Wattpad Disrupts Hollywood Status Quo as New IP Incubator

Wattpad, a digital literature app with social networking, draws 65 million unique monthly visitors with a core readership of 13- to 35-year-olds, who spend about 20 billion combined minutes per month on the site. The site is home to user-generated stories and fan fiction in a wide range of genres, including sci-fi, young adult, horror and poetry. Wattpad also debuted Wattpad Studios two years ago, a “one-stop shop” for new intellectual properties in Hollywood, such as “The Kissing Booth,” a story turned into a Netflix movie. Continue reading Wattpad Disrupts Hollywood Status Quo as New IP Incubator

Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

Theme parks have a history of adding mobile games and apps such as “Club Penguin Island” and “Disney Magic Kingdom” to allow visitors to continue their experiences outside the park and encourage return visits. Now, augmented reality and virtual reality are opening the door to other game experiences that may make a transition from peoples’ homes into shared immersive environments in the theme park. Currently, VR gaming, with spending set to exceed $7 billion in 2018, is the most popular use case for the new technology. Continue reading Theme Parks Look to Game IPs for New VR, AR Experiences

Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

Senate Intelligence Committee vice chair Mark Warner wrote to Alphabet and Twitter to raise questions about their relationships with Chinese vendors. Now, he and other top Committee members want to call in Facebook, Google and Twitter chief executives to a public hearing about their platforms’ security, especially with regard to their relationships with Chinese telecommunication companies. Warner also asked Google for information about its partnership with Tencent for patent sharing and future technology development. Continue reading Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly is urging Amazon and eBay to pull listings from their sites for “rogue” set-top boxes that enable consumers to watch pirated TV shows. On Friday, the commissioner sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay CEO Devin Wenig noting that the STBs in question often falsely feature the FCC logo, and are responsible for encouraging “intellectual property theft and consumer fraud.” O’Rielly recognized that the companies have been working to address the problem, but wrote “despite your good work in this area, devices continue to make it to consumers through your websites.” Continue reading FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

Red Hat and Lenovo Entice Startups to Join Anti-Troll Network

Four years ago, Google and Canon founded the non-profit LOT (License on Transfer) Network to combat litigation by trolls — companies that don’t make products, but seek profits from challenging patents. Now, Red Hat and Lenovo Group, two of LOT’s 224 members, are offering free patents to any startup that joins the group. When the dotcom bubble burst 20 years ago, bankrupt firms sold their patents, which were bought by speculators. Patent suits are declining, but are still an issue for companies of all sizes. Continue reading Red Hat and Lenovo Entice Startups to Join Anti-Troll Network

U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

Less than a month ago, the U.S. Commerce Department sanctioned U.S. firms from supplying components to Chinese firm ZTE, claiming that the telecom equipment company had violated terms of a settlement regarding sales to Iran and North Korea. By last week, ZTE had closed its operations and, now, in a surprise intervention, President Donald Trump is stepping in to prevent ZTE’s bankruptcy, tweeting that he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping. ZTE had made a request for a stay of the sanctions order, and the Commerce Department is reviewing it. Continue reading U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

According to the latest figures from London-based piracy tracking firm MUSO, entertainment media piracy continues its ascent. Globally, consumers made more than 300 billion visits to piracy websites in 2017, up 1.6 percent from the previous year. Despite the popularity of legal streaming options such as Netflix and Spotify, MUSO found that the illegal streaming and downloading of television content and music increased last year, up 3.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. However, movie piracy decreased by 2.3 percent. Continue reading Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

President Trump recently explained that the United States is “acting swiftly on intellectual property theft,” adding that we cannot “allow this to happen as it has for many years.” Meanwhile, a panel of experts met on Capitol Hill last week to examine intellectual property theft and the growing threat of streaming media boxes. The MPAA revealed that the Department of Justice is looking into criminal action for several “candidates” that peddle pre-configured set-top boxes enabling piracy. The United Kingdom has already arrested numerous individuals accused of this behavior.

Continue reading Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

Why Netflix, Amazon Didn’t Buy Movies at Sundance Film Fest

For the last two years, Amazon Studios and Netflix dominated in acquisitions of films at the annual Sundance Film Festival, purchasing six titles each at the 2016 festival and, last year, Netflix leaving with 10 titles and Amazon with five. This year was a notable difference, with neither streaming giant buying a single title (yet) from the 2018 fest. Because of that, more traditional distribution companies and foreign sales agents were able to compete, the latter because the streamers bought worldwide rights. Continue reading Why Netflix, Amazon Didn’t Buy Movies at Sundance Film Fest

Harvard Metalens Research Could Impact AR/VR Applications

Researchers at Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) made a breakthrough in metalenses, flat surfaces that focus light via nanostructures. Metalenses, which would replace curved lenses, have thus far been able to focus only on a limited spectrum of light, but SEAS engineers created a metalens that can focus, in high resolution, on the entire visible spectrum of light in the same spot. Previously, that effect could only be achieved by stacking many conventional lenses. Continue reading Harvard Metalens Research Could Impact AR/VR Applications

Expect Security and Privacy to Emerge as Major CES Topics

As connected devices, big data technologies, and artificial intelligence play an increasingly important role across a growing list of business sectors, new approaches to security and privacy will be necessary to safeguard the lifeblood of these systems — data. We expect to see this manifest itself in a number of different ways next month at CES 2018. Differential privacy and, to a larger extent, blockchain technologies (and the growing attention paid to virtual currency systems) are the topics likely to dominate booths in Las Vegas and conference headlines. Continue reading Expect Security and Privacy to Emerge as Major CES Topics

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt has always wondered what it would be like to apply all his company’s technology to a city. The company’s founders got excited about the idea, and now it’s about to become a reality. Plucked out of half a dozen proposals, Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary, will work with Canadian government officials and other technologists to develop 800 acres of waterfront property in Toronto, creating a potential model of the smart city and licensing its technologies to other cities. Continue reading Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Facebook Uses Mapping Tech in Effort to Connect the World

Facebook developed mapping technology that has allowed it to create a data map of the human population in 23 countries so far. The map can zero in on any man-made structure as close as five meters, in any country on earth. Facebook says it is using the data to understand how humans are distributed around the planet, and thus be able to determine the best way to provide them with Internet access, via land, air or space. The goal is to create a “multi-pronged” Internet network to serve under-connected populations. Continue reading Facebook Uses Mapping Tech in Effort to Connect the World

Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

In June, the European Union fined Google €2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) over the practice of favoring its own services through Google Search results. Now, the tech behemoth has said it has complied, submitting details of how it will end its anti-competitive practices. The European Commission gave Google until September 28 to stop the practices, after which the company would be fined as much as 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover, estimated at about $12 million per day, based on its 2016 turnover of $90.3 billion. Continue reading Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

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