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The States of Technology

With all the recent news about federal-level battles over emerging technologies, it’s easy to forget that states also have a vested interest in these fights. This past week helped refocus the news on the local level.

The Associated Press reported that a University of Arizona student became the first person to be found guilty of illegally downloading music and movie files.

CNN reported on the Ohio law – and its inherent problems – that would require anyone selling items on eBay to obtain a costly auction license.

Advocacy groups are infuriated by a pending Utah bill that would forc Internet Service Providers to block any websites peddling material deemed “harmful to minors,” according to eWEEK.  Ditto for a proposed Illinois law that would bar stores from selling violent and sexually explicit video games to children.

The question of constitutionality was brought up for the last two issues, and it may be useful to note that these types of laws haven’t typically fared well against court challenges.

And speaking of a law not likely to survive, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Gov. Jim Doyle wants to extend the state’s five percent sales tax to all Internet transactions – although since it’s virtually impossible to track these sales, payments into the fund would all be on the honor system.

IT on the Cheap

The San Jose Mercury News reported that Peerflix, an old-school-Napster like system for swapping movies, is picking up business.

In the meantime, reported that McGill University academic and former Clash producer Sandy Pearlman is proposing that selling digital music tracks for a nickel a piece would be more profitable than today’s iTunes model. Rumors are that Apple is listening, maybe as a way of countering the new incarnation of Napster.

Apple Picky

Let’s face it, though, it’s hard to predict what Apple’s up to these days. In the midst of falling iPod sales in early February, the company reportedly turned down a proposal to carry a portable Sirus radio component.

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