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

Peer to Peer The 3rd millenium technology!

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 18-06-08, 08:52 AM   #1
JackSpratts's Avatar
Join Date: May 2001
Location: New England
Posts: 9,928
Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - June 21st, '08

Since 2002

"For many years, it’s been referred to as the beginning of negative commercials. There was nothing negative about it. Frankly, I think it was the most positive commercial ever made." – Tony Schwartz

"[My two hits] are like the cherries on top of the sundae. Why would I not want that? They have been my passport out of a life in an office, to a life on the road where I can go to Korea and the guy who stamps the passport says, 'Are you Vega, Suzanne? Everybody knows you here.' And his eyes change with emotion when he reads my name." – Suzanne Vega

"In an attempt to achieve some kind of karmic balance, I have left my network open to any neighbors who want to mooch off it. Which, believe it or not, is a violation of EarthLink's terms of service. What do you know--I'm still a desperado after all." – Lev Grossman

"I can't read War and Peace anymore. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it." – Nicholas Carr

"Here's our new policy on A.P. stories: they're banned." – Michael Arrington

June 21st, 2008

Can’t get blood from a bit

BitTorrent Users Refuse To Pay Copyright Fines

During the last couple of years, hundreds of people have received letters from lawyers demanding compensation for the alleged uploading of copyright works. Their demands state that if you don’t pay up, you will be taken to court and dealt with severely. However, when people refuse to pay - nothing happens.

Back in March 2007 it became apparent that it would now be the turn of UK citizens to receive threatening letters for claimed breach of copyright. A team consisting of lawyers ‘Davenport Lyons’, anti-piracy tracking company ‘Logistep’ and several games publishers such as Zuxxez/Topware and CodeMasters started sending letters to those it accused of unauthorized distribution of their products - otherwise known as ‘uploading’. The most persistent cases are those featuring the games Dream Pinball 3D, Colin McRae Dirt and Call of Juarez.

In their letters, Davenport Lyons adopt a very serious tone, as they threaten to take people’s homes away, should they be unable to pay their ‘fines’. Of course, not many people like this tone, and they can get very indignant in the face of it. Needless to say - guilty or not - some people are sufficiently annoyed and simply refuse to pay. Others refuse to pay for different reasons - TorrentFreak is in touch with a few of them.

The reasons for non-payment vary, but some simply don’t have the money. ‘Tania’ told us: “I’m a single mom and my son must’ve done this but I don’t have £600 ($1200). I can’t pay it, I don’t have that sort of money.” ‘Paul’, who works a 70 hour week on two jobs explained that he is massively in debt with credit cards and the demands for cash from Davenport just go “on the pile with the others.” None of these people have been taken to court.

Others are refusing to pay because they are innocent. Even though Davenport insist that its anti-piracy tracking partner ‘Logistep‘ is faultless in its data-gathering, it’s generally accepted that anti-piracy companies are using systems which can produce bad data. Only last week researchers managed to get infringement notices sent to printers, devices incapable of committing such an act. Davenport insists - rather like BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor - that if the High Court thought the evidence was compelling enough to order the ISP to give up the personal details of the alleged sharer, then the data must be accurate. If that is the case, how come Davenport haven’t taken anyone to court or asked Logistep to take up the offers they received to have their system independently audited? That would surely boost their credibility. Or not.

TorrentFreak spoke with many people who are obviously wrongly accused for various reasons. We’re pretty sure that ‘Lucy’, a 67 year old grandmother of 8, had no interest in Colin McRae Dirt, and that ‘Peter’, a 21 year old student who used to have a game-loving flat-mate, is completely innocent. What about ‘Jason’, a father of four who was in the Middle East at the time of the alleged infringement, or ‘Joanne’ who had probably been running a wide-open wireless router for the best part of two years - in a building of around 60 residents? As with the other group, none of these people have been taken to court.

One man, ‘Stuart’, has been corresponding with Davenport Lyons for many months now over claims his uncle with whom he lives, infringed copyright on Colin McRae Dirt. The Internet account is in his uncle’s name, but his uncle never uses the computer, so the wrong person was accused immediately and Stuart vigorously denies all accusations too.

After many letters sent to Davenport last year, where Stuart (on behalf of his uncle) denied all allegations, with Davenport duly ignoring most points and reiterating that if he didn’t pay he’d be going to court (each time giving only a few days to stop the court action), everything went dead. Then a couple of months ago, déjà vue kicked in as a letter dropped through the door which seemed to start from the beginning again, essentially stating that if he didn’t pay, court papers would be prepared and he would be incurring huge costs, etc.

Stuart wrote back, re-iterated his total innocence, and reminded Davenport that endless correspondence was getting them nowhere while they insist he is guilty, and he insists he is not. They wrote back and reminded him (again) that they were going to start court proceedings if he didn’t pay. He hasn’t paid and they have not taken him to court. Again.

Stuart is not unique in receiving lots of letters, lots of threats and then - nothing. TorrentFreak is in touch with nearly 40 people accused in these cases and not one of them has been taken to court, in some cases more than 15 months after these people apparently had 14 days to pay up or else.

It’s not clear if Davenport Lyons has completely given up on taking anyone to court, they may still surprise us. It’s believed they did ‘win’ one case when someone they accused didn’t turn up in court but all the indications point to a stalemate on the outstanding cases, including those of Stuart, Lucy, Peter, Jason, Joanne and countless others.

It’s thought that around 40% to 50% of people who received letters have paid up, and maybe that’s enough for the operation to be profitable for Davenport. Taking people to court in the UK for such a small infringement is definitely unprofitable. Maybe this is the greatest indicator as to where these cases are going to end up when the defiant, penniless and innocent refuse to pay.

RIAA Doubles Settlement Cost for Students Fighting Subpoenas
Nate Anderson

Challenging RIAA subpoenas can be costly, and not just because college kids have to dig deep into the sock drawer to pay lawyers of their own. Ars has learned that the RIAA's legal campaign against students is now built on escalating penalties; if you force the RIAA legal team into action, then end up settling, you could end up paying more than that initial $3,000. A lot more.

When college students are fingered by the RIAA's "pre-litigation letters," most schools pass the letters along and let students make their own decision about challenging the issue in court or settling for around $3,000. That's not cheap, but the RIAA has recently been making it far more expensive for students who try to fight. If a student doesn't respond to a pre-litigation letter and the RIAA has to go to court to get the name, the settlement fees goes up to about $4,000. And if a student decides to challenge the RIAA's subpoena or otherwise delay a trial, the price jumps dramatically to $7,000 or $8,000.

Of quashing and consequences

We spoke with a legal consultant for the RIAA who handles much of this litigation, and he explained that the music trade group has always seen legal challenges to its tactics. In the last year, though, RIAA lawyers have seen a serious uptick in the number of students who have attempted to quash subpoenas that would allow them to learn the students' identities. In some cases, this takes the form of filing a motion to quash, then waiting for the RIAA to file a counter-motion, then filling a motion to suppress the counter-motion, then waiting for the RIAA to respond, then... well, you get the idea.

When you're paying the RIAA's rates for legal help, this sort of thing costs serious money, and it leads to delay. Over the last six months, the RIAA has begun a concerted campaign to limit what it sees as frivolous litigation of this kind, as it says no defendant in the history of the RIAA enforcement campaign has successfully battled such a subpoena (although it should be pointed out that there are some motions to quash that are still pending).

In order to strike fear into the hearts of students everywhere, the RIAA has adopted a sort of anti-Wal-Mart model where it passes the costs on to you. In fact, the RIAA tells us that it is actually acting in everyone's best interests through this escalating costs approach. Because most students end up settling anyway, fighting the subpoenas generally just raises the amount of the fee they end up paying. It also costs them more in legal fees, it ties up the courts, and the whole process appears to bore RIAA lawyers to tears.

The legal consultant tells Ars that this has nothing to do with bullying people into staying silent and paying up. "We have no qualms with individuals exercising their rights to litigate real issues," he says. "[But] the issues being raised in these motions to quash are issues that have been resolved time and time again in the RIAA's favor."

Students sometimes think they can simply fight the subpoena and the case as hard as humanly possible, then simply drop it and settle down the line. The RIAA wants to get the word out, though: those choices have consequences that can be measured in beer money. Lots and lots of beer money.

Meet the scapegoats

We weren't surprised to find that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a different perspective, but the gulf between the two sides is positively Grand Canyon-like in size. I spoke to EFF attorney Corynne McSherry, who argued that the copyright infringement claims at the basis of these lawsuits aren't always as strong as the RIAA would have people believe.

McSherry points to recent court decisions that cast doubt on the idea that simply making a file available is the same as actually distributing it to the public, and she points out that the MPAA has been wildly misguided in its own analysis of collegiate file-swapping. Given these issues and more recent questions about the limits of automated P2P enforcement, McSherry argues that it is "especially inappropriate and unfortunate" to punish people for trying to defend themselves in court. The "judicial process is important, and it's particularly important now when there seems to be real questions for the factual basis for these claims," she says.

And taking a bigger-picture look at the entire issue, McSherry says that there's "no reason to believe that any of this is stopping file-sharing or helping the RIAA or the artists that it represents to get paid."

Colleges are simply "scapegoated because they're easy targets," she says, pointing out that schools do far more to educate their network users about copyright, fair use, and file-swapping than any commercial ISPs in the US. The schools are easier to pursue than individuals because they are uniquely vulnerable to government pressure (in the form of grants and aid money), while at the same time they possess unique punishment powers that commercial ISPs lack.

Profs Tell Thomas Judge Making Available Isn't Distribution
Nate Anderson

It can't be easy for a federal judge to admit that he was wrong when giving jury instructions in a high-profile case, but the judge in the Jammie Thomas file-swapping case has stepped up and cast serious doubt on his own actions. Following other court rulings around the country, Judge Michael Davis indicated that he may grant Thomas a new trial after telling the jury that simply "making available" a copyrighted song on P2P networks counted as infringement. Now, Davis has asked for public comment on "whether the Court committed a manifest error of law in instructing the jury." The first public response to that question offers a resounding "yes" in response.

Nine copyright professors have filed a "friend of the court" brief (found via Threat Level) that addresses Davis' question. While the "making available" issue can be tedious, technical, and contradictory (different court rulings have gone different ways), the brief actually does a fine job of making the debate accessible.

The main thrust of the argument is a simple one: a close look at the actual words of the relevant copyright statute show that rights holders have the exclusive prerogative to "distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public." The key question concerns whether just making available a file in a shared directory counts as a distribution to the public, and the professors argue that it clearly does not.

Dictionaries are trotted out to define the word "distribute," after which the professors conclude, "Although the act of making copies or phonorecords available may enable the public to acquire possession or ownership of the copies or phonorecords, unless and until members of the public actually obtain such possession or ownership the necessary final step for transforming the 'making available' into a distribution would be lacking."

The professors also argue that other cases in which judges have conflated "making available" with "distribution" are "with all due respect, incorrect" and not binding on the court. (In Atlantic v. Howell, the court indicated that "making available" was not enough to prove "distribution," while in Elektra v. Barker, another court indicated that it was.)

The brief addresses only a question of law, not the broader question of whether Thomas is guilty of infringement. In fact, the professors suggest that copyright holders could pursue Thomas and others using a variety of different scenarios. Although simply making a file available might not count as infringement, the person who makes the file available may have violated the exclusive "reproduction right" held by copyright owners. This right is violated whenever someone copies in CD to a computer, but those cases are generally considered to be fair use. If someone copies a CD to a computer in order to do something "unfair" with it (uploading it to a P2P network), that person could be liable for infringement.

Other possible avenues of attack include charges of indirect infringement for helping others to download infringing files and charges of direct infringement for downloaders. The obvious problem here is that this sort of activity is very difficult for the RIAA to prove. Instead, the organization's investigators generally look into shared KaZaA folders or grab the IP addresses of BitTorrent users who host parts of particular files.

It would be much simpler for the RIAA if "making available" were good enough to demonstrate copyright infringement, but if it isn't, investigators can actually download the files in question. This isn't the preferred alternative because it takes more time, bandwidth, and computing resources, but it does at least have the virtue of showing that an actual transmission of the file took place.

But even this approach isn't without problems, because the Copyright Act specifies that the distribution must be made "to the public." There is currently some controversy about whether a rightsholder-sanctioned download counts as a "public distribution." Many defendants argue that, since MediaSentry is employed by the RIAA to seek out and download files from P2P networks, the downloads done by the company are not unauthorized.

If neither a MediaSentry download nor a list of files made available on P2P networks are good enough for the courts, then the RIAA could find itself in much more difficult territory.

Pandora Pushes For Better Royalty Rates

Internet radio company Pandora has hired Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Parry, Romani, DeConcini & Symms in an effort to gain traction in their fight against higher royalty rates for online streaming of music. Pandora is trying to push a proposed bill that would nullify the industry Webcasting rates that were set last spring by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). Labels and Webcasters agreed to continue negotiating after the CRB ruling, but those talks have been at a stalemate for a year.

"What we want more than anything is a resolution to this negotiation which has been going on for more than a year now," said Pandora founder Tim Westergren, according to the New York Post.

Pandora, which projects it will generate $25 million in revenue this year, estimates that it would owe $18 million in fees to the recording industry under the 2008 rates. Unable to afford that, the company is still paying 2007's rate, which will still cost them about $10 million. However, label executives have pointed out that Pandora has raised over $22 million in venture capital funding and has backers with over $2 billion in investments, says the Post.

MediaDefender Goes Forward with P2P Marketing

Most people recognize MediaDefender for their clumsy anti-piracy efforts, but there is much more to them than that. In fact, they are warming up advertisers and record labels to use LimeWire and other file-sharing software to distribute millions of legitimate, but branded, MP3s.

MediaDefender has been experimenting with P2P marketing for quite some time now. Last year, it earned the company $560,000 and they hope to increase this figure in 2008. This new revenue stream is very welcome for them, since their anti-piracy operations aren’t as profitable as they used to be.

P2P marketing is a win-win situation according to MediaDefender, both advertisers and filesharers will benefit. It gives the advertiser “access to passionate fans of any choosing” and filesharers “…get what they want… free content with unique and compelling offerings that fit their personal tastes.”

But wait a second, what a strange world we are living in. A few months ago, Jammie Thomas lost her court case, and was ordered to pay the RIAA hundreds and thousands of dollars because she shared a few songs, and now the same record labels use filesharing networks to distribute their branded MP3s.

Similarly, the IFPI is trying to educate kids and parents about the great dangers of filesharing, while the record companies they represent hire MediaDefender to distribute authorized content on LimeWire and other P2P networks.

So, on the one hand record labels are going after people who distribute their files online, and at the same time they spam these networks with authorized copies. Strangely enough, there is no way for the filesharer to make sure whether a file is authorized or not.

I’m not a lawyer of course, but this double standard must have some legal implications. MediaDefender is even hosting a branded copy of Kayne West’s ’stronger’ on their own servers, and I assume they wouldn’t be infringing copyright.

Of course we asked MediaDefender to shed their light on some of these questions, but unfortunately, they did not respond to our inquiries. Probably too busy spoofing or DDoS-ing random BitTorrent trackers.

ISPs Experimenting With New P2P Controls

P2P traffic management methods debated at big NXTComm telecom show
Brad Reed

Peer-to-peer traffic management was a hot topic at this year's NXTcomm convention in Las Vegas, as keynote speakers and telecom industry panelists highlighted new methods for handling P2P traffic crunches.

ISPs' methods for managing P2P traffic have come under intense scrutiny in recent months after the Associated Press reported last year that Comcast was actively interfering with P2P users' ability to upload files by sending TCP RST packets that informed them that their connection would have to be reset. Because the RST packets did not appear to be sent directly from the company, critics accused Comcast of deceiving its customers and actively blocking their ability to share files online. Although Comcast has said it doesn't actively block any P2P protocols and merely "delays" P2P uploads during times of heavy congestion, the company has agreed to change its P2P traffic management policies and stop targeting traffic such as that of BitTorrent.

NXTcomm panelists and keynote speakers agreed that heavy P2P traffic could cause network management problems for ISPs. Typically, P2P technology such as BitTorrent distributes large data files by breaking them up into small pieces and sending them through multiple sources. After all the data is received, the file is then reassembled as a whole. But while this method of file sharing is much faster and more efficient than relying upon one centralized server, it also can cause significant network strain because P2P protocols are mainly designed to download large chunks of data from sources wherever they can be found, and without particular regard to network efficiency.

But despite their concerns about P2P's impact on the network, none of the speakers at NXTcomm endorsed the method of sending RST packets to all P2P users during peak hours. Rather, some said it was time to follow the lead of Comcast and begin implementing caps for individual users who are consuming disproportionately high amounts of bandwidth. This way, ISPs wouldn't be targeting individual P2P protocols, and casual P2P users wouldn't have to reset their connections every time they uploaded files during peak congestion hours.

"ISPs need to figure out how traffic is being distributed among their users," said Larry Roberts, the founder of Anagran, which specializes in helping IP networks manage their P2P traffic. "You can't make money if you're giving the majority of your bandwidth to 5% of your users… the concept that has come forward is that there should be more equality for users based on what they pay for individual usage. I think this is a reasonable and appropriate approach rather than trying to look only at the applications themselves."

Roberts also is one of the designers and developers of the ARPANET computer packet network that evolved into the Internet.
The two kinds of caps most discussed were the kind proposed by Comcast that would slow down individual users' P2P uploads during peak hours, and the kind recently discussed by AT&T that would slap users with overage charges for downloading what the company considers to be heavy amounts of data per month. In their proposals, both companies have made clear that the vast majority of users would not be affected by the cap and that it would only impact users who upload large files such as high-definition movies on a near-constant basis.

Qwest CTO Pieter Poll said that while his company has been looking at some ways to mitigate the worst effects of heavy P2P traffic, he also thinks that ISPs should look outside the realm of P2P traffic when identifying heavy users. Oftentimes, Poll said, some of the heaviest bandwidth users on a network aren't even aware of the bandwidth they're consuming and are happy to change their practices in order to consume less.

"Like other carriers, Qwest has an acceptable use policy, and folks who are on the extreme side of that policy are notified that they're on the extreme side," Poll said. "But what we've found when we look at the highest end users is that a significant percentage of what they use is certainly P2P traffic, but also that their high bandwidth consumption could be the result of malware infections, or of Web cameras running 24 hours a day. These are issues that they likely don't know about."

Another method for managing P2P traffic that frequently popped up at NXTcomm was the experimental "smart" routing technology being developed by the P4P working group. Last March, Verizon, P2P software developer Pando Networks and researchers at Yale University conducted a field test of P4P technology that allows the network to pick and choose more local sources that will optimize the delivery route of large files, rather than inefficiently grabbing data from any source available across the globe. Speakers from Qwest, AT&T and Verizon all touted their companies' participation in the Executives P4P working group at NXTcomm, and some panelists said that if the technology is successful, it could completely change the way that P2P technology interacts with networks.

"Currently, P2P protocols go after sources of video all over world," Roberts said. "The cost of doing that is much higher than if you do it with more local sources. Doing it locally is tremendously less taxing for carriers."

James Glover, a senior product manager for management systems developers Redback Networks, said another option for controlling P2P traffic on the network would be to cache popular P2P content such as movies at the edge of networks and have it available to distribute to users on a localized basis. Thus, when a popular new movie hits the Web for legal download, BitTorrent users would be able to get the content from nearby cache servers rather than pick up pieces of it from all over the world.

"The best part about caching is that it can be applied not only to P2P, but also to over-the-top content," Glover said, referring to companies such as Skype and Vonage that deliver voice services over the top of IP networks.

"If you can strike an agreement with the creator, you can put the cached content at edge of the network. This sort of distribution model could provide ISPs with revenue-generating hosting services for voice, video and data, which could then be customized to support localized marketing."

In the end, said Ericsson North America CTO Arun Bhikshesvaran, ISPs are likely to try a wide variety of methods for managing P2P traffic, and users shouldn't expect one method will instantly crop up that will satisfy both their demands and those of the network.

"It's really more of an evolution of the service provider model than anything else," he said. "It's an evolution of the business model, and there will be more to come… hopefully not to the detriment of the users."

IP Traffic to 'Double' Every Two Years
Andrew Charlesworth

Web traffic volumes will almost double every two years from 2007 to 2012, driven by video and web 2.0 applications, according to a report from Cisco Systems..

Increased use of video and social networking has created what Cisco calls 'visual networking', which is raising traffic volumes at a compound annual growth rate of 46 per cent.

Cisco's Visual Networking Index predicts that visual networking will account for 90 per cent of the traffic coursing through the world's IP networks by 2012.

The upward trend is not only driven by consumer demand for YouTube clips and IPTV, according to the report, as business use of video conferencing will grow at 35 per cent CAGR over the same period.

Cisco reckons that traffic volumes will be measured in exabytes (one billion gigabytes) by 2012 and will reach 552 exabytes by that time.

Soon after 2012 we will have to adopt zettabytes (one thousand billion gigabytes) to express traffic volumes.

The report is based on Cisco's own predictions and aggregates analysis from several market research firms.

Joke's Over: FCC Adopts New Broadband Penetration Metrics
Matthew Lasar

The Federal Communications Commission has officially revised the way that it measures broadband penetration, a system that was formerly the laughing stock of some observers in Europe. The agency will no longer define either upload or download speed at 200 Kbps as "high speed broadband." Rather, it will diplomatically classify this and all connections up to 768K with the gentle phrase "First Generation data."

"I am pleased that the Commission finally moved away from its antiquated definition of broadband as 200 kilobits per second, which had become something of a running joke," declared Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate after Thursday's Order.

Here are the FCC's new classifications for tiers of Internet service:

• "First Generation data:" 200 Kbps up to 768 Kbps
• "Basic Broadband:" 768 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps
• 1.5 Mbps to < 3.0 Mbps
• 3.0 Mbps to < 6.0 Mbps
• 6.0 Mbps to < 10.0 Mbps
• 10.0 Mbps to < 25.0 Mbps
• 25.0 Mbps but < 100.0 Mbps
• 100.0 Mbps and beyond

The Commission has also revised its Form 477, which Internet service providers fill out to provide the agency with a snapshot of the state of national broadband penetration. At present, ISPs must report all five digit zip codes in which they have at least one customer. This distorted method created the broadband equivalent of "rotten boroughs" in pre-Victorian England—rural districts that were home to only a handful of farmers but still enjoyed full representation in Parliament. Now the agency will collect actual subscribership numbers in Census Tract areas rather than zip codes. The data will be further broken down by the new broadband categories and types of technology used.

The agency will also apply this new system of measurement to mobile wireless device users, and it will count VoIP subscribers more rigorously. VoIP providers must report the number of end users and resale subscribers they have in each state. They will also have to report data on whether they provide a broadband connection in tandem with their service, and whether the service must be used over a particular high speed connection.

Since I joined . . .

The agency's latest assessment (through June 2007) of high speed deployment in the United States uses the old "running joke" system of measurement, to borrow Commissioner Tate's phrase: a high speed connection defined at 200 Kbps or more in at least one direction. But that did not stop FCC Chair Kevin Martin from proudly reporting and even taking a little credit for it. "During the first half of 2007, high speed lines increased by 22 percent, from over 82 million to over 100 million lines," Martin said on Thursday. "Since I joined the Commission, these lines have grown 950% from just over 9 million lines to over 100 million lines."

But a closer look at the data indicates that a much smaller number of Americans have lines at higher speeds than 2.5 Mbps: 37.7 million lines provide access at speeds greater than or equal to 2.5 Mbps but less than 10 Mbps.

While the public interest group Free Press applauded the FCC's new data collection tools, it called Martin's assessment of the latest broadband numbers "divorced from reality."

"The FCC has declared 'mission accomplished' on broadband despite the mountain of evidence of America's broadband market woes," S. Derek Turner, Free Press's research director said on Friday.

Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic
Brian Stelter

Some people use the Internet simply to check e-mail and look up phone numbers. Others are online all day, downloading big video and music files.

For years, both kinds of Web surfers have paid the same price for access. But now three of the country’s largest Internet service providers are threatening to clamp down on their most active subscribers by placing monthly limits on their online activity.

One of them, Time Warner Cable, began a trial of “Internet metering” in one Texas city early this month, asking customers to select a monthly plan and pay surcharges when they exceed their bandwidth limit. The idea is that people who use the network more heavily should pay more, the way they do for water, electricity, or, in many cases, cellphone minutes.

That same week, Comcast said that it would expand on a strategy it uses to manage Internet traffic: slowing down the connections of the heaviest users, so-called bandwidth hogs, at peak times.

AT&T also said Thursday that limits on heavy use were inevitable and that it was considering pricing based on data volume. “Based on current trends, total bandwidth in the AT&T network will increase by four times over the next three years,” the company said in a statement.

All three companies say that placing caps on broadband use will ensure fair access for all users.

Internet metering is a throwback to the days of dial-up service, but at a time when video and interactive games are becoming popular, the experiments could have huge implications for the future of the Web.

Millions of people are moving online to watch movies and television shows, play multiplayer video games and talk over videoconference with family and friends. And media companies are trying to get people to spend more time online: the Disneys and NBCs of the world keep adding television shows and movies to their Web sites, giving consumers convenient entertainment that soaks up a lot of bandwidth.

Moreover, companies with physical storefronts, like Blockbuster, are moving toward digital delivery of entertainment. And new distributors of online content — think YouTube — are relying on an open data spigot to make their business plans work.

Critics of the bandwidth limits say that metering and capping network use could hold back the inevitable convergence of television, computers and the Internet.

The Internet “is how we deliver our shows,” said Jim Louderback, chief executive of Revision3, a three-year-old media company that runs what it calls a television network on the Web. “If all of a sudden our viewers are worried about some sort of a broadband cap, they may think twice about downloading or watching our shows.”

Even if the caps are far above the average users’ consumption, their mere existence could cause users to reduce their time online. Just ask people who carefully monitor their monthly allotments of cellphone minutes and text messages.

“As soon as you put serious uncertainty as to cost on the table, people’s feeling of freedom to predict cost dries up and so does innovation and trying new applications,” Vint Cerf, the chief Internet evangelist for Google who is often called the “father of the Internet,” said in an e-mail message.

But the companies imposing the caps say that their actions are only fair. People who use more network capacity should pay more, Time Warner argues. And Comcast says that people who use too much — like those who engage in file-sharing — should be forced to slow down.

Time Warner also frames the issue in financial terms: the broadband infrastructure needs to be improved, it says, and maybe metering could pay for the upgrades. So far its trial is limited to new subscribers in Beaumont, Tex., a city of roughly 110,000.

In that trial, new customers can buy plans with a 5-gigabyte cap, a 20-gigabyte cap or a 40-gigabyte cap. Prices for those plans range from $30 to $50. Above the cap, customers pay $1 a gigabyte. Plans with higher caps come with faster service.

“Average customers are way below the caps,” said Kevin Leddy, executive vice president for advanced technology at Time Warner Cable. “These caps give them years’ worth of growth before they’d ever pay any surcharges.”

Casual Internet users who merely send e-mail messages, check movie times and read the news are not likely to exceed the caps. But people who watch television shows on Hulu.com, rent movies on iTunes or play the multiplayer game Halo on Xbox may start to exceed the limits — and millions of people are already doing those things.

Streaming an hour of video on Hulu, which shows programs like “Saturday Night Live,” “Family Guy” and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” consumes about 200 megabytes, or one-fifth of a gigabyte. A higher-quality hour of the same content bought through Apple’s iTunes store can use about 500 megabytes, or half a gigabyte.

A high-definition episode of “Survivor” on CBS.com can use up to a gigabyte, and a DVD-quality movie through Netflix’s new online service can eat up about five gigabytes. One Netflix download alone, in fact, could bring a user to the limit on the cheapest plan in Time Warner’s trial in Beaumont.

Even services like Skype and Vonage that use the Internet to transmit phone calls could help put users over the monthly limits.

Time Warner would not reveal how many gigabytes an average customer uses, saying only that 95 percent of customers use under 40 gigabytes each in a month.

That means that 5 percent of customers use more than 50 percent of the network’s overall capacity, the company said, and many of those people are assumed to be sharing copyrighted video and music files illegally.

The Time Warner plan has the potential to bring Internet use full circle, back to the days when pay-as-you-go pricing held back the Web’s popularity. In the early days of dial-up access, America Online and other providers offered tiered pricing, in part because audio and video were barely viable online. Consumers feared going over their allotted time and bristled at the idea that access to cyberspace was billed by the hour.

In 1996, when AOL started offering unlimited access plans, Internet use took off and the online world started moving to the center of people’s daily lives. Today most Internet packages provide a seemingly unlimited amount of capacity, at least from the consumer’s perspective.

But like water and electricity, even digital resources are finite. Last year Comcast disclosed that it was temporarily turning off the connections of customers who used file-sharing services like BitTorrent, arguing that they were slowing things down for everyone else. The people who got cut off complained and asked how much broadband use was too much; the company did not have a ready answer.

Thus, like Time Warner, Comcast is considering a form of Internet metering that would apply to all online activity.

The goal, says Mitch Bowling, a senior vice president at Comcast, is “ensuring that a small number of users don’t impact the experience for everyone else.”

Last year Comcast was sued when it was disclosed that the company had singled out BitTorrent users.

In February, Comcast departed from that approach and started collaborating with the company that runs BitTorrent. Now it has shifted to what it calls a “platform agnostic” approach to managing its network, meaning that it slows down the connection of any customer who uses too much bandwidth at congested times.

Mr. Bowling said that “typical Internet usage” would not be affected. But on the Internet, “typical” use is constantly being redefined.

“The definitions of low and high usage today are meaningless, because the Internet’s going to grow, and nothing’s going to stop that,” said Eric Klinker, the chief technology officer of BitTorrent.

As the technology company Cisco put it in a recent report, “today’s ‘bandwidth hog’ is tomorrow’s average user.”

One result of these experiments is a tug-of-war between the Internet providers and media companies, which are monitoring the Time Warner experiment with trepidation.

“We hate it,” said a senior executive at a major media company, who requested anonymity because his company, like all broadcasters, must play nice with the same cable operators that are imposing the limits. Now that some television shows are viewed millions of times online, the executive said, any impediment would hurt the advertising model for online video streaming.

Mr. Leddy of Time Warner said that the media companies’ fears were overblown. If the company were to try to stop Web video, “we would not succeed,” he said. “We know how much capacity they’re going to need in the future, and we know what it’s going to cost. And today’s business model doesn’t pay for it very well.”

Metered Internet Is OK But Won’t Work
Steve Spalding

When you turn on a light switch, you are paying for every single second of use. Somewhere behind your house or apartment there is a box that is charged with the unenviable task of adding up your Kilowatt hours so that your local Utilities company can wring a few extra cents out of you for keeping your laptop plugged in for too long. If you were a fan of the Sopranos, years ago you looked at your Cable bill and said, “you know, I don’t mind if this is ten dollars higher, as long as I get to figure out what happens to Tony next week.”

Long ago, service providers learned an extremely important lesson about surviving in a saturated market — if you give people “more,” even if that more is imaginary, they will pay for it.

Metered Internet

Enter your ISP.

Many of the major ISPs want to start metering Internet use. Across the country, they are experimenting with the concept and it wouldn’t surprise me if most ISPs have tried some sort of metering tactic before next summer. The driving principle behind this is that a tiny percentage of their users are responsible for eating up most of the available bandwidth. These power users are also responsible for a large portion of the costs associated with keeping their servers running. If you spend a substantial amount of time streaming videos, downloading torrents, playing online games or using other high bandwidth web services then you are on their hit list.

Before you get too upset, there are a few things that you need to understand. The first is that most of these bandwidth limits will only affect you if you are using an abnormally high amount of bandwidth. If your surfing habits don’t include large amounts of streaming media or significant online gameplay, chances are you won’t come near your limit. The second point is explained by the video. If you go back into the annals of the web, ISPs have always wanted to charge customers for use. The idea of metering bandwidth isn’t anything new. In fact, the original model that ISPs toyed with was structured much like long distance phone service.

The reason this all rubs people the wrong way is that years ago, when the ISPs saw that the growth of Internet use was stagnating and the cost of providing bandwidth was shrinking they decided to capitalize on these trends by writing everyone a blank check.

Now they’re trying to take that check away and unfortunately for them, despite the fact that they will push this as far as it will go, there is little chance that this will pass the test of public sentiment.

Some Problems

Why? Here are a few problems with any strategy that involves metering bandwidth.

Advertising. We live in a world of online ads. If you are paying for every byte, how many people will want to bleed away their bandwidth on ads? Companies that serve rich media advertising will fight tooth and nail to keep people watching as much advertising as they can serve. The best way to do that is to make sure that everyone has all the bandwidth that they can handle. If you want to know where the money that will fuel the fight against Internet metering will come from, look no further than the advertisers and publishers who stand to lose their shirts in the deal.

Leeching. How long would it be before someone complained to their ISP that their huge Internet bill was from someone leeching? Sure, the first thing you should do when you buy a router is to secure it, but how many less net savvy individuals leave theirs open? When bandwidth costs money, the best way around the limit is to simply use someone else’s. As it stands, there is nothing preventing leechers from having a field when they realize that it’s easy to get unmetered service as long as it’s coming from someone else.

Ubiquitous Use. Everything connects to the Internet these days, from video game consoles to — in some cases — your household appliances. Each of these devices eats bandwidth and as more and more gadgets become wired, it’s only going to get worse. Hardware manufacturers that rely on the web for their appliances to function will be less than thrilled when people stop making purchases because they think their product “wastes too much bandwidth.”

Competition. Assuming that your area has multiple ISPs (this might be a big assumption) if one of them starts to meter extensively then the smart money will just shift to the one that still offers an unlimited service plan. Especially in more web savvy markets, ISPs will have to be extremely careful that their new policies don’t end up costing them more users than they are worth.

Metering as a concept isn’t completely crazy, it just doesn’t mesh with the way that people use the Internet. In a world where the web could be seen as a luxury, in the world of Compuserve, pay per use was something people could understand. Now that the web is less an utility and more way of life, the only way for ISPs to survive will be to find a way increase their bottom-line while giving users all the Internet that they believe they are paying for.

MetroFi Ending WiFi Service in California, Oregon, Illinois
Sarah Skidmore

With no buyers in sight, MetroFi's free wireless projects in Portland and in cities in California and Illinois appear to be ending.

MetroFi contracted with Portland in 2006 to blanket the city with a network for free, wireless Internet access - the Mountain View-based company's largest project.

The effort in Portland was plagued by spotty service and, according to some, a weak business model. MetroFi stopped expanding the Portland network last fall when it was less than 30 percent complete.

MetroFi's other projects involve Concord, Cupertino, Foster City, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale in the Bay Area, Riverside in Southern California and Aurora and Naperville, Ill.

The company announced recently that it would shutter most of its networks on Friday, unless the cities or investors stepped in to buy them. None have.

MetroFi did not return multiple calls and e-mails for comment. The company's Web site indicates it will shut down nearly all of its municipal wireless sites on Friday.

MetroFi's are not the only WiFi networks to go awry.

EarthLink abandoned a free WiFi network it built for $17 million in Philadelphia for lack of customers. Local investors announced this week that they have taken over the system and plan to resume offering consumers free WiFi service and to charge businesses for service on a new wired and wireless network.

EarthLink also has discontinued WiFi efforts in New Orleans and San Francisco and reached agreements with the cities of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Milpitas, which are taking over ownership of their networks.

Successful networks have launched in other cities, however.

In 2003, Hermiston, Ore., began building what was the world's largest WiFi cloud at the time, offering free access to the public and paid service for large farms and other businesses. Last year, Minneapolis tested the limits of its partially completed system during a bridge collapse, using its network to help keep city services running and emergency responders connected.

The key difference is most of the surviving municipal systems have relied on steady streams of revenue from large subscribers or they solely serve city agencies, like Oklahoma City's new system.

"Basically there are two tracks: the fatally flawed track and the successful but quietly executed track," said Craig Settles, an independent consultant and author of "Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless."

MetroFi, which Settles puts in the fatally flawed category, designed its Portland network with no buy-in from the city. It planned to finance and operate the network independently and make money from advertising on it.

To Portland city officials, there was little risk in this news means for giving low-income residents Internet access.

"We are disappointed that MetroFi's business model did not pan out but glad that it was not a financial risk to taxpayers," said Brendan Finn, chief of staff at Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office.

Other cities also were enticed by the idea of being able to offer residents a way to connect.

"It was the most impossible deal you could imagine," Settles said. "Every mayor in every small town would be famous for at least a day if they stood up on a soapbox and said, 'We are going to have this free service.' "

WiFi's drawback as a means of digital inclusion is that its signal doesn't travel well through walls or most other obstacles; connecting the outdoor signal to a home's indoor network requires boosters or other costly add-ons.

"We had the high-profile rabbits and the rational well-planned tortoises," Settles said. "Years later, the high-profile rabbits are dying and the tortoises are coming on through. They will be the poster kids for 2009."

Philadelphia Revives Citywide Wi-Fi Project

Philadelphia revived an effort on Tuesday to provide free citywide wireless Internet access in a project to be run by a new group of investors.

The city aims to provide free-of-charge outdoor Web access throughout its 135 square miles, which would be the largest area covered by public Wi-fi of any U.S. city.

The project, initially launched in 2005, came close to failure when EarthLink, the company that installed wireless transmitters on light poles, abandoned the effort in May amid complaints about signal weakness.

In a city of 1.4 million, about 6,000 people signed up for the EarthLink service.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the city -- which is providing no public money for the Wi-fi project -- believed it was important to revive the project because of the economic opportunities that can flow from increased Internet access.

"We now have the potential to reach more people with this network than in any other city in America," he said.

The network, which is about 80 percent complete, will now be taken over by Network Acquisition Company LLC, a new company of local investors that will assess the infrastructure and plans to complete the wireless coverage. Service for current users should be uninterrupted, officials said.

EarthLink had difficulty beaming the signal into homes, which City Councilman Bill Green cited as a reason the EarthLink model failed. But he also praised EarthLink for helping to save the network.

Under the new system, people can buy a $200 device called a repeater to bring the signal inside buildings.

The new owners plan to underwrite the cost of public Wi-fi by persuading businesses to buy technology allowing employees to access corporate networks from remote locations.

Revenue from corporate customers would pay for infrastructure to distribute a wireless signal to outdoor areas throughout the city, notably to low-income areas where many residents don't have the Internet access that could improve their ability to find jobs or access public services.

Officials from the new company declined to say how much they had paid for the EarthLink asset, how much they plan to invest or when the network would be complete. Co-founder Mark Rupp said it would take "months" to assess what work needs to be done to complete the network.

Confessions of a Wi-Fi Thief
Lev Grossman

When I moved into my apartment three years ago, the first thing I did after I tipped the movers was sit down on a box, crack open my laptop and sniff the air for wi-fi signals. And I found them: my apartment was chock-full of delicious, invisible data, ripe for the plucking. You couldn't say I made a conscious decision at that exact moment to become a criminal. But it definitely got a lot harder not to be a criminal.

For the next three years, I didn't pay for Internet access. Instead, I got online via the unsecured wireless networks of my neighbors. This didn't seem illegal at the time--I mean, those signals were streaming through my apartment--but it is an actual, bona fide crime. Last year a man in Cedar Springs, Mich., was fined $400 for mooching off somebody else's wi-fi--a police officer spotted him laptop-surfing in a parked car. Apparently that violates Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 47 of the United States Code, which covers anybody who "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access." Whatever that means--the law was passed in 1986, back when people were worried about mutually assured destruction and Matthew Broderick hacking into the WOPR. But I still felt like kind of a desperado.

Illegal or not, it was definitely unethical. Not so unethical that I stopped doing it, though. True, my browsing slowed down my neighbors' connections from time to time, but I tried to keep from transmitting any big files till late at night. And leaving your network open can put your personal data at risk--but I didn't want their data; I wanted their bandwidth! If it was so precious to them, they should have put a password on it! Don't look at me like that--according to the Wi-Fi Alliance, 53% of people surveyed said they'd done the same thing.

Mine wasn't a particularly sociable apartment building, but wi-fi transcends urban alienation. You can draw your blinds and grunt at me on the stairs all you want, No. 7, but I can see your network just fine. Some people thought of creative names for their networks: ParisBrooklyn, MessageInaBottle. Some were boring: linksys, NETGEAR, default. I was always happy to see the boring ones, because the people who don't bother thinking of clever names for their home networks are the same people who don't bother to password-protect them. Anybody who calls his hot spot WebOfDarkness isn't going to give me any wireless love. I think YouHavSomNerv was on to me too.

You don't fly first class when you're stealing bandwidth. Wi-fi hot spots are large--about the size of a football field--but those signals had to pass through a lot of masonry before they got to my laptop. Wi-fi operates on an unlicensed frequency, so it has to deal with interference from baby monitors and microwave ovens and cordless phones too. As a result, my Internet access would vanish and reappear like a will-o'-the-wisp, even when I engaged OS X's excitingly named "interference robustness" feature. I always seemed to lose connectivity just when I was about to send a crucial e-mail--it's embarrassing to run down a city street waving your laptop around like a crazy person, but it's amazing how unselfconscious you get when you have to find one lousy bar of wi-fi in the next two minutes or you're going to get fired. (A website called ThinkGeek.com sells a T shirt with a battery-powered wi-fi detector that displays the ambient signal strength wherever you happen to be standing. It's supercool, though if I'm too cheap to pay for broadband, I'm definitely too cheap to spend $30 on a T shirt.)

This isn't supposed to be a problem anyway. A couple of years ago, some starry-eyed technology pundits--myself included--announced the dawning of the age of free municipal wi-fi networks, when every American city would have its own city-size hot spot. It would be too cheap to meter! But the legal, technological, financial and political practicalities of municipal wi-fi have been much harder to work out than anyone expected. Even mighty Google had to back down from its plan to flood all of San Francisco with free wi-fi. Downtown Spokane, Wash., is online, though, so I guess there's still hope.

As for me, I've joined the straight world, sort of. When I moved into a new apartment a few weeks ago, I decided my financial situation was stable enough that I could start paying for my data again, though my frequent conversations with EarthLink tech support make me miss the old days of trying to crack YouHaveSomNerv's password. In an attempt to achieve some kind of karmic balance, I have left my network open to any neighbors who want to mooch off it. Which, believe it or not, is a violation of EarthLink's terms of service. What do you know--I'm still a desperado after all.

Bangladesh Makes Internet Use Free for Primary Schools

Bangladesh on Tuesday made the use of broadband Internet services free for nearly 40,000 state-run primary schools to boost the number of users in rural areas, the telecom regulator said.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) took the move to expand the use of information technology to tens of thousands of villages where 70 percent of the country's 144 million people live, the commission said. The decision makes broadband services free for the state-run 37,500 primary schools and cuts charges by 75 percent for thousands of state-run high schools, colleges, madrassas and universities, it said.

With three million users, Internet penetration in impoverished Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world.

Samiul Wadud, chief executive officer of BOL, one of the country's largest Internet service providers, said the cut in charges would double the number of users in less than a year.

"It's a major boost for the industry. The government has not only made Internet usage free for primary schools but also slashed the charges of broadband Internet bandwidth by 60 percent for all types of users," he said.

"It will make Internet services affordable and take Internet deep into the rural communities where people hardly have any access to Internet," he said. Bangladesh is one of the world's poorest countries, with nearly 40 percent of the population living on less than a dollar a day.

The country, however, has witnessed large growth in telecommunications in the last few years, pushing the number of mobile phone users to more than 42 millions at the end of May, up from 1.5 million in early 2004.

Information Highway

Imagine a world where the internet is so fast that personal data storage units are obsolete, and HD films can be downloaded in seconds. With the switching on of the CERN particle accelerator this year, technology has taken one step closer to that reality.

At a depth of some 50-175 metres underground, running across the borders of Switzerland and France, lies CERN's (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the biggest high-energy particle accelerator in the world.

Science institutes and governments around the world have pumped up to US$10 billion into the project, which is tasked with confirming the existence of the elusive Higgs boson, and which could go some way to validating scientific theories about the laws of the universe.

“Virtualisation is one of the hottest spaces in technology. If you talk about virtualisation a few years ago, people would’ve scratched their heads. In today’s environment, it’s one of the top trends.” Bill Teuber

The problem for Ian Bird, project leader at the LHC Computing Grid Project (LCG), is that the amount of data produced at this mammoth installation is astronomical - about 15 petabytes a year (or 15 million gigabytes).

To add to this problem, CERN needs to distribute this data worldwide, so physicists around the world can access it for analysis. Grid computing was seen as the answer, and now the potential for this technology has raised awareness in something that could revolutionise the telecoms market.

"I think the term ‘grid technology' encompasses a multitude of different things," says Bird. "Some people use it to connect desktop machines to make use of unused cycles on those machines.

"When we at LHC are talking about grid technology, we really mean setting up a big distributed system which allows us to connect hundreds of computer centres around the world together to make it look to our users like a single system."

The data is transferred through a number of tiers. Tier 0 is LHC itself, where the data is produced and the first level of processing is done. Eleven Tier 1 centres are located at major computer centres around the world, and then Tier 2 centres are where physicists can get hold of the data.

Presently, about 55,000 servers are connected to the grid, and another 200,000 are expected to be installed to meet the exponential rise in data traffic.

Top transmission speeds of 10Gbps are possible between CERN and the Tier 1s, thanks to dedicated fibre links, while the Tier 1s and Tier 2s are interconnected using the standard national research networks in the country.

Network connectivity is not something we really worry about to the Tiers 1s. There may be some bottlenecks on the national networks, depending on how they're connected geographically. Quite often it's just a last mile issue."

This type of grid computing, where physical servers are interconnected through fibre, could be the Holy Grail for modern telecommunications services. "The target rates we've demonstrated we can achieve is something like between 1.5-2GBps aggregate data being pumped out of CERN to the Tier 1s.

There's probably an equal amount which is being thrown around between the Tier 1s and the Tier 2s," Bird explains. At this rate, the download of a HD movie would take just a few seconds.

Presently, LCG is a department specifically for LHC Computing, but another EU-funded project, Enabling Grids for e-Science (EGEE), aims to attract other sciences and industries to using grid technology.

Scientists around the world are now making use of the grid in 200-plus applications from nanotechnology to geophysics, yet it's difficult to bring industries into the fold, enabling mass market usage.

"I think you will start to see Amazon and Google providing some of these services now, so-called ‘cloud computing', which is basically grid computing with a different hat on. The mass market will probably come from that direction, rather than what we're doing. I think we're trying to solve a different problem," Bird says.

In cloud computing, enterprises and consumers don't store their data on a personal server. Instead, a network of interconnected servers will host their data, to be accessed over the internet.

This raises huge questions about the future of data storage and consumers daily technology habits. Vendors are already beginning to provide some answers.

Up in the clouds

Cloud computing is a buzzword that's catching on fast. EMC, the leading enterprise storage provider, recently announced the set-up of a new cloud computing business. But it is already making huge strides in the virtualisation market, with its wholly-owned acquisition, VMware.

Not many companies have the means to play around with expensive multitudes of physical servers. So for other business customers, particularly small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), virtualisation could be the answer to streamlining their managing processes and reducing costs.

"Virtualisation is the way you can get a kind of grid computing into everybody's datacentre," says Martin Niemer, product manager at VMware, EMC's wholly-owned virtualisation specialist.

"Grid computing is usually high-performance computing; you have hundreds of users that are all doing the same. Google has tens of thousands running the same application, which is Google search.

"But with virtualisation is really running multiple applications; if you have 10 virtual servers with 100 virtual machines (VMs), probably each and every VM is running a different application.

Virtualisation is a layer between the physical hardware and the operating system, creating a number of virtual instances. This means that each machine can be used to create several virtual servers, all running different applications.

The CAPEX savings generated from this are immediate, and often the primary reason for enterprise customers to adopt virtualisation products.

"The number of virtual machines you can run on a server is what we call the consolidation ratio. Usually, customers see a consolidation ratio of around 1:10 in production environments, meaning where you had 10 servers before, you only have one now. You can imagine this has a high impact on costs. There are 70-80% CAPEX savings," he says.

There are also other benefits including disaster recovery, where VMs can be easily transferred onto another physical server in the event of a power outage, and an elimination of downtime.

Each and every company stands to benefit from virtualisation, and this is why Aptec, a leading software distributor in the Middle East, is keen to add VMware's products to its portfolio.

"Every single SME customer would at some point consider going to virtualisation, because it saves time and money, in terms of optimisation and implementation," says Ilyas Mohammed, senior business manager for software, Aptec.

"We are very excited about it. We have been waiting and looking forward for a virtualisation product, and VMware is the leading virtualisation vendor at the moment.

"The market is widely open; it's got huge potential. According to IDC, the virtualisation market will grow to US$6 billion by 2011," he adds.

According to Niemer, virtualisation is increasing being sold as a service to companies. "Customers traditionally want to run their application inside their own datacentre.

But the smaller customers don't have the option of having a back-up datacentre, and so a service provider could step in and offer a back-up datacentre on demand. This will be like a potential service.

"If you need five VMs, you can rent them on a per day basis, for example. This is a bit like the cloud computing approach, where you don't care on which physical machine your process is running: you just pay for the processing power," he says.

With IDC predicting data traffic will grow 60% per annum for the next 10 years, EMC is also betting substantially on the home storage market. It also anticipates that cloud computing will permeate the technological world of the consumer.

"Today most information is trapped in a device or an application that might be owned by a set of users. Tomorrow the world is going to demand the ability to use and manage information across all these silos," said CEO Joe Tucci at last month's EMC World summit.

"I do believe that there is going to be a fair sized number of homes throughout the world over the next couple of years that will have a terabyte of storage in their house, and that's a market that is worth playing in. I also totally believe that that storage will also be connected to the cloud," Tucci added.

How the U.S. Got its Canadian Copyright Bill
Michael Geist

Last week's introduction of new copyright legislation ignited a firestorm with thousands of Canadians expressing genuine shock at provisions that opposition MPs argued would create a "police state." As opposition to the copyright bill mounts, the most common question is "why"?

Why, given the obvious public concern with the bill stretching back to last year, did Industry Minister Jim Prentice plow ahead with rules that confirm many of the public's worst fears?

Why did a minority government introduce a bill that appears likely to generate strong opposition from both the Liberals and NDP with limited political gain?

Why did senior ministers refuse to even meet with many creator and consumer groups who have unsurprisingly voiced disappointment with the bill?

While Prentice has responded by citing the need to update Canada's copyright law in order to comply with the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet treaties, the reality may be that those treaties have little to do with Bill C-61.

Instead, the bill dubbed by critics as the Canadian Digital Millennium Copyright Act (after the U.S. version of the law) is the result of an intense public and private campaign waged by the U.S. government to pressure Canada into following its much-criticized digital copyright model.

The U.S. pressure has intensified in recent years, particularly since there is a growing international trend toward greater copyright flexibility with countries such as Japan, New Zealand and Israel either implementing or considering more flexible copyright standards.

The public campaign was obvious. U.S. ambassador to Canada David Wilkins was outspoken on the copyright issue, characterizing Canadian copyright law as the weakest in the G7 (despite the World Economic Forum ranking it ahead of the U.S.).

The U.S. Trade Representatives Office (USTR) made Canada a fixture on its Special 301 Watch list, an annual compilation of countries the U.S. believes have sub-standard intellectual property laws. The full list contains nearly 50 countries accounting for 4.4 billion people or approximately 70 per cent of the world's population.

Most prominently, last year U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and John Cornyn, along with California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, escalated the rhetoric on Canadian movie piracy, leading to legislative reform that took just three weeks to complete.

The private campaign was even more important. Sources say that U.S. officials, emboldened by the successful campaign for anti-camcording legislation, upped the ante at the Security and Prosperity Partnership meeting in Quebec last summer. Canadian officials arrived ready to talk about a series of economic concerns but were quickly rebuffed by their U.S. counterparts, who indicated that progress on other issues would depend upon action on the copyright file.

Those demands were echoed earlier by the USTR, which, according to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, made veiled threats about "thickening the border" between Canada and the U.S. if Canada refused to put copyright reform on the legislative agenda.

Faced with unrelenting U.S. pressure, the newly installed industry minister was presented with a mandate letter requiring a copyright bill that would meet U.S. approval. The government promised copyright reform in the October 2007 Speech from the Throne and was set to follow through last December, only to pull back at the last hour in the face of mounting public concern (Disclosure: I created the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group that has more than 48,000 members and played a role in this public opposition).

In the months that followed, Prentice's next attempt to bring the copyright bill forward was stalled by internal cabinet concerns over how the bill would play out in public. The bill was then repackaged to include the new consumer-focused provisions such as the legalization of recording television shows and the new peer-to-peer download $500 damage award.

The heart of the bill, however, remained largely unchanged since satisfying U.S. pressure remained priority number one. Just after 11:00 a.m. last Thursday, the U.S. got its Canadian copyright bill.

So What's in the New Copyright Bill?

So what does the proposed copyright legislation, Bill C61, have in store for you? Aside from not being able to download free music any more, it puts all sorts of limitations on intellectual property and how it can be used.

The Canadians' worst fear is that the bill has been unduly influenced by the powerful U.S. music, movie and TV lobby, which managed to get the U.S. Congress to pass the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives corporations such as the music industry unprecedented powers to investigate and enforce copyright law. Among other things, the DMCA is unclear about the concept of "fair use," which Canada calls "fair dealing," which allows use of content for purposes such as satire.

To figure out what's in the bill — the good as well as the bad — we've asked University of Ottawa law professor Jeremy deBeer to discuss it with our readers on Wednesday, June 18, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Join us then or leave a question in advance.

The bill proposes to drop the personal penalty for infringement from $20,000 per case to $500; however, the bill keeps the provision that anyone who has cracked or avoided digital-rights management controls is liable for a fine of $20,000 per infringement.

And how will the bill reconcile itself with another proposed law, the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would allow border guards to seize devices that they suspect of containing material that infringes copyright, and would force Internet service providers to reveal the identities of suspected infringers without a court order?

To figure out what's in the bill — the good as well as the bad — we've asked University of Ottawa law professor Jeremy deBeer to discuss it with our readers on Wednesday, June 18, at 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Prof. deBeer specializes in classic and intellectual property law, and the intersection between property, IP and torts, and is a member of the law faculty's law and technology group. He has worked for the Department of Justice and as legal counsel to the Copyright Board of Canada.

He has written about the constitutional implications of copyrights, the role of copyrights in the music and entertainment industries and the notion of balance in copyright and patent law.

Editor's Note: globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. HTML is not allowed. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Jack Kapica, moderator, writes: Welcome, Prof. Jeremy deBeer, and thank you for joining our discussion about the contents of the proposed amendments to the copyright legislation. We'' start off with this question:

Brian Lowry from Fredericton writes: Jeremy — do we really need to care what's in this bill, given that it almost certainly will either die before being passed, or simply be defeated?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Yes, Brian, I think we should all should care deeply about what's in this bill. It has serious consequences for all Canadians.

There are no guarantees what will happen with the political situation in Canada. If the Conservatives stay in power, the fate of the bill will turn on the attitudes and actions of Canadian voters. And if they don't, the principles in this bill could form the basis for future proposals. Either way, this stuff is important.

So no matter what your perspective is, you should make your views known to people that matter. You can start by sending your MP a letter saying how your feel (no stamp needed if you send c/o the House of Commons K1A 0A6).

J Swede from Edmonton writes: Two Questions: 1. Let's say I have purchased a DVD from the store (Alien, for example). Under the new law, am I able to rip this DVD for viewing on my iPod Classic? 2. If I am able to format shift this DVD to my iPod, what's the difference between ripping it myself and downloading an already ripped version using P2P? I already own a licence to view this particular movie and I find it a lot easier and quicker to download the already ripped versions rather than do it myself. Am I breaking the law? If so, why? I've already paid to view this movie ...

Jeremy deBeer answers: This is a long-winded answer, but it is an important question, so please bear with me.

What you describe doing is commonly called "format shifting" — moving content you've legally acquired from one format to another, like DVD to iPod. Though Industry Minister Jim Prentice correctly explained that the Bill contains provisions to permit ordinary activities like format shifting, the devil is in the details.

Ripping DVDs to laptops, iPods or even backup discs would not be allowed under the proposed law. The various format shifting exceptions only apply to music, photos, books, newspapers, magazines and — get this — videocassettes, like VHS and Betamax tapes. Yah, I know. Weird. What century are we in?

If you do want to digitize your VHS collection, though, the good news is that you can do that. But only under certain conditions. You've got to own, not rent or borrow, the tape. You can't get rid of the old tape without deleting the copies first. It has to be your own iPod, computer or DVD that you're copying to. And no selling, lending or giving away the copies, not even to close friends or family.

Back to the DVD example for a second. Even if you were allowed to format shift your DVDs (which under this Bill you're not), you'd probably be technologically prevented from doing so. Most DVDs are region coded, so, for instance, the disc you bought legally in Europe won't play in your machine back home.

Under the proposed law, circumventing the "technological measure" is prohibited, even if you just want to watch the disc, let alone copy it. If you think that doesn't matter, because you won't get caught, ask yourself how you'll find the tools do make your movie-watching possible. Those tools are outlawed, and people caught circulating them could be subject to a million-dollar fine (literally) and up to 5 years in jail.

So that is one practical example of how the infamous anti-circumvention provisions would operate if this Bill becomes law.

Oh right, to answer, your question: no. You can't do that. Sorry.

Steve Ireland from Smiths Falls, Canada, writes: If I happen to miss an episode of a favourite TV show, I find it very convenient to download the show using BitTorrent and watch it after normal airing times. Would the bill prevent us from doing that? ...

Jeremy deBeer answers: Steve: You might think that what you're doing is in effect not all that different from "time shifting" so it should be allowed. Sorry to tell you that's its not.

Under the proposed law, you'd be allowed to use your PVR to record shows from satellite or cable. (That is, as long as you don't keep a library of shows longer than necessary to watch at a more convenient time.) But this doesn't apply to anything streamed over the Internet. And it certainly doesn't apply to downloading a show if you missed the last episode.

Using BitTorrent to do this would be infringement of the worst kind, because you'd be both downloading and uploading. That's big-time infringement.

Jim Sst from 700th Mission Cap Canada writes: Please give an idea of exactly what "statutory damages" means.

Jeremy deBeer answers: Great question to begin with, Jim. There's been a lot of talk about the proposed law limiting "statutory damages" to $500 if the infringement was for private purposes.

So what are statutory damages? Well, it means the Copyright Act says that copyright owners can win a case without proving how much harm, if any, they've really suffered from a defendant's activities. They don't have to prove to a court they've actually lost any money if they elect to claim statutory damages.

Statutory damages are good for copyright owners, because with all of the conflicting evidence about the effects of p2p file sharing, for example, it would be pretty hard to prove actual damages. This is why the RIAA was able to win $220,000 last year from a Minnesota single mother for sharing 24 songs online. There's no way the record companies could have come up with evidence that they lost that much money over two CDs worth of music. But they didn't have to, because the U.S. statute (like the Canadian one) spells out a range of damages that courts can award automatically.

There you go. That's statutory damages in practice.

Lorne Kelly from Kemptville, Ontg., writes: There seems to be confusion over whether the $500 and $20,000 charges would take the form of a fine or a lawsuit, and whether the charge is per song or per suit/fine. Can you clarify? ... I do not believe the CIRA/RIAA when they say they are not interested in suing fans. CIRA already tried to obtain IPs of file sharers, why else would they do that? ...

Jeremy deBeer answers: All right. Staying on the topic of statutory damages, you're right, Lorne, that there's a lot of confusion about how this $500 limit would work.

First, it isn't a fine like a ticket for speeding or littering or something. The police won't enforce it. It's up to copyright owners themselves to file a lawsuit, if that's what they want to do. And I share your skepticism about promises not sue ordinary Canadians for file sharing.

Second, the proposed new law says that a copyright owner can collect only $500 total in statutory damages for all copyright infringements committed before the lawsuit was filed. But — and here's a big but — this only applies to infringements done for private purposes. And the limit doesn't apply to infringements made possible by circumventing digital locks. And it won't get you off the hook even for private infringements committed after you've been sued.

I wish I could tell you what qualifies as "private purposes," but the truth is that nobody really knows for sure. Ripping a DVD to your laptop is probably private. Using a P2P network to share files probably isn't.

So I don't think the proposed limitation would stop a court from awarding damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars against file sharers, like we've seen in the United States. Still, the idea of limiting statutory damages like this is a good one. With a little more clarity in scope, it could make most people happy.

Wallace McLean from Canada writes: How do the changes to photography provisions impact the consumer and the public?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Very interesting that you bring this up, Wallace. This aspect of the proposed law has been mostly overlooked by the media, but it matters in practice to a lot of people.

Current copyright law in Canada says that if you commission a photograph (or portrait or engraving), then by default you're the copyright owner. The proposed law would change that to make the photographer the owner instead.

That means you probably couldn't stop the photographer from using photos of your wedding or your baby however he or she wants to. You could, of course, change this by contract, but only if you're smart enough to do so, and you'd probably have to pay for it.

Now, to go along with this change, there's a proposed new provision that would allow you to use those commissioned photos for private or non-commercial purposes. So e-mailing them to grandma might be okay, but posting to a public Facebook page puts you over the line.

And, as far as I can tell, it would still be strictly prohibited to tamper with any technological locks on the photo, or to mess with the photographer's watermark, for example. The bottom line, then, is that the photographer calls the shots when it comes to copyright.

Marty McFly from Toronto writes: I don't really understand the part in the bill discussing crossing the border with copyrighted materials. Can you clarify this and also how they plan to enforce it?

Jeremy deBeer answers: There's a bit of misunderstanding here. THIS Bill doesn't do much when it comes to cross-border issues. What you might be thinking of is the likely new Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA for short.

A bunch of governments, including Canada's, have been negotiating this new international agreement over the past while. Nobody really knows what's being talked about, because there's been almost no transparency and no public consultation of Canadians.

But rumours are that parts of the agreement could give customs and border officials more powers to seek out copyright-infringing files. It might mean searches of your laptop or iPod, but is that really going to happen? Who knows. I can't say.

I can say, however, that if you're concerned about this, you should speak out. Demand a public consultation on ACTA, and don't take no for an answer.

Joe Technicality from Hamilton writes: So I'm your average kid on the block who likes to download a movie now and again (using torrent-based software) for personal viewing only. Are they coming after me? And in Canada, does my ISP have the right/duty to disclose my Internet usage to the enforcing agencies of this proposed legislation?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Well, I think I've already touched on some of the issues, but here's my answer for you.

Using torrent-based software means your both uploading and downloading at the same time. That's how torrents work. It means what you call "personal viewing" ain't. It's not personal, that is.

Are "they" coming after you? If "they" are the record companies and movie studios, maybe. Depends who you believe.

Better question is, can they come after you? That requires a bit of co-operation from your ISP. A court decision (called BMG v. Doe) a few years back held that ISPs didn't have to turn over subscriber information, but that case was pretty fact-specific. The court gave copyright owners step-by-step instructions on how to make ISPs disclose this kind of info, and there's not much I can see in the bill that would change the court's ruling.

Mike Bleski from Greater Sudbury writes: A few general questions. 1. When an artist or copyright holder releases his or her materials for public release, say, on MySpace.com or on their personal website, you can't download it unless they have a free usage policy posted? 2. I have heard talk about searches on electronic devices at the border. Will there be content searches on MP3 players, laptops, and related devices?

Jeremy deBeer answers: That's the normal rule, yes. The copyright owner gets to say whether or not you can download their content. Maybe they'll have a "free usage policy" such as a Creative Commons licence. Maybe they won't. But it's up to them.

Now, there's a very odd section of the proposed bill that applies especially to teachers and educational institutions. That section says that educators are allowed to download all they want for teaching and training purposes unless the copyright owner says otherwise. And there's no requirement that the teachers deal "fairly" like is necessary with other exceptions.

That turns copyright law on its head. I'm not saying that educators don't need more flexibility. Just that this approach seems strange and unworkable. There are better alternatives.

Charles Morgan from Montreal Canada writes: Don't TPMs really enable businesses to offer a variety of new and innovative services at a variety of price points (e.g. $20 to "buy" a film; or $3 to "rent" the same film by downloading a copy for time-limited use)? Who would make investments in copyright protected works (music, films) knowing that Canadian law doesn't protect property in digital form?

Jeremy deBeer answers: This is really good question. I don't know there's a right answer, though. Do TPMs enable new business models, or stifle them? Ask different people and you'll get different answers, mostly based on speculation, assumptions and maybe some anecdotal evidence.

I do know that there are lots of folks investing time and effort and money in innovative products and services online without legal prohibitions on circumventing TPMs. Apple's announcement (before the new Bill was tabled) that it would roll out online movie rentals in Canada is a good anecdotal example. The number of record labels moving away from TPMs is another.

But in the end, I think it comes down to this. We really don't know whether TPMs will help or hinder online business. We don't even know what online business will look like in 3, 5 or 10 years. So my take is that it isn't worth the risk of unintended consequences by codify anti-circumvention provisions.

The Israeli government just recently decided to take a "wait and see" approach to TPMs. I think that's the right way to go.

Jonathan Migneault from Canada writes: How will the concept of fair dealing work after this bill is passed? Will Rick Mercer face legal consequences if he uses a movie clip for satirical purposes on his show?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Well, I won't speak to the Rick Mercer example specifically, but the topic of satire and parody is a crucial one. Unfortunately, there's nothing in the bill to talk about. The government left this out of the reforms.

The U.S. and many other countries have in their "fair use" rules room for people to express themselves through satires or parodies of other works. Canadian law currently allows "criticism" but in the past, courts have held that this doesn't allow parody.

I think (for various complicated reasons) that a court would rule differently today, and say that parodies are permitted in Canada if they're fair. But the government could have helped out a lot by expanding the scope of fair dealing in a more general way.

What the bill does is set out a number of specific things that, under certain limited conditions, are allowed as exceptions to copyright. I've already explained the technicalities attached to format and time shifting. The so-called educational exceptions are even more laden with limitations.

Anyway, short answer is: no permission for parody in this bill.

Bill Jones from Canada writes: My brother in the United States can rent and download movies straight to his computer from Netflix. I can't get similar service here in Canada. Why are my options so limited? Are U.S. providers afraid of our weak copyright protections?

Jeremy deBeer answers: I'm not sure about Netflix, but like I answered another question, Apple has announced that online movie rentals are coming to Canada (regardless of the good or bad state of our copyright law).

The commercial reality is that there are all kinds of complicated reasons a service like this would or would not come to Canada. Copyright is one reason, I'm sure, but I think the overall competitive and regulatory environment is a bigger deal for companies.

And really quickly, there might be examples of innovative companies not coming to Canada because our laws are not flexible enough. For a long time you couldn't get TiVo north of the border. One reason was rumoured to be the legal liabilities that the company might have incurred because, unlike in the US, Canadian customers weren't have been allowed time-shift, which is what the TiVo does.

Xavier Spriet from Windsor Canada writes: Since 1997, we've already been paying a blank media levy on all new blank media purchases, and the CRIA has already distributed over a hundred million dollars from that levy alone. Could you please explain what the overlap between the goals of the new bill and the goals of the levy might be, and what the ramifications are for the Canadian consumer?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Well, small technicality, but it isn't actually CRIA collecting and distributing the money from the private copying levy. It is actually another organization called the CPCC, which represents not only record labels but also performers and composers as well. And I think the levy revenues are closer to a quarter of a billion dollars, but whatever.

Your point is that now we've got some provisions in the new bill that allow format-shifting for free (like moving CDs to iPods) at the same time we've got a private copying system that charges people for essentially the same activity (like moving CDs to other CDs). I understand your frustration. It doesn't make sense.

For what it's worth, the government has committed to a fall consultation on the private copying system, so you'll have your chance to be heard then. Why they'd come out with this law first, without a recent consultation, is beyond me.

For the consumer, the practical answer is that you'll continue to pay the levy on blank CDs. Take comfort knowing that most of that money goes to support the Canadian music industry.

Bill Jones from Canada writes: Even though the protections in the U.S. Digital Millenium Copyright Act are much stronger than those in this bill, don't some artists still use innovative techniques such as Radiohead's 'pay what you want' model? Just because locks exist doesn't mean that they will be used. Aren't artists still free to innovate in their content delivery?

Jeremy deBeer answers: I like this question, because it is a common one. For the most part, there's nothing in the bill that would force anyone to use digital locks on their content. So what's the problem?

I've asked a lot of artists — musicians, filmmakers, authors and others — this exact question. And almost all of them tell me it isn't that simple.

One of several things they often say is that when some copyright owners choose to lock down content, consumers get frustrated. When consumers get frustrated, they look for alternative sources of music, like P2P networks. That's bad for the whole business.
Another thing actual creators are quick to point out is that they need access to existing material to create new content. Documentary filmmakers are a perfect example. These creators can't do their job if their locked out of content, even if what they ultimately want to do would be legally permitted as a fair dealing.

That's why organizations representing creators, like the Documentary Organization of Canada and the Canadian Music Creators Coalition have come out strongly against digital locks and against this bill. Some rights-holders feel much differently, I know. It shows how deep the divisions are over this issue, even among copyright owners themselves.

Brett Johnson from Ottawa writes: I think the fears that are being propagated over Bill C61 being a carbon copy of the U.S. DMCA are unfounded. Critics are calling it the "Canadian Digital Millennium Copyright Act", but is this really true since there are clearly a number of exceptions which benefit private users and are not found in the U.S. legislation?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Whatever you want to call the bill, the differences between it and U.S. law aren't all that different. All or most of the "consumer-friendly" balancing provisions in the bill, like format and time shifting for example, are probably allowed in the U.S. under its more general "fair use." On that point, I actually think consumers would benefit if this bill were more like U.S. law.

The Canadian bill does set out a "notice and notice" system for ISPs, which is quite different from the U.S. law. That's a pretty good feature of the bill.

Mostly, I think the label comes from the similarity in terms of the anti-circumvention provisions. And those are the most significant parts of the bill.

Daniel Pollack from Toronto writes: Critics of the bill say that it affects consumer privacy. Isn't it true that PIPEDA will apply to the uses of TPMs just as it does to any other technologies? How is it different?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Okay, time is running out, but this is a good one. The answer is that yes, I think Canada's existing privacy law would apply to technological measures and copyright-related enforcement activities, just like anything else.

Note though that the privacy laws apply to conduct, not to technologies. There are a few other points worth mentioning. Canada's privacy legislation isn't all that strong, it comes with a pile of exceptions, and it can be trumped by contracts in some circumstances.

I totally admit that's a problem for privacy lawyers, not copyright lawyers, but the issues are related. We've seen the Privacy Commissioner come out an express concerns about technological measures and rights management information practices, which is good. I think more people need to talk about these issues, so that all concerns are heard.

Jonathan Migneault from Canada writes: Is there any evidence that Minister Jim Prentice met with interest groups like Fair Copyright for Canada when he worked on this bill? When he was interviewed on the CBC's As it Happens he completely avoided this question (along with the concern that U.S. corporations had undue influence on the process).

Jeremy deBeer answers: If enough people demand it, I can't see how the government can ignore public outcry. So, like I said at the beginning, no matter what your perspective on the bill, speak up. The government needs to hear what you think.

Gerry Hollerman from Toronto writes: I work in a library in the private sector which recirculates information, particularly professional readings, to individuals throughout our firm. We also perform a great deal of research on behalf of professionals in both print and electronic media. Our library is among the dozens of libraries in hospitals, accounting firms, law firms and other corporate entities in Toronto alone. Our staff work hard to remain within the bounds of the "fair dealing" provisions of the Copyright Act as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Law Society of Upper Canada vs. CCH Canada Ltd. That case provided us with a good deal of assurance that we were within our rights to reproduce and share copyrighted materials, within certain limits, for the purposes of research. Without those rights, we would be unable to function. Or at the very least the cost of licensing or subscribing to many publications, both in paper and online, would become exorbitant. Will the proposed changes to the Copyright Act change in any way or to any degree our ability to reproduce and share copyrighted materials?

Jeremy deBeer answers: Yes, the new bill will affect your ability to reproduce and share copyrighted materials. One quick concrete example concerns interlibrary loans. If you want to send a digital copy of materials that you would have sent by snail mail in the old days, that's okay. But you have to take measures to ensure that the recipient doesn't make copies and that the recipient can't use the copy you sent for more than five days. Whether this means you need to draft new contracts with your ILL partners, or start using TPMs is unclear. What is clear is that this bill will have significant effects on you and your activities.

Jack Kapica, moderator, writes: We've gone beyond out hour-long limit, and should close this discussion. I want to thank all those who wrote questions and offer our apologies for not answering all of them. I especially want to thank Jeremy deBeer for helping us all out trying to understand what the government wants from us in this complicated and contentious bill.

Canadians Divided on Copyright Bill: Survey
Peter Nowak

A poll from Angus Reid shows Canadians are clearly divided over the government's proposed copyright reform legislation, with male, younger and more educated respondents particularly opposed to the bill.

About 45 per cent of respondents to the survey support the proposed bill C-61, which would open the door for lawsuits of $500 for downloading a copyrighted work and up to $20,000 for uploading such material or breaking digital locks put on content. The same number oppose the bill, while 10 per cent were undecided.

Demographically, respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 were far more opposed to the bill than their older counterparts, with 58 per cent saying they want their MP to vote against the bill after it receives its second reading in the House of Commons, likely this fall. About 37 per cent of adults between the ages of 35 and 54 planned to urge similar action, while only 27 per cent of older respondents said they want their MP to vote against the bill.

Canadians with a high-school diploma or less were more supportive of the legislation, with 55 per cent in favour of the changes. Respondents with college or technical school diplomas or university degrees were less likely to back it, with 60 per cent opposed.

About 49 per cent of men said they want their MPs to vote against C-61, compared to only 29 per cent of women.

Critics of the legislation said the numbers are not a good sign for the government, which is trying to sell the legislation as balanced in its protection of both consumer and copyright holder rights.

"If you are the Conservative party, which looks to younger males as a core constituency, this is not good news," wrote University of Ottawa internet law professor Michael Geist on his blog.

The survey, released Thursday, also found that a large majority of Canadians — 76 per cent — believe the bill has been drafted in response to lobbying by the North American music industry, despite the government's claims that the legislation is "Made in Canada." Two-thirds also felt the proposed changes would be unenforceable, with about the same number believing it would result in millions of lawsuits against Canadians.

Mario Canseco, director of global studies for Angus Reid, said the study was funded solely by the polling agency and not commissioned by anyone.

Online protests have exploded since Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée Verner introduced the bill a week ago. More than 28,000 Facebook users have joined a protest group on the social-networking site since last Thursday, bringing its total to more than 69,000 members. Also, more than 8,000 letters have been sent to MPs through the Copyright For Canadians website.

Bill Rodgers, director of communications for Prentice, earlier this week reiterated the need for the copyright bill.

"The Copyright Act must provide clear, predictable and fair rules to allow Canadians to derive benefits from their creations," he wrote in an e-mail to CBCNews.ca. "As Minister Prentice said on Thursday, we believe we have found a Made-in-Canada balance for Canadian consumers who use digital technology, and for everyone who creates material that becomes digitally accessible."

The survey also found that half of Canadians polled believe that downloading music without paying for it is stealing, while 45 per cent disagreed. Women, older respondents and those with university educations were more prone to believe that doing so constitutes theft.

Canadian Industry Minister Lies About His Canadian DMCA on National Radio, Then Hangs Up
Cory Doctorow

CBC Radio's Search Engine just posted/aired its interview with Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice about his Canadian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They've been trying to get him on the air for months now and he finally consented to ten minutes, but he delivered nothing but spin and outright lies about his legislation and ended up hanging up on Jesse Brown, the interviewer.

You have to listen to this -- in it, the Minister lies, dodges, weaves and ducks around plain, simple questions like, "If the guy at my corner shop unlocks my phone, is he breaking the law?" and "If my grandfather breaks the DRM on his jazz CDs to put them on his iPod, does that break the law?" and the biggie, "All the 'freedoms' your law guarantees us can be overriden by DRM, right?" (Prentice's answer to this last one, "The market will take care of it," is absolutely priceless.)

Ten minutes' worth Prentice's only interview with the national radio network's most tech-savvy program about his new, sweeping tech bill leaves us with the inescapable picture of a Minister who either doesn't know what's in his own legislation (he repeatedly says, "Well, that's a very technical question," as an excuse for why he can't answer it) or doesn't care if he presents it honestly, so long as it passes.

I can't wait for Charlie Angus to play this back in Parliament during the next Question Period: Ministers who lie on national radio about their legislation don't fare well in Parliamentary democracies. MP3 Link (Contains commercials)

(Disclosure: The writer is a paid columnist for Search Engine)

Tell MPs What's Wrong with the Prentice Bill

After months of hesitation, Industry Minister Jim Prentice has finally revealed his re-write of Canada's rules of copyright. As expected, the bill contains major concessions to the American entertainment industry. Prentice's bill forbids Canadians from engaging in ordinary practices such as ripping DVDs onto video iPods, unlocking digital phones for use with a competitor’s services, and paves the road for US-style consumer lawsuits for file-sharing. Tell your MP to represent you in the forthcoming copyright debate, and stop Prentice from steamrolling a bill that's worse than America's DMCA through Parliament without listening to Canadian voices.

Join the 7208 people who have taken action on this alert. Add your voice below!

Comment: France's Anti-Piracy Law is Like Holding a Tissue up to the Breeze

Using heavy-handed tactics with ISPs is only latest in a line of tactics to defeat online piracy - and it won't work
Jonathan Richards

Oh dear. It feels like the year 2000.

Once again the music industry is resolved to protect its property against the threat of illegal downloads - this time with the help of ISPs and some prodding from the French Government.

At the turn of the century it was Napster, the file-sharing site set up by Shawn Fanning, 19. The culprit of choice these days tends to be BitTorrent. There have been dozens in between - Kazaa, Limewire, and Grokster, to name a few. There will be countless more in the future.

But the record industry's attempts to prevent online piracy seem like holding a tissue up to the breeze. Technology called peer-to-peer file-sharing has decentralised the whole process of distributing files - legally or illegally. There is no central server on whose door the authorities can knock. The task is shared between the myriad computers - all connected to the internet - that share content between themselves.

Even if - as the record industry is pushing for in Britain - an ISP is willing to hand over the details of a customer who is connected to such a network, the problem is that the networks shift all the time.

Add to that a more recent evolution called "dynamic web addresses", which allow wily operators effectively to change the location of their servers on an almost constant basis, and even the most stubborn of enforcers must begin to consider raising the white flag.

In truth, record labels' response to the problem of illegal downloads has been much more nuanced. Several labels have struck agreements with providers of internet companies that allow for legal distribution of copyright content. Last.fm, a British website, allows users to stream an enormous amount of content "on demand" from all the major labels - admittedly only three times - at which point they are given the option to buy it.

Napster - once the bane of the labels' life - is now a legal service, which offers access to a library of more than 5 million tracks that can be played through a computer for £9.95 a month, and a version has now been created for mobile phones.

There have been murmurings of other, more technological means of enforcement. Microsoft, which makes software that prevents legally downloaded content from being copied, has floated the idea of introducing media players that recognise - and block - pirated content.

But the debate about whether such software - known as digital rights management (DRM) - may provide a silver-bullet solution for labels has largely been lost.

When people realised that DRM software would prevent them from making a personal copy of a track they had bought legitimately from iTunes - for instance to play on their phone - they complained in huge numbers. The labels have now begun offering DRM-free tracks on iTunes.

What is astonishing is just how pronounced are the parallels between the debate today and that in 2000 (and how little labels seem to have learnt). Then, they were suing Napster in the one breath, and in the next doing deals with it that would result in the service becoming legal.

Now it is the ISPs at whom they point their fingers, saying that they are not pulling their weight with enforcement. Yet most record-label executives agree that the near-term solution is for ISPs to offer unlimited access to a large music library as part of a customer's broadband package - and share in the revenue.

In France, such services already exist - for a supplement of €6 (£4.75) on top of the monthly package.

In Britain, it is the mobile phone companies that tend to have provoked the labels' most progressive instincts. Vodafone gives customers access to a library of 1.5 million songs for £8 a month on top of their existing tariff, using a service called MusicStation. This year Nokia will introduce its Comes With Music phone, which will sync directly with Universal's catalogue, the minute the customer signs the contract with an operator.

To its credit the BPI, which represents labels in Britain, is doing its best avoid the need for legislation by coming to an agreement with the ISPs about their role, and a total of 150 prosecutions in the past five years suggests that it does not really see hard-nosed enforcement as viable - or desirable - in the long term.

But the sooner labels realise that the greatest priority is to reorganise their business models - so that the ISPs are parties with whom they can share revenue, rather than scold - the better.

That way they can also begin to rebuild the confidence of fans, many of whom are rightly baffled that, against all the odds, the digital age has in many ways made legal music harder, rather than easier, to access.

What Women Want (Maybe)
Andy Newman

LADIES! Behold the splendor of the nude male form: sleek and powerful, a miracle of sculpted sinew, striding confidently across the sand or stretching out before you in ever-uncoiling glory.

On second thought, perhaps you’d prefer not to.

So say scientists at the frontiers of research on the eternal question of what women find erotic, the latest answer to which seems to be: not naked guys, or at least not simply naked guys.

“For heterosexual women,” a researcher, Meredith Chivers, says in a new documentary about bisexuality called “Bi the Way,” which was shown at the NewFest film festival in New York last Friday, “looking at a naked man walking on the beach is about as exciting as looking at landscapes.”

Dr. Chivers, a research fellow at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto, says she has data to support this assertion. She recently published results of a study in which she showed people video clips of naked men and women in various sexual and nonsexual situations and measured their genital arousal.

Heterosexual women, Dr. Chivers and her colleagues found, were no more excited by athletic naked men doing yoga or tossing stones into the ocean than they were by the control footage: long pans of the snowcapped Himalayas. When straight women viewed a video of a naked woman doing calisthenics, on the other hand, their blood flow increased significantly.

What really matters to women, Dr. Chivers said, at least in the somewhat artificial setting of watching movies while intimately hooked up to a device called a photoplethysmograph, is not the gender of the actor, but the degree of sensuality. Even more than the naked exercisers, they were aroused by videos of masturbation, and more still by graphic videos of couples making love. Women with women, men with men, men with women: it did not seem to matter much to her female subjects, Dr. Chivers said.

“Women physically don’t seem to differentiate between genders in their sex responses, at least heterosexual women don’t,” she said. “For heterosexual women, gender didn’t matter. They responded to the level of activity.”

Dr. Chivers’s work adds to a growing body of scientific evidence that places female sexuality along a continuum between heterosexuality and homosexuality, rather than as an either-or phenomenon.

“She’s pinpointing what’s kind of obvious, and yet unexplored: that women are so fluid in their sexuality,” one of the directors of “Bi the Way,” Josephine Decker, said at an after-party for the screening at a Russian-themed gay bar in Midtown.

Even in a culture that often cycles through moments of bisexual chic — Britney and Madonna, make way for Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson (photographed smooching in Cannes, France) — and despite survey data showing that young people, in particular, are open to sexual experimentation, bisexuality still tends to be treated as a novelty, a titillating fluke, a phase or even a cover for homosexuality. Dr. Chivers herself was an author of a 2005 study using similar methods that found that men who called themselves bisexual were significantly more aroused by one gender, usually by men.

But women, some researchers say, are fundamentally different. A University of Utah researcher, Lisa M. Diamond, published a study in January in the journal Developmental Psychology that followed the love lives of 79 nonheterosexual women who variously labeled themselves lesbian, bisexual or none-of-the-above. Over 10 years, Dr. Diamond found, the women continued to be attracted to both sexes.

Women’s response to images of coupling extends even to other species, Dr. Chivers found. In a 2004 experiment, and again in the recent study, published in the December 2007 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dr. Chivers and her colleagues found women slightly but significantly aroused by footage of bonobo chimps mating. Men showed no such response.

And when Dr. Chivers asked her subjects to rate their own arousal to the videos they watched, the women, whether gay or straight, tended to give higher ratings to films showing women. “Heterosexual women are responding to women, which is counterintuitive,” Dr. Chivers said. “Why are women so turned on by watching other women?” Straight and gay men, as well as lesbians, were more predictably aroused by images of their preferred sex, Dr. Chivers found.

It is tough to know what to make of this information. Dr. Chivers makes no bold claims for it. “To conclude that women are bisexual on the basis of their sexual responding overlooks the complexity and multidimensionality of female sexuality,” she wrote in her paper. She did allow that the apparent flexibility of women “may be related to greater potential for bisexuality in women than in men.”

The makers of “Bi the Way” draw their own conclusions. “What started as a fad may have become a revolution,” a director, Brittany Blockman, says in a voiceover in the film, which traces the romantic peregrinations of five members of what a commentator calls the Whatever Generation. “But either way, it’s clear that young people are redrawing the map of sexuality.”

That’s a conclusion Dr. Chivers, for one, is not ready to draw. Ms. Blockman, 27, who holds an M.A. in medical anthropology from Harvard, said she got the idea for the film when she channel-surfed across “The O.C.” and saw Mischa Barton’s character kiss another young woman.

“When did two girls making out on mainstream teen shows become acceptable and cool?” she said in an interview. “I felt like I’d missed some kind of cultural shift.”

At the after-party for the screening, at Vlada on West 51st Street, the culture seemed to be shifting in several directions simultaneously. A woman in Ziggy Stardust makeup, wearing a prosthesis cast from a man’s penis, participated in a simulated sex act. A while later, the woman, Amy Ouzoonian, a dancer and performance artist, made out on a couch with a mannish woman in a black suit.

“You go along in life looking for that one person,” said Ms. Ouzoonian, 29. “The genitals shouldn’t really matter that much.”

A party guest, Gillian Baine, a private-school teacher (and avowed heterosexual), said that seemed about right to her.

“Young people are not wanting to pigeonhole themselves, and are doing that in a lot of ways,” said Ms. Baine, 28. “They’re feeling less constrained by norms. Or the norms are changing.”

But norms are tricky things. Ms. Decker, 27, one of the movie’s directors, seemed a little embarrassed by her own limited experience.

“The sad thing is, I desperately need to get with a girl,” she said, adding that a few stolen kisses was all she could count on the female side of her sexual ledger. “I just didn’t want it to be some random woman.”

EMI’s New Boss Sees Cracks in Music World
Tim Arango

One evening last autumn a group of about 10 artist managers, including representatives for the pop stars Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams as well as an executive who oversees the Beatles catalog, clustered around a table in an executive dining room at the London headquarters of EMI. The purpose was to size up the new boss, Guy Hands, and discuss the future of the record business.

Mr. Hands, the private equity financier who had made a fortune sprucing up pubs in England and gas stations on the German autobahn, told the gathering that Rupert Murdoch had privately scoffed at his acquisition of EMI by saying, “MySpace is going to be the future of music, not record labels.”

“I said I was going to prove him wrong,” Mr. Hands recalled in a recent interview.

It has been almost 10 months since Mr. Hands, through his private equity firm Terra Firma, bought EMI for about $6.4 billion, and by several accounts, including Mr. Hands’s own, it has been a chaotic time.

The company now wobbles under a huge debt load, a leadership vacuum — it has no chief executive and most major decisions are made by Mr. Hands — and low morale among many of its employees. Mr. Hands said about 80 percent of the $6.4 billion paid for EMI was for the music publishing unit, which owns copyrights and provides a steady flow of cash.

It is the other side of the business, recorded music, that he says he overpaid for, and could wind up selling if market conditions do not improve.

A large restructuring, announced in January, will soon lay off 1,500 to 2,000 of EMI’s roughly 5,500 employees. Most recently, the company has been negotiating the exit of Jason Flom, the chairman of Capitol Music Group who oversees recorded music in the United States.

By contrast, when a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. bought the Warner Music Group in 2003 for $2.6 billion they moved quickly to restructure: the deal closed on a Monday, a restructuring plan was announced on a Tuesday and within a month $250 million in annualized costs were slashed.

In many ways, the pains suffered by EMI are typical for the music industry in the past few years. But for many culturally attuned Britons, EMI is a cherished institution.

EMI’s corporate roots stretch back to a pioneer of recorded sound, a German-born American named Emile Berliner, who founded the Gramophone Company. As a result of a merger in the 1930s, it was renamed Electric and Musical Industries Limited.

It was 30 years later that a man named Brian Epstein walked through the doors with a tape from a new band called the Beatles. Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones and Marvin Gaye have all called EMI home.

“EMI and the companies that formed it made London a center for musical culture in a way it never was,” said Peter Martland, a professor at Cambridge University and author of “EMI: The First 100 Years. “There is a lot of history there.”

But the music business, even in good times, is not welcoming to outsiders. The sensibilities of a financier like Mr. Hands are usually starkly at odds with the folkways of a creative enterprise. Artists’ egos need stroking, and the measurement of success is not the same in music as it would be in running service stations along the autobahn.

“You have to understand the artist’s psyche to make it work,” said Jazz Summers, who manages The Verve, a band signed to EMI, and was present at the dinner last autumn.

The story has even turned comical at times. After Mr. Hands discovered that some employees were laundering costs for things that were illegal (drugs and prostitutes, he said), by itemizing them on expense reports as “fruit and flowers,” he set a strict travel and entertainment policy that required receipts for every expense.

Artists, too, have clashed more openly with Mr. Hands: the band Radiohead has fled and the singer Joss Stone has asked to be let out of her contract. The Rolling Stones, meanwhile, have been talking with other record companies about a new label. (If the Stones left EMI, it would have little impact financially, because the company would still have the rights to the band’s catalog).

“They hate him,” said Hugh Hendry, a British hedge fund manager and former EMI shareholder who had publicly criticized past management, of artists’ opinions about Mr. Hands. “He’s rude. He’s abrasive. He wants to make money. He’s the first to say to artists, ‘We are not going to pay you too much money. Now get out of my office.’ ”

A glance at Mr. Hands’s résumé is enough to suggest a clash of cultures. Mr. Hands, 49, is an Oxford-educated financier — stints at Goldman Sachs and Nomura made him rich before he founded Terra Firma in 2002 — and he and his wife own and run a chain of country house-style hotels. Mr. Hands was ranked No. 12 on the Times of London’s list of 100 most influential figures in British business and has a reputation for being outspoken. (When cheap credit dried up, he called investment bankers “whimpering dogs,” The Times of London reported.)

Terra Firma’s portfolio of 25 companies ranges across industries, from a landfill operator to a betting shop to a company that leases jet airplanes. Mr. Hands retained the earlier management in just one of the 25, William Hill, which runs sports betting outlets.

So when he took over at EMI he entered a culture that none of his earlier experience had prepared him for. “It was like we had unlocked years of internal battles with a psychotherapy session,” he said. “It was extraordinary.”

At first managers gave Mr. Hands the benefit of the doubt — they had seen their business decline and were desperate for a new approach.

“He said, this is what I do,” said Mr. Summers. “I took over failed pubs, and it worked. I took over failed service stations in Germany, and it worked. We put in new toilets. At first, I thought he was bright.”

But according to Mr. Hands, the company was doing worse than commonly thought. An analysis by McKinsey and KPMG found that EMI had lost £750 million ($1.5 billion) from selling new music over the last five years.

“We didn’t believe it at first,” he said, explaining that the figures that EMI previously reported counted sales of re-releases of music from old acts like the Beatles as new music revenue.

“They were doing everything they could to hide the fact that they were losing huge amounts of money in new music,” he said. “The good news was they were making a fortune in catalog.”

So far this year EMI’s market share in the United States has declined to 8.8 percent from 10.7 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the largest drop among the four major music companies. An album from its top-selling band Coldplay will be out Tuesday, and robust sales could polish EMI’s image.

But even this would belie tension within the company, as Coldplay agreed to release the album only on the condition that EMI pay for the band’s management to hire its own marketing and publicity team, rather than rely on EMI employees.

For EMI, the news became a little worse as the credit crisis grew. Last year Citigroup, which also advised EMI’s previous board in the sale, lent Terra Firma nearly $5 billion to finance the deal. The timing couldn’t have been worse for the investment bank. “The loan was done at the very end of the credit boom,” Mr. Hands said.

As a result, Citigroup has been unable to syndicate the debt, giving Citigroup leverage over EMI should the company start hemorrhaging money. If the debt were spread among numerous investors, EMI would have more breathing room.

In a recent letter to his investors, Mr. Hands wrote: “Clearly, this is a time when all banks are under tremendous pressure, but this is not ideal for EMI. In all leveraged buyouts, your bank is your partner, and we have worked hard, and continue to work hard, to see if there are ways to help Citigroup syndicate or sell down this loan.”

From the beginning, Mr. Hands did little to ingratiate himself either to EMI’s own employees or executives within the industry, a famously clubby business wary of outsiders. He acknowledged that he is not a music person, and has turned down invitations to visit the recording studio to watch artists’ recording sessions.

EMI also instituted a ban on international travel without prior approval and barred employees from attending industry events “unless these are specific profit delivering activities.”

Earlier this year Mr. Hands spoke at a private equity conference in Munich and was asked the difference between the work habits of the music and finance industries. “I said Terra Firma people get in very early in the morning, work through the day, and go home,” he said. “In contrast, people in the music industry get in to work later, work later and then go out late to the clubs and look for bands.”

This, according to Mr. Hands, is what set off a storm of protest from artists and managers in the British press.

“He had this disastrous publicity campaign,” Mr. Summers said. “I thought it was terrible for the staff. And he was saying artists were all lazy.”

Mr. Hands’s vision appears to be this: split the marketing function from the development of talent — called “A&R” for “artist and repertoire” in the parlance of the music business; and sharply cut costs by reducing artist advances and paying less on marketing music.

In a confidential business plan showed to investors last year, Terra Firma said one way to reduce costs would be to use social networking sites to “source new acts and as a means to test public reaction to individual acts.”

“Getting rid of management teams and starting afresh is something we’ve always done,” Mr. Hands said. And some of the biggest new hires have come from outside the music industry. An executive from Google was hired to run the digital business, and the creator of Second Life, the Web-based virtual world, was recently hired to work on digital initiatives.

In that document, Terra Firma projected that EMI’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization would grow from £167 million ($325 million) in 2007 to £580 million ($1.1 billion) in 2010, growth that seems at odds with industry trends. (Merrill Lynch, for example, projects that the Ebitda of Warner Music will decline slightly over that time, from $461 million to $444 million.)

To keep costs down, Mr. Hands has clamped down on expenses while he has waited — the company is still waiting — for widespread layoffs. But despite those measures, the company will not meet a cash-flow target as part of its covenants with its lender Citigroup. So he negotiated a three-month extension.

“We both agreed that June was far too early,” Mr. Hands said, noting that Terra Firma had a cash reserve of about $500 million raised from a Canadian pension fund. “It looks like the company will be fine by September. If it’s not fine, we have a cash reserve that will get us through to 2010.”

But the fate of EMI as an independent record company is unclear. Many within the industry expect the company to once again fall into a dance with Warner Music — the two companies have attempted numerous mergers in recent years. There has been wide speculation that if EMI were to fail to meet its debt covenant in September, Citigroup would step in and force EMI to merge with Warner.

For now, Mr. Hands is trying to fix EMI’s business so that its fate remains in his control rather than Citigroup’s. “It’s going to take a lot less arrogance and a lot more honesty,” he said. “It’s going to take a new direction, new management and change.”
But it’s not clear that EMI’s place in the music business — or as a cherished English institution like the BBC — will survive either way. “I think the analogy to the BBC is very good,” said Rupert Perry, a former senior executive who worked at EMI for more than 30 years. “I wouldn’t say it’s that way today. In its time and history, it dominated the world.”

MySpace Might Have Friends, but It Wants Ad Money
Brian Stelter

When the News Corporation added MySpace to its portfolio nearly three years ago, it expected that if its base of 16 million users kept growing — and each user kept adding friends, sharing photos and swapping flirty messages — the advertising dollars would roll in.

The social networking site has grown — to 118 million worldwide users — and the flirtations have not stopped. But the cash is not coming in as quickly as the company had hoped.

In the fiscal year that ends in two weeks, the News Corporation unit that encompasses MySpace will miss its $1 billion revenue target. When the News Corporation announced the projected shortfall in April, several analysts downgraded the company, sending shares down 5 percent.

With an eye toward monetization, MySpace is being redesigned beginning Wednesday with a new home page, which will be less cluttered and more hospitable to advertising. (The home page will also feature a “splash page” for an ad about the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight.”) The redesign, to be done by early fall, will include a new navigation bar, search tool and video player.

The redesign is intended to address a problem of social networking sites, which is that many user pages have the aesthetic appeal of a 14-year-old’s high-school locker. But there are still many questions left about the advertising value of social networks.

In the last few months, the bloom has come off social networking’s rose. MySpace and its chief competitors, Facebook and Bebo, all have ambitious plans for making money but not enough proof that the plans are working.

“The jury’s still out on MySpace’s ability to monetize,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.

The sites seem desirable to advertisers based on the traffic they receive. MySpace has an American audience of 73 million, and Facebook counts 36 million, according to comScore. (Worldwide, Facebook tied MySpace for the first time in April, averaging about 115 million users for each site.) Users spend hours on the sites.

But because MySpace commands a majority of all the money spent on social networking, it is viewed as a bellwether for the growing industry.

On a conference call last month, Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer for the News Corporation, toned down the grandiose expectations for social networking advertising and acknowledged that selling spots on personal profile and group pages is not easy.

Social networking represents an “entirely new form of Internet activity,” Mr. Chernin said.

When MySpace’s parent, Fox Interactive Media, announced a three-year, $900 million advertising pact with Google in 2006, analysts started placing big bets that social networking would be a major new revenue stream. While the Web is becoming more social, it is hard to wring profits from it.

Indeed, the balloon of unrealistic prospects is losing air. The attitude change was first detected at the end of January when, one year into its $900 million pact with MySpace, Google said that social networking inventory was not earning money as well as expected. (More recently, Google said the situation was improving.)

The attitude change was confirmed in April when Fox Interactive Media said that it would miss its revenue target. By then, the chief revenue officer for the unit had been dismissed.

Mr. Nathanson, the analyst, said that MySpace’s perceived shortfall had been frustrating. “We don’t have much conviction in the long-term ability to grow this business based on what we’ve seen lately,” he said.

Other analysts hold a more bullish view. Anthony DiClemente of Lehman Brothers recommended the News Corporation’s stock on Friday partly because of MySpace’s 25 to 30 percent year-over-year revenue growth.

MySpace, naturally, agrees with the more optimistic view.

“We’re seeing the dollars come in,” said Jeff Berman, who was promoted to president of sales and marketing for MySpace in April, when Fox Interactive Media’s sales force was rearranged. Revenue per user is said to be up 50 percent over last year, but the site is still making only about $6 to $7 per user per year.

EMarketer estimates that MySpace will post $755 million in revenue in the fiscal year ending June 30. MySpace would not comment on the estimate. About a third of the revenue is expected to come from the Google ad pact. For the year, Facebook is estimated to earn $265 million in ad revenue.

The companies are acting swiftly to solve the social networking riddle. MySpace is constantly issuing press releases on new features or partnerships. The site is keen on hypertargeting, which places users in “buckets,” based on their interests, and delivers ads accordingly. Nearly a third of the buys on MySpace are hypertargeted now, Mr. Berman said.

Facebook has a similar targeting system, called social ads. Advertisers choose an audience — say, Florida college students who watch “SportsCenter” on ESPN; there are 10,680 Florida college students on Facebook — then create a simple ad and set a budget. MySpace’s version, called SelfServe, is being beta-tested.

Bebo, the third-largest social network site in the United States, was bought by AOL, a unit of Time Warner, last month. The company said that it intended to use AOL’s advertising entity to monetize the site.

But for many media buyers, these advertising models remain experimental. At the same time, ad budgets are softening. Last December, eMarketer forecasted $1.6 billion in social network spending in 2008. In April, it revised that figure to $1.4 billion.

“The challenge is that all these new forms of advertising are more difficult to plan, measure and quantify than advertisers are used to, and that has impacted spending growth,” Debra Aho Williamson, an eMarketer analyst, wrote in April.

Mr. Berman of MySpace said that “with new advertisers, there is certainly an education process,” and that the sales staff was trying to oblige the advertisers. For example, executives from Procter & Gamble visited MySpace’s headquarters in April for meetings about social network advertising strategies.

Yet there are concerns that social network users do not view ads, no matter how carefully the ads are placed. “Users’ attentions are the most scarce element on most social networks,” Chamath Palihapitiya, the vice president for product marketing at Facebook, said. “A successful ad product has to capture that scarce attention and engage it in a way that’s social and relevant.”

So what can speed up ad fortunes for social networks? Social ads are Facebook’s first step. They can take social actions, such as a user’s identifying himself as a Nike fan, and pair it with an ad tailored to that user’s friends. “Your friend is a fan of Nike,” the ad would say.

“Making ad campaigns even more effective on the site is part of what we’re doing” with the changes, Mr. Berman said. He noted that home-page ad displays, like last Thursday’s for “The Incredible Hulk” and this Wednesday’s for “The Dark Knight,” can reach 40 million users on a given day, “bigger than the biggest broadcast television shows.” Chris DeWolfe, the president of MySpace, thinks the skeptics should take a deep breath. “We are far ahead of where Google or Yahoo were at this stage of growth,” Mr. DeWolfe said.

Mr. Palihapitiya of Facebook takes a similar view. “This is a journey that is going to unfold over the next five to 10 years. That’s when the winners will emerge,” he said.

Small Publishers Feel Power of Amazon’s ‘Buy’ Button
Doreen Carvajal

Amazon, the online retailing giant with a fast-rising share of the consumer book market, has adopted the literary equivalent of a nuclear option for rebellious publishers who balk at its demands.

In the latest in a series of disputes over the division of revenue from online sales, Amazon has disabled the “buy now with 1 click” icon on its British Web site for hundreds of books published by the British unit of Hachette Livre, from back-list Stephen King novels to, naturally, “The Hachette Guide to French Wine.”

The button allows registered users to purchase titles instantly, with free shipping. Customers can still buy the affected books, but they have to navigate to an open marketplace that links them to third-party sellers of new or used books. And they have to pay for shipping.

The struggle comes at a time that Amazon’s power as a bookseller is increasing, with sales growing online in an otherwise tepid global book market. Some publishers fear that with the introduction of Amazon’s Kindle electronic reader, the company will rise into a position to be able to demand more concessions.

“The buy button is their weapon of choice and that’s how they impose market discipline,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, an American trade group that also briefly lost the buy icon, for titles sold from BackinPrint.com, a print-on-demand service for infrequently purchased works. “This is such a clear indication that once they have the clout they are willing to use it to the full extent that they can. It’s ugly with Amazon and will probably get uglier.”

Amazon is saying little about its tactics. But bloggers have been organizing letter-writing campaigns and petition drives accusing Amazon, which bills itself as “Earth’s most customer-centric company,” of transforming itself into the bully of the publishing industry.

Damien Peachey, an Amazon spokesman in Britain, declined to comment on the dispute with Hachette Livre, a subsidiary of the French media company Lagardère. It is the second-biggest English-language trade publisher in the world, after the Random House division of Bertelsmann.

“We wouldn’t discuss publicly our relationship with publishers,” Mr. Peachey said.

He also refused to discuss the strategy of disabling “buy” icons, offering the same reason.

Amazon’s communications office in its Seattle headquarters did not respond to repeated telephone calls.

In Britain, where Amazon opened a digital store in 1998 and where it now commands about 16 percent of the overall book market, publishers participate in tough annual negotiation sessions with Amazon about their cut. In markets where it does not have such a commanding position, like France or Germany, negotiations are much less demanding, according to publishers.

The first to spar with Amazon this year in Britain was Bloomsbury, the British publisher of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Before they reached a compromise on undisclosed terms, hundreds of Bloomsbury’s older, back-list titles lost buy buttons on the Amazon site in Britain.

Bloomsbury best sellers like “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and “The Kite Runner,” which are big earners for Amazon, were spared the same treatment.

Then the struggle with Hachette broke into public view this month when the publisher’s chief executive, Tim Hely Hutchinson, sent a defiant letter to many of his authors explaining the “oddities” of vanishing buy buttons. The online retailer, he said, was demanding a bigger slice. Publishers traditionally sell books to retailers at a discount off the recommended retail price, but Amazon was demanding more than its existing 50 percent.

“Amazon seems each year to go from one publisher to another, making increasing demands in order to achieve richer terms at our expense and sometimes at yours,” Mr. Hutchinson said in the letter. “If this continued, it would not be long before Amazon got virtually all of the revenue that is presently shared between author, publisher, retailer, printer and other parties.”

Mr. Hutchinson declined, through a spokeswoman, to comment further, and Amazon has not specified how much more it is demanding.

Claire Alexander, a literary agent in London and former president of the British Association of Authors’ Agents, said authors were reluctant to speak out about the issue because of the “power of Amazon.”

“This is about profit and who gets the profit and what we’re beginning to see is that Amazon can be very ruthless in negotiations,” she said.

For now, the dispute is unresolved. So the buy buttons are missing from older titles like “Labyrinth” by Kate Mosse or “Duma Key,” by Stephen King, who still managed to get favored treatment for titles in his “Dark Tower” series. Many Hachette titles have also been dropped from Amazon promotions suggesting other titles for customers in their favorite genres.

The dispute with Hachette is not the first in which Amazon has resorted to removing the “buy now” buttons for certain books. In the spring it started disabling the icons for some small publishers in the United States that resisted Amazon’s demand that they use an Amazon-owned company, BookSurge, for print-on-demand services. Amazon is the dominant seller of such titles.

As a result, some smaller publishers in the United States have signed service agreements with Amazon. But a few refused Amazon’s demand to shift the instant printing of their books to BookSurge, which they say has been demanding a discount of as much as 52 percent on the retail price.

“They’re still threatening us and other publishers, but they haven’t flipped the switch yet,” said Angela Hoy, the co-owner of Booklocker.com, a print-on-demand publisher in Bangor, Me., which filed a lawsuit in May seeking an injunction to keep Amazon from imposing BookSurge’s services on publishers.

Publish America, a print-on-demand book publisher in Frederick, Md., has not been so lucky, with the buy button vanishing on thousands of its titles, from “Drugstore Jesus” to “Demon Passing.” The company’s spokesman, Shawn Street, takes an optimistic view of the situation.

“There are plenty of other purchase icons,” Ms. Street said in an e-mail message, referring to the alternative of purchasing books through third-party booksellers on Amazon’s open marketplace. “In the wake of the controversy, we have discovered that our sales through Amazon.com have actually increased.”

"Heavily encrypted computer files" cracked

Nuclear Ring Reportedly Had Advanced Design
David E. Sanger

American and international investigators say that they have found the electronic blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon on computers that belonged to the nuclear smuggling network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist, but that they have not been able to determine whether they were sold to Iran or the smuggling ring’s other customers.

The plans appear to closely resemble a nuclear weapon that was built by Pakistan and first tested exactly a decade ago. But when confronted with the design by officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency last year, Pakistani officials insisted that Dr. Khan, who has been lobbying in recent months to be released from the loose house arrest that he has been under since 2004, did not have access to Pakistan’s weapons designs.

In interviews in Vienna, Islamabad and Washington over the past year, officials have said that the weapons design was far more sophisticated than the blueprints discovered in Libya in 2003, when Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi gave up his country’s nuclear weapons program. Those blueprints were for a Chinese nuclear weapon that dated to the mid-1960s, and investigators found that Libya had obtained them from the Khan network.

But the latest design found on Khan network computers in Switzerland, Bangkok and several other cities around the world is half the size and twice the power of the Chinese weapon, with far more modern electronics, the investigators say. The design is in electronic form, they said, making it easy to copy — and they have no idea how many copies of it are now in circulation.

Investigators said the evidence that the Khan network was trafficking in a tested, compact and efficient bomb design was particularly alarming, because if a country or group obtained the bomb design, the technological information would significantly shorten the time needed to build a weapon. Among the missiles that could carry the smaller weapon, according to some weapons experts, is the Iranian Shahab III, which is based on a North Korean design.

However, in recent days top American intelligence officials, who declined to speak about the discovery on the record because the information is classified, said that they had been unable to determine whether Iran or other countries had obtained the weapons design. Pakistan has refused to allow American investigators to directly interview Dr. Khan, who is considered a hero there as the father of its nuclear program. In recent weeks the only communications about him between the United States and Pakistan’s new government have been warnings from Washington not to allow him to be released.

Dr. Khan’s illicit nuclear network was broken up in early 2004; President Bush declared that shattering the operation was a major intelligence coup for the United States. Since then, evidence has emerged that the network sold uranium enrichment technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, and investigators are still pursing leads that he may have done business with other countries as well.

While Libya gave up its nuclear program, North Korea and Iran have not, despite intense international pressure, sanctions, and repeated offers of incentives to do so.

On Sunday, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said that the administration remained concerned about the possibility that additional plans have been disseminated, but he did not address any of the latest revelations about the Khan network.

“We’re very concerned about the A.Q. Khan network, both in terms of what they were doing by purveying enrichment technology and also the possibility that there would be weapons-related technology associated with it,” he told reporters traveling with Mr. Bush from Paris to London on Sunday.

“That was a concern. That’s one of the reasons we rolled up the network here three years or so ago, and fairly successfully. And part of that rolling up was to roll up the network and part of it was to pursue what kind of relationship the A.Q. Khan network had to individual countries with which they are dealing.”

The existence of the compact bomb design began to become public in recent weeks after Switzerland announced that it had destroyed a huge stockpile of documents, including a weapons design, that were found in the computers of a family in Switzerland, the Tinners, who over the years played critical roles in Khan’s operation.

In May, Switzerland’s president, Pascal Couchepin, announced that more than 30,000 documents had been shredded, saying the government acted to keep them from “getting into the hands of a terrorist organization or an unauthorized state,” according to Swiss news accounts.

But American and I.A.E.A. officials say that destroying one copy of an electronic file was more satisfying to the Swiss than it was reassuring to them. It is unclear whether the Swiss knew that some of the same material had been found in other countries by I.A.E.A. investigators.

Some details of the Swiss action and the bomb design have appeared recently in Swiss newspapers and The Guardian of London and in The Washington Post on Sunday.

The Swiss have provided little information about exactly what they destroyed, but I.A.E.A. inspectors watched the destruction and American intelligence officials were deeply involved. “We were very happy they were destroyed,” one senior intelligence official said Friday. But he added that “what else is out there” remains a mystery. The Swiss destruction of the equipment came in response in the case of Urs Tinner, who has been in custody for more than four years but has not yet stood trial.

Two former Bush administration officials said they believed Mr. Tinner had provided information to the Central Intelligence Agency while he was still working for Dr. Khan, including some of the information that helped American and British officials intercept shipments of centrifuges on their way to Libya in 2003.

When news of that interception became public and Libya turned its $100 million program over to American and I.A.E.A. officials, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan forced Dr. Khan to issue a vague confession and then placed him under house arrest. Dr. Khan has since renounced that confession in Pakistani and Western media, saying he made it only to save Pakistan greater embarrassment.

It was not until 2005 that officials of the I.A.E.A., which is based in Vienna, finally cracked the hard drives on the Khan computers recovered around the world. And as they sifted through files and images on the hard drives, investigators found tons of material — orders for equipment, names and places where the Khan network operated, even old love letters. In all, they found several terabytes of data, a huge amount to sift through.

“There was stuff about dealing with Iranians in 2003, about how to avoid intelligence agents,” said one official who had reviewed it. But the most important document was a digitized design for a nuclear bomb, one that investigators quickly recognized as Pakistani. “It was plain where this came from,” one senior official of the I.A.E.A. said. “But the Pakistanis want to argue that the Khan case is closed, and so they have said very little.”

In public statements, Pakistani officials have insisted that the Khan “incident,” as the call it, is now history, and they publicly declared nearly two years ago that their investigations are over.

A senior Pakistani official, interviewed in Islamabad in April, said that the information provided by the I.A.E.A. was “vague and incomplete,” and he insisted that because Dr. Khan’s laboratories specialized in the manufacture of the equipment needed to enrich uranium, “he was not involved in weapons designs.”

But investigators have no doubt that he was the source of the digitized bomb design. “Clearly, someone had tried to modernize it, to improve the electronics,” one said. “There were handwritten references to the electronics, and the question is, who was working on this?”

The officials said that parts of the design were coded so that they could be transferred quickly to an automated manufacturing system for the production of parts.

Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting from London.

MySpace Legions March Into Movies
Richard Brooks

Social networking has moved from the computer screen to the big screen. The first cinema production made with the help of contributions from an online community is to receive its world premiere later this month.

For Faintheart, a comedy centring on a battle reenactment club, the director and much of the music were chosen by users of the networking site MySpace.

The same online group was asked to compete in auditions for some of the smaller parts and users were even asked how elements of the plot should develop.

“It’s the world’s first publicly generated movie,” said Jamie Kantrowitz, vice-president of marketing for MySpace. “It’s about involving a potential audience for a movie in the making of the film itself.”

The idea may catch on as producers look for new ways to gain the attention of audiences, with MySpace already working on a screen adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s latest novel. The bestselling Brazilian author, whose novel The Alchemist has sold more than 30m copies in nearly 70 languages, is teaming up with MySpace users around the world to create a television version of The Witch of Portobello. They are asked to send in video adaptations of the 15 storylines in the book and to submit music.

“When I decided to create my first movie together with my readers, MySpace came quickly to mind,” said Coelho, who was an early convert to allowing his books to be read online. “It also has that ability to connect artists, musicians and film-makers around the world.”

The Faintheart movie, which cost £1.3m to make, will be shown in public for the first time on the closing night of the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 28. It stars Ewen Bremner, who played Spud in the 1996 film Trainspotting, and Jessica Hynes (formerly Stevenson), who appeared in The Royle Family and Shaun of the Dead.

The story revolves around Richard, played by Eddie Marsan, whose films have included Miami Vice and The Illusionist. He is a lowly sales assistant who spends his weekends dressing up as a Norse warrior with his friends. Meanwhile, his wife and son are becoming increasingly fed up with a father who seems to prefer living in the Viking age.

Faintheart may be conventional in subject and style, but the way it was put together – with elements from social networking and reality TV – marks a departure in film-making.

The idea came from Vertigo, a British production and distribution company whose films have included The Football Factory and It’s All Gone Pete Tong.

Vertigo had previously marketed some of its films on MySpace, which is owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Sunday Times. It then decided to take the idea a stage further by involving the users of the social network in making the film. The two companies approached FilmFour because of its record of making innovative films.

MySpace set up a website and asked would-be directors to send in a short film showcasing their skills. Almost 1,000 shorts arrived, which were whittled down to 12. A panel from the film industry, including the actress Sienna Miller, cut that down to three. The final shortlist was put back on MySpace and the website’s users chose the winning film-maker. A total of 500,000 votes were cast online at various stages of the process.

They chose Vito Rocco, who, despite his Italian name, is English. He is an award-winning maker of short films and promotions. “Vito already had an idea for a movie and a script that he was developing,” said Rupert Preston, head of distribution at Vertigo. “This was what has turned out to be Faintheart.”

After the MySpace community had chosen the director, users were invited to audition online by posting videos of themselves on the website for 10 of the smaller roles. About 20,000 auditioned. They were asked to send in jokes for the film as they followed its development online.

Next came the music, with MySpace users choosing the 10 songs and some of the bands in the film. Finally, as it was being shot – in the West Midlands – scenes were posted online, so users could even influence the plot with their comments.

“The nearest analogy is with a band or group who have some new songs which they play at gigs,” said Peter Carlton, senior commissioning executive at FilmFour. “They try them out and refine them according to how they go down with their audience before they record them.”

Arctic Monkeys were one of the first bands to come to prominence via the internet. Lily Allen has also made extensive use of online promotion.

“The British film industry has recently suffered from a lack of connection between movie-makers and their audience,” Carlton said. “With the internet, we should connect again.”

TV’s Not-So-Great Pyramid

A documentary discovers 'The Lost Pyramid' of Giza. It turns out that 'Lost' is a relative term.
Rod Nordland

"The Lost Pyramid" is one of those rare documentaries with a revelation so stunning, it's made headlines before anyone has seen it. The film, debuting next week on the History Channel, follows a team of archeologists as they unearth Egypt's fourth Great Pyramid at Giza, which, as the title says, has been lost for years to the desert sands. Even more amazing, this new pyramid (built by the Fourth-dynasty Pharaoh Djedefre) is actually the highest one of all—27 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. "I'm a pyramid man, and what I've seen now has made me change many things," says Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. "Every history book in every language is going to be rewritten."

The only problem is that statement—indeed, the entire documentary—is arguably as solid as the crumbling pyramid itself. Egyptologists have known about Djedefre's pyramid for years. It was discovered a century ago—or rediscovered, since tomb raiders and stonemasons had been picking it over for centuries. If it hasn't been explored until recent years, that's in part because the pyramid sits close to a military exclusion zone, probably the site of nearby surface-to-air missiles. For the record, the structure isn't really on the Giza plateau, which is five miles to the south, and while it may appear larger than Cheops, that's only because Djedefre's hill is so high—the Great Pyramid is more than twice as tall in absolute terms. Some Egyptologists say that the slope of Djedefre's walls—60 degrees, as opposed to the 52-degree slope of the major pyramids—mean that the star of "The Lost Pyramid" is really just a sun temple. "It has never been lost," says Vassil Dobrev of Cairo's French Institute of Archaeology, "and it is not even a pyramid."

How could this happen? Very easily. "The Lost Pyramid" is just the latest entry in the competition among documentary makers to find the latest new old thing, especially in Egyptology. Atlantic, the producers of "The Lost Pyramid," is also working on an eight-part series for the National Geographic Channel on Egypt, and has done three King Tut documentaries and at least three others on ancient Egypt, with "several more" in production, says Atlantic CEO Anthony Geffen. Among them, "Egypt's Lost Tomb" and "Nefertiti Resurrected" speculate that Nefertiti, who may or may not have been Tut's stepmother, may be in a new tomb, known as KV63, found near his. The Discovery Channel has "Egypt's New Tomb Revealed," about a find in the Valley of the Kings, but its own experts concede there's "nothing definitive" to say that it is even a tomb—though there is the supposedly suggestive evidence of a fragment of an inscription reading PA-ATEN, which could possibly be part of the former name given to Ankhesanamun, Tut's presumed wife. Anyway, you get the idea. The pyramids may have been picked clean by tomb raiders and archeologists of yore, but put them on TV and there's still gold to be found in them.

Not surprisingly, the producers of "The Lost Pyramid" say they've got the real deal. "We don't do films on Egypt unless there is something new to say," says Geffen, who maintains that the Djedefre discoveries are not generally known while also discounting the results from a 1995 excavation of the site because there is no final published report. "When we do something new, these things get four times the ratings than normal. You make it right and it will do well." "The Lost Pyramid" certainly looks like a high-ticket item. It opens with an attractive blond narrator, Tessa Dunlop, intoning "assassination, incest, megalomania, feuding families" to a dramatic soundtrack. (Identified on the program as a historian, she's a British TV and radio host working on her master's degree in history.) The film is filled with ambitious, computer-generated reconstructions of what the temple might have looked like in 2500 B.C., give or take a few years. Standing on the rubble-strewn hillock of Abu Rawash, an observer can see that Djedefre's pyramid is in an impressive position, with a view of the three Great Pyramids and, on a clear day, other pyramids even farther away, at Saqqara. The burial chamber, now fully excavated, had been dug deep into bedrock, and seeing it fully exposed is a window into ancient engineering feats that are possibly the most enduring mystery of the pyramids.

If that's what you'd call this pile of rocks. Dobrev ticks off a list of reasons "The Lost Pyramid" doesn't measure up to its billing. There is only one pit for burial of the sun boats that take the resurrected pharaoh to the afterworld; nearly all pyramids come equipped with two of them. No inscriptions of Djedefre have been found inside, just objects—which could have been brought by cult worshipers to a sun temple—and the objects are of quartzite, which the ancients associated with the sun. Though interviewed on camera for "The Lost Pyramid," Dobrev's contrary views are given short shrift in the program; he says he suspects Djedefre's pyramid is at another place altogether, Zawyet el-Aryan, south of Giza, where the remains of a pyramid with a 420,000-square-foot base has been found, far bigger than the thing at Abu Ruwash, and also with Djedefre's name on a foundation stone, he claims. Most archeologists wouldn't dare to contradict Hawass, the pharaoh of Egyptian archeology, who participates in most of these TV documentaries (he's National Geographic's "explorer in residence"). "I was born in Bulgaria and moved to France, so I know what it is to be free, and I didn't come to Egypt not to be," Dobrev says. "It's clear, clear, clear, this is not a pyramid; it's a complete perversion of archeological fact to say it is."

Name-calling isn't likely to stop the filmmakers. Hawass reckons only a third of Egypt's monuments have been discovered, and the record box-office take from last year's King Tut traveling exhibition has inspired a second show, now in the planning stages. New excavation tools have become available, too: ground-penetrating radar, miniature cameras on robots to penetrate the unexplored interiors of Cheops' burial chambers, nonintrusive CT scanners to use on fragile mummies. "It's a whole new era where we start to look under the sand where you couldn't before," says Geffen. "It's almost like 'Egypt CSI'." And with any luck, these shows will pull in "CSI"-size ratings, too.

Anti-Performance Royalty Bill Nearing House Majority Support

More politicians have lent their support to the Local Radio Freedom Act, as 211 House members have signed on for the resolution, which takes a stand against the proposed new royalty rates for terrestrial radio. With Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY), Andre Carson (D-IN), Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) backing the resolution, it only needs three more Reps for a majority of the House. The Senate version of the act also has two more co-sponsors as well, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Barrasso (R-WY).

"The chorus of lawmakers recognizing the immense promotional value provided by local radio airplay grows louder with each passing day," said NAB EVP Dennis Wharton. "RIAA may prefer to dismiss growing Congressional opposition to their performance tax effort, but to do so would be as foolish as disregarding the $2 billion dollars in music sales revenue generated annually through local radio airplay."

Earlier this week, a Congressional hearing was held on the Performance Rights Act, with both sides of the argument testifying.

FCC Chief Backs XM-Sirius Union

Satellite radio deal has strings
Cecilia Kang

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said Sunday that he will support a merger between the nation's sole satellite radio operators, XM and Sirius, a decision that could remove the last regulatory hurdle in the lengthy and heavily criticized move to make the companies one.

Martin came to the decision after the companies agreed last week to several commitments intended to prevent the monopoly from raising programming prices and from stifling competition among radiomakers, aides to the chairman said in an interview Sunday.

Critics have argued that a merger of Washington, D.C.-based XM and Sirius of New York would hurt consumers who would have fewer choices of programming and radio receivers and who would be charged higher prices because of a lack of rivals.

As early as this week, Martin is expected seek approval of the merger, which at least two of the remaining four commissioners also must agree to, the aides said.

"As I have indicated before, this is an unusual situation," Martin said in a statement. "I am recommending that with the voluntary commitments [Sirius and XM] have offered, on balance, this transaction would be in the public interest."

The companies have agreed to:

•Place price caps on programming and offer a la carte programming so subscribers can pick programs they want and not have to subscribe to all channels or certain packages. Officials with XM and Sirius said they would offer radios configured for a la carte programming within three months of the merger.

•Open their technology standards to any radio-device manufacturer, paving the way for consumers to buy radio receivers from retail stores. Currently, subscribers must buy directly from XM and Sirius, or through car manufacturers that have installed the devices in new cars.

•Provide interoperable radios. Current subscribers have radios that deliver programming from either XM or Sirius. Within one year of the merger, those listeners will receive radios that could access programming from both providers.

•Each set aside 4 percent of their radio spectrums, or 12 channels, for non-commercial services such as educational and public-safety programming. They would lease another 12 channels for programming run by minorities and women, groups that are underrepresented in entertainment broadcasting.

If the merger is approved, it would be a major reversal of FCC rules. The agency distributed licenses to XM and Sirius in 1997 on the condition that the two satellite companies never merge.

But both companies have struggled financially, with heavy operating costs for contracts with such celebrity hosts as Howard Stern and Martha Stewart. Seventeen months ago, XM and Sirius announced they would merge, saying it was their best chance at surviving an increasingly competitive marketplace with Internet radio, MP3 music players and terrestrial radio. If they combined, the companies would have 17 million subscribers.

After a lengthy review, the Justice Department approved the merger in March, saying a monopoly satellite radio provider would not harm consumers because consumers have other alternatives.

Several lawmakers, including Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on antitrust and consumer rights, balked at the Justice Department's decision and urged the FCC to reject the merger.

The most vocal critic of the merger has been the National Association of Broadcasters, which said having just one satellite radio company would hamper competition.

White Space Group: Amnesty for Illegal Wireless Mic Use
Nate Anderson

The White Spaces Coalition has some strong words for one of its harshest critics, the wireless microphone industry. In a letter to the FCC yesterday, lawyers for the Coalition pointed out that "most wireless microphone use is unlawful" and they went after mic maker Shure for its "scare tactic" approach to the white spaces issue. But the bluster was really just prelude to a compromise proposal designed to smooth the way for unlicensed white spaces broadband devices by sidelining one of their biggest critics. The Coalition now supports an anti-interference plan that includes not just spectrum sensing, but also "protection beacons."

If your church uses wireless microphones, it's probably doing so in violation of FCC rules. Such "Part 74 devices" are only to be used under license by broadcasters, but have in fact popped up in just about every concert hall, house of worship, and Broadway show. While technically illegal, no one—certainly not the FCC—is going to send the shock troops into Good Shepherd Evangelical Free Church to rip the lapel mic from the preacher's lapel. It just wouldn't look good.

So despite the illegal usage, the Coalition supports an "amnesty" for mic users. Its compromise plan to avoid interference is to allow the use of "protection beacons," cheap transmitters that would alert any white spaces devices in the area not to broadcast on particular channels. Shure claimed in an earlier filing that such devices would cost $1,000, but the Coalition called this an "outrageous estimate" that was used to scare people into rallying churches and theaters to its side. In reality, said the Coalition, it would cost only $30 or $40 per beacon.

But, to support beacons, the Coalition wants to make sure that beacon use is licensed. This means expanding the FCC licensing program to include churches and theaters, making them legal, but requiring them to go through some additional paperwork to get a license. The Coalition's worry appears to be that unlicensed beacons would pop up everywhere otherwise and might hamper the effectiveness of white spaces devices.

The whole debate is a strange one for two reasons: first, the people arguing the loudest are generally breaking the rules, and second, the very existence of unlicensed wireless mics in the TV spectrum, at thousands and thousands of US churches, schools, and theaters actually provides ammunition to white spaces backers. If the mics aren't destroying television, perhaps white spaces devices won't be the TV-killers they're made out to be by broadcasters.

Two down, one to go?

When the idea of using open space in over-the-air TV spectrum for unlicensed wireless broadband was first mooted, it sounded great—more broadband! Wireless!—but it also had the whiff of gimmickry about it. Over the last year, though, the White Spaces Coalition that includes Microsoft, Google, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Phillips has mounted a determined effort to see the devices through FCC testing and eventual certification.

The foes that stand against them are three, in the proper storybook manner: wireless microphone users and manufacturers, TV broadcasters, and medical device makers. All worry about interference, and as the microphone lobby and the National Association of Broadcasters wrapped up the anti-white-spaces rhetoric last year, it became clear that the White Spaces Coalition would need to get serious or go home.

They've decided to play hard. Just in the last two weeks, we've seen a newfound commitment to compromising with opposition groups in order to advance the technology. The Coalition and GE, a major maker of medical devices, that sometimes use channel 37 in the TV spectrum for telemetry data, came to an agreement last week that would mask white space emissions on channels 36-38.

If the new compromise satisfies wireless microphone users, that could leave only the broadcasters as significant opponents of the idea. The NAB's opposition to the idea of white spaces has been ferocious, and it's not clear that any compromise will satisfy both parties. Perhaps testing this summer by the FCC of additional white spaces prototypes will provide some clear guidance going forward.

Movie Theaters Join Fight Against MPAA's Anti-DVR Initiative
Matthew Lasar

A Hollywood proposal to block DVR recording capability on some cable-distributed movies has been met with alarm by NATO—that is, the National Association of Theater Owners. The trade association's Vice President told the Federal Communications Commission yesterday that the idea, floated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), could have "a devastating effect," causing "the destruction of neighborhood movie theaters across the country."

"While NATO and its member companies generally support their studio partners on measures designed to protect intellectual property," G. Kendrick Macdowell wrote to the FCC, "it is not yet clear to us whether the underlying business model driving this IP-protection effort is in the public interest."

Collapsed distribution

As Ars Technica has reported, on Friday June 6th the FCC granted MPAA an expedited proceeding on whether to allow the big studios to cut deals with multichannel video programming distributors in which some relatively early run movies would stream without recording capability. The technology that does this, called Selectable Output Control (SOC), is already in place, but the FCC restricts its use. The MPAA has asked for a waiver on that restriction in the case of high-definition movies broadcast prior to their release as DVDs.

The law firm of Akin Gump, home to former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy, is handling the case for the MPAA. The movie studio lobby asked for the comment cycle in early May and got one in less than a month. It's a short proceeding too—comments and oppositions are due on June 25th; replies can be made through July 7th.

NATO represents over 600 movie theater companies that collectively run about 30,000 movie screens across the United States. The group's filing tries to be diplomatic about the MPAA's proposal, but what stands out in the comment is fear. "The American cinema industry certainly does not appear to have been in the Commission's contemplation when crafting either the underlying rule or the standards and procedures for obtaining a waiver," NATO writes, adding that the proposal contains the "alarming threat of collapsed distribution windows."

NATO asks the FCC to extend the comment period of this proceeding from its present length of 20 days to 45. But the trade group's filing also wants to know why MPAA is in such a hurry, and why the FCC accommodated its rush request. The group's statement expresses puzzlement at the studio's sudden need for swift action on this matter. The filing cites announced plans for early TV release of high definition movies that go back to 2006. "The argument for such swiftness appears abandoned long ago," NATO writes.

According to Macdowell's letter, NATO also contacted MPAA and asked the latter to support its request for more time. "Unfortunately, the MPAA refused," NATO discloses, "and stated that its previous request for expedited consideration made it impossible for it to consent to any more time for comments."

The movie theater association concludes by asking for more time "to carve out more common ground than the [MPAA] petition by itself. If further dialogue clarifies the business model, then NATO, and by extension the Commission, will benefit from either more precise comments in opposition, or less opposition altogether," Macdowell's filing concludes.

Meanwhile the MPAA is wasting no time in pressing its case before the Commission. On Monday two MPAA representatives met with a rep for FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. They asked for the SOC waiver "to facilitate the creation of a discrete distribution window to enable the introduction of new high-definition services to consumers." MPAA is pushing this proposal on behalf of Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers.

But you have been writing to the FCC as well. Since Ars Technica posted the link to and instructions for the Commission's public comment form (see below), Ars readers and others have submitted almost 500 statements to the agency. Most have opposed the MPAA's proposal; a few support it.

Digital TV Foreshadows Erosion of Internet Rights
Tom Yager

With regard to the free exchange of information over the Internet, we, the people, have mostly managed to hold our ground. We can thank activists, hacktivists, legislators saying "no, thanks" to money from the entertainment lobbies, and forward-thinking artists and content distributors--I'm proud that writers and publishers took the lead on this--who recognize that reach is the currency of the digital age.

We should take as a warning sign of descent down the slippery slope toward the loss of Internet freedoms Internet providers' arbitrary blocking and throttling of BitTorrent traffic. The rationale points to the bandwidth wasted by BitTorrent. That doesn't ring true. There are other flavors of traffic such as VOIP, streaming news, advertising and entertainment, photo galleries, remote PC access, Usenet repositories, denial of service attacks, and spam that consume beastly amounts of bandwidth, but somehow none of these warrants detection and control at the provider's end of the pipe. It makes one wonder, what's so special about BitTorrent that it cries out to be controlled in such a radical manner?

That's an easy one. The entertainment lobby (my shorthand to avoid spewing the alphabet soup of movie, TV, and music trade groups), having failed to get the feds to impose a tax on videotapes and recordable discs, or to hold Internet providers liable for copyrighted content transferred through their networks, or (so far) to add a piracy tax to every broadband user's monthly bill, is using the most powerful weapon yet devised: "Standards."

I put that in quotes to differentiate it from true standards. Analog television, for example, works because standards and regulations ensure the interoperation of transmitters and receivers. These standards take the public good into account. The move toward digital television, which will be complete in February 2009, is attended by standards and regulations constructed to ensure interoperability and to guard the public good as well. No broadcaster can arrange that a digital TV signal require a non-standard receiver, for example, one that bills your credit card every time you watch a popular show on an over-the-air (OTA) digital channel. As a matter of practice, most cable companies pass local broadcasters' HD channels to their basic cable subscribers.

The very characteristic that makes digital TV look so good is the one that makes it so vulnerable to restriction and manipulation: A TV broadcast is no longer a signal, it's a bitstream, one that has far fewer points of origination than the Internet and is therefore easier to control. Digital TV is rapidly heading for precisely the sort of lockdown that entertainment and broadcast lobbies desire for the Internet, and to the extent that they can be used as video players and recorders, our PCs, Macs, and notebooks.

The primary example of digital lockdown is HDMI, the High Definition Multimedia Interface. Simply put, HDMI is how you get digital video into a high-definition TV. HDMI looks like a dream come true: A single cable with a small connector passes digital video, digital audio, and control signals. HDMI has always incorporated High Definition Copy Protection (HDCP), but for a long time its enforcement was relaxed. You could hook an LCD computer monitor to a cable box or DVD player with an HDMI output. All you needed was a $20 HDMI/DVI adapter.

It doesn't work that way now. If you plug an LCD monitor into a late model DVD player or other device with an HDMI output, all you'll see is text telling you that your device is incompatible. If it were truly incompatible, it wouldn't be able to display that text. Wait, it gets better.

Let's say you do spring for an HDTV with HDMI input. Depending on the maker of your cable box or DVD player, if you plug an HDMI cable into your TV, the device turns off all of its analog outputs. Simply put, the price for upgrading your TV to digital is that your existing VCR, DVD recorder, and video-capable PC or Mac go blind. I can make recordings of digital and analog cable programs, but only if I go behind my equipment rack and yank the HDMI cable out of my set top box. It gets better still.

HDCP requires credential handshaking that's prone to errors, forcing many consumers into the ludicrous practice of rebooting their TVs (mine runs Linux) to recover permission to watch them. I've had to update the firmware on my TV and amplifier to address HDCP issues, and it's still buggy as hell.

The lesson I learned from this is not to waste my money on HDMI cables. By trying to sneak martial law into a digital video interconnect standard, entertainment forced consumers to retreat to readily recordable analog even for their high definition content. Fortunately, the quality of component video, the three-cable analog connection supported by all HDTVs and high-definition devices, is indistinguishable from HDMI in well-made equipment.

Can't a computer with a digital TV tuner and a DVD drive solve this whole mess and allow all-digital connections? It ought to. A copy of Vista Ultimate and a $129 TV tuner are ostensibly all that's required to turn a PC into a combination digital cable box and video recorder. But not so fast, friend. Have you met the broadcast flag?

The broadcast flag signals receiving equipment that recording is not allowed, not even to videotape. A broadcaster can stream this flag into any program it chooses. Nothing can be sold in the U.S. that doesn't respect the broadcast flag and pass it downstream. Yes, I am aware that the FCC's mandate for the broadcast flag was overturned by a Court of Appeals. This simply means it doesn't have federal enforcement. The entertainment lobby still has the power to impose its will on technology companies. Some companies proved more eager to eat from entertainment's hand than others.

Microsoft baked the broadcast flag into Vista, a fact that was revealed last month when NBC inadvertently flipped on the flag for an episode of American Gladiator. Vista-based Windows Media Center systems tuned to NBC refused to record the show. I'd take a cheap shot about this program's popularity among Vista users, but Vista users weren't alone. Everybody loving their new digital video recorders got hit by the blackout. NBC said "oops" and Microsoft said "so what?" Let's start a pool on how long it will take before we're paying for reruns of the network TV shows we pick up with rabbit ears or pull from basic cable.

It disappoints me deeply that not one vendor told entertainment to get stuffed. The closest thing I've gotten to a statement from a vendor that's been in the back room with entertainment came from ATI, fresh from its AMD buyout and jazzed about a recent win. "We're one of the first to ship Blu-Ray player software with our hardware." Later in the discussion, I was told that "ATI has reduced the risk of unauthorized access to the frame buffer." Given that frame buffer access enables recording video to disk, I didn't have to ask who was considered unauthorized.

It would seem that the Internet, being so anarchistic, won't have its arm twisted so readily by the entertainment lobby, but Internet rights restrictions come through your telecommunications equipment. It would take an act of Congress to force a change to firmware of networking devices to restrict traffic based on content. There will be no broadcast flag for files that don't start life as commercial content. The vendors who make the components and operating systems that run our laptops and desktops see broadband digital entertainment as the next frontier, the next great driver of sales and services. The entertainment industry declared that there is no path to riches but through them, and that path requires paving over a few of your freedoms.

Unless, that is, you download your entertainment through BitTorrent. Does it meet the definition of "irony" that it's far easier for an unskilled person to do this than to deal with HDMI, HDCP, broadcast flags, frame buffer blocks, and other nonsense created specifically to frustrate consumers' efforts to enjoy digital entertainment?

Corporate Behemoth Keeps Ripping "Real"
Bennett Haselton

"In 2001 RealNetworks sued and blocked Streambox from distributing the Ripper, a program that let users rip and save RealAudio and RealVideo streams even if the stream contained a proprietary "do not copy" flag. Then one year ago this month, RealNetworks caused a stir by releasing a beta of RealPlayer 11 that similarly let the user record and save streams from sites like YouTube and Pandora. YouTube rippers and the like had existed before, but this was the first time a major company had included a stream ripper in its media player. And while RealPlayer 11 didn't explicitly ignore any copy protection flags, the release still provoked legal rumblings: in a Variety article by Scott Kirsner, an anonymous network exec said accused RealNetworks of "aiding and abetting piracy" and said that they would "more likely than not" take action against RealNetworks. But now that the feature has stayed in RealPlayer for a year, its real impact will be not on piracy but on the perceived legitimacy of ripping programs. The corporate behemoth, raked over the coals in the past for privacy violations and nuisance-ware, strikes a blow for free-culture hackers."

First, the reasons I don't think that RealPlayer has much effect on actual piracy. Yes, if a pirate has uploaded your favorite song to YouTube, you can save a copy of the video file to hear the song over and over, but you can do the same thing on YouTube itself as long as you're connected to the Internet. The anonymous network exec in the Variety article points out that RealPlayer "allows you to own [content] forever on your hard drive, even if the Web site that distributed that content illegally has taken it down in because we've complained." But regardless of what complaints they've been sending, almost all popular songs are currently available for listening on YouTube so that anyone with a Net connection can get them on demand, and that's a separate issue, with or without RealPlayer.

So then it becomes a question of whether RealPlayer enables the user to do more interesting things with the song or video, like take it with them on an iPod. RealPlayer only lets you save YouTube videos as an FLV file. But as long as doing things like playing an FLV file on an iPod requires an outside hack, that option is only available to people who are resourceful enough to go out and find tools like that (admittedly not a very high bar, but too hard for many people). So, suppose you define a "resourceful" person as someone smart enough to figure out how to convert an FLV file into an iPod-viewable format. Then there are two possibilities: (a) either a person is not that "resourceful", in which case if they want content to take with them, they'll still have to get it through legitimate channels like the iTunes store, or (b) if the person is "resourceful", they would have known about tools for ripping YouTube videos to MP3, long before RealPlayer 11 came out (in fact, most sites that come up in a search for "flv to mp3 converter" are just rippers specifically for YouTube). In either case, RealPlayer's ability to save FLV files has no impact on the market for the song.

I haven't talked about some outlier cases where RealPlayer could perhaps help a novice user avoid paying for content (if a novice pirate didn't know enough to download a movie from a BitTorrent network, they could perhaps save up enough interesting videos from YouTube for a long plane ride where they won't have Internet access). But there's an easy way to get a verdict on RealPlayer's impact on piracy: How much have you heard teenagers talking about it? You heard teens through the years buzzing about Napster, KaZaA, and BitTorrent, but... RealPlayer? The cliche among teenagers today is to go "find something on YouTube", but "and then grab it with RealPlayer" has yet to prove useful enough to enter the vernacular.

Similarly, RealPlayer can be used to rip streams from Pandora, but it's just hard enough to do it that most people are likely to give up. Before going into details, I should say that I'm against anyone trying to circumvent paying for music. Most of the time when you read that on the Web, it carries this nudge-wink subtext right before the author launches into a detailed description about how, exactly, to circumvent paying for music. But I really do believe that there is a vast untapped potential of unwritten good music out there, and that it could be tapped if there were only lower barriers of entry for musicians, better channels to distribute music to users, and a guarantee that users would pay instead of stealing it -- all of which is helped by services like Pandora. On the other hand, I also believe that if a copying scheme can be circumvented, and especially if it can be circumvented in a way that's fairly easy to discover, there's no point in keeping it secret: We might as well push things forward by acknowledging that the scheme is beatable, and deciding what to do about it.

The outing commences: if you save a stream from Pandora, RealPlayer will give you an error if you try to play the stream back from your RealPlayer library. But if you find the "mp4" file in your RealPlayer downloads, you can play it in WinAmp. However, the file as saved will not play in Windows Media Player, iTunes, or RealPlayer itself. Plus, since Pandora does not let you pick which song you want to listen to on demand, your stream might contain all the songs that you had to skip past to get the one you wanted, and you'd have to find a utility to edit the mp4 file to get rid of that cruft at the beginnig. At some point, the effort probably exceeds the dollar you'd have to pay to get the song on iTunes (or, if you're a pirate, the effort to find it on a p2p network).

Again, the "teenager buzz test" is instructive. You do hear kids these days talking about listening to songs on Pandora, but not about ripping them with RealPlayer.

Where I think RealPlayer will make the most difference in the long run is in its political and legal impact, by legitimizing stream-ripping as something that "real" companies, so to speak, are allowed to do. In 2006, Google sent a cease-and-desist letter to TechCrunch for hosting a tool that lets users save YouTube videos to their hard drives. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch blogged at the time, "I am likely to remove the tool to preserve my relationship with the company [Google/YouTube]", but the tool is still up, and I don't know whether it was ever taken down at all (TechCrunch did not respond to an inquiry). Today, there are more YouTube rippers than ever, several of them even running AdSense ads. (I'm not sure if that's within Google's rules, but I mentioned those sites while e-mailing back and forth with Google for this article, and they're all still running AdSense ads a week later.) Certainly Google would look pretty silly trying to force TechCrunch to take their ripper down today, now that Google itself is distributing RealPlayer as part of the Google Pack.

RealNetworks could argue that the main difference between RealPlayer 11, and the Streambox Ripper that they sued to have outlawed in 2001, was that the Streambox Ripper ignored the "do not copy" flag present in some RealAudio and RealVideo streams, and thus violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. RealNetworks says the do-not-copy flag is no longer used, having been supplanted by more sophisticated Digital Rights Management, and RealPlayer 11 will honor any DRM-protected streams and refuse to save them. But how much difference is there between "ignoring" the do-not-copy flag and "ignoring" the Terms of Service for sites like YouTube (which the program may not be aware of, but which its makers certainly are)?

We've all heard about the First Amendment implications of DeCSS code, the code for decrypting the copy-protection scheme on DVDs, being outlawed in the U.S. But the Streambox case set the bar for "violating the DMCA" considerably lower -- the Streambox Ripper didn't actively decrypt anything, it just ignored a flag set in the streaming media. What are the implications if "ignoring" a flag counts as "breaking" copy protection? Suppose Behemoth Corp releases Version 1 of some media format, and I release a third-party player that plays Version 1. Then Behemoth Corp releases the specs for Version 2 of the format, which is similar enough that it works in Version 1 players, except Version 2 now contains a "do-not-copy" flag, which my player doesn't know about. Is my player now illegal? (Well, in this case Behemoth Corp would just make sure that Version 2 doesn't play in Version 1 players. But what about general-purpose programs like Total Recorder that can record any sound playing through your computer to an MP3 file? Does that program become illegal if a company releases a new sound file format that they don't want to be copyable?) So I think the acceptance of RealPlayer has nudged us closer to legal acceptance of software that can interact with third-party sites and programs in a way that their makers don't like. That's good. It should not be against the law to make a program that interacts with third-party web sites in a way that they haven't given permission for, something I literally grew up saying.

It's brave of Google especially to be distributing RealPlayer along with the Google Pack, at the same time that YouTube is constantly attacked for enabling copyright violations. A content owner mounting a lawsuit against Google, would be foolish not to say something like, "Your Honor, not only does YouTube host thousands of videos violating the intellectual property rights of my clients, they even distribute a tool called RealPlayer that lets people violate YouTube's own Terms of Service by saving the videos to their hard drive!" Logically, of course, it's a weak argument -- RealPlayer is universally available whether Google distributes it or not -- but rhetorically the argument is golden.

On the other hand, since that hasn't happened, and RealPlayer 11 is pretty well entrenched after being out for a year, the result has probably been an expansion of our rights. Anyone else who got sued or threatened for releasing a ripping program would be able to point to RealNetworks. "Look at them, Your Honor, their Web site even tells people, 'Grab videos from thousands of Web sites with just one click', something that those 'thousands of Web sites' would probably not be thrilled with. If it's legal for RealNetworks to tell people that, how can it be illegal for me just to have a ripping program on my site?"

If a small-time programmer had made themselves a legal test case before RealPlayer 11 came out, things might have gone differently; it is an unfortunate truth that courts are probably more likely to consider something legal when it is done by a large and legitimate-looking company like RealNetworks. Big companies do well in court partly because their lawyers are paid to make good arguments, but they almost certainly also get more benefit of the doubt just by virtue of being big companies. I think the time is long overdue for using controlled experiments to measure the bias and objectivity of judges -- for example, having different actors, one white and one black, go into different courtrooms for "mock trials" (which the judges think are real), where both actors are standing trial for exactly identical crimes and their lawyers say exactly identical things, and repeat this experiment enough times to see how differently black and white defendants are treated. (We already see this, for example, in the disparity of sentences for powder cocaine vs. crack, but skeptics may have a point when they say that's not a controlled experiment, because the effects of crack and cocaine are different.) Similarly, have mock trials where a small-time "activist" and a large company are sued for doing exactly the same thing. I would bet that the disparity in the outcomes of those cases would far exceed any bias due to race or gender.

But since it was RealNetworks, with their lawyers and their NASDAQ listing and their former exec in the U.S. Senate, that brought ripping to the masses, that probably makes it OK for you and me. It's not fair, but in this case, it's a good thing.

Windows XP Era Draws to a Close
Ina Fried

After a long-announced transition, June 30 marks the end of an era at Microsoft. Well, really it's the end of two eras.

Most people think of Bill Gates, of course, and I'll have plenty more to say about his impending shift to part-time work in the coming days. But another epoch is also really coming to an end--that of Windows XP.

As of June 30, large PC makers will no longer be able to sell Windows XP-based PCs, at least on mainstream notebooks and desktops. Retailers will also have only until their current supply is exhausted to sell boxed copies of the operating system.

Despite a brief "Save XP" movement (and continued criticism of Windows Vista from many corners), it appears that Microsoft is not going to change the deadline, which is now just two weeks away.

Although XP will disappear as an option for most computer buyers, the operating system will live on in several key ways.

• XP will be available on PCs from smaller computer makers known as "system builders" until January 31, 2009.

• XP will be available for so-called ultra-low-cost-PCs until June 30, 2010.

• The low-end Windows XP Starter Edition will continue to be available in emerging markets until June 30, 2010.

• Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Business come with downgrade rights. Some computer makers are using this option to offer machines that appear as Windows XP products but are "factory downgraded" to XP. The downside is that only pricier versions of Vista qualify, but the benefit is that the machines come with the option to eventually move to Vista for no added fee. Microsoft says it will continue to make XP discs available to computer makers to enable downgrade rights through at least January 31, 2009.

• Microsoft is not ending support for Windows XP. Mainstream support continues until 2009, while extended support is not due to end until April 2014.

For those who want to get their PC the old-fashioned (and soon to be obsolete) way, you only have a few days left. Here is what some of the big name players had to say about their plans.

Hewlett-Packard: "All of HP's latest consumer and business computing products currently ship with Windows Vista. But we do still offer XP on a select number of our existing consumer notebook, gaming, and business products. This will continue through the XP end-of-life date on June 30, 2008.

"HP has been offering business desktops, notebooks, and workstations with the option to downgrade to Windows XP Pro from Vista since August 2007, and will continue to offer this option on its business systems through at least July 30, 2009. These systems are pre-installed with XP Pro, and the customer receives the Vista license so that they can upgrade to the new OS when they are ready, as well as restore discs for both operating systems. After June 30, if a customer already has the XP image and license, HP also can also install that customer's image on their Vista Business systems through our HP PC Customization Services."

Lenovo: "In line with our agreement with Microsoft, Lenovo will not offer any PC's preloaded with XP after June 30, 2008. Lenovo offers select Vista models that ship with a downgrade XP CD in the box. Microsoft will allow us to continue putting these downgrade CDs in the box until January 31, 2009. However, the majority of PCs we ship don't have the downgrade CD in the box. If a customer purchases a Vista system and wishes to downgrade and doesn't have the CD, they can contact our Help Center to get an XP downgrade CD."

Acer: An Acer representative said that the company plans to stop selling XP June 30. "Acer will offer CD downgrades to XP--based on customers order requests--until the Microsoft deadline, January 31, 2009."

Dell: Unlike the other three, Dell plans to stop selling standard XP machines via its Web site on Wednesday. "Dell systems with XP as the only OS will no longer be available after June 18 on Dell.com," the company said. It will offer a downgrade program for a number of its machines, including all OptiPlex desktops, all Latitude laptops, all Precision workstations and most of its Vostro systems for mid-size businesses. Two consumer gaming systems--the XPS 630 and the XPS M1730--are already eligible for the program with a third, the XPS 730, to be added soon.

The downgraded machines will ship with XP installed, plus an XP restore disc with drivers as well as a copy of Vista and its Vista drivers. It said it will keep shipping XP media until the Microsoft mandated end date of January 31, 2009.

News.com's Erica Ogg contributed to this report.

Vista's Big Problem: 92 Percent of Developers Ignoring It
Matt Asay

And to think Microsoft used to be popular with the developer crowd...

Not anymore. A recent report from Evans Data shows fewer than one in 10 software developers writing applications for Windows Vista this year. Eight percent. This is perhaps made even worse by the corresponding data that shows 49 percent of developers writing applications for Windows XP.

Such appreciation for history is not likely to warm the cockles of Microsoft's heart, especially when Linux is getting lots of love from developers (13 percent writing apps for it this year and 15.5 percent in 2009). The Mac? I don't have any equivalent data via Evans Data. But the Mac OS has rocketed by 380 percent as a targeted development platform, Evans Data told Computerworld.

The numbers don't get much better for Vista in 2009: 24 percent (compared with 29 percent for XP). That's a big step up from 8 percent, but is it a sign of momentum to come or just a temporary stopgap while developers wait until Windows 7?

Nor has Microsoft made it easy to develop Vista applications, according to an article in ITJungle.com:

Unfortunately, that improved security posture makes it more difficult for developers to write applications for Vista (read: no more kernel-level access and UAC to worry about), and it also causes compatibility problems with older applications. Ironically, the wave of attacks targeting operating system vulnerabilities has largely passed, and today hackers have moved on to target applications. At the same time, Microsoft has provided iterative improvements in Windows XP security, bolstering its status as "good enough" and further eating into Vista's pie.
Indeed. Microsoft doesn't need to handicap itself on the desktop given its difficulties competing everywhere else. With Linux and the Mac taking ever-increasing shares of the developer pie, Microsoft would do well to shore up developer support for Windows.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, that probably means re-investing in XP and forgetting its "New Coke" moment with Vista.

Why Global Hackers Are Nearly Impossible to Catch
Maggie Koerth-Baker

They're in our computers, reading our files. The Chinese government, that is, according to two U.S. Congressmen who recently accused Beijing of sending hackers to ferret out secret documents stored on Congressional computers. The Chinese deny any involvement, but if they were lying, would we be able to prove it?

The answer, according to computer and security experts, is probably not.

At least, not conclusively enough for a court of law.

"It's very difficult to track hacker attacks and, even if you can track it, you don't always know with 100 percent certainty if you're right," said James Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

That was the problem faced by the investigators who attempted to figure out who broke into computers used by the staff of Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., and Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va. The Congressmen announced on June 11 that they'd been the targets of several attacks, beginning in 2006.

Both Smith and Wolf are high-profile critics of the Chinese government. They told reporters that, among other things, the hackers stole lists of identities of Chinese dissidents and records from Congressional human-rights hearings.

It is possible to track such attackers, to a point. When you use the Internet, you leave the equivalent of digital footprints, Lewis explained. Every message your computer sends to a different computer travels in a series of hops from one router or server to another. Even after the message is received, the record of its path remains. Lewis said authorities can sometimes follow that path back to a hacker's computer.

But not always. For one thing, not all servers and routers save records. Another big problem is that hackers will often conceal their location by creating a fake trail, essentially leading authorities to a computer user who had nothing to do with the attack.

More frustrating, Lewis said, is the fact that even when you can successfully trace a hacker, the information you get doesn't tell you who signed his paycheck. While the attacks on Smith and Wolf were apparently traced to a computer in China, knowing that doesn't necessarily implicate the Chinese government.

"All it gives you is the Internet address of the last computer in the line," he said.

Because of this, Lewis said, the U.S. intelligence services usually have to take circumstantial evidence into account. For instance, in the current case, they might look at who would have had the motivation to make the attack. "The records stolen were secret lists of Chinese human rights activists," he said. "Who else is going to care about that but the Chinese government?"

However, he said, there is one other possible culprit. China is home to a particularly active cadre of patriotic civilian hackers.

Heroes at home

Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer of the BT Group, an international communications company based in London, said some of these guys are heroes in their home country, thanks to hacks they've made on organizations, media and governments that are pro-Tibet, pro-Taiwan, or otherwise critical of Chinese interests.

While not the same as official government hackers, these cyber-vigilantes are liable to pull stunts that benefit the government and, in some cases, they might even sell information they've gathered to the government. Both Schneier and Lewis said these civilian hackers aren't truly independent, in that they're probably tolerated, if not outright encouraged, by the government.

It's also important to note that China isn't the only government that's up to online shenanigans. Using hackers to conduct espionage is awfully appealing, precisely because it's so hard to conclusively pin on a specific source.

Lewis said there are at least a half dozen other governments, besides China's, that have highly sophisticated hacker capabilities. This includes the United States. In fact, he said, attacks are common enough that they're almost not something to get worked up about. "We shouldn't be outraged at this latest hack," he said. "This is just normal stuff between countries. It you want to be outraged, be outraged that our defenses are so poor."

Probe Shows Kiddie Porn Rap was Bogus
Laurel J. Sweet

A child porn possession charge lodged against a Department of Industrial Accidents investigator fired for having smut on his state-issued laptop has been dismissed because experts concluded he was unwittingly spammed.

“The overall forensics of the laptop suggest that it had been compromised by a virus,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.

Nationally recognized computer forensic analyst Tami Loehrs told the Herald Michael Fiola’s ordeal was “one of the most horrific cases I’ve seen.”

“As soon as you mention child pornography, everybody’s senses go out the window,” she said.

Loehrs, who spent a month dissecting the computer for the defense, explained in a 30-page report that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.

Two forensic examinations conducted by the state Attorney General’s Office for the prosecution concurred with that conclusion, Wark said.

Still, Fiola, 53, whose wife, Robin, described as “computer-illiterate,” wants his day in court. He intends to sue the DIA for “destroying our lives.”

“Our lives have been hell,” said Fiola, a former state park ranger now living in Rhode Island. “I hope to recover my reputation, but our friends all ran.”

DIA spokeswoman Linnea Walsh confirmed Fiola “was terminated,” but declined to say if any internal discipline has been meted out as a result of his name being cleared in court.

“We stand by our decision,” she said.

Fiola’s attorney Timothy Bradl is at a loss to understand why.

“Imagine this scenario: Your employer gives you a ticking time bomb full of child porn, and then you get fired, and then you get prosecuted as some kind of freak,” he railed.

“Anybody who has a work laptop, this could happen to,” he said. “Mike Fiola is a hunt-and-peck kind of computer guy. He can barely get on the Internet.”

Fiola’s troubles began in November 2006 when, seven years into a job probing workers’ compensation fraud, DIA gave him a replacement laptop for one that was stolen.

Months later, DIA information technology officials noted that the data usage on Fiola’s Verizon wireless bill was 4 times greater than his colleagues’. After discovering the child porn , Commissioner Paul Buckley fired him on March 14, 2007.

DIA turned the matter over to state police who, after confirming “an overwhelming amount of images of prepubescent children engaged in pornographic poses” were stored on the laptop, persuaded Boston Municipal Court to issue a criminal complaint against Fiola in August 2007.

After poring over the laptop, Loehrs reported to the court “with 100-percent certainty that the laptop was compromised by numerous viruses and trojans, and may have been hacked by outside sources.”

“There is no evidence to support the claim that Michael Fiola was responsible for any of the pornographic activity,” she wrote.

All the porn, she said, was located in the laptop’s cache, a computer feature that stores copies of Web pages. Consistently, Loehrs’ findings noted, there was “no apparent origin or user interaction preceding the pornographic activity,” some of which was downloaded “fast and furious.”

Wark said Fiola’s case was offically expunged from the court Tuesday.

R. Kelly Found Not Guilty

R. Kelly was acquitted of all charges yesterday after less than a day of deliberations in his Chicago child pornography trial, ending a six-year ordeal for the r & b superstar.

Kelly dabbed his face with a handkerchief and hugged each of his four attorneys after the verdict - not guilty on all 14 counts - was read. The Grammy award-winning singer had faced 15 years in prison if convicted.

Minutes later, surrounded by bodyguards, he left the courthouse without comment. Dozens of fans screamed and cheered as he climbed into a waiting SUV.

Prosecutors had argued that a video tape mailed to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002 showed Kelly engaged in graphic sex acts with a girl as young as 13 at the time. Both Kelly, 41, and the now 23-year-old alleged victim had denied they were the ones on the tape. Neither testified during the trial.

The prosecution’s star witness was a woman who said she engaged in three-way sex with Kelly and the alleged victim. Defense attorneys argued the man on the tape didn’t have a large mole on his back; Kelly has such a mole.

The monthlong trial centered on whether Kelly was the man who appears on a sexually graphic, 27-minute videotape at the heart of the case, and whether a female who also appears on it was underage.

Over seven days presenting their case, prosecutors called 22 witnesses, including several childhood friends of the alleged victim and four of her relatives who identified her as the female on the video.

In just two days, Kelly’s lawyers called 12 witnesses. They included three relatives of the alleged victim who testified they did not recognize her as the female on the tape.

Kelly won a Grammy in 1997 for “I Believe I Can Fly,” and is known for such raunchy hits as “Bump N’ Grind,” “Ignition,” and for “Trapped in the Closet,” a multipart saga about the sexual secrets of an ever-expanding cast of characters.

Of the 12 jurors, nine were men and three were women; eight were white and four were black. They included the wife of a Baptist preacher from Kelly’s Chicago-area hometown, Olympia Fields, as well as a compliance officer for a Chicago investment firm and a man in his 60s who emigrated from then-Communist Romania nearly 40 years ago.

Despite his legal troubles, Kelly - who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a star singer, songwriter and producer - still retains a huge following, and his popularity has arguably grown in recent years.

The singer has released more than half a dozen albums, most of them selling more than a million copies. He’s also had a multitude of hits and gone on tours. Kelly has a new song, “Hair Braider,” out now, and is due to release a new album in July.

Kelly, always meticulously dressed in a suit and tie, appeared tense at times during the trial, furrowing his brow. He seemed particularly ill at ease when prosecutors played the sex tape in open court after opening arguments.

In the video, entered into evidence as “People’s Exhibit No. 1,” a man has sex with a young female, who is naked for most of the recording. She is often blank-faced. The man speaks to her in a hushed voice, and she calls him “Daddy.”

In one scene, alluded to in one count of the indictment, the man urinates on the female.

The issue of whether there was or wasn’t a fingernail-sized mole on the man’s lower back was a subject of hours of testimony. A defense witness told jurors there was no mole on his back, proving it’s not Kelly, who has such a mole. But a prosecution witness displayed freeze frames of the video where a dark spot seemed to appear as the man turns to take off his pants.

One surreal moment came when a defense expert played a segment of the tape he doctored showing two headless bodies engaging in sex. The defense said that backed their argument that Kelly’s likeness could have been computer-generated.

Cross examination was often heated. Several witnesses cried on the stand.

The star prosecution witness, Lisa Van Allen, became teary eyed as she told jurors she engaged in several three-way sexual encounters with Kelly and the alleged victim, including once on a basketball court. Kelly videotaped the trysts, she said.

Van Allen also claimed Kelly used to carry a duffel bag stuffed full of his homemade sex tapes.

The defense called several witnesses in a bid to discredit Van Allen, accusing her of trying to extort money from Kelly. Under cross-examination, Van Allen admitted she once stole Kelly’s $20,000 diamond-studded watch from a hotel.

AP Files 7 DMCA Takedowns Against Drudge Retort

I'm currently engaged in a legal disagreement with the Associated Press, which claims that Drudge Retort users linking to its stories are violating its copyright and committing "'hot news' misappropriation under New York state law." An AP attorney filed six Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown requests this week demanding the removal of blog entries and another for a user comment.

The Retort is a community site comparable in function to Digg, Reddit and Mixx. The 8,500 users of the site contribute blog entries of their own authorship and links to interesting news articles on the web, which appear immediately on the site. None of the six entries challenged by AP, which include two that I posted myself, contains the full text of an AP story or anything close to it. They reproduce short excerpts of the articles -- ranging in length from 33 to 79 words -- and five of the six have a user-created headline.

Here's one of the six disputed blog entries:

Clinton Expects Race to End Next Week

Hillary Rodham Clinton says she expects her marathon Democratic race against Barack Obama to be resolved next week, as superdelegates decide who is the stronger candidate in the fall. "I think that after the final primaries, people are going to start making up their minds," she said. "I think that is the natural progression that one would expect."

If you follow the link, you'll see that the blog entry reproduces 18 words from the story and a 32-word quote by Hillary Clinton under a user-written headline. The blog entry drew 108 comments in the ensuing discussion.

I have all the expertise in intellectual property law of somebody who's never been sued, so standard disclaimers apply. But I have difficulty seeing how it violates copyright law for a blogger to link to a news story with a short snippet of the story in furtherance of public discussion.

AP feels otherwise. In a June 3 letter, AP's Intellectual Property Governance Coordinator Irene Keselman told me:

... you purport that the Drudge Retort's users reproduce and display AP headlines and leads under a fair use defense. Please note that contrary to your assertion, AP considers that the Drudge Retort users' use of AP content does not fall within the parameters of fair use. The use is not fair use simply because the work copied happened to be a news article and that the use is of the headline and the first few sentences only. This is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of "fair use." AP considers taking the headline and lede of a story without a proper license to be an infringement of its copyrights, and additionally constitutes "hot news" misappropriation.

In another DMCA takedown, AP contends that the following user comment is a copyright violation:

Well, the oil execs just put another refinery in South Dakota. Maybe they're a bunch of retards.


Hyperion has said the project, about 60 miles south of Sioux Falls, would create 1,800 permanent jobs and another 4,500 construction jobs over a four-year period. Construction could begin in 2010.

The Hyperion Energy Center would process 400,000 barrels of thick Canadian crude oil a day, which company executives say would help the U.S. reduce its dependence on overseas oil. The company has said it will bring in the crude oil by pipeline but has announced no specific plans for that transportation link.

The user reproduced the last two paragraphs of his comment from the linked Fox News article, written by AP.

AP has filed copyright lawsuits against the VeriSign division Moreover last fall and another against the Florida company All Headline News this year.

I have no desire to be the third member of that club, but sharing links to news stories of interest has become an essential component of how millions of people read and evaluate the news today. When linking to articles, bloggers commonly include excerpts of the article for the purposes of criticism or discussion. Some AP member sites encourage this kind of reuse. Yahoo News, the source for two disputed stories, invites bloggers to use items from its RSS feeds. USA Today, the source for two others, includes a browser widget alongside articles that facilitates their submission to Digg, Mixx and other sites. Wade Duchene, the attorney who helped me win the domain name arbitration for Wargames.Com, says that what we're doing on the Retort is the "absolute definition of fair use."

The DMCA requires that the six blog entries and comment immediately be taken down, regardless of whether I think they're fair use, but users have the option to file counter-notices to AP asserting their own copyright. Because the issue affects all bloggers, I've invited Keselman to explain AP's position at more length. If she accepts I'll post it in full here on Workbench and the Retort.

Assuming I have copyright permission, of course.

Associated Press: Fair Use Limits You To Four Words; Five Words Costs $12.50
from the make-it-stop dept

As we wait with bated breath for the Associated Press to come down from the mountain with its own rules for "fair use for bloggers," Patrick Nielsen Hayden gives us a sense of what the AP considers fair use (found via Boing Boing). Apparently, for quite some time, the AP has had up a page that lists out prices for quoting AP text. I will quote the list prices, and hope I don't get a DMCA takedown:

• 5-25 words: $ 12.50
• 26-50 words: $ 17.50
• 51-100 words: $ 25.00
• 101-250 words: $ 50.00
• 251 words and up: $ 100.00

Oh, and it gets better. The AP claims that it can revoke the license at any time if it feels you're saying something negative about the Associated Press: "Publisher reserves the right to terminate this Agreement at any time if Publisher or its agents finds Your use of the licensed Content to be offensive and/or damaging to Publisher’s reputation."

Now, these are the terms that the AP has had on its site for some time -- but they explain why the AP went after the Drudge Retort for quoting less than 100 words. To the AP, that was a violation requiring a $25 license. So, while some believe that those criticizing the AP are overreacting, I'd argue that's not the case at all. This is not, as suggested, a one-time thing. This is an ongoing pattern of misuse of copyright law by the AP. And it's been pointed out to the AP in the past that these actions are wrong -- and it did nothing to change the AP's behavior. Instead, it seems to have only emboldened the AP.

Besides, it now appears that the AP's way of having this "conversation" with bloggers on what is AP-acceptable "fair use" is to meet with some guy who represents some blogging "group" I've never heard of. That group does not represent bloggers and it certainly doesn't speak for all of us in reaching some sort of "agreement." If the AP really wants to engage with the critics, why doesn't it come out and talk to those of us criticizing its actions? So far, the only engagement has been to cut and past the same comment on a bunch of blog sites... Other than that, it has only spoken to reporters about this issue.

AP Violates Own Copyright Law By Quoting 22 Words from TechCrunch
Jarrett Martineau

Well, this was bound to happen sooner or later. After the Associated Press issued its preposterous decision to charge for 5 word quotations of its stories, the blogosphere was quick to react.

Now, the tables have been turned on the Associated Press, as internet news superblog TechCrunch (who have called on fellow bloggers to ban all AP content), is 'demanding justice' after the AP quoted a hefty 22 words from one of its posts.

Let the battle rage on, and on, and on, my friends.

You gotta fight / for your right / to copyright!

As far as I can tell, the Associated Press is sticking by its ridiculous and unlawful assertion that “direct quotations, even short ones” are copyright infringements and result in lawsuit threats and DMCA takedown notices.

This story led us to ban the A.P., call the New York Times out on undisclosed conflicts of interest and begin to investigate some ridiculous organization called the Media Bloggers Association before getting bored and wandering off to other topics.

But now the A.P. has gone too far. They’ve quoted twenty-two words from one of our posts, in clear violation of their warped interpretation of copyright law. The offending quote, from this post, is here (I’m suspending my A.P. ban to report on this important story).

Am I being ridiculous? Absolutely. But the point is to illustrate that the A.P. is taking an absurd and indefensible position, too. So I’ve called my lawyers (really) and have asked them to deliver a DMCA takedown demand to the A.P. And I will also be sending them a bill for $12.50 with that letter, which is exactly what the A.P. would have charged me if I published a 22 word quote from one of their articles.

Next time, A.P., ask permission before you quote me. I work hard to create content, and it just isn’t appropriate for you to simply cut and paste it into your own product and then sell that to others.

Here's Our New Policy On A.P. Stories: They're Banned
Michael Arrington

The stories over the weekend were bad enough- the Associated Press, with a long history of suing over quotations from their articles, went after Drudge Retort for having the audacity to link to their stories along with short quotations via reader submissions. Drudge Retort is doing nothing different than what Digg, TechMeme, Mixx and dozens of other sites do, and frankly the fact that they are being linked to should be considered a favor.

After heavy criticism over the last few days, the A.P. is in damage control mode, says the NYTimes, and retreating from their earlier position. But from what I read, they're just pushing their case further.

They do not want people quoting their stories, despite the fact that such activity very clearly falls within the fair use exception to copyright law. They claim that the activity is an infringement.

A.P. vice president Jim Kennedy says they will issue guidelines telling bloggers what is acceptable and what isn't, over and above what the law says is acceptable. They will "attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.?s copyright."

Those that disregard the guidelines risk being sued by the A.P., despite the fact that such use may fall under the concept of fair use.

The A.P. doesn't get to make it's own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it's clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don't exist today and that they are not legally entitled to. And like the RIAA and MPAA, this is done to protect a dying business model - paid content.

So here's our new policy on A.P. stories: they don't exist. We don't see them, we don't quote them, we don't link to them. They're banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.

Backstory on AP - Drudge Retort Issue
Robert Cox

In reading a small slice of the coverage of the AP - Drudge Retort contretemps it struck me that a lot of the more breathless coverage in the blogosphere stems from the rather larger misperception that one day last week, out of the blue, Rogers Cadenhead got slapped with a lawsuit by AP.

As one of the few people who has seen all the legal documents in the case and has actually read the Digital Millennium Copyright Act I can see it would be wise for some folks to cool down and acquaint themselves with the rather prosaic facts in this matter.

AP first contacted Rogers in April not June. They sent Rogers a "cease and desist" letter on April 15th which cited a couple of entries on Drudge Retort as examples of their claim that Rogers was "encouraging" copyright infringement. One of those examples was the whole text of an article and the entire headline the others were similar. Rogers failed to respond until May 14th due to a mix up with his mailing address at which point AP sent him a Take Down Notice for 14 other posts, 13 of which were whole text/exact headline posts to his site. Rogers disputed the 14th entry as fair use but took it down as required under DMCA. Rogers notified his contributor, the person who posted the content, but that person did not file a counter-claim and so the post remained removed.

So, Drudge Retort got on AP's radar due to the posting of entire articles with exact headlines which all parties agreed constituted copyright violations two months BEFORE the most recent spate of DMCA Take Down Notices. Technically, Drudge Retort got onto AP's radar because those posts were flagged by software used by AP called Attributor. This is a data mining spider similar to the bots and web indexers used by search engines; content companies can use it to track the use of their content on the web. It is very important that people understand this because it makes clear that the AP is not on some wild rampage through the blogosphere, lawyering up to to go after every blogger who quotes an AP story in any way. Yet that is how this story has been portrayed including by a lot of people who should know better but are having too much fun bashing AP.

In June, Rogers got more take down requests, these were not whole text/exact headline entries and 9 of the 10 posts appeared to him to be examples of "fair use". It was about this time that Rogers posted about it to his blog and sought help which led him to the Media Bloggers Association.

As we have done in hundreds of other cases we agreed to help Rogers by offering him legal support and reaching out directly to the plaintiff to see if we could resolve the matter without getting into a major legal battle. In all but 14 (now 15) cases have we have not had to go public or get into any sort of major battle to resolve a case. Most of the time the legal threat evaporates when the plaintiff discovers that no only does the blogger have representation but that he has a large law firm defending him. Sometimes the blogger is in the wrong, usually because they do not understand media law, and once we explain the law to them they make changes to their site that resolve the issue. In those cases where we take a hard line because we believe the blogger is in the right we stand our ground until we get a positive outcome for the blogger.

In this case, I was able to reach out directly to senior management at AP because the Media Bloggers Association had worked with the AP in the past to syndicate an aggregated feed of blogger coverage of the Scooter Libby Trial out to 750 news web sites. That project was viewed within AP as a major success. My hope was that we could work with AP to quickly and quietly resolve this matter as we have done so often in the past.

Unfortunately, by the time I spoke to Jim Kennedy the Jarvis FU AP post was up and apparently there was a story on Gawker and so the ball was rolling. In that conversation with Jim my first objective was simply to determine whether there were any more shoes that were going to drop on Rogers, the Drudge Retort and their community of bloggers. Jim told me that folks at AP had met to consider the matter and that AP was not planning any additional action against the Drudge Retort. I then raised the issue of the outstanding DMCA Take Down Notices and asked if we could meet before Friday June 20.

At this point let me address another misperception here. I am not a lawyer but if people will read it for themselves they ought to see that DMCA has a very specific set of steps that must be followed to give both sides protections under that law:

1. A copyright owner who believes their copyright has been infringed online sends a notice ("DMCA Take Down Notice) to the web host.

2. The web host has no choice but to remove the content described in the notice.

3. If the person who posted the content disagrees they file a counter-claim in federal court within 10 days.

4. After the counter claim is filed, the court sets a date and the two sides duke it out in court.

While this is going on the content remains DOWN and can only be put back up if the judge finds in favor of the counter claimant.

Once you understand this then you can see how this has gotten a bit muddled. Rogers Cadenhead IS a blogger and plenty of people know him as a blogger but the Drudge Retort is a not his blog in any traditional sense of the word. It is a social news sharing site like Digg. Drudge Retort is also not incorporated (it should have been and likely will be after this). So when Rogers says he got a take down notice it is confusing because really Drudge Retort got the notice and Rogers was named because the site is not incorporated. He was always required to respond by taking down the content because he received the initial notices in his capacity as the owner and operator of Drudge Retort - in other words, as a web host not a blogger.

A couple of the June Take Down items were actually posted by Rogers so in those few cases he was put on notice as a web host but was, in effect, simultaneously notified as a blogger (for posts he himself published). The Take Down Notice that prompted Rogers to contact the MBA was dated June 10. The DMCA allows up to 10 days to file a counter claim so the contributors (including Rodgers-as-contributor) have until Friday June 20 to file a counter claim. This is why I asked AP to meet this week, just in case we are not able to work something out that satisfies Rogers.

A final note, there has been a lot said about the absurd notion that the MBA thinks it is representing "all bloggers" or that the AP is "negotiating" with the MBA. Ridiculous. We were approached for help by Rogers Cadenhead and, as we have done hundreds of times over the past four years, responded by offering him pro bono legal counsel and to set up a direct dialog with the plaintiff to see if the dialog could resolve the problem. We represent A BLOGGER and achieving an outcome acceptable to that blogger is our goal. Any discussion about how AP could better communicate its view of what is and is not acceptable is important and useful but secondary to the primary issue of getting to resolution for the blogger we agreed to help.

In looking back as to how that notion got out there, I see The New York Times article which ran over the weekend. While the article was factually correct it mischaracterized what was going on in a way that caused a great deal of misunderstanding.

So, let me try to address that too. In wrapping up my call with Jim Kennedy I expressed my view that it seemed incumbent on the AP to offer bloggers a better understanding of what the AP did find acceptable, to offer some sort of guidance which might help bloggers operate in a way less likely to draw the attention of the legal department and thereby reduce the number of legal threats made against bloggers. Such a discussion is entirely in keeping with our mission as an organization. Looking back on it now it may seem incredible but I told him that if he was willing to come up with some sort of guidelines, the MBA would help promulgate them as much as possible. The concern being that no one would know the outcome of such discussions and so any guidelines they came up with would be a tree falling in the forest. Jim knew the MBA could help with such things because our members include quite a few widely read bloggers who would most likely have been willing to consider putting up a post about it if they were asked. Apparently Jim told The New York Times the he was going to meet with me per our conversation but the way that came out was that the sole purpose of the meeting was to negotiate guidelines for bloggers. That take on the conversation was then twisted into the absurd notion that that MBA was going to meet with the AP for some sort of binding arbitration to negotiate terms on behalf of all bloggers. Even after I picked up the phone and explained the actual purpose of the meeting - to sort out what to do about the outstanding DMCA Take Down Notices - some bloggers just continued to run with this absurd story in order to advance an agenda that I can assure you has nothing to do with resolving the case at hand.

The unfounded attacks on the Media Bloggers Association are particularly troubling because a lot of good people have put in a great deal of time for no pay (including me) to help an awful lot of bloggers. These types of attacks detract from the our mission and make it just that much harder to provide education, legal support and dispute resolution services to bloggers. While I understand perfectly well the nature of the blogosphere having engaged in many past efforts to stir up blogstorms, my purpose in doing so for the MBA has always been to shine a bright light on improper attempts to suppress blogger speech in order to advance the mission of the MBA. We are an association with a laudable mission, we do a lot of good work for the blogging community, and once we get our new initiatives rolled out this summer we hope to extend our support and services to as many bloggers as care to subscribe to that mission. For those folks who care to join us you can fill out a simple contact form and we will email you this summer when our new sign-up process is online.

NOTE: Amazingly there are now stories out there conflating two entirely false stories, linking them to the Drudge Retort story and then going way beyond the edges of reality. The latest story is that AP's icopyright service shows that the Drudge Retort case is all part of a sinister plot by the AP to charge bloggers several dollars per word to quote an AP story. Of course, the buttons and functionality of AP's icopyright are intended for business users having nothing to do with bloggers such as selling reprint permissions to corporate clients (a common practice) but that's not stopped reports that the updated reason for my meeting with AP is to find a new way of sharing AP content, which now involves a fee per excerpt based on its word length.

Something Is Rotten In Denmark: The A.P., NYTimes and MBA Love Triangle
Michael Arrington

I’m not normally one to subscribe to conspiracy theories, but something is just plain rotten in this whole New York Times/Associated Press/Media Bloggers Association love fest.

As I wrote earlier today, the New York Times just won’t stop defending the Associated Press and their position that quoting from their articles is a copyright infringement (it isn’t). The NYTimes’ Saul Hansell has now written three blog posts and one feature article on the mess, all defending the A.P. None of those articles disclose the NYTimes’ partial ownership or board seat with the A.P.

In the first article, Hansell wrote that the A.P. was negotiating with the Media Bloggers Association to negotiate guidelines around use of A.P. content, even though copyright law already sets forth very clear guidelines on fair use. Any more restrictive measures wouldn’t be enforceable, but the A.P. has shown that it’s willing to use it’s army of lawyers to make life hell for anyone that tries. The easy way out is to simply pay the A.P. for quotations of more than four words.

Throughout Hansell’s posts there is a noticeable lack of criticism towards the A.P., or even recognition that this is a two sided issue. In his third post, this source left a comment basically retracting all the original material.

So that part of the story is still playing out, but this Media Bloggers Association keeps popping up in the conversation. Why did the A.P. choose them to represent bloggers? Why is the association’s Robert Cox spamming any blog (including ours) with factually incorrect pro-A.P. propaganda?

Why have I never heard of the Media Bloggers Association before last weekend? Why are they considered a representative body for bloggers, and why doesn’t the New York Times question that relationship?

The Media Bloggers Association has business ties to the A.P.. How can they possibly represent the interests of bloggers without prejudice?

Read Making Light for a more detailed investigation into this mess, as well as Mathew Ingram’s commentary. Jeff Jarvis continues to hold on to this story like a pitt bull (I nominate him to represent us bloggers, he’s clearly not a shill for the A.P.).

The A.P. Asserts Tough (and Still Secret) View of Copyright on Blogs
Saul Hansell

The Associated Press has punted on its commitment to clarify how much text it thinks bloggers and social news sites can reprint from its articles without violating The AP’s copyright. Indeed, the giant news organization appears to be insisting that bloggers cannot quote the headline of an A.P. story or its first paragraph. While the law is not settled, many lawyers suggest that such short excerpts are permitted under the “fair use” exception to the copyright laws.

The issue came up after The A.P. — a not for profit group of 1,500 newspapers, including The New York Times — demanded that the Drudge Retort remove 10 posts that quoted between 40 and 80 words of its articles. After a storm of protest, The A.P. backed down and said it had been too heavy-handed in its initial complaint. It added that it hoped to publish guidance for bloggers suggesting how they can use A.P. content.

On Thursday night, The A.P. published a statement saying that it had reached an accord with Rogers Cadenhead, the owner of the Drudge Retort (a parody of the better known Drudge Report): “Both parties consider the matter closed.” There was no word on any guidelines for other sites.

The full A.P. statement didn’t offer any relevant facts and was so convoluted that it’s hard to imagine anyone writing that way could get hired as a reporter at The A.P.:

In response to questions about the use of Associated Press content on the Drudge Retort web site, the AP was able to provide additional information to the operator of the site, Rogers Cadenhead, on Thursday. That information was aimed at enabling Mr. Cadenhead to bring the contributed content on his site into conformance with the policy he earlier set for his contributors. Both parties consider the matter closed.

In addition, the AP has had a constructive exchange of views this week with a number of interested parties in the blogging community about the relationship between news providers and bloggers and that dialogue will continue. The resolution of this matter illustrates that the interests of bloggers can be served while still respecting the intellectual property rights of news providers.
Paul Colford, the A.P. director of media relations, declined to discuss the matter at all. He said that Tom Curley, The A.P.’s chief executive, would also not discuss the matter, nor would anyone else at the organization.

Mr. Cadenhead, did publish a post on his blog about the matter. And Robert Cox, the president of the Media Bloggers Association, a group that helped Mr. Cadenhead negotiate with The A.P ., also offered his take. I spoke to both of them earlier today.

Here’s what seems to have happened:

On Thursday night, The A.P.’s lawyers spent two hours on the telephone with Mr. Cadenhead going over their objections to each of the items. There was not one of them, Mr. Cadenhead told me, that was acceptable in its original format. The A.P. said that if Mr. Cadenhead made certain changes, it would withdraw its demand that the posts be removed from his site.

Mr. Cadenhead told me that upon reflection he decided not to repost the modified items.

But he figured he would take The A.P.’s standards into account for future posts that link to its articles. His main goal, he said, was to avoid a protracted legal battle.

Mr. Cadenhead declined to tell me exactly what The A.P. wanted changed. He did say that one key issue is the A.P. wants to protect the headline and first paragraph of its articles. He suggested that this will put The Associated Press in direct conflict with bloggers. “If AP’s guidelines end up like the ones they shared with me, we’re headed for a Napster-style battle on the issue of fair use,” Mr. Cadenhead wrote on his blog.

Although The A.P. wouldn’t talk to me, several people I interviewed who have spoken to A.P. executives this week said the organization appears to be internally conflicted and has not yet been able to come up with a clear fair-use position.

But unless something changes, Mr. Cadenhead’s experience indicates that The A.P. is going to assert a much stricter interpretation of fair use than most people on the Internet are used to.

That will present bloggers and social news sites with a dilemma: If they chose to quote The A.P. as they’ve been doing, they are risking getting into a legal fight that well could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mr. Cox said that there were organizations willing to help Mr. Cadenhead with the legal bills.

However, the unsettled state of the law makes it a gamble to take the matter to court. “For the blogosphere in general, there is a risk The A.P. could win that case, and therefore set a precedent that no blogger would want set,” Mr. Cox said.

Governments Step Up Blogger Arrests
Jonathan M. Gitlin

No matter what you think of blogging, Internet-based citizen journalism is a real threat, not just to traditional media business models but to totalitarian governments. How do we know that bloggers are drawing blood? Because some governments are hitting back harder and harder; last year saw a tripling in the number of bloggers arrested around the world compared to 2006, according to a report from the University of Washington.

"Last year, 2007, was a record year for blogger arrests, with three times as many as in 2006. Egypt, Iran and China are the most dangerous places to blog about political life, accounting for more than half of all arrests since blogging became big," said Assistant Professor Phil Howard, lead author of the World Information Access Report. Howard also suggests that the real number of arrests may be much higher, as not every arrest makes it into the media.

The report separates the reason for arrests into six categories: violation of cultural norms, blogging involved with social protest, blogging about public policy, blogging about political figures, exposing corruption or human rights violations, and finally "other." In addition to Iran, Egypt and China, Middle Eastern regimes in Syria and Saudi Arabia, and South East Asian nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand also figure in the report. 2007 saw 36 bloggers arrested around the world, and since 2003 at least 64 have been arrested, with a total of 940 months of prison time served.

Even liberal democracies are not immune; France, Canada, the USA, and UK have all arrested people following their blogging activity since 2004. However, some of these cases might not seem so egregious; last year a blogger was arrested in Los Angeles following his postings about his attraction to young girls, and the beginning of 2008 saw an arrest in the UK after one Gavin Best used his blog to threaten a police officer's family following his arrest for a large number of thefts.

Another troubling trend has been the complicity of western Internet firms such as Yahoo and Google, both of whom have handed over details of bloggers to the Chinese government, despite publicly condemning such policies.

The Internet isn't just landing people in prison; occasionally it helps get them out too. Earlier this year there was the widely publicized case in Egypt where US blogger James Buck used Twitter, the microblogging platform, to alert his friends and colleagues to the fact that he'd been arrested following his efforts to cover an anti-government protest.

Meanwhile, the worldwide blogging community shows no signs of going away, although fear of persecution may drive more of them to do so anonymously. But long may they continue to show that the pen (or, in this case, the keyboard) is mightier than the sword.
JackSpratts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-06-08, 08:54 AM   #2
JackSpratts's Avatar
Join Date: May 2001
Location: New England
Posts: 9,928

Ken - By Request Only - The Complete Story
Ryan Zeinert

If you're not familiar with the legend of 'Ken' by now, you're about to be. The album cover widely considered to be the 'Worst Of All-Time' has been an endless source of humor to hipsters like myself, cementing its place in Internet Infamy by being featured in every 'Wost Album Cover' list and book on the planet.

When the CDP compiled our own list of the Worst Album Covers Of All-Time, By Request Only came in at #2. It was one of our most popular posts ever, and did nothing but spread the Internet Phenomenon that was Ken.

Who was this guy? What was on the record? Was it even a real record? These were the questions that filled message board threads for years, as outsider music collectors and Internet historians debated the merits of this one and only photograph. Mere sleeves of this record were said to be going for big money on eBay. Surely, it was too good to be true. Just a little too nostalgic, just a little too funny, perhaps. People wanted their hands on this album, but nobody even knew if it actually existed.

Until now.

Snopes, the Internet's premiere Urban Legend website, has finally cracked the mystery of By Request Only, actually tracking down Ken himself for the straight dope. Besides Snopes, I'm confident that the CDP is currently the only place on the Internet where you can see the entire story of Ken from beginning to end.

First off, this album is real. The first big clue came when the album, vinyl and all, went up on eBay and sold for $150. This gave the world their first look at the back cover of the album, along with the actual record itself.

Finally being able to see the back cover of By Request Only opened the floodgates of information. We got a track listing, an idea of the musical genre it entailed (Christian), a personal message from Ken himself, a last name (Snyder) and full contact information! Things were going well for us Internet investigators.

The next step, of course, was to break the fourth wall and actually track this guy down. Did Ken know that he was an Internet Celebrity? Was he aware that By Request Only was making big bucks on eBay and considered the worst album cover of all-time?

After some more digging, a Ken Snyder who matched the description and location of the album recording was linked to a church in Sheldon, Iowa, along with an updated photograph and contact information!

Surely, this was the same man. Now, not only did we know that the album was real, we also knew that Ken was still alive and well, spreading his message of faith throughout the Bible Belt. This was a very good thing.

Eventually, someone had the balls to make the phone call, and contact was made. Here's the Snopes entry on said conversation:

"Talked with Ken, he said he was somewhat aware of the notoriety, but was surprised to hear about the eBay auction and wanted a link. He hadn't received any calls about it, hopefully I didn't start anything, he's a really nice guy."

Contact with Ken! The Internet truly is an amazing thing.

After this conversation with Ken, he was happy to know that people were still interested in his music, and actually put up the LAST 4 COPIES OF BY REQUEST ONLY THAT HE HAD. In the eBay auctions, he actually put 'Worst Album Cover' in the title, so it's clear that the man has a very good sense of humor about this. In fact, shortly after finding out this news, Ken's daughter posted on the Snopes board and offered this information:

"Hey, I'm Ken's daughter. Just thought you would like to know my dad has loved reading these sites about him. That record is from 1976. He used to travel and sing all over the U.S., and that was one of his records he sold. He only has about 4 left now, decided 'why not try selling them if people are actually interested in buying them?' He called me up immediately after he got a call saying that one of you had told him his record sold on eBay. He knew the album cover was under "Worst Album Cover" but didn't realize he was the talk of people online. Crazyness!"

So, that pretty much brings everyone up to speed. The album is real, Ken is real (with a great sense of humor), and he's selling off the last 4 copies of By Request Only known to exist. He's even going to sign them! I love it when mysteries like this end with happy endings, although I am a bit sad that the Internet has halted yet another great Urban Legend.

Ken - By Request Only. Solved.

You should also know that I'm getting myself a copy, and I don't care the price. I'm currently the highest bidder on one of the auctions that ends tomorrow. I'll tell you how I did when it's over.

From September

After 38 Years, ‘Soul Train’ Gets New Owner
Brian Stelter

People who think of “Soul Train” as an artifact from 1970s television may be surprised to learn that the 38-year-old song-and-dance show was never canceled. Although no new episodes are produced, it lives on in reruns that showcase the taste-making music, hairstyles and fashions of decades past.

Now a production company, MadVision Entertainment, has bought the “Soul Train” franchise from its founder, Don Cornelius, and plans to breathe new life into it. The plan is to open up the show’s archives for older consumers as well as to create a new version of the program for younger ones.

“The series has never been shown on DVD, and it’s not been utilized on video-on-demand or mobile or Internet platforms,” Peter Griffith, a co-founder of MadVision, said. “There are many opportunities that we are exploring.”

MadVision, which was founded in 2006 by three urban media veterans, is best known for the Showtime stand-up comedy series “White Boyz in the Hood.” One of the founders of MadVision, Kenard Gibbs, is the group publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. Another founder, Anthony Maddox, worked as a producer at NBC and ran Sean Combs’s Bad Boy Films. Mr. Griffith, the third partner, founded a hip-hop Web portal and worked with Vibe to extend the magazine’s brand.

The deal for “Soul Train,” reached in mid-May, is the first acquisition for MadVision, which is based in Los Angeles. Neither the company nor Mr. Cornelius would comment on the sale price.

Mr. Cornelius, a former disc jockey, was not just the creator of “Soul Train,” but also the writer, producer and host. He produced the pilot for “Soul Train” in 1970.

Three years later, calling the show an “almost instant success,” a reviewer for The New York Times said that “Soul Train” was to “American Bandstand” as “Champagne is to seltzer water.” Later, the director Spike Lee called it an “urban music time capsule.”

“We had a show that kids gravitated to,” Mr. Cornelius said.

In the 1970s and 1980s, “Soul Train” helped glamorize black music, featuring performances by James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson and other hit makers. But the real stars were the young dancers who would strut their stuff, laying the groundwork for countless dance programs , including current ones like Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?” and MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.”

But the “Soul Train” brand has not entered the Internet age. Its Web site has barely been updated since 2006, when Mr. Cornelius stopped producing new episodes. “The Best of Soul Train” is now shown on weekends in syndication.

For MadVision, the rights issues will be complicated. The company will have to compensate artists, producers and labels for rebroadcasts of the songs played on the show.

As for 2008 version of “Soul Train,” Mr. Griffith said the company is in talks with potential producers about what the show might look like.

Mr. Cornelius, now 71, didn’t mince words about his decision to sell.

“Thirty-five years is a long time,” he said.

Audiophile Deathmatch: Monster Cables vs. a Coat Hanger

Whether or not Monster Cables are worth it is a war that has raged since home theatre immemorial. A poster at Audioholics was put in a room with five fellow audiophiles, and a Martin Logan SL-3 speaker set at 75Db at 1000KHz playing a mix of "smooth, trio, easy listening jazz" that no one had heard before. In one corner, Monster 1000 speaker cables. In the other, four coat hangers twisted and soldered into a speaker cable.

Seven songs were played while the group was blindfolded and the cables swapped back and forth. Not only "after 5 tests, none could determine which was the Monster 1000 cable or the coat hanger wire," but no one knew a coat hanger was used in the first place.

Further, when music was played through the coat hanger wire, we were asked if what we heard sounded good to us. All agreed that what was heard sounded excellent, however, when A-B tests occured, it was impossible to determine which sounded best the majority of the time and which wire was in use.

It's possible these guys weren't super-hardcore audiophiles that might not be able to tell the difference, but it largely goes with what we've found in our own tests of Monster Cable: The lower end can perform just as well, though we don't really recommend re-wiring your home theatre after a firesale on wire hangers.

Demand for Data Puts Engineers in Spotlight
Steve Lohr

In Silicon Valley, the stars have long been charismatic marketing visionaries and cool-nerd software wizards. By contrast, mechanical engineers who design and run computer data centers were traditionally regarded as little more than blue-collar workers in the high-tech world.

For years, they toiled in relative obscurity in the engine rooms of the digital economy, amid the racks of servers and storage devices that power everything from online videos to corporate e-mail systems. Their mission was to keep the computing power plants humming, while scant thought was given to rising costs and energy consumption.

Today, data center experts are no longer taken for granted. The torrid growth in data centers to keep pace with the demands of Internet-era computing, their immense need for electricity and their inefficient use of that energy pose environmental, energy and economic challenges, experts say.

That means people with the skills to design, build and run a data center that does not endanger the power grid are suddenly in demand. Their status is growing, as are their salaries — climbing more than 20 percent in the last two years into six figures for experienced engineers.

“The data center energy problem is growing fast, and it has an economic importance that far outweighs the electricity use,” said Jonathan G. Koomey, a consulting professor of environmental engineering at Stanford. “So that explains why these data center people, who haven’t gotten a lot of glory in their careers, are in the spotlight now.”

At one time, “we were seen as sheet metal jockeys,” said Chandrakant Patel, a mechanical engineer at Hewlett-Packard Labs who has worked in Silicon Valley for 25 years. “But now we have a chance to change the world for the better, using engineering and basic science.”

There is no letup in the demand for data center computing. Digital Realty Trust, a data center landlord with more than 70 facilities, says that customer demand for new space is running 50 percent ahead of its capacity to build and equip data centers for the next two years. “We’re building the railroads of the future, and we can’t keep up,” said Chris J. Crosby, a senior vice president at Digital Realty.

For every new center, new data center administrators need to be hired. “It takes us eight months to find a guy to run a data center,” said Mr. Crosby.

Indeed, some data managers with only a degree from a two-year college can command a $100,000 salary. Trade and professional conferences for data center experts, unheard of years ago, are now commonplace. Five-figure signing bonuses, retention bonuses and generous stock grants have become ingredients in the compensation packages of data center experts today.

Paul Marcoux knows the feeling of being wanted. Cisco Systems, giant Silicon Valley maker of equipment used in data centers, recently held a nationwide search for a vice president for “green engineering.” It needed someone who could manage the traditional information technology functions as well as increasingly important mechanical and electrical systems.

Last November, Cisco found Mr. Marcoux, an electrical engineer with an M.B.A. working at American Power Conversion, a manufacturer of power supplies and air-conditioners for data centers. Mr. Marcoux, 57, worked on the design and construction of about 100 data centers in his 30-year career.

“To really make progress, we have to bridge the analog and the digital worlds,” said Mr. Marcoux.

At Cisco, Mr. Marcoux is applying his experience to improving the company’s data centers and its products, so that its computers increasingly can communicate with the coolers and power generators. “Our products need to talk to the power supplies and air-conditioners instead of being standalone boxes,” he explained.

Cisco is just one of the many companies — and the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — working on the challenge of making data centers operate more like seamless machines, using sensors and software, for example, so the computers can direct air-conditioners and fans where and what level of cooling is needed.

Mr. Patel is overseeing H.P.’s programs in energy-efficient data centers and technology. The research includes advanced projects like trying to replace copper wiring in server computers with laser beams. But like other experts in the field, Mr. Patel says that data centers can be made 30 percent to 50 percent more efficient by applying current technology.

The pace of the data center buildup is the result of the surging use of server computers, which in the United States rose to 11.8 million in 2007, from 2.6 million a decade earlier, according to IDC, a research firm. Worldwide, the 10-year pattern is similar, with the server population increasing more than fourfold to 30.3 million by 2007.

“For years and years, the attitude was just buy it, install it and don’t worry about it,” said Vernon Turner, an analyst for IDC. “That led to all sorts of inefficiencies. Now, we’re paying for that behavior.”

The problem is that most computers in data centers run at 15 percent or less of capacity on average, loafing the rest of the time, though consuming electricity all the while. (In the old days, when they housed a few large computers, data centers were far more efficient. Mainframe computers run at 80 percent of capacity or more.)

The computers also generate a lot of heat, so much so that half of the energy consumed by a typical data center is for enormous air-conditioners, fans and other industrial equipment used mainly to cool the high-tech facilities.

The nation’s data centers doubled their energy consumption in the five years to 2006, exceeding the electricity used by the country’s color televisions, according to the latest government estimates.

The availability of electricity, not just its cost, presents a threat to the continued expansion of data center computing that can hamper companies across the economy, as they increasingly rely on information technology.

Based on current trends, by 2011 data center energy consumption will nearly double again, requiring the equivalent of 25 power plants. The world’s data centers, according to recent study from McKinsey & Company, could well surpass the airline industry as a greenhouse gas polluter by 2020.

Because the task ahead, analysts say, is not just building new data centers, but also overhauling the old ones, the managers who know how to cut energy consumption are at a premium. Most of the 6,600 data centers in America, analysts say, will be replaced or retrofitted with new equipment over the next several years.

They apparently have little choice. Analysts point to surveys that show 30 percent of American corporations are deferring new technology initiatives because of data center limitations.

Mechanical and electrical engineers with experience in data center design, air-flow modeling and power systems management are in demand. “If you have those skills, there are jobs waiting,” says Phil Calabrese, a mechanical engineer and director of I.B.M.’s real estate engineering and construction unit.

No company has longer experience in the care and feeding of data centers than I.B.M., and analysts say improving data center efficiency will involve applying some mainframe-style management disciplines.

To exploit the opportunity, I.B.M., which built its business on mainframes and still sells them, last fall introduced a green data center services unit. The new group signed $300 million in contracts in the fourth quarter of last year, and the business is growing rapidly this year, the company says.

Now that costs and energy consumption are priorities, the data center gurus are getting a hearing and new respect.

“After 25 years, we’re finally elevating mechanical engineering and adding a lot of electrical engineering, computer science and applied physics,” said Mr. Patel of Hewlett-Packard. “I wish I were 20 years younger.”

The Web Time Forgot
Alex Wright

On a fog-drizzled Monday afternoon, this fading medieval city feels like a forgotten place. Apart from the obligatory Gothic cathedral, there is not much to see here except for a tiny storefront museum called the Mundaneum, tucked down a narrow street in the northeast corner of town. It feels like a fittingly secluded home for the legacy of one of technology’s lost pioneers: Paul Otlet.

In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

Historians typically trace the origins of the World Wide Web through a lineage of Anglo-American inventors like Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart and Ted Nelson. But more than half a century before Tim Berners-Lee released the first Web browser in 1991, Otlet (pronounced ot-LAY) described a networked world where “anyone in his armchair would be able to contemplate the whole of creation.”

Although Otlet’s proto-Web relied on a patchwork of analog technologies like index cards and telegraph machines, it nonetheless anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today’s Web. “This was a Steampunk version of hypertext,” said Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired, who is writing a book about the future of technology.

Otlet’s vision hinged on the idea of a networked machine that joined documents using symbolic links. While that notion may seem obvious today, in 1934 it marked a conceptual breakthrough. “The hyperlink is one of the most underappreciated inventions of the last century,” Mr. Kelly said. “It will go down with radio in the pantheon of great inventions.”

Today, Otlet and his work have been largely forgotten, even in his native Belgium. Although Otlet enjoyed considerable fame during his lifetime, his legacy fell victim to a series of historical misfortunes — not least of which involved the Nazis marching into Belgium and destroying much of his life’s work.

But in recent years, a small group of researchers has begun to resurrect Otlet’s reputation, republishing some of his writing and raising money to establish the museum and archive in Mons.

As the Mundaneum museum prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary on Thursday, the curators are planning to release part of the original collection onto the present-day Web. That event will not only be a kind of posthumous vindication for Otlet, but it will also provide an opportunity to re-evaluate his place in Web history. Was the Mundaneum (mun-da-NAY-um) just a historical curiosity — a technological road not taken — or can his vision shed useful light on the Web as we know it?

Although Otlet spent his entire working life in the age before computers, he possessed remarkable foresight into the possibilities of electronic media. Paradoxically, his vision of a paperless future stemmed from a lifelong fascination with printed books.
Otlet, born in 1868, did not set foot in a schoolroom until age 12. His mother died when he was 3; his father was a successful entrepreneur who made a fortune selling trams all over the world. The senior Otlet kept his son out of school, out of a conviction that classrooms stifled children’s natural abilities. Left at home with his tutors and with few friends, the young Otlet lived the life of a solitary bookworm.

When he finally entered secondary school, he made straight for the library. “I could lock myself into the library and peruse the catalog, which for me was a miracle,” he later wrote. Soon after entering school, Otlet took on the role of school librarian.

In the years that followed, Otlet never really left the library. Though his father pushed him into law school, he soon left the bar to return to his first love, books. In 1895, he met a kindred spirit in the future Nobel Prize winner Henri La Fontaine, who joined him in planning to create a master bibliography of all the world’s published knowledge.

Even in 1895, such a project marked an act of colossal intellectual hubris. The two men set out to collect data on every book ever published, along with a vast collection of magazine and journal articles, photographs, posters and all kinds of ephemera — like pamphlets — that libraries typically ignored. Using 3 by 5 index cards (then the state of the art in storage technology), they went on to create a vast paper database with more than 12 million individual entries.

Otlet and LaFontaine eventually persuaded the Belgian government to support their project, proposing to build a “city of knowledge” that would bolster the government’s bid to become host of the League of Nations. The government granted them space in a government building, where Otlet expanded the operation. He hired more staff, and established a fee-based research service that allowed anyone in the world to submit a query via mail or telegraph — a kind of analog search engine. Inquiries poured in from all over the world, more than 1,500 a year, on topics as diverse as boomerangs and Bulgarian finance.

As the Mundaneum evolved, it began to choke on the sheer volume of paper. Otlet started sketching ideas for new technologies to manage the information overload. At one point he posited a kind of paper-based computer, rigged with wheels and spokes that would move documents around on the surface of a desk. Eventually, however, Otlet realized the ultimate answer involved scrapping paper altogether.

Since there was no such thing as electronic data storage in the 1920s, Otlet had to invent it. He started writing at length about the possibility of electronic media storage, culminating in a 1934 book, “Monde,” where he laid out his vision of a “mechanical, collective brain” that would house all the world’s information, made readily accessible over a global telecommunications network.

Tragically, just as Otlet’s vision began to crystallize, the Mundaneum fell on hard times. In 1934, the Belgian government lost interest in the project after losing its bid for the League of Nations headquarters. Otlet moved it to a smaller space, and after financial struggles had to close it to the public.

A handful of staff members kept working on the project, but the dream ended when the Nazis marched through Belgium in 1939. The Germans cleared out the original Mundaneum site to make way for an exhibit of Third Reich art, destroying thousands of boxes filled with index cards. Otlet died in 1944, a broken and soon-to-be-forgotten man.

After Otlet’s death, what survived of the original Mundaneum was left to languish in an old anatomy building of the Free University in the Parc Leopold until 1968, when a young graduate student named W. Boyd Rayward picked up the paper trail. Having read some of Otlet’s work, he traveled to the abandoned office in Brussels, where he discovered a mausoleumlike room full of books and mounds of paper covered in cobwebs.

Mr. Rayward has since helped lead a resurgence of interest in Otlet’s work, a movement that eventually fueled enough interest to prompt development of the Mundaneum museum in Mons.

Today, the new Mundaneum reveals tantalizing glimpses of a Web that might have been. Long rows of catalog drawers hold millions of Otlet’s index cards, pointing the way into a back-room archive brimming with books, posters, photos, newspaper clippings and all kinds of other artifacts. A team of full-time archivists have managed to catalog less than 10 percent of the collection.

The archive’s sheer sprawl reveals both the possibilities and the limits of Otlet’s original vision. Otlet envisioned a team of professional catalogers analyzing every piece of incoming information, a philosophy that runs counter to the bottom-up ethos of the Web.

“I think Otlet would have felt lost with the Internet,” said his biographer, Françoise Levie. Even with a small army of professional librarians, the original Mundaneum could never have accommodated the sheer volume of information produced on the Web today.

“I don’t think it could have scaled up,” Mr. Rayward said. “It couldn’t even scale up to meet the demands of the paper-based world he was living in.”

Those limitations notwithstanding, Otlet’s version of hypertext held a few important advantages over today’s Web. For one thing, he saw a smarter kind of hyperlink. Whereas links on the Web today serve as a kind of mute bond between documents, Otlet envisioned links that carried meaning by, for example, annotating if particular documents agreed or disagreed with each other. That facility is notably lacking in the dumb logic of modern hyperlinks.

Otlet also saw the possibilities of social networks, of letting users “participate, applaud, give ovations, sing in the chorus.” While he very likely would have been flummoxed by the anything-goes environment of Facebook or MySpace, Otlet saw some of the more productive aspects of social networking — the ability to trade messages, participate in discussions and work together to collect and organize documents.

Some scholars believe Otlet also foresaw something like the Semantic Web, the emerging framework for subject-centric computing that has been gaining traction among computer scientists like Mr. Berners-Lee. Like the Semantic Web, the Mundaneum aspired not just to draw static links between documents, but also to map out conceptual relationships between facts and ideas. “The Semantic Web is rather Otlet-ish,” said Michael Buckland, a professor at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley.

Critics of the Semantic Web say it relies too heavily on expert programmers to create ontologies (formalized descriptions of concepts and relationships) that will let computers exchange data with one another more easily. The Semantic Web “may be useful, but it is bound to fail,” Dr. Buckland said, adding, “It doesn’t scale because nobody will provide enough labor to build it.”

The same criticism could have been leveled against the Mundaneum. Just as Otlet’s vision required a group of trained catalogers to classify the world’s knowledge, so the Semantic Web hinges on an elite class of programmers to formulate descriptions for a potentially vast range of information. For those who advocate such labor-intensive data schemes, the fate of the Mundaneum may offer a cautionary tale.

The curators of today’s Mundaneum hope the museum avoids its predecessor’s fate. Although the museum has consistently managed to secure financing, it struggles to attract visitors.

“The problem is that no one knows the story of the Mundaneum,” said the lead archivist, Stéphanie Manfroid. “People are not necessarily excited to go see an archive. It’s like, would you rather go see the latest ‘Star Wars’ movie, or would you rather go see a giant card catalog?”

Striving to broaden its appeal, the museum stages regular exhibits of posters, photographs and contemporary art. And while only a trickle of tourists make their way to the little museum in Mons, the town may yet find its way onto the technological history map. Later this year, a new corporate citizen plans to open a data center on the edge of town: Google.

U.S. School District to Begin Microchipping Students
David Gutierrez

A Rhode Island school district has announced a pilot program to monitor student movements by means of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips implanted in their schoolbags.

The Middletown School District, in partnership with MAP Information Technology Corp., has launched a pilot program to implant RFID chips into the schoolbags of 80 children at the Aquidneck School. Each chip would be programmed with a student identification number, and would be read by an external device installed in one of two school buses. The buses would also be fitted with global positioning system (GPS) devices.

Parents or school officials could log onto a school web site to see whether and when specific children had entered or exited which bus, and to look up the bus's current location as provided by the GPS device.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has criticized the plan as an invasion of children's privacy and a potential risk to their safety.

"There's absolutely no need to be tagging children," said Stephen Brown, executive director of the ACLU's Rhode Island chapter. According to Brown, the school district should already know where its students are.

"[This program is] a solution in search of a problem," Brown said.

The school district says that its current plan is no different than other programs already in place for parents to monitor their children's school experience. For example, parents can already check on their children's attendance records and what they have for lunch, said district Superintendent Rosemary Kraeger.

Brown disputed this argument. The school is perfectly entitled to track its buses, he said, but "it's a quantitative leap to monitor children themselves." He raised the question of whether unauthorized individuals could use easily available RFID readers to find out students' private information and monitor their movements.

Because the pilot program is being provided to the school district at no cost, it did not require approval from the Rhode Island ethics commission.

Critics Study Possible Limits to Habeas Corpus Ruling

Affirming Right to Challenge Detention Is Considered by Some a Taking of Federal Power
Michael Abramowitz

The White House and allies in Congress have begun exploring how to limit the scope of this week's Supreme Court ruling that says suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.

Administration lawyers were digesting the ramifications of a decision they condemned as an unjustified judicial usurpation of federal and congressional prerogatives in waging war. They said the court provided little guidance for the standards judges should use in evaluating the claims of detainees seeking release, and suggested that they might press Congress to spell out new rules.

"We're looking at all options," said a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. "One of those options is to look and see if there is any way to legislatively contain the scope of the decision. The court's language is quite ambiguous. We need to make sure that we are anticipating the questions it raises, and that is what we are going to do in the next few days."

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a key figure in detention policy on Capitol Hill, said he is concerned that detainees will shop for sympathetic judges while challenging issues including their treatment, food and lodging.

"I am hoping that there is some legislative enactments that we can pass that would protect our national security requirements," Graham said.

Some Democrats counseled patience. "There is no need for quick-fix legislation," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). "No one is being released from custody. We need to study the opinion and consider next steps with great care."

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said it "seems unlikely that anything will be resolved in the next seven months. It'll be something that the next administration will have to deal with."

Over the past six years, the administration has been riven with debate over what to do with suspected terrorists seized overseas, and it has been slapped down three times by the Supreme Court over its efforts to create a legal framework outside the regular criminal justice system.

Several lawyers inside and outside the government said the latest rebuff from the high court may well represent the tipping point in the debate over the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which many around the world regard as a symbol for U.S. lawlessness. President Bush has repeatedly stated he wants to close down the facility, but administration officials have been unable to determine how to do so.

Charles "Cully" D. Stimson, who oversaw detainee affairs for the Pentagon until early 2007, said that the Bush administration has several options on Guantanamo -- but that almost all of them end in the facility's closure. He said Bush could run out the clock and leave such decisions to the next president, or he could take the "bold move" of immediately ordering Guantanamo's safe and secure closure.

"The legal rationale underlying the establishment of Guantanamo has been eviscerated by this decision," said Stimson, now at the Heritage Foundation. "The question is not if Guantanamo will close; it's when."

Stimson said the administration could "reluctantly embrace" the Supreme Court's decision and pull together the evidence to justify holding the detainees, then present it in hearings before judges in Washington. He said he believes most of the people held at Guantanamo would be considered enemy combatants, while a "small percentage" would have to be released. Currently, 270 detainees are held at Guantanamo.

Defense officials have not spoken publicly about Guantanamo since the Supreme Court decision, but officials said privately they are preparing for the possibility that the detention facility could close in the near future. Defense officials do not expect to take any newly captured terrorism suspects to the facility and have taken only six new detainees to Guantanamo since early 2007.

U.S. District Court officials said yesterday that they are still seeking to set up meetings with attorneys representing both the government and the detainees to work out legal and logistical issues. The District Court's judges will then discuss how to proceed with the habeas corpus reviews.

This week, lawyers representing several detainees filed motions to set scheduling conferences, and one asked a judge to force the government to treat his client as a prisoner of war entitled to the rights of the Geneva Conventions.

Staff writers Josh White, Joby Warrick and Del Quentin Wilber and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Opposition to Proposed Surveillance Law Mounts
Faisal Enayat Khan

As the vote on Sweden’s controversial surveillance proposal nears, the voices of political party youth wings and bloggers are rising up in a chorus of opposition.

Gustaf Stenlund, spokesperson for the youth wing of the Moderate party believes a few Moderate parliamentarians will chose their conscience over party policy and vote against the proposal.

And Stenlund is not the only youth wing member of the centre-right coalition parties who is breaking ranks with his senior colleagues.

Centre Party youth wing chair Magnus Andersson is also frustrated over the support his party is giving the measure.

“The legislation and the Centre Party’s support for it goes against the ideals we stand for,” he told The Local.

If passed, the measure would enable Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt - FRA) to monitor all outgoing and incoming communications crossing Sweden’s borders.

Both the Centre and the Liberal Party’s youth wings have issued statements condemning the legislation and urging their colleagues in the Riksdag to break ranks and vote down the proposal.

Although frustrated, Andersson is still hopeful that public pressure will help centre-right politicians vote no next week.

“I still have faith in my colleagues,” he said.

Frederick Federley, a Centre Party member of the Riksdag whose vote is considered crucial for both the yes and no camps, said on Wednesday that he has been overwhelmed by the number of emails and telephone calls he has received from members of the public giving him support.

Federley has been open about his mixed feelings towards the vote, exemplifying the challenges facing undecided members of parliament as they wrestle with the competing priorities of party politics and public pressure.

Even Allan Widman, defence spokesperson for the Liberal Party and a strong supporter of the proposed surveillance law, can understand people’s anxiety.

“I have received perhaps a thousand emails from people concerned about the proposal. It is a very serious matter,” he said.

“I think it is a very difficult position for every parliamentarian.”

Despite the worries expressed by those who have written to him, Widman, who also sits on the Riksdag’s Committee on Defence, said it was “very unlikely” that he would change his position.

“I am going to vote yes,” he said.

Stenlund from the young Moderates blames the media for not doing enough to highlight the privacy and national security issues at stake with the proposed measure.

“It makes more sensational headlines when just few days are left for the proposal to become law,” he said.

In fact, it was a select group of bloggers who played a pivotal role in drawing attention to the bill following its approval by the Riksdag’s defence committee last week.

Within days, a group of opponents had set up a website, www.stoppafralagen.nu, to galvanize the efforts of those who were against the measure.

According to its administrators, the site has had at least 100,000 hits a day since its launch on June 6th.

Mikael Nilsson, one of the main organizers of the opposition movement, said that individuals from all walks of life simply don’t want a society which resembles that of China and North Korea.

“We are overwhelmed by the response we’ve received from the members of the public. They are all worried,” he said.

The group plans to hold a demonstration outside of the Riksdag on the day of the vote in the hopes of convincing wavering politicians to vote against the measure.

Sweden Fails to Pass Sweeping Surveillance Bill

The bill would have allowed sweeping surveillance of telephone data

Sweden's center-right government has failed in its attempt to introduce a wide-ranging surveillance law which would have allowed all cross-border Internet and telephone traffic to be monitored.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who wanted to permit wide-ranging monitoring of cross-border Internet data and to tap international telephone calls to discover "dangers from abroad" more quickly, failed to get the backing of its own four-party coalition on Wednesday, June 18.

The draft law will not now be debated in parliament on Wednesday as originally planned.

The plans would have allowed the military National Defense Radio Establishment (FRA) to monitor Swedes' Internet usage as well as content from e-mails, phone calls and text messages. The legislation would have required all telecom operators in Sweden to bring their systems into line with FRA's surveillance system.

Sweden's conservative government cited the changing nature of security threats, terrorism, international crime and the specter of cyber warfare to push through the law which would have handed intelligence agencies far-ranging powers to snoop on citizens' personal data.

The law has been deeply controversial in Sweden with critics slamming it as an attack on civil liberties in a country that prides itself on its liberal attitudes.

The Swedish journalists' union said the bill constituted the "final nail in the coffin of democracy."

'Yes' to Surveillance Law

Swedish lawmakers voted late on Wednesday in favour of a controversial bill allowing all emails and phone calls to be monitored in the name of national security.

The vote, one of the most divisive in Sweden in recent years, had initially been scheduled for early Wednesday but was postponed after more than one-third of MPs voted to send the bill back to parliament's defence committee "for further preparation."

After the committee required that the centre-right government safeguard individual rights further in an annex to the law to be voted on in the autumn, the bill narrowly passed with 143 votes in favour, 138 opposed and one parliamentarian abstaining.

Critics have slammed the proposal as an attack on civil liberties that would create a "big brother" state, while supporters say it is necessary to protect the country from foreign threats.

The new law, set to take effect on January 1st, 2009, will enable the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) -- a civilian agency despite its name -- to tap all cross-border Internet and telephone communication.

But although the government said only cross-border communications would be monitored, all communications risk getting caught in the net since some internet servers are located abroad and FRA would need to check all emails to determine whether they have crossed the border.

Under the current law, FRA is only allowed to monitor military radio communications.

The Defence Ministry, which hammered out the proposal, insists the new legislation is necessary in today's changed world, where communications are increasingly transmitted through fibre-optic cables.

The government holds a slim seven-seat majority in parliament, and with the left-wing opposition vehemently opposed to the proposal, just four "no" votes within the coalition could have sunk it.

A number of the coalition members had voiced deep concern about the bill before Wednesday's revision was made, while opponents in parliament, along with hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the building, faced a nervy wait for the result.

"This law is rotten to the core. (It) is about violating integrity. Regardless of what words they use, it will do exactly that," one of the demonstrators, 32-year-old Magdalena Berg from Gothenburg, told Swedish public radio.

Critics of the new law, including human rights activists, journalists, lawyers and even the former head of the Swedish intelligence agency Säpo, had before Wednesday's revision argued that it did not go far enough in safeguarding individual rights.

Unlike police, FRA will, for instance, not be required to seek a court order to begin surveillance.

The government on Wednesday insisted it had addressed these concerns with the last-minute revisions to the law that among other things added further independent and parliamentary controls to FRA's work.

Former Säpo chief Anders Eriksson, who currently heads up the Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protection, was not impressed.

"I think the law needs to be re-written. It is not enough to create a few checks and balances ... It is the law itself there is something wrong with," he told Swedish radio before the vote.

New Airport Scanners See Through Clothes

Security scanners which can see through passengers' clothing and reveal details of their body underneath are being installed in 10 US airports, the US Transportation Security Administration says.

A random selection of travellers getting ready to board airplanes in Washington, New York's Kennedy, Los Angeles and other key hubs will be shut in the glass booths while a three-dimensional image is made of their body beneath their clothes.

The booths close around the passenger and emit "millimetre waves" that go through cloth to identify metal, plastics, ceramics, chemical materials and explosives, according to the TSA.

While it allows the security screeners - looking at the images in a separate room - to clearly see the passenger's sexual organs as well as other details of their bodies, the passenger's face is blurred, TSA said in a statement on its website.

The scan only takes seconds and is to replace the physical pat-downs of people that is currently widespread in airports.

TSA began introducing the body scanners in airports in April, first in the Phoenix, Arizona terminal.

The installation is picking up this month, with machines in place or planned for airports in Washington (Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International), Dallas, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Miami and Detroit.

But the new machines have provoked worries among passengers and rights activists.

"People have no idea how graphic the images are," Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union, told AFP.

The ACLU said in a statement that passengers expecting privacy underneath their clothing "should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies such as evidence of mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes and the size of their breasts or genitals as a pre-requisite to boarding a plane."

Besides masking their faces, the TSA says on its website, the images made "will not be printed stored or transmitted".

"Once the transportation security officer has viewed the image and resolved anomalies, the image is erased from the screen permanently. The officer is unable to print, export, store or transmit the image."

Lara Uselding, a TSA spokeswoman, added that passengers are not obliged to accept the new machines.

"The passengers can choose between the body imaging and the pat-down," she told AFP.

TSA foresees 30 of the machines installed across the country by the end of 2008. In Europe, Amsterdam's Schipol airport is already using the scanners.

News you can use

How to train death squads and quash revolutions from San Salvador to you

JULIAN ASSANGE (investigative editor)
Monday June 15, 2008

Wikileaks has obtained a sensitive US military counter-insurgency manual. The manual, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004), may be critically described as "What we learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places". Its contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies and guerilla movements world wide, history making.

The document, which has been verified, is official US Special Forces doctrine. It directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless searches, detainment without charge and the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates bribery, employing terrorists, false flag operations and concealing human rights abuses from journalists. And it directly advocates the extensive use of "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures more palatable.

The document has been particularly informed by the long United States involvement in the El Salvador. However it is worth noting what the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert E. White had to say in FOIA documents obtained from the US State Department about the situation, as early as 1980:
The major, immediate threat to the existence of this government is the right-wing violence. In the city of San Salvador, the hired thugs of the extreme right, some of them well-trained Cuban and Nicaraguan terrorists, kill moderate left leaders and blow up government buildings. In the countryside, elements of the security forces torture and kill the campesinos, shoot up their houses and burn their crops. At least two hundred refugees from the countryside arrive daily in the capital city. This campaign of terror is radicalizing the rural areas just as surely as Somoza's National Guard did in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, the command structure of the army and the security forces either tolerates or encourages this activity. These senior officers believe or pretend to believe that they are eliminating the guerillas.

Selected extracts follow. Note that the manual is 219 pages long and contains substantial material throughout. These extracts should merely be considered representative. Emphasis has been added for further selectivity. The full manual can be found at US Special Forces counter-insurgency manual FM 31-20-3.
http://wikileaks.org/wiki/How_to_tra... vador_to_you

CONFIRMED: U.S. Hid Detainees From The Red Cross
Warren P. Strobel

The U.S. military hid the locations of suspected terrorist detainees and concealed harsh treatment to avoid the scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to documents that a Senate committee released Tuesday.

"We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques," Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, a military lawyer who's since retired, said during an October 2002 meeting at the Guantanamo Bay prison to discuss employing interrogation techniques that some have equated with torture. Her comments were recorded in minutes of the meeting that were made public Tuesday. At that same meeting, Beaver also appeared to confirm that U.S. officials at another detention facility -- Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan -- were using sleep deprivation to "break" detainees well before then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved that technique. "True, but officially it is not happening," she is quoted as having said.

A third person at the meeting, Jonathan Fredman, the chief counsel for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, disclosed that detainees were moved routinely to avoid the scrutiny of the ICRC, which keeps tabs on prisoners in conflicts around the world.

Read the whole story here.

General Accuses WH of War Crimes
Dan Froomkin

The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability.

In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees." He called the abuse "systemic and illegal." And, as Seymour M. Hersh reported in the New Yorker, he was rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement.

Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation.

The new report, he writes, "tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual's lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

"The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full-scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted --both on America's institutions and our nation's founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

"In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. . . .

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Pamela Hess of the Associated Press has more on the report, which resulted from "the most extensive medical study of former U.S. detainees published so far" and "found evidence of torture and other abuse that resulted in serious injuries and mental disorders."

The War Council

So if war crimes were committed, who's responsible?

In today's installment of a major McClatchy Newspapers series on the U.S. detention system, Tom Lasseter writes: "The framework under which detainees were imprisoned for years without charges at Guantanamo and in many cases abused in Afghanistan wasn't the product of American military policy or the fault of a few rogue soldiers.

"It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.

"The Supreme Court now has struck down many of their legal interpretations. It ruled last Thursday that preventing detainees from challenging their detention in federal courts was unconstitutional.

"The quintet of lawyers, who called themselves the 'War Council,' drafted legal opinions that circumvented the military's code of justice, the federal court system and America's international treaties in order to prevent anyone -- from soldiers on the ground to the president -- from being held accountable for activities that at other times have been considered war crimes. . . .

"The international conventions that the United States helped draft, and to which it's a party, were abandoned in secret meetings among the five men in one another's offices. No one in the War Council has publicly described the group's activities in any detail, and only some of their opinions and memorandums have been made public. . . .

"Only one of the five War Council lawyers remains in office: David Addington, the brilliant but abrasive longtime legal adviser and now chief of staff to Cheney. His primary motive, according to several former administration and defense officials, was to push for an expansion of presidential power that Congress or the courts couldn't check."

The other members were Alberto Gonzales, first the White House counsel and then the attorney general; William J. Haynes II, the former Pentagon general counsel; former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo; and Timothy E. Flanigan, a former deputy to Gonzales.

For more on Addington's central role, see my Sept. 5, 2007 column; for more on the relationship between the administration's legal memos and torture, see my April 2 column.

The Senate Investigation

The Senate Armed Services Committee made news with a hearing yesterday -- part of its continuing investigation into the administration's interrogation policies.

Joby Warrick writes in The Washington Post: "A senior CIA lawyer advised Pentagon officials about the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay in a meeting in late 2002, defending waterboarding and other methods as permissible despite U.S. and international laws banning torture, according to documents released yesterday by congressional investigators.

"Torture 'is basically subject to perception,' CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman told a group of military and intelligence officials gathered at the U.S.-run detention camp in Cuba on Oct. 2, 2002, according to minutes of the meeting. 'If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong.' . . .

"Fredman, whose agency had been granted broad latitude by Justice Department lawyers to conduct harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, listed key considerations for setting a similar program at the Cuban prison. He discussed the pros and cons of videotaping, talked about how to avoid interference by the International Committee of the Red Cross and offered a strong defense of waterboarding." . . .

"Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), the committee chairman, asked: 'How on Earth did we get to the point where a United States government lawyer would say that . . . torture is subject to perception?'."

Levin also introduced evidence that proposed methods faced opposition at the time from experts in military and international law. Warrick writes: "Among them was Mark Fallon, deputy commander of the Defense Department's Criminal Investigation Task Force. He warned in an October 2002 e-mail to Pentagon colleagues that the techniques under discussion would 'shock the conscience of any legal body' that might review how the interrogations were conducted.

"'This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of,' Fallon wrote. He added: 'Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this.'"

The star witness yesterday was Haynes -- the former Pentagon general counsel, "War Council" member and Addington protege.

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane write in the New York Times that Haynes "sparred at length with senators seeking to pin on him some responsibility for the harsh tactics and the worldwide outrage they provoked.

"Documents released Tuesday show that some of Mr. Haynes's aides in July 2002 sought out information about aggressive interrogations.

"Mr. Haynes fended off attacks by Democrats and some Republicans, noting that the Defense Department has 10,000 lawyers and saying he had no time to conduct legal research himself on which methods were permitted.

"Moreover, Mr. Haynes said, 'as the lawyer, I was not the decision maker. I was the adviser.'

"Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said he thought Mr. Haynes's advice had led American soldiers drastically astray. 'You degraded the integrity of the United States military,' Mr. Reed said."

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post: "If ever there was a case that cried out for enhanced interrogation techniques, it was yesterday's Senate appearance by the Pentagon's former top lawyer.

"William 'Jim' Haynes II, the man who blessed the use of dogs, hoods and nudity to pry information out of recalcitrant detainees, proved to be a model of evasion himself as he resisted all attempts at inquiry by the Armed Services Committee. . .

"It was the most public case of memory loss since Alberto Gonzales, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, forgot everything he ever knew about anything. And, like Gonzales, Haynes (who, denied a federal judgeship by the Senate, left the Pentagon in February for a job with Chevron) had good reason to plead temporary senility.

"A committee investigation found that, contrary to his earlier testimony, Haynes had showed strong interest in potentially abusive questioning methods as early as July 2002. Later, ignoring the strong objections of the uniformed military, Haynes sent a memo to Donald Rumsfeld recommending the approval of stress positions, nudity, dogs and light deprivation. . . .

"Haynes mixed his forgetfulness with a dash of insolence. He suggested to [Claire] McCaskill [(D-Mo.)] that 'it's important that you understand how the Defense Department works.' He cut off [Jack] Reed [(D-R.I.)] with a 'Let me finish, Senator!' and disclosed that he had been too busy to give more attention to the Geneva Conventions: 'I mean, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of decisions made every day. This was one.'"

Mark Benjamin of Salon offers up a timeline based on the Senate investigation. He writes that "as more and more documents from inside the Bush government come to light, it is increasingly clear that the administration sought from early on to implement interrogation techniques whose basis was torture.

Phil Carter analyzes the new evidence on washingtonpost.com

Adam Zagorin writes for Time: "Despite years of investigation into alleged abuse and death of prisoners in U.S. custody since 9/11, the only Americans held accountable have been the low-ranking 'bad apples' convicted for the worst atrocities at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. No official blame has been assigned to higher-ups for abuses at Guantanamo or in Afghanistan, much less for crimes allegedly committed by U.S. personnel in various secret CIA prisons around the world."

Tim Rutten writes in his Los Angeles Times opinion column: "Apart from understanding how and why the Bush/Cheney administration tricked the American people into going to war in Iraq, no question is more urgent than how the White House forced the adoption of torture as state policy of the United States."

Rutten writes that, along with earlier revelations, "the current Senate investigation has established definitively that the drive to make torture an instrument of U.S. policy originated at the highest levels of the Bush administration -- mainly in the circle that included Cheney, Rumsfeld and Addington. This group had come to Washington determined to implement its theory of 'the unitary executive,' which holds that presidential powers of all sorts have been dangerously diminished since the Vietnam War. The fact that these guys seem to have defined executive branch power as the ability to hold people in secret and torture them pushes the creepy quotient into areas that probably require psychoanalytic credentials."

Rutten, however, has nothing but scorn for the "handful of European rights activists and people on the lacy left fringe of American politics" who are calling for criminal indictments or war-crime trials.

The White House Line

White House spokesman Tony Fratto repeated the official administration position yesterday: "I'm telling you that abuse of detainees has never been, is not, and will never be the policy of this government. The policy of this government has been to take these detainees and to interrogate them and get the information that we can get to help protect this country, which we have been very successful at doing, and we've been very successful at getting the information that has saved lives and prevented attacks on this country and on our allies. . . .

"[W]e do not abuse and we treat detainees humanely and comporting with the law."

Constitutional Expert: FISA Bill 'is an Evisceration of the Fourth Amendment'
Nick Langewis and David Edwards

"Never appease political bullies, President Bush admonished at the Israeli Knesset," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened. "Oddly, House Democrats chose to ignore him on the subject of dealing with him."

Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley sees a "very frightening bill" in a proposed "compromise," currently in the House, that would update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to effectively grant immunity from civil lawsuits to telecommunications companies that agreed to spy on their customers as part of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program, starting shortly before the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. If the White House asked a phone company to spy with its assurance that it was legal, the measure says, that's enough to dismiss a case.

Congressional Democrats, Turley went on, knew about surveillance and torture programs, but were politically unable to oppose them at the same time they were touting themselves to the public as defenders of civil liberties. The bill, he said, is part of a campaign of collusion between Congress and the Bush administration, immunizing not only the telecommunications companies, but the administration and any members of Congress, on either side of the aisle, that may have been involved.

"The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation," Senator Russ Feingold said today. "The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration."

"The Democrats never really were engaged in this," said Turley. "In fact, they repeatedly tried to cave in to the White House, only to be stopped by civil libertarians and bloggers."

"I think they're simply waiting to see if the public's interest will wane," he went on, referring to repeated attempts to float said legislation past the public. "This bill has quite literally no public value for citizens or civil liberties. It is reverse engineering, though the type of thing the Bush Administration's famous for, and now the Democrats are doing--that is, to change the law to conform to past conduct."

"It's what any criminal would love to do," Turley continued. "You rob a bank, go to the legislature, and change the law to say that robbing banks is lawful."

"People need to be very, very much aware of this bill," he charged. "What you're seeing in this bill is an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. It is something that allows the President and the government to go into law-abiding homes, on their word alone--their suspicion alone--and to engage in warrantless surveillance.

"That's what the framers who drafted the Fourth Amendment wanted to prevent."

The House could vote on the bill as soon as Friday. A full copy of the bill, in PDF format, is available at this link.

Senate Housing Bill Requires eBay, Amazon, Google, and All Credit Card Companies to Report Transactions to the Government

Broad, invasive provision touches nearly every aspect of American commerce.
Adam Brandon

Washington, DC - Hidden deep in Senator Christopher Dodd's 630-page Senate housing legislation is a sweeping provision that affects the privacy and operation of nearly all of America’s small businesses. The provision, which was added by the bill's managers without debate this week, would require the nation's payment systems to track, aggregate, and report information on nearly every electronic transaction to the federal government.

FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey commented: "This is a provision with astonishing reach, and it was slipped into the bill just this week. Not only does it affect nearly every credit card transaction in America, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, but the bill specifically targets payment systems like eBay's PayPal, Amazon, and Google Checkout that are used by many small online businesses. The privacy implications for America's small businesses are breathtaking."

"Privacy groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and small business organizations like the NFIB sharply criticized this idea when it first appeared earlier this year. What is the federal government's purpose with this kind of detailed data? How will this database be secured, and who will have access? Many small proprietors use their Social Security number as their tax ID. How will their privacy be protected? What compliance costs will this impose on businesses? Why is Sen. Chris Dodd putting this provision in a housing bailout bill? The bill also includes the creation of a new national fingerprint registry for mortgage brokers.

"At a time when concerns about both identity theft and government spying are paramount, Congress wants to create a new honey pot of private data that includes Social Security numbers. This bill reduces privacy across America's payment processing systems and treats every American small business or eBay power seller like a criminal on parole by requiring an unprecedented level of reporting to the federal government. This outrageous idea is another reason to delay the housing bailout legislation so that Senators and the public at large have time to examine its full implications."

From the Senate Bill Summary:

Payment Card and Third Party Network Information Reporting. The proposal requires information reporting on payment card and third party network transactions. Payment settlement entities, including merchant acquiring banks and third party settlement organizations, or third party payment facilitators acting on their behalf, will be required to report the annual gross amount of reportable transactions to the IRS and to the participating payee. Reportable transactions include any payment card transaction and any third party network transaction. Participating payees include persons who accept a payment card as payment and third party networks who accept payment from a third party settlement organization in settlement of transactions. A payment card means any card issued pursuant to an agreement or arrangement which provides for standards and mechanisms for settling the transactions. Use of an account number or other indicia associated with a payment card will be treated in the same manner as a payment card. A de minimis exception for transactions of $10,000 or less and 200 transactions or less applies to payments by third party settlement organizations. The proposal applies to returns for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2010. Back-up withholding provisions apply to amounts paid after December 31, 2011. This proposal is estimated to raise $9.802 billion over ten years.

Spyware Bill Cloaks a Mini-UCITA
Ed Foster

The holy grail for the software industry's political muscle has long been what in UCITA was called "electronic self help" - the right of software publishers to remotely disable their software on the mere suspicion that it hasn't been paid for. UCITA was ultimately stopped, but last Wednesday the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on a bill that nominally is supposed to fight spyware but seems intended to make remote disabling legal.

As I suggested last week, S. 1625 -- the Counter Spy Act -- takes an anti-spyware approach that's very similar to the way the failed Can-Spam Act of 2003 attacked spam. Its list of prohibited behaviors - like taking over computers with zombies and collecting information for identity theft -- are all already clearly illegal under existing laws. Its various loopholes would allow some bad actors to claim they're actually following the law. And actual victims would have virtually no recourse but to beg the FTC to take action.

But one aspect of the Counter Spy Act is far more troubling than anything that was in Can-Spam. It's the "Limits on Liability" provision, more specifically Section 6(a). That says the whole laundry list of prohibited acts in the bill:

"do not apply to any monitoring of, or interaction with, a subscriber's Internet or other network connection or service, or a protected computer, by or at the direction of a telecommunications carrier, cable operator, computer hardware or software provider, financial institution or provider of information services or interactive computer service..."

These institutions have immunity under the Counter Spy Act when what they're doing is done for purposes network security, diagnostics, technical support and other mostly innocuous-sounding activities. In fact, with the first nine of these liability exemptions it seems rather odd that they would need to be mentioned at all in the context of the clearly nefarious behaviors prohibited by the bill. But the tenth and final exemption is granted for when the otherwise prohibited acts are done for:

"(10) detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of software fraudulent or other illegal activities."

Besides the fact that the clause needs a comma or two, what does preventing "the unauthorized use of software" have to do with spyware? Is the Counter Spy Act fighting for privacy or against piracy? To understand the real purpose of 6(a)(10), we need only look at the written testimony of Vincent Weafer, a vice president of Symantec who was representing the Business Software Alliance (BSA) before the committee. The BSA, by the way, was by far the primary lobbyist - some might even say the primary authors -- of UCITA and its electronic self help concept.

Weaver praised Section 6(a) as "a provision allowing legitimate security and anti-piracy activities." Along with the obviously legitimate activities that are provided exemption, he went on to say that "Section 6(a) also covers the detection and prevention of the unauthorized use of software. This is essential to our industry's ability to protect our products against theft. Software piracy results in almost 50 billion dollars in losses to the software industry each year, including more than 8 billion dollars in the US alone. Given these massive losses, it is absolutely critical that companies that engage in otherwise lawful conduct to detect or prevent piracy or other unlawful acts are not unwittingly subject to liability under anti-spyware laws."

OK, but which software providers (not to mention telecommunication carriers, financial institutions, etc.) get to conduct these anti-piracy activities? After all, the spyware purveyors themselves often claim to be authorized software providers who got the user to click OK to their EULA. The troubling questions raised by 6(a)(10) were pointed out to the Senate committee in the written testimony of Art Butler, an attorney representing Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions (AFFECT). The Week in Review is edited and published by Jack Spratts. By the way, AFFECT is the organization that stopped UCITA from being passed in any more states after it was rushed into law in Virginia and Maryland. And it's an organization that I've been a member of since its inception, so there's no question whose side I'm on.

Subsection 6(a)(10) would allow a software vendor to surreptitiously download code onto a user's computer and freely violate their privacy, Butler wrote. "It would allow the provider to set itself up as an ad hoc police force to conduct warrantless searches and to act as judge and jury to conduct unilateral seizures. Private entities do not and should not have the right to conduct law enforcement activities. More troubling is the fact that the language of Subsection 6(a)(10) would effectively allow a software provider to unilaterally decide to remotely shut down the user's computer or Internet or other network connection or service. But whether the use of a particular software is 'unauthorized,' 'fraudulent,' or 'illegal' is often subject to legitimate dispute and merits some judicial consideration before a provider is allowed to unilaterally employ a drastic remedy like remote disablement."

AFFECT has a very modest proposal for tweaking 6(a)(10), but on that I personally feel they don't go nearly far enough. Even if 6(a)(10) were removed entirely, the net effect of the Counter Spy Act would still be to make the spyware problem worse. The basic approach of prohibiting a list of specific acts is a fatally flawed way of defining a moving target like spyware. Inevitably, it will let bad guys do bad things that weren't included on the list.

In its hearing last Wednesday the committee clearly struggled with the basic issue of how to define spyware, so perhaps there is hope they'll realize they need a completely different approach. They've been given some good advice in that regard. In his testimony, spyware expert Ben Edelman argued for a radical simplification of S.1625 that would focus on increasing the penalties such as a treble fine in FTC actions. And the FTC itself in its testimony before the Senate committee and in comments last year about similar bills in the House has made it clear it doesn't want new definitions of spyware but the ability to bring civil actions against those it goes after under existing laws.

So who is it that actually wants spyware laws to take this laundry list approach, and why? The only thing I can figure is it's the software industry and perhaps the major ISPs who know they can't have their exemptions if there aren't specific prohibited acts to exempt them from.

Of course, the BSA side also questions the motives behind opposing arguments. Weafer in his testimony warned the Commerce committee that "certain interest groups" would seek to weaken or delete Section 6(a). "The purpose of weakening this provision is not to protect against spyware, but to make it harder for legitimate companies to fight piracy, or other fraudulent or illegal activities," he wrote. "The laudable anti-spyware goals of this Act should not be subverted for this purpose."

Well, I agree with him that the laudable goals of the Counter Spy Act should not be subverted, but I would say the BSA is the certain interest group that is trying to do so for its long-held purpose of legalizing electronic self help. And if you agree with me, you should consider writing your U.S. Senators and telling them that you'd like to see S. 1625 dumped. Congress needs to find ways to help fight spyware, but handing a host of commercial entities unfettered powers over our computers isn't one of them.

Bid to Have Businessman Jailed

The Solicitor-General has taken the unprecedented step of asking the High Court to lock up an Auckland businessman indefinitely for refusing to obey court orders.

David Collins says the contempt committed by Vince Siemer is the most serious he has ever encountered and he has no choice but to seek such a severe penalty.

The Siemers came from the United States nine years ago and has made New Zealand home. But now Vince Siemer is fighting for his freedom because the Solicitor-General wants him jailed indefinitely.

"What he is doing to me is not fair. It's not fair to me, it's not fair to the taxpayer," says Siemer.

Siemer claims the Solicitor-General has spent $100,000 taking him to court over a contempt issue that stems from his long-running battle with Vector chairman Michael Stiassny.

Siemer claims that Stiassny wrongly put one of his companies into liquidation, so he launched a website campaign which accuses Stiassny of suspect business practices.

"No one's proved that the information is defamatory or incorrect," says Siemer.

Stiassny obtained an injunction three years ago to stop Siemer's criticism.

But when he refused to take down the websites, the High Court jailed him for six weeks last year for contempt. And because the websites continue, the Solicitor-General now wants him sent to prison indefinitely.

"Of course indefinite is always excessive, except in this case. He has the keys to that jail cell in his own pocket, he can say 'OK I stop' and they'd let him go," says Bill Hodge of Auckland University Law School.

The Solicitor-General was reluctantly called as a witness to justify his action and says he agonised over taking such a rare step.

"Society falls apart if we don't obey court orders and the court order is cease publishing this material on this website," says Hodge.

Siemer describes himself as a law abiding citizen and says he just wants the chance to argue his case against Stiassny.

"No one in the courtroom has ever accused me of breaking the law. What they have accused me of is breaking or breaching the injunction which says that I can't speak truthfully about what Michael Stiassny is doing," says Siemer.

And Jane Siemer, the defendant's wife, says her faith in New Zealand's legal system is being sorely tested.

"The courts just have no idea of the strains put on my family and to just not allow us to really speak up and have a fair trial - it's unjust to all Kiwis," she says.

At Social Site, Only the Businesslike Need Apply
Brad Stone

For a Web site, it could hardly look less exciting. Its pages are heavy with text, much of it a flat blue, and there are few photos and absolutely no videos.

But LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, is dull by design. Unlike Facebook and MySpace, the site is aimed at career-minded, white-collar workers, people who join more for the networking than the social.

Now, in the midst of Silicon Valley’s recession-proof enthusiasm for community-oriented Web sites, the most boring of the social networks is finally grabbing the spotlight.

On Wednesday, LinkedIn will announce that it has raised $53 million in capital, primarily from Bain Capital Ventures, a Boston-based private equity firm. The new financing round values the company at $1 billion. That heady valuation is more than the $580 million that the News Corporation paid for MySpace in 2005, but less than the $15 billion value assigned to Facebook last year when Microsoft bought a minority stake.

LinkedIn’s investment round delays a rumored initial public offering, which would have finally tested the public market’s interest in social networking.

“What we didn’t want is to have the distraction of being public and to be worried by quarterly performance,” said Dan Nye, the buttoned-down chief executive of LinkedIn, who would not be caught dead in the Birkenstocks and rumpled T-shirts favored by MySpace and Facebook employees.

LinkedIn, which says it is already profitable, will use the investment to make acquisitions and expand its overseas operations.

“We want to create a broad and critical business tool that is used by tens of millions of business professionals every day to make them better at what they do,” Mr. Nye said.

The average age of a LinkedIn user is 41, the point in life where people are less likely to build their digital identities around dates, parties and photos of revelry.

LinkedIn gives professionals, even the most hopeless wallflower, a painless way to follow the advice of every career counselor: build a network. Users maintain online résumés, establish links with colleagues and business acquaintances and then expand their networks to the contacts of their contacts. The service also helps them search for experts who can help them solve daily business problems.

The four-year-old site is decidedly antisocial: only last fall, after what executives describe as a year of intense debate, did the company ask members to add photos to their profiles.

That business-only-please strategy appears to be paying off. The number of people using LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, Calif., tripled in May over the previous year, according to Nielsen Online. At 23 million members, LinkedIn remains far smaller than Facebook and MySpace, each with 115 million members, but it is growing considerably faster.

LinkedIn also has a more diversified approach to making money than its entertainment-oriented rivals, which are struggling to bring in ad dollars and keep up with inflated expectations for increased revenue.

LinkedIn will get only a quarter of its projected $100 million in revenue this year from ads. (It places ads from companies like Microsoft and Southwest Airlines on profile pages.) Other moneymakers include premium subscriptions, which let users directly contact any user on the site instead of requiring an introduction from another member.

A third source of revenue is recruitment tools that companies can use to find people who may not even be actively looking for new jobs. Companies pay to search for candidates with specific skills, and each day, they get new prospects as people who fit their criteria join LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is set to undergo a radical shift in strategy to find other sources of revenue. Instead of catering primarily to individual white-collar workers, the site will soon introduce new services aimed at companies. It is a risky move that could alienate members who prefer to use the networking site to network — without their bosses peering over their shoulders.

One new product, Company Groups, automatically gathers all the employees from a company who use LinkedIn into a single, private Web forum. Employees can pose questions to each other, and share and discuss news articles about their industry.

Soon, LinkedIn plans to add additional features, like a group calendar, and let independent developers contribute their own programs that will allow employees to collaborate on projects.

The idea is to let firms exploit their employees’ social connections, institutional memories and special skills — knowledge that large, geographically dispersed companies often have a difficult time obtaining.

For example, in a test of the feature by AKQA, a digital ad agency in San Francisco, an employee based in Amsterdam recently asked her 350 colleagues on LinkedIn if the firm had done any previous work for television production companies. Executives in San Francisco, New York and London promptly responded to the query.

“This is a collected, protected space for employees to talk to each other and reference outside information,” said Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s founder and chairman.

Becoming even more corporate is something of a gamble for LinkedIn. Many companies might resist the idea of confidential corporate information circulating on LinkedIn’s servers — and perhaps being exposed to former employees who are included in the group because they have not updated their LinkedIn résumés. (LinkedIn says every member of a company group can remove people whom they identify as former workers or interlopers.)

Diffusing the purpose of the site might also repel some users.

“It will be extraordinarily challenging to simultaneously serve as a corporate tool and yet promote the ‘brand of me’ in an emerging free-agent nation,” said Keith Rabois, a former LinkedIn executive who is now vice president at Slide, a maker of applications for social networks.

Jeffrey Glass, a partner at Bain Capital, says his firm invested in LinkedIn primarily because it is now becoming popular enough to introduce these kinds of products to companies and other organizations, like universities.

“This is a powerful tool because inside the corporation, there are massive bodies of knowledge and relationships between individuals that the corporation has been unable to take advantage of until now,” he said.

The new services could help LinkedIn fend off some new competition. Microsoft, long covetous of rapidly growing social-networking properties, is internally testing a service called TownSquare that allows employees of a company to follow one another’s activities on the corporate network.

Executives at Facebook, meanwhile, have recently said that they see networking tools for professionals as a primary avenue of growth. The site recently added networking to the list of options that new users select when they are asked to specify what they intend to do on the site.

Mr. Hoffman was an early investor in Facebook and says he does not want to disparage the competition. But he said that most members of Facebook who are older than 30 use it for entertainment, like playing Scrabulous, a version of Scrabble — not for doing their jobs.

“Scrabulous is not work, and it does not enable you to be an effective professional,” he said.

Study Shatters Myths on Personal Net Use at Work
Anick Jesdanun

It's no secret that people sneak in some personal e-mail and Web surfing when they're supposed to be working.

A new study attempts to shatter perceptions that these Web surfers are just slackers trying to avoid work. In fact, it turns out everyone does it, from senior managers to entry-level employees _ and researchers figure that means management attempts to clamp down on Internet use may be missing the mark.

Many legitimate reasons may be at play, speculates R. Kelly Garrett, one of the study's authors and a communications professor at Ohio State University. For instance, people may use the Web at work to help balance job and life responsibilities; with the personal matters taken care of from work, they can focus on the task at hand.

"It's appropriate to just avoid the knee-jerk response that all personal Internet use is detrimental," Garrett said.

Installing filters to block access to Web sites and e-mail services could backfire by reducing job satisfaction and thus productivity, researchers wrote.

The study on "cyberslacking," based on statistical analyses of responses in a phone survey of 1,024 people during the summer of 2006, was published in the June issue of the CyberPsychology and Behavior journal.

James N. Danziger, a professor at the Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations at the University of California, Irvine, was Garrett's co-author.

The study didn't attempt to go much beyond trying to gauge the types of employees who use the Internet for personal reasons. Garrett said more research is needed to determine motives and measure effects on productivity. Those studies, researchers say, would then help companies figure out how best to control and accommodate personal use.

Court: Bosses Wrong to Read Text Messages

Ruling states that police had expectation of privacy
Maura Dolan

An employer has no right to read an employee's text messages without the worker's knowledge and consent, and federal law bars service providers from turning over the contents of the messages to the employer who pays for the service, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Wednesday.

The court's unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel stemmed from a lawsuit by Ontario, Calif., police Sgt. Jeff Quon and three others against the city's service provider, the city and its police department for violating his constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches.

Although the city had informed employees that it might monitor e-mails, the informal policy was that text messages sent over city-owned pagers would not be monitored for content, the court said. If an employee exceeded the city's limit on text messages, the employee had to pay the "overage" charges.

In August 2002, Quon and another officer exceeded the 25,000-character limit for texting. The police chief ordered a subordinate to obtain transcripts of the officers' text messages to determine whether the pagers were being used purely for work purposes.
The provider, Arch Wireless, sent the department transcripts of the messages. The city determined that many of Quon's messages were personal, and several were sexually explicit.

The court found that Arch Wireless violated the federal Stored Communications Act, which prohibits providers from divulging the contents of any communication which is maintained on the service.

Quon and the other plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation that their messages stored on the service provider's network were private, the court found.

"The extent to which the Fourth Amendment provides protection for the contents of electronic communications in the Internet Age is an open question," Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the panel. "The recently minted standard of electronic communications via e-mails, text messages and other means opens a new frontier in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence that has been little explored."

The court declined to adopt a "monolithic view" of privacy involving text messages, saying a person's expectation of privacy may depend on various factors. If Quon had permitted the department to review the messages, he would have no claim, the court said.

Instead, the Ontario Police Department "surreptitiously reviewed messages that all parties reasonably believed were free from third-party review," the court said.

The audit of the messages, intended to determine whether a 25,000-character limit on texting was adequate for work purposes, was not reasonable, the court found.

"There were a host of simple ways to verify the efficacy of the 25,000 character limit (if that, indeed, was the intended purpose) without intruding . . . on Fourth Amendment rights," Wardlaw wrote.

Belarus Parliament Backs New Press Law
Andrei Makhovsky

Parliament in Belarus, an ex-Soviet state accused in the West of crushing human rights, gave initial approval on Tuesday to a media law banning foreign funding and possibly tightening control over the Internet.

Many opposition publications have been closed down, leaving the Internet as the main source of information on the country's small, and often divided, liberal and nationalist opposition.

Parliament, where opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko hold no seats, backed the bill on first reading after speakers said the text posed no threat to freedom of speech.

"There are no repressive provisions in this law which could significantly worsen the situation with the media," Yuri Kulakovsky, head of a parliamentary commission, said in presenting the bill to the chamber. "The current law governing the press dates from 1995 and is very out of date."

Independent journalists in the country of 10 million said they feared the new legislation could be used to clamp down on opposition websites.

"This law creates a legal basis to regulate in future the activities of Internet sites, one of the main sources of independent information in Belarus," said Andrei Bastunets of the Belarussian Association of Journalists.

Official media in Belarus, particularly state television, report at length on Lukashenko's activities and lionise his initiatives. Opposition figures are given little opportunity to appear except in election campaigns as required by law.

Lukashenko, first elected in 1994, promotes policies of generous subsidies and state control of the economy and is broadly popular in the country of 10 million wedged between Russia and three European Union members.

Western countries say Lukashenko has cracked down on independent journalists, rigged his re-election and crushed freedom of expression by dispersing demonstrations.

The president is barred entry to the United States and the European Union, which make resumed dialogue contingent on extending fundamental rights.

The new law does not specifically require Internet sites to be registered, but allows their regulation to be overseen by government decisions.

"This law does not regulate the activities of Internet media. For now, there is no requirement for them to register and that means nothing will change in the way they operate," said Natalya Petkevich, presidential chief of staff.

"The law sets down only that at some point Internet media may be registered and that the govenment is to prepare conditions for registration." (Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Dacre Promises New Look at Rules on Hacking by Journalists
Owen Gibson

The editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, has promised to re-examine the rules that prevent journalists hacking into computers to obtain personal information, to clarify and possibly tighten them, after becoming chairman of the body responsible for the editors' code that governs newspapers and magazines.

In his report on the activities of the committee that reviews and revises the self-regulatory code overseen by the Press Complaints Commission, he said the industry had faced a challenging year.

"The threat of custodial sentences under the Data Protection Act was particularly worrying because of the effect it would have had on press freedom by inhibiting investigative reporting," he said. "Such sentences would also have meant that Britain would have been one of the only countries in the civilised world to jail journalists trying to do their job."

Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, has campaigned for jail sentences for journalists breaking data protection laws after he compiled two reports showing that newspapers - including the Daily Mail - habitually bought personal details from private investigators.

Following editors' lobbying, ministers tabled an amendment shelving the proposed jail terms but leaving the legislation on the statute book.

Dacre took over in April as chair of the editors' code of practice committee. In his report, he called on the industry to show the Justice Department it was treating the issue of data "extremely seriously". He said the committee had amended the code in 2007 to make clear that the rules on subterfuge banned writers hacking into computers to obtain confidential information, unless it was in the public interest.

The issue came into the spotlight after Clive Goodman, the News of the World royal editor, and a private investigator were jailed under existing laws after hacking into voicemails meant for royal family members. A report from Thomas also suggested that "blagging" - obtaining personal information by underhand means - was commonplace among private investigators employed by newspapers.

Dacre said that in addition to educating staff, the industry must demonstrate publicly "the various mechanisms it has introduced collectively and individually to ensure compliance". He said that the editors' code should also be re-examined to see if the rules needed to be "tightened still further" and promised to report back on the matter.

Following criticism of newspaper coverage of the suicides in Bridgend, Dacre said editors faced "hugely difficult challenges in balancing the public's right to know against the due sensitivity needed in handling individual cases". He said the code had apparently performed well and that many of the complaints had been directed at foreign news groups and broadcasters. But the issue would be examined by the committee in the light of a current PCC review.

In a Changing World of News, an Elegy for Copy Editors
Lawrence Downes

I went to the Newseum, a shiny new building in Washington that news companies and foundations have erected as a shrine to their industry. Since it’s my industry, too, I thought a museum, where sacred relics and texts have been placed safely in the equivalent of a big glass jar, might make me hopeful about the future.

“Where’s the section on copy editing?” I asked the guy at the entrance.

He wasn’t sure. “Try Internet, TV and Radio, on the third floor.”

“For copy editing? Newspaper copy editing?”

He checked with a colleague. “News History, on five,” she said.

Ouch. Copy editors are my favorite people in the news business, and many I know are still alive and doing what they do. As it happened, I couldn’t find anything about them on the fifth or any other floor. A call later confirmed that the museum has essentially nothing about how newspapers are made today, and thus nothing about the lowly yet exalted copy editor.

I was one for a long time, and I know that obscurity and unpopularity are part of the job. Copy editors work late hours and can get testy. They never sign their work.

As for what they do, here’s the short version: After news happens in the chaos and clutter of the real world, it travels through a reporter’s mind, a photographer’s eye, a notebook and camera lens, into computer files, then through multiple layers of editing. Copy editors handle the final transition to an ink-on-paper object. On the news-factory floor, they do the refining and packaging. They trim words, fix grammar, punctuation and style, write headlines and captions.

But they also do a lot more. Copy editors are the last set of eyes before yours. They are more powerful than proofreaders. They untangle twisted prose. They are surgeons, removing growths of error and irrelevance; they are minimalist chefs, straining fat. Their goal is to make sure that the day’s work of a newspaper staff becomes an object of lasting beauty and excellence once it hits the presses.

Yeah. Presses. It has probably already struck you how irrelevant many of these skills may seem in the endlessly shifting, eternal glow of the Web.

The copy editor’s job, to the extent possible under deadline, is to slow down, think things through, do the math and ask the irritating question. His or her main creative outlet, writing clever headlines, is problematic online, because allusive wordplay doesn’t necessarily generate Google hits. And Google makes everyone an expert, so the aging copy editor’s trivia-packed brain and synonym collection seem not to count for as much anymore.

The job hasn’t disappeared yet, but it is swiftly evolving, away from an emphasis on style and consistency, from making a physical object perfect the first time. The path to excellence is now through speed, agility and creativity in using multiple expressive outlets for information in all its shapes and sounds.

As newspapers lose money and readers, they have been shedding great swaths of expensive expertise. They have been forced to shrink or eliminate the multiply redundant levels of editing that distinguish their kind of journalism from what you find on TV, radio and much of the Web. Copy editors are being bought out or forced out; they are dying and not being replaced.

Webby doesn’t necessarily mean sloppy, of course, and online news operations will shine with all the brilliance that the journalists who create them can bring. But in that world of the perpetual present tense — post it now, fix it later, update constantly — old-time, persnickety editing may be a luxury in which only a few large news operations will indulge. It will be an artisanal product, like monastery honey and wooden yachts.

It would be nice, at least, to thank the copy editors on the way out. But after visiting the Newseum, I know what I have suspected for a few years: if newspaper copy editors vanish from the earth, no one is going to notice.

The Secret to Success in Publishing: Bash Bush, With Nods to a Classic
Joanne Kaufman

The manuscript — unsolicited and addressed simply to “Editor in Chief, Little, Brown” — arrived at its destination in a clear envelope, “which was very clever,” said Geoff Shandler, the Little, Brown editor in chief who received the package. “Without opening it, I could see some of the cover image they had designed.”

Such was Mr. Shandler’s introduction to “Goodnight Bush,” an unauthorized parody of the 1947 children’s bedtime classic “Goodnight Moon,” written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.

For generations, weary parents have intoned: “Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon.” And who can forget the bowl of mush and the quiet old lady who endlessly whispers “hush”?

The cover of “Goodnight Bush” looks almost exactly like “Goodnight Moon — green and orange, with an image of a window and fireplace — and uses a similar rhyme scheme. But there the thematic similarities end.

The authors, Erich Origen and Gan Golan, set their story in “a situation room.” There is no bunny snuggling into bed, but rather George W. Bush, grinning and wearing a “Mission Accomplished” flight suit. Instead of three little bears sitting on chairs, there are “war profiteers giving three cheers.”

Subsequent pages tell of “A grand old party to war in a rush/And a quiet Dick Cheney whispering hush.” The vice president is illustrated seated in a rocking chair — with a shotgun in his lap and bunny slippers on his feet.

“I thought it was brilliant,” said Mr. Shandler, whose company also published the parody “Yiddish With Dick and Jane.” That book, from 2004, prompted the owner of the rights to the classic “Dick and Jane” primers to sue in 2005, alleging copyright and trademark infringement.

The publisher of “Goodnight Bush” is counting on the fair use doctrine, which allows limited amounts of copyrighted material to be used without permission. “Parody as fair use is a developing area of the law,” said Pamela Golinski, an entertainment lawyer in New York, “and as a result, whether a given parody merits the shield of the fair use doctrine is a complex question.”

A spokeswoman for HarperCollins, publisher of “Goodnight Moon,” said the company would have no comment on “Goodnight Bush.”

While the authors’ considerations were largely political, the publisher worried more about sales potential. At 48 pages, “Goodnight Bush” is the sort of short read that publishers fear will be quickly digested in stores and thus will not make it to the cash register.

“But this had so many brilliant gags,” Mr. Shandler said. “You could spend so much time looking page by page.”

For example, the mouse that flits about the pages of “Goodnight Moon” has been replaced by a tiny scurrying Osama bin Laden. At the beginning of the book, a pristine Constitution hangs on a wall; by book’s end, it is full of crayoned redactions.

An afterword to “Goodnight Bush” notes that the first lady, Laura Bush, placed “Goodnight Moon” first on her list of children’s books and that the president’s brother, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, called it one of his childhood favorites.

'Degenerate' Art Stolen by Nazis on Show in Rostock

An art exhibition has opened in Rostock showing hundreds of works stolen by the Nazis and condemned as ‘‘degenerate’’, which have not been seen since the 1950s.

The works, by artists as celebrated as Paul Klee, Ernst Barlach, Lyonel Feininger and Ersnt Ludwig Kirchner are all included in the show, called, “Modern Masterworks - from the survivors of art confiscated by the National Socialists in 1937”.

It has been hailed as a sensation as it is the first time they have been displayed together since 1957, and due to the insight the collection gives into the mindset of those who wanted to ban ‘‘degenerate’’ art.

Thousands of ‘degenerate’ artworks were burned by the Nazis when they cleared the museums and galleries of art which did not fit with their philosophy.

But art historian Andreas Hüneke, who has analyzed a list of more than 20,000 works, said most of the burned art was by unknown artists. “One has to understand that the really big names were not burned with them,” he told Die Welt newspaper.

Bernhard Böhmer, a collector who worked with some of the most important art dealers of the Third Reich, spent years dealing with the ‘‘degenerate’’ art taken by the regime from museums. Those he could not sell, he kept – 1,000 of them.

After the war around 400 were returned to the museums they hailed from, but those which had come from West German museums, remained in Rostock.

The exhibition has sparked a debate about what to do with the rest. In the meantime they are finally available for people to see at the Kulturhistorisches Museum in Rostock – until September 7.

Mutilation Art Show Gets Warning
Kylie Davis

A Sydney exhibition featuring urine-soaked clothes and video of self-mutilation disgusted visiting police today.

In the wake of the controversy over Bill Henson's photographs of naked girls recently, police were heard telling organisers on the opening day of the modern Arts Festival Biennale on Cockatoo Island today that the exhibits required a much stronger warning at the entrance.

Biennale organisers said the visit from officers from Balmain Police was routine "to discuss arrangements for the opening night party" on the island tomorrow evening.

The officers, who visited the installation of controversial Sydney artist Mike Parr, were heard expressing astonishment and disgust.

The works by Parr, hosted in the dilapidated and derelict sailors' quarters, feature video pieces of self-mutilation and installations of urine-soaked clothes.

A warning appears at the entrance of the exhibit, which is a collection of Parr's work from 1972 to the present, stating that viewers need to be over 18 and that the exhibits are graphic, including dead birds.

Police were heard telling organisers the warning sign was not explicit enough.

One black and white video shows Parr holding his finger over a candle until the pain becomes unbearable.

A second involves stitching his face with a needle and thread while a third has him vomiting a toxic blue dye.

"The police were here to discuss tomorrow's party arrangements," an organiser said.

"They did not have a problem with the art, they had worked in homicide and had seen much worse."

Parr's work, according to the program, seeks to denounce the brutality of the world we live in.

The exhibition goes from June 18 - September 7. It is free at venues across Sydney. See Saturday's Herald for a sepcial report. For details of events go to bos2008


Man Who Helped Create ‘Daisy Ad’ Dies
Margalit Fox

Tony Schwartz, a self-taught, sought-after and highly reclusive media consultant who helped create what is generally considered to be the most famous political ad to appear on television, died Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 84.

His death was announced by his daughter, Kayla Schwartz-Burridge.

“Media consultant” is barely adequate to describe Mr. Schwartz’s portfolio. In a career of more than half a century, he was variously an art director; advertising executive; urban folklorist who captured the cacophony of New York streets on phonograph records; radio host; Broadway sound designer; college professor, media theorist and author who wrote books about the persuasive power of sound and image; and maker of commercials for products, candidates and causes. What was more, Mr. Schwartz, who had suffered from agoraphobia since the age of 13, accomplished most of these things entirely within his Manhattan home.

Of the thousands of television and radio advertisements on which Mr. Schwartz worked, none is as well known, or as controversial, as one that was broadcast exactly once: the so-called “daisy ad,” made for Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential campaign in 1964.
Produced by the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach in collaboration with Mr. Schwartz, the minute-long spot was broadcast on Sept. 7, 1964, during NBC’s “Monday Night at the Movies.” It showed a little girl in a meadow (in reality a Manhattan park), counting aloud as she plucks the petals from a daisy. Her voice dissolves into a man’s voice counting downward, followed by the image of an atomic blast. President Johnson’s voice is heard on the soundtrack:

“These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” (The president’s speech deliberately invoked a line from “September 1, 1939,” a poem by W. H. Auden written at the outbreak of World War II.)

Though the name of Johnson’s opponent, Senator Barry M. Goldwater, was never mentioned, Goldwater’s campaign objected strenuously to the ad. So did many members of the public, Republicans and Democrats alike. The spot was pulled from the air after a single commercial showing, but it had done its work: with its dire implications about Goldwater and nuclear responsibility, the daisy ad was generally credited with contributing to Johnson’s victory at the polls in November. It was also credited with heralding the start of ferociously negative political advertising in the United States.

In interviews and on his Web site, www.tonyschwartz.org, Mr. Schwartz said he had created the daisy ad in its entirety, an account that was publicly disputed over the years by members of the Doyle Dane Bernbach team. (The daisy ad was modeled directly on a radio commercial for nuclear disarmament that Mr. Schwartz had made for the United Nations in the early 1960s.) What is generally acknowledged is that Mr. Schwartz was at least responsible for the overall audio concept of the daisy ad — the child counting up, the man counting down, the explosion — and for producing the soundtrack.

Over the years, Mr. Schwartz helped develop advertising campaigns for hundreds of political candidates, most Democrats, among them Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. (All of them, no matter how eminent, made the trek to Mr. Schwartz’s home to be filmed.) He was also known for creating some of television’s earliest, and most evocative, anti-smoking commercials, a cause on which he worked for much of his career.

The subject of frequent articles in the news media, Mr. Schwartz was described often as an impassioned visionary and occasionally as a skilled trafficker in truisms with a talent for self-promotion. His work was likened frequently — sometimes approvingly, sometimes not — to that of the media scholar Marshall McLuhan, a mentor and close friend. (He was sometimes confused with the Tony Schwartz who was a co-author of memoirs by Michael D. Eisner and Donald Trump.) But detractors and admirers alike praised Mr. Schwartz for being one of the first people to put the neglected medium of sound to effective use in television advertising. He was widely credited, for instance, with being the first person to use real children’s voices in the soundtracks of television commercials, something he began doing in the late 1950s. Advertisers had long considered young children too intractable to deliver their lines on cue; their dialogue had traditionally been recorded by adult actresses attempting to sound like children.

Anthony Schwartz was born in Manhattan on Aug. 19, 1923. He was reared in New York City and Crompond, N.Y., near Peekskill. As a youth, Tony was an ardent ham-radio operator and also interested in visual art. At 16, he went blind for about six months as a result of an unspecified episode of “an emotional type,” as he told People magazine years later. His blindness strengthened his already deep connection to the auditory world.

Mr. Schwartz earned an undergraduate degree in graphic design from the Pratt Institute, followed by service during World War II as a civilian artist for the Navy. Afterward, he worked as an art director at several ad agencies and later ran his own agency, the Wexton Company, which later became Solow/Wexton.

Around this time, Mr. Schwartz also bought his first wire recorder. Slinging it heavily over his shoulder, he began to harvest the intoxicating sounds of the city: foghorns and folk singers; street vendors hawking their wares; a shoemaker plying his trade; a Central Park zookeeper waxing poetic on the care and feeding of lions; hundreds of taxi drivers; and a slew of ordinary New Yorkers, just talking.

Mr. Schwartz also built an important archive of folk music, recording young artists like Harry Belafonte and the Weavers performing in his home. Through his extensive correspondence with other, far-flung audiophiles, he augmented his collection with their recordings of music from around the globe.

During the 1950s and afterward, Mr. Schwartz produced more than dozen record albums, most for the Folkways label. Among them were “Sounds of My City”; “1, 2, 3 and a Zing, Zing, Zing,” featuring the songs and games of New York children; and “A Dog’s Life,” which captured the sounds in the first year in the life of a real dog. (Many of these albums are available as CD’s from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, www.folkways.si.edu.)

Because of his agoraphobia, Mr. Schwartz confined his fieldwork to his immediate neighborhood, on Manhattan’s West Side. One result was “New York 19” — the number denoted the district’s old postal zone — which documented the “music” Mr. Schwartz encountered on his walks there, from street performers to the lilting cadences of immigrant speech to a pneumatic drill singing its achingly familiar aria.

For 31 years, from 1945 to 1976, Mr. Schwartz was the producer and host of “Around New York,” a radio program broadcast on WNYC. He was also a sound designer for several Broadway plays, among them “Two for the Seesaw” (1958) and “The Miracle Worker” (1959).

Mr. Schwartz was a shrewd observer of communication in its many forms, in particular the persuasive marriage of word and image known as advertising. The aim of advertising, Mr. Schwartz often said, should not be to introduce viewers to new ideas, but rather to bring out ones that were already present, lurking subconsciously in the mind.

“The best political commercials are Rorschach patterns,” he wrote in his book “The Responsive Chord” (Anchor Press, 1973). “They do not tell the viewer anything. They surface his feelings and provide a context for him to express these feelings.”

Mr. Schwartz also wrote “Media, the Second God,” published by Random House in 1981. He taught media studies at several universities, including Fordham, Columbia, New York University and Harvard, using a variety of technologies — among them two-way telephones and live satellite transmissions — to conduct his classes from the security of his home. As he often said late in life, he had delivered lectures to every continent but Antarctica, all without leaving the house.

Besides his daughter Michaela Schwartz-Burridge, who is known as Kayla, Mr. Schwartz is survived by his wife, the former Reenah Lurie, whom he married in 1959; a son, Anton; a brother, Lasker, known as Larry; and one grandchild.

Among Mr. Schwartz’s most famous television ads is one he wrote and produced for the American Cancer Society; it was first broadcast in 1963, a year before the Surgeon General’s warning on the dangers of smoking was released. The ad showed two children dressing up in adult clothes. The announcer’s voice said, simply: “Children love to imitate their parents. Children learn by imitating their parents. Do you smoke cigarettes?”

He later produced an evocative television ad in which Patrick Reynolds, a grandson of the tobacco magnate R. J. Reynolds, named the members of his family who had died of cancer, emphysema and heart disease.

Mr. Schwartz’s commercial clients included Coca-Cola (for which he created the well-known TV ad featuring a sumptuously sweating bottle with the sound of pouring liquid as the only audio element); American Express; Chrysler; Kodak; and Paine Webber, among many others.

In 2007, Mr. Schwartz’s entire body of work from 1947 to 1999, including his field recordings and the thousands of radio and television commercials he made, was acquired by the Library of Congress.

To the end of his career, Mr. Schwartz was asked often about the daisy ad. To the end of his career, he defended it.

“For many years, it’s been referred to as the beginning of negative commercials,” Mr. Schwartz said in an interview with MSNBC in 2000. “There was nothing negative about it. Frankly, I think it was the most positive commercial ever made.”

Cyd Charisse, 86, Silken Dancer of Movies, Dies
Robert Berkvist

Cyd Charisse, the leggy beauty whose balletic grace made her a memorable partner for Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in classic MGM musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Band Wagon” and “Brigadoon,” died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was believed to be 86.

Her death, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, was apparently caused by a heart attack, said her agent, Scott Stander.

Ms. Charisse came of age in a sparkling era of Hollywood musicals, and though she had some dramatic film roles, it was in musicals that she achieved her lasting renown. That fame later helped power a successful song-and-dance partnership with her husband, Tony Martin, in nightclubs and on television.

In his 1959 memoir, “Steps in Time,” Astaire called Ms. Charisse “beautiful dynamite.” She was a striking presence on film: slender and graceful with jet black hair. She stood 5 feet 6, but in high heels and full-length stockings — a familiar costume for her — she seemed even taller.

She made her film debut in 1943 under the name Lily Norwood in “Something to Shout About,” with Don Ameche and Janet Blair, and then spent almost a decade performing in small roles and sometimes anonymously before she got her big break. That came with “Singin’ in the Rain,” released in 1952.

Written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, the film established her as one of Hollywood’s most glamorous and seductive talents.

Set during the dawn of talking pictures, “Singin’ in the Rain” starred Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen. Ms. Charisse appeared in only one of the movie’s many indelible dance sequences, but one was enough. During the “Broadway Melody Ballet,” opposite Kelly, she was both sultry vamp and diaphanous dream girl.

A year later, “The Band Wagon” brought Ms. Charisse her first leading role. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, with a book by Comden and Green and songs by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, the film starred Astaire, Ms. Charisse, Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray.

Astaire played a fading Hollywood song-and-dance man hoping to make a comeback on Broadway and who finds himself cast in a show opposite a snooty ballerina (Ms. Charisse). The couple do not see eye-to-eye until they take a nighttime carriage ride through a moonlit Central Park and wind up embracing languorously to the strains of ”Dancing in the Dark.” One of the most famous sequences from the film, if not in the history of dance on film, is “The Girl Hunt Ballet,” in which Ms. Charisse plays the vamp to Astaire’s private-eye stage character.

In “Brigadoon” (1954), also directed by Minnelli and adapted from the 1947 Broadway show by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, Kelly and Van Johnson played American tourists who stumble on a mysterious Scottish village that materializes only once every 100 years. Kelly falls hard for a beautiful villager, Fiona (Ms. Charisse). They danced to “The Heather on the Hill.”

Cyd Charisse was born Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Tex. Though some sources say she was born on March 8, 1921, her agent said the year was 1922. She began taking dance lessons as a little girl. Her many name changes began, so the story goes, when her brother had trouble pronouncing “sister” and settled for “Sid.”

While still a teenager, she was sent to California for professional dance training and quickly became a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a touring troupe, adopting the name Felia Sidorova. She was on a European tour when she met Nico Charisse, a handsome young dancer and dance instructor. They married in Paris when she was 18. In 1942, they had a son, Nicky.

By the early 1940s, Ms. Charisse had been spotted by studio scouts and her first film roles — as Lily Norwood — followed. (She also appeared anonymously in 1943 as a ballerina in “Mission to Moscow.”) In 1946, MGM, by then the king of Hollywood musicals, signed her to a contract and gave her minor roles in several films, including “The Harvey Girls,” “Till the Clouds Roll By” and “Ziegfeld Follies,” in which she danced a brief opening sequence with Astaire. When she was chosen to appear in “Ziegfeld Follies,” the producer Arthur Freed preferred the name Charisse to Norwood and changed the spelling of Sid to Cyd.

The next year, Ms. Charisse played a ballerina once again in “The Unfinished Dance,” which featured the child star Margaret O’Brien as a dance student.

Ms. Charisse was reunited with Kelly in the 1955 Comden and Green musical “It’s Always Fair Weather,” and was teamed with Fred Astaire in “Silk Stockings” (1957). In the latter, an update of the Greta Garbo vehicle “Ninotchka,” she played an icy Soviet functionary who is sent to Paris where she meets and is romanced by a Hollywood producer (Astaire). Needless to say, she melts for Fred as they sing and dance to Cole Porter songs like “All of You” and “Fated to Be Mated.” It was the twilight of the Hollywood musical.

Ms. Charisse’s marriage to Nico Charisse ended in divorce in 1947. She married Mr. Martin in 1948. He survives her, along with their son, Tony Jr., and her son, Nicky, by her first marriage.

In November 2006, Ms. Charisse was one of the recipients of the National Medal of Arts presented by President Bush in a White House ceremony.

Looking back on her work with Kelly and Astaire during a 2002 interview in The New York Times, Ms. Charisse said that her husband, Mr. Martin, always knew whom she had been dancing with. “If I was black and blue,” she said, “it was Gene. And if it was Fred, I didn’t have a scratch.”

In a 1992 interview with The Times, she remembered dancing with Astaire to Michael Kidd’s demanding choreography in “Silk Stockings” and said admiringly, “Fred moved like glass.”

As it turned out, “Silk Stockings” was her last major musical. She appeared in a few more movies, chiefly in dramatic roles in films like “Party Girl” (1958) and “Two Weeks in Another Town” (1962). She and Mr. Martin took their nightclub act to Las Vegas and other cities. Her last film was an Italian drama, “Private Screenings” (1989).

Ms. Charisse made her belated Broadway debut in 1992 in “Grand Hotel,” when she replaced Liliane Montevecchi in the leading role of a famous but aging ballerina in 1920s Berlin. “I think that in all my dancing I play a role,” she told The Times that year. “To me, that’s what dancing is about. It’s not just steps.”

Stan Winston, 62, Special-Effects Artist, Dies
William Grimes

Stan Winston, the Oscar-winning special-effects artist who created the animatronic dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park,” the slimy 14-foot alien queen in “Aliens” and the liquid-metal assassin in “Terminator 2,” died Sunday at his home in Malibu, Calif. He was 62.

The cause was multiple myeloma, said a spokesman for Stan Winston Studio.

Although he created some of the most famous special effects in movie history, Mr. Winston insisted that he cared less about technical wizardry than he did about storytelling. “It’s not about technology,” he once said. “It’s about writers writing wonderful stories with fantastic characters and me being able to create a visual image that’s beyond what you would expect.”

Courtesy of Mr. Winston, the unexpected leapt from the screen in dozens of films. He created the extraterrestrial assassin who hunts Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Predator,” the hands of “Edward Scissorhands” and the Penguin (from the neck up) in “Batman Returns.”

Mr. Winston won four Oscars for his film work and in 2001 he became the first special-effects artist to receive a star in the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard.

Stan Winston was born in Arlington, Va., and as a child was fascinated with puppets, monster movies and special effects. Disneyland’s animatronic Abraham Lincoln only deepened his obsessions. He earned a degree in art at the University of Virginia then set out for Hollywood.

After seeing “Planet of the Apes,” he entered a Disney apprenticeship program and became a makeup artist in 1972. His work on the television movie “Gargoyles” won him an Emmy Award, as did his makeup effects for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” in which the title character ages from 19 to 110.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Winston entered into a collaboration with James Cameron, the director of the “Terminator” films and “Aliens.” His creepy exoskeleton effect for the villain in the first “Terminator” film inspired a host of imitations.

His second collaboration with Mr. Cameron, on “Aliens,” earned him his first Academy Award, in 1986. He would receive three more: two for “Terminator 2: Judgment Day (special effects and makeup) and one for “Jurassic Park.”

In 1988, Mr. Winston directed his own film, “Pumpkinhead,” in which a rural father summons an ancient demon to wreak vengeance on the city slickers who accidentally kill his son. He teamed up with Mr. Cameron for “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and created a protean villain resembling quicksilver that was able to transform itself into almost anything.

Mr. Winston returned to dinosaurs in “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic Park III.” And again with Mr. Spielberg, he contributed special effect to “A.I.,” notably Teddy, a walking, talking animatronic teddy bear.

In 2001, Mr. Winston produced five films for the HBO series “Creature Features,” a tribute to the cheaply made horror films of the 1950s. At the same time he started Stan Winston Creatures, a toy company whose first line was based on characters in the Creature Features series.

More recently, he contributed to “Iron Man,” released earlier this year, and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He also worked on the unreleased films “Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins,” “G.I. Joe,” “Shutter Island” and Mr. Cameron’s “Avatar.”

He is survived by his wife, Karen; a son, Matt, of Encino, Calif.; a daughter, Debbie Litoff, of Woodland Hills, Calif.; and four grandchildren.

Spielberg Said to Be Seeking Deal
Heather Timmons

Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG film studio may soon get a lift from Bollywood.

The production company, which has been tussling with its parent, Paramount Pictures, is in discussions with Reliance Entertainment, part of one of the largest conglomerates in India, about a cash infusion of a half billion dollars or more that could allow DreamWorks to split from Paramount.

Any deal is still in the discussion stages, people briefed on the negotiations said on Wednesday. It may be several weeks before an agreement is signed, one such person said. What is being discussed would bring Mr. Spielberg and his business partner, David Geffen, $500 million to $600 million in cash, in return for an undisclosed stake in their company.

A spokesman for Reliance ADA, Reliance Entertainment’s parent, declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.

Reliance ADA also owns one of the largest telecommunications businesses in India, which is making to acquire the MTN Group of South Africa in a deal that could be valued at more than $40 billion. The group is controlled by Anil Ambani, the younger brother of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, who controls a rival group. As Mukesh’s company, called Reliance Industries, expands in India, Anil has increasingly looked at foreign growth.

Reliance Entertainment is a new venture with ambitious plans. The group owns an Indian film exhibition and production company, Adlabs Films, and the largest FM radio network in India. Reliance Entertainment in May announced that it would finance films by production companies run by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including George Clooney and Tom Hanks.

In February, the billionaire financier George Soros bought a 3 percent stake in Reliance Entertainment for $100 million. Reliance Entertainment executives said this year that they planned to create a $10 billion company that will be one of the world’s largest entertainment concerns. In addition to Hollywood, Reliance Entertainment is planning to expand in television, online gambling and social networking.

EA to PC Gamers: “Install 3 Times? Buy Another Copy”
Jud Hudson

This really grinds my gears…As reported here in the past, Mass Effect for PC contains a new type of SecuROM which will be present in all future EA/Maxis games.

What does it do? Not only does it install itself to your computer without a word of notification as well as disable your firewall, dvd drives and cd/dvd burning software. It limits you to installing your game on your PC up to 3 times.

This can be triggered via using up your 3 activations and each time you change a piece of hardware, reformat your computer or install/upgrade a new operating system, it takes up one of the activations.

This is proven to be true by a guy over at the Mass Effect forums. He registered and started to play the game (Activation #1). Well, when he tried to play the game he had strange artifacts on his screen. Thinking it was an OS-related issue, he reinstalled XP and reinstalled the game (Activation #2). Finding out that it didn’t help the problem, he soon figured out it was his graphics card struggling. Well, he bought a brand new card and that solved the problem (this triggers Activation #3). Game ran fine for a short period of time (2 days) and he played thru it and completed the game. Well, a week after that, he decided he wanted to run thru the game again. This is where he stumbles upon this error:

“The game can not start. For security reasons, only a limited number of machines can ever be licensed by a single purchase. This limit has been reached. Please purchase another registration code, reinstall, and then try again.”

There is no doubt that EA will try to include this new version of SecuROM on Spore and possibly The Sims 3….and if it is, we are going to encounter some very serious problems. Heck, I can’t even count the times I had to reinstall the games, upgrade my hardware and reformat…

You know, come to think of it…EA is doing this to prevent piracy of their games, but it’s only hurting us legal customers. Look at this:

If you are a Pirate:

• BAD: You do have the same bugs that those with legal copies have, plus new ones depending on how the cracked copy was programmed.
• GOOD: Unlimited Activations!
• GOOD: No SecuROM to deal with
• GOOD & BAD: It’s free, but illegal

If you are a Legal Customer:

• BAD: Limited to 3 Activations
• BAD: Your computer is plaqued with SecuROM
• BAD: Game contains errors and bugs
• GOOD & BAD: You support Maxis by purchasing the game, but you are also supporting EA, and if you support them, you support SecuROM

Honestly…what looks better to you?

Radiohead Blasted By Veteran Rockers KISS For Giving Their Music Away For Free

Bassist Gene Simmons says the British rockers – who gave fans the choice to download last year's album 'In Rainbows' for free or pay a sum of their choosing - says their decision is contributing to the demise of the record industry and insists his band would never follow suit.

Gene - who starred in reality TV show 'School of Rock' - said: "The record industry is dead. It's six feet underground and unfortunately the fans have done this. They've decided to download and file share. There is no record industry around so we're going to wait until everybody settles down and becomes civilised. As soon as the record industry pops its head up we'll record new material."

Meanwhile, Radiohead were left with a row of empty seats at a recent French concert after a ticket giveaway backfired. The eco-friendly group announced 50 passes were available for their show at Paris' Bercy Arena but fans could only get by cycling to their record label's offices in the French city.

However, Parisians were not prepared to get on their bikes so 35 tickets went unclaimed. A source said: "Radiohead are using their current world tour to highlight their commitment to green issues. They advise all concertgoers to use public transport and are doing all they can to make their carbon footprint as small as possible. Unfortunately the French didn't appear to share their noble intentions and roundly ignored the free ticket tactic."

Pearl Jam Offers Streaming 'Bootlegs'
Greg Sandoval

Pearl Jam, a band with a reputation for delivering great live performances, is offering to sell "bootleg" recordings of the group's concert shows.

Fans can go to Pearljam.com and purchase streaming downloads or burn-to-order CDs of each of the band's performances during its 2008 concert tour, which launched last week in Florida. Internap is overseeing the audio streaming.

Pearl Jam is taking liberties with the term bootleg. Typically bootlegs are pirated material that are given away or sold at bargain-basement prices.

That's not the case here. Each concert performance will sell for $9.99 (MP3) and $14.99 (FLAC) and be made available two weeks after the performance. But fans may give Eddie Vedder and the group a pass on this one.


Because at least Pearl Jam is offering the music free of digital rights management. This means fans can burn the songs to disc or transfer them to their digital music players. Another reason is that Pearl Jam is a longtime advocate for fans.

Pearl Jam once canceled a concert tour to protest the high price of concert tickets. The group sued Ticketmaster and requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the company. Nothing came of the lawsuit.

Kid Rock Boycotts iTunes, Champions P2P
Eliot Van Buskirk

The digital music revolution has been compromised, according to Kid Rock, because digital music stores and record labels still manage to hoard the lion's share of music revenue.

He advises fans to download his music for free from P2P services, although he himself doesn't have to. "I don't steal things," he told the BBC. "I'm rich." As for everyone else, he says, "Download it illegally, I don't care. I want you to hear my music so I can play live."

Rock's tirade was apparently precipitated by a request from his record label, Warner Music Group's Atlantic Records, that he publicly denounce file sharing. His response: "Wait a second, you've been stealing from the artists for years. Now you want me to stand up for you?" Ouch.

It seems there's no one way that artists are responding to the opportunities and challenges presented by the internet. It's official now: They're all over the map when it comes to downloads, DRM, file sharing and the rest of it, no longer offering the same rationales for completely different conclusions.

"ITunes takes the money, the record company takes the money, and they don't give it to the artists," added the country rock rapper. Instead, he says, the internet offers a "great opportunity for everyone to be treated fairly, for the consumer to get a fair price, for the artist to be paid fairly, for the record companies to make some money."

This makes a lot of sense, and it's the sort of thing that the digital music optimists among us have been saying for years. However, Rock expands on the idea, positing that anyone who needs something should just take it: "I don't mind people stealing my music, that's fine. But I think they should steal everything. You know how much money the oil companies have? If you need some gas, just go fill your tank (up) and drive off, they're not going to miss it."

Kid Rock's iTunes boycott is already in full effect. As of right now, none of his Warner-era albums are available on iTunes, and only his rarely heard debut -- 1990's Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast on Zomba Recordings -- is available (clicking the link spawns iTunes).

Meanwhile, Metallica has been busy apologizing for its management company's testosterone-fueled deletion of early reviews of their upcoming album -- more on that soon.

Pretty pirates

Cosmo Girls Get Wise

Despite Leaks Online and File Sharing, Lil Wayne’s New CD Is a Hit
Robert Levine

In a year when album sales have fallen by another 11 percent after years of declines, the ailing record labels received good news Wednesday: “Tha Carter III” (Cash Money/Universal Mo- town), the new album by the rapper Lil Wayne, looks to be a rare blockbuster hit.

The album sold 423,000 copies on June 10, its day of release, according to Billboard, and industry executives predict that first-week sales will near one million. (Nielsen SoundScan will release final numbers Wednesday.) And although Lil Wayne is a household name only to hip-hop fans, his first-week sales are the best so far in 2008, surpassing those of Mariah Carey and Usher, better-known R&B artists whose new albums each sold about 450,000 copies in the first week.

The last album to come close to a million in its first week was Kanye West’s “Graduation,” which sold 957,000 copies in 2007. The last time an album broke the million barrier was in 2005, when “The Massacre” by 50 Cent sold 1.1 million copies in its first week.

As CD sales drop and popular tastes splinter, big debuts for hit albums are less common. Hip-hop has been hit especially hard, with sales declining about 25 percent this year compared with the same period in 2007.

Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter Jr., has not put out an official album since 2005, but he has kept the attention of fans by releasing mixtapes and rapping on dozens of songs by stars like Usher and Chris Brown. He has built a reputation as one of the most prolific performers in hip-hop, an heir to M.C.’s like Jay-Z, who raps with Lil Wayne on the new album’s “Mr. Carter.” (Jay-Z’s real name is Shawn Carter.) Last fall the hip-hop magazine Vibe listed 77 songs Lil Wayne appeared on in 2007 — a year in which he did not release an official album.

“He stayed connected and nurtured his audience,” said Sylvia Rhone, president of Universal Motown Records. “He was always working. And I think the rabid following he’s cultivated is reflected in those sales numbers.”

Too many guest appearances can create fatigue among fans. But the opposite seems to have happened with Lil Wayne, as the scores of songs that reached listeners on mixtapes and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks fueled anticipation for an official release. Although “Tha Carter III” was leaked online several weeks ago, many fans seem to have decided to buy the CD.

Even in this era of mixtapes and MP3s, however, it took an old-fashioned summer radio hit to market Lil Wayne beyond his dedicated fan base of young men. “Lollipop,” one of the album’s singles, is No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it has spent several weeks, in part because it also appeals to women.

“I don’t think Middle America got interested in him because his mixtapes were so great, but they forced serious rap fans to care about everything he was doing,” said Sean Fennessey, the music editor at Vibe. “Then he landed on a pop hit with ‘Lollipop,’ which was something he had never been able to do before. And between that and the serious rap fans, it became an event.”

In April, before his album was leaked, Lil Wayne was the most pirated artist on file-sharing networks, going by BigChampagne, a company that tracks peer-to-peer online activity. Fans who downloaded Lil Wayne songs took an average of 10 of his tracks; fans of other pop artists only took an average of two per act.

“That speaks to the quantity of his output, which is plentiful, as well as the depth of his audience’s engagement,” said Eric Garland, BigChampagne’s chief executive. “If you’re a fan, you’re most likely a serious fan. And while people who like an individual song are not going to open their wallets for you, people who like 10 songs will. I think the mixtape phenomenon is great for feeding the machine, which is what the music industry is about in the 21st century.” This business model contrasts with that of major labels, which usually discourage unofficial releases.

Universal Motown also promoted “Tha Carter III” with television advertising and partnerships with MySpace, Yahoo and America Online, and iTunes briefly offered a new song weekly. In addition to the album’s success, “Lollipop” is now the best-selling ring tone of 2008, according to Nielsen RingScan, each of which earns Universal Motown more than a full song. But fans are buying the song for their phones as well: Ms. Rhone says “Lollipop” has sold a half-million copies as a download on cellular networks.

“It shows you that there’s still a vital market, both physically and digitally,” Ms. Rhone said of “Tha Carter III.” “There’s only a few of these that come around a year, but it speaks well of us and our industry.”

Surviving the Hits
Suzanne Vega

A couple of weekends ago I began what I call my “bread-and-butter” touring season. I had two shows, one in Long Island and one in Saratoga, N.Y. I had a raging head cold, but made it through and came home to check on a few days worth of e-mails.

At first I couldn’t tell what was going on. As I went to access my account, I kept seeing my own face flashing at me on my computer, in between photos of a fire at the Universal Studios and some other news item. But not a current version of my face — one from before 1990.

I wondered if my AOL shoebox of photos had burst open and was somehow leaking online in a public way. Then I read the text, which said something like, “Her first hit, ‘Luka,’ brought the subject of child abuse to the Top 40. But what was her other one? Hint: It’s catchy!”

I looked at the screen for a few minutes as it changed from my face to the fire at Universal to the other photo every few seconds. My husband, Paul, came up behind me.

“Click on it!” he said. I did, and read what followed: “This New Yorker’s poignant tale of an abused child brought a dose of social awareness to the upper reaches of the pop charts. Vega made her second and final chart visit thanks to an initially unauthorized remix of a three-year-old song about her favorite Manhattan greasy-spoon eatery, a place soon to be even better known from being featured in ‘Seinfeld’ episodes.”

“They shouldn’t say things like that about you,” said Paul.

“What?” I said. “I thought it was kind of nice.” I had missed the headline, which read: “Two-Hit Wonders!”

Oh, that.

It’s a list I have shown up on fairly often recently, so I had almost gotten used to it. Of course, he’s right, and it’s demeaning — it makes me look as though somehow I managed to squeak out those two songs and then shuffle back to being a receptionist, which isn’t true.

The way I prefer to see it is that I have had a 20-plus-year career, with a big back catalog of songs that a lot of people know, and want to hear, and yes, two of those songs were big Top 40 hits. What’s to complain about? They are like the cherries on top of the sundae. Why would I not want that? They have been my passport out of a life in an office, to a life on the road where I can go to Korea and the guy who stamps the passport says, “Are you Vega, Suzanne? Everybody knows you here.” And his eyes change with emotion when he reads my name.

So I refuse to be embarrassed by those hits. It doesn’t take away from the rest of the songs. But I have often wondered, “Why those two? Why not the others?” There were other songs just as sparkly and and shiny and major key and radio friendly like “Book of Dreams” or “No Cheap Thrill” or “Frank & Ava” and so forth. But nothing has had the longevity of those two. So far, anyway.

Why is that? I have heard both songs described as “flukes,” but I really don’t think that is the case. A lot of hard work went into their production, especially in the arrangements. Let’s look at “Luka,” for example. I had been listening to Lou Reed’s “Berlin” album — on that record he plays acoustic guitar, and a fair amount of the album is about abuse of all kinds including domestic abuse.

“Luka” was not a popular song when I would perform it back then. I would watch people from the stage. You could see their faces change as they thought about the lyrics; a frown would appear, then a general look of unhappiness, followed by a scowl directed at the floor and, at the conclusion, a smattering of reluctant applause. Then a request for something else, usually “Gypsy” or something in a major key with a chorus.

It was my manager at the time, Ron Fierstein, who plucked ”Luka” out. “Is that song about what I think it’s about?” he asked one day in the back of Folk City. My memory of that conversation goes something like this:

“I don’t know,” I said. “What do you think it’s about?”

“Unless I am mistaken it seems to be from the point of view of a child who is abused.”

“That’s right. A 9-year-old boy named Luka.”

“Where did you get the name from?”

“A 9-year-old boy who lives in my building. Who is not abused, by the way. I like the name Luka, it’s universal. It could be a girl or boy and it could be any nationality.”

“Well, I think that song could be a hit.” he said. Here I hooted at him.

“What are you talking about? Nobody wants to hear about child abuse. Nobody asks for that song. They want ‘Gypsy’ or ‘The Queen and the Soldier.’”

“It’s a song about a social issue. Songs about social issues are important. We don’t have enough of them now. This generation needs to have more.” This was in 1985.

“I didn’t write it to be be about a social issue — I wrote it as a little portrait. I hate songs about social issues. Everybody knows they don’t work.”

“Well, it is still a song about a social issue. It’s the issue of child abuse, you said it yourself. And how can you say they don’t work? We stopped the Vietnam War with the music we made in the 70’s!” he began to shout, his cheeks flushing pink.

We had a half-hour argument after that about whether songs with a social message worked or not — me taking the more cynical view that if they really worked then Bob Dylan and Joan Baez would have been able to end all wars. Was there a better anti-war song than “Masters of War”? And yet we had been at war since. Ron shouted that music was part of the dialogue of American culture, along with the marches and the protests that helped to shape the decisions of a nation.

To say I was skeptical is to completely understate it, but I agreed to start on the pre-production for “Luka.” We even decided not to put it on the first album, which I was working on at the time, but to delay it for the second one.

One of the things that happened right away is that the producer Steve Addabbo ran into a keyboard player named Peter Wood in the street. Steve played him the song and he had some ideas immediately about how it should be arranged.

My ideas are usually simple, melodically. What Mr. Wood did was to create a space for the guitar solo and changed the melody line of the fourth verse. This, I have come to realize after years of singing the song, is the emotional climax of the song, because it goes up there — “You don’t ask WHY!” — and is at the top of my range and the top of the melody.

Verse 1

My name is Luka
I live on the second floor
I live upstairs from you
Yes I think you’ve seen me before

If you hear something late at night
Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was

Verse 2

I think it’s because I’m clumsy
I try not to talk too loud
Maybe it’s because I’m crazy
I try not to act too proud

They only hit until you cry
And after that you don’t ask why
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore

Guitar solo

Verse 3

Yes I think I’m okay
I walked into the door again
Well, if you ask that’s what I’ll say
And it’s not your business anyway
I guess I’d like to be alone
With nothing broken, nothing thrown

Just don’t ask me how I am [X3]

Verse 1 repeated

My name is Luka
I live on the second floor
I live upstairs from you
Yes I think you’ve seen me before

If you hear something late at night
Some kind of trouble some kind of fight
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was

Verse 4

They only hit until you cry
And after that you don’t ask why
You just don’t argue any more
You just don’t argue any more
You just don’t argue any more.

So, when you hear the song, it’s not just one melodic idea presented the same way three times — that fourth verse tells a story, makes an arc the same way a good narrative does, and when the song concludes you feel as though you have been somewhere emotionally. This is the purpose of an arranger — to take what’s there musically and arrange the music like a puzzle — to tease out the emotions of the song and present it to the public in a way that they are “hit” emotionally. More on that later.

We did a lot of other work as well. We kept it in a major key. I had written it that way deliberately, because the stereotype of a sad little boy on a doorstep suffering in a minor key made me furious. It seemed to me that most children who are abused regularly are sad and scared in the beginning but also eventually accept it as a fact of life, as something you might even expect. There is a matter-of-factness that develops. So I chose a major key, which we kept.

Weirdly, when the song was done, that casual major-key quality sounded cheerful, upbeat and even triumphant, which wasn’t my intention. Some of it was Jon Gordon’s ringing guitar solo, somewhat influenced by U2’s the Edge. We were huge U2 fans at the time and they came to our show in Dublin in 1986. Some of it was the pop synth sound and part that Anton Sanko played me at his audition to be in the band. Those first four notes ascending sounded almost architectural in how he approached the song, and I was deeply impressed.

It took at least a year before the song was arranged, produced and burnished to the sheen that it came out with. I redid my vocal over and over again with Steve Addabbo at the controls. “Why do I have to do it again? I need to go finish my other lyrics. I don’t want to do it again.” (At that point, Lenny Kaye was helping me to finish some lyrics, especially to “Ironbound,” which I was really having trouble with.)

I was thinking of asking Lucy Kaplansky to do the background vocals — I liked staying in touch with the folk scene I had been steeped in during the early ‘80s — but I had already asked her to sing on “Left of Center” the year before. So I asked Shawn Colvin, who sounded great. My management liked her so much they ended up signing her and handled her career for years.

I was hugely distracted by trying to finish the other songs by the deadline to feel any nervousness about “Luka.” I felt that I was hanging from a cliff by my nails — a feeling I have had many times in my career. How funny that journalists sometimes write about my “relaxed recording schedule”! If your idea of relaxing is hanging by your nails from a cliff, I guess that’s correct.

I sat in on the mixes with Shelley Yackus, a top-notch engineer of that era — it was a big deal that we got him and he contributed a lot to the overall sound of the record. I encouraged him to bring out the sound of the drums. Everyone always tiptoed around the acoustic guitars and wanted the drums to sound (seem) accidental so they didn’t overshadow the guitar, but this time the guitar sound was nice and fat, so there was no reason to be so polite.

We had barely finished the album when it was scheduled for release six or seven weeks later, as I remember it. We were on the road when it came out and things changed overnight. Literally. One night we were playing the usual half-filled theaters and clubs. The next day, and every day after that, each venue was full. This continued for the rest of the year and included two shows at Carnegie Hall and one at Radio City. “Luka” had been delivered to radio and accepted almost immediately.

Why? Why the huge response? Some of it was the topic — so many people wrote me of their experiences. This has continued right up until this past weekend, when a teenaged girl told me she had been a victim of child abuse and that she really identified with the character. This was astonishing to me — that so many people from so many cultures from all over the world, including here in America, identified with the character. I had believed it was about a small personal issue, but Ron had been correct: it was about a huge social one.

A lot of it was the sound of the song, the chemistry of it, since many people had no idea what the song was about. It sounded good on the radio, sounded good before and after certain songs, all the different qualities of the production gelled in a certain way that people remembered and wanted to hear again. There was a magic about certain things — I have been told that “Luka” means “wounded” in Indonesian, for example, which I certainly didn’t know when I wrote the song.

Along with acclaim, success and hard work also came criticisms, parodies and complaints. “I don’t want to hear about child abuse when I am drinking coffee in the morning,” one guy wrote in. The worst letters were from child abuse agencies. “How dare you suggest that the child is responsible for his own abuse!” began a typical one. I threw those letters away, eventually, along with a bag of parodies, which tended to start, “My name is Loofah, I live on the bathroom floor…” Ha ha. Very funny. Next, please.

“Hit” is a good name for it — a feeling of intense communication with a huge amount of people at the same time. As with a baseball and a bat, a cracking, quick connection. As with drugs, a sudden alteration of reality. You could get used to it.

That particular intensity lasted about eight months, I’d say until Tracy Chapman appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. “Tom’s Diner” was a hit too, after that, but proved to be a very different experience than “Luka.” It has gone on to have its own weird history of which I am very proud. More on that later. As for being a two-hit wonder — well, I think it’s better than being a one-hit wonder, thank you very much.

A Redesign at Skype
Brad Stone

Skype, eBay’s Internet phone division, has always been something of a problem child for the e-commerce giant.

The service is growing like a weed, with 309 million registered users. It earned $126 million in the first quarter of the year, exceeding what eBay and PayPal earned at similar age.

Yet considering eBay paid $2.6 billion for Skype in 2005 and last year took a massive write-down on the acquisition, investors and industry observers still view Skype through the thick, dreary lens of disappointment.

Now eBay hopes to give them a new pair of glasses. Tuesday night the company will make available a test of a new version of the program, called Skype 4.0, which it says is the most dramatic redesign of the calling service in its short five-year history.

Josh Silverman, Skype’s president, says it was time to evolve Skype’s user interface. The service started out by offering free audio calls but has gradually added other kinds of communication, like video calls, file-sharing, and text chats. The main purpose of the upgrade, he said, is to bring all those modes together and make it easier to switch between them in a single conversation.

“If I were to sum it all up, that is what 4.0 is about: the next leap forward in integrated communications,” he said.

Skype 4.0’s biggest change is making it easy to initiate a video conferencing call. Although Skype says that 28 percent of the calls on its service include live video, adding a face-to-face component to a call has typically been a difficult task that involves hunting around for a small camera icon after an audio link between Skype users has already been established. Skype 4.0, thankfully, puts large “call” and “video call” buttons next to every user’s name.

The new Skype also includes records of current and past conversations next to each name in a person’s Skype directory, so the program no longer spawns new windows on a person’s computer every time a new call comes in. It also makes it easier to drill down and see records of previous communications.

Naturally, eBay hopes the new Skype will funnel more users to the pay portions of the service (calls between Skype users remain free.) eBay says that future iterations of the Skype 4.0 beta will make it easier to use PayPal to send money over the service and to access Skype Prime, a directory of experts and 1-900-style companies that pay Skype commissions to set up shop on the service.

Why Firefox Matters
Brian Caulfield

If you use the Web for a living you're probably enjoying your shiny new toy already: the official release of Firefox 3. The team at Mozilla, the group behind the free Firefox Web browser, is gunning to set a record for most downloads in a 24-hour period.

Mozilla's definitely on track with its bigger goal: taking a big bite out of Microsoft's browser monopoly. Firefox grabbed 18.41% of the market in May, up from just 11% during the year-ago period, according to Web tracker NetApplications. Microsoft, by contrast, has fallen to 73.75% from 84% over the same period.

Of course, it's easy to dismiss the importance of the Web browser. The software is free, and Microsoft crushed its only serious commercial competition, Netscape, almost a decade ago. As recently as 2005, Microsoft owned 95% of the market.

But don't be fooled. Firefox has become one of the most important pieces of software around today as consumers shift from using their PCs to run applications living on their hard drives to a communications device able to connect with applications living on distant servers. As Saul Hansell at The New York Times pointed out, the browser is poised to unlock a slate of new applications in the years to come.

And, thanks to Google, Mozilla has plenty of money. Google funnels tens of millions dollars to Mozilla in exchange getting for a valuable spot on the default home page of the browser preferred by the most avid Web surfers and developers.

As long as Google keeps the money flowing, Firefox's small team of developers moves quickly. Firefox was the first to introduce new features, like tabbed browsing, that have now become ubiquitous.

The latest release, Firefox 3, continues the pattern. The new browser has plenty of these soon-to-be-ubiquitous features, such as the ability to bookmark a page with a single click and the "Smart Location Bar" that uses the browser's URL field to help users rifle through their bookmarks and browsing history. Then there's the big stuff, like a continued emphasis rendering a Web page in a hurry. (Check out this handy field guide here.)

Whether Microsoft co-opts Firefox's best ideas, or the Web browser continues gobbling up market share, we'll all be using Mozilla's best ideas to access those new applications soon.

Firefox 3 Launch a Success: 8 Million Downloads in 24 Hours
Ryan Paul

Mozilla's Firefox 3 release event yesterday was an epic success. The servers logged over 8 million downloads during the 24-hour download day, and Mozilla has declared victory after exceeding its initial goal of 5 million downloads.

I was at the official launch party at Mozilla headquarters yesterday in Mountain View, where some revelers stayed all night to party and watch the download counter. During the event, Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker's speech was broadcast live from Seoul, Korea over the Internet to all of Mozilla's offices. She reflected on the success of Firefox 3 and illuminated some of Mozilla's long-term goals.

"Today reflects so many great things about Mozilla," she said. The download day is the collaborative achievement of "millions of people on a global basis doing things that everyone thought was impossible." Mozilla is all about "keeping and building an Internet that is open and participatory, where individuals have control."

During the interview, she answered several questions from members of the Firefox community who were participating via an IRC channel. When she was asked what percentage of browser market share Mozilla aims to achieve, she said that Mozilla wants only enough to be able to achieve the organization's primary goal, which is building an open web. "We want enough market share to be able to move the Internet toward our goals. There is no exact number," she said. "It is not our goal to be a single source that unilaterally determines where the web goes. Mozilla is about having fun and building a better Internet."

A big part of Firefox's success is its spirited grassroots marketing efforts. I discussed this with Mozilla evangelist Asa Dotzler, whose team was instrumental in organizing download day. Mozilla's strategy of inclusiveness and participatory advancement isn't confined to just software development. The same principles extend to Mozilla's publicity projects. The grassroots marketing campaigns give users who lack programming expertise a way to become active participants and contributors. Through the SpreadFirefox portal, those users can become an important part of the Firefox project. Grassroots marketing is also a major win, said Dotzler, because word of mouth is one of the strongest vehicles for directly promoting Firefox adoption.

I also asked Dotzler some questions about the process through which Mozilla's download day statistics will enter the Guinness World Records. The server logs and download information will be given to an independent review board from Oregon State University Open Source Labs, which will then conduct a thorough audit, weed out duplicate and incomplete downloads, and determine an exact number.

The first 24 hours are over, but the downloads continue to pour in. At press time, the official counter shows that the current rate is approximately 5,500 downloads per minute, and the total number of downloads is roughly 8.8 million. It's further confirmation that the Firefox web browser is rapidly becoming mainstream; it has long since ceased being a niche product confined to early adopters and enthusiasts. Firefox has had a profound impact on the web and will likely continue to play a central role in shaping the future of the Internet.

Opera Software Targets 48 Pct Growth In 2008

Norwegian browser maker Opera Software said it is targeting revenue growth of around 50 percent in 2008 and even more in 2009 on increasing demand.

Opera Software, a tiny rival to industry leader Microsoft, said revenues should grow on a par with 2007, when they increased 48 percent to 315.5 million crowns ($61.21 million).

In 2009 Opera aims to grow "48 percent or more," it said on Thursday in presentation material for a capital markets day in Oslo.

It also said it targets an EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) margin of 12 percent in 2008 and more than 20 percent in 2009.

Opera, which makes browsers for cellphones and other mobile gadgets as well as for desktop computers, has seen its software included on more and more phones. It earns money from licensing its software to mobile phone and other equipment manufacturers.

The market for the group's software is in rapid growth, Chief Financial Erik Harrell told analysts and reporters at the investor event, adding that a newly appointed strategy team will consider acquisition opportunities.

"The market opportunities are huge and Opera is well-positioned to take advantage of them," the company said.

Opera said it would continue to invest heavily in its core markets in Europe, the United States, Japan and Korea.

(Reporting by Aasa Christine Stoltz and Ole Petter Skonnord; Editing by David Cowell)

Opera 9.5 Gives Firefox 3 a Run for its Money
Mayank Sharma

Two of the most popular Linux browsers were unveiled this month after years of development -- the open source Firefox 3 and the proprietary Opera 9.5. Opera's launch a week before Firefox was like any other launch, unlike Firefox's much publicized world record attempt. But Opera 9.5 is no less revolutionary than Firefox, matching its open source rival feature for feature, from security-related enhancements to improved multilingual text rendering.

The first thing you notice when you launch Opera 9.5 is that it occupies less desktop real estate than Firefox 3, with less toolbar space and smaller borders, giving you more room to view pages. Opera's nifty features are tucked away in its power panel. Unlike Firefox's panel, which displays only bookmarks and history, Opera's lets you access the built-in file transfer manager, the notes app, widgets (the Web browser equivalent of desktop applets), and other features. You can also see any bookmarked site as a panel as well, or download more Web panels for a variety of tasks, such as browsing news sites or playing games.

If you like to start your browser with multiple tabs, one for your email, a couple for tech and other news, a couple of comics, and so on, you'll love Opera's default start page, called "speed dial." It displays nine customizable buttons that, with a click, will take you to your favorite bookmarked sites. Opera also has a lot of tabbing features and control options, including the Ctrl-Tab cycling control and restoring tabs. You can preview pages open in a tab as well or resize pages within tabs, which lets you see multiple pages in one window.

Another nifty time-saving feature is the wand, which stores autocomplete information, including passwords. Like with the new Firefox, the wand in Opera doesn't interfere with browsing, saving username and passwords in the background while a site continues to load. The wand is better than the "remember password" option in Firefox, because it doesn't autofill the fields and allows you to enter details manually if you want to use different credentials. But if you want to use the stored username and password, just click the wand button, next to the address bar, and it not only fills in the information but also logs you in automatically, saving you another click.

Opera 9.5 also protects you from online fraud and scams with a built-in fraud protection feature. Opera monitors sites you're visiting and checks them against phishing information from Netcraft and PhishTank, and malware protection from Haute Secure. An option in the panel also lets you view details about the site and its security certificate, if it has one. Firefox 3 has similar phishing and malware protection.

Also similar between the two browsers is their ability to replace desktop apps with online counterparts. Both Opera 9.5 and Firefox 3 let you configure a Web-based email account and use it to answer all mailto: protocol requests. Opera 9.5 goes a step further and in fact packs in a complete email client that can also synchronize with a POP or IMAP-based server. This allows you to compose and send messages from within the browser. The email client is well integrated into the browser, and can be launched in a tab from the panel.

In addition to the email client, Opera has lots of features built in that are available only as add-ons for Firefox. For instance, in its note-taking app, you can create multiple notes from scratch, or copy a selected piece of text into a note, arrange notes in folders, and, if the mail client is configured, email them as well. Then there's the download manager, which can not only pause and resume downloads, but is also a full-fledged BitTorrent client. And Opera also bundles an IRC client.

One Firefox 3 feature I miss in Opera 9.5 is the ability to copy multiple text ranges. But it can search a selected word in a dictionary, or translate it to other languages using Yahoo!'s Babel Fish online service. Firefox 3 lets you tag bookmarks; Opera 9.5 doesn't, but it has a quick find feature that remembers the content of every page you visit. So if you forget to bookmark a difficult-to-remember site -- say zedropratodretua.co.za -- you can still find it in your history if you remember bits of its content.

At the bottom of its window Opera 9.5 displays three buttons. The Fit to Width button zooms out a page to help you avoid horizontal scrolling, which is pretty cool if your resolution is lower than 1280x1024. The resizing worked on several sites I tried it on, but not on Gmail. Another button is actually a pull-down menu that lets you select preset zoom levels defined in percentages from 20% to 1,000%. This is good for instantly doubling or tripling the font size, as compared to Firefox, where you have to press the "zoom in" button several times for the same result. But Firefox 3 can remember zoom settings for a particular site, whereas Opera cannot.

The final button on the bottom toolbar helps you disable and re-enable all images on the page. If you want to block other content, an option in the right-click context menu helps you block certain elements like online advertisements.

Opera 9.5 has lots of import and export options. It can import bookmarks from Firefox, Konqueror, and Internet Explorer, and email from older Opera versions and dedicated clients such as Thunderbird, Eudora, or any generic mbox file. You can also use Opera's free Opera Link Web service to sync bookmarks and speed dials between your Opera browsers at work, home, and on your mobile phones. Opera's Knowledge Base has details on these and more features and how to use them, as well as on online help options and premium support for $29.

For Web developers, Opera 9.5 also includes an alpha release of the company's Dragonfly tool, which helps developers debug JavaScript, inspect CSS and the DOM, and view any errors in their apps while they are running over Opera. It both sounds and looks similar to the popular Firebug tool for Firefox.

Testing under the hood

In addition to the user-facing additions, Opera 9.5 also has a new browser engine under the hood. Opera claims to have "made the fastest browser in the world even faster with superior support for Web standards." While Opera 9.5 did render internationalized scripts better than Firefox 3, I put this claim to test with a couple of online benchmarks. I ran all the tests on a machine with an Intel Core 2 Duo 4400 2.0GHz processor with 1GB RAM over Ubuntu 8.04, and on Windows XP (SP2) to check cross-platform support.

First up was the CSS benchmark, and Opera 9.5 on Linux was indeed the fastest of the lot. The test measures the time it takes the browser to render a locally stored page consisting of almost 2,500 positioned DIV tags. The plotted numbers in the CSS test graph are the average of five test runs. Opera 9.5 also passes the ACID 2 test, but, like its peers, fails the ACID 3 benchmark -- but it scored the maximum marks on the ACID 3 test among the tested browsers, as shown in the ACID 3 test graph.

In terms of rendering JavaScript, Firefox 3 had the edge over Opera 9.5 in the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, which has an error range between +/-0.8% to +/-11.3% depending on the type of test. In the JavScript Engine speed test, Opera 9.5 scores over its peers when it comes to error handling, DOM, and AJAX. Similarly in the W3C DOM vs. InnerHTML test, designed to find out which method of generating large amounts of content is fastest in the browser, Opera 9.5 fares better than Firefox 3, though Safari on Windows won that test with the quickest time.


Opera 9.5 is full to the brim with features and improvements and highly customizable. By rolling in apps such as the mail client and IRC chat application, and integrating them into a user's browsing experience, Opera 9.5 is a worthy challenger to Firefox 3. It surely has enough power and features to make it my favorite browser. If only it were free software and open source!

Firefox 3 Vulnerability Found
Nancy Gohring

Five hours after Mozilla officially released Firefox 3.0, researchers found a vulnerability in the new browser.

Tipping Point has verified the bug and reported it to Mozilla, Tipping Point said on Wednesday.

Since Mozilla is still working on a fix, the researchers won't share details about the problem. Tipping Point ranked the severity of the vulnerability as high, but said that users would have to click on a link in an e-mail or visit a malicious Web page before being affected. The issue affects users of Firefox 3.0 as well as Firefox 2.0.

Once the problem is fixed, Tipping Point will publish an advisory on its Web site, it said.

Tipping Point found out about the vulnerability through its Zero Day Initiative, which lets researchers earn cash by submitting new vulnerabilities to the company. Once Tipping Point validates the issue, it pays the researcher for the information and notifies the relevant software vendor of the technical details.

Mozilla did not respond to a request for comment.

Mozilla launched its newest browser on Tuesday along with a marketing stunt that went a bit wrong. The company announced that it wanted to set a Guinness World Record for the largest number of software downloads in a 24-hour period. However, the volume of downloads crippled Mozilla's site, and so customers in the U.S. couldn't begin downloading the software until two hours later than expected. Still, Mozilla said it logged more than 8 million downloads within 24 hours. There is currently no record for number of software downloads in a day, but Mozilla must now wait for review of the stunt by Guinness officials.

Is the Internet Making Us Stupid?
Mike Pesca

Right now, you're probably happy that you have the vast resources of the entire Internet at your fingertips. It's a feeling of power, isn't it? All that information, all that content, right there for you whenever you want it?

You probably shouldn't be feeling so good about it, says writer Nicholas Carr, who has just written an article for The Atlantic Monthly with the provocative title, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Carr says that while the Internet allows us to get lots of information very quickly, it also encourages us not to look at it very thoughtfully.

In fact, Carr argues, when we give in to the natural impulses to click and skim, rather than to read and think, the Internet may actually doing us a disservice: It shortens our attention spans and even inhibits our ability to read longer books and articles.

In fact, if Carr is correct, you may never even make it to the end of this article.

Carr says it's not just about people scanning and jumping around very quickly. He says that the Internet is actually beginning to change the way we think. "It makes it harder even when we're offline to read books, as skimming takes over and displaces our modes of reading," he says.

It's not just Google Carr is talking about, but rather the structure and nature of the whole Internet. But he says that Google is very much the dominant player, and it both governs and symbolizes the way information is structured. "The way we gather information is by jumping around," he says, "and that's governed not only by Google but by the whole economic structure of the Internet."

Just as the arrival of Gutenberg's printing press helped to make reading universal, in the process ushering in enormous social revolutions, Carr says the Internet is producing a revolution of its own that is once again changing how we structure everything. While much of the revolution is positive, Carr says, he thinks that we should be aware that there might be some casualties, including prolonged reading and time for contemplation.

Carr tries to find time for more of what he calls deep reading, but he says that many of his friends are also facing difficulties in fighting Internet-influenced attention deficit disorder. In the article, he quotes one friend of his who told him: "I can't read War and Peace anymore. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it."

Until next week,

- js.

Current Week In Review

Recent WiRs -

June 14th, June 7th, May 31st, May 24th, May 17th, May 10th, May 3rd

Jack Spratts' Week In Review is published every Friday. Submit letters, articles, press releases, comments, questions etc. in plain text English to jackspratts (at) lycos (dot) com. Submission deadlines are Thursdays @ 1400 UTC. Please include contact info. The right to publish all remarks is reserved.

"The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public."
- Hugo Black
JackSpratts is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - September 22nd, '07 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 3 22-09-07 06:41 PM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - May 19th, '07 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 1 16-05-07 09:58 AM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - December 9th, '06 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 5 09-12-06 03:01 PM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - September 16th, '06 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 2 14-09-06 09:25 PM
Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - June 24th, ’06 JackSpratts Peer to Peer 1 22-06-06 12:02 PM

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:00 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© www.p2p-zone.com - Napsterites - 2000 - 2021