Microsoft Leads the Pack in Requests to Remove URLs from Google

  • Google reports that it received 1.13 million requests in the past month to remove URLs for allegedly infringing copyrights.
  • “Who complains loudest about Google linking to infringing content in its search results?” asks Ars Technica. “The movie and music industries, of course, who absolutely delight in taking whacks at the search engine. But thanks to a huge new trove of data released today by Google, we know that the worldwide top takedown requestor — by far — is actually Microsoft.”
  • Top copyright owners making requests include Microsoft, NBCUniversal and RIAA member labels. Top targeted domains included filestube.com, torrentz.eu and 4shared.com.
  • Google says it removes 97 percent of requested links.
  • “We recently rejected two requests from an organization representing a major entertainment company, asking us to remove a search result that linked to a major newspaper’s review of a TV show. The requests mistakenly claimed copyright violations of the show, even though there was no infringing content,” explains Fred von Lohmann, Google’s senior copyright counsel.

Multiple Lawsuits Filed Surrounding Dish Auto Hop Feature

  • As reported earlier this week by ETCentric, tensions continue to mount in regards to controversy surrounding the Auto Hop feature of Dish Network’s new DVRs.
  • TV Networks are taking legal action against the ad-skipping feature. Fox, CBS and NBC also charge that Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime is an unauthorized video-on-demand service. PrimeTime Anytime automatically records prime time programming from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and makes it available for eight days.
  • “Fox’s suit also singles out a third Dish technology for treading on the rights it has granted Amazon and iTunes to sell content online: the Sling Adapter, which allows subscribers to move content intended for their TVs to digital devices,” reports Variety.
  • In a related article, Broadcasting & Cable notes that Dish has filed its own suit against the four major broadcast networks for seeking to “stifle” its Auto Hop feature.
  • Dish explains that Auto Hop does not erase or delete commercials, but rather “allows consumers who are already time-shifting their television viewing to skip commercials more efficiently by automatically fast-forwarding through all the commercials at the touch of a button.”
  • The company believes Auto Hop is “a legitimate, legal DVR feature, and Dish is in full compliance with copyright law and its rebroadcast agreements with the major television networks.”
  • Fox disagrees: “We were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, Dish Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television.”

Global File Registry Uses Kazaa Code to Block Pirated Content

  • Global File Systems, a subsidiary of Kazaa owner Brilliant Digital Entertainment, is selling software that replaces links to pirated content with links to legitimate content that users can purchase.
  • “And soon, a version of the same technology could be used by ISPs to inject their own advertisements into search results — a capability that is sure to raise the ire of proponents of network neutrality,” reports Ars Technica.
  • The software, Global File Registry (which advertises with the tagline “What goes up can come down”), is derived from Truenames, a file identification technology that was once part of Kazaa.
  • Several major companies have already purchased the software including Skype, Level 3 Communications, and Google. And it is being marketed to ISPs in Australia, New Zealand and France.
  • Moreover, it is being given away to law enforcement customers for use in blocking access to child pornography sites.

Google Gets Ready to Invest in Popular YouTube Gamer Channel

  • In its first move to directly back a content company, Google is participating in a funding round for Machinima, a prominent content partner for YouTube. In contrast to Google’s other investments for YouTube content, this is not a loan but investment for an actual equity stake.
  • This round is expected to raise more than $30 million, which will value Machinima at $190 million.
  • Machinima, which reportedly generates in excess of a billion views per month, produces videos primarily for videogame players.
  • “The deal may ruffle some feathers among other video makers, some of whom already complain that YouTube favors Machinima and a handful of prominent content partners,” reports Peter Kafka for AllThingsD.
  • “The counter to that argument: Why shouldn’t Google back content producers who make stuff for its properties? After all, YouTube is trying to become more like TV. And most of the big TV networks own their own studios outright,” suggests Kafka.

Does BitTorrent Piracy Serve as Marketing Tool that Boosts Music Sales?

  • A study by Robert Hammond, assistant professor at North Carolina State University, shows that file sharing of an album prior to its release actually benefits sales.
  • The study was conducted on a sample of 1,095 albums from 1,075 artists from May 2010 to January 2011.
  • Hammond collected download statistics on new albums released on the largest BitTorrent tracker dedicated to music and compared this data with sales numbers.
  • “I isolate the causal effect of file sharing of an album on its sales by exploiting exogenous variation in how widely available the album was prior to its official release date,” Hammond explains in his paper. “The findings suggest that file sharing of an album benefits its sales. I don’t find any evidence of a negative effect in any specification, using any instrument.”
  • “However, according to the research, sales may actually be hurt by going after these sites,” reports TorrentFreak. “Hammond’s findings suggest that piracy itself acts as a form of advertising similar to radio play and media campaigns, where more downloads result in a moderate increase in sales.”

IBM Opts to Outlaw Siri on Internal Networks: Cites Privacy Concerns

  • IBM has decided to ban the use of Apple’s Siri on its internal networks as the company is concerned that confidential emails, messages, appointments, addresses, and more are being stored by Apple.
  • According to Apple’s iPhone Software License Agreement: “When you use Siri or Dictation, the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple in order to convert what you say into text.”
  • “Because some of the data that Siri collects can be very personal, the American Civil Liberties Union put out a warning about Siri just a couple of months ago,” reports Wired.
  • The privacy concerns are especially felt by corporate users. “Just having it known that you’re at a certain customer’s location might be in violation of a non-disclosure agreement,” says Edward Wrenbeck, lead developer of the original Siri iPhone app.
  • However, Apple’s handling of Siri data may not be all that different from what takes place with other Internet companies. “I really don’t think it’s something to worry about,” adds Wrenbeck. “People are already doing things on these mobile devices. Maybe Siri makes their life a little bit easier, but it’s not exactly opening up a new avenue that wasn’t there before.”
  • Google was forced to anonymize its search information due to privacy concerns. Perhaps Apple may be forced to do the same.

Augmented Reality Glasses: Computer Screens Before Your Very Eyes

  • A number of companies are developing augmented reality glasses that display information in the wearer’s field of view.
  • Google, for example, is rumored to be selling its own Google Glasses next year.
  • Potential applications include turn-by-turn directions, retrieval of information, face and object recognition, automatic language translation, etc.
  • One device from Recon Instruments is made for skiers and snowboarders and displays speed, text messages, caller ID and plays music.
  • In entertainment, glasses can be used for augmented reality games.
  • “By 2020, the world will have perfect augmented vision,” said Dave Lorenzini, who designs augmented reality apps and related businesses at consulting firm Augmented Reality Co. “It’s like creating the Internet again but inside the real world.”

Global Software Study Suggests More Than Half of PC Users are Pirates

  • A survey of 15,000 computer users from 33 countries found that 57 percent admitted to using pirated software. This represents a significant increase from last year’s 42 percent.
  • The Business Software Alliance (BSA) estimates that the global cost of software piracy has reached $63.4 billion annually.
  • Computer users in emerging markets worldwide are more likely to use pirated software than those from mature markets.
  • The BSA says only 20 percent of software pirates feel current enforcement approaches are an effective deterrent.
  • “It is clear that the fight against software piracy is far from over. Although emerging markets are of the greatest concern, the problem is still persisting in mature markets, in which one in four admit to using pirated software. One of the more troubling issues is that business decision makers purchase some legitimate copies but then turn a blind eye to further (illegal) installations for new users, locations and devices,” said Robin Fry, commercial services partner at DAC Beachcroft.

The Future of Wi-Fi is Expected to be Faster, Smarter, More Efficient

  • Wi-Fi technology is about to experience several significant upgrades.
  • “Technology upgrades we’ll see within the next year or so will make Wi-Fi much smarter and more efficient in how it distributes signals,” reports Ars Technica. “It’ll be so fast, and integrated into so many devices, that you may finally get to dump a lot of those cables cluttering your living room.”
  • The 802.11ac standard, which may be certified as early as December, will use the 5MHz band to enable 1.3 gigabits per second bandwidth. Moreover, it will include beamforming technology that focuses the signal to increase the range while also reducing the interference problem.
  • Coming later in 2013, the 802.11ad standard will operate at 5-7 gigabits per second over 60GHz. At this speed, one will be able to stream uncompressed movies.
  • Finally, the Wi-Fi Alliance industry group is also adding a Passpoint program to make it easier to connect to hotspots; Voice-Enterprise certification for enhanced voice quality; better power management features; and a standard that allows Wi-Fi to network with appliances, CE devices and automobiles.

U.S. Copyright Office Considers New Jailbreaking Rules for Smartphones

  • The U.S. Copyright Office is deliberating whether to allow Americans to jailbreak their mobile phones as an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
  • An exception was granted in 2010 for mobile phones and must be reauthorized every three years by both the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress. The exception must be balanced against the potential harm that increased piracy might occur.
  • “Jailbreaking and rooting are techniques used to get past manufacturer-installed roadblocks that prevent users from having full control over their devices,” explains Wired. “Every three years, the U.S. Copyright Office entertains requests to create temporary loopholes in the law that makes it unlawful to circumvent encryption technologies in items that you buy.”
  • For the moment, regulators appear to agree that jailbreaking phones may be necessary to allow users to run the apps they desire. Still, Apple has argued in the past that this may ruin its business model.
  • Advocates are also looking at expanding the ability to jailbreak tablets and game consoles. Regulators are more skeptical about the need to do so on consoles. Moreover, they appear to be concerned that doing so on tablets “might jeopardize” copyrighted content, especially on e-readers.

Social Marketing: GM Plans to Stop Paying for Advertising on Facebook

  • General Motors announced it will stop advertising on Facebook, after determining that paid ads on the social network have had little impact on car purchases. The company will, however, continue to maintain free Facebook pages, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The decision is significant, since it comes at a time when Facebook is determining how it will monetize its 900 million users and justify a potential $104 billion IPO.
  • GM is the nation’s third largest advertiser and its decision may influence other companies that have said they are also finding it difficult to measure Facebook’s ad effectiveness.
  • “Companies in industries from consumer electronics to financial services tell us they’re no longer sure Facebook is the best place to dedicate their social marketing budget — a shocking fact given the site’s dominance among users,” suggests Nate Elliott, an analyst at market research firm Forrester.
  • Elliott believes other companies will begin shifting advertising dollars elsewhere. According to a related SlashGear report, Elliott notes Facebook’s “inconsistent jumping between different advertising strategies as it desperately hunts for something that will actually make it money” as a main reason for frustration.
  • Facebook has also struggled to profit from the growing number of users on mobile phones and tablets. A wide variety of businesses have told Elliott that “they’re no longer sure Facebook is the best place to dedicate their social marketing budget.”

CEA Releases New Data: Consumers Still Interested in 3D TV

  • The Consumer Electronics Association released data this week that suggests a quarter of prospective TV buyers in the U.S. are searching for a 3D-capable set.
  • “The consumers we talk to want their TVs to be smart and they want them to be 3D,” says analyst Richard Doherty of Envisioneering. “Consumer interest is alive and well.”
  • According to Rod Riegel, a spokesman for 3Net, 3D TV sets will reach more than 15.3 million U.S. homes by the end of the year and 30 million U.S. homes by the end of 2013. By comparison, HDTV was in only 2 million homes three years into its progression.
  • Still, growth in 3D channels such as 3Net has been slow. Nintendo announced it will shut down its 3D programming channel by the end of June.
  • “The other big 3D channel introduced at about the same time as 3Net, Disney’s ESPN 3D, has also struggled to expand its carriage beyond a launch group of top multichannel operators that included Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse — and in fact, U-Verse dropped the channel last summer citing low demand,” reports paidContent.

Viewers Rarely Drawn to Live TV, Yet Upfronts Still Booking Ad Revenue

  • David Carr of The New York Times observes how his own family uses TV, noting a dramatic downturn in the amount of time spent with live broadcasting.
  • He cites TV-related apps (especially for sports), Netflix, Hulu Plus and Apple TV as resources his family uses regularly.
  • “My 15-year-old has a television in her room, but it’s not even on the cable-broadcast grid; it is wired instead to a Web-enabled Wii,” explains Carr. “Like the laptop and smartphone that she never seems to be without, the television is just one more Web-enabled portal for content she controls.”
  • Live TV “seems very last century,” he writes. In fact, live ratings for network programs have declined for 14 consecutive quarters. In contrast, DVRs and video on demand each exist in nearly half of American homes. And online viewing with Netflix, Hulu and others has increased more than 46 percent over the last year.
  • “Outside of the professional football season or some breaking national news event, the television at our house has become uncoupled from the commercial-driven environment that drives the broadcast and cable business,” writes Carr. “We haven’t cut the cord so much as kinked it in a way that commercials rarely sneak through.”
  • Still, the big four broadcast networks and the CW will book some $9 billion in advertising revenue while the cable networks take in more than $9.6 billion during the upfronts. In spite of losing viewers, TV remains the mass medium of choice for advertisers.

Sidebar: Bing Launches New Social Search Feature Aimed at Google

  • Microsoft has launched “Sidebar,” a social network search update to Bing. The feature searches your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ networks to find people who fit your search criteria.
  • Google added a similar feature early this year called “Search Plus Your World,” but it only works with Google+.
  • Microsoft has also launched “Snapshot,” a feature that provides answers on topics such as restaurant reservations, hotel reviews, maps and movie trailers.
  • “Bing’s strategy is pointedly different than that of Google, which is laser-focused on building its own social network,” reports CNN. “Though Google+ has grown to nearly 100 million users, analysts are still trying to determine how active and engaged they actually are.”
  • If successful, the new features may help increase Bing’s 15.3 percent share of the search market. Google still retains a commanding 66.4 percent lead.

Will Pirate Pay Technology Help the Studios Combat BitTorrent Piracy?

  • A Russian start-up, Pirate Pay, which is backed by an investment from Microsoft, has developed a technology to stop BitTorrent downloads.
  • The idea was conceived three years ago when developers realized their traffic management solution could stop BitTorrent traffic if necessary.
  • “After creating the prototype, we realized we could more generally prevent files from being downloaded, which meant that the program had great promise in combating the spread of pirated content,” says Pirate Pay CEO Andrei Klimenko.
  • The company was hired by Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures to protect the film, “Vysotsky. Thanks to God, I’m alive.” Reportedly, 44,845 transfers of the film were stopped.
  • “We used a number of servers to make a connection to each and every P2P client that distributed this film. Then Pirate Pay sent specific traffic to confuse these clients about the real IP addresses of other clients and to make them disconnect from each other,” explains Klimenko.
  • “Whether Pirate Pay is truly different and more effective than any of the other solutions remains to be seen,” reports TorrentFreak. “Even if it’s hugely effective, the scattered nature of BitTorrent makes it practically impossible to stop all infringing downloads of a movie, while the costs may outweigh the ‘losses’ that are prevented.”

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