Judge: FilmOn Entitled to Compulsory License of Programming

Less than a year after the Supreme Court shut down Aereo for delivering OTA TV signals to Internet subscribers, a U.S. District Court in California granted FilmOn, an Internet video streaming site, a compulsory license to retransmit TV station programming online. The difference between the two cases, says the judge, was that the Supreme Court did not address whether Aereo was entitled to a compulsory license, but rather found that it violated copyright laws. Fox Broadcasting has said it will appeal the ruling favoring FilmOn. Continue reading Judge: FilmOn Entitled to Compulsory License of Programming

Facebook Steps Into Commerce, Building Shops Within Pages

Facebook has taken a leap into commerce by building out shops within Facebook Pages, allowing businesses with a Facebook Page a chance to sell directly to consumers. Although the new move into commerce is in its testing phase, some shops already sport a “buy” button, which keeps the consumer on the page from product browsing to purchase. The “buy” button was introduced last year, but Facebook’s new aim is to make the shopping experience more robust and integrated. Facebook currently does not take a percentage of sales. Continue reading Facebook Steps Into Commerce, Building Shops Within Pages

Apple, Samsung Tackle SIM Card Standardized for All Carriers

The SIM card, that bit of plastic in a mobile device that stores phone number and carrier information, is heading towards a standardization that will make it readable by all carriers. Apple and Samsung are working closely with mobile industry association GSMA, which represents 800 carriers globally, to do just that. The proposed new SIM card would make it easy for users to jump between carriers without changing hardware, and make phone purchases independent of carriers. Continue reading Apple, Samsung Tackle SIM Card Standardized for All Carriers

New Slingbox Set-Top Box Shifts Content From Mobile to TVs

Slingbox, a subsidiary of EchoStar, just released its M2 set-top box, priced at $199. The new set-top box enables viewers to watch live, pay TV and DVR content over the Internet, anywhere and from any device. The M2 adds functionalities not available in the M1, which debuted in 2014, including the ability to shift content from mobile devices to TVs via Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV or Roku. Users will also be able to download the Slingplayer app on each device for free; the trade-off is viewing short pre-roll ads. Continue reading New Slingbox Set-Top Box Shifts Content From Mobile to TVs

Oculus Acquires Technology That Enables Direct VR Interaction

With the acquisition of Pebbles Interfaces, Oculus VR is poised to replace its Touch controller with hand-sensing technology that allows users to interact directly with the virtual world. This is Oculus’ latest acquisition this year of companies offering expertise in tracking and 3D mapping. Pebbles’ technology, based on custom optics, sensor systems and algorithms, tracks hand movement in real space, with detailed mapping of where each hand is in relation to the other. The terms of the purchase were not announced. Continue reading Oculus Acquires Technology That Enables Direct VR Interaction

Amazon Declares Prime Day Success in Sales, New Members

Amazon reports that Prime Day sales exceeded those on Black Friday 2014, the biggest Black Friday to date. Although many consumers mocked Prime Day online and in tweets, the sales event succeeded at drawing in more new members to the Amazon Prime subscription service that day than any other day in Amazon history, prompting Amazon to declare Prime Day an annual event. Walmart, which held its own online sales event to compete with Amazon, also declared a day of record-breaking online traffic and sales. Continue reading Amazon Declares Prime Day Success in Sales, New Members

TV Academy to Distribute Chromecast Devices to Emmy Voters

With the aim of enhancing the viewing experience of this year’s Emmy-nominated content, the Television Academy inked a deal with Google to distribute Chromecast devices to all of the Academy’s eligible voting members. This new initiative also prompts a rule change, enabling voting members to vote for all major program categories as well as those professional categories pertinent to their expertise. In addition to widening the voting, the new rule means an end to the Academy’s “blue ribbon” panels. Continue reading TV Academy to Distribute Chromecast Devices to Emmy Voters

Wi-Fi Alliance Debuts Wi-Fi Aware for Quick Device Connection

After three years of research and development, the Wi-Fi Alliance released Wi-Fi Aware, which instantly connects Wi-Fi-enabled products with devices, applications or information without an Internet connection or mobile data. Wi-Fi Aware software works continuously in the background, sending out short messages that dramatically lessen power consumption. With a Wi-Fi Aware smartphone, a user could find nearby services, videogame players or anyone from a high school friend to a business colleague. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Debuts Wi-Fi Aware for Quick Device Connection

New Emergency Patches for Flash Steps Up Calls for Its Demise

To patch two critical zero-day vulnerabilities, Adobe Systems issued an emergency update for its Flash media player. That’s in addition to a previously unknown vulnerability discovered over a week ago in a 400-gigabyte data dump published after hackers rooted the servers of Hacking Team. That bug allowed hackers to covertly install malware on end-user computers. Mozilla now blocks the hacker-susceptible Flash, and several industry leaders are calling for Adobe to pull the plug on the bug-infested media player. Continue reading New Emergency Patches for Flash Steps Up Calls for Its Demise

ATSC 3.0 Field Tests Move Next-Gen TV Broadcasts Forward

Cleveland’s Fox affiliate WJW-TV is engaged in new field tests for ATSC 3.0, under an experimental broadcast license from the FCC. The station, owned by Tribune Broadcasting, is providing a TV transmitter, tower and 6-MHz channel for tests that began in May and are conducted by LG Electronics, its Zenith R&D Lab and GatesAir. Dubbed Futurecast, the core technologies are being tested for the baseline Physical Layer transmission system, which will achieve ATSC Candidate Standard status this summer. Continue reading ATSC 3.0 Field Tests Move Next-Gen TV Broadcasts Forward

Sony Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Employee Projects

Sony launched First Flight, a crowdfunding platform/online store for its employees’ projects seeking outside funding. In the company’s Creative Lounge, employees and outsiders can develop pitches and construct prototype products. Some of these nascent projects have been presented to senior Sony executives, and Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has given the Seed Acceleration Project (SAP) a relatively large amount of autonomy. Among the more developed products is the HUIS programmable universal remote. Continue reading Sony Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Employee Projects

Authors and Booksellers Accuse Amazon of Antitrust Violations

A group of authors, their representatives and booksellers have banded together to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for antitrust violations. The move by authors and booksellers comes on the heels of an ugly contract dispute, during which Amazon made it difficult to buy books from publisher Hachette. Five years ago, Amazon secretly asked regulators to examine the practices of leading publishers, a move that ultimately gave the e-commerce company more influence. Continue reading Authors and Booksellers Accuse Amazon of Antitrust Violations

VR Experts Look at Crowdsourced Ratings to Improve Content

Virtual reality stakeholders debating ways to move content into the mainstream are looking at crowdsourced ratings to help improve quality control. Although content is improving in this nascent genre, one bad VR experience can turn off a first-time user to subsequent tries. This, and the need to get a quantifiable number of headsets into the marketplace were identified as chief impediments to VR achieving more widespread acceptance, concluded participants at the first SoCal Virtual Reality Conference and Expo at UC Irvine. Continue reading VR Experts Look at Crowdsourced Ratings to Improve Content

SoundCloud Signs Warner, Grows Mix of Music and Social Media

SoundCloud, which has mixed music and community for eight years, now boasts 150 million registered users who have uploaded over 100 million tracks and clips. Such artists as Prince, Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé and Drake have used the platform to release special tracks, remixes and promos. But as SoundCloud transitions from a free service with unlicensed content to one that licenses content and shares revenue, it teeters between two different creative models and the potential of a major breakthrough or bust. Continue reading SoundCloud Signs Warner, Grows Mix of Music and Social Media

New Reddit CEO Faces Angry Site Users and Low Staff Morale

In the wake of Ellen Pao’s resignation as Reddit’s interim chief executive, co-founder Steve Huffman was brought in by the company’s board to take her place. Pao left after eight months in the wake of a mishandled firing of a popular employee, which triggered protests by hundreds of thousands of the site’s 160 million monthly visitors. Since Huffman left the day-to-day operations of Reddit in 2009, three years after its sale to Advance Publications, he founded online travel site Hipmunk where he will remain as CTO. Continue reading New Reddit CEO Faces Angry Site Users and Low Staff Morale