April 4, 2008
Ninth Circuit Says No to CDA Safe Harbour to Roommates.con in Housing Case
Roommates.com has lost an appeal in the Ninth Circuit over whether questions asked in creating a profile of its users violates the Fair Housing Act. The case was brought by the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley and the Fair Housing Council of San Diego. The District Court granted summary judgment to Roommates on the basis of the company falling into the Safe Harbor provision of the Communications Decency Act. The Ninth Circuit disagreed because questions such as gender, sexual preference, and others, developed by Roommates and required by the site for its users turned them into a publisher rather than an ISP. Roommates effectively became responsible for the content. The Court distinguished the Craigslist case from the Seventh Circuit where that site escaped liability as it merely republished postings without edits.
April 2, 2008
Congress Meets Second Life
As if it had a first life. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has a Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. The members held a virtual hearing yesterday online in Second Life. The hearing's subject is Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium. An archived copy of the hearing is at the Subcommittee's web site, and a report of how it proceeded is available in the Washington Post. How imaginative for an institution that is normally not associated with imagination.
April 1, 2008
April 1st Pranks on the Web, and Some That are Not
April 1st is marked across the web with little practical jokes. Google gets into it in a big way and gets a lot of publicity out of their good humor. This year's edition has the links to the Gmail custom time feature which allows backdating email timestamps. Had this feature been real it would have saved Steve Jobs a lot of trouble over those back dated stock grants. Google's other April Fool's prank has the company partnering with Virgin to colonize Mars. The combined Virgin-Google logo (Virgle) is hilarious. Even YouTube gets into the act with all the featured videos linking to Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. Yahoo! seemed to limit their prank to announcing higher financials that will lift the stock price. Oh wait, that's not an April Fool's joke. On that note, Microsoft has indicated that it won't raise its bid for the company as no one else is bidding against them. So much for Yahoo's white knight strategy.
Among other things that aren't April Fool's jokes is the report that Sony, defender of content rights is pirating Windows administrative tools on its servers. PointDev, the software maker, found out when Sony employees called to ask for customer service. The license Sony supplied turned out to be bogus. PointDev's software was installed on four Sony servers and there are allegations that other software found at Sony could also be pirated. Where is the Business Software Alliance when you need them? This is another reason why I shudder when I think that the winning high definition video standard is stewarded by a company such as Sony. I'm expecting that they will screw this up even without competition from Toshiba and HD-DVD.
The other item that caught my eye came via the Chicago Sun-Times. Columnist Zay N. Smith started his QT column today with the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Hawaii seeking to delay the start-up the the Hadron Collider in Europe. The suit claims there is some minuscule potential to create a black hole that could swallow the earth, and that might be bad. Smith notes that the Collider is scheduled to start in May, while the initial conference between the parties is scheduled for June. A more telling sign of the impending end of the world would more likely be the Cubs making it to and winning the World Series this year. We have to get to at least October for that to happen. If it does, bring on the singularity!
March 30, 2008
Earliest Recorded Sound Available as Free MP3
The news of recovery of what is now the first recorded sounds in history, dating from April 9, 1860, is short of remarkable given the methodology of recording sound waves etched on smoky paper. In a historical perspective, U.S. President James Buchanan was finishing out his unremarkable presidency, the U.S. Civil War would begin slightly one year later, Marx and Engels were exchanging letters, and Queen Victoria was in her 23rd year of her 64 year reign of England. Her eighth prime minister was serving by that time. In your face Thomas Edison.
The recovered audio is available in MP3 format at Firstsounds.org. How far we've come from that moment to the present
decline transition of the commercial recording industry in the digital age.
Vista Capable Suit Updates
A good source for news on the Vista Capable lawsuit and other news Microsoft is Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. There are interesting and provocative notes on the suit, and links to documents when available. There are other little details that show up like the March 19th entry that showed these search statistics for 2008:
Google: January, 58.5 percent; February, 59.2 percent.
Yahoo: January, 22.2 percent; February, 21.6 percent.
Microsoft: January, 9.8 percent; February, 9.6 percent.
Ask Network: January, 4.5 percent; February, 4.6 percent
Microsoft could buy Ask in addition to Yahoo! and still wouldn't come that close to Google's share of the search market. I ask again how a combined company is going to accomplish something they can't do separately