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Comment Cord Cutting (Score 4, Interesting) 697

I pulled the plug on Comcast over six months ago, and I love it. I bought a Dell Inspiron Zino HD 410 and hooked it up to my big ol' TV. It has HDMI out which actually sends the audio as well, since this computer is designed to be TV connected. It does a great job for streaming Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon VOD. I'm saving $60/mo., and enjoy a better experience. On demand streaming is wonderful, since there's so much out there to watch already. I do have to be patient, waiting for TV shows to hit Hulu or movies to hit Netflix, but it's been worth it to me. The only thing I really miss is the ability to just sit down and let the flashing box entertain me. Now I do have to make a choice. Before, I could sit down and let a Mythbusters marathon entertain me. I can still do that, but I have to think to do it before I can do it. I've also been spending more and more of my time watching podcasts from TWiT and others. I watch very little actual TV these days, only those shows I really want to see.

Submission + - US Spaceflight record Broken

Josh Fink writes: "Today, astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria has been living and working in space for 197 days. The previous record of 196 days was held by expedition 4 crew members Carl Walz and Dan Bursch. When Lopez-Alegria returns to Earth on April 20, he will have spent 214 days aboard the IIS. From the article:

"You know it's kind of being like Barry Bonds and...Albert Pujos playing on the same team," Lopez-Alegria, an avid baseball fan, said referring to professional ballplayers. "I have a feeling my record isn't going to last very long, and I know exactly who is going to break it."

While the US may have broken its own record, it still has a long way to go to catch up with the world record of 438 days held by Valery Polyakov, a MIR crew member. You can view the article located at here."
The Courts

Submission + - UK: Child Porn "Art" Illegal

StewedSquirrel writes: Parliment passed a law yesterday making "child porn images" illegal, focusing on "non-photographic" renditions, apparently including "drawings, images and sculptures". It goes even further to broadly define restrictions:

The proposed new law would cover depictions of child sex abuse that have either been created on a computer or are cartoons, drawings or other "artwork".

The article then mentions several incidents where London Art Gallery owners have been arrested and charged in the past few years for displaying artwork depicting "a photographer's three young children playing while naked" or "a photographer's daughter in the bath". Both were overturned on the basis that "art" is not covered by then current child porn laws.

Presumably, this exhibition of Donatello's David in London is illegal by some interpretations of the law, since it displays a naked prepubescent child in a pose that has been described as "provocative", "sensual" or "a fetishists dream" by art critics. Statues of Zeus abducting Ganymede may fall even more squarely under the wording of the law. While the police have vowed not to prosecute posession of "genuine artwork", what credentials does the average detective have to determine "genuine artwork"? Would they consider a modern sculpture of the same subject with the same care that they would consider one of the classics?

How does this recent law affect the ongoing effort to digitize British art galleries? Does it have far reaching implications for the physical collections of art galleries as well? Does it make British citizens on legally shaky ground merely visting the national museum? How would someone make that determination in light of this new law and the past history of enforcement and raids on smaller galleries? Does this law go too far?
The Courts

RIAA Balks At Complying With Document Order 166

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "When the RIAA was ordered to turn over its attorneys' billing records to the defendant's lawyer in Capitol v. Foster, there was speculation that they would never comply with the order. As it turns out they have indeed balked at compliance, saying that they are preparing a motion for a protective order seeking confidentiality (something they could have asked for, but didn't, in their opposition papers to the initial motion). Having none of that, Ms. Foster's lawyer has now made a motion to compel their compliance with the Court's March 15th order."

Judge Strikes Down COPA, 1998 Online Porn Law 348

Begopa sends in word that a federal judge has struck down the Child Online Protection Act. The judge said that parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit others' rights to free speech. This was the case for which the US Department of Justice subpoenaed several search companies for search records; only Google fought the order. The case has already been to the Supreme Court. Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. wrote in his decision: "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."

RIAA Caught in Tough Legal Situation 267

JeffreysTube writes "The RIAA's legal fight against a divorced mother has run into trouble, with the judge now telling the RIAA that its only two options are to proceed with a jury trial against Patty Santangelo or dismiss the case with prejudice. If the latter happens, Santangelo officially "wins" and could collect attorneys' fees. The judge is less than pleased with the RIAA, which is now trying to drop the case without giving Santangelo a chance to be declared guilty. 'This case is two years old,' wrote Judge McMahon. 'There has been extensive fact discovery. After taking this discovery, either plaintiffs want to make their case that Mrs. Santangelo is guilty of contributory copyright infringement or they do not.'"

Submission + - Real-time P2P monitoring

An anonymous reader writes: Apparently someone is running global BitTorrent P2P network monitoring. There is impressive view on — currently representing downloads of Borat movie across all Internet. Each peer is geolocated, and information about download progress and client used is included.

Submission + - FBI in Cohoots with Verizon, AT&T, MCI

mrbluze writes: "In the ongoing FBI probe, Wired News confirms that the FBI did enter into contracts with telephone companies to "harvest" telephone records.

"The contract essentially pays for the man hours or the personnel cost for the people who have to do the work," said FBI Assistant Director John Miller in an interview with Wired News last night. "We want dedicated people who handle our requests or do nothing else."

I have read elsewhere that security organizations have deals with operating system and other software manufacturers to provide back-doors to PC's. How widespread is all of this privacy invasion in reality?"

Submission + - A Meeting with Jim Stone, DMCA Enforcer

EverStoned writes: "After receiving some copyright violation warnings from various notifying agencies, forwarded to me by Boston University, my school account was shut down. To get it back, I had to have a talk with Jim Stone, self-proclaimed "DMCA Enforcer." I think I might have been the first person to ever disagree with him.
It was interesting to me to see what he, a cop and a lawyer, thought of various copyright issues. He seems completely oblivious to the importance of the issue in relation to free human society, and cares only about it from a financial aspect. He claims that there are people like him in every school, so have any slashdotters in other universities ever dealt with these so called "DMCA Enforcers"?"

Submission + - Judge: Pattis Santangelo Has Right to Day in Court

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "Judge Colleen McMahon in Elektra v. Santangelo, in White Plains, NY, federal court has rejected the RIAA's attempt to dismiss "without prejudice", ruling instead that she is "entitled to have her legal status resolved one way or the other." (pdf). The judge ordered the RIAA to dismiss with prejudice by April 1st, or be ready to go ahead with a plan for the trial on April 13th. The judge rejected the RIAA's claim that Ms. Santangelo had defrauded the court, ruling that "Nothing in any papers filed by plaintiffs suggests IN THE SLIGHTEST that Mrs. Santangelo has ever perpetrated any fraud on this court." (capitals in the original)."

How to Turn A Music Lover to Piracy 521

dugn writes to tell us The Consumerist is running a story about how a run of the mill (read non-tech-savvy) music lover was pushed to become a pirate. "I've devoted a not-inconsequential chunk of my life to collecting music; to tracking down obscure records, cassettes, 8-Tracks and CD's of all genres and styles. And now apparently that is all but over. Music has somehow evolved from tangible things into amorphous collections of 1's and 0's guarded over by interested parties as if they were gold bullion. How so very sad."
America Online

Submission + - AOL: The biggest Wi-Fi privacy invader ever?

PetManimal writes: "Preston Gralla points to a project being carried out by Skyhook Wireless, an AOL business partner, to build a private database of 16 million Wi-Fi routers throughout the U.S. and Canada, including network name and precise location. Skyhook has been gathering the data by driving trucks with Wi-Fi and GPS gear up and down streets in 2,500 cities and towns in North America. The data is apparently being gathered to support the AIM "Near Me" plugin which will show potential instant messaging buddies in your vicinity, but Gralla sees a more sinister side of the Skyhook project:

... Who's to say that they're only gathering basic information about your router? Will they also gather whether it uses encryption or not? Will they grab other information as well? One thing is very clear: Skyhook Wireless isn't spending all this money just so it can support an AOL plug-in. Its ultimate goal, it says on its Web site, "is to expand the market for Location-Based Services (LBS) by making precise location information accessible to users and application providers." In other words, the data will be made available to the highest bidder.

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