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Firehose #8

By 1 June 2010 No Comment

Content & Copyright

  • Ars technica, Time Warner Cable “a good ISP for copyright infringers” (June 1): “The US Copyright Group . . . has filed thousands of ‘John Doe’ lawsuits on behalf of indie film producers . . . .ISPs don’t enjoy processing this many subpoenas to match IP addresses with subscriber names, so companies like Comcast and Verizon have worked out their own compliance deals with [the law firm]. Not TWC.” So the lawyers are upping the ante: “To the extent TWC’s tactics are just that—letting the public know that TWC is a good ISP for copyright infringers because TWC will fight any subpoenas related to infringers’ activities—TWC exposes itself to a claim for contributory copyright infringement.”
  • Federal Trade Commission Staff, POTENTIAL POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS TO SUPPORT THE REINVENTION OF JOURNALISM ( DISCUSSION DRAFT)(May): “In May 2009, the Federal Trade Commission announced a project to consider the challenges faced by journalism in the Internet age. Now, one year later, staff responsible for this project present this draft for discussion of 1) the tentative conclusions outlined here about the current and likely future environments for news gathering and reporting, and 2) potential policy recommendations to address the issues raised during this proceeding.” Will be discussed at a roundtable on June 15.
  • Buzz Machine, FTC protects journalism’s past (May 29): Jeff Jarvis weighs the FTC report on journalism and finds it woefully wanting, largely because it raises the possibility that perhaps intellectual property rights deserve protection. Some interesting points, but Jarvis is of the school that thinks that new business models will arise from the earth that do not depend on the ability to monetize news gathering, oh ye of little faith, and is a Google hagiographer, so his vision seems to me astigmatic. To let him speak for himself, see New Business Models for News at CUNY.
  • Ars technica, FCC asked to monitor “hate speech,” “misinformation” online (June 1): More attempts to silence conservative talk radio. Some might find it ironic that the attempt is led by an organization that calls itself the Free Press, but most reactionary authoritarians lack the irony gene. Reason’s hit & run weighs in.
  • Brief of Amici Curiae eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., IAC/Interactive Corp, and Yahoo! Inc in Support of [Google] (May 26), which urges the court to “reject [Viacom’s] legal theories” about the DMCA. Via ars technica, Internet democracy at stake in Google/Viacom lawsuit? (May 29).
  • Gizmodo, Popular Mechanics iPad App: The Future of Magazines, All Over Again (June 1): “Popular Mechanics‘ app, set to launch next month, already looks like the new best magazine on the iPad. . . . Namely, they mostly reject pinch-to-zoom—what you see is what you get . . . Which is interesting, in that Apple has taught everybody pinch-to-zoom as the predominant multitouch gesture, so it’s what most people automatically do to anything. The idea, clearly, is fidelity to this idea of the magazine as curated object, unlike something purely digital and flighty, like a web page.”


  • CNet News, Patent cloud looms over Google Web video plan (June 1): “In mid-May, Google launched an ambitious effort called WebM to make it as easy and cheap to put video on the Web as it is to put photos there today. At the heart of WebM is Google’s new royalty-free, open-source technology called VP8 that combines modern streaming-video features with a price tag of zero. But almost immediately after Google allies made their jubilant statements, a more sober question arose: does Google’s gift actually come with strings attached? A video patent licensing group called MPEG LA is publicly questioning VP8’s patent pedigree and raising the prospect that those using VP8 might have to license patents from parties besides Google to use it. MPEG LA’s actions could significantly curtail both VP8’s use and Google’s hopes for it. The history of digital video shows MPEG LA’s question should be taken seriously.”

The Net

  • Connected Planet, Putting a price tag on allegiance to customers (June 1): “Without exception, the biggest boosters of telecom operators’ game plan to reinsert themselves into the communications value chain and escape a dumb-pipe fate are their major equipment suppliers [who are] ‘all in’ when it comes to assisting operators in ratcheting up average revenue per user through the introduction of new services and new business models, such as app stores, advertising, and exposing customer data and network resources to third parties.” Still the author is not optimistic; the gist of his pessimism is that the pipes might be smart, but the operators are not.
  • Precursor Blog, FCC Exceptionalism and Supremacy? (May 28): Scott Cleland says that the FCC’s plan to proceed on June 17 to vote to make broadband into a common carrier ignores Congress; Courts/Law; Bipartisanship; the DOJ; the FTC; Economic Impacts; & the Public.
  • Google, Google’s U.S. Economic Impact (May 25). Scott Cleland buyeth not —  Precursor Blog, Google’s U.S. Economic Impact Analysis is a Misleading Accounting Gimmick (May 25): “Google’s economic analysis includes all the benefits, but not all the costs.”
  • Intel Public Policy Blog, Moore’s Law, Less Carbon – Energy Efficiency Leadership in Texas (May 21):  Intel buys into the climate change hype, which is dubious, but energy efficiency is a good thing regardless, as long as the price is right.
  • Microsoft on the Issues, Elevate America, Now in 32 States and DC (May 28): “32 states and [D.C.] have now joined Elevate America, an initiative we launched 15 months ago to provide . . . access to no-cost technology training and certification that helps them find employment. So far, we’ve offered more than 800,000 free training and certification vouchers.”

Verizon Policy Blog, Don’t Blink, Wireless Market Grows More Competitive Every Day (May 17):  “On the eve of the FCC’s annual report on the state of mobile wireless, I thought I’d share Verizon’s submission to that effort and highlight a few noteworthy facts. Today, the wireless market swarms with choices that didn’t even exist a short time ago.  Our ex parte letter is rife with examples of this robust wireless competition and its innovations, so please take a look.  But one thing that hasn’t changed much is how effectively competitive the US wireless ecosystem is.

AT&T Public Policy Blog, Dewey Defeats Truman (May 20): “Occasionally, a conclusion is reached that is so unhinged from the facts that it defies explanation.  So it is with the 14th Edition of the Mobile Wireless Competition Report released today by the FCC.  Actually, it was not a conclusion in this case that baffles, but the lack of one.  After reviewing an extensive record that demonstrates robust and even cut-throat competition in almost every facet of the US wireless industry, the FCC decided that it would not, as it has in the past, draw any conclusion about whether the U.S. wireless industry was effectively competitive.”

AT&T Public Policy Blog, Sleeping Beauty or Lost? (May 27): “Reading through the FCC’s Competition Report last weekend, I was struck by all the key data which demonstrate the competitiveness of the wireless market.  Only in an alternative universe, or in a situation where there are ulterior motives, could one draw a different or, in this case, no conclusion.”

  • AT&T Public Policy Blog, Adventures in Cryonics (May 26):  Takes up cost accounting, one of the most important topics of which 99.99% of the population is happily ignorant.
  • ITIF, The Internet Economy 25 Years After .com (May 15): “The report is being issued 25 years to the day in 1985 when symbolics.com was registered as the first .com in the world. The report quantifies the dazzling growth and economic benefits of e-commerce, especially in the last decade since bubble collapse . . . .”


Open Government

  • Gov 2.0 Expo 2010 (May 25-27):  Materials from the conference on how “Government 2.0 signals the emergence of IT innovation and the Web as a platform for fostering efficiencies within government and citizen participation

Digital Commerce

Health Care, Medical, Genetics, Agriculture

  • IPN, Greek price controls stifling access to drugs (June 1): “More unsurprising calamity in Greece – drug companies are withdrawing their products after the government forced down prices in a bid to mitigate its financial crisis.”
  • BIO Comments on Construction of a Self-Replicating, Synthetic Bacterial Cell by J. Craig Venter Institute (May 20).
  • Phrma,Prescription Medicines Account for Only One-Tenth of Every Health Care Dollar: As of 2006, “just 10 cents of every dollar spent on health care went to medicines (both bran-named and generic, plus the cost of pharmacies and the remainder of the distribution chain).”
  • Innovation.org says “New analysis shows biopharmaceutical firms’ investment in research & development increased in 2009 to reach $65 billion.” PowerPoint link at bottom of page.
  • PharmaExecBlog, WHO Threatens Industry Shut-out on Counterfeit Regulation (May 26): “If Big Pharma is interested in maintaining a level playing field on generics produced in emerging markets, and in international trade in general, then reversing this value shift at the WHO ought to be a priority. It is doubly important as these countries begin to develop approaches to the authorization of biosimilars based on local regulatory standards that might charitably be called “opportunistic.” It won’t help the cause of transparent and non-discriminatory regulation if the innovative industry is shut out in defining the global threat from fake drugs.”
  • WSJ, Glaxo Tries a Linux Approach – Drug Maker Shares Its Research Data Online in Test of Open-Source Principles (May 26): “The pharmaceutical giant last week opened to the public the designs behind 13,500 chemical compounds that it said may be capable of inhibiting the parasite that causes malaria. Glaxo and others hope that sharing information and working together will lead scientists to come up with a drug for treating the mosquito-borne disease faster than the company could on its own. . . . The move is one of the largest experiments yet by the pharmaceutical industry to apply techniques of open-source development to drug discovery, based on the idea that collaboration by volunteers will create products that aren’t owned by a single company.”




[The explanation of the title Firehose is here.]

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