No third act likely in Viacom vs. YouTube drama

The court poked enough holes in YouTube’s defense that it now has every incentive to try to settle with Viacom as quickly as possible and get on about its business. But on the one issue of law that might have made a difference to Viacom’s business at this point, the court ruled in favor of YouTube, so it’s unclear what Viacom would gain from carrying on.

Why UK antipiracy laws won’t spark SOPA-like protests

After the Court of Appeal in London told Britain’s two biggest Internet providers they must abide the controversial antipiracy rules brought in by the Digital Economy Act, some experts suggest it could spark a SOPA-style protest. Is it likely?

Today in Connected Consumer

Fresh off its victory over SOPA and PIPA, the technology world is facing a new regulatory battle, this time over privacy. And in this case, the black hats and white hats aren’t as neatly sorted. A hero of the anti-SOPA movement, for instance, Google is facing harsh criticism from some in the tech community over its new privacy policy. Some erstwhile allies on Capitol Hill, like Rep. Ed Markey, a¬†Massachusetts¬†generally a supporter of Internet openness, is now calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Google’s new policy violates the agreement it made with the agency regarding Google Buzz. SOPA supporters on the Hill, meanwhile, like Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, may now see a chance to have their revenge on Google for opposing SOPA by making life difficult for the company over privacy. Unlike the battle over SOPA, the controversy around data privacy regulations will not be quick, and is unlikely to produce clear winners and losers.

Today in Connected Consumer

What am I missing here? One day after a titanic clash on Capitol Hill over a bill aimed at curbing piracy by off-shore web sites, the U.S. authorities seized and shut down MegaUpload.com, one of the most notorious of those sites. The FBI also arrested seven people, including four picked up in New Zealand, and charged them with criminal copyright infringement. Authorities claim there is no connection between the arrests, which were the result of a two-year investigation, and the recent political firestorm over SOPA and PIPA. Even if true, though, what do the arrests say about the tools already available to law enforcement to go after “foreign rogue sites” and whether legislation is needed to provide them with more tools?

Today in Connected Consumer

Today is SOPA Blackout Day. Wikipedia, Reddit, Craigslist, WordPress and other leading web sites have gone dark today in a coordinated show of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT-IP Act. Google goes semi-dark, partially blacking out its logo on the home page but leaving the search service accessible. The protests themselves have now triggered a backlash, however. MPAA CEO Chris Dodd denounced the blackouts as a “dangerous gimmick,” while PROTECT-IP sponsor Patrick Leahy accuses the protesting web sites of “hiding behind the black box of self-censorship.” Even some opponents of the bills take issue with blackouts, such as Fordham University media professor Paul Levinson,” who argues that blocking access to information on sites like Wikipedia is a poor way to make a point about the dangers of blocking access to information on the Internet.

Today in Connected Consumer

The big news over the weekend was the Obama Administration’s announcement via the White House blog that it would oppose the DNS blocking provisions of SOPA and PIPA. The White House had obviously slipped the word late last week that the announcement was coming to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committess, respectively Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Ver.), the bills’ principal sponsors, because each announced Friday that they would drop that provision from the measures, at least for now (Smith, Leahy). The White House announcement is unlikely to be the last word on the matter, however. On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would move forward with PIPA as planned later this month even without the DNS blocking provision, a move that ultimately could force the House to respond in kind. Meanwhile, interest groups on all sides of the issue are gearing up for a protracted battle over how far the government should go in combating online piracy.

Trouble in Tinseltown

Turnstiles have been slowing at domestic theaters for much of the past decade, with only a brief respite in 2006 and a short-lived spike in attendance in 2009 due to the release of Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time. Ticket-price inflation and the introduction of 3D films helped mask the effect for a while, but with the 3D premium eroding as the novelty has worn off and the weak economy and growing competition for entertainment dollars now keeping overall ticket inflation in check, the erosion of the movie audience is plain to see.