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New RSS feed

Responding to requests from Bit Player readers who weren't entirely pleased by my move to the Times' Technology blog, the folks at latimes.com have created an RSS feed dedicated to my new posts. Here it is: http://feeds.latimes.com/LATBitPlayer. I hope you'll choose the full Technology feed instead, which includes the excellent work of six of my colleagues on the news side of the Times' Chinese wall (it would be seven, but Joe Menn is off writing another book). But if you want to keep the quantity of the material low, or if your interests are as narrow and peculiar as mine, the Bit Player solo RSS is just the ticket.

Moving to a new blog

Jon Healey, Los Angeles Times, Bit Player Hi, all. Bit Player has changed locations. Since Aug. 18, I've been writing for the Times' Technology blog. Sign up for the RSS feed -- http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/rss.xml -- and get the work of seven great news reporters in addition to my lame posts. Such a deal! Alternatively, if you're interested only my windy commentaries about copyright law, DRM, secure pathways to the TV set and the like, you can check the index of new Bit Player posts periodically.

I've really enjoyed running this blog for two years (thanks again, Michael, for making it happen), but have known for some time that it worked best when it wasn't a solo gig. So although there are things I'll miss about this particular corner of latimes.com, such as the Now Playing picks and the eviscerating put-downs of commenter Dwayne Hoobler, I think everybody wins with the Times' having one unified blog covering this stuff instead of two separate ones. (Granted, there's still Web Scout....) Unlike erstwhile copyright-law blogger extraordinaire Bill Patry, I won't have to be talked into leaving my archives in place. They'll all remain here, at least until Sam sells the building.

The Cablevision DVR ruling

Cablevision_ceo_james_dolan_2003_ap It's conventional wisdom that copyright law doesn't keep up with technology. How could it? And yet the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in its decision Monday in the Cablevision DVR case, somehow made the leap into the Web 2.0 world without tripping over 32-year-old provisions of the main federal copyright statute. It's an important ruling that has intriguing implications for products and services with recording features, potentially extending to Web-based companies the protection that the Supreme Court gave to home recorders.

Continue reading The Cablevision DVR ruling »

More on the FCC, Comcast and BitTorrent

Net_neutrality_graphicFriday's post about the FCC ordering Comcast to stop surreptitiously interfering with BitTorrent uploads drew a number of thought-provoking comments. I'll concede the point made by some readers that it's too early to tell exactly what the FCC did, given that the detailed order has yet to be released. But in light of the concerns raised about ISPs' ability to manage their networks, I wanted to ask a pointed hypothetical.

Suppose a Web-based business comes up with a compelling way to stream movies in high def. Studios love it, so they agree to provide licenses to the content. The site's popularity skyrockets. But it consumes a crazy amount of bandwidth because it uses a delivery method that saturates customers' download and upload capacities. How should ISPs respond? Should they throttle access to the site or its delivery protocol, which might make it impossible for the streams to be delivered in high-def? Should they institute bandwidth caps that effectively force customers who regularly use the site to pay more than folks who do so rarely, if at all? Or is there some other approach that would be more desirable? And does the answer change if the ISP also happens to offer a pay-TV service that competes with this online VOD venture? Resist the urge to quibble with the premise, and post your answers below.

Lovely fiber-optic array courtesy of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The FCC's Comcast decision

FCC orders Comcast to stop interfering surreptitiously with BitTorrent FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has taken a lot of flak since he announced last week that the commission was ready to rule that Comcast improperly interfered with BitTorrent traffic. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board groused that Martin, a Republican, was "poised to expand government regulation of the Internet." Fellow Republican commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate accused Martin and the commission's two Democrats, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael J. Copps, of "issuing broad mandates to protect the few" instead of looking out for average Internet users and intellectual property owners. ("By requiring ISPs to `carefully tailor' their network management practices, I am concerned that we will potentially be stripping them of the important tools they useā€”and we need-- to purge their platforms of illegal content which negatively impacts every type of intellectual property, from software to pharmaceuticals to of course, songwriters and motion pictures." Who knew that counterfeit medicines were made through file sharing?) And the third Republican on the FCC, Robert McDowell, complained, "For the first time, today our government is choosing regulation over collaboration when it comes to Internet governance. The majority has thrust politicians and bureaucrats into engineering decisions."

But it's worth remembering the difference between what Comcast actually did and what its defenders seem to think it did.

Continue reading The FCC's Comcast decision »

R2G, IODA launch music service in China

Wawawa, a new MP3 subscription service in China Ioda_logo_2 Here's a value proposition for you: a subscription music service that lets you download 88 MP3s a month for a little less than $3. And you thought eMusic was a good deal.... The catch is, you have to be in China to subscribe. And in China, music fans aren't used to paying anything for MP3s.

Continue reading R2G, IODA launch music service in China »

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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