Tag Archives: Fair Use

In Race to Win Social Video, Is One App Gaming the System Too Much? – Mike Isaac – Social – AllThingsD

Enter Viddy and Socialcam, two of the hottest start-up apps, both of which have the buzz of being the “Instagram for video.” The pair have exploded in popularity over the past few months, with each garnering user bases in the tens of millions seemingly overnight.

But the growth of one of these apps is not like the other.

Using a combination of fortunate timing, Facebook’s Open Graph influence and a new way of playing the system, Socialcam has effectively gamed Facebook, YouTube and the App Store to keep a strong grip on that ever-so-valuable user base. In the short term, at least, the three-man Socialcam start-up team has discovered a method to beat the 20-plus person outfit that is Viddy.

The method is so effective that Socialcam skyrocketed from around 1.4 million monthly active Facebook users to a whopping 40 million in a span of little more than two weeks. Socialcam surpassed Viddy in the Facebook app rankings last week, and currently sits fat atop Apple’s powerful App Store as one of the most downloaded free applications.

via allthingsd.com

Fascinating take-down of a truly unscrupulous practice employed by new “Instagram-of-Video” upstart SocialCam, an app you’ve likely seen clogging up your Facebook news feed recently.

Mike Isaac of AllThingsD dives into the story, shownig some surprisingly cutthroat tactics at play in the social sharing app space, empowered by Facebook’s black-box dominion over the news feed.

Viacom so devastated by piracy that CEO gets $50 million raise

Last year, Viacom, whose Paramount subsidiary is an MPAA member, told the Wall Street Journal that “a new wave of digital piracy could threaten the US media business” if it lost its copyright infringement case against YouTube. Similarly, the MPAA has argued that “when profits are reduced, the studios have fewer dollars to invest in movies, and when there is less money to invest they make fewer movies and the diversity and variety of films we love become more limited.”

 

So we were interested in this CNN story on the 20 biggest CEO pay raises. The winner? Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. He got a raise of $50.5 million in 2010. That represents an impressive 149 percent pay increase from his 2009 compensation of $34 million.

Iit makes us wonder about the merits of spending even more taxpayer dollars (and trampling civil liberties) to better protect Viacom copyrights. Making movies seems pretty profitable as it is. And it seems a bit counterintuitive for a company that says its business is threatened by piracy to be so lavish with executive compensation. Neither the MPAA nor Viacom were willing to comment on this story.

 

A Patent Lie: How Yahoo Weaponized My Work via Wired.com

Every Yahoo employee was encouraged to participate in their “Patent Incentive Program,” with sizable bonuses issued to everyone who took the time to apply.

Now, I’ve always hated the idea of software patents. But Yahoo assured us that their patent portfolio was a precautionary measure, to defend against patent trolls and others who might try to attack Yahoo with their own holdings. It was a cold war, stockpiling patents instead of nuclear arms, and every company in the valley had a bunker full of them.

Against my better judgement, I sat in a conference room with my co-founders and a couple of patent attorneys and told them what we’d created. They took notes and created nonsensical documents that I still can’t make sense of. In all, I helped Yahoo file eight patent applications.

Years after I left I discovered to my dismay that four of them were granted by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office.

I thought I was giving them a shield, but turns out I gave them a missile with my name permanently engraved on it.

I was naive. Even if the original intention was truly defensive, a patent portfolio can easily change hands, and a company can even more easily change its mind. Since I left in 2007, Yahoo has had three CEOs and a board overhaul.

The scary part is that even the most innocuous patent can be used to crush another’s creativity. One of the patents I co-invented is so abstract, it could not only cover Facebook’s News Feed, but virtually any activity feed. It puts into very sharp focus the trouble with software patents: Purposefully vague wording invites broad interpretation.

In their complaint, Yahoo alleges that Facebook’s News Feed violates “Dynamic page generator,” a patent filed in 1997 by their former CTO related to the launch of My Yahoo, one of the first personalized websites. Every web application, from Twitter to Pinterest, could be said to violate this patent. This is chaos.

Patents and the intellectual arms race over owning creativity. This is NOT the protection for creatives the creators of copyright law had in mind – for huge corporations to buy them up en masse, to be wielded like enormous clubs to browbeat your competition and crush innovation.

And for every politician who claims these laws preserve American ingenuity, there are 10 actual inventors clamoring away for free in their basements, simply for the love of the work. It’s the money-grubbing corporate barons who really want this state of affairs to continue, not the average man it’s meant to protect.

If Android is a “stolen product,” then so was the iPhone

Apple revamped its notification system in iOS 5, introducing a Notifications Center that was strikingly similar to Android’s notification scheme. Apple added its own refinements, such as the ability to add widgets displaying the weather, stock prices, and other frequently-updated information. But the basic approach—notifications displayed at the top of the screen accessible through a pull down gesture—is virtually identical to the approach Google invented.

Users benefit from this kind of copying. Google’s notification scheme was better than the original iPhone notifications, so it is in iOS users’s interests for Apple to copy the idea. The alternative—a world in which companies scrupulously avoid using each other’s ideas—would be much worse. It would become impossible to buy a smartphone incorporating the best innovations from across the industry.

Inventing in the dark

Legally, the question is whether Google infringed on Apple’s patent, copyright, or other possessions. Google appears to be on safe ground from a copyright perspective. Android is built on Linux and uses a Java-like virtual machine; iOS is built on Darwin and uses NeXT-derived Objective C frameworks. We don’t know of any allegations that Android was developed with literal copies of iOS code.

But whether Google infringed on Apple’s patents is a harder question. And it would have been especially difficult to answer as Google was creating the first versions of Android.

Patent law generally gives a firm like Apple one year from the public disclosure of an invention to file for a patent on it. Apple unveiled the iPhone in January 2007, so the filing deadline for iPhone-related inventions would have been in January 2008. After filing, there is an additional 18-month delay before applications are made public. So if Apple filed an iPhone-related patent application on the last day before the deadline, Google wouldn’t have learned of its existence until July 2009—almost a year after the first Android phone hit the market.

Who does this benefit, other than board members and shareholders? Patent / copyright laws are absurdly out of date, a remnant hundreds of years old which no longer makes sense for today’s climate of innovation.

Pinterest not a pirate anymore, helps site owners disable pins

The acts of “pinning” and “repinning” (re-sharing a pin created by another user) have come under fire, especially in photographer circles, as tools for copyright infringement. Members can easily grab copyrighted works from photo-sharing or media sites and clip them to their boards. Pinned images often include attribution, but sources later get lost in the shuffle, and some members go on to use images on their blogs or websites. Plus, considering that Google is the second most popular source of pins, a sizable percentage images are likely misattributed.

Now, Pinterest is providing website owners a simple snippet of code, located in the updated help section of the site, to help them nip unwanted sharing in the bud.

I think a much more robust solution would be to somehow hard-code the original links / attribution into the pins, so there’s no way to accidentally strip away the source through repinning. One of the most interesting things about Pinterest is its ability to ‘curate’ material in a way that never claims its your own, but also gives some credit to the organizer of a board for their taste. If this anti-pinning technique really takes off, a huge value of the site would be squashed.

Jailbreaking Is Not A Crime: Tell the Copyright Office to Free Your Devices! via @eff

The Problem – Smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles are powerful computers with lots of untapped potential. Yet many of these devices are set up to run only software that’s been approved by the manufacturer.  Modifying a device to run independent software – known as jailbreaking – is important to programmers, enthusiasts, and users. But jailbreaking creates legal uncertainty. Some device manufacturers claim that jailbreaking violates Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which carries stiff penalties.

The Solution – EFF is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to declare that jailbreaking does not violate the DMCA, and we need your help. In 2010, the Copyright Office said jailbreaking smartphones doesn’t violate the DMCA.  This year, we’re asking them to renew that exemption (otherwise it will expire) and expand it to cover tablets. We’re also asking for a new exemption to allow jailbreaking of video game consoles.

Please help the EFF fight for your rights by clicking through the link and submitting your own documentation of how jailbreaking enables you to do work, better!  I’m attaching an example of my own letter to the office, below:

Copyright Case Is Good News for Google, Amazon

The most important news is that a third federal court has ruled on behalf of Web services whose users might use it to upload and/or access files that violate copyright rules.

In this case, it’s MP3Tunes fending off EMI Music. But it’s the same basic story as the Veoh/Universal Music and YouTube/Viacom cases: A judge has ruled that the DMCA doesn’t require Web services to figure out which files that users upload have the right to be there.

Twitpic, Flickr And Other Photo-Sharing Sites Can Sell Your Images If They Want

Indignation spread through the Twittersphere when it was discovered that popular photo sharing service Twitpic was seemingly forbidding users from selling or distributing their own pictures. But Twitpic is not alone. Other photo services also exercise surprising controls over pictures uploaded by users, and most sites claim the right to use or distribute pictures without consent.

The Twitpic Terms of Service at that time (now changed) read:

You may not grant permission to photographic agencies, photographic libraries, media organizations, news organizations, entertainment organizations, media libraries, or media agencies to retrieve from Twitpic for distribution, license, or any other use, content you have uploaded to Twitpic.

After an uproar, Twitpic changed the conditions to clarify that users retain ownership of pictures they upload, but that Twitpic retains the right to use and distribute the content as the company sees fit.

The Terms of Service were updated thus:

You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

This is why I don’t share photos on Facebook anymore. Looks like I’ll have to be even more careful around the services whose ethos I would assume prevent from these kind of underhanded manipulations, like Flickr.

Court to FCC: Back Off on ‘Net Neutrality’ – NYTimes.com

As Edward Wyatt wrote on Wednesday, a federal court ruled that the F.C.C. overstepped by telling Comcast it could not limit the amount of broadband available to certain heavy users.

The decision will allow Internet service companies to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver their content faster to users.The court decision was a setback to efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to require companies to give Web users equal access to all content, even if some of that content is clogging the network.

This Week in Review: HuffPo sued over pay, early NYT pay plan results, and finding devotion on Facebook » Nieman Journalism Lab » Pushing to the Future of Journalism

Are HuffPo bloggers being exploited?: Arianna Huffington spent last week axing many of AOL’s paid writers, and this week she heard from a few of the unpaid ones in the form of a class-action lawsuit filed by Huffington Post bloggers, led by longtime HuffPo blogger Jonathan Tasini. The Washington Post explained Tasini’s claims that HuffPo had breached its contract with bloggers by failing to come through the “implied promise” of compensation, and that it was “unjustly enriched” by the unpaid bloggers’ contributions.  PaidContent, meanwhile, said this suit isn’t much like Tasini’s earlier suit against The New York Times.