Hossein “Hoder” Derakhshan’s trial begins in Tehran

After many months of nearly no information about the status of Hossein Derakhshan, various Iranian websites and his family are reporting that his trial began on Wednesday in Tehran.

Very little new information has been released beyond this fact, although I managed to get this quote via email from an source close to Derakhshan’s family:

“One trial session was held and although no family members were allowed in, but the family remains optimistic that no serious issues exist in his case. Plus, considering the fact that he has already served a long time in prison, most of which has been in solitary confinement, the family doesn’t expect a longer jail sentence. There are more court sessions to be held before the final verdict is out.”

I’ve contacted Canadian authorities to see what they have to say about this. Again, as a reminder, Derakhshan is a dual citizen of Iran and Canada.

More soon as this story develops.

EFF goes after Volomedia podcasting patent

Remember the announcement earlier this summer about how a Silicon Valley company had patented podcasting?

Not surprisingly, the EFF is none too thrilled about this:

EFF and the law firm of Howrey, LLP aren’t willing to just sit by and watch. This patent could threaten the vibrant community of podcasters and millions of podcast listeners. We want to put a stop to it, but we need your help.

The Volomedia patent covers “a method for providing episodic media.” It’s a ridiculously broad patent, covering something that many folks have been doing for many years. Worse, it could create a whole new layer of ongoing costs for podcasters and their listeners. Right now, just about anyone can create their own on-demand talk radio program, earning an audience on the strength of their ideas. But more costs and hassle means that podcasting could go the way of mainstream radio — with only the big guys able to afford an audience. And we’d have a bogus patent to blame.

VoloMedia awarded patent for podcasting

So this Sunnyvale ad company, VoloMedia, has been awarded U.S. patent 7,568,213 for podcasting.

The abstract:

A personalized media service provides, e.g., user customization of radio channel selections, immediate availability of multiple preprogrammed and/or customized channels, the ability to intersperse different types of content including periodically refreshed information content, availability of personal radio functions on devices such as car audio systems, PDAs, smartphones, MP3 players, etc. Available channels include, e.g., pre-programmed channels selected for the user based on an interest profile, user-owned content, user-specified recorded content, etc. An audio user interface facilitates user selection of programming and user purchase of currently played audio material. An overall radio experience is thus provided that combines the customization and flexibility of digital media with the immediacy and ubiquity of radio. Video materials may also be accommodated.

This is potentially pretty big. I’m trying to get a company rep on the line to explain to me how this is possible — given that Dave Winer and Adam Curry invented podcasting back in 2001 (two years before this patent was filed) — and what they intend on doing with it. If VoloMedia starts suing left and right, podcasting could get ugly really fast.

More soon.

July 15: Cyrus on PRI’s The World

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my radio piece on the rise of the Pirate Party in Europe (including France, Switzerland, and yes, Estonia) is airing today.

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams):

NYC – 3 pm Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM – www.wnyc.org
Washington, DC – 8 pm Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM – www.wamu.org
Los Angeles – 12 pm Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 4 pm Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM – www.wgbh.org
San Francisco – 2 pm Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM – www.kqed.org

You can also find it on The World’s site later in the day and on my site if you miss the broadcast.

Also, don’t forget about The World’s Tech Podcast, hosted by my boss, Clark Boyd. It comes out every Friday.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Is unlocking your iPhone legal?

Since I unlocked my iPhone last week, various friends have asked me if it is, indeed, legal. My impression was always that it technically wasn’t under the DMCA, but I was heartened when I found this exemption ruling from late last year:

The Librarian of Congress, on the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, has announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) during the next three years.

. . .

5. Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.

I’m no legal expert, but it would seem that using a program to unlock your phone is indeed legal. Whether or not it’s legal to sell said software may be another story.