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Updated: 2014-10-03T06:20:20.936+01:00




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EU seeks comment on loosening copyright rules



Authors and composers have until July 9 to comment on proposed new European Union rules that would loosen restrictive territorial contracts for copyright registration on material transmitted via the Internet, satellite and cable.

The European Commission charged the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) in February 2006 with imposing anticompetitive territorial restrictions on authors and composers.

The restrictions concerned only material sent via the Internet, satellite or cable, the EU executive said.

CISAC offers a model contract used by 18 collecting societies in the 30-member European Economic Area (EEA), including the 27 European Union countries, the Commission said.

CISAC has proposed changing the contract, which covers 95 percent of copyright licensing in the EEA, to respond to the Commission's charges.

"The new contract lifts the membership restrictions and the exclusivity clause, according to which reciprocal representation is done on an exclusive basis for the respective territory of the collecting societies," the Commission said.

CISAC has proposed permitting authors and composers to transfer their rights to any collecting society, not just the one in their own country.

The confederation also said new wording would lift territorial restrictions that require commercial users to buy licenses for use only in the area covered by their local collecting society.

European music service wants to rob iPhone thunder



A music service that lets consumers directly download an unlimited number of songs to their cell phones for a weekly fee is launching Thursday in Europe.

Britain's Omnifone said it had signed content deals with the four biggest music groups in the industry and had agreements with 30 mobile operators in a bid to steal the thunder of the much-hyped iPhone from Apple.

The service called MusicStation will be suitable for 75 percent of mobile handsets already available in the market and will launch first in Sweden on Thursday. It will then launch across Europe, the Asia-Pacific and Africa in the coming days and weeks.

Omnifone is targeting 100 million phones in a year and can offer over 1 million songs.

"It's hard to imagine a more compelling music experience on mobile than MusicStation," said Rob Wells of Universal Music Group's digital division. "It works on almost any phone, giving consumers the freedom to choose whatever device they want (and) it allows downloads wherever those consumers are."

Omnifone has also signed content deals three other major music groups: Sony/BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI Group

It will offer unlimited track downloads for about $4 (2.99 euros) per week, which includes data traffic charges.

Music on mobile phones has been around for several years, but most music on phones is currently ripped from CDs and files swapped on the Internet, not sold by operators over their wireless networks.

Blogger's ejection may mean suit for NCAA


The eviction of a newspaper reporter from a baseball press box for blogging about a game while it was in progress has stirred a debate about First Amendment rights, intellectual property rights and contract law.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which on Sunday ejected Brian Bennett of The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., during the Louisville-Oklahoma State game at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, contends it is merely enforcing long-established principles as they apply to a new technology.

But the newspaper is weighing a legal challenge on First Amendment grounds--the right to free speech as it applies to reporting news in a public place.

Jon Fleischaker, a lawyer representing The Courier-Journal, said Wednesday that such a challenge might be made, within the next 10 days, because the event took place at a public facility and because the eviction was enforced by the University of Louisville, a public institution that was the host university.

"We're just not sure whether there is enough official state action to properly be able to say there's a First Amendment claim," Fleischaker said in a telephone interview. "We're doing some work to see who's on first."

Scott Bearby, associate general counsel for the NCAA, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that the dispute "doesn't really have a First Amendment angle to it" and that the NCAA had a right to protect the contracts it establishes with television networks and its own Internet providers.

Bush administration attacks 'shield' for bloggers



WASHINGTON--The Bush administration on Thursday blasted a congressional proposal that would shield a broad swath of news gatherers, including some bloggers, from revealing their confidential sources.

The latest draft of the Free Flow of Information Act would pose a grave threat to national security and federal criminal investigations by protecting far too large a segment of the population, a U.S. Department of Justice official told Congress.

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

"The definition is just so broad that it really includes anyone who wants to post something to the Web," Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing here. She also argued it would protect "a terrorist operative who videotaped a message from a terrorist leader threatening attacks on Americans."

Justice Department opposition has bedeviled Congress throughout its numerous attempts in recent years to enact federal shield laws. Supporters say such legislation is needed in light of high-profile cases involving New York Times reporter Judith Miller and what free-press advocacy groups characterize as a sharp rise in subpoenas to reporters in recent years.

Laws recognizing some form of "reporter's privilege" already exist in 49 states and the District of Columbia--but, crucially, do not shield journalists from federal prosecutors. The Bush Administration claims there's no evidence that source-related subpoenas to reporters are on the rise and argues that it already has robust internal guidelines, including a requirement that the attorney general personally approve such subpoenas and provide an appropriate balance between press freedom and investigative needs.

MySpace data helps nab seven sex offenders



Texas police arrested seven convicted sex offenders after MySpace handed over identity details about the former members of the Internet social network, the Texas attorney general's office said on Thursday.

The seven, whose profiles on MySpace had already been removed under an internal program to weed out sex offenders prowling the News Corp.-owned site, were arrested for breaking parole or probation rules.

The arrests, which occurred during a two-week period, come after authorities in several states asked MySpace to hand over information on convicted sex offenders. The seven offenders had been convicted of sexually assaulting girls as young as 4 years old. Most victims were between 13 and 21 years old.

Six of the men were arrested because they had MySpace profiles even though their parole conditions banned them from using the Internet. One was arrested because he had failed to register as a sex offender with local authorities.

MySpace began working with authorities in May after tense negotiations over the legality of divulging its users' information.

"Texans will not tolerate criminals who prey on our children," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement. "These convicted sex predators established online identities on a Web site that is popular with teenagers and children."

FAQ: What to do with your Yahoo photos



It's time to find a new home for the more than 2 billion pictures stored on Yahoo Photos.

Even though the Internet company just refurbished Yahoo Photos with a glitzy new interface, it's shutting down the site beginning September 20.

The move shouldn't come as a surprise, given Yahoo's 2005 acquisition of photo-sharing powerhouse Flickr. But it does mean that millions of members will have to take action in the coming months if they want to preserve the pictures stored at the site--and that means things could get complicated.

Yahoo just fired up tools to let customers move their photos elsewhere, and CNET has compiled some questions and answers to help users of Yahoo Photos understand the situation and make the right choices.

MySpace mini episodes, courtesy of Honda



Years after Volkswagen challenged drivers to "Think small," another automaker, Honda, plans to run smaller commercials for a smaller car in smaller versions of television series.

Honda will be the sole sponsor of what Sony Pictures Television is calling the Minisode Network, which is scheduled to launch next week. Visitors to will be able to watch episodes of 15 vintage Sony series like Charlie's Angels, The Facts of Life, Fantasy Island and Who's the Boss, edited from their original lengths of 30 or 60 minutes each to an Internet-friendly 4 to 6 minutes.

To mirror the pared-down programming, Honda and its longtime agency, RPA, have agreed to run only 8 seconds of commercials with each episode, appearing before the shortened show starts.

Text message saves nimble-fingered teen


A Malaysian teenager woken by a night-time noise dashed off a warning text message to her mother just in time to be rescued from an intruder who burst into her bedroom.

Alerted by the mother's screams, relatives rushed to the rescue, breaking down a door and scaring off the man, who escaped through the back of the house, the New Straits Times said.

Salima Mohamad Noor, 17, said a man broke into her bedroom and placed a knife at her neck just as she finished sending the message on her cellular telephone.

"I was terrified and started screaming when he threatened to kill me," the newspaper quoted Salima as saying. "He also said no one would come to my rescue as he had already locked my mother's bedroom door from the outside."

TorrentSpy ordered to start tracking visitors


A court decision reached last month but under seal until Friday could force Web sites to track visitors if the sites become defendants in a lawsuit.

TorrentSpy, a popular BitTorrent search engine, was ordered on May 29 by a federal judge in the Central District of California in Los Angeles to create logs detailing users' activities on the site. The judge, Jacqueline Chooljian, however, granted a stay of the order on Friday to allow TorrentSpy to file an appeal.

The appeal must be filed by June 12, according to Ira Rothken, TorrentSpy's attorney.

TorrentSpy has promised in its privacy policy never to track visitors without their consent.

"It is likely that TorrentSpy would turn off access to the U.S. before tracking its users," Rothken said. "If this order were allowed to stand, it would mean that Web sites can be required by discovery judges to track what their users do even if their privacy policy says otherwise."

The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Columbia Pictures and other top Hollywood film studios, sued TorrentSpy and a host of others in February 2006 as part of a sweep against file-sharing companies. According to the MPAA, the search engine was sued for allegedly making it easier to download pirated files.

Representatives of the trade group could not be reached for comment.

The court's decision could have a chilling effect on e-commerce and digital entertainment sites, said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He calls the ruling "unprecedented."

Jeweler to pay $400,000 in auction fraud settlement


A Manhattan jewelry dealer who directed his employees to secretly place bids that inflated the price of goods his company auctioned on eBay has agreed to pay $400,000 to settle a civil fraud complaint, the New York attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, said Friday.

The settlement also bars the merchant, Ezra Dweck, and his company, the EMH Group, from participating in online auctions for four years, according to a statement by Cuomo's office. The settlement includes a $100,000 fine and $300,000 in restitution.

EMH deals in "large quantities" of diamonds, gold and platinum jewelry and supplies "most of the major U.S. chain stores," according to the company's Web site. Cuomo's lawsuit said Dweck listed items on eBay as having no reserve price--meaning they would be sold no matter how low the highest bid was--but that he distributed spreadsheets to employees instructing them on what bids they should place to drive up the final sale price. Cuomo said the company placed 232,000 bids totaling more than $5 million over a one-year period.

The deceptive practice of insiders posing as bidders, known as shill bidding, has a long and notorious history in traditional auction markets. It has become a growing concern for the operators of online markets and regulators.

Snapshots that do more than bore friends


Few sentences in the English language are more dreaded than this seemingly innocent offer: "Oh, I must show you the pictures from my vacation." Who wants to see endless shots of a friend lounging by a pool or in front of a monument, or--worse yet--their kids doing the very same things?

But, of course, those very same shots can be extremely useful when researching your own trip. How big is that pool? What, exactly, does the room at that five-star hotel you're thinking of booking look like? What's the crowd like at the so-called hot restaurant? It's good to have documented evidence from someone who has been there.

And recently, photo-sharing sites like Yahoo's and have begun to let users add another dimension to their travel photos. Through a technology called geotagging, users can add GPS data to their pictures, which can then be plotted on a digital map. This not only allows users to see exactly where a photo was taken, but, when uploaded to an Internet map, users can also quickly browse a trove of photos that were taken nearby, providing a kind of scattershot collage of a place.

Editor's departure captured in just a Flicker


Call it a bit of a "video killed the radio star" moment, circa 2007: John Curley, who had been a deputy managing editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, announced that he was let go from the newspaper by posting the news on Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site.

"I leave with great sadness, but not a trace of bitterness," Curley wrote in his entry on Tuesday, which included a picture of his desk at the newspaper before he packed. "We all know what is happening to the newspaper industry, and it is not pretty."

One of the biggest things happening to the newspaper industry is that people are flocking to Web sites like Flickr, which is owned by Yahoo, for news, gossip and friendship, and turning to newsprint less often. Even Flickr, once primarily a site for swapping images, has become more of an online community: in this case, dozens of people turned out to post comments of solidarity on Curley's page.

"Off you go to something greater, man," wrote someone who calls himself Razorbern and uses as his icon a picture of a chimp in a suit and hat.

Watchdog group eyes YouTube


For weeks, Ken Boehm blanketed the Internet as he hunted for video clips.

But the former prosecutor is no YouTube fan. Boehm is chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an independent watchdog group known for digging up corruption in the nation's capital.

The NLPC is perhaps best known for uncovering wrongdoing in a $21 billion deal between the Air Force and Boeing in 2003 that resulted in jail time for two Boeing executives. The group is looking beyond the Beltway and has begun examining copyright violations at Google, which owns the YouTube video-sharing site. Media companies are pressing Google to do more to stop users from uploading snippets of movies and TV shows. Many of YouTube's competitors have already adopted filtering technologies that screen pirated material. Content creators (see main story) have begun to demand that Google do the same.

Hollywood's YouTube frustration grows


Google and its YouTube subsidiary are trying Hollywood's patience.

The search engine has made significant progress in recent weeks signing content partnership deals for YouTube. But a growing number of studio executives, irritated by no-shows at meetings and canceled test programs, say they are frustrated with Google's inability to scrub the site of copyright-infringing material. While CEO Eric Schmidt made big news in Las Vegas two months ago when he said the company was very "close to turning" on a system that will streamline the takedown process, when that system actually will be deployed is a mystery.

Adding to the agitation, copyright-filtering technology is already in use at smaller video sites such as Guba, and Eyespot. Even Microsoft has installed the features for which Hollywood is clambering on its Soapbox site.

Bon Jovi bundles iTunes album with Ticketmaster sales


In what's being billed as a first, Bon Jovi is bundling a digital iTunes copy of the band's upcoming album, Lost Highway, with advance tickets for October concerts in Newark, N.J.

The stand, which begins October 25 and may be expanded beyond the initial five shows, will open the new Prudential Center in Newark.

The online presale program will be available exclusively to American Express cardholders beginning June 12 through June 14, and to the general public from June 15 through June 22. Tickets without the digital-album download will then be available for purchase by the general public beginning June 23.

Fans who purchase the Lost Highway Ticket Package will receive a code from Ticketmaster that enables them to download Lost Highway from iTunes beginning on its June 19 release. The ticket-album package will cost $9.99--the price of the album on iTunes--more than tickets later sold on their own. Album sales in the bundle will count toward the album's Billboard chart position, whose sales source is Nielsen SoundScan.

For those fans who have already preordered Lost Highway from Bon Jovi's Web site or iTunes, Bon Jovi and Ticketmaster have arranged for iTunes to provide a passcode that will enable them to purchase a single presale ticket for $9.99 less without adding the digital album. launches new Web search site

2007-06-05T15:04:54.586+01:00 is expected to launch Tuesday a new search site that has analysts impressed, but it may not appeal enough to consumers to keep them coming back.

The company has struggled for years to compete with Google, which attracts nearly 50 percent of all searches. Ask ranks fourth behind Yahoo and Microsoft but just ahead of AOL, with just more than 5 percent market share, according to research firm ComScore.

"It's all about search engine loyalty," said Charlene Li of Forrester Research. "Will it move the needle? I think it will, primarily because it is a different interface. It will definitely get people now using Ask to use it more often than any other search engine."

Barry Parr, a Jupiter analyst, had a similar take. "I don't think this change alone is going to bolt them into being a top-tier player. On the other hand, I think a lot of people are going to find that this is a good experience for them and that it is something they enjoy using," he said.

Ask now features a new design and re-engineering, with a simple white homepage default, customizable backgrounds, new video search powered by Blinkx and the ability to view video previews merely by moving the cursor over the thumbnail image. The new site lets users listen to music clips by clicking on the song title, and to enlarge images by rolling the cursor over the thumbnail. Search results are based on the searcher's location, providing local businesses and events, and those results can be saved into a folder for sharing with others, and images can be filtered by size, type and other criteria.

// is pretty good :D

iPod-compatible music site to offer free Web play

2007-06-05T14:57:23.788+01:00, a Silicon Valley-based digital music start-up, said Monday it is launching an iPod-compatible online music service that offers free online song play in a bid to get customers to buy music downloads.

The start-up is launching the service with artists from the fourth-largest music company, Warner Music Group, which will sell songs and albums without copy protection software known as digital rights management.

To prevent illegal distribution, downloads will be possible only to an iPod.

Lala is also in talks with other major record companies to expand the service with more music, the company said.

Lala is free and does not carry advertising. The company hopes to make up for licensing costs of playing the music online with sales of songs.

"We believe over the next two years we might lose $40 million," founder Bill Nguyen said. Licensing fees could be $160 million over that time.

"We expect up to 70 percent of people will be freeloaders just listening to the music but around 30 percent will be buying music," Nguyen said.

Lala is backed by Bain Capital and Ignition, which so far have invested $14 million over two rounds. The company is still raising money.

Lawyer ratings site not without objections


A venture-capital backed Web site called that launches Tuesday claims to offer a "game-changing" alternative to the Yellow Pages for anyone interested in hiring a lawyer.

Avvo's plan is ambitious: to award a numeric score to every attorney in the United States, along with a profile, client recommendations and peer endorsements.

"It's the most critical piece of guidance that we provide," Mark Britton, a former vice president at Expedia who is Avvo's chief executive, said about the numeric score. "It's our assessment of how good a job that lawyer is going to do for you." Avvo says it has received $14 million in funding, including money from Benchmark Capital and Ignition Partners, co-founded by Microsoft alum and Avvo board member Brad Silverberg.

Melodeo: We'll stream iTunes to your phone


Melodeo on Tuesday said it plans to help music fans stream their iTunes digital-music playlists to mobile phones.

Privately held Melodeo, which already delivers Web-based audio clips to phones, said the service--now in test mode--will enable consumers to listen to digital music on the go without a portable player. It also will help listeners access songs in their iTunes library on more than one personal computer.

Melodeo is considering various revenue models for the service, which comes ahead of Apple's expected launch this month of its music-playing iPhone. The company could charge monthly fees or software download fees, or it could play audio advertisements, according to David Dederer, Melodeo's vice president for music services.

While consumers can buy songs through Apple for 99 cents per song, Melodeo is not selling copies of songs for consumers to store on their phones--it simply plays songs based on those stored in a customer's iTunes library.

Microsoft turns Ignition for music marketing


Microsoft is introducing an initiative on Monday to promote emerging music acts across its digital properties.

Called Ignition, the program is designed to expose new artists and their music to consumers for an entire month by featuring exclusive content through Microsoft's multiple services, including MSN, Xbox Live and Zune.

The first participating act is U.K. band Maximo Park. Microsoft is providing the group's first single as a free exclusive download via the Zune Marketplace, making the music video available as a free download from the Xbox Live Marketplace and streaming the video on MSN.

The company will host online listening parties of the act's current album on MSN Music and provide a custom Web site dedicated to the band and its activities on the site. And Microsoft is working with the band to produce custom content, such as artist-created playlists and "behind-the-album" commentary featuring track-by-track insights and observations by band members, all available via the Zune service.

Microsoft is demanding exclusive content and hands-on participation from the artists involved. "We don't want the same thing that is going out on MTV," Microsoft director of music marketing Christina Calio said.

Nabbing movie pirates with night vision goggles


Malaysian cinemas have found a powerful weapon in their fight against movie pirates--military-style night vision goggles.

After showing people to their seats, trained ushers are strapping on the goggles and scanning darkened cinemas around the country to spot anyone trying to make illegal copies of movies with handheld video recorders or mobile phones.

The Motion Picture Association, which is training Malaysian ushers to catch the pirates, said cinemas had caught 17 people in the past two months, during which Hollywood studios released blockbusters like Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. "All of the cases were spotted with night-vision goggles," the association's Malaysia manager, Nor Hayati Yahaya, said Friday. "It's very successful."

Malaysia is on the U.S. watch list for movie and software piracy, but local authorities have launched a major crackdown on producers and retailers of illegal DVDs since the country began free-trade talks with the United States a year ago.

The association, which represents the big Hollywood studios, recently brought to Malaysia two dogs trained to sniff out DVDs--with stunning results. The two labradors, Lucky and Flo, have sniffed out more than a million DVDs and have broken a fake DVD ring.

Businesses aren't stuck on customized stamps


Madison Avenue used to have high hopes for the lowly postage stamp.

For decades, advertisers imagined that if only the legal barriers against commercial images on postage stamps came down, they could do great things on envelopes.

Those obstacles went away last year, when Congress swept aside a law against advertising on stamps and the United States Postal Service authorized businesses to use postage for marketing purposes. The Postal Service renewed the program on May 16, but has yet to see a great deal of revenue from the stamps, which have so far been little more than a niche product.

European officials question Google's privacy policy


A European Commission advisory group has raised concerns about how Google uses and manages users' search data.

A privacy advisory group composed of representatives from all of the European Union countries sent Google a letter expressing concern over the search giant's new privacy policy announced in March.

The issue surrounds Google's policy of anonymizing its server logs after 18 to 24 months. According to a Commission source, the advisory group is concerned with how the information is managed, rather than the length of time it is stored.

Google, which confirmed it received a letter from the chairman of the advisory group, said it will respond, as requested, before the group holds its next meeting in mid-June.

Google previously kept consumers' data as long as it was needed. The company now plans to keep server log data, but will enhance the ability to make it anonymous after 18 to 24 months.

British version of 'Lonelygirl15' to hit Bebo


The creators of the online phenomenon "Lonelygirl15" have joined forces with social-networking site Bebo to create a British spin-off story that will use brands to help define the characters.

The organizers say the project will give advertisers the chance to pitch their products such as clothing or mobile phones at a younger audience who have moved in recent years from traditional media to the Internet.

The star of the show, to be called Kate Modern, will post a series of videos and have a profile on the Bebo site, allowing members to interact with her and fellow fictional characters.

The series follows "Lonelygirl15," the video diary of an American teenager named Bree that drew a huge following even after the revelation that Bree was in fact an actress and the diaries scripted by writers.

The president of Bebo International, Joanna Shields, told Reuters Television that the project would allow a small number of brands regular access to a potentially huge following.

"If we do (the advertising) tastefully and well and people see that it is successful, then it could be an opportunity for advertisers and brands to connect with this demographic," she said.

"Each time I connect with that character, the advertiser has a chance to send me a message."

Lonelygirl15 has received more than 50 million hits on the Internet and has occasionally incorporated advertising.

In the British version, Kate Modern will be a 19-year-old art student living in central London, and the story will be set around the hip Carnaby Street.