12/22/2005

Google Responds To AOL Deal Rumors

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The recent announcement of the AOL partnership has been the source of a lot of rumors and misconceptions. Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products & User Experience, responds on these in Google blog.

From the post.


- Biased results? No way. Providing great search is the core of what we do. Business partnerships will never compromise the integrity or objectivity of our search results. If a partner’s page ranks high, it’s because they have a good answer to your search, not because of their business relationship with us.

- Indexing more of AOL’s content. Our goal is to organize all of the world’s information. When we say “all the world’s information,” this includes AOL’s. We’re going to work with the webmasters at AOL — just as we work with webmasters all over the world — to help them understand how the Google crawler works (with regard to robots.txt, how to use redirects, non-html content, etc.) so we don’t inadvertently overlook their content.

- AOL will receive a credit towards advertising purchased through Google’s ad program. You might wonder if this will affect the ad auction. It won’t. We don’t offer preferential treatment on advertising (in either the auction or the display) to any of our partners.

- We have a service called “onebox” for which we provide some additional links separate from ads (sponsored links) and search results. AOL and its products have always been a part of onebox, along with many other providers, and will continue to be.

- There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.

Verizon plans to offer mobile music downloads

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Verizon Wireless is expected to introduce a music download service next month that will let subscribers purchase music wirelessly over their mobile phones and transfer songs between their phones and Windows PCs.

The new service, called V Cast Music, is scheduled to become available on Jan. 16 at Circuit City, Verizon Wireless stores and Verizon’s Web site, according to documents seen by CNET News.com. It would allow customers to browse, preview, download and play music from a mobile handset and a computer.

The service is designed to offer songs from artists on major music labels, including Warner Music Group, EMI Music, Universal Music Group and Sony BMG. Verizon expects to offer more than a million songs by spring, the documents said.

Source: News.com

Napster Sued…Again

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Napster, the infamous song downloading service that was once shut down by the courts, allegedly continues to break copyright law as a fee-based online store, according to a publishing group that has filed a federal lawsuit in Nashville.

MCS Music America, a Nashville-based company that administers copyrights for about 45,000 songs, claims Napster has put hundreds of songs controlled by MCS and its publisher clients on Napster.com without obtaining the proper licenses for paying royalties.

Napster sent MCS a form seeking a licensing agreement, but neither party signed it, the suit states. After getting the inquiry, a MCS employee subscribed to Napster and found the songs were being used without permission.

The suit is seeking $150,000 in damages per violation on two counts involving both the downloaded song and the streaming version. The number of songs involved hasn’t been tallied, but they number in the hundreds, Grauberger said.

Source: Nashville City Paper

A Firefox for music?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

If digital-music veteran Rob Lord wanted to court controversy with his new open-source start-up, he probably couldn’t have done much better than to compare Apple Computer’s iTunes software to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser.

Lord’s new five-person company, the ambitiously named Pioneers of the Inevitable, is building a piece of digital-music software called “Songbird,” based on much of the same underlying open-source technology as the Firefox Web browser.

With their first technical preview expected early next year, the programmers want to create music-playing software that will work naturally with the growing number of music sites and services on the Web, instead of being focused on songs on a computer’s hard drive. That’s where iTunes, which plugs only into Apple’s own music store, falls short, Lord argues.

Apple’s iTunes is “like Internet Explorer, if Internet Explorer could only browse Microsoft.com,” Lord said. “We love Apple, and appreciate and thank them for setting the bar in terms of user experience. But it’s inevitable that the market architecture changes as it matures.”

Source: News.com

Comcast offers “family-friendly” cable package

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

No. 1 U.S. cable operator Comcast Corp. on Thursday said it would offer a package of “family-friendly” channels amid mounting pressure from regulators to help parents weed out racy shows.

The package will include 35 to 40 channels, most of them comprising the basic cable tier of national and local broadcast channels. Another 16 channels include Disney and Nickelodeon, National Geographic, the Food Network, CNN Headline News and the Weather Channel.

Analysts said the move could appease regulator demands, but could not estimate potential demand for the package.

“It’s very unclear whether consumers are going to be interested,” said independent analyst Richard Greenfield. “It’s still a very limited basket of channels.”

Comcast’s “Family” tier will be available in early 2006 at an average monthly fee of $31.20, which includes the basic cable channels, the “family” channels and the cable box.

Comcast executives said earlier this month they were considering such a move amid indecency concerns raised by lawmakers and media regulators.

Last week, No. 2 operator Time Warner Cable was the first to unveil a “family-oriented” package of television channels at about $33 per month. The company is owned by Time Warner Inc..

Another four cable operators are expected to unveil similar packages in the near term, according to industry officials.

Source: Reuters

Mozilla Launches Firefox Marketing Blitz

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Joy to the world, the browser has come.

Such is the holiday sentiment that nonprofit Mozilla Group is asking its customers to share in the name of promoting its latest open source Web browser, Firefox 1.5. The Mountain View, Calif.-based organization launched its first official marketing campaign ever on Wednesday, an initiative that will ask existing Firefox users to make short films about their experiences using the software to convince other people to try it.

Distributed freely and built with the help of open source devotees around the globe, Firefox has relied on word-of-mouth publicity to earn its spot on the browser landscape since launching on November 2004. With over 100 million downloads of the application to this point, the software has claimed roughly 10 percent of the overall market for browser technologies, according to Janco Research, Park City, Utah.

However, convinced that a more serious marketing effort will help Firefox claim a larger share of the browser sector from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which currently holds approximately 85 percent of market, Mozilla officials are going the route of their deep-pocketed competitors and actively trying to gain more widespread recognition.

Source: eWeek

washingtonpost.com to Offer Free Archives Up to 60 Days

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Washingtonpost.com today announced that it will extend its offering of the site’s free digital archives to 60 days effective immediately. Prior to the change, 14 days of archives were free.

The reason for the change, according to Caroline Little, CEO and publisher of washingtonpost.com, is in response to user demand and the increasing longevity of news on the web.

“The great majority of requests for archives is for content that has appeared in the last 30-60 days,” said Little. “Part of the impact of blogs and other sites that link to us is that information stays current and part of the national conversation for a longer time. People should be able to access that information easily and without charge.”

The digital archives of The Washington Post are used frequently by students, historians, researchers, genealogists. Washingtonpost.com offers archives from 1877 until the current day. Paid archives will remain available at their current nominal price.

Judge blocks California video game law

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a California law restricting violent video games, saying it violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ruled late Wednesday that the state law, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October, unconstitutionally restricts minors’ rights to information and granted the video game industry’s request for a preliminary injunction.

“Serious questions are raised concerning (California’s) ability to restrict minors’ First Amendment rights in connection with exposure to violent video games, including the question of whether there is a causal connection between access to such games and psychological or other harm to children,” Whyte said in a 17-page opinion

Source: News.com

French Parliament Votes to Allow Web File Sharing

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The French Parliament voted last night to allow free sharing of music and movies on the Internet, setting up a conflict with both the French government and with media companies.

If the amendment survives, France would be the first country to legalize so called peer-to-peer downloading, said Jean-Baptiste Soufron, legal counsel to the Association of Audionautes, a French group that defends people accused of improperly sharing music files.

The government can overturn the amendment, either by re- opening debate or if the Senate votes it down when the bill moves to the upper house. French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres has asked that parliament re-open debate on the amendment today, Agence France Presse reported.

The amendment, which is attached to a bill on intellectual property rights, states that “authors cannot forbid the reproduction of works that are made on any format from an online communications service when they are intended to be used privately” and not for commercial use.

Source: bloomberg

DirecTV’s DVRs run into snags

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

DirecTV appears to have hit some speed bumps with the rollout of its new digital video recorder — one of the company’s most important initiatives.

Following at least dozens of consumer complaints to the company and on Internet sites about sluggish and occasionally idiosyncratic performance, DirecTV on Tuesday upgraded the software for the second time since the DVR was introduced last month.

“Some things are not as intuitive as we thought, and we’re polishing it,” says DirecTV Chief Technology Officer Romulo Pontual. “It’s the kind of thing we do for a living.”

But sales could stall if consumers still prefer the models it has marketed for years featuring TiVo.

Source: USATODAY

Next IE Beta Will See Global Domains

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft scheme converts domain names to readable format, adds security to avoid fraud.

The second beta release of Internet Explorer 7 will have support for URLs written in different languages, widely seen as critical for making the Internet more international, according to a Microsoft developer.

Showing the punycode would all but eliminate spoofing but it’s not user friendly, Gupta wrote. IE 7 will put restrictions on the scripts allowed to be displayed in the address bar based on the user’s browser language settings. If a domain name has characters that aren’t in the user’s chosen languages, the address will be shown in punycode, he wrote.

When IE 7 has prevented a domain name from being viewed as Unicode, an “information bar” notifies the user. Also new will be a “phishing filter” where target domain names are checked to see if it is a reported phishing site, Gupta wrote. The filter will also be able to determine if a domain name looks ambiguous, warning the user.

Source: pcworld.com

Disney site lets customers design products

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Walt Disney Co.’s online shopping site on Wednesday launched its first “You design it” feature in a move aimed at riding the fast- growing trend toward giving choosy Internet shoppers exactly what they want.

Disney partnered with online customization site Zazzle.com, which licenses thousands of images from Warner Bros., Marvel Comics Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd. and 20th Century Fox, among others, and also allows users to sell their own art for use on personalized T-shirts, greeting cards and postage stamps.

It took Disney, which aggressively protects its copyrights, about two years to figure out how to open its vast art archives, while controlling how consumers could use its characters.

Source: Reuters

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