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Tech at Night: RIAA, DMCA, Viacom, Google, Gun Owners of America, Free Press

Tech at Night

Good evening. A story I expect to hear more about is this a proposed subsidy for radio stations and the RIAA both of some sort of legal requirement for new cellular phones to include an FM radio receiver.

Such a requirement would raise costs on everyone, lower innovation and even basic differentiation options, and be nothing but a detriment to anyone who shops for cellular phones in America. We’d best raise awareness against this before it’s too late.

Speaking of bad laws, the DMCA is in the news again. One provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act turned Internet hosting proficers into copyright cops, forcing them either to a) be legally responsible for any copyright infringement by their customers or b) to use the “safe harbor” provision, which requires them to police any alleged infringement they are legally notified of.

Apparently some people don’t think that’s enough, and in Viacom’s lawsuit against (now Google’s) YouTube, Viacom may be trying to exclude YouTube from the DMCA’s safe harbor. But I don’t think that there’s any rational reason to do this. There is no effective difference between YouTube’s managed hosting of video files in a user’s “channel”, and an old fashioned web host’s managed hosting of HTML and image files in a user’s website. The copyright implications are exactly the same if I put a video up on YouTube for public download, or upload it in RAR format for public download. Google’s just a deep pocket, and Viacom wants to cash in. Shame on them, and shame on any judge who lets them get away with it.

In a win, RedState diarist ladyimpactohio peeled off another Free Press ally. Ladyimpactohio demanded GoA explain why they had signed onto the Free Press front group Save the Internet, and they responded by saying they are now “100% opposed to that” Free Press agenda. Free Press is already demonizing Google. Are they going to have anyone on their side left at this rate?

The Pirate Party, best known for its Swedish origins with the people behind The Pirate Bay, a leading hub of copyright infringement online, is now becoming a registered political party in Oregon. Digital libertarians tired of being booted in the head by Barack Obama now have an alternative. Of course, they could also vote Republican if we can make sure to keep a light touch online…

And a final tidbit tonight: Eric Schmidt continues his crusade against privacy. We all know his corporation profits from a lack of privacy in a literal sense, as Google makes more money when it has more information about us to share, but he’s trying to push a certain mindset. He want us thinking about changing our names to avoid a trail of online breadcrumbs, instead of having us second-guessing linking all our data to one Google Account, one Facebook page, or Twitter, FourSquare, etc.

If we’re careful about what we reveal, we’ll reveal less, and firms like Google will lose out on advertising revenue opportunities. Schmidt would rather we not do that, and instead think about ways to hide from our choices, but leave the data online for all.

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