life, the universe, and everything
and then there was news ...
Posted: 2003-06-01 23:21
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: Stuff

Apologies for the complete lack of site updates lately, things have been a little weird, but I'm (hopefully) going to be keeping everything up-to-date from here on.

Most notable of the events since my last update has been the public outcry over the FCC's vote over lessening the rules for media ownership. If approved, these changes would allow media companies to own both TV stations and newspapers in the same areas and increase the maximum exposure for TV networks by 10%, from 35% to 45% of US households. There may very well be other changes, but no one outside the FCC knows what they would be, since they're keeping the proposed changes secret. We only know of these because information about them was leaked a few weeks back.

News of the changes has elicited responses from all kinds of people, most of whom are opposed to them, some who want more time for the FCC to consider public input, and few who favor them. Nearly every independent news or media group I know if is opposed to the changes (like GNN, IndyMedia, and Democracy Now!). It's also gotten responses from Congress. Senator McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has asked FCC Chairman Powell to delay the vote so that there's more time to study their impact and listen to the public opinion. Legislation is already under consideration in Congress to delay the changes, if they pass.

Given the 3-2 Republican/Democrat split in the FCC, it's likely that the changes will pass, by that margin, tomorrow. Powell has said "There is no doubt, there will be a vote tomorrow," which indicates that no amount of requests for postponing the vote, no matter who they're from, will be ignored. Not that the FCC seems to care about popular opinion anyway, or else they wouldn't be rushing a vote on a measure that only benefits media companies, under a near information blackout, when Powell himself has admitted that similar changes in radio have created problems. This isn't unexpected though, with the news that the media companies have paid for a quarter million dollars worth of trips for the FCC members, and they also stand to benefit from approving these changes. Yet another example of a legal form of bribery.

But the FCC isn't the only thing making news. The California Supreme Court is hearing the case of DVD CCA vs. Bunner, a trade secret case, in which the DVD CCA won an injunction against Andrew Bunner for posting DeCSS on his site. An appeals court overturned the injunction, and the DVD CCA appealed the case to the CA Supreme Court. There's some good coverage of this over at Copyfight.

The US 7th Circuit Court Of Appeals is set to hear the Aimster case this week. The EFF has some background on the case, and they've also filed an amicus brief in the case. The case is the recording studios against Madster (formerly Aimster), in their crusade to shut down each and every file-sharing application in existence. Coming off the heels of the Universal vs. Grokster case, there's some precedent for clearing the software maker in this case, though there's also precedent for the opposite.

Any, that's all for now, look for a significantly larger post, a feature titled Copyright's Unnatural Evolution, sometime this week.


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