August 29, 2006

Ain’t Technology Wonderful? [7:19 am]

So, is this a good thing? Or a bad one? How do you feel about region “editing” of news content, and the laws that lead to the development of this sort of technology? What does this do to the notion that the NYTimes Online is not exactly the same thing as the NYTimes newspaper?

Essentially the NYTimes Online is continuing the conversion of its online outlet into something distinctly different from the newspaper. The real question is whether the online readership will understand that the Web version of the NYTimes is no longer the “paper of record” (although TimesSelect should have already put the end to that notion).

At least the Times reported it’s doing this. Times Withholds Web Article in Britain

If Web readers in Britain were intrigued by the headline “Details Emerge in British Terror Case,” which sat on top of The New York Times’s home page much of yesterday, they would have been disappointed with a click.

“On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of nytimes.com in Britain,” is the message they would have seen. “This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.”

In adapting technology intended for targeted advertising to keep the article out of Britain, The Times addressed one of the concerns of news organizations publishing online: how to avoid running afoul of local publishing laws.

[...] Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, said restricting information fit with trends across the Internet. “There’s a been a sense that technology can create a form of geographic zoning on the Internet for many years now — that they might not be 100 percent effective, but effective enough,” Mr. Zittrain said. “And there’s even a sense that international courts might be willing to take into account these efforts.

I wonder what Jonathan really thinks about this development; the quote is carefully neutral, as one might expect from an attorney….

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