Category Archives: Radio

SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It —Adam Savage

Congress reconvenes in January and will take up the Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA again. The House only deferred SOPA because of widespread public outcry. Proponents of SOPA, funded by big corporate money, are probably just hoping opponents will be distracted by the holidays. Adam Savage reminds us why we need to be vigilant and keep flooding Congress with calls to vote down those bills or anything like them.

MythBuster Adam Savage wrote for Popular Mechanics 20 December 2011, SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It

Right now Congress is considering two bills—the Protect IP Act, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—that would be laughable if they weren’t in fact real. Honestly, if a friend wrote these into a piece of fiction about government oversight gone amok, I’d have to tell them that they were too one-dimensional, too obviously anticonstitutional.

Make no mistake: These bills aren’t simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional. They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the “good faith” assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn’t even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.

I’m not kidding.

He goes on to correctly compare SOPA and PIPA unfavorably to the already bad Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. You remember, the DMCA that big copyright holders used to sue pre-teen video and audio “pirates” and to take down websites on suspicion. Savage cites a case where somebody with no copyright still got YouTube vidoes taken down under DMCA. Yes, SOPA and PIPA are even worse.

If you like YouTube, twitter, facebook, blogs, etc., it’s time to speak up. Call your Senators and House members. Send them email. Write them paper letters. Petition them. Show up at their offices. Petition the White House to veto it if Congress passes it, and any other bills like it. Right now we still have the Internet to organize these things.


Woz to FCC: Save the Internet

Wozniak to the FCC on net neutrality:
Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use. The personal computer revolution would have been delayed a decade or more. If I had to pay for each bit I used on my 6502 microprocessor, I would not have been able to build my own computers anyway.
He also details examples of how difficult it was to start a new service the way the telephone system used to be, how radio used to all be freely receivable, and how cable TV is mis-regulated. He summarizes his case:
I frequently speak to different types of audiences all over the country. When I’m asked my feeling on Net Neutrality I tell the open truth. When I was first asked to “sign on” with some good people interested in Net Neutrality my initial thought was that the economic system works better with tiered pricing for various customers. On the other hand, I’m a founder of the EFF and I care a lot about individuals and their own importance. Finally, the thought hit me that every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed. Every audience that I speak this statement and phrase to bursts into applause.
Then he asks for all that not to happen to the Internet:
We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat. Not only is current action on Net Neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it’s probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad. This decision is important far beyond the domain of the FCC itself.
Ain’t that the truth.


Keen on Coughlin on the Internet

tn_andrew_keen_sombre_4inx4in_300_3.jpg I was going to say you have to admire Andrew Keen for finding a contrarian perspective and mining it for all it’s worth. But this latest missive from him seems all too desperate.
Can Obama’s plan for universal broadband turn the recession into a political nightmare resembling the 1930s? Yes, it can, writes the author of the controversial book, The Cult of the Amateur.

Imagine if today’s radically unregulated Internet, with its absence of fact checkers and editorial gatekeepers, had existed back then. Imagine that universal broadband had been available to enable the unemployed to read the latest conspiracy theories about the Great Crash on the blogosphere. Imagine the FDR-baiting, Hitler-loving Father Charles Coughlin, equipped with his “personalized” YouTube channel, able, at a click of a button, to distribute his racist message to the suffering masses. Or imagine a marketing genius like the Nazi chief propagandist Josef Goebbels managing a viral social network of anti-Semites which could coordinate local meet-ups to assault Jews and Communists.

The Internet Is Bad For You, by Andrew Keen, 19 Dec 2008

Like we don’t already have xenophobic propaganda on talk radio, Fox News, Lou Dobbs on CNN, etc. Rush Limbaugh already has his personalized TV show channel, as does Bill O’Reilly. If that’s what gatekeepers bring us, bring on the Internet.

With net neutrality, please. As in what Larry Lessig says Obama plans to require:

the terms offered one website or company are no better or worse than those offered anyone else.
That way we can keep free speech on the Internet, even if it doesn’t exist on TV or radio. What Keen hates most about the Internet is exactly what is its greatest strength: it is not a broadcast medium. It is a participatory medium, in which everyone can publish and everyone can select what to read or view. For example, I realize that I’m giving Keen’s doleful visage a tiny amount of publicity by posting this, but hey, it’s better to have weirdly wrongheaded stuff like this out there where everybody can see it and rebut it than having it festering in the darkness.
“I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

—Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820

On this I’ll go with Jefferson rather than Keen.


FCC: Trick or Treat! Media Consolidation

kevin_martin.jpg Today is November First, which is the deadline for comments on the FCC’s media consolidation move. There’s still no notice on the FCC web pages of a hearing on November 2.

Oh, wait! Kevin Martin held a hearing two days earlier, on Halloween instead! Without ever announcing it on the FCC web pages.

Dissident commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein appeared at a rally outside the FCC’s office in Washington to object to Martin’s chicanery. “Neither we nor the public received any confirmation that the hearing would occur until … just 5 business days before the event,” the commissioners said before entering the building for the hearing. “This is unacceptable and unfair to the public.”

Joining Copps and Adelstein were political, labor and community leaders who condemned Martin’s assault not merely on media diversity but on the basic standards for making regulatory shifts.

No Treats for FCC Chair and Media Monopolists, John Nichols, The Nation, Wed Oct 31, 6:03 PM ET

Jesse Jackson, National Organization of Women, United Church of Christ, Future of the Media Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives; they all protested.

Martin even has the Parents Television Council against him.

Notice of a meeting only five days before to the other commissioners, and apparently none to the public? You’d think Martin didn’t know how to talk to the press. Yet just a few days ago he was chatting with the New York Times about ending cable monopolies to apartments.

I wonder if he told the telcos about that Halloween meeting more than five days before? Nah, that would be corruption.


FCC: Media Consolidation in November

coppshi_1.jpg Last year the FCC rushed through approval of the AT&T-Bellsouth merger at the last minute in December before the new Congress was convened in January. This year the rush is on reducing ownership of the majority of media in the U.S. from 50 owners to 5 in the past two decades wasn’t enough already.
The Federal Communications Commission is responding to critics’ complaints that the agency isn’t giving them enough time to examine the scientific studies prepared for the agency’s media ownership review.

The FCC’s Media Bureau today extended the deadline for comment by three weeks, citing the request of Free Press, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America.

Nearing the end of its examination of media ownership rules, the FCC on July 31 released 10 studies of various issues of media consolidation and indicated they could help form the basis of any rule changes. The studies included examinations of the impact of consolidation on news content, opinion, advertising and programming and also looked at minority ownership trends.

FCC Extends Deadline for Comments on Media Ownership Studies, By Ira Teinowitz, TV Week, September 28, 2007

Various groups complained, so the FCC made an extension:
The FCC said comments that were to have been filed by Oct. 1 now may be filed through Oct. 22, with responses now due by Nov. 1.
That’s right: three more weeks to study an issue that will affect news, politics, government, and, well, basically everything for the indefinite future. Or, to be more specific, to study studies picked by the FCC.

Some observers are relatively confident of concessions, apparently not taking into account that some previous concessions have already fallen by the wayside: Continue reading

Content Protect v. Internet Freedom

content_protection.png Here’s another view of what the telcos and cablecos have in mind for us, or, rather, what they want in our minds: approved content. This is substantially different from the Internet freedom we have today to look at whatever we want to and to publish our own content.


AT&T Inc. has joined Hollywood studios and recording companies in trying to keep pirated films, music and other content off its network — the first major carrier of Internet traffic to do so.
Get ready for the Amazon Channel or settle for Internet Base Service. Continue reading

Dispersed Media Ownership

edwin_baker.jpg Here’s a point that somebody needed to spell out:
The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to reduce restrictions on broadcast-station ownership, an action that would permit greater media and press concentration.

This is a bad idea. Bad for audiences, for citizens, and for democracy. Dispersed media ownership, ideally local ownership, serves democratic values, while conglomerate ownership and media mergers, which would be the result of reduced ownership restrictions, do the opposite.

Equality — one person one vote — provides the proper standard for the distribution of power and voice in a democracy. Maximum dispersal of media ownership can enable more people to identify a media entity as in some sense speaking for and to them.

Dispersed ownership also reduces the danger of inordinate, potentially demagogic power in the public sphere. As the FCC once recognized, many owners creates more independent decision makers who can devote journalistic resources to investigative reports. Finally, dispersal reduces — without eliminating — potential conflicts of interests between journalism and an owner’s economic interests.

In contrast, media mergers put papers and broadcasters into the hands of executives whose career advancement depends on maximizing profits. Mergers require owners to squeeze out more profits to pay off debt created by the high bid made to secure the purchase. As too many recent examples show, the most consistent method to reduce expenses is to fire journalists.

Dispersed media ownership serves democratic values By C. Edwin Baker, Los Angeles Times, 10 September 2007

There’s more. It’s all good. And it’s by a law professor who has written a book on the subject, so he appears to have researched it. Continue reading

Common Sense Conversation

scherer_265x228.jpg In case it wasn’t clear why the Internet is different from traditional broadcast news media:
…news is no longer a one-way process. It is now much more of a conversation between journalist and reader. Reporters at major news organizations no longer have the omnipotent authority they once had. The news process, in a word, has been democratized. Readers feel entitled to get just the information they want, in the form they want it. They feel entitled to talk back. Slowly but surely, we reporters are beginning to accept that readers do actually have this right, and that the feedback can make us better, not worse. As the old New Yorker writer A.J. Liebling once put it, “I think democracy a most precious thing, not because any democratic state is perfect, but because it is perfectible.”

The MSM vs. the blogosphere, by Michael Scherer, War Room, Salon, 3 August 2007

A conversation? Not controled by the few big media companies that control most other media? Now that sounds dangerous doesn’t it? Dangerous like Common Sense.


Crack Google?

robberbarons.jpg Cringely gets anxious over Google’s floor bid for 700Mhz. After pointing out that Verizon and AT&T coming around to Kevin Martin’s leaked counterproposal of watered down “open access” rules, he says:
Look who Google is up against — all the largest Internet service providers in the U.S. Google will not win this even if they win the auction, because the telcos and cable companies are far more skilled and cunning when it comes to lobbying and controlling politicians than Google can ever hope to be. The telcos have spent more than a century at this game and Google hasn’t even been in it for a decade. And Google’s pockets are no deeper than those of the other potential bidders.

Is Google on Crack?: Eric Schmidt bets the ranch on wireless spectrum, Robert X. Cringely, Pulpit, 27 July 2007

Cringely is missing the point about who Google is up against. These outfits have not been the largest ISPs for more than a century. They’ve been telephone companies for more than a century. And being around for a long time isn’t necessarily a sure win. Look at the Vatican; it’s been around for two thousand years, and it’s managed to lose most of its traditional heartland of Europe. Sure, Google is fragile, in some senses even more fragile than Microsoft, as Cringely points out. But even Microsoft is losing market share from IE to an open source browser, Firefox. Google, as a proponent of open source that actually understands it, has a fair chance here. The incumbent duopoly telcos aren’t really in the Internet business; Google is.

Maybe Cringely’s right that Google alone couldn’t win the auction. But Google and Sprint possibly could. Sure, Sprint is a phone company, too. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to side with the rest if it scents profit. Maybe with a little help from Apple.

Let’s hope that’s what Google is really up to, rather than expecting to get Martin to change the rules and then wait for AT&T to deliver another striped bass.

I also don’t think Cringely is taking into account the stakes here. Continue reading

Internet Radio: DRM Air

wexelblat.jpg Previously we saw a last-minute reprieve for Internet Radio. I read SoundExchange’s press release, but I didn’t catch this:
Under the new proposal, to be implemented by remand to the CRJs, SoundExchange has offered to cap the $500 per channel minimum fee at $50,000 per year for webcasters who agree to provide more detailed reporting of the music that they play and work to stop users from engaging in “streamripping” ­ turning Internet radio performances into a digital music library.

SoundExchange Confirms Minimum Fee Offer: Reminds Commercial Webcasters of Obligations to Pay New Royalty Rates, Press Release, SoundExchange, 13 July 2007

Alan Wexelblat explains that part about “streamripping”:
So it’s that simple. Become our agents in preventing people from recording Web radio streams or face the financial axe.

When is a Reprieve Not a Reprieve, by Alan Wexelblat , Copyfight, July 19, 2007

Continue reading