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Old 18-04-07, 09:19 AM   #1
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Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - April 21st, '07

Founded 2002

"I started freaking out. I started taking it apart. Turning it off. Turning it on. I took the battery out and cleaned it on my shirt. I was running around my hotel like a freak. It’s very sad. I love this thing." – Stuart Gold

"I have reached the point where I get phantom vibrations, even when I’m not carrying the thing. That sure doesn’t sound too healthy, does it?" – Rob Whitehouse

"We also don't think that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., ought to tell us that if we're going to get on a plane we have to carry their card, so when it's scanned through they know where you went, when you got there and when you came home." – Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Montana

"We are normal people. We just play games." – Isaiah Triforce Johnson

"This was a sick business tonight, going on the air with this." – Brian Williams

April 21st, 2007

Internet Radio Dealt Severe Blow as Copyright Board Rejects Appeal
Eric Bangeman

A panel of judges at the Copyright Royalty Board has denied a request from the NPR and a number of other webcasters to reconsider a March ruling that would force Internet radio services to pay crippling royalties. The panel's ruling reaffirmed the original CRB decision in every respect, with the exception of how the royalties will be calculated. Instead of charging a royalty for each time a song is heard by a listener online, Internet broadcasters will be able pay royalties based on average listening hours through the end of 2008.

The ruling is a huge blow to online broadcasters, and the new royalty structure could knock a large number of them off the 'Net entirely. Under the previous setup, radio stations would have to pay an annual fee plus 12 percent of their profits to the music industry's royalty collection organization, SoundExchange. It was a good setup for the webcasters, most of whom are either nonprofits or very small organizations.

National Public Radio spearheaded the appeal, arguing that the CRB's decision was an "abuse of discretion" and saying that the judges did not consider the ramifications of a new royalty structure. Under the new royalty schedule, NPR will see its costs skyrocket.

The judges were unmoved by the webcasters' arguments. "None of the moving parties have made a sufficient showing of new evidence or clear error or manifest injustice that would warrant rehearing," wrote the CRB in its decision. "To the contrary... most of the parties' arguments in support of a rehearing or reconsideration merely restate arguments that were made or evidence that was presented during the proceeding."

SoundExchange is jubilant over the ruling. Executive Director John Simson called the CRB's ruling a victory for performing artists and record labels. "Our artists and labels look forward to working with the Internet radio industry—large and small, commercial and noncommercial—so that together we can ensure it succeeds as a place where great music is available to music lovers of all genres," said Simson in a statement.

Noble words, but after today's ruling—which will take effect on May 15 unless the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agrees to hear an appeal—there probably won't be much of an Internet radio industry left for SoundExchange to work with.

In a case of unfortunate timing, the SaveNetRadio coalition today launched a campaign to save Internet radio. Given the CRB's decision, it may be too little, too late.

Fight the RIAA

Student Legal Services is willing to battle in the trenches for students slapped with RIAA lawsuits regarding music piracy, and those students should take full advantage of this resource to beat the charges.

The Recording Industry Association of America has upped its campaign against N.C. State students downloading music with 23 lawsuits.

Originally, the RIAA was only sending letters regarding a settlement students could pay to avoid legal action. However, the organization has now sent lawsuits to 37 who elected not to settle.

Student Legal Services, led by Pam Gerace, can't stress enough that students who are caught up with the RIAA have support and can fight the charges.

It's apparent, based on the amount of attention the University gets from the RIAA, that we are one of its main targets, and this is something we all must fight.

We realize that students who engage in music piracy have done something illegal, and neither Student Legal Services nor the Technician advocates for it.

However, Student Legal Services does want to make sure students are treated fairly.

We applaud it for stepping up and taking charge of this situation, because many students are uneducated when it comes to legal rights and courses of action when dealing with legal accusations.

It is imperative that the University community makes it clear that the RIAA can't shove us around with its deep pockets, and the opposition starts with the accused -- students.

If you are one of the targets of the RIAA, contact Student Legal Services immediately. Do not settle and do not attack this by yourself.

The more money and victories the RIAA scrapes up from NCSU, the more it will continue to come after us.

Student Legal Services has really stepped up to the plate this year, because in the midst of this piracy mess, it still managed to help students muddled up in the Lake Johnson Mews towing situation, among the typical issues students face year in and year out. It is a valuable resource.

This is an uplifting example of how our University can reach out and help students, especially with such a challenging situation dealing with big money and big companies.

As students, we should continue to work with Student Legal Services to take the RIAA microscope off our campus and help the recording industry realize the solution to music piracy is not in the form of individual lawsuits aimed at college students with light wallets.

Pre-Litigation Settlements were Followed by Lawsuits this Week for the University's Illegal Downloaders
Josh Harrell

After the Recording Industry Association of America sent pre-litigation settlements to N.C. State illegal downloaders last month, the company stepped up its game this week.

The RIAA filed 23 music theft lawsuits against anonymous NCSU network users after they refused to take the settlement.

The lawsuits are in the form of "John Doe lawsuits," meaning that the RIAA does not know the names of the people it has filed against.

The users have been identified by their IP addresses, according to an RIAA spokesperson who declined to give her name or be directly quoted.

The same spokesperson said the company will have to wait on a judge to grant the RIAA permission to begin the name-discovery process.

But Pam Gerace, the director of Student Legal Services at the University, is fighting the lawsuits for her student clients. She advises that the students should remain anonymous.

"The RIAA actually said they might have use for the names in the future," Gerace said,

She added that this could prove dangerous for the students, as the RIAA could pursue other legal actions or give the names to record companies.

The letter sent to NCSU had nothing about a timeline for other settlements to be made or what the lawsuit will entail, Gerace said.

"There's no timeline, and that's driving my clients up the wall," she said. "But [the students] can take their time -- the RIAA didn't say anything about that. "

After the RIAA sent its first settlement last month, Gerace said only one student came to Legal Services to take the settlement.

According to the RIAA spokesperson, of the 400 students who the RIAA sent settlement letters to nationally, 198 of them agreed to it.

The RIAA accompanied the initial settlements along with a sample listing of songs the students downloaded.

"[The number of songs] ranged from 10 to 2,000," Gerace said. "They said it could be $750 per song. The letter said, though, that they could just pay $3,000, which would not be based on the number of songs."

Now the RIAA will go through with the subpoenas, according to Gerace.

"They'll go to the University Council, then [Information Technology Division] and the students will be notified," Gerace said.

The students who are being subpoenaed do have options though through Legal Services. One of those options, Gerace said, is making a motion to quash.

"If someone is subpoenaed and they say they don't want to comply, the subpoenaed party says they can't come for a certain reason," Gerace said. "Then it goes to the federal court who could take a year to make a decision."

It is also possible that the subpoenas are invalid, she added. In this case they don't have to respond.

"But if they do nothing and it is valid, then the University would have to give out their names and addresses," Gerace said.

She said she still expects another round of settlements to come through, but this time the stakes will be raised.

"When they do the subpoenas, there will be another round of settlements -- those will obviously be more than the last one," Gerace said. "It will probably be closer to $5,000."

Gerace added that any students who are still receiving these letters should contact Student Legal Services.

Culture Wants to be Free!

Liberal Party Congress, April 14, 2007: The Liberal Party (Venstre) Congress states that today's legal frameworks for copyrights are not adapted to a modern society. New technology gives artists and consumers vast opportunities, but also creates challenges. The balance between consumer demands, a society's need for openness and access to culture, and the artists' right to revenue and attribution, must improve.

This is a resolution from the Liberal Party Congress, Young Liberals' mother party. The original text for this resolution can be found here.

Copyright law is outdated. A society where culture and knowledge is free and accessible by everyone on equal terms is a common good. Large distributors and copyright owners systematically and widely misuse copyright, and thereby stall artistic development and innovation. Therefore, the Liberal Party wants to reinstate the balance in copyright law through these following changes:

• Free file sharing: Technical development has made it possible to spread culture, both popular and niche, across the globe at minimal cost. We need new ways of compensating artists and copyright holders, to make free file sharing possible. Laws and regulations, both national and international, need to be changed so they only regulate limitations of use and distribution in a commercial for-profit context.

• Free sampling: The Liberal Party's opinion is that today's restrictive laws regarding copyright creates a difficult situation for musicians, movie producers, writers and other artists when they want to recreate and rework old works and productions. In principle, this is illegal without consent from all original copyright holders. The Liberal Party wants to simplify the situation. Recreation of old works should be regulated as fair use, and the existing laws against plagiarism are more than enough to protect the rights of copyright holders.

• Shorter commercial copyright life span: Currently, Norwegian copyrights remain valid for 70 years following the original holder's death. This is unreasonable; copyright terms should be at a level that more properly balances innovation and widespread use of culture. The Liberal Party wants a shorter copyright life span.

• Ban DRM: The Liberal Party states that anyone who has bought the right to use a product needs a technologically neutral way of using it. This means that distributors can not control how citizens wish to play back legally bought digital music. The Liberal Party wants to prohibit technical limitations on consumers' legal rights to freely use and distribute information and culture, collectively known as DRM. In cases where a ban on DRM would be outside Norwegian jurisdiction, products that use DRM technology need to clearly specify their scope of use before they are sold.


Translation - Trying to Stay Very Literal:

• Ban against DRM: The Liberal Party is of the opinion that all that have bought the right to use a copyrightable work must have technology-neutral opportunities to use that copyrightable work as one wants. This means that producers and deliverers of technology can not control how citizens for example should play back the music that they have bought. The Liberal Party will therefore prohibit socalled DRM (Digital Rights Management), which are technical limitations to limit the consumers' legal right to freely copy and use information and culture. In those cases where a ban is outside Norwegian jurisdiction, products that contain DRM technlogy shall be clearly marked.

Worse English, but it preserves a little more of the meaning.

Canadian DMCA To Be Introduced This Spring
Michael Geist

The Hill Times reports this week that the Conservative government will introduce copyright reform legislation this spring provided that there is no election. The paper points to two main changes from the Liberals Bill C-60 - tougher anti-circumvention legislation (ie. DMCA-style laws that ban devices that can be used to circumvent as well as provisions that block all circumvention subject to the odd exception) and an educational exception that will provide for free access to web-based materials.

If this report is true, the bill will be remarkable in its ability generate more opposition than any prior copyright bill in Canadian history. From a policy perspective, it is a disaster - dangerous and unnecessary laws to support DRM and an educational exception that does little to address the needs of the education community while encouraging even greater use of DRM.

From a political perspective, it is even worse. Who will oppose the bill? For starters:

• creator groups, such as the CMCC, Appropriation Art, the Documentary Organization of Canada, all of whom have emphasized the need for fair dealing reform, not DRM
• copyright collectives, for whom anti-circumvention is a secondary issue and the educational exception will be viewed as a complete betrayal
• the Quebec copyright and education communities, which has come out against the educational exception at both the ministerial and cultural levels
• the broader education and library communities, who (apart from CMEC and AUCC who have spent years lobbying for the educational exception) recognize that the reform does little to address their real needs
• the retail community, who hoped the government would address private copying (as promised in its copyright policy position)
• broadcasters, who hoped the government would address the ephemeral rights issue
• the privacy community, who will fear that the legal protections for DRM will damage privacy rights
• consumer groups, who will note that anti-circumvention legislation has already had a negative impact on basic consumer interests in Europe and the United States
• the Canadian public, who will wonder why it is still unlawful to copy music onto an iPod or record a television show or a create a parody on YouTube
• the NDP
• possibly the Liberals, who will jump at the opportunity to promote their C-60 bill as a better bill
• possibly the Bloc, who will be unwilling to support a bill that includes the educational exception

Who will like it? That's a pretty short list.

• the U.S. government will obviously be pleased about the anti-circumvention legislation, but will quickly adopt a "what you have done for me lately" position by emphasizing copyright term extension and movie camcording.
• CRIA will obviously be happy with the anti-circumvention legislation, but will note that more is needed including a "clarification" of private copying
• CMEC/AUCC will be happy with the provision, but will wonder why students, professors, teachers, and parents are so displeased with the backroom deal they've struck

That's my quick scorecard (if you find yourself represented on the list, consider what you can do about it). It is always challenging to strike the right balance in copyright, but if the Hill Times report is accurate, it would appear that the Conservatives will be walking straight into a bill with little upside and considerable political risk.

DOJ Gets Fifth Conviction In P2P Piracy Crackdown

The Justice Department is going after people committing copyright infringement over P2P networks.
Sharon Gaudin

As part of an ongoing federal crackdown on copyright infringement over peer-to-peer networks, the Department of Justice has secured a fifth guilty plea in Operation D-Elite.

Sam Kuonen, 24, of Columbus, Ga., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas to a two-count felony charge of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and criminal copyright infringement in violation of the Family Entertainment Copyright Act. He faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.

Kuonen is scheduled to be sentenced on July 16.

This is the fifth in a series of convictions arising from Operation D-Elite, an ongoing federal crackdown against the illegal distribution of copyrighted movies, software, games, and music over P2P networks employing the BitTorrent file sharing technology. BitTorrent is a P2P communications protocol.

Operation D-Elite, according to a release from the department, targeted leading members of a technologically sophisticated P2P network known as Elite Torrents. At its prime, the Elite Torrents network attracted more than 133,000 members and facilitated the illegal distribution of more than 17,800 titles -- including movies, software, music, and games -- which were downloaded more than two million times, the government contends. The "virtually unlimited" content selection available on the Elite Torrents network often included illegal copies of copyrighted works before they were available in retail stores or movie theatres.

The department's report states that Kuonen was an "uploader" to the Elite Torrents network, responsible for supplying the network with the first copy of a particular movie or other content that was then made available to the entire network for downloading.

On May 25, 2005, federal agents shut down the Elite Torrents network by taking control of its main server. After seizing the server, authorities replaced the existing Web page with a law enforcement message that said: "This Site Has Been Permanently Shut Down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement." Within one week, the law enforcement message was viewed more than half a million times, according to Justice.

Operation D-Elite is a joint investigation by ICE and the FBI as part of the Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team, a San Diego task force of specially trained prosecutors and law enforcement officers who focus on high-tech crime.

Blackout Threat for Music Thieves
Peter Holmes

• Tough guidelines to stop illegal music downloads
• ISPs in plan to cut services to thieves
• 18 per cent of Australians download 30 illegal songs a month

PEOPLE who illegally download music would have their telephone and internet services cut off under a radical new plan proposed by the music industry.

Fed up with falling sales, the industry - which claims Australians download more than one billion songs illegally each year - has been discussing tough new guidelines with internet service providers (ISPs) since late last year.

Record labels, music publishers and other copyright holders are involved.

The value of CDs sold in Australia between January and March this year fell by more than 20 per cent - from $100 million to $80 million - compared with the first three months of 2006.

This is despite big-selling albums from Australian Idol winner Damien Leith, Justin Timberlake, The Killers and Snow Patrol.

The remarkable plunge mirrors the US experience.

Last week, however, recording industry body ARIA put out a press release attempting to put a positive spin on the state of the industry.

Overall, CD sales revenue in 2006 fell by more than five per cent, yet ARIA focused on the growth in legitimate digital downloads, and the strong showing last year by home-grown acts.

The industry is now targeting those who repeatedly download music without paying.

Sabiene Heindl, general manager of the music industry's piracy unit MIPI, said record labels could trace people who illegally downloaded music via so-called peer-to-peer websites such as LimeWire.

They could also identify which songs were being illegally swapped.

"We can tell the ISPs the time and date people were engaging in this conduct, and what song was being downloaded," she said.

"We had a meeting a few weeks ago with the Internet Industry Association (about the new guidelines) but we're yet to hear back.

"We've put forward our proposal and we're hopeful they will come back with something positive."

The music industry is lobbying for a "three strikes and you're out" policy to enforce their copyright.

"Under this system, people who illegally download songs would be given three written warnings by their Internet service provider.

If they continued to illegally download songs, their internet account would be suspended or terminated.

Those with dial-up internet could face having their phone disconnected.

Ms Heindl said research showed 18 per cent of Australians engaged regularly in file-sharing, downloading an average 30 songs a month illegally.

This is How We Catch You Downloading

All over Europe thousands of people are being threatened with court action for allegedly sharing games like Dream Pinball 3D on P2P networks. Now, documents obtained by TorrentFreak show details of the anti-piracy company’s techniques for identifying alleged file-sharers on the internet and the gathering of claimed ‘forensic quality’ evidence for use in court cases.

In March we reported in some detail about the case of 500 UK file-sharers being legally pursued following claims that they uploaded games from the German publisher ‘Zuxxez’ onto file-sharing networks.

Since then, many people have been in touch with the law firm who sent the threatening letters, demanding evidence that they actually did something. TorrentFreak has obtained copies of the latest letters and within the claimed evidence is a description of how the anti-piracy system used by Logistep AG (the company hired to track the alleged pirates) is supposed to work.

The cleverly named “File Sharing Monitor” is the system being used by Logistep to gather evidence against file-sharers. It is actually just a modified version of the Shareaza P2P application that is configured to search for infringing files, and collect the information from the hosts that share these files.

The “File Sharing Monitor” only targets Gnutella and eDonkey users, so it is still unclear how they track down BitTorrent users. Here is how it works:

1. The client connects to the P2P network, searches for sources of the infringing file, and collects the IP addresses that were gathered through the search.
2. The client requests to download (a piece of) the file from the host that was found through the search.
3. The filename, file size, IP-address, P2P protocol, P2P application, time, and the username are automatically inserted into a database, if the host permits the download.
4. This is the “best” part. The application does a WHOIS search for the ISP information and automatically sends an infringement letter to the ISP if needed.

The claim is that the “File Sharing Monitor” is totally foolproof and that it can provide forensic-quality information to a court in order that file-sharers be punished. The question remains whether an IP-address is sufficient evidence to sue a person for downloading copyrighted material. Recent cases suggest that the RIAA and the MPAA will need more evidence than that.

Internet Law - Peer To Peer Music Sharing Since MGM v. Grokster (2005)

While private person to person Internet file sharing has proceeded seemingly unabated since the 2005 MGM v. Grokster U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Court nonetheless decisively ruled by broadly outlawing all such sharing, branding it theft, and paving the way for litigation. Such so- called “peer to peer” (P2P) sharing of files, especially of music, is an aspect of the larger subject of copyright law, and any discussion must reference this to be properly understood. This article considers the history of file sharing, the 2005 Grokster case; the issues of Secondary Liability and Intentional Active Inducement, and if companies are enforcing the law and, if so, how?

The potential for sharing music without paying royalties, as once done with cassette tape copying of vinyl records, was radically enhanced by the
Internet and the ease at which information files, like music, were transferred. Sites sprang up across the ‘Net, as Napster emerged as the leader in private un-purchased file sharing. When sites downloading songs were sued for ignoring copyright, meaning both artists and record companies went unpaid, conflict flared and eventually many suits were brought to court and sites closed. But creation of software allowing computer to computer, or peer to peer downloads, made the practice nearly impossible to decisively stop because each individual on the ‘Net can become a free musical agent involved directly with someone else who wants to give or take a particular piece of music, usually occurring between strangers.

What Happend in the MGM v. Grokster Case?

When Napster, at the time the largest Internet file sharing service, was closed for copyright violations by the A&M Records v. Napster (2001) decision, standing right behind was a file-share group called Grokster who had similarly designed their site to attract the estimated 32 million users who went looking for Napster after that site went dark.

When Grokster was sued next by record and film companies, artists and publishers, it won its lower court cases, most notably in the 9Th Circuit, which cited the famed 1984 Sony Betamax case as ruling authority, in which the Court had stated, “"[t]he sale of copying equipment...does not constitute contributory infringement if the product is widely used for legitimate, unobjectionable purposes, or, indeed, is merely capable of substantial noninfringing uses."

MGM appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and the ruling was overturned, the Court stating that the 9th Circuit had misread the 1984 decision. While the Court accepted that the Sony ruling was applicable, that the copying technology is neutral, but said it still must be used responsibly. It’s worth noting that although MGM typified Grokster as the same as Napster, this is technically incorrect. Unlike Napster, Grokster was not a file sharing “service,” with a bevy of computers holding songs to dole out. Instead, it simply allowed subscribers to connect to one another to facilitate those people looking for songs to help find others who had those songs already. Also, non-copyrighted files were also exchanged in Grokster. Therefore, Grokster had no involvement or control over what had been, or was not, downloaded. This means that Grokster itself never violated copyright the way Napster did.

The Court’s analysis concluded that a responsible file sharing network would not create secondary liability by encouraging others to break copyright law, as Grokster had. Damning to the defendants was evidence that users of Grokster used their software to primarily illegally distribute copyrighted works, without payment or authorization from the copyright owners. Further, the plaintiffs also proved that Grokster actively encouraged massive infringement, and that the business model itself was dependant on such. The 9th Circuit had erred in ruling that any legal file sharing was enough to legitimize a site that still had massive copyright infringements. Further, the incidence of intentional active inducement was also warned against.

What is Secondary Liability?

The Supreme Court put the burden of responsibility upon file sharing services to avoid “secondary liability,” stating, "We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties." Accordingly, peer-to-peer file sites must avoid encouraging or aiding third-party copyright violations the analysis of such including all aspects of the transactions and circumstances when deciding if secondary liability is present, and a very broad definition of how such violations might occur was mooted.

To establish such contributory infringement, the copyright owner must prove first, that defendant had specific knowledge about the direct infringement; and that this caused or at least aided the direct infringement. Further, to establish damages for such vicarious infringement, the copyright owner must demonstrate the defendant had both means and legal right to control the direct infringer's copyright violations, and they obtained financial benefit of some type as a direct result of the underlying direct infringement.

What did the Court Say Regarding Intentional Active Inducement?

When the Supreme Court addressed active inducement to breach copyright, it mentioned three aspects, saying, “The classic instance of inducement is by advertisement or solicitation that broadcasts a message designed to stimulate others to commit violations….Three features of the evidence of intent are particularly notable. First, each of the respondents showed itself to be aiming to satisfy a known source of demand for copyright infringement, the market comprising former Napster users. Respondents' efforts to supply services to former Napster users indicate a principal, if not exclusive, intent to bring about infringement. Second, neither respondent attempted to develop filtering tools or other mechanisms to diminish the infringing activity using their software…Third, respondents make money by selling advertising space, then by directing ads to the screens of computers employing their software. The more their software is used, the more ads are sent out and the greater the advertising revenue.”

Do Record Companies Pursue Copyright Violators, and if so, How?

Clearly, illegal peer-to-peer Internet song downloading is a massive problem for the recording industry. For example, in 2006 households using free peer-to-peer software, like Limewire or BitTorrent, grew 7% to 15 million households, while homes employing royalty-paying services like the iTunes Store increased 65% to 13 million, which is a superficially encouraging statistic to music companies. Yet such statistics mislead as to the real picture, as the average peer-to-peer household netted five billion downloads in 2006, but only 500 million songs were purchased from for pay services. This means that ten times as many songs were stolen as purchased on the Internet in 2006. Yet, other industry experts claim the number of illegal downloads in 2005 was closer to 20 billion, while CD sales are down 20% so far 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Answers to the problem of copyright fraud have included taking violators to court, creating ad-supported free music sites, and even one Florida politician designing a bill to put illegal download blocking software in universities. One interesting study found that, if the RIAA had simply drawn up a licensing agreement with Napster instead of suing, a nominal licensing fee of only 5 cents per user download would have generated roughly $500.000 of additional revenue per day. Currently, media goliath Viacom is suing the YouTube free video site that is filled with content by users, similar to the peer-to-peer model, but without home downloads, but still accessed without paying royalties of any kind. Viacom claims more than 150,000 unauthorized clips it owns have appeared on YouTube recently, and "an astounding" 1.5 billion individual downloads of these occurred, and Viacom seeks a billion dollars damages.

In 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA only sued 261 copyright infringers. Their site claims to have chosen so far to only pursue massive violators, choosing people who have stolen more than 1,000 songs off the ‘Net. Yet, a few things a person accused of illegally downloading songs can certainly predict after being chosen one of the unlucky few getting sued each year is you will probably lose your case and end up paying a hefty fine, too. For example, in 2006 retired steel worker Roy Cregger from Lowell, Indiana discovered his son’s Internet activities the hard way after being sent a letter from BMG for downloading 800 songs illegally from the peer-to-peer network KaZaa. Roy agreed to pay a $4,700 fine, but if he misses a payment owes $9,700, and had to find a new job to make ends meet. Already in 2007, other college students at 23 schools around the country have received “pre-litigation” letters that allow settlements to occur out of court, recipients given 20 days to decide. Said one letter recipient, Valparaiso sophomore Jaqui Dow, "I just had to write an apology note to the companies," while having her Internet password blocked in November 2006. Her crime was downloading two songs from the file-sharing site Ares. "I was lucky getting off with just an apology," claims Dow, who is still officially denied Internet access by worried school officials, adding, "I know it costs a lot of money if you get sued."

SIAA Recognizes Justice Department Lawyer For Anti-Piracy Efforts

Jay V. Prabhu, a trial attorney with the department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, is the first recipient of the SIAA award.
K.C. Jones

The Software and Information Industry Association has given its first anti-piracy leadership award to a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The SIAA announced Monday that it plans to make annual awards to those who fight software and content piracy. Jay V. Prabhu, a trial attorney with the department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, is the first recipient. Prabhu joined the department in 2002 and has successfully prosecuted several software, video game, and music copyright infringement cases.

Prabhu prosecuted Nathan Peterson, of iBackups, for reselling software and won an 87-month prison sentence and more than $5 million in restitution. He prosecuted Danny Ferrar, of BuysUSA.com, which sold copies of Adobe, Autodesk, and Macromedia software. Ferrar received a six-year prison sentence and orders to pay more than $4 million in restitution.

Keith Kupferschmid, SIAA's senior VP of Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement, said in a prepared statement that Prabhu led the department in efforts that make clear "software pirates will be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

Prabhu also lectures on computer and intellectual property crimes at universities and law schools, as well as military and government intelligence academies.

"Mr. Prahbu's work to take down some of the worst piracy offenders makes him very deserving of our first annual award," Ken Wasch, SIIA president, said in a prepared statement that described Prabhu as one of the department's top attorneys.

The anti-piracy award will recognize both government and private employees whose work has affected domestic or international piracy.

SIAA established a corporate anti-piracy program almost 20 years ago. The trade association offers rewards of up to $1 million to people whose piracy reports lead to successful settlements. SIAA also runs an Internet Anti-Piracy Program.

Software by Microsoft Is Nearly Free for the Needy
Steve Lohr

In an effort to expand its global reach in computing, Microsoft plans to offer a stripped-down version of Windows, Office and other software for $3 to people in developing nations.

The program, which is being announced in Beijing today by the Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, represents an ambitious expansion of efforts to introduce products to those who have lacked access to personal computers, especially in developing nations.

While these countries have a growing appetite for technology as a means to spur growth and raise living standards, they also have very limited budgets. Some governments have encouraged alternatives to Microsoft’s Windows, notably Linux, a free operating system.

The Microsoft push comes as a nonprofit project, One Laptop per Child, plans this year to start producing machines priced at about $150 — with a goal of reaching $100 — that will run a version of Linux. Several countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Nigeria, have made tentative commitments to distribute the laptops to millions of schoolchildren.

Microsoft has offered discounted versions of Windows selectively in the past, to a few developing nations like Malaysia and Thailand, priced at $30 or less. But the new program, called Microsoft Unlimited Potential, goes further with more software and deeper price cuts and extends to all developing nations, said Microsoft’s senior vice president for emerging markets, Orlando Ayala.

Mr. Ayala said that the program also would be offered to low-income communities in the developed nations, including the United States — those families with incomes in the bottom 15 percent of the population, about $15,000 a year for an average household .
Under the program, Microsoft would make its discounted software available for installation on computers that would typically be sold to national, state or local governments, which would then distribute the PCs to individuals.

The price of the machines, Microsoft said, would depend on PC makers and what hardware features were included. Industry analysts said basic machines with the $3 Microsoft bundle of programs could be priced at $300 or less. The standard retail price of the software in the $3 bundle, including Windows XP Starter Edition and Office Home and Office 2007, would be about $150.

There are about a billion PC users worldwide, mainly in developed nations. The initial goal of the Microsoft program, working with many industry partners, would be to add another billion PC users by 2015, Mr. Ayala said.

The new Microsoft program is aimed directly at students, through national and local governments that buy Windows PCs for schoolchildren, both for schoolwork and for their personal use at home. For the last five years, Microsoft’s outreach to developing countries has focused on schools and training teachers as well as students through a program called Partners in Learning.

Software piracy is another pressing concern for Microsoft and other software companies in developing nations. Mr. Ayala acknowledged that piracy and the competition from Linux were business issues for Microsoft.

“But this isn’t really about responding to those things, but about finding an economically practical way to put good software and a good computer into these people’s hands and get them going in life,” Mr. Ayala said.

“Certainly,” he added, “for Microsoft this is an investment in the long term. These are the consumers of the future.”

No matter what happens with Microsoft’s effort in developing countries, it is not going to have much impact on the company’s financial performance anytime soon. Its annual sales are running at more than $45 billion a year.

“Microsoft is betting that at least some of the kids from developing nations will turn into buyers of more mainstream products later in life,” said Roger L. Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, a research firm. “The theory is that if you get them young, you can keep them for life.”

Microsoft has additional steps planned beyond the discounted software. For example, the company said that it would add 200 Microsoft Innovation Centers in 25 countries in the next two years. These centers — Microsoft already has 110 in 60 nations — train local people in software development and provide assistance in starting businesses.

Economic development experts have long debated whether scarce resources in poorer nations should be spent on computers, when there may be more pressing needs like training teachers, building schools and buying books. Programs like Microsoft’s and One Laptop per Child are not giveaways.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that the digital divide is more acute or more consequential than say the nutritional divide, the elementary education divide or the basic health care divide,” said Aaditya Mattoo, an economist at the World Bank.

Still, as the price of technology continues to fall and its impact spreads, there is a recognition that access to computers and technology skills can be an important ingredient in development.

Today Microsoft is announcing an alliance with the Asian Development Bank to support local technology entrepreneurs, use technology in teaching and learning and promote local research programs.

“Information communications technology holds significant promise for poverty reduction,” said Larry Greenwood, a vice president at the bank.

Microsoft Settles Iowa Lawsuit
David Pitt

Microsoft Corp. agreed Wednesday to pay Iowans up to $180 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company had a monopoly that cost the state's citizens millions of dollars extra for software products.

The $179.5 million settlement means individuals in Iowa who bought certain Microsoft products between 1994 and 2006 will be eligible for cash. Companies with multiple copies can seek vouchers that will enable them to buy computer equipment and software. The amount that can be claimed will depend on which product and how many copies were purchased during the 12-year period.

For each copy of Microsoft Windows or MS-DOS, customers can claim $16 per copy, Microsoft Excel is worth $25 a copy and Microsoft Office, $29 a copy.

For Word, Works and Home Essential software, consumers can claim $10 a copy, according to the agreement.

No proof of purchase will be required for online claims of up to $100 or for mail claims of up to $200. Claimants will be required to sign a legal document saying their claim is accurate. Lying can bring a charge of perjury.

Attorneys Roxanne Conlin, of Des Moines, and Rich Hagstrom of Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel, Mason & Gette LLP of Minneapolis, filed the Iowa lawsuit in 2000. The case has been in litigation since and has gone to the Iowa Supreme Court three times for various legal issues.

The lawsuit claimed Microsoft engaged in illegal monopolization and anticompetitive conduct between 1994 and 2006 that caused customers to pay more for software than they would have if there had been competition.

Dell Brings Back XP on Home Systems
Ina Fried

Dell is bringing XP back.

Amid significant customer demand, the computer maker said on Thursday that it has returned to offering the older Windows version as an option on some of its consumer PCs.

Like most computer makers, Dell switched nearly entirely to Vista-based systems following Microsoft's mainstream launch of the operating system in January. However, the company said its customers have been asking for XP as part of its IdeaStorm project, which asks customers to help the company come up with product ideas.

"We heard you loud and clear on bringing the Windows XP option back to our Dell consumer PC offerings," Dell said on its Ideas in Action page. Users get to vote on various suggestions, and the notion of bringing back XP got 10,000 "points," making it among the most popular requests but well below top picks such as adding Linux or OpenOffice.org to its PCs.

Windows XP systems became scarce, but not impossible to find, after Vista arrived. For example, Hewlett-Packard said it would continue selling XP on some machines aimed at small and midsize businesses, while CompUSA still stocks a couple of business-oriented XP systems in its retail stores. Lenovo has also continued shipping XP on many of its business systems.

Starting immediately, Dell said, it is adding XP Home and Professional as options on four Inspiron laptop models and two Dimension desktops.

Earlier this month, Dell added XP back as an option for small-business customers, but at the time, it said it would not add it back for home users.

"Dell does not have plans to launch Windows XP for home users as the preference, and demand is for the 'latest and greatest' technology, which includes Windows Vista," Tom West, director of small-business marketing at Dell, said in a blog posting at the time.

Analysts say Dell's move is not a good sign for Windows Vista.

"That there is remaining demand from some segment of (the) consumer market points to the inability of Vista to resonate with consumers," IDC analyst Richard Shim said.

There was an initial bump for Vista sales right after its launch, Shim said, but some of that may have been from consumers who delayed purchasing a PC late last year. Sales in the later part of the first quarter were less strong, he said. The overall response to Vista will become clearer throughout the year, he said.

Current Analysis research director Samir Bhavnani said most of the demand for XP he sees is from small businesses, rather than consumers.

"They know that XP works," Bhavnani said. "It's not that they don't want to upgrade to Vista. They just don't want to upgrade to Vista yet."

In a sense, the issue isn't the relatively small number of PC buyers demanding XP, but it's whether Vista is having any affect on the PC market as a whole.

In announcing PC sales data, Gartner said this week that Vista's launch "had very limited impact on overall worldwide shipment demand on a quarterly basis."

Bhavnani blamed some of the lackluster results on a lack of marketing, noting he sees more ads for Apple than for Vista.

"It's been a very soft launch," Bhavnani said. "I think you will see Vista create additional demand for PCs in the back half of this year."

Microsoft product manager Michael Burk said in a statement: "Dell is responding appropriately to a small minority of customers that had this specific request. But, as they have said before, the vast majority of consumers want the latest and greatest technology, and that includes Windows Vista."

The software maker has said it will stop selling Windows XP to large PC makers by January. Smaller computer sellers, known as system builders, will be able to sell XP machines for an additional year.

In a statement last week, Microsoft said such a move is normal after a new operating system comes out.

"Windows Vista is safer, easier to use, better connected and more entertaining than any operating system we've ever released, and we're encouraged by the positive customer response we've seen to date," the company said. "It's standard practice to allow OEMs, retailers and system builders to continue offering the previous version of Windows for a certain period of time after a new version is released."

Say Good Night, Bandwidth Hog
Dan Mitchell

AN article in PC Magazine last week revealed that customers across the country have received letters from Comcast warning them to limit their bandwidth consumption or face a one-year termination of service.

The company, though, “is refusing to reveal how much bandwidth use is allowed, making it impossible for customers to know if they are in danger of violating Comcast’s limit,” according to the article’s writer, Chloe Albanesius.

Ms. Albanesius also spoke with customers who said they had already paid the ultimate penalty.

Frank Carreiro, a resident of Utah, had his service cut off in January, and has been blogging about it at comcastissue.blogspot.com. He started the blog in part because “silence will only encourage the company to continue abusing its customers.”

Comcast’s network security department warned Mr. Carreiro in December to reduce his use of bandwidth. He called customer service several times, he said, and was told that there was no record of such a warning and that he might have been the victim of a prank call. A month later, he said, his service was disconnected. He has since switched to D.S.L. service and is “very happy.”

The company sent a response to PC Magazine, which the magazine posted on its Web site.

Comcast restricts bandwidth because, with cable broadband, heavy users can slow service for other nearby customers. The company warns only users who “typically and repeatedly consume exponentially more bandwidth than an average residential user” and in those “rare instances,” it works with customers to get them to either limit their use or upgrade to a more-expensive commercial account.

The company earlier apologized for any “miscommunication” with Mr. Carreiro.

PC Magazine surveyed other Internet service providers, including Verizon, Time Warner and Cox, and found none routinely warned customers or cut off service. Cox provides data on its Web site describing the limits of bandwidth use allowed for its various tiers of service (cox.com/policy/limitations.asp).

By contrast, “Comcast’s policy, it seems, is to disconnect first and ask questions later,” wrote Owen Thomas of Business 2.0’s Beta blog, adding: “It sounds to me like Comcast’s network technicians are incredibly lazy — or underfunded — and its security team is trigger-happy. That’s a recipe for unhappy customers, and a P.R. disaster in the making” (blogs.business2.com/beta).

But Russell Shaw, a blogger at ZDNet, writes that while suspending service might be an overreaction, “these bandwidth hogs are abusing the system.” His idea is to “hit ’em with a surcharge” (blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony).

mTouche Forays into Japan with M-Bit Network

mTouche Technology Berhad (‘mTouche’) has revealed its business foray into Japan in a strategic bid to launch its latest 4th Generation (4G) mobile content offering M-Bi Network to advanced mobile nations.

This business manoeuvre sees a subscription of shares for 10 per cent by IWAI Group for USD100,000 in mBit—a 60 per cent owned mTouche subsidiary which provides M-Bit Network.

Eugene Goh, CEO of mTouche said, “For mTouche, Japan is both enormously prospective with a mobile population of more than 100 million subscribers, and technologically advanced with established 4G networks.”

“And there is no better way to penetrate such a dynamic mobile market as Japan than to tie up with the very parties with the necessary knowledge, experience and business networking relationships in that market.”

IWAI Group (IWAI) is an investment holding company that invests in select IT ventures across Asia, with the objective of bringing good technology and services into the Japanese market.

According to Goh, this share subscription by IWAI in mTouche’s subsidiary is just one of mTouche’s initial strategic plans to launch its M-Bit Network into 4G-ready mobile markets such as Japan and Korea.

M-Bit Network is the world’s first peer-to-peer (P2P) search and file super-distribution network. It is lauded as the first of its kind in the world because it allows the sharing of content files (a capability known as peer-to-peer or P2P technology), between mobile phones via transmission over wireless mobile networks; whereas right until now P2P technology has been limited to the sharing of content files stored in computers over fixed wired networks.

Goh said, “The technological capability facilitated by M-Bit Network is extremely attractive to mobile network, service and content providers in these 4G markets as it opens up a whole new dimension of commercial opportunities and social trends for that mobile community.”

Delivering the Digital Goods: iTunes vs. Peer-to-Peer

Q&A with: Ramon Casadesus-Masanell
Sean Silverthorne

Executive Summary: Apple's iTunes music download service and illegal peer-to-peer music downloads offer two contrasting approaches to delivering digital content to users. Can Apple and the recording industry seriously compete against free? Do iTunes and p2p help each other in some ways? Professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and collaborator Andres Hervas- Drane discuss their recent research on competition in digital distribution. Key concepts include:

• ITunes demonstrates that to compete effectively against free p2p networks, online digital distribution must deliver experiences to consumers that cannot be easily matched by decentralized, self- sustained peer-to-peer networks.
• In designing new models, managers must consider how robust a given design is to models of other industry participants with which they interact.
• Managers must also ponder how aggressive their business models are toward those of other players and ask whether or not complementarities are exploited.
• The "scarce" resource in digital goods distribution through p2p networks is not content, but bandwidth. As a consequence, ISPs will have a more visible role in shaping industry structure.

Apple boasts that more than one billion songs have been purchased from its iTunes music service. That sounds like a great number—until you consider that an estimated ten million users of Internet-based peer-to-peer (p2p) networks are logged on at any one time to swap music.

How does Apple, which sells music titles for 99 cents each, compete with free music downloads on peer-to-peer networks? Do the two approaches to distributing digital content complement each other? What can the music industry, which aggressively fights p2p downloaders, learn from Apple's experience?

Those kinds of questions attracted the research attention of Ramon Casadesus-Masanell, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Andres Hervas-Drane, a PhD candidate in Economics at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. Their working paper, "Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and the Market for Digital Information Goods," is among the first efforts to study the interactions of two entirely new and radical business models operating in the same market.

Sean Silverthorne: What attracted you to research this area and what were some of the major insights you discovered?

Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Andres Hervas-Drane: The nature of competition is changing rapidly. Drivers such as globalization, deregulation, and technological change are opening opportunities for the development of new, original business models. Competition is progressively moving away from imitation and the development of incremental tradeoffs towards radical moves to create new business models, new forms of satisfying needs that drastically reduce costs and/or raise value perceived by customers.

One important enabler of new business models is the Internet. This is especially true in industries where the product can be delivered directly online such as software, travel agencies, or media. Indeed, the digitalization of content paired with widespread adoption of broadband Internet is driving a major shift toward digital distribution. ITunes, set up as a traditional client-server architecture with content offered at positive prices, and peer-to- peer file sharing networks, which do not seek profit maximization, use p2p network architectures, and offer content for free, constitute two new business models for the distribution of digital goods.

While the study of business models in isolation is of great interest, we believe that the analysis of interactions between business models can highlight important hidden insights. In this paper, for example, we show that contrary to the popular view, p2p and iTunes can potentially develop into a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. The presence of iTunes has a negative impact on the size of p2p networks resulting in reduced congestion and more efficient file sharing. Better functioning p2p networks, in turn, result in more content exchange, affecting positively iPod sales and Apple's bottom line.

Q: Given that p2p delivers arguably the same music download as Apple's iTunes, and at no charge, why have millions of users chosen to pay a fee using Apple's service rather than download for free from p2p networks?

A: The choice between p2p and iTunes is not trivial. Both models differ on multiple dimensions beyond price, and neither is superior in all attributes. In a world with variance in individuals' needs and valuations, these dimensions are evaluated idiosyncratically, allowing both models to coexist. Legal considerations play an important role as a number of p2p users have been sued by record companies, but other aspects, such as the availability of content, are also relevant. Music from Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, or Radiohead, for example, has been available on p2p networks since Napster's time but is yet to make it to iTunes.

Record companies seem to be applying traditional "brick- and-mortar thinking" in their competition against p2p.
Other differences are related to the "packaging" of content. Digital rights management (DRM) technologies, for example, are used to limit the playback of music purchased on iTunes, while music downloaded from p2p networks has no such restrictions. Although record labels are increasingly experimenting with DRM-less music sales, p2p is superior in this respect. In contrast, metadata (data about data— the indexing data contained in media files such as artist or album name) is superior on iTunes. This allows music collections to be consistently organized by author, album, or genre, and provides a better navigation experience. Digital encoding quality varies widely in p2p networks, but it has continued to improve over the years and in many cases surpasses that of iTunes.

The process of obtaining content, an important part of the experience, also differs. ITunes provides a unified interface that seamlessly integrates the location, purchase, and consumption of content. Users of p2p networks, on the other hand, must navigate a complex environment and endure varying levels of congestion that hinder the quality of the process. ITunes certainly has the upper hand in this area.

The following table compares the strengths and weaknesses of each model:



It's free
Under constant attack by industry players

Variety of content
Downloading time varies

No restrictions on content (no DRM)
Congestion problems

Constantly improving due to technological race
Sometimes content is unreliable (spoof files)

Decentralized—makes it hard
No anonymity



Customers must pay for content (relatively expensive at $0.99)

Easy to use
Restrictions on content (DRM)

High reliability
Less variety of content
Metadata (i.e., information about the files)
Fast downloads
Works well with iPod

We built an economic model to improve our understanding of how both forms of digital distribution interact. While this methodology restricts somewhat the scope of the analysis, it allows careful examination of the phenomenon. Specifically, we restricted the comparative advantages of each as follows. Content from iTunes is legally sold at positive prices and downloads are immediate; downloads on p2p are illegal and can take many hours (or even days) to complete, but they are free. Other features such as DRM restrictions and differential metadata add little strategic insight.

Q: One motivation for using iTunes that you identify is the fast download time provided by Apple—you can enjoy the music you download almost instantly. But as broadband speed rolls out to the masses, might download speed become less a competitive advantage for iTunes in attracting new customers?

A: Absolutely. One of the most important comparative advantages of iTunes is that it offers fast downloads because the client-server model allows the operator to manage congestion by simply adding more servers. Congestion in p2p networks, however, depends on the number of peers in the network, the amount of people that share, the state of broadband infrastructure, and the "resolution" of content.

Intuitively, a better broadband infrastructure should make p2p more attractive because, keeping constant the number of sharers, it enables downloads to be faster. While this "direct effect" seems obvious, our analysis also takes into account the following "indirect effect": The behavior of peers may vary when infrastructure improves. As infrastructure improves and downloads become faster, we could have a situation where a smaller number of peers elect to share, and this would end up negatively affecting download speed. We show that this is not the case. It turns out that the behavior of peers is independent of the state of broadband technology. Therefore, only the direct effect is at play. Improvements in digital encoding have a similar effect. Improvements in content resolution (such as the transition to multi-channel audio and high definition video), however, tend to worsen the efficiency of the p2p network, making iTunes relatively more attractive.

Q: Your paper suggests the complex motivations of people using digital networks. For example, p2p users face an initial decision to either "share" the content they download with others on the network, which also reduces overall network congestion, or to "freeride." Freeriding is the easier choice, so why do many users choose to share?

A: To better understand user motivations, we first studied p2p file sharing networks in isolation and later considered interactions with iTunes. It did not take us long to discover that there was a puzzle that we had to solve before introducing competition. Users of p2p networks choose whether to share (offer content that other peers can download) or to freeride (download from others and not offer content for others to download). Sharing content is costlier than freeriding as it entails committing computing resources such as storage space and upload bandwidth to the network. In addition, sharers are more likely to be prosecuted than freeriders. The implication is that nobody "should" share. But if this was the case, then p2p networks should collapse as there would be no content available for download. However, we see that p2p networks are thriving: more than 65 percent of all Internet traffic is content exchanged on p2p networks!

The impact of p2p networks needs be carefully considered when pricing legal downloads.
The easiest and most direct way to solve the puzzle is by assuming that peers are not purely self-interested but that they "feel good" when sharing. While we believe that the "feel good" explanation might be part of the reason why p2p networks exist, we find it hard to justify that peers will develop altruistic emotions in a setting with anonymous transactions. We decided to take a different route and ask whether selfish individuals would ever want to share content in p2p networks when sharing is more costly than freeriding.

The key to solving the puzzle in a world where individuals are selfish is the following. In addition to offering content, sharers also supply "bandwidth." To see this, notice that in a network where one single individual shares content, congestion (or download time) is huge as all members will connect to this one sharer to obtain content. If a second individual decides to share also, then the connections will to some extent be distributed between the two sharers and downloads will be faster. As more and more individuals share, congestion decreases because more bandwidth is supplied. As a consequence, quality of service in the p2p network improves. Because these improvements are enjoyed by all peers, including those who have elected to share, a number of peers are better off sharing rather than freeriding. Therefore, our analysis of p2p shows that sharing prevails in a world where individuals are all selfish, consistent with the evidence.

We should point out that p2p users are well aware of their sharing decisions. It has sometimes been argued that p2p applications enable sharing by default, but this can hardly explain why freeriding is so pervasive. Similarly, some p2p applications such as BitTorrent force users to share, but users can always decide how much to share and ultimately control their contribution to the network.

Q: Your research indicates that p2p networks, while competing with iTunes as music distribution channels, may also benefit from having iTunes in the market. Why?

A: The model predicts that congestion in p2p networks worsens with network size. That is, the larger the number of users in the network, the lower the proportion of users that share. This fact plays an important role in our analysis. If one considers the original Napster network and its evolution over time, congestion worsened as the user base grew. At its peak, Napster's waiting queues were long and downloads slow (when they could be completed). Modern file sharing networks are better designed to cope with scalability issues. Incentive schemes that reward users as a function of their contributions help improve sharing, but they introduce other distortions, and the legal risks of sharing limit their efficacy. The underlying problem remains: Only when upload bandwidth becomes unlimited and legal risks disappear will congestion fade away.

The presence of iTunes provides an alternative to users suffering most from congestion in p2p networks. Some users are better off purchasing from iTunes and enjoying fast downloads. The availability of this outside option drives users away and indirectly improves congestion as networks become smaller. Interestingly, iTunes was not available in the days of Napster and congestion was much worse then. It is in this sense that p2p benefits from the presence of iTunes.

Q: Do you think Apple's pricing strategy of roughly 99 cents per song effectively maximizes profits? Could Apple charge less and capture more market share, or price higher and create more net profit?

A: Apple makes little money from the sale of songs. It is estimated that record companies pocket about $.65 per song sold on iTunes and Apple keeps $.34 to cover the costs of running the service, infrastructure, encoding, dealing with credit card companies, et cetera. Apple's profit comes from the sale of iPods and related products. It is no secret that a large percentage of music files on iPods have not been purchased on iTunes. Most come from users' CD collections, other online stores (such as allofmp3.com), p2p file sharing networks, and other forms of piracy (like sharing between friends). A thriving p2p community acts as an engine for iPod sales.

ITunes's 99 cents per song is ultimately a compromise between Apple and the owners of content, in this case the record companies. We believe that from the point of view of Apple, 99 cents is too expensive. Because profit comes mainly from the sale of hardware, Apple is likely to prefer lower download prices. From the point of view of intellectual property owners, 99 cents is probably too low. Record companies have attempted to renegotiate with Apple to set higher prices for new, more popular content. Our analysis suggests that this may be a bad idea because it is precisely for popular content that p2p is a better substitute for iTunes. Rare content, on the other hand, is where p2p does not seem to work well as there are fewer peers offering it. With this initiative, record companies seem to be applying traditional "brick-and- mortar thinking" in their competition against p2p. But this is surely the wrong mindset to deal with p2p.

At the end of the day, optimal pricing is an empirical question that cannot be answered without access to proprietary data that is outside our reach. Our model, however, highlights a few factors that should be taken into consideration in the determination of optimal price. Most importantly, our research demonstrates that record companies should explicitly consider the competition from p2p networks when making pricing decisions; this is something that they do not appear to be doing presently. We show that for a large portion of potential customers the baseline comparison is not "buying at price $x vs. not buying" but "buying at price $x vs. downloading from p2p."

Of course, pirated content has been available prior to p2p networks. The cassette recorder, for example, allowed individuals to generate unauthorized copies and to illegally share copyrighted content, lowering potential revenues to content providers. But cassettes and other forms of analog content replication were subject to quality degradation and required physical exchange, which confined sharing to relatively small social networks (family and friends). By eliminating these restrictions, peer-to-peer file sharing technology has increased the accessibility and attractiveness of unauthorized content replication. The threat of p2p is not different in nature, but of much larger scale as it does not require the exchange of a physical support. As a result, the impact of p2p networks needs be carefully considered when pricing legal downloads.

Our analysis reveals that, contrary to intuition, prices low enough to "kill" p2p are not optimal in large markets. The industry is better off setting higher prices and attracting those consumers ready to pay due to congestion. Coexistence with p2p, however, does result in lower prices than would otherwise be observed. We also find that legal attacks result in less sharing, harming p2p networks and helping sustain high prices. In any case, we do not expect p2p file sharing networks to disappear anytime soon. So far, they have proven resilient to technical and legal attacks due to their decentralized nature. The content industry must find ways to embrace the new technology and profit from it.

Q: What are the practical "takeaways" for managers in related areas?

A: At a broad level, in designing new business models, managers must carefully consider how robust a given design is to models of other industry participants with which they interact. Business models built with consideration only of how they work in isolation of those of other players will often exhibit poor performance. How well iTunes works as a channel for digital content distribution depends not only on the intrinsic operation of the model but also on how it interacts with p2p. Clearly, the extent to which two business models interact is not exogenously given but a result of choices made by the designers. Conversely, managers must also ponder how aggressive their business models are toward those of other players and ask whether or not complementarities are exploited. While this point might seem obvious, the academic and practitioner communities have so far offered little insight on how to think about interaction between business models. Our paper makes a first step towards a general theory.

At a more concrete level, given that p2p file sharing networks are likely to improve in performance as Internet infrastructure develops, the content industry must make tough choices regarding their revenue models. Moves towards monetizing products not subject to costless replication and distribution, such as live concerts and merchandising (for music) and product placements (for movies and network shows), will become essential for the financial health of media companies. This will involve setting up "creative" contracts with artists to share value created.

Our analysis also suggests that the "scarce" resource in digital goods distribution through p2p networks is not content, but bandwidth. This fact has been repeatedly documented by empirical studies on p2p networks. Studies on the Gnutella network, for example, have found that over half of its users do not contribute. As a consequence, we expect ISPs to have a more visible role in shaping industry structure going forward.

Finally, to compete effectively against p2p, online digital distribution must strive to become accessible and attractive to consumers. Online content providers are in a unique position to optimize and deliver new experiences to consumers that cannot be easily matched by decentralized, self-sustained peer-to-peer networks. ITunes provides a better customer experience than file sharing networks for similar content, and this allows record companies to charge positive prices and make a profit. While the potential industry-wide revenue implications of p2p are still uncertain, our analysis suggests that there is scope for profit-maximizing online distributors and content producers to compete effectively against unauthorized file sharing.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Peer-to-peer file sharing remains a fascinating field for research that has not received much attention outside computer science. We believe that there are great opportunities for research here and we are doing some more work in this area. In particular, we are studying how different incentives schemes built into p2p networks such as BitTorrent and eMule affect the types of content that are likely to be found in these networks and the average life of that content. This will allows us to finesse our analysis of optimal pricing of profit maximizing firms that offer similar content on a client-server architecture.

Andres is working on a model of consumer search with recommendations, motivated by the proliferation of online recommender systems. The model can explain the impact of this technology on markets for experience goods, such as music, cinema, or books. This research relates to the recent debate on the Long Tail, and discusses the strategic implications for online retailers.

Together with Barry Nalebuff (Yale School of Management) and David Yoffie (HBS), Ramon is working on a model of competitive interaction between Microsoft, Intel, and AMD. The paper, titled "Competing Complements," introduces a mechanism by which firms may discipline the behavior of complementors at the value capture stage.

Botnets’ Next Trick: Distribution via P2P Networks
Carl Weinschenk

This story at eWeek carries some bad news. Botnets — a big category that represents a serious threat to the Internet — are about to get better (or worse, depending on how you look at it).

At the highest level, botnets are armies of innocent computing devices that have been hijacked and impressed into service by spammers, virus distributors and other malcontents. Like other tools used by the bad guys, botnets are constantly being tweaked to stay ahead of security vendors and enterprise IT departments.

The latest tweak looks like a doozy. The story says five researchers presented a paper at the HotBots Usenix event last week pointing to the increasing use of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking to distribute botnets. A P2P version of the Storm worm hit last week.

Until now, the paper says, botnets used a “command-and-control” approach based on Internet relay chat (IRC), a hierarchal means of distributing data. This is good because it means that once the networks are found they can be rendered inoperative with relative ease. A switch to P2P — in which there is no centralized point from which operational orders emanate — would make it much harder to shut the networks down. The story goes into some detail on the approach.

P2P approaches have long been a problem for IT departments. In the heyday of these networks — before the businesses that used them ran headlong into copyright laws — services such as KaZaA and Napster tended to bring in malware along with the music that employees downloaded at work. Enterprises had other complaints about P2P, most related to the fact that it is difficult for IT departments to monitor and control.

The use of P2P for botnet distribution seems like an extension of this prickly relationship. And there seem to be no easy answers on how to stop it.

Hot bot-on-bot action

Botnets Battle Over Turf
Kelly Jackson Higgins,

More botnet-on-botnet turf wars have erupted -- and intensified -- over the past few months.

Aside from the distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks they launch against one another to disrupt their operations (like the recent DDOS battles between the Storm and Stration botnets), they also are constantly trying to hijack bots from one another. "Stealing is easier than building [out] one," says Danny McPherson, chief research officer for Arbor Networks, who tracks botnet activity.

But the savvier botnets go the extra mile to protect their captor capital: Some actually "secure" the bot machines they have infected so no other botnets can steal them or utilize them, too. They install patches on their bots, for instance, to close the security holes and shut down open ports that are vulnerable to attack. "They are installing defenses to make sure no one else doubly infects the machine," says Paul Mockapetris, chairman and chief scientist of Nominum. "There are instances where a machine is infected, and part of that is defense against another infection."

Patching their bots and shutting out other botnets is no harder than initially recruiting a machine as a bot, security experts say. "It would be trivial for a bot to compromise a machine and apply Microsoft's recommended workarounds to prevent re-infection," says David Maynor, CTO of Errata Security.

The bottom line is the bottom line, of course: The more bots you have, the better chance you have of making money off your spam runs, identity theft efforts, etc. And bots are often used to advertise botnet services, too, touting features such as IP addresses that change every 10 minutes.

"They market their own botnet services through the bots. It's an entire economy," Arbor's McPherson says.

McPherson says bots are more of a commodity now. Part of the problem, he says, is that antivirus and IDS tools only detect about 75 percent of malware, which makes it fairly simple to zombify a consumer's machine.

Meanwhile, as botnets are also ditching their old-school Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels for HTTP and peer-to-peer communications to be less conspicuous to investigators, it raises the bar for their infighting as well.

"Now they have more sophisticated P2P systems -- and hijacking [one another] may be more difficult," notes Adam O'Donnell, senior research scientist for Cloudmark. Still, "botnet hijacking is a common occurrence."

O'Donnell says when new attack vectors are publicized for popular operating systems, it's easy to build up a botnet using them if the botnet operator gets there first. "If those systems become botted quickly by other parties, then it may become easier for a party just to hijack someone else's network."

It's one incestuous ecosystem. Says Errata Security's Maynor: "Think of bot masters like stock brokers: They are always going to go back and cannibalize their base first."

Teen Apologises Over ABC YouTube Sham

A Perth teenager has apologised to the ABC for pretending to represent the national broadcaster in demanding the removal of hundreds of video clips from the YouTube website.

The 15-year-old boy sent YouTube a signed form saying he represented the copyright owner, ABC Television, and that he wanted the footage, mostly from The Chaser's War on Everything, removed from the website.

The clips had been placed on the YouTube site by other internet users.

The head of ABC-TV comedy Courtney Gibson said the teenager had been contacted by the ABC's lawyers and had since apologised.

Ms Gibson said it was not yet clear why the boy had decided to impersonate an ABC employee.

"Everyone does dumb stuff when they are fifteen," Ms Gibson told ABC Radio.

"But what was of concern to us was the fact that YouTube was sending copyright infringement notices to people who have been uploading Chaser clips to YouTube, threatening to shut down their access to YouTube if they persist. That's what was worrying to us," she said.

"As I say, we really appreciate that he's apologised and we'll be following up with him next week."

Lorne Michaels: SNL Misses Its Dicks in a Box

Producer longs for YouTube: NBC vigilantes scrub web preparing for Fox site; skits are put in a lockbox
Felix Gillette

Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live, is a big fan of YouTube.

“I think that YouTube is great, because if you do something like ‘Dick in a Box,’ someone in Pakistan can see it,” said Mr. Michaels in a phone interview.

He was referring to the now-ubiquitous skit by SNL cast member Andy Samberg and guest host Justin Timberlake in which the duo sang about giving your girlfriend the ultimate gift: namely, your dick in a box.

Recently, Messrs. Timberlake and Samberg sang “Dick in a Box” to hordes of ecstatic fans in a sold-out Madison Square Garden. But it’s not hard to imagine a teenager in Islamabad cracking up his friends with those same irresistible lyrics: “One, cut a hole in the box …. ”

“YouTube has been great for us,” Mr. Michaels reiterated.

Perhaps no other network show has gotten more out of the free video-sharing Web site than Saturday Night Live. Indeed, at the very moment the long-running program seems to be emerging from a years-long slump, producing sketches—not just lip-synch bloopers—that people actually want to share, discuss, and watch again and again, YouTube has been there, doing more to re-establish the show’s cultural relevance than any honcho at NBC.

So why, one might ask, would NBC pull the plug?

Just as Saturday Night Live is earning back its credibility and fans, NBC has taken the videos down. NBC’s legal department, under the helm of Rick Cotton, patrols YouTube for unauthorized NBC content. Once found, the material is promptly removed. Consequently, the network is discouraging the very buzz that was firming up the show’s grip on the American zeitgeist.

The action has left Saturday Night Live with a diminished online presence. NBC has a sanctioned YouTube page to promote clips of their choosing from SNL, but it is far from exhaustive. Toward the end of March, executives at NBC Universal announced that they were teaming up with the News Corporation to create a new Web venture that would allow executives at the two media behemoths to distribute their own copyrighted shows across some of the Web’s most heavily trafficked sites, including AOL, Yahoo, MSN and MySpace—that is, more or less everywhere except on the Google-owned YouTube. The venture is expected to launch later this summer.

Media watchers dubbed the new unnamed Web venture the “YouTube killer.”

So what does that bode for the future relevance of Saturday Night Live?

“I think it should be clear, I don’t quite understand what NBC is doing with Fox,” said Mr. Michaels. “It sounds—” Mr. Michaels paused. “Cool. But it all seems like it’s still shaking out.”

A NBC spokesperson said that the new venture should benefit Saturday Night Live by making more of the show’s content more readily available on a wider variety of sites—all under the legal imprimatur of the show’s parent company.
Mr. Michaels went on to explain that although he is concerned about the future relationship between his show and YouTube, he has faith that NBC’s evolving digital strategy will ultimately protect Saturday Night Live. He said he hopes that viewers will continue to see SNL’s best content on a variety of media platforms, including the Internet, iTunes and cell phones.

“I think it’s simple for me,” said Mr. Michaels. “If the work is good, I want the most number of people to see it—period. Anything that leads to that would be my objective.”

“The creators obviously want the biggest possible audience,” added Mr. Michaels. “And lawyers have another agenda.”

FORGET "DICK IN A BOX" FOR A MOMENT. What about that hallmark of Saturday Night Live’s influence—the political sketch? As the country enters another frenzied Presidential race, it seems that NBC might be hindering SNL’s momentum on the Internet at the exact moment when the country is primed for a classic bit of SNL satire.

This past October, Alex Pareene, the editor of the heavily trafficked political blog Wonkette, embedded a short SNL clip featuring Darrell Hammond as Brit Hume interviewing Will Forte as President Bush. A few hours later, Mr. Pareene received an e-mail from YouTube.

“This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by NBC Universal claiming that this material is infringing,” read the e-mail. “In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights.”

Likewise, in January, the Raw Story, an on-line news site, embedded a video from YouTube of an SNL skit featuring Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. Shortly thereafter, NBC lawyers asked YouTube to take down the clip.

In January, Rachel Sklar, the editor of the Huffington Post’s “Eat the Press” media section, linked to an unauthorized YouTube clip of Saturday Night Live host Jake Gyllenhaal, in drag, belting out a song from Dreamgirls. By the next day, NBC had prodded YouTube into yanking the clip. Henceforth, instead of seeing what Ms. Sklar described as a “tour-de-force” performance, visitors to “Eat the Press” were redirected to a terse warning: “This video is no longer available.”

Theoretically, any Internet user on the prowl for SNL content should be able to turn to the NBC-sanctioned YouTube channel. After each new episode, NBC uploads several authorized SNL clips onto the channel, alongside promotions for other programming such as The Office and Heroes. At the same time, NBC also posts SNL content on the show’s official NBC Web site, complete with a video-sharing device called the “Control Booth” and a library of digital clips from current and past seasons.

So what’s the problem?

To watch SNL content on the NBC Web site, you first have to sit through (admittedly brief) commercials. More frustrating is the lack of an adequate search function on the “Control Booth,” which makes finding a specific skit a labor-intensive process. The NBC YouTube channel, on the other hand, works perfectly—except that NBC often makes inexplicable decisions about what gets uploaded. Some of the best skits never make it onto the site.

The situation is even grimmer for music bloggers hoping to spread around clips of bands performing on SNL. In February, band-of-the-moment Arcade Fire churned out a gripping set on the SNL stage. The next day, the music blog Stereogum reported that front man Win Butler had performed with a Haitian proverb taped to his guitar, which translated to “An empty sack doesn’t stand up.” Existential metaphors aside, it seemed like a perfect summation of NBC’s evolving policy towards YouTube. Further down in the post, Stereogum linked to a couple of YouTube clips of the performance, in which Mr. Butler smashed said guitar. Days later, both clips had been rendered useless.

How do Saturday Night Live and NBC decide which skits get officially posted, and where?

Mr. Michaels says that he has a hand in the process, which typically takes place at the end of each show. Some of those decisions, according to Mr. Michaels, are dictated by logistics (short clips for cell phones), others by the complicated thicket of guilds, and unions, and copyright issues.

“Very often, music in a sketch is not clearable,” said Mr. Michaels. “Very often, a sketch that I would love to put up there I can’t, because you’d have to clear it with the publisher.”

Music aside, what about SNL’s political satire?

Eric Schmeltzer, a New York–based independent political correspondent who formerly served as the press secretary for Howard Dean, suggests that NBC executives might have been wearing their bad-idea jeans when they decided to sic their legal department on YouTube.

“Political clips are some of the most-watched on YouTube—besides some of the nonsense that teenagers will put up of them dancing on their beds and stuff like that,” said Mr. Schmeltzer. “If they have a good political skit that skewers George W. Bush, if you put that on YouTube and allow people to grab it and post it, you could potentially be seen the next day by two or three million people. I just can’t understand why they wouldn’t want that to happen.”

Mattis Goldman, a Democratic political consultant, points out that SNL’s political satire had a huge impact on the 2000 Presidential elections, long before the advent of YouTube. (Remember the lockbox?) The question for Mr. Goldman is whether, in the intervening years, NBC has sufficiently kept up with the changing media landscape.

“In 2000, Saturday Night Live’s satire of what happened in the campaign became the conventional wisdom for what was going on in the campaign,” said Mr. Goldman. “But the creative idea alone is not enough these days: You have to have a Web-based outlet where people are going to be able to view it.”

Is it a smart strategy for NBC to crack down on unauthorized SNL clips on YouTube?

“That’s a decision they have to make,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “If pieces cannot be used, they’ll have less political impact. But that’s not what NBC is interested in. They’re interested in money. The political discourse may be poorer for their decision, but their decision makes perfect sense for them, because they’re a profit-making organization.”

Mr. Michaels says that this fall, as always, Saturday Night Live will spoof the upcoming Presidential debates. But whether those skits will end up on YouTube, Mr. Michaels can’t say at this point.

“With the new Fox thing,” said Mr. Michaels, “I think we’re all just waiting, you know?”

The Daily Show On Parent Company Viacom's Lawsuit Against YouTube... On YouTube

Well, here's one for Friday evening. On last night's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (which is owned by Viacom), Stewart and Demetri Martin discussed Viacom's lawsuit against Google/YouTube. It's an entertaining five minutes, where Martin wonders if you're watching him on YouTube right now -- so it didn't take long, of course, for that clip to show up on YouTube:

Of course, given the way Viacom has been trying to take down anything even remotely connected to Viacom, that video might not last long. Viacom has it available on its own site as well -- though, again, getting to it and getting the embed code was immensely more annoying that the YouTube version, costs Viacom bandwidth resources and also requires Viacom employees to put the video up themselves, rather than just letting fans do it for them -- but if that's what they want (also, we "raced" the two videos and the YouTube one seemed much faster, but that's another issue):

While the clip is amusing, the key point is that it seems clear that Stewart recognizes how Viacom's decision is doing more harm than good: "But to me, the situation is that there's a ton to gain for both companies. Viacom, they put their content on YouTube, it gets exposure, people know about their programming... it's a win for everybody in this situation." This, of course, echoes Stewart's own statements from a few years ago about how great it was that people were downloading and watching the show (pre-YouTube). Too bad Stewart's bosses don't listen to him on these things.

Researchers Explore Scrapping Internet
Anick Jesdanun

Although it has already taken nearly four decades to get this far in building the Internet, some university researchers with the federal government's blessing want to scrap all that and start over.

The idea may seem unthinkable, even absurd, but many believe a "clean slate" approach is the only way to truly address security, mobility and other challenges that have cropped up since UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock helped supervise the first exchange of meaningless test data between two machines on Sept. 2, 1969.

The Internet "works well in many situations but was designed for completely different assumptions," said Dipankar Raychaudhuri, a Rutgers University professor overseeing three clean-slate projects. "It's sort of a miracle that it continues to work well today."

No longer constrained by slow connections and computer processors and high costs for storage, researchers say the time has come to rethink the Internet's underlying architecture, a move that could mean replacing networking equipment and rewriting software on computers to better channel future traffic over the existing pipes.

Even Vinton Cerf, one of the Internet's founding fathers as co-developer of the key communications techniques, said the exercise was "generally healthy" because the current technology "does not satisfy all needs."

One challenge in any reconstruction, though, will be balancing the interests of various constituencies. The first time around, researchers were able to toil away in their labs quietly. Industry is playing a bigger role this time, and law enforcement is bound to make its needs for wiretapping known.

There's no evidence they are meddling yet, but once any research looks promising, "a number of people (will) want to be in the drawing room," said Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor affiliated with Oxford and Harvard universities. "They'll be wearing coats and ties and spilling out of the venue."

The National Science Foundation wants to build an experimental research network known as the Global Environment for Network Innovations, or GENI, and is funding several projects at universities and elsewhere through Future Internet Network Design, or FIND.

Rutgers, Stanford, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among the universities pursuing individual projects. Other government agencies, including the Defense Department, have also been exploring the concept.

The European Union has also backed research on such initiatives, through a program known as Future Internet Research and Experimentation, or FIRE. Government officials and researchers met last month in Zurich to discuss early findings and goals.

A new network could run parallel with the current Internet and eventually replace it, or perhaps aspects of the research could go into a major overhaul of the existing architecture.

These clean-slate efforts are still in their early stages, though, and aren't expected to bear fruit for another 10 or 15 years — assuming Congress comes through with funding.

Guru Parulkar, who will become executive director of Stanford's initiative after heading NSF's clean-slate programs, estimated that GENI alone could cost $350 million, while government, university and industry spending on the individual projects could collectively reach $300 million. Spending so far has been in the tens of millions of dollars.

And it could take billions of dollars to replace all the software and hardware deep in the legacy systems.

Clean-slate advocates say the cozy world of researchers in the 1970s and 1980s doesn't necessarily mesh with the realities and needs of the commercial Internet.

"The network is now mission critical for too many people, when in the (early days) it was just experimental," Zittrain said.

The Internet's early architects built the system on the principle of trust. Researchers largely knew one another, so they kept the shared network open and flexible — qualities that proved key to its rapid growth.

But spammers and hackers arrived as the network expanded and could roam freely because the Internet doesn't have built-in mechanisms for knowing with certainty who sent what.

The network's designers also assumed that computers are in fixed locations and always connected. That's no longer the case with the proliferation of laptops, personal digital assistants and other mobile devices, all hopping from one wireless access point to another, losing their signals here and there.

Engineers tacked on improvements to support mobility and improved security, but researchers say all that adds complexity, reduces performance and, in the case of security, amounts at most to bandages in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.

Workarounds for mobile devices "can work quite well if a small fraction of the traffic is of that type," but could overwhelm computer processors and create security holes when 90 percent or more of the traffic is mobile, said Nick McKeown, co-director of Stanford's clean-slate program.

The Internet will continue to face new challenges as applications require guaranteed transmissions — not the "best effort" approach that works better for e-mail and other tasks with less time sensitivity.

Think of a doctor using teleconferencing to perform a surgery remotely, or a customer of an Internet-based phone service needing to make an emergency call. In such cases, even small delays in relaying data can be deadly.

And one day, sensors of all sorts will likely be Internet capable.

Rather than create workarounds each time, clean-slate researchers want to redesign the system to easily accommodate any future technologies, said Larry Peterson, chairman of computer science at Princeton and head of the planning group for the NSF's GENI.
Even if the original designers had the benefit of hindsight, they might not have been able to incorporate these features from the get-go. Computers, for instance, were much slower then, possibly too weak for the computations needed for robust authentication.

"We made decisions based on a very different technical landscape," said Bruce Davie, a fellow with network-equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc., which stands to gain from selling new products and incorporating research findings into its existing line.

"Now, we have the ability to do all sorts of things at very high speeds," he said. "Why don't we start thinking about how we take advantage of those things and not be constrained by the current legacy we have?"

Of course, a key question is how to make any transition — and researchers are largely punting for now.

"Let's try to define where we think we should end up, what we think the Internet should look like in 15 years' time, and only then would we decide the path," McKeown said. "We acknowledge it's going to be really hard but I think it will be a mistake to be deterred by that."

Kleinrock, the Internet pioneer at UCLA, questioned the need for a transition at all, but said such efforts are useful for their out-of-the-box thinking.

"A thing called GENI will almost surely not become the Internet, but pieces of it might fold into the Internet as it advances," he said.

Think evolution, not revolution.

Princeton already runs a smaller experimental network called PlanetLab, while Carnegie Mellon has a clean-slate project called 100 x 100.

These days, Carnegie Mellon professor Hui Zhang said he no longer feels like "the outcast of the community" as a champion of clean-slate designs.

Construction on GENI could start by 2010 and take about five years to complete. Once operational, it should have a decade-long lifespan.

FIND, meanwhile, funded about two dozen projects last year and is evaluating a second round of grants for research that could ultimately be tested on GENI.

These go beyond projects like Internet2 and National LambdaRail, both of which focus on next-generation needs for speed.

Any redesign may incorporate mechanisms, known as virtualization, for multiple networks to operate over the same pipes, making further transitions much easier. Also possible are new structures for data packets and a replacement of Cerf's TCP/IP communications protocols.

"Almost every assumption going into the current design of the Internet is open to reconsideration and challenge," said Parulkar, the NSF official heading to Stanford. "Researchers may come up with wild ideas and very innovative ideas that may not have a lot to do with the current Internet."


Associated Press Business Writer Aoife White in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this report.

Should Power Usage Be A Secret?

The governor of Oklahoma, Brad Henry, has just signed a law allowing municipal power companies to not report power usage by their largest industrial customers. Lawmakers insisted this wasn't a "Google bill," despite the fact that Google just disclosed that it's considering building a data center on 800 acres of land it has purchased in Pryor, Oklahoma. But a journalist involved in the discussion of the bill acknowledged that the measure is designed to benefit data center operators.

Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association, said he understands that companies with computer server farms don't want their competitors to know their electrical use. "They consider it is a trade secret," he said. Thomas worked with lawmakers to come up with an acceptable compromise bill that would modify the Open Records Act by allowing public bodies to keep secret the amount of electrical power sold to very large industrial customers.

Thomas told the Tulsa World that the press association found the law acceptable because of provisions that limited the exception to customers using more than 2.5 megawatts of power per month, and ensured that other key data - including the customer's rate and whether it was current on its bill - would remain public. State press associations often challenge new laws that carve out exemptions to public open records laws.

Shane Woolbright, director of Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma Inc., said he sought the legislation "on behalf of large-volume electric users that might be considering a move to Oklahoma." Woolbright said the bill will be helpful to Google, but was not aware of Google making any condition that the bill be signed into law.

Google pursues secrecy about many aspects of its data center operations, citing its infrastructure as a major competitive differentiator. "Our leadership in search and ads is a direct result of our relentless focus on building the most robust platforms for our users," CFO George Reyes said last year, adding that Google's spending on data centers was "really critical part of our competitive advantage and our infrastructure."

Nicholas Carr noted a recent example of Google's closed-mouth approach to its data centers, seen at a recent ceremony to announce its $600 million facility in Lenoir, North Carolina:

At a pork barbecue celebrating the announcement of the data center deal, Google held a question and answer session with local dignitaries, but it was characteristically closed-mouthed about the details of its operation. Asked how it uses water and electricity at its sites, Google executive Rhett Weiss said, "We're in a highly competitive industry and, frankly, one or two little pieces of information like that in the hands of our competitors can do us considerable damage. So we can't discuss it."

So we can add public power usage data to the list of topics covered by the "Fight Club Rule" of data center secrecy.

New AACS Cracks Cannot be Revoked, Says Hacker
Jeremy Reimer

Only a few days after Corel issued a WinDVD update to close the hole opened by AACS hackers, the folks at the Doom9 forums sent word that they have found yet another way around the copy protection for high definition discs. This time, the method involved the Xbox 360's HD DVD add-on drive to capture the "Volume Unique Keys" as they were being read by the drive itself. Rather than just point out the crack, we're going to take a closer look at how this crack was accomplished, because one of the hackers involved in the crack says that it's more or less unstoppable.

The latest attack vector bypasses the encryption performed by the Device Keys—the same keys that were revoked by the WinDVD update—and the so-called "Host Private Key," which as yet has not been found. This was accomplished by de-soldering the HD DVD drive's firmware chip, reading its contents, and then patching it. Once that was done, the firmware was soldered back onto the drive.

Despite the technical difficulty of performing this hack, it does offer some advantages in the race to beat AACS copy protection. "They cannot revoke this hack," said forum member arnezami, who has been at the center of much of the AACS cracking recently. "No matter how many Private Host Keys they revoke we will still be able to get Volume IDs using patched xbox 360 HD DVD drives."

In addition to being irrevocable, the hack has the potential to make future decryption even easier. "This hack/technique enables us to figure out how the Volume ID is stored on the disc," arnezami explained. "It's very possible we would figure out [...] how the KCD is stored on the disc. Knowing that and being able to teach a PC drive how to read a KCD will open the door for what I called third-generation decryption."

While this type of decryption (reading keys directly off a PC drive by sidestepping part of the encryption process) is still not a reality, it may not be too far off. The main issue is the cost of purchasing standalone high-def players by the hackers, but as prices for these come down, this problem will slowly go away.

Although AACS has proven much more difficult to fully crack than the copy protection on regular DVDs, it is unlikely to remain only partially cracked for very long. The real problem with trying to create an "uncrackable" copy protection is that the media must come with the keys used to decrypt it somewhere on the device and the media itself. Hiding these keys in different places—security by obscurity—merely delays the inevitable. Of course, for the content providers, any delay is still better than no delay at all, so expect the battles between copy protection and hackers to continue.

Mo' baloney

Sony Pictures DVD’s Have a New a Copy Protection that Makes the Movies Unplayable on Some Sony (& Other Makes) DVD Players!
Mick B

YES ! It appears that Sony have done it again. In their zeal to make their DVD movies copyproof (yeah right) they have in fact made their latest releases unplayable on some DVD players, including my Sony DVP-CX995V DVD player. I recently rented “Stranger than Fiction” (2 copies) and “The Holiday” (please no comments on my choice of movies) both by Sony Pictures. Both load up to the splash title screen and then load no further, then after about 60 secs the player turns itself off!

ALL my other DVD’s and new releases from other movie companies play perfectly

I called Sony Electronics help line and they said to call Sony Pictures 1-800-860-2878 which I did.

The following is a compression of our discussion:

Sony Tech: We know about this problem. Its our new copy protection that’s making these discs unplayable in some players including our own, we do not intend to change the copy protection. The only correction to this problem is a firmware update to your player. The electronics division know about this and should have given you this information.

Me: OK send me the firmware update.

Sony Tech: We do not have one as yet.

Me: OK (a bit frustrated) when will it be available?

Sony Tech: It could be 2 weeks it could be a month, we don’t know.

He then took my phone number and said ”they” would let me know when the firmware update is available, but declined to take my address saying that they would get that when the update was available.

I will say that I got a live person on both support lines within 30 secs.

Here are my questions to Sony:

After spending $350 on a Sony DVD player 3 months ago am I now supposed to avoid Sony Pictures products?

You are still advertising the Sony DVP-CX995V prominently on the Sony USA website but I notice there is no disclaimer that it may not play some new Sony Pictures DVD’s.

Would it not be a good idea to test changes you intend to make on your DVD’s at least on your own equipment so that if you find a problem you could have the firmware update available instead of not only inconveniencing, but alienating your own customers.

I believe this problem is happening on other manufacturers devices, are they working feverishly on firmware updates to accommodate you?

Well thats my rant (yeah I feel a bit better now)

Sony Fixes Problem DVDs

Copy-protection glitch reported on Casino Royale, Pursuit of Happyness others
Jennifer Netherby

APRIL 17 | Sony Corp. of America says it has fixed a glitch on recent DVD releases including Casino Royale, The Pursuit of Happyness and Stranger Than Fiction that prevented the movies from playing on some DVD players.

Sony said the problem was due to an update of its ARccOS copy-protection system, an additional layer of protection meant to prevent ripping. The studio has included ArccOS on its DVDs for the past two years. The copy-protection is continually updated to keep ahead of hackers.

“Recently, an update that was installed on approximately 20 titles was found to cause an incompatibility issue with a very small number of DVD players (Sony has received complaints on less than one thousandth of one percent of affected discs shipped),” the company said in a statement. “Since then, the ARccOS system has once again been updated, and there are no longer any playability problems.”

Several hundred users complained directly to Sony and on discussion boards at Amazon.com and other blogs, saying their players were freezing or shutting off in the menu section of recent releases from the studio.

Sony is providing replacement discs to customers that have had problems. Customers can call Sony Pictures Home Entertainment customer service at 800.860.2878 for replacement discs.

ARccOS is known to have compatibility problems with some models of Sony, Toshiba and Harman Kardon DVD players. Those were the same players that users on Amazon reported problems with.

Samsung to Launch Dual Blu-Ray HD DVD Player
Martyn Williams

One of the main backers of the Blu-ray Disc format, South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., plans to release an optical disc player this year that will play both Blu-ray Disc and the rival HD DVD format, it said Friday.

Samsung hopes to make the BD-UP5000 player available before the end of 2007 in the U.S., said Kwak Bumjoon, a spokesman for the company in Seoul. He said the player could be available in Europe in the following few months, but an exact release schedule has not been decided. No details on possible pricing were also available.

The news makes Samsung the second company to shift from a single-format stance and adopt the idea of a dual player than can read both types of disc. The other, fellow South Korean maker LG Electronics Inc., launched a dual player in North America earlier this year.

Consumer electronics and computer companies have been divided on the two formats for the last few years. Blu-ray Disc is principally backed by Sony Corp. and other major supporters include Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic), Sharp Corp. and Dell Inc. HD DVD's main supporter is Toshiba Corp. and it also counts the support of Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. as well as the backing of the DVD Forum, the group behind the DVD format.

The result has been widespread confusion among consumers who, if they buy one of the new players, face the prospect of not being able to play some of their favorites because the movie studios have also picked sides.

So it might appear to consumers more than a little ironic that Samsung, which helped create the format mess in the first place, is trying to push the new player as something it's doing because it thinks of consumers ahead of business.

"Our main concern is with the consumer and not a particular technology," said Kwak.

Both formats were launched commercially last year and sales remain poor because of this battle between the two rival systems. Prices have also been relatively high although competition between Sony and Toshiba has been gaining pace in the U.S. and there have recently been some price cuts.

Sony's BDP-S300 will launch in the middle of the year for about US$599 while Toshiba's HD-A2 player carries a recommended price of $399 but can currently be found on Amazon.com for $309. In contrast LG's BH100 dual-format player costs $1,000.

DNC Appoints RIAA Shill to Run Public Affairs for Convention
Cory Doctorow

Today, Jenni Engebretsen was named "Deputy CEO for Public Affairs," for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver -- but she is better known as the Director of Communications for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The RIAA is the most hated "company" in America, according to a recent poll on the Consumerist. The RIAA's campaign of suing thousands of American music lovers has been the single biggest PR disaster in recent industrial history -- which is why Engebretsen's employer beat out Halliburton, Blackwater and Wal-Mart for the coveted "Worst Company" slot.

Engebretsen's PR approach is centered around stonewalling and avoiding difficult press calls. She contacted me in 2005 to deny that the RIAA had sent a takedown notice to a website called RPGFilms.net, and promised to answer my followup questions in a day or two. After four months of emailing and calling her, I finally got through to her (by calling her from a different phone, so she couldn't see who was phoning).

She said that the RIAA had no comment.

The liberal blogosophere is united on many fronts -- not just disliking US foreign policy. We also hate the RIAA -- for suing our friends, for lobbying for laws that suspend due process rights of the accused (the RIAA's favorite law, the DMCA, was used by Diebold to suppress information about failures in its voting machines), and for demanding the right to "pretext" (commit wire fraud) in order to catch "pirates."

Worse still, the RIAA are part of the initiative to corrupt net neutrality, imposing centralized controls on the transmission of information across the network.

It has been Engebretsen's job to sell these initiatives to the American public. She's failed to sell this to the American public. Not only does she take a paycheck for selling gangsters to the public -- she's not very good at it!

The DNC can do better. This represents a potential shear with the left-wing blogosphere. I hate what the GOP has done to this country, but the RIAA isn't much better.

Funding for the Democratic National Convention comes from a different pool than general DNC operations. Here's a list of the largest donors to the DNC for the past two election cycles. If you know these people, you can contact them and urge them not to contribute to the DNCC.

You can also contact the DNC directly, using the information on its website.

The press-release about Engebretsen's appointment isn't online yet, but here's the relevant material:

Washington, DC –Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today announced the six members of the senior leadership team for the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC). This talented group of professionals brings extensive experience representative of the commitment to excellence, inclusion and accessibility that will be a hallmark of the 2008 Denver Convention...

Jenni Engebretsen, Deputy CEO for Public Affairs
Jenni R. Engebretsen is currently the Director of Communications for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Washington, DC-based trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Before joining the RIAA, Engebretsen spent eight years working in Democratic politics, most recently as a Regional Communications Director for the Kerry-Edwards for President campaign, where she was responsible for developing campaign communications strategy for top-targeted states including Florida and New Hampshire. During the 2004 presidential cycle, she also served as Deputy Communications Director for the Democratic National Convention in Boston and as Press Secretary for the Edwards for President campaign during the primaries. Before that, she worked on Capitol Hill in the communications offices of Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer ( D-N.Y.) and in the White House press office during the Clinton Administration. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

I sought comment on this post from the DNC and from Jenni Engebretsen. Neither responded in time for initial publication. I welcome their replies and will append them to this post if they are forthcoming.

Web Apps Can Never Be Desktop Replacements
Matt Hartley

(Review) - We are seeing more and more articles appearing with the claim that everything we really need from an OS is available online. In the past, I have challenged this, submitting instead, the possibility that this is more or less wishful thinking that is shot down with the simple matter of a broadband outage.

Applications, Maybe. What About Personal Privacy? With services like GMail that are too anxious to give us free access to e-mail storage, the offering for file storage is still fairly laughable. And that’s not even considering the sheer bandwidth that is needed to make huge file transfers. Then there is the matter of privacy. Some of you may point out that the data stored on your hard drive is not of any real consequence, but I would disagree. It is more than probable that a skilled, disgruntled employee of the company you trust with your data could run away with key data you entrust to sell off your personal information.

Even if ABC Corp. is offering to store up to 25GB of your data for you at no cost, just remember that very little is really "free" in life.

Open Source and Linux Has No Place in OLPC

But the Applications, They Are So Darned Feature Rich! I think this is one of the "catches" that hook most people into falling for web applications as their new default. Because they offer everything someone might want from a localized application, the obvious shortcomings like security are completely ignored for the temptation of convenience. This is part of what gave Windows so much grief with 98 through XP.

With that said, I would be the first to agree that access to web applications makes a lot of sense when you look at something to backup a localized solution. For instance, let’s say you are visiting your in-laws, and you need to edit a document that you forgot to complete before making the trip, and you have it handy on the thumb drive attached to your keychain. In this instance, access to a full featured, web-based text editor makes a lot of sense. However, it would not replace a full-time solution; you need to have a plan B if you depend on this kind of an application.

Google Calendar: A Classic Example. I think Google Calendar provides a classic example here. We have a feature rich application that cannot be synced to anything without third-party assistance. I’m not pointing fingers, but it means that I’m either hunting down a third-party provider for my calendar synchronization or continue to rely on the SMS feature for alerts.

Here is where Google could really "wow me." Create a sync app based on Java that allows me to browse to my calendar file for either Kontact or Evolution and boom - you just gained a huge share of value for a largely ignored audience. And considering the Google interest in remaining competitive with Microsoft, this allows them to further extend their reach with very, very little effort. Again, that is without relying on unknown third party options. I would also love to see this for syncing Google products to my Pocket PC as well.

What's so sad about this is that once you remove the USB part of the equation, it should become something that is a lot simpler. Take the PC out of the equation entirely by making it sync compatible between your mobile device and the web based calendaring system. Two platforms that are going to be fairly uniform in comparison to that of all of the Linux desktops in the market. It sure beats this sort of nonsense , that's for sure.

The Top 5 Things I Hate About Linux

Web Apps Have Their Place. I wanted to conclude this column by stating that I’m definitely not against web apps at all. I just want people to understand where their value ends and reality begins. I believe wholeheartedly that as a reliable alternative for non-mission critical functions, they'd be a huge asset for anyone looking for a quick alternative to the everyday.

But plugging us into a Kiosk situation is not going to prove viable for all situations, based on reliance of web apps. And keep in mind that I’m a huge fan of Kiosk Linux distributions. I even use them for specific tasks that relate to giving the general public access to the Internet; therefore, they definitely have an important place.

Where do we go from here? I suggest tempering sanity with an interest in trying new software options, such as web apps. For me, there will never be a Firefox plug-in that gives me the control that GNOME and KDE applications do. It's just not going to happen in my opinion.

Warner Wants Unprotected Albums off Web Site

Warner Music Group on Thursday demanded that online retailer AnywhereCD remove its digital albums from the site, saying the start-up had violated their agreement by selling Warner's music without copy protection software.

But the fourth-largest music company appeared to make a concession to calls for music without copy restrictions, known as DRM, by saying it was acceptable for AnywhereCD to help fans rip CDs into the popular MP3 format.

Copy protection has been a contentious issue in the music industry, with critics saying DRM restricts the growth of digital music, but supporters saying it helps curb piracy.

The No. 3 record company, EMI Group, recently announced it will start selling its music without protection in an agreement with Apple and other online retailers.

Warner stopped short of following in their footsteps, but it did say AnywhereCD can offer a service to let CD buyers rip their albums into MP3 files.

What Warner takes issue with is AnywhereCD selling unprotected albums directly to buyers without a license.

The San Diego-based online retailer opened shop on Thursday and sells CD albums of popular Warner artists like Prince and Madonna.

It sells MP3 albums at a discount to physical CDs. For example, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' double-CD album Stadium Arcadium is available for $17.95 in CD format on the site, but costs only $14.95 in MP3 format.

Warner said AnywhereCD is selling its music in a manner that "flagrantly violates" their agreement.

"Accordingly, we have sent them a notice of termination and they are required to immediately remove all of our content from their site," Warner said in a statement.

Warner Music Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman told investors in February that selling digital music without protection was not logical.

"There is no reason to conclude that music is the one content category that should not or cannot be protected, simply because there is an unprotected legacy product available in the physical world," he said.

AnywhereCD founder Michael Robertson, who founded MP3.com in the late 1990s, told Reuters he would not comment on any specific agreement with any record company.

He said the company charges more for CDs because of postage costs. He said a discount is available if people want to buy the album but do not want the physical CD sent to them.

Robertson said AnywhereCD would give a boost to the music industry by supporting album sales, which have struggled as consumers have moved to the digital format and cherry-picked favorite songs from digital retailers such as Apple's iTunes.

"My thinking was we should give consumers a reason to buy an album," he said. "If you buy the album then I'll give MP3 tracks pretty much what you get with CDs anyway."

Although the site features plenty of artists' albums, most of the best-known names appeared to be Warner-signed or Warner-distributed acts. Robertson declined to give details of current or potential deals with other labels.

Robertson founded MP3.com in 1997 as a digital music locker service for fans but the company ran into copyright violation lawsuits from the music companies because it did not have licenses to offer the service.

Blogs Get Fit to Go to Print
Curt Nickisch

The blogosphere is coming to a newspaper near you.

Beginning this month with Boston as the pilot market, Icelandic publishing company Dagsbrun plans to launch free dailies in 10 U.S. cities. The papers will run blogs alongside the usual newspaper fare.

The flagship paper, BostonNOW, hits the streets today. Editor in Chief John Wilpers says bloggers will not only get an outlet for their musings, they'll also break news.

Wilpers says he'll help bloggers tailor their postings for a general audience. At first, he expects only about 10 percent of the newspaper's content to come from Web contributors. But eventually, half the paper could be filled by all the Boston blogs fit to print, he says.

Dagsbrun plans to start nine more newspapers over the next three years.

Curt Nickisch reports for member station WBUR in Boston.

Unhorsed Jockey

Behind the Fall of Imus,
A Digital Brush Fire In a Blur, Watchdogs, Blogs, Email, Spur Radio Host's Firing
Brooks Barnes, Emily Steel and Sarah McBride

At 6:14 a.m. on Wednesday, April 4, relatively few people were tuned into the "Imus in the Morning Show" when Don Imus referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's."

Ryan Chiachiere was. A 26-year-old researcher in Washington, D.C., for liberal watchdog organization Media Matters for America, he was assigned to monitor Mr. Imus's program. Mr. Chiachiere clipped the video, alerted his bosses and started working on a blog post for the organization's Web site.PUBLIC PRESSURE

Yesterday, after eight days of dizzying activity, CBS pulled the plug on Mr. Imus's hugely successful radio show. One day earlier, MSNBC had canceled its broadcast of the show on cable TV. CBS had originally suspended Mr. Imus for two weeks, but succumbed amid an escalating national outcry and an exodus of big advertisers. "All of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air," CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said yesterday in a written statement.

Mr. Imus, who didn't respond to repeated calls seeking comment, had for years been making outrageous and frequently crude remarks about risky subjects such as race, sex and gender, a style that millions of listeners had embraced. The media executives and advertisers profiting from Mr. Imus's popularity stood by him as protests occasionally surfaced. They usually subsided after a few days.

This time it was different. The target was a sympathetic team of young athletes. In the ensuing furor, the lucrative and often vulgar business of talk radio found itself running into new limits, as the Internet sent Mr. Imus to millions of PC screens, driving executives, advertisers and employees to distance themselves from his racist words.

On the morning of the original broadcast, there was little response to Mr. Imus's slur. Media Matters posted the video and transcript on its Web site and sent an email blast to several hundred reporters, as it does nearly every day. The post received dozens of comments, many heated, some more than 300 words long. The next day, top news outlets didn't mention the incident.

On Thursday, at about 3 p.m., NBC News President Steve Capus was conducting a routine planning meeting in his third-floor offices at Rockefeller Center when an assistant interrupted him to take an urgent phone call, according to a person at the meeting. On the other line: MSNBC General Manager Dan Abrams. Mr. Abrams said MSNBC executives were fielding complaints from viewers and employees who had seen a video clip of Mr. Imus's remark on the Media Matters site, this person says.

The group is a Web-based nonprofit organization devoted to monitoring "conservative misinformation" in print, broadcast, cable, radio and Internet media outlets. It frequently complains about Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. Although the Imus show isn't generally considered conservative, some of its guests are.

Mr. Capus called an emergency meeting with MSNBC's management team, the producers for the TV version of "Imus in the Morning" and the head of public relations for NBC News. Among other decisions, Mr. Capus asked his PR team to draft a statement apologizing on behalf of MSNBC but clearly pointing out that "Imus in the Morning" was a CBS Radio production. MSNBC and NBC are owned by General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal.
Darnell White of NAACP, during a protest of Don Imus outside NBC headquarters in New York.

At CBS, CEO Leslie Moonves and incoming CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason spoke on the phone and started debating a course of action. About the same time, WFAN, the CBS-owned radio station that broadcast Mr. Imus's show, received a complaint from Rutgers University, according to Bo Dietl, an investigator and security consultant, and friend to Mr. Imus.

In Chicago, Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, saw an email sent by one of his executive board members at 5:06 p.m. "FYI -- do we need to address" read the subject line. It was the Media Matters post.

Mr. Monroe, editorial director of Johnson Publishing Co. in charge of Ebony and Jet magazines, wasn't a regular reader of Media Matters or an Imus listener.

He looked at the email. "My first reaction was: 'Oh, no he didn't,'" he says. Then he watched the clip. "I heard the words come out of his mouth and thought, 'Has he lost his mind?'"

Mr. Monroe picked up the phone and started calling other board members. He had guests over for dinner that night, who also were African-American. They talked about the controversy during dinner. Later that night, he was back on the phone with NABJ members and pulled an all-nighter to draft a statement. It said that the 3,200-member organization was "outraged and disgusted" by the comments, and called for "an immediate and sincere apology." Mr. Monroe posted the statement to the NABJ Web site at 5:30 a.m.

Friday morning, there was again scant mention of Mr. Imus's travails in the newspapers, although TV stations were beginning to pick up the story. Mr. Imus began his program, at 6:06 a.m., with an on-air apology. People close to Mr. Imus say he felt pressured to apologize by NBC and CBS executives. He also realized he needed to try to defuse the brewing storm.

"Want to take a moment to apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark," he said. "Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we're sorry."

It was Good Friday and many people already were off for the holiday weekend. News was supposed to slow to a crawl for several days.

Instead, the apology made the story explode. It hit the wires that day, and reporters began to contact CBS and MSNBC. It quickly became clear an apology wasn't going to suffice, and that the weekend wouldn't douse the fire.

David Carr, who writes a Monday media column for the New York Times business section, decided to scrap his planned subject and write about Mr. Imus instead. He called the remark "the kind of unalloyed racial insult that might not have passed muster on a low-watt AM station in the Jim Crow South."

Mr. Imus's problems were compounded by a power vacuum at CBS Radio, which produced his show. Two weeks earlier, CEO Joel Hollander, a longtime supporter of Mr. Imus and his various charities, had resigned. The company had been underperforming lately and was still reeling from the loss of shock-jock Howard Stern to satellite radio. Mr. Hollander's successor, Mr. Mason, wasn't due to start until April 16. He consulted with CBS executives by phone and email from his home outside Washington, D.C.

Mr. Imus's show is on just one CBS station -- WFAN -- but the media giant also earns revenue from syndicating the show to radio stations around the country. CBS owns 18% of the show's syndicator, Westwood One Inc.

Local stations that carry Imus say they sensed the situation was drifting. "Nobody had a firm hand on it," says Gabe Hobbs, head of talk programming at Clear Channel Communications Inc., which airs the Imus show on a handful of stations, including in Washington, D.C., and Providence, R.I. Some station managers say Westwood's affiliate-relations staff stayed in touch with them throughout the week.

Late Friday, WFAN issued a short statement. "We are disappointed by Imus's actions earlier this week, which we find completely inappropriate." The station said it would "monitor the program's content going forward."

On Friday, advertisers including Procter & Gamble Co. started talking about pulling their advertising from MSNBC's daytime schedule, which included Imus.

Civil-rights leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson raised the volume of their protests over the weekend, holding rallies in New York and Chicago. At a Saturday rally at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network, Mr. Sharpton called for Mr. Imus to be fired. A Sharpton spokesman says more than 200 people attended. Mr. Imus began to grasp the full consequences of what he had done, says his friend Mr. Dietl.

"Everybody is coming after me," Mr. Dietl recalls Mr. Imus telling him in a phone call that day. Mr. Imus and Mr. Dietl discussed the possibility of Mr. Imus appearing on Mr. Sharpton's radio show on Monday. Mr. Dietl says he advised against it, saying Mr. Sharpton would use Mr. Imus only to advance his own agenda. But Mr. Imus told his friend he wanted to use the show to apologize again.

CBS managers checked in with each other by phone, according to a spokesman, and NBC News executives gathered for a lengthy conference call on Sunday to map strategy, says Allison Gollust, head of communications for NBC News. Ms. Gollust hosted 15 people at her home for Easter dinner but never saw them.

Both CBS and NBC realized on Monday that critics were focusing their energy on MSNBC. The channel, critics strategized, was more likely to pull the plug because it had less to lose. Mr. Imus generates about $25 million a year for CBS, but only about $8.3 million for MSNBC. And although Mr. Imus reached over two million radio listeners every morning and only about 350,000 television viewers, TV was a more visible platform to attack.

Mr. Dietl offered to appear on Mr. Sharpton's show with Mr. Imus. "He said, 'No, Bo, I want to go on myself. I want to show I'm not afraid to face the music,'" Mr. Dietl recalls, saying Mr. Imus was convinced the controversy would die down after an apology. But the appearance seemed to make matters worse, with critics latching on to Mr. Imus's use of the phrase "you people," in what they said was a bungled apology.

CBS and NBC faced new problems: The Rutgers basketball team called a news conference for Tuesday morning. Another issue: a two-day charity "radio-athon" scheduled for Mr. Imus's show on Thursday and Friday.

At 6:30 p.m., MSNBC issued a harsh statement announcing it was suspending the show for two weeks, calling Mr. Imus's comments "racist" and "abhorrent." CBS 15 minutes later released its own statement saying it also would suspend the show.

The Rutgers news conference the next day was devastating. Carried live on cable TV, it went on for more than an hour. The coach gave a lengthy speech, before the 10 young women on the team, eight of whom are black, were introduced. They looked uncomfortable in the media glare. Without a hint of professional polish, their remarks came across as heartfelt.

For years, Mr. Imus had been somewhat inoculated from criticism because along with the edgy shtick, he addressed serious issues with guests from the political and media establishment. Presidential candidates (John Kerry, John McCain, Joseph Biden) top journalists (NBC's Tim Russert, David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell) and writers with a book to sell made stops on the show. Mr. Imus also pushed worthy charities, including his New Mexico ranch which hosted children with cancer.

But it soon became clear that events were moving at a speed he couldn't control.

P&G, the nation's largest advertiser, and one of its most conservative, says it quietly pulled ads from the TV broadcast on Friday but it didn't announce it until Tuesday when reporters started calling. P&G pulled ads from MSNBC's daytime schedule.

Mr. Capus called a meeting for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday with African-American employees in the news division, many of whom had complained to managers that MSNBC was sticking with Mr. Imus. The meeting, slated for 45 minutes, stretched for nearly two hours as employees -- some emotional and frank -- argued for axing the broadcast, according to two people who attended.

Jarred by the confrontation, Mr. Capus left the meeting and started lobbying CEO Jeff Zucker to pull the plug, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Senior NBC executives arrived at work on Wednesday to a flood of advertisers clamoring to pull their money from "Imus in the Morning." General Motors Corp., American Express Co., and GlaxoSmithKline PLC all followed P&G's lead. American Express's CEO Kenneth Chenault, an African-American, made the decision personally on Tuesday morning, says a spokeswoman for the financial giant.

At Sprint Nextel Corp., CEO Gary D. Forsee heard about the incident and agreed the spots should be pulled. Sprint employees had lobbied for the move, including members of an African-American Sprint employee group called the Diamond Network, says spokesman Chris Doherty. Sprint publicly confirmed its decision Wednesday.

Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of North American vehicle sales, service and marketing, had been an occasional guest on Mr. Imus's program, appearing as recently as last Thursday. Over the years Mr. LaNeve had arranged for GM to donate vehicles to Mr. Imus's ranch for sick children. On Tuesday, as advertisers were beginning to pull out, GM said it had "no plans to make any changes at this point." A day later GM changed its mind. Yesterday, Mr. LaNeve and another top marketing executive decided to drop the ads altogether.

At NBC Universal, the only debate left was whether to announce the cancellation of the simulcast that day or wait until the charity telethon was concluded. In the early afternoon, Mr. Zucker checked in with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who had in turn been taking the pulse of GE board members, according to a person close to Mr. Immelt. At a 5 p.m. meeting, Mr. Zucker made the call to pull the plug immediately. "This is the right thing to do," Mr. Zucker said, according to a person in the room.

Communications executives drafted statements to release to employees and the media. NBC News executives called Mr. Imus, and Mr. Zucker placed a tense phone call to CBS's Mr. Moonves around 6 p.m. letting him know the decision.

Mr. Dietl had been reaching out to Mr. Moonves's boss, CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone, on Mr. Imus's behalf. "Two words should not ruin a person's career," he recalls telling Mr. Redstone. A spokesman for Mr. Redstone confirms the media mogul spoke with Mr. Dietl but otherwise declines to comment.

On Wednesday, CBS board member Bruce Gordon, a former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, dropped a bomb by telling the Associated Press he had called on Mr. Moonves to fire Mr. Imus.

Mr. Redstone left the decision to pull the show largely to Mr. Moonves, says a person familiar with the matter. On Thursday morning, Mr. Moonves spent an hour and a half meeting with about 10 African-American leaders and women's rights advocates.

Mr. Moonves called Mr. Imus late yesterday afternoon at home and told him that his show was canceled, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Imus was awoken from a nap to take the call, Mr. Dietl says.

Other controversial radio hosts have gravitated to satellite, where there are fewer rules governing on-air standards. That happened with Mr. Stern, and with Opie & Anthony, a duo fired from CBS in August 2002 for encouraging a couple to have sex in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral.

But right now, the two satellite companies, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., are trying to merge, and need approval from the Federal Communications Commissions. FCC chief Kevin Martin is sensitive to complaints about indecency, and the companies wouldn't want to do anything that would jeopardize their merger prospects, says one satellite radio executive.

Mr. Imus's friend Mr. Dietl, a former New York City Police Department detective, blames the brouhaha on a fundamental mistake made by the radio host. While many others can get away with using offensive language, Mr. Dietl says, "the problem here was the people he talked about were innocent, lovely young ladies who strived and did something great."

--Neal Boudette, Ellen Byron, Brian Steinberg and Suzanne Vranica contributed to this article.
http://online.wsj.com/public/article...ain_tff_t op/

Hey, That’s (Not) Funny
Randy Kennedy

SECOND maybe only to the Big Bang, the elusive essence of comedy has been subjected to a lot of theorizing. In Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” a character played by Alan Alda described it pompously and mathematically as “tragedy plus time.” Steve Martin says it’s what makes you laugh but not puke. Schopenhauer believed it was based on a false syllogism, and other philosophers said it revolved around a hidden misunderstanding. (Lone Ranger: “Looks like we’re surrounded by Indians, Tonto.” Tonto: “What’s all this ‘we’ stuff, kemo sabe?”)

At this point, at least one thing is known: if you have to explain after a joke that you were trying to be funny, then it was not funny.

And if you are Don Imus — or anyone on a growing list of comedians who work in the treacherous terrain where race and humor meet — then you are guilty of more than flopping. You are guilty of indecent exposure, caught out in the cold without your clown suit on. All of your intentions and beliefs, ones that did not matter much as long as laughter was your primary goal, suddenly become relevant. So you find yourself trying to justify humor, never a pretty sound bite, as Mr. Imus demonstrated when he appeared Monday on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show.

“I didn’t think it was a racial insult,” he told Mr. Sharpton, of his now-endlessly repeated reference to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.”

“I thought it was in the process of us rapping and trying to be funny,” he said, sounding very little like the straight-talking Imus that his fans and detractors have come to know.

More than anything, it seems, his downfall has pointed to a double standard — or what one might call simply a standard — at work in humor that uses racist and sexist stereotypes. If comedians or talk-show hosts are funny enough, in any of the hard-to-define ways that can be determined, they often earn a pass when offensive material is used.

Of course, it’s not a universal pass; many people will never find humor that flirts with racism or sexism or homophobia funny and will continue to be offended and hurt by it. But the pass often works even if the humor is what comedy experts sometimes call “outsider to insider” joking — a white comedian wielding minority stereotypes; a straight woman making fun of lesbians — a much trickier proposition than insider humor.

Mr. Sharpton, for example, has not campaigned for the cancellation of other shows that tread up to and sometimes cross the line, like “South Park,” the slash-and-burn cartoon satire on Comedy Central, created by two white men, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, where racial epithets are about as plentiful as pronouns and ugly stereotypes are strip-mined down to the last laugh.

Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, which canceled Mr. Imus’s radio show on Thursday, spoke of “the effect language like this has on our young people.” But Mr. Moonves is part of same media empire, Viacom, controlled by Sumner M. Redstone, that oversees “South Park.” In a 2003 episode of the show, to cite just one of countless examples, a hand puppet version of Jennifer Lopez used so many offensive ways of portraying Hispanics it was hard to keep track.

“It’s indefensible on any level, and yet it’s hilarious,” said Chris Kelly, a writer for “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO. “It’s almost the purity of the racism. Or something. I don’t know.”

“Things like this require you to make a quality distinction, which is so hard to do,” said Mr. Kelly, who is white.

Comedians and commentators interviewed over the past several days offered numerous explanations for why Mr. Imus failed the funny test so spectacularly this time, after years of dealing in the same kind of material.

For one thing, they said, the danger was more acute for his show because it confused the kinds of expectations that humor needs to succeed. While Howard Stern’s guests, for example, tend to follow the stripper-bum-drunk-fallen-celebrity continuum fairly closely, Mr. Imus made his name by making his show a forum for serious thought and serious thinkers.

“It really is about expectations when you get down to it,” said Larry Wilmore, a longtime comedy writer who is a correspondent on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” (He is billed as the show’s “senior black correspondent” though he is also its sole black correspondent, and he often uses raced-based humor.)

“I mean you just can’t say, ‘So let’s talk about what’s happening to the economy this week, and up next, nappy-headed hos!,’ ” he said. “People get confused.”

He added that while Mr. Stern and many other white comedians trafficking in race-and-gender-based humor — Sarah Silverman, Sacha Baron Cohen — make it clear to one degree or another that they are playing a role, Mr. Imus has presented himself more or less as Don Imus, a craggy-faced contrarian in a 10-gallon hat.

And while he might have been trying to sling street lingo for its discordant comic effect — as if to say, “Isn’t it ridiculous to hear this coming from a guy who looks like me?” — he was not able to pull it off. Instead, it seemed merely provocative, another sop thrown to his more Neanderthal fans, the kind he has been throwing for years.

“I have a mathematical equation for all this,” said Mr. Wilmore. “White guy plus black slang equals comedy. But here’s where the equation breaks down. White guy plus black slang minus common sense equals tragedy.”

“I think he failed comedically more than anything else,” he added.

As many people have remarked, he also fumbled badly in choosing a target for his joke — a specific and sympathetic target, a come-from-behind women’s basketball team that had just lost a tough championship game. He did not level his lampoon at all black people or all women or, alternately, the kinds of supposedly bulletproof figures used for target practice by the comedy world all the time — politicians, reality-show contestants and celebrities like, for example, Jennifer Lopez.

“That kind of humor works pretty well from below, when you are blasting people who are powerful and rich and who can’t be hurt much,” said Victor Raskin, a professor of English and linguistics at Purdue University and an editor of the International Journal of Humor Research. “But here, it doesn’t work, racist or not.”

Or as the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., put it: “If he had decided to parody the hip-hop world or whomever he got this lingo from, then maybe that would have been funny. But I think his primary goal was to elicit shock, not to make people laugh.”
Some people interviewed suggested that Mr. Imus’s career might have had at least a slim chance of survival if he had parried the attacks by simply being really funny, instead of making the customary rounds of repentance and apologia.

Mr. Kelly cited the example of Ms. Silverman, who was criticized for using an epithet offensive to many Asian-Americans in a joke during “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in 2001. She never apologized and even worked the incident itself into a new comedy bit that continued to use the word — in essence, defending her comedy with comedy (though many viewers were not placated and will never find the joke funny).

Mr. Wilmore said that instead of apologizing Mr. Imus probably “should have said, ‘You know, it’s hard out here for a pimp.’ Or something like that. Say something really funny.”

“It’s his job to remind people that he’s irreverent, and he’s a satirist,” he added. “I certainly would have done that. I’d have tried to entertain my way out of it.”

Imus Options: Radio? Retirement?
Larry McShane

Back on the radio? Or off to retirement?

Answers about the future were hard to come by Friday, when 66-year-old radio legend Don Imus spent his first day of unemployment after nearly 40 years in silence—a change from his repeated apologies and media appearances of the last week. The biggest question was whether he would try rehabilitating his image or simply slip into obscurity.

Both options held certain appeals for the I-Man, who was fired for a racist and sexist remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team and took just eight days to morph from "Imus In the Morning" into "Jimmy the Greek" Snyder. The Greek never landed another job after his 1988 firing as a CBS football analyst for racially tinged remarks.

Before either happens, Imus will sit down with officials from CBS Radio to work out the financial details surrounding his abrupt dismissal. Imus recently negotiated a new five-year CBS contract that reportedly paid him $10 million a year. (Imus had no contract with cable network MSNBC—a unit of NBC Universal, owned by General Electric Co.—which simulcast his show in a licensing deal with CBS.)

"I see many people in suits with briefcases haggling over Imus' contracts," said Tom Taylor, editor of the trade publication Inside Radio. "I see a lot of that. There's a lot of money on the table in this thing, and a lot of issues."

Once they're settled, Imus presumably could try to restart his career on radio—either satellite or terrestrial—or perhaps on television.

A new gig would provide Imus with another opportunity for his career to rise phoenixlike as it has in the past—surviving and thriving despite firings, drug and alcohol woes, on-air controversies and a raunchy 1996 Washington appearance where he questioned President Clinton's sexual fidelity—with the first lady in attendance.

"I don't believe for a second that you won't hear from him again," said fellow WFAN-AM host Mike Francesa, a die-hard Imus backer, on his Friday afternoon program.

Or retirement beckons, perhaps with a multimillion-dollar golden parachute floated by CBS. Imus could spend more time with 8-year-old son Wyatt at either his $30 million beachfront home in Connecticut or his penthouse apartment with its 1,400-square-foot terrace on Central Park West.

He could also devote more time to his philanthropic pursuits, taking care of terminally ill children at his New Mexico ranch. His last radio appearance Thursday was to raise money for three charities; over the last 18 years, the Imus-hosted Radiothon raised more than $40 million.

CBS Radio spokeswoman Karen Mateo declined to comment on any aspects of Imus' contract. She also refused to discuss the fate of other regulars on the canceled program, including producer Bernard McGuirk and longtime Imus friend and sidekick Charles McCord.

It was McGuirk who spoke with Imus during the 10-second, relentlessly regurgitated sound-bite that came back to bite them both. McGuirk first used the word "hos" to describe the Rutgers players, with Imus then calling the 10-woman team "nappy-headed hos."

McCord co-hosted Friday morning's program, the first without Imus, with the fired DJ's wife, Deirdre. She discussed her husband's Thursday night meeting with the basketball team; coach C. Vivian Stringer said Friday that her players had accepted Imus' apology.

Filling Imus' slot Monday morning will be Francesa and longtime partner Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, Mateo said. The successful afternoon drive-time pair, New York's top sports radio duo, will perform double-duty for the next two weeks until a permanent plan was in place, she said.

Westwood One (managed and partly owned by CBS Corp.), which syndicated the Imus show, did not return a call about replacement programming on the 60 other stations that carried the program. Comic Dennis Miller, who started a syndicated show in January, was mentioned as one candidate.

Speculation about Imus immediately centered on satellite radio. Howard Stern, the I-Man's broadcasting bete noir, found freedom and a fortune by moving to Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. And shock jocks Opie and Anthony, booted from terrestrial radio in 2002, returned to XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. two years later—and now do morning shows on both satellite and FM radio.

But XM spokesman Nathaniel Brown said Friday that "we have no plans" to bring Imus aboard. Attempts to reach Sirius for comment were not answered Friday, although the Sirius talk centers on Imus' tight relationship with company CEO Mel Karmazin.

"I wouldn't doubt that Mel and Imus have lunch somewhere. I'm sure they've been on the phone or will be," said Taylor. "But Mel is in the middle of frying bigger fish."

Karmazin and Sirius are trying to merge with XM, creating one satellite radio company. Although the Federal Communications Commission does not regulate satellite content, any merger would require its approval because the FCC had previously barred a single company from controlling both satellite radio licenses.

Calif. Radio Station to Air "Best of Imus" Series

A small local radio station said it would run a "Best of Imus" series next week in defiance of the firing of radio host Don Imus after he made sexist and racist remarks on his nationally syndicated show.

Fred Lundgren, chairman of 1,400-watt KCAA-AM, said the station would kick off the series Monday with the program that ended Imus' 40-year career, in which he referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos."

The station, which has broadcast the shock jock's morning show since 2003, also plans to air mostly supportive listener mail and e-mail reacting to the weeklong controversy. The station can be heard in communities east and south of Los Angeles.

The Imus material also will be available on the station's Web site at www.kcaaradio.com Monday.

Lundgren said the motive for broadcasting the Imus reruns is in part financial.

"I hate to say it, but without Imus, we're pretty much toast," said Lundgren. "He's our only blip on the radar screen."

He added: "What Imus did was deplorable, inexcusable, but it shouldn't end the career of a man who has done so much good. This is an overreaction beyond anything I've ever seen in radio."

Imus' Wife Describes his Meeting with Rutgers Team
David Bauder

Don Imus' wife took over his radio fundraiser today after CBS fired the host for racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. She described her husband's meeting with the team, praised the women as "beautiful and courageous," and demanded that all hate mail being sent to the team stop.

"They gave us the opportunity to listen to what they had to say and why they're hurting and how awful this is," author Deirdre Imus said as she co-hosted the fundraiser for children's charities.

"He feels awful," she said of her husband. "He asked them, 'I want to know the pain I caused, and I want to know how to fix this and change this.'"

Deirdre Imus also said that the Rutgers players have been receiving hate e-mail, and she demanded that it stop. She told listeners "if you must send e-mail, send it to my husband," not the team.

"I have to say that these women are unbelievably courageous and beautiful women," she said.

Asked this morning about the hate mail, Rutgers team spokewoman Stacey Brann said the team had received "two or three e-mails" but had also received "over 600 wonderful e-mails."

Don Imus' two-day radio fundraiser had been scheduled long before his on-air description of team members as "nappy-headed hos" set off a national debate about taste and tolerance.

On Wednesday, a week after the remark and after advertisers began pulling their support, MSNBC said it would no longer televise the show. CBS fired Imus Thursday from the radio show that he has hosted for nearly 30 years.

"He has flourished in a culture that permits a certain level of objectionable expression that hurts and demeans a wide range of people," CBS Corp. chief executive Leslie Moonves said in a memo to his staff.

"In taking him off the air, I believe we take an important and necessary step not just in solving a unique problem, but in changing that culture, which extends far beyond the walls of our company," Moonves said.

C. Vivian Stringer, the Rutgers team's coach, spoke briefly Thursday night after meeting with Imus and his wife at the governor's mansion.

"We had a very productive meeting," she said. "Hopefully, we can put all of this behind us."

While team members respected Imus' willingness to apologize, they wanted him to understand how they were hurt, said Rev. DeForest Soaries, Stringer's pastor, who joined the meeting. Imus tried to explain what he meant, "but there was really no explanation that they could understand," Soaries said on NBC's Today show.

"An apology is appropriate for an insult," he said. "But restitution is necessary for an injury."

Critics have said Imus' remark about the women was just the latest in a line of objectionable statements by the ringmaster of a show that mixed high-minded talk about politics and culture with crude, locker-room humor.

The cantankerous Imus, once named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America by Time magazine and a member of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame, was one of radio's original shock jocks.

His career took flight in the 1970s and with a cocaine- and vodka-fueled outrageous humor. After sobering up, he settled into a mix of highbrow talk about politics and culture, with locker room humor sprinkled in.

Imus apologized on his show late last week after getting complaints about the Rutgers comment. He also tried to explain himself before the Rev. Al Sharpton's radio audience, appearing alternately contrite and combative. But many of his advertisers bailed in disgust, particularly after the Rutgers women spoke of their hurt.

Today, Sharpton praised Moonves' decision to can Imus and said it was time to change the culture of publicly degrading other people.

"I think we've got to really used this to really stop this across the board," Sharpton told CBS's The Early Show.

Some Imus fans considered the radio host's punishment too harsh.

Mike Francesa, whose WFAN sports show with partner Chris Russo is considered a possible successor to Imus in the Morning, said he was embarrassed by the company. "I'm embarrassed by their decision. It shows, really, the worst lack of taste I've ever seen," he said.

Losing Imus will be a financial hit to CBS Radio, which also suffered when Howard Stern left for satellite radio. The program earns about $15 million in annual revenue for CBS, which owns Imus' home radio station WFAN-AM and manages Westwood One, the company that syndicates the show nationally WFAN.

The show's charity fundraiser had raised more than $1.3 million Thursday before Imus learned he had lost his job. The total had grown Friday to more than $2.3 million for Tomorrows Children's Fund, CJ Foundation for SIDS and the Imus Ranch, Deirdre Imus said. The annual event has raised more than $40 million since 1990.

"This may be our last radiothon, so we need to raise about $100 million," Don Imus had cracked at the start of the event.

Volunteers were getting about 200 more pledges per hour Thursday than they did last year, with most callers expressing support for Imus, said phone bank supervisor Tony Gonzalez. The event benefited Tomorrows Children's Fund, the CJ Foundation for SIDS and the Imus Ranch.

Imus' troubles have also affected his wife, the founder of a medical center that studies links between cancers and environmental hazards whose book Green This! came out this week. Her promotional tour was called off "because of the enormous pressure that Deirdre and her family are under," said Simon & Schuster publicist Victoria Meyer.

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology in Hackensack, N.J., works to identify and control exposures to environmental hazards that may cause adult and childhood cancers. Imus Ranch in New Mexico invites children who have been ill to spend time on a working cattle ranch.

Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana, Karen Matthews, Warren Levinson, Seth Sutel, Tara Burghart, Colleen Long and Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

After Imus' Firing, is Rap Next in the Crosshairs?
Marcus Franklin

As Don Imus fought in vain to keep his job, the embattled radio host argued that rappers routinely "defame and demean black women" and call them "worse names than I ever did."

That's an argument many people made as the fallout intensified, culminating with Imus' firing on Thursday for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." Now that Imus has been silenced (for the moment), some critics are moving down the radio dial to take on hip-hop, boosting the growing movement against the harmful themes in rap.

"We all know where the real battleground is," wrote Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock. "We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show."

Pointing out that the rapper Mims uses "ho" and worse epithets in his chart-topping song "This Is Why I'm Hot," columnist Michelle Malkin asked: "What kind of relief do we get from this deadening, coarsening, dehumanizing barrage from young, black rappers and their music-industry enablers?"

The Rev. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., who as pastor of the Rutgers coach helped mediate the Imus imbroglio, said Friday that he is organizing a nationwide initiative to address the culture that "has produced language that has denigrated women."

"We have to begin working on a response to the larger problem," he said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, among the loudest critics calling for Imus' termination, indicated that entertainment is the next battleground. "We will not stop until we make it clear that no one should denigrate women," he said after Imus' firing. "We must deal with the fact that ho and the b-word are words that are wrong from anybody's lips.

"It would be wrong if we stopped here and acted like Imus was the only problem. There are others that need to get this same message."

It is a message that was spreading even before Imus' comments.

After "Seinfeld" actor Michael Richards was castigated for a racist on-stage rant, the New York City Council passed a symbolic resolution banning the n-word, and other cities around the country have passed similar measures.

Cultural critic, author and columnist Stanley Crouch, a longtime foe of rap music, suspected the Imus ordeal would galvanize young black women across the country. He said a key moment was when the Rutgers players appeared at a news conference this week — poised, dignified and defying stereotypes seen in rap videos and "dumb" comedies.

"When the public got to see these women, what they were, it was kind of shocking," Crouch said. "It made accepting the denigration not quite as comfortable as it had been for far too long."

Some defenders of rap music and hip-hop culture, such as the pioneering mogul Russell Simmons, deny any connection between Imus and hip-hop. They describe rap lyrics as reflections of the violent, drug-plagued, hopeless environments that many rappers come from. Instead of criticizing rappers, defenders say, critics should improve their reality.

"Comparing Don Imus' language with hip-hop artists' poetic expression is misguided and inaccurate and feeds into a mindset that can be a catalyst for unwarranted, rampant censorship," Simmons said in a statement Friday.

The superstar rapper Snoop Dogg also denied any connection to Imus. "(Rappers) are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports," he told MTV.com. "We're talking about hos that's in the 'hood that ain't doing (expletive) that's trying to get a (expletive) for his money."

Criticism of rap is nothing new — it began soon after the music emerged from New York City's underclass more than 30 years ago.

In 1990, the rapper-turned actor Queen Latifah challenged rap's misogyny in her hit song "U.N.I.T.Y." In 1993, C. Delores Tucker, who was chairwoman of the National Political Congress of Black Women Inc., led an organized movement — which included Congressional hearings — condemning sexist and violent rap.

That same year, the Rev. Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem drove a steamroller over a pile of tapes and CDs.

In 2004, students at Spelman College, a black women's college in Atlanta, became upset over rapper Nelly's video for his song "Tip Drill," in which he cavorts with strippers and swipes a credit card between one woman's buttocks. The rapper wanted to hold a campus bone marrow drive for his ailing sister, but students demanded he first participate in a discussion about the video's troubling images. Nellydeclined.

In 2005, Essence magazine launched its "Take Back the Music" campaign. Writers such as Joan Morgan and Kierna Mayo and filmmaker Byron Hurt also have tackled the issue recently.

T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, author of "Pimps Up, Ho's Down: Hip Hop's Hold on Young Black Women" and a professor at Vanderbilt University, said many black women resist rap music and hip-hop culture, but their efforts are largely ignored by mainstream media. As an example, the professor pointed to "Rap Sessions," the 10-city tour in which she's participating. She said the tour and its central question — does hip-hop hate women? — have gotten very little mainstream media coverage.

"It's only when we interface with a powerful white media personality like Imus that the issue is raised and the question turns to "Why aren't you as vociferous in your critique of hip-hop?' We have been! You've been listening to the music but you haven't been listening to the protests from us."

Crouch said that change in rap music and entertainment likely won't come fast, because corporations are still profiting from the business — but it's coming.

"I've been on (rappers) for 20 years," Crouch said. "I was in the civil-rights movement. I know it takes a long time when you're standing up against extraordinary money and great power. But we're beginning to see a shift."

FCC Details $12.5M Settlement with 4 Radio Station Owners
John Dunbar

Federal regulators Friday announced an unprecedented settlement with four radio broadcast companies under investigation for accepting cash and merchandise from record companies in exchange for airplay.

The four broadcasters will pay a $12.5 million fine and agree that their 1,653 stations won't engage in "payola" practices, according to a consent decree with the Federal Communications Commission.

The radio companies involved- Clear Channel Communications Inc., CBS Radio, Entercom Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. - represent four of the nation's six largest radio station owners. They admit to no wrongdoing under the three-year settlement.

A separate agreement was negotiated by the American Association of Independent Music and the radio groups. In that deal, the broadcasters agreed to provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists.

The free airtime, between 6 a.m. and midnight, would be granted to companies not owned or controlled by the nation's four dominant music labels - Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI Group. CBS will provide 800 hours, Citadel 1,300, Clear Channel 1,600, and Entercom 500, according to a list obtained by The Associated Press.

"Payola hurts musicians, the radio industry and the free flow of creative talent because music is chosen on the basis of who can pay the most - not who sounds the best," said FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, who has been largely credited with pushing the two-year investigation. "While this settlement is not a panacea to all payola woes, it requires the implementation of certain meaningful reform measures that should change corporate practices and behavior."

But Paul Porter, co-founder of media watchdog group Industry Ears, says the agreement does not go nearly far enough.

"You're basically talking about a fine and a fine doesn't stop payola," Porter said, adding that the broadcasters did not have to admit guilt and that he expects radio playlists to remain virtually unchanged. "Twelve million dollars is nothing for the big four companies."

CBS Radio and Entercom issued separate statements saying they were pleased to settle with the FCC and would continue to comply with sponsorship identification rules. CBS said many of the business practices detailed in the consent decree mirror those adopted as part of the company's previous settlement with former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Representatives from Clear Channel and Citadel did not return calls for comment.

Peter Gordon, founder of Thirsty Ear Recordings in Norwalk, Conn., led the separate negotiations on behalf of the independents and said the "real time commitment" from broadcasters will give local artists a chance to get some airplay at hours normally dominated by songs from major labels.

"We want to create the cycle and then grow it," Gordon said. "This is the beginning, not the end. It's a tangible plan to get traction in the market."

But Porter said that deal is too broad and unenforceable. "There's no checks and balances," he said.

Gordon acknowledged that the broadcasters' participation is voluntary and said there is no set date by which they must provide airtime for independent or local artists.

The consent decree is the second-largest penalty ever assessed by the FCC, trailing only a $24 million settlement reached with Univision Communications Inc. regarding children's television obligations.

Breaking down the fine, Entercom pays $4 million, Clear Channel owes $3.5 million, Citadel was fined $2 million, and CBS will pay $3 million.

Payola has been around as long as the radio industry and was made illegal after scandals in the late 1950s, but it can be difficult to prove.

In recent years, independent record promoters have acted as middlemen to deliver payments to radio stations in exchange for airplay. Other forms of inducement include lavish prizes meant for listeners that wind up going to station employees, promises by record companies of concerts by well-known artists in exchange for airplay, and payments for promotional expenses and station equipment.

And pay-for-play investigations have been uncommon in recent years at the FCC. The last time the agency took action was March 2000 when Clear Channel-owned stations KHKS-FM in Denton, Texas, and WKQI-FM in Detroit, Mich., were fined $4,000 each.

Most recent payola headlines have been generated by Spitzer, now New York's governor, who has criticized the FCC's inaction. He brokered settlements with the four major record labels totaling $30.1 million, as well as with two broadcasters, CBS and Entercom, for another $6.25 million.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who has sponsored legislation designed to help independent artists and radio stations compete against corporate counterparts, urged the FCC to seek action against other radio station licensees identified in Spitzer's investigation.

Adelstein said more actions are planned. "Today's agreement is just the first wave of this investigation, more waves are coming," he said.

Federal law and FCC rules require broadcasters to inform listeners if a station is being paid to play a song. The FCC can fine licensees, but criminal investigations are conducted by the Department of Justice.

Under the terms of this settlement, broadcasters agree to closer scrutiny in dealings with record companies, including limits on gifts, a promise to keep a database of all items worth more than $25 supplied by those companies, the employment of independent compliance officers to make sure stations follow the rules and a new "payola hot line" for employees to report infractions.

Under the separate agreement with the independent music group, a set of "rules of engagement" are aimed at requiring equal access to radio music programmers for all record companies as well as transparency in their dealings, Gordon said.

AP Business Writer Dan Caterinicchia contributed to this report.

Clear Channel Is Said to Get Raised Bid
Andrew Ross Sorkin

Two private equity firms raised their offer for Clear Channel Communications by more than $1.5 billion yesterday, to about $27.6 billion, according to people involved in the negotiations.

The sweetened bid came 24 hours ahead of a crucial vote by shareholders, who were expected to reject the offer from the two firms, Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

The maneuvering over Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio company, represents one of the few times that public shareholders have challenged a leveraged buyout, with some saying they were being shortchanged. And it demonstrated the power that public shareholders still have.

The new offer, expected to be announced today, may help win over some big shareholders, but it remained unclear last night whether it would be enough.

The private equity firms had insisted for months that they could not afford to pay more, and had threatened to let the deal die rather then increase their bid.

But several investors, including Fidelity Investments and Highfields Capital Management, a hedge fund, had said they planned to vote against the deal.

Proxy advisory firms like Glass, Lewis & Company, which wields influence on how many shareholders vote, recommended that the offer be rejected.

The new offer, at $39 a share compared with the previous one at $37.60, is likely to appease at least some shareholders, like Highfields. But some like Fidelity, which controls about 9 percent of Clear Channel, were hoping for at least $40 a share and could still seek to defeat the deal.

The vote is likely to be delayed by at least several days to give shareholders who had already submitted their votes an opportunity to change it based on the new offer, people involved in the deal said.

Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners appear to have been able to raise their bid, in part, because Wall Street banks allowed them to borrow more money. Neither firm is expected to have to commit more equity to the deal.

The private equity firms had offered to restructure the deal as an alternative to raising their bid to $39, but Clear Channel’s board rejected that proposal.

The firms were hoping to allay shareholder concerns that they were selling at too low a price by allowing the public shareholders to continue to own a small stake in the company, giving them an opportunity to benefit if the new owners were able to better the company.

Clear Channel made an earlier move to help save the deal. Last month, its board moved the record date, which determines the shareholders eligible to vote on the deal, to March 23, nearly three months after the original date in January.

Some analysts saw that move as a way to buy time to persuade skeptical shareholders. The date of the shareholder vote was also postponed, to today.

Amid Chaos, One Notably Restrained Voice
Alessandra Stanley

Brian Williams of “NBC Nightly News” told PBS’s Charlie Rose on Tuesday that the shootings at Virginia Tech proved that viewers still wanted traditional network anchors.

Most don’t need more than one, however.

The excruciatingly close-up and continuous coverage of the massacre helps explain why viewers are increasingly turning to Charles Gibson of ABC. When it comes to an anchor’s presence at a major breaking story, less can be more.

And particularly in the middle of so wrenching a tragedy, tone matters as much as content. Hurricane Katrina, even more than 9/11, emboldened television newscasters to fold themselves and their feelings into the story, and that has led to the Anderson Cooperization of the evening news.

Network anchors often behave as if they are the nation’s grief counselors. One reason that Mr. Gibson has been gaining in the ratings could be that he acts like the nation’s newsman.

Mr. Williams and CBS’s Katie Couric were in Blacksburg, Va., on Monday, the day of the shootings — CBS that night extended the evening newscast to a full hour. Mr. Gibson, who didn’t arrive on the scene until Tuesday and delegated many interviews to ABC colleagues, was better than either of his rivals at keeping an even keel. His interview with a group of survivors on Tuesday night was more bearable to watch, mostly because his questions, posed in a kindly but neutral manner, solicited information, not emotion.

“And how would you describe his facial manner and demeanor?” Mr. Gibson asked, referring to the gunman. “Could you feel him pushing against the door?” Perhaps relieved to be asked for facts and not just their feelings, the students delivered both.

Until recently, NBC could always count on easily outdoing its rivals on a major breaking story. On Monday NBC had slightly more viewers, 10.3 million, than ABC, which was about 270,000 behind, according to preliminary ratings figures. (CBS was a distant third, with two million fewer.) But Mr. Gibson, who took over the ABC anchor desk permanently almost a year ago, has in recent months been steadily gaining on NBC. For the week of April 2, ABC ranked first in total viewers, with its greatest margin over NBC since August 2005.

Bad news always draws large audiences, but in a major tragedy, be it 9/11, Hurricane Katrina or a campus shooting like Columbine and now Virginia Tech, the viewer also looks more closely at the messenger — sometimes punitively. When nerves are raw, even an anchor’s tiniest misstep or phony moment can grate.

Mr. Williams is polished and authoritative when delivering the news, but he turns longwinded and cloyingly personal in one-on-one interviews, perhaps trying to compensate for a stuffy Savile Row style or to relive his more emotive reporting during Katrina.

Ms. Couric, who anchored Monday’s broadcast in white slacks and very little makeup to signal to viewers that she was hard at work in the field (actually, it was a university alumni room), is less wordy, but in interviews she tends to lower her voice to signal compassion and to gaze at the interviewee with gauzy, sorrowful looks.

Mr. Gibson, who comes across on-screen as rumpled, pleasant and serious, doesn’t try as hard to look softhearted.

The networks went all-out on the story, all three extending their evening newscasts to an hour on Tuesday and crashing special editions of their magazine shows onto the air on Monday and Tuesday. Right after delivering Tuesday’s evening news, Ms. Couric was host of a special edition of “48 Hours.”

Anchors are most useful during a prolonged crisis — they marshal the fast-flowing, sometimes contradictory facts and bring an authoritative narrative to an unfinished story. But unlike Katrina or 9/11, this catastrophe was not a continuing disaster: sadly, the worst was over before midday. All the news programs were working with the same distressing material — and even videotape — packaging the story as much as reporting it.

CNN, which dispatched 100 or so people to Blacksburg, often surpassed the networks. CNN was the news organization that first got hold of the disturbing cellphone recording of shots being fired in Norris Hall, which was sent to the CNN Web site, cnn.com, by a student bystander. On Tuesday evening CNN had found two suitemates who recounted some of the most chilling details about the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, including that he had an imaginary girlfriend named Jelly.

Yesterday MSNBC had the strangest news bulletin of all: that cable news outlet said that NBC had received a package of material from Mr. Cho that was apparently sent between the two shootings.

Coverage on the whole was thorough, dignified and respectful, but the effort to stake a special claim to the story appeared at times strained. All three anchors had brief one-on-one interviews on Tuesday with President Bush and the first lady, who had come to attend the university convocation; CBS and ABC had theirs in the same corner of a room lined with maroon and gold insignias. Introducing her interview, Ms. Couric told viewers, “ I sat down with President and Mrs. Bush.” (Actually, they stood for the entire conversation.)

NBC’s newsmagazine show, “Dateline,” couldn’t quite shake its innate cheesiness. Every news program had the same outdoor interview with John Markell, the owner of the Roanoke gun shop where Mr. Cho bought one of his weapons. Chris Hansen, who is the host of the “To Catch a Predator” features on “Dateline,” sat in a room posing questions via satellite to Mr. Markell, who was outdoors surrounded by leafy trees. It had the look of one of those hokey interview parodies on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”

Mr. Gibson didn’t look as if he were simulating emotion or fact-finding; he looked professional and self-effacing. And in a calamity, that is actually a comfort.

Package Forced NBC to Make Tough Decisions
Bill Carter

The package that arrived yesterday at NBC headquarters in New York was almost immediately flagged as suspicious, because it had been mailed from Blacksburg, Va., and bore the return name A. Ishmael.

Last night, the anchor of “The NBC Nightly News,” Brian Williams, called the materials a “multimedia manifesto” and said they were mailed by Cho Seung-Hui, who has been identified as the killer of 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus.

NBC executives had no explanation for why the network was singled out to receive the package, and nothing in the materials explained the action. Nothing on the envelope or in the package cited a specific individual at NBC.

The arrival in the mailroom set in motion intense decision making, much of it directed by Steve Capus, president of NBC News.

An NBC security officer, Brian Patton, opened the package, a large-size Express Mail envelope. The package had been intended to arrive in one day, but the address was wrong. Instead of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, it was “30 Rockefeller Ave.,” and the ZIP code was wrong.

Mr. Capus said Mr. Patton and everyone else at NBC who handled the original materials wore gloves. Mr. Capus did not see the contents until after copies had been made.

“I first learned of it just before noon,” he said.

He and others at NBC saw that the envelope had been mailed from a post office in Blacksburg at 9:01 a.m. on Monday, putting Mr. Cho’s visit to the post office within the two hours between the first two killings in a dormitory and the later mass attacks in a classroom building.

NBC quickly contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state police in Virginia. Officials from the New York field office of the F.B.I. went to Rockefeller Center to pick up the originals.

Mr. Capus described the contents as one DVD disc and 23 pages of a preformatted document file with text and photographs interspersed. NBC showed many of the photos on its newscast. In the pictures, Mr. Cho poses with guns or other weapons like a knife and a hammer.

Mr. Capus said the written material was dominated by “threats and gibberish.”

“It was incredibly difficult to follow,” he added.

He said the on-camera statements were much the same. In one section, Mr. Cho referred to the gunmen in 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Nowhere did Mr. Cho refer to specific people or specific acts, Mr. Capus said. The student did not admit the killings in the dormitory and did not say he was about to go on a shooting rampage.

The details of dealing with law enforcement and trying to decide what could be used on television accounted for NBC’s not covering the story until Mr. Williams’s newscast, Mr. Capus said.

In an interview last night on MSNBC, Mr. Williams said NBC had been concerned about the sensitivities of broadcasting as much of the material as it did.

“This was a sick business tonight, going on the air with this,” he said.

Broadcast Tower Falls Down in Adirondacks

A 400-foot broadcast tower on a mountain in the northeastern Adirondacks collapsed, and officials at Mountain Lake PBS said they plan to rebuild it and minimize the time the Plattsburgh station is off the air.

Mountain Lake Public Telecommunications Council WCFE said the collapsed tower on Lyon Mountain in the town of Saranac also damaged the transmitter building at its base. Officials said they didn't know the cause of the collapse. That left the station off the air except in Clinton County, where it delivers programming over Charter Communications cable system.

Mountain Lake PBS broadcasts educational and informational programming 24 hours a day on analog Channel 57 and digital Channel 38. Viewers are affected in parts of the northern New York, Vermont and Canada.

Just Feist. Just Wait.
Jon Pareles

ON the way to the video shoot for a song named “1 2 3 4,” Leslie Feist called her father on her cellphone, urging him to drop by the studio. “I’m going to dance like in ‘Fame,’ ” bubbled Feist, a petite 31-year-old brunette who uses her last name for her solo recording career. “I’m going to be carried around on the shoulders of 50 people, like Madonna in ‘Material Girl,’ only minus the pearls and the back muscles.”

She wasn’t exaggerating. “1 2 3 4,” which appears on her new album, “The Reminder” (Cherry Tree/Interscope), is an easy-swinging tune, almost like a nursery rhyme, that grows into a mass chorus. Tucked into it are lyrics that celebrate the intensity of teenage bonds and feelings: “Money can’t buy you back the love that you had then.” The video clip, to be completed in just two days of rehearsals and one of shooting, would be a big live production number: an uninterrupted, uneditable one-camera take.

Four dozen dancers in color-coordinated thrift-store clothes surrounded Feist, raising her overhead and, at one point, flipping her. The camera swooped around, amid and above them, revealing geometric patterns like a Busby Berkeley sequence. Feist had traded her usual T-shirt and jeans for a flashy blue-sequined pantsuit and pointy golden high heels, which pinched her feet. “It’s not the most pleasant sensation,” she said after dancing in them through take after take. “But it’s for the razzle-dazzle.”

What’s a nice indie-rocker doing in a scene like this? Courting a potential mainstream audience while offering something as substantial as it is catchy.

Feist’s third album of new material, “The Reminder” is due for release May 1. It’s the album that should transform her from the darling of the indie-rock circuit to a full-fledged star, and do it without compromises. “The Reminder” is a modestly scaled but quietly profound pop gem: sometimes intimate, sometimes exuberant, filled with love songs and hints of mystery.

This album is all Feist, unlike her 2004 album, “Let It Die.” She wrote or collaborated on every song except the traditional “Sea Lion Woman.” “The Reminder” is also her first album to arrive facing sizable expectations. “Let It Die” sold 400,000 copies worldwide, 118,000 of them in the United States, and earned Feist a devoted audience among musicians, critics and concertgoers. When she tours this time around, Feist will have a luxury: a seated audience in theaters rather than her former circuit of rock clubs. She is booked at Massey Hall, Toronto’s equivalent of Carnegie Hall, and she comes to Town Hall in Manhattan on June 11.

As an album “The Reminder” has some echoes of “Let It Die.” It too starts with a kind of bossa nova, “So Sorry,” and eases through folk-rock, ballads and electronica. Feist’s voice, clear and sustained with sultry flickers of vibrato, stays serenely in the foreground, and the music takes its time, even in upbeat songs like the first single, “My Moon My Man,” powered by a few thumping piano notes.

Yet where “Let It Die” dipped into private melancholy, then backed off with a final string of other people’s songs, “The Reminder” reaches deeper. Feist, whose conversation is often a stream of poetic imagery, said over a cup of tea, “I’m on the archaeological dig to find the place where my heart ended up.”

In her new love songs Feist apologizes, confesses to longing, hints at betrayals and misunderstandings and wonders what might have been. Her voice is self-possessed yet unguarded, and it hovers in arrangements that are often modest — just a handful of musicians playing together in a room — but can also proffer gleaming instrumental hooks and nonsense syllables that invite singalongs. The songs find equipoise within heartache.

Feist named the album “The Reminder” as “a pivotable riddle: something that could change and feed in and didn’t necessarily have a concrete point to it,” she more or less explained. “It just felt vague enough and open-ended enough to be able to encapsulate all the things I hoped the record would morph into.”

While making the album she tried not to feel commercial pressure. “I wasn’t thinking about the reaction to ‘Let It Die,’ ” she said. “My mind decided to create a benevolent blank slate on the whole making of the album. I saw a bunch of faces on all my touring, and they had moved their bodies from their homes to the gig, and that was a certain amount of trust. And now I’m just going to trust them.”

Jason Charles Beck, a Canadian keyboardist better known as Gonzales, was a producer for both “Let It Die” and “The Reminder.” The thought of making a hit album was “the elephant in the room,” he said by telephone from Studio Ferber in Paris. “Feist comes from an indie-rock world, where it’s sacrilege to admit any kind of ambition. But I had 100 percent in my mind the idea that we should have as much material as possible that could be played on the radio or resonate with a huge bunch of people. We already have the built-in reflex not to get behind anything that’s going to be hollow. And when you have an artist with this kind of credibility, the idea is to communicate to as many people as possible without doing something ridiculous.”

Until she had an unlikely hit with “Mushaboom,” a jovial folk-rock tune from “Let It Die” that imagined living in the Canadian boondocks, Feist was primarily known in Canada and Europe, and there as a perky part of other people’s projects. She grew up in Calgary and sang for five years with a punk band that started in high school. In the mid-1990s she moved to Toronto, working quietly on her own songs while the city’s homegrown bohemian culture welcomed her.

“She’s really great at meeting people, and she’s a very outgoing person,” said Gonzales. “Every musician I knew had had some kind of run-in with her. She was playing drums with this band or guitar with another band, or jamming with somebody, or setting up an evening of music somewhere. She was really in a rush to get in as much experience as she could. And when we got together, I noticed that she had a burning ambition to master her craft, and also insisted on goofing around at every turn. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, if this girl ever gets her focus together she’ll be unstoppable.’ ”

Feist went on to a decade of touring and collaborating, racking up experience as an indie-rock trouper. She played guitar in By Divine Right, a rock band that opened a stadium tour for the Canadian favorites the Tragically Hip, and she released her own promising but unexceptional debut album, “Monarch,” in 1999, without much impact. She joined her roommate, the conceptually bawdy rapper Peaches, as singer, rapper, dancer and sock puppeteer (billing herself as Bitch Lap Lap), and went on to tour Europe with Peaches’s keyboardist, Gonzales, in his own comically glam mode. A video circulating on YouTube shows him rapping with Feist, who is in a unitard, singing backup and pretending to tap-dance. “I have experimented with my limits of cheese,” she said. “And all those things educated me when I came to Feist.”

The difference in the exchange rate between the euros she earned while touring and the Canadian dollar helped her get by. She also worked temp jobs, including stints at a sandwich shop, at a Salvation Army warehouse and at a flower company, “dethorning roses.” She moved to Paris to live in a place without “all the signposts of my past” but decided there that for a girl from Calgary, “trying to be cool is too exhausting.”

Back in Toronto (although she still has a Paris apartment) Feist found herself among the group of friends that evolved into the large, ever-changing band Broken Social Scene, and she went on to tour with them, singing and sometimes stage-diving. Broken Social Scene’s main songwriter, Kevin Drew, is now her boyfriend.

Feist has a gift for drawing supportive collaborators. “With Broken Social Scene there’s the chicken-or-the-egg question,” she said. “Was it because we’re all musicians, or was it because we were all friends, or was it because we were all friends who played music and wanted to play together, or was it because. ...”

She laughed. “As time passes and that becomes a more and more elastic project, it feels to me that it was the friendships.”

But she’s selective too. “Most of the people I’ve ended up playing with, it’s kind of love first, a friendship first,” she said. “But I have a lot of friends who I don’t play with.”

Amid her other gigs Feist was writing her own more introspective songs. A handful of them made their way onto the Internet as “The Red Demos,” including an early version of “The Water,” which she would refine on “The Reminder.” When she was struggling to finish songs, Gonzales urged her to try recording other people’s material. As he recalled it, he suggested, “Do some covers, you’ll get over your songwriting complex.”

Without any particular plan they worked in a small Paris studio in 2002 and 2003, recording a dozen songs by the likes of the Bee Gees and the celebrated Canadian songwriter Ron Sexsmith. (Mr. Sexsmith would go on to collaborate with Feist on a song for “The Reminder” called “Brandy Alexander.”)

Gradually Feist and Gonzales added some of Feist’s own songs to their project, including “Mushaboom,” and they realized that what they had could become an album. “Let It Die” (Cherry Tree/Interscope) revealed a singer who understood the impact of quiet, utterly exposed performances. The album put Feist on the radio internationally, and steady touring made her a headliner until, eventually, she was eager to record again.

“Being on tour, singing the same songs — there are certain notes that are always being hit and intervals that are always being threaded together and chords that always come in succession of each other,” she said. “And after a while every cell in my body was lunging toward new stuff.”

She says she has never been able to write on a schedule. Songwriting is “like any romance,” she said. “You can’t decide when your first kiss is going to be. The whole point is the anticipation.”

She constantly records musical fragments, on a Dictaphone or her computer’s Garageband software. “I’ve collected a lot of little shreds, quivering little pink spinal cords,” she said. “The backbone without the bone, just the embryo. Mostly I was just writing about this and that, reading a lot of books, underlining things, remembering what concepts felt like they resonated. I was just on the lookout for what felt like it might go into the sponge and then be able to be squeezed out again.”

In a brief break between tour dates Feist decided to rent a place in Berlin and concentrate on songwriting. A few months later she gathered her touring band and producers in a mansion outside Paris for two and a half weeks. There the musicians were recorded playing in a room together, often without headphones — an old-fashioned setup that’s almost radical in the era of infinite computerized tweaking and multitracking. The album’s four most haunting songs — “I’m Sorry,” “The Water,” “The Park” and “Intuition” — are essentially live takes.

Others, like “1 2 3 4,” took on additional layers in Paris and Toronto studios. For “Honey Honey,” a minimalistic concoction of electric keyboards and an overdubbed chorus of Feists, she booked a harpist and instructed her: “You’re the mermaid 40 feet down under the raft, you’re in the doldrums, there’s all complete silence, but the guy on the raft hasn’t had anything to drink or eat for two weeks, and he doesn’t know if he’s hearing things or if it’s real. And that’s you.”

Loneliness pervades the songs on “The Reminder.” “By nature of me being the one singing it and writing it there is always an innate bit of autobiography there,” Feist said. “But I think I learned years ago that you don’t get songs that have that long stride and that pivot-hinge ability if it’s too much diary entry.”

Paradoxically, to all appearances Feist is surrounded by affection. As the video shoot continued past sunset and the studio curfew loomed, Feist’s father showed up. So did her brother Ben with his family. Mr. Drew was there along with friends, former housemates and members of Feist’s band. In the last hours and minutes of available studio time, Feist beamed through her steps, and the dancers burst into applause every time they completed the entire song. The takes got better and better until time finally ran out, and Feist was surrounded by dancers eager to embrace her. There was no hipster irony or professional cool; the pop production had turned into a community musical, one more of Feist’s ad hoc social scenes.

“She really poured it on,” Mr. Drew said afterward. “She always pours it on. That’s Feist.”

A Gumshoe Adrift, Lost in the ’70s
Terrence Rafferty

RAYMOND CHANDLER, the creator of the tough-but-honorable Los Angeles private detective Philip Marlowe, once wrote in a letter to a friend: “The private eye is admittedly an exaggeration — a fantasy. But at least he’s an exaggeration of the possible.”

When Robert Altman made a movie of the novel Chandler considered his best, “The Long Goodbye,” Marlowe, played by Elliott Gould, seemed at first glance almost unrecognizable as the character audiences had seen embodied by, among others, Humphrey Bogart, in Howard Hawks’s “Big Sleep” (1946). But although plenty had changed in the 20 years between the publication of the novel and the release of the movie in 1973, the new Marlowe was in most respects the same as ever: solitary, rumpled, nicotine-dependent, irreverent of power both legitimate (the cops) and illegitimate (the crooks), and weirdly, stubbornly gallant. The only difference — a big one — is that he no longer feels possible.

Altman’s “Long Goodbye,” a fresh print of which begins a weeklong run at Film Forum on Friday, is neither a homage nor a deconstruction, though it contains elements of both. It’s a film about transience, about the awful fragility of the things we want to think are built to last: friendships, marriages, faiths of all kinds — including the faith that pop culture can sometimes makes us feel in powerful fantasy figures like Marlowe and his jaunty, street-smart, superbly incorruptible ilk.

The lone-wolf private eye was in its time — from the heyday of pulp magazines in the 1920s and 1930s through the film-noir era of the ’40s and ’50s — a pretty unbeatable archetype of modern masculine heroism: more independent than a policeman or a soldier, sexier than a Spencer Tracy priest, more virile than a screwball-comedy playboy and exponentially wittier than a cowboy. It was a myth for an urban society, and it didn’t quite survive the great postwar migration to the suburbs, where the streets just didn’t seem mean enough (then) to need a Marlowe to go down them.

Chandler, who was over 60 when he wrote “The Long Goodbye,” clearly understood that the private eye’s time was passing, along with too much else he cared about: his wife of 30 years was dying, not quickly. “I wrote it in agony, but I wrote it,” he told friends later, and you can feel his agony throughout the book.

The novel is more contemplative, less eventful, less exuberant than early books like “The Big Sleep” and “Farewell, My Lovely,” and although the story supplies a few gangsters and annoying cops for Marlowe to crack wise at, the jokes don’t have their old gleeful snap. That’s probably deliberate to some extent. Chandler was keenly aware that his once-distinctive style had been so widely imitated that, as he put it, “you begin to look as if you were imitating your imitators”; but it’s also plainly a reflection of his mournful mood.

You don’t call a book “The Long Goodbye” unless you’re feeling elegiac. And Altman’s movie, in its eccentric way, keeps faith with Chandler’s melancholy. The mystery, such as it is, has to do with whether the detective’s friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) killed his wife. Marlowe, who has obligingly driven him to Mexico in the middle of the night, doesn’t believe he did; the private eye dummies up when the police come calling and spends a couple of nights in jail rather than betray his murder-suspect friend.
This gesture attracts the attention of a cool blonde named Eileen Wade (Nina Van Pallandt), a Malibu neighbor of the Lennoxes. She hires Marlowe to bring home her wayward husband, Roger (Sterling Hayden), an alcoholic novelist suffering from a spectacular creative block of unknown (perhaps guilty) origin. All the mysteries get resolved, mostly unhappily and mostly no thanks to the investigative acumen of Marlowe, who for the greater part of “The Long Goodbye” looks as if he were so far behind the curve of the truth that he’d actually been lapped a few times.

The idea that the beloved Marlowe could be portrayed as a baffled anachronism wasn’t an especially startling notion in the early ’70s. Movie private eyes hadn’t looked very vigorous for a while, even when they were played by actors as charismatic as Paul Newman in “Harper” (1966) and James Garner in “Marlowe” (1969), an updated adaptation of Chandler’s 1949 novel “The Little Sister.” The stars did their jobs, but the ’60s milieu they moved through in those pictures failed to cooperate; it appeared flattened out, drained of energy, and the private eyes seemed stranded and maybe a little bored, as if the world wasn’t really worth the trouble to make sense of. The verbal style of hard-boiled fiction (Chandler’s in particular) and the high-contrast visual style of film noir added up to an impressively coherent imaginative universe, in which the classic private eye could operate effectively and get to the bottom of things with nothing more than nerve, mother wit and local knowledge.

But what Altman does in “The Long Goodbye” goes way beyond simply stating the idea that the private eye’s day was over. Instead of trying to correct, or ignore, the creeping vagueness of the landscape in which his lonely hero is a figure, he actually emphasizes those qualities. The images captured by his cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond, are as un-noirish as they can be: sun-bleached, unstable, heat-shimmery as mirages. And the camera moves constantly, always slowly, and just enough to keep every shot from settling into anything fixed or too easily readable.

The movie manages to stylize an absence of style, the bland fluidity of early-’70s Southern California, the very thing that makes Marlowe obsolete. He wears a black suit and a white shirt; he’s a hard-edged line drawing in the middle of a runny watercolor, and he couldn’t look more forlorn.

And Mr. Gould plays Marlowe as if the character knows that he is disappearing. This private eye is so private that he seems always to be talking to himself, mumbling a running commentary on the action in an attempt to convince himself, against the evidence of the world’s near-total indifference to everything he says or does, that he really does exist. That is what it’s like when pop-culture archetypes start to fade in the imagination: They turn inward, they become bewildered and self-aware, and then they just get smaller and smaller, as Marlowe does in the long last shot of “The Long Goodbye,” heading for the vanishing point.

The funny thing is, he’s dancing a little as he recedes from view. He looks magically unburdened of his mythic responsibilities. The surprise of Altman’s “Long Goodbye” isn’t that it’s elegiac — it has to be — but that it’s such a blithe, rambunctious elegy.

Chandler, with a touch of defensiveness, said of his novel, “I wrote this as I wanted to because I can do that now,” and Altman, in that spirit, made his movie as he wanted to, because he could do that in the early ’70s, before the world of Hollywood filmmaking changed on him. Watching “The Long Goodbye” in 1973, you could feel Philip Marlowe dancing on his own grave. Watching it now, you can see Robert Altman dancing with him.

A Role About Winter for Julie Christie, a Star in Eternal Spring
Alan Riding

For moviegoers who fell for Julie Christie in the 1960s (and they were legion), she will always be the tousle-haired blonde with the dazzling smile who lit up the screen in “Darling,” “Doctor Zhivago” and “Far From the Madding Crowd.”

Today they need not feel disappointed. In her new movie, “Away From Her,” which opens on May 4, she is still a tousle-haired blonde with a dazzling smile. But yes, like her fans, she too has changed. At 66, she is no longer attracted by fame. She is not even much interested in the Julie Christie of legend.

“I have no connection with that person at all,” she said over lunch in a pub near her home in the East End. “That person has gone.”

Indeed, since that person went — by her own calculation, sometime in the late 1970s — Ms. Christie has become a reluctant actress, choosing political causes over show business, turning down more movie roles than she has accepted, preferring the calm of her country life in mid-Wales to the jostling egos and stress of film sets.

“I don’t like that world very much,” she said. “I feel I should apologize because it sounds so prissy and so ungrateful. Of course I have got so much out of it and I’m glad my life has gone the way it has. But I can’t help it: it leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth.”

So it is not surprising that she took some persuading to play the lead in “Away From Her,” the first feature film directed by the young Canadian actress Sarah Polley. Ms. Christie’s last major role was in “Afterglow” a decade ago. Since then, she said, she has made only cameo appearances “to pay for my roof to be fixed.”

Ms. Polley, 28, who had Ms. Christie in mind when she adapted Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” for the screen, was nonetheless determined to have her in her movie. “I knew I’d get a few noes before I got a yes,” Ms. Polley said. “And I was just hoping the yes would eventually come.”

It did, although not because Ms. Christie had a sudden change of heart about the movie industry. Rather, it was because she met Ms. Polley in 2000 when they were both filming Hal Hartley’s “No Such Thing” — Ms. Polley in the lead, Ms. Christie in a small role.

“I fell totally in love with her,” Ms. Christie recalled. “Of course, when she sent me this screenplay, I said no. But she kept on and on. She said she felt like a stalker. In the end, I thought, if I don’t do it, I’ll miss the opportunity of being with her on her first feature film.”

And now she has no regrets.

On one level “Away From Her” is a movie about Alzheimer’s. Ms. Christie’s Fiona is a beautiful woman in her early 60s who is gradually consumed by the disease, as her longtime husband, Grant, played by Gordon Pinsent, reluctantly accepts that she must be hospitalized. Through the early stages of her decline, Fiona is also aware of her affliction, noting poignantly at one point, “I think I may be beginning to disappear.”

As Ms. Polley conceived the movie, however, it is no less a portrait, in her words, of “what a marriage looks like after that much life is piled on top of it,” something that interests her, she said, because she is herself “at the very beginning of a marriage.” As Fiona’s mind fades, memories she had long buried suddenly surface to confront Grant uncomfortably with his own past.

At the hospital, Fiona develops an affection for another patient, Aubrey (Michael Murphy), further testing the love of both Grant and Aubrey’s wife, Marian (Olympia Dukakis), for their ailing spouses.

Ms. Christie noted that, while her parents were not afflicted by Alzheimer’s, she had witnessed its effects on the parents of friends and some of her own friends, including one 90-year-old who “just drifted away.”

She recalled gently, “I ceased to be important to her; I ceased to be anything to her.”

So, Ms. Christie was asked, does she fear Alzheimer’s?

“No, it doesn’t worry me too much,” she said. “I am more worried about what’s happening to people in the rest of the world, to be honest, more than anything that could possibly happen to me.”

But, she added with a laugh, she was not always like that.

“I have been rereading letters I wrote in the 1960s to a girlfriend and I sound so ghastly,” she said. “All I’m talking about is boys and parties and music. I pointed that out to my girlfriend. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I used to think of you then as being deeply shallow.’ ‘Deeply shallow’ I was, then something happened.”

As she looked back over her life, it was the discovery of “people in the rest of the world,” she said — specifically, her discovery of politics in the 1970s, later reinforced by her longtime partner, the journalist Duncan Campbell — that led her to rethink her career. And it was then that she began to see herself in the movie industry “surrounded by all the things you hate most in life, which are consumerism and advertising and celebrity and false representation.”

Even then, though, she still had to adjust to growing up or, rather, growing older.

“All women are aware of that moment when suddenly the boys don’t look at you,” she noted. “It’s a fairly common thing, when suddenly you no longer attract that instant male attention because of the way you look. I never really knew how to enjoy beauty, but it took the form of a subconscious arrogance, expecting things, all muddled up with celebrity.”

“Then you begin to deal with it,” she went on. “In the 1970s I was amazed to be talked about as a ’60s sex symbol. I wasn’t that person, as if I were a doll from the past. I had to learn to come to terms with that. It’s funny, it’s silly, the ridiculousness of having asked so much of celebrity. Then it becomes really interesting and very much part of the excitement of the life you’re living now, knowing you’re approaching the end of it.”

Well, perhaps, but judging by her energy, humor and appearance, the end is not quite nigh.

Ms. Polley would certainly agree. “I have never met anyone so completely engaged with whomever they are talking to and so essentially curious about the world around her,” she said. “A huge motivating factor in wanting to make this film was to have Julie as Fiona. I just could not stop picturing her in the part.”

For Ms. Christie, on the other hand, “Away From Her” may be her last major role, unless she is once again wooed back to the screen. But either way, she seems at peace with herself, away from the shadow of the Julie Christie of yore.

“If I don’t make films, no one is going to write about me,” she said. “And most people have forgotten who I am anyway. My life is not interrupted because I am more or less anonymous.”

And yet, if the mere mention of Ms. Christie’s name still brings sighs from her fans, it is also because that dream girl of the 1960s lives on.

A Music Player That Needs Seasoning
David Pogue

Ever since the iPod became a culture-changing phenomenon, Apple’s rivals have been desperate to discover the recipe for an iPod beater.

SanDisk has just released its latest answer: the Sansa Connect ($250). The ingredients are:

1 black, shiny, softly rounded plastic case, the size of a closed cellphone;

1 click wheel, like the iPod’s but made of black rubber;

7 jacks and buttons on the edges: volume keys, earbud jack, proprietary U.S.B./charging connector, On/Off, Hold, memory-card slot;

1 antenna;

Mix gently; cook until well done.

The stubby little antenna is the secret sauce. It makes the Connect the most exciting advance in music players, at least in concept, since the iPod Nano.

Now, this Sansa is not the first wireless music player; Microsoft’s Zune, for one, preceded it.

But the Zune’s Wi-Fi is wasted. It can’t sync with a computer wirelessly or download music wirelessly. All it can do is beam a song to another Zune owner, if there is such a thing. The song self-destructs after three days or three plays.

When you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot with the Sansa, though, you can tune into any of Yahoo’s 200 Internet radio stations. And if you’ve signed up for Yahoo’s music-rental plan ($144 a year, or $15 a month), you can download all the music you like, straight to the player. No computer necessary.

That’s a delicious twist. Surely, this is the future of music players: instant access to any song, any album, whenever and wherever you’re in the mood.

Sansa’s collaboration with Yahoo has another payoff: at any time, you can click through your own online photo collection on the bright 2.2-inch screen — whatever you’ve posted on the free Flickr photo-sharing Web site, which Yahoo owns — as your music plays. It’s magically simple, and it beats the old accordion-fold wallet photos. (You can’t, unfortunately, look at your friends’ photos.)

Now, these subscription plans have a catch: If you ever stop paying the monthly fee, all of your downloaded music vanishes.

Of course, you can also stuff the Sansa with MP3 files you’ve ripped from your own CD collection, or with songs you’ve bought for $1 each from music stores like Yahoo or Rhapsody.com. Both are synched from Yahoo Music Jukebox, a Windows-only program that’s a lot like the iTunes software. (Alas, the Sansa can’t play unprotected AAC files, like the ones the iTunes Store expects to begin selling next month.)

The MiniSD card slot is an ingenious twist. It extends the player’s built-in 4 gigabytes of memory almost endlessly. You can’t save downloaded music onto the card — all downloads are locked on the player — but the Sansa can play music and photos you’ve loaded onto the card from your PC.

The sound quality through the cheap black earbuds is fine, but audiophiles will prefer better headphones. There’s even a tiny built-in mono speaker on the back. Its sound output wouldn’t shake a toothpick, let alone the rafters, but it’s handy when your earbud cords are too tangled to bother with.

The Sansa, in other words, ought to be a real delicacy. Unfortunately, it has popped out of the SanDisk ovens slightly undercooked.

Imagine, for example, the power of Sansa’s chief ingredient: instant real-time flat-fee access to anything in Yahoo’s catalog of two million songs.

You could snag the new U2 just for kicks. You could download a classic Steven Wright comedy album for part of a six-hour drive. Every time you read about a new album or hear a new song on the radio, you could help yourself, guilt-free.

The spontaneity would put the iPod to shame. The song-requesting feature would put satellite radio to shame. And the Wi-Fi freedom would make the Zune crawl back into its hole.

Unfortunately, no matter what SanDisk says, you do not have access to all of Yahoo’s two million songs — because the Sansa doesn’t offer any way to find them. There’s no Search command, no master list of bands or albums — no direct access at all.

In fact, you can download only a tiny fraction of Yahoo’s catalogs: just what Yahoo decides to offer you on three sampler platters.

The first sampler is Yahoo’s set of 200 Internet radio stations. These are especially cool ones, because (if you’re a paid subscriber) you can hit the Skip button to start streaming the next song in the “radio station’s” playlist at any time. More amazingly still, when you hear a song you like, you can download it to your player, or even the entire album, with two button taps.

Second, you can get the songs on Yahoo’s Most Popular lists in various genres. Finally, you can browse a list of recommendations that Yahoo calculates on the songs you’ve rated highly using the Sansa’s click wheel. (Its logic can be a tad opaque. If you like the tear-jerking ballad “Bring Him Home” from “Les Misérables,” Yahoo recommends Abba’s disco hit “Dancing Queen.”)

But that’s it. If you’re in the mood for anything or anyone specific — Kelly Clarkson, say, or Green Day, or Tchaikovsky — too bad. If Yahoo hasn’t put it on the menu today, you can’t have it.

There are a number of other problems, too. For example, you can’t get onto any Wi-Fi hot spot that requires a Web log-in or a credit card number. So much for all those airports and coffee shops.

And once you’re on, the Sansa can be a cranky little companion. In an effort to prolong its fairly measly battery life — 6 hours of playback if you use the wireless features; 12 hours if not — Sansa is programmed to drop its Wi-Fi connection automatically whenever the battery charge drops below 60 percent. Mine, in fact, dropped the Wi-Fi connection every few minutes even when plugged in; SanDisk says that isn’t normal.

Worse, a disappointing percentage of the songs and albums never arrive at all. Whenever you select a song for download, the words “Request Added” appear on the screen; confusingly, the player doesn’t begin downloading immediately, but rather adds your requests to a list that’s sometimes downloading and sometimes not.

You have to burrow deeply into its menus to find the waiting list. That’s also where you find the folder called Unable to Download.

Yahoo explains that many of its songs are internally flagged as “not downloadable” in a complex copy-protection scheme. Fine, but then the Sansa should identify them upfront instead of getting your hopes up.

The Sansa can also do the Zune trick of detecting nearby Sansas, and beaming songs to them from yours. Your Yahoo Messenger chat friends can even see what song you’re listening to, although you can’t actually chat.

In both cases, though, you’re exchanging only song names — and only songs that you got from Yahoo, at that. The lucky recipients have to go and download their own copies. Of course, if they’re also paid subscribers, that’s only a two-click process.

(The only features that don’t require a paid subscription are the Flickr photo access, Internet radio and the ability to play songs from your PC or a memory card. Mac users can’t even sign up for Yahoo Unlimited, and therefore won’t get much out of the Sansa — which is odd, considering that the Sansa’s stated mission is to minimize the role of the computer in the cycle of consuming music.)

Finally, the Sansa’s software is bright and attractive, but confusing. Pressing the left-arrow button sometimes takes you back to the previous screen — as it should — and sometimes doesn’t. On the Now Playing screen, for example, you’re supposed to rotate the scroll wheel to backtrack instead. None of this is aided by what SanDisk generously calls its user manual: a terse, slapped-together PDF document with only two screen illustrations.

There’s no video playback, no voice recording and no traditional radio — and, of course, there are no carrying cases, car adapters, countertop speaker systems or any other iPod-type accessories.

A Yahoo Music spokesman admits that the Sansa Connect confection may not please all palates. He says solving the problems — especially the inability to search Yahoo’s catalog — is “high on our list.” He also says updated software can be wirelessly beamed into existing Sansas.

That’s fortunate. Because based on its recipe, the Sansa Connect should be a real masterpiece. Unfortunately, there’s only one way to describe the version on store shelves now: half-baked.

The iPod and the Vacuum Tube Sing a Warm Duet
Anne Eisenberg

IPODS are fine for listening to music on the go, but sometimes people want to cast headsets aside and hear their playlists piped through the living room by a sound system.

Manufacturers offer dozens of devices that do this: the iPod pops into a docking station in an updated version of a boom box, and can be flicked on from the sofa by remote control. But the quality of the music will depend in part on the system that amplifies the signal from the iPod.

Now, to create the special rich sound that audiophiles love, manufacturers are selling docking stations for iPods and MP3 players with amplifiers based on an old but resilient technology: vacuum tubes.

Most people think of vacuum tubes as relics, long replaced by transistors. But a pocket of audio enthusiasts still values the tubes’ warm tones. Guitar heroes favor vacuum tube amplifiers in their instruments, many recording engineers tend to use vacuum-tube equipment in their studios, and some listeners pay thousands of dollars for high-end tube-based stereo systems and CD players.

Now Roth Audio, a company based in Reading, England, is appealing to the inner audiophile of iPod users with its Cocoon MC4, a compact docking station and amplifier topped by four vacuum tubes that glow when the power is on. Pop an iPod into the dock, and you have an odd couple: The iPod, apotheosis of the slim, portable and digital, and the flanking vacuum tubes that are fat, stationary and utterly analog.

Despite the retro look of the tubes, their audio characteristics may give iPod-stored music an additional, welcome dimension. That’s because most people store their music in compressed formats rather than in “lossless” formats, where data is not removed. Given these limitations, said Mark Schubin, an engineer and media technology consultant, “a vacuum tube can deal with the degradation in a potentially better and more pleasant way than a non-vacuum-tube amplifier.”

To enjoy a full range of sound, it’s still better to use lossless formats — vacuum tubes can’t restore data that’s been stripped away. But regardless of the storage format, “if you put an iPod into a docking station with good pre-amplification, it’s going to sound a lot better than putting it into a cheap one,” said David Chesky, a composer and co-owner of Chesky Records in Manhattan, which uses vacuum-tube-based recording equipment.

The Cocoon isn’t cheap: it will sell for $649, said James A. Roth, managing director of Roth Audio. But in the costly world of high-end vacuum-tube audio equipment, that’s a relatively modest price. After the tubes in the Cocoon do the pre-amplification, the audio signal goes to a solid state amplifier for additional power.

The Cocoon has audio inputs at the back for a CD player or a generic MP3 player. The docking station handles all types of iPods except the Shuffle. The units began shipping this month, Mr. Roth said.

He has already introduced another brand of vacuum-tube amplifier to the United States market: the Fatman iTube ($649), distributed by Bluebird Music in Toronto. The Fatman has a different look than the Cocoon.

“The Cocoon goes well on a desktop,” Mr. Roth said. “The Fatman is more for the living room.”

The Fatman comes in two parts: an amplifier and a separate docking station. The vacuum tubes are covered by a grill that can be removed for an elegant look, but popped back on if fingers need to be protected from the tubes’ considerable heat. The Fatman has a 27-key remote control that handles not only standard functions like play and pause, but also treble volume, bass volume and even backlighting.

The Fatman has two amber vacuum tubes, as well as a green tube. “I added that third, green tube for fun,” Mr. Roth said. “It shows you the music level. The higher you turn it up, the more it bounces up and down.”

BOTH the Cocoon and the Fatman come with a pair of white cotton gloves, to be worn to protect the high-gloss metal surfaces from fingerprints during handling. To assemble and try out both machines, I donned a set of the gloves, as did a friend who helped me.

The Cocoon hooks up easily to speakers, by using the red- and black-ringed connectors called banana plugs that come with it. We selected 110 volts as the setting for the transformer, rather than the 230 volts used abroad, and plugged the transformer into the AC wall jack.

Then we turned on the transformer and started the machine. Gradually, the tubes began to glow. Then we popped my iPod into the dock and tried out recordings in both compressed and lossless formats. A Brahms sextet poured out in an impressive stream, even in the compressed version.

Then we hooked up the Fatman. Unlike the Cocoon, it has a built-in transformer, and it was already set for 110 volts. After we connected the dock and the amp to the stereo speakers, plugged both components into the power outlet and flipped on the switch, the power light illuminated on the amp, but not on the docking station.

After 15 minutes of testing the connections and manual controls, we finally noticed the remote control and tried it, feeling foolish not to have done this sooner. The blue indicator light on the docking station immediately flashed on, and we were in business.

Jay Rein, president of Bluebird Music, said that ours was a common mistake. “If the blue power light does not automatically come up when you plug in the docking station, press the Power On button on the remote,” he advised in an e-mail message.

The Cocoon, the Fatman and other vacuum-tube amplifiers for iPods are relative newcomers to the United States consumer market. For instance, Lyric HiFi in Manhattan, a center for high-end audio equipment, does not handle any vacuum tube-based docking stations. But Leonard Bellezza, co-owner, said the accessories might soon be popular.

“Everybody has an iPod,” he said. “So anything you can attach to an iPod sells.”

Digital Music Libraries and Devices Portend Death of Hi-Fi Sound

Music lovers remember a familiar advertising image from the past: a man reclined in a chair, head back, blown away by music from his high-fidelity sound system.

Like the Marlboro Man before him, Maxell's pitchman is now a relic.

With their ability to store vast libraries of music in your pocket, sleek digital music players have replaced bulky home stereo systems as the music gear of choice. But the sound quality of the digital audio files they play is noticeably inferior to that of compact discs and even vinyl.

Are these the final days of hi-fi sound? Judging by the 2 billion songs downloaded from Apple Inc.'s iTunes service, the ubiquity of white iPod "ear buds," and the hundreds of thousands of people file-sharing for free, the answer is yes.

"In many ways, good enough (sound quality) is fine," said Paul Connolly, an art installation specialist and longtime audiophile from Sugar Land, Texas, who is now in the process of digitizing his 2,400 CD collection in Apple's lossless digital audio format.

"The warmth and the nice distortion that the album had was beautiful," he said. "But do I long for the days of albums? No. Do I long for the days of CDs now that we've gone digital? No. It's a medium."

Justin Schoenmoser, of San Francisco, also traded in his rack system for an iPod. Currently working abroad and toting along his iPod, the convenience of carrying thousands of songs in a gadget smaller than a pack of cigarettes outweighs the sacrifice of quality.

"The last time I had a full-blown home stereo system was in the mid-90s, and it was a gift from my parents," Schoenmoser said. "As I converted most of my stuff to digital over the last 5 years, I finally got rid of all my old equipment."

A song ripped from a CD at 128 kilobits per second — the default setting for most software — retains only a fraction of the audio data contained on the originally mastered disc. Whether you downloaded the track from iTunes or copped it off LimeWire, the song remains the same. The small digital music file is a highly compressed shadow of the originally mastered recording.

And regardless of how advanced your home audio setup is, if you are pumping a low-rate MP3 or iTunes file into it, you are getting a low-rate rendition of the original song out of it. It is listenable, but still lacking the luster of a CD played on the same system.

Some experts say the sound quality lost in the process is undetectable to most untrained ears. But Michael Silver can hear the difference.

Audio High, his high-end stereo shop in Mountain View, sells things like a $5,000 (€3,690) needle for your turntable and stereo cable at $2,700 (€1,993) a meter.

"It doesn't compare," Silver said of the sound quality offered by today's portable digital music players and their compressed audio files.

If his high-end gear is like a Ferrari for sound, and run-of-the-mill stereo equipment is a Honda, "a moped is an iPod," Silver said.

That difference in sound quality, perceptible or not, has not saved some of the bigger traditional stereo and music sellers.

Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc., a Canton, Massachusetts-based retailer of mid-to-high end audio equipment, is closing 49 of its 153 stores nationwide. Slumping sales at Sacramento, California-based Tower Records led that former industry juggernaut to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August.

And Circuit City, the nation's No. 2 electronics retailer, is laying off 3,400 of its most experienced clerks.

Year-to-date data from a recent Nielsen SoundScan report shows sales of prerecorded CDs in the United States down 20 percent from last year.

"Everybody has a certain amount of money to spend. It's not that they're choosing not to spend it on the old-style audio. It's that something new came along," said James McQuivey, principle analyst for media technology at Forrester Research Inc.

"The MP3 player integrated the collection of the music with the playback of the music," he said. "Now all of it's seamlessley hidden away on a hard drive somewhere."

With the networked household ready to fill the void left by the demise of rack stereo systems, McQuivey sees a steady stream of new devices on the horizon that will erase any lingering drawbacks to going all-MP3.

Santa Barbara-based Sonos, Inc., for example, sells a system that allows you to use a handheld device to navigate streamed music from your PC to an existing amp and speaker or home theater setup, sort of a hybrid between the old guard and the new.

"A CD is not relevant to me anymore," said John MacFarlane, founder and chief executive of Sonos. "The iPod and that type of portable music player has even accelerated that trend."

Even when consumers do buy CDs these days, "the first thing you do is rip your CDs and put them on your iPods," MacFarlane said.

MacFarlane is not even convinced that casual listeners can hear the difference between CD-quality sounds and the dumbed-down MP3 files, which he calls "good quality, not perfect."

"When Philips and Sony first made the CD, they didn't cut any corners because they were careful to preserve everything that was there, even if you couldn't hear it," MacFarlane said. "That 128 is pretty darn good. A lot of Ph.D.s went in to making that 128 kbps work well and sound well.

Schoenmoser, the globetrotting Californian, agrees.

"I honestly can't really tell the difference between CD, tape and digital," he said. "I'd even accept a lower quality as long as it's digital and portable."

Interview: Will Friedwald, Owner Of The Worlds Largest iTunes Collection

Will Friedwald proclaims he has the world largest iTunes collection. An avid listener to Jazz music, and a writer for the New York Sun, Will spends his days in front of his Power Mac G5 running “The Maxtix”, his mammoth 200,000 track iTunes library.

Will took some time out of his rigirous daily schudule and took some time to talk with me about iTunes, his music collection, and how he manages it.
The question we all want to know. How large is your iTunes music collection?

I just re-compiled the main library (something that takes about six hours – I only do it a few times a year!). Here are the new stats:

849 GB | 172,150 tracks | 809.2 days
2,935 artists | 11,561 albums
iTunes library database file - 282 MB
iTunes library XML file - 259 MB

For reasons I will get into later, I also have several sub-libraries; theoretically, all my music will eventually go into the main library. I also have a separate “annex” of about 200-300 GB of stuff that I am gradually adding in to the main library. If I were to put everything together, which I am slowly doing, it will be around 1200 GB.

How long have you been using iTunes to manage your digital music collection?

I started using iTunes when I made the leap to OS X, which was in 2003, the year I bought my G3 iBook (which I am still happily using four years later – am typing this on it, as a matter of fact).

Originally, I planned to just transfer a few CD artists into the library – Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis. Then, the next thing I noticed was that iTunes was great for listening to box sets: I could take, for instance, the 18-CD that I did on Nat King Cole (Mosaic Records actually won a Grammy for that in the early ‘90s) and instantly find the track that I wanted to hear.

No more opening a big clunky box, fumbling around to find an individual CD, and then looking for the right track! It was astonishing that as soon as I typed “You Must Be Blind,” there it was! I started transferring all my big boxed sets – especially the Mosaic and Bear Family boxed sets almost immediately.

When was the takeoff point where the library started to drastically grow?

I could tell you “when” in terms of the theoretically breakthrough, if not precisely in terms of calendar time. For the few months or so, I went back and forth between listening via iTunes and listening to standard compact discs.

Then, at a certain point, I realized that I was doing nearly all of my listening via iTunes. In fact, I gradually reached the point where I am now, and that is the only time I listen to standard CDs now is when I am “auditioning” them to see if I want to put them into iTunes.

Early on, I didn’t want to make my iBook internal hard drive work so hard to house all that music, so I purchased my first of many external drives (it may have been 160 GB, which at that time I thought would last me forever!). Then I bought a used blueberry iMac just to run iTunes – and that held me for a while.

But basically, it was at the point that I began doing all my listening via iTunes that the library began to grow exponentially. When I started to put every piece of music I thought I would ever listen to again, I began referring to the iTunes music library as “The Jazz Matrix” – although since then I have shortened it to just “The Matrix.”

How many tracks do you add to your library each week?

I couldn’t really estimate in terms of a number; the way I work is, this week, for instance, I did a feature article for my paper (The New York Sun) on Charles Mingus, which ran today (Monday 4/16) in honor of his the 85th Anniversary of Mingus’s birth. Since I wanted to listen to as much of his music as possible, I loaded all of my Mingus CDs into The Matrix. I have about 50 albums by Mingus, some of which were already in there, but I added all the others.

It’s an incredible tool for someone writing about music, to be instantly able to listen and compare every recording of “Fables of Faubus” and see how they differ from one another.

Right now I have two Mac OS X desktops – a G5 Power Mac and the G3 iMac – I use them both for importing. There are some days when I just keep the iMac going all day long; I just keep feeding the beast, when The Matrix yells “feed me!” It’s the only way to tackle some of the more prolific artists in the history of recording, and massive projects like the 17-CD Complete Art Pepper Galaxy Sessions box.

I also have also added massive amounts of material that otherwise only exists in the analog domain – CDRs transferred from LPs and 78s that have not been digitally remastered.

What do you like about using iTunes to manage your library?

iTunes is, without a doubt, the best and most intuitive program out there for transferring, archiving, and listening to music – not to mention buying it from the store and putting it on an iPod. There’s nothing I’ve seen that has its ease of use, and its flexibility – especially with the aid of the applescripts made available by Doug Adams.

With a smallish library, especially, it is incredibly easy to compile playlists, to search for songs using any criteria. I particularly like that you can search by criteria other than recording artist; much of the time I look for music by composer, so I do a search under “Gershwin” or “Ellington” and all of a sudden, every recording of a song by thousands of different performers magically appears. If anyone has a better music program, bring it on!

What things would you like to be added/improved within the application?

I’ve actually written an editorial essay about the limitations of iTunes (which hasn’t been published yet), where I talk about some of these issues, but it to boil it down to a paragraph or less:

Essentially the problem is that iTunes was designed for people to buy music from the store, to put CDs on their iPods, and then, perhaps lastly, to store some of a personal CD collection in the library. It was NOT designed for what I am doing with it, which is to store, manage and access a major music collection of nearly 200,000 tracks. As a result, when I am working with the full 800 GB library, it is painfully slow, getting around the library, doing searches, and editing info on individual tracks or whole albums just takes forever!

As an example: when I want to edit the information on an individual song – the “metadata” as technically-minded people call it – I highlight the track, then I press Apple-I. With a small library (under 50-100 GB), the edit info window comes up instantly. But with my 800 GB Matrix, I have to wait three or four minutes before the window comes up. That’s time enough to go to the bathroom, make a cup of coffee, or entertain myself with 99% of the clips on youtube!

As I see it, there are two possible solutions (other than using multiple libraries, which I am doing now, but which is more of a temporary workaround than a long-term solution):

The first (which is quicker but more expensive) is to get faster hardware, although I am not even sure if one of the new 8-core Mac Pro desktops could process a 1000-GB music library as fast as I would like it to. (Not that I can remotely afford a fully-outfitted new Mac Pro!)

The second is a vague but hopefully optimistic possibility for the future: I find that more and more individuals out there are getting saddled with these mega-libraries like mine. Also, at a certain point, institutions like The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian, and, most importantly, the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies, are going to want to make their collections of recorded sound available in a digital system. Right now, as far as I know, the technology to do that does not exist – it certainly would be very difficult to do that using iTunes as it currently exists.

What I would like to see Apple do is build a specific program to address this need. The same way that there are several levels of Final Cut, why couldn’t there be an upgraded edition of iTunes – something like iTunes Pro or Super-iTunes? This new program, obviously wouldn’t be a freebie, but if it could do what I want it to do I would gladly pay Apple almost anything that it wants. $200 for new software is a lot cheaper than having to spend $4000 for a new Mac Pro!
How much time are you spending building, organizing, and listening to your music on a daily basis?

Way longer than I should! I usually start the day by importing a few Cds as I answer the morning email and downing my first cup of coffee. As I’m working on a story, I keep on importing – somethings transferring two discs at once simultaneously on the G5 and the iMac. I’m forever tinkering with the library, several hours a day, often when I’m on the phone, sometimes even when I’m watching TV (on the extremely rare nights when I’m not out covering live music).

What genres of music do you most enjoy listening to?

I’m essentially a jazz guy: I review jazz in New York for The New York Sun, which boasts the best arts section of any NYC newspaper (even the Times – it’s true!). I’ve written a bunch of books on jazz and pop singers, but I write mostly about instrumental jazz for the paper.

Lately I’ve had more of an appreciation for classic rock, though there’s still very little from after 1970 that I listen to, pop-music wise. I also have nearly every original Broadway cast album in the matrix, and lots of classic country. When it comes to classical music, I’ve been using Rhapsody, since I don’t have enough of my own personal classical CD collection to make it worthwhile. As of now, there is no Classical Matrix, but maybe someday soon.

What hardware are you using to run your mammoth collection?

In 2005, I invested in a single-processor G5 PowerMac, and that has powered the collection ever since. The Matrix is currently housed in a mirrored SATA RAID array of three four-hundred GB drives (3 x 400) in a Transintl enclosure. (I have recently learned, to my great annoyance, that I can’t get PCI-X on my G5, which might have helped to speed things up a bit.)

I also do frequent back-ups, using a PCI magic bridge and three barebones external SATA drives.

849GB, 172,150 tracks, and 809.2 days of listening pleasure. Envy the collection

All your flash

Adobe Unveils Flash Video Control

Adobe has unveiled a version of its Flash media software to let copyright holders embed ads and control usage.

The new software should also allow video to be played offline, whether on computers or portable devices.

Flash is used on websites such as YouTube, the Google-owned video sharing site dogged by rows over the use of copyrighted material.

The launch comes as Microsoft took the wraps off its own competing online media platform, Silverlight.

The product - formerly dubbed WPF/E - also includes copyright protection.

The software giant has long wanted to take on Adobe's dominance of online video, and has signed up several content providers including Netflix and Major League Baseball.

Online video explosion

Flash - originally popularised by Macromedia, a firm then bought by Adobe - has been the biggest player in online video for some time.

Its dominance has been secured by the huge popularity of both YouTube and dozens of other video sharing services.

Although there are programs and services available to pull content from such sites and convert them to be viewed offline, this is the first time Adobe has launched its own dedicated piece of software to make it possible.

But the big seller for Adobe is the ability to include in Flash movies so-called digital rights management (DRM) - allowing copyright holders to require the viewing of adverts, or restrict copying.

"Adobe has created the first way for media companies to release video content, secure in the knowledge that advertising goes with it," James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research said.

Content publishers are promised "better ways to deliver, monetize, brand, track and protect video content".

The new software will be freely available in the same way as other products such as Acrobat Reader and Flash Player, for both Windows PCs and Apple's Macintosh computers.

Microsoft is promising that Silverlight, too, will work with both Windows and Macs.

Wi-Fi Bug Found in Linux

A major Linux Wi-Fi driver contains a bug that can allow an attacker to take control of a laptop--even when it is not on a Wi-Fi network.
Peter Judge

A bug has been found in a major Linux Wi-Fi driver that can allow an attacker to take control of a laptop -- even when it is not on a Wi-Fi network.

There have not been many Linux Wi-Fi device drivers, and this is apparently the first remotely executable Wi-Fi bug. It affects the widely used MadWi-Fi Linux kernel device driver for Atheros-based Wi-Fi chipsets, according to Laurent Butti, a researcher from France Telecom Orange, who found the flaw and released the information in a presentation at last month's Black Hat conference in Amsterdam.

"You may be vulnerable if you do not manually patch your MadWi-Fi driver," said Butti. Before making it public, he shared the flaw with the MadWi-Fi development team, who have released a patch. However, not all Linux distributions have yet built the patch into their code, said Butti.

The kernel stack-overflow bug lets an attacker run malicious code, and can be used even if the machine is not actively on a Wi-Fi network, according to Butti, who used "fuzzing" techniques which had been shown by David Maynor and "Johnny Cache" Jon Ellch, at last year's Black Hat USA conference, and previously exploited on Windows and Macintosh systems.

Linux users have previously suffered from a shortage of Linux drivers, and have campaigned to get wireless networks supported in the Linux kernel. With fewer Linux laptops on Wi-Fi networks, security experts -- and presumably hackers -- have taken longer to get round to Linux drivers, but issue of handling remote data at the kernel level can cause trouble on the open source OS just as easily as any other.

Butti has previously developed the RAW series of proof-of-concept hacker tools. He also found the Windows Wi-Fi flaw by fuzzing, during the Month of Kernel Bugs last year.

Fuzzing is a blessing, according to Butti, because it is a low-cost way for security researchers to uncover obvious bugs that may get overlooked, and exploited by hackers. In future, he expects fuzzing to reveal bugs in other wireless technologies like WiMax, and wireless USB, as well as many more bugs in the extensions that are regularly added to Wi-Fi.

Wireless Hijacking Under Scrutiny
Jane Wakefield

A recent court case, which saw a West London man fined £500 and sentenced to 12 months' conditional discharge for hijacking a wireless broadband connection, has repercussions for almost every user of wi-fi networks.

It is believed to be the first case of its kind in the UK, but with an estimated one million wi-fi users around the country, it is unlikely to be the last.

"There are a lot of implications and this could open the floodgates to many more such cases," said Phil Cracknell, chief technology officer of security firm NetSurity.

Details in this particular case are sketchy, although it is known that Gregory Straszkiewicz had "piggybacked" on a wireless broadband network of a local Ealing resident, using a laptop while sitting in his car.

He had been seen in the area on several previous occasions over the past three months and is believed to have been reported to police by a neighbour concerned that he was acting suspiciously.

The case is some way away from that of Brian Salcedo, who was sentenced to nine years in a US jail last year for the far more serious crime of siphoning credit card numbers over the wireless network of hardware store Lowes.

Unauthorised access

The criminal aspect of the case of Salcedo is obvious and is clearly reflected in the sentence dished out.

But the crime committed in the case of Straszkiewicz, where he appears simply to have used the network, is perhaps less obvious.

Not to Simon Janes, a former head of the Computer Crime Unit and now operations manager for computer forensics firm Ibas.

"Gaining unauthorised access to someone else's network is an offence and people have to take responsibility for their actions. Some people might argue that taking a joy-ride in someone else's car is not an offence either," he said.

Gaining unauthorised access to a computer is an offence covered by the Computer Misuse Act. In Straszkiewcz's case, he was prosecuted under the Communications Act and found guilty of dishonestly obtaining an electronic communications service.

"I guess, and it is a guess, that they couldn't prove he accessed the actual computer and that is why they used another legal avenue," said Mr Janes.

But whatever route the case took, the outcome proves that borrowing someone else's network is not as harmless as the hobbyist wi-fi user might think.

Lax security

It is not just those people driving around in search of a "free" network who have to worry.

People with criminal intentions have, in the past, attempted to use the openness of their own wireless networks to cover their tracks online.

"There have been incidences where paedophiles deliberately leave their wireless networks open so that, if caught, they can say that is wasn't them that used the network for illegal purposes," said NetSurity's Mr Cracknell.

Such a defence would hold little water as the person installing the network, be they a home user or a business, has ultimate responsibility for any criminal activity that takes place on that network, whether it be launching a hack attack or downloading illegal pornography.

Despite this, businesses and residential users continue to fail to take that responsibility seriously by securing their networks, said Mr Cracknell.

A joint survey by RSA Security and NetSurity, conducted in March of this year, found that more than a third of wireless networks in London and Frankfurt had the basic security features turned off.

Many had failed to turn on the encryption that scrambles the data traffic between users and the access point.

Freebie wi-fi

"The perception among domestic users is that providing security is difficult and it does depend on the competence of the user," said Mr Janes.

Mr Cracknell called for an awareness campaign, similar to the one recently run on TV highlighting the threats of identity theft.

The perception in the past has been that borrowing a bit of bandwidth is cheeky but not really criminal behaviour.

With wi-fi operating at speeds of up to 20 times faster than broadband it is unlikely to slow the system down noticeably unless the borrower is downloading huge files and, unless the owner of the network has intrusion detection software, he or she is unlikely to notice the squatters.

The fact that Straszkiewicz narrowly escaped a harsher sentence, had to pay a £500 fine and had his laptop and wireless card confiscated indicates such squatting might not be worthwhile.

Detective Constable Stephone Rothwell from Ealing CID was involved in the case and said future cases would be treated in the same way.

"This case is the first of its type in the United Kingdom and it sets an example to people who use increased computer technology to try and avoid paying for the internet," he said.

It could be that the days of freebie wi-fi are coming to an end.

P2P Pinball Lawyers Say Ignorance is no Defence
Mark Ballard

The lawyers pursuing 500 file sharers for allegedly distributing illegal copies of computer game Dream Pinball 3D have accepted that some of its targets may have been unaware their machine was being used to distribute illegal software.

However, alleged perpetrators will still be charged £300 on the assumption they were guilty of sharing the game over peer-to-peer networks.

In a letter sent on Friday, 13 April, Davenport Lyons, the law firm taking action for games publisher Zuxxez, said:

"Please note that it is possible that your IP address may have been used by a third party if you have an unsecured wireless connection or your computer security has been compromised, or if other people or children have access to the computer connected to the internet service provided by your ISP."

The letter appears to have been sent to those people who have challenged the allegations, and was sent with evidence collected by the firm - copies of the reports generated by its internet detectives, letters that used court orders to get the details of alleged sharers from ISPs, and evidence provided by the ISP.

Some of the accused file sharers claim ignorance, suggesting that a virus or hacker might have hijacked their machine.

However, Davenport said: "Although your computer may not have been used to carry out the action alleged, your internet connection may have been used.

"The security of your computer and internet connection is your responsibility and you need to ensure that both are protected at all times with the most up to date anti-virus and firewall software, and ensure that any wireless router is properly encrypted, in order to be certain that your computer is not being used for unlawful purposes and without your knowledge or consent."

State Department Got Mail _ and Hackers
Ted Bridis

A break-in targeting State Department computers worldwide last summer occurred after a department employee in Asia opened a mysterious e-mail that quietly allowed hackers inside the U.S. government's network.

In the first public account revealing details about the intrusion and the government's hurried behind-the-scenes response, a senior State Department official described an elaborate ploy by sophisticated international hackers. They used a secret break-in technique that exploited a design flaw in Microsoft software.

Consumers using the same software remained vulnerable until months afterward.

Donald R. Reid, the senior security coordinator for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, also confirmed that a limited amount of U.S. government data was stolen by the hackers until tripwires severed all the State Department's Internet connections throughout eastern Asia. The shut-off left U.S. government offices without Internet access in the tense weeks preceding missile tests by North Korea.

Reid was scheduled to testify Thursday at a cybersecurity hearing for a House Homeland Security subcommittee. He was expected to tell lawmakers an employee in the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs — which coordinates diplomacy in countries including China, the Koreas and Japan — opened a rigged e-mail message in late May giving hackers access to the government's network.

The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (news, bio, voting record), D-Miss., said hackers are no longer considered harmless, bored teenagers. "These are experienced, sophisticated people who are trying to exploit our vulnerabilities and gain access to our information," Thompson said.

Reid was not expected to disclose the identities or nationalities of the hackers believed to be responsible for the break-ins or to disclose whether U.S. authorities believe a foreign government was responsible. The department struggled with the break-ins between May and early July.

The panel's chairman, Rep. James R. Langevin, D-R.I., called cybersecurity an often-overlooked line of defense. "Since much of our critical infrastructure is dependent on computers and networks and is interconnected and interdependent, a cyberattack could disrupt major services and cripple economic activity," Langevin said.

The mysterious State Department e-mail appeared to be legitimate and included a Microsoft Word document with material from a congressional speech related to Asian diplomacy, Reid said. By opening the document, the employee activated hidden software commands establishing what Reid described as backdoor communications with the hackers.

The technique exploited a previously unknown design flaw in Microsoft's Office software, Reid said. State Department officials worked with the Homeland Security Department and even the FBI to urge Microsoft to develop quickly a protective software patch, but the company did not offer the patch until Aug. 8 — roughly eight weeks after the break-in.

Microsoft said it works as quickly as possible to provide customers with security updates.

"If we release a security update that is not adequately tested, we could potentially put customers at risk, especially as the release of an update can lead to reverse-engineering the fix and lead to broader attacks," said Microsoft's senior security strategist, Phil Reitinger. "Updates must be able to be deployed by customers with confidence."

At the time, Microsoft described the software flaw as "a newly discovered, privately reported vulnerability" but did not suggest any connection to the U.S. government break-in. It urged consumers to apply the update immediately. It also recommended that consumers not open or save Microsoft Office files they receive from sources they don't trust or files they receive unexpectedly from trusted sources.

The State Department detected its first break-in immediately, Reid said, and worked to block suspected communications with the hackers. But during its investigation, it discovered new break-ins at its Washington headquarters and other offices in eastern Asia, Reid said.

At first, the hackers did not immediately appear to try stealing any U.S. government data. Authorities quietly monitored the hackers' activity, then tripwires severed Internet connections in the region after a limited amount of data was detected being stolen, Reid said.

Reid also complained the State Department's efforts to deal quietly with the break-in were disrupted by news reports. The Associated Press was first to reveal the intrusions.

"We were successful here until a newspaper article telegraphed what we were dealing with," Reid said.

New IM Worm Targets Skype Users
Joris Evers

A new instant-messaging pest that spreads using the chat feature in Skype has surfaced, security firm F-Secure warned Monday.

The worm, dubbed Pykse.A, is similar to threats that affect instant-messaging applications. A targeted Skype user will receive a chat message with text and a Web link that looks like it goes to a JPEG file on a Web site, F-Secure said on its Web site.

Clicking the link will redirect the user to a malicious file. The file, after executing, will send a malicious link to all online contacts in a Skype user's list and will show a picture of a scantily clad woman, F-Secure said. In addition, it sets the user's Skype status message to "Do Not Disturb," the security firm said.

Pykse also visits a number of Web sites that don't host any malicious code and a site that appears to count infected machines, F-Secure said. The Finnish security company doesn't list any particular malicious payload for Pykse other than it spreading and visiting Web sites. The IM worm affects Skype users running Windows.

Such threats for Skype aren't new. Last month, miscreants adapted the Warezov Trojan horse to target Skype users. This threat also arrived with a Web link sent in a Skype chat message. Clicking on the link would result in a PC being at the beck and call of the attacker and the Trojan horse sending messages to the victim's Skype contacts.

In February, attackers also targeted Skype users with another Trojan horse that had propagation capabilities.

Skype has acknowledged in the past that its instant-messaging feature could be used for nefarious purposes just like any other IM service. Kurt Sauer, Skype's chief security officer, repeated that acknowledgment on Monday in a statement sent by the company's public relations agency.

"Harmful viruses and Trojan horses may damage a user's computer and collect private data, regardless of whether a person is using Skype, e-mail or other IM clients," Sauer said in the statement. "Skype strongly recommends that users take extra caution in general when asked to open attachments or links from unknown people, or suspicious-looking attachments even from people you know."

Skype also recommends using antivirus software to check the files received from other people.

Global Internet Traffic Trends
Chris Harrison

Despite the Internet being a global network, the US has traditionally dominated. This is in part due to the prevalence of American web surfers. However, the US market has become saturated. Developing nations are spawning the next generation of web surfers, where a combination of improved urban economy and falling telecommunication costs has made internet cafes on every corner and even connections at home possible. This fundamental shift in demographics is dramatically altering the landscape of the Internet.

The internet is vast, and it is simply not possible to examine every web site. However, the most popular web sites can be used to take a pulse. Data was obtained from Alexa.com, an excellent resource for web traffic data and analytics. Thanks to Julie Henkens and Greg Orelind, I was able to investigate traffic trends for the 500 most-visited web sites from July 2004 to January 2007.


The Internet is still dominated by the United States, followed by Asia and Western Europe. However, their grip is beginning to loosen as the rest of world gets connected at an unprecedented rate. Countries that have never been able to place a website in the top 500 are now pushing dozens of established websites out of this prestigious list. This trend is both recent (within the last two years) and accelerating. Interestingly, Asia is seeing its presence eroded the fastest, especially China. Without Germany, Western Europe is stagnant, and US domains appear to be on a gradual but constant decline. The big winners are Eastern Europe (boasting a 500% increase in the last year alone), South America and a eclectic assortment of international domains.

It should be noted that these trends are only based on the rank of top 500 most visited websites. While providing a good snapshot of web activity, the data does not necessarily scale to the entire web. However, it does provide a reliable measure for sites that are utilized by a broad spectrum of the population, such as search engines or news providers. These, in turn, provide a fairly accurate measure of how connected a country is. Also, this analysis is only looking at rank movement and not web traffic. This was purposeful. Web dominance is an effect of top sites jostling - these are the big players that can exert the most political and social influence. The pure number of websites is less interesting, as it is more of an effect of the economy (i.e. when money is flowing, people setup websites for personal and small business use). Additionally, indications are that traffic is growing across the board. Thus, the trends noted here are most likely from new countries growing faster than old players.

More Women Online

Women Outnumber Men Online, and it's Likely to Stay That Way.

Females now constitute an undeniable majority of the US Internet population.

eMarketer estimates that there will be an estimated 97.2 million female Internet users ages 3 and older in 2007, or 51.7% of the total online population. In 2011, 109.7 million US females will go online, amounting to 51.9% of the total online population.
Estimates from other research sources concur that females represent the majority of US Internet users, ranging from 53% (Arbitron and Edison Media Research, for Internet users ages 12 and older) down to 50.6% (comScore Media Metrix, for Internet users ages 2 and older).

According to eMarketer's analysis, female Internet usage has surpassed male usage for some time. Other researchers are now coming to that same conclusion.

The University of Southern California's Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future reported that in 2006 the percentage of females who went online had, for the first time in the six years the center has conducted the survey, surpassed males. It reported that 78.4% of the female population ages 12 and older go online, vs. 76.7% of males.

Female usage has risen 12.4 percentage points since 2000, while male usage is up 3.2 points. The drop in male usage between 2005 and 2006 is something that bears close attention, and eMarketer will report on the results from USC's 2007 survey when it becomes available.

Not only do females make up the majority of Internet users, but more of the female population goes online. This year, an estimated 66.2% of US females ages 3 and older will use the Internet at least once a month, compared with 64.2% of males, according to eMarketer. By 2011, 72.1% of females are expected to go online, vs. 69.3% of males.

Researchers that survey only the adult population still find that a greater percentage of males go online. MORI Research, for example, reported that as of March-April 2006, 73% of adult females and 79% of adult males went online. The Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that as of February-April 2006, 71% of adult females went online, vs. 74% of adult males.

eMarketer Senior Analyst Debra Aho Williamson thinks that current trends will shape future Internet demographics and usage.

"For girls who have grown up with technology," says Ms. Williamson, "there is no significant gender gap in Internet usage, and the rise of activities that are particularly appealing to young females, such as social networking, will result in even greater usage."

Learn more about how women use the Internet. Read the eMarketer Women Online: Taking a New Look report.

Computer Science Takes Steps to Bring Women to the Fold
Cornelia Dean

For decades, undergraduate women have been moving in ever greater numbers into science and engineering departments at American universities. Yet even as they approach or exceed enrollment parity in mathematics, biology and other fields, there is one area in which their presence relative to men is static or even shrinking: computer science.

Women received about 38 percent of the computer science bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States in 1985, the peak year, but in 2003, the figure was only about 28 percent, according to the National Science Foundation.

At universities that also offer graduate degrees in computer science, only 17 percent of the field’s bachelor’s degrees in the 2003-4 academic year went to women, according to the Taulbee Survey, conducted annually by an organization for computer science research.

Since then, many in the field say, the situation has worsened. They say computing is the only realm of science or technology in which women are consistently giving ground. They also worry that the number of women is dropping in graduate programs and in industry.

They are concerned about this trend, they say, not just because they want to see young women share the field’s challenges and rewards, but also because they regard the relative absence of women as a troubling indicator for American computer science generally — and for the economic competitiveness that depends on it.

“Women are the canaries in the coal mine,” Lenore Blum, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, told an audience at Harvard University in March, in a talk on this “crisis” in computer science. Factors driving women away will eventually drive men away as well, she and others say.

These experts play down the two explanations most often offered for flagging enrollment: the dot-com bust and the movement of high-tech jobs offshore.

“People think there are no jobs, but that is not true,” said Jan Cuny, a computer scientist at the University of Oregon who directs a National Science Foundation program to broaden participation in computer science. “There are more people involved in computer science now than at the height of the dot-com boom.”

And there is widespread misunderstanding about jobs moving abroad, said Ed Lazowska, a computer scientist at the University of Washington. Companies may establish installations overseas to meet local licensing requirements or in hopes of influencing regulations, he said, “but the truth is when companies offshore they are more or less doing it for access to talent.”

“Cheap labor is not high on the list,” Dr. Lazowska said. “It is access to talent.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for computer scientists in the United States will only increase in coming years, Dr. Cuny said. “If you look at the demographics of the country, if we are not going to get our new professionals from women and minorities and persons with disabilities, we are not going to have enough.”

The big problems, these and other experts say, are prevailing images of what computer science is and who can do it.

“The nerd factor is huge,” Dr. Cuny said. According to a 2005 report by the National Center for Women and Information Technology, an academic-industry collaborative formed to address the issue, when high school girls think of computer scientists they think of geeks, pocket protectors, isolated cubicles and a lifetime of staring into a screen writing computer code.

This image discourages members of both sexes, but the problem seems to be more prevalent among women. “They think of it as programming,” Dr. Cuny said. “They don’t think of it as revolutionizing the way we are going to do medicine or create synthetic molecules or study our impact on the climate of the earth.”

Like others in the field, Dr. Cuny speaks almost lyrically about the intellectual challenge of applying the study of cognition and the tools of computation to medicine, ecology, law, chemistry — virtually any kind of human endeavor.

“The use of computers in modern life is totally ubiquitous,” said Barbara G. Ryder, a professor of computer science at Rutgers University. “So there are niches all over for people who understand what the technology can do and also for people who want to advance the technology.

“But students don’t see that,” Dr. Ryder said. “And it seems to be happening more with the women than with the men.”

The Advanced Placement high school course in computer science may be part of the problem, according to Dr. Cuny. “The AP computer course is a disaster,” she said. “It teaches Java programming, which is very appealing to a lot of people, but not to others. It doesn’t teach what you can do with computers.”

She and others think the course needs to be redesigned.

But Dr. Lazowska said the criticism was somewhat unfair, given that introductory college computer courses, which the AP course is designed to replace, typically emphasize programming as well.

At one time, said Barbara Grosz, a computer scientist and dean of sciences at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard, students entered college with little idea of what computer science involved, “so they would try it and find out how much fun and how interesting it was, women included.”

Now, though, she said in an e-mail message, “they get the wrong idea in high school and we never see them to correct the misperception.”

Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs Dr. Blum and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon instituted to draw more women into computer science. At one time, she said, admission to the program depended on high overall achievement and programming experience. The criteria now, she said, are high overall achievement and broad interests, diverse perspectives and whether applicants seem to have potential to be future leaders.

“In this more balanced environment, the men and women were more alike than different,” she said. “Some women are hackers and some men are hackers, and some women love applications and some men love applications.”

With the changes at Carnegie Mellon, women now make up almost 40 percent of computer science enrollees, up from 8 percent, Dr. Blum said.

There has been backlash, she said, including “calls from outraged parents saying, ‘My son has three patents, how come he did not get into Carnegie Mellon?’ ”

Others accuse her and her colleagues of lowering standards. “Well, we would not have success if we did,” she said.

Dr. Lazowska and Dr. Blum, with colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Google, are working on materials that high school teachers can use to tell students about the challenges and opportunities of computer science. They are developing them for teachers of math, science and English because, as Dr. Lazowska put it, “many young women have opted out of the field before they even get to computer science” in high school.

He and his colleagues at the University of Washington (which never had a programming requirement, he said) have produced a Web page for prospective students with an explicit goal of breaking stereotypes about computer science and demonstrating that computer scientists “work in a broad range of interesting fields” — everything from designing prosthetics to devising new ways to fight forest fires.

The people on the page’s “day in the life” feature are Erin, Kiera, Crystal, Tessa and Siobhan — all women. “That was deliberate,” he said, adding that women will make up 23 percent of the prospective computer science majors next year.

Other efforts are under way elsewhere. At Brown University, for example, an organization called Women in Computer Science @Brown runs the Artemis Project, which brings ninth-grade girls from schools in Providence, R.I., to the university campus for five weeks each summer. Its goal is to help the girls learn both concrete computer skills and abstract computer science concepts “in a positive and encouraging environment.”

Dr. Ryder of Rutgers, with colleagues at other universities, has a grant from the science foundation to develop Web materials and give workshops for teachers on different ways to teach computer science. “There is a place for different kinds of learning,” she said.

There are some who argue that it does not matter if computer science, as a discipline, withers a bit. They say fields that rely on computer science — which is to say, virtually all fields — will develop their own expertise in-house, so to speak, as scientists and engineers accumulate the skills they need, almost ad hoc, as they do their research.

But that is not the way for computer science as a whole to advance, Dr. Blum told her Harvard audience.

Though there needs to be “synergy between theory and application domains,” Dr. Blum said, computer science needs “talent at the core looking for innovation at the core.”

Others worry that the field cannot grow to its potential if it lacks women’s perspective. “Does it matter that women’s outlook is missing? I think it does,” Dr. Cuny said. “Technology is pervasive in society, and its impact is only going to increase. Shouldn’t everyone have a voice in shaping the technology?”

For her part, Dr. Ryder said that after working for decades as computer scientists, she and other women in the field were sad not to see more young women joining them. “We’re senior now, and we don’t see who is coming along,” Dr. Ryder said. “For me, this is a professional and a personal frustration.”

Are Mobile Phones Wiping Out Our Bees?

Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees
Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross

It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.

They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.

Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: "There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK."

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks.

German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.

Dr George Carlo, who headed a massive study by the US government and mobile phone industry of hazards from mobiles in the Nineties, said: "I am convinced the possibility is real."

The case against handsets

Evidence of dangers to people from mobile phones is increasing. But proof is still lacking, largely because many of the biggest perils, such as cancer, take decades to show up.

Most research on cancer has so far proved inconclusive. But an official Finnish study found that people who used the phones for more than 10 years were 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side as they held the handset.

Equally alarming, blue-chip Swedish research revealed that radiation from mobile phones killed off brain cells, suggesting that today's teenagers could go senile in the prime of their lives.

Studies in India and the US have raised the possibility that men who use mobile phones heavily have reduced sperm counts. And, more prosaically, doctors have identified the condition of "text thumb", a form of RSI from constant texting.

Professor Sir William Stewart, who has headed two official inquiries, warned that children under eight should not use mobiles and made a series of safety recommendations, largely ignored by ministers.


Don Ho, Hawaiian Musician, Dies at 76
Nate Chinen

Don Ho, an entertainer who defined popular perceptions of Hawaiian music in the 1960s and held fast to that image as a peerless Waikiki nightclub attraction, died yesterday in Honolulu. He was 76.

The cause was heart failure, his daughter Dayna Ho said.

Mr. Ho was a durable spokesman for the image of Hawaii as a tourist playground. His rise as a popular singer dovetailed with a visitor boom that followed statehood in 1959 and the advent of affordable air travel. For 40 years, his name was synonymous with Pacific Island leisure, as was “Tiny Bubbles,” his signature hit, which helped turn him into a national figure.

Born Donald Tai Loy Ho in the Honolulu enclave of Kaka‘ako, Mr. Ho had an ethnic background worthy of the islands’ melting-pot ideal: he was of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and German descent. He grew up in Kaneohe, on the windward side of the island of Oahu, and it was there that he began his singing career at Honey’s, a restaurant and lounge owned by his mother, Emily.

Mr. Ho enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1954, receiving his certification as a fighter pilot in Texas but never seeing combat. He transferred to Military Airlift Command and flew cargo transport routes across the Pacific before leaving the service the year that Hawaii joined the Union as the 50th state.

Mr. Ho took over Honey’s and resumed performing. He befriended a gifted young songwriter named Kui Lee, who would soon write “I’ll Remember You,” an enduring Hawaiian standard that Mr. Ho effectively introduced. With a repertory that included some of Mr. Lee’s earlier work, Mr. Ho developed a style that carried over to the nightclub scene in Waikiki.

By 1962 he was headlining there with a backing group called the Ali‘is. Their blend of two guitars, piano, drums and xylophone, along with Mr. Ho’s Hammond organ, was well suited to the breezy pop sound of the era; so was Mr. Ho’s nonchalant, slightly slurred baritone. Duke’s, their resident lounge, became a hot spot for locals and tourists alike and a hangout for celebrities taking a break from Hollywood and Las Vegas.

Within five years, Mr. Ho had achieved nationwide fame with several successful albums and a hit single, “Tiny Bubbles.” A full decade before Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville,” the song painted an appealing portrait of tropical indulgence that cemented Mr. Ho’s character as an easygoing romantic rogue. He adhered to that character in his frequent television appearances in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and on his own ABC variety series, “The Don Ho Show,” from 1976 to 1977.

While Mr. Ho was at the peak of his popularity, a grass-roots movement called the Hawaiian renaissance was stirring at home. The movement, an effort at cultural preservation inspired by such folk traditions as Hawaiian falsetto singing and ki ho‘alu slack-key guitar, offered an implicit rebuke to the slick commercialization that Mr. Ho, as well as the CBS television series “Hawaii Five-O,” had come to represent.

But there was respect for Mr. Ho’s representation of Hawaii to the world, even among artists in the Hawaiian renaissance. For much of the past three decades, Mr. Ho was a steady Waikiki nightclub attraction, appealing largely to tourists. In his long-running show at the Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber hotel, he would crack jokes and play familiar songs. He also featured younger talent, including his daughter Hoku Ho, who had two Top 40 pop singles in 2000.

Late in 2005, Mr. Ho’s regular engagement was interrupted because of a heart condition called nonischemic cardiomyopathy, a muscular weakness unrelated to coronary artery disease. He traveled to Thailand in December 2005 to undergo an experimental stem cell treatment.

Less than seven weeks later, Mr. Ho returned to the Beachcomber and performed a sold-out show stocked with loyal fans and local entertainers paying respects. He resumed performing on a weekly basis and lunching at Don Ho’s Island Grill, a restaurant in which he was a partner that opened in 1998. Last September Mr. Ho took another medical leave to have a new pacemaker installed.

Around the same time Mr. Ho married his longtime executive producer, Haumea Hebenstreit.

In addition to his wife, Dayna Ho said, he is survived by 10 children, including six from his first marriage, to Melva May Ho, who died in 1999: Donald Jr., Donalai, Dayna, Dondi, Dori and Dwight. With his second wife, Patricia Swallie Choy, he had three daughters, Hoku, Kea and Kaimana, Ms. Ho said. The Ho family provided no further information.

Were Video Games to Blame for Massacre?

Pundits rushed to judge industry, gamers in the wake of shooting
Winda Benedetti

The shooting on the Virginia Tech campus was only hours old, police hadn't even identified the gunman, and yet already the perpetrator had been fingered and was in the midst of being skewered in the media.

Video games. They were to blame for the dozens dead and wounded. They were behind the bloodiest massacre in U.S. history.

Or so Jack Thompson told Fox News and, in the days that followed, would continue to tell anyone who'd listen.

"These are real lives. These are real people that are in the ground now because of this game. I have no doubt about it," said Thompson, a Florida attorney and fervent critic the of video game industry.

The game he's talking about is "Counter-Strike," a massively popular team-based tactical shooting game that puts players in the heavily-armed boots of either a counter-terrorist or terrorist.

But whether Cho Seung-Hui, the student who opened fire Monday, was an avid player of video games and whether he was a fan of "Counter-Strike" in particular remains, even now, uncertain at best.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the school shootings and the finger-pointing that followed, game players and industry advocates say they're outraged that the brutal acts of a deeply disturbed and depressed loner with a history of mental illness would be blamed so quickly on video and computer games. They say this is perhaps the most flagrant case of anti-game crusaders using a tragedy to promote their own personal causes.

"It's so sad. These massacre chasers — they're worse than ambulance chasers — they're waiting for these things to happen so they can jump on their soap box," said Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association.

"It disgusts me," said Isaiah Triforce Johnson, a long-time gamer and founder of a New York-based gaming advocacy group that, in response to the accusations, is now planning what is the first ever gamer-driven peace rally.

‘Mental masturbation’
When Jack Thompson gets worked up, he refers to gamers as "knuckleheads." He calls video games "mental masturbation."

When he's talking about himself and his crusade against violent games, he calls himself an "educator." He likes to use the word "pioneer."

Certainly Thompson has made a name for himself. After all, he knows a thing or two about publicity. He's spent no small bit of time in front of a camera.

On those rare occasions when a student opens fire on a school campus, Thompson is frequently the first and the loudest to declare games responsible. In recent years he's blamed games such as "Counter-Strike," "Doom" and "Grand Theft Auto III" for school shootings in Littleton, Colo., Red Lake, Minn. and Paducah, Ky.

He's blamed them for shootings beyond school grounds as well. In an attempt to hold game developers and publishers responsible for these spasms of violence, Thompson has launched several unsuccessful lawsuits.

But in the hours after the Virginia Tech massacre, Thompson wasn't the only one rushing to make a connection between the shootings and video games. Police were still struggling to piece together the nightmare that had unfolded on campus that morning when Dr. Phil McGraw appeared on Larry King Live and took aim at the usual suspect.

"The problem is we are programming these people as a society," he said. "You cannot tell me — common sense tells you that if these kids are playing video games, where they're on a mass killing spree in a video game, it's glamorized on the big screen, it's become part of the fiber of our society. You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath or someone suffering from mental illness and add in a dose of rage, the suggestibility is too high. And we're going to have to start dealing with that."

Meanwhile, by Tuesday, the Washington Post had posted a story on its website stating that several youths who knew Cho said that in high school he'd been a fan of violent video games, especially "Counter-Strike."

But a short time later, the newspaper removed that paragraph from the story without explanation. Meanwhile, authorities released a search warrant listing the items found in Cho's dorm room. Not a single video game, console or gaming gadget was on the list, though a computer was confiscated. And in an interview with Chris Matthews of "Hardball," Cho's university suite-mate said he had never seen Cho play video games.

None of this seems to matter to Thompson.

"This is not rocket science. When a kid who has never killed anyone in his life goes on a rampage and looks like the Terminator, he's a video gamer," he told MSNBC.com.

And in a letter sent to Bill Gates Wednesday, he wrote: "Mr. Gates, your company is potentially legally liable (for) the harm done at Virginia Tech. Your game, a killing simulator, according to the news that used to be in the Post, trained him to enjoy killing and how to kill."

(Microsoft did not create "Counter Strike" but did publish a version of it for the Xbox. The company's representatives declined to comment on Thompson's letter. MSNBC.com is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)

While Thompson concedes that there are many elements that must have driven Cho to commit such a brutal act, he insists that without video games Cho wouldn't have had the skills to do what he did.

"He might have killed somebody but he wouldn't have killed 32 if he hadn't rehearsed it and trained himself like a warrior on virtual reality. It can't be done. It just doesn't happen."

Kids these days
Dr. Karen Sternheimer, a sociologist at the University of Southern Calfornia and author of the book " Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions About Today's Youth," disagrees. She believes that it didn't require much skill for Cho to shoot as many people as he did. After all, eye witness accounts indicate many of the victims were shot at point-blank range.

And for all of Thompson's claims that violent video games are the cause of school shootings, Sternheimer points out that before this week's Virginia Tech massacre, the most deadly school shooting in history took place at the University of Texas in Austin… in 1966. Not even "Pong" had been invented at that time.

"One thing that people often don't realize is that in the years since video game sales have really exploded, not only have youth violence rates decreased but violence rates in the U.S. have declined precipitously," she added.

Meanwhile, Sternheimer says the rush to blame video games in these situations is disingenuous for yet another reason. Although it remains unclear whether Cho played games, it seems nobody will be surprised if it turns out he did. After all, what 23-year-old man living in America hasn't played video games?

"Especially if you're talking about young males, the odds are pretty good that any young male in any context will have played video games at some point," Sternheimer says.

"I think in our search to find some kind of answer as to why this happened, the video game explanation seems easy," she says. "It seems like there's an easy answer to preventing this from happening again and that feels good on some level."

The blame game
Jason Della Rocca agrees. "Everyone wants a simple solution for a massively complex problem. We want to get on with our lives."

As the leader of an organization that represents video game creators from all over the world, Della Rocca knows the routine all too well.

Someone opens fire on a school campus. Someone blames video games. His phone starts ringing. People start asking him questions like, "So how bad are these games anyway?"

Of course, he also knows that this is far from the first time in history that a young form of pop culture has been blamed for any number of society's ills. Rock and roll was the bad guy in the 1950s. Jazz was the bad guy in the 1930s. Movies, paintings, comic books, works of literature…they've all been there.

Still, Della Rocca believes that people like Thompson are "essentially feeding off the fears of those who don't understand games."

For those who didn't grow up playing video games, the appeal of a game like "Counter-Strike" can be hard to comprehend. It can be difficult to understand that the game promotes communication and team work. It can be hard fathom how players who love to run around gunning down their virtual enemies do not have even the slightest desire to shoot a person in real life.

"It's the thing they don't understand," Della Rocca says. "It's a thing that's scary."

Fed up with the scapegoating and lack of understanding, gamer groups have begun to get increasingly organized in their attempts to change public perception of their favorite hobby.

Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, says there's more than 30 million gamers in the U.S. alone. He says the ECA, a non-profit membership organization, was created last year specifically to represent the needs and interests of those who play computer and video games.

Meanwhile, the members of Empire Arcadia — a grassroots group dedicated to supporting the gaming community and culture — have been so incensed by the recent attempts to blame video games for the Virginia Tech shootings that they've begun planning a rally in New York City with the assistance of the ECA.

"There we will protest, mourn and show how real gamers play video games peacefully and responsibly," organizer Isaiah Triforce Johnson wrote on the group's Web site. "This demonstration is to show that gamers will not take the blame of this tragic matter but we will do what we can to help put an end to terrible events like this."

Johnson says that, ultimately, he hopes the rally — scheduled for May 5th — will help people better understand video game enthusiasts like him.

"We are normal people," he says. "We just play games."
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Shades of Napster

Schmidt Says YouTube 'Very Close' to Filtering System
Greg Sandoval

Google is very near enacting a filtering service that would prevent copyright content from being uploaded to video-sharing site YouTube, CEO Eric Schmidt said Monday.

Schmidt made the comments to about 300 people here at the National Association of Broadcasters conference during a one-on-one interview with John Seigenthaler, a former reporter with NBC's Nightly News.

The new system, which Schmidt called Claim Your Content, will automatically identify copyright material so that it can be removed, Schmidt said.

"We are very close to turning this on," Schmidt said.

The filtering system was supposed to have launched last year at YouTube, which Google acquired for $1.6 billion in October 2006. Delays in rolling it out have angered movie and television executives. Executives at NBC and Viacom have accused Google of dragging its feet on preventing YouTube users from uploading clips from hit shows and movies.

Network executives accused Google of stalling so YouTube could reap the big traffic that professionally-created shows generate. Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google last month and accused Google of massive intentional copyright infringement.

"Ah Viacom," Schmidt said. "You're either doing business with them or being sued by them...we chose the former, but ended up the latter."

Schmidt took the opportunity to poke fun at Microsoft's assertion that Google's pending acquisition of DoubleClick may be a threat to fair competition. Other companies, including Yahoo and AT&T have also asked regulators to review the transaction closely.

Seigenthaler asked Schmidt what he thought of Microsoft's concerns and Schmidt responded as if he hadn't heard previously about them.

"Microsoft?" Schmidt said.

When Seigenthaler said Microsoft also expressed concern about Google's size and the safety of privacy on the Web, Schmidt played to the crowd and responded once again: "Microsoft?"

"The specific complaints Microsoft has made are clearly false," a more serious Schmidt said. "I think a more likely scenario is that they are making those arguments because they are a competitor of ours."

Earlier Seigenthaler noted that many in the crowd were in radio and television and many may fear that Google has its sites set on their advertising market.

Google said Sunday that it will begin selling advertisements on all of the radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest station owner.

Google has been working to extend its reach into traditional media ad sales, but Schmidt denied that Google is a threat to radio, television or newspapers. He noted that ad revenues for TV and radio have been relatively flat and implored the audience to realize that they need to bring in new advertisers. His message of course is that Google can help them do that.

"Google is new phenomenon that isn't going to replace radio or TV," he said. "It seems to me that Google has an ad business that can add to the success of radio and TV."

Dept. of Irony

Microsoft Urges Antitrust Officials to Scuttle DoubleClick Deal
Steve Lohr

Microsoft, a veteran defendant of epic antitrust battles in the United States and Europe, is urging antitrust officials to consider scuttling Google’s plan to buy DoubleClick, an online advertising company.

Microsoft contends that the $3.1 billion deal, announced last Friday, would hurt competition in the fast-growing market for advertising on the Web and raise questions about how much personal information would be collected by Google, which is already a dominant player in online advertising.

In an interview today, Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said that the purchase of DoubleClick by Google would “combine the two largest distributors of online advertising” and thus “substantially reduce competition in the advertising market on the Web.”

Google dismissed Microsoft’s assertions. “We’ve studied this closely, and their claims, as stated, are not true,” Eric E. Schmidt, chief executive of Google, said in an interview last night.

Google and DoubleClick, according to Mr. Smith, would be in a position to “observe and capture consumer information on an unprecedented scale.”

Google tracks the interests and preferences among the millions of people who use its search engine. DoubleClick is the leader among companies that specialize in placing, or “serving,” the graphical and video ads that appear on Web sites. Ad-serving networks like DoubleClick place tiny programs on personal computers, called cookies, that monitor where an individual user goes online.

Microsoft was joined today by AT&T, a company that traces its lineage to the Ma Bell monopoly that was broken up in the mid-1980s. “We think antitrust authorities should take a hard look at this deal and the implications,” said Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president for external affairs at AT&T. “If any one company gets a hammerlock on the online advertising space, as Google seems to be trying to do, that is worrisome.”

Microsoft was one the companies, along with Yahoo and Time Warner, that lost out to Google in the bidding for DoubleClick. Mr. Cicconi said that AT&T, by contrast, would be affected by a Google-DoubleClick combination because AT&T distributes services over the Internet like digital television, known as IPTV.

“For many of these new Web services, it could be that the advertising-supported model is the predominant business model,” he said. “The danger here is that Google could be in a position to pick winners and losers.”

This is not the first time that Microsoft, the biggest winner of the personal computer era, and Google, the emerging Internet powerhouse, have been on opposite sides of an anticompetitive claim. Early last year, Google complained to regulators that the design of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser steered users to Microsoft’s MSN search engine instead of rival search offerings from Google and Yahoo.

After reviewing the matter, the Justice Department said last May that Microsoft’s browser allowed users a fairly easy way to switch to non-Microsoft search services. So Microsoft’s product design, the department said, did not pose an anticompetitive threat.

In that case, Google did talk to antitrust officials in Europe and the United States about its concerns.

Mr. Smith said Microsoft had not yet approached antitrust officials in the United States about its worries about Google’s purchase of DoubleClick.

Mr. Smith said that based on conversations with several media and other companies over the weekend, he expected that many would soon come forward to express similar concerns.

The initial antitrust review of mergers lasts 30 days. It is not yet clear whether the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission, which share antitrust duties, will review the Google-DoubleClick deal.

Any review of a merger on antitrust grounds begins with a determination of the “relevant market” in which the two companies operate. “That is the first hurdle in case like this,” said Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University, “and it looks as if DoubleClick may well be in a nearby, or complementary, market instead of the same market as Google. And then the question will be how easy it is for new entrants to compete in the online advertising markets.”

The Microsoft analysis, Mr. Smith said, is that the combined companies will hold 85 percent of the market for distributing ads to Web publishers.

Mr. Schmidt replied that Google and DoubleClick are each “small components of a much larger advertising market,” and each faces considerable competition. He added that it is easy to switch to offerings from rivals of Google and DoubleClick.

“We understand that we will go through a regulatory process in the United States and Europe now,” Mr. Schmidt said. “Along the way, all these questions will be discussed and debated. And we welcome that.”

Google-DoubleClick Deal Seen Spurring Web Ad M&A
Paul Thomasch

Google Inc.'s $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick Inc. will create a new powerhouse in digital advertising that could spur a wave of takeovers in the online marketing sector.

The planned acquisition, unveiled late on Friday, prompted a rally in shares of digital advertising companies on Monday, with aQuantive Inc. jumping 12.2 percent, Real Media Inc. up 10.6 percent and ValueClick Inc. gaining 2.3 percent.

The surge in stock prices suggests investors are more excited about the prospect of further takeovers in the digital marketing industry than the threat that the Google-DoubleClick combination could steal business away from smaller rivals.

Up and down Wall Street, analysts predicted another deal to follow Google's acquisition of privately held DoubleClick, which itself follows Publicis' $1.3 billion purchase of interactive agency Digitas Inc. four months ago.

"We expect that Google's deal for Doubleclick will benefit public assets such as aQuantive, ValueClick, and possibly even Akamai, as there is a scarcity of high-quality assets combined with an aggressively consolidating sector," Scott Devitt, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, said in a research note.

AQuantive, ValueClick and Real Media specialize in different digital advertising areas, ranging from online media buying, campaign design and tracking services, to providing search and display marketing. Akamai Technolgies Inc. helps speed up the delivery of digital content via the Web.

One of the most talked about potential pairings is Microsoft Corp. and aQuantive, a full service online ad agency that has a creative division, buys and sell ad space, offers direct marketing services and tracks online campaigns.

AQuantive is based in Seattle, near Microsoft's campus headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Shares of aQuantive hit a new 52-week high of $32.78 on the Nasdaq before closing at $32.01.

JP Morgan analyst Imran Khan raised his rating on aQuantive to "overweight" from "neutral" and said, "The recent Google acquisition of DoubleClick could potentially lead to more acquisitions in the space."

But other Microsoft watchers said the world's largest software maker, while lagging in the Web search market, would not necessarily benefit from buying an online ad company.

"In terms of Microsoft's advertising -- they already have a fairly stable, strong and well-established banner business," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "What they are not keeping up with is search.

"But their search engine is actually good -- what they need to do is get more users," he said, meaning the acquisition of a digital agency may not help.

Morningstar analyst Toan Tran said: "I don't think buying someone like aQuantive would help Microsoft."

Pivotal Step

With DoubleClick, Google vastly expands its Web display advertising business, which includes richer graphic and online banner ads for corporate brands, and represents half of all online marketing. Until now, display advertising has been dominated by rival Yahoo Inc..

"This may prove to be a pivotal step for Google in its quest to create something of an operating system for the entire advertising industry," Derek Brown, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, said in a research note.

Both Yahoo and Microsoft had bid for DoubleClick, while Time Warner Inc.'s AOL online unit had considered a bid earlier in the process, sources have said.

Yahoo, like Microsoft, has deep pockets for an acquisition but some analysts also say Yahoo has fortified its advertising capabilities with a new ad system known as Project Panama.

Even if there are no suitors, aQuantive and others could benefit from the Google-DoubleClick deal since marketers are often wary of putting too much control in the hands of one advertising company, analysts said.

"We believe that Google's acquisition of DoubleClick could lead to a backlash from ad agencies and some publishers due to conflicts of interest," Richard Fetyko, an analyst with Merriman Curhan Ford, said in a research note. "If acquired by the largest online media company, DoubleClick loses the independency that ad agencies seek."

(Additional reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston)

Google Says Not Encroaching on Broadcasters
Rachelle Younglai

Google moved to reassure broadcasters on Monday that the Internet company was not encroaching on their turf after announcing two major deals that widen its scope in the advertising industry.

``Google is a new phenomena. It does not replace radio and television,'' Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt told delegates at the National Association of Broadcasters' annual conference.

Over the weekend, the Web search leader announced a multi-year advertising sales agreement with the largest U.S. broadcaster, Clear Channel Radio. That announcement came just days after it said it would gobble up web ad supplier DoubleClick, beating out competitors Microsoft Corp.and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO.O) in the process.

``It seems to me that Google has an advertising business that can add to the success of radio and television worldwide,'' Schmidt said.

Clear Channel (CCU.N) said it has agreed for Google to sell a guaranteed portion of the 30-second spots available on its 675 radio stations in top U.S. markets, in a bid to expand the universe of local radio advertisers to Google's online buyers.

Earlier, the Mountain View, California-based company revealed a similar deal to supply satellite TV broadcaster EchoStar (DISH.O) and its 13 million viewers.

Schmidt said it looks like advertising in radio and television has been relatively flat in revenue growth. ``If our technology can bring more advertisers to radio, I think that is a good thing,'' he said.

Google's pay-per-click Web search ad system has transformed the effectiveness of online advertising.

``Advertisers care about efficiency, measurability, targetability,'' said Schmidt. ``The tools that Google are developing are simply better tools than the previous generation of technology.''

Schmidt brushed aside concerns that Google was taking away ad revenue from broadcasters and said that advertising as an industry is growing. ``The money is there,'' he said. ``It makes good sense to have an ad that is targeted to you. It is more important to have an ad that is more relevant to you.''

Schmidt appeared amused at Microsoft's allegations that Google was anti-competitive by buying DoubleClick.

``A more likely scenario is that they were unhappy because they are competitors of ours,'' he said.

Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, said the deal would allow Google to corner the online advertising market and provide them access to a huge amount of information on consumer behavior on the Internet.

AT&T (T.N) and Time Warner Inc. (TWX.N) said they hoped regulators would scrutinize Google's DoubleClick deal.

The importance of Google was not lost on the thousands of delegates at the broadcasters' convention. The line to hear Schmidt speak wound out the door.

Google, Clear Channel in Broad U.S. Radio Ads Deal
Eric Auchard

Web search leader Google Inc. has broken into radio with a multi-year advertising sales agreement with the largest U.S. broadcaster, Clear Channel Radio, the companies said on Sunday.

The deal, long anticipated by the radio industry, marks the progress Google is making as it expands into offline media, not just in radio, but also television and newspapers -- even in the face of resistance from some traditional media players.

Last week, it revealed a parallel deal to supply satellite TV broadcaster EchoStar and its 13 million viewers.

Clear Channel said it has agreed for Google to sell a guaranteed portion of the 30-second spots available on its 675 radio stations in top U.S. markets, in a bid to expand the universe of local radio advertisers to Google's online buyers.

Financial terms were not disclosed. A Clear Channel executive said Google has access to less than 5 percent of the radio broadcaster's overall inventory of advertising air time. The U.S. radio industry generates $20 billion in annual sales.

Through Clear Channel, Google Audio Ads promises to offer advertisers national distribution across all top 100 U.S. radio markets, enabling them to reach specific audiences, throughout the day, including prized "morning drive-time" slots, in targeted local markets.

Clear Channel attracts up to 20 percent of U.S. radio sales and draws 110 million listeners. Formats range from rock to all-talk to easy-listening, 24-hour news, Christian and jazz.

In a joint statement, Clear Channel Radio said its national and local sales forces will continue to focus on the company's most lucrative advertiser relationships, and on advertisers who seek specialized ad packages. Google will focus on advertisers who run ads online but who do not yet run ads on radio.

"By making radio more efficient and measurable for online marketers, this is a way to further activate their marketing efforts," said Charlie Rahilly, Clear Channel's executive vice president of operations and negotiator of the Google ad deal.

A year ago, Google telegraphed its ambitions in radio when it agreed to pay more than $1 billion for dMarc Broadcasting, which links advertisers to radio stations through an automated ad buying system. DMarc is the foundation of Google Audio Ads.

Google counts hundreds of thousands of Web-search advertising customers, many of which have never used radio for marketing, according to Drew Hilles, the former head of advertising sales at dMarc, who now runs Google radio sales.

Mountain View, California-based Google is also talking to other radio broadcasters, but Hilles declined to comment on whether they included CBS, another big U.S. radio player, or satellite radio broadcasters. "Clear Channel is the benchmark relationship in radio," he said before adding that: "We are in conversations with lots of other companies."

For Clear Channel, of San Antonio, Texas, the deal opens up an additional sales channel online for its 5,200-strong sales force and potentially new revenue by reaching advertisers who previously have not marketed on radio. By expanding its base of advertisers, Clear Channel said its sees Google Audio Ads boosting the average amount advertisers pay for spots, as measured in CPM, or costs-per-thousand ad impressions.

The deal comes ahead of a hotly contested vote this Thursday by Clear Channel stockholders on a plan by management to sell the company for $19 billion to a private equity group made up of Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital.

At the time the proposed private equity buyout was announced in November, the company said it planned to sell 448 of its 1,150 radio stations -- mostly in small markets -- as well as Clear Channel's 42-station television group.

The Google deal covers the remaining 675 or so stations that represent the lion's share of the U.S. radio market.

The partners said the internal ad-buying system used by Clear Channel's sales force now fully works with Google's radio-ad-buying service. This complements an online ad partnership where Google already provides a way for Clear Channel advertisers to place text ads on station Web sites.

Google Achieves Behavioral Targeting Nirvana
Rich Tehrani

Imagine a world where advertisers would be able to predict your detailed behavior online. They would know when you are about to buy a song, a car, a present for your spouse – they would know virtually everything you are thinking.

If you believe this is impossible then you would be wrong as there are a few companies who have access to enough Internet data to make this privacy lover’s nightmare a reality and believe it or not a relatively new science called behavioral targeting is taking the online advertising world by storm.

In an March 2007 article in Business 2.0 titled The Quest For The Perfect Online Ad, the author points out that Yahoo is one of the leading companies in the behavioral targeting space. A candid interview with Yahoo’s Dr. Usama Fayyad the company’s Executive Vice President of Research & Strategic Data Solutions shows Fayyad thinks showing ads based on behavioral targeting is much more powerful than simply showing ads based on simple search queries.

A salient quote from Fayyad in fact is “I know more about your intent than any 1,000 keywords you could type.

Yahoo has 12 terabytes of user data flowing through it everyday and to put this in perspective, this amount represents more data than the entire Library of Congress! Fayyad proudly says he can predict with 75% certainty which of the 300,000 monthly visitors to Yahoo! Autos will purchase a new car within the next three months.

In addition Fayyad points out there are times when advertising works best out of context. In other words once the computer knows what your intentions are… Let’s say trading stocks -- it can display a highly effective ad for a trading company while you are tracking your fantasy football team.

But Yahoo is not the only company with massive amounts of users and data… Google too is in the position of tracking their customer’s behavior in Gmail, search, Froogle and a cornucopia of other sites which have chosen to run Google Adsense ads.

In addition Google has an extremely popular search toolbar installed on millions of computers allowing the company to keep track of what users do on a variety of sites.

Last week however the game of behavioral targeting got even more competitive as Google announced they are purchasing DoubleClick (News - Alert).

DoubleClick is the leading company in the business of displaying advertising online. Large web publishers often use DoubleClick as a way to track advertising on their own sites. For example DoubleClick could be set to allow an advertisement – let’s say a banner ad at the top of TMCnet to be displayed every 5th time the page is displayed. In addition the ad could be shown only on nights and/or weekends or to European visitors.

DoubleClick like many websites uses cookies which are files placed on user’s computers to track their browsing history.

With the acquisition of DoubleClick, Google now has access to the cookies and subsequently browsing history of vast numbers of web users. It would be fair to say that greater than 85% of Internet users frequently come into contact with ads served by DoubleClick. In addition there are a vast number of sites serving up Google’s ads and running Google Analytics. Google perhaps now has access to the behavioral information of over 90% of web users.

One can expect Google to start mining DoubleClick’s databases immediately and in the process, cross reference this data with its own vast databases of search history and perhaps even Gmail content.

The point is, Google now has access to not only it’s own army of sites but it also owns much of the browsing history of sites like Yahoo and MSN. In other words the competitive advantage Yahoo was recently touting could fade away rather quickly if Google not only knows what Yahoo! knows but much, much more.

I had a chance to interview Tim Vanderhook, CEO and founder of Specific Media about the Google/DoubleClick merger. Tim’s company specializes in behavioral targeting of advertising via its own advertising network.

Vanderhook believes this merger is partially fueled by Google’s concern about the limited value of text-based search ads and moreover he expects Google to perhaps provide some paid DoubleClick services for free.

Tim raises an alarm bell when he says, “This acquisition is not plug-and-play for Google like Advertising.com was for AOL (News - Alert). They are attempting to get into the market by purchasing an ad serving technology, they still need to forge relationships with major publishers on the display side of the business to get inventory to resell.” He continues, “This strategy will prove to be an uphill battle and for $3.1 billion in cash that hill just got a lot bigger.”

Tim sees this purchase as challenging Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra. And he may have a point. The firestorm ignited by privacy advocates over Google’s Gmail program where the search engine giant decided to show ads related to e-mail content could be dwarfed by the concern over the vast quantity of data Google now owns.

Google could potentially have access to not only the majority of the world’s search history but its browsing and e-commerce history as well. The company could know more about web surfers than they know about themselves.

While this is a nightmare scenario for privacy advocates everywhere, it should scare Google’s competition even more. After all, it will be difficult for any other company to challenge the vast warehouse of user data Google now owns.

If applied correctly, Google becomes the ultimate behavioral targeting advertising engine and in the long run Google shareholder’s behavior could be easiest of all to predict… Big smiling faces and a 75% likelihood to be purchasing a shiny new car in the next three months. :-)

Is Google Reading Your Mail?!

Read this carefully:

[0044] References to the blog document by other sources may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. For example, content of emails or chat transcripts can contain URLs of blog documents. Email or chat discussions that include references to the blog document is a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?! Google has a massively popular hosted email service - GMail. They also have Google Talk, a chat service. You probably knew that. But did you know Google has intentions of crawling the content of your GMail emails and Google Talk chat sessions?! Now, I don’t know if they actually do that or not, and I haven’t gone hunting thru their terms of service seeking clarity, but their stated aim is clear: to find URLs in two key forms of personal online communications (email and chats), and to use these discoveries to further rank blogs and blog posts.

Updating e-Mail Rights
Victoria Shannon

The European Convention on Human Rights has just been updated for the Internet age to include the basic right to keep your personal e-mail messages and Web surfing private.

That, at least, is the precedent set by a court ruling earlier this month in Strasbourg in a case involving a Welsh college employee. The decision, coming out of the European Court of Human Rights, will affect subsequent human rights cases emerging from any of the 30 countries that have signed on to the convention.

In particular, the case applied to an employer's monitoring, collecting and storing a worker's personal Internet communications without ever saying that personal use of the Web was not permitted, or that personal use would be watched by the employer.

Cedric Manara, a law professor at the Edhec business school in Nice, said the ruling answered a theoretical question that had never been established by the court before: Do we have a right to privacy for our personal e-mail messages and Web visits at work?

That question as it relates to phone communications had already been dealt with by various courts (personal phone calls made from business premises are private), but not so with our digital activity.

"The court said yes, Internet communications falls under Article 8," Manara said. That part of the convention says, "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."

But, Manara emphasized, "This ruling will not bar employers from watching what their employees do. The court suggests it may be legitimate to control employees, but they must be made aware that they are subject to monitoring."

Presumably, then, if an employer gives adequate notice, that occasional note to the folks back home could be intercepted and read by the boss. On the other hand, if you're told ahead of time that could happen, it is up to you to keep your personal use on the up and up - or to stop that personal use at work.

What will constitute adequate notice remains for other precedent-setting court cases to establish.

And, while this ruling will apply to the human rights convention signatories - which includes all of the European Union, as well as Sweden and others - the United States operates under different privacy and employment rules.

For Americans, the employer is pretty much entitled to know everything they do at work, and spying on e-mail and Web surfing is common, Manara said. "Whatever is in your work contract applies," he said.

In the Welsh case, the personal assistant to the principal of Carmarthenshire College in Wales became suspicious that her e-mail messages were being monitored starting in 1999.

The British government, defendants in the case as the administrator of the college, admitted that the monitoring took place, but said that it was legitimate in order to ascertain whether the employee was making excessive use of college facilities for personal use.

An April 3 court decision said that since phone calls are considered private under case law, "It follows logically that e-mails sent from work should be similarly protected under Article 8, as should information derived from the monitoring of personal Internet usage."

Since the college had no policy at the time regarding the monitoring of telephone, e-mail or Internet use by employees, the plaintiff "had a reasonable expectation as to the privacy" in her digital communications, the court said.

But, the ruling also said, "The court would not exclude that the monitoring of an employee's use of a telephone, e-mail or Internet at the place of work may be considered 'necessary in a democratic society' in certain situations in pursuit of a legitimate aim."

The court awarded Lynette Copland, the personal assistant who started the case and who still works at the college, £3,000, or $4,100, in damages and £6,000 in legal costs.

"I felt like I was being stalked, and at the time I believed it was the right thing to fight for my rights to privacy," she told The Western Mail newspaper in Cardiff last week. "I am glad to hear the European Court agreed with me on that. It was an extremely unpleasant time for me."

Yahoo Strikes Ad Deal With More Papers
Miguel Helft

After a flurry of deal making over the last few days, Google and Yahoo, two giants of the online advertising business, are set to encroach on each other’s turf even more aggressively than before.

On Monday, Yahoo announced a broad deal with publishers representing 264 newspapers to sell national advertising across their Web sites. It may be the clearest sign to date of the company’s efforts to extend its advertising platform beyond the panoply of Yahoo sites.

The move follows Google’s announcement on Friday of its plans to acquire DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, a bold move into the market to deliver display and graphical advertising to Web sites. It is a business that Yahoo dominates, and one in which Google — the leader in search-based text advertisements — has failed to gain much traction.

“They are both trying to extend their influence and business opportunities beyond their own properties,” said Stewart Barry, an analyst at ThinkEquity Partners.

Yahoo’s deal with newspapers is an extension of an agreement announced in November with a smaller group of publishers. It also represents a vote of confidence for Yahoo’s revamped search advertising technology, which the company unveiled earlier this year.

Under the deal, newspapers will use Yahoo’s search technology on their Web sites and share revenue generated from the ads that Yahoo places alongside search results. Both Yahoo officials and outsiders have said recently that the technology, referred to internally as Project Panama, has improved Yahoo’s ability to place relevant ads in front of users, and therefore generate more revenue from search advertising.

Additionally, newspapers will be able to sell local advertisements on certain Yahoo properties, and their articles will appear on Yahoo’s news, finance and sports Web sites.

Those newspapers in the consortium that currently use DoubleClick’s technology to deliver graphical ads on their sites will gradually move to Yahoo’s system.

The earlier agreement was largely limited to cross-selling employment classified advertisements.

And in recent months, members of the newspaper consortium, which initially included the MediaNews Group, Hearst, Belo, E. W. Scripps and others, have recruited other chains, including the McClatchy Company and Media General. They are hoping that the broader alliance with Yahoo will help struggling newspaper companies increase online revenues.

“It’s an important step in the transformation of the newspaper industry,” said Robert W. Decherd, chairman and chief executive of Belo.

Yahoo made its first significant foray into the business of selling graphical ads outside its own network in an alliance with eBay last May. The company described the new agreement as the next step in that strategy.

“We are very interested in aligning not with everyone, but on a selective basis with publishers that have a quality audience where there is an alignment with Yahoo’s audience,” said Hilary Schneider, a Yahoo senior vice president.

Google’s planned acquisition of DoubleClick and Yahoo’s deal with newspapers place the two companies increasingly at the nexus between advertisers and online publishers.

“Both companies are looking to get to as large a scale as they can so their advertisers have the broadest reach possible,” said Bill Gross, chairman and chief executive of Idealab, which incubates and finances new technology ventures and was a pioneer in the search advertising business. “And everyone is looking to lock up as many publishers as possible.”

Yahoo’s Earnings Are Down 11 Percent
Miguel Helft

Yahoo’s top executives have been focused this year on an effort nicknamed Panama, after the vast canal project undertaken in the face of adversity. It is a major overhaul of the company’s search advertising system, intended to increase revenue and close a growing gap with Google, the leader in Internet search.

But it looks as if the good news that investors expected from the project has yet to flow.

The company said Tuesday that net income for the first quarter fell 11 percent from a year earlier, while revenue, excluding certain payments made to partners, was up 9 percent.

The results, announced after the close of trading, were in line with the company’s own forecasts but they fell short of analysts’ expectations and disappointed investors, who sent Yahoo shares tumbling nearly 8 percent in after-hours trading.

“All in all, there didn’t seem to be a lot to get excited about,” said Derek Brown, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald. “There was no tangible proof that Panama is working well or better than expected. There was reference to it, but no concrete evidence in the numbers.”

During a conference call with analysts, Yahoo executives made several upbeat pronouncements about Panama’s early performance. And they repeated guidance that the positive effects of Panama on Yahoo’s bottom line would begin to be felt in the second quarter and more significantly later this year as the system is rolled out in overseas markets.

Despite investors’ reaction, Terry S. Semel, Yahoo’s chairman and chief executive, said he was pleased with the company’s performance. “The results we put out today were exactly what we expected,” he said in an interview. “To us it is a very strong performance.”

Project Panama is Yahoo’s attempt to make the ads placed alongside search results more likely to bebe clicked by users. Because an advertiser pays only when a user clicks on its ad to visit its site, more clicks translate into more revenue.

Yahoo began rolling out the system in the United States on Feb. 5, and company executives have said it is performing well. At an investor conference this year, Mr. Semel said he was “all smiles” about Panama.

Perhaps as a result, investors were hoping that the financial benefits of the system would begin to be felt sooner rather than later. Since the beginning of the year, shares of Yahoo have risen about 25 percent, far outpacing gains by Google and most other major Internet companies. Yahoo shares closed at $32.09 on Tuesday, up 48 cents, or 1.5 percent, but dropped more than $2.53 in after-hours trading.

“You had so much hype and optimism about Panama around the quarter,” said Douglas Anmuth, an analyst with Lehman Brothers. Mr. Anmuth said Panama seemed to be on track to deliver on its promise. “It is going to be on a schedule that Yahoo suggested and not on what investors had come to expect in the last few months,” he said.

To reap the full benefits of Panama, some analysts say Yahoo needs to increase its share of searches conducted online, which has remained relatively steady over the last year, while Google’s has been inching up. During the first quarter, Yahoo accounted for 27.9 percent of all searches in the United States and Google for 48 percent, according to comScore Networks.

On Monday, Yahoo announced a broad agreement with newspaper companies that could help bolster use of its search technology. Under the deal, more than 260 newspapers in 44 states will carry the Yahoo search box on their Web sites. The announcement comes after other recent distribution deals, including an agreement for Viacom to use Yahoo as the search engine on several of its online sites.

Yahoo’s net income for the quarter was $142.4 million, or 10 cents a share, down from $159.9 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue excluding certain payments to partners was $1.18 billion, compared with $1.09 billion a year earlier, a 9 percent increase.

Total revenue was $1.67 billion, a 7 percent increase over the previous year. Yahoo said its forecasts for the remainder of the year remained unchanged.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected the company to report a profit of 11 cents a share and revenue of $1.2 billion, excluding the partner payments.

On Tuesday, Mr. Semel also said that Yahoo had expanded its advertising partnership with eBay to include eBay’s payment service, PayPal. Under the deal, merchants accepting PayPal will be highlighted with a special icon when they appear in ads alongside search results, perhaps giving consumers an incentive to click on the ads. The strategy mirrors one that Google has used successfully with its payment system, Checkout.

Mr. Semel said that Google’s planned acquisition of DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, which was announced last week and represents a move by Google into the graphical advertising business dominated by Yahoo, “does validate Yahoo’s strategy for the last few years.”

Mr. Semel said he had heard and understood concerns from some publishers among DoubleClick’s customers that the deal put the company into the hands of a potential competitor. “My guess is that some will be fine and others won’t be fine,” he said.

Intel Earnings Jump Sharply in the Quarter, but Sales Dip
Laurie J. Flynn

Intel’s first-quarter earnings appeared to reassure investors Tuesday that the company’s profit margins were finally starting to improve after a period of price cutting and heavy spending.

The company, the world’s largest chip maker and a closely watched indicator of the health of the technology industry, said that first-quarter profit rose 19 percent partly as a result of a one-time tax benefit and the company’s move to a more efficient production process, while sales fell slightly.

“We certainly continue to see a competitive pricing environment,” Andy D. Bryant, the chief financial officer, said in a conference call Tuesday with analysts. “But we find ourselves in a better position than we were in a year ago.”

On the critical measurement of gross profit margin, the company surprised Wall Street by surpassing its own projections for the first quarter. Gross margin was 50.1 percent, higher than the 49.6 percent recorded in the previous quarter and above the 49 percent Intel projected for the quarter in January.

The company attributed the good news to lower microprocessor unit costs and the selling off of reserved inventory, which helped offset lower revenue and the high start-up costs of moving to 45-nanometer production, a more advanced chip-making process.

Similarly, the company projected that gross margin for the year would be about 51 percent, higher than its earlier forecast of about 50 percent.

Investors applauded the prospect that margin pressure was finally easing. The report was released after the market’s close Tuesday, and Intel’s shares rose 47 cents, or 2.24 percent, in after-hours trading. In regular trading, Intel’s stock increased 29 cents, to close at $20.98 a share.

The company, had “strong momentum and relatively stable pricing” during the first quarter, said Paul S. Otellini, Intel’s chief executive.

Intel reported a profit of $1.61 billion, or 27 cents a share, compared with $1.36 billion, or 23 cents a share, a year earlier. Intel executives said a tax benefit of $300 million raised earnings by 5 cents a share. Intel’s first-quarter sales declined 1 percent, to $8.85 billion, from $8.94 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of 22 cents a share, excluding the tax benefit, and sales of $8.9 billion.

Mr. Bryant said Intel’s profit improved in large part because average selling prices stayed relatively stable. New microprocessor products for notebook computers and servers helped Intel keep prices up.

For the last several years Intel has been locked in a price war with Advanced Micro Devices, a battle that has taken its toll on profit margins at both companies. But while Intel appears to be reviving, A.M.D. surprised investors last week by announcing that it would report revenue in the first quarter of $1.23 billion, far below the $1.53 billion analysts had forecast.

A.M.D. blamed lower selling prices for its processors, as well as lower unit sales, and said it would make cutbacks in hiring and spending to further reduce operating costs. The company said it would reduce 2007 capital spending by about $500 million from $2.5 billion. A.M.D. is scheduled to release its earnings report Thursday.

Cody Acree, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, called Intel’s quarter “encouraging,” and said it appeared Intel was gaining back lost market share in virtually all categories. “In a challenging environment we think Intel is executing well, especially when you look at the poor executing of its nearest competitor,” he said.

Looking ahead to the second quarter, Intel expects revenue of $8.2 billion to $8.8 billion, below analysts’ forecast for revenue of $8.86 billion. But Mr. Bryant told analysts that the slowdown was in part a normal seasonal pattern.

Intel executives Tuesday pointed to developments in chip-making that are enabling it to pack more features into its processors. That, in turn, is helping keep costs down and prices stable. At a developer conference in Beijing on Monday, Intel described plans to feature a “system on a chip” in the coming quarters, a move that leads to increased efficiency, lower prices and less energy use.

The company also said Tuesday that its corporate restructuring was a quarter ahead of schedule, and that it had already reduced its headcount by 6,000 workers, to about 92,000.

I.B.M. Profit Is Up, Despite Slow U.S. Sales
Steve Lohr

I.B.M. reported solid gains in quarterly profit and modest growth in revenue yesterday, as the company’s strategic shift toward higher-margin software and services makes gradual progress.

The largest information technology services company, International Business Machines is also a major global supplier of software and hardware to corporations. So its results are closely watched as a barometer of corporate spending on technology.

The results paint a picture of dynamic markets in the Asia-Pacific region, notably China and India; a rebound in Europe, with the big German market especially strong; a continuing recovery in Japan; and sluggishness in the United States.

Sales in the Americas grew only 1 percent, to $9.1 billion. Within that geographic market, which is the company’s largest, business in Canada and South America held up fairly well, but the United States was the source of weakness.

In a conference call yesterday afternoon, Mark Loughridge, I.B.M.’s chief financial officer, said the falloff in the United States was most pronounced in March, particularly among large corporations.

Based on customer prospects and field reports, Mr. Loughridge expressed confidence that I.B.M. would see “some improvement” in the current quarter in the United States.

Still, at a time when economists are concerned about whether softness in business investment will slow the American economy this year, the I.B.M. results suggest there is cause for concern.

“The one surprise here was the weakness in the U.S.,” said David Grossman, an analyst at Thomas Weisel Partners in San Francisco.

I.B.M. shares closed slightly higher, up 94 cents at $97.12 a share. In after-hours trading, shares slipped 63 cents, to $96.49. In contrast to the sluggish performance in the United States, the company’s sales in China rose 31 percent from a year ago, and sales in India increased 24 percent.

I.B.M.’s quarterly revenue rose 7 percent, to $22 billion, but the increase was only 4 percent in constant currency after adjusting for the weakness of the dollar. Earnings per share rose 12 percent, to $1.21.

That performance matched the consensus estimates of Wall Street analysts for profit and slightly exceeded their projections for revenue, as compiled by Thomson Financial.

The company’s global services business grew by 8 percent, to $12.4 billion. Within the overall services business, the unit that handles high-end consulting work — helping companies use technology to streamline their procurement, manufacturing and marketing — grew 9 percent, to $4.2 billion.

Profit margins in that unit, called global business services, have improved for eight consecutive quarters to 10.5 percent, or 2 percentage points higher than a year ago.

That is crucial to I.B.M.’s strategy to move further up the ladder in the services business to work that requires more specialized skills.

Revenue at I.B.M.’s other services unit, which includes managing data centers for corporate customers and maintenance, rose 7 percent, to $8.3 billion, but its profit margins fell 2.5 percentage points in the past year, to 7.8 percent, which the company attributed to high costs in the United States.

I.B.M.’s big services business is under pressure from rivals, especially Indian outsourcing specialists, who contend that they will do to the technology services industry what the Japanese did in autos: compete first on price and later with superior quality and products.

Though far smaller than I.B.M., the Indian services companies are growing rapidly. Within the last few days, Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, for example, each reported that its most recent quarterly revenue rose more than 40 percent from the year-earlier quarter.

I.B.M.’s software sales rose 9 percent, to $4.3 billion, helped by particularly strong growth products like its Websphere line, which uses Internet software standards to link a company’s programs, and its Tivoli data center management software.

Hardware revenue increased only 2 percent, to $4.5 billion. Within the division, results were mixed. Mainframe sales increased 12 percent and big Unix server computers rose 14 percent, but minicomputer sales fell 13 percent.

I.B.M.’s computer chip business fell 7 percent from a year ago, but the company said that was mainly because last year was a peak period of demand for video-game chips used in the Microsoft Xbox, the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo Wii machines in the long run-up to product introductions last holiday season.

The company’s storage systems business was also a disappointment, with sales falling 1 percent. Earlier yesterday, EMC, the leader in storage systems, reported that its quarterly revenue rose 17 percent, to $2.98 billion, and its earnings per share rose 36 percent, to 15 cents a share.

Britain Reviews Phrase 'War on Terror'
Jill Lawless

A member of Tony Blair's Cabinet on Monday brought out into the open a quiet shift away from the U.S. view on combatting extremist groups, acknowledging that British officials have stopped using the expression "war on terror" favored by President Bush.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, a rising star of the governing Labour Party, said the phrase strengthens terrorists by making them feel part of a bigger struggle.

"In the U.K., we do not use the phrase 'war on terror' because we can't win by military means alone, and because this isn't us against one organized enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives," Benn told a meeting in New York organized by the Center on International Cooperation think tank.

He said the real struggle pits the "vast majority" of the world's people "against a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common apart from their identification with others who share their distorted view of the world and their idea of being part of something bigger."

"What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others without dialogue, without debate, through violence," Benn said. "And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength."

Bush first used the expression "war on terror" shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington; it still appears frequently in his speeches.

Many officials in Britain, the United States' closest ally, feel the phrase is vague and simplistic, encouraging people to think that only military means are needed to overcome extremism. But Benn was the first official to go public with the British view.
In December, The Observer newspaper reported that Britain's Foreign Office had asked politicians and diplomats to avoid the phrase because it is "counterproductive" and could alienate British Muslims.

The Foreign Office would not confirm that report Monday, but a spokesman said Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett did not use the phrase "war on terror," preferring to emphasize that the fight against extremists is "not a clash or a war of civilizations."

Blair's official spokesman said he was unsure when the prime minister had last used the phrase "war on terror."

"We all use our own phraseology, and we talk about terrorism, we talk about the fight against terrorism, but we also talk about trying to find political solutions to political problems," the spokesman said on condition of anonymity, in line with government policy.

Garry Hindle, a terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the terrorist threat facing Britain _ starkly revealed by the July 7, 2005, transit attacks that killed 52 London commuters _ made officials realize the limitations of an abstract phrase like "war on terror."

"In the U.K. we can't consider the domestic problem with terrorism to be a war where you must be on one side or another," he said. "It requires a much deeper sensitivity than that."

Benn's speech is the latest sign that the British government is distancing itself from the Bush administration as Blair's decade in power ends. Blair will step down in the next few months, likely to be replaced by Treasury chief Gordon Brown.

Blair has been Bush's closest international ally since the Sept. 11 attacks, committing thousands of British soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq. But the unpopular Iraq war, in which more than 140 British soldiers have died, has strained his popularity.

"I think as Tony Blair's stranglehold has gradually declined we are seeing increasing movements from other elements in the government, drawing away from the Americans," Hindle said.

In his speech, Benn urged Americans to use the "soft power" of values and ideas as well as military strength to defeat extremism.

Benn's comments were at least partly directed at his own Labour Party, which is uneasy about Blair's close alliance with Bush and overwhelmingly opposed to British involvement in Iraq.

Benn currently is the bookies' favorite to become Labour's deputy leader once Blair steps down.

Watching the War and Acknowledging the Dead
Noam Cohen

ON Tuesday morning, Daniel K. Ropkin booted up his computer and confronted a list that was “getting longer,” he said by telephone from his home outside Sacramento. Mr. Ropkin operates “Spread the Word: Iraq-Nam” (iraqnam.blogspot.com), a Web site tracking military deaths in Iraq, and the Defense Department press releases that had accumulated over the last two days announced 18 new fatalities.

“It’s kind of freaking me out,” he said.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first with significant United States military casualties to take place in the Internet age. And while there have been debates over how much public attention to give members of the military who have been killed in combat, a string of Web sites has plunged ahead.

Mr. Ropkin’s self-appointed task involves “looking for the best story, the one that really tells that person’s life, finding a picture,” he said.

For Pfc. Walter Freeman Jr., it was an article from The Colorado Springs Gazette that said: “Three days before he died, 20-year-old Pfc. Walter Freeman Jr. sent a simple online message to the woman he considered his mother: ‘Mom, pray hard.’ ”

For Chief Petty Officer Gregory J. Billiter, from Villa Hills, Ky., it was the writeup in The Cincinnati Post, which ended: “He will be buried in Kentucky, his aunt said, but as of Monday evening, it wasn’t clear where. ‘As you can imagine, nobody has a grave for a 36-year-old man,’ she said.”

Using a few basic Web publishing tools and a broadband connection, sites like Mr. Ropkin’s can keep track of and recognize the dead with a depth that the Pentagon, with its billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of employees, hasn’t nearly matched at its Military Casualty Information page (siadapp.dior.whs.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm.

Of a different purpose is the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count (icasualties.org), created by a database designer, Michael S. White, from Stone Mountain, Ga. His doggedness in tracking down the specific details of each death, using government press releases and news accounts, allows a visitor to analyze the material in complex and highly specific ways: for instance, how many service members from New York State over 50 have died in hostile actions in Iraq? (One: Sgt. First Class Ramon A. Acevedoaponte, 51, of Watertown, killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in 2005.)

The site, which Mr. White spends 15 to 20 hours a week updating, often at the expense of time with his family, has one million to two million hits a week, he said, and is regularly used by journalists from The Associated Press, The New York Times and others.

He said some have complained that “it is not personal enough, it’s cold,” and have asked why there aren’t any pictures. “That’s what it is,” he says. “It’s cold, analytical,” adding, “it’s like you put gloves on and are going into an analytical room.”

The Iraq Page (iraq.pigstye.net) is the obsession of Tom Willett, a software developer from Bloomington, Ind. The site includes a single news account for each United States service member killed in combat, with a fluttering American flag next to a photograph, and room for comments. At last count, there were 3,579 individuals memorialized from the coalition forces, 3,313 from the United States.

“I copy most of the articles, because I know the articles won’t be there in a few months,” he said. “I don’t have the copyright. I steal it from everybody, and I don’t care who knows about it.” The site, which Mr. Willett said had 2,000 to 3,000 unique visitors a day and 20 to 30 new comments a day, has never been asked to take down an article.

There are few negative comments, he said. “I get about as much negative comments from liberals — ‘Why don’t you put the deaths of the civilians in Iraq?’ I said if you could give me the names, I would; and if you don’t like it the way I do it, you can do it yourself.”

The few “military supporters” who criticize, he said, accuse him “politicizing the deaths — I say, no, even someone who opposes the war can honor the dead.”

The creator of the Iraq War Heroes site (IraqWarHeroes.org) is from Portland, Ore., who goes by the name Q Madp and repairs computers. He said he created it “two days before the war started, to make sure all these guys are recognized — I don’t want them to be trashed like they were in Vietnam.”

Iraq War Heroes may be considered a local Web site, if that it isn’t an oxymoron. On either side of the names of the fallen are picture links that take a visitor to photographs made by Q Madp at funerals that he could drive to. So far that is more than 150 ceremonies, he said.

He said he works with the casualty assistance officer and always obtains the family’s permission in advance. He said the site costs him about $300 to $400 a month, not including his time. “I don’t get a lot of donations, but if I show up for a funeral, people help me cover my gas sometimes,” he said.

He said that recently at a military funeral he ran into the mother of a soldier whose funeral he had photographed three years earlier who had never contacted him about the photographs.

“Way back then she didn’t want the pictures,” he said. “Now she did.”

Leonard Wong, a research professor at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., who has studied the efforts of the United States military in recent years to recover the remains of service members killed in combat, said that the need to memorialize nationally, even globally, each and every service member is a relatively recent concern.

“The Vietnam memorial put every name on the wall,” he said. “I think with the Internet, it’s not just their name on a wall; we have a life.”

Recalling how inWorld Wars I and II soldiers were often buried near where they fell, Dr. Wong said: “We as a society, back then, were content to be more anonymous. We weren’t a global society. There was no expectation that you would be known beyond your town.” Now, he says, we hear the call, “Don’t forget me.”

Advocate of the War Explores Its Impact
Alessandra Stanley

Richard N. Perle can sleep at night.

If “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom” is any guide, this former chairman of the Defense Policy Board who so fiercely lobbied for the invasion of Iraq enjoys the deep, flannelly slumber of infants and the well medicated.

In an hourlong, first-person tour of his thinking, Mr. Perle admits neither mistakes nor regrets. The war is not even his main concern. Instead, Mr. Perle, a leading neo-conservative, uses much of tonight’s segment of the weeklong PBS series “America at a Crossroads” to argue that the United States should foment regime change in Iran, regardless of what Iran and other nations think.

“There’s got to be some advantage to being a superpower,” Mr. Perle tells Patrick J. Buchanan, the conservative columnist who worked with Mr. Perle in the Reagan administration.

“This sounds like the Neo-Comintern,” Mr. Buchanan replies, looking more than a little aghast. “I mean, the Soviet Union, that was their idea.”

Viewers worried that a video diary by Mr. Perle could be too one-sided and self-serving should relax. Like the unreliable narrator in a novel, Mr. Perle exposes himself by omission and indirection. “The Case for War” is not very persuasive about American policy. Instead it is a fascinating study in rationalization, a lighter, less repentant version of “The Fog of War,” Errol Morris’s documentary about Robert S. McNamara.

As Elizabeth Jensen reported in The New York Times earlier this month, Bush administration critics were suspicious of the entire 11-part series about the world after 9/11, especially the portion turned over to Mr. Perle. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which administers federal money to public television and radio, has long been under pressure by the White House to include more conservative voices. (The corporation’s chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, was forced to resign in November 2005 after it was revealed that he had monitored the political leanings of some guests on PBS.)

It didn’t help that Brian Lapping, the British producer who first proposed a film about Mr. Perle, turned out to be his friend. Mr. Lapping later recused himself from the project.

Mr. Perle’s journey is a tour of the world as he sees it. It includes a trip to a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan, and an outdoor market, the kind of blinkered V.I.P. visit usually reserved for first ladies. (Mr. Perle notes that the Taliban is still active in southern Afghanistan without acknowledging that it is also on the rise.) In Moscow he reminisces about his days in the Reagan administration battling the “evil empire” during a visit with the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky outside Lefortovo Prison, where Mr. Sharansky was interrogated 30 years ago.

And Mr. Perle takes an even more remote skip down memory lane to Los Angeles and his alma mater, Hollywood High, where the halls are lined with the names of famous students like Tuesday Weld, and where Mr. Perle says he first learned to distrust Hollywood liberals.

Mr. Perle links today’s antiwar demonstrators — the film includes snippets of Martin Sheen and Jessica Lange speaking out against the president — to the Hollywood leftists who were soft on Stalinism in his youth.

He leaves out any discussion of the Vietnam War, perhaps because he didn’t serve in it.

Iraq also has little room on his agenda, which could explain why the producers insisted that Mr. Perle attend an antiwar demonstration at the Washington Monument and face his most impassioned critics.

Mr. Perle is shown in a tweed jacket, weaving his way confidently through the crowd, debating veterans and angry mothers of dead servicemen. When a march organizer calmly argues that the Iraq war is neither just nor necessary and should be ended, Mr. Perle listens, then waves his hand toward the rows and rows of boots placed on the ground to represent each fallen soldier. “I don’t believe that’s fair to them,” he says.

Afterward, Mr. Perle says he sympathizes with the mourning relatives, adding, “But I believe the case for intervening in Iraq was and remains valid.”

Mr. Perle was less adamant in a Vanity Fair article in November titled “Neo Culpa.” Mr. Perle blamed the administration’s incompetence for the mismanagement of the occupation, but admitted, in hindsight, that the rush to topple Saddam Hussein was too hasty. “Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention?” Mr. Perle said in the article. “Well, maybe we could have.”

Mr. Perle makes no such admission in “The Case for War,” and nothing and no one can shake him of his complacency, not Richard C. Holbrooke, former American ambassador to the United Nations, nor Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of Al Quds al Arabi, a London-based newspaper, who angrily says that the occupation of Iraq has revived and empowered Al Qaeda.

When Simon Jenkins, a former editor of The Times of London, warns about British and Soviet failures in Afghanistan, Mr. Perle looks heavy-lidded and even a bit bored.

Mr. Perle comes alive in a hotel room in Dubai, beaming as he listens to a young Iranian dissident who recently escaped and wants the West to help overthrow the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Perle listens and nods intently, even though the young man speaks in Farsi. Mr. Perle doesn’t need the translator to know that his protégé is speaking of freedom, tyranny and insurrection.

At that moment Mr. Perle is as rapt as an opera buff at the opening night of “Parsifal.” He may not understand the words, but he loves the music.


The Case for War:

In Defense of Freedom

On most PBS stations tonight (check local listings).

Phil Craig and Brook Lapping Productions, executive producers; Mick Gold, producer.

Protesters Burn Effigies after Gere Kisses Shilpa
Prithwish Ganguly

Richard Gere's repeated kisses on the cheeks of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in an event to promote AIDS awareness sparked protests in India on Monday with demonstrators burning effigies of the actors.

Footage of the Hollywood star sweeping Shetty backwards in a dramatic embrace at the Sunday night event in New Delhi was repeatedly aired on news channels on Monday.

Many saw the act as an outrage against Shetty's modesty and Indian culture, though Shetty herself angrily dismissed the protests as an "over-reaction" that made India look silly.

Groups of men burned and kicked effigies of the actors in protests across India, including in the northern Indian cities of New Delhi, Kanpur, Meerut and Varanasi as well as in the central city of Indore.

Some called for the actors' deaths. Others wanted public apologies.

But Shetty, the winner of the "Celebrity Big Brother" reality TV show in Britain this year, said the reaction to the kiss made India look "regressive".

"I admit it went a little overboard but that was not the intention," she said to a crowd of journalists and protesters that had besieged her film set in Mumbai on Monday evening.

"He did not do anything obscene," she said of Gere, adding that they had since spoken on the phone. "He apologized to me and told me to tell the media that he apologized."

She said Gere was only re-enacting his moves from the film "Shall We Dance" to entertain the audience and communicate in a Bollywood style as he did not speak Hindi.

The clinch between the two stars had originally gone down well when it happened onstage at an event on Sunday night to encourage truckers -- seen as a high-risk group in India's fight against AIDS -- to wear condoms during sex.

They whooped with delight and whistled loudly as Gere swooped down on a visibly delighted Shetty to kiss her on her hand and a number of times on one side of her face.

"No condom, no sex," an ebullient 58-year-old Gere shouted in Hindi to thousands of truck drivers who roared his words back in unison at a dusty fairground in New Delhi.

Indian authorities have been focusing on high-risk groups such as truckers, who have helped spread the virus across the country as many of them have sex with prostitutes during their journeys and infect their wives back home.

(Additional reporting by Onkar Pandey and Krittivas Mukherjee)

Flirting With Dystopia, Experimenting With Noise
Kelefa Sanneh

Miniature hard drives stashed in bathrooms. Unlisted phone numbers that lead to ominous messages. A small constellation of mysterious Web sites chronicling a grim future 15 years away. This is how Trent Reznor is letting the world — or some fanatical portion thereof — know about “Year Zero” (Nothing Records/Interscope), the new Nine Inch Nails album, which arrives in shops today. Open the packaging and you’ll find another secret message: the disc itself changes color with heat, turning white to display the copyright information and a long string of ones and zeroes. In this paranoid world, everything worth knowing is a secret.

Mr. Reznor has been making aggressive computer music under the name Nine Inch Nails for about two decades, but it was “The Downward Spiral,” his bilious but elegant 1994 blockbuster, that confirmed his position as a true rock star in an era largely devoid of them. He released a colder-blooded double album, “The Fragile,” in 1999, then laid low for half a decade. His seething 2005 CD, “With Teeth,” felt like a comeback, a reminder to his fans — and maybe to himself — that he hadn’t retired after all.

Apparently the follow-up came quickly: Mr. Reznor has said the new album “began as an experiment with noise on a laptop in a bus on tour somewhere.” (A sticker on the cover bears a promise, or a warning: “16 noisy new songs.”) But “Year Zero” is much more seductive than “With Teeth,” partly because of all the so-called noise. Hard beats are softened with distortion, static cushions the tantrums, sneaky bass lines float beneath the surface. And as usual the music is packed with details: “Meet Your Master” goes through at least three cycles of decay and rebirth; part of the fun of “The Warning” is tracking the ever-mutating timbres.

If all these sounds often distract listeners from Mr. Reznor’s lyrics, well, so much the better. In the year 2022, apparently, clumsy sloganeering is all the rage. The album’s first single, “Survivalism,” includes the phrase “Mother Nature is a whore,” a sarcastic expression of anti-environmentalism. And “Capital G,” which sounds a lot like an anti-Bush diatribe, has another deluded narrator we’re supposed to hate: “I pushed a button and elected him to office and a/He pushed a button and it dropped a bomb.”

Some will enjoy finding connections between these songs and the narrative that unfolds on the cryptic “Year Zero” Web sites; fans have had to figure out the URL addresses on their own. (“Another Version of the Truth” is an instrumental track; anotherversionofthetruth.com is one of the sites.) But even listeners who don’t know their Parepin (a sinister panacea of the future) from their Opal (an illegal drug of the future) may find that this fictional world serves a useful purpose.

It’s a pretty neat trick: just knowing there’s a hidden story makes those generically disaffected words sound less generic. If the songs share the same sonic palette, and if the lyrics sometimes overlap (“Down on your knees” in one song, “On hands and knees we crawl” in another; “Can it go any faster?” in one, “Make it come faster” in another), that’s because they are all artifacts of the same fictional world.

Hidden messages, hidden Web sites, a hidden world: all this secrecy is supposed to tell us something ominous about the future. So why does Mr. Reznor’s dystopia seem so familiar? His paranoid vision evokes nothing so much as the 1990s, the decade that gave us Heaven’s Gate suicides, the militia movement, the first President Bush’s New World Order, the Y2K scare, “The X-Files.” It’s hard to spend much time in Mr. Reznor’s world without thinking of that show’s famous slogan: “The truth is out there.”

In the 1990s, when online culture was young, it was tempting to believe that the Internet was full of secret sites and furtive e-mail messages and clandestine information; back then all those mysterious “Year Zero” Web sites might have seemed pretty spooky. Nowadays everyone knows that the Internet is a spectacularly bad place to store secrets, and e-mail is even worse; it keeps getting harder to make information disappear.

Last week Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, inadvertently summed up our archive- obsessed culture when he scoffed at a claim that sensitive White House e-mail messages had been lost: “You can’t erase e-mails, not today. They’ve gone through too many servers!” The truth isn’t out there, it’s right there: on Google or YouTube or Wikipedia. People used to worry that the world was full of secrets; now it’s possible to wonder whether there are any secrets left.

Certainly the secrets of “Year Zero” didn’t stay that way very long. Nine Inch Nails fans who lack the time or inclination to puzzle out the story can simply look it up: a few minutes on Wikipedia will answer all your questions. (The game continues. On Friday “Year Zero” obsessives were summoned by e-mail to a secret meeting on a Los Angeles street corner.) But again, solving the riddle isn’t really the point. Although it claims to be an ominous portrait of a fictional future, “Year Zero” seems more like an affectionate tribute to our recent past.

Surely it’s not a coincidence that the 1990s were the heyday of Nine Inch Nails, the decade when Mr. Reznor went from cult hero to mainstream rock star. And perhaps he misses his days as an underground favorite. (Now that just about any kind of music is, literally, accessible, it’s no longer clear what “underground” means.) Even the electronic noises on “Year Zero” sound a bit old-fashioned: a throwback to the days when computer-generated music was full of static and blips. If “Year Zero” feels warm and, for better and worse, familiar, this is why. It’s not really a cautionary tale: it’s a reminiscence.


In a Troubled Time, a New Business Magazine
Katharine Q. Seelye

Joanne Lipman, the editor of Portfolio, the new business magazine from Condé Nast, tapped gently last Monday on the door of David Carey, the publisher, and then burst into his bright Midtown corner office.

“It’s here!” she said, grinning and handing him a copy of the much-anticipated debut issue of Portfolio. Lush, photo-rich and thick with ads (185 ad pages in a 332-page issue), it’s an unmistakable stablemate of Condé Nast’s Vogue and Vanity Fair.

The cover photograph isn’t of John F. Welch Jr. or Bill Gates but a rooftop view of Manhattan, golden lights glowing in anonymous office cubicles — a homage to Berenice Abbott, who documented New York’s changing cityscape in the 1930s.

Mr. Carey beamed back. He then reached over to a side table and picked up a recent issue of Fortune, one of Portfolio’s chief competitors. The Fortune cover was particularly busy, with a crowd of anonymous Google workers in casual dress and a cover line announcing “The 100 Best Companies to Work For.” He held them side by side. His glow said no contest.

“We’re not giving you peas and carrots,” he said. “We want to capture the glamour.”

Between all those ad pages, readers will find business executives treated like celebrities and the kind of matching of writer and subject they might find in Vanity Fair: Tom Wolfe on hedge funds (with photographs by Annie Leibovitz); Betsey Morris on the Ford family; and Michael Lewis on “jock exchanges,” which trade in athletes.

Sheelah Kolhatkar writes about the handful of women who actually do private equity deals. Gabriel Sherman interviews Bruce Sherman, the reclusive Florida money manager who has invested heavily in newspapers.

“Business is about power,” Ms. Lipman writes in her first editor’s letter. “And guts. And passion. Business coverage should be too.”

Business is also about brains, and Condé Nast’s were certainly questioned when the company announced in September 2005 that it was putting out a business magazine — its biggest single investment in a start-up — at a time when many others were foundering.
Readers were still reeling from the bursting of the Internet bubble and corporate scandals, and investors were looking at constantly updated Web sites — not biweekly glossies — for an edge. And some sizable advertisers, like the Detroit automakers, were mired in slumps of their own.

Some of the big magazines remain troubled: ad pages for the first three months of this year were down for BusinessWeek (3 percent), Forbes (9 percent) and Fortune (13 percent), compared with the same period a year ago, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Circulation at the big three has been flat or falling for the last few years, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

But Portfolio would not be the first business magazine introduced during trying times. Henry Luce founded Fortune just months after the Wall Street crash of 1929, for example.

S. I. Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast, said in an interview that he had no patience with Portfolio skeptics.

“Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to trample on Forbes or Fortune. I think we’re going to help the whole field. We’re going to bring excitement to it, and we’re going to bring luxury and fashion advertisers into it.”

Mr. Newhouse said that Portfolio had been inspired by a positive response to business articles in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, although he could not recall precisely which ones. He also said he had not made the final decision to proceed until Ms. Lipman agreed in August 2005 to leave The Wall Street Journal, where she had overseen its Weekend Journal and Personal Journal sections and its Saturday paper.

Mr. Newhouse said that his reported commitment to the magazine of more than $100 million over the next five years was “something of a myth” because “we’re going to stay with Portfolio.”

Portfolio has hired more than 75 editorial people for the magazine, 40 for its Web site, www.portfolio.com, and more than 45 on the business side.

The business side, under Mr. Carey, the former publisher of The New Yorker, has been working Madison Avenue hard. After all, he has a reputation to uphold. During his tenure at The New Yorker, between 1998 and 2005, advertising revenue almost doubled and the magazine broke the 1 million mark in circulation. In 1996, Mr. Carey brought 210 ad pages to the first issue of the restarted House and Garden, one of the highest levels ever for a new magazine.

Portfolio’s first issue has drawn 53 business advertisers, 30 of which had rarely if ever advertised in a Condé Nast publication. The newcomers include Barclays and Pitney Bowes.

“Job No. 1 was to deepen the company’s penetration in the business advertising category, which the May issue achieved,” Mr. Carey said. Bringing more business advertisers in the door could get them interested in advertising in some of the company’s other magazines; at the same time, Portfolio provides a new outlet, and another affluent readership, for advertisers who already appear in those other magazines.

Portfolio was nearly two years in the making, a long time for journalists to go without ink. At least one who was hired has already left, sowing rumors of sagging morale. During the start-up period, competing publications have written articles that were rumored to be appearing in Portfolio, trying to steal its thunder, and articles at Portfolio were commissioned and killed.

Mr. Wolfe added some drama of his own, sweeping through Portfolio’s hushed glassy offices with a black cape over his white suit. His narrative was supposed to run 2,500 words but he submitted 11,000, since honed to 7,500 words. His is the longest piece in the magazine.

One of Portfolio’s most celebrated hires, Kurt Eichenwald, a former reporter for The New York Times, was to have been featured in the premiere issue. But his article, on terrorism, was held, according to people involved with the magazine, because Mr. Eichenwald deluged the magazine’s fact-checking department with thousands of pages of documents just before the article was to go to press last month. It is expected to appear in a later issue.

Holding it, these people said, was unrelated to a controversy involving Mr. Eichenwald that emerged earlier in March: the revelation that in 2005, while at The Times, he had sent $2,000 to someone who later became the subject of an article. (Mr. Eichenwald, who has said the money was repaid long before the article appeared, declined to comment for this article.)

Ms. Lipman declined to discuss the article but called Mr. Eichenwald “one of the finest investigative reporters there is.”

James Impoco, deputy editor at the magazine and a former Sunday Business editor at The New York Times, said that Ms. Lipman had “exacting standards.”

He said that “she knows what she wants and is pretty strong-willed.”

Mr. Impoco added: “I have to admit that I was a little worried after she saw ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and told me she sympathized with the Meryl Streep character. But she turned out to be a pretty thoughtful boss.”

Ms. Lipman was almost giddy last week as she showed off a display of the magazine’s pages on the walls of a secured room. Portfolio’s goal, she said, was to “connect the dots” between life inside the boardroom and out.

“I love this kind of story,” she said, gesturing to a profile of Boone Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon whose son pleaded guilty last year to securities fraud. “It’s a great ‘King Lear’ tale,” she said. “He’s in his second act and his family’s disintegrating.”

The magazine is priced at $4.99 on the newsstand and is testing subscription prices from $12 to $22 for 12 issues. Its next issue is scheduled for late August, and it will appear monthly after that.

The magazine’s Web site, which will be free, will contain all the articles in the magazine and report breaking news, much of it by Portfolio writers. Chris Jones, the site’s managing editor, said its bloggers would post three and five times a day. The site has elaborately produced videos and various interactive features.

In conjunction with Condé Nast Traveler, the Web site will also tell readers things like the best place to make a deal in various cities, and which company’s employees like to stay in which hotels (in San Francisco, Yahoo likes the Clift, Mr. Jones said). For those readers headed to jail, portfolio.com offers prison advice: get dental work done in advance and don’t talk to the press.

Still, the magazine is at the heart of the Portfolio enterprise and while some skeptics remain, they acknowledge that Portfolio is well positioned.

“I don’t think they would make the same decision to launch a business magazine now because the climate has changed since they announced,” said Martin Walker, a magazine consultant.

But, he added, “you’re talking about a powerhouse publishing company, and they have a terrific database to get subscribers, they have all kinds of ad connections and they are spending enormous amounts of money.”

And there are signs of life elsewhere in business magazines. Fortune is putting out a redesign of its venerable Fortune 500 issue today with heavier paper stock (not as heavy as Portfolio’s) and may redesign the whole magazine. Forbes is planning a new business magazine, geared toward women. Portfolio has been raiding business publications for writers and editors, setting off an intense competition for marquee names.

Robert Safian, former executive editor of Fortune and now editor and managing director of Fast Company (circulation 755,000), said the entire business category was undergoing a reinvention.

“Business remains at the heart of our culture, nationally and globally,” he said. “The traditional business magazines have had trouble capturing and expressing that excitement in recent years, and the ad market has reflected that, but I think the tide is turning.”

Personal Portals Show the Web World What You Watch
Eric Auchard

Netvibes, one of Europe's hottest Internet companies, has put the power to create all-you-need-to-know Web portals in the hands of individuals on Monday, challenging the decade-old strategies of online giants.

Eighteen months ago, the Paris-based company pioneered the creation of personalized home pages with live news feeds that update instantly instead of the static, occasionally updated pages common on blogs, social networks and older Web portals.

In its new incarnation, Netvibes is giving users, for free, the power to publish their home pages as personal Web portals.

"The portal is dead. Long live the portal," Tariq Krim, Netvibes' founder and chief executive, said in an interview.

While scores of companies allow Web users to create personalized pages, most rotate in the orbit of one of the major Internet players, such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, or Time Warner's AOL.

By contrast, Netvibes lets users pull in information from almost any modern Web site -- Microsoft e-mail can sit next to Yahoo photos and Google search on a user's home page, alongside the latest cool features from tiny start-ups.

The company has just several dozen employees but more than 10 million users worldwide since launching in late 2005 to give people drowning in newly published information an easy way to track their favorite sites on one basic home page.

Google and Microsoft have incorporated Netvibes features in their own personalized home pages, launched subsequently.

Netvibes works more like a desktop computer application than typical Web site, allowing people without any programming skills to add, drop or move features around the home page.

Users of the new service, Netvibes Universe, can design a page and publish it in minutes. Such pages can feature videos and photos, news, e-mail, podcasts, eBay auction notifications and thousands of other online information sources.

"Netvibes provides open access to the world of Web 2.0 content," said Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li. "Traditionally, you had to ask each company permission to do this on any Web site. Now you can read Gmail alongside Hotmail and Yahoo Mail."

Even inside Google and Yahoo, Li said there are supporters of the view that the big companies can no longer afford to keep people from using competing products. The new Web logic is that every service needs to live side-by-side with competitors.

"With Web 2.0, no one can own the whole space. In the past you wanted everyone to come to your site. Right now you need to figure out how to distribute your content to the widest number of platforms," Krim said. "We try to be the glue between all these Web services."

The new service has signed up 100 media companies, Web businesses, non-profit groups, movie stars and celebrities to create their own Universes -- a cosmic sounding term which simply refers to one's personal view of the world at large.

They include music acts like Mandy Moore, Snoop Dog, Kanye West and Korn, as well as media companies CBS, CNN, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, Time, The Washington Post, USA Today, Les Echos, Elle France and Swiss television station TSR.

Netvibes plans to open up Universe to all comers by June, Krim said. Details can be found at http://www.netvibes.com/.

The difference between Universes and media companies' own sites is that users can control what parts of these sites they see, or choose to incorporate aspects of the sites in their own Universes. "People can decompose their newspapers and take the pieces for themselves," Krim said.

Netvibes released the new software on Monday at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, where several thousand are gathered this week to debate the direction of the latest generation of Web software and services.

Vonage: No Tech 'Workaround'
Leslie Cauley

Vonage has finally confirmed what many had feared: The embattled Internet phone company has no "workaround" in hand to sidestep Verizon's patented Internet phone technology.

Moreover, Vonage (VG) isn't sure that such a plan is even "feasible," given the expansiveness of Verizon's (VZ) patents, which set out methods for passing calls between the Web and conventional phone networks. Vonage's chilly assessment, contained in a filing submitted to a federal court Friday, marks the first time it has admitted that it doesn't have a plan for getting around Verizon's technology. Vonage couldn't be reached for comment.

A federal court recently ruled that Vonage had infringed on Verizon's patented technology. As punishment, Vonage was barred from using the disputed technology to support new customers. Existing customers are not affected.

The company immediately requested — and received — an emergency stay. Meanwhile, Vonage told investors and customers not to worry because a "workaround" was in development.

In its Friday filing, Vonage, which is now trying to get a permanent stay, painted a far different picture.

"Vonage currently has no workarounds that moot the need for a stay," the company said.

"While Vonage has studied methods for designing around the patents, removal of the allegedly infringing technology, if even feasible, could take many months to fully study and implement."

For investors, the lack of a viable workaround anytime soon is the latest in a string of bad-news events.

Vonage, a pioneer in Internet telephony, has seen its shares plunge more than 80% since it went public last year. This year alone, its shares are down more than 45%.

Last week, Vonage CEO Mike Snyder abruptly resigned. Chairman and chief strategist Jeffrey Citron is serving as interim-CEO until a permanent replacement can be found.

Of more concern immediately is the outcome of the Verizon lawsuit. The disputed technology goes to the heart of Vonage's business, making a workaround critical if Vonage does not get a permanent stay.

In its Friday filing, Vonage offered its appraisal of the potential consequences if it does not get the stay.

Even if Vonage "was somehow able to implement a design around, and was able to ultimately prevail on appeal, it would have no hope of regaining its lost customers, or its lost goodwill, and its loss of revenue would be permanent and …"

It's unknown how the statement ends. Vonage redacted the rest of the sentence, citing "confidential material." But the tone of the passage suggests that these losses, in the aggregate, could help drive the company out of business.

"Current Vonage customers will not wait that long for restored service," the company writes. "Likewise, potential new customers will not even consider Vonage."

Vonage, which has around 2.2 million customers, says that it loses about 2.5% of its customers a month, or about 650,000 a year. That's why it is imperative to add new customers constantly, the company has argued.

While the 20-page document offers a rare peek into the company's thinking, it can hardly be considered a complete record because portions of it are redacted. Vonage submitted the filing in response to a court order to prepare a public version of its sealed comments.

AT&T Drops Offer to Invest in Italian Phone Company
Eric Sylvers

AT&T on Monday withdrew its offer to buy a stake in the company that controls Telecom Italia, the largest Italian telecommunications company, for about two billion euros, or $2.7 billion.

In a terse statement, AT&T did not give any reason for the decision to pull back its offer to buy a third of the controlling company, Olimpia.

But a person who had been briefed on the negotiations but was not authorized to comment on them publicly said AT&T had been dissuaded by the intense political pressure in Italy against a sale to a foreign company.

AT&T’s withdrawal came against the backdrop of an extended Telecom Italia shareholders’ meeting on Monday, called to elect a new board and approve last year’s financial results. The meeting ran late into the evening as investors lined up for a chance to question management.

Pirelli, which controls Olimpia, had been in exclusive talks with AT&T and America Móvil, which was also negotiating to buy a one-third stake in Olimpia.

AT&T will now be able to negotiate with other companies while it tries to work out an accord with America Móvil, the largest cellphone company in Latin America.

America Móvil said it had not yet decided whether to follow AT&T or continue talking with Pirelli, Reuters reported.

Telecom Italia has attracted several potential buyers in the last six months, but the only concrete offer came on April 1 from AT&T and America Móvil, which announced their offer to Olimpia at the same time though they were formally acting separately. AT&T owns 9 percent of America Móvil.

The announcement that the two foreign companies were negotiating to buy control of Telecom Italia set off a wave of objections in Italy by politicians who said the company had strategic importance to the country and should not fall into foreign hands. Although Prime Minister Romano Prodi said he would not step in to block the sale, he and several of his ministers said they hoped that an “Italian solution” could be found.

Had its offer been accepted and approved, AT&T could have gotten, for a relatively modest investment, a strong foothold in Italy’s corporate market and an expanded presence in Germany, France and the Netherlands — countries where Telecom Italia has been building broadband Internet businesses.

AT&T already sells telecommunications services to some of Europe’s largest companies and provides services in Europe for American-based companies.

Intesa Sanpaolo, a leading Italian bank, said Monday that it might buy a stake in Olimpia.

The Telecom Italia shareholders’ meeting gained particular attention because of the sale negotiations and also because the former chairman, Guido Rossi, resigned two weeks ago after clashing with Pirelli’s chairman, Marco Tronchetti Provera, over strategy.

More than 350 shareholders registered for the meeting, compared with 75 last year, a Telecom Italia spokesman said.

Copyright: Fair Use Is Your Friend
David DeJean,

Nine out of 10 people would probably tell you copyright is all about big companies maximizing their revenue from the content they own at the expense of the consumer. (The 10th person would tell you copyright is a cornerstone of our American way of life, but he'd turn out to be lawyer for the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America). In fact, copyright is as much about your right to make fair use of copyrighted content as it is about the "intellectual property" of corporations. For 11 minutes of quiet, reassuring good sense on the subject I recommend a podcast interview with Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University.

The file is on the Web site of IMN, a company that provides Web-based communications like e-mail-newsletter software-as-a-service. The podcast is an interview by Rodney Green, who's IMN's VP of corporate development

Falzone does most of the talking and he makes refreshingly good sense. He offers a definition of fair use and provides some examples from the latest fair-use case law. He outlines four factors that help determine whether a use of copyrighted material is fair, and emphasizes the transformative nature of the use, which was a concept that was new to me. What he says is that if your use of a copyrighted work doesn't serve a substantially different purpose that its original use, then you're probably violating its copyright: if you intend to criticize something on a TV news program, for example, but merely rerun the entire program and add a comment at the end, you haven't transformed it sufficiently to defend against copyright violation.

His comments got me thinking about what's going to fill up the unlimited storage being offered by Yahoo and other software-as-a-service sellers. There are going to be big databases built that move content from behind fences like subscription requirements and put them out in the open. I expect companies from The Wall Street Journal to eBay will build whole departments of people dedicated to enforcing their "intellectual property" rights similar to the efforts the record companies have made to root out sampling by rappers.

(Tangential thought: Wouldn't it be interesting to have the defendant in one of the RIAA's anti-piracy "intellectual property" cases offer, as a defense, the claim that the music in question was so dumb that it couldn't be protected by any definition of the word "intellectual"?)

The podcast is aimed at IMN customers who use content, some of it copyrighted, for commercial purposes. If you're in that category, do yourself a favor and give Falzone 11 minutes. You'll be smarter about copyright, and more confident about using copyrighted materials correctly.

Fast-Track Laws to Target Terror DVDs

CENSORSHIP laws could be widened within three weeks to include a ban on pro-terrorism films, Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today.

Mr Ruddock has instructed officials to seek agreement from the states as soon as possible to change the censorship laws so that hate films praising terrorists could be banned.

The move follows revelations that children can gain access to a race hate DVD which urges them to martyr themselves.

The film, contained in a package of DVDs prepared by exiled Australian-born Islamic cleric Sheik Feiz Mohammed, also calls for the murder of “infidels” and describes Jews as “pigs”.

It received a PG rating from the Office of Film and Literature Classification, making it suitable for viewing by children.

Mr Ruddock said today the states had previously delayed the censorship matter until July but agreed on Friday to deal with it.

“In my view we've got to deal with this urgently,” Mr Ruddock told Macquarie Radio.

“The officials could meet this week, we could go through the consultation that's necessary and we could endorse this within three weeks and have the code in place, if they're prepared to co-operate.”

He said he had spoken to some of the censors, who were required to work within the law, about why they had given the film a PG classification.

“I asked them why they came to this view and they said 'we've looked at the these (Sheik Feiz Mohammed's) sermons and we thought they were just ranting',” Mr Ruddock said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff has called for a review of the film and literature classification system.

“One has to ask serious questions about classification guidelines which deem it acceptable for such grotesque material to be brought into our country and made publicly available,” he said today.

“Even if this particular issue is resolved and the material is proscribed, there is a glaring need for a review of the film and literature classification system.”

NSW Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile says he has introduced a Bill into State Parliament calling for the censorship of material which incites terrorism.

“Any public distribution of this offensive material has the potential for immense harm, including loss of life,” he said today.

Governor Signs Bill Defying U.S. ID Law

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said "no, nope, no way, hell no" Tuesday to national driver's licenses, signing into law a bill supporters say is one of the strongest rejections to the federal plan.

The move means the state won't comply with the Real ID Act, a federal law that sets a national standard for driver's licenses and requires states to link their record-keeping systems to national databases.

Though several states have either passed or are considering resolutions or bills against the act, Montana is the first state to outright deny its implementation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"This is the first one saying, 'We're not doing it,' " said Scott Crichton of the Montana ACLU.

The federal law says the federally approved identification cards eventually would be necessary to board airplanes or enter federal buildings.

"We also don't think that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., ought to tell us that if we're going to get on a plane we have to carry their card, so when it's scanned through they know where you went, when you got there and when you came home," said Schweitzer, a Democrat.

"This is still a free country and there are no freer people than the people that we have in Montana."

The federal government has never been popular with Montanans. The federal Patriot Act was a common whipping boy on the campaign trail last year, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle lined up this year against the Real ID Act.

Montana's lawmakers had two bills opposed to the Real ID Act to consider this session: one opposing it, another to nullify it.

The one opposing the act, sponsored by Rep. Brady Wiseman, D-Bozeman, and signed by the governor, was unanimously approved by both chambers, while the other bill was seen as unconstitutional and was rejected by a Senate committee.

Wiseman said getting support for his bill was an easy sale.

"Nobody in Montana thinks we should have this thing, so it became easy. There was never an argument, and I never had to persuade anybody," he said.

He said he's been urging members of the state's congressional delegation to support efforts to repeal the Real ID Act.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he is pushing national legislation to repeal the Real ID Act.

"Montanans are speaking loud and clear on this issue and its time for Capitol Hill to listen," Tester said in a statement.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., originally supported the federal legislation, but said Tuesday that he is now against it.

Rehberg said he originally supported the act because it was recommended by the Sept. 11 Commission as a way to strengthen national security, and he thought it was what most Montanans wanted.

"The Legislature has disagreed, the governor has disagreed and I will accept and support their position," Rehberg said.

Conservative MP Introduces 'Clean Internet Act'
Michael Geist

Conservative MP Joy Smith yesterday introduced the Clean Internet Act (Bill C-427). The private member's bill would establish an Internet service provider licensing system to be administered by the CRTC along with "know your subscriber" requirements and content blocking powers. Just about everything associated with this bill is (to be charitable) rather odd. Smith introduced it by warning against the use of the Internet to support human trafficking and added that "the bill would address the fact that child pornography is not okay to put on the Internet throughout our nation," though the Criminal Code already does that.

The bill itself includes (and I am not making this up):

• an ISP licensing system to be administered by the CRTC that is defined so broadly that it would seemingly capture anyone offering a wifi connection
• a "know your subscriber" requirement where ISPs would be required to deny service to past offenders (though the ISP would escape liability if upon learning of an offending customer, it terminated service and notified the Minister of Industry)
• a new power that would allow the Minister of Industry to order an ISP to block access to content that promotes violence against women, promotes hatred, or contains child pornography. ISPs that fail to block face possible jail time for the company's directors and officers.
• the Minister of Industry can prescribe special powers to facilitate searches of electronic data systems (ie. lawful access)

Given that this is a private member's bill, it is very unlikely to become law. That said, this bill would not look out-of-place in countries that aggressively censor the Internet and it makes the dangerous Jennings lawful access bill look positively harmless by comparison.

Digital Cinema

Eyes-On the Red Camera: Real and Beautiful, But 4K Launch Support in Question
Stephen Schleicher

For a while, Gizmodo had been wondering if the $17K Red On 4K camcorder was genuine or just another piece of vaporware. That's why we're glad to see the camera at NAB 07 in front of our faces, with support from Apple, Peter Jackson, and others. We had a chance to talk with Red One "Leader of the Rebellion" Ted Schilowitz, allowing him to calm our worries about the historically problematic shipping dates and 4k support that may or may not be available at launch.

We had a chance to see three working Red One cameras in the company booth. One was connected to a 720p monitor to show the live output. The other two had working LCD viewfinders as well as film-style video eyepiece finders that potential fan boys could get all touchy-feely with, and there were plenty of those wonks getting their mitts on the camera.

With all the talk of 4K, we were very surprised the live video was only being shown on a 720p monitor. The response? There aren't any 4K monitors to show the full output.

According to Schilowitz the first batch of cameras that go out may indeed be lacking certain features and functions, but he didn't know (i.e. wouldn't say) what features those might be.

When asked if 4K works, he said yes, but didn't know if 4K would be available in the first cameras.

Will early adopters be screwed? Schilowitz did say that when the camera starts shipping, owners can follow two option paths; take the camera as-is and get a free upgrade when all of the features have been enabled, or simply wait until the features are ready and pick up the camera then. If they can upgrade a camera from non 4k to 4k for free, more power to em.

When asked when the camera would ship, Schilowitz emphasized the company's spin on shipping. In his words, Red is an engineering company that would rather rely on "target dates" than ship dates. When asked the "target date," he responded the Red One camera has a target range between the end of April and the middle part of May of 2007.

Even if the company makes this target, those eager to purchase one may still have to wait as the company has been able to convince 1500 individuals and companies to plunk down a hefty down payment to reserve one of these beauties.

In an effort to put to rest the doubt that this camera is actually working or simply a pyramid scheme to bilk old ladies from their fortune, Jim Jannard ushered visitors into a small movie theatre to show them an 11-minute film shot entirely with two Red One alpha prototypes he named "Boris" and "Natasha".

Sure anyone can crank out 11 minutes of beauty shots and call it a film, but it is an entirely different matter when that 11-minute film is an original narrative piece, written and directed by Peter Jackson. Yes, that Peter Jackson. Jackson invited the Red crew to Masterton, New Zealand for a two day shoot to capture a WWI story involving a doughboy on the ground, an ace pilot, a picture of a loved one, a teddy bear, and those accursed Nazis.

We were able to learn the two cameras only had Run/Stop triggers, 180-degree shutters running at 24fps, recorded to a Red Drive at 27Mbps and encoded in Red Raw. Not a lot of fancy schmancy at all. The short was projected using Sony's 4K projector, but as previously announced, Red is working on its own line of 4K projectors and monitors. Jackson decided to skip using the Red lenses in favor of the Cooke S4 24-90mm lenses with which he was more familiar.

This film was full of action and drama as only Jackson can deliver, and throughout the piece, we watched closely for telltale signs of artifacting, blown highlights, or false colors. While a lot of the story takes place on bare dirt, scenes in the air presented a full range of colors that proved this camera can capture some very dynamic images.

We noticed some jumpiness during some of the high-action fast-moving shots, but didn't know if that was a fault of the camera, the digital projection, or our hypersensitivity to digital projection. Regardless, those instances were very few, and after, we had a chance to talk for a moment with two cinematographers sitting next to us who were accustomed to shooting on Viper and Genesis cameras. They were both impressed with the results and had no complaints with the technology.

So for now, the Red One camera has moved from vaporware to reality, but with the "target date" still a month off and the long line for delivery, you aren't going to be able to pick one up anytime soon, let alone at the local Best Buy. But good tech always trickles down, and we're moving in the right direction with these cameras.

Not looking hard enough

Porn Found On One In Four Corporate PCs

Think there aren't any pornographic images on your users' desktops or laptops? Think again. A new study shows that they're being downloaded and sent via e-mail through the office.
Sharon Gaudin

A new study found pornography on one in four PCs despite the use of content filtering technology at the gateway.

PixAlert, a company that focuses on keeping illicit images out of corporate networks, audited 10,000 PCs on 125 business and public sector networks over the last nine months. The study found that one-quarter of the computers contained pornography or "other inappropriate images." The same audit found that 12.4% of the 12,000 e-mail accounts and 5.4% of 26,000 file server shares scanned were similarly affected.

"With over a third of all images found created in the last 12 months, it is clear that a significant number of employees continue to ignore corporate policies and in some cases are going to extraordinary lengths to bypass protection systems in order to obtain and distribute inappropriate material," said Andy Churley, a director at PixAlert, in a written statement. "Corporate officers wrongly assume that boundary protection systems stop all digital pornography from entering the organization but, in PixAlert's experience, almost all corporations will have a significant amount of pornography on their networks."

The study found that 46.8% of the images showed full nudity or sexual activity and 0.3% of all the images were determined to be illegal. While 35% were downloaded online images, 45.2% of the images detected came from e-mails. The study also found that 35.5% were sent internally. "While all organizations actively discourage access to inappropriate images at work, our audits show that the reality is that all establishments have a lot of digital pornography residing on their networks that they don't know about," said Churley. "Companies are particularly concerned when they have visibility of the number of pornographic images being distributed by e-mail internally or sent out to other organizations using a corporate e-mail address."

Last month, Maryland authorities nabbed 22 state employees who were visiting pornographic Web sites -- sometimes a few thousand times a week -- on the job. Investigating officials reported that the number of employees involved was understated, and a wider investigation is being called for.

Pornographic images aren't the only problem in business settings. In February, forensic investigators announced that they went over 70 used hard drives bought from 14 sources and recovered "private information" on 62% of them. While they did indeed find pornographic images, they also found one man's will and a man's personal fan letter to a female celebrity.

Putting a New Spin on Vinyl Records
John Sepulvado

CD sales are declining, but there has been a resurgence in vinyl. Audiophiles are drawn to records because there aren't any anti-piracy restrictions and people claim they just sound better than their digital counterparts.

John Sepulvado reports for member station WUSF in Tampa.

Remaking Old Hits to Earn New Money
Jeff Leeds

In 1986, the pop band Wang Chung released the ludicrous but catchy party anthem “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” Now two of the musicians behind the band have hatched a plan that might seem even more absurd than the lyric “everybody Wang Chung tonight.” More than two decades after the song became a smash hit, they are recording it again.

But they have their reasons. In the decade and a half since Wang Chung dissolved, the licensing of music to advertisers, television and movies has become more acceptable — and much more lucrative — for performers from the past. And by remaking their own hits, these artists can keep a much bigger share of the proceeds. “To re-record our back catalog is a way of empowering ourselves,” said Nick Feldman of Wang Chung. “We can be much more selective about where these songs end up and how much we charge for them.”

Under the typical record contract, money paid to license a song is split between the record label that owns the recording and the artist who performed it. But if a band remakes the song after it has ended its contract, it can retain ownership of the new version and license it itself without having to share the rewards with the record label. (Music executives typically insist on contract provisions that prohibit artists from re-recording their work for up to five years after their deal expires.)

Recently, a number of aging pop and rock stars has returned to the studio to recreate their signature tunes and pitch them to Madison Avenue and Hollywood. Attentive fans may notice remakes by bands including Twisted Sister, Foreigner and Simply Red in commercials, movie trailers and television programs.

But for some singers, recapturing the flair of their younger selves is no easy trick. “It’s 22 years on,” said Jack Hues of Wang Chung. “My voice is really quite different. You have to almost get into character, which is an interesting experience.” His partner, Mr. Feldman, wondered, “Should we just mimic and do a literal replica, or should we go for that spirited performance that reflects how we are now?”

In the case of Twisted Sister, a loose plan to recut some songs from the band’s 1984 breakthrough album “Stay Hungry” and package them with a DVD turned into a more serious affair. The band re-recorded the entire album, said the co-founder and guitarist Jay Jay French.

Since 2004 several advertisers, including 7Up and Wendy’s, have licensed the new versions, he said. In one instance, a television program paid $10,000 to use 10 seconds of a musical bridge from one of the newly recorded versions. Licenses for full Twisted Sister songs can be in the “six-figure” range, he said.

While the concept of musicians re-recording their hits is not new, there has been something of a gold rush unfolding in the licensing world since the mid-1990s. Pop songs have replaced jingles or musical scores as the preferred backdrop for commercials and TV shows, particularly those appealing to savvy young adults and baby boomers.

That trend has coincided with a shift in the way some artists view the licensing of their music. While many still consider using their songs to sell products as compromising, a number of rock legends, including Led Zeppelin, have allowed their work to be used in recent years. Indeed, the recent surge of re-recorded hits may have been presaged in 1999 by Aerosmith, which offered a newly re-made version of “Sweet Emotion” for a General Motors ad.

Such efforts spell more trouble for big music companies, which stand to lose licensing money if more artists recreate their best-known songs. These days, the issue of when superstars can begin to re-record their catalog is becoming a frequent bone of contention in contract negotiations. Donald S. Passman, a music lawyer, said that some music companies are trying to rewrite the terms to, in effect, block an artist from any re-recording that sounds similar to the original; other deal-makers say artists are trying to shave years off the usual moratorium on re-making their songs.

That sort of fight is becoming more important as traditional CD sales continue their lengthy slide. A big label with a strong catalog can generate as much as $20 million a year from licensing its recordings before paying the artists their share, music executives estimate.

Recently, some artists’ plans to re-record have been encouraged by music publishers, who represent songwriters and who control separate copyrights that must be licensed when an advertiser or TV show wants to use a particular tune. Publishers say they can strike deals more efficiently when they can represent songwriters with their own recordings and avoid waiting for an advertiser to negotiate separately with the label that controls the original.

Still, advertisers caution that they are wary of shoddy attempts at recapturing the past. “I’ve heard a lot of really bad re-creations on the air. It just makes my hair stand up,” said Ira Antelis, director of music for the ad agency Leo Burnett.

At the other end of the spectrum are solo artists who produced their own original recordings. Prince, for example, has re-recorded significant portions of his catalog that — thanks partly to technological advances — may rival the original versions, according to one person close to him. The Week in Review is edited and published by Jack Spratts. A handful of artists have tried to package their new versions as a CD, in effect competing against their old record label and their own songs. Twisted Sister’s “Still Hungry,” a re-recording of 1984’s “Stay Hungry,” has sold an estimated 25,000 copies since it came out three years ago, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

Irving Azoff, the talent manager behind bands like the Eagles and Earth, Wind & Fire, said he is encouraging clients to recreate their biggest hits and perhaps sell the new versions directly to retail chains. Mr. Azoff said that in many cases, these bands “play these songs differently, and I think better, than the original” versions. For fans, the old hits form “the fabric of their memories. These songs have stood the test of time.”

'Pipe Organ' Plays Above the Sun
Paul Rincon

Immense coils of hot, electrified gas in the Sun's atmosphere behave like a musical instrument, scientists say.

These "coronal loops" carry acoustic waves in much the same way that sound is carried through a pipe organ.

Solar explosions called micro-flares generate sound booms which are then propagated along the coronal loops.

"The effect is much like plucking a guitar string," Professor Robert von Fay-Siebenbuergen told BBC News at the National Astronomy Meeting in Preston.

The corona is an atmosphere of hot, electrically-charged gas - or plasma - that surrounds the Sun. The temperature of the corona should drop the further one moves from the Sun.

But, in fact, the coronal temperature is up to 300 times hotter than the Sun's visible surface, or photosphere. And no one can explain why.

Fiery fountains

The coronal loops arch hundreds of thousands of kilometres above the Sun's surface like huge fiery fountains, and are generated by the Sun's magnetic field.

As solar plasma travels from the photosphere into the loops, it is heated from about 6,000 Kelvin (5,700C) to upwards of one million Kelvin.

Solar explosions called micro-flares can release energy equivalent to millions of hydrogen bombs.

These blasts can send immensely powerful acoustic waves hurtling through the loops at tens of kilometres per second, creating cosmic "organ music".

"These loops can be up to 100 million kilometres long and guide waves and oscillations in a similar way to a pipe organ," said Dr Youra Taroyan, from the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) at the University of Sheffield.

The sound booms decay in less than an hour and dissipate in the very hot solar corona.

Professor von Fay-Siebenbuergen, who is director of SP2RC, said that studying how plasma is heated to such high temperatures in coronal loops could speed up the technological development of industrial-scale nuclear fusion on Earth.

'Star on Earth'

Nuclear fusion is the same process which powers the Sun and other stars. Unlike the burning of fossil fuels, fusion reactions produce no carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for warming the planet.

Fusion works on the principle that energy can be released by forcing together atomic nuclei rather than by splitting them, as in the case of the fission reactions that drive existing nuclear power stations.

In the core of the Sun, huge gravitational pressure allows this to happen at temperatures of around 10 million Celsius.

At the much lower pressure that is possible on Earth, temperatures to produce fusion need to be much higher - above 100 million Celsius

In nuclear fusion experiments, powerful magnetic fields can be used to isolate hot plasma from the walls of a containment vessel.

This reduces the conductive heat loss, allowing the electrified gas to be heated to high temperatures.

The most promising magnetic confinement systems are ring-shaped; called a torus.

Professor von Fay-Siebenbuergen said a coronal loop could give clues to improving nuclear fusion because it could be regarded as a half-torus.

The Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Preston runs from 16-20 April.

Turbo Tax Melts Down on Tax Day

Turbo Tax by Intuit completely melted down under the load from last minute filers. Some people have been having problems as long as 24 hours already. I surrendered 2 hours before the East Coast deadline and schlepped on down to the Post Office.

BlackBerry Service Hit by Widespread Outage in U.S.

Problems began last night on the West Coast
John Blau

The BlackBerry wireless e-mail service from Research In Motion Ltd. appears to have suffered a widespread outage that started last night in the U.S.

Customers on the BlackBerry Forums discussion board complained of having no service starting at about 5:15 p.m. PST yesterday.

Callers to the BlackBerry U.S. technical support line were still greeted with the following message early this morning: "We are currently experiencing a service interruption that is causing delays in sending or receiving messages. We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide updates as soon as they become available."

New York television news channel NewsChannel4 reported last night that the problem affected "all users in the Western Hemisphere."

However, comments from operators in Asia and Europe, as well as postings to the BlackBerry Forums, suggested that the problem may be limited to North America.

"Officials with RIM said they are trying to reset the system and told NewsChannel4 that they are concerned that the backlog of data, which will rush through when it comes back on line, could cause a bigger problem," the news channel reported on its Web site.

RIM officials advised people who use BlackBerry as a major way of communications to make backup plans, the channel reported.

A RIM official contacted in France was unaware of the problems, and said she had received messages sent to her BlackBerry as normal. Other RIM officials did not return calls seeking comment.

The outage may have been caused by one of RIM's Network Operating Centers (NOC) going down, according to Emma Mohr-McClune, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. "This has happened before," she said.

RIM operates two NOCs, both located in Canada, according to Mohr-McClune. The company has considered locating additional NOCs outside of Canada, she said.

Companies that provide BlackBerry service connect their mail servers to a BlackBerry Enterprise Solution (BES) server located on their premises, which in turn is linked to one of RIM's NOCs, according to Mohr-McClune. "All data slides to Canada and back," she said.

RIM may have been fortunate that the outage began at about 5 p.m. Pacific Time, because it would have been after the busiest part of the U.S. workday. Engineers were likely scrambling through the night to bring the service back online before the start of the U.S. workday today.

Other parts of the world appeared to have been unaffected. A representative for Taiwan Mobile Ltd., RIM's BlackBerry partner for the island, said the problem is limited to North America, and that users would not be affected unless they are sending or receiving e-mail through a BlackBerry server there.

"RIM has not communicated with Taiwan Mobile about when this problem might be fixed," said the representative, April Hong.

NTT DoCoMo Inc. in Tokyo said its BlackBerry users in Japan were also unaffected. And in Europe, a spokesman for T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH was unaware of any problems, and BlackBerry users in Germany and France reported no interruption of service.

The problems come at a time of continued rapid growth for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company. It added 1.02 million subscribers in the quarter ended March 3, for a total of approximately 8 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. Revenue for the quarter was $930.4 million, up 66% from a year earlier. Net income for the quarter before adjustments was $187,928, the company said.

Peter Sayer, James Niccolai, Dan Nystedt and Martyn Williams of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.

Bereft of BlackBerrys, the Untethered Make Do
Brad Stone

Where were you when the BlackBerrys went out?

On Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time, technical problems cut off more than five million BlackBerry users in the United States from their cherished wireless e-mail. Service was restored 10 long, data-starved hours later.

The BlackBerry blackout was grueling to many — and revealed just how professionally and emotionally dependent so many people had become on their pocket-size electronic lifelines.

Stuart Gold was in Phoenix on a business trip when the service went down. Mr. Gold, the marketing director for Omniture, a software firm, noticed ominous red X’s next to his outgoing e-mails.

He is not proud of what happened next.

“I started freaking out,” he said. “I started taking it apart. Turning it off. Turning it on. I took the battery out and cleaned it on my shirt. I was running around my hotel like a freak. It’s very sad. I love this thing.”

At 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, full of anxiety about the prospect of spending a traveling day untethered, Mr. Gold awoke and made a beeline for his still motionless phone. At 7 a.m., it started vibrating with activity. “I breathed a sigh of relief,” he said. “Life was good.”

Many people thought they were suffering alone.

Lynn Moffat believed she had administered a fatal blow to her BlackBerry by dropping it early Tuesday in Grand Central Terminal. When Ms. Moffat, the managing director of the New York Theater Workshop, learned on the radio that the service disruption was widespread, “I was so relieved it wasn’t just me, but all my BlackBerry brothers and sisters,” she said.

Others cycled through complex waves of emotion, including a bit of paranoia. Zach Nelson, chief executive of NetSuite, a software firm, was entertaining his top sales representatives in Barbados when e-mail from his 600 other employees suddenly stopped arriving on his BlackBerry. “I started thinking people hadn’t shown up for work as a revolt for us going to the Caribbean,” he said.

Research in Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry devices, shed little light yesterday on what went wrong, releasing a statement that said the “root cause is currently under review.”

Part of the problem, though, could be the service’s rapid growth: R.I.M. says it has added three million subscribers in the last 12 months, for a total of eight million, in part because of the popularity of its superslim BlackBerry Pearl.

BlackBerry users have had scares before. Last June, technical problems twice interrupted service, though both failures lasted only a few hours and were confined to specific wireless carriers that sell the devices.

A patent dispute also threatened to shut the BlackBerry service altogether more than a year ago. Though R.I.M. denied any patent violations, it avoided a crisis by settling for $612.5 million. At the time, the BlackBerry faithful could only speculate what deprivation might feel like.

Now they know. Symptoms include feelings of isolation, a strong temptation to lash out at company I.T. workers, and severe longing, not unlike drug withdrawal.

Elaine Del Rossi, chief sales officer for HTH Worldwide, an insurance company, reacted to the severed electronic leash with several panicked calls to her office in the belief that the company e-mail system was down.

“I quit smoking 28 years ago,” she said, “and that was easier than being without my BlackBerry.”

Even at the White House, officials complained that the blackout had badly disrupted their morning routines, and a spokesman, Tony Fratto, pleaded with reporters to be patient with him.

“We’ve already started a 12-step program,” he said, then joked that the White House counsel, Fred Fielding, had ordered the stoppage— a reference to the dispute over missing e-mail messages concerning the controversial firing of several United States attorneys.

Rob Whitehouse, vice president for communication of University Hospitals in Cleveland, was brought face to face with his powerful addiction at 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, when he realized he was “jonesing” for a message on his inexplicably silent device.

“I have reached the point where I get phantom vibrations, even when I’m not carrying the thing,” he said. “That sure doesn’t sound too healthy, does it?”

But some BlackBerry users looked at this week’s episode differently, treating the silence as a reprieve. Barry Frey, a senior vice president at Cablevision, stepped off an airplane on Tuesday night to find that his in-flight e-mail exile had been extended.

His reaction was BlackBerry blasphemy. “I took a deep breath and finally enjoyed the feeling,” he said.

The less frenetic world he describes may not only be saner, but safer. Peter Crist, an executive recruiter in Chicago, admits to occasionally steering his car with his knees while he thumbs his BlackBerry. Tuesday night, he put both hands on the wheel and said he had a quiet, uninterrupted dinner with his wife and son — for a change.

Other BlackBerry users were also forced to reconsider some bad habits. At the annual meeting of the National Venture Capital Association in Washington, venture capitalists said that the interruption meant one less distraction, allowing them to pay closer attention to the presentations.

In offices, employees had to speak with colleagues over the phone and in actual face-to-face conversations.

The BlackBerry blackout, just like the power failures of yore, could have even helped in the romance department — if couples could actually connect. Robert Friedman, president of the media and entertainment division of @radical.media, a production company, said the disruption gave him “a lot of free time on my hands to spend with my wife, although I couldn’t find her since her BlackBerry was off.”

When service was restored yesterday morning, most BlackBerry users were happy to dive back in and start sending e-mail. R.I.M. was under pressure to make sure the failure would not happen again. BlackBerry e-mail is more costly than alternative services offered by Motorola and Microsoft, but in the past R.I.M. had justified the premium by claiming it had a more reliable service with a higher level of security.

Stuart Gold, the software executive, speculated that the blackout would create opportunities for other wireless e-mail companies, a view shared by others.

If one of R.I.M.’s rivals were able to guarantee its service, he said, he would want his company to explore switching.

Others took the inconvenience more in stride, including David Plouffe, the campaign manager for Senator Barack Obama.

Mr. Plouffe said his eerily empty in-box brought back a time in politics when there were no such things as mobile phones, thumb-typing and a never-ending flood of e-mail.

Yet, “everything seemed to work O.K.,” he said. “Quite frankly people have to talk more in that situation. That’s probably a good thing.”

Ian Austen, Matt Richtel, Louise Story, Joan Raymond, Jeff Bailey, Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting.

Blackberry Reveals Failure Cause

The maker of the Blackberry wireless e-mail device says an insufficiently tested software upgrade was the cause of this week's network failure.

Blackberry's US and North American users lost their service on Tuesday and Wednesday as a result of the problem.

Research In Motion (RIM) said it was now looking to improve its testing and recovery processes to prevent such an outage happening again.

There are about eight million Blackberry users around the world.

'Below expectations'

Blackberry said in a statement that the failure was trigged by "the introduction of a new, non-critical system routine" designed to increase the system's e-mail holding space.

It admitted that "the pre-testing of the system routine proved to be insufficient".

RIM added that the process designed to maintain the service in the event of a failure "did not fully perform to its expectations", causing a longer delay before the system was restored.

Analysts said they did not expect the outage to affect the Blackberry's popularity.

"So long as RIM solves whatever went wrong and communicates it well enough to customers, we foresee no lasting impact," said D Newcrest analyst Chris Umiastowski.

It is estimated that RIM has around 45% of the market for smart phones.

Preliminary figures recently showed that the firm's profits jumped tenfold to $187m (£94m) in the three months to 3 March.

The network disruption comes as RIM faces a formal probe by the US financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission, over its stock options.

Campus Goes Online for Information and Comfort
Sarah Wheaton

For the Virginia Tech community, changing information created emotional roller coasters both during and after Monday’s attack by a gunman who killed 32 people and then himself.

Initial warnings of caution belied the ultimate massacre. Likewise, the search for missing people left friends and loved ones relying on gossip and speculation.

Fueled by technology, the level of available information — just enough to cause fear, but not enough to really know — has been contributing to both false hope and unnecessary anguish among those involved.

Lauren McCain, a freshman majoring in international studies, according to her MySpace profile, was among those unaccounted for in the immediate wake of the shootings. Her friends’ efforts to figure out what happened to her are heart-wrenching, and outsiders can go along for the rollercoaster ride, eavesdropping through Facebook and other forums.

Courtney Treon, a high school student, started a thread within a Facebook group called Prayers for VT” asking for “any kind of information on Lauren McCain.” Posting at around 11 p.m. on Monday, she added, “It is believed that she was at Norris Hall at the time of the shooting and she is missing at the moment.”

Over the next 14 hours, friends and acquaintances responded with bits of information from various sources. Shortly after the original posting, someone reported that she was either dead or at the hospital. Then she was in critical condition. People posted expressions of relief, and the discussion seemed to subside.

But before noon on Tuesday, Alex Grant posted a conversation indicating that unidentified bodies remained in Norris Hall, and that Ms. McCain was neither in the hospital nor the morgue. By around 1 p.m., Rachael Leach wrote in: “My roommate is her friend, and she called me this morning to tell me Lauren was identifiable and dead. Pray for that situation.”

At 4:37 p.m. Ms. Treon posted at a different Facebook group that she started, VT Victim Information: Lauren McCain is not alive. She was not found at the hospital or the morgue. Since Norris Hall was locked down for the night, her parents are not able to identify her body...

Tuesday evening, Ms. McCain was listed among those confirmed dead on the Web site of The Collegiate Times, the student newspaper at Virginia Tech.

For other families, worst fears turned out not to be warranted.

“When I looked at the map of where our daughter is staying and where her dorm lies in the path of the shootings — where the gunman may have traveled to get to Norris Hall, my wife and I were just torn emotionally during the news casts like other Virginia Tech parents,” wrote William S. on an “Online Vigil” run by The Virginian-Pilot. “But now that she is safe, we can only feel sadness for those victims of this senseless act and the pain their families are going through.”

Paul, a Virginia Tech student, blogged about searching for his girlfriend, Katelyn Carney:

“I try calling Kate but she isn’t answering her phone. I am assuming she is in Mcbride because I have had a few German classes in that building but I’m not sure. We check her schedule to find out that she in fact had her German class in Norris Hall. Now I’m freaked out, and franticly try to call her, but she isn’t picking up.

“Fast forward a couple minutes, I get a call from Montgomery Hospital. A very kind nurse wanted to give me a message from Katelyn Carney. I obviously oblige and ask what the message is. She says, ok, the message is ‘I’ve got red on me.’ Of course I instantly think, what a hilarious thing to say in a situation like this, but at the same time, I’m now MORE worried than I was before, and ask the nurse if she is able to patch me through to Kate.

“Right as she picks up the phone she tells me, ‘I got red on me.’ I laugh, and immediately try to find out if she’s hurt or what to expect, and she lets me know that she’s fine, stable, good, not hurt ... only slightly. ”Technology failed some students at key moments. On a forum at FARK.com, user WhenWillThenBeNow wrote at 12:47 p.m. on Monday, “But I live on campus ... we are getting nothing, and just as they had announced that there were 20+ dead, everyone on campus lost cable ... just saying.”

The university’s failure to keep students updated during the two hours between shootings has drawn considerable criticism. “Ironic,” writes RonJ, a Virginia Tech employee, “that we’ve been having meetings about redesigning our emergency notification systems, to be able to include mass-blasting cell phones and stuff. I suspect that will be made a higher priority.”

But while technology failures left some on campus in the dark, it did help Ms. Treon, who attends Loudon Valley High School, over 200 miles away, feel connected. She said that after she created her victim-search Facebook group, a relative of Ms. McCain asked for her help.

“Throughout the night, I kept saying, ‘This is amazing, just amazing’ at the outpour of love and support that I was receiving from strangers,” she wrote in a Facebook message to NYTimes.com. “My heart aches at” the most recent information about Ms. McCain, she said, “because throughout the hours last night, I came to a real connection with her, and I felt like I was one of her friends.”

Until next week,

- js.

Current Week In Review

Recent WiRs -

April 14th, April 7th, March 31st, March 24th, March 17th

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 213-814-0165, country code U.S..

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