RIAA and ISPs Scheduled to Start Policing Internet Traffic this Summer

  • The RIAA and a number of ISPs — including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon — plan to monitor their traffic and directly address those users who are infringing.
  • RIAA chairman Cary Sherman explains that “each ISP has to develop their infrastructure for automating the system.” Sherman says the traffic monitoring is scheduled to start July 12.
  • The major labels will monitor BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer networks looking for copyright infringement. Transgressions will be reported to the ISPs who will contact customers and issue a warning or two.
  • If the infringements continue, the ISP could throttle or “curtail” a connection.
  • “Still, there are several holes in the policing scheme the copyright holders and the ISPs have set up,” reports Ars Technica. “Peer-to-peer services will be the most affected here, and materials downloaded using a VPN, downloaded from an obscure torrent site, or downloaded from media portals will likely be unaffected.”

Search Refresh: Google to Add Semantic Search Features to its Service

  • In the next few months, Google will be adding some significant new functionality to its online search service. Rather than simply returning a list of websites based on keywords, it will use “semantic search” to determine the search meaning and return related information.
  • For example, a search of “Lake Tahoe” will also return location, altitude, temperature and facts about the lake.
  • Semantic search will also attempt to answer complex questions directly, such as “What are the 10 largest lakes in California?”
  • A search of “Ernest Hemingway” would return not only the author’s books for browsing, but also related authors and their books, plus where the books can be purchased.
  • The technology will allow Google to show users more relevant ads, which would appear on these related pages.

Walt Mossberg Reviews the New iPad: The Best Tablet on the Planet

  • Walt Mossberg cites a dramatically improved screen and superior cellular speed as the high points of Apple’s new iPad in his Wall Street Journal review.
  • The new display is like “getting a new eyeglasses prescription… Text is much sharper and photos look richer.”
  • The new iPad is 8 percent heavier and 7 percent thicker, but it retains the long battery life which is much better than any other tablets Mossberg has tested.
  • The 4G LTE gave the impression of being continuously on Wi-Fi with average speeds over 17mbps on Verizon and 12mbps on AT&T. You can also use the device as a personal hotspot — “a base station to connect laptops and other devices to the Internet.”
  • The iPad has some 200,000 apps and a multitude of music, books, periodicals and video options available.
  • Mossberg recommends the new iPad as “the best tablet on the planet.”

Yahoo Sues Facebook for Patent Infringement: Will it Impact IPO?

  • Yahoo is suing Facebook for patent infringement. The suit alleges that Facebook’s News Feed, advertising methods, privacy settings and more use 10 of Yahoo’s social networking patents.
  • Yahoo is seeking triple damages and seeks to prevent Facebook from using its patents.
  • “The attack by the Silicon Valley Internet icon against perhaps the most powerful consumer social networking site today — also based in tech’s heartland and also an important partner of Yahoo — is sure to be a controversial one, pitting Yahoo against a company that has surpassed it handily in recent years in regards to popularity among consumers,” reports AllThingsD.
  • The move against Facebook was hotly debated within Yahoo with many execs reportedly opposing it. Yahoo has typically used patents only to defend itself.
  • “Yahoo’s lawsuit is the most prominent in the social networking arena, a sector that has seen a huge explosion of late,” notes the article. “Its timing could not be worse for Facebook, since it is in a quiet period for its upcoming IPO, which is expected to value the company at close to $100 billion”

Intel Working on Web-Based TV Service to Compete with Cable

  • In a bid to diversify beyond computers, Intel is developing a Web-based subscription TV service that would compete directly with cable and satellite TV services.
  • The plan is to become a “virtual cable operator” using Intel technology that would begin by late 2012.
  • Intel has not yet acquired programming. It is currently making pitches to media companies and asking what they would charge. It has also setup an Intel Media group based in London, which is working on the user experience.
  • “The new effort would mark a big shift for Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini, who has made clear his determination to move the company beyond the computer industry,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Those efforts so far have include a series of TV-related businesses that have largely failed to gain much traction.”
  • Media companies have been resistant to similar ideas as they could damage profitable cable and satellite businesses.

Partnership Exclusive: Will Netflix be Offered as an On-Demand Option?

  • Netflix is reportedly in discussions with cable companies to consider adding the service as a cable TV on-demand option, reports Reuters.
  • Partnering with cable TV providers rather than competing with them via cord cutting would represent a key move for Netflix.
  • CEO Reed Hastings has pointed out that cable TV providers are looking for a competitor to HBO.
  • “At least one cable company could end up experimenting with offering Netflix by the end of the year, even though the company would have to modify its content licensing deals, which currently typically don’t allow Netflix to bring programming to cable set-top boxes,” adds The Hollywood Reporter.
  • A deal like this, with pay TV distributors, could help Netflix with survival as it struggles somewhat, “but would force the company to reduce its terminal revenue opportunity by sharing average revenue per user with [distributors],” explains analyst Tony Wible of Janney Montgomery Scott.

Positive Reviews for New iPad: Are We Heading Toward a Post-PC Revolution?

  • “It’s sort of funny that the only major thing those in the rumor business got wrong was the name of the new iPad,” reports TechCrunch. “It’s not the previously presumed ‘iPad 3,’ nor is it the ‘iPad HD.’ It’s just the iPad. And that’s what it will be from now on.”
  • During yesterday’s Apple event, CEO Tim Cook emphasized the “Post-PC Revolution,” noting that Apple has sold 315 iOS devices.
  • Last quarter, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads. This was more than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC line worldwide: HP — 15.1 million PCs, Lenovo — 13 million, Dell — 11.9 million, Acer — 9.8 million.
  • TechCrunch offers a positive review of the company’s new tablet. The new iPad’s display “makes everything look like a printed photograph.” It seems fast. The 4G LTE will be faster than many broadband connections. The camera is “much, much, much, much, much better.” And iPhoto will be fun to use.
  • “You’re going to see a lot more of this type of innovation,” Tim Cook said. “We’re just getting started.”
  • In a related first impressions post: “When I pulled up a nice, high resolution photograph on the iPad 3rd-gen, I genuinely could not tell the difference between what I was seeing onscreen, and a nice, beautifully shot, well-printed, glossy photograph. It was seriously to that level,” comments Ryan Block, co-founder of gdgt.

Disc-to-Digital: Warner Home Entertainment Sending DVDs to the Cloud

  • Warner Home Entertainment’s “disc-to-digital” initiative will allow people to convert their DVDs into digital files stored and played back from the cloud.
  • People will be able to take their DVDs to a store that will process the digital conversion. Later, Internet retailers will email copies of DVDs purchased from them. Finally, future hardware will upload a digital copy for consumers.
  • Warner Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara discussed the new initiative last week at Morgan Stanley’s tech, media and telecom conference in San Francisco.
  • There will be an option to get an HD version for an additional fee, although cost for the service was not specified.
  • “Persuading consumers to keep buying movies and building collections in the digital age is crucial to the bottom line of Warner Bros. and Hollywood’s other major studios, Tsujihara said. Sales are 20 to 30 times more profitable than low-cost rentals from Redbox or Netflix,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Is TV Everywhere Slowed by Technical Holdups and Tangled Pacts?

  • After almost three years of effort, TV Everywhere is still largely unrealized. The biggest obstacle is the need to negotiate separate agreements for online rights.
  • Meanwhile, alternative online providers are experiencing growth.
  • Google’s YouTube, for example, is pursuing its own niche channel strategy. Netflix is buying online rights to old shows and funding original programming. Hulu has some 31 million users and growing.
  • While program producers are anxious to hold on to the $38 billion/year they earn from cable fees, they don’t all agree on how to make their programming available online.
  • Companies such as News Corp. and Disney want to make their shows available via broadcast, cable and online through Hulu. Others like Comcast want more control over where the consumer can view its shows. Dish Networks is more open to allowing the consumer to decide.

Third Wave of Media: Salar Kamangar of YouTube Discusses Web Video

  • YouTube head Salar Kamangar answers questions during the D: Dive Into Media event and discusses how Google sees an Internet that offers the ability to offer niche and interactive content, with YouTube as the platform for these “channels.”
  • The creator of “CSI,” for example, is developing a YouTube channel that will be “5D” by getting audience input on the plot endings, the audience will be able to select their own ending, and there will be games around the content.
  • Kamangar talks about watching a sporting event in a “6D” experience — one that allows you to select your camera views, watch with people you know (possibly with representation of these friends in the stadium), and potentially alter the outcome of the game by getting involved in calling plays.
  • Google is “catalyzing” these channels with content creators. They want to get viewers to select their favorite channels for extended periods and justify ad rates comparable to traditional TV.
  • Even ads will become interactive. Viewers will be able to choose which ads they watch and advertisers will be able to interact with these viewers.

Is Social Media Making a Significant Splash in the Political Arena?

  • While Pew Research says Facebook and Twitter will play “modest roles” in the next presidential election, it is hard to ignore signs to the contrary, suggests author and former hedge fund manager Andy Kessler.
  • Last election, Facebook had only 50 million users compared to 845 million today. President Obama’s Twitter followers have grown from 4 million to 12 million users.
  • Facebook and Twitter have closely followed politically-influenced opinions, events and people including Rick Perry’s “oops,” Obama girl, Obama’s insider deals at DOE, and the Republican primaries.
  • Moreover, political affiliations can be determined by one’s likes and tweets making users a target for political advertising and promotion.
  • Social media may also be used to influence opinion leaders and grow ideas into blog stories that will eventually make their way into mainstream media.
  • “Those with social-media ‘influence’ are most likely to help campaigns convert interest into votes. Finding them in the haystack of the real world is tedious and expensive,” comments Kessler in the Wall Street Journal. “But harnessing fast servers and constantly upgraded algorithms to find them on social networks is already happening — and it’ll definitely sway who becomes our next president.”

Warner Music Group Announces YouTube Channel: The Warner Sound

  • Warner Music Group is launching its YouTube channel, “The Warner Sound,” that CEO Lyor Cohen says, “will be a unique opportunity for artists to further their creativity, excite their fans and diversify their careers.”
  • According to Variety: “Channel succeeds similar dedicated YouTube destinations by Pitchfork, Fuse, Bonnaroo and Vice, among others. The online video outlet began partnering with the content providers in October.”
  • Exclusive new content will include: a SXSW live webcast; “ManTazia,” an experimental film series by Cee-Lo Green; a documentary of WMG acts; and “Staged,” a scripted drama based on lyrics by WMG artists.
  • “The Warner Sound’s production partners include new media production company Mighty Fresh, which will be responsible for day-to-day editorial and production of original content.,” reports Variety.

Five Years In the Making, Nokia Plans 41-Megapixel Camera Phone

  • Nokia plans to incorporate a 41-megapixel sensor into its smartphone to enable digital zooming.
  • The sensor allows 3-4X digital zooming of both still photos and video while maintaining image sharpness.
  • Nokia’s research team worked with a number of optical zooms and experimented with different sensors, which led to a revelation. “If a big enough sensor could be fitted into the phone, the camera could just zoom digitally and throw away the unneeded pixels,” reports AllThingsD, regarding the team’s approach.
  • “Nokia has done it with the 808 PureView — or Hyperion, as it was code-named during development.”
  • At full resolution, the smartphone’s camera reportedly rivals professional cameras. Unfortunately, the technology will first appear on Nokia’s Symbian phone which is not sold in the U.S.

Wal-Mart Announces Plan to Assist Consumers with UltraViolet

  • Wal-Mart plans to help customers set up their UltraViolet accounts and register the DVDs they own for a small fee.
  • UltraViolet, which has been available for a year, currently has some one million users.
  • “The industry’s hope is that, with UltraViolet, it can encourage consumers to pay for content they might be tempted to download illegally from the Web,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The service has been slow to get off the ground due to service glitches, a limited catalog of titles, the need for multiple accounts, and the lack of Disney titles and iTunes compatibility, indicates the article.
  • “The potential Wal-Mart deal is part of a broader effort by the industry to hold on to revenue it is losing to both illegal and legitimate competition, such as some online storage lockers that play fast and loose with copyright law,” adds WSJ. “At the same time, technology companies, including Google Inc. and Apple Inc., have moved into the market for streaming entertainment with their popular YouTube and iTunes services, taking a cut of the revenue from each movie or TV show streamed.”

Will 3D Printing Lead To New Perspective on Intellectual Property Rights?

  • Unlike movies, music, books, pictures and written materials — which are protected by copyrights — physical objects must be protected by patents.
  • As the patent process is difficult, complex and costly, many objects are not covered by patents. And those which are covered only get protection for 20 years.
  • 3D printers will lead us to re-think the need to get permission to copy, improve or build with physical objects. Moreover, it may get us to reconsider how intellectual property rights in general should function in the digital world.
  • “It is impossible to predict all of the ways that widespread access to 3D printing could change our society,” comments Slate. “However, before it revolutionizes manufacturing, design, or anything else, 3D printing may first help us regain a much-needed perspective on the role intellectual property should have in the world.”