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Cyber Digest

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‘STER CRAZY Did someone maybe not get enough nap time — and wake up really, really cranky about Napster? Sony Pictures exec Steve Heckler, while at a conference in Long Beach, Calif., is reported by a student newspaper to have said of the file-sharing phenomenon: ”We will develop technology that transcends the individual user. We will firewall Napster at the source — we will block it at your cable company, we will block it at your phone … ” A Sony spokesperson says Heckler’s remarks were ”taken out of context” and ”do not represent the opinions or strategies of any of the Sony companies.”

OWNING OPRAH ”Triumphant over a judge’s ruling that they retained rights to 10 years of exclusive pictures of Oprah Winfrey, two Chicago-based photographers are setting out to sell a book of their work. The question is, Who, if anyone, will buy it? Paul Natkin and Stephen Green worked as on-set photographers for Winfrey’s Chicago-based show … amassing more than 30,000 color photos … Federal district judge Ruben Castillo [ruled] that the right to reprint the photographs resides with them … ”
— Inside.com
(The lensmen have since reached a settlement with Winfrey, agreeing to share the use of the photos.)

CANDID CANDIDATE ”I’m a moron … I’m an idiot!” The words of a presidential candidate in a private moment of lucidity? Not exactly. But not too far off. These are the confessions of one Chester Foster, a White House aspirant in The Paula Principle, an animated webisode currently on Icebox.com. If Foster sounds suspiciously like the perpetually scheming nudnik George Costanza of Seinfeld, it may be because Seinfeld partner Larry David created Principle. Who does the voice of the whining candidate? Why, David, of course.

UN-PC The Hollywood Reporter was stuck in virtual unreality last week, erroneously reporting that writer-director Andrew Niccol had ”decided to computer-generate his female protagonist after failing to find a sufficient [human] lead” for the upcoming Al Pacino movie Simone. The report actually resembles the plot, in which a producer creates a digital woman. Meanwhile, Niccol has yet to cast the role.

BEGINNERS Startup.com — Artisan Entertainment’s film about two guys launching a Web company — sounds a lot like Start-Up!, a movie by indie auteur Wonsuk Chin, reports Upcomingmovies.com. ”I usually respect what Artisan does, but that title doesn’t make any sense to me,” Chin responds. Given that there are actual websites named Startup.com, startupcom.com, and StartUpdot.com, we’re already starting.com to feel in need of an intellectual-property-rights attorney.

SCANT NEWS Favorite press release of the week: ”Bikini.com Swimwear … is making a splash in the teen market as the official swimwear sponsor for the nationally televised Miss Teen USA Pageant [broadcast Aug. 26]. I thought you might appreciate these publicity photos of the 51 Miss Teen USA hopefuls modeling Bikini.com Swimwear.” We appreciated, we appreciated.

QUANTUM LEAP A Britney-free week in CyberDigest? Not a chance. Our favorite Spears fan site of the moment: Britney’s Guide to Semiconductor Physics (britney spears.ac/lasers.html). “She will guide you in the fundamentals of the vital laser components that have made it possible to hear her super music in a digital format,” begins the turgid text. Oh, and yes, it’s all accompanied by pictures.


NOTE THESE DATES Sept. 26-27 Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s converge@tribeca — two days of discussions, screenings, and parties focusing on the future of technology and entertainment — will happen at the Tribeca Film Center in New York City.

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