News Tidbits—week of June 29th

Monday, June 29th

  • In PK’s comment on the National Broadband Plan proposed by the FCC, we said that it’s time to treat broadband as an essential utility like water and electricity. Some advocates are raising another question: Is broadband a civil right? To some this may seem like a radical change in rhetoric, but there is a long tradition of communications policy being discussed within a similar framework—just read the 1934 Communications Act.

Tuesday, June 30th

  • The Supreme Court rejected the case against Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR service, reinforcing a lower court’s decision that the service, which is functionally the same as legal, time-shifting services such as TiVo, is not infringing.

Wednesday, July 1st

  • The RIAA came out on top in its lawsuit against Usenet.com. A federal judge found the newsgroup provider liable for direct infringement, inducement of infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious infringement. Usenet, called an “egregious player” who “appears to have gone way over the line” by Techdirt, did not exactly curry the favor of the judge.
  • A federal judge decided to indefinitely ban 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, a sequel to and commentary on J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The Swedish author Fredrik Colting said in an email message, “Call me an ignorant Swede, but the last thing I thought possible in the U.S. was that you banned books.”
  • Facing $3.6 million in penalties, Pirate Bay was bought up by the Swedish Software firm Global Gaming Factory X for about $8 million, claiming that it will introduce legitimizing business models to ensure “that content providers and copyright owners get paid for content that is downloaded via the site."  Exactly how they will do this, or how they will even be able to afford buying TBP, is unclear.

Thursday, July 2nd

  • In response to concerns over antitrust issues brought up by the Google Book Search settlement, the Justice Department officially opened an investigation to determine whether parts of the agreement violate the Sherman Act.

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