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The Internet

European Court of Justice To Outlaw Net Filtering 171

jrepin writes "Today, the European Court of Justice gave a preliminary opinion that will have far-reaching implications in the fight against overaggressive copyright monopoly abusers. It is not a final verdict, but the advocate general's position; the Court generally follows this. The Advocate Generals says that no ISP can be required to filter the Internet, and particularly not to enforce the copyright monopoly."

Apple Negotiates For Unlimited iTunes Downloads 133

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Bloomberg reports that Apple is in talks with record companies including Vivendi SA (VIV)'s Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) and EMI Group Ltd. to give iTunes music buyers easier access to their songs on multiple devices. The deal would provide iTunes customers with a permanent backup of music purchases if the originals are damaged or lost and would allow downloads to iPad, iPod and iPhone devices linked to the same iTunes account. The negotiations come as iTunes is facing competition from new Web-based services such as Spotify Ltd., Rdio Inc. and MOG Inc. that focus on letting customers listen to songs from anywhere with an online connection, instead of downloading tracks to a hard drive. 'Long-time iTunes users know that one of the more obnoxious differences between music and app downloads on the iTunes Store is the fact that apps can be re-downloaded a seemingly infinite number of times,' writes Jacqui Cheng. 'In contrast, users can only download music tracks once — if you find yourself without backups and your music disappears, you must beseech the iTunes gods to let you re-download all your music—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, should they hear your prayers.""

Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality 150

holy_calamity writes "DARPA's plans to create brain chips for insects so they can be steered like an RC plane are bearing fruit. Videos show that a team at Berkeley can use radio signals to tell palm-sized African beetles to take off and land, and to lose altitude and steer left or right when in flight. They had to use the less-than-inconspicuous giant beetles because other species are too weak to take off with the weight of the necessary antenna and brain and muscle electrodes."

New "JUSTICE" Act Could Roll Back Telecom Immunity 263

Asmodae writes to tell us about a bill proposed in Congress that could roll back telecom retroactive immunity along with adding other privacy safeguards. The "Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counter-Terrorism Efforts" (JUSTICE) Act advocates the "least intrusive means" of information collection and imposes many limitations on the process. "One of the most significant aspects of the JUSTICE Act is that it will remove the retroactive immunity grants that were given to the telecom companies that participated in the NSA warrantless surveillance program. The companies that cooperated with the surveillance program likely violated several laws, including section 222 of the Communications Act, which prohibits disclosure of network customer information. The immunity grants have prevented the telecommunications companies that voluntarily participated in this program from being held accountable in court."

US House May Pass "Cap & Trade" Bill 874

jamie found this roundup on the status of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, which is about to be voted on by the US House of Representatives. (The article notes that if the majority Democrats can't see the 218 votes needed for passage, they will probably put off the vote.) The AP has put together a FAQ that says, "[The bill, if passed,] fundamentally will change how we use, produce and consume energy, ending the country's love affair with big gas-guzzling cars and its insatiable appetite for cheap electricity. This bill will put smaller, more efficient cars on the road, swap smokestacks for windmills and solar panels, and transform the appliances you can buy for your home." The odds-makers are giving the bill a marginal chance of passing in the House, with tougher going expected in the Senate.

Democrats Propose Commission To Investigate Spying 302

metalman writes "Wired has a story on a proposal by House Democrats to 'establish a national commission — similar to the 9/11 Commission... to find out — and publish — what exactly the nation's spies were up to during their five-year warrantless, domestic surveillance program.' The draft bill would also preserve the requirement of court orders and remove 'retroactive immunity for telecom companies.' (We've discussed various government wiretaps, phone companies, and privacy violations before.) But it seems unlikely that such an alternative on phone immunity would pass both the House and Senate, let alone survive a Presidential veto."

FCC Considers Taking Action Against Comcast 181

Presto Vivace writes "According to CNet the Federal Communications Commission is considering taking action against cable operator Comcast modifying peer-to-peer traffic, a subject we've discussed here in the past. 'It looks like Chairman Martin, and by extension the commission, sees Comcast as going beyond simply managing its network. But even if the FCC decides that Comcast has violated Net neutrality principles, it's unclear what the agency can actually do to Comcast. The principles are not agency regulation.'"
The Almighty Buck

New York Times Ends Its Paid Subscription Service 169

Mike writes "The New York Times has announced that it will end its paid Internet service in favor of making most of its Web site available for free. The hope is that this move will attract more readers and higher advertising revenue. 'The longer-term problem for publishers like the Times is that they must find ways to present content online rather than just transferring stories and pictures from the newspaper. Most U.S. news Web sites offer their contents for free, supporting themselves by selling advertising. One exception is The Wall Street Journal which runs a subscription-based Web site. TimesSelect generated about $10 million in revenue a year. Schiller declined to project how much higher the online growth rate would be without charging visitors.'"

'Flying Saucers' to Go On Sale Soon 327

gihan_ripper writes "Perhaps the ultimate nerd acquisition, the flying car, is to go on sale in a few months. Speaking to the BBC, the inventor Dr Paul Moller described his creation, dubbed the Flying Saucer, as a VTOL aircraft designed to hover at 10 ft. above the ground. The flying saucer has eight engines and is expected to sell for $90,000. Dr Moller expects to produce a successor within six years, a 'Skycar' capable of a climb rate of 6000 ft./min. and an airspeed of 400 mph."

Music Companies Mull Ditching DRM 318

PoliTech writes to mention an International Herald Tribue article that is reporting the unthinkable: Record companies are considering ditching DRM for their mp3 albums. For the first time, flagging sales of online music tracks are beginning to make the big recording companies consider the wisdom of selling music without 'rights management' technologies attached. The article notes that this is a step the recording industry vowed 'never to take'. From the article: "Most independent record labels already sell tracks digitally compressed in MP3 format, which can be downloaded, e-mailed or copied to computers, cellphones, portable music players and compact discs without limit. Partially, the independents see providing songs in MP3 as a way of generating publicity that could lead to future sales. Should one of the big four take that route, however, it would be a capitulation to the power of the Internet, which has destroyed their monopoly over the worldwide distribution of music in the past decade and allowed file-sharing to take its place."

George Lucas To Quit Movie Business 520

CaroKann writes, "Variety is reporting that George Lucas is getting out of the movie business. Mr. Lucas laments that today's big-budget franchise films are too expensive and too risky. He believes American audiences are deserting their movie going habits permanently. Instead of making major films, Lucasfilm will instead focus on television. Lucas states that for the price of one $200 million feature movie, 'I can make 50-60 two hour movies' that are 'pay-per-view and downloadable.' Notably, he does not plan on distributing movies online, calling online distribution a 'rathole.'"

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