May 18, 2007

Cyberwarfare? Or Just Hackery? [5:05 pm]

“E-stonia” Accuses Russia of Computer Attackspdf

“If you have a missile attack against, let’s say, an airport, it is an act of war,” a spokesman for the Estonian Defense Ministry, Madis Mikko, said in a telephone interview today. “If the same result is caused by computers, then how else do you describe that kind of attack?”

Officials in Estonia have accused Russia of orchestrating the attacks, officially or unofficially. They also raised the matter at a NATO meeting on Monday, when the defense minister said that the alliance, which Estonia joined in 2004, needed to urgently debate the question — once seemingly a distant threat — of whether mass computer attacks pose a threat to national security.

“Events of this nature make a lot of people sit up,” a NATO spokesman, Robert Pszczel, said in a telephone interview. “Today, Estonia — tomorrow it could be somebody else.”

Also, Estonia Computers Blitzed, Possibly by the Russians; Cyber Assaults on Estonia Typify a New Battle Tacticpdf

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Assembling the “Frenemies,” Watching Us All [4:21 pm]

Google’s moves are generating expected responses:

  • WPP Group to Acquire Online Ad Company

    “This really heightens the tension between ad agencies and technology companies as they both try to go after the ad dollars that are migrating online,” said Youssef Squali, the Internet analyst at Jefferies & Company.

    The WPP Group and other ad holding companies make most of their money by creating ads and planning where they should appear. Now, WPP plans to develop a third major line of business in the online technology space using 24/7 Real Media as its foundation, Mr. Sorrell said in a conference call.

    “You can call it a tipping point if you want, but I think there has been a tipping point in terms of the realization of the impact of these technologies,” Mr. Sorrell said.

  • Microsoft to Buy Online Ad Company

    In the offline world, there has generally been a clear distinction between media outlets and advertising agencies, which create the ads and buy time or space to run them. On the Internet, that line has been blurred, with portals like Google increasingly pushing into “upstream” areas like media planning and buying.

    “We’ve suddenly got two different sides that are competing in the same area, in the advertising companies and the media owners,” Ms. VanBoskirk said.

    There are signs of friction as online media owners like Google, with their deep pockets, expand. Google’s agreement to buy DoubleClick was criticized by Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, who said it could trouble marketers.

    “It raises issues about whether we are prepared to give Google data that’s very valuable,” he said last month as WPP gave a quarterly financial update. “Clients will be concerned over the access Google may have to information that is owned by them.”

Later: can’t get more explicit than this — Web Ads With An Audience Of Onepdf

Microsoft’s $6 billion purchase of a major online advertising company announced yesterday underscores a core moneymaking strategy of the digital economy: watching you.

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Vicious [4:14 pm]

Online Invitation to ‘Help Yourself’ Surprises the Stuff’s Owner

“House being demolished,” read the posting on March 24. “Come and take whatever you want, nothing is off limits. Items outside and garage will be open for access into house. Please help yourself to anything on property at 1202 East 64th Street. Tacoma.”

Within a week, the unoccupied house at that address in Tacoma, Wash., had been picked clean. Living room window? Gone. Water heater? Gone. Kitchen sink? Naturally.

And the homeowner? Laurie Raye was stunned.

Now the matter has moved from Craigslist to Superior Court, where Ms. Raye’s niece, Nichole Marie Blackwell, 28, is to appear next week to face charges of burglary, malicious mischief and criminal impersonation. Investigators said they had traced the fraudulent advertisement to a computer Ms. Blackwell had previously used to post other times on Craigslist.

So, did we need our government’s FISA run-around to figure this out? Or did good investigative work do what it’s supposed to do? Note that today’s LATimes has an editorial [pdf] that reminds us of a few things:

The timing of Comey’s revelations couldn’t be worse for Bush. The administration is seeking changes — some of them reasonable — in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that requires a court order for electronic eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.

But skeptical members of Congress recall that, for five years, the administration flouted that very law by eavesdropping on the international phone calls and e-mails of Americans without court approval.

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LATimes Editorial on Amazon/Apple DRM-free Content [3:59 pm]

Amazon sells freedompdf

Still, the other major labels — Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and Warner Music Group — are reluctant to give up on scrambling also known as digital rights management, or DRM. They hope consumers will buy new audio-visual equipment that can zip files around a home network while preventing them from being shared online. Theyre also eager to replace unscrambled CDs with scrambled downloads, not MP3s. Those visions are sustained by a belief that technology can stop piracy. But that seems quixotic, given how little effect its had so far on file sharing.

Amazon and Apple are giving record companies a testing ground that begs to be used, either to experiment with premium pricing or to see if the format change boosts sales. While theyre making up their minds, recording industry executives can shop for DVDs, books and electronics at Amazon and see how persuasively the site prods them to buy songs … from artists not on their labels.

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Hard To Understand (updated) [7:56 am]

They’re opposed to a change in business models? Really? [actually, it’s just terrible editing at The Boston Globe. See the article from their parent below.) Authors oppose single printingspdf

The offer from Simon & Schuster seems ideal: Let us publish your book , and it’ll never go out of print. Even if it sells only one copy a year, we’ll keep it available, thanks to digital technology.

But the Authors Guild, representing thousands of published writers, says that’s unacceptable. “A publisher is meant to publish, to get out there and sell our books,” Guild president, author , and humorist Roy Blount Jr. said yesterday. “A publishing house is not a place where our books are permanently squirreled away.”

But, wait — what?

Later: Walt Crawford (of http://citesandinsights.info/) points out to me (via email) that good book contracts (i.e, those that have received appropriate attention from authors and their agents) routinely include a reversion clause, dictating the circumstances under which the publisher relinquishes the exclusive right to publish a book. Among these circumstances are the book going out of print. Therefore, one could interpret Simon & Schuster’s “offer” as a way of removing one way that the publisher might lose the exclusive right to copy and, thus, blocking the author from employing other mechanisms for distribution.

For example, I have a colleague whose textbook went out of print, and his contract included a reversion clause (which I erroneously assumed was a rarity). Because the rights have reverted to him, we can now have the text copied and distributed to our students without fear of action on the part of the publisher. Without this reversion, it would not be legal for him to make copies of his own textbook, even though the book is out of print.

So, I get it now.

Later: from the NYTimes — Publisher and Authors Parse a Term: Out of Print

Traditionally, if a book falls out of print, authors are contractually allowed to ask their publishers for their rights back so that the author can try to have the book republished somewhere else.

Until recently, that has meant that if a book was not available in at least one format — hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback being the most common — or if sales fell below a minimum annual threshold, it was deemed out of print.

But with the advent of technologies like print-on-demand, publishers have been able to reduce the number of back copies that they keep in warehouses. Simon & Schuster, which until now has required that a book sell a minimum number of copies through print-on-demand technology to be deemed in print, has removed that lower limit in its new contract.

In effect, that means that as long as a consumer can order a book through a print-on-demand vendor, that book is still deemed in print, no matter how few copies it sells.

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