Another article in the never-ending war against net neutrality and the fight against privacy.
The ITC recently gave itself the power to rule on data as it crosses US borders, as a result of a complex 3D printing case. If the ruling holds, it could have huge implications for the way data moves across the global web, and give the MPAA the site-blocking powers it’s been grasping at for years…
If you shipped in a boatload of Expendables DVDs, the ITC would have no problem stopping it at the border — so why not an ISO file? The technical mechanisms for blocking that file in transit would end up looking a lot like site-blocking, and the memo goes on to explain why targeting consumer-facing ISPs would be their best strategy in the wake of a favorable ruling by the Federal Circuit. It’s still unclear whether copyright would fall under the same rules (the current ruling may only apply to patents), but if it does, it would be Hollywood’s best legal channel for blocking sites in transit, supporting the same ISP-based blocking regime that was proposed by SOPA.
Giving the MPAA power to block sites because of the content on the sites is a slippery slope, one that should make everyone uncomfortable.
In case you haven’t noticed, I am not a fan of Charter Communications. They have horrible customer service and high prices. If you haven’t gotten screwed by them yet, you’re about to. Over the weekend several sites broke stories about how Charter Communications will put a cap on bandwidth at 100gb a month starting on February 9th. Of course there was no announcement or anything on Charter’s website, and up to this point, there still isn’t. If you drill into the TOS, you will find that the terms have changed. If you look at number 13 you see how they added the cap to the terms of service.
So, if you are someone who likes to download a lot from iTunes, Amazon.com, watch movies and TV on Hulu and Netflix, play online games like World of Warcraft, do offsite backups with services like Mozy or Jungledisk, don’t be surprised if you use up your allotted bandwidth quickly. And of course Charter does not provide any sort of bandwidth meter tool to see how much you are using. At least Comcast provides a more reasonable 250gb a month cap. I really can’t wait to be done with Charter.
Looking at the cable bill last night made me think about the premium movie channels. It’s no secret that HBO is hurting for viewers right now. No more Sex and the City and The Sopranos created a void in HBO’s television programming. The TV shows that have taken their place, while they have a following, just don’t score as high in the ratings. There are several TV shows that I watch on premium networks, such as Dexter, True Blood, Entourage, and Californication. The problem is, in this economy, people are going to start cutting premiums out of their lives to save money. If they do cancel the service but enjoy the TV show, there is more incentive to pirate it or stream it from websites that host not-so-legal files. Here is my proposition to the premium networks: Stream the programs for free.
The major networks are streaming their content for free already. I know, I know, you don’t pay for the major networks, you do for HBO or Showtime. Let’s look at it in a different way. If HBO and Showtime started streaming their premium programs (shows, not movies) for free, but with limited commercial interruptions (just like the networks do on their respective sites), they could be reaching out to millions of more people and see additional revenue in new advertising. This is something they don’t see on their channels, as they do not show advertising. My theory is that most people don’t subscribe to a channel for one TV show. They also enjoy the other benefits the channel has to offer (other shows, new movies, sporting events, documentaries). If that channel starts streaming television shows I doubt you’d see people drop their subscription, and if you do, the amount that would would be far less than the amount you would gain by advertisements on the stream. I also think it could help them pick up subscribers. If people become interested enough in the shows to look at what else the channel has to offer, they could become new paying customers. I think it would be a smart move for the premium networks to look into this. Streaming content is not going away.
Yesterday I read an article on how to turn the Nintendo Wii into a media center. Now, remember, this isn’t a real media center. The Wii has no hard drive, it doesn’t play DVDs. This was essentially a way to stream the media on your PC to the Wii. I tried it, and it actually does a pretty good job. The video quality is less than stellar and if I had a lot of videos on my PC and it wasn’t in the same room as my Wii, it might be worth it. There is one thing I would love to see working on the Wii, Hulu. The flash version with Opera isn’t compatible with Hulu. It needs an update of the flash player, which as far as I know, you can’t perform on the Wii. Hopefully an update will be available soon, because I will stream videos from Hulu. I’d love to watch Monk, Psych, Chuck, and other shows on the TV instead of the computer.
And when will Mario Kart Wii come out? Come on already!
I really hate websites that only offer a part of their post in their feed. I know why they do this. They do this so you have to visit their site in order to read the rest of the story. The more visitors they get, the more money they make. Here’s the problem though. The reason I am subscribing to your site is that I don’t find it useful enough to actually take the time to visit it. Most of the articles are a waste of my time but there are a few shining nuggets in there that made me want to subscribe. Whenever I subscribe to a feed and realize that it’s a partial post feed, I immediately unsubscribe. Why? Because I know I’ll never click on the link to continue reading the post. I don’t want to visit your site, that was the point of subscribing in the first place and making me visit it isn’t helping your cause. So for all you people out there that insist on making people visit your site just so you can generate a few extra cents of ad revenue, is it worth it? You’ll lose people like me. Who knows, I might have become a regular viewer of your website if you hadn’t driven me away by not providing the full text of a post. That’s been known to happen with me before.