FTC Chair Proposes Inquiry into Impact of Patent Trolls

Edith Ramirez, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, presented her recommendation for an investigation into the practices of “patent trolls” yesterday during a patent and antitrust seminar in Washington. Ramirez is calling for the FTC to use its subpoena power to launch a sweeping inquiry into patent-assertion entities (PAE’s, or patent trolls), which are known for purchasing bundles of patents in order to threaten infringement lawsuits. Continue reading FTC Chair Proposes Inquiry into Impact of Patent Trolls

Fleetwood Mac and Clear Channel Agree on Revenue-Sharing

Clear Channel, which owns the iHeartRadio online music service and about 800 radio stations, announced this week that it will pay Fleetwood Mac a percentage of radio-advertising revenue in exchange for playing the band’s newest music via online services. As Internet radio and subscription services impact the music business, Clear Channel has initiated deals with labels for digital use of music in exchange for a share of airplay revenue. Fleetwood Mac is the first to close such a deal directly. Continue reading Fleetwood Mac and Clear Channel Agree on Revenue-Sharing

Government Defends NSA Program that Collects Phone Data

According to a secret document obtained by The Washington Post, the National Security Agency and the FBI are accessing the central servers of nine U.S. Internet companies through a program code-named PRISM. The agencies are reportedly tracking chats, images, emails, documents and connection logs that assist analysts in identifying foreign threats. The federal government defends the program, while some civil liberties proponents are skeptical. Continue reading Government Defends NSA Program that Collects Phone Data

Tech Companies Support Federal Move Against Patent Trolls

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described President Obama’s newly proposed patent policy yesterday during the daily press briefing. The administration introduced a package of executive orders and recommended legislation that takes aim at patent trolls. Technology companies have expressed early support for measures that they hope will help curb the growing onslaught of lawsuits negatively affecting innovation. Continue reading Tech Companies Support Federal Move Against Patent Trolls

Court Rules Comcast Does Not Have to Carry Tennis Channel

According to a federal appeals court ruling, cable provider Comcast is under no legal obligation to offer the independently-owned Tennis Channel as widely as its own sports networks, which could be disappointing news for smaller cable channels in search of viewers. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated the Tennis Channel failed to prove that Comcast did not have business reasons for pushing the channel to a lesser tier. Continue reading Court Rules Comcast Does Not Have to Carry Tennis Channel

Broadcast Networks Hope to Stop Aereokiller DC Expansion

Fox, NBC, ABC and Allbritton Communications have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington against Aereokiller, to block the streaming startup from expanding its service to the nation’s capital. Founded by FilmOn’s Alki David, Aereokiller gets its name from Barry Diller-backed Aereo. Last week we reported that David agreed to change his company name in order to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Aereo. Continue reading Broadcast Networks Hope to Stop Aereokiller DC Expansion

Phone Companies Begin Selling Customer Data to Marketers

Major phone companies have begun selling data related to their subscribers’ locations, travels, interests and Web browsing habits. The availability of such data provides a long-anticipated and powerful tool for marketers, but not surprisingly raises a number of privacy concerns. Mining data for profit marks a shift in the relationship between carriers and subscribers, similar to what is typically expected today with services such as Google and Facebook. Continue reading Phone Companies Begin Selling Customer Data to Marketers

Napster Documentary: The Music, the Battle, the Revolution

“Downloaded” is a new documentary that examines the rise and fall of music file-sharing service Napster. The film tells the story of Napster co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker while providing details of the service’s launch in 1998 through its eventual 2011 acquisition by Rhapsody. It examines the downloading generation, resulting changes to the music industry, piracy and legal arguments, and the impact of services such as Spotify and iTunes. Continue reading Napster Documentary: The Music, the Battle, the Revolution

Aereo Rival Agrees to Name Change Following Court Ruling

Alki David, founder of online video streamer Aereokiller, agreed yesterday to change his company name in order to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by rival Aereo. Following a permanent injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins in California, David is prohibited from using the names Aero, Aero.tv, Aereokiller or “any other confusingly similar terms.” Aereo had successfully argued that the name was misleading. Continue reading Aereo Rival Agrees to Name Change Following Court Ruling

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

Will Proposed DRM Framework Keep the Web Relevant?

The World Wide Web Consortium published a working draft last week for Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), which is a proposed framework that enables delivery of DRM-protected media content via browsers without using plugins such as Flash or Silverlight. While the announcement has met with sharp criticism from groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Free Software Foundation, Ars Technica suggests the framework will help keep the Web relevant. Continue reading Will Proposed DRM Framework Keep the Web Relevant?

FTC Issues Warnings to Firms that Share Consumer Info

The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters earlier this week to 10 data brokerage firms. The agency warned the firms that the gathering and selling of consumer information could be in violation of federal privacy laws. The new letters follow last month’s action by the FTC when it issued similar warnings to six companies who offered to share tenants’ rental histories with landlords. Continue reading FTC Issues Warnings to Firms that Share Consumer Info

Aereo Files Complaint Against CBS Prior to Boston Launch

Aereo filed a complaint against CBS yesterday as a preemptive strike to stop the network from filing additional lawsuits. The move marks the latest chapter of what has become a tug-and-war between broadcasters and Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup that provides access to over-the-air TV broadcasts via the Web. Broadcasters see the model as infringing on copyright, since the programming is redistributed without permission. Continue reading Aereo Files Complaint Against CBS Prior to Boston Launch

Ultimate Poker: Real Money Online Gambling Returns to U.S.

Real money online poker has been reintroduced in the U.S. with the launch of UltimatePoker.com, the country’s first legal online gambling portal since regulators shut down gambling sites in 2011. The site is operated by Ultimate Gaming, a subsidiary of Fertitta Interactive that also runs the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Currently, only users in Nevada will have access, since Ultimate Gaming plans to track IP addresses in order to keep the site secure. Continue reading Ultimate Poker: Real Money Online Gambling Returns to U.S.

Google Transparency Report: Increase in Global Requests

In its seventh Transparency Report, Google notes that the number of government requests to censor online content continues to grow. Additionally, it has received court orders to remove blog posts criticizing government officials. “From July to December 2012, we received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content — an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that we received during the first half of 2012,” explains Google. Continue reading Google Transparency Report: Increase in Global Requests

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