Commentary on the Tabs Controversy

What’s Next, Ramen Noodles?

The article said that the RIAA considers tabs copyright-protected information. According to the recording industry, even incorrect tabs and tabs developed by users from listening to songs are its property as “derivative works.”

I started thinking about what it would be like if there were an RIAA for ramen.

The connection seemed obvious, because there are so many varieties of ramen available in so many little restaurants and street stalls here. Ramen is Japan’s pizza — derived from the cuisine of another country (China), popular because it’s both delicious and inexpensive, and available in gourmet versions.

Ramen is culturally important in Japan, and, like music, there is an infinite number of ramen styles, all of which have their committed adherents, copycats and detractors.

[…] There’s a reason that intellectual property laws don’t cover recipes, so for now, ramen may be safe. But with copyright laws that let the music industry shut down sites for teaching people how to play guitar, intellectual property claims against the making of noodles can’t be far behind.

Gaming The Book Publishing Business

A weird business model — publishing blog content, which I would find useless, since the point of mine is the links — but a look at the experiments in extending digital distribution: Gets Book Smart

Some observers are counting down the minutes to publishing’s Napster moment. But others aren’t so sure.

“The role of a 21st-century publisher is making books available offline and on,” said Brian Murray, group president of HarperCollins, which announced nine months ago it would digitize its entire library and offer tools like browsing as well as audio and video to compete with Amazon and iTunes. HarperCollins is, far and away, the most digitally progressive traditional publisher.

HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman says self-publishing is little more than a vanity press. “A good book will get published,” she said. “Self-publishing is denying that fact. The filters of agent, editor and publisher are still essential.”

Pundit Jeff Jarvis, who has written extensively about the future of book publishing, disagrees. “Every author I know says the publishers don’t get the job done on marketing — they end up having to do their own. As for a middleman, you can sell enough books on Amazon now to make it worthwhile.”

“The face of publishing will change,” he said. “As for who wins, the big guy or the little guy — I have no idea.”

Why We Fight

Free speech is a precious and necessary thing. Consider this terrible story of Japanese terrorism, and be thankful — and watchful: Threat Is Seen to Free Speech in Japanpdf

An outspoken politician whose mother’s house was burned to the ground after he criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to a controversial war shrine warned Tuesday that increasing intimidation by right-wing extremists was casting a chill over free speech in Japan.

“There is less freedom than before to express one’s feelings,” said Koichi Kato, a onetime senior member of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP. Kato has become a target of hard-line nationalists for his criticism of Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the souls of 2.5 million of the country’s war dead, including 14 convicted war criminals from Japan’s imperial era.

Many politicians, academics and journalists have been cowed into silence by the threat of nationalist violence, suffocating a crucial debate on Japan’s relations with China, Kato said.

Wny Don’t I Feel Safer?

FBI Shows Off Counterterrorism Databasepdf

The FBI has built a database with more than 659 million records — including terrorist watch lists, intelligence cables and financial transactions — culled from more than 50 FBI and other government agency sources. The system is one of the most powerful data analysis tools available to law enforcement and counterterrorism agents, FBI officials said yesterday.

The FBI demonstrated the database to reporters yesterday in part to address criticism that its technology was failing and outdated as the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks nears.

[…] The data warehouse is an effort to “connect the dots” that the FBI was accused of missing in the months before the 2001 attacks, bureau officials said. About a quarter of the information comes from the FBI’s records and criminal case files. The rest — including suspicious financial activity reports, no-fly lists, and lost and stolen passport data — comes from the Treasury, State and Homeland Security departments and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

[…] The system, designed by Chiliad Inc. of Amherst, Mass., can be programmed to send alerts to agents on new information, Grigg said. Names, Social Security numbers and driver’s license details can be linked and cross-matched across hundreds of millions of records. [Emphasis added]

[…] David Sobel, senior counsel of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the Federal Register has no record of the creation of such a system, a basic requirement of the Privacy Act. He also said the FBI’s use of an internal privacy assessment undercuts the intent of the privacy law.

FBI officials said the database is in “full compliance” with the law.

Sobel said he learned under a Freedom of Information Act disclosure last week that the system includes 250 million airline passenger records, stored permanently.

“It appears to be the largest collection of personal data ever amassed by the federal government,” he said. “When they develop the capability to cross-reference and data-mine all these previously separate sources of information, there are significant new privacy issues that need to be publicly debated.”

Casual Dataveillance: Shopping Coupons

Clip and Save Holds Its Own Against Point and Click

“Coupons are an ingrained part of the nation’s shopping culture,” said Charles Brown, co-chairman of the Coupon Council, a coupon advocacy group.

The paper coupon, Mr. Brown insists, is a powerful marketing vehicle to reach millions of consumers and build brands and customer loyalty. Proof of the coupon’s worth, he said, is that major companies like Procter & Gamble, S. C. Johnson, General Mills and Kraft continue to rely on traditional coupons, and that the yearly number of coupons distributed keeps rising slightly.

Some marketing experts say that while old habits resist change, the demise of the paper coupon is a sure thing. It is, they say, the marketing equivalent of a blunderbuss, while the Internet offers a laser shot.

“The paper coupon is the single most inefficient marketing tool you could imagine,” said Peter Sealey, a former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola who is a marketing consultant in Sausalito, Calif. “The traditional paper coupon is going to die. It can’t survive in the Internet world.”

[…] Coupon sites like ValPak and CoolSavings, a subsidiary of Q Interactive, offer coupons for local merchants or nationally branded products. But digital coupons are also spread across many Web sites, just as ads are. So those looking for information on baby care might see an online coupon for diapers, while a person looking at a Web site for motorcycle enthusiasts would be more likely to see a coupon for helmets or leather jackets.

That kind of selective marketing, showing consumers advertising and promotions related to their browsing interests, is the potential Internet advantage.