August 23, 2007
Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper
The Radio and the Internet
SUSAN P. CRAWFORD
Cardozo Law School
August 14, 2007
The airwaves offer the potential for contributing to enormous economic growth if they are used more efficiently for facilitating high-speed Internet access, but recent industry and government actions have failed to follow this path. This Article evaluates the multi-billion-dollar 700 MHz auction regime established by the Federal Communications Commission in August 2007 as a case study in our national approach to this valuable resource, and argues that the public interest would best be served by having ubiquitous access to the Internet be the top priority of communications policy. The Article criticizes the nearly exclusive focus of the FCC on the interests of incumbents and law enforcement, and suggests that spectrum policy be focused on enabling unlicensed uses of the airwaves that can assist the nation with online access.
Available from SSRN:
Beyond the paper, the news is that Google will likely bid on the 700 MHz spectrum in the upcoming auction. This could get very interesting.
Google Maps the Sky
The latest version of Google Earth added a sky view where viewers can see stars and galaxies. Look for a star like icon at the end of the toolbar which invokes a 360 degree panorama of the sky with constellations mapped out. One can zoom in and out to see detail, although not necessarily with the same clarity as accompanying photographs. Maybe we don't want the terrorists to see Ursa Major all that clearly. Still, a sky map is a wonderful diversion. Clicking the star icon toggles back to the Earth view.
While we're on the subject of Google and extraterrestrial views, check out Google Mars from Google Labs. You only need a browser and close-up views of Mars are just a click away.
Google Earth 4.2 is available here.
August 22, 2007
Does Comcast Filter?
Is Comcast slowing down BitTorrent on it's network? That seems to be the question on this CNET report. Comcast denies any such action, saying only that they limit customers when they abuse bandwidth. The comments at the end of the report seem to cast doubt on Comcast's story.
Stories such as this, along with AT&T's censorship of Pearl Jam's criticism of President Bush on the webcast from Lollapalooza only hand ammunition to net neutrality advocates. The FCC and the FTC say net neutrality regulations are unnecessary as they would step in to address any blatant attempts to suppress traffic. The AT&T issue is settled somewhat by the outspoken criticism of the company who said it was a mistake and won't do it again. The proof will be how they handle future webcasts. These are out in the open. The Comcast situation is harder to gauge because network speeds rely on a lot of different factors. Suppression is easier to hide.
AT&T for its part has publicly said that it was developing software that would identify copyrighted material flowing through its network and suppress it. Aside from the obvious problem of determining when the use of copyrighted material is valid and when not, is this AT&T's job as a network owner? Then again, this is the same company that gave access to all of its unfiltered Internet traffic to the U.S. government. Let's hope that Google or another company like it upsets the apple cart and gets some of that spectrum. It's not that Google would be better than AT&T, but that they would be an alternative to the AT&T mindset.
August 21, 2007
American Airlines Sues Google Over Trademark in Ads
American Airlines is suing Google over sales of its name to third parties as part of Google's ad program. American doesn't like the idea that a search for it's name brings competitor listings up as part of a paid search. Courts have been all over the place on this one. A simple search for American Airlines in Google brings up listings immediately for American in the general search listings, with clearly identified "sponsor links" for Mexicana Airlines, Cheap Air Tickets, American Airline Guide, and two other sites offering cheap tickets. For the record, a similar search in Yahoo brings up three non-AA competitor sites as sponsored results. Microsoft Live Search brings up five non-AA sites as part of its sponsored searches.
The other search engines using sponsored links should be thankful that Google is the target. Depending on the outcome, all they have to do is react rather than litigate. At the same time, it must be a bit disconcerting that Google's legal responses will ultimately drive the precedent in search business conduct.
The suit was filed in the Northern District of Texas at Fort Worth. AA has a main hub in Dallas. More on this in ComputerWorld.
Google Market Share Up Again
It's search engine reporting season and the latest figures are in by ComScore. ComScore has changed the way it measures searches to include sent via other web sites to the major search engines. In other words, a Google search via a box on the Washington Post web site is now counted in Google's statistics. Yahoo and Microsoft have similar arrangements with partner sites. The company will also report out statistics on the types of searches entered.
With that, the numbers are Google getting 55.2% of the search market, up from 46.2% (old system numbers); Yahoo down to 23.5% from 29.8%; and Microsoft rounds out the bottom with 12.3% down slightly from 12.4%. These numbers are compared to share measured a year ago.
More comparisons are in this story in the Los Angeles Times.
August 20, 2007
Paramount and DreamWorks Go With HD-DVD
Paramount and DreamWorks just announced that they are dropping Blu-Ray for HD-DVD. And some thought that Sony was winning the format war. More confusion for consumers on which machines to buy. One of the factors for the decision was the lower manufacturing costs for the discs. Or maybe the studio was bought off by the HD-DVD camp. This comes after news last month that Sony will assist Japanese porn studios in finding pressing houses for Blu-Ray releases. The U.S. Adult industry has decided on HD-DVD for its releases after being rebuffed by Sony. The format war will not be settled in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Skype Blames MS Patch and Other Cirumstances for Outage
Skype blamed last week's two day outage on a combination of a software error in the peer-to-peer VoIP telephone service, Microsoft issuing a routine patch that caused a huge number of Skype users to reboot their machines contemporaneously. The result of waves of machines logging onto Skype all at one time overwhelmed the servers and the rest, of course, is history. Do Skype users really download OS patches and reboot in tandem? It's just so...hard to believe.
More here from the New York Times.
Eminem Sues Apple Over Downloads
It's been noted in the press that Eminem is suing Apple over selling his music without his permission. Greg Sandoval over at CNET examines his case in the context of rights owned by the labels to an artist's work. From Sandoval's analysis, Eminem may not stand a chance in this one. But winning against Apple may not be the real point of this suit. Read it here.