TIME Technology & Media

A TV Network Should Buy Aereo. Here’s Why.

Supreme Court Hears Case Pinning Startup Internet TV Company Aereo Against Major Broadcast Networks
In this photo illustration, Aereo.com, a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPhone 4S on April 22, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

It would help them compete against Netflix and HBO Go

Aereo, an ambitious startup that aimed to stream live broadcast television to subscribers for a small monthly fee, filed for bankruptcy Friday, months after a devastating loss at the Supreme Court. But it doesn’t have to end this way.

Aereo worked by giving each of its subscribers access to a tiny antenna that picked up broadcast television signals, which were then stored in a cloud server before being beamed over the Internet to users’ laptops or mobile devices, either almost live or well after-the-fact via DVR technology. Subscribers paid about $8 a month for the service, even though broadcasters like NBC and Fox give away their content for free to anyone with an antenna in range of their transmitters, making most of their profits from advertising.

But advertising isn’t the broadcasters’ only revenue stream. Cable companies like Time Warner Cable have for years been legally required to pay broadcasters for the right to retransmit their content to cable subscribers. What sparked the Aereo case is that Aereo didn’t pay those fees, which make up an increasingly large slice of the broadcasters’ revenues. So broadcast networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, sued Aereo on copyright grounds. The case ultimately found its way to the Supreme Court, which in June sided against Aereo. Aereo then tried a few legal hail-marys to try saving its business, but as prime Aereo backer Barry Diller admitted over the summer, the game was over once the Court’s gavel was struck.

What I have trouble moving past is that Aereo wasn’t really charging for content, as everything you could watch on the service was free anyway. It was charging for convenience — You could watch Aereo on a laptop or iPhone, and it gave customers access to a cloud-based DVR to store their favorite shows. It also made up for the fact that, here in building-packed New York City at least, the free, over-the-air broadcasts are often difficult to watch with a regular TV aerial. Most of the people I know who used Aereo here did so because they couldn’t get reliable signals from the broadcasters. In this sense, Aereo addressed a technical failure, too. With those factors combined, Aereo was certainly worth eight bucks a month.

The broadcast networks used the courts to pummel Aereo into submission, suing a potential industry disruptor out of existence. But instead of walking away smiling, those broadcasters should realize Aereo only foreshadowed a massive industry shakeup that will change everything about television. As more people cut the cord and switch to on-demand services like Netflix and HBO Go (with the latter soon to be available without a cable subscription), cable television will slowly die out — and take those lucrative retransmission fees with them as it goes. CBS, at least, sees the writing on the door: It’s launching an innovative subscription-based online service, from which it’ll likely make money off ads, too. More broadcasters should realize that cable TV is the past, not the future. And what better, bolder move to make than buying Aereo?

TIME Technology & Media

Amazon Kindle Users Are Getting the Washington Post for Free

US-IT-AMAZON-KINDLE
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, introduces new Kindle Fire HD Family during the AMAZON press conference on September 06, 2012 in Santa Monica, California. Joe Klamar—AFP/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos reshapes the Washington Post with new Kindle app

Owners of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet are getting a 6-month digital subscription to the Washington Post for free, the retailer announced Thursday. The deal marks the first major collaboration between the newspaper and the retailer since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Post last year.

Amazon Fire owners will have access to the Post through the paper’s brand new tablet-only app, which at first will be available only to Fire users. The Washington Post will package news for the Fire tablet in distinct morning and evening editions, along with updates for major breaking stories.

Both the newspaper and the online retailer have plenty to gain from the new arrangement. With its platform on the Kindle, the Post will aim at tapping into a wider audience. And Amazon could bring more customers to the Kindle Fire in order to gain exclusive access to the tablet version of the Post.

“Digital reading opens up so many possibilities for experimentation, and The Washington Post’s new app offers an immersive news-reading experience that we hope our customers find engaging and informative,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President of Kindle, in a statement.

Bezos completed his $250 million purchase of the Washington Post in October 2013. He has since helped usher in substantive changes at the paper, dismissing the Post’s longtime publisher Katharine Weymouth and replacing her with former President Ronald Reagan aide Fred Ryan. He’s also hired 100 new journalists and cut retirement benefits for current employees.

Bezos played an outsized role in helping design the Post’s app, the newspaper’s chief technology officer Shailesh Prakash told the New York Times. “We talked to him constantly,” Prakash said about the feedback Bezos gave to developers. “He’s our most active beta tester.”

The Post’s app has been designed with high-resolution photos and graphics, Amazon said, and has an immersive read view as well as a bird’s eye browsing view. Readers can swipe once to move from story to story. The editions will be released at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.

Amazon has a base of 22.7 million tablet users, according to Kantar World Panel analyst Carolina Milanesi, though its share of tablet sales dropped to 18% from 25% in the year ending in September. The Post saw its paper sales decline 44% in the six years before Bezos purchased it, and both the paper and Amazon hope to energize their businesses through the collaboration.

Analysts said that for Kindle Fire owners, who use the device much more for reading than do owners of other tablets, the new Post app will improve the tablet’s value. But it’s unclear whether the app will drive new Fire sales. “There’s a heavy skew in the amount of time during the day that Kindle Fire owners use it for reading,” said Milanesi. “So that would suit this kind of bundling. But would it make a huge difference to a readership when the free content offering ends? It’s hard to tell.”

For the Post, access to a new audience is instantaneous. “With 42 million monthly readers and growing, this is another step forward in our effort to serve an even larger national and global audience,” said the Post’s Ryan.

TIME Technology & Media

Spotify CEO ‘Really Frustrated’ With Taylor Swift

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Candids
Musician Taylor Swift attends the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola—Getty Images

After Swift pulled her music from the streaming service

Spotify’s CEO on Tuesday aired his frustration with Taylor Swift’s critique of the streaming music service, arguing that his company’s revenue sharing agreements ensure that musicians get paid for their work and serve as a bulwark against online piracy.

“We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it,” wrote CEO Daniel Ek in a post on Spotify’s official blog. Ek said that Spotify had paid a total of $2 billion to music labels and their associated artists since Spotify launched in 2008, a sum he argued wouldn’t exist had fans downloaded the music through pirated websites.

Ek’s defense came in the wake of pop artist Taylor Swift’s widely publicized decision to pull all of her music, save one song, from the streaming service last week. Swift has previously criticized Spotify’s payments to musical artists — which average less than a penny per played song — as inadequate compensation for artists.

“When I hear stories about artists and songwriters who say they’ve seen little or no money from streaming and are naturally angry and frustrated, I’m really frustrated too,” Ek wrote in the post. “We will do anything we can to work with the industry to increase transparency, improve speed of payments, and give artists the opportunity to promote themselves and connect with fans.”

TIME Technology & Media

Here’s How to See the Sci-Fi Epic Interstellar 2 Days Early

Christopher Nolan's latest comes out Wednesday in some theaters

Apparently, there’s a right way and a wrong way to experience Christopher Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi epic Interstellar. Set in a near future that closely resembles the 1930’s Dust Bowl, Nolan’s latest feature doubles down on its vintage feel thanks to its old-school physical format. The film was shot using film rather than the digital cameras that are quickly becoming a staple in Hollywood, and it will be distributed at hundreds of theaters using classic film projectors rather than digital ones. That change will affect how the movie looks on the big screen and even who gets to see it first when it opens early on Wednesday at some theaters.

Here’s a quick primer on the many versions of Interstellar and where you can have the best experience:

Why is Interstellar coming out in different formats?

There’s an ongoing debate in Hollywood about whether movies should be shot with digital or film cameras. Digital cameras are smaller, cheaper, more versatile and more easily allow for special effects like 3D and green screen technology. Film cameras, on the other hand, produce a well-worn, organic look that has defined the visual style of movies for a century. Nolan is a champion of the classic film format, and he shot Interstellar using a combination of 35 millimeter anamorphic film and 65 millimeter IMAX film (same for The Dark Knight Rises).

“Film is the best way to capture an image and project that image,” Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “It just is, hands down. That’s based on my assessment of what I’m seeing as a filmmaker.”

Even though Nolan continues to shoot on film, many movie theaters have thrown out their old film projectors in favor of digital ones, so even movies shot on film are often converted to a digital format before being shown. Some movie studios, including Interstellar distributor Paramount, have stopped releasing most major movies on film at all. But because Nolan has such massive clout on the heels of the Dark Knight trilogy, he was able to convince some movie theaters to show the movie on film projectors anyway.

Where can I watch Interstellar as Nolan intended?

To see the movie in all its glory, you’ll have to venture to one of the 41 special IMAX theaters that will show the movie using 70mm film projectors. These theaters will play the movie at ten times the resolution of regular theaters, and the sections shot using the IMAX cameras will fill up the entire massive screen. Around 200 other theaters will show the movie using more traditional 35mm projectors. To incentivize the use of projectors, Paramount is releasing Interstellar two days early at these theaters, on Wednesday, Nov. 5. You can find a list of theaters that will have the movie early on Interstellar’s website.

Are movie theaters happy about this?

No, because it’s extremely impractical. It was Hollywood’s movie studios that pushed theaters to make the expensive jump from film to digital in the first place. According to The Hollywood Reporter, some movie theater owners have been griping that it doesn’t make sense to drag old projectors out of storage for a single movie. One owner called the idea “a step back in time.” But others are using the unusual distribution schedule as a way to build hype for Interstellar and are ordering new projectors specifically for the film.

Will Interstellar mark a resurgence in the use of film?

Probably not. Digital movies are cheaper for studios to distribute and more reliable to operate for theaters. An increasing number of blockbuster films, such as Avatar, Skyfall and the Transformers movies are being shot using digital cameras. But the humble movie reel will continue to live on in independent theaters and could be an element of the next blockbuster Nolan dreams up, if he gets his way.

TIME Technology & Media

HBO Will Finally Start Selling Web-Only Subscriptions Next Year

HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler and HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo speak onstage at the Executive Session panel during the HBO portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association on July 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills.
HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler and HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo speak onstage at the Executive Session panel during the HBO portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association on July 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills. Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images

Viewers won't have to pay for a pricey TV package to watch HBO shows like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire

HBO will begin selling web-only subscriptions in 2015, a major move for the television giant as it seeks to attract a younger generation of consumers more likely to skip paying for cable television in favor of streaming services like Netflix.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler said at a Time Warner investors’ event Wednesday that HBO will launch a “stand alone, over the top” version of its network beginning in 2015 that won’t require a pay TV subscription, Re/code reports. HBO is a subsidiary of Time Warner.

The new offering would likely mean that viewers will be able to watch hit HBO shows like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and others without having to pay for a TV service, similar to Netflix’s model for watching shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. However, HBO has so far offered few details about what content will be available on the service. HBO recently put some of its older but well-regarded content, such as The Wire, available to watch on Amazon’s streaming service, Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Time Warner made $4.9 billion in revenue from HBO last year, but it could attract more TV viewers by offering its standalone web service to customers who want to leave cable or don’t already pay for cable.

[Re/code]

TIME feminism

When Men Are the Loudest Feminists

Male and female symbols
Fanatic Studio—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RF

Can—and should—men be spokespeople for underrepresented women?

“Where are all the women?”

That was the question Vivek Wadhwa’s wife whispered to him at the 2009 “Crunchies Awards” – the tech industry’s Oscars.

It’s been five years since her question woke Wadhwa to the male homogeneity of Silicon Valley. Since then, the professor, researcher, entrepreneur, and Foreign Policy “Top 100 Global Thinker” has re-routed his career to study gender in the tech industry, finding that “despite how we glamorize it, Silicon Valley has a dark side.” He saw that dark side up close when industry insiders and strangers alike unleashed vitriolic tirades against him on social media and in real life for bringing attention to his wife’s question. His response to these critics? “Call me a feminist,” he says. “It will make my day.”

Wadhwa’s desire to expose these gender disparities for a general audience and to create a forum for women in tech whose voices weren’t being heard was a driving force behind his recently published book Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology. And yet, part of the response to the book has raised an even bigger question about the gender parity movement in all fields, not just tech. It’s one that Emma Watson also recently addressed. Can – and should – men be spokespeople for underrepresented women?

A form of that question came out at a recent New America event where Wadhwa spoke to Breadwinning and Caregiving Program Director Liza Mundy about the inspiration and impact of his new book. It also popped up on Twitter during, and after, the event.

Why, one audience member wanted to know, was Wadhwa speaking for women? Would he cede a keynote speech to a female speaker or insist that a producer contact a woman to do a media appearance in his place? Wadhwa indicated that he is mindful of the dissonance but also realistic about his media appeal: he has a platform and wants to use it. Right or wrong, he is now a prominent voice on gender issues in Silicon Valley, and he views his choice as a dichotomous one: to speak, or not to speak, about the injustices confronting women and minority entrepreneurs. If you see injustice and you don’t speak, he said, you are complicit in it.

He emphasized one particularly insidious injustice that often goes unnoticed: the process of “pattern recognition,” when Silicon Valley venture capitalists choose who to fund based on a proven preferential “type.” It’s a wordsmith’s code for overt discrimination, and something he spotlights in his introduction to the book.

Exposing “pattern recognition” lays bare the deeper sexism and double standards common in Silicon Valley. While PayPal’s Peter Thiel has garnered praise for offering high school students money not to attend college, Wadhwa says too many VCs and tech executives still get away with lamenting the dearth of qualified female and minority candidates in the “pipeline” of STEM education. In a supposed meritocracy, why must minority applicants possess postgraduate degrees in computer science while board members of companies like Twitter can get away with having no degree at all?

But if we are talking meritocracy, the facts on women should speak for themselves. After his awakening in 2009, Wadhwa revisited his own research studies on entrepreneurship to incorporate and analyze data on gender, a perspective he freely admits he overlooked the first time around. He found that female tech entrepreneurs showed lower rates of failure, were more capital-efficient and had parity with men in STEM education. And yet women were virtually invisible in venture capital and on the boards and management of top companies like Apple. A recent study from the Diana Project at Babson College found that as recently as last year, 97 percent of the companies that got VC funding were led by men and only 15 percent of the companies had a woman on their executive teams.

To Wadhwa’s mind, Silicon Valley has always been an unrepentant boys’ club where women and people of color are barred from the inner circles and the investment bounty of venture capitalists always seems to find its way into the coffers of entrepreneurs who look more like Mark Zuckerberg than Michelle Obama.

He recounted several stories from Innovating Women to illustrate his disgust with the gendered underbelly of Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Kim Polese of Marimba sold her company for half a billion dollars but became a cautionary tale of “failure,” while Heidi Roizen, a rare female venture capitalist, was subjected to sexual harassment and outright assault by colleagues and potential clients. Mundy, who moderated the event, raised the counter-example of older, more established companies like Xerox and GM, where gender diversity initiatives have been largely successful and where HR policies against harassment structure a more traditional workplace environment. As the workplace continues to evolve, Mundy asked, how should we promote innovation and protect employees from harassment and discrimination?

The book is striking a chord with readers who are asking themselves that very question. Wadhwa gets emails every day from women thanking him or telling him they are giving it to their daughters who, unlike their mothers, now have access to girls’ coding camps and the like to develop their confidence and skills. This response to the book, in combination with a growing network of both institutional and informal female mentorship and Google’s recent decision to break ranks with other tech giants by sharing their personnel data on gender, emboldens his relatively positive outlook for the future. His next frontier is to demand that VCs release their own gender data, just as Google has, and to erode what he called the “family unfriendly” nature of many startups.

Women are, in Wadhwa’s words, “now primed to lead the next generation of innovation: every data point you look at says the future belongs to women.”

And he has no plans to stop promoting that message. “The good news is that women, men and the media are now talking about it,” he said.

Jane Greenway Carr is an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Public Fellow and a Contributing Editor at New America. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Technology & Media

Facebook Changing Research Methods After Controversial Mood Study

Facebook Inc. Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings Figures
The Facebook Inc. logo is displayed an Apple Inc. iPad Air past water droplets in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

“It is clear now that there are things we should have done differently"

Facebook has issued a mea culpa for a controversial experiment on its users that gained widespread attention over the summer, promising to revamp its research practices going forward.

In a blog post, Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer acknowledged the social network mishandled a 2012 study that altered the types of posts some users saw in their News Feeds to in order to determine whether such a change would affect the emotional tone of their own posts. The results of the study were published this June, angering some users because no one gave prior consent for the study nor did it clear any kind of review board, a step typically undertaken by academic research organizations.

“It is clear now that there are things we should have done differently,” Schroepfer wrote. “For example, we should have considered other non-experimental ways to do this research. The research would also have benefited from more extensive review by a wider and more senior group of people. Last, in releasing the study, we failed to communicate clearly why and how we did it.”

The company is now instituting a new framework for handling both internal experiments and research that may later be published. Research that is studying specific groups of people or relates to “deeply personal” content (such as emotions) will go through an “enhanced review process” before being approved. Facebook has also set up a panel of employees from different parts of the company, such as the privacy and legal teams, that will review potential research projects. The social network will also incorporate education on research practices into the introductory training that is given to new company engineers and present all the public research it conducts on a single website.

Facebook did not provide any detail on what the enhanced review process would look like or whether external auditors would review the company’s research. The company also retains the right to conduct any experiments it deems appropriate through its data use policy.

TIME Technology & Media

This Small Cable Operator May Help Unravel the Pay TV Industry

Obama Appears On Daily Show With Jon Stewart
President Barack Obama chats with Daily Show host Jon Stewart during a commercial break in taping on October 27, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Pool—Getty Images

Suddenlink has dropped Viacom channels from its lineup, perhaps permanently. That's a cardinal sin in the world of pay-TV.

A cable company and a TV network have been in a dispute over how much the network’s content is really worth. This may sound like a familiar tale, but there’s an unusual ending this time. Suddenlink, a St. Louis-based operator with more than 1.1 million subscribers, dropped Viacom’s collection of well-known TV channels from its lineup Wednesday, and they’re probably not coming back anytime soon.

Negotiations over carriage fees, the amount that pay-TV operators pay network owners to carry their channels, often turn into very public spats. Time Warner Cable kicked CBS-owned networks off its channel lineup for a month in 2013, and The Weather Channel went so far as to lobby Congress to force DirecTV to keep the channel on its airwaves earlier this year. In both instances, the two sides eventually reached a truce.

That doesn’t appear to be in the cards this time. Because Suddenlink couldn’t come to an agreement with Viacom on appropriate carriage fees, the cable company has replaced mainstays on the channel dial like MTV and Comedy Central with new additions such as FXX and the Hallmark Channel. Suddenlink thinks its customers won’t miss Viacom’s offerings much. “It’s unfortunate we could not reach agreement,” spokesman Pete Abel said in an email. “But we have moved on and are excited about the new channels we’re adding and our customers have told us they would like to have.”

In the traditional pay-TV model, a cable company dumping Viacom’s channels could be viewed as a cardinal sin. Historically, network owners and cable operators have worked in lockstep to keep their highly lucrative system intact. Operators agree to buy up channels from media conglomerates like Viacom in unwieldy bundles, which means a 26-year-old bachelor is stuck paying for Nickelodeon. Network owners in turn make sure that having a pricey cable subscription is pretty much the only legal way for viewers to see TV shows as they’re airing. Content creators also charge new entrants to the pay-TV space a higher carriage fee for their channels, according to Erik Brannon, a TV industry analyst at IHS Screen Digest. Intel had been planning a pay-TV service that would deliver live television content over the Internet, but the costs of acquiring programming were prohibitively high.

Suddenlink tried to upend this long-standing formula by asking Viacom to sell just a few of the channels that are popular with its customers, like TV Land and Comedy Central. Suddenlink says that Viacom responded by increasing its price demands even more. On a website about the dispute, Viacom says that Suddenlink abruptly stopped negotiating and reneged on a last-minute proposal that met the cable operator’s demands. “We remain committed to reaching a deal so that our viewers will be able to watch their favorite shows,” Viacom wrote on the site. Viacom did not respond to an email from TIME seeking further comment.

The Suddenlink decision could inspire other small and mid-size operators, already being squeezed by subscriber declines, refuse carriage fee increases from media giants. Sixty smaller cable companies, including one with half a million subscribers, lost Viacom’s channels in the spring and haven’t yet restored them. “Mid-tier operators and small operators are going to have to look at the profitability of carrying networks vs. their viewership,” Brannon says. “When you’re in the position of Suddenlink . . . you absolutely do not have the buying power that Comcast or DirecTV have.”

At the same time, channel owners are becoming more receptive to the Internet-based TV services of which they were once wary. Viacom has agreed to offer 22 of its channels on a new, Internet-based TV service that Sony is launching later this year, the first such deal the media giant has made public. The revenue generated from that deal, which Brannon says probably included a guarantee by Sony of a minimum number of subscribers, might make Viacom less concerned about the activities of the smaller traditional cable companies.

Whether these strategic shifts will benefit consumers, networks or cable operators remains to be seen. Suddenlink is hoping that losing Viacom won’t hurt its subscriber numbers, but Cable One, the largest of the sixty cable companies to dump Viacom in the spring, doubled its subscriber loss the quarter it removed Viacom’s channels. And while Internet-based pay-TV services like Sony’s promise an improved user experience, no one has yet broached the topic of offering channels “a la carte” and allowing customers to pick exactly what content they’d like to buy.

Still, the once-sacred marriage between cable operators and network owners is under obvious strain. That leaves room for new entrants to claim a piece of the market—hopefully for many, with business models that are more in line with customer preferences. “Carriage fee negotiations are going to become increasingly contentious,” warns Brannon. “Not only at Viacom but other channel groups.”

TIME Smartphones

How to Get a Free iPhone 6 and Some Cash, Too

Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside Wearables
An attendee displays the new Apple Inc. iPhone 6, left, and iPhone 6 Plus for a photograph after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif. on Sept. 9, 2014. Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Several new trade-in programs will let you obtain with a two-year contract an iPhone 6 for free—and also leave you with extra cash

If you’re desperate for an iPhone 6, then you’re in luck: Competing trade-in programs between major U.S. carriers have made it so that many customers will not only get a free iPhone 6, but also some extra cash.

Verizon announced Tuesday a new trade-in program in which customers swap in their old iPhones and sign a two-year contract for a free iPhone 6, according to Verizon. Specifically, Verizon will collect working iPhones of the 4, 4S, 5, 5S and 5C models in exchange for a $200 gift card, which can then be credited to the $199 16GB iPhone 6.

Verizon’s deal, while glamorous, isn’t actually the best one you can get—but it’s probably the most convenient. Several other trade in programs through non-wireless carriers have surfaced offering more lucrative deals, though they haven’t yet announced when and if they’ll carry the iPhone 6. Walmart, for example, is offering $300 for a 16GB iPhone 5, and Amazon is offering $225 for a 16GB iPhone 5. All of these offers are independent of your wireless carrier.

If you’re not a Verizon customer, then there’s even better news—not only will your iPhone 6 probably be free, you’ll likely also profit from it.

Sprint and T-Mobile both announced trade-in programs that will match buyback programs of all major U.S. carriers—including Verizon. While Sprint currently offers deals with credit up to $300, T-Mobile has said it’ll not only match all major buyback programs, but it’ll also add an extra $50. In other words: if you’re with T-Mobile, you’ll be profiting at least $50 from your trade-in program. AT&T told TIME it will announce its trade-in program by Sept. 12, when pre-orders of the iPhone 6 begin.

It’s unusual for carriers to offer such heavy discounts for a new product, but the nationwide craze for Apple’s latest product is a prime opportunity for carriers to steal and attract new customers. Generally, prices of older models are often slashed to maintain sales and attract new customers: Several major carriers sell the older iPhone 4S at 99 cents with at two-year contract. And in some cases, new products that are performing far below expectations—like Amazon’s Fire phone—are offered at steep discounts to remain afloat in the market.

If you do decide to participate in one of the many trade-in programs, here’s what you need to know about getting rid of your old iPhone.

TIME Regulation

Verizon Settles for $7.4 Million After Failing to Notify Customers of Privacy Rights

The FCC said about 2 million new customers weren't given a notice about opting out of disclosing their personal info for marketing purposes

Verizon will pay $7.4 million to settle charges the company failed to give about 2 million new customers the choice to opt out of allowing their personal information to be used in marketing campaigns, government regulators announced Wednesday.

Federal regulators found Verizon failed to send privacy opt-out notices to some new customers as early as 2006. Verizon officials failed to discover the error until Sept. 2012, then waited 126 days before notifying the Federal Communications Commission about the lapse, federal regulators wrote in the statement.

Verizon’s settlement with the FCC marks the largest ever by a phone company over a privacy matter, according to the Washington Post.

“In today’s increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honor its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices,” said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “It is plainly unacceptable for any phone company to use its customers’ personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out.”

Verizon, which was scrutinized by the FCC last month for its “throttling policy,” said that the lack of opt-out notices issue has been resolved.

“The issue here was that a notice required by FCC rules inadvertently was not provided to certain of Verizon’s wireline customers before they received marketing materials from Verizon for other Verizon services that might be of interest to them,” the company said in a statement. “It did not involve a data breach or an unauthorized disclosure of customer information to third parties.”

Under the settlement’s terms, Verizon will be required to include opt-out notices on every bill—not just the first bill—and to be monitored to ensure that customers are receiving proper notices of their privacy rights, the FCC said.

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