Posts from February 22, 2005

Freedom to Connect

Freedom to Connect

: At the Freedom to Connect conference about the FCC and telecom legislation and spectrum and free speech organized by David Isenberg, I’m going to have the privilege of interviewing, Oprah-like Charlie-Rose-like, Bob Corn-Revere, a First Amendment attorney with the most amazing credentials:

Served as counsel in litigation involving the Communications Decency Act, the Child Online Protection Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Internet content filtering in public libraries, public broadcasting regulations and export controls on encryption software

Lead counsel in United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., in which the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Section 505 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as a violation of the First Amendment

Successfully petitioned Governor George E. Pataki to grant the first posthumous pardon in New York history to the late comedian Lenny Bruce

Lead counsel in Huminski v. Corsones, in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit established the First Amendment right of individuals to observe court proceedings….

: There’s only a short time left to get the early-bird pricing to register. If you care about the future of media and telecommunications and free speech, this is going to be a major event.

At long effin’ last

At long effin’ last

: The LA Times says broadcasters are, at long last, going to challenge the FCC’s indecency cops.

“I think the government is more vulnerable to an indecency challenge than they’ve ever been before,” said Kurt A. Wimmer, a Washington communications lawyer….

Broadcasters haven’t brought a major indecency or obscenity case since 1978, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s authority to issue indecency fines. That case involved a Pacifica radio station’s airing in 1973 of comedian George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine.

If the broadcasters had fought long ago, we might not be in this unconstitutional mess. CBS, which wimped out with a recent consent decree, is going to fight the Janet Jackson case. And Fox is, as I’ve reported before, fighting the Married by America fine (the one brought about by only three letter writers).

If the broadcasters had had the balls to fight this before, they might have given constitutional cover to Congress not to vote against the First Amendment. But they were wimpy and late.

Democracy blogging

Democracy blogging

: Robert Mayer sends news of a new blog that covers elections and movements for democracy in nations that need both. Publius Pundit looks very good.

We get rhythm

We get rhythm

: The Wall Street Journal reports on a new procedure for atrial fibrilation, days after Instawife tried two procedures and I mentioned a new drug. This is the same condition Tony Blair had and various commenters here have told their stories.

To the barricades, bloggers

To the barricades, bloggers

: The Committee to Protect Bloggers is urging support from all bloggers on Feb. 22 — today — to bring international attention to the plight of two bloggers, Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad, jailed in Iran. Here’s a BBC story.

I first discovered the Iranian blog culture when its Johnny Appleseed, Hossein Derakhshan, reported on the arrest of blogger Sina Motallebi. We blogged about that and brought international attention to the story and Sina credits that with helping to get him out of jail and out of the country.

These people are in jail for doing exactly what we have the privilege of doing: Speaking. We must stand with them.

So please link to the Committee to Protect Bloggers and please bring attention to what his happening to our colleagues in Iran.

: UPDATE: Reuters has a story about the conviction and sentencing of an Iranian blogger:

An Iranian journalist was jailed for 14 years on charges ranging from espionage to insulting the country’s leaders in an unusually heavy sentence in Iran, where tens of journalists have been tried in recent years.

Rights activists said on Tuesday that Arash Sigarchi, 28, was convicted by the Revolutionary Court in the Caspian province of Gilan in northern Iran.

Sigarchi, a newspaper editor in Gilan who also wrote an Internet journal or “weblog,” was arrested last month after responding to a summons from the Intelligence Ministry.

TiVo: The anti-cable

TiVo: The anti-cable

: Om Malik started the ball rolling, suggesting what he would do to save TiVo: He’d give away 2 million boxes to get to 5 million customers paying the annuity for what he thinks can become a premium club sold without marketing. Next, George Hotelling at PVRBlog reacts. Then Fred Wilson decides not answer the TiVo call but then imagines what he’d do, which is pretty much what I’d do with a few variatons on his and Om’s themes:

1. Turn TiVo into the anti-cable: Let us download, store, organize, and serve media from both cable and — this is the important part — the internet. Let us use it for BitTorrents, podcasts, recorded satellite radio shows, recorded broadcast radio shows, MovieLink et al movies, Audible stuff, MP3s, my pictures: anything. Make it a place for my stuff.

2. Release TiVo from the box; store my stuff in the Internet so I can get to it from anywhere, including the den and the bedroom and soon including my mobile phone. Yeah, sure, you’ll have fun times with the MPAA and RIAA but by the time they get you into court, the people will be addicted to the freedom and you’ll have won. Make it the everywhere gadget, the tomorrow device without the gadget or the device.

3. Forget about getting people to pay for another TV guide. Ask TV Guide: People don’t pay for that anymore. That has been my problem with TiVo; that is why I have resisted: I didn’t want to pay for a grid, no matter how good it is. But I also understand that selling hardware is not a great business. So follow the Apple example and sell software: The best way to store and serve my stuff and let me do that on the box you sell or on a box I buy (OK, that’s more Microsoft, but you get the point: sell the functionality, not the chip). More important, follow the Apple example and sell community (by making it, as Om suggests, an exclusive club): Aggregate the opinions and recommendations, the links and behavior, the Flickrish tags of the TiVo audience so they help me find what I want to watch even better than today’s TiVo (or TV Guide) do; when I organize my own media, capture that and share the logic in aggregate with everyone else in the club. Charge a one-time admission for the box or software and the entry into the club (and then charge me for upgrades later, a la Apple).

4. Market yourself as the alternative to cable that does cable and the internet and more, as tomorrow’s everything, anywhere, anytime, any way ticket to media freedom.

That’s what I’d do.