“Think of the Children”

MySpace reaches accord with Attorneys Generalpdf

Last week, a coalition of U.S. law enforcement authorities criticized the News Corp.-owned (NYSE:NWSA – news) service for not divulging information from profiles of convicted sex offenders lurking on MySpace.

MySpace said it had identified, blocked and deleted “a few thousand” such profiles, but had declined to hand over the information, citing a disclosure law barring it from giving away the information without a court order. By last Wednesday, MySpace and the attorneys general group reached an agreement.

Later: MySpace to Share Data With States on Offenders

But on Monday, MySpace officials said their intent was always to share the information with prosecutors. “We had this information safeguarded and ready to hand over,” said Mike Angus, executive vice president and general counsel for Fox Interactive Media, which owns MySpace. “But we wanted to make sure that each state got the information through a legal process that allowed them to use it to prosecute and lock up these sexual predators. The last thing we wanted was for one of these predators to get off on a technicality.”

Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, also sounded a cautious note of conciliation. “Our focus is not on whether MySpace rebuffed or rejected our demands, it is on how complete and accurate the information is now,” he said. “We’re satisfied that MySpace intends to cooperate.”

A Power Shift

And one that I welcome, myself having had more than enough problems with verbal interviews: Interviews, Going the Way of the Linotype?pdf

[I]n the digital age, some executives and commentators are saying they will respond only by e-mail, which allows them to post the entire exchange if they feel they have been misrepresented, truncated or otherwise disrespected. And some go further, saying, You want to know what I think? Read my blog.

“The balance of power has shifted,” says Jay Rosen, who teaches journalism at New York University. “Everyone used to be landlocked, and the media was the outlet to the sea of public discussion. But now there are many routes. . . . Readers have more power because they have more sources, and sources have more power because they can go direct to readers.”

Must Be Something In The Water

First, yesterday’s piece from Helprin, and now this — more cutting off one’s nose to grab some quick cash, this time ending the notion of radio as promotion: Artists and labels seek royalties from radiopdf

With CD sales tumbling, record companies and musicians are looking at a new potential pot of money: royalties from broadcast radio stations.

For years, stations have paid royalties to composers and publishers when they played their songs. But they enjoy a federal exemption when paying the performers and record labels because, they argue, the airplay sells music.

Now, the Recording Industry Assn. of America and several artists’ groups are getting ready to push Congress to repeal the exemption, a move that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new royalties.

[…] It’s not the first attempt to kill the exemption. In the past, politically powerful broadcasters beat back those efforts.

But with satellite and Internet radio forced to pay “public performance royalties” and Web broadcasters up in arms about a recent federal decision to boost their performance royalty rate, the record companies and musicians have a strong hand.

Broadcasters are already girding for the fight, expected to last more than a year. In a letter to lawmakers this month, the National Assn. of Broadcasters dubbed the royalties a “performance tax” that would upend the 70-year “mutually beneficial relationship” between radio stations and the recording industry.

“The existing system actually provides the epitome of fairness for all parties: free music for free promotion,” wrote NAB President David Rehr.

You have to wonder if anyone is paying attention to this when promoting this change in radio performance royalties: Higher Music Royalties Create Static on the Netpdf

An “Anti-Lessig” Speaks (updated)

Channeling Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens and Sonny Bono, Mark Helprin asserts that IP *is* property, and should be treated accordingly — no matter what the price: A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright?

Deconstructing his argument will occupy many minds, but I’ll offer up one simple one — he speaks movingly about the features and composition of art without any sort of appreciation of the realities from which it springs — specifically, what injecting perpetual ownership (and consequential litigation) into it will do:

The flow and proportion of the elements of a work of art, its subtle engineering, even its surface glosses, combine substance and style indistinguishably in a creation for which the right of property is natural and becoming.

Ummm – no, not really. At least, not “property” as he appears to be classifying it.

For some less dogmatic comments from some of Mr. Helprin’s colleagues, see Writers Take Out Their Knives; you may also want to read Spider Robinson’s classic short story, Melancholy Elephants; also the Slashdot reaction — The Case For Perpetual Copyright

This will cheer you up: Disney Video Used to Explain Copyright

Also, an interview with chef Marco Pierre White: The man who made Gordon Ramsay cry

I don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but there’s been a little controversy recently involving chef Wylie Dufresne, of WD-50 here in New York, and Marcel Vigneron, who was one of the chefs on “Top Chef,” an American reality show. Basically, Wired magazine asked Vigneron to demonstrate a recipe for a feature, and he closely re-created one of Dufresne’s signature dishes — a “cyber egg” made from carrot-cardamom puree and coconut milk — without any attribution or credit. Do you think a chef’s recipes should be protected as intellectual property?

You can’t reinvent the wheel. Everyone takes from everybody. How many people are serving foie gras on their menu? How many? How many people do a soupe de poisson? Go to France — a pigeon en croute de sel, a loup de mer en croute de sel. We live in a world of refinement, not invention. It’s the greatest compliment he can be given, this guy. If someone takes one of your dishes and does it, it’s flattery. For you to get pissed off because he didn’t acknowledge you is ego. It’s all too political really, isn’t it? I mean, we’re fucking chefs.

When Your Digital Identity Is For Sale

Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist

Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

As Mr. Guthrie sat home alone — surrounded by his Purple Heart medal, photos of eight children and mementos of a wife who was buried nine years earlier — the telephone rang day and night. After criminals tricked him into revealing his banking information, they went to Wachovia, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, and raided his account, according to banking records.

Architectures of Control: Car Keys

Replacing car keys is no longer quick or cheappdf

[Clarence] Ditlow said some car manufacturers have created a limited monopoly for their keys by not sharing the codes with independent shops. He petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to investigate fees charged by dealerships last year, but said he has received no response from the agency. The FTC declined to comment.

California last year passed a law requiring most car manufacturers to provide their key codes to licensed locksmiths. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2008. It was sponsored by the American Automobile Association and opposed by many luxury car makers, who said it could compromise vehicle security. The law exempts a handful of manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar, until 2013.

SAE Temporizes

But, based on this press release, they clearly are not going to cave. I hope that my university will continue its policy not to subscribe to their Digital Library — and I hope that those of us who have published papers with SAE will continue to avoid doing so: SAE Publications Board to Review Digital Rights Management Controls for Students, Facultypdf

SAE International’s Publications Board temporarily will suspend full activation of Digital Rights Management (DRM) controls as applied on the Society’s Digital Library of technical papers for licensees at colleges, universities and other academic institutions.

[…] “SAE’s highest interest is in serving the technical information needs of all mobility professionals,” said Michael Madley, SAE’s new chair of the Publications Board. “We look forward to working in partnership with the academic community to ensure an efficient and economical flow of information while managing intellectual property rights.”

See earlier: MIT Rejects SAE’s DRM-Crippled ePublications

Owning Numbers: Another Incarnation

Jenny, they got your number; now 2 firms fighting over itpdf

If you’re a radio listener of a certain age, the telephone number 867-5309 is burned forever in your brain.

[…] By itself, 867-5309 has nothing to do with plumbing, argues Clockwork’s Boston lawyer, Carrie J. Fletcher. It “doesn’t make any sense without the music, but Gem doesn’t have any rights to the music,” she added.

Still, Gem plans to keep fighting for its prized numerical possession, which it uses in the 401 and 617 area codes.

[…] Tommy “Tutone” Heath [Ed: you can find audio/video of “867-5309” at the Tutone link], however, doesn’t see much fun in the dispute. Reached by phone yesterday in Northern California, he said he would prefer that neither company use 867-5309. “It’s ridiculous,” said Heath, who is working on a new album. “If I wanted to get into it, I could probably take the number away from both of them.”

Cyberwarfare? Or Just Hackery?

“E-stonia” Accuses Russia of Computer Attackspdf

“If you have a missile attack against, let’s say, an airport, it is an act of war,” a spokesman for the Estonian Defense Ministry, Madis Mikko, said in a telephone interview today. “If the same result is caused by computers, then how else do you describe that kind of attack?”

Officials in Estonia have accused Russia of orchestrating the attacks, officially or unofficially. They also raised the matter at a NATO meeting on Monday, when the defense minister said that the alliance, which Estonia joined in 2004, needed to urgently debate the question — once seemingly a distant threat — of whether mass computer attacks pose a threat to national security.

“Events of this nature make a lot of people sit up,” a NATO spokesman, Robert Pszczel, said in a telephone interview. “Today, Estonia — tomorrow it could be somebody else.”

Also, Estonia Computers Blitzed, Possibly by the Russians; Cyber Assaults on Estonia Typify a New Battle Tacticpdf

Assembling the “Frenemies,” Watching Us All

Google’s moves are generating expected responses:

  • WPP Group to Acquire Online Ad Company

    “This really heightens the tension between ad agencies and technology companies as they both try to go after the ad dollars that are migrating online,” said Youssef Squali, the Internet analyst at Jefferies & Company.

    The WPP Group and other ad holding companies make most of their money by creating ads and planning where they should appear. Now, WPP plans to develop a third major line of business in the online technology space using 24/7 Real Media as its foundation, Mr. Sorrell said in a conference call.

    “You can call it a tipping point if you want, but I think there has been a tipping point in terms of the realization of the impact of these technologies,” Mr. Sorrell said.

  • Microsoft to Buy Online Ad Company

    In the offline world, there has generally been a clear distinction between media outlets and advertising agencies, which create the ads and buy time or space to run them. On the Internet, that line has been blurred, with portals like Google increasingly pushing into “upstream” areas like media planning and buying.

    “We’ve suddenly got two different sides that are competing in the same area, in the advertising companies and the media owners,” Ms. VanBoskirk said.

    There are signs of friction as online media owners like Google, with their deep pockets, expand. Google’s agreement to buy DoubleClick was criticized by Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, who said it could trouble marketers.

    “It raises issues about whether we are prepared to give Google data that’s very valuable,” he said last month as WPP gave a quarterly financial update. “Clients will be concerned over the access Google may have to information that is owned by them.”

Later: can’t get more explicit than this — Web Ads With An Audience Of Onepdf

Microsoft’s $6 billion purchase of a major online advertising company announced yesterday underscores a core moneymaking strategy of the digital economy: watching you.