Monthly Archives: August 2008

Selling Out Has Its Party: AT&T Fetes Blue Dogs

2793874065_fd20bc4453.jpg Glenn Greenwald has video of attendees refusing to say who they were or why they were there or what the party was for:
Amazingly, not a single one of the 25-30 people we tried to interview would speak to us about who they were, how they got invited, what the party’s purpose was, why they were attending, etc. One attendee said he was with an “energy company,” and the other confessed she was affiliated with a “trade association,” but that was the full extent of their willingness to describe themselves or this event. It was as though they knew they’re part of a filthy and deeply corrupt process and were ashamed of — or at least eager to conceal — their involvement in it. After just a few minutes, the private security teams demanded that we leave, and when we refused and continued to stand in front trying to interview the reticent attendees, the Denver Police forced us to move further and further away until finally we were unable to approach any more of the arriving guests.

AT&T thanks the Blue Dog Democrats with a lavish party, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Monday Aug. 25, 2008 11:15 EDT (updated below (with video added) – Update II) Thursday, Aug 28, 2008

The video includes Denver police repeatedly asking accredited press to move away from a public sidewalk.

At another party, an ABC News reporter was arrested while “attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.”

Parties like this are part of the lobbying revolving door that makes the U.S. look like a banana republic. I’m picking on Democrats, here, but at least 75% of Senate Democrats (including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, but not Barack Obama) voted against the recent bad FISA bill. A much higher percentage of Republicans voted for it.

If he were alive today, Robert Burns would say:

‘We are bought and sold for telecom gold’
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


Viral Viral: Pretending to Cheat Worked Better Than Cheating for Avril Lavigne Fans

Photo: Arista Records
Avril Lavigne fans push their girl's video to #1 on YouTube by pretending to cheat:
On June 19th, the Avril Lavigne fansite Avril Bandaids launched a “Girlfriend” YouTube Viewer (It’s now been retired) with the intention of making “Girlfriend” the #1 YouTube video of all time. The url that hosted the viewer reloaded the video every 15 seconds. The theory was that Avril fans could load up that url, let it run, and Avril would get the top video spot in no time.

Well, Entertainment Tonight, Perez Hilton,, The Globe and Mail, The Sydney Morning Herald, and many others picked up the story and started crying “foul.” How dare this hardcore group choose the number one YouTube video for us!? How dare they! And that’s where this story gets good.

There was no foul. YouTube caps it’s views per specific IP at 200 per day. (That may sound like a lot, but it’s not enough for a small legion of hardcore fans to make a dent in a number approacing 100,000,000.) There was no way they could game YouTube in the way they were purporting; and they knew it all along.

“Girlfriend” Video Tops YouTube With Viral Viral Marketing (not a typo), by Wade,, 20th August 2008

So they leveraged their leverage by provoking media outrage, causing millions of people to watch the video to see what it's about, and now causing a third wave of blog posts, thus producing still more views.

Now that's clever.

Not the sort of thing you'll ever see come out of telcos or cablecos, either.


Movie King of the Internet: Bad Idea

kong_iup2.jpg Andrew Odlyzko asks what if the duopoly gets its way and completely does away with net neutrality:
But what if they do get their wish, net neutrality is consigned to the dustbin, and they do build their new services, but nobody uses them? If the networks that are built are the ones that are publicly discussed, that is a likely prospect. What service providers publicly promise to do, if they are given complete control of their networks, is to build special facilities for streaming movies. But there are two fatal defects to that promise. One is that movies are unlikely to offer all that much revenue. The other is that delivering movies in real-time streaming mode is the wrong solution, expensive and unnecessary. If service providers are to derive significant revenues and profits by exploiting freedom from net neutrality limitations, they will need to engage in much more intrusive control of traffic than just provision of special channels for streaming movies.

The delusions of net neutrality, Andrew Odlyzko, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA Revised version, August 17, 2008

Why is that?
But video, and more generally content (defined as material prepared by professionals for wide distribution, such as movies, music, newscasts, and so on), is not king, and has never been king. While content has frequently dominated in terms of volume of traffic, connectivity has almost universally been valued much more highly and brought much higher revenues. Movies cannot be counted on to bring in anywhere near as much in revenues as voice services do today.
The Internet isn't about Sarnoff's Law (broadcast content like TV, radio, and newspapers) or even about Metcalfe's Law (1-n connectivity, like telephone or VoIP): it's about Reed's law, 2n-n connectivity, such as blogs, P2P, and facebook). That's my interpretation; Odlyzko probably wouldn't agree.

Anyway, that video content such as movies is king is one of the primary delusions Odlyzko addresses in this paper. The other is that movies need to be streamed in realtime. It is mysterious why people continue to believe that in the face of the massive evidence BitTorrent and other P2P services that deliver big content in chunks faster than realtime. I can only attribute this second delusion to a bellhead mindset that still thinks in terms of telephone, which was realtime because nobody knew any other way to do it back in the analog-copper-wire-connection day.

As Odlyzko sums it up:

The general conclusion is that the story presented by service providers, that they need to block net neutrality in order to be able to afford to construct special features in their networks for streaming movies, is simply not credible. If lack of net neutrality requirements is to be exploited, it will have to be done through other, much more intrusive means.
So why let the duopoly force a policy on everyone else that won't even work to the advantage of the duopoly?

One way to get net neutrality would be to let the duopoly have its way, and wait for it to implode. However, given that for streaming video to have any chance of succeeding, the duopoly would have to clamp down on everything else to eliminate any competition, I shudder to think what this would mean. The Internet as a source of real news and opinion would go away. Given that the vestigial traditional news media in the U.S. (TV, radio, newspapers) provide so little news, there's a very good chance that most people in the U.S. wouldn't even know how bad they had it as the country sped its slide into parochialism and irrelevance. How many people even know now that the U.S. has slid from #1 to #23 or whatever the latest number is in broadband uptake? If the duopoly is given its head, even fewer would know.

If we let King Kong Telco and T Rex Cableco battle it out to be Movie King of the Internet, where does that leave poor Fay Wray Public?

FCC, FTC, Congress, executive, and courts, not to mention the public, should all read Odlyzko's paper, and should all refuse the duopoly's demand for special privileges that won't even produce profits for the duopoly. Then all of above should legislate, enforce, and maintain net neutrality so we will all profit and benefit. Yes, even the duopoly can win with this.


Kevin Martin’s Bottle: Weak Ruling Against Comcast Guarantees Court Challenges

The FCC recently ruled that Comcast has to stop throttling P2P. On the surface, that's a good thing. That Kevin Martin wanted it makes me wonder.

For once I agree with a net neutrality opponent:

By instituting this weird, weak, and barely legal regulation, Kevin Martin will get ‘net neutrality regulation bottled up in the courts for – what – the next five years?

Game, Set, and Match: Martin! by Jim Harper, Technology Liberation Front, 6 Aug 2008

Harper goes on to predict that meanwhile real competition could develop. And pigs could fly, but that's not the point.

This is the point:

The paragraph prior to the provocative line suggesting regulation of universities contains this sentence: “Allowing some Internet service providers to manage P2P traffic – much less to engage in complete blocking of P2P traffic – while prohibiting others from doing so would be arbitrary and capricious.” This is an administrative-law term of art – “arbitrary and capricious.” The use of it tells us that NCTA or Comcast will challenge the FCC’s decision to regulate only one provider of Internet access without regulating all similarly situated.

But Comcast is under a different regulatory regime!, says Harold and the others. Not in an enforcement of this “broad policy statement” thing-y. The FCC is claming free rein to regulate – not authority based firmly in statute – and if it can throw that rein over cable ISPs, it can throw that rein over universities, over Starbucks, and over the open wi-fi node in Harold’s house.

Now, given the free rein that the FCC is asserting, there is a darn good argument that it’s arbitrary (and “capricious”) to regulate only cable ISPs or commercial ISPs in this way. The FCC has to regulate the whole damn Internet this way if it’s going to regulate Comcast.

This is not just theoretical. Fox News recently refused to pay an FCC-imposed fine, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious". Fox cited a previous case in which a federal court slapped down the FCC for fining a show for swearing, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious".

All that plus if a court rules the FCC's recent decision is "arbitrary and capricious", that will be used as a precedent to require universities to regulate content on their networks in favor of big copyright holders, as elements in Congress have been trying to do for about a year now.

I think net neutrality advocates underestimate Kevin Martin at their (and our) peril.


Boehner’s Latest Crying Jag

20070216-tearfulboehner.jpg Boo hoo:
At least one lawmaker is already crying foul over Friday’s expected Federal Communications Commission’s censure of Comcast for faking internet traffic to limit its customers’ peer-to-peer file sharing.

Republican minority leader Rep. John Boehner said the FCC would be “essentially regulating the internet.”

Lawmaker Cries Foul Ahead of FCC Net-Neutrality Decision, By David Kravets, ThreatLevel, July 31, 2008 | 7:02:45 PM

This is rather like crying foul because courts regulate contracts. I wonder how the free market would operate without them? The Internet free market in applications and services wouldn’t operate very well without net neutrality.

I don’t recall Boehner crying foul when Congress voted to regulate the Internet to require ISPs to hand over every bit (every email, phone call, web page, video, etc.) to the NSA and to legalize them having already done it when it was illegal. No free market talk from him then. Guess he didn’t think the Fourth Amendment was worth crying over, unlike Anna Nicole Smith.

And back in 1995, it was the duopoly ISPs demanding regulation from the FCC, because they wanted to squelch VoIP.

Now they want to squelch everybody else’s P2P and especially online video, except what they get a cut of. They think they can get away with it if the FCC stays out of the way, so now they are against regulation.

Their principles flip-flop kind of like Boehner’s, don’t they? Bunch of cry babies.