Communications-related Headlines

Gary Handman (
Tue, 18 Jul 2000 10:17:32 -0700 (PDT)

Issue: Television
Today, about half of U.S. homes have at least one set-top box, according to
Forrester research. Those black boxes are undergoing huge changes. In 1996,
the Congress pass a law requiring the industry to create a standard that
lets consumers buy their boxes at retail, which means that the devises will
be interoperable, allowing subscribers to use them with all cable systems.
The advent of broadband Internet services has lured some of the biggest
media players, including Microsoft, AOL and Sony, to get involved in mix.
Several companies are developing set-top boxes that function as personal
video recorders (PVRs). About 11% of U.S. households expect to purchase a
PVR within the next year, according to a recent random survey of 1,000 homes
conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association. Some experts envision
that consumers will eventually be buying a box that handles all forms of TV,
plus phone and Net services -- with an upgradeable hard drive.
[SOURCE: USAToday (3D), AUTHOR: Mike Snider]
>Issue: Digital Divide
>Lawmakers and technology companies have plans to use one of the most
>ubiquitous household devices -- the television -- to bring the Web to
>hundreds of fourth-grade schoolchildren. The WISH TV program will provide
>them with free digital set-top boxes for one-year that enable them to
>receive Web services on standard televisions, plus the two-way cable
>connection needed to access the Internet. Educators from several
>universities are developing Web-based curriculum for participating schools
>to use with children at home. WorldGate Communications, a provider of
>interactive services using the TV, is spearheading the effort with support
>from Rep. Billy Tauzin, (R-LA). "The idea of putting a PC in the local
>library was better than nothing but it was far short of bringing the
>Internet into every household in America," said Hal Krisbergh, chairman and
>chief executive officer of WorldGate. Once the year is up, however, families
>probably will have to pay to continue their Internet service from WorldGate
>and for a cable subscription.
>[SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News, AUTHOR: Kalpana Srinivasan (Associated

>Issue: DTV
>The Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection has
>scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, July 25, 2000 at 10:00 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn
>House Office Building. The hearing will be an oversight hearing on High
>Definition Television (HDTV) and related matters. Witnesses will be by
>invitation only.
>[SOURCE: House of Representatives]
>Issue: Television
>It's another British invasion. First "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" then
>"Survivor." Both are 100% British-made television ideas. Millionaire may
>possibly be England's most successful cultural export in the last 30 years.
>"It's a bit like the old days of the British empire," said Paul Smith,
>managing director of the British production company Celador, which came up
>with the game show. "We've got a map of the world in the office colored in
>pink where we've placed the show. Most of the world is pink."
>[SOURCE: New York Times (B1), AUTHOR: Bill Carter]

Issue: Intekkectual Property
The trial of Universal City Studios Inc. v. Eric Corley et. al is slated to
begin in Manhattan on Monday and the case is seen as an important test of
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). Mr Corley made
available on his Web site a software program, DeCSS, which allows users of
Linux, a free operating system patched together by volunteers and
distributed over the Internet, to view DVD movies on their machines. But
Hollywood executives say the software also allows users to bypass the
security system of DVD movie disks, thus paving the way to unauthorized
viewing, copying and online transmission of movies. "This case is a
well-focused presentation of the question of whether or not the DMCA created
a new right to control access to a work if the work is encoded and encrypted
in digital media," Benkler said. "No one has made the argument so
audaciously as the movie studios have done here, that the DMCA has created
that new right. Up until now, there has been no general right to control the
reading of a book or to control access to a work. If the argument flies,"
Benkler said, "there will be a completely new theory of copyright." Under
the plaintiffs' view of the law, he said, a young student could not use
DeCSS to decrypt a DVD in order to copy ten seconds of the movie for use in
a multimedia report at school. Yet such a "fair use" right to quote from the
movie exists in non-digital media, he said. [SOURCE: CyberTimes, AUTHOR:
Carl S. Kaplan (]

Issue: Intellectual Property
Some years ago, CBS began selling a video collection, "The 20th Century with
Mike Wallace," that included footage from Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a
Dream" speech. Dr. King's family which has long been criticized by scholars
for its aggressive profit-making approach to Dr. King's legacy, argued that
outside corporations should not be allowed to exploit Dr. King's memory
without giving a share to the estate. "It has to do with the principle that
if you make a dollar, I should make a dime," said Dexter Scott King, Dr.
King's son and president of the estate, in 1997. After years of dispute, the
two sides have settled on an agreement which includes CBS making a
tax-deductible contribution to the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change,
in Atlanta. (Amount undisclosed) Both sides feel victorious. "From CBS's
perspective, this has always been about the principle that they have right
to use footage they take of news events," said the network's lawyer, Floyd
Abrams. "From their vantage point, that principle remains inviolate, and is
consistent with this resolution."
[SOURCE: New York Times (A12), AUTHOR: David Firestone]

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

"Everything wants to become television" (James Ulmer -- Teletheory)