August 11, 2009

Necessity, Invention? [7:13 am]

Or gimmick? G.M. to Start Selling on eBay on Tuesday (pdf)

The program is one way for consumers to receive discounts on cars without dealing with the haggling often associated with buying cars through dealerships. The partnership with eBay is also a crucial part of G.M.’s effort to return to profitability after five years of heavy losses and to remain the new-vehicle sales leader in the United States.

Unlike a typical eBay sale, vehicles will not be auctioned to the highest bidder but rather listed at a “buy it now” price equal to G.M.’s supplier price. Shoppers also can submit a lower offer that the dealer can accept or reject.

“It’s very attractive to a core group of customers who don’t really care for the negotiating experience at a dealership but do want to negotiate,” said Mark LaNeve, G.M.’s vice president for United States sales. “Now they can do that anonymously online. So we think it’s going to give us some opportunities we didn’t have before.”

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Online Astroturfing Scrutinized [7:08 am]

Notice Those Ads on Blogs? Regulators Do, Too (pdf)

Two of the National Advertising Review Council’s investigative units plan to announce Tuesday their first decisions involving blogs. Their recommendations call for clear disclosure when a company is sponsoring a site or paying for product reviews.

That’s nothing shocking, but it’s part of a sharper focus on the relationships between bloggers and advertisers. Attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission, which is about to expand its endorsement guidelines to include blogs, are investigating the area, along with the self-regulatory groups.

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Chilling Effect [6:57 am]

Lego Prohibits Use of Product in Spinal Tap DVD (pdf)

“We love that our fans are so passionate and so creative with our products,” said Julie Stern, a spokeswoman for Lego Systems, the United States division of the Lego Group, a Danish company founded in the 1930s. “But it had some inappropriate language, and the tone wasn’t appropriate for our target audience of kids 6 to 12.”

As is Spinal Tap’s wont, the song, addressed to a minor, parodies rock stars’ inflated egos and libidos.

Kia Kamran, an intellectual property lawyer representing Spinal Tap, said the band could have prevailed had Lego sued alleging copyright infringement, because Mr. Hickey’s video does not show the brand’s logo and is satirical. But the band did not deem the fight worth the expense, he said.

“In my heart of hearts, I do think this is fair use” of copyrighted material, Mr. Kamran said.

[...] “Lego are the only people who strictly said no,” [Harry] Shearer said. “It was Lego Kafka.”

Well, of course it was — it’s a copyright fight over fair use!

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Not Just My Idea, Of Course [6:54 am]

As I noted: Admired in Class, a Scholar Falters in Court (pdf)

The outcome in the Tenenbaum case saddened Professor Nesson’s friends and fans. Elizabeth Stark, who teaches at Yale University, said, “He’s very much about big ideas,” adding that “if you don’t see the big picture, then you just don’t get Charlie.”

Ten years ago, Professor Lessig dedicated his first book to Professor Nesson: “For Charlie Nesson, whose every idea seems crazy — for about a year.”

Professor Lessig, who said he was chagrined to see his private e-mail message splayed across the Internet, said he still disagreed with his friend’s approach, and with his pursuit of the case at all. But, he added, “we’ll see where I am in a year.”

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