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What to do about broadband.

Regarding “Twisted telecom wires,” I agree. Until the shakeout or convergence of the market completes, nothing substantial is going to happen.

I recently read an interview with FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who said one of the major missteps of his organization was its inability to create stronger competition in the telecom market. Essentially, what he was saying was, there should have been completely new facilities or central offices built where RBOCs didn’t exist (suburban and rural areas). Instead, all of the new CLECs simply ended up reselling the existing capacity of the RBOCs because of deregulation and thereby creating no new markets for high speed services like DSL where it is desperately needed or wanted by millions of consumers nationwide.

By virtue of cost alone, many of these fly-by-night CLECS would have never seen the light of day to begin with, because of the capitalization necessary to build out central offices and wiring to homes. Perhaps the billions raised by venture capitalists for the CLECs would have been better spent on a few additional suppliers bringing high-speed Internet connections to the masses instead of the morass of near-bankrupt CLECs littering the information highway today. Now it appears the government will have to step in once again to help boost the broadband market.

Bill Jeansonne, Bethesda Web Services, Bethesda, Md.

I just finished reading about the Mozilla 1.0 release (“All for 1.0”) where the open-source browser extraordinaire was criticized for having subpar JavaScript document access and Java functionality. I believe this stable and full-featured browser should be considered as an alternative to Internet Explorer. The main reason I switched to Mozilla was knowing that a malicious Web site could authenticate a false third-party cert in IE. The options and operation, however, are what will keep me from ever using a Microsoft browser again. For example, you can suppress pop-ups. How many people would turn that on if they had the option? The browser is nothing revolutionary by any means, but I do believe it is a viable substitute for people who are fed up with the inadequacies of poor security implementation in a company’s product that touts “trustworthy computing” as its main focus.

Alex Franks

Dan Heilman’s column “It’s not nice to share” is guilty of false analogies. He writes, “Newspaper and magazine articles are no less subject to copyright protection than digital music files. And yet, the owners of their copyright not only don’t persecute sharing of their material, they encourage and facilitate it.” There’s a big difference. It’s THEIR material to distribute. They own or have licensed the material and have the right to allow or prohibit redistribution. Swapping music files may seem innocuous, but possession of a copyrighted work that you have paid for under the “first sale” doctrine does not give you the right to make copies or pass it on to your friends. Just because it’s easy to do this doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.

And by the way, a lot of that material distributed by text-based Web sites is stolen as well. Publishers and the big database companies have bought hundreds of thousands of freelance articles on a less expensive “first serial rights” basis, assuming that the New York Times would prevail in New York Times vs. Tasini. However, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of the freelancers. Resolution of payments in this case and other class actions brought by freelancers is pending. Meanwhile the publishers, perhaps hoping that no one will protest, go right on selling these articles electronically, not just on their own Web sites but also through pay and free electronic databases.

Ironically, these are the same firms that want to bust people for peer-to-peer sharing. Thanks to the power of the Internet, they infringe copyrights millions of times per day while going after people whose violations are just as illegal, but far less harmful to creators.

Francis Hamit, Frazier Park, Calif.

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