Via Universal Hub, Dan Rowinski notices something fascinating buried in the ICANN TLD requests:

Adam at UH talks a bit more about the business model:

And like Fenway bricks, the Globe will seek to sell personalized domains to Bostonians, who, being proud of their city, will rush to buy them. But non-locals need not fret – the Globe says it’ll sell a .boston address to anybody who wants one, such as people who want the world to know they’re moving to Boston or just enjoy the city.

Journalism be saved!

Oh, So That’s the History of Copyright

Answering questions like, “Why does George Lucas’s copyright last so long?”

via Mental Floss

The Insidious Cost of Ringtone Piracy

Oh, this is just glorious Rob Reid.


Commenter Beware of Defamation…

This actually makes sense: Google was absolved of responsibility for comments posted in a Blogger blog that were allegedly defamatory of a British politician. In an interesting development, as the Guardian piece notes the political candidate “brought no proceedings against either the original blogger or individual commenters.”

I get it. Sue the guy with deep pockets. But accusing the host for comments they didn’t prevent is a horrifically slippery slope.

There’s no precedent being set here, but it’s another piece of the puzzle as we look to define and separate the roles of host of content, publishers of content, creators of content and commenters of content…when each of those actions create additional assets of their own.


QOTD: Assuming the Costs of Piracy

Wonkbook is on the trail of some of the claims about the cost of piracy to the economy, but buried within the post is one of my favorite arguments. Brad Pulmer writes:

Part of the difficulty here is that it’s not always easy to tally up the true costs of piracy. For instance, if a person illegally downloads a movie or song that he never would’ve downloaded otherwise, then it’s not clear what the losses are (the benefits, by contrast, are much clearer).

That point of availability beyond the market, to me, is always fascinating. Just something I’m thinking about during this debate.

Social Media Leading to More First Amendment Love Among Teens?

That’s what Knight Foundation says:

Full infographic here, and don’t miss the rest of the details at

Facebook, the Phone Number Privacy Brouhaha and Birthday Wall Posts

Just as with the changing of the taps on Sam Adams seasonal flavors, every few months or so we can be guaranteed another “OMG, Facebook is invading my privacy because of [x].” This time around? The uproar is that the mobile app for Facebook conveniently grabs any phone number of your friends that they have made public and allows you to access it from within your phone. Of course, the ability to access this was blown grossly out of proportion: some people thought those numbers were completely published or saved by Facebook. They weren’t, but who doesn’t love a good cut-and-paste status message on what Facebook is doing to us?

(Let the record show that the version has had this phone book option for as long as I can remember accessing it. In fact, I remember talking years ago that it was one of my favorite features of the mobile version of Facebook because the time I’m most likely to need and/or use the number that a friend made public on their profile is when I’m using a phone. Utility! I digress.)

Facebook responded with a status message response on Wednesday, and it was generally helpful to nerds like me who read Terms of Service (Termses of Service? Terms of Servii?). I don’t know if that generally explains it well enough. Basically, Facebook encourages you to add your phone number when syncing with one of the apps – and you have full rights to control who sees it based on your levels of privacy.

Talking about phone numbers is complicated, though. So I’m going to change course but write about something that works the exact same way from a privacy standpoint: your birthday. In fact, the settings are really similar (in terms of you limiting who can see it), it is completely required to register your account and actually is promoted even more publicly to your friends.

I don’t have the luxury of historic screen shots, but I hope my memory doesn’t fail me too well.

In 2004 at launch, just like any registration online, Facebook requested the birthday of its users to validate age. This was the profile-only era of Facebook, no walls and certainly no news feed. Birthdays were listed on the page and could be removed from the public eye by the viewer. In 2005, when the pages were first update to include the walls, birthday was still present, but without the news feed, there was no other landing page to gather birthday information (although somewhere in the back pages, you could find a list by day of your friends birthdays – not at all unlike the list of contacts that you can find related to phone number).

The biggest change was when birthday information went from being on the profile page to the landing page – thanks to the late 2006 introduction of the News Feed. Sure, the information was “below the fold” of the screen, but it was public enough that people started more regularly using the occasion to post on friends’ walls. Of course, by the next year, those wall postings too started making the news feed and thus was the birth of the Facebook Birthday phenom. Now? The information on your contacts’ birthdays is in one of the most prominent places on the home page, and it’s probably the way most of your contacts interact with you. (David Plotz’s hysterical “My Fake Facebook Birthdays” is a delightful overview of the banality of these types of posts, but that’s just a worthy tangent).

Do you remember any sort of uprising when Facebook moved the information about your birthday to this public of a place? Probably not. You were bombarded with greetings from friends and contacts. It was enjoyable – and there was a pretty good user reason why Facebook made the change to coincide with existing habits of its members. Now think of phone numbers of your friends and contacts: it is just as easy to hide your birthday from different friends as it your phone number.

When Even Comm Law Books Need Updating

The last Comm Law class I took just about five years ago was severely devoid of any content or case studies on how online journalism and media were impacting long held judicial tests. Like so many other heavily regulated industries, the libel, decency, fair use and journalistic protections have all needed a severe review – not exactly an easy cruise ship to turn into the iceberg.

Recently, it was drawn to my attention that the culture of online media is getting some attention, in the form of an interactive four-week course taught by George Freeman, vice president and assistant general counsel at The New York TimesNow. I’m not sure if the class is going to cover how Downfall parodies impact fair use, but at least it’s a pretty good profile start.

Journalism Law for Bloggers” will run from April 26 to May 23, 2011, and registration is available through NY Times Know Now. From the release:

“This Program of Study course is part of the New York Times Knowledge Network, which is open to consumers nationwide. Programs of Study courses, developed and taught by New York Times journalists or professional staff, cover a variety of topics and are delivered online. Students can select any number of these courses: to stand alone, or be taken as a sequence.”

Sounds like fun – especially if you’re not interested in lugging around one of those giant blue comm law books.

ASJA’s stance on the “Googlization of Copyright”


With the September 4th opt-out deadline for the settlement in Authors Guild v. Google (2005) just around the corner, the American Society of Journalism came out swinging in a release yesterday afternoon against the search-heavyweights book search practices. Two things, first some background, documents and other statements, but then it’s getting the highlighter treatment.

Here’s the bottom line, via the Electronic Frontier Foundation (this way you don’t have to read all 141 pages of legalese):

This agreement will allow Google to get close to its original goal of including all of those books into Google’s search results (publishers got some concessions, however, for in-print books). In addition to search, scanned public domain books will be available for free PDF download (as they are today). But the agreement goes beyond Google’s Book Search by permitting access, as well. Unless authors specifically opt out, books that are out-of-print but still copyrighted will be available for “preview” (a few pages) for free, and for full access for a fee. In-print books will be available for access only if rightsholders affirmatively opt in. The upshot: Google users will have an unprecedented ability to search (for free) and access (for a fee) books that formerly lived only in university libraries.

So, that brings us back to ASJA’s statement yesterday, wonderfully indirect in its language and stall tactics. It’s short, so you can read the whole thing, but here’s the part that matters (emphasis added):

Before they are writers, ASJA members are book-lovers and citizens. The ASJA board believes there simply must be language in the settlement document preventing censorship and limiting how Google can use the data it will collect on who is browsing, reading and buying books. Without it, the possibilities for privacy invasion and for the censorship of a book, an author, or even a whole category of books are chilling — especially when the corporation will have little or no competition. We all know the strength of Google’s algorithms for interpreting online activity. The ads that pop up when we search show it to us daily.

ASJA SAYS, STOP THE GOOGLIZATION OF COPYRIGHT LAW. Do we really want Google and a committee making law? Essentially, that is what “opt out” requirements in the proposed settlement do. The ASJA believes that if copyright law needs to be nimbler in this digital age, it still should be Congress calling the plays. We will ask the court to direct the removal of deadlines for opting out of the Book Search. Copyright holders should control their works.

The problem voiced by the ASJA, guised by the ridiculous claim above, is the narrow definition of protection and claims that it only protects Google’s and large publishing houses’ interests in copyright law. According to them, the settlement doesn’t do enough to build in future protections that surround small publishers and authors not under those labels. The claim then develops a foundation on court-made copyright law, privacy concerns/censorship, and the greatest phrase of all time, “The Googlization of Copyright.”

The idea that Congress can be nimble about anything related to media in the digital age – especially when many legislators are probably still relying on that deputy press secretary to explain half of it anyway – is equally ludicrous to anything the ASJA claims about the settlement’s shortcomings. Does ASJA truly believe that? I’d like to imagine not. They are just trying to get this out there to express the real desire: extending/removing the opt-out deadline.

This is why I love this: the Authors Guild itself has provided counsel to its members on the relative value in opting-out.

There’s not much time left for authors to opt out. What should I do?

Short answer: nothing.

Longer answer: Opting out of the settlement is for authors who want to preserve their right to sue Google themselves. We don’t think there are any such authors.

Google wants your books. The legal claims of that service are numerous: whether the effort is a public work or not, anti-competitive or not, commercial or public good. Is the fact that Google can technically figure out what you are reading be consider a severe invasion of privacy?

Then there’s the giant advertising question (Google does pave its empire on ads, don’t forget): Is the only purpose of the service to serve ads against books? Who knows, but if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em:

authors guild ad

The Guild has come to terms with how Google Book Search and its relative projects will work. ASJA feels that it was left out away from the inner circle of the larger association. There’s your bottom line. If it’s looking for a miracle, it will have to come in the way of a nimble Congress.

Twitter: Illegal Procedure? It may be in the SEC.


I caught this first from Caps blogger On Frozen Blog over the weekend, and I honestly thought it was a joke. But now the story is on Mashable, so clearly it’s for real.

The Southeastern Conference (much more commonly known to college football fans everywhere, as the SEC) is going to announce a  new media policy today that will render any game accounts on social networks – including those of fans – illegal.

The reason for the smackdown, as noted by the headline from Sunday’s St. Peteresburg Times article, is control of their multi-billion dollar broadcasting rights. “For SEC, tech-savvy fans might be biggest threats to media exclusivity.”

When media conglomerates are paying billions to air your product, you want to ensure that their investment is well spent. The business is easy on this one: CBS/ESPN pay the SEC to bring their millions of viewing fans so that they have a very specific audience to sell to advertisers.

If the lawyers think that the social media audience is using their networks as a replacement to national broadcast coverage, then the move makes sense. But, anyone who has ever turned on a TV to catch an exciting sports moment they heard about through Twitter or Facebook knows that this is a supplement to the audience that is already watching, not a threat.

Adam Ostrow at Mashable argues that the motivation is more than misunderstanding:

For the moment, these policies seem a lot more grounded in fear than reality. Sure, these days someone could theoretically live stream a game from their camera phone. But a shaky, low resolution video from the upper deck of Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly the same as watching FOX’s telecast on your big screen TV. Social media should be viewed a fantastic compliment to sports that is good for both fans and the TV networks, but at the moment, it seems that’s anything but how it’s being perceived.

The best part about this (coming from a homer of an ACC guy) is that there are other conferences around the NCAA using social media to increase their audiences and are succeeding. The ACC was smart to engage quickly with people Tweeting about its member schools during the March corridor of collegiate sporting events – and they constantly pushed out updates on everything from March Madness to Lacrosse. The two responses between the SEC and ACC could not be any more different.

Twitter (or Facebook, Flickr, anything else) has a definite benefit for broadcast media. Social media is a broadcast traffic driver because it actually is above the “link economy.” You can’t excerpt a live broadcast and post it to your blog – you still have to either be there or in front of your TV to see the events unfold. It’s an opportunity to increase the gross audience and these are not competing forces of media. Whoever’s lawyers are behind that hopefully see that not as a contract violation, but just one of the many positive externalities to increase the value of the investment.


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