September 1, 2006

And I Used To Think Ads On Cable Were An Intrusion [2:45 pm]

An amazing rationalization — advertising as an instrument for generating versimilitude in a game: Coming To Video Games: Live Ads - pdf

Game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. announced yesterday that it has inked deals with two ad companies that will stream live advertising into its games.

Players of the latest version of EA’s Need for Speed see the same billboard ads on the side of the virtual roads whenever they play the street-racing game. But with live ads streamed via the Internet in the next version of the game, players could see different ads every time they turn the game on.

[...] “Some areas naturally support the advertising,” said Chip Lange, EA’s vice president of online commerce. “If you drive around an urban environment and there’s no advertising, the space feels naked — and if the advertising is dated, the game feels old.”

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Jurisdiction, Privacy and Google [2:27 pm]

Brazil judge orders Google to disclose users’ data - pdf

A Brazilian judge has ordered the local office of Web search company Google to disclose the data of users of Google’s social networking site Orkut accused of crimes like racism or child pornography.

[...] Brazilians account for 65 percent of Orkut’s nearly 27 million users and public prosecutors have recently been investigating Orkut communities set up by Brazilians and dedicated to such subjects as racism, homophobia and pedophilia.

Google officials in Brazil have said all clients’ data is stored on a server in the United States and is subject to U.S. laws, which makes it impossible for them to reveal the data in Brazil. They also said the local affiliate only deals in marketing and sales and has nothing to do with Orkut.

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The Economist On YouTube [10:27 am]

The trouble with YouTube - pdf

That is why people like Chad Hurley and Steven Chen (pictured), the co-founders of YouTube, the clear leader of the pack by audience size, are casting around for a business model. Aware that inserting advertisements at the beginning of video clips, as some sites do, is annoying and risks driving away YouTube’s users, Mr Hurley and Mr Chen have announced two experiments with advertising, with the promise of more to come. One idea is for “brand channels” in which corporate customers create pages for their own promotional clips. Warner Brothers Records, a music label, led the way, setting up a page to promote a new album by Paris Hilton. The second experiment is “participatory video ads”, whereby advertisements can be uploaded and then rated, shared and tagged just like amateur clips. This “encourages engagement and participation,” the company declares.

Even as advertisers evaluate these new ideas, however, YouTube and the other video-sharing sites face other difficulties. For one thing, they are in a no-man’s land of copyright law: they promise to pull pirated content from their sites when asked to do so, but it is only a matter of time before one of them is hit with a big lawsuit. Then there are the costs of running such a site—video requires a lot of bandwidth and storage. A rival estimates that YouTube is losing more than $500,000 a month.

[...] During the previous internet bubble, they would have rushed to list their shares as fast as they could; this time around, many will try to be bought by media conglomerates instead. Last week Sony, which has a large film studio and lots of video to promote, bought Grouper, a small video-sharing site, for $65m. And News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate, is turning MySpace, its popular social-networking site, into a challenger to YouTube. Little wonder then that the founders of YouTube, Guba and other independent video sites go to great lengths to be quoted saying respectful things about other media moguls.

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Dutch ISP Releases Name in P2P Case [9:44 am]

ISP releases name in file-sharing case - pdf

The entertainment industry achieved a key victory Thursday after a Dutch Internet service provider surrendered the name and address of one of its customers suspected of illegal file-sharing.

Ronald van der Aart of UPC, the Netherlands’ second-largest broadband ISP with 500,000 subscribers, said the company decided not to appeal a summary judgment by Amsterdam’s District Court in a suit brought by the Brain Institute, an organization founded to fight digital copyright infringement.

Brain spokesman Okke Delfos-Visser said the agency would now contact the UPC customer and would likely sue if a settlement isn’t reached first. Similar cases in the United States are usually settled for several thousand dollars.

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The Mutability of Data Use [8:32 am]

Once it’s collected, there’s no telling who might be using it, and for what: Education Dept. Shared Student Data With F.B.I.

The Federal Education Department shared personal information on hundreds of student loan applicants with the Federal Bureau of Investigation across a five-year period that began after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the agencies said yesterday.

[...] An assistant director of the F.B.I., John Miller, said in a statement: “During the 9/11 investigation and continually since, much of the intelligence has indicated terrorists have exploited programs involving student visas and financial aid. In some student loan frauds, identity theft has been a factor.’’

Mr. Miller said the Education Department was asked to “run names of subjects already material to counterterrorism investigations” to look for evidence of student loan fraud or identity theft.

“No records of people other than those already under investigation were called for,” he said. “This was not a sweeping program, in that it involved only a few hundred names. This is part of our mission, which is to take the leads we have and investigate them.”

[...] The information sharing was disclosed as the Education Department examines a proposal by the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, established last year by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, to create a national student database that would follow individual students’ progress as a way of holding colleges accountable for students’ success.

“This operation Strikeback confirms our worst fears about the uses to which these databases can be put,” said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents 900 institutions. “The concentration of all this data absolutely invites use by other agencies of data that had been gathered for very specific and narrow purposes, namely the granting of student aid to needy kids.”

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A Court Case To Watch [8:25 am]

With the best short form description yet of the negotiating magic that Apotex managed: Generic of Plavix Is Blocked

[T]he situation also seems to suggest that Bristol-Myers and Sanofi, a French company, should never have entered negotiations they began last year with Apotex, which created the opening that has allowed the generic maker to ship its product for more than three weeks.

The patent covering Plavix gives market exclusivity to Bristol-Myers and Sanofi until the end of 2011. Apotex began challenging that patent in 2002, arguing that it was not valid. The case has been pending in court ever since and originally was set to go to trial in June.

But the dynamic changed earlier this year, after the Food and Drug Administration approved Apotex’s version of the drug. Despite that approval, under federal law Apotex would have run the risk of paying financial damages amounting to three times the generic’s total sales, if it brought its product to market but then eventually lost the patent case.

Bristol-Myers and Sanofi began negotiations with Mr. Sherman to settle the dispute. Under an agreement reached in March, the companies granted Apotex exclusive generic rights for a six-month period that was to begin in September 2011.

That settlement deal was rejected by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general who viewed it as restricting competition.

It was during efforts to renegotiate the deal that Bristol-Myers and Sanofi agreed to provisions that made it easier for Apotex to market its generic immediately if the revised agreement was also turned down. Those concessions included a waiver by the big companies of their rights to collect triple Apotex’s sales of the generic, as well as an agreement that they would not go to court to challenge distribution of the Apotex product until five days after it began shipment.

After the second agreement was also rejected, Mr. Sherman’s company began shipping its product to the United States on Aug. 8.

Under terms of the agreement Mr. Sherman negotiated, Apotex is liable to repay Bristol-Myers and Sanofi for only half of the generic drug’s sales should Apotex lose at the patent trial. The negotiations, and accusations by Mr. Sherman that the companies entered a secret side deal, are the subject of a Justice Department investigation.

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The Internet As A Public Private Space [8:16 am]

How long will this kind of anonymity last? And how helpful (and legitimate) is the catharsis? Intimate Confessions Pour Out on Church’s Web Site

About a month ago, LifeChurch, an evangelical network with nine locations and based in Edmond, Okla., set up mysecret.tv as a forum for people to confess anonymously on the Internet.

The LifeChurch founder, the Rev. Craig Groeschel, said that after 16 years in the ministry he knew that the smiles and eager handshakes that greeted him each week often masked a lot of pain. But the accounts of anguish and guilt that have poured into mysecret.tv have stunned him, Mr. Groeschel said, and affirmed his belief in the need for confession.

“We confess to God for forgiveness but to each other for healing,” Mr. Groeschel said. “Secrets isolate you, and keep you away from God, from those people closest to you.”

[...] The Internet already offers many places to confess, from the dry menu of sins at www.absolution-online.com to the raunchy exhibitionism at sites like www.confessionjunkie.com and www.grouphug.us. It is impossible to know whether these stories, like much on the Internet, are sincere or pure fiction.

One of the best-known sites is postsecret.blogspot.com, an extension of an art project in which people write their secrets on postcards and mail them to an address in Germantown, Md.

Mysecret.tv may be singular because it gives people at LifeChurch an easy opportunity to act on the sermons, said Scott L. Thumma, professor of the sociology of religion at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

[...] “There’s no magic in confessing on a Web site,” Mr. Groeschel said. “My biggest fear is that someone would think that and would go on with life. This is just Step 1.”

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