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May 5, 2008

New Technologies and Regulatory Gaps [3:26 pm]

The Ultimate Little Black Book (pdf)

Sterling-based NeuStar is the carriers’ digital directory for all phone calls in North America. More than 800 telephone companies have numbers in the database. NeuStar assigns blocks of available telephone numbers to carriers. It also manages the directory for common short codes: five- or six-digit codes that people punch into their cellphones to take part in sweepstakes or to vote for game-show contestants, for instance. And about one out of every four Internet transactions is routed using a NeuStar database, as NeuStar handles traffic for domains that include .biz, .us, .org and .info.

NeuStar’s databases are so powerful that the FBI a few years ago sought direct, unfettered access to one containing 310 million phone numbers in the United States and Canada. The telephone companies that pay NeuStar to run the database denied the FBI’s request, but they did allow NeuStar to create a site where authorized law enforcement officials with court orders can obtain carrier information on telephone numbers.

NeuStar is part of an evolving telecom industry that is creating caches of information attractive to the government without clear guidelines governing who may have access and under what circumstances. Its registries fall under international, U.S. government and trade association rules, including those set by the Federal Communications Commission.

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Writers’ Strike Accelerates A Trend? [9:44 am]

A season to forget for TV networks (pdf)

AS REAL-LIFE broadcasters get set to announce their fall schedules next week in New York, they’re still scratching their way out of a trench, otherwise known as the worst season in the history of the network TV business.

Not a single one of the new fall series broke through to a big audience, even the ones that looked can’t-fail on paper [...]

Every network except Fox has posted significant ratings declines for the season so far, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

Even as existing series have gradually returned from the three-month writers strike, viewers have, to the surprise and dismay of network executives, stayed away.

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Social Networks, Trust and Scams [9:40 am]

Web social networks friendly to identity thieves (pdf)

Social networking sites, which let users create detailed profile pages and connect with friends, are becoming the hot new thing for identity thieves, both amateur and professional. As improved spam filters and skeptical consumers make bogus e-mail less successful, scam artists are taking advantage of the atmosphere of trust that exists within these online circles of friends.

Symantec Corp., a tech security firm, recently reported that 91% of the bogus U.S.-based websites used in so-called phishing attacks during the second half of 2007 imitated the log-in pages of two unnamed social networking sites — believed by industry executives to be the two biggest, MySpace and Facebook. Phishing tries to trick recipients into visiting phony websites and disclosing account numbers, passwords and other personal data.

“The bad guys are very adaptable. If something doesn’t work, they come up with something new,” said Kevin Haley, a product executive at Symantec. “Users feel more comfortable surrounded by their friends online — what could be safer?”

Sometimes financial gain isn’t the objective. Cyber-bullies have taken over the social networking accounts of acquaintances to post vicious rants or engage in mischief.

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Learning *Is* Taking Place [9:33 am]

An Alternative Approach to Marketing Rock Bands

The label has a deal with Atlantic Records, a Warner Music Group brand, that lets Atlantic promote, market and distribute Fueled by Ramen bands that are becoming popular. Even by itself, Fueled by Ramen is usually one of the most popular partner channels on YouTube, behind conglomerates like Universal Music and CBS.

The label and its partners “know how to do things on the cheap,” said Bob McLynn, a partner at Crush Management, which represents Panic at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes and several other Fueled by Ramen bands. “The music business doesn’t know how to do that.”

Fueled by Ramen has its acts promote one another as well as the company itself, as indie labels have done since the 1960s heyday of Motown and Stax. But Mr. Janick has brought such cross-promotion into the Internet era, where fans of one band are just a click away from information on another on the label’s Web site. His bands often tour together, and many were discovered by Pete Wentz, of Fall Out Boy, and benefit from his implicit endorsement.

Related: Nine Inch Nails Album Is Free Online

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May 2, 2008

Rockefeller University Press and Creative Commons [1:43 pm]

You wrote it; you own it! — Hill and Rossner, 10.1083/jcb.200804037 — The Journal of Cell Biology

Authors of papers published in Rockefeller University Press journals (The Journal of Cell Biology, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, or The Journal of General Physiology) now retain copyright to their published work. This permits authors to reuse their own work in any way, as long as they attribute it to the original publication. Third parties may use our published materials under a Creative Commons license, six months after publication.

[...] With the growing demand for public access to published data, we recently started depositing all of our content in PubMed Central. In a further step to enhance the utility of scientific content, we have now decided to return copyright to our authors. In return, however, we require authors to make their work available for reuse by the public. Instead of relinquishing copyright, our authors will now provide us with a license to publish their work. This license, however, places no restrictions on how authors can reuse their own work; we only require them to attribute the work to its original publication. Six months after publication, third parties (that is, anyone who is not an author) can use the material we publish under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).

See also Publisher gives authors copyright. Also JCB Copyright Policy

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An Unexpected Problem [8:14 am]

Conservators face issues in preserving video (pdf)

Although a cryptic video installation operating at 75% strength may not qualify as a curatorial catastrophe, the Nauman misfire underscores a recurring theme for institutions dealing with video-based installations: The classic model of a free-standing art object that speaks for itself has become the exception rather than the rule. As Laurenson said, “I dont see many works in my area that fit into that rather rare model where the artist finishes a work, delivers it to a gallery, who sells it to a museum, who hangs it on the wall.”

One recurring theme facing conservators of tech-embedded works: to upgrade or not? Glenn Wharton, special projects conservator for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, described the museums ongoing effort to present Nam June Paiks “Untitled” modified player piano sculpture. In 1994, the late artist designed a player piano stacked with TV sets that blasted music recorded on laser discs. “We are now debating how we should migrate to new technologies,” Wharton said. “Do we display the laser disc players and put the DVD players behind the wall so theyre not visible to the public? One curator at MoMA feels that would be dishonest. Or do you display the laser disc players and hide the DVD players? Paik did not leave specific instructions.”

To ensure period authenticity for video art pieces introduced 30 or 40 years ago, Wharton said MoMA officials now trawl EBay in search of vintage TV sets before they vanish entirely from the marketplace. [...]

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May 1, 2008

Copyright’s Byzantine Ways [9:07 am]

Ono in fight over copyright of rarely seen Lennon video (pdf)

They are rare, intimate images of John Lennon just before the breakup of the Beatles: He’s hunched over a piano writing songs, smoking pot, joking about putting LSD in President Nixon’s tea.

Almost four decades after the footage was shot at Lennon’s estate in England, his widow is in court, fighting to keep the images private.

World Wide Video LLC, a Lawrence, Mass.-based company, claims it owns the 10 hours of raw footage, but Yoko Ono claims she is the rightful owner. World Wide Video has filed a federal lawsuit against Ono, claiming Ono’s attempts to stop the company from publicly showing the footage is a copyright infringement.

[...] In court documents, Ono said she had a “clear and absolute” agreement with Cox when he shot the footage that it would never be “commercially exhibited, commercially exploited or released.”

And Ono said she purchased all rights to the videotapes for $300,000 in 2002 from a broker, Anthony Pagola.

But the principals of World Wide Video _ John Fallon and Robert Grenier _ say the sale to Ono was invalid, and that it owns the videos and copyright after buying them from Cox for $125,000 in 2000.

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A Look at the Gaming of CAPTCHAs [9:01 am]

I heard Jonathan talk about this last week: Digital Deception (pdf)

Are you a human or a computer?

Over the Internet, it’s getting harder and harder to tell.

[...] The attacks on Google’s Gmail service and on Microsoft’s Live Mail were reported in February. At the time however it was difficult to tell from the evidence whether the CAPTCHAs were being solved by computers or low-wage Russian workers — or both.

A Web page found on the computer appeared to offer, in Russian, small amounts of money for workers willing to crack the puzzles.

But the speed and repetition of the attack as well as the high error rate in solving the tests, suggested to some at Websense that computers not humans were at work.

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See a Problem? Name a Czar! [8:35 am]

House Bill To Create Anti-Piracy Czar Advances (pdf)

A House committee passed an anti-piracy bill yesterday that would stiffen penalties for illegally copying and distributing music and movies and would create an “intellectual property czar” at the White House level — a job that the Justice Department warned would “undermine” its independence.

The bill, introduced in December by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and 17 co-sponsors and known as the Pro IP Act, is championed by a broad base of intellectual-property holders, including entertainment companies, auto parts manufacturers, drugmakers and unions. It now heads to the House floor, and advocates hope it will pass this summer.

In addition to creating the position of IP czar, the bill would amend federal copyright law to add resources to the fight against piracy and raise the ceiling on damages that could be awarded by a civil court to a rights-holder whose work had been pirated.

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Catching Up on “Making Available” [8:28 am]

Some (relatively) recent things to ponder:

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There’s Winning, and There’s Winning [8:10 am]

For Blu-ray, the payoff has not yet materialized: Blu-ray gets no victory parade (pdf)

NPD analyst Ross Rubin has a different explanation for the drop in Blu-ray player sales.

“When Blu-ray was fighting HD DVD, that was a battle of passion,” Rubin said. “Now Blu-ray is fighting a battle of apathy in which most consumers are either unaware of Blu-ray or have yet to be convinced that it’s a better format” than standard DVDs.

Rubin said NPD surveyed consumers late last year, and “an overwhelming number of them said they weren’t investing in a new next-generation player because their old DVD player worked well.” He added that consumers also felt that “next-generation players were too expensive. It’s clear from retail sales that those consumer sentiments are still holding true.”

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AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo! Music Licensing Fees Decision [8:07 am]

The ASCAP press release (Federal Court Decides License Fees to Be Paid to ASCAP by AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo!) is pretty strident:

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York today made public a decision in the proceeding to determine reasonable license fees to be paid to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) by AOL (Time Warner Inc., NYSE: TWX), RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) for their online performance of musical works.

The decision covers license fees for periods starting as far back as July 1, 2002, and continuing through December 31, 2009, for the performance of musical works in the ASCAP repertory by AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo! Based on the formula established by the Court, the total payments to be made to ASCAP and its membership by these three services for that full period could reach $100 million. The Court’s comprehensive 153 page decision was based on extensive evidence presented by both sides in the case regarding the online performance of musical works by AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo!

Of course, no such award is yet even in the offing. The decision is about process and, after 152 pages, one finds that instead of the ASCAP’s proposed 3% of revenues less adjustments, the court believes that 2.5% is a more appropriate basis. However, what’s really enlightening is this look at the process for resolving fee disputes when a state-sanctioned monopoly provider (ASCAP) is involved. A fascinating look.

Also note that this comes one year after ASCAP lost (to the same set of participants) what the LATimes’ blog referred to as its “double-dip” in digital downloads in this decision

Following extensive discovery, the parties cross-moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether the downloading of a digital music file embodying a particular song constitutes a “public performance” of that song within the meaning of the United States Copyright Act, 17 USC § 101 et seq. Having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, as well as the numerous briefs of the amici curiae, we conclude it does not.

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