May, 2011

Net regulation tops G8 agenda in communique

Copyright While the European Commission may have punted for now on stepped up enforcement of copyrights online, the G8 countries have put the issue front and center on the global economic agenda. The official communique from Deauville, France, where the G8 summit was held this week, makes Internet regulation, including copyright enforcement, the lead item after a pro forma statement of solidarity with Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami there in March.

Here are the money grafs: Read More »

Media Sans Frontières

Licensing Before content owners get too excited about the possibility of mandatory Internet content filtering coming to Europe, highlighted in a Reuters story Monday based on leaked portions of a pending European Commission report on intellectual property rights, they might want to read through the full document now that it’s available on the EC website.

Any action that could involve stepped up enforcement of copyrights online by Internet service providers referenced in the report would be limited for now to studying “ways to create a framework allowing, in particular, combating infringements of IPR via the internet more effectively.” Any formal proposals to emerge from that studying,  moreover, which won’t even begin until 2012, will “not alter the existing rules on limited liability for certain types of ISP activities,” according to FAQ provided by the commission. Read More »

EU to put ISPs in piracy cross-hairs?

Copyright With political leaders and technology executives from the G8 countries set to gather in Paris this week to discuss global Internet policy ( the “e-G8″), the European Commission is apparently poised to unveil its own proposal for enlisting Internet service providers in fighting online piracy “at [the] source.”

According to a Reuters report Monday, the executive arm of the European Union “will propose amendments to the [EU] (IPR) Enforcement Directive in order to create a framework allowing, in particular, combating infringements of IPRs via the internet more effectively.”

Those amendments, a leaked document seen by the news agency said, “should tackle the infringements at their source and, to that end, foster cooperation of intermediaries, such as internet service providers.”

While the Reuters report does not elaborate on what exactly the commission has in mind for tackling infringements “at their source” — filtering? domain seizures? — it clearly sees ISPs as instrumental to the plan. Read More »

Do as I say, not as I do

Copyright National governments must operate in several different domains at once, both domestic and international. To expect absolute consistency in its positions across all of those domains is to misapprehend the role and process of government. Yet for all that, the contrast between current efforts in Congress to block U.S. citizens’ access to certain “rogue” web sites, and those of the U.S. State Department to help citizens of China to circumvent efforts by the Chinese government to block its citizens access to certain web sites, is striking. Read More »

Hulu IPO back on?

Online Video Could the short-circuited Hulu IPO be back on? That’s one plausible outcome of the new long-term licensing deals the online video joint venture has apparently reached with its network owners.

According to a statement sent to the Wall Street Journal by Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, “News Corp [Fox], Disney [ABC], Providence and the Hulu team have been engaged in productive discussions to extend our existing content agreements a number of years. Keep in mind that our existing Hulu.com content agreements already extend for several more years; these discussions would extend the term further and also extend our separate Hulu Plus content agreements.”

NBC is also an equity partner in Hulu but gave up its seat on the board as a condition of the Comcast deal. It was unclear from the initial reports whether NBC content will also be covered by the new deals. Read More »

What next for the networks and Google?

Connected TVs The first generation of Google TV was essentially a browser and a search engine baked into a TV set or set-top box, along with an integrated UI that presented the search results irrespective of the source of the content. The idea was to try to establish search as a new modality for content discovery on connected TV in place of the multiple program guides, app stores and book marks that now clutter the connected TV experience.

The strategy made perfect sense from Google’s point of view because if there’s one thing Google really knows how to do it is to monetize search. Ninety-six percent of its earnings still come from search-driven ads, despite the growth of Android and other businesses.

The broadcast networks saw things differently, however. They viewed Google TV not as a user-directed content-discovery tool but as a Google-directed distribution platform for their web-based programming, which should have been licensed by Google. Read More »

For Netflix, money changes everything

Business A Netflix charm offensive aimed at the media companies has been in full gear recently. For the past several weeks, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been everywhere that media-industry folks gather, giving interviews, appearing on panels, even appearing on the Charlie Rose show. And at each stop he has delivered the same message to media companies: We come in peace.

Netflix, Hastings insists, wants to be the media companies’ best friend. It doesn’t want to disrupt their existing revenue streams, it has no plans to try to compete with cable and satellite providers and it can hardly wait to pay the media companies a boat-load of bucks for their content.

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