Copyright Regulators Reject Plan for Legal DVD and Game Cracking

  • The U.S. Copyright Office reauthorized circumvention of certain copyright encryption techniques for jailbreaking mobile phones and e-books, but the group remained unmovable when it came to game-console modifications and copying DVDs for personal use.
  • “The ruling hands yet another loss to digital rights groups who are waging an ongoing campaign to chip away at the scope of a law that limits citizens’ rights by treating copyright owners’ encryption techniques as sacrosanct,” reports Wired.
  • Every three years, groups can submit requests to the copyright office to change aspects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This year, the regulators argued that controls on DVDs and consoles are necessary to prevent piracy.
  • “The record demonstrated that access controls on gaming consoles protect not only the console firmware, but the video games and applications that run on the console as well. The evidence showed that video games are far more difficult and complex to produce than smartphone applications, requiring teams of developers and potential investments in the millions of dollars,” the copyright regulators state.
  • Regulators backed the Motion Picture Association of America in keeping DVD duplication illegal. Users can, however, legally circumvent encryption “to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment,” regulators say.
  • They are allowing jailbreaking for smartphones, but not for tablets. “When the only difference between a Galaxy Note and a Android tablet is an inch and a radio that can handle voice and data channels, it’s a pretty odd line to draw,” Wired writes.
  • While some consider e-books “tablets,” authorities allow circumvention for e-books to enable read-aloud functions for the sight impaired.

AMC and Activision Offer Viewers a Chance to Appear in Videogame

  • Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” could see their likeness used for characters in the new Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC game.
  • Activision Publishing has teamed with developer Terminal Reality for the eight-week “Dead Giveaway” contest, giving fans the opportunity to be a part of the upcoming game, a prequel to the show.
  • “Clues will be revealed during new episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’ season three on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC,” The Hollywood Reporter explains. “Fans can enter the clues online at and each week one lucky winner will be chosen to appear as a character in the game.”
  • “Terminal Reality will then use photos of his or her facial likeness to create a unique character whose backstory and chilling death scene may be encountered by players during ‘The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.'”
  • “‘The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct’ is a do-whatever-you-need-to-survive first-person action game that brings the deep, character-driven world of AMC’s Emmy Award-winning TV series onto console gaming systems and the PC in a frightening new way,” the article explains.
  • In the game, survivors will be able to learn about these characters and their horrific ends; there will be a special task to discover all the contest characters.
  • From now until December 2, 2012, every new episode of the show offers a new chance to win.

Publishers Association Suggests Book Industry Adapting to New Tech

  • With the advent of e-readers and tablets, people aren’t reading less and authors aren’t searching for new jobs. In fact, by many reports, consumers are reading more and, as this fall publishing season demonstrates, there is a great range of books still being produced.
  • “The notion that books are somehow less of a factor in the cultural or information ecosystem of our time doesn’t hold up to the evidence,” suggests The Atlantic.
  • Trade sales increased 13.1 percent to $2.33 billion in the first six months of 2012, according to the Association of American Publishers, which looked at 1,186 companies.
  • “The most important indicator is the continuing boost in e-book sales, up 34.4 percent, to $621.3 million, which makes it competitive with the totals for hardcover print sales,” explains the article. “When you consider that it was only with the appearance of Amazon’s first Kindle reader in 2007 that e-book sales took off, the pace of change is stunning.”
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently revealed that his company doesn’t make any money on selling Kindle devices. “What we find is that when people buy a Kindle they read four times as much as they did before they bought the Kindle,” said Bezos. “But they don’t stop buying paper books. Kindle owners read four times as much, but they continue to buy both types of books.”
  • Amazon notoriously makes hard bargains with publishers and they in turn have become dependent on Amazon and other tech companies.
  • “Instead of the competition among traditional booksellers for the attention of readers that was for so long the way books were sold,” The Atlantic writes, “publishers now must confront the immense power and reach of tech giants and adapt to their influence.”

Satellite Radio Turns to Telematics to Compete with Streaming Services

  • “Satellite radio seemed like a good idea a decade ago,” writes Wired. “But today, paying for satellite radio has become much less appealing, as gigabytes of music fit in the palm of your hand and smartphones with streaming services flood into vehicles.”
  • Satellite radio provider SiriusXM is now looking to telematics to supplement the flailing radio service. The company will provide 24/7 emergency support for accidents, stolen vehicle tracking and roadside assistance to select Nissan models.
  • “Customers will also enjoy the simplicity of a consolidated bill for their audio entertainment and a central site to manage subscriptions,” SiriusXM said in a press release.
  • The company says it will incorporate both satellite and cellular networks to “expand coverage beyond traditional cellular-based telematics services” and “create the potential for personalized services and next-generation audio offerings.”
  • “And while having a satellite connection to the car could give SiriusXM an advantage over cellular-based telematics services by allowing wider coverage — when you’re out of cell range with most systems, you’re out of luck if you need help — the company’s satellites currently only beam information one way,” explains Wired. This means that satellite signals can transmit to connected cars but not visa versa.
  • Because SiriusXM is already available in multiple vehicles and it has a strong brand name, the company has the ability to add services to stay relevant — although what these services will be is still uncertain.
  • Roger Lanctot, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, says the SiriusXM weather, news, sports and traffic services are less competitive now but adding a cellular connection will allow the company to deliver premium content in an IP manner “with potentially more personalization and maybe with some social aspects.”

Apple to Challenge Pandora by Next Year with Online Radio Service

  • Online digital music sales growth has dropped off substantially in recent years, causing record companies and Apple to look for new ways to encourage music discovery and purchase.
  • According to anonymous sources, Apple could secure deals with music companies as early as mid-November to create an ad-supported music streaming service.
  • Positioned as a radio service to rival Pandora, Apple’s music offering will be available on its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch as apps instead of using a Web browser. It could reportedly come to devices in the first three months of 2013.
  • Apple is pushing hard in licensing discussions, trying to get more flexibility and earlier access to new releases, which could provide an edge over Pandora.
  • “Apple’s negotiations with record labels have centered around advertising, the [sources] said. In addition to an upfront fee, record companies are seeking a percentage of ad sales and the ability to insert their own commercials for artists,” Bloomberg reports. “Apple sees the service as a way to grow its iAd mobile advertising platform, and is exploring ways to integrate iAd with iTunes to steer customers back to iTunes.”
  • “If Apple offers a radio product, it will be far superior to anything else on the market,” says Rich Greenfield, a BTIG LLC analyst who recommends selling Pandora shares. “They’re seeking direct licenses to avoid all the restrictions that come with a compulsory license.”

Chris Anderson Warns Makers: We Are Going to Get Sued

  • In a discussion of the IP implications of the maker movement, Wired editor Chris Andersen said, “I can tell you with certainty I’m going to be sued. I’m going to be sued sooner or later — hopefully later.”
  • “That inevitability, though,” the Atlantic writes, “is part of the organic disruption the Internet has brought about. ‘This is what the web does,’ Anderson said: ‘You’re incentivized to try things out, to iterate, to throw it out there and see what happens.’ And that kind of freewheeling invention is bound to butt heads with a system that stridently emphasizes the ‘property’ aspect of ‘intellectual property.'”
  • The article continues, “In forums where makers — ‘hobbyists turned entrepreneurs turned, you know, megalomaniacs’ — discuss IP issues, Anderson said, one thing becomes clear: ‘The simple answer is no one knows what the rules are.'”
  • Anderson is promoting his new book “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.” During Thursday’s talk, he discussed new partnerships forming between makers and established tech and manufacturing firms. Anderson also detailed what he considers the two approaches to patent litigation.
  • “You can either do a patent search and find out whether you’re going to violate a patent” — and “you probably won’t get a good answer.” Then, “if you do then violate a patent, the fact that you did a search first actually increases your liability.”
  • Or “you can do what we do, which is just: Do it. Wait for the [cease-and-desist] letter. When the letter comes, try to innovate around it,” Anderson said. “If the trolls come after us, one of us is going to be brave enough to fight back. And the courts will ultimately decide.”

Microsoft Incorporates Music and Video in Windows 8

  • Microsoft has been making moves to compete with Amazon and Apple in multimedia content, redesigning and ramping up its music and video offerings.
  • “The evolution of Music and Video begins up front, where the apps have shed their Zune branding. Instead, Microsoft chose to reuse the Xbox brand, as the company moves to expand the scope of the Xbox name from gaming to all media and entertainment,” Ars Technica writes.
  • At first glance, the Xbox Music and Video applications are very similar. “In both apps, the first/main screen is dominated by Microsoft’s attempts to sell to you,” the post states, introducing a reoccurring theme in Microsoft’s multimedia offerings. “Users are greeted by a mix of promotional areas that highlight ‘hot’ artists or movies, and entryways into the music, movie, and TV stores. Your own media are hidden out of view to the left.”
  • Browsing your own content in the apps is difficult. For video, there are a bunch of unscalable thumbnails and faulty filters that make searching difficult; for music, the spreadsheet layout is “extraordinarily slow” and lacks a “fast scroll” mechanism like an alphabetical sidebar.
  • “One smart feature: when Music is playing, the volume popup that appears when you use the hardware volume keys also includes playback controls and album art. It’s a nice touch,” the post states. “One not at all smart feature: the play/pause key on keyboards with media keys doesn’t control playback of the Music app. Want to quickly pause playback to take a phone call? You’ll have to go into the app to do it.”
  • Ars Technica also details Microsoft’s Pandora competitor: “Xbox Music offers free streaming of a claimed 30 million songs available through the service. The streaming is free and unlimited, albeit ad-supported, for six months. After six months, you’ll be restricted to 10 hours a month.”

Android to Surpass Microsoft Windows Within Four Years

  • Android will be running on 2.3 billion computers, tablets and smartphones by the end of 2016, according to a new report from Gartner.
  • By that same time, 2.28 billion devices are expected to be running Windows. “That compares to an expected 1.5 billion Windows devices by the end of this year, against 608 million using Android,” reports Reuters, noting a significant shift is anticipated for the future of this technology sector.
  • Android has seen rapid adoption as a smartphone and tablet platform. The operating system also helps Google push its main search business.
  • “Worldwide shipments of personal computers fell by over 8 percent in the third quarter, the steepest decline since 2001, as more consumers flock to increasingly powerful tablets and smartphones for more basic computing,” explains Reuters.
  • “Microsoft’s Windows has dominated the personal computer industry for decades, but the company has struggled to keep up with shift to wireless, and in smartphones its market share is around 3 percent.”

Cloudera Unleashes Impala: Google-Inspired Tool for Analyzing Data

  • Google has a tradition of releasing research papers detailing the software it uses to drive its online services, allowing open source projects to take advantage of its ideas.
  • A relatively new project from Google called F1 is a regional database management system (RDBMS), which the search giant uses to run its online ad system in conjunction with Spanner.
  • Google only revealed F1 last May and has yet to release a paper on the technology, but Silicon Valley startup Cloudera has already created its own open source version, called Impala.
  • Cloudera hired Marcel Kornacker, one of the main engineers on the F1 project, and has been working on Impala for two years. “Impala is a means of instantly analyzing the massive amounts of data stored in Hadoop,” an open source platform for spreading and crunching data, explains Wired.
  • Hadoop is used as a batch processing platform for various data-crunching tasks. Cloudera has brought Hadoop to the business world and now aims to more efficiently use the platform with Impala.
  • “With open source tools such as Hive, you can also analyze Hadoop data in much the same way you would query a traditional database using the common Structured Query Language, or SQL,” notes the article. “Impala lets you query the same data ‘in real-time’ — i.e., in seconds. According to Cloudera, it’s 10 times faster than a tool like Hive.”
  • Cloudera is four years old, but is only just starting to build “what I wanted to build when we started the company,” says founder Jeff Hammerbacher.

Increase in Young Adults Interacting with Employers via Facebook

  • A study from security protection company AVG surveyed 4,400 consumers from 11 countries and found that one-fourth of users aged 18-25 are friends with their bosses on Facebook.
  • Consumers in Italy and the U.S. were more likely to friend their bosses (33 percent) compared with the small eight percent of French participants.
  • “The study also revealed that 60 percent of Facebook users in the 18-25 age range who are Facebook friends with colleagues do not restrict any content from them,” reports Mashable. “Topping the list of the countries with the least restrictive users is Japan (73 percent do not restrict), followed by the Czech Republic (70 percent), New Zealand (67 percent) and the UK (66 percent).”
  • One in eight young adults reported having posted abusive content about their employers online.
  • “Our research shows that a good percentage of young adults between the ages of 18-25 do not filter personal or professional data or pictures that are posted online,” says Tony Anscombe, AVG’s senior security evangelist.
  • “They need to pay closer attention to how they interact with their bosses, colleagues and friends via social channels, and ensure they don’t negatively impact their future by sharing information in a careless manner,” he suggests.

Yahoo Acquires Stamped in First Deal Under CEO Marissa Mayer

  • Stamped is a startup launched a year-and-a-half ago to create “a new kind of review site that allowed people to discover and share their favorite things to read, listen to or eat,” reports AllThingsD.
  • Recently, the company was acquired by Yahoo for an undisclosed amount, so Stamped will close up shop by the end of the year and move to offices in New York.
  • “In a note on the company’s website, the founders of the team, which includes a handful of ex-Googlers, said: ‘We’re excited to start work again on something big, mobile, and new — but we can’t discuss the details just yet. And we’re really stoked to be able to hire lots of talented engineers and designers for this new project,'” notes the article.
  • The acquisition is Yahoo’s first under new CEO Marissa Mayer and reflects her strategy to invest in mobile with smaller, sub-$100 million deals.
  • Stamped had attracted some top name investors including Eric Schmidt, Ellen DeGeneres, Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest, Columbia Records and more.

Redbox and Warner Bros. Sign Deal to Offer UltraViolet-Enabled Titles

  • Redbox Instant, Coinstar’s new venture with Verizon, has secured a deal with Warner Bros. to distribute digital movies.
  • Warner Bros. becomes the first studio partner for the upcoming subscription streaming and rental service created to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
  • “This agreement fits perfectly with Redbox Instant by Verizon’s vision for bringing people the movies that matter, wherever and whenever they choose, using the devices and media they prefer, at home or away,” says Shawn Strickland, CEO of Redbox Instant by Verizon.
  • In a separate multi-year deal, DVD titles released between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014 will come to Redbox kiosks 28 days after their retail release dates. Warner initially pursued a 56-day delay, which Redbox avoided by buying discs from retailers for day-and-date distribution.
  • “The Instant by Verizon digital service, which is set to launch later this year, can support and distribute Warner Bros. UltraViolet-enabled pics, a key part of the overall deal given Redbox’s easy interface with consumers,” reports Variety. “Redbox also announced plans to join the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem industry group to promote UltraViolet through marketing and promotions.”
  • “Streaming titles will be available in VOD and electronic sell-through format, and the pact covers a multi-year SVOD pact supporting feature-length content,” notes the article.

Hackers Release Critical LVo Decryption Key for Sony PlayStation 3

  • Sony has continually discouraged the use of custom firmware on its PlayStation 3, but the company could have a harder time enforcing its proprietary system after hackers published a critical cryptographic key.
  • “The so-called LV0 key, released by a crew calling itself ‘The Three Musketeers,’ grants access to one of the most sensitive parts of the PS3,” Ars Technica writes.
  • “Its availability should make it easier for hackers and modders to work around restrictions Sony places on the console. The key can be used to decrypt future security updates Sony issues for the console and to incorporate those changes into custom firmware packages not authorized by the Japanese company.”
  • The hackers had supposedly cracked the key a while back, but only recently published it because they feared another hacker group was using their work to build and sell its own firmware.
  • “It remains unclear just how damaging the key’s release will be to Sony’s attempts to stop the running of pirated games and other types of unauthorized software on the PS3,” explains Ars Technica.
  • “[Sony’s] going to have to depend on obfuscation as [its] primary security measure to keep people from decrypting [its] updates,” suggests Nate Lawson, a cryptographer at Root Labs. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game that’s now more closely in the favor of the attackers. But Sony has plenty of things they can still do. It’s just another link in the chain.”

Review: Microsoft Revamps Windows and Creates Two Distinct Worlds

  • David Pogue of The New York Times suggests “this may be the biggest week in Microsoft’s 37-year history.” Yesterday, the company demonstrated its very first computer — the Surface tablet, the new Windows Phone 8 operating system, and, “believe it or not, two PC operating systems”
  • “I’m not talking about Windows 8 and Windows RT, which are, in fact, two new and distinct operating systems from Microsoft,” writes Pogue. “I mean the two different worlds within Windows 8 alone, one designed primarily for touch screens, the other for mouse and keyboard.”
  • “Individually, they are excellent — but you can’t use them individually,” he adds. “Microsoft has combined them into a superimposed, muddled mishmash called Windows 8, which goes on sale Friday at prices ranging from $15 to $40, depending on the offer and version.”
  • Pogue suggests that these two environments, which he calls “desktop” and “TileWorld,” are confusing, inefficient and redundant paired together.
  • “Windows 8’s desktop is basically the well-regarded Windows 7 with a few choice enhancements, like faster start-up, a Lock screen that displays a clock and notifications, and more control over multiple-monitor arrangements,” he explains.
  • “Here, you can run any of the four million traditional Windows apps, which Microsoft calls desktop apps: Photoshop, Quicken, tax software, games,” he notes, adding that users can log into any Windows 8 PC with a Microsoft ID and have all their settings, accounts and information immediately available.
  • “TileWorld is modeled on Microsoft’s lovely Windows Phone software. It presents a home screen filled with colorful square and rectangular tiles. Each represents an app — and, often, that app’s latest data,” he writes. All the apps must come from the Windows Store. It works well on tablets, poorly on PCs.
  • “Two worlds means insane, productivity-killing schizophrenia. The Windows 8 learning curve resembles Mount Everest,” according to Pogue.

Final Cut Pro X Update Adds RED Camera Support and New Features

  • Free for existing users, the new Final Cut Pro X update comes with dual viewers to compare shots, MXF plug-in support, Compound Clip creation for reusing clips and much more.
  • The software will cost $299.99 for new customers and requires OS X 10.6.8 or later.
  • New audio tools allow users to edit audio channels directly within the timeline and to combine audio from multiple angles with Multicam Clip.
  • Users can transfer media from both file-based cameras and files and folders with the new unified import window; the update also includes XML 1.2 featuring metadata import and export.
  • The “Share” interface now enables users to export their projects to one or more destinations.
  • “The Final Cut Pro X update also includes RED camera support with native REDCODE Raw editing, as well as optional background transcode to Apple ProRes,” reports Apple Insider.
  • Additional features: “Option to add chapter markers in the timeline for export to video files, DVD, and Blu-ray disc… Range selection now preserves start and end points in the Event Browser and allows you to create multiple range selections on a single clip… Paste attributes window lets you choose specific effects to copy between clips… Flexible Clip Connections allow you to keep Connected Clips in place when slipping, sliding or moving clips in the Primary Storyline.”

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