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Net Neutrality Wins Small Victory in AT&T/Bell South Deal

The FCC has approved the $86 billion mega-merger of AT&T and Bell South, after AT&T agreed to a number of concessions, including an important one on the issue of net neutrality.

One of the most important concessions is AT&T’s commitment to a basic set of principles that establish a practical implementation of Net neutrality. Specifically, it agreed “not to provide or to sell to Internet content, application, or service providers, including those affiliated with AT&T/BellSouth, any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet transmitted over AT&T/BellSouth’s wireline broadband Internet access service based on its source, ownership or destination.”

This is not the end of the whole net neutrality battle, but AT&T’s concession is certainly a small battle won for the likes of Google, Yahoo et al.

Law Requires Disclosure of Affiliate Marketing Links, Word-of-mouth and Paid Reviews

Copyblogger has been digging around a new statement made by the Federal Trade Commission and reported by the Washington Post.

The bottom line, the FTC is pushing to make companies disclose any compensation received when promoting a product or company. While this is not a new law, the FTC wants marketers to know how it intends to interpret existing legislation.

…companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships…Word-of-mouth marketing can take any form of peer-to-peer communication, such as a post on a Web blog, a MySpace.com page for a movie character, or the comments of a stranger on a bus.

Google Helping YouTube Avoid Litigation

Business 2.0 explains why the expected influx of law suits against YouTube, with its acquisition by Google, never materialized. Instead, Google helped bring credibility to the video sharing site and discovered ways to work with the big TV networks.

For example, take a look at the deal struck with CBS.

As part of the deal, CBS agreed to offer free video clips for downloading. In return, the media company gets to sniff around YouTube for any content bearing its copyright. CBS can then choose between removing the offending clips or getting a cut of the revenue YouTube generates from any advertising linked to the clip.

That’s brilliant! YouTube gets sanctioned clips from CBS and in return CBS gets to decide if a video clip should be pulled or if it will help them generate buzz and/or money.

Italy Investigating Google Employees for Video Violence

Now this is interesting. Italian prosecutors are investigating two Google Italy employees as part of an inquiry into how a violent video appeared on Google Video.

The two are being investigated for allegedly failing to check on the content of the video posted on the Internet search engine’s Web site.

As Reuters points out, the investigation doesn’t imply guilt, but it’s interesting that Italy appears to be holding the two Google employees accountable, as opposed to Google itself. It appears, Italy is investigating the event the same way it would investigate a journalist or TV reporter.

Italy’s Education Minister Giuseppe Fioroni said the prosecutors had been right to apply to the Internet the same legislation that in Italy regulates what can be published in newspapers or broadcast on television.

French Film Producer Sues Google

A French film producer is suing Google, claiming the company infringed on its copyright by allowing his movie, “The World According to Bush”, to be freely downloaded from Google Video France.

“We made estimates of the prejudice and its goes well beyond 500,000 euros ($648,700). The film has been downloaded about 50,000 times and it has certainly been copied afterwards,” Lepetit [the producer] said in a telephone interview.

Google has since removed the video, but this suit does nothing to dampen concerns that Google Video (and YouTube) will face an influx of law suits, unless they can figure out a way to monitor uploads for copyrighted content.

Court Rules Bloggers Protected From Others Libel

A California court has just ruled that bloggers and forum owners cannot be sued held accountable for defamatory statements made by others. (pdf of ruling).

…the court said, “Until Congress chooses to revise the settled law in this area” people who contend they were defamed on the Internet can seek recovery only from the original source of the statement, not from those who re-post it.”

Bloggers are still liable for their own defamatory comments, but we now know that if someone leaves a comment on a blog about a certain crap SEO firm, the blog owner can’t be held responsible.. ;-)

Hat-tip WMW.

Universal Music Suing MySpace

Universal Music has decided the best way to obtain licensing fees from MySpace is to sue them first, establish an infringement, and then do the deal. At least, that appears to be their strategy, according to the NY Times.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, is seen as part of a strategy by Universal to test provisions of a federal law that provides a “safe harborâ€? to Internet companies that follow certain procedures to filter out copyrighted works…If Universal can win in court, it is likely to gain leverage in negotiating licensing terms with user-driven services — just at the moment that those services are attracting deep-pocketed partners.

MySpace seperately announced a new tool that would allow copyright holders to flag videos used without permission. Right…pure coincidence, I’m sure.