As Internet companies continue to consolidate and Internet users spend more time using vendor-controlled platforms such as mobile devices or social-networking sites, free speech and other rights diminish. Consider these examples from a Wired News
Verizon Wireless barred an abortion-rights group from obtaining a "short code" for conducting text-messaging campaigns, while LiveJournal suspended legitimate blogs on fiction and crime victims in a crackdown on pedophilia. Two lines criticizing President Bush disappeared from AT&T Inc.'s webcast of a Pearl Jam concert. All three decisions were reversed only after senior executives intervened amid complaints.
One interesting aspect of this issue is that the quote above s from an article copyrighted by the Associated Press. The article outlines some of the problems that free speech faces on a vendor controlled internet and seems to be arguing for greater openness. This somewhat ironic considering the AP's stand on the online use of quotes from their articles. From PC World
The New York Times is reporting that the AP is setting guidelines for blog usage of AP content after the AP sent takedown notices to The Drudge Retort last week. The AP's guidelines will deal with what and how much content blogs can quote and still be considered legal use under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law.
The AP initially sent a take down notice to the Drudge Retort demanding it take down seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words. The quotes were linked, but the AP felt they somehow violated their copyright, even though they fell squarely under the fair use doctrine.
The AP eventually backed off somewhat, but the issue is still in the air. As content creators, we firmly believe that everything we create, from video footage all the way down to a structured headline, is creative content that has value." says Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of the AP.
Mr. Kennedy seems to equate value to his organization with the right to control expression. However value also exists for bloggers, scholars, and other news outlets when they quote from standard sources such as the AP. That value reflects back to the AP. The notion that being an information outlet implies absolute control is a difficult one for many large organizations to shake.
Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users' names and IP addresses, to Viacom, which is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyright videos to appear on YouTube, a judge ruled Wednesday.
A number of questions arise about this: Why did the judge allow this massive violation of privacy; what will Viacom do with this information; why was Google tracking this? I think the answer to the latter two questions is obvious. To Google, it is a marketing goldmine. To Viacom, it may be proof that their copyrighted material was popular on YouTube, although that could established by other means. It could also be a marketing goldmine to Viacom. Google correctly that the data should not be disclosed because of the users’ privacy concerns. Of course, that works both ways. Google should not have accumulated that information because of users' privacy concerns.
This is big enough news that it made CNN. CNN gave it about 30 seconds, followed by several minutes about black actors portraying fictional US presidents. The EFF
is getting involved.
This is a big potential privacy violation in the US and can lead to some interesting embarrassing moments (Maybe John McCain watches that dumb teenage lightsaber guy over and over). The real problem is in other countries. Now that the cat is out of the bag and every user has been tracked, will Google/Viacom turn information over to various governments about who watched what video that is illegal in their domain? Think that's not a possibility? Consider Yahoo and China