October 25, 2006

Latest K Chronicles on eVoting [8:27 am]

The REAL Litmus Test (local copy)

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You Knew It Was Coming [8:02 am]

Talent Agency Is Aiming to Find Web Video Stars

One of Hollywood’s top five talent agencies has created an online unit devoted to scouting out up-and-coming creators of Internet content — particularly video — and finding work for them in Web-based advertising and entertainment, as well as in the older media.

The move by the United Talent Agency — best known as the home of comedians like Vince Vaughn and Jack Black, filmmakers like M. Night Shyamalan and television producers like Dick Wolf and David Chase — amounts to a bet, albeit a modest one, that Web video is on a growth curve similar to that of cable television a generation ago. It is also a return by Hollywood’s core talent representatives to the sort of new-media business they tested, without great success, at the peak of the dot-com boom.

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LATimes Playing To The Hometown Audience? [7:36 am]

Just how central should AllofMP3 be to the US trade negotiations with Russia? Alternatively, is this a moment to rethink what IP policies ought to be? AllofMP3’s problems - pdf

This is not a case of the U.S. entertainment-industry tail wagging the U.S. government-policy dog. The AllofMP3 case isn’t a problem just for copyright holders, and the United States isn’t the only country pressing Russia to do something about it. The website is emblematic of fundamental problems in Russia’s legal system that call into question its ability to play by the WTO’s rules, resolve important commercial disputes and integrate itself into global commerce.

Ultimately, the United States has much more at stake in these talks than reining in one of many global sources of bootlegged music. A successful Russian entry into the WTO would be a boon to world trade and to the former communist country’s transformation into a free-market economy.

Mediaservices argues that the site is fully licensed by Russian authorities and that it pays at least 15% of its revenue to Russian royalty collection agencies. But even if that’s the case, it just means that the agencies usurped the music industry’s rights and granted licenses they had no authority to grant. For instance, AllofMP3 offers more than 40 downloadable Beatles albums despite the fact that the band has never given permission for its songs to be sold online.

[...] If Russia wants to show that it’s ready to join the WTO and live up to international trade commitments, it should start by following the example of Italy and Germany and stop the global infringements by AllofMP3. The importance of intellectual property will only increase as the world’s economy becomes more connected. By taking a stand against the website, the United States is showing that it cares about everyone’s intellectual property, not just the entertainment industry’s.

Hmmmmm

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Globe’s Second Life Profile [7:18 am]

A comparable writeup to many others, with the addition of the educational experiments going on, like the Berkman Center’s program: Leading a double life - pdf

nched in 2003 by California-based Linden Lab, Second Life is a website where users create animated cartoon avatars to represent themselves — usually as humans ( often buff, busty, beautiful humans ) , and sometimes as fanciful or furry creatures. Linden sells land in this virtual frontier, and users (a.k.a. “residents”) design and make everything from virtual stores for the land to virtual sweaters for the avatars. They buy things and sell things that exist only “in world” — so many that last month $6.6 million in user-user transactions changed hands. They role-play, gamble, teach classes, make music, open restaurants, push politics — all as they guide their avatars through the elaborate virtual landscapes and cityscapes that give Second Life its stepping-into-Wonderland quality.

“Second Life is no more a game than the Web is a game. It’s a platform,” says John Lester, 39, of Somerville, Linden’s community and education manager. “This feels exactly like it felt when the Web was first coming out. I remember feeling the hair on the back of my neck standing up.”

Unlike such sites as Sims Online , Second Life’s content is created almost entirely by users. [...]

Rebecca Nesson has never taught a class like “CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion,” a joint enterprise with Harvard Law School sponsored by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Here she is as avatar Rebecca Berkman, standing outside a virtual replica of Harvard’s Austin Hall before 30 avatars of Extension School students. A wolf sits in front , teaching fellow Buzescu is an android , and everyone can fly, all of which adds a touch of whimsy to even the most serious Second Life endeavors, in this case giving far-flung students a virtual place to meet and work on class projects. Gone is off-site education as simply posting videos of lectures online and communicating with students via e-mail.

“It’s better than anything I’ve seen in distance learning,” Nesson says.

Harvard is among some 80 academic institutions exploring Second Life. [...]

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Jon Johansen and iTunes [7:14 am]

Hacker says he has cracked iTunes code - pdf

Currently , songs purchased from Apple’s online iTunes Music Store can’t be played on portable devices made by other companies. Songs purchased from many other online music stores won’t work on iPods because they similarly use a form of copy-protection that Apple doesn’t support.

Johansen said he has developed a way to get around those restrictions. But unlike with his previous work, which he usually posts for free, the Norway native plans to capitalize on his efforts through his Redwood Shores-based DoubleTwist Ventures, said the company’s only other employee, managing director Monique Farantzos.

SeattleP-I has a more detailed APWire report: Hacker says he’s cracked iTunes, iPod restrictions - pdf

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