Google Posts The Ruling

Now for the real fight: Google backs down, posts Belgian court ruling

Google has agreed to post a court order against the company on its Belgian Web site, dodging a potential fine of €500,000 ($639,000) per day for not doing so.

[…] The order now appears at www.Google.be and on the Belgian Google News Web site. The news site now features articles from Dutch and other international news outlets.

Google will appeal the entire ruling at a hearing scheduled for late November, according to the Associated Press story.

A screencap of the Google Belgium www page

New v. Old Distribution Models

Apple, Disney in a Bind on Movie Downloads?pdf

[Apple’s Steve] Jobs would have liked a crowd of moguls to show up as a vote of confidence in technology he hopes will do for movies what iTunes did for music. But with only Iger on board, Jobs has just 75 films — all from Disney’s library — to offer consumers.

Jobs’ problem is that the rest of Hollywood still fears alienating retailers, especially Wal-Mart Stores Inc., that sell and rent DVDs, producing half of Hollywood’s revenue. Studios are reluctant for now to publicly endorse something that could speed the killing of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

“The other studios want to wait and see how it goes,” said Harold Vogel, an independent media industry analyst.

Some Looks At Advertising

A variety of articles over the past few days give one pause:

  • This one from the NYTimes raises a few questions about privacy and the political process: Lost Horizons

    If there is a defining characteristic to [Ken] Mehlman and his tenure as Republican national chairman, it is his fascination with the communications and technological revolution that is sweeping American politics. This has produced once-unimaginable new ways to track down potential voters, by predicting voting habits based on where Americans live and the cars they drive and the magazines they read, and delivering tailored messages to different segments of an overly saturated electorate. Mehlman’s chairmanship has become an argument for the notion that the garrulous and instinctual political boss may be all but obsolete in this age of supersophisticated polling, data mining, niche marketing and microtargeting. In an arena that seems to value instinct, bravado, gall and undisciplined excess, Mehlman is empirical and deliberative. Why should a campaign manager direct resources based on a hunch when there is consumer data that can flush out Republicans living deep in Democratic enclaves? Why guess when you can measure what words will be most persuasive to the middle-class exurbanite voter marching on the StairMaster (watching, no doubt, the Republican ad that the Bush campaign placed on the closed-circuit gym channel after realizing that its voters were no longer at home watching the network news)?

    […] Mehlman has for this election taken what the Republican Party assembled in Ohio in 2004 — a database of every voting-age resident that includes voting history, party registration, demographic data and consumer history — and expanded it, he said, to include every voting-age American in the country. “In Ohio, in ’04, we got the tip of the iceberg,” Mehlman said. “What we did over the last two years is we got the entire iceberg.” With that kind of data, Republican campaign workers in every state in the country can identify potential Republicans who may never have voted before and bring them to the polls. To help neighborhood organizers plot their door-to-door visits — and to make what might be a dreary exercise at least interesting — the Republican Party uses satellite pictures from Google Earth to chart the routes for house-to-house canvassing.

  • Then, the Boston Globe looks at the Lonelygirl phenomenon: Is this the future of advertising?pdf

    Whether or not lonelygirl15 is art, it certainly owes its popularity to its willingness to blur the line between fact and fiction. It’s a strategy that, online and off, has been popping up increasingly, not only in underground publicity stunts but formal advertising campaigns. Over the past couple years, movie studios have started including fake websites in marketing campaigns for films like “Godsend” (godsend.com) and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (lacunainc.com), in each case portraying an ethically challenged medical clinic from the movie as a real-world enterprise. Corporate megaliths like Nike and the beverage giant Diageo have gotten in on the game as well, the former with a grainy online clip of Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho performing a series of literally unbelievable feats with a soccer ball, the latter with a parody music video, released straight to YouTube, featuring a posse of rapping, Smirnoff-swilling preppies.

    At the same time, companies are increasingly turning to so-called “word-of-mouth” advertising, in which products are hawked-sometimes by paid salespeople, sometimes just by volunteers-in ostensibly innocent everyday social interactions rather than traditional print ads or TV spots. In 2002, in a particularly controversial instance, Sony Ericsson dispatched 60 actors to tourist attractions to pose as sightseers and ask people to take their picture with a new camera phone before going on to extol its virtues-all without disclosing their connection to the company.

    […] In early November, the Federal Trade Commission will hold hearings looking into the issues raised by new online advertising strategies, asking, among other questions, whether they mislead consumers.

    Yet ads that pretend not to be ads are hardly new. Fake word-of-mouth campaigns and hoax advertisements go back at least to the mid-19th century, and the rise of each new communication medium, whether it’s still photography, radio, or television, has presented new opportunities for advertisers to gull consumers. It’s an open question how exactly the Internet and today’s shifting media mix will change the advertising landscape. But growing concern about the efficacy of traditional advertising has left advertisers desperate for something more effective, and trying things they wouldn’t have before.

ACAP? Why Not CC?

Why not? Because we want you to pay!! Publishers aim for some control of search resultspdf

Buoyed by a Belgian court ruling this week that Google (Nasdaq:GOOG – news) was infringing on the copyright of French and German language newspapers by reproducing article snippets in search results, the publishers said on Friday they plan to start testing the service before the end of the year.

“This industry-wide initiative positively answers the growing frustration of publishers, who continue to invest heavily in generating content for online dissemination and use,” said Gavin O’Reilly, chairman of the World Association of Newspapers, which is spearheading the initiative.

“This system is intended to remove completely any rights conflicts between publishers and search engines,” added O’Reilly, who is also the chief operating officer of Independent News & Media (INWS.I).

The cost of the project, known as the Automated Content Access Protocol, was not disclosed, though the publishers have budgeted 310,000 pounds ($583,700) to seek advice from third-party experts.

[…] In one example of how ACAP would work, a newspaper publisher could grant search engines permission to index its site, but specify that only select ones display articles for a limited time after paying a royalty.

Living Your Life, Managing Your Death, Online

Taking passwords to the grave

It’s a vexing, and increasingly common problem for families mourning the loss of loved ones. As more and more people move their lives, address books, calendars, financial information, online, they are taking a risk that some information formerly filed away in folders and desks might never recovered. That is, unless they share their passwords, which poses security threats.

“He did not keep a hard copy address book. I think everything was online,” said Talcott’s daughter, Julie Talcott-Fuller. “There were people he knew that I haven’t been able to contact. It’s been very hard.”

“Yahoo (his e-mail provdier) said it wouldn’t give out the information due to privacy laws, but my dad is dead so I don’t understand that,” she said.

But it’s not a question of privacy rights so much as property rights, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“The so-called ‘Tort of Privacy’ expires upon death, but property interests don’t,” he said. “Private e-mails are a new category. It’s not immediately clear how to treat them, but it’s a form of digital property.”

Robert Samuelson On Internet Doublethink

A Web of Exhibitionistspdf

Exhibitionism is now a big business. In 2005 Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought MySpace for a reported $580 million. All these sites aim to make money, mainly through ads and fees. What’s interesting culturally and politically is that their popularity contradicts the belief that people fear the Internet will violate their right to privacy. In reality, millions of Americans are gleefully discarding — or at least cheerfully compromising — their right to privacy. They’re posting personal and intimate stuff in places where thousands or millions can see it.

[…] Up to a point, the blogs and “social networking” sites represent new forms of electronic schmoozing — extensions of e-mail and instant messaging. What’s different is the undiluted passion for self-publicity. But even among the devoted, there are occasional doubts about whether this is all upside. Facebook recently announced a new service. Its computers would regularly scan the pages of its members and flash news of the latest postings as headlines to their friends’ pages. There was an uproar. Suppose your girlfriend decides she’s had enough. The potential headline to your pals: “Susan dumps George.” Countless students regarded the relentless electronic snooping and automatic messaging as threatening — “stalking,” as many put it. Facebook modified the service by allowing members to opt out.

The larger reality is that today’s exhibitionism may last a lifetime. What goes on the Internet often stays on the Internet. Something that seems harmless, silly or merely impetuous today may seem offensive, stupid or reckless in two weeks, two years or two decades. Still, we are clearly at a special moment. Thoreau famously remarked that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Thanks to technology, that’s no longer necessary. People can now lead lives of noisy and ostentatious desperation. Or at least they can try.

Plagiarism v. Copyright

This should be a fun fight although, since minors are largely the chattels of their parents in the eyes of the law, it will also raise the question of who owns a child’s copyright: Students Rebel Against Database Designed to Thwart Plagiaristspdf

When McLean High School students write this year about Othello or immigration policy, their teachers won’t be the only ones examining the papers. So will a California company that specializes in catching cheaters.

The for-profit service known as Turnitin checks student work against a database of more than 22 million papers written by students around the world, as well as online sources and electronic archives of journals. School administrators said the service, which they will start using next week, is meant to deter plagiarism at a time when the Internet makes it easy to copy someone else’s words.

But some McLean High students are rebelling. Members of the new Committee for Students’ Rights said they do not cheat or condone cheating. But they object to Turnitin’s automatically adding their essays to the massive database, calling it an infringement of intellectual property rights. And they contend that the school’s action will tar students at one of Fairfax County’s academic powerhouses.

[…] But three professors at Grand Valley State University in Michigan this month posted a letter online arguing that Turnitin “makes questionable use of student intellectual property.” The University of Kansas last week decided to let its contract with Turnitin expire because of cost and intellectual property concerns. And the intellectual property caucus of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, an organization of 6,000 college-level educators, is debating whether such services “undermine students’ authority over the uses of their own writing” and make them feel “guilty until proven innocent,” according to a draft position statement.

“There’s a lot of debate out there,” said Rebecca Ingalls, a University of Tampa English professor who has analyzed Turnitin. “These students are giving their work to a company that’s making money and they are getting no compensation.”

I await the first assertion by a Turnitin proponent that “copyright is not a suicide pact,” a favorite sophistry of those defending selective observance of other rights….

Expanding the Scope of Google Ads

Advertising: Marketing on Google: It’s Not Just Text Anymore

Just as Madison Avenue once helped convince consumers that orange juice is “not just for breakfast anymore,” Google is turning to Madison Avenue to help convince marketers that Google is not just for text advertisements in tiny type that appear adjacent to the results of searches on google.com.

[…] Sellers of online advertising are seeking to persuade mainstream marketers to devote more of their ad dollars to new media. That mission took on added resonance this week when a Google competitor, Yahoo, disclosed an unexpected softening of ad sales in two major categories: automotive and financial services.

Of course, some forays into the online media go more smoothly than others.

Remixing as Gaming

MTV Will Acquire Maker of Music-Oriented Games

The goals of the deal, which is to be announced today, are broader than putting the MTV logo on a Harmonix game box: for instance, the company wants to offer visitors to its Web sites, its new virtual worlds and its planned mobile services the ability to play along with, or remix, their favorite songs.

“It is about people coming to MTV who are passionate about music and wanting to interact on deeper and deeper levels,” said Christina Norman, the president of MTV. “It’s not just about wearing the T-shirt.”