October, 2010

Why don’t Hulu’s parents love it?

Online Video It may be time to call Child Protective Services about the ongoing abuse of Hulu. As they did twice before with Boxee and Kylo, Hulu’s broadcast parent companies have forced the JV startup to block access to the site by Google TV. Why? Because they still don’t want Hulu playing in the living room.

NBC and Fox launched Hulu with much fanfare in 2008 (later joined by ABC) to let viewers watch ad-supported TV shows for free on their PCs using a standard web browser. But when Boxee, Kylo and Google took the next logical step of sticking a browser in (or on) the TV the networks panicked, worried over what their friends in the cable TV business might say. So they suspended Hulu’s TV privileges. Read More »

French disconnections

Three-Strikes As the Obama Administration begins thinking about how a “voluntary” system of graduated response to online copyright infringement might work in the U.S., the real-world experiment currently underway in France is serving up some potentially invaluable object lessons. Of particular note is the importance of taking into account the competitive implications of such a system to ISPs. It also helps to make sure all “T”s are crossed and “I”s are dotted in any agreement the parties might work out.

As I noted in a previous post, one French ISP, Free, has refused to cooperate with HADOPI in forwarding  emails to its subscribers suspected of illegal file-trading, warning them of potential legal consequences if they don’t knock it off. While Free claims its non-cooperation is a matter of principled objection to the law, other ISPs see it as a naked grabfor market share. Read More »

Obama Administration begins work on DMCA 2.0

Copyright The Commerce Department issued its promised Notice of Inquiry Tuesday seeking comment from various stakeholders on how to improve the protection of copyrighted works on the Internet and “the relationship between copyright law and innovation in the Internet economy.” According to a press release on the department’s website, the comments gathered from the NOI  “will be used by the Internet Policy Task Force in preparing a report that will contribute to the administration’s domestic policy and international engagement in the area of online copyright protection.” Comments are due Nov. 19.

While the NOI is not related to any specific regulatory or legislative proposal at this point, it’s clear from the questions it poses that the administration is taking a hard look at whether the safe harbors established for service providers by §512 of the DMCA and §203 of the Communications Act really are getting the balance right between “copyright law and innovation in the Internet economy.” Read More »

First strikes called under French three-strikes law draw brush-back

Three-Strikes After several false starts, the first emailed warning letters to French Internet users suspected of downloading copyrighted content illegally have now gone out, marking the beginning of a new enforcement regime that content owners hope will put a significant dent in the amount of infringing content available online in that country. The letters, which began going out Oct. 1, were sent by ISPs to subscribers identified by their IP addresses, under orders from France’s Haute Autorité pour la diffusion des oeuvres et la protection des droits sur Internet (High Authority for the dissemination of works and the protection of rights on the Internet), which was set up to administer the new law.

The form letter alerts the recipient that “your internet connection has been used to commit legally-noted acts that could constitute a breach of the law.” It goes on to warn of further consequences if they don’t cut it out. A third offense can lead to the user being referred to a judge, who will have the authority to impose a fine or to cut off the user’s Internet access for up to a year. No word yet on how many letters have actually gone out. Read More »

Is the tablet race already over?

Update: Not only is the iPad running away with the tablet market before others are out of the starting gate, it’s running away with the the consumer electronics business. According to a report by Bernstein Research, the iPad adoption rate is now the fastest ever for a CE product , surpassing the DVD player.

Tablets Things are not looking good for would-be iPad competitors. It now seems likely that promised Android tablets will miss the holiday season, as both Google and OEM’s work to refine the operating system that even Google admits is not optimized for tablets, while Microsoft can’t seem to get out of its own way in mobile.

The iPad, meanwhile, continues to add to its retail leverage for the holiday season, going on-sale Monday at Target stores and Amazon.com in addition to Best Buy locations. Speculation is that Wal-Mart will be next. Read More »