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Twitter journalist damages award reaffirms independent content creators’ rights
November 25, 2013 | 4:19 pm

A US federal jury has just found media companies Agence France-Presse and Getty Images guilty of wilful violation of the Copyright Act by lifting photos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake from the Twitter account of Haitian photojournalist Daniel Morel, and awarded him $1.2 million in damages. The case hinged on the question of actual wilful appropriation of the images, by copying and redistributing rather than just retweeting the independent content. According to the Reuters article on the case, AFP picked Morel's pictures out of the Twitter stream from another user account and passed them to Getty, which then redistributed them to...

Licensing vs. Owning Content
October 23, 2013 | 2:18 pm

licensingIt is a debate so common that I don't even need to pull up citations for this one. Do you own your ebooks? Or is what you are paying for merely a license to use the content in ways which the content seller pre-approves for you? On the 'it's only a license' side are the terms and conditions the ebook stores list in their fine print: only on X number of devices, only for the person listed on the account, only when first decrypted through an Adobe server or an Amazon download script and so on. And on the 'you bought it'...

Is the ‘Download’ Model For Technology Going to Become Obsolete?
October 19, 2013 | 12:19 pm

technologyThe Beloved and I have had many an amusing conversation about how we would explain the technology of our youths to the children in our lives. I think they will find the computer mouse hilariously quaint, and the notion that if you wanted to phone somebody and they were not home, that was it will I am sure shock and horrify them. Lately, I have been wondering if the notion of purchasing media and having a copy to 'own' might be going the way of the dodo bird too. We each have our little hobbies; when the Beloved is messing with...

The Bundling (and Debundling) of Digital and Print Content
September 11, 2013 | 1:24 pm

Hot on the heels of Amazon's new Matchbook program, which aims to facillitate your access to ebooks of print titles you own already come this story about Time Warner's attempts to 'unbundle' the print from the digital. As the article explains, subscribers to print magazines like 'People' have for some time been able to enjoy free access to the digital version as well. No more. Under the new app-based digital model, they'll have to pay up once their current subscriptions expire. There are an array of new subscription options including print-only, digital-only, and a $100+ 'V.I.P.' version. And the writing is on the wall...

Google Chromecast: One more thing to annoy the content providers
July 26, 2013 | 3:55 pm

All Things D has a great article today on the Google Chromecast and the probable reaction from content providers. Our own Paul St John Mackintosh has already written about Chromecast, so if you need to catch up, check out his excellent article. But if you're just joining us, know that for just $35, the Chromecast allows you to watch what you can see on your Chrome browser on your TV. The article points out, correctly, the issue this presents for services like Hulu, which would rather charge you monthly for the privilege of viewing content on your TV. And then they follow...

The Future of Onscreen Words
June 18, 2013 | 8:01 pm

onscreen wordsBy Tom Chatfield What does the act of typing onto billions of Internet-connected screens mean for the future of language? Note: This is a specially edited and expanded excerpt from my new book about technology and language, "Netymology". I’ve never understood those who lament the Internet as a kind of death for the English language. From photos and music to games and videos, mixed media surround us as never before. But billions upon billions of words still begin, end and inform our reactions to almost every single item on our screens. From “likes” and comments to text messages and status updates, language lurks...

Even in the digital age, the quality and availability of content are still king
May 29, 2013 | 3:20 pm

availability and qualityIn all the fuss over digital vs. paper, cord cutters vs. subscribers, this format vs. that one, two stories crossed my inbox today that showed me, yet again, even in this digital age, the two most important things—quality and availability—remain the same. It doesn't matter what you're selling, in what format, via what technology or medium—quality and availability always come first. Exhibit A: Netflix Turfs Viacom Laura Hazard Owen is one of many who reported about Netflix declining to renew their contract with Viacom. The fallout? Millions of unhappy parents whose children enjoyed streaming episodes of Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants. Amidst...

Cord Cutters, Digital Mooches and the Content Conundrum of the Future
March 29, 2013 | 2:15 pm

Cord Cutters Dan linked to a great article in today's Morning Links roundup about 'digital mooches,' aka the 20-somethings who may be leaving Mom and Dad's house in the coming years, yet seem to have no plans to leave their parents' cell phone contracts or Netflix subscriptions. I read this article with interest; I'd just read another about 'cord cutters,' aka the cable-free, and how the content industry is wringing their hands about what to do with these people. It seems these articles, read together, paint an ominous pattern: The kids aren't paying because they get it for 'free' at home. Then they turn...

For unique content curation, try Swayy (free to 300 readers)
March 25, 2013 | 12:17 pm

Last week I discovered a new content curation service, Swayy. It's in beta right now, but at the end of this post, I'm going to give you a code to allow you to try it. So ... what exactly is Swayy, and why should you care? As you can see from the screenshot, you give Swayy access to your Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn accounts, and it gives you back content based on subject matter categories you select when you sign up for the service. Naturally, I selected Tech and Social Media. Don't worry. It won't tweet or post on your behalf, unless...

Why We Pirate, and Why We Don’t
March 15, 2013 | 1:05 pm

pirateOne of the anti-DRM arguments people often make is that if you make it easy enough for people to buy content legitimately, they won't need to pirate anymore. Here is a case study in favor of that argument: Thorin Kiosowski over at Lifehacker has a great essay up about why he stopped pirating media and started paying for it legitimately. Kiosowski begins by explaining why he pirated to begin with, namely that at the time, 'legit' digital media was confusing, expensive and failed to provide a good experience. He then lists three things that changed his mind:  He stopped feeling the need to own...

Allegedly fraudulent Universal DMCA takedown notice raises questions about DMCA, SOPA
December 11, 2011 | 12:17 pm

This story might need to be taken with a grain of salt based on its sources, but it could have some serious implications if true. Megaupload, like Rapidshare, is a cyber-locker site where people can upload files of any kind for others to download. Many of those files are illicitly-copied commercial material, which naturally gives Hollywood, record labels, and publishers (after all, this material does include both e-books and audiobooks) conniptions. Recently, a number of music celebrities recorded a music video in support of Megaupload. This was considered a newsworthy event, and covered by a number of places, but...

Self-publishing rewrites conventions of writing: Sex
October 25, 2011 | 9:56 am

Despite Our ShadowsDespite Our Shadows is a revised re-release of an earlier title of mine, Lambs Hide, Tigers Seek, a noir mystery. Shadows is one of the sexiest stories I've written so far, and when I originally wrote it, I was concerned that the story would be too sexy for mainstream consumption. So I intentionally toned it down and put some of the more racy scenes through the "fade to morning" filter, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks. But when it came for the rewrite, I rethought the idea of editing out or glossing over the sex scenes. Though it may...