Poen Kiled the Radio Star – PS3

If there is one thing that PlayStation 3 owners like even more than games — it’s porn. Okay, well maybe not *all* owners, but enough to convince the formerly HD-DVD exclusive porno company Digital Playground that they should be releasing their titles on Blu-ray as well, starting with the big budget smash hit, Pirates. As DP founder Joone (yes he has a one word name, evidently he doesn’t want his mommy to know what he does) explained, “A lot of people were e-mailing that bought a PlayStation 3 and they were basically saying, ‘When are you guys going to release Blu-ray?'”

While the news of naughty films on Blu-ray isn’t exactly breaking news, it is interesting for a number of reasons. First off, Joone is the fellow that oh-so-long-ago said that Sony was blocking them from releasing their ‘adult entertainment’ movies on Blu-ray. Evidently, this isn’t the case any more as Joone has changed his tone and said the real problem originally was the price of producing Blu-ray movies (which is quite a bit higher than HD-DVD movies).

The other thing that is interesting is that this is the first time that we have heard of the PlayStation 3 explicitly causing such an increased demand for HD movies that a studio changes its exclusivity stance in the HD format wars. For a long time, the HD-DVD camp has said that PlayStation 3 owners don’t buy movies. Well if porn is any indicator, looks like PlayStation 3 owners luuuv their high-def movies — as long as there are naked people in them at least.

[Via High-Def Digest]

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Judge rules COPA unconstitutional

Congress’ efforts to muzzle pornography on the Web were dealt another serious setback on Thursday, when a federal judge ruled a 1998 law was unconstitutional and violated Americans’ First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed in Philadelphia permanently barred prosecutors from enforcing the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, saying it was overly broad and would “undoubtably chill a substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech for adults.” The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Even though politicians enacted COPA nearly a decade ago as part of an early wave of Internet censorship efforts, the courts have kept it on ice and it has never actually been enforced. The law makes it a crime for commercial Web sites to make “harmful to minors” material publicly available, with violators fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to six months.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said on Thursday: “We’re still reviewing the court’s opinion and we’ve made no determination what the government’s next step will be.” The Bush administration has the option of appealing its loss to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Because of an odd legal legal twist, COPA has been bouncing around the legal system without a final resolution. The law already has been reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court once–which agreed with a temporary ban on enforcement–but the justices said they wanted more information about the current state of filtering technology and stopped short of a definitive ruling on its constitutionality.

Reed’s 84-page opinion (PDF) appears to be intended to provide ample grounds for the Supreme Court to strike down the law for good. The opinion includes a detailed review of the filtering technology’s state of the art and concludes the programs are “fairly easy to install” and are “more effective than ever before.”

The almost-forgotten law found its way into the headlines last year after Justice Department attorneys preparing to defend COPA in Reed’s Pennsylvania courtroom sent subpoenas to Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL asking for millions of search records. Only Google fought the subpoena in court, and it managed to persuade a California judge to limit what information prosecutors would receive.

The Justice Department gave excerpts of the search engines’ databases (and, in some cases, anonymized search terms) to its expert, a Berkeley statistics professor named Philip Stark.

In response, Stark and a colleague prepared a report that said 1.1 percent of the Web sites cataloged by Google and MSN are sexually explicit. They also found that, in response to Web pages returned in response to the most popular search terms, AOL’s filter performed the best and blocked 98.7 percent of sexually explicit Web pages. Some filters, however, blocked less than 90 percent of such pages.

In his ruling on Thursday, Reed cited the testimony of one of the ACLU’s witnesses, Carnegie Mellon University professor Lorrie Faith Cranor, who found that filters generally block 95 percent of sexually explicit material. He also said that two congressionally-mandated studies “have confirmed that content filters can be effective at preventing minors from accessing harmful materials online” and are therefore more effective than criminal penalties.

First Amendment precedent makes this a crucial point: Anti-porn laws can only be upheld as constitutional if they’re the least restrictive and most effective way to shield minors from salacious material. Otherwise, they’re viewed as unconstitutional.

What if the Bush administration wins?

If the courts eventually uphold COPA as constitutional, a wide variety of Web publishers–from news to sex education to adult pornography–would have to revamp their sites or face criminal prosecution.

“Teaser” images on U.S. porn sites would likely vanish, since COPA says Webmasters who employ measures such as credit card verification or require an “adult access code” can’t be prosecuted because such mechanisms would typically keep out minors. Other sites would simply move overseas, where U.S. law doesn’t apply.

But COPA’s use of the term “harmful to minors” is broad enough to sweep in more mainstream publishers as well. The term is defined as material that lacks “scientific, literary, artistic or political value” for minors and that is offensive to local “community standards.”

That’s why plaintiffs in the COPA case include the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Salon.com, ObGyn.net, Philadelphia Gay News and the Internet Content Coalition. CNET Networks, publisher of News.com, was a member of the now-defunct Internet Content Coalition.

Reed acknowledged that Congress “apparently intended” COPA to apply to commercial photographers. But he ruled that the actual wording of the law is broad enough that mainstream publishers could “fear prosecution.”

When Congress was debating the law a decade ago, anti-pornography groups identified it as a key political priority and lent strong support to conservative Republicans such as Ohio’s Michael Oxley, COPA’s co-author, who is no longer a member of the House of Representatives.

The American Family Association once called COPA “Congress’ latest attempt to protect innocent children from the devastating effects on Internet pornography.” The Family Research Council filed a legal brief calling the Internet the “most intrusive, pervasive medium of communication ever created,” which can offer a “particularly dangerous method of transmitting” pornography.

COPA represents Congress’ second attempt to restrict sexually explicit material on the Internet. The Supreme Court in 1997 rejected the Communications Decency Act, which targeted “indecent” or “patently offensive” material, as unconstitutional.

Sony’s Blu-Ray Gives You Blu-Balls, No Hi-Def Porn

As if Blu-Ray wasn’t in enough trouble as it is, Sony has said that it won’t allow its Blu-Ray disk reproduction subsidiary, Sony DADC Global, to reproduce adult content. Being that DADC is far and away the largest Blu-Ray disk factory around means that there will essentially be no porn on Blu-Ray.

While we’re sure Sony is standing on some sort of moral ground here, its also making a big mistake. Besides just placing all of its eggs in one proprietary basket, Sony is locking out the one genre of content that drives media adoption. Laserdisc did the exact same thing in the 80s, and suffered because of it. The disks did finally allow for adult content, but by that time it had already failed as a popular format.

This does not mean that we will have HD porn, though, as HD-DVD is remaining mute on the issue. That being said, Hi-Def porn will decide once and for all which format will come out on top. (haha!)

Sony Says No to Porn on Blu-Ray Disks [ComputerWorld]