July 24, 2007

UK Rejects A Bono-Like Copyright Term Extension [9:50 am]

UK rejects music copyright extensionpdf

The British government rejected a plea to extend copyright laws for sound recordings to beyond 50 years on Tuesday, prompting the music industry to accuse it of not supporting musicians and artists.

[...] Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, which represents the British recorded music industry, said the government had failed its test to show support for British music.

“We will continue to put forward the strong case for fair copyright in Europe,” he said. “It is profoundly disappointing that we are forced to do so without the backing of the British government.”

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Search, Privacy and the FTC [7:32 am]

Search Engines Tighten Privacypdf

Online search companies Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and Microsoft are tightening their privacy policies in the face of mounting public, congressional and regulatory agency concern about the vast amounts of personal data they gather and store.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced it would make all data on search queries anonymous after 18 months. This week, Yahoo is to outline plans to make a user’s search history anonymous within 13 months. On Friday, Ask.com said users could ask the firm not to retain their Web searches.

Google, which faces the most scrutiny, announced in March that it would begin to make search-query data anonymous after 18 to 24 months. Last week, the company said it would shorten the lifespan of cookies, which are small files attached to a user’s browser. A further refinement of its privacy policy is expected soon.

The moves come as the Federal Trade Commission signaled that it might take action to modify or block Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick, a major online advertising company. [...]

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Blogging the Hunt for the Higgs Boson [7:16 am]

A look at the evolution of the way that science gets done: The Race is on for the God Particle

The excitement has been ratcheted up by the speed and ubiquity of information on the Internet.

“It is exciting even if you think the chances of it being true are only 0 or 10 percent,” said Tommaso Dorigo, from the University of Padua in Italy, who helped spread the D Zero rumor in June on his blog, A Quantum Diaries Survivor (http://dorigo.wordpress.com). “It’s something you were looking for and would be very happy to find.”

Joe Lykken, a Fermilab theorist who said he first learned of the rumored bump the old-fashioned way, over lunch in the laboratory cafeteria, said: “Pre-blog, this sort of rumor would have circulated among perhaps a few dozen physicists. Now with blogs even string theorists who can’t spell Higgs became immediately aware of inside information about D Zero data.”

[...] On May 28, an anonymous physicist wrote to the comments section of Dr. Dorigo’s blog, asking if it was true that D Zero was seeing an excess of so-called b-quarks spitting from the Tevatron. This excess, or bump, was supposedly at the level of 4-sigma or 5-sigma and thus, if it withstood scrutiny, it would have to be taken seriously as a sign that the Higgs boson was there with a mass of about 180 billion electron volts.

Dr. Dorigo is in the C.D.F. collaboration and thus had no inside knowledge, but repeated that he had also heard the rumor. The rumor was picked up by the publications Slate and Wired.

In response, Gordon Watts, a physicist from the University of Washington and longtime member of the D Zero team, scolded Dr. Dorigo for speculating on rumors.

“Dude! If you get called by the press to comment on this rumor — you will be making secondhand comments on rumors!” Dr. Watts wrote on his blog, Life as a Physicist.

Dr. Watts pointed out that until a result had passed several levels of rigorous reviews within the team, including redoing analyses with different computer programs, there was no result, and nothing to say in public. “I don’t think D Zero has ever had an analysis that was given this much external scrutiny before its official release,” Dr. Watts wrote in an e-mail message, adding that the blogs had already quieted down.

Nice to see that WordPress gets a few points, too!

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