Google and major book publishers have settled a lengthy legal battle over digital copyrights, but a bigger dispute still looms with thousands of authors who allege that Google is illegally profiting from their works.
The truce announced Thursday ends a federal lawsuit filed in 2005 by several members of the Association of American Publishers after Google Inc. began stockpiling its Internet search index with digital duplicates of books scanned from libraries.
Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 won the backing of Consumer Reports, whose criticism of an earlier model became known as “Antennagate” and who said the latest device is among the best on the market despite its map flaws.
Google has maintained that its scanning is covered by fair-use provisions of copyright law, although it offered to remove specific books from its index upon request. It also showed only snippets of the copyrighted books unless permission was given to show more.
Publishers and authors, however, insisted that Google needed explicit permission from them before making the digital copies, let alone showing even snippets of text from the books on Google’s website.
Last week, I wrote a popular post on the continuing popularity of BitTorrent, and how some artists are now choosing to embrace it as a marketing tool to expose their music to a wider audience. But many activist musicians disagree with the notions...
You can tell the week probably won't go well when the first email you get on Monday morning comes from a pissed-off rock star, and he's none too happy with you. But that was my start to the week, as Lowery dropped me a line to bust my balls in a humorous way, as he put it, about BitTorrent Downloads Booming - And Benefitting Musicians.
Lowery, whose skills go far beyond music and into mathematics and business - he's a lecturer in the University of Georgia's music business program - disputed the very idea that anyone could successfully make a go of using BitTorrent as a way of increasing exposure for musicians.
In particular, Lowery is very concerned about the "middle class" of artists who are getting the worst hit by illegal file sharing. Big name artists, he argued, can weather lost sales, and smaller artists are busy trying to do anything to catch a break. But the non-superstar successes are getting squeezed hard by file sharing.
"You should hang out in a town like Athens, Georgia… where I teach. There are at least 60 small national/regional touring acts, The middle class of the music business. I've not met one that is honestly cool with people sharing files instead of buying them," Lowery stated.
We just got word this morning that the very cool internet glue service IFTTT was being forced to remove any of its Triggers that have to do with Twitter.Yes, IFTTT is a service beloved by tech nerds, but this change also signals something important about Twitter’s future relationship with developers — something contrary to its previous statements about its recent API changes.
IFTTT, if you’re not familiar, is a service that allows you to hook together cool Internet things like Twitter, Facebook, Pusher, SMS, RSS and many more to do interesting stuff. You could, for instance, push a tweet out when an RSS feed is updated, or pull down your tweets to archive them or, and this is a big one, cross-post tweets to other services.
Well, earlier today, IFTTT CEO Lane Tibbets said that it would have to stop offering the Triggers related to Twitter. “As a result of these changes, on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed.”
At this point, any third party developer using Twitter’s platform for their product should probably take a very hard look at the capabilities of their apps. If there’s any chance that they might overlap with Twitter’s desire to be the only way that people read tweets…it might be time to get out.
These days, we can’t pretend not to see how the mechanisms by which we produce and consume our wealth are, finally, showing some growing signs of change.
Peer-to-Peer. It’s in these three words that we can identify the fundamental paradigm shift the market-society is going through these days. In fact, P2P means fewer intermediaries, less constraints, direct relationships: relationships that—being from person to person—inevitably lead to ahumanization of the exchanges, behind solely commercial relationships.
Today’s opportunities are for new actors, informal, with innovative labor relations, which even have a different concept of jobs. It is not difficult to see—or at least envision—today, megacorporations colliding with small, innovative startups, perhaps financed with crowdfunding, or also with non-profits, and voluntary-based projects.
The “future-proof enterprise” then is one that thrives in the world as it should and inexorably will be: socially sustainable, cooperative, inclusive, p2p, local, decentralized and more equitable in terms of profits. There’s no viable alternative. Old models based on control, large scale, and protection failed. Companies can no longer act as monolithic, centralized, revenue generation machines. Instead, they must become inclusive, create shared value, and thrive amidst radical change.
Apple did not announce a subscription iTunes access model – which has been mooted by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times – along with iPhones and iPods on Wednesday.
And that’s just fine. Such a move, when it happens, will redefine the industry forever – but Apple, and music, can afford to wait.
Pay TV-like subscription access to unlimited content is the hot new consumer furrow being ploughed by the likes of Netflix, Spotify, Rhapsody and more. Ethan Kaplan, a Warner Music Group technology SVP until 2011, says:
“When Apple goes subscription streaming, it won’t be a surprise. Apple has had a subscription product ready for a while.”
Before it goes live, however, two things will likely need to happen:
1) Streaming rivals must prove that there is a meaningful enough business opportunity in subscription to draw Apple out.
2) iTunes Store’s track download business must plateau or begin shrinking, pushing it to discover new pastures.
We’re not there yet
Right now, subscription services may be gaining traction, but there were only 13.4 million music subscribers in the world last year (source: IFPI), and a crossover with downloads is some way off. It is as yet far from certain that everyone will want to move from ownership to access.
Growth in digital music sales may have slowed since Apple’s download store brought the business in to the 21st century in 2003, but U.S. digital music revenue still rose a worthwhile nine percent through last year (source: IFPI).
For some months now, there have been intense discussions on the threats raised by the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). In December, the 193 Member States of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations, will gather in Dubaï for this important conference aimed at amending the ITU's founding treaty, the "International Telecommunication Regulations" (ITRs).
ISOC and the Center for Democracy and Technology have analyzed the dangerous amendments proposed by many countries, which would expand the ITU mandate to cover issues such as IP addressing and routing, cooperation in cybercrime and further undermine global Internet governance1. These are very serious sources of concerns, but because several important Members States of the ITU (in particular the US and the EU) and many civil society actors oppose an "ITU take-over of Internet governance", it is unclear whether they could actually pass.
There is another proposal that have been made by a major European actor which, although it might seem technical and unrelated to freedoms online, could have a disastrous impact on Net neutrality2. It was detailed last week by ETNO - the lobby representing incumbent EU telecoms operators in Brussels - in its "contribution to WCIT". And so far, policy-makers, in the EU and beyond, have remained silent, refusing to react to ETNO's proposed changes to the ITRs. This suggests that ETNO's proposal may actually have key political support.
Dreadlocked virtual reality/motion-sensor technology pioneer, octopus enthusiast, and master of a wide array of rare indigenous musical instruments Jaron Lanier is concerned about conformity.
Lanier has been more intimately involved than most, since the very beginning, in the explosion of public internet technology. He has watched closely and written extensively on the social changes it’s bringing about. And while his optimism about technology’s potential is boundless, he is troubled by the ways we often allow it to limit ourselves.
Rather than throwing a wet blanket over anyone’s dreams, this observation should fill us with awe and optimism. We’re at a turning point – a moment of unprecedented scalability where we can change the lives of millions with a staff of five or six. Now is the time to pause, reflect, and design new products and services that will change those lives for the better.
By now it’s almost inevitable given the company’s track record: No matter what Apple unveils tomorrow at the Yerba Buena Center (an iPad Mini? iPhone 5?), pundits will herald the company for its innovative thinking and bold hardware design. But the elephant in the room will be Apple’s software, which many inside the company believe has evolved for the worse in the last few years.
Despite consistently glowing reviews from critics and consumers alike, iOS and OS X, Apple’s operating systems which tie Macs and iPads and iPhones together, have rubbed some the wrong way in recent years with their design directions. During my reporting for Fast Company's upcoming feature on design at Microsoft, set to go live this week as part of our October design issue, I spoke with a number of designers, Apple veterans, and industry insiders hostile towards Apple’s approach to software design. Equally eye opening was the number who genuinely praise Microsoft for its novel approach for Windows 8, the most radical redesign to date of the world’s most ubiquitous operating system. The criticism and controversy, much of it revolving around a trend called skeuomorphism, reveal chinks in Apple’s armor rarely visible to those outside One Infinite Loop.
What’s skeuomorphism? If you’ve ever used an Apple product, you’ve experienced digital skeuomorphic design: calendars with faux leather-stitching, bookshelves with wood veneers, fake glass and paper and brushed chrome. Skeuomorphism is a catch-all term for when objects retain ornamental elements of past, derivative iterations--elements that are no longer necessary to the current objects’ functions.
For many of us who have campaigned for the right to access and reuse government information, it would be easy to pause and relish the sweet victory. We have the ammunition, so now, believe the most techno-utopian advocates, open data will fundamentally change politics—depoliticizing debates and eliminating irresponsible positions.
But that would be a mistake.
Now we must renew the much larger battle over the role of evidence in public policy. On the surface, the open data movement was about who could access and use government data. It rested on the idea that data was as much a public asset as a highway, bridge, or park and so should be made available to those who paid for its creation and curation: taxpayers. But contrary to the hopes of some advocates, improving public access to data—that is, access to the evidence upon which public policy is going to be constructed—does not magically cause governments’, and politicians’, desire for control to evaporate. Quite the opposite. Open data will not depoliticize debate. It will force citizens, and governments, to realize how politicized data is, and always has been.
Governments, lobbyists, and other vested interests have always tried to shape public perception to their advantage through data—hence the line about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Our future will not be filled with a greater consensus on how to solve problems but by new debates over what, how, and why data are collected in service of public discourse. These political fights will be painful and they will matter. A lot.
About a decade ago, I would stand in the middle of a square somewhere and imagine that everything I saw could and would one day be possibly connected.
In my mind that was not such a new idea. Animists in Africa and Asia have for centuries talked about "living" inanimate objects, believing that things had a soul and taking good care of them. Humans are meaning-making machines, so we invest inanimate landscapes and objects with all kinds of qualities that they cannot really possess.
Ten years on, that daydream is becoming a reality with the Internet of Things. Loosely defined as a global process to enhance all objects with some kind of digital address, IoT is already coming to you: to your home as the smart meter that will streamline all your electrical appliances; to your connected car that will have distance sensors and eCall to alert accidents; and to your body as a patch in an intelligent T-shirt or the Siemens hearing aid that aims to pick up the fire truck noise and soften it before you “hear” it. In terms of "the next big thing" this is as big as fire and the book.
And it’s inevitable. Why? Because a confluence of historical factors has come together to make what was once the domain of science fiction a reality. Let’s quickly take a look at those drivers.
I've been thinking a lot about WebRTC recently. How and where it will become important, and what it might do to our concepts of voice/video communications and the existing telecom value chain.
It's still very early days, but the momentum and details suggest that it will be of incredibly high importance. There are certainly complexities - not least of which is Apple not yet revealing its intentions - but overall the general premise "feels" right. There are no obvious irreversible "gotchas", and there are plenty of interesting use-cases, and a whole plethora of innovators from both small and large companies alike.
This is diametrically opposite to things like NFC payments or RCS, for which there are plenty of hard, easily-described and unfixable flaws in the basic concept, and where support and innovation are thin.
WebRTC fits well with the idea that much of what we consider as communications "services" are in fact just "applications", and increasingly drifting further down to become "features" and eventually "functions". Messaging is already a long way down that curve - IM chat inside apps such as Facebook or Yammer or Bloomberg are not "services", any more than the bold type button is a service. They just send words from A to B, rather than highlight them on the page.
WebRTC extends that metaphor to spoken words or visual images. They will just be sent via a browser or web widget (obviously needing access to camera, microphone, codecs & acoustic processing). It is already possible to have direct browser-to-browser conversations without plug-in or downloaded applications on the desktop. Massmarket versions of Chrome, Firefox and IE are all likely to support WebRTC during 2013, with a steady move onto mobile over the next couple of years.
The Internet has never played nice with carefully crafted regulatory schemes. Since streaming became practical in the 1990s, a series of adventuresome dot-com entrepreneurs have been searching for a way to repeat the cable systems' original legal coup, bringing live TV to Joe User—preferably without paying to do so. (It's hard to make a living by streaming video when copyright owners can always turn around and grab back your profits by demanding higher licensing fees. Exhibit 1: Netflix. Exhibit B: Hulu.)
As you might expect, Cablevision's announcement of its planned RS-DVR (short for "remote storage DVR") drew the wrath of cable's traditional frenemies: the TV networks who supply most cable content. The networks were largely powerless against traditional DVRs, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in the landmark Sony case. VCRs, the Court held, are legal to sell because customers could put them to "substantial noninfringing uses," such as "time-shifting" live TV for later viewing. Nor is home playback covered by copyright: that's a completely legal private performance unless you invite your neighbors over and charge admission.
The TV networks argued in vain that all of Cablevision's customers should be aggregated together as "the public," since they were all receiving the broadcast the networks sent to Cablevision. But the court concluded that the individual copies in the RS-DVR broke the "chain of transmissions" that took a TV show from broadcaster to viewers. The transmission from NBC to Cablevision's RS-DVR was a (public) performance; each transmission from an RS-DVR to its user was a separate (private) performance to an audience of one. The RS-DVR was legal.
There is a need for a user-centric identity, privacy and trust on the internet, to power the digital economy. It's a major issue, and a solution that relies on crowd-sourcing is being proposed by Respect Network.
Trust on the internet is the focus of OIX (Open Identity Exchange), a non-profit company organization founded by Google, Paypal, AT&T and others. Their business is to establish, standardise and manage “trust frameworks” – legal, business and social rules that enables parties unknown to each other to trust their respective digital identities. The trust frameworks are designed to be public, standardised and inter-operable, so that people and companies can play various roles in the framework and still manage trusted relationships.
Among the three trust frameworks currently available, an intriguing one is the “Respect Trust Framework”. The idea of this framework is to not only establish a digital identity, but also to provide individuals control over ownership and sharing of their data on the internet. The key to the framework is the use of a crowd-sourced, peer-to-peer reputation system. It’s really very simple – people can vouch for you (for example, say “I vouch for John Smith’s innovativeness”), or complain about you (“I complain about John Smith’s stubbornness”). Similarly to eBay’s reputation system, the peer-to-peer reputation system grows over time, and the more vouches and complaints about a particular person, the more precise the information is and therefore the trust level in this person increases or decreases.
LocalData, winner in the data round of the Knight News Challenge, is working to simplify the data collection process through a specialized toolkit that will make it easy for civil servants or civilians to gather information about where they live and work.
LocalData is a combination of several things. It provides for the collection, organization, and visualization of information in one continuous system. It’s designed to be used beginning at the street level: City workers or community members can either use an app to register information directly or scan paper documentation into the system. From there the information can be exported into different formats for display or analysis.
With the $300,000 awarded from Knight, LocalData founders Alicia Rouault, Prashant Singh, and Matt Hampel will refine the interface and launch the service in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston. “We feel the impact this tool can have in other cities will be really robust,” Rouault told me.
What types of things will LocalData enable? Nonprofit organizations, community groups, or others can create custom surveys, which could be used for gathering demographic information about a residents in a particular neighborhood. Or it could be used to assess property within specific regions of city.
Big Government and Big Capital, meet Big Peer Network.
Like many of the bedrock technologies that have come to define the digital age, the Internet was created by — and continues to be shaped by — decentralized groups of scientists and programmers and hobbyists (and more than a few entrepreneurs) freely sharing the fruits of their intellectual labor with the entire world. Yes, government financing supported much of the early research, and private corporations enhanced and commercialized the platforms. But the institutions responsible for the technology itself were neither governments nor private start-ups. They were much closer to the loose, collaborative organizations of academic research. They were networks of peers.
Peer networks break from the conventions of states and corporations in several crucial respects. They lack the traditional economic incentives of the private sector: almost all of the key technology standards are not owned by any one individual or organization, and a vast majority of contributors to open-source projects do not receive direct compensation for their work. (The Harvard legal scholar Yochai Benkler has called this phenomenon “commons-based peer production.”) And yet because peer networks are decentralized, they don’t suffer from the sclerosis of government bureaucracies. Peer networks are great innovators, not because they’re driven by the promise of commercial reward but rather because their open architecture allows others to build more easily on top of existing ideas, just as Berners-Lee built the Web on top of the Internet, and a host of subsequent contributors improved on Berners-Lee’s vision of the Web.
A linguistics professor in Bamberg is considered the most powerful member of Germany's burgeoning Pirate Party, even though he holds no office. Martin Haase engages in politics almost exclusively through the Internet using the party's Liquid Feedback software. The platform is flattening the political hierarchy and is unique among German political parties.
Martin Haase doesn't have to give any hard-hitting speeches at party conferences, nor does he spend time at board meetings or in back rooms to hone his power. When the 49-year-old professor wants to engage in politics, he just opens his laptop and logs in to Liquid Feedback, the Pirate Party's online platform for discussing and voting on political proposals.
A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel -- a concept popularized in television's Star Trek -- may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say.
A warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, however subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy.
Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.
The DIY movement has vaulted from the home to the research lab, and it’s driven by the same motives: saving tons of money and getting precisely what you want. It’s spawning a revolution, says Joshua Pearce.
Three converging forces, all open source, are behind this sea change, he explains in an article in the Sept. 13 issue of Science: software, 3D printers and microcontrollers. With these tools, researchers from all over the world are driving down the cost of doing science by making their own lab equipment.
Most informed and interested observers of early-twentieth-century politics, regardless of their affiliations, noticed three salient trends. First, and most obvious, the state’s regulatory power and authority grew remarkably, whether under revolutionary or reformist or reactionary auspices, but the sources of its sovereignty became questions rather than premises, as the inherited liberal opposition between state and society stopped being self-evident, and with it the boundary between the public sphere and the private sector. Second, and almost as obvious, the atomic particles of politics became groups, associations, collectives –- in the US, corporations and labor unions, to be sure, but also cross-class organizations like the NAACP and the Women’s Trade Union League -– rather than unbound individuals, those self-contained, omnicompetent bourgeois citizens of nineteenth-century lore. Third, and nowhere near obvious, even as the state’s powers grew, so too did the capacities of these new groups, associations, and collectives to regulate or administer the market, and to shape civil society, in their own interests. Think of them as local precursors of NGOs, those transnational organizations without diplomatic standing or immunity which nonetheless have profound economic and political effects.
In Gramsci’s terms, revolution in the name of socialism was not something to be measured by Jacobin or Bolshevik standards, as a function of state-centered politics animated by mass movements and organized by disciplined parties. The transition from capitalism to socialism would be as prolonged, boring, and mundane as the transition from feudalism to capitalism. But its secret history would begin in the twentieth century.
“We’ve long known that customers are gaining power in markets around the world as they tap into the twin forces of digital technology and economic liberalization. They are able to access more and more information about products and vendors and to more readily switch from one vendor to another in a world of expanding choice. This has become a truism, so much so that our eyes begin to glaze over when we hear it, yet few of us have thought through the profound implications that this power will have. We’re not just talking about mounting pressure on companies, but also the emergence of what I have called reverse markets.
Most of us think of markets in conventional terms – it is about vendors seeking out customers and persuading them to buy more of their products and services. A reverse market flips this dynamic – it’s about customers seeking out the most relevant vendors and extracting more and more value at lower and lower cost. It’s a fundamentally different mindset. It turns much of what we know about business on its head. Framing it in these terms can create a zero sum view – either vendors win or customers win. As Doc persuasively argues, though, a customer driven market actually generates significant growth in demand that will serve both vendors and customers well.
Doc lays out the basic premise of the book as follows:
- “. . . rather than guessing what might get the attention of consumers – or what might “drive” them like cattle – vendors will respond to actual intentions of customers. Once customers’ expressions of intent become abundant and clear, the range of economic interplay between supply and demand will widen, and its sum will increase. The result we will call the Intention Economy.”
Whether you want to borrow or rent someone’s house, car, parking space or drill, there are now online marketplaces to do so. Here are the best British collaborative consumption companies that are making it easier to share.
When should children learn to code? Estonia’s Tiger Leap Foundation wants children as young as six to be enrolled in coding classes — all part of a national program that has already turned this tiny country into a technological powerhouse.
Teaching people to code is the new hotness: startups like Codecademy and Bloc are all about helping people learn to program quickly and easily online, and they have helped spawn a cultural movement lauded by the likes of Tim O’Reilly and Douglas Rushkoff.
Some people are taking the idea a little further however.
Just look at Estonia, the tiny Eastern European nation (population 1.3 million), where a new project is being put in place with the ambition of getting every six year old to learn coding at school.
The “ProgeTiiger” scheme, according to reports, will begin pilots this year with the ambition of getting school kids of all ages to start coding. There’s no suggestion yet that the classes will be mandatory, but the organization behind the move the Tiger Leap Foundation, says it wants to produce more creative computer users.
Digital technology is changing movies in such groundbreaking ways that “film” is usually a word of convenience and tradition.
IN the beginning there was light that hit a strip of flexible film mechanically running through a camera. For most of movie history this is how moving pictures were created: light reflected off people and things would filter through a camera and physically transform emulsion. After processing, that light-kissed emulsion would reveal Humphrey Bogart chasing the Maltese Falcon in shimmering black and white.
More and more, though, movies are either partly or entirely digital constructions that are created with computers and eventually retrieved from drives at your local multiplex or streamed to the large and small screens of your choice. Right before our eyes, motion pictures are undergoing a revolution that may have more far reaching, fundamental impact than the introduction of sound, color or television. Whether these changes are scarcely visible or overwhelmingly obvious, digital technology is transforming how we look at movies and what movies look like, from modestly budgeted movies shot with digital still cameras to blockbusters laden with computer-generated imagery. The chief film (and digital cinema) critics of The New York Times, Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, look at the stuff dreams are increasingly made of.
Imagine a mobile phone plan, such as the one from Free in France, with unlimited talk, unlimited SMS and MMS messages, tethering and, even more important, unlimited data with a speed reduction after 3 GB. Usually for that plan in the U.S., you would pay more than $100 for limited data with a two-year contract. In France, it costs $25 per month (€19.99, sales tax included) and there is no contract.
Yet, it is something radically new for French consumers who used to pay between $57 and $82 per month (€45 and €65) for a smartphone plan with only a couple of hours of talk time. The French telecom company Free disrupted the mobile landscape by using very clever technology, marketing and financial tricks. As a company with a hacker culture, Free is a good example of how to execute against well-established competitors.
When the market consolidated, only a few Internet service providers remained. The three major companies Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom were all integrated telcos that could easily bundle a triple play offer with a mobile phone plan.
In 2009, the French regulatory agency ARCEP decided that three mobile phone providers were not healthy for competition and sold a fourth 3G spectrum license to Free for $302 million (€240 million). Free’s CEO Xavier Niel started hyping French consumers up about how they will revolutionize the mobile phone landscape with truly unlimited offers for a fraction of the price.
Another unexpected advantage was that Free had the largest hotspot network in the world, according to them. Every triple-play modem was in fact a hotpost. Thanks to the EAP-SIM protocol, smartphones could connect seamlessly to those hotspots.
A Week of Events Organised by a Diverse Set of Communities Around the World.
We are delighted to invite you to the world’s first Open Knowledge Festival: a week of participatory sessions, keynote lectures, workshops, hackathons and satellite events in Helsinki from September 17th to 22nd, 2012.
OKFestival combines annual events OGDCamp and OKCon to form the first festival of its kind. Its 2012 theme is Open Knowledge in Action, looking at the value that can be generated by opening up knowledge, the ecosystems of organisations that can benefit from such sharing, and the impacts transparency can have in our societies.