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What you should know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership
February 21, 2014 | 1:27 pm

freetradepanelWe’ve mentioned the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty in passing, but in case you’re wanting to find out more about these treaties and why they might not be such a good thing in general, you might want to take a closer look at this. I’ve run across a great explanation in the form of a 27-page online comic book that explains exactly what trade agreements in general are supposed to do, what they actually end up doing, and what we know about the TPP. The biggest problem with these treaties is that they basically override nations’ laws—but unlike those...

ReDigi awarded patent on digital resale ‘without making a copy’
January 29, 2014 | 7:00 am

Yesterday I received a press release from ReDigi, the company trying to allow (and monetize) the resale of “used” digital goods such as music or e-books, with an embargo time of, well, right now. The release claims the award of a patent on the technology ReDigi wants to use to enable the resale of digital media. It says the patent covers the transfer of digital media files without making a copy. ReDigi has been in the news a great deal in the last couple of years. The RIAA complained, and record label EMI sued, over ReDigi’s plan to allow...

Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one
January 23, 2014 | 9:28 pm

polaroidtabI have mentioned more than once that Android lacks a real equivalent to the iPod Touch. Sure, there are plenty of smartphones, and there are more than a few mini-tablets, but the mini-tablets generally seem to be running version 2 of Android, which means they have no (legitimate) access to the Play Store. Since I’ve ended up switching to an Android smartphone that fills my music-playing needs, I haven’t needed one as much, but I’ve still been curious whether one might become available. I was interested the other day when Nate mentioned on The Digital Reader that Sony was...

Demise of digital disruption imminent? Music might give hope for print
January 5, 2014 | 12:00 pm

digital disruptionThe music business has long been the test case for digital disruption of traditional media. After all, "napsterize" became a verb off the back of the impact of MP3s on album and single sales, for an industry that had just about managed to handle the transition to CDs. Now the latest music sales figures for 2013 might give a crumb of comfort to a traditional publishing industry eager for reassurance. For, according to the full-year music sales data recorded by Nielsen SoundScan and reported by Billboard, "for the first time since the iTunes store opened its doors, the U.S. music industry...

13-year-old bemusedly tries old Sony Walkman for a week
December 24, 2013 | 2:40 am

Kids these days, eh? The BBC’s Magazine section has a story on a 13-year-old kid’s experience over the course of a week using one of the original Walkman tape players, which came out 30 years ago this week. As you might expect, it’s replete with “How does this work? This looks funny. I can’t believe people actually used to think this thing was awesome!” from the younger generation. (It’s easy to wonder how he couldn’t understand a Walkman, but you have to remember he’s just 13. It would be like asking someone from my generation to figure out a...

C’est l’Halloween: The Story Behind the Greatest French Halloween Song Ever
October 31, 2013 | 10:00 am

c'est l'halloweenOn this fine (and rainy, at least where I am!) Halloween morning, what better tale of creative success than this one from the CBC, about the iconic children's Halloween song, 'C'est l'Halloween?' French is a required curriculum area here in Canada, and appropriate curriculum materials can be big business. Matt Maxwell, the song's author, first conceived it when he was a teacher himself. As the article explains: "t was back in my first year of teaching core French in Halifax in the early ‘80s. It was actually October 30th and I said, 'Oh, it’s Halloween tomorrow. I have to write a...

Latest White House intellectual property initiative focuses on copyright education
June 22, 2013 | 8:45 am

The Verge has an article on the White House’s latest intellectual property initiative, the “Joint Strategic Plan”. (Sounds like a blueprint for a war, doesn’t it? Well, given what the Internet’s done for piracy, that may be about right.) The plan covers patent enforcement, trade secret theft, and using trade policy to promote enforcement of US IP rights abroad. But it also deals with copyright violations on a smaller scale, with suggestions like establishing copyright small claims courts, to allow quick resolution of civil infringement cases that would otherwise be too small to be worth filing. ...

My Answers Expert Articles: Online Shopping, Blogging, Writing
June 22, 2013 | 6:40 am

faceshot_thumb[2]Yesterday I posted links to some of my articles as the “PC Expert” for’s Experts program. Here are the other articles of possible relevance to TeleRead. I’ve written plenty of others as well, but they were not relevant enough to link here. These are about online shopping, gift-giving, and media services: Give Gifts Instantly with the Internet Using Amazon's Wish Lists to Make Shopping Easier Amazon Prime Offers Free Shipping, Streaming, and Reading How to Give or Get Free Stuff with Freecycle Five Free Streaming Music Services Six Web-Based Apps for Mobile Instant Messaging Here are a few pertaining specifically to blogging or writing: Where Did Blogging Come...

Amazon scores broad patent on reselling ‘used’ digital content
February 7, 2013 | 8:32 pm

I’ve written quite a few pieces here about the various attempts to try to create a workable digital resale market—most recently with digital music resale firm ReDigi, which is currently engaged in a legal dispute with music label EMI over its activities. Now it looks as if, as with a lot of its digital media sales, Amazon may have achieved yet another leg up on the competition. On paidContent, Laura Hazard Owen reports that Amazon has been awarded a patent on the idea of a marketplace for “used” digital content. Amazon applied for it back in 2009, and it...

Latest Humble Bundle offers digital music – so why not e-books?
July 26, 2012 | 6:48 pm

jonathancoultonsgreatesthitI’ve covered the Humble Indie Bundles here before—bundles of independent computer games sold at a pay-what-you-want price, in support of the developers and charities (usually Child’s Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation). I’ve discussed the potential relevance to e-books, but the Humble Bundle’s latest move has possibly even more relevance—they’ve made the jump from games to digital music. The latest Humble Bundle is the Humble Music Bundle, which includes albums from MC Frontalot, They Might Be Giants, Christopher Tin, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Jonathan Coulton, and, for beating the average donation ($7.87 at the time of this writing), OK Go....

ReDigi lawsuit raises questions of fair use and first sale in digital age
July 2, 2012 | 7:56 pm

The Boston Globe has a report on the record labels’ lawsuit against ReDigi, the company that is trying to bring first sale rights to digital music (and, by extension, digital movie and book) sales. I’ve mentioned ReDigi a number of times, from when it was first conceived (after several similar used-digital-goods efforts failed miserably) to when it launched to when the record labels complained to when they sued in January. ReDigi claimed fair use, Google filed an amicus brief, and a judge decided ReDigi didn’t have to shut down pending the suit. If you’ve been following the...

To pirate or not to pirate: Convenience vs compensation in the Internet age
June 19, 2012 | 8:39 pm

Here are two articles that expressly discuss pirated music, but a lot of the same issues of morality and artist compensation apply to any pirated media—movies, games, and, yes, e-books. They make an interesting presentation of two sides of the piracy argument: what can be done to get artists paid for their music? On one side is 21-year-old NPR All Songs Considered intern Emily White, who penned a piece at the NPR website discussing how she’d accumulated her 11,000 song music collection largely by copying CDs from the radio station she ran, mix tapes from friends, and so on. She writes: As...