June 10, 2009

Google BookSearch and Antitrust [8:28 am]

Not resolving anytime soon: U.S. Steps Up Inquiry of Google Book Settlement (pdf)

In a sign that the government has stepped up its antitrust investigation of a class-action settlement between Google and groups representing authors and publishers, the Justice Department has issued formal requests for information to several of the parties involved.

The Justice Department has sent the requests, called civil investigative demands, to various parties, including Google, the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild and individual publishers, said Michael J. Boni, a partner at Boni & Zack, who represented the Authors Guild in negotiations with Google.

“They are asking for a lot of information,” Mr. Boni said. “It signals that they are serious about the antitrust implications of the settlement.”

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A Boon? Or Nightmare? [8:26 am]

I know where I stand: The Smartphone’s Rapid Rise From Gadget to Tool to Necessity (pdf)

The smartphone surge, it seems, is a case of a trading-up trend in technology that is running strong enough to weather the downturn. And as is so often true when it comes to adoption of new technology, the smartphone story is as much about consumer sociology and psychology as it is about chips, bytes and bandwidth.

For a growing swath of the population, the social expectation is that one is nearly always connected and reachable almost instantly via e-mail. The smartphone, analysts say, is the instrument of that connectedness — and thus worth the cost, both as a communications tool and as a status symbol.

“The social norm is that you should respond within a couple of hours, if not immediately,” said David E. Meyer, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. “If you don’t, it is assumed you are out to lunch mentally, out of it socially, or don’t like the person who sent the e-mail.”

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