October 30, 2007

Slate’s Explainer’s Halloween Column [6:09 pm]

On the right of publicity: Can Hillary Clinton stop companies from selling Halloween masks of her face?

[...] Could Hillary Clinton order the companies to stop selling her face?

Not really. She and her lawyers could make a case, but it’s hard for public figures like politicians to sue and win in these situations. Depending on state laws, private individuals can control how their image is used under the “right of publicity,” the legal principle that applies if someone uses your name or likeness to sell a product.

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An Infectious Disease, To Which No One Is Immune, I See [9:17 am]

Amazing what becomes an acceptable proposal once one sacrifices the high ground: Germany seeks expansion of computer spyingpdf

What if law enforcement agents had been able to secretly scan the contents of the computer before the attempted attack was carried out?

To the unease of many in a country with a history of government spying through the era of the Gestapo and communist rule in East Germany, law enforcement authorities are using the suitcase bomb case to argue for measures that would significantly expand their ability to spy on the once-private realm of My Documents.

Expanded surveillance laws since the Sept. 11 attacks already have enabled many Western governments to monitor telephone and e-mail traffic, the conversation in Islamic militants’ chat rooms and the websites visited by terrorism suspects.

Now, along with several other European countries, Germany is seeking authority to plant secret Trojan viruses into the computers of suspects that could scan files, photos, diagrams and voice recordings, record every keystroke typed and possibly even turn on webcams and microphones in an attempt to gain knowledge of attacks before they happen.

[...] Here in Berlin, T-shirts with a photograph of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and the logo “Stasi 2.0,” a reference to the former German Democratic Republic’s infamous secret police, have suddenly become popular. Many fear a return to the 1970s, and the often-severe anti-terrorism measures wielded by then-West Germany to fight the devastating tactics of the leftist Red Army Faction.

And in today’s high-tech world, the proposed measure causes a chill to those who see hard drives as the new window to the soul.

Just think of the salivary gland activity among our own spying agencies!!

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Who’s Selling To Whom? [7:00 am]

Student’s Ad Gets a Remake, and Makes the Big Time (the original YouTube version of the new iPod Touch ad)

Consumers creating commercials “is part of this brave new world we live in,” said Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer at TBWA Worldwide, based in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Playa del Rey.

“It’s an exciting new format for brands to communicate with their audiences,” Mr. Clow said. “People’s relationship with a brand is becoming a dialog, not a monolog.”

See also A Consumer’s Spot for Apple Grows Up

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Working The System — “Leaks” and Promotion [6:55 am]

‘Blackout’ sheds light on pros and cons of album leakspdf

Jive, Spears’s record label, announced earlier this month that it was rushing “Blackout” to “avoid any future illegal distribution of songs.” Annoyed at sneak peeks popping up on gossip and file-sharing sites as frequently as Spears does in the tabloids, the label filed a copyright infringement suit against Web-based mudslinger Perez Hilton.

But then a funny thing happened on Jive’s way to stemming the tide. Last week, the label authorized MTV.com’s album preview site, “The Leak,” and Clear Channel radio websites like Kiss 108 (WXKS-FM) to stream “Blackout” in its entirety.

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Dispatches from the DVD Format Frontlines [6:52 am]

Battle rages for HD movie supremacypdf

Kushmerek, 39, a senior technical trainer at The MathWorks in Natick, said he wants no part of the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray battle until the industry settles on a unified standard used by all studios because the losing systems will “ultimately turn into glorified door stops.”

Kushmerek has lots of company. Research firm Adams Media Research Inc. of Carmel, Calif., says 35 percent of US households will have an HDTV set by the end of 2007, up from 28.6 percent last year. But a survey from Forrester Research in Cambridge found that less than 10 percent of people with HDTV sets have a high-definition video player. [...]

[...] “This has been a very, very ugly market,” said Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder. He thinks the ugliness will continue for some time, because neither camp has much interest in compromise.

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