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Things we find along the way…

Archive for May 2008

Google: Viacom Suit Threatens Online Ecosystem

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Google has already said it’s willing to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend itself from a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Viacom. Now, the search giant is publicly arguing that the stakes are far higher than whether it will owe Viacom damages for copyright violations.

In a new filing, Google asserts that Viacom’s lawsuit poses a danger to the entire online ecosystem. “Viacom’s complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression,” Google argues.

Google drafted this brief in response to an amended complaint that Viacom filed late last month. That complaint alleged that YouTube “deliberately built up a library of infringing works to draw traffic to the YouTube site, enabling it to gain a commanding market share, earn significant revenues, and increase its enterprise value.”

Similar arguments have come up before in the course of this 14-month-old lawsuit. Viacom gripes that it’s not fair for YouTube to build its business and brand name on copyrighted clips. Google counters that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provisions show that Congress places a premium on innovation. Those safe harbor provisions generally protect companies from liability providing they remove infringing content upon request, unless the companies profit from pirated material.

Of course, YouTube didn’t exist when the DMCA was passed in the 1990s, so it’s not clear how Congress would have handled this precise situation. But in at least one respect, Viacom’s arguments are at odds with the tradition of copyright law.

Viacom contends that it shouldn’t have to continually ask YouTube to remove the same clips. Copyright law has long put the burden of policing infringement on the owner, but Viacom would like to see this state of affairs change. “Because YouTube directly profits from the availability of popular infringing works on its site, it has decided to shift the burden entirely onto copyright owners to monitor the YouTube site on a daily or hourly basis to detect infringing videos and send notices to YouTube demanding that it ‘take down’ the infringing works,” Viacom grouses.

With technological breakthroughs occurring far faster than legislators can enact laws, courts are going to have to sort out a great deal of messiness, including whether it’s wise to hold Web companies responsible when users upload pirated clips.

Ultimately, however, it’s hard to see what Viacom hopes to gain from this lawsuit. Unlike the situation with the original Napster — which enabled people to get songs for free instead of purchasing CDs — it’s hard to see how YouTube is eating into Viacom revenues. Much Viacom content already is available for free — either on TV or online. YouTube makes it easy for people to find and view that content, but that doesn’t mean the online clips are cutting into Viacom’s ratings.

Theoretically, the YouTube clips could be hurting Viacom’s ad revenue, if people who view video on YouTube would otherwise spend time on Viacom’s own sites or watching TV. But it’s at least equally plausible that YouTube is helping Viacom when viewers who are first exposed to a program on YouTube become fans who watch the show on TV or on the network’s Web sites.

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Written by portablesimon

May 29, 2008 at 12:57 am

Posted in Technology

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Firefox Evolves

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firefox

Browsers are the remote controls of the online world. It’s little surprise that the pending launch of Firefox 3 is causing a bit of a stir. The New York Times has written this interesting piece on the browser wars, featuring a history of Firefox (emerging from the ashes of Netscape) and commentary on Microsoft’s new offering in Internet Explorer 8.

Written by portableandrew

May 26, 2008 at 8:37 am

Facebook Profile Page Makeover

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Facebook is introducing a tabbed interface as part of its ongoing effort to keep its profile page fresh-looking and streamlined, in contrast with many other social networking sites.

The latest change, which is currently in beta, will introduce separate tabs for a personal news feed, photos, applications and information. The company designed these sub-pages to make adding content easier for users.

One key benefit of the new tabbed interface is that it should alleviate endless scrolling. Another benefit to the new design is that it allows the applications to provide more features while staying within the marginal and looser format of the tabbed content. This means more pictures, more videos, and more text.

The way Facebook has positioned the tabs allows for an easy transition between content types on a single page. Developers, though, will have to modify their applications to be picked out of the vertical menu list over another application.

Written by deejmark

May 25, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Pip Coburn: The Change Function

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Going away to Sydney was good to get some reading done. However, I think I choose one of the wrong one’s this time.

I am referring to The Change Function: Why Same Technologies Take Off and Others Crash and Burn. The book deals with why technologies fail, the main premise behind it is something called The Perceived Pain of Adoption or TPPA. In short this refers to the crisis at hand hen a technology comes on the market. What the book says os that people don’t like new things, don’t like learning and there needs to be a big benefit for someone to change. Fax machines…..30 years to take off.

The book goes through a lot of failed technologies, 95% out there and how people over complicated the offering. What the book asks for is to technologists to think of people first and foremost and their needs. In a two word summary…no shit There are better books to read on the shelf.

Written by portablesimon

May 25, 2008 at 8:14 am

Posted in books

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The bad news… Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

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A leaked document on Wikileaks reveals a proposed treaty to limit the privacy and rights of internet users. Included in the document is the so called “Pirate Bay killer” clause, designed to criminalize the non-profit facilitation of unauthorized information exchange on the internet. This clause would also have implications for transparency and primary source journalism sites such as Wikileaks itself. This quote from the individual who leaked the document is really scary:

a treaty of this form would impose a strong, top-down enforcement regime imposing new cooperation requirements upon ISPs, including perfunctory disclosure of customer information, as well as measures restricting the use of online privacy tools

Written by narindajane

May 25, 2008 at 7:57 am

The good news.. Cars go open-source

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Wind River is joining Intel to develop an open source Linux platform to your car and shake up the auto industry by bringing greater innovation.  The specs and code for the platform will be available on the open source vehicle infotainment site Moblin.org in August.  The platform will offer plug-and-play compatibility for products like Nuance’s voice communications, Parrot’s Bluetooth applications and Gracenote’s music management system.

Written by narindajane

May 25, 2008 at 7:35 am

Posted in Mobile, Technology

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Touch Screen DJ

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touch screen turn table

No, I’m sorry, but regardless of what colourful technology you own, DJing is no longer cool. Trade your turntables in for maracas, trust me.

Written by portableandrew

May 23, 2008 at 7:36 am

Posted in Technology

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