August 7, 2007

Hmmmm [12:33 pm]

Well, it is the Post, but this is worth noting: TimesSelect Content Freedpdf

The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.

After much internal debate, Times executives - including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. - made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter.

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Manipulating Cultural Artifacts For Advertising [8:49 am]

Yes, it’s been going on for a long time, but they’re getting better at it. And note what it takes to get into this game (hint: it’s not being shown on YouTube): Scene 1, Double Take 2pdf

Advertisers have been using digital manipulation to put products into old movie stars’ hands for years. Despite an outcry from old-movie buffs and his own daughter, the late Fred Astaire danced with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner in the mid-’90s. In 1996, John Wayne returned from the dead to appear in a Coors Light spot. In 2005, Volkswagen’s British ad agency used some digital prestidigitation to turn Gene Kelly’s street dance in “Singin’ in the Rain” into a funky pop-and-lock routine.

DirecTV’s ads, which began last year, create an even more impressive illusion: that an iconic movie or TV character is momentarily stepping out of a scene and speaking directly to viewers. The company calls the ad series its “Fourth Wall” campaign because it plays off the old theatrical idea that a performer who addresses the audience is breaking through the theater’s imaginary fourth wall.

DirectTV’s ads are all using living actors, so they get to set their own prices. I expect it’s going to be the dead actors and the inheritors of their rights to publicity that are going to give us some interesting fights over this in the future. Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain remix for Volkswagen comes to mind, for example.

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MP3 Patent Infringement Judgment Scuttled [8:12 am]

$1.5 Billion Verdict Against Microsoft Is Set Aside

A federal district court judge delivered a major setback to Alcatel-Lucent on Monday by setting aside a jury’s $1.5 billion judgment against Microsoft in a patent infringement lawsuit over digital music technology.

[...] The case centered on origins of the MP3 standard, a digital audio encoding format that was developed almost two decades ago.

The Windows Media Player software, part of Microsoft’s basic operating system software, plays audio files using the MP3 standard, the most common method of distributing music on the Internet.

The ruling could have an impact on Apple, the dominant maker of digital music hardware and software, as well as hundreds of other companies that use the standard.

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More Google in the News [8:09 am]

  • Google Maps redraw the realm of privacypdf

    The Internet company late Monday began incorporating street-level photos from Los Angeles, San Diego and some Orange County cities into its Google Maps program. The additions expanded an online service that thrilled some digital-map buffs and freaked out privacy advocates when it launched in May in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and three other cities.

    The photos can help people scout out places they plan to visit. But when Google’s camera shutters click, they capture more than buildings.

    Within hours of the first release, bloggers had found and posted photographs — which are often sharp enough to identify the people in them — of vulnerable moments: students sunbathing in bikinis at Stanford University, motorists being ticketed by police, a man walking into an adult bookstore in Oakland, even a man picking his nose on a San Jose park bench.

    In Los Angeles, it could create a new sport: celebrity hunting on Google Maps.

    [...] Privacy lawyers say the pictures are perfectly legal.

    “The law allows you to take a picture of anything you can see as long as you’re in a public place,” said Kelli Sager, a 1st Amendment lawyer with Davis Wright Tremaine in Los Angeles.

    Though they don’t break new legal ground, the pictures challenge expectations of privacy.

  • Music Publishers to Join YouTube Suit

    A group of music publishing companies said yesterday it would join a copyright infringement lawsuit against Google’s video-sharing site YouTube.

    The group, the National Music Publishers’ Association, said it was joining the lawsuit out of concern that many songwriters were not receiving proper compensation when their music appeared on YouTube videos.

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