Saturday, June 09, 2007
This was intended as trenchant commentary on Google's book-scanning project, a generally laudable effort to scan and index all the books ever published, including huge dark-matter of books that are out-of-print with no clear rightsholders.
Pat Schroeder and the American Association of Publishers have sued Google over this, saying that Google shouldn't be allowed to index these out-of-print books (the majority of books published) unless they take on the Sisyphean task of figuring out who controls the copyright to all of them and then get permission to make an index.
Google makes indexes of every page on the Internet without ascertaining who their copyright belongs to, without asking permission. If your page is on the public Internet, Google will index it. The publishers argue that books shouldn't be indexable without explicit permission.
Larry Lessig has posted a great rebuttal to the idea that stealing laptops is the moral equivalent of indexing books -- a must-read if you want to understand exactly why Charkin's stunt was so mind-numbingly wrong-headed.
(3) If the computer was not sitting at a market booth, but instead was in a trash dump (like, for example, the publishers out of print book list), or on a field, lost to everyone, then that fits the category of property that Google is dealing with. But again, Google doesn’t take possession of the property in any way that interferes with anyone else taking possession of the property. The publisher, for example, is perfectly free to decide to publish the book again. Instead, in this case, what Google does is more like posting an advertisement — “lost computer, here it is, is it yours?”Link
(4) Or again, imagine the computer was left after the conference. No easy way to identify who the owner was. No number to call. In that case, what would the “head honcho’s,” or anyone’s rights be? Well depending upon local law, the basic rule is finders keepers, loser weepers. There might be an obligation to advertise. There might be an obligation to turn the property over to some entity that holds it for some period of time. But after that time, the property would go to the “head honcho” — totally free of any obligation to Google. Compare copyright law: where the property can be lost for almost a century, and no one (according to the publishers at least) has any right to do anything with it. Once an orphan, the law of copyright says, you must be an orphan. No one is permitted to even help advertise your status through a technique like search engine.
(5) Or again, imagine the computer was a bank account in New York. And imagine, the bank lost track of the owner of the account. After 5 years, the money is forfeited to the state. Compare copyright: in New York state, a sound recording could be 100 years old, but no one has any freedom with respect to that sound recording unless the copyright owner can be discovered.
Posted by Augustine at 11:09 PM
Wednesday 6th June 2007
The notebook measures roughly 120 x 100 x 30mm (WDH) and weighs only 900g. We saw the notebook boot in 15 seconds from its solid-state hard disk. The huge auditorium then burst into applause as Shih revealed the astounding price tag. Dubbed the 3ePC, Shih claimed the notebook is the 'lowest cost and easiest PC to use'. As the crowds rushed the stage, we sneaked off to the Asus stand to take a closer look.
The notebook uses a custom-written Linux operating system, much like the OLPC, though unlike the OLPC, Asus has chosen a more conventional interface. The desktop looked fairly similar to Windows and we saw Firefox running on one 3ePC. A spokesperson from Asus told us that the notebook would come with "an office suite that's compatible with MS Office", though he refused to confirm or deny whether that meant OpenOffice.
He claimed the 3ePC would be available in all areas of the world, not only developing nations.
The low price comes from some interesting design choices, primarily the flash-based hard disk. A disk of today's standard capacity would cost more than notebook itself as we saw with the 32GB Samsung disk, but Asus uses a 2GB disk. We were not allowed to touch the 3ePC so couldn't tell how much of this is left after the bespoke OS is installed.
The CPU also remains a mystery, though Shih said the version on show did have 512MB of RAM. Another version will be available for $299, but nobody could tell us what the difference between the two models is.
It doesn't seem too long ago that a 16GB solid state disc was a sight to behold, but now that SSDs are creeping up to 256GB and beyond, it's about time the flashy guys caught up. While we knew Kingmax was aiming to unveil its 16GB SDHC (only to match the early moving MICRODIA) card at Computex, pictured proof is always preferred, and it looks like all you digicam owners with SDHC-capable slots can rejoice as the sizes beneath this one quietly tumble in price. Notably, it was suggested that the cards were practically "ready for mass production," and should be available worldwide fairly soon. [Via Inquirer]
Friday, June 08, 2007
Written by Liz Gannes Posted Friday, June 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM PT
Audio and visual fingerprinting of copyrighted video is seen as the best way to combat infringement, but in NewTeeVee's testing this week across multiple sites, it did not work. We were surprised to be able to upload multiple times the exact same copyrighted file, even after we explicitly told the hosting site and the fingerprinting provider about it and they took it down.
What follows is a description of our procedure, accompanied by the vehement disclaimer that we were doing this only for educational purposes.
Microsoft recently took its Soapbox user-contributed video site out of the public eye until it could implement filtering technology from Audible Magic. Last Friday, it relaunched, supposedly armed and ready to fend off copyrighted content. So we asked our intrepid reporter Craig Rubens to test how the system worked by uploading a Daily Show clip.
Surprise, surprise, the clip went up like a charm (screenshot). We called Microsoft to ask what was going on. You should talk to Audible Magic, they said; our system is only as good as their index. We called Audible Magic, who essentially blamed Microsoft, for only implementing the audio version of its software. The reps then set off to nail down statements from their companies, a process that took most of the week.
Only sometime last night did the clip finally get taken off Soapbox, replaced with a copyright violation notice. To see if the system had been corrected we uploaded it again today, and again it appeared about 40 minutes later. At this point, if all went as it was supposed to, the video should have been automatically added to the index of banned clips, and then rejected when we uploaded a duplicate. But again, we had no problem.
Concerns about whether digital fingerprinting is ready for action have persisted, and market leader YouTube has hesitated to deploy its "Claim Your Content" system while it is being perfected. However, confidence in fingerprinting has moved past the optimism stage. "This technology works," says MPAA Vice-President Dean Garfield, as reported by BusinessWeek.
Audible Magic has bagged most every high profile deal in video filtering: MySpace, Dailymotion, Break.com, and GoFish/Bolt.
The Audible Magic representative insinuated the company's technology was deployed in fuller form on MySpace — which recently launched its "Take Down Stay Down " and filtering system using AM's system — so we also tried uploading the clip there. Interestingly, that also posed no problem. See it in action here.
Below is Craig's description of the procedure he used to upload his clip to Soapbox. He says after about 50 minutes of "processing" the video went live and was playable. The MySpace experiment was even quicker, taking about five minutes.
- Search for "Daily Show" on YouTube
- Select first clip of actual Daily Show with Jon Stewart content and download it via KeepVid.com (selected video )
- Convert the video to a Soapbox approved format (shockingly, Microsoft doesn't like .flv)
- Upload Daily Show clip to Soapbox
- Allow time for Soapbox to process, convert, and (supposedly) scan for copyrighted material.
Here are the official statements Microsoft and Audible Magic sent yesterday after days of deliberation and phone calls about the issue.
"We are continuing to work with Audible Magic to fine tune our implementation of their proactive automatic filtering services to best meet the needs of our content partners. The fact that a clip of any unauthorized copyright material slipped through is unfortunate, but that's why we also provide rich notice and takedown tools to content owners to automate and expedite the process of identifying and removing unauthorized content. We are committed to working in partnership with the industry to continue to evolve our technologies and solutions for customers and partners." — Rob Bennett, general manager for Entertainment and Video Services at MSN
"Audible Magic's technology has the ability to identify content such as 'The Daily Show' clip in question. We are working closely with Microsoft to customize our solution in order to meet the business needs of their Soapbox service." — Vance Ikezoye, founder and CEO of Audible Magic
Though all these systems, as advertised, depend largely on identifying content once in order to block it future times, we made no bones about identifying our uploads as Daily Show clips. We also had no problem uploading the exact same file after we had informed the proper people about it and they had taken it down.
Of all the videos on the web, Comedy Central clips are a huge bone of contention, figuring into Viacom's pending $1 billion-plus lawsuit against YouTube and its parent Google. Funnily enough, the original Daily Show video is still live on YouTube.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Casual Flash games generate monthly pageviews in the hundreds of millions, but the game industry has been painfully slow to capitalize on this massive audience—the chief exception being Pogo.com, which Electronic Arts acquired for about $50 million in 2001. Today some 1.4 million “Club Pogo” subscribers pay $40/year - another nice $50 million in annual business.
Jim Greer, former Technical Director Pogo, like EV thinks that there is a big business to be made out of casual games, and raised a million dollars for his new start-up, Kongregate, which aims to be the YouTube of games, offering free, ad-supported Flash games and an online community to increase the site’s stickiness. After the break, Greer talks revenue model and numbers.
What’s so YouTube about Kongregate
‘YouTube for games’ is really just the attention-getter for people who don’t know that much about the space. What we really are is a community for web gamers and developers. Current web game sites don’t do community right, if at all. If I beat a game on Miniclip or AddictingGames, I don’t take anything with me and can’t even see the other people who are playing it as well.
Kongregate by the numbers
Page views for March were 2.4 million. That’s up from 400K in February. Registered users are in the low five figures - until recently the only incentive to register was to socialize. Now that we have persistent rewards for playing games, we’re seeing much better registration rates. Right now we have 483 games, and they’re coming in at a rate of 40-50 per week. Those are from 224 developers.
Leveraging Ad Revenue
The participation rate for YouTube is somewhere around 2%. That means 98% of the users came there to view videos, not upload them. If our participation rate is around .05%, it doesn’t really kill us. Good games are something you play for hours. A good viral video you watch for two minutes. So we can have a lot fewer games and have plenty of entertainment value…
(To encourage user-generated content), most other sites pay developers a small one-time license fee. They make a lot of money and they don’t share it. We think we can inspire love from our developers, both because they like our community, and because we treat them well… By default, all developers receive 25% of the ad revenue generated from their games… [But] it’s possible for a game to earn 25%, 35%, 40%, or 50% of ad revenue (depending on performance).
Unlike YouTube, users can’t share games on other sites and blogs (yet), but this is something Greer believes is “less of a blockbuster strategy than it was for video.”
All this sounds promising, but unlike other proven online communities, making a enjoyable Flash game takes a lot more time and talent than, say, uploading a funny video, and that barrier limits Kongregate’s content stream. So what’s it going to take for Kongregate to become the number one online game destination? “Much better virality than we have right now,” says Greer. “I’m very happy with where we’ve come in the six months since we founded the company. I think we can do a lot in the next six to twelve.”
You can follow Kongregate’s saga on Greer’s blog.
Company: Scribd Description: Online document storage and sharing Competitors: eClips Location: San Francisco Amount Raised: $3.5 million Round: First Date Announced: 6/5/07 VC Firms: Redpoint Ventures, Kinsey Hills Group VC Directors: N/A Quick Take: Founded last summer with $12,000 and launched in December with another $40,000, Scribd took a big step up with its recent $3.5 million first round funding at a reported post-money valuation of $17.5 million. Aside from that lofty valuation, Scribd is being called the 'YouTube of Documents.' They prefer to refer to themselves as the 'World's Largest Open Document Library'. Sounds similar to Google's mission. Whatever the tagline, Scribd has big expectations to live up to. It can meet them if it can extend its first mover advantage as the biggest document storing and sharing service online. Monetization is a dream. The trick will be to convince more people to participate.
Technology (1 out of 10): 5 Market: 8 Management: 3 Chances for IPO: 3 Overall VC Rating: 7
MyLifeBrand is a service that lets user’s aggregate social networking memberships and navigate between them from the one place.
MyLifeBrand supports Friendster, LinkedIn, Bebo, Facebook, H15, Orkut, MySpace, and TagWorld among others and is working on support for a number of niche social networks including Angling Masters, Navy Seals and Drunk Duck.
Users are also able to add their contacts from external networks to their MyLifeBrand friends list creating a master friends list.
The difficulty in managing multiple social networks is real and any heavy Web 2.0 site user will understand the problem. We covered Spokeo in November 06 and a number of similar services since.
MyLifeBrand gives social networking aggregation a decent shot, however presenting external sites in a frame doesn’t work for me (see screenshot).
The introduction of the Facebook’s F8 platform shows the real direction in this space. Facebook allows external sites and services to be integrated directly into Facebook and not through frames as with MyLifeBrand, delivering a far superior user experience. This is not to say that MyLifeBrand won’t be able to find a user base, it’s just that they are probably 12 months too late in releasing, and 6-12 months behind in delivery and integration to become a major player. The long tail is long and there is always room for new comers, so I do wish them luck; competing against Facebook will be a challenge.
San Antonio, Texas based Incuby is aiming to build a community where inventors can display inventions to the general public, entrepreneurs and investors.
In developing the site, the team behind Incuby have toured the United States meeting with different inventor groups. They found that inventors are tired of the high costs associated with travelling and presenting at trade shows and are ready for “a place of their own on the web”.
The site is still in development and will move to a closed beta test in the coming weeks with a broad number of inventors already signed up to test the site.
The focus is creating an environment where inventors can coexist and communicate online with each other, while presenting their innovations. Through ecommerce enabled profiles, each inventor will be able to manage their product’s sales while adhering to a customer feedback system that is similar to eBay.
Shopping inventions does share similarities with the financing and development path of Web 2.0 startups. In truth the only real differences are tangible vs intangible IP and that tangible invention patents and trademarks prevent the same ideas being copied over and over again like they are in Web 2.0, for example with social bookmarking sites and Digg clones.
Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that work best. Incuby is a simple yet solid idea that has the potential of going far. If I was an inventor myself, I’d be signing up as soon as it launched.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Amit: The interface is intuitive - search the images from Flickr database (you can also limit search results based on Creative Commons license), add some text and the photo card turns into a webpage.
Mike Linksvayer: April’s most sophisticated Flickr/CC mashup yet has relaunched with angel funding as PictureSandbox.com with cool tools to find and reuse CC licensed photos in lightboxes, cards, and more.Thanks, Mike!
If you haven't noticed the ads for the new The Sims 2 H&M® Fashion Stuff across the Sugar Network recently I suggest you take a gander. The game, which is available for order now, allows you to dress up your Sims in H&M® clothing collections for men and women with The Sims 2 H&M® Fashion Stuff. Your Sims characters can choose from FabSugar-approved H&M® fashions, then play with retail-themed items like mannequins, clothing racks, cash registers and even walk the runway. It's a real makeover from the days of plain Jane Sims clothing and adds a fun, girlie touch to the game. I dare you to not get addicted.
The game requires The Sims 2, The Sims 2 Special DVD Edition, or The Sims 2 Holiday Edition to play.
Free online web conferencing service Vyew launched earlier this year. Today, they’ve launched a new version that allows users to create “VyewBooks” to share, present, and interact with other people around content such as Microsoft Office files, pictures, audio and video.
The new version includes tools to facilitate the creation of new presentations and also supports a desktop view for live sharing of files, images, and web sites.
A widget-style tool “Vyewlet generator” allows content to be embedded on any website, a screencast tool of sorts that records collaborative work for demonstration elsewhere.
Henry Hon, CEO of Vyew compares the new version directly with competitors: “Vyew isn’t just another WebEx or GotoMeeting where information is communicated in a canned one-to-many format. Vyew is an enterprise-class social computing platform where people can also create, share, and participate with rich content in a many-to-many relationship, both in real-time and asynchronously over time.”
There are a lot of alternatives in this space and competing with the likes of WebEx and GoToMeeting is a challenge in itself. Vyew offers something a different a little different at a competitive price.
Previous TechCrunch coverage here.
Filed under: Displays
- All 15-inch MBPs now use LED-backlit displays standard; 17-inchers still use CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent)
- Apple claims users can see a battery-life benefit of between 30 mins - 1 hour (depending on use). They did not have stats on exact efficiencies between LED and CCFL backlit displays.
- The new LED backlight is the same brightness: 300 vs 300 nits of the previous gen's CCFL
- The viewing angle is also the same as before
- In other words, besides faster time from fully-off to full-brightness and an increase in battery life, Apple claims users should notice absolutely no perceivable difference between last-gen displays and the new LED-backlit ones.
- To clarify, MacBook Pros are using Santa Rosa, but MacBooks are not yet using Santa Rosa
- Even though the MBP is 0.2 pounds lighter, we're still without an internal / integrated 3G option
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
There’s been a lot of speculation about Salesforce and Google lately. Tomorrow the two companies will announce a marketing and distribution alliance that will tightly bind Google Adwords to existing Salesforce tools that track sales from online advertising.
Salesforce and Google will be starting an extended partnership encompassing marketing and distribution of their products across 43 countries. It will begin with the integration of Google Adwords and Salesforce’s lead generation tools into a new application called “Group Edition”, available here. Group edition replaces Salseforces earlier version Team edition.
Group Edition will enable Adwords users to track Adsense referrals to their site and build up a customer profile based on a the data a user enters into a site and their navigation path. Businesses will handle their Adwords campaigns through Google, as usual, but Salesforce takes over from there. When potential customers click through to the businesses site, Google tells Salesforce what search terms brought the user to the page and where they navigate throughout the site.
It is our understanding that the technology behind the salesforce side of the deal comes from Kieden, an company that they acquired late last year.
Site owners can also drop “web lead forms” onto the site, which can collect any other customer information (names, email, phone numbers) and bundle it into customer profile. All of this data is enumerated on a dashboard view, which you data on lead generation, sales, and growth. As with any other Salesforce application, users will also be able to mash up the data with other AppExchange Apps. The application will cost $600 for 5 user accounts and come with $50 of Adwords credits.
from GigaOM by Om Malik
Having snapped up whatever there was to buy in the brick and mortar world, the private equity investors are now turning their attention to technology sector. Cadance has been linked with big private equity money. Add comparison-shopping engine Nextag to the list.
Some private equity investors, one of them rumored to be Providence Equity Partners, are looking to buy 66% of Nextag for between $1 and $1.2 billion. Of course these are all rumors for now, and while contacted Nextag, we are yet to hear back from their press relations department.
Nextag is said to be doing about $200 million in revenues, with a lucrative mortgage and other lead generation business being the rocket that is driving the company. Internet giants for example – have taken out its peers – MySimon, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com and Shopzilla. Comparison Engines has a great overview of the market so far and news about this deal.
In a new Tampa, Florida, case, UMG v. Del Cid, the defendant has filed the following five (5) counterclaims against the RIAA, under Florida, federal, and California law:About time.
2. Computer Fraud and Abuse (18 USC 1030)
3. Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices (Fla. Stat. 501.201)
4. Civil Extortion (CA Penal Code 519 & 523)
5. Civil Conspiracy involving (a) use of private investigators without license in violation of Fla. Stat. Chapter 493; (b) unauthorized access to a protected computer system, in interstate commerce, for the purpose of obtaining information in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (a)(2)(C); (c) extortion in violation of Ca. Penal Code §§ 519 and 523; and (d) knowingly collecting an unlawful consumer debt, and using abus[ive] means to do so, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692a et seq. and Fla. Stat. § 559.72 et seq.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Asking how many ways you can make a search engine is like asking how many ways you can scramble an egg, there are a number of different ways and although it’s not rocket science you can still end up with something inedible.
People powered search is the trendiest of
egg scrambling search engine recipes at the moment. Service such as ChaCha have contractual employees answering search queries in real time. The Jason Calacanis vehicle Mahalo launched in alpha this week with a Wikipedia meets Google model which aims to provide pre-written results for 10,000 search queries.
Danville, CA based Sproose marries human powered search to Digg.
Sproose is a personalized search engine that combines social networking with peer-moderated rankings giving users the ability to prioritize, customize and fine-tune searches to produce relevant web search results.
Sproose users can effectively categorize and index relevant sites and tailor those for personal or group use. Through collective moderation and scoring users can sort through existing sites to assemble only the most appropriate results.
The results aren’t bad. It isn’t clear where the search results are originally pulled from (I’d guess Google) and the social voting feature on link priority creates a different search experience. Video results come from Blinkx and Sproose indexes over 25,000 sources for news. Whether it will take is another matter; everyone wants to be the next Google and there is no shortage of competitors. I can honestly say though that I’ve seen many worse than Sproose.
Reactee has announced the launch of a line of interactive t-shirts that combine fashion, SMS and activism through “shirts that text back”.
Reactee allows users to create t-shirts that include a personalized message such “Stop Global Whaling” or “Andrew Keen is a Luddite” that is then complimented by a unique keyword such as SUSHI or MORON on the shirt. People who see the shirt can then respond to it by sending the keyword via SMS to 41411. In return senders receive a custom text message response created by the T-Shirt creator.
Example Reactee customers given include individuals such as DJs who want to share their playlists, political activists promoting a candidate, people who just want to get something off their chest, or entire organizations, which can make many shirts with the same keyword and use them to promote their unique cause.
Users can create text alert lists to communicate with those interested in their causes. Additionally, users can make their designs public and include them in the Reactee gallery of shirts that have received the most text messages.
TechCrunch readers can use the code TECHCRUNCH to get 20% of any T-Shirt purchased until the end of June.