Blog Ipsa Loquitur

The new Galaxy Nexus S is one of those straight-from-the-source-code Android phones. You know, the ones that show off what Android could be if OEMs spent less time deciding whether to bundle NASCAR or Blockbuster apps (before deciding to bundle both) on your phone. Or if they spent less time trying to lock down the bootloader to prevent you from loading custom ROMs to delete those apps. Android’s “open” in the sense that the OEMs get to screw it up as badly as they like before handing it to a consumer.

So, Google likes to sell demo phones that shame their OEM buddies once in a while. The brand new Galaxy Nexus S comes with the brand new Android, and Google’s showing off a ton of new features. One of them is Google Wallet, which lets users pay for things in a store by tapping their phone on the cash register. It’s definitely one of those “oh my god we live in Jetsons time” moments. I bet we’re all doing it in like five years, but for the time being, it’s just crazy futuristic. I’m looking forward to this feature making its way into other phones.

But it probably won’t, because Verizon just blocked it from working on their network. This might not have anything to do with Verizon’s competing and identical feature, called ISIS. Bloomberg News says

the move comes amid intensifying competition between services that let consumers pay for goods with mobile phones. Verizon Wireless and partners AT&T; Inc. and T-Mobile USA plan to invest more than $100 million in a joint venture called Isis, which competes with the Google service, people with knowledge of the project said in August.

Boy, I bet Google’s really glad they’ve got such a firm understanding of the value of Net Neutrality with Verizon. Just imagine the sorts of troubling things that Verizon could do if they were allowed to run about unchecked!

Published on under The News

I never thought I would see the day when pornography would be on the internet. From The Verge:

Following a couple of months of pre-sales, adult-industry-centric .xxx domains will go on general sale at 11:00AM ET / 9:00AM PT / 4:00PM GMT today. ICM reports that over 50,000 .xxx domains have been pre-registered, with around 100,000 more names up for grabs from the general sale.

The Verge also reported on the lawsuit between porn industry giants and the registrar for the new .xxx domains. While the cost of a regular .com domain is just about $10 a year, and registrars have many registries to work with, the .xxx domain has a single registry. That’s kind of steep, I guess, but I’m sure they wouldn’t take advantage of the–

$60 dollars a domain? And GoDaddy is charging $99 to registrants? Wow, no wonder they’re upset. Fortunately, my new domain, extremelynakedpeople.xxx, is not taken. Unfortunately, it’s going to take me a while to find enough change in the couch cushions to pay the $99 registration fee. Heck, for that price, I could pay for BarelyLegally.com for the next decade.

So when do you think the first pornography will start being uploaded to the internet? That’s going to be kind of a weird adjustment.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

James Grimmelmann has published a paper on the whole Google Books saga. It’s called The Elephantine Google Books Settlement, and it’s available in PDF form now. He describes it thusly:

It’s an attempt to boil down the settlement into a single clear concept that makes sense of the whole thing: the settlement used an opt-out class action to bind copyright owners (including the owners of orphan works) to future uses of their books by a single defendant. This is not a piece of close legal analysis; instead, it’s an attempt at a big picture view of the legal issues raised by the settlement.

The abstract and related articles are available at his website. If you haven’t kept up with this stuff, this is a very accessible and enjoyable way to make yourself an authority on the matter. You’ll be the hit of your next cocktail party!

Published on under Legal Theory

Boing Boing on a Swiss study about the effects of pirating movies and music:

The independent study concluded that downloaders use the money they spend to buy more legitimate entertainment products. So they’ve concluded to maintain Switzerland’s extant copyright law, which makes downloading for personal use legal.

It’s short and links to the study itself, which is anything but neutral on the topic of downloading.

#MondayMorningEuropeanPoliticalHistoryJokes

Published on under The News

Last week, I wrote about the Grooveshark lawsuit. The other day, ZDNet took a look at some of the emails included in the complaint that Universal filed against Grooveshark:

“We bet the company on the fact that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission,” [Grooveshark Chairman Sina] Simantob wrote in an email to Andrew Lipsher, a partner at Greycroft, a venture capital firm. “When EMI sued, everyone thought it is the end of the company. “Once EMI, Grooveshark settle … everyone said EMI was weak anyway, so the real Goliath to beat is [Universal Music Group]. Well, it took the boys a bit before they could re-group, but I think these guys have a real chance to settle with UMG within a year, and, by that time, they’ll be up to 35 million unique, and a force to be dealt with.”

…it is unclear here how Simantob’s apparent acknowledgement that Grooveshark intended to build a business on unlicensed music will affect Universal’s case. Nowhere in the emails included in Universal Music’s exhibits does Simantob mention piracy or illegal file sharing.

Read the rest of the article – there are plenty more emails where that came from, and they’re all interesting reading.

But these exhibits are hardly the smoking gun Universal’s going to need to get around Grooveshark’s safe harbor defense I banged on about last week. While they might demonstrate some sleazy business practices, talking about having so many customers (35 million) that taking a slice of the pie would be more valuable than burning the pie isn’t illegal. I don’t see how that’s evidence of infringement.

If this is all Universal has, Grooveshark’s not in such bad shape. The safe harbor provision is probably going to protect them like it protected YouTube. General knowledge of infringing activity by users wasn’t enough there, and if general knowledge is all Grooveshark’s got, they’re in much less shaky ground than they could be.

YouTube’s got a lot more going for it than clips of the Daily Show, though. People upload videos that they’ve made, not just ones they copied from TV. Grooveshark, on the other hand, has a lot fewer non-infringing uses. Later this weekend, I’ll write a bit about the DMCA (where the safe harbor provision comes from), contributory copyright infringement, and how those work with the “substantial non-infringing uses” defense that saved Sony in the Betamax case.

Published on under The News

Professor Susan Crawford, of Cardozo Law School and about a million other great places:

So now what we’ve got is no competition and no regulatory oversight. Wireless is not substitutable for the kind of wireline Internet access that Comcast and TWC can provide. These are two separate enormous markets, each controlled by a couple of mammoth players. What’s at stake? Everything about the future of information in America.

She calls the blog post “Smug and Chagrined,” which is how she feels as she watches Comcast and Verizon carve up the market like so much roast beast. Smug for having called it, and presumably chagrined for watching the internet service market cornered by a limp-wristed version of a trust.

I’ll be preordering her book on this whole mess, and probably sob quietly as I read it.

Published on under The News