China Creates Own OS to Kick Dependence on U.S. Systems

China could have its own operating system in place by October to take on imported systems currently offered by tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Apple. Initial reports suggest the system would first appear on desktop computers and then later expand to smartphones and other mobile devices. According to Ni Guangnan, who heads a development alliance created in March, the domestically built software could replace desktop operating systems within 1-2 years and mobile systems within 3-5 years. Continue reading China Creates Own OS to Kick Dependence on U.S. Systems

ASCAP and BMI Push For More Flexibility in Music Licensing

The Justice Department announced this week that it will review the regulatory agreements created in 1941 that govern ASCAP and BMI. It is likely that, as a result, a lobbying fight will surge between technology giants like Pandora and Google against music companies and songwriter groups. If changes to the regulatory agreements are not made, major music publishers, including Sony/ATV and Universal, may withdraw from ASCAP and BMI.  Continue reading ASCAP and BMI Push For More Flexibility in Music Licensing

Sprint Edges Closer to a $32 Billion Deal for Rival T-Mobile

SoftBank’s Sprint unit is reportedly poised to make a $32 billion offer to acquire T-Mobile that could take place early this summer. According to people familiar with the matter, the two telecoms have agreed on the broad outlines of a merger, but are still working on a formal contract. If completed and approved, the deal would combine the country’s third- and fourth-largest wireless operators, and potentially establish stronger competition for industry leaders Verizon and AT&T. Continue reading Sprint Edges Closer to a $32 Billion Deal for Rival T-Mobile

Pandora Lawsuit Could Impact Music Industry’s Royalty Model

For the past 73 years, the Justice Department has governed licensing organizations ASCAP and BMI to ensure songwriters receive fair royalty rates when their songs are played. Now Pandora is taking on ASCAP in a trial over royalty payments that is being carefully followed by the publishing industry. Music publishers including Sony/ATV and Universal are calling for an overhaul of the system, while tech firms are claiming that publishers are attempting to skirt federal rules designed to protect them.

Continue reading Pandora Lawsuit Could Impact Music Industry’s Royalty Model

Android: Justice Department Fight Against Piracy Goes Mobile

For the first time, federal prosecutors are targeting people who have illegally distributed pirated versions of apps for Google’s Android operating system. Numerous individuals are currently under investigation, and four men from Oregon and Florida have been charged with copyright crimes. The Justice Department is pursuing criminal charges, rather than going the traditional route with cease-and-desist letters from copyright holders or civil suits, in order to send a strong message to deter piracy. Continue reading Android: Justice Department Fight Against Piracy Goes Mobile

ITC Rules in Favor of Apple, Orders Ban on Samsung Devices

We recently reported that the Obama administration had vetoed the International Trade Commission’s ban on the import of certain Apple iPhones and iPads, citing concerns of patent holders gaining “undue leverage.” The veto reversed an earlier legal victory for rival Samsung, which suffered another setback on Friday when the ITC ruled that the South Korean manufacturer had violated two of Apple’s patents — and issued an order banning the import of products using Apple’s multitouch features and headphone jack detection. Continue reading ITC Rules in Favor of Apple, Orders Ban on Samsung Devices

Justice Department Seeks to Monitor Apple’s iTunes Store

On Friday, the Justice Department asked a federal judge to restrict Apple’s influence in the publishing marketplace and give the government oversight of the iTunes and App Stores. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan last month determined that Apple had conspired with five domestic book publishers to increase e-book prices. The government proposals could provide music, TV show and content owners leverage in negotiating digital distribution. Apple is appealing the ruling. Continue reading Justice Department Seeks to Monitor Apple’s iTunes Store

Federal Government Faces Decision Whether to Veto ITC Order

In June, the International Trade Commission found that Apple infringed on a Samsung patent, and declared a ban on some older iPhone and iPad models. The trade agency oversees certain unfair trade practices and can block imports and sales of products. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have been concerned with companies using essential technology patent lawsuits to block rivals, and are troubled with the ITC ruling. The Obama administration is now faced with whether it should veto the order. Continue reading Federal Government Faces Decision Whether to Veto ITC Order

Federal Judge Rules that Apple Colluded on E-Book Pricing

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled yesterday that Apple colluded with five U.S. publishers in 2010 to drive up the prices of e-books. The decision threatens to limit Apple’s options when negotiating future content deals and potentially exposes the company to additional investigation of its other business practices. The decision to go to trial was considered a significant risk for Apple since the publishers, after denying any wrongdoing, had already settled similar charges. Continue reading Federal Judge Rules that Apple Colluded on E-Book Pricing

Justice Department Obtains AP Phone Records in Leak Probe

The Associated Press revealed this week that the Justice Department secretly gathered two months worth of telephone records from its reporters and editors. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt described the move as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news gathering operation. The seizure of records is reportedly part of a year-long investigation regarding possible leaks of classified materials about a failed al-Qaeda terror plot last year. Continue reading Justice Department Obtains AP Phone Records in Leak Probe

Is the Carrier IQ Rootkit Tracking Everything on Your Smartphone?

  • As an Android, Blackberry or Nokia user, you may not know that an app called Carrier IQ is logging literally everything you are doing on your smartphone including keystrokes, SMS messages and HTTPS sessions. Other articles on Carrier IQ report that this information is being sent to the carriers.
  • Apparently, there is no way for a user to turn Carrier IQ off without replacing the operating system.
  • A former Justice Department prosecutor has told Forbes that this is “likely grounds for a class action lawsuit” as it violates federal wiretapping law. This story is beginning to get a significant amount of attention online.
  • To see Carrier IQ in action, watch the 17-minute video posted to the PC World article.

Justice Department Memo Tells Which Telecoms Store Data the Longest

  • “People who are upset that Facebook is storing all their information should be really concerned that their cell phone is tracking them everywhere they’ve been… The government has this information because it wants to engage in surveillance,” an ACLU staff attorney said.
  • A newly released Justice Department internal memo reveals the retention policies of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint.
  • Verizon seems the most privacy-friendly, but is the only company that retains text message content. Messages are stored for 5 days; other companies don’t retain message content at all.
  • The retention of “cell-site data” (information of a phone’s movement history based on phone tower usage) varied the most among the four providers.
  • “Verizon keeps that data on a one-year rolling basis; T-Mobile for ‘a year or more;’ Sprint up to two years, and AT&T indefinitely, from July 2008,” reports Gizmodo.
  • Senator Patrick Leahy proposed to alter the Electronic Privacy Communications Act to “protect Americans from warrantless intrusions.”
  • To see your provider’s retention policy, check out the graphic featured in the Gizmodo post.

Judge Enters His Own OVD Condition with Comcast-NBCU Final Judgment

  • Consent from the U.S. Department of Justice for the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger has been approved, but with a new condition.
  • Comcast purchased 51 percent of NBCUniversal from General Electric in January, creating a $30 billion business that includes broadcast, cable networks, movie studios and theme parks.
  • At that time, the Department of Justice said Comcast could acquire NBCUniversal only if it ceded control of Hulu and made stand-alone broadband service available at $49.95 per month for three years, but the settlement still required final approval.
  • Last week, Judge Richard Leon delivered final approval, but stipulated that the federal government would monitor whether rival online video services, such as Hulu or Netflix, demand arbitration to license content from Comcast-NBCU for the next two years.
  • The ability of rivals to obtain programming was one of the key concerns of the DOJ and the FCC during reviews of the merger.
  • “Since neither the Court nor the parties has a crystal ball to forecast how this Final Judgment, along with its arbitration mechanisms, will actually function … I believe that certain additional steps are necessary,” Leon said in a court order.

Justice Department Files Suit to Block T-Mobile Takeover

  • The Justice Department is blocking the proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T, citing the move would result in less competition and higher prices. AT&T said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the suit.
  • The FCC is also reviewing the deal and has “serious concerns” about its impact on competition. The antitrust challenge comes five months after the deal between the second- and fourth-largest cellphone companies in the U.S. was announced.
  • “The lawsuit is the Obama administration’s boldest antitrust challenge to date and the latest evidence of its intention to reinvigorate enforcement after what it says was a lull during the previous administration,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • However, the Justice Department left open the possibility of concessions which could lead to a settlement.

AEG Launches New AXS Ticket Service: Competition for Ticketmaster?

  • Since Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation last year, the Justice Department mandated that Ticketmaster share its software to avoid creating a monopoly.
  • As a result, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has launched AXS, a ticket service that “lets you buy tickets at the theater’s or arena’s own website rather than linking you to a ticket website, like Ticketmaster. And it shows all the fees upfront,” as explained in a Marketplace radio report.
  • “They’re not going to charge the much-hated ‘print-at-home’ fee, that no one could ever really understand why that fee was even there in the first place,” says Gary Bongiovanni of the concert trade magazine Pollstar. “And then that is part of what generated such ill-will against Ticketmaster.”
  • ETC’s David Wertheimer was also quoted in the report: “This deal represents competition, and competition is good. It’s good for the venues, it’s good for the artists and the teams. And you know it’s just good to have choice in the marketplace.”

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