September 28, 2007
FCC Releases Annual Report, "Reference Book of Rates"
The FCC has released its annual "Reference Book of Rates, Price Indices, and Household Expenditures for Telephone Service." Here's an excerpt from the press release, giving some interesting statistics about the cost of long distance calling, and charges paid by consumers. Read the entire press release here.
· The average revenue per minute of wireline long distance calling, which reflects rates paid by residential and business consumers, remained at 6 cents in 2005 for the third consecutive year, and represents a decrease of 60% from 1992, when discount and promotional long distance plans were introduced.
· During 2006, the consumer price index (CPI) for wireline interstate toll service rose 5.1% and the CPI for intrastate toll service increased 3.3%, while the overall CPI rose 2.5%.
· Long-term, the CPI for wireline interstate toll service in December 2006 was 33% lower than in December 1997, and for intrastate toll service, 24% lower, while the overall CPI rose by 25% during the same period.
· The December 2006 CPI for wireless service remained unchanged from December 2005. Long-term, the CPI for wireless services was 35% lower in December 2006 than it was in December 1997.
· The Lifeline universal service program subsidizes the monthly phone charges for low-income households, while the Link Up program subsidizes charges for the connection of a phone line. Based on a sample of cities, Lifeline conferred an average monthly benefit of $14.65, and Link Up conferred an average benefit of $29.94.
· The average rate paid by business customers for a single phone line was $45.31 in 2006, compared to $43.75 in 2005, an increase of 3.5%. The average connection charge for single-line business customers fell from $74.18 in 2005 to $72.26 in 2006, a decrease of 2.5%.
· The average rate paid by residential customers for unlimited touch-tone calling was $25.27 in 2006, compared to $24.64 in 2005, an increase of 2.6%. The average connection charge for residential customers increased to $42.92 in 2006 from $42.80 in 2005.
Irish Journalist, Others, Receive Death Threats
The Irish Times reports that a newspaper editor as well as members of Sinn Fein have received death threats that appear to be from the "Red Hand Defenders", a name used by "loyalist terrorists." Police are investigating. Read more here.
September 27, 2007
Judge Rules Condit Must Pay Newspaper's Lawyer Fees
Gary Condit, the former Congressman who has filed numerous lawsuits against various media who have covered his involvement with Chandra Levy, the young woman whose remains were found in Washington DC's Rock Creek Park, has been by an Arizona judge to pay the legal fees of the attorney who defended the newspaper he sued recently. The Sonoran News ran a story about Mr. Condit's brother, but included a sentence about Mr. Condit himself, and the result was what Judge Kristin Hoffman considered a frivolous lawsuit. She dismissed it earlier this year, and told him to pay more than $42,000 to Daniel Barr, the attorney who defended the paper. Read more here in a Modesto Bee story.
September 26, 2007
The Right to Make Private Copies in European Law
Natali Helberger, University of Amsterdam, Institute for Information Law, and P. G. Hugenholtz, University of Amsterdam, have published "No Place Like Home for Making a Copy: Private Copying in European Copyright Law and Consumer Law," in the 2007 volume of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal. Here is the abstract.
The ability to make private copies is among the main concerns of consumers of information goods and services, as recent studies conducted among European consumers have demonstrated. What is surprising then is that this general expectation does not seem to rest on legally solid ground. European copyright law, while permitting the Member States of the European Union to provide for a private copying limitation, does not provide legal certainty as to its scope, legal status and enforceability, both in contractual relationships and in situations where private copying is impeded by digital rights management (DRM). Consumer protection law in Europe may on occasion give “teeth” to private copying limitation. However, as recent case law from courts in France and in Belgium has revealed, the application of consumer law to private copying still raises an array of difficult questions, some of which are directly connected to the law of copyright.
This article examines the intersection between copyright law and consumer law relating to private copying in Europe. In doing so, we will query the effectiveness of copyright law and consumer law as legal instruments to protect consumers in their dealings with information suppliers. Our goal is to demonstrate that while copyright law in Europe does offer a measure of comfort to consumers, the legal instruments of European consumer law are potentially more effective in achieving the freedom to make private copies that European consumers generally expect.
Download the entire article from SSRN here.
Google and Fair Use
David Kohler, Southwestern Law School, has published "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us--Or Is It? Reflections on Copyright, the First Amendment, and Google's Use of Others' Content," in the 2007 volume of the Duke Law & Technology Review. Here is the abstract.
Using a variety of technological innovations, Google became a multi-billion dollar content-delivery business without owning or licensing much of the content that it uses. Google's principal justification for why this strategy does not contravene the intellectual property rights of the copyright owners is the doctrine of fair use. However, over the last several years, some copyright owners began to push back and challenge Google's strategy. Much of this litigation presents the courts with something of a conundrum. On the one hand, it is beyond dispute that Google's services have great social utility. By organizing and making accessible an enormous volume of information on the Internet, Google facilitates broad access to a diverse array of material, a core value of the First Amendment. At the same time, Google's actions do not always fit comfortably within traditional notions of fair use. In this respect, the Google cases present an opportunity to explore the relationship between copyright and the First Amendment; a subject that has received inadequate attention in the courts, and particularly the Supreme Court. How the apparent tension between the marketplace of ideas and the commercial marketplace is resolved may have significant impact on the development of Internet-based services designed to facilitate access to information, and this subject is the focus of this iBrief.
Download the entire article from SSRN here.
September 25, 2007
Reporter Mirthala Salinas Returns to the Newsroom
Journalist Mirthala Salinas, the "other woman" in Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's life, is returning to on-air work, to cover the inland counties beat for Telemundo's KVEA Channel 52. After the news broke that while she had been covering Mayor Villaraigosa, she had also been involved with him, she was placed on paid leave and eventually suspended for two months without pay. Read more here.
College Paper's Editor Says He'll Stand His Ground Over Controversial Headline
J. David McSwane, the editor of the Colorado State University Rocky Mountain Collegian, says he won't step down in the wake of that controversial headline: "Expletive Bush". He may lose his job, but he won't step down. The campus College Republicans want him fired. Mr. McSwane said the paper's editorial board decided to use the headline after it discerned that CSU's student body is "apathetic" over freedom of speech. The paper has since lost $30,000 in advertising revenue. The paper is apparently supervised by the Board of Student Communication, not the University. Read more here.
September 24, 2007
Ofcom Says Channel 4 Program About Diana OK
Media watchdog agency Ofcom has ruled that Channel 4's recent documentary about the late Princess Diana did not breach any rules, even though several thousand viewers objected to some of the images, including one showing an injured Diana receiving treatment from a French EMT. The agency said the content was "in line with expectations for an investigative historical drama on Channel 4". Diana's sons William and Harry also asked Channel 4 to edit the documentary but the network refused. Read more here in a BBC story.