January 20, 2007
XM Suit Proceeds Over XM+MP3 Receiver
The Washington Post has an interesting story on a lawsuit by the major labels against XM Satellite Radio Holdings over the a receiver from XM that combines the radio along with an MP3 recorder. XM tried getting the case dismissed, arguing that the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 protects them. The judge is letting the suit go forward as she sees XM acting as a broadcaster and distributor with the MP3 feature of the receiver. XM says the situation is no different from a radio with a cassette recorder built into it.
Judge Deborah A. Batts is quoted in the article as saying:
"It is manifestly apparent that the use of a radio-cassette player to record songs played over free radio does not threaten the market for copyrighted works as does the use of a recorder which stores songs from private radio broadcasts on a subscription fee basis,"
This ought to get interesting both a trial and the extremely likely appeal no matter who wins. SanDisk, by the way, does provide a recorder with its Sansa MP3 players that also receive commercial FM. These recordings can be transferred to to PCs for further editing a pressing. Does that threaten the market for copyrighted music? Or is it OK because the recorder is getting signals from an over-the-air not private radio on a subscription basis. How about software that captures audio from computer sound cards (or built in audio, does anyone use sound cards any more?) such as built into various versions of Roxio software? There are a ton of Internet simulcasts out there available for capture and edit. Does that threaten the market for copyrighted music?
Belgian Press Tells Yahoo! to Stop Linking to It's Content
Yahoo! has raised the ire of a group of Belgian newspapers over links to archived stories. These stories are normally sold to consumers through subscription. Yahoo! France says it respects copyright and will respond appropriately. Google had gone through this earlier in court and had removed the offending stories. The issue is on appeal in Belgium.
Another Week, Another Patent Suit
Opti has filed a suit against Apple for patent infringement alleging that Opti technology is used in Macs. The technology in question is predictive snooping which involves data transfer from a PCI bus controller to the master bus. AMD is another target in an earlier suit.
The story is in Fox News.
January 18, 2007
MySpace Sued Over Assualt
MySpace is the target of a lawsuit by parents of underage daughters who were sexually molested by adults they met on the site. Lawyers representing the families say MySpace waited too long to institute meaningful security measures to protect users. MySpace responds that security is a shared responsibility. Plaintiffs are seeking damages in the usual millions of dollars range. These aren't the only suits apparently over these issues.
More details on all of this is in the Houston Chronicle.
In a slightly related report, MySpace is offering software that allows parents to see the name, age, and location their children use to represent themselves on the web. Parents won't be able to see much else about their kids beyond that. There won't be access to email or their profile. Children will also know that their information is being shared, which will generate loud choruses of "Moooooooooooom!" As it should be. The software is called Zephyr.
The story is in Australian IT.
Consumers to get Vista by Purchase through Download Option
Here's a first for Microsoft. Vista and Office 2007 will be offered to customers as a download option alternative to buying the discs in a store. And why not, as we comfortably buy software from other vendors at this point. The beta for Office filled a CD's worth of data and that was reasonable on a broadband connection, even if a bit time consuming.
Vista's another matter. The OS came in at 3.2 GB and can take 5 hours or more to download at broadband speed. Still, lots of people around the world did it to test the OS, including updates and technical refresh copies. That's a whole lot of Vista being downloaded.
A while back Microsoft indicated that while Vista was going to be sold in 6 different varieties, everything would be on one install disc. The difference in versions would be triggered by the install key. Microsoft is setting up part of its Marketplace to allow people to unlock more features by buying a new unlock key, some reports say at discounted prices. Another limited time program allows for additional licensed installs on other machines a a low price of around $50 each. How do they do it? Volume, volume, volume.
The company is really pushing hard on getting a good consumer response to the OS release.
January 16, 2007
iPhone Look Draws Apple Ire
We'll tempt a little faith here with this one. Apple is angry at several blogging sites as they are reporting on a programmable skins that makes Palm and Windows based phones look like the upcoming iPhone. Apple is also angry at the coder, but since that person is not available to throttle, threatening bloggers who talk about the skins is the next best thing. Apple's moves are apparently drawing attention to the issue prompting more people to write about it. As our friends in Brazil found out, the more suppression is applied, the more the item of ire spreads. The skins are winding up on more and more web sites. No links here. Don't send any cease and desist letters. No reports on the skins here, just reports on the reports.
The story is in the Age from Oz.
Ripped Hi-Def Movie Appears on File Share Network
Now that the HD-DVD copy protection system has been broken, it was a matter of time before the practical fruits of that labor showed up in file sharing networks. Serenity (the movie, not the state of mind) showed up on BitTorrent in a 19.6 GB file. Wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy the movie instead of waiting four or more days for the download to complete? Once Blu-Ray is broken, it won't matter which format wins.
The story is in Ars Technica.
Federal Pretexting Prohibition Signed Into Law
The Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006 was signed into law. It's PL 109-476. The bill provides criminal penalties for the fraudulent acquisition or unauthorized disclosure of phone records. No signing statement suggesting the President can ignore the law when convenient.
Story on CNET.
January 15, 2007
Search Engine Aimed at Older Web Audience
Over 50? Then you might want to take a look at Cranky.com. It's a search engine for the AARP crowd, part of the larger Eons collection of sites. The larger company was founded by Jeff Taylor of Monster.com. The idea behind Cranky is to filter results to those that would particularly appeal to the perspective of older folks. Not quite a bad idea when we're on the verge of a massive retirement of baby boomers in the next 10 years. How do they do it? Marketing research. Here's an excerpt from one of the site's press releases:
Eons teamed up with Compete — an online consumer market research leader — to analyze the most popular Web sites among an estimated 500,000 Web users over the age of 45. Based on this research, the first of its kind, the Cranky team reviewed the top 5,000 Web sites for this age group, featuring highlights, deep links, and a rating for each site.
One of the features of the site is to place only four search results on a page. Apparently older people don't like to be distracted by too many search results. There are also features on results pages that offer narrower results, expanded results, and related topics. There are, of course, targeted ads, though that would be an assumption in this day and age. I did a search for Pinky and the Brain (what can I say, I'm fond of the toon) and got very relevant results on the very first page.
The main page offers the top ten searches of the day, updated regularly. As of this writing, they are
2. work from home
3. brain builders
4. jobs after retirement
5. body mass index
6. make new friends
What is reiki? I had no idea either until I clicked on the link. It is a Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation, and healing. At least half of the other searches would appeal to any age group, although the difference is in the type of result returned for the older audience.
Give Cranky.com a try if you fall into the demographic, or even if you don't. As Grampa Simpson would say:
"We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell them stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I took the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe so I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. Give me five bees for a quarter you'd say. Now where were we, oh ya. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because if the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones."
Thanks Cranky. Any excuse to get an Abe quote in a post.
Search Engine Market Share for December: Google Up Again
CNET has the latest numbers on the share among the major search engines for December. Google was up 0.4 percent to a 47.4 percent share; Yahoo climbed 0.3 percent to 28.5 percent; and Microsoft dropped 0.5 percent to a 10.5 percent share. Ask.com dropped 0.1 percent to bottom out the ranking at 5.4 percent.
Sun Division Settles with Tech Repair Company
This item was sent in by Geri Dreiling. Thank you Geri. It involves a a David and Goliath situation where StorageTek, a division of Sun Microsystems, sued Custom Hardware Engineering and Consulting, Inc. CHE repaired tape libraries manufactured by StorageTek. These tape libraries functioned via the use of robotic arms swapping tapes in and out or readers for customers, including major companies and government agencies.
StorageTek sued CHE over patent and copyright claims, apparently not caring for the idea that another company garnered a sizable amount of repair work on their products. CHE counter sued on antitrust grounds. The federal court in Boston initially granted StorageTek and injunction, though that was overturned by the Court of Appeals. The trial was in the fall of 2006 and was settled by StorageTek with a likely large but confidential payment to CHE. The article about the case in the St. Louis Business Journal starts off with the words "Sometimes the little guy does win." Indeed, sometimes they do.
Only the 2003 District Court opinion (not reported) is available in Westlaw. For those interested in a copy, the citation is 2003 WL23096961.
Wikileaks Promotes Freedom of Information
The Washington Post has an article about a new site that promotes freedom of government information, all without the blessing of government. Wikileaks.org allows users to upload embarrassing government documents without leaving a trail as to their source. Imagine the Pentagon Papers winding up here rather than in the New York Times or the Washington Post. In fact, the main page has an supportive statement from Daniel Ellsberg on the site concept. One document appears on the site as of now. Many more should follow once the word gets out - literally.
The Post article is here.
Printing 3D Objects? New Technology Makes it Possible
At least small objects, the size of a dime or so. One company has found a way. The story is in the San Francisco Chronicle here.