April 14, 2008

This Should Be An Entertaining Trend [11:57 am]

He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work)

Philip M. Parker seems to have licked that problem. Mr. Parker has generated more than 200,000 books, as an advanced search on Amazon.com under his publishing company shows, making him, in his own words, “the most published author in the history of the planet.” And he makes money doing it.

Among the books published under his name are “The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Acne Rosacea” ($24.95 and 168 pages long); “Stickler Syndrome: A Bibliography and Dictionary for Physicians, Patients and Genome Researchers” ($28.95 for 126 pages); and “The 2007-2012 Outlook for Tufted Washable Scatter Rugs, Bathmats and Sets That Measure 6-Feet by 9-Feet or Smaller in India” ($495 for 144 pages).

But these are not conventional books, and it is perhaps more accurate to call Mr. Parker a compiler than an author. Mr. Parker, who is also the chaired professor of management science at Insead (a business school with campuses in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore), has developed computer algorithms that collect publicly available information on a subject — broad or obscure — and, aided by his 60 to 70 computers and six or seven programmers, he turns the results into books in a range of genres, many of them in the range of 150 pages and printed only when a customer buys one.

If this sounds like cheating to the layman’s ear, it does not to Mr. Parker, who holds some provocative — and apparently profitable — ideas on what constitutes a book. While the most popular of his books may sell hundreds of copies, he said, many have sales in the dozens, often to medical libraries collecting nearly everything he produces. He has extended his technique to crossword puzzles, rudimentary poetry and even to scripts for animated game shows.

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In Europe, a Push to Take Away Piracy Suspects’ Internet Access - New York Times [11:40 am]

In Europe, a Push to Take Away Piracy Suspects’ Internet Access

Prodded by the music industry and government, some Internet service providers are reluctantly exploring the adoption of a shunning ritual as 21st century punishment: banishing errant online users.

But even as service providers test “three strikes” warning systems that can result in the disconnection of Internet users who are thought to have illegally downloaded copyrighted music or movies, resistance is building.

Lawmakers in the European Parliament, in a symbolic vote Thursday, expressed their opposition to the approach, which has been championed by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and explored by governments of other countries. Consumer groups are also fighting such proposals.

“It’s a breach of our civil liberties,” said Christofer Fjellner, a Swedish legislator in the Parliament who sponsored the vote.

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Playing Whack-A-Mole [11:39 am]

Off New York Streets, Film Piracy Is Online

In a neighborhood full of blankets and sidewalk “offices” with everything a shopper might find in a boutique uptown, Ms. Hyman was coming up empty-handed. “We tried to buy DVDs,” she said, “but we could only get one woman to come out into the street, and she had them stuffed into her jacket.”

And that was a good thing, because as director of the mayor’s office of special enforcement, it is Ms. Hyman’s job to eliminate the rampant market in pirated DVDs of first-run movies.

[...] But New York may not be the best barometer of piracy. Worldwide and on the Internet, video piracy remains rampant. The movie industry has devised new ways to fight piracy, and has pushed for antipiracy laws and run ads to discourage pirates.

[...] But technology is helping those who wish to stop movie-sharing. Various technologies, which the industry prefers not to discuss, allow law enforcement to pinpoint which theaters have been used to create a pirated copy. As more theaters use digital projection, even the screen used can often be identified.

A number of companies have developed technologies to identify pirated files, as well as the Internet protocol addresses of individuals who download those files.

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Rowling To Testify Today [11:36 am]

Rowling to Testify Against Harry Potter Lexicon

J. K. Rowling’s public appearances usually take place in bookstores and theaters, before thousands of her fans. But on Monday, Ms. Rowling, the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, is expected to turn up in a much different place: on the witness stand in a Lower Manhattan federal courtroom, testifying against a small publisher looking to bring out an encyclopedia based on her work.

[...] Ms. Rowling has supported much of the fan output, doling out awards to Internet sites and granting interviews to Web masters. But when RDR Books, a small publisher in Muskegon, Mich., announced it was planning to publish a print version last fall of a popular fan Web site called “The Harry Potter Lexicon” (hp-lexicon.org), Ms. Rowling and Warner Brothers, the movie studio that has adapted her books into films, balked. Their objection is that the book merely repackages Ms. Rowling’s work and, unlike the free fan sites, is intended to make money for its publisher.

Later: J.K. Rowling, in Court, Assails Potter Lexicon (variant Rowling Testifies Against Lexicon Author)

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