Is Google Censoring Links?

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Not too long ago, there was talk that the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the Recording Industry Association of America might sue Google, claiming that the web behemoth has used its search engine service to shape the online music market in a way trade groups do not like.

These recording industry giants reportedly pressured Google to "degrade" links to alleged "pirate" websites in search results, and that Google had profited from illegal internet file sharing by failing to do so.

New reports, however, suggest that Google is actively removing millions of links and cooperating proactively with copyright holders.

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NY's Proposed Anonymous Web Speech Ban: Is It Related to a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling?

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Yesterday, the Voice reported on pending legislation in Albany that would ban anonymous online speech. We took the time to catch up with New York State Sen. Thomas F. O'Mara and Assemblyman Dean Murray, who sponsored the bill, to see what they had to say. Quickly put, their basic idea is that the proposed legislation would cut down on cyber-bullying -- such as untrue, and unsigned, comments you might come across in a message board or on a blog.

Uncertainty over the Constitutionality of the bill persists, however, with one expert telling us: "I would like to see an argument -- and I haven't seen one -- that would authorize a legislature to determine what can be posted or not posted on a private website...the Constitution does not talk about websites or anonymity. The cases over the years suggest that the legislature has no business trying to tell editors what to print."

During our convo, we asked Murray about this. He countered that it was constitutional, citing the 1974 Gertz v. Robert U.S. Supreme Court Decision as evidence that the First Amendment does not protect against the falsehood-based mean-mongering you come across on the internet.

So what the hell is the Gertz decision, you might ask?

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The People Trying To Ruin The Internet: Joe Lieberman (UPDATE)

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At the Voice, we have been regularly following internet policy developments. We figured it would be cool -- maybe even a public service? -- to ID people who keep pushing for web-killing proposals such as SOPA and PIPA in this new, occasional feature: "The People Trying To Ruin The Internet." Enjoy!

Sen. Joseph Lieberman didn't need SOPA/PIPA to make our list!

Just look at the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chair's lengthy record on internet policy issues.

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Here's Why Thomas F. O'Mara and Dean Murray Want To Ban Anonymous Online Speech

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Earlier today, the Voice brought you news of pending legislation in Albany that would make New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, "remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post."

For state Sen. Thomas F. O'Mara and Assemblyman Dean Murray, the gist of the would-be law is to prevent cyber-bullying.

Murray does not think that this violates free speech or presents constitutional concerns.

"It absolutely in no way infringes on anyone's rights. They are absoltuely free to say whatever they like. However, if the statement is challenged by the target or the victim of those statements, they have two options. They can either identify themselves or put their name to the statement, or the statement will be removed. This is not reinventing the the wheel. This has been the standard letter-to-the-editor policy that has been in place for hundreds of years," Murray told the Voice.

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Anonymous Online Speech: Soon To Be Banned by Albany?

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The Voice's Steven Thrasher just brought this to our attention.

Legislation is pending in Albany that would make illegal anonymous online commenting, City & State tweeted this morning.

Looks like Wired was among the first to report on the measure.

The bill's backers, according to the mag, want to curtail "mean-spirited and baseless political attacks" and "spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity."

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The People Trying To Ruin The Internet: Bob Goodlatte

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At the Voice, we have been regularly following internet policy developments. We figured it would be cool -- maybe even a public service? -- to ID people who keep pushing for web-killing proposals such as SOPA and PIPA in this new, occasional feature: "The People Trying To Ruin The Internet." Enjoy!

G.O.P. Rep. Bob Goodlatte has represented Virginia in Congress since 1993. His recent support of the Stop Internet Piracy Act has gotten flack from all political parties, including many libertarian-leaning Republicans, who now want to unseat him largely because of his intellectual property policies.

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The People Trying To Ruin The Internet: Mel Watt

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At the Voice, we have been regularly following internet policy developments. We figured it would be cool -- maybe even a public service? -- to ID people who keep pushing for web-killing proposals such as SOPA and PIPA in this new, occasional feature: "The People Trying To Ruin The Internet." Enjoy!

Rep. Mel Watt (D-North Carolina) is proof that you can be the ranking member of the judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property, competition, and the internet without being much of an intellectual.

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The People Trying To Ruin The Internet: Lamar Smith

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Heard of CISPA?

On April 26, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 248-168 in favor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which encourages companies such as Facebook to freely share your info with cops if you seem like a "cyber threat" and basically grants them legal immunity if they do so. President Barack Obama has promised to veto the measure, saying it doesn't do enough to protect the nation's critical systems from cyber attacks, and "would erode consumer privacy rights." It's unclear whether the prospective legislation will ultimately become law. It is clear, however, that the CISPA saga sounds super familiar. (SOPA/PIPA shitshow, anyone?)

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Depressed? Blame The Internet!

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Happy Friday: The Internet might be making you depressed, according to a new study.

This might not sound surprising to anyone who sits in front of a computer all day (see: Office Space.)

However, Missouri University of Science and Technology researchers are among the first to show a direct correlation between being super sad and file sharing, e-mailing, and chatting.

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Do BitTorrents Bolster Music Sales?

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Though record labels have often claimed that piracy threatens artists, a new study suggests that unauthorized file-sharing via BitTorrent might not hurt music sales: in fact, it might boost them.

Economist Robert Hammond, of North Carolina State University, gathered data music album download data from a BitTorrent tracker between May 2010 and January 2011. He paired this info with the albums' sales stats, as to assess any causal links between piracy and sales.

His findings?

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