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Berkman Buzz, week of July 14

A look at the past week's online Berkman conversations. If you'd like to receive this by email, just sign up here.

* We are publishing the Buzz a day early this week because the Berkman Center will be closed Friday, July 14, while we move to a new location.

What’s going on…take your pick here or browse below.

* John Palfrey and Robert Rogoyski distinguish between end-to-end as political construct and network reality.
* Rebecca MacKinnon celebrates release of Global Voices regional editor Hao Wu.
* Bill McGeveran remains unconvinced about fair use defense.
* David Weinberger compares professional and amateur quality programming.
* Ken Myers questions Wikipedia's "Wikimmunity."
* Ethan Zuckerman offers portraits of some citizen journalists.
* Susie Lindsay and Steve Schultz question relationship between regulation and public interest television.

The full buzz.

"It is commonplace among technologists to support a policy that intermediaries on the Internet should “pass all packets.” This so-called end-to-end principle calls for intelligence to be located at the edges of the network, if at all possible. While the end-to-end principle has been both challenged and refined since Saltzer, Reed, and Clark first documented it in the early 1980s, this principle remains a sacred concept among true believers in the openness of the Internet's original design.  Over the past decade, most states—the United States among them—have established rules that sometimes encourage and sometimes require intermediaries to block or to inspect packets as they travel through the Internet.  These rules prompt private actors to violate the end-to-end principle, at least theoretically in the name of the public interest. This paper considers the changes over the past ten years in the approach of states to the rules that require private parties to control packets at various points in the network, a trend brought into relief by the current public debate over competing “net neutrality” proposals – a political and economic concept often conflated with the end-to-end principle of network design...."
John G. Palfrey, Jr. and Robert Rogoyski, "A Move to the Middle: The Enduring Threat of "Harmful" Speech to Network Neutrality"

"People around the world have been rejoicing since Nina Wu announced on her blog that Hao has been released from wherever the police were holding him. He is now at home in Beijing with his family. We hope he will rest and take care of himself... and that people will leave him in peace to recover from his ordeal. It's impossible to know right now what will happen next, what caused his release at this time, or whether the story is completely over. However there is no doubt that all the expressions of support around the world - from media, politicians, bloggers, and other citizens writing letters and signing petitions - have had an impact. We have made it clear to the Chinese government that their treatment of Hao was a cause for national shame. We have given Hao's family and loved ones moral support in the face of a lot of nastiness and negativity as they worked to get him released. But most importantly, the global show of support will no doubt be a great source of strength as Hao recovers from his ordeal and copes with its aftermath. Thanks to everybody who has helped..."
Rebecca MacKinnon, "Hao is Free!!!"

"Last week a federal district court in Colorado issued a ruling against CleanFlicks and similar companies who sell DVD versions of Hollywood movies that delete content judged to be offensive (including sexual language and nudity, violence, or profanity). These modern-day Thomas Bowdlers had claimed a fair use defense, but the judge rejected it. That is probably the correct result. There is little doubt that the companies infringed on copyright – they copied the movies, distributed them, and at least arguably created derivative works from them. The real heart of the case (other than some side arguments that get dealt with quickly) is the fair use defense they raised. Unfortunately, the decision’s reasoning about the factors considered under the fair use doctrine is somewhat weak.
Bill McGeveran, "Bowdlerization as Fair Use"

"But it does seem to me that we're not as committed to "quality" as broadcasters assume. We like amateur podcasts and videocasts in part because they are amateur. Sure, I like big budget movies and top-notch TV like The Sopranos, and I don't imagine that that's going to come from the grassroots for quite a while...although those durn grassroots do have the habit of surprising us. But I don't feel like I'm in a two-tiered system in which there's the professional programming from the networks and then crappy little home-made programming. First, the tiers are already healing as grassroots content is getting more professional. Second, and more important, the broadcasters think it's obvious that the quality is on the professional side. Production quality, sure. But TV for years has been hosing us down with the most awful, cynical dog water. The notion that quality is on the side of the broadcasters confuses three-camera setups with creativity and humanity..."
David Weinberger, "The future of TV"

"And yet, for several months, Wikipedia carried a blatantly false biographical article on John Seigenthaler, Sr. that implicated him in the assassination of his former boss, President John F. Kennedy, Jr. An anonymous user had made the edit to the Seigenthaler article as a joke, but the reputational damage it caused was anything but. Fortunately for Wikipedia, Seigenthaler is a strong advocate for First Amendment rights of free speech, and as a journalist his response was to criticize Wikipedia in a public forum than to sue in court.  They may not be so fortunate in the future. If/when Wikipedia is sued for defamatory speech on its site, its defense will be the immunity provided in 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1), which provides that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Many commentators have already suggested that Wikipedia should be able to escape liability for defamatory content pursuant to §230(c)(1)’s immunity.  Unfortunately, they do not provide a detailed roadmap to that conclusion...."
Ken Myers, "Wikimmunity: Fitting the Communications Decency Act to Wikipedia"

"So, who are citizen reporters? That’s the question I’ve been asking based on the folks I’ve met at the conference thus far and the questions I got from the audience after my talk. The after lunch panel gives an overview, featuring six citizen journalists who work with OhmyNews, representing a wide range of origins and viewpoints. Leading off is wandering Tennessean, David Michael Weber, who’s spent the past five years in Japan teaching English. His writing is primarily travel writing, providing historical and cultural context to the experiences he has while travelling. This isn’t without controversy - writing about the celebration of the Emperor’s birthday in Japan, Weber found himself in the midst of not one, but two flamewars...."
Ethan Zuckerman, "Who are citizen journalists?"

"Are the new technologies fulfilling the public interest element we have fought so hard to achieve – making the regulatory structure obsolete? Is our existing regulatory structure fundamentally ill-suited for a media landscape effected by the Internet? Is it that everything new is old again?"
Susie Lindsay and Steve Schultz, "Television in Transition"

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