Congress tears Media Giants' hearts out

Plus Carnivore shenanigans and more

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Washington Roundup A fine bill called the Music Online Competition Act (MOCA) was introduced by US Representatives Richard Boucher (Democrat, Virginia) and Christopher Cannon (Republican, Utah) in the House Thursday. If passed, it would tear the hearts out of Media Giants by granting certain copyright exemptions to on-line music distributors, and by applying the principles of the Sony Decision to music purchased in digital format via the Internet.

"What we're seeking to do is make sure competition does arise in music distribution, and making sure that if the record labels license anyone to distribute music, they then have got to license everyone who wants to distribute on fair terms," Boucher said.

The bill would allow on-line distributors to make several temporary promotional copies of musical works available. Currently they're allowed to post only excerpts, or only a single temporary copy. It would also allow consumers to make archive copies of music they've bought on line, to protect against unintended erasing. This would eliminate one of the more odious aspects of the DMCA, for which the entertainment industry lobbied hard.

"What we're hoping is that for the normal guy, this means the ability to download the kind of music they want to listen to and be able to take the medium they choose to listen to it in wherever they go," Cannon said.

Industry front groups the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) are, of course, in a rage. They spent a heap of money lobbying Congress to turn the DMCA into a Sony Decision killer. They're not likely to sit by as their precious Draconian measure is gutted by a handful of clear-thinking Members of Congress.

Not at all. "Many in the industry will fight this bill aggressively because we know that the marketplace is already moving in the right direction and that consumers will be served well by both the current and coming plans for on-line music services," RIAA President Hillary Rosen announced by way of a prepared PR statement.

"Unfortunately, the Cannon/Boucher bill introduced today will divert time, energy and resources from achieving that goal," she added, hinting at the moneyed assault her ruthless minions are preparing....

US Attorney Robert Mueller is now in the top slot at FBI, following his unanimous confirmation by the US Senate this week. He managed this miracle after announcing that the FBI's controversial packet sniffer formerly known as Carnivore doesn't need another review to ensure that it's legal. But he did claim to be "sensitive to concerns relating to privacy," so that makes everything all right, we imagine.

He also exhibited his propensity either to lie, or to know nothing about current technology. Under questioning about the FBI's prosecution of mobster Nicodemo Scarfo, Jr. by means of a black-bag job involving a key logger, Mueller claimed that he's "not familiar with that new technology, and [had] not had occasion to use it in [his] district."

Which means he's either a bald-faced liar or a total tech doofus, neither of which bodes well for his stewardship of FBI.

He also claimed with a straight face that the FBI is "on the cutting edge" of cybercrime investigation, exhibiting one of those two possible propensities once again....

The Senate Judiciary Committee has put on hold a measure to let businesses share information on hack attacks and other technological stuff-ups without risk of public disclosure and its attendant ridicule and litigation.

US Senators Robert Bennet (Republican, Utah) and Jon Kyl (Republican, Arizona) were planning to introduce a bill this week that would exempt companies from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), by which means the press often discovers embarrassing tidbits of considerable public interest which the companies involved would just as soon keep secret.

While there is a logic to the measure insofar as a good deal of vulnerability data never gets reported, it's likely to do more harm than good. The measure simply allows companies to conceal legally what they would otherwise lie about, and might possibly get caught lying about. Security through obscurity is no answer to cyber-crime: the public has an overriding interest in knowing whether or not their on-line bank is capable of frustrating the lamest newbie crackers.

The two Senators plan to introduce their bill after the August recess, presumably after adequately twisting the arms of their Committee compatriots....

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is fighting a judge's order against arguing its copyright infringement case with Aimster in Manhattan federal court.

New York Northern District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn issued an order on 22 June denying an RIAA motion to dismiss a preemptive suit filed by Aimster seeking protection from future copyright infringement claims.

The cost of going to court in Manhattan would be prohibitive for Aimster, which is why the RIAA is hell bent on moving the venue....

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