Category Thoughts

Someone please build Google Reader + Techmeme

I haven’t seriously opened Google Reader in months.  That might be because I’m in law school and have limited time to read besides for courses.  I don’t think this is true, though, because I still frequent Twitter, Techmeme, Google News, NYTimes, Facebook…. yeah, I have plenty of time for other stuff.  It might be because I have 144 subscriptions, leading my unread count to reach the dreaded “1000+” in a matter of days.  But shouldn’t Reader’s “sort by magic” help with that?

I think the real reason that I recoil from RSS these days is because of organization.  Let’s do a little history lesson, and then I’ll make a proposal for something better.

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Of Copyrights and Campaigns: Fox News Network v. Carnahan for Senate

My second post for the William & Mary IP blog is up.  It dives a little deeper into one of the campaign video cases that my previous post covered:

In September, Fox News filed a copyright infringement suit against the campaign of Robin Carnahan, the Democratic then-candidate for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat.  (Carahan was eventually defeated at the polls by Republican Roy Blunt.)  The complaint alleged that Carnahan’s campaign “usurped proprietary footage from the Fox News Network to made it appear – falsely – that [Fox News] and Christopher Wallace, one of the nation’s most respected political journalists, are endorsing Robin Carnahan’s campaign.”  The ad (which you can watchhere) consists almost entirely of footage taken from Wallace’s interview of Blunt on Fox News earlier this year.  In addition to copyright infringement, the complaint alleges invasions of Wallace’s privacy and publicity rights.

There are at least two key issues at stake in this lawsuit.  The first is the nature of the rights that Fox News is seeking to protect.  Instead of alleging an infringement of economic rights to its work, Fox News focuses its complaint largely around the effect of the unauthorized use of its work on its reputation.  Throughout its complaint, Fox News speaks of the ad “compromising its apparent objectivity” and “misleading” its viewers into thinking that it endorsed Carnahan as a candidate.

The aforementioned CDT reports put it best: “These are not copyright interests.”

Click through to read the rest.  [Update: It's also now live on State of Elections.]

A Realistic Approach to Piracy

From a post discussing possible software licensing approaches comes this nugget of hard truth:

There are a number of ways to protect your application from piracy. However, when it comes down to it, piracy cannot be stopped. Whether you like it or not, if someone wants to steal your application, they will. On this note, pirated copies should not be considered lost sales. Most pirates had no intention of purchasing your application in the first place. Don?t hurt your real customers. If your application is good enough, people will buy it. The best way to prevent piracy?

Make great apps.

Indeed.

Hat tip to Tim Bray [via Twitter] for the link.

One useful Ping thing

Apple’s new Ping service is pretty lackluster.  Even if they were able to get a deal with Facebook to let users import their graphs, it’s still pretty useless.  It’s outside the browser, it revolves around iTunes Music Store purchases, and it’s just kinda slow and clunky.  I have no good reason to visit it on a regular basis.

However, as I was browsing the iTunes Music Store today, I spotted a Ping integration that seems useful.  See above.  It is nice knowing if a friend or influencer has an album that I’m interesting in buying.  Even more useful would be that friend/influencer’s ratings or comments about the album, if they’ve made any, to let me know if they think it’s good or bad.  It’d be even cooler to see implicit data from my friends, telling me how often they listen to that album compared to their other music, or how recently they listened to it.  All with their opt-in, of course.

From this perspective, Ping has promise.  But I think it’ll only achieve notable success when it (and the store, and the player) move to the cloud and browser environment.

“Thinking Carefully” About Online Reputation

The afternoon portion of today’s Law Camp session was mostly administrative.  We heard from several deans and student leaders about various different aspects of academic and social life at law school.  The last speaker this afternoon was the dean of career services.

The dean went over a few important dates, and then offered us a piece of advice.  I paraphrase:

The single most useful and important thing that you can do in these first several weeks is to investigate and think carefully about the images and information about you that exist on the Internet.

He went on to propose two hypotheticals, in both of which we should assume the role of a hiring partner at a national law firm.

  1. You gain access to a promising candidate’s Facebook profile, and find a picture of the candidate sitting on the beach in her swimsuit with two of her friends, raising beer cans in a toast.  Do you disqualify the candidate based on this image?
  2. In researching a different but also promising candidate online, you come across a college newspaper article complete with photo that says, referring to that candidate: “SGA Secretary Convicted of Stealing School Supplies.”  Turns out, it was the April Fool’s edition of the newspaper, but it is not clearly marked on the article and not apparent from the writing style.  Do you disqualify the candidate based on this discovery?

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