Budweiser Update

Both Czech brewer Budvar and American brewer Anheuser-Busch sell beers under the Budweiser mark. Not surprisingly, the mark is the subject of a far-reching series of litigation in many jurisdictions around the world.
Here is a handy cheat sheet to figure out which beer consumers are getting when they buy a Budweiser in their home countries:

Anheuser-Busch Budvar
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Brazil
Canada
Denmark
Finland
Hungary
Italy
New Zealand
Nigeria
Spain
Sweden
Tajikistan
United States
Budvar
Australia
Austria
Cambodia
Czech Republic
Germany
Hungary
Lithuania
Portugal
Slovakia
Spain
South Korea
Taiwan
Deutshe Welle: Two Beers United by One Name

Pop Culture Detritus

Being quite unemployed now, I don’t have that many things to do. My calendar is only slightly less depressing than my bank statements. But I have to choose today between drafting my fantasy football team or supporting my friends, The Walk Ons, who are playing the Mercury Lounge for the first time.
I’m going to the show.
After all, I managed to win the league playoffs in our last fantasy hockey season by completely ignoring the second half of the season, falling into last place, and then starting to pay attention.
The new Bosch album, Buy One, Get One is almost ready to go. The tracks are mastered and the cover art is done. Four songs are up on the site.
On Friday, I caught Ted Leo + Pharmacists at the South Street Seaport. That was a great night to be outside for a concert. Leo puts on a good show, but I’m not sure if he transcends the “interesting enough to see for free” category. Here’s a Flickr photoset from the show. Openers Tigers and Monkeys were, in some ways, more interesting, with a more unique sound. They may be worth checking out again.
Some jazz shows of interest coming up include:

  • Ron Carter Quartet + Jeff “Tain” Watts Quartet, Blue Note, Aug. 30-Sep. 4
  • David Binney w/ “Welcome to Life” Group (Blade, Potter, Rogers, Taborn, Colley), 55 Bar, Sept. 9-11.
  • James Carter Organ Trio, Blue Note Sept. 13-18

CMJ is happening September 14-18. Though, with no badge this year, not much seems all that interesting beyond perennial AndrewRaff.com favorites such as the Cobble Hillbillies and The Bamboo Kids.
I’m still debating whether or not to go to the Future of Music Policy Summit in DC on 9/11-13, what with having to pay for the conference and travel. True, the Chinatown bus costs next to nothing, but with no income, I wonder if it is worthwhile.

Yikes

Despite the threats of flooding in the below-sea level city, some intrepid bloggers are still in New Orleans. NOLA View is coming from the Times-Picayne hurricane bunker.
Ernie The Attorney is still in town for Massive change is coming to New Orleans “So I tried to leave New Orleans today at 12:30 pm but after 4 hours of driving I had only made it 15 miles. I was alone and tired so I decided the safe play was to return. It’s kind of sad when the ‘safe play’ is to go back and wait to be pounded by the gnashing fury of a Category 5 hurricane. ”
Metroblogging New Orleans has more details about the hurricane.

The broadest of the bands

An August report from Free Press, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America, Broadband Reality Check: The FCC ignores America’s Digital Divide, argues that the official FCC position on broadband is either “wildly optimistic or intentionally misleading.”

  • The standard the FCC uses to measure “high-speed” connections is misleading and low. The 1996 Telecom Act mandates the FCC to ensure deployment of broadband “that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics and video telecommunications.” However, the standard used by the FCC to measure “high-speed” connections (200 kbps) is barely enough for users to receive low-quality streaming video. It is certainly insufficient for users to originate high-quality video.
  • The FCC uses a misleading measure of broadband coverage. The Commission counts a
    ZIP code as covered by broadband service if it contains at least one broadband subscriber. No consideration is given to the price, speed or availability of connections across the ZIP code.
  • Broadband costs in the United States remain high, despite growth in the total number
    of connections. Meanwhile, the cost of broadband in other countries has dropped
    dramatically while speeds have increased. On a per megabit basis, U.S. consumers pay 10
    to 25 times more than broadband users in Japan.
  • The average speed of U.S. broadband connections has seen minimal increase over the
    past five years. More than half of DSL lines do not offer capacity of 200 kilobits per
    second (kbps) in both directions. Consumers in France and South Korea have residential
    broadband connections with speeds 10 to 20 times higher than those in the United States.
  • Hear Us Now is a project of Consumers Union to advocate for consumer choice in communications services. Similarly, FirstMile.US is “a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization, created to fill the need for collaboration — and action — among industry, federal, state, and local government, community-based organizations, educational and healthcare institutions, and people like you.”
    In July, Sen. Ensign (R-NV) introduced the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act (S.1504), “to establish a market driven telecommunications marketplace, to eliminate government managed competition of existing communication service, and to provide parity between functionally equivalent services.”
    Among the legislative findings:

    (1) Since passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, there have been dramatic changes in the industry, technology, and marketplace requiring Congress to revisit the communications policy of the Nation.
    (2) Inter-modal competition is bringing consumers more choice in voice, data, and video service options than ever before.
    (3) A new policy framework is required to allow functionally equivalent services to compete fairly.
    (4) Silos of regulation based on historical regulatory classifications only invite arbitrage and result in government influenced market distortions.
    (5) Such market distortions coupled with lack of regulatory certainty is chilling investment and stalling deployment of broadband networks.
    (6) The United States is falling behind the world in broadband penetration and it must encourage investment to regain a leadership position in the world.
    (7) Communications networks are global in nature and the United States must eliminate barriers for domestic communications providers to compete in the global marketplace.

    In a July op-ed in Network World, Scott Bradner thinks that the FCC’s definition of broadband as 200K bit/second is not competitive with broadband services in the rest of the world: Continuing deceptions. If that definition is behind the times, then this bill’s definition of broadband is a bit antique for 2005:

    (2) BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE- The term `broadband communications service’ means a communications service enabling the transmission of communications at a capacity greater than 64 kilobits per second.

    64 kilobits per second qualifies broadband? Why not just redfine it as 56 kilobits per second, so that most of America now has “broadband”?
    This bill does include an open-access requirement, but does not impose common carrier obligations on broadband providers:
    SEC. 7. CONSUMER ACCESS TO CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS.

    (a) Access-

      (1) IN GENERAL- A consumer may not be denied access to any content provided over facilities used to provide broadband communications service and a broadband service provider shall not willfully and knowingly block access to such content by a subscriber, unless–

        (A) such content is determined to be illegal;
        (B) such denial is expressly authorized by Federal or State law; or
        (C) such access is inconsistent with the terms of the service plan of such consumer including applicable bandwidth capacity or quality of service constraints.

      (2) CUSTOMIZED CONTENT- A broadband communications service provider may offer to a consumer a customized plan developed through such service providers network or commercial arrangements with providers of content, applications, and other service components to differentiate–

        (A) access to content;
        (B) the availability of applications; and
        (C) the character of service components available.

      (3) NON-CUSTOMIZED CONTENT- Nothing in subsection (a) shall adversely affect the performance of non-customized consumer access to content, services, and applications offered by the competitors of a broadband service provider.

    (b) Enforcement of Access Violations-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Commission may take such enforcement action as it may prescribe by rule, if the Commission determines that a broadband communications service provider intentionally restricted access to any content described in subsection (a)(1).
      (2) EXCEPTION- A broadband communications service provider may not be in violation of subsection (a), if such service provider does not interrupt or block access to any content described in subsection (a)(1) when–

        (A) performing network–

          (i) optimization or management;
          (ii) security; or
          (iii) prioritization;

        (B) performing other measures to ensure network security and integrity; or
        (C) attempting to prevent unlawful conduct.

      (c) Parental Controls- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit–

        (1) any communications service provider from offering a service that allows a consumer to block display of programs with a common rating; and
        (2) a provider of mobile services from offering or providing access only to a family friendly service to a subscriber.

      (d) Connectivity of Devices- Except as provided in this section, a broadband service provider shall not prevent any person from utilizing equipment and devices in connection with lawful content or applications.
      (e) Access to VoIP Applications- Nothing in subsection (a) shall permit a broadband service provider to prevent a customer from using voice over Internet Protocol applications offered by a competitor.

    Susan Crawford: Telecom Draft: “As far as I can tell, the draft bill has the effect of removing traditional common carriage elements for telephone companies (required interconnection, tariffed rates), but keeping in place other requirements that will apply to everyone (telecommunications providers and applications alike). The bill foreshadows a telecom-mindset internet, in which the default setting is “everything not permitted is prohibited” — rather than the other way around.”
    The most controversial part of this bill may be that it preempts states and municipalities from competing with the private sector in deploying communications services:
    SEC. 15. MUNICIPALLY OWNED NETWORKS.

    (a) Protection Against Undue Government Competition With Private Sector- Any State or local government seeking to provide communications service shall–

      (1) provide conspicuous notice of the proposed scope of the communications service to be provided, including–

        (A) cost;
        (B) services to be provided;
        (C) coverage area;
        (D) terms; and
        (E) architecture; and

      (2) give a detailed accounting of all proposed accommodations that such government owned communications service would enjoy, including–

        (A) any free or below cost rights-of-way;
        (B) any beneficial or preferential tax treatment;
        (C) bonds, grants, or other source of funding unavailable to non-governmental entities; and
        (D) land, space in buildings, or other considerations.

    (b) Open Bids Must Be Made Available for Non-Governmental Entities- Not later than 90 days after posting of the notice required under subsection (a)(1), a non-governmental entity shall have the option of participating in an open bidding process conducted by a neutral third party to provide such communications service on the same terms, conditions, financing, rights-of- way, land, space, and accommodations as secured by the State or local government.
    (c) Preference for Non-Governmental Entities- In the event of identical bids under subsection (b), the neutral third party conducting the bidding process shall give preference to a non-governmental entity.
    (d) Open Access to Non-Governmental Entities- If a State or local government wins the bid under subsection (b), a non-governmental entity shall have the ability to place facilities in the same conduit, trenches, and locations as the State or local government for concurrent or future use under the same conditions secured by the State or local government.
    (e) Grandfather Clause- A State or local government providing communications service as of the date of enactment of this Act shall be exempt from this section, unless such State or local government–

      (1) substantially enters into new lines of business; or
      (2) substantially expands it communications service beyond its current service area, as such service area existed upon the date of enactment of this Act.

    Municipal wireless broadband projects are underway in a number of cities, because access to information provides substantial measurable public benefits. The public interest is served when more people have more access to information.
    In the NY Times, Thomas Friendman notes that this is a matter of competitiveness in the global economy: Calling All Luddites: “The fact that the U.S. has fallen to 16th in the world in broadband connectivity aroused no interest. Look, I don’t even like cellphones, but this is not about gadgets. The world is moving to an Internet-based platform for commerce, education, innovation and entertainment. Wealth and productivity will go to those countries or companies that get more of their innovators, educators, students, workers and suppliers connected to this platform via computers, phones and P.D.A.’s.”
    National Journal, Drew Clark takes an indepth look at the policy debates over Municipal Broadband.
    Here in New York, Andrew Rasiej, a candidate for Public Advocate, is basing his campaign around advocating for the need to unwire NYC with municipal broadband WiFi: The Rasiej Plan to Wi-Fi NY: “for 1/4 what the Mayor wanted to spend in taxpayer money on a football stadium in Manhattan, we can ensure that everyone can get highspeed access to the Internet whenever and wherever they need it.”
    Rasiej blogged at TPM Cafe about the value of access to information: Information is Power and the inability of the marketplace to serve the public interest. Can You Gouge Me Now?: “The fact is, cheap, wireless technology can provide high speed Internet access to New York City residents for $20 a month, or less. The world’s leading municipal Wi-Fi consultants and technology experts have developed a citywide Wi-Fi plan for Philadelphia that will provide this service for $16 to $20 a month, with subsidies for the poor. And they’re implementing it now.”
    By providing this access, which is both cheaper and more widely available than broadband from traditional telecom providers, cities can stimulate development in information industries.
    Municipalities are not the only non-traditional providers that may get into the broadband game. In Business 2.0, Om Malik speculates that Google might benefit by building out its own national broadband network with “dark” fiber, bargain-priced high-bandwidth capacity and Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi? Get Ready for GoogleNet.
    Any new broadband bill should encourage the development of innovative, higher-speed and lower-cost alternatives to cable or telephone company broadband, rather than discourage such alternatives. The bill should look to the bandwidth and prices available in competing countries to make the US a leader, rather than a follower in broadband.

    More on blogging

    The July/August issue of Law Practice Magazine has a feature section on legal
    blogging, including a tour around the blawg world (It’s Not Your Father’s Web Site: Lawyers in the Blogosphere), How to Start Your Own Weblog And Make the Most of It, Between Lawyers Roundtable: The Future of Legal Blogging, Ethics and Lawyer Blogs, and an article is one that journals the process of blogging: Stepping onto the Cutting Edge.
    Fast Company provides a guide to Business Blogging for Beginners, suggesting that, in addition to updating frequently, companies should use a personal voice and casual tone to connect with readers, instead of repackaging “marketing speak.”
    At the Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog, Ray Gifford looks at the importance of choosing a tone for a blog and the implications that has when the blog represents an organization: The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog: On blogging…a thumbsucker: “Reckless blogging seems to be a particular hazard of academic-types. I often wonder over the rhetorical tone of PFF’s IPCentral and this blog. I neither want us to descend into the ad hominem ranting that characterizing many tech blogs; nor begin thinking that the partial, immediate reactions on blogs are a substitute for more discursive, scholarly work.”
    Of course, setting the tone is crucial for independent, non-affiliated bloggers as well, especially those who are, say, in the job market (not that I would, um, actually know anyone like that…) Tone is critical. It is easy to be glib on a blog, without realizing how that might be read by more serious-minded readers. On the other hand, blogs are generally off the cuff and informal without much, if any, editing or review. Blogs are a way to get quick feedback on– or make a fool of yourself with– thought experiments and quick ideas.
    For an organization, it is wise to starting blogging internally, behind a firewall, to understand the value and not worry about disclosing private information. Collecting information for the organization is easier when not worrying about publishing something that the whole internet can read. After getting comfortable with tone and subject matter, then it might make sense to take the blog to the streets. For many workspaces, a private blog may be much more valuable then a public one.
    Christopher E. Cobey and Philip L. Gordon from Littler Mendelson suggest that employers develop a blogging policy for how employees treat private and proprietary company information in their personal blogs. Dooces Wild: How Employers Can Survive the New Technological Poker Game of Employee Blogging:

    Policies on blogging are particularly important for employers who embrace blogging. Without well-defined policies, the employer could be deemed vicariously liable for the contents of employee blogs. In addition, corporate encouragement of blogs significantly raises the likelihood that the contents of employee blogs will be discussed throughout the workforce, opening the door to the negative repercussions of personal attacks, rumors, and prematurely disclosed corporate decisions.

    Cathy Kirkman reports on a panel discussion at the Bloghercon conference about legal tips: “what you can get away with”, with Lauren Gelman and Wendy Seltzer, moderated by Jennifer Collins. The discussion touched on the copyright, employment, defamation and First Amendment law issues raised by blogging.
    The Boston University Journal of Science and Technology Law will hold a colloquium on blogging in February 2006, Personal Presses – The Legal Realities Behind the Blogging Revolution. (via Between Lawyers).
    Previously: Blogging About Blogging.

    Serenity Now

    A science fiction television series develops a cult following, is cancelled, despite strong fan support, and later goes on to become a major motion picture. No, not Star Trek, Firefly.
    Earlier tonight, I managed to catch an advance screening of Serenity, which is a sequel to the series Firefly, written and directed by Joss Whedon (best known as the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
    Although there are 13 hours of back story, the first few scenes of the film provide the basic exposition necessary introduce the universe, characters and situation very clearly. Even though it is a lot of exposition to bring most of the audience to speed with the fans, it doesn’t feel forced. Whedon’s script manages to introduce eight characters and as much of the universe as is necessary very quickly.
    The film moves along at a brisk pace and takes advantage of a larger effects budget, but still manages to play small, remebering that it is a story about 7 people on a small spaceship. With 9 characters from the series, plus a villain, there just isn’t a lot of time to focus on each character. In a 22 episode season (or even in a 13 episode season), there is a lot more space to explore the characters. If Whedon wrote this originally as a film, rather than adapted tv series, he probably would have cut a few characters. Even for TV, 9 core characters is unusual, but not completely unmanageable. Lost has an even larger core cast and has managed to be moderately successful. Of course, Lost also occupies a good timeslot and all of the episodes were shown in the correct serial order.
    Serenity doesn’t feel like a long episode of a television series on a bigger screen. It is paced like a film with as much plot as a half-season of a television series, but much less character development.
    Serenity Trailer
    Entertainment Weekly: Serenity Now
    Wired: Serenity Now!
    Seinfeld: The Serenity Now
    Here are some positive reviews from a London screening: Londonist (contains a potential quasi-spoiler) and Tom Coates.

    Grokking the ‘ster

    Cathy Kirkman finds two recent decisions– one patent, the other copyright– citing Grokster: Grokster cited in patent inducement case. The Federal Circuit cites Grokster for the proposition that “Evidence of active steps taken to encourage direct infringement, such as advertising an infringing use or instructing how to engage in an infringing use, show an affirmative intent that the product be used to infringe.”
    In Monotype Imaging v. Bitstream, Inc. (N.D.Ill. Jul. 12, 2005), the district court found no evidence for inducement in “contributory infringement claims over software that replicates typeface fonts.”
    As we are still trying to figure out what the effects of Grokster will turn out to be, the analysis is in full effect.
    Lawrence Lessig, Wired Magazine: A Rotten Ruling: “Pundits bathed the Court in praise for its “sensible balance” between the demands of Hollywood and the pleas of technologists. The pundits are idiots. The Grokster case revealed the worst in Supreme Court ivory towerism.”
    Oxford Analytica, Forbes.com: Grokster Decision Has Limited Impact: “Strong consumer demand for fee-free file swapping, the difficulty of pursuing legal judgements against individual infringers and the lack of a stable technological solution means file swapping will continue to grow. Restructuring to reduce or eliminate intermediaries in the current business model for content distribution appears inevitable.”
    The Congressional Internet Caucus held a session on July 19, Interpreting Grokster: Protecting Copyright in the the Age of Peer-to-Peer with Andrew Greenberg (Carlton Fields), Don Verrilli (Jenner & Block) and Fred von Lohmann (Electronic Frontier Foundation). Streaming video and downloadable audio are available.