January 12, 2007
Legislation Introduced to Limit Digital Radio Recording by Consumers
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has introduced legislation that would restrict the ability of consumers to record radio signals from digital radio, cable, and the Internet. It requires content providers to place controls that would stop recordings from being made. The legislation died in committee in the last congress, but hopes are high that it will pass this time around. Of course, a lot depends on how much the RIAA ponies up to Democratic campaign coffers.
See the story in Ars Technica.
Is the Adult Industry Choosing HD-DVD Format?
The story of how the adult entertainment industry propelled VHS as their default format causing to beat out Beta lingers through the ages. It may or may not be true as those tapes were issued in both Beta and VHS way back when, at least for a while until it became clear which format was the true winner. Now the industry is close to picking HD-DVD because they are cheaper and easier to manufacture; because Blu-Ray is marketed through the PS3 which is mostly kids and young adults, and not the target audience for adult entertainment; and because of conflicting reports over whether Sony would grant a license to allow adult entertainment on a Blu-Ray disc. Whether or not one likes the idea of adult entertainment, the sales in discs annually are in the billions of dollars. That's more than enough to give HD-DVD some leverage in adoption, even if not enough to end the format war. Even Sony wound up selling VHS recorder/players at some point.
January 11, 2007
Bipartisan Net Neutraility Bill Introduced in the Senate
Senators Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) have introduced legislation that writes net neutrality into law. The text of the legislation is here. Senator Dorgan's release on the bill is here, along with links to a video of him discussing the bill. Senator Snowe's release is here. One of the conditions of the FCC's approval of the AT&T-BellSouth merger was a limited time guarantee of net neutrality over the merged company network.
Bloggers Get Press Seats at High Profile Trial
When I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby goes on trial for perjury and obstruction of justice, two of the 100 seats reserved for journalists will themselves be reserved for bloggers. The line between journalism and blogging gets a little more ragged. Details in the Washington Post.
Pew Report Out on Teen Social Network Use
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has issued a new study on how teens use the Internet. Some aspects of the report show that social networking sites (really, mostly MySpace) are wildly popular with teens (Duh), but that teens are getting smarter about keeping their information private.
Cisco Sues Apple Over iPhone Mark
Apple’s announcement of the iPhone was clouded slightly by the almost immediate lawsuit filed by Cisco Technology as holder of the trademark “iPhone.” Apple was aware of Cisco’s registration as news reports indicate that the two companies had been negotiating over the issue for quite some time. Apple (now just Apple, Inc., having dropped the “Computer” part of the company name) says that the suit is silly. The company points out that several companies are using iPhone in commerce. That’s true enough. There are even other registrations with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the iPhone mark, 9 all together, with 4 live and 5 dead. The Cisco registration number is 75076573.
The Apple phone is getting great reviews as a cool must-have item. The phone stands apart aside from its doubling as an iPod. The fact that all features are controlled by a touch screen rather than buttons is a revolutionary idea for phones, although a miniature touch screen adds a significant cost to the final product.
The projection is that it should sell a ton when it actually ships in about 6 months. One issue that’s popped up in some commentary is the battery. It’s not changeable, which means that it will have to be replaced by Apple (or a third party) who would like nothing more than to exploit this built in obsolescence by selling a replacement instead. That’s how the iPod market seems to work. Extending that “feature” to phones seems a natural for Apple. Cool or not, consumer acceptances will still factor in costs ($499 to $599 depending on the model) and the phone company contracts. We’ll see how that all works out at the time.
January 10, 2007
Scotus Issues Significant Patent Decision Today
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a key decision today in patent law. The Court basically said that one who enters into a license agreement can still challenge the underlying patent. The decision changes the long standing precedent in the Federal Circuit.
This should add a new wrinkle to how tech companies deal with each other when wielding patent claims.
The decision is Medimmune v. Genentech, 05-608.
January 9, 2007
Brazil, Google, and YouTube, Part Two
Or is it part three? Part two is ban on YouTube imposed by the Brazilian judge overseeing the case of model Daniela Cicarelli and her boyfriend, Renato Malzoni aggrieved over the video of them getting it on at a beach in Spain. The video appears on YouTube much to their dismay. YouTube keeps deleting it and users keep uploading it. That prompted a court order for YouTube to shut down, not that the court had the power to enforce its order on a company located in the United States.
That order changed into having ISPs in Brazil blocking YouTube, which some of them did. The reaction by Internet users was predictable, and the judge came in for a lot of heavy criticism in that country. Then the order to block YouTube was rescinded. The judge still wants YouTube to install software to insure the privacy of Cicarelli and Malzoni. Fine, although this conclusion could have been reached without the drama. With all the publicity this generated the judge practically insured that their privacy would not be respected by anyone as uploaders flooded other sites with the same clip.
I suggested in my original post on this incident that the video was generated by the couple, which was a wrong assumption. It was filmed by someone who caught them in the act. Still, a description of the video in Information Week suggests that the couple hardly tried to hide what they were doing in a very public place filled with people. It seems, then, that the couple may have had less concern about their privacy at the time the act was filmed. Oh, the irony.
Apple Announces iPhone, TV Box
While many technology companies show their new wares at CES, Apple has an entire show devoted to itself. Steve Jobs is no slouch at delivering new product news at MacWorld, and as usual, he did not disappoint the faithful. The two major announcements were of the combination iPod/smart phone, and a living room box that streams video to television sets from computers. Both items were expected, though this did not diminish the excitement upon their going public.
The iPhone was rumored for some time now, even though Apple didn't sue anyone over the rumors. The design is pure Apple, merging all the functionality of a smart phone into a touch screen that is as much iPod as it is a communication and media instrument. Details on its features and functionality are in Time. Unknown are the carriers that will use the instrument on their systems, although Cingular is reported to be a very early adopter.
The second item of note is the box that allows people to stream video to their television sets. There is lots of competition for this one, from Amazon, Microsoft, Sling Media and others. Details are in ZDNet.
January 8, 2007
Another CES, Another Look at the Digital Home
It's CES time which means news and promises from the leading technology companies. Had Comdex survived, this all would have happened about two months ago. Given the rise of digital media and online entertainment, CES would still be the better venue for all of this. The theme this year in products and speeches is the inexorable trend to converging the Internet, television, music, communication, and life in general within the digital home.
And Microsoft has just the products to do it, with Vista and now the announcement of the home server that will back up everything on a single box and stream content to every receptacle in the house that wants or needs it, especially if it is an XBox 360. So says Bill Gates in his keynote address, or something like it. Of course, he says a lot of that every year, and every year we get a little closer to the concept, whether it's Microsoft or other companies delivering the products that make it happen.
With all the promise, though, it's still a buyer's market for this technology. There will still be lots of people out there without backup servers or device connectivity simply because they don't need it to enjoy the consumer gadgets they own. They may not switch to an IP streaming television system because cable is so mindless and it already works for them. They may not want to stream their mp3 collection to the stereo because it's just as easy to make a CD and take it beyond the house to the car. These products broaden how we use technology, but they don't have to define our use. Remember that when these statements come out about the promise of the digital home, they are the statements of marketers. The buyers really are the ones who decide if the convenience is worth the price point and the ease of integration.
.xxx Domain Back on ICANN's Radar
The potential .xxx domain is back for another go round for approval by ICANN. This time the ICM Registry pushing the idea has pledged to police sites using the domain to prevent spam, spyware, and materials that appeal to pedophiles.
Details and documents about the revised plan are here, along with links to send in comments (through February 5th). Comments are viewable since they went live on January 6th.
News on the story is available via the BBC.