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August 5, 2009

My Tax Dollars At Work [8:47 pm]

Poll: Modifying game consoles a no-no? : Opinion L.A.

Matthew Crippen, a Cal State Fullerton student, was arrested on federal charges of modifying videogame consoles for profit. The 27-year-old pleaded not guilty and was released Monday after posting $5,000 bond. If convicted, Crippen faces up to 10 years in prison.

The feds say Crippen modified Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation consoles to play pirated disks, violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Federal prosecutor Mark Krause told KPCC that Crippen “advertised online and had a large clientele.” 

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Wow! [11:10 am]

David Vladeck’s Fresh Views at Agency Overseeing Online Ads (pdf)

Most of the online world is based on a simple, if unarticulated, agreement: consumers browse Web sites free, and in return, they give up data — like their gender or income level — which the sites use to aim their advertisements.

The new head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, David C. Vladeck, says it is time for that to change. In an interview, Mr. Vladeck outlined plans that could upset the online advertising ecosystem. Privacy policies have become useless, the commission’s standards for the cases it reviews are too narrow, and some online tracking is “Orwellian,” Mr. Vladeck said.

After eight years of what privacy advocates and the industry saw as a relatively pro-business commission, Mr. Vladeck, has made a splash. In June, the commission settled a case with Sears that was a warning shot to companies that thought their privacy policies protected them. In just over six weeks on the job, he has asked Congress for a bigger budget and for a streamlined way to create regulations. And he said he would hire technologists to help analyze online marketers’ tracking.

“Orwellian!” I like it!

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From the Digital Book Front [11:00 am]

Puzzling over the the tactics of digitization in another industry: Sony Cuts Prices on E-Books and Unveils Readers

Regarding the price cut for digital books, Mr. Haber said: “We have to offer value. It’s clear e-books should be less expensive than regular books, with the savings on printing and logistics getting passed on to the consumer.”

Book publishers will still retain their traditional cut of every e-book sale — about half the hardcover retail list price. But they are concerned that as online retailers like Amazon and Sony gain market power, they will eventually tire of losing money on e-book sales and ask publishers for lower wholesale prices, a move that would cut into their profit margins.

“We all know that these companies are taking a loss and that’s not going to continue forever,” said Jonathan Karp, publisher and editor in chief at Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group. But he added that “$9.99 has now become the effective price for e-books in August of 2009. Let’s just take a breath and see how long this lasts.”

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MediaCloud Profiled [8:48 am]

Tracking News Life Cycles With Systems Like Media Cloud

Anecdotes favoring one side or another were as plentiful as pop-ups, but a comprehensive and reliable database that could track the daily rhythm of the news cycle over time and was available for public use didn’t exist. So Mr. Zuckerman and others at Berkman decided to create one.

The result is Media Cloud, a system that tracks hundreds of newspapers and thousands of Web sites and blogs, and archives the information in a searchable form. [...]

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