November 30, 2006
Yahoo Declines to Turn Over Information to Google in Scanning Suit
Yahoo becomes the latest corporate behemoth with a book scanning project to reject Google's subpoena for the details of Yahoo's business arrangements with publishers. Google is being sued by a number of publishers and the Author's Guild over its plan to scan books from major research libraries. These include libraries at the University of California, the University of Michigan, and others.
Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon.com have similar projects but are not targets of suit, having entered into agreements with publishers. Yahoo characterizes the request as an attempt to get at trade secrets. Amazon has also refused cooperation. Microsoft has had no comment as yet. There has yet to be a hearing on compliance with the subpoenas, although the positions by the target companies are clear.
Too bad Google isn't the government. Yahoo would have rolled right over in those circumstances.
Vista Ships to Businesses Today
Vista is out to businesses today. Consumers have to wait at least two more months for the privilege of using Vista on their home machines. Microsoft claims this is the most secure version of Windows ever, utilizing PatchGuard in the 64 bit edition and placing other controls in the 32 bit version. The company has been stung more often than not with criticism of the less than stringent code, to the point where at least twice third parties issued patches for Windows when Microsoft did not (at least until later).
It is in that context, then, that news reports of three pieces of malware dating back to 2004 can compromise Vista in some circumstances. The three, Stratio.zip. Netsky.d, and MyDoom.o, were stopped by the internal Vista mail client (Windows Mail) but not by third party mail clients. Seven others were stopped in a test of the top ten malware from November by security vendor Sophos. The implication is that Vista is more secure, but not perfect. Another implication is that hackers will be gunning for the OS as a challenge if not for the chance to do outright mischief.
Here follows then another story that of the major security vendors, Symantec, Trend Micro, and Computer Associates are still working on security suites for Vista. Only McAfee has a product ready to work with Vista. That may sound bad but shouldn't be of concern to consumers as those products will be ready when that market sees Vista.
Microsoft sees plenty of success for Vista adoption by businesses. Independent analysts aren't so sure and predict less success for the OS. I would think the likelihood for success is high simply because major computer manufacturers will only distribute PCs with Vista once the OS is widely available. It's not as if Microsoft seriously competes with Linux or the Apple OS for the desktop. That's not to say those OSes don't have their fans. Their presence does not impact much on sales of Windows-based desktops to the masses of computer shoppers.
Vista is out. Let's eagerly await the first set of patches for security vulnerabilities.
November 29, 2006
Google Answers Closes
Apparently, Google didn't have all the answers after all. Google Answers, the service where individuals would ask questions that required more analysis than merely scanning search results to get an answer is coming to an end this week.
Yahoo has a similar service called, oddly enough, Yahoo Answers, that towers above the Google service. Why is that? Probably because Google charged between $2 and $200 for a result from a panel of 800 while Yahoo offered answers for free.
The result is not unlike Microsoft giving away Internet Explorer which seemed to kill Netscape's business model. Some will point to the social aspect of Yahoo's service, millions of people contributing their expertise to each other as the basis for success. However, nothing beats free, and that was Yahoo's angle. As an act of shameless professional promotion, nothing beats a librarian.
Barney Gives Up, Settles Suit
As last we looked, Stuart Frankel, creator of an anti-Barney web site got fed up and couldn't take it any more. Barney, of course, is the lovable children's character that many people love to hate. Frankel sued Barney creators in federal court seeking a declaratory judgment that Frankel's use of Barney is fair use and does not infringe on any claims of copyright or trademark. That's usually the reverse of how it happens. Someone posts unflattering reflections on a revenue stream such as Barney and the big law firms get their knives out to nip the threat in the bud. This time Barney had to put up or shut up, and he did...shut up. The case ended with a settlement of the case in Frankel's favor. Barney's creators agreed not to sue Frankel and paid him $5,000 to go away. They also agreed not to sue him. The settlement does not require Frankel to shut down his site or remove his ant--Barney parodies. He just agrees to end his suit and not pursue the matter again.
Frankel was ably represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in his suit against Lyons Partnership, owner of Barney's rights bundle. Case documents and press statements from the EFF are here. News about the settlement is available from ZDNET.
November 27, 2006
DCMA Exemptions Announced by Copyright Office
From The Copyright Office Announcement:
Statement of the Librarian of Congress on the Anticircumvention Rulemaking: Text
Determination of the Librarian of Congress and Text of the Regulation: PDF, Text
The Recommendation of the Register of Copyrights: PDF
The Librarian of Congress, on the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, has announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) during the next three years.
1. Audiovisual works included in the educational library of a college or university’s film or media studies department, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by media studies or film professors.
2. Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
3. Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
4. Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.
5. Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.
6. Sound recordings, and audiovisual works associated with those sound recordings, distributed in compact disc format and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully purchased works and create or exploit security flaws or vulnerabilities that compromise the security of personal computers, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing, investigating, or correcting such security flaws or vulnerabilities.
These exemptions went into effect upon publication in the Federal Register on November 27, 2006, and will remain in effect through October 27, 2009.