California Okays Production for June 12, But Hurdles Remain

California governor Gavin Newsom’s office said that film and television shoots can begin again as soon as June 12. According to the California Department of Public Health, however, the county public health officers must first approve where the film, TV and music productions will take place. Further, everyone on the production must adhere to a detailed guide on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmissions, including the end of craft services’ buffets and strict cleaning measures such as wiping down handheld props after every use. Continue reading California Okays Production for June 12, But Hurdles Remain

Facebook Examines Content Policies, Removes Hate Groups

After weeks of demonstrations and unrest in the U.S. and abroad, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that, although the company has policies on handling content related to violence and civil unrest, “there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state.” The social giant will also review its policies with regard to countries with violent conflicts and civil unrest. Facebook removed almost 200 accounts linked to white supremacist groups. Continue reading Facebook Examines Content Policies, Removes Hate Groups

Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

At Amazon Lab126, researchers proposed three related AI algorithms to create Outfit-VITON, an image-based virtual try-on system for apparel. The algorithms could form the basis of an assistant to help a customer shop for clothes by describing a product’s variations, recommending items that go with the one selected, and synthesizing the image of a model wearing clothes to show how all the items work as an outfit. The algorithms will be presented at the annual IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR will be held virtually this year, June 14-19). Continue reading Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

An Insider Peek at Google’s New Android TV Streaming Device

Google has a lot of assets: consumer tech, social networking, messaging, music streaming, Chromecast. Yet when it comes to streaming television, it falls behind the big players, such as Amazon and Roku. The company has tried to get Android TV built into television sets but hasn’t achieved any momentum, and Chromecast requires consumers to navigate layers of abstraction. The XDA Developers portal revealed insider information about Google’s next streaming video dongle, featuring an Android TV interface and, for the first time, a remote control. Continue reading An Insider Peek at Google’s New Android TV Streaming Device

Aussie Court Rules Publishers Liable for Facebook Comments

An Australian court ruled that newspapers and TV stations that post articles on Facebook will be considered publishers of the comments that Facebook users post, and therefore liable for them. Defendants in the original lawsuit — among them News Corp. and the Sydney Morning Herald — are considering an appeal. These two outlets noted that, “today’s decision means the media cannot share any story via Facebook without fear of being sued for comments which they did not publish and have no control over.” Continue reading Aussie Court Rules Publishers Liable for Facebook Comments

Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

Instagram users have embedded images in their posts, believing that they were protected against copyright claims. Facebook now explains that, “while our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API.” In other words, a user who embeds someone’s Instagram post on her website has to ask the poster in advance for a separate license to the post’s images. Those who don’t could be subject to a lawsuit. Professional photographers will be able to better negotiate with publishers based on these terms. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

AMC Theatres told its investors that “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.” In a new 8-K filing, ahead of its earning call next week, the company described how it is trying to survive but also stressed how badly the coronavirus pandemic is eroding its financial stability. The movie theater chain had $5 billion in debt by the end of 2019 and continues to borrow more. Adding to its woes is the worry that distributors will postpone new film releases. Continue reading AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

Zoom Clarifies its Relationship with Law Enforcement and FBI

Zoom founder and chief executive Eric Yuan said his company will assist the FBI and law enforcement by providing end-to-end encryption only to paying customers, but not for the majority of those who use its free version, “in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.” During widespread U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd, Yuan’s comments did not go over well, with some users threatening to switch to rival services. But his words were misinterpreted and taken out of context. “We plan to provide end-to-end encryption to users for whom we can verify identity, thereby limiting harm to vulnerable groups,” explained Yuan. Continue reading Zoom Clarifies its Relationship with Law Enforcement and FBI

Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

Pinterest, the website and mobile app that describes itself as a “visual discovery engine,” showcased “Today,” a tab on the user’s Pinterest home page that features topics and ideas curated by Pinterest staff and trending pins selected by algorithms. “Today” is a response to changing customer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. The platform’s global monthly active users reached 367+ million, up from about 300 million last September. During the last few months, searches and boards have both leapt up 60 percent compared to last year. Continue reading Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

President Orders Investigation of Foreign Taxes on U.S. Firms

The Trump administration stated that it will open an investigation into digital taxes levied by foreign governments on American commerce. U.S. technology companies such as eBay and Google, among others, are most likely to be impacted. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will conduct the investigation into the European Union as well as Austria, Brazil, Britain, the Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain and Turkey.  The investigation takes place amid ongoing global negotiations for a consensus solution. Continue reading President Orders Investigation of Foreign Taxes on U.S. Firms

Microsoft Teams Faces Videoconferencing Rivals Zoom, Slack

Zoom Video Communications skyrocketed when the coronavirus pandemic necessitated remote working and learning. But Microsoft doubled down on creating competitive features for Microsoft Teams, and then promoting its videoconferencing and collaboration software to companies and organizations in need. When Zoom was temporarily sidelined by security issues, Microsoft saw its opportunity to step in. In New York City’s school district, for example, Microsoft established 110,000+ Teams while Zoom usage was on pause. Continue reading Microsoft Teams Faces Videoconferencing Rivals Zoom, Slack

BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

The BBC partnered with Microsoft to release an early version of Beeb, its digital voice assistant. Its U.K. debut will be part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program to encourage users to help improve Beeb prior to a wider rollout. The BBC first announced Beeb last year, noting that the aim was to integrate voice services into all its products. The public broadcaster will collect data by requiring users to log in to Beeb with their BBC accounts but such data will not be used for targeted ads. Continue reading BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (“The Task Force”) submitted its suggested safety guidelines for the reopening of film, television and streaming industries to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and California governor Gavin Newsom. The Task Force, comprised of studios, guilds and producers, published a 22-page “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines” white paper that includes the need for cast and crew physical distancing “whenever possible.” Industry leaders based the proposals on discussions with health experts and guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.  Continue reading Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

YouTube is pitching its pay-TV service to advertisers with the aim of getting them to spend money they ordinarily allocate to traditional and, increasingly, streaming TV platforms. Marketers, however, still think of YouTube as a mobile (and desktop) video platform with a lot of lower-quality user-generated content rather than a TV service such as Hulu. YouTube and YouTube TV garner 100 million U.S. viewers each month, with watch time up 80 percent year-over-year in March. Continue reading YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

Yamaha Releases Remote Cheering App for Empty Stadiums

Yamaha developed its “Remote Cheerer powered by SoundUD” system, an app to let Japanese sports fans in remote locales convey encouragement and displeasure to their teams in an empty stadium. In a recent test, users in a number of locations sent boos and cheers to 58 speakers in the 50,000-seat empty Shizuoka Stadium ECOPA. A Tunisian soccer team did exactly this in 2013, after the Arab Spring made mass gatherings impossible. Their app allowed 93,000 fans to cheer on the players via 40 speakers in the stadium. Continue reading Yamaha Releases Remote Cheering App for Empty Stadiums

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