October 1, 2007

FT Makes Their Move [6:19 pm]

Financial Times Will Allow Some Free Access to Web Site

The Financial Times, preparing for a fierce battle with The Wall Street Journal over business readers and online advertising revenue, will give casual readers free access to its Web site this month, according to executives at The Financial Times.

The Web site of the London-based business newspaper, which currently charges for much of its content online, as of mid-October will allow users to get up to 30 articles a month for free, said John Ridding, chief executive of the newspaper. Anyone who wants to view more online material will have to subscribe to the site.

Starbucks to Give Away 50 Million Songs

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You Have To Pay Attention [8:23 am]

If you want to post stuff all over the internet: Use My Photo? Not Without Permission

One moment, Alison Chang, a 15-year-old student from Dallas, is cheerfully goofing around at a local church-sponsored car wash, posing with a friend for a photo. Weeks later, that photo is posted online and catches the eye of an ad agency in Australia, and Alison appears on a billboard in Adelaide as part of a Virgin Mobile advertising campaign.

Four months later, she and her family are in Federal District Court in Dallas suing for damages.

[...] Chang v. Virgin Mobile USA is not the typical intellectual property rights case. A prolific member of Flickr, Mr. Wong has more than 11,000 photographs there that anyone with the time or inclination could page through. And, until recently, those photographs carried a license from Creative Commons, a nonprofit group seeking alternatives to copyright and license laws. The license he selected allowed them to be used by anyone in any way, including for commercial purposes, as long as Mr. Wong was credited.

Instead, the case hinges on privacy, the right of people not to have their likeness used in an ad without permission. So, while Mr. Wong may have given away his rights as a photographer, he did not, and could not, give away Alison’s rights. In the lawsuit, which Mr. Wong is also a party to, there is an argument that Virgin did not honor all the terms of the nonrestrictive license.

See also Online job hunters grapple with misuse of personal data (pdf); related Facebook warned on safety claims (pdf)

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Technologically Enabled Convenience, Or Manipulation? [8:00 am]

And how would you know the difference? At Starbucks, Songs of Instant Gratification

Starting tomorrow at certain Starbucks stores, a person with an iPhone or iTunes software loaded onto a laptop can download the songs they hear over the speakers directly onto those devices. The price will be 99 cents a song, a small price, Starbucks says, to satisfy an immediate urge.

“For the customer it’s an instant gratification,” said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. “You’ll hear the song, be able to identify what it is and download to the device.”

[...] The idea is no waiting, cashier or other buying barrier — aside from the charges that show up on a credit card or cellphone bill. And there, along with challenges revolving around security and business models, lies a chief rub.

The mobile-payment technology can create a desensitizing and seductive purchase experience, said James Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Communications Studies at Rutgers University.

“The more people think about a purchase decision, the more likely uncertainty creeps in,” he said. “One frame of mind is you’re helping create in consumers’ mind a source of pleasure, and enabling them to fulfill that pleasure,” Mr. Katz said of the mobile impulse temptation. Another is that “they’re preying on our materialistic souls.”

[...] “One of the great steps forward for denizens of the online world was the development of one-click buying,” Mr. Katz from Rutgers said. Before that technology, “there was a vast amount of evidence that a small percentage of people who started the checkout process actually completed it.”

In the mobile world, the barriers fall further. No checkout aisle, cashier or money changing hands. Just an impulse — click and a buy.

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A Court Test Begins [7:41 am]

And Jon Healey expresses his opinion: For a few 99-cent songs morepdf

The major record companies campaign against individual file-sharers hits a milestone Tuesday: for the first time since the lawsuits began four years ago, a case will actually go to trial.

The defendant is Jammie Thomas, a Native American single mother of two from central Minnesota. She is one of about 30,000 people who have either been sued by the major
labels trade group, the Recording Industry Assn. of America, or agreed
to settle in advance of a lawsuit. And no matter how Thomas case turns out in a federal courtroom in Duluth, the RIAA can’t win.

[...] For all the public-relations consequences, the major labels have stuck with the campaign because they think it has some deterrent effect. Millions of people may still be sharing billions of songs online, yet in the RIAA’s view, the situation would be exponentially worse if it weren’t trying to impose some consequences on illegal downloaders. With some of these cases coming to trial, it’s possible that the public will begin to see file-sharers as scofflaws, not victims. But when the penalty for sharing a 99-cent song is $750 to $150,000, it’s easy to see battles such as Thomas’ as a case of David taking on Goliath.

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