jobs joked, “everybody gets the Ultimate edition and it sells for 129 bucks, and if you go on Amazon and look at the Ultimate edition of Vista, it sells for 250 bucks.”

Microsoft has said that it will release an update, or service pack, for Vista in the first quarter of 2008. But it has also said that it intends to offer a service pack for Windows XP in the first half of the year. That, analysts said, could further delay adoption of Vista as computer users wait to see how XP will be improved.

Microsoft has also hinted that its next operating system, code-named Windows 7, would not arrive until 2010. At Apple’s current pace, it will have introduced two new versions of its operating system by then.

Apple has not been flawless in its execution. Early this year, it delayed the introduction of Leopard for four months. Mr. Jobs attributed this at the time to the company’s need to move programming development resources to an iPhone version of the OS X operating system.

Several analysts said they thought that Leopard would have only an indirect effect on Macintosh sales.

As for Vista, it has clearly not pushed up demand for new PCs as much as computer makers hoped. Last week, the research firm Gartner said PC shipments in the United States grew only 4.7 percent in the third quarter, below its projection of 6.7 percent.

That contrasted sharply with Apple’s projected results for the quarter. Gartner forecast that Apple would grow more than 37 percent based on expected shipments of 1.3 million computers, for an 8.1 percent share of the domestic market.

Apple has outpaced its rivals in the United States, particularly in the shift to portable computers. While this is the first year that laptops have made up more than 50 percent of computer sales in this country, Mr. Jobs said that two-thirds of Apple machines sold in the United States are now laptops.

Apple has also outperformed rivals in terms of market share by revenue, because its machines are generally more expensive.

According to Charles Wolf, who tracks the personal computer market in his industry newsletter Wolf Bytes, Apple’s share of home PC revenue in the United States has jumped in the last four quarters. In the second quarter, for example, the Macintosh captured a 15.8 percent share, almost double its share of the number of units sold.

He added that Apple had a significant opportunity now in terms of visitors to its stores. Apple is now reporting 100 million annual visitors, and Mr. Wolf estimated that 60 million to 70 million of them were Windows users drawn by the iPod or the iPhone, who could potentially shift to Macs.

Although Apple may be able to grow briskly by taking Windows customers from Microsoft, the two companies face a similar problem: the industry is maturing and there have been no obvious radical innovations to jump-start growth.

Indeed, many of the new features in the Leopard operating system version are incremental improvements. But Mr. Jobs said he was struck by the success of the multitouch interface that is at the heart of the iPhone version of the OS X. This allows a user to touch the screen at more than one point to zoom in on a portion of a photo, for example.

“People don’t understand that we’ve invented a new class of interface,” he said.

He contrasted it with stylus interfaces, like the approach Microsoft took with its tablet computer. That interface is not so different from what most computers have been using since the mid-1980s.

In contrast, Mr. Jobs said that multitouch drastically simplified the process of controlling a computer.

There are no “verbs” in the iPhone interface, he said, alluding to the way a standard mouse or stylus system works. In those systems, users select an object, like a photo, and then separately select an action, or “verb,” to do something to it.

The Apple development team worried constantly that the approach might fail during the years they were creating the iPhone, he said.

“We all had that Garry Trudeau cartoon that poked fun at the Newton in the back of our minds,” he said, citing Doonesbury comic strips that mocked an Apple handwriting-recognition system in 1993. “This thing had to work.”

Hack Attack : Install Leopard on Your PC in 3 Easy Steps!

Well its been only a day since the Mac OSX Leopard was released officially by Apple and the hackers have managed to create a patched DVD that everyone like you and me can use to install Leopard on PC’s without having to buy a Mac. Please note the tutorial that I am going to post is still experimental and things might not work the right way simply because it is still early days in hacking Leopard to work on PC’s. Well if you don’t mind your PC getting screwed then go ahead and try out this tutorial.

Make sure you backup all important data before you proceed. Here are the things that you will need before Install Leopard on your PC…
The Patched DVD Image
The zip file containing the patch
One pen drive or USB Flash Drive formatted as FAT32

Well once you have all these you can go ahead and Install Leopard..

Step 1. Getting things ready
Burn the DVD Image onto a Single Layer DVD-R using a software like Nero.
Format the USB Flash Drive and the drive label should be "Patcher" without the quotes. Please note it has to be "Patcher" only and nothing else for the patch to work when we apply it later.
Extract the Zip file and put its contents into the USB Flash Drive.
Now your USB Drive should contain a folder called "files", if it doesn’t then check to see where you have gone wrong.

Step 2. Installing Leopard
Now that you have the Patched DVD with you, you can now install Leopard. Pop in the DVD into the drive and boot into it by pressing F12 at the BIOS Prompt.
Boot into the DVD and the installer should now load. It take a while though, so be patient.
Select your Language and make sure you select Customize and you need to deselect all the packages that are displayed.
Leopard will now install. This can take a while, so go grab yourself a coffee.
It will ask you to Reboot, so go ahead and Reboot. Before rebooting make sure that USB Flash Drive is connected to the PC.

Step 3. Patching Leopard
Now that you have got Leopard installed, you need to patch it. Before we do that Boot into the Leopard DVD like the way you did before.
Wait for the Darwin Bootloader to load. Once it loads up press F8. You should now see a prompt. Type -s and hit enter. The DVD will now load in Verbose mode. Watch for any errors. It should load without a problem because you have already installed Leopard.
Once the setup is loaded select your Language. Once done you should now be seeing the Welcome Screen. Once there navigate to Utilities-Terminal.
Once the terminal loads up, you now need to browse to your USB Drive, so follow the steps below, typing it exactly as it appears below in the Terminal.

In the command line type the following as they appear here

cd ..
cd ..
cd Volumes
cd Patcher
cd files

Notice the space between cd and the 2 dots.
Now its the time to run the patcher to make sure Leopard will work on your PC. Type the following into the Terminal.

The Patch should now run. You can answer Yes while removing the ACPUPowerManagement.kext
After the Script is done, you should now be able to Boot into Leopard after you restart.

Step 4. Congratulations! You’ve done the Impossible!

Well that was it. Please note this has not been extensively tested, so most of your Hardware like Sound, Network may not work. If something goes wrong for you or you want to help us, then please join the discussion over at OSX86Scene. If you noticed I haven’t posted the links to the Torrent that contains the DVD image and the zip. Well I haven’t posted them because I am sure the lawyers over at Apple are going to sue the hell out of me. If you wondering where you can find them, then head over to Demonoid and search for it.

Apple Profit Up 67%, Aided by Record Mac Sales
John Markoff

Apple’s earnings report today leapt ahead of analysts’ already optimistic expectations. The company posted record Macintosh sales numbers for its fiscal fourth quarter, showing that the company is climbing into the league of the dominant personal computer makers, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

The company reported quarterly profits of $904 million, or $1.01 a share, up from $542 million, or 62 cents, in the same quarter a year ago, an increase of 67 percent. Analysts had predicted profit of 85 cents a share.

Sales rose to $6.22 billion from $4.84 billion. Gross margin also surged, to 33.6 percent from 29.2 percent a year ago.

But it was the absolute number of Macintosh sales that caused the company’s stock to shoot up more than 6 percent in after-hours trading.

Apple said it sold 2.16 million Macintosh computers during the quarter. The market research firm Dataquest estimated last week that it had sold 1.3 million computers, and I.D.C. put the figure at 1.1 million. Dell sold 5 million computers and H.P. sold 4.3 million in the same period, according to the I.D.C. report.

Apple is in the midst of one of the strongest stretches of its three-decade history, with recently revamped iPods and a new version of its operating system scheduled to appear this Friday.

Although it has been on the market for just one quarter, the iPhone is set to be a major product for Apple. The company has said that it sold 270,000 phones during the first weekend of sales, and last month it said it had reached the one-million-sold mark.

The company’s stock shot up after a strong earnings report in July, but it then fell through the middle of August amid concerns that the iPhone might not maintain its early momentum.

On Sept. 14, the company cut the price of the iPhone by $200 and offered early purchasers a $100 rebate, indicating that concerns about slowing sales had been justified. Since then Apple’s stock has climbed steadily as expectations grew that it would outpace analysts’ projections for the quarter.

Apple has said previously that it expects to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. Some analysts believe the company will easily surpass that figure. Charles Wolf, an independent market analyst who publishes the Wolf Bytes newsletter, said he expects the company to hit 14 million phones in its first year and a half.

By contrast, Microsoft has said that it expects its phone-making partners to ship 20 million Windows Mobile phones next year.

Piper Jaffray: AT&T Paying Apple $18 Per iPhone, Per Month
Tom Krazit

The exact details of AT&T's revenue-sharing agreement with Apple have not been disclosed, but one analyst thinks that over the two-year life of a user contract, the amount exceeds the actual price of the iPhone.

Silicon Alley Insider spotted a research note from Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster estimating that Apple is receiving $18 per month for each iPhone subscriber, under the revenue-sharing agreement between the two companies. Apple has confirmed that such an agreement exists, but has not shared the details about exactly how much cash it's getting from the revenue AT&T makes on iPhone customers using the carrier's data network. In July, Munster estimated Apple was receiving just $3 per iPhone subscriber and $11 per iPhone customers new to AT&T, but he's rethought the numbers after Apple's latest earnings release.

Munster takes the 1.4 million iPhones that Apple has sold since the device made its debut, and subtracts the 250,000 iPhones that Apple said it believes were bought to unlock from AT&T's network, to calculate that there were 1.15 million revenue-generating iPhones in play during Apple's fourth quarter. He then uses the $118 million that Apple recorded in iPhone-related revenue during the quarter to estimate out how much service revenue Apple took in from its share of AT&T's data charges by subtracting his estimate of hardware revenue generated by the sale of each iPhone, based on the average selling price.

It's a little tricky because the iPhones that were sold in June and July have obviously been generating revenue for longer than the ones sold in September, but he arrives at a figure of $18 per iPhone subscriber in monthly payments to Apple during the fourth quarter.

That would mean that over the life of a two-year contract, AT&T will pay Apple $432 per iPhone subscriber. Silicon Alley Insider adds the $400 in revenue per iPhone and uses iSuppli's cost estimates to calculate a $565 profit per iPhone over a two-year period. I'm a little wary of those iSuppli numbers myself (they don't really account for things like research and development costs), but the exact number isn't really the point: Apple has a huge incentive to make sure iPhones stay on AT&T's network, even if Munster's numbers aren't perfect.

I sent Munster an e-mail with a few questions, including whether it's fair to assume that the $18 a month figure will remain constant over the two-year contract, but I haven't heard back yet. A reader of Tuesday's iPhone blog made a fair point that Apple still gets revenue from the sale of an unlocked iPhone. But it's leaving quite a bit of money on the table if that phone doesn't run on AT&T's network.

Staples To Sell Dell PCs, Printers, LCDs
Edward F. Moltzen

Dell on Monday dropped the second shoe of its new, U.S. retail strategy, saying it will start shipping PCs through retailer Staples on Nov. 11.

The Round Rock, Texas-based Dell said it will offer a series of notebooks, desktops, inket printers, laster printers and LCDs through Staples. Earlier this year, Dell began selling some PCs through Walmart.

In a statement, Dell said its branded products will include Inspiron 1721 and 1521 notebooks, Inspiron 530 desktops, all-in-one inkjet printers and the Dell 1320c laser printer, in addition to 19-inch and 22-inch LCDs. Staples will resell Dell ink and toner, the company said.

Dell is in the midst of trying to transform its company from a market-share losing, direct PC maker with sales and profit under pressure, into a growth-oriented company with major retail, commercial reseller and direct sales reach. While Dell executives have said they intend to embrace solution providers and work to grow its $9 billion in annual, indirect sales, the company has yet to deliver a new channel program or rules of engagemen to solution providers. Dell executives say that would come by year's end.

Dell's entry into the U.S. office retail space follows rivals including Apple, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Gateway over the past two years. Staples already sells PCs from Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Toshiba, among others.

The retail segment has been among those at Dell that have underperformed the rest of the market during that time.

SanDisk Sues LG, 24 Others for Patent Infringement
Dan Nystedt

SanDisk is suing 25 companies, including South Korean giant LG Electronics for allegedly infringing patents used in removable flash storage products including MP3 players and USB flash drives.

The Milpitas, California, chip maker has also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), asking to have defendants in the court cases barred from importing products into the U.S.

The company filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin, one alleging the infringement of five patents in the ITC complaint, and another one including two additional patents not involved in the ITC action.

The court and ITC complaints could affect the prices and availability of products made by companies targeted in the suit if SanDisk wins and the companies are barred from importing products into the U.S.

The suit also covers makers of CompactFlash cards, multimedia cards and other removable flash storage products used in digital cameras, mobile phones and other gadgets, and includes companies from around the world, such as Japan’s Buffalo, Acer affiliate Apacer Technology of Taiwan, and Kingston Technology of California.

Patent Filed for Revolutionary Technique to Quickly Recover Lost Passwords

ElcomSoft has discovered and filed for a US patent on a breakthrough technology that will decrease the time that it takes to perform password recovery by a factor of up to 25. ElcomSoft has harnessed the combined power of a PC's Central Processing Unit and its video card's Graphics Processing Unit. The resulting hardware/software powerhouse will allow cryptology professionals to build affordable PCs that will work like supercomputers when recovering lost passwords.

Using the "brute force" technique of recovering passwords, it was possible, though time-consuming, to recover passwords from popular applications. For example, the logon password for Windows Vista might be an eight-character string composed of uppercase and lowercase alphabetic characters. There would about 55 trillion (52 to the eighth power) possible passwords. Windows Vista uses NTLM hashing by default, so using a modern dual-core PC you could test up to 10,000,000 passwords per second, and perform a complete analysis in about two months. With ElcomSoft's new technology, the process would take only three to five days, depending upon the CPU and GPU.

Until recently, graphic cards' GPUs couldn't be used for applications such as password recovery. Older graphics chips could only perform floating-point calculations, and most cryptography algorithms require fixed-point mathematics. Today's chips can process fixed-point calculations. And with as much as 1.5 Gb of onboard video memory and up to 128 processing units, these powerful GPU chips are much more effective than CPUs in performing many of these calculations.

In February, 2007 NVIDIA, the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processor technologies, launched CUDA, a C-Compiler and developer's kit that gives software developers access to the parallel processing power of the GPU through the standard language of C. NVIDIA GPUs (GeForce 8 and above) act as multiprocessors with multiple registers and shared memory and cache. ElcomSoft has harnessed their computing power, and will be incorporating this patent-pending technology into their entire family of enterprise password recovery applications. Since high-end PC mother boards can work with four separate video cards, the future is bright for even faster password recovery applications.

Preliminary tests using ElcomSoft Distributed Password Recovery product to recover Windows NTLM logon passwords show that the recovery speed has increased by a factor of twenty, simply by hooking up with a $150 video card's onboard GPU. ElcomSoft expects to find similar results as this new technology is incorporated into their password recovery products for Microsoft Office, PGP, and dozens of other popular applications.

What's at Stake in the Surveillance Debate in Congress
Jennifer Granick

Over the next few weeks and months, civil libertarians and consumer advocates will wage a battle against the telecommunications companies and the Bush administration to preserve some semblance of privacy rights in Americans' communications.

Congress will be considering several versions of bills that will, one way or another, expand government access to phone calls and e-mails. These legislative proposals are complex and in flux, but there are two main issues at the center of the debate that citizens can focus on. One is whether eavesdropping on millions of Americans simultaneously is acceptable. The second is whether communications companies should get a free pass for breaking the law by allowing illegal warrantless surveillance of all Americans' communications.

In the 1960s and '70s, several Supreme Court cases held that citizens can reasonably expect that the government will not eavesdrop on their personal communications without first demonstrating to a court the need for this privacy invasion. Congress passed the Wiretap Act of 1968 to regulate eavesdropping for law enforcement purposes, and added the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 to establish procedures for the president to follow when conducting surveillance for national-security purposes. FISA established a "secret court" -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC -- to review applications for national-security warrants. These could be obtained merely by showing that the target was an agent of a foreign power.

Targeted surveillance was the order of the day for two primary reasons. First, the Fourth Amendment prohibits "general warrants," those which do not specify the names of people to be observed, the inventory of things to be seized, or otherwise fail to narrow the discretion of the officer performing the search. Second -- and it turns out, more importantly -- it was prohibitively expensive to perform mass surveillance. Eavesdropping required paying someone to sit and listen to calls, because storage and voice-recognition technology were not available.

By 2001, things had changed. Digital networks, vast storage and powerful computer processing meant that it was now economically feasible to monitor entire networks -- including the phone network -- using computers, voice recognition and other modern technologies. The government began pushing to use these new technologies for wide-scale mass surveillance.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks also occurred in 2001. But while the attacks may have raised the American public's tolerance for privacy invasions, it was not the sole impetus for mass spying. The National Security Agency (NSA) was pressuring telcos to give it unfettered access to customer calling records seven months before the attacks. Regardless, Sept. 11 inspired Congress to modify FISA to give national security officers more leeway in hunting down terrorists. The USA Patriot Act modified FISA in several important ways, but none of them would have allowed the wholesale surveillance of American communications networks the NSA was pushing for behind the scenes.

Despite the missing legal authority, we now know that several telecommunications companies secretly cooperated in the mass diversion of phone calls and e-mails to the NSA. The New York Times revealed the existence of this warrantless surveillance program in December 2005. After this revelation, the Bush Administration admitted it was listening without warrants to known al-Qaida members who called, or were called by, people in the United States. However, the warrantless wiretapping went much further than that. A former AT&T engineer by the name of Mark Klein revealed that all internet traffic flowing through AT&T's backbone was regularly diverted to the NSA.

My employer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T on behalf of all its customers who had been intercepted without a warrant, as well as those who had had their phone records disclosed in a separate but apparently related program. A few months later, other class actions against the telcos were filed nationwide. The attorneys general of several states also began investigations to see whether the communications providers had violated their legal obligations as public utilities. The federal government has intervened in the litigation to kill all of these cases, alleging that telco cooperation is an official secret and that the lawsuits must be dismissed. That issue is currently on appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, although at least one high-level administration official -- Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence -- has since confirmed the phone company-government collaboration.

Now the administration is bringing the battle for mass surveillance to Congress. Just before this summer's recess, Congress passed the Protect America Act (PAA), which gave the U.S. attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to authorize surveillance without a court order, so long as the target of that surveillance was reasonably believed to be overseas. This was a major expansion of executive power from what FISA had allowed. it also went well beyond what the Bush administration had said it needed: The president had claimed FISA needed some modest tweaking to allow for efficient eavesdropping on foreign-to-foreign communications that travel through the United States, while leaving the privacy of Americans intact.

The PAA is due to expire in February of 2008, so Congress is now considering new proposals to replace it. An admirable goal of well-balanced legislation would be to enable us to detect and fight terrorism, without losing judicial and legislative oversight of the surveillance process.

The Restore Act, which failed to pass the House last week, tried to strike this balance. It would have permitted warrantless surveillance of foreign-to-foreign communications and put surveillance review back in the hands of the FISC rather than administration officials. And it would not have immunized phone companies for their illegal behavior. However, it did allow for "blanket warrants" that would sanction mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans if the purported target was a foreign national.

The problem with such blanket warrants is practical, legal and technical.

On the technical side, the tactic produces far more false positives than we are capable of processing. Also, warrants for general surveillance are proven vehicles for abuse. Our Founding Fathers abhorred general warrants, which is why the Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits them, proscribing that "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The potential for abuse is extreme in the case of telecommunications, because the government is capturing and has access to every one of our calls or e-mails as they flow through telco offices, even if it's not supposed to look at most of it.

The legislation that just cleared the Senate subcommittee and is currently under consideration makes a different mistake. It would allow the attorney general in a closed-door session to unilaterally absolve any telco accused of illegally intercepting communications.

Communications carriers play an essential role in keeping the government honest about whether it's eavesdropping on us. Any working law must provide incentives to these companies to reject requests for unlawful surveillance by imposing liability when they fail to do so, while protecting companies that comply in good faith with valid legal process, just as FISA and the Wiretap Act already do.

It's not clear why the Senate thinks encouraging secret collusion between a president and a major industry is a good idea. Telcos accused of violations will donate money to the campaigns of those officials most likely to absolve their bad behavior. The bill also abandons the substantial oversight role that either Congress or courts could play in ensuring that laws are followed and effective. My employer, EFF, also objects to telco immunity because it is intended to kill our pending class action lawsuit.

Rather than offering a rational reason for the amnesty provision, the Senate seems to be acting out of confusion. Feeling left out, Congress said it would not consider amnesty unless the White House disclosed documents that would allow lawmakers to determine what exactly was going on with secret, warrantless surveillance in this country. Now that the Senate has received some documents, it is ready to pay off the administration for this small, belated courtesy of inclusion, while forgetting to exercise the oversight function that caused the legislators to ask for the information in the first place.

Sen. Russ Feingold's office says that the documents show that the surveillance was illegal, a very good reason to refuse any amnesty. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who recently benefited from unusually large campaign contributions from the phone companies, supports amnesty.

As the legislative process plays out, the issues of when to authorize mass surveillance, how to minimize abuses and how to deter unlawful behavior will continue to be major parts of the debate. The American Revolution was fought in part against the abuses practiced by an unchecked executive power. Terrorism and new technologies are novel challenges, but the legal techniques developed over the past 200 years -- separation of powers, checks and balances, individualized suspicion and special warrants among them -- have and will continue to serve us well, if we let them.

Terror Watch List Swells to More Than 755,000
Mimi Hall

The government's terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names, according to a new government report that has raised worries about the list's effectiveness.

The size of the list, typically used to check people entering the country through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004. Some lawmakers, security experts and civil rights advocates warn that it will become useless if it includes too many people.

"It undermines the authority of the list," says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. "There's just no rational, reasonable estimate that there's anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists."

The exact number of people on the list, compiled after 9/11 to help government agents keep terrorists out of the country, is unclear, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Some people may be on the list more than once because they are listed under multiple spellings.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who plans a hearing on the report today, says "serious hurdles remain if (the list) is to be as effective as we need it to be. Some of the concerns stem from its rapid growth, which could call into question the quality of the list itself."

About 53,000 people on the list were questioned since 2004, according to the GAO, which says the Homeland Security Department doesn't keep records on how many were denied entry or allowed into the country after questioning. Most were apparently released and allowed to enter, the GAO says.

Leonard Boyle, director of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, which maintains the list, says in testimony to be given today that 269 foreigners were denied entry in fiscal 2006.

The GAO report also says:

•The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could not specify how many people on its no-fly list, which is a small subset of the watch list, might have slipped through screening and been allowed on domestic flights.

•TSA data show "a number of individuals" on the no-fly list passed undetected through screening and boarded international flights bound for the United States. Several planes have been diverted once officials realized that people named on the watch lists were on board.

•Homeland Security has not done enough to use the list more broadly in the private sector, where workers applying for jobs in sensitive places such as chemical factories could do harm.

Boyle also urges that the list be used by for screening at businesses where workers could "carry out attacks on our critical infrastructure that could harm large numbers of persons or cause immense economic damage."

But the sheer size of the watch list raised the most alarms.

"They are quickly galloping towards the million mark — a mark of real distinction because the list is already cumbersome and is approaching absolutely useless," said Tim Sparapani of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says "creating and maintaining a comprehensive terrorist watch list is an enormous endeavor fraught with technical and tactical challenges."

The report, she says, "underscores the need to make the watch lists more accurate, to improve screening procedures at airports and the ports of entry, and to provide individuals with the ability to seek redress if they believe they have been wrongfully targeted."

All the Same?
Al Kamen

April 8, 2004: Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told the Sept. 11 commission that "terrorism is terrorism is terrorism -- in other words, you can't fight al-Qaeda and hug Hezbollah or hug Hamas."

"We don't make a distinction between different kinds of terrorism. And we're, therefore, united with the countries of the world to fight all kinds of terrorism. Terrorism is never an appropriate or justified response just because of political difficulty."
Wednesday: Army Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock, a senior member of the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news briefing: "There are over 45 different organizations on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, and you can't look at all of them the same way.

"If you look at all of these as nails, then all of the solutions you have all of a sudden suddenly start to appear like a hammer, and a hammer's not always the right answer."

Hmmmm. . . .

Democrats Were Targets in Inquiries, Panel Is Told
Philip Shenon

Richard L. Thornburgh, attorney general in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, charged Tuesday that political reasons motivated the Justice Department to open corruption investigations against Democrats in Mr. Thornburgh’s home state, Pennsylvania.

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Thornburgh became the first former Republican attorney general to join with Democratic lawmakers to suggest that the Justice Department under Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales had singled out Democratic politicians for prosecution.

“The citizens of the United States must have confidence that the department is conducting itself in a fair and impartial manner without actual political influence or the appearance of political influence,” said Mr. Thornburgh, who is now in private practice. He is defending the former elected Democratic coroner of Allegheny County, Pa., against federal corruption charges. “Unfortunately that may no longer be the case.”

His unusually harsh criticism of fellow Republicans was directed specifically at the United States attorney in Pittsburgh, Mary Beth Buchanan, who was director of the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, based in Washington, in 2004 and 2005. That office has come under scrutiny for its role in the dismissal of United States attorneys last year, in some cases for what appear to have been partisan reasons.

“It has been and remains the practice of the United States Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute individuals who violate federal law without regard to their political affiliation,” Ms. Buchanan said in a written statement.

Mr. Gonzales, who stepped down last month, and his former Justice Department colleagues have repeatedly denied that politics played any role in the prosecution of corruption cases in the Bush administration. The department’s inspector general is now conducting an investigation of the reasons for the firings of the United States attorneys last year.

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating the Justice Department’s handling of the prosecution of several prominent Democrats around the country, most notably the prosecution and conviction of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama on federal corruption charges. A Republican lawyer there has given a sworn statement to the committee in which she said she overheard discussion of how the White House had put pressure on local prosecutors to pursue the case.

Mr. Thornburgh noted that Ms. Buchanan had conducted a series of high-profile corruption investigations against Pennsylvania Democrats in the months before the 2006 midterm elections, including the one against the former coroner, Cyril Wecht.

“During this same period, not one Republican officeholder was investigated and/or prosecuted by Ms. Buchanan’s office — not one,” Mr. Thornburgh said, noting that there had been accusations of corruption against two prominent Republican members of Congress from Pennsylvania in that same period. He said that Dr. Wecht, a nationally prominent forensic pathologist, “would qualify as an ideal target for a Republican U.S. attorney trying to curry favor with a department which demonstrated that if you play by its rules, you will advance.”

Dr. Wecht, who is scheduled to go on trial next year, has been charged with 84 criminal counts, including theft and mail fraud, much of it involving his use of a government fax machine and postage meter. Mr. Thornburgh described the prosecution as “bizarre.”

Mr. Thornburgh’s testimony drew harsh attacks from Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who accused him of trying to undermine the credibility of the Justice Department in an effort to help a client.

FBI Forces False Confession Out of Man

Long story short: Man is staying in hotel in NYC during the 9/11/2001 attacks. Hotel empties after attacks and device is found in man's hotel room closet that allows communication with airline pilots. Man is Egyptian national, and FBI questions him. Man denies owning device.

FBI agent threatens that man's family will be tortured in Egypt.

Man confesses, ultimately spending a month in jail before airline pilot shows up at hotel asking for radio left in man's room back. Whoops! Lawsuits ensue.

From Steve Bergstein's Psychosounds blog, where I found this:
"Higazy then realized he had a choice: he could continue denying the radio was his and his family suffers ungodly torture in Egypt or he confesses and his family is spared. Of course, by confessing, Higazy's life is worth garbage at that point, but ... well, that's why coerced confessions are outlawed in the United States."

Good thing the FBI doesn't do this any more. Right?

We never would have known any of this as the US Court of Appeals in Manhattan redacted the description of the torture threats in its decision, but someone posted an unredacted decision on the web for a brief time. And a PDF of that is what's making the rounds now.

Here's the link to a story on the situation from the ABA Journal.

In it, the court claims it redacted the information about the torture threats to protect Higazy and his family. The story doesn't say what they're being protected from.

Rumsfeld Hit with Torture Lawsuit While Visiting Paris
Jason Rhyne

Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's jaunt to France was interrupted today by an unscheduled itinerary item -- he was slapped with a criminal complaint charging him with torture.

Rumsfeld, in Paris for a discussion sponsored by the magazine Foreign Policy, was tracked down by representatives of a coalition of international human rights groups, who informed the architect of the US invasion of Iraq that they had submitted a torture suit against him in French court.

The filed documents allege that during his tenure, the former defense secretary "ordered and authorized" torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military's detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The head of one of the groups responsible for bringing the charges, the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, told RAW STORY today by phone that the suit was a long time coming.

"We've been working on cornering Rumsfeld and getting him indicted somewhere going on three years now," said the Center's president, Michael Ratner. "Four days ago, we got confidential information he was going to be in France."

Joined by activists, attorneys for the human rights groups caught up with Rumsfeld on his way to a breakfast meeting. "He was walking down the street with just one person," said Ratner.

"Around 20 campaigners gave Rumsfeld a rowdy welcome...yelling 'murderer,' waving a banner and trying to push into the building," reports AFP.

Ratner, who wasn't personally at the scene, says his sources told him that the former defense secretary made some pre-scheduled remarks at the meeting before ducking through a door leading to the US Embassy.

According to Ratner, France has a legal responsibility under international law to prosecute Rumsfeld for torture abuses.

"If a torturer comes into your territory," he said, "there's an obligation to either prosecute the person or return him to a place where he will be prosecuted."

The rights groups notably cite three memorandums signed by the defense secretary between October 2002 and April 2003 "legimitizing the use of torture" including the "hooding" of detainees, sleep deprivation and the use of dogs.

Although his group has been a part of previous attempts to bring charges against Rumsfeld, including two former tries in Germany, Ratner believes French court has the highest chance of success.

"There are Guantananamo detainees who were tortured that are living in France," he said. "It gives French courts another reason to prosecute."

Ratner says Europe is "getting very hot for Rumsfeld," and suggests a French court could at least issue its version of a subpoena.

"We hope that this case will move forward," he said, "especially as the US says it can continue to torture people."

Other groups involved in the complaint include the International Federation of Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights and Germany's European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

More details about the lawsuit are available at the website of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

(with wire reports)

EBay One of Few Companies to Lobby CIA
Christopher S. Rugaber

Online auctioneer eBay Inc. spent almost $2 million lobbying various departments of the federal government in the past year, including an entity rarely named on federal disclosure forms: the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to a database maintained by the Senate's public records office, eBay is one of eight groups and companies to lobby the spy agency. The company listed the CIA on a form covering its lobbying activities for the first six months of 2007.

Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman, said that listing was an error. But, he said the company did meet with CIA officials in the second half of 2006 to discuss amendments to a 1994 law _ the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act _ that required Internet phone companies to ensure their equipment can accommodate wiretaps.

EBay owns the Internet phone company Skype.

In a 2006 disclosure form, the company said it lobbied the CIA and other agencies on "law enforcement access to Internet communications."

A spokesman for CIA did not respond to a request for comment.

Only eight entities lobbied the CIA in the first half of 2007, according to the Senate's public records office, including the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the U.S. Awami League.

The Alliance is an industry group focused on the regulation of ozone-depleting chemicals, while the Awami League is a political party in Bangladesh.

Lockheed Martin Corp. and Sybase Inc. were the only other public companies to lobby the intelligence agency this year, according to the Senate's database.

By comparison, more than 1,100 companies and trade associations lobbied the Defense Department in the same period, while over 300 lobbied the U.S. Trade Representative's office, the Senate's database showed.

According to a disclosure form posted online Aug. 14, eBay lobbied Congress and many federal agencies in the first six months of this year, including the White House, U.S. Trade Representative, FBI, Federal Communications Commission, Internal Revenue Service and the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Defense, State and Treasury.

The company lobbied on a wide range of issues, including patent reform, copyright enforcement, data security, identity theft prevention, legislation intended to protect children from online predators, immigration reform, sales taxes, the Internet tax exemption and spectrum auctions.

The company spent $985,000 lobbying in the first half of 2007, and $890,000 in the last six months of 2006.

Under a federal law enacted in 1995, lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches. They must register with Congress within 45 days of being hired or engaging in lobbying.

Privacy Lost: These Phones Can Find You
Laura M. Holson

Two new questions arise, courtesy of the latest advancement in cellphone technology: Do you want your friends, family, or colleagues to know where you are at any given time? And do you want to know where they are?

Obvious benefits come to mind. Parents can take advantage of the Global Positioning System chips embedded in many cellphones to track the whereabouts of their phone-toting children.

And for teenagers and 20-somethings, who are fond of sharing their comings and goings on the Internet, youth-oriented services like Loopt and Buddy Beacon are a natural next step.

Sam Altman, the 22-year-old co-founder of Loopt, said he came up with the idea in early 2005 when he walked out of a lecture hall at Stanford.

“Two hundred students all pulled out their cellphones, called someone and said, ‘Where are you?’ ” he said. “People want to connect.”

But such services point to a new truth of modern life: If G.P.S. made it harder to get lost, new cellphone services are now making it harder to hide.

“There are massive changes going on in society, particularly among young people who feel comfortable sharing information in a digital society,” said Kevin Bankston, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation based in San Francisco.

“We seem to be getting into a period where people are closely watching each other,” he said. “There are privacy risks we haven’t begun to grapple with.”

But the practical applications outweigh the worries for some converts.

Kyna Fong, a 24-year-old Stanford graduate student, uses Loopt, offered by Sprint Nextel. For $2.99 a month, she can see the location of friends who also have the service, represented by dots on a map on her phone, with labels identifying their names. They can also see where she is.

One night last summer she noticed on Loopt that friends she was meeting for dinner were 40 miles away, and would be late. Instead of waiting, Ms. Fong arranged her schedule to arrive when they did. “People don’t have to ask ‘Where are you?’” she said.

Ms. Fong can control whom she shares the service with, and if at any point she wants privacy, Ms. Fong can block access. Some people are not invited to join — like her mother.

“I don’t know if I’d want my mom knowing where I was all the time,” she said.

Some situations are not so clear-cut. What if a spouse wants some time alone and turns off the service? Why on earth, their better half may ask, are they doing that?

What if a boss asks an employee to use the service?

So far, the market for social-mapping is nascent — users number in the hundreds of thousands, industry experts estimate.

But almost 55 percent of all mobile phones sold today in the United States have the technology that makes such friend-and- family-tracking services possible, according to Current Analysis, which follows trends in technology.

So far, it is most popular, industry executives say, among the college set.

But others have found different uses. Mr. Altman said one customer bought it to keep track of a parent with Alzheimer’s. Helio, a mobile phone service provider that offers Buddy Beacon, said some small-business owners use it to track employees.

Consumers can turn off their service, making them invisible to people in their social-mapping network. Still, the G.P.S. service embedded in the phone means that your whereabouts are not a complete mystery.

“There is a Big Brother component,” said Charles S. Golvin, a wireless analyst at Forrester Research. “The thinking goes that if my friends can find me, the telephone company knows my location all the time, too.”

Phone companies say they are aware of the potential problems such services could cause.

If a friend-finding service is viewed as too intrusive, said Mark Collins, vice president for consumer data at AT&T’s wireless unit, “that is a negative for us.” Loopt and similar services say they do not keep electronic records of people’s whereabouts.

Mr. Altman of Loopt said that to protect better against unwelcome prying by, say, a former friend, Loopt users are sent text messages at random times, asking if they recognize a certain friend. If not, that person’s viewing ability is disabled.

Clay Harris, a 25-year-old freelance marketing executive in Memphis, says he uses Helio’s Buddy Beacon mostly to keep in touch with his friend Gregory Lotz. One night when Mr. Lotz was returning from a trip, Mr. Harris was happy to see his friend show up unannounced at a bar where he and some other friends had gathered.

“He had tried to reach me, but I didn’t hear my phone ring,” Mr. Harris said. “He just showed up and I thought, ‘Wow, this is great.’”

He would never think to block Mr. Lotz. But he would think twice before inviting a girlfriend into his social-mapping network. “Most definitely a girl would ask and wonder why I was blocking her,” he said.

Technology, the Stealthy Tattletale
Christopher Maag

Initially, it seemed like an easy bank robbery. After stealing $7,000 from a PNC Bank in Evendale, Ohio, Kenneth Maples climbed into a white Ford pickup driven by his wife, Jewell, according to a police report. No dye pack exploded, no police sirens screamed in pursuit as the couple’s truck slipped into the anonymity of heavy traffic on Interstate 71 just after 10 a.m. on Sept. 14.

But the suspects never had a chance. A Global Positioning System tracking device had been tucked inside the stolen cash, according to the report, allowing a small army of local police officers and F.B.I. agents to follow the signal from on-ramps and overpasses as it moved south into downtown Cincinnati.

Police put up a roadblock, closing five lanes of traffic. As hundreds of vehicles stopped, police converged on the suspects’ truck, sitting just five cars behind the police line.

“It was incredibly precise,” said Mark Fisk, a Cincinnati resident who photographed the arrest from his delivery van, three cars behind the suspects.

A technological revolution is making it possible not just to track down escaping bank robbers but to find missing things and people far more quickly and precisely than ever.

The change is powered less by new technologies than the artful combination of existing ones, mainly the Internet, cellphones and G.P.S. satellites. In some cases, the new devices linked to these systems can even detect a theft before it happens.

“This stuff is coming down the pike very soon,” said Jim Van Cleave, vice president of Spectrum Management, which has developed tracking systems for commercial and covert uses since 1980. “The number of potential applications is mind-boggling.”

One new use is tracking teenage drivers. Brian Aladesuyi, 17, received a new Jeep in exchange for a promise: he would never drive it outside his hometown, Kennesaw, Ga. His father, Kayode Aladesuyi, chief executive of the security firm EarthSearch Communications, used EarthSearch’s Web site to map Kennesaw’s boundaries into the Jeep’s onboard computer, surrounding the entire city with an electronic fence.

But when his father took a business trip to Brazil, Brian decided to try his luck, Mr. Aladesuyi said. Brian drove to Marietta, a neighboring town. Seconds after Brian breached the invisible wall, his father received a text message on his mobile phone.

Mr. Aladesuyi sent a message commanding the computer to disable the Jeep’s engine as soon as Brian switched it off. When the Jeep would not restart, Brian had to call his father and confess he had broken their agreement.

“I don’t think Brian really understood I could do that from Brazil,” Mr. Aladesuyi said.

That tracking system became available this spring. The onboard computer costs $229, installation included, and the service costs $19.99 a month. Mr. Aladesuyi uses a similar EarthSearch system to disengage the engine of his own Mercedes E500 sedan, making it “virtually impossible” to steal, he said.

Like a host of other location technologies in the works, the money-tracking tools can trace their origin to an initially obscure rule, written into the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, which required that new cellphones be able to communicate their location to emergency responders whenever callers dial 911. Some companies planted chips in their phones that communicate directly with G.P.S. satellites. Others use cellular towers to triangulate the signal. With the location systems in place, a number of companies began working on other applications.

“There’s a lot of sexy stuff out there that’s just getting ready for prime time,” said David Mansfield, vice president of Raptor Analytics, a company in Longmont, Colo., that advises banks on security.

Banks began putting the technology to use about two years ago, Mr. Mansfield said. Harry Trombitas, the F.B.I. special agent who leads the bank robbery unit in southern Ohio, said that the G.P.S. devices allowed law enforcement officials to keep close track of missing money. “These things are pretty accurate,” he said. “They can get it down to within a few feet.”

Sometimes the technology allows property owners to detect a theft before it occurs. SC Integrity, a security firm in Bothell, Wash., uses G.P.S. technology and a database of shipping container thefts to safeguard trucking fleets.

If it finds a pattern of thieves stealing, say, cigarette shipments from a certain Texas truck stop, the company can load the coordinates into a G.P.S. module inside the trailer, creating an electric fence around the entire freeway off-ramp, said Denis duNann, the company’s chief executive.

If the truck exits anyway, trucking company dispatchers instantly receive an alert and phone the driver. If the driver lies about his location, dispatchers call the local police and alert them to a possible theft in progress.

“You can sit at your computer and watch him do a U-turn and get right back on the highway,” Mr. duNann said.

Many missing objects, of course, do not involve a crime. Project Lifesaver, a nonprofit group in Chesapeake, Va., fits Alzheimer’s patients and autistic children with radio frequency beacons disguised as bracelets, which help emergency responders find them if they are lost.

Next spring the group will introduce new bracelets, created by Locator Systems, a British Columbia company, that combine radio signals with G.P.S. and cellular communications. That should allow caregivers to establish a zone where patients can safely wander, said Jim McIntosh, the company’s chief executive. If patients wander off, emergency crews could receive more specific information.

But most of the work is aimed at recovering stolen property, potentially saving billions.

OnStar, the G.P.S.-based navigation system offered by General Motors, will start a “stolen vehicle slowdown” service next spring to help avoid dangerous high-speed chases. If an equipped vehicle is stolen, police can ask OnStar to send a wireless message to the onboard computer, cutting the engine’s power.

The driver, said Chet Huber, OnStar’s president, will have time to pull off the road safely. After that, the thief is on his own.

Corvil Unveils Its Latest Network Monitoring Appliance
Sean Gallagher

The company's CorvilNet 4.0 correlates monitoring data with remote appliances.

Corvil has rolled out the latest version of its CorvilNet monitoring and bandwidth provisioning analysis appliance, and the London Stock Exchange has selected the product to monitor quality of service on its IP-based electronic trading network.

CorvilNet 4.0, announced Oct. 22, passively monitors traffic across networks in segments below 1 microsecond in length and correlates monitoring data with remote appliances to give a complete picture of latency, jitter, packet loss and other phenomena that affect network and application performance.

The London Stock Exchange has been using CorvilNet to achieve low latency in TradElect, the exchange's new electronic trading system, since June 18. "To achieve our latency and performance targets for TradElect, we needed network visibility at submillisecond granularity," said Robin Paine, the exchange's chief technology officer. "We use this microvisibility to provision the network for low latency."

"This is a product focused on how to deliver high application service quality on top of IP networks in a real-time world," Corvil CEO Donal Byrne said in an interview with eWEEK. "In high-end environments, like the e-trading and financial services space, [network managers] are trying to take milliseconds of latency off networks. If you can drop a millisecond off, you're a hero."

Based in Dublin, Ireland, Corvil was founded in 2000 by a group of researchers at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies. "The company was founded on the promise of some mathematical and algorithmic work done [at DIAS] focused on the question of how do we program networks to deliver a precise level of quality of service for specific applications," Byrne said. "At that time, the telecom folks involved had decided IP wasn't ready to provide these services."

But now, with the emergence of Web conferencing, VOIP (voice over IP), virtualized desktops, Web-based applications such as those based on AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and other Web 2.0 technologies, as well as much higher IP network capacity, Corvil has begun to gain traction, Byrne said. The startup counts Cisco Systems among its investors. Byrne said Corvil's customer base is "more than 10 but less than 100."

The latest version of CorvilNet adds support for 10 Gigabit networks, as well as the end-to-end analysis functionality that the company calls Passive Network Quality Monitoring, or PNQM. "For every packet [that the appliance records], we compute a signature and a time stamp," said Byrne. "When it exits on the other side of the WAN, we time-stamp it, and we can correlate the data across the whole network. That way, we get a very accurate view of the performance of the network. You can determine, if there's a service-quality violation, did it occur in your network or the service provider's cloud."

IDC analyst Tracy Corbo said the level of understanding that products such as CorvilNet provide about IP networks is essential for running mission-critical applications. "I don't understand why everyone isn't doing this [sort of] root- cause analysis," Corbo said. "The traffic on networks has become increasingly complicated, and it's become difficult to prioritize traffic without really understanding the network."

Using a set of algorithms originally developed at DIAS, the appliance can analyze and isolate "microbursts" of network traffic—small spikes in network utilization triggered by application responses that can cause problems in the transition from LANs to WANs, especially for applications such as hosted Citrix sessions, Web 2.0 applications and other software that send bursts of data in response.

CorvilNet analyzes data and generates recommendations to network managers on how to better provision their networks—as well as sets of CLI (command-line interface) commands that can be uploaded into routers and switches for application performance management.

When US-Made 'Censorware' Ends Up in Iron Fists

Despite Burma's record of repression, it's probably legal for American companies to sell Internet filters there, export lawyers say. But is it ethical?
Ben Arnoldy

During Burma's short-lived uprising late last month, young dissidents risked their lives to smuggle news of their peaceful protest to the outside world. They may have been up against Internet censorship software designed in America, if a connection found to exist in 2005 still holds.

Moreover, if a US firm wanted to sell Internet filters to Burma (Myanmar) today, despite several layers of economic sanctions against the government there, it would probably be legal to do so, say export lawyers.

Absence of federal regulation has allowed so-called censorware of at least four California companies to end up in the hands of foreign governments shown to block citizens' access to political, religious, and other websites.

Events in Burma provide new fodder for a censorware debate that had focused, until now, on China. Some experts note that repressive regimes might never have allowed Internet access at all if not for the filters, which tech-savvy citizens can overcome. But critics say US companies are breaking American values by abetting such censorship.

"Where the best and the brightest of Silicon Valley had been wiring the world, they are now, in these cases, doing the opposite," says Ronald Deibert, an investigator for the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a collaboration of Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge universities and the University of Toronto.

ONI researchers are conducting tests that have so far found censorship in 24 of 40 countries. Testing involves local users in each country trying to access various websites. Certain patterns and failure messages emerge, indicating which filtering system a country uses.

The software companies involved sell this technology primarily to private companies in the US and abroad. Companies use these tools to keep employees from accessing pornography sites and websites infected with viruses.

Repressive governments also turn to these American systems, not only to filter out porn and viruses, but also to block political, religious, and other websites.

ONI testing in 2005 indicated that Burma censored the Internet using software made by Fortinet, a Sunnyvale, Calif., company. The firm, says ONI, responded by saying it doesn't sell software directly to end-users. ONI challenges Fortinet's claim, pointing to a 2004 article, reachable online, by the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper. The story covers a ceremony bringing together Burma's prime minister and Benjamin Teh, described as "an official representative of Fortinet."

"Given Mr. Teh's participation, it seems unlikely that Fortinet did not know of the sale of its software to Burma," notes the ONI report.

Fortinet did not respond to two e-mail and at least five phone messages to three company officials over the course of last week.

Other ONI research revealed that Iranian Internet service providers (ISPs) have used filtering software of two other California firms: Websense Inc. and Secure Computing Corp.

A Websense spokeswoman denies the firm has sold software to Iran, which would be illegal. A published study by Nart Villeneuve at the University of Toronto found that from 2004 to 2005 the Iranian ISP ParsOnline used Websense's product. By 2006, the ISP had dropped Websense, he said in an e-mail.

The company's website advertises Websense's ability to categorize, and therefore filter, websites in categories such as "advocacy groups" and "religion" – specifying, among others, Christian Science. However, the Websense spokeswoman said, in an e-mail, its contracts forbid customers from using the technology to censor Internet content without permission from both the affected consumers and Websense's "express prior written approval."

Secure Computing has said publicly in the past that the Iranians may have obtained an illegal copy of its software. A company executive, Atri Chatterjee, says the software, called SmartFilter, would still function without frequent database updates from Secure Computing, though at a degraded capacity. Such updates could also be obtained illicitly, he says.

ONI also found in 2005 that Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, countries with Internet censorship, use SmartFilter. The company wouldn't confirm or deny.

"We are a US organization that adheres to US rules. We only do business with organizations and countries we are approved to do business with," says Mr. Chatterjee.

That position is echoed by Blue Coat Systems Inc., whose sales materials have boasted that Internet access across Saudi Arabia is "monitored and controlled" by its technology.

US export rules focus mainly on national-security criteria, says Clif Burns, a partner at Powell Goldstein LLP in Washington and editor of exportlawblog.com. "It may well be the case that something doesn't have a [security] impact on the US but is otherwise improper or not good citizenship to export," says Mr. Burns.

The only cases where censorware cannot be sold, he says, involve certain forms of encryption or countries under broad US trade sanctions. In the case of Burma, sanctions probably don't outlaw a sale, he says, because the sanctions mostly prohibit imports from Burma, not exports of US goods to it.

Moves are afoot in Washington to take a harder line against censorware exports. High-profile congressional hearings last year examined the roles of Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, and Cisco in helping China censor the Internet. Rep. Christopher Smith (R) of New Jersey has introduced the Global Online Freedom Act, a bill that would, among other things, study the feasibility of restricting censorware exports.

There is some debate over whether such filtering software merits real concern. In Burma, the regime ultimately decided to shut off the country's Internet access after it appeared unable to selectively filter out antigovernment communication.

As of on Sept. 28, the main Burmese ISP completely severed its connection to the outside world, and only occasionally reconnected starting last week, says Steve Gibbard, a researcher at the Packet Clearing House, a nonprofit research institute focused on Internet security and stability. The shutdown did not appear to be the work of a software filter, but "a matter of unplugging a cable or flipping a power switch," says Mr. Gibbard.

The filtering software, in fact, may have given the Burmese regime enough of a false sense of security to allow Internet access in the first place, some suggest.

"Without [Internet filtering tools], there wouldn't have been access to begin with because [citizens] wouldn't have been trusted with it," says Bill Woodcock, also with the Packet Clearing House. Nor does pressure for censorship always come from the top, he adds. "In much of the world, the Internet is seen as this horrible sewer that is bringing things in that the government [feels popular pressure] to stop."

Internet-censorship tools can be defeated with the use of proxy servers. But many people living under repressive government are not going to hear about, or dare to try, methods to get around Internet fire walls, say experts.

"Some people say [censorware] is ineffective because dissidents can get around it," says Seth Finkelstein, a programmer and anticensorship activist. "I say political control doesn't have to be 100 percent to be effective. Controlling the ability of the vast majority of the population to see outside information is still very effective for the goals of the totalitarian regime."

China Accused of Rerouting Search Traffic to Baidu
Victoria Ho

Reports have surfaced that China is redirecting traffic from foreign search engines operated by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to homegrown Baidu.com.

According to various reports online, some online users in China attempting to access Google.com, Microsoft's Live.com and Yahoo.com search sites have been redirected to China-based Baidu.com.

Blog site TechCrunch reported that Chinese traffic to Google's blog search engine was being rerouted to Baidu. TechCrunch later published another article saying a similar situation was observed with the other two search giants.

Vivian Wong, a manager at CB Richard Ellis in Shanghai, said visits to the three search engines showed Baidu's home page instead.

Beijing-based David Feng wrote in his blog on Thursday that he was able to gain access to both Google and Yahoo, but not Microsoft's Live.com or Yahoo-owned search engine AltaVista.

However, Ori Elraviv, chief executive of Dragon Ports in Beijing, said he had no problems getting through to the sites. "I find such an occurrence really hard to believe. Blocking a service is one thing; diverting it to a competitor is a completely different story." Dragon Ports is a developer of mobile applications.

Google has, however, confirmed the traffic-rerouting episodes. In response to queries, Google sent similar statements to The Register and search engine blogger Danny Sullivan, noting: "While this is clearly unfortunate, we've seen this happen before and are confident that service will be restored to our users in the very near future."

China has been involved in previous allegations of Internet censorship, though the government has denied such claims.

Incidentally, Google sold its minority stake in Baidu last year, explaining that it was doing so to focus on building the Chinese version of its search engine, Google.cn.

The Sound, Not of Music, but of Control
Howard W. French

A song often heard on the radio these days begins with a light and upbeat melody, and lyrics that are even bubblier.

“Don’t care about loneliness,” croons the lead singer. “I don’t think it really matters.”

Another much played song tries even harder to soothe. “Ah, little man, ah, succeed quickly,” it counsels. “Enjoy being poor but happy every day.”

Marxists once referred to religion as the opium of the people, but in today’s China it is the music promoted on state-monopolized radio that increasingly claims that role. China’s leader, Hu Jintao, has talked since he assumed power five years ago about “building a harmonious society,” an ambiguous phrase subject to countless interpretations.

But Chinese musicians, cultural critics and fans say that in entertainment, the government’s thrust seems clear: Harmonious means blandly homogeneous, with virtually all contemporary music on the radio consisting of gentle love songs and uplifting ballads.

In recent weeks, television networks have come under intense pressure from Beijing to purge their programming of crime and even mildly suggestive sexual references. Variety show producers are subject to new rules aimed at enforcing official notions of dignity. Art galleries and theatrical productions, meanwhile, have always been subject to review by censors.

Even without resorting to direct censorship, the state has formidable powers for controlling popular music and shaping tastes. They include state ownership of all broadcast media, the screening of lyrics for all commercial music and strict control of performance sites.

Many say one result has been the dumbing down and deadening of popular music culture. Fu Guoyong, an independent cultural critic in Hangzhou, likened today’s pop music culture to the politically enforced conformity of the Cultural Revolution, when only eight highly idealized Socialist “model operas” could be performed in China.

“Nowadays singers can sing many songs, but in the end, they’re all singing the same song, the core of which is, ‘Have fun,’” Mr. Fu said. “Culture has become an empty vessel.”

Nowhere is conformity enforced more vigorously than on broadcast radio, where pop music programs are saturated with the Chinese equivalent of the kind of easy listening often associated in other countries with elevators and dentists’ offices.

Rock ’n’ roll is mostly limited to special programs that are allowed brief windows of airtime during the graveyard shift, and even then there are few hints of angst, alienation or any but the very mildest expressions of teenage rebellion.

Rock enjoyed a wave of popularity in China the early 1990s, but the works of the country’s most famous performer, Cui Jian, disappeared from the airwaves around that time because, many fans believe, his lyrics began to flirt with political themes.

By this year, the rock groups felt so unwanted that when the Chinese Olympic Committee called on musicians to submit songs for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, virtually none stepped forward, according to Shen Lihui, a music company executive who was consulted by the committee.

Liu Sijia, the bass player and a vocalist for an underground Shanghai band called Three Yellow Chicken, said alternative music in China today is much like Western rock in the 1960s, with its frequent references to social issues like war, poverty, civil rights and generational conflict. But alternative rock is rarely heard on the radio.

“What prevails here is worse than garbage,” he said. “Because China emphasizes stability and harmony, the greatest utility of these pop songs is that they aren’t dangerous to the system. If people could hear underground music, it would make them feel the problems in their lives and want to change things.”

Chinese cultural officials and radio D.J.’s insist that the overwhelming prevalence of easy-listening pop merely reflects popular tastes. Many point to a commonly invoked generational shift in China, with today’s young people too caught up in the country’s economic boom to dwell on social problems or ponder life’s bigger questions.

“It’s whether you’re happy or not that counts, and not the substance,” said Zheng Yang, a veteran D.J. on Music Radio in Beijing. “Life is smooth, and so music is more about soothing things. Anyone can criticize or blame. What we need right now is guidance.”

Critics of the country’s cultural policies acknowledge that compared with past practices, direct censorship of popular music is relatively uncommon. But in comments that hinted at the political agenda behind the state’s management of popular music, Zhang Zhuyi, an official of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, said he doubted that a radio station dedicated to rock ’n’ roll would be allowed in China.

“New radio stations need approval, and regulators would consider whether the content fits with social trends and national policy,” Mr. Zhang said.

Asked what those were, he said, “It’s about how to orient the audience, and provide them with a kind of spiritual food.”

At a small performance spot in Shanghai, one of the few places where alternative music acts are able to perform, a group of college students dismissed mainstream Chinese pop.

“What’s on the radio are brainless mouthwash songs that all copy each other,” said Xu Jinlu, a 20-year-old junior. “What’s produced here is all about ‘You don’t love me’ or ‘I don’t love you.’ It’s lousy, and without layers.”

At that, her friend Yu Yun spoke up. “Once you hear the first rhythm,” she said, “you know the rest.”

Growing Underground Is Making Noise in China
Ben Sisario

Down a short alley in the sprawling, tourist-mobbed 798 art district here — a complex of 1950s-era military factories converted into galleries and studios — is a tiny shop that serves as one of the centers of China’s small but thriving experimental music scene.

The store, Sugar Jar, is barely big enough to accommodate a half-dozen customers, and one wall displays all the essentials of the genre, from discs of abstract electronica and brutal noise-rock to anthologies with bold titles like “China: The Sonic Avant-Garde.” Playing samples from his stock, the proprietor, a lanky, soft-spoken man named Lao Yang, noted proudly that his store is one of the only spots in all of Beijing to buy much of this music.

Like Sugar Jar, avant-garde music occupies a minuscule niche in Chinese society, overshadowed by the larger and vastly more lucrative world of contemporary visual art. Only a few dozen musicians around the country make up this circle, but their work has begun to attract international attention, and over the last several years a steady stream of Western musicians, including Brian Eno and the New York guitarist Elliott Sharp, have visited and given their blessing.

“The feeling of the scene in Beijing is exciting and reminds me of New York in 1979,” said Mr. Sharp, who last performed here in April. “There’s a tangible sense of discovery and transgression.”

Though China may be in the beginnings of a new love affair with consumerism, rigid cultural controls are still in place, and discovery and transgression are values not widely held by the Communist government. Following President Hu Jintao’s call for moral purity in society, broadcasters have come under increasing pressure lately to keep potentially subversive material — which means anything but sugary, shallow pop — off the airwaves. At the end of the Communist Party Congress in October, the official Chinese Music Association denounced the “vulgar” pop music reaching the nation’s youth through the Internet.

Growing out of rock and electronic music, and operating outside the state-supported classical sphere, the experimental scene in China has existed for barely a decade. Its hub is Beijing, with the electronic performers Wang Fan, Sulumi, Yan Jun and FM3; Sun Wei, who creates sound collages under the name 718; and Dou Wei, one of China’s biggest rock stars, whose solo career includes numerous spacey, dreamlike albums that incorporate traditional instrumentation.

Shanghai has one of the most extreme noise groups, Torturing Nurse, which sometimes performs with a female member in a nurse’s uniform. Huanqing, from Sichuan Province, makes field recordings from the hinterlands of China and manipulates them with electronics.

Though Western styles have influenced them, the Chinese musicians have for the most part developed in isolation, and their work is flush with the excitement of creating a new kind of music with no previous national model.

“Chinese people don’t know the best music system,” said Mr. Yan, who is also an influential critic. “There are no rules. No teacher. I can use this, I can use that — that’s all interesting. In the West everything was created already. But here we don’t know that.”

In Beijing the subculture that surrounds this music is so small that most of the major participants often turn up at a weekly concert and gathering at 2Kolegas, a bar inside a drive-in movie complex on the east side of town. One recent night Mr. Yan led an audience-participation performance that involved strips of plastic sound triggers laid on the floor, to be danced on, stepped on or smacked.

It could have been a musical game of the kind that flourished in downtown New York lofts in the 1970s, except for the overhead ambient music with Chinese instrumentation that played through a sound system. Among those in the crowd were the members of FM3, who frequently employ Chinese sound elements, as well as Wu Na, who plays the zitherlike guqin.

Despite the new openness of Chinese society and its arts, the stultifying influence of the state is still felt in mass entertainment like the candied pop that fills the airwaves, and even in the often dull music coming out of the universities.

Kenneth Fields, a professor of electronic music at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, complained of a lack of creativity and free thought among students at his and other universities. The most exciting new music in China, he said, comes from the underground.

“Media is very centrally controlled at the top; at the bottom it seems to be a mirror of anarchy,” Professor Fields said. “There’s no innovation at the top, but on the bottom there’s a lot of informal freedoms.”

The experimental and underground rock musicians represent the most creative contingent of Chinese music, and the scene has had its first bona fide international hit: FM3’s Buddha Machine, a device slightly bigger than an iPod that plays nine electronic drones, has sold nearly 50,000 units around the world and already spawned remix albums.

Christiaan Virant, an American-born musician who is half of FM3, arrived at 2Kolegas in a spiffy black suit with a while silk scarf and a white Panama hat. (The other half is a Chinese man, Zhang Jian.) His new prosperity, he said, is “all 100 percent thanks to the Buddha Machine.”

But this music has received scant attention at home, from the marketplace or, for good or ill, from the government. The Buddha Machine is not widely available in China, because the low price demanded by the domestic market would make the cost of distributing it prohibitive, Mr. Virant said. (It is, of course, for sale at Sugar Jar.)

Like most pockets of avant-garde music, the Chinese musicians have no real commercial prospects. And while relatively few links exist to contemporary visual arts, that world and its moneyed clientele provide essential ancillary income.

Artists who might have minimal record sales — meaning hundreds of copies, or even fewer — can make money doing sound installations at galleries and, increasingly, through commissions from real estate developers looking to add a cool factor to their buildings by using sound art commissioned from underground musicians.

“There are huge amounts of rich people in China who lavish huge amounts of money on weird stuff,” Mr. Virant said.

The attention did not seem so lavish one recent afternoon at Sugar Jar. Over a few hours several curious gallerygoers wandered into the shop and looked around at the CDs for sale, though none bought anything. Mr. Lao said he operates the store without a proper retail license — that, he said, would necessitate stocking music for mainstream tastes, an intolerable concession — and until recently slept in the back.

He said he had no illusions that the music he sells will be accepted by a mass audience. He added that what he hopes for most is support from the government in the form of public festivals and other profile-raising events.

“Even though this music can’t be accepted by most of the people,” he said, “this is the real music of China.”

Bridgestone Shows Off Ultrathin, Full-Color E-Paper
Darren Murph

Just last year Bridgestone was feelin' pretty good about itself for unveiling the "world's thinnest" sheet of two-color e-paper. These days, the outfit is busy showing off a new version that measures in at just 0.29-millimeters thick and is capable of displaying 4,096 colors on an eight-inch display. In case that wasn't enough, the company is also touting what it calls the "world's largest full color e-paper that is A3 size, which is equivalent to a 21.4-inch screen." As you'd expect, the latter is expected to be used solely for advertising and could hit the market as early as next year, while the former technology is set to be commercially available in 2009

From Sept.

Times Deselected
Jeff Jarvis

TimesSelect is dead. It was a cynical act doomed from the start. With it goes any hope of charging for content online. Content is now and forever free.

No one with sufficient experience ever thought that TimesSelect made good business sense. Oh, they talked a good game: It was another revenue stream to balance dependence on advertising, said the spin, . . . It was a tribute to the great value of the Times brand and its unique content ,. . . It was an opportunity to create added value worth added revenue. . . . It was a way to give print subscribers new benefits. Yada-yada-ka-ching.

Bull. TimesSelect represented the last gasp of the circulation mentality of news media, the belief that surely consumers would continue to pay for content even as the internet commodified news and — more important — even as the internet revealed that the real value in media is not owning and controlling content or distribution but enabling conversation.

I remember Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, giving a speech in which he ridiculed the revenue TimesSelect brought in. In his beloved PowerPoint, Rusbridger showed a picture of the new Times headquarters and said that the revenue from TimesSelect wouldn’t even pay the gas bill for the place.

The financial analyses of TimesSelect were always too simplistic — as if revenue were profit. The Times obituary for its service said that the service collected $49.95 per year or $7.95 per month from 227,000 paying customers at the end — 787,000 total customers, including print subscribers and, recently, academic readers given a free ride. The Times said it brought in $10 million revenue after two years, which sounds damned respectable. But no one ever mentioned the marketing cost to get that revenue. A magazine that costs $50 a year will spend almost that much acquiring subscribers. The Week in Review is edited and published by Jack Spratts. No one mentioned the extra editorial costs of creating more content to try to make the damned thing special enough to pay for. I never heard any calculation of the customer-service cost of maintaining that many customers, most of whom brought in no revenue. And then there was the question of how much revenue was lost in the Times archives, included in the deal. So though TimesSelect may have brought in revenue at a rate of $10 million at the end, it didn’t earn that much profit. I wonder whether it was profitable at all.

And TimesSelect cost the paper much more in the internet age: It took the Times columnists out of the conversation and reduced their influence in America and worldwide. Worse, it diluted the paper’s Googlejuice. Even as the Times acquired About.com, a grand demonstration of the economic power of search-engine optimization (where, full disclosure, I consulted for a year and a half), the company shut off some of its content from Google’s search and bloggers’ links. That was its greatest harm.

TimesSelect’s brilliant cynicism was that, when forced to find something to put behind a pay wall, they came up with content that was, indeed, uniquely valuable — the columnists and archives. But this was also content for which there was no significant ad revenue at the time (advertisers buy ads in food and travel but not opinion sections; there is essentially no endemic advertising for blather). Thus they made the good college try to prove whether or not a pay news service could work without harming the ad revenue of the business. Even so, TimesSelect hurt the larger brand and its position in the marketplace, in the conversation, and in Google. It was a short-sighted strategy.

I should add that this is apparently why the company just decided to make some of its archives free — great news for readers and for the paper, for it will bring in more traffic, more Googlejuice, and more revenue (and, besides, it’d be hard to charge for archives once they were perceived as free for most TimesSelect users). Oddly, the Times story says that archives from 1987 to present and from 1851 to 1922 will be free but there will be charges for reading articles from 1923 to 1986 (I smell a committee decision).

The bottom line is that the staff of the Times online did the best it could with TimesSelect, creating the richest service they could and probably garnering the largest paying clientèle possible — but still, it was a bad idea from the start. It turned out to be one expensive experiment, one bad investment.

But now everyone else in the content business can learn from the Times’ mistake. Rupert Murdoch has publicly toyed with the idea of taking down the pay wall around the Wall Street Journal online; I’d bet the odds of that just increased. If the Times and the Journal stop charging — and the Economist just took down its wall — then I’d have to imagine that the Financial Times will have to follow suit.

So much for the idea of charging for content — news content especially — online. Too much of it is commodified. There’s no end of free competition. The value is fleeting in time. The cost of charging is too high.

Whether or not content wants to be free, it is free.

Don’t let anyone tell you that this is bad for the content business. It’s only good sense. Having worked in the magazine business, I saw this even at the dawn of the internet: As I said above, a magazine has to pay up to $30-40 in marketing costs to acquire subscribers; it can pay up to $5-7 to print and distribute a copy of a glossy magazine; it has high editorial costs. Add that up, and a magazine can find itself in the hole $60 or more per subscriber in the first year of a subscription. And they get as little as $1 per issue in subscription revenue. Yet clearly, a magazine can make money because that subscriber’s value to advertisers is much greater.

It’s the relationship that is valuable. It’s the relationship that is profitable, not the control of the content or the distribution. That is the essential media moral of the internet story. It has taken 13 years of internet history for media companies to learn that, to give up the idea that they control something scarce they can charge consumers for, but they’ve finally learned it. That is the lesson of the death of TimesSelect.

: Here’s the Times’ announcement. Note that they sold American Express as a sponsor of the now-public opinion section. They are good at sales.

Here’s Staci Kramer’s report in PaidContent (hmmm, a name that has never been great but is now less-great than ever). She interviewed NYTimes.com GM Vivian Schiller:

The change is because of what’s happened in the internet in the past two years—particularly the power of search.” She added later: “Think about this recipe—millions and millions of new documents, all seo’d, double-digit advertising growth.” The Times expects “the scale and the power of the revenue that would come from that over time” to replace the subscriptions revenue and then some.

Times Earnings Top Expectations
Richard Pérez-Peña

Bolstered by lower costs for newsprint and strong entertainment and fashion advertising, The New York Times Company today reported a small but increased third-quarter profit, defying a steep, industrywide decline and topping Wall Street’s expectations.

The company reported net income of $13.4 million, or 9 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up almost 7 percent from the quarter a year earlier. Analysts’ projections had averaged about 5 cents a share.

Operating profit improved more sharply, up 57 percent, to $28.1 million for the quarter. Factoring in the sale of the company’s television stations, income from continuing operations was up 70 percent.

The earnings come just days after it was reported that Morgan Stanley had sold its 7.2 percent stake in The Times Company, after a long and ultimately unsuccessful fight to change the ownership structure and bolster the falling share price. A two-tiered stock system allows the Sulzberger family to control the company, much like the systems in place at several other major newspaper companies.

Much of the strong performance came in September, and the company cautioned that October is not shaping up as well — though it looks better than the early part of the year. The company said the outlook beyond this month was unclear.

At the company’s New York Times Media Group — the flagship newspaper, the International Herald Tribune and their Web sites — revenues rose more than 5 percent for the quarter, putting them slightly into positive territory for the year to date. That third-quarter rise more than offset continued losses at the company’s New England Media Group, which includes The Boston Globe, and its Regional Media Group.

Leaving aside an accelerated depreciation charge for a printing plant that it is selling; the company cut operating costs by 1.5 percent for the quarter, partly because of a sharp drop in printing costs. The Times shrank its page size during the quarter, contributing to reduced use of newsprint and ink. The price of newsprint has also dropped this year.

The company’s About Group, which includes About.com, continued to grow rapidly, with revenues up 35 percent, bolstered by the acquisition earlier this year of ConsumerSearch.com. But the About Group’s expenses rose faster than revenues in the quarter because of several one-time expenses, leading to a slight drop in operating profit.

The Times Company has long had slimmer profit margins than most other large newspaper companies — less than 7 percent for the first nine months. But its finances, and particularly those of the flagship paper, have held up better over a very difficult year, as the industry as a whole suffers through significantly lower ad revenue and falling circulation.

The New York Times and NYTimes.com rely more than almost all other newspapers on national advertising, which has fared better than other forms, and less on classified ads, which have been hit hardest. The Times newspaper has also been able to raise its price without a significant loss in sales, the company said.

New Commentary Editor Denies Neo-Nepotism
Patricia Cohen

To some within the neoconservative movement, the announcement of John Podhoretz as the next editor of Commentary magazine — the same job his father, Norman, held for 35 years — is the best of all possible choices. It is a model of what Adam Bellow (son of the Nobel-winning novelist Saul) called the “new nepotism,” combining the “privileges of birth with the iron rule of merit.”

But to others the decision reeks of the “old nepotism,” in which the only credential that matters is the identity of your father — in Mr. Bellow’s cosmology, less like the Roosevelts than like Tori Spelling getting an acting job because her father was Aaron Spelling.

“I think some people are pretty shocked,” said Jacob Heilbrunn, whose book “They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons” is coming out in January. John Podhoretz, movie critic for The Weekly Standard magazine and a political columnist for The New York Post, “isn’t seen as a heavyweight intellectual,” said Mr. Heilbrunn, who has discussed the appointment with several neoconservatives. Rather, “he is seen as being a beneficiary of his parents’ fame in the George W. Bush mold.”

The complaints don’t mean that the newly named editor is without ardent fans. Many people still consider him to be “the standard bearer for neoconservatism,” Mr. Heilbrunn said, the perfect choice to carry on the magazine’s tradition and revive its readership.

“It’s great for John and great for the magazine,” said Andrew Ferguson, an editor at The Weekly Standard, which the younger Mr. Podhoretz founded with William Kristol (son of Irving). His style is a mix of “Mad magazine meets Foreign Affairs,” said Mr. Ferguson, who added he should develop that sensibility as editor. Commentary has such an air of sacred reverence around it, he said, that Mr. Podhoretz, may be “the only intellectual and conservative in America who is not intimidated by it and who could therefore change it.”

Mr. Podhoretz, 46, who is currently vacationing with his family, said that his father found out about the job offer just two weeks ago, only after he had already accepted the post. “I didn’t want him to be involved in any way, shape or form,” the younger Mr. Podhoretz said. He explained that Neal Kozodoy, who has edited the magazine ever since Norman Podhoretz retired in 1995, called during the spring and asked if he was interested in taking over. There was no search process. Mr. Kozodoy declined to comment.

As for charges of favoritism, Mr. Podhoretz said: “It’s silly for me to respond because I don’t accept the premise. I have a professional career that’s dated back 25 years. I’ve started two magazines, worked at three others. I am who I am. I have millions of words that you can read on Nexis.” He has also written three books.

Mr. Podhoretz’s supporters agree. “John happens to be in the family,” said Tamar Jacoby, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has written for Commentary, “but he is also more than qualified to carry the tradition forward. John is a serious person and takes ideas personally.”

Still, of the more than 30 people contacted for this article, several who have written for the magazine or have contributed money to the Commentary Fund said they were troubled by the family connection, the lack of an open search process and what they consider to be Mr. Podhoretz’s lack of intellectual credentials for such a highbrow journal, partly because he has written so much about popular culture. A former writer for Commentary said the appointment repudiated one of neoconservatism’s founding principles, a commitment to meritocracy. He, like other respondents, asked not to be identified because of longstanding ties either to the magazine or to the Podhoretz family.

The new appointment puts three generations of Podhoretzes at the magazine, with Norman holding the title of editor at large and his grandson Sam Munson as online editor. Of course, the ancestral streak is not exactly surprising. The Podhoretz, Kagan (Fred, Donald, Robert and Kimberly) and Kristol clans have dominated the movement for 40 years.

“There’s a family business aspect to the neoconservative enterprise,” said Mr. Bellow, whose book “In Praise of Nepotism” was published in 2003. Such kinship ties are part of “a very broad phenomenon across American society; it’s not really right to single out neoconservatives,” he said. “They just won’t shut up about it.”

Mr. Podhoretz is sensitive to suggestions of favoritism, Mr. Bellow said, citing a recent e-mail message Mr. Podhoretz sent to friends that noted “his father wouldn’t publish him in the magazine until he established himself in his own right.”

Mr. Bellow judged Mr. Podhoretz’s appointment to be an example of the beneficent kind of nepotism, arguing that the drive and ambition come from the bottom up.

“I think he’ll do a good job,” Mr. Bellow said. “The second generation tends to overcompensate for nepotistic advantages.”

Mr. Podhoretz said there wasn’t going to be a “popping up” of the magazine, with cover stories on “Gossip Girl.” His own interests in popular culture are very much part of Commentary’s traditional preoccupations with American life and the nation’s role in the world, he said. The magazine will also continue to defend Jewish interests at a time of growing anti-Semitism, he added.

Before the actual handoff in January of 2009, Mr. Podhoretz will have the title of editorial director. “My first order of business is to step up the Web site,” he said. Mr. Podhoretz will begin blogging on the Commentary site, commentarymagazine.com, ending his stint with National Review Online’s blog, The Corner.

Ultimately, what may be the biggest challenge facing Commentary has nothing to do with the genealogy or scholarship of its editor, but the threat of a dwindling readership, now about 34,000. Once a source of ideas and personnel for the Reagan and current Bush administrations, Commentary, said Mr. Heilbrunn and a number of conservatives, has become less of a must-read in recent years.

Intellectual journals shouldn’t be measured just in terms of numbers, Mr. Podhoretz said. “The question is what kind of readership do they attract,” he observed. The test, he said, is “whether things that are published have an influence on the common debate.”

The Defender of a Lesser-Known Guarantee in Russia
C. J. Chivers

THE men who attacked Ivan Y. Pavlov waited beside his car outside his home.

They knocked him over from behind, stomped him and kicked him in the head. None of them spoke. They stole nothing. As Mr. Pavlov lay curled defensively on the street, they trotted away. Then they tried to run him over with their car.

Mr. Pavlov rolled clear, he said. The car sped off. “It was my good luck that there were four of them,” he said recently, recalling the attack in 2006 with a mix of drollness and lawyerly precision. “They were pushing each other out of the way to kick me and got in each other’s way.”

Mr. Pavlov was hospitalized for a week. The police later told him the attack appeared to be related to his work — a mission to pry open stores of government information that he says are essential to Russian public life and that by law should be in the public domain, but are kept from view by corruption and apathy.

The battle for personal and political freedom in Russia is often framed as a contest between the Kremlin and its critics over the rights of assembly, speech and suffrage, and for an independent judiciary, legislature and media.

Mr. Pavlov leads a quieter but still dangerous campaign: legal battles for what he calls, simply, “the right to know.”

As the director of the Institute for Information Freedom Development, a private organization he founded in 2004, he strives to teach government agencies that stores of information in their possession — manufacturing and sanitary standards, court records, licenses, fire codes, public tenders, administrative decrees, agency phone directories, registries of public and private organizations — should be made available for all to view.

HIS work is necessary, he and his supporters say, because much of the basic information of governance in Russia has never been made public, even after the Constitution codified the public’s right to nonsecret information in 1993.

It is a peculiar form of dysfunction. Information that was once sealed off from the public by Soviet policies of secrecy is now withheld by government insiders looking to profit from their positions. “There are people in every agency who want to sell their information, not give it away for free,” Mr. Pavlov said. “It is an element of ordinary corruption.”

The police said his near-fatal beating was an example of racket protection. At the time he was attacked, Mr. Pavlov was seeking to force a state agency to publish the standards used to regulate services and products manufactured in Russian factories.

By law, manufacturers and service providers must follow the standards or risk punishment for noncompliance. In practice, the archive of standards is sold piecemeal by private firms that Mr. Pavlov says are connected to the agency that creates them.

It was after Mr. Pavlov sued to require standards to be posted on a free government Web site that he was attacked. He returned to court upon being discharged from the hospital, and a judge eventually forced the government to post new standards on the Internet.

Gary Schwartz, a director of the Tides Foundation, a private philanthropic organization in San Francisco that has helped underwrite Mr. Pavlov’s institute, said his campaign “is critical for the way civil society will develop in Russia.”

Mr. Pavlov, for his part, speaks of the standards battle as a matter of iron principle. “This information was made by taxpayers’ money,” he said. “So you cannot sell it back. Like I told the court: you cannot sell me my shirt. I already own it.”

Mr. Pavlov, tall and lean, with a self-assured and intense bearing, took a roundabout route to his current line of work.

He graduated from an electro-technical university in St. Petersburg in 1992 and finished his law studies in 1997. From 1998 until 2004 he was a director at Bellona, an environmental organization that has fought with Russia about nuclear secrecy and pollution. In time he realized that secrecy itself was a more fundamental problem, one that was largely ignored.

“Nobody defended the basic right — the right to know, to have access to information,” he said. “People cannot have their freedom, and realize all their other rights, without this right.”

The standards case was a significant and symbolic victory, but small in scale. In addition to such officially sanctioned businesses, black-market sales of government information remain profligate. The scams extend into the most public of government offices. In 2006, the institute forced a Russian embassy in a foreign capital to stop selling its passport application forms for 50 euros, or almost $75. To release more public materials and combat such trade, Mr. Pavlov says he has more lawsuits in store, which will be filed in November.

His goals include the release of all official information at the federal statistics service, a database of Russian pollution sources in the air and water, the filings and registry of Russian corporations and organizations, all product certifications and a database of all decrees issued by ministers in the federal and regional governments.

“We will do everything to make this information available for the broad public,” Mr. Pavlov said.

His supporters say the litigation might eventually help the Russian government escape its ossified past and strengthen Russia’s public administration and business climate.

“A strong and consolidated authoritarian state does ultimately need the rule of law,” said Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which collaborates with the institute Mr. Pavlov founded. “High oil prices cannot sustain the state. What he is doing is common-sense good government.”

MR. PAVLOV said that for his campaign to succeed he would need official support. He casts his work not as confrontational, but as a law-based effort to coach Russia to live up to its constitutional promise.

“We do not blindly work against the government,” he said. “We do not stage demonstrations that provoke confrontations between the power and the people.”

He makes clear, however, that his work can be frightening. One reaction after his beating was to buy and carry a four-shot pistol known as the “osa,” or wasp. (The pistol fires only rubber bullets and is designed to stun, not kill.)

He recently stopped carrying it — “I was wearing light clothing in summer, and the osa was heavy and hard to hide,” he said — but has applied for a grant from the Russian government to hire a bodyguard for himself and his staff of nine.

Whether or not Russia decides to protect the institute, Mr. Pavlov said, its work will go on.

“Unfortunately in Russia, there are many people who do not care about anything,” he said. “Our job is not to win all of the cases, or to force the government to publish all of the information, but to show people that they have rights.

“Civil rights are like a muscle,” he added. “If you don’t use them, they will atrophy.”

FEMA Meets the Press, Which Happens to Be . . . FEMA
Al Kamen

FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing.

Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices.

They were given an 800 number to call in, though it was a "listen only" line, the notice said -- no questions. Parts of the briefing were carried live on Fox News (see the Fox News video of the news conference carried on the Think Progress Web site), MSNBC and other outlets.

Johnson stood behind a lectern and began with an overview before saying he would take a few questions. The first questions were about the "commodities" being shipped to Southern California and how officials are dealing with people who refuse to evacuate. He responded eloquently.

He was apparently quite familiar with the reporters -- in one case, he appears to say "Mike" and points to a reporter -- and was asked an oddly in-house question about "what it means to have an emergency declaration as opposed to a major disaster declaration" signed by the president. He once again explained smoothly.

FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker interrupted at one point to caution he'd allow just "two more questions." Later, he called for a "last question."

"Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?" a reporter asked. Another asked about "lessons learned from Katrina."

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response so far," Johnson said, hailing "a very smoothly, very efficiently performing team."

"And so I think what you're really seeing here is the benefit of experience, the benefit of good leadership and the benefit of good partnership," Johnson said, "none of which were present in Katrina." (Wasn't Michael Chertoff DHS chief then?) Very smooth, very professional. But something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.

Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We're told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of external affairs, and by "Mike" Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John "Pat" Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.

Asked about this, Widomski said: "We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute."

But the staff did not make up the questions, he said, and Johnson did not know what was going to be asked. "We pulled questions from those we had been getting from reporters earlier in the day." Despite the very short notice, "we were expecting the press to come," he said, but they didn't. So the staff played reporters for what on TV looked just like the real thing.

"If the worst thing that happens to me in this disaster is that we had staff in the chairs to ask questions that reporters had been asking all day, Widomski said, "trust me, I'll be happy."

Heck of a job, Harvey.

Court Strikes Down Age Verification For Adult Sites
Howard Bashman

Majority on partially divided three-judge Sixth Circuit panel strikes down as facially unconstitutional the recordkeeping requirements federal criminal law places on producers of images of "actual sexually explicit conduct" to verify the ages of those depicted in the images: Describing the federal statute at issue, the majority opinion explains, "The plain text, the purpose, and the legislative history of the statute make clear that Congress was concerned with all child pornography and considered recordkeeping important in battling all of it, without respect to the creator's motivation." The majority proceeds to hold the statute facially overbroad and then strikes down the law as unconstitutional.

You can access today's ruling at this link. Even the dissenting judge agrees that the statute is overbroad, but he believes that judicial narrowing of the statute can save it from being unconstitutional.

This decision is a significant First Amendment ruling that directly implicates the controversial subjects of legal adult pornography and illegal child pornography. I expect that the ruling will receive plenty of attention.

FEMA Sorry for Fake News Briefing
Spencer S. Hsu

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's No. 2 official apologized Friday for leading a staged news conference Tuesday in which FEMA employees posed as reporters while real reporters listened on a telephone conference line and were barred from asking questions.

"We are reviewing our press procedures and will make the changes necessary to ensure that all of our communications are straight forward and transparent," Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson Jr., FEMA's deputy administrator, said in a four-paragraph statement.

"We can and must do better, and apologize for this error in judgment," Johnson said, a view repeated Friday by press officers at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, who criticized the event.

FEMA announced the news conference at its headquarters here about 15 minutes before it was to begin Tuesday afternoon, making it unlikely that reporters could attend. Instead, FEMA set up a telephone conference line so reporters could listen.

In the briefing, parts of which were televised live by cable news channels, Johnson stood behind a lectern, called on questioners who did not disclose that they were FEMA employees, and gave replies emphasizing that his agency's response to this week's California wildfires was far better than its response to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

"It was absolutely a bad decision. I regret it happened. Certainly ... I should have stopped it," said John "Pat" Philbin, FEMA's director of external affairs. "I hope readers understand we're working very hard to establish credibility and integrity, and I would hope this does not undermine it."

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Friday that "it is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House. We certainly don't condone it. We didn't know about it beforehand. ... They, I'm sure, will not do it again."

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke called the staged briefing "totally unacceptable," adding, "While it is an isolated incident, that does not make it any more tolerable." He said reprimands are "very probable." FEMA is part of DHS.

"Trying to manipulate the press and the public will only tarnish their (FEMA's) current success," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said.

Philbin's last scheduled day at FEMA was Thursday. He has been named as the new head of public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, ODNI spokeswoman Vanee Vines said.

Out From Behind a Camera at a Khmer Torture House

Seth Mydans

He had a job to do, and he did it supremely well, under threat of death, within earshot of screams of torture: methodically photographing Khmer Rouge prisoners and producing a haunting collection of mug shots that has become the visual symbol of Cambodia’s mass killings.

“I’m just a photographer; I don’t know anything,” he said he told the newly arrived prisoners as he removed their blindfolds and adjusted the angles of their heads. But he knew, as they did not, that every one of them would be killed.

“I had my job, and I had to take care of my job,” he said in a recent interview. “Each of us had our own responsibilities. I wasn’t allowed to speak with prisoners.”

That was three decades ago, when the photographer, Nhem En, now 47, was on the staff of Tuol Sleng prison, the most notorious torture house of the Khmer Rouge regime, which caused the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979.

This week he was called to be a witness at a coming trial of Khmer Rouge leaders, including his commandant at the prison, Kaing Geuk Eav, known as Duch, who has been arrested and charged with crimes against humanity.

The trial is still months away, but prosecutors are interviewing witnesses, reviewing tens of thousands of pages of documents and making arrests.

As a lower-ranking cadre at the time, Mr. Nhem En is not in jeopardy of arrest. But he is in a position to offer some of the most personal testimony at the trial about the man he worked under for three years.

In the interview, Mr. Nhem En spoke with pride of living up to the exacting standards of a boss who was a master of negative reinforcement.

“It was really hard, my job,” he said. “I had to clean, develop and dry the pictures on my own and take them to Duch by my own hand. I couldn’t make a mistake. If one of the pictures was lost I would be killed.”

But he said: “Duch liked me because I’m clean and I’m organized. He gave me a Rolex watch.”

Fleeing with other Khmer Rouge cadres when the government was ousted by a Vietnamese invasion in 1979, Mr. Nhem En said he traded that watch for 20 tins of milled rice.

Since then he has adapted and prospered and is now a deputy mayor of the former Khmer Rouge stronghold Anlong Veng. He has switched from an opposition party to the party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and today he wears a wristwatch that bears twin portraits of the prime minister and his wife, Bun Rany.

Last month an international tribunal arrested and charged a second Khmer Rouge figure, who is now being held with Duch in a detention center. He is Nuon Chea, 82, the movement’s chief ideologue and a right-hand man to the Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, who died in 1998.

Three more leaders were expected to be arrested in the coming weeks: the urbane former Khmer Rouge head of state, Khieu Samphan, along with the former foreign minister, Ieng Sary, and his wife and fellow central committee member, Ieng Thirith.

All will benefit from the caprice of Mr. Nuon Chea, who complained that the squat toilet in his cell was hurting his ailing knees and was given a sit-down toilet.

Similar toilets are being installed in the other cells, said a tribunal spokesman, Reach Sambath, “So they will all enjoy high-standard toilets when they come.”

It is not clear whether any of the cases will be combined. But even if the defendants do not see one another, their testimony, harmonious or discordant, will put on display the relationships of some of the people who once ran the country’s killing machine.

In a 1999 interview, Duch implicated his fellow prisoner, Mr. Nuon Chea, in the killings, citing among other things a directive that said, “Kill them all.”

Mr. Nhem En’s career in the Khmer Rouge began in 1970 at age 9 when he was recruited as a village boy to be a drummer in a touring revolutionary band. When he was 16, he said, he was sent to China for a seven-month course in photography.

He became the chief of six photographers at Tuol Sleng, where at least 14,000 people were tortured to death or sent to killing fields. Only a half dozen inmates were known to have survived.

He was a craftsman, and some of his portraits, carefully posed and lighted, have found their way into art galleries in the United States.

Hundreds of them hang in rows on the walls of Tuol Sleng, which is now a museum, their fixed stares tempting a visitor to search for meaning here on the cusp of death. In fact, they are staring at Mr. Nhem En.

The job was a daily grind, he said: up at 6:30 a.m., a quick communal meal of bread or rice and something sweet, and at his post by 7 a.m. to wait for prisoners to arrive. His telephone would ring to announce them: sometimes one, sometimes a group, sometimes truckloads of them, he said.

“They came in blindfolded, and I had to untie the cloth,” he said.

“I was alone in the room, so I am the one they saw. They would say, ‘Why was I brought here? What am I accused of? What did I do wrong?’”

But Mr. Nhem En ignored them.

“‘Look straight ahead. Don’t lean your head to the left or the right.’ That’s all I said,” he recalled. “I had to say that so the picture would turn out well. Then they were taken to the interrogation center. The duty of the photographer was just to take the picture.”

NY Court: Police Can Pose As Children
Larry Neumeister

Law enforcement officers investigating sexual predators can pose as children to catch their prey, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, saying the First Amendment provides no refuge for such criminals.

The ruling came in the case of Frank Gagliardi, who was convicted of attempting to entice a child to engage in prohibited sexual activity. His lawyers argued the law used to convict him required an actual child victim.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said requiring police to use an actual child as a decoy would significantly impede legitimate law enforcement and that the law itself was clear that an actual child was not required.

The panel also rejected his argument that the law "impermissibly suppresses fantasy speech with adults who happen to be posing as minors." The court said it had already concluded in previous cases that speech is not protected by the First Amendment when it is the "very vehicle of the crime itself."

The panel noted that its findings were in line with similar decisions by six other appeals panels across the country.

Gagliardi was 62 in July 2005 when he began chatting with an adult government informant who posed as a 13-year-old, "Lorie," after meeting Gagliardi in an Internet chat room called "I Love Older Men," authorities said.

FBI agents arrested him in October 2005 as he waited in his car, believing he was there to meet two 13-year-old girls with whom he had had sexually explicit online conversations. The girls were actually agents posing. Authorities said condoms and Viagra were found in his car.

After his conviction by a jury, he was sentenced to a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.

His lawyer did not immediately return a telephone message for comment.

A Roman Icon, Red for a Day

Elisabetta Povoledo

One day a vandal, the next an artist. That is the story of the baseball-capped culprit who dumped a bottle of dye into Rome’s famed Trevi Fountain on Friday, turning the waters blood red for a day.

As soon as it was clear that the 18th-century Baroque fountain had not been seriously damaged, intellectuals and art critics began reconsidering the gesture as something nearing genius.

“Once the indignation had died down, we rediscovered the Fountain of Trevi thanks to that liquid,” said Roberto D’Agostino, an Italian blogger. “It’s a resurrection of Andy Warhol, the act of highlighting an object of mass consumption.”

A box found near the fountain held leaflets claiming responsibility, signed “Ftm Futurist Action 2007,” a reference to futurism, the early 20th-century art movement that advocated a violent break with the past. The fliers said that the act was, in part, a protest of the expenses of the Rome Film Fest , which runs until Saturday, and that the color referred to the event’s red carpet.

It is a lackluster festival, agreed a media critic, Gianluca Nicoletti, “with no depth, no color.”

“The real splash was the one made at a fountain,” he said today.

Describing the dyeing as a “dramatic representation of the decline of the country,” Mr. Nicoletti noted that photographs of the reddened fountain made the global rounds. “It was a marvelous event” that put Rome in the spotlight, he said, “at practically zero cost.”

Initial reactions were of outrage and concern, and underlined how exposed Italy’s precious monuments are to random acts of violence. Over the years, vandals have damaged dozens of statues throughout the country, including Michelangelo’s Pietà in the Vatican, and scrawled graffiti on thousands of walls. A 1993 car bombing aimed at the famed Uffizi gallery in Florence that killed five was attributed to the Mafia.

Anita Ekberg, who took a nighttime swim in the fountain for Fellini’s 1960 classic, “La Dolce Vita,” fumed in newspapers that the act had been “an offense to Rome’s culture.”

Photographs taken by tourists as well as a videotape captured a man, wearing a baseball cap pulled low, flinging the dye into the fountain from a plastic container and then hurrying off. Media reports have identified him as Graziano Cecchini, a 54-year old unemployed painter. In a telephone interview this afternoon, he was asked whether he was indeed the man in the photographs. “Who knows?” he answered. “If it had been me, wink wink, I’d say that this had been a media-savvy operation in the face of a very gray society,” said Mr. Cecchini, who was clearly enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.

He said he had taken refuge in an undisclosed location with a photographer, Oliviero Toscani, who often works for the Benetton clothing brand and has been himself a controversial figure.

“We see the same thing,” he said, citing a comment by Mr. Toscani about the fountain’s new color published in today’s Corriere della Sera: “Rome that’s still menstruating, Rome that has not entered menopause yet, can still have children, is still fertile.”


Did I Uncover Your Credit Card Details on the Web Today!?

Today I accidentally uncovered a huge list of people’s names, addresses and credit card details online. No kidding.

I found more than that: login details to people’s web hosting accounts and e-commerce site memberships as well. It was really freaky to think it was all just staring at me, thanks to a flukey Google search. Nothing more complicated than that. (And no, don’t email me for the search details!)

For whatever reason, a hacker has broken into a number of sites and stored the resulting DB dumps into text files that Google came along and indexed, all because this guy’s site’s directories were set to display their contents when no default file is present.

I have emailed Victoria Police with all the details. But after thinking about it some more, I have a simple observation and a suggestion…

First the observation that if a hacker is dumb enough to have your private login or credit card details online and indexable by Google, then they’re likely to be in a text file and unencrypted. If your credit card is listed, it’s probably had the spaces removed, since that’s how it will be stored (by idiots who don’t use a salted hash).

Search Google for Your “Privates”

So here’s the suggestion: search Google for your credit card number. If something shows up go check it out. See if you also fluke a list of hacked card details with your own details there too. If you find nothing it doesn’t mean you haven’t been hacked… it just means you’re not listed online.

Now, if you have a strange and obscure password you always use (that is most likely your and yours alone), try searching for that too. Again, if it shows up in Google’s SERPs, check out the page and see what’s there.

I must say I was pretty freaked out to have discovered these credit card details online. I mean, you’d think a hacker would be smart enough to keep his stuff away from public web access and Google indexing, but perhaps not.

Crappy Coding of E-Commerce Sites

All this raises an issue that I have been long worried about… the coding and security standards of e-commerce sites out there.

How do you and I know that a given site is secure or not. Suuuuuuuure… it has HTTPS working right and the little key comes up on your browser when you get to the page asking for your credit card details. So what?!

The real worry is whether a hacker can get into the database and suck out all the customer and purchasing records. And if a programmer doesn’t know what a salted hash is (basic basic stuff), he should be shot. If a programmer doesn’t know how to code his querystrings so that SQL can’t be injected in, then he should also be shot.

This is why you SHOULD think about the e-commerce platform chosen by your chosen vendor of whatever it is you’re about to buy online. See, there are known weaknesses with various different shopping cart software platforms out there. And if someone builds one from scratch… well, you’d better hope they know what they’re doing.

If It’s Always The Same Password, One Hack Is Enough

If you’re like me, you use the same username everywhere. It’s a branding thing. I’m “alicam” (or “blogologist”) almost everywhere, unless I can’t get these, or unless I don’t want to be “me”.

If you’re NOT like me, you also use the same password everywhere. (I confess… I used to, until a few years ago when I woke up!)

Here’s the danger of using the same password everywhere: a hacker only needs to compromise any one single website to which you are subscribed as a member to get your username and password (assuming he can get past the hash or whatever obfuscation is in place). Once he’s got these, he can try these again all over the place, looking for what other sites and services you belong to. Along the way he can gather more and more information about you, in readiness for “becoming you”… called Identity Theft.

So don’t use the same password every time. Here’s a trick that may work for you: add part or all of the domain name into your password, along with the bit you usually use. So, if your password was always “fr3dd0″, make it fr3dd0-yahoo, fr3dd0-google, fr3dd0-wordpress, etc. Sure, a person could work out what you’re doing, but not a machine. And often enough the attacks are done by machine, with a person taking over once there is some success breaking in.

In my case, I had a password generator make up 16-character long unique strings (with alpha-numeric and special characters), which I use uniquely for each of the services I use. I’m not taking chances. (How I memorize them all is my secret!)

Important Tips for Your Online Security

So, to conclude, here are some simple tips to keep you safe online:

• Buy online from large, reputable suppliers only.
Ideally, choose vendors in the same “jurisdiction” as you, and vendors who also sell to you offline.

• Don’t buy from ugly sites.
If the site looks really ugly and clunky on the front end, it might be coded that way on the back end too. Just walk away!

• Use Paypal where you can
It’s an eBay company and gives you a safety net for online transactions. They spend millions getting it right.

• Update your passwords.
You should use really good passwords, and unique ones, for your important online services like banks, hosting suppliers, government, etc. Don’t double up on them.

• Buy from countries you trust.
If sounds snobbish, but if you get in trouble with a vendor who doesn’t deliver, and he’s from a country that can’t protect you in law, you’re up the creek without a strudel.

• Know about phishing.
You think you know what it means, but are you up-to-date on the latest tricks and techniques? Some of them are darned convincing. So use filters and software to help you too.

This is a quick brain-dump of my suggestions. There are more, so leave a comment for the benefit of others if you have some goodies

Do The Right Thing!

Finally, do the right thing. If you find stuff that shouldn’t be there, tell the authorities. If you’re a Google Search Guru with all your advanced operator trickery, then it’s even more possible that you’ll come across stuff like I did… but I sure hope not.

OiNK Admin Released From Custody

After a turbulent day the admin of the raided OiNK.cd was released from custody. At this point it is still unclear what the legal consequences will be, but it is good to see that OiNK is back home.

The OiNK admin contacted TorrentFreak by email which confirms his release. As for the OiNK users, it is highly doubtful that the IFPI or BPI will go after them all, or even one of them. They do know how to scare people with messages like: “A criminal investigation continues into the identities and activities of the site’s users”, but there is no evidence that they actually will.

More interesting perhaps, how did they gain access to the OiNK domain, and why are they allowed to spread this propaganda? They are not a law-enforcement agency.

NFOrce, the ISP of OiNK, said today in an interview that they were not aware of any illegal activities surrounding the site. They thought OiNK was hosting a streaming video site or a weblog. Yeah, right.

The BBC did a small report on the arrest with a lot of false information, releasing nonsense statements such as: “illegally downloading music onto his website” and “paying subscriptions to enter the website.” The video of the arrest is shown below, see for yourself.


The OiNK Fallout: Should Its Ex-Users Be Watching Their Backs?

Once the OiNK news broke, Jess got a request from his pal Mark Pytlik: "hey, if you havent already, you guys seriously need to talk to an internet copyright lawyer and figure out how much danger oink's userbase is actually in right now. there are a ton of people bricking themselves out there and no sites or blogs seem to have much in the way of reliable information as far as that stuff goes." Informed speculation? On the Internet? That's such an anomalous occurrence that I had to track down a couple of legal types, and asked them how much OiNK's now-former-users should be worrying about the possibility of their being prosecuted.

First, I chatted with an American intellectual property litigator who asked to remain anonymous, and asked him basically the same question posed by Pytlik:
They should be very, very scared. There are at least two reasons why this is not just your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill file sharing copyright infringement: this involves music that has not yet been commercially released, and money changed hands.

Because the music has not yet been commercially released, as a practical matter, the fair use defense effectively disappears. The leading case involved The Nation beating Harper & Row to press by publishing merely "between 300 and 400 words" of President's Ford's memoirs; the Supreme Court held that "The Nation effectively arrogated to itself the right of first publication, an important marketable subsidiary right." Harper & Row Pubs., Inc. v. Nation Enters., 471 U.S. 539, 548-49 (1985). "First publication is inherently different from other [exclusive copyright] rights in that only one person can be the first publisher;... the commercial value of the right lies primarily in exclusivity. Because the potential damage to the author from judicially enforced 'sharing' of the first publication right ... is substantial, the balance of equities in evaluating such a claim of fair use inevitably shifts." Id. at 553.

That fact also makes it criminal infringement, because it is "the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution." 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(C). (A "'work being prepared for commercial distribution' means ... a musical work ... or a sound recording, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution (i) the copyright owner has a reasonable expectation of commercial distribution; and (ii) the copies or phonorecords of the work have not been commercially distributed." 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(3)(A).) Of course, it's also criminal because "the infringement was committed ... for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain." 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(A).

Prison terms for this stuff run up to 3-5 years for first offenses, 10 years for repeats. 18 U.S.C. § 2319(a), (c).

Yipes! As a follow-up, I asked two questions: Whether or not it was likely for prosecution to occur in the US, and whether or not the idea that any money that changed hands was donated--as opposed to the fees being a membership requirement--made a difference as far as "commercial distribution" goes:
The legal issue of what constitutes infringement in the US stays the same--there still has to be an infringing act in the US, or importation into the US. There are probably differences among the protections that US, UK, Netherlands, and EU law afford to subscriber information, but unfortunately, I don't know the other countries' law, so I don't know whether those differences are material.

As far as money goes, remember that "commercial advantage or private financial gain" can include the benefits of barter and the like. So the fact that, in your [description of OiNK's ratio rules], "they had to assist in infringement in order to keep infringing" might be enough.

Ah, those ratio requirements--they'll always get you.

Later, I had a quick IM exchange on the subject with MCBarrister, a Washington-based attorney with a background in IP and Internet law:

mauraidolator: So basically I am curious as to whether or not you think it's likely that authorities in the US will try to go after American users of OiNK; there's a threatening message on the front page of the site right now, and the freaking-out has commenced, as you might imagine.

MCBarrister: I think it depends on how quickly the RIAA gets its hands on any of the server logs. That's partly facetious, but I don't see the U.S. Department of Justice using its resources right now for criminal investigations of copyright infringement. The overseas raids were criminal matters--I don't expect the same here. Plus, there's an interesting issue of whether the UK and Dutch authorities would share the information with a private party. There are long-running debates over data treatment and security between the US and EU.
But if RIAA does get the logs and data, then there will be hell to pay for anyone who used credit cards [to donate]; those who maintained membership via upload will be a little harder to trace because you'd have to follow the IP addresses, and ISPs are not always willing to hand over their customers without court orders

mauraidolator: i'm pretty sure that the donations were done via PayPal.

MCBarrister: Hrmmm. PayPal is owned by eBay, which has pretty liberal policies about helping IP rights owners. I think it would still take a court order, but PayPal / eBay would be more likely to hand over personally identifying information that universities have proven more unwilling to give.

mauraidolator: What is interesting to me is the rough estimates of where the users came from -- I've read that the US-based membership of the site was as high as 50%, even though the site was located in the UK.

MCBarrister: It's not that surprising, depending on the content. I graduated from college before there was a graphical Internet, so I never really participated in these activities--but I have a rough sense that lots of US-based university students were playing since they have access to the best net connections around. My cable modem would choke on the kind of uploading necessary to support what I would want back down, assuming I had anything that was of value to the network in my vinyl rips.

mauraidolator: same here

MCBarrister: My bottom line--there should be some level of fear, but the action is going to be from the RIAA (again), not the feds, unless a new US Attorney General (once confirmed) has a real passion for prosecuting IP violations.

mauraidolator: Has there been any word on his attitude towards IP violations yet?

MCBarrister: I haven't noticed--the mainstream coverage has focused on his willingness to back the administration's claims of independence from the rule of law when it affects them personally, and a short time searching on Google turns up nothing more relevant.

So, there you have it. And if the new US Attorney General is excited by the idea of going after illegal downloaders? Well, look on the bright side, ex-OiNKers: There could always be another terrorist attack! That would certainly tie him up for a while.

The Pirate Bay To Bring Back OiNK

The Pirate Bay is currently working on an OiNK replacement in an attempt to bring the hundreds of thousands of music albums back online that disappeared during the raid. The replacement will be released within a week and on the BOiNK.cd domain.

BOiNK will be a little different from OiNK. For instance, the tracker will be public and it will start out with a lot less torrents than OiNK had when it was raided. The success of BOiNK will mainly depend on the former OiNK community, who will be asked to upload their old OiNK torrents.

The most important thing about BOiNK is perhaps the message it sends out to the IFPI and the BPI: It shows that that if you stop one tracker, others will pop up days after. It is a hydra. Call it a slap in the face if you want.

BOiNK will probably be ready in a few days. People from the Pirate Bay, Mininova, TorrentFreak and even the recently arrested (and released) OiNK admin are currently at The Oil of the 21st Century conference where they are - among other things - discussing filesharing, culture and copyright related issues.

BOiNK is a Pirate Bay only project, OiNK and other BitTorrent sites are not involved.

In the meantime, please stay away from scam sites that pretend to be related to OiNK. All they will do is take your money and run away. As soon as there’s an approved donation campaign (if there will be any) we will report it here. http://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-b...k-oink-071026/

OiNK Domains Now Point To The Pirate Bay DNS

It has been a controversial week with all the dramatic news surrounding OiNK. The tracker was effectively shut down in a joint effort by Dutch and British law enforcement. However, it now seems that the domain has been reclaimed by The Pirate Bay.

Earlier this week we posted an article about the hijack of the OiNK domain by the police. To make things even worse, they did not just hijack it, but also replaced it by a page insinuating guilt on the part of the site owner, without allowing him a fair trial.

Quite a few people asked the question: “Why Are The IFPI and BPI Allowed To Hijack OiNK” No answer has been given to this question yet, but it seems to be less relevant now.

It now seems that the OiNK.cd domain no longer points to the IFPI and BPI propaganda messages, instead it now shows a waffles site, which is hosted in The Pirate Bay servers.

Yesterday The Pirate Bay announced that it will launch an OiNK replacement named BOiNK. However, this has nothing to do with OiNK.cd and OiNK.me.uk. These domains will be used for something totally different and there are no plans to relaunch OiNK.

Both OiNK.cd and OiNK.me.uk (the old domain) now use The Pirate Bay’s nameservers. At this point it is still unsure what the plans are for the OiNK domain. It is not likely that the tracker will return in its original form, right now it is “the number 1 site in the world for waffle recipes,” an inside joke.

There will be an official announcement of what will happen to the OiNK domains soon, stay tuned!

Until next week,

- js.

Current Week In Review

Recent WiRs -

October 20th, October 13th, October 6th, September 29th

Jack Spratts' Week In Review is published every Friday. Submit letters, articles and press releases in plain text English to jackspratts (at) lycos (dot) com. Submission deadlines are Thursdays @ 1400 UTC. Please include contact info. Questions or comments? Call (617) 939-2340, country code U.S.. The right to publish all remarks is reserved.

"The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public."
- Hugo Black
JackSpratts is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - September 22nd, '07 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 3 22-09-07 06:41 PM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - May 19th, '07 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 1 16-05-07 09:58 AM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - December 9th, '06 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 5 09-12-06 03:01 PM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - September 16th, '06 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 2 14-09-06 09:25 PM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - July 22nd, '06 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 1 20-07-06 03:03 PM

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:28 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© www.p2p-zone.com - Napsterites - 2000 - 2024 (Contact grm1@iinet.net.au for all admin enquiries)