June 15, 2008

Creepy Technology [11:47 pm]

Glad to know I’m not the only one uncomfortable with emails that have return receipts: Digital Domain - In the E-Mail Relay, Not Every Handoff Is Smooth

Some entrepreneurs have seen that uncertainty and offered senders the ability to obtain receipts that a given message has been read — without the recipient’s knowing that a confirmation has been sent back to the sender. ReadNotify, based in Queensland, Australia, started in 2000 and promises to report not only on whether a message is read, but also on how long it is opened for reading on the recipient’s PC. It can also send the message in “self-destructing” form, preventing forwarding, printing, copying and saving. I admire ReadNotify’s ingenuity in presenting booby-trapped messages as being feature-rich.

Last week, Chris Drake, the head of ReadNotify, defended his company’s service. Some experts have questioned whether such technology is legal under American law, but Mr. Drake says “e-mail tracking is legal because e-mail is ‘owned’ by the author.”

A similar service, MsgTag, based in Wellington, New Zealand, does not want its features to seem overly intrusive. “We’re interested in peace of mind, not spying,” the site says. Its distinction? It does not report on how long the message was viewed.

There are many technical reasons that these services cannot reliably detect when a message has been read. But even when they work, I find their furtive nature offensive. [...]

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I Didn’t Know the AP Was Empowered To Adjudicate © [11:36 pm]

But, hey, who knows how large their budget for campaign contributions might be: The Associated Press to Set Guidelines for Using Its Articles

The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.

The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances.

[...] “As content creators, we firmly believe that everything we create, from video footage all the way down to a structured headline, is creative content that has value,” [Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P.,] said.

But he also said that the association hopes that it will not have to test this theory in court.

“We are not trying to sue bloggers,” Mr. Kennedy said. “That would be the rough equivalent of suing grandma and the kids for stealing music. That is not what we are trying to do.”

Good luck with that

Later: I got an email from Simon Ownes that points to his very detailed article on this DMCA takedown fight:

Hey Frank,

I saw your post today about Rogers Cadenhead receiving DMCA takedown requests from the AP. I spoke to Cadenhead on the phone this weekend and he filled me in on many of the details of the struggle he’s having with the AP. It turns out this isn’t the first time he’s butted heads with them. I published an article about my conversation with him over here:

http://bloggasm.com/associated-press-sends-dmca-takedowns-to-blogger-for-short-excerpts

Anyway, I thought this was something you and your readers might find interesting.

Take care,
Simon

Well worth a read!

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An IPR Fight North of the Border [11:32 pm]

Purchase of Theme Song, a Staple of Canadian Culture, Upsets Hockey Fans

Imagine if Fox bought up all the rights to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and decreed it would be heard only on its own broadcasts. Then you might get some sense of how Canadians feel after the beloved theme song for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Hockey Night in Canada” was purchased last week by the rival private broadcaster CTV.

CTV’s coup followed a long-running legal battle and negotiations with the song’s 80-year-old composer in a process that caused some Canadians so much anxiety that it provoked calls for an intervention by Parliament. [...]

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The Value of Botnets [11:30 pm]

I look forward to the second-guessing of these clearly self-serving statistics, but it’s certainly a problem/perception that those who’ve reframed the advertising business are going to have to confront: Drilling Down - Rogue Computers Used in Ad Fraud

“Botnets were once primarily used to perpetrate spam,” said Tom Cuthbert, the president of Click Forensics. “Because there’s been better detection and efforts made around stopping that, these botnet masters have identified that click fraud is a really good use of that technology.”

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Struggling With Refining The Business Model? [11:27 pm]

And not doing terribly well with it so far, apparently: EMI’s New Boss Sees Cracks in Music World

It has been almost 10 months since Mr. Hands, through his private equity firm Terra Firma, bought EMI for about $6.4 billion, and by several accounts, including Mr. Hands’s own, it has been a chaotic time.

The company now wobbles under a huge debt load, a leadership vacuum — it has no chief executive and most major decisions are made by Mr. Hands — and low morale among many of its employees. Mr. Hands said about 80 percent of the $6.4 billion paid for EMI was for the music publishing unit, which owns copyrights and provides a steady flow of cash.

It is the other side of the business, recorded music, that he says he overpaid for, and could wind up selling if market conditions do not improve.

[...] [A]according to Mr. Hands, the company was doing worse than commonly thought. An analysis by McKinsey and KPMG found that EMI had lost £750 million ($1.5 billion) from selling new music over the last five years.

“We didn’t believe it at first,” he said, explaining that the figures that EMI previously reported counted sales of re-releases of music from old acts like the Beatles as new music revenue.

“They were doing everything they could to hide the fact that they were losing huge amounts of money in new music,” he said. “The good news was they were making a fortune in catalog.”

[...] Mr. Hands’s vision appears to be this: split the marketing function from the development of talent — called “A&R” for “artist and repertoire” in the parlance of the music business; and sharply cut costs by reducing artist advances and paying less on marketing music.

In a confidential business plan showed to investors last year, Terra Firma said one way to reduce costs would be to use social networking sites to “source new acts and as a means to test public reaction to individual acts.”

“Getting rid of management teams and starting afresh is something we’ve always done,” Mr. Hands said. And some of the biggest new hires have come from outside the music industry. An executive from Google was hired to run the digital business, and the creator of Second Life, the Web-based virtual world, was recently hired to work on digital initiatives.

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