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We had a lot of news to cover today, and no co-host to slow me down. Make sure you tune in to Monday’s show, when I’ll be accompanied by Bill Grady of You Are the Guest Podcast. But now… the news! This from our ongoing coverage of the Vonage Crap….:
1. Vonage asks for a new trial
Last issue, I alluded to an upcoming Supreme Court case that might have an impact on the Vonage/Verizon appeal. Sure enough, the court on Monday handed down a ruling in KSR vs. Teleflex, finding that the combination of two commonly known elements into something obvious is not patentable. Vonage has seized on the ruling, asking an appellate court to throw out the verdict against it and order a new trial. Verizon, of course, is opposed. Vonage is already appealing its loss at trial; the appellate court has set a June 25 hearing on that appeal. Vonage wants the appeal to be put on hold pending the results of the new trial. If it loses that second trial, Vonage wants the existing appeals process to resume. Even though Vonage was convicted of infringing three patents, the courts are letting the company operate pretty much as normal while the appeals are being heard. If this gets any more complicated, they’ll have to hand out copies of Dickens’ Bleak House with the appellate briefs.
For more about the Supreme Court, Vonage, Verizon, and the rest of it:
I tried out Joost this morning. I wasn’t incredibly impressed. I’ll give it a fairer shake later this weekend and talk about it again on Monday. Meanwhile, Joost should be available for everyone. Want an invite? Anyone present at Friday’s TalkCast will get one!.
Joost (almost) Launches
Updated: It won’t be for another few days before anyone can join Joost, but the company has officially announced that it is launching commercially. Starting today, existing beta testers can now invite anyone to join Joost. Beta testers visit the “Invite Friends”
In “should-this-really-be-criminal” news:
Student Arrested for Writing Essay
mcgrew writes “The Chicago Tribune reports that an eighteen year old straight-A High School student was arrested for writing an essay that ‘disturbed’ his teacher. Even though no threats were made to a specific person, 18 year-old Allen Lee’s English teacher convened a panel to discuss the work. As a result of that discussion, the police were called in. ‘The youth’s father said his son was not suspended or expelled but was forced to attend classes elsewhere for now. Today, Cary-Grove students rallied behind the arrested teen by organizing a petition drive to let him back in their school. They posted on walls quotes from the English teacher in which she had encouraged students to express their emotions through writing.’”
No one is really talking about this story, which is amazing considering this is probably the second largest e-currency provider for the American markets:
e-gold® Founder Denies Criminal Charges
In an interview with Kim Zetter of the Wired Blog Network, E-Gold owner Dr. Douglas Jackson stated this morning that the Federal indictments announced by the US Department of Justice last Friday are a “farce”.
Associated Content first released the news of the indictments on Saturday in this news story.
Dr. Jackson, E-Gold, and the other owners were charged with:
1. conspiracy to launder monetary instruments,
2. conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business,
3. operating an unlicensed money transmitting business under federal law,
4. money transmission without a license under D.C. law.
According to Jackson, E-Gold is one of the good guys in this crime-fighting saga and its ensuing fiasco. Not only did they cooperate with law enforcement officials regarding suspicious E-Gold accounts, but they also developed software which effectively tracks criminals trying to launder money through E-Gold, and prevents use of the E-Gold system to aid and abet their criminal activities. They were waging their own war against the very things they have been accused of aiding: terrorism, child exploitation, and more.
This is a story that KenRadio has been talking about for a few days. I worked for 5Tribe Marketing as a consulting for more than a year, so I’m more than familiar with these numbers, and have been for a while:
Newspaper circulation continued to decline nationwide but many individual publications and a trade group countered with figures showing that the papers’ audiences were growing online. Weekday circulation at 745 daily newspapers dropped 2.1% to 45.9 million, and Sunday circulation at 601 newspapers fell 3.1% to 48.1 million, according to the Newspaper Assn. of America. The figures compared the six-month period that ended March 31 with the same period a year earlier. The trade association sought to counter those figures by re- releasing recent research that showed use of newspaper websites increased 5.3%, to 59 million people, in the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period a year ago. Newspaper owners are so intent on including the broader view of their total audience that they have helped persuade the organization that tracks newspaper performance — the Audit Bureau of Circulations — to incorporate online usage into its figures next year. The Los Angeles Times was like many of its big-city counterparts in continuing to experience circulation losses. The newspaper’s daily circulation fell to an average of 815,723, a 4.2% decline, compared with the same period a year earlier. Its Sunday circulation dropped 4.7% to 1,173,000. The Times attributed much of the decline to the continued scaling back of programs that distributed free papers in schools and at hotels. Executives at the paper said they were encouraged that “individually paid” daily circulation — papers delivered at homes and sold at newsstands — increased fractionally to 779,256. The Times hit its print circulation highs in 1991, with more than 1.2 million copies of the paper sold each weekday and nearly 1.6 million on Sundays. The use of latimes.com increased 15%, to 65 million page views, in January over the year before. “Even as we are rapidly growing our online audience, it’s clear that great print journalism still plays a big part in the 24/7 multimedia world our advertisers, readers and users want,” Times Publisher David D. Hiller said in a statement. Other papers in Southern California suffered even sharper losses. Daily circulation of the San Diego Union-Tribune slumped 6.6% to 296,000. The Orange County Register fell 5.1% to 285,000, the Riverside Press-Enterprise was off 6.7% to 173,000 and the San Fernando Valley-based Daily News dropped 7.3% to 146,000. One of the biggest declines in the region was experienced by the Santa Barbara News-Press, where owner Wendy McCaw and some of her employees have been feuding. They have accused her of meddling in news decisions. News-Press circulation during the week dropped 9.5% to 38,000.
These are amazing statistics… look for similar numbers in America soon:
45% of Europeans watch TV online
A new study from Motorola has found that an amazing 45% of Europeans now watch television online. — The survey covering the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain found that the French lead Europe in terms of online television consumption …
The sociological backlash against positive Google press continues:
Google’s Evil NDA
An anonymous reader writes “Google’s motto is “Don’t Be Evil” — but they sure have an evil non-disclosure agreement! In order to be considered for employment there, you must sign an agreement that forbids you to ‘mention or imply the name of Google’ in public ever again. Further, you can’t tell anyone you interviewed there, or what they offered you, and you possibly sign away your rights to reverse-engineer any of Google’s code, ever. And this NDA never expires. Luckily, someone has posted excerpts from the NDA before he signed it and had to say silent forever.” At the bottom of the posting are links to a few other comments on the Web about Google’s NDA, including a ValleyWag post that reproduces it in its entirety.
One word: Proxies.
Pandora To Shut Out Non-U.S. Users Thursday Evening
If you live outside of the U.S. and enjoy listening to customized radio stations on Pandora, brace yourself for some bad news. The site will be shutting you out starting Thursday evening. Registered users who access the service from outside the U.S. received a warning email yesterday letting them know that this will be happening.
Pandora operates under Section 114 of the DMCA, which gives them a clear process for paying rights holders in the U.S. There is no international equivalent of the DMCA, and so to operate legally in other countries, Pandora must sign deals with rights holders directly. That means separate deals with labels and publishers for each song, an extremely difficult and time consuming task.
Pandora has always made it clear on the site that it is for U.S. users only, and requires a U.S. zip code for registration. That didn’t stop many international users from registering anyway, using “90210″ or another famous zip code to get access to the service. Now, with IP-based filtering, users will be forced to go through proxy servers or other complicated mechanisms for getting to the music.
I spoke with CTO Tom Conrad this evening about the change. He says Pandora has been working on international rights deals for nearly two years now, and they hope to have enough deals done in the UK and Canada to launch in those countries soon. Other markets will take longer, he says.
The email sent to users is below.
This isn’t the only bad news recently for Pandora. Along with other Internet radio companies, they have also been fighting the RIAA over revisions to the fee structure they must pay for playing music online. The rates they pay are significantly more than satellite providers pay, and terrestrial radio stations pay nothing to play music. Two very brave congressmen, Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL), have proposed legislation that would require Internet radio startups to pay no more than satellite providers, which should allow many Internet radio startups to stay in business. Read more about the legislation on the Pandora blog and SaveNetRadio.
In “0wn3d” news:
The original purpose of the internet was supposed to be a network that the government could continue to use even after a nuclear attack. The whole point is that it’s supposed to figure out ways to route around damage. However, when it came to Internet2, apparently designers didn’t pay as much attention to that kind of stability. The news today is that a homeless man in Boston tossed a cigarette on a mattress, setting off a two-alarm fire that happened to knock out the Internet2 connection between New York and Boston. It’s true that Internet2 is supposed to be experimenting with different methods of building network infrastructure, but you would think that redundancy would have been considered a feature worth keeping.