Monthly Archives: July 2010


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US Copyright Group Caught Red Handed Copying Competitor’s Website

Why is it that the biggest “defenders” of copyright are always the ones caught infringing on others’ copyrights? As a whole bunch of you have been submitting, US Copyright Group — the publicity seeking effort from DC law firm Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver that is suing tens of thousands of people for alleged copyright infringement in an effort to get them to pay up via “pre-settlement” letters — appears to have a bit of a problem with understanding copyright itself. TorrentFreak is showing how USCG appears to have blatantly copied the full HTML for its “settlements” website from a competing operation called Copyright Enforcement Group. USCG had set up a site at that had code that was so obviously copied from CEG that it included CEG’s copyright statement, images and phone number for some of the time. Since then, much of the code has been “scrubbed,” but plenty of CEG’s code was still there. Here’s the image TorrentFreak put together noting the… uh… obvious similarities (you can click for a larger view):

And it’s not a case of the two operations being related or sharing information. TorrentFreak contacted CEG about this, and was told:

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are not associated with the US Copyright Group and they are not authorized to use Copyright Enforcement Group materials.”

Someone else was told that Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver will be receiving a cease & desist shortly. I wonder what sort of “pre-settlement” option will come with that letter.

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How to use App Tabs in Firefox (video)

Mozilla has given tabs some long-overdue love in the second Firefox 4 beta with App Tabs, a feature that annihilates your scramble to search for that one elusive open tab. Watch what it does in this How To video.

Originally posted at The Download Blog

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Guest on jQuery Podcast

I had the honor of being on the jQuery Podcast #30 with Ralph Whitbeck and Doug Neiner. We talk about some of the different parts of CSS-Tricks, the jQuery conference, and the difference between designer and developers.…

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Content Leaks: Call The Lawyers, Or Talk To Fans Honestly?

You may remember last year all the press attention that came about when a work print of the movie Wolverine leaked out a month or so before the movie was set to be released. At the time, 20th Century Fox went ballistic and all of the talk was about legal threats and getting the FBI involved (in fact, the FBI eventually did arrest someone accused of the leak). However, in our post about the leak, we wondered if a better response might have been to not freak out and call the lawyers, but address fans who were downloading the leak as fans and treat them with some respect. Totally off the top of my head, I mocked up what Fox could have said:

Hey Wolverine fans! We know that you’re all looking forward to the release of the movie next month. We’re excited too! By now you may have heard that an early totally unfinished version has been leaked online. It’s missing a whole bunch of stuff — including some amazing special effects — and honestly, this version isn’t a finished product at all. We think you’ll get a much better overall experience by waiting for the full finished product, but we certainly understand that some of you just can’t wait (trust us, we feel the same way!). If that’s the case, please, feel free to check it out, but please remember that this isn’t even close to the final version. If anything, think of this as a “behind-the-scenes” peek of just what a movie looks like before all the real “movie magic” gets put in there. If you do check it out, we hope you’ll join us May 1st to check out the finalized version as well on the big screen the way we intended for you to see this awesome movie. It’s just a month away!

But, of course, that’s not what happened at all. I still do wonder how people would have responded if 20th Century Fox had responded that way. While it’s not quite the same scale, we now do have some information from a band who did choose to do something somewhat similar when their album leaked. It’s obviously on a much smaller scale, but involves a similarly obsessive group of fans who were eagerly waiting for the content. In this case, it was the release of an album from a band called Man Overboard. The story is explained by the band’s manager, where they quickly and actively responded to the album leaking a month ahead of schedule by not freaking out, and moving to treat fans who wanted the album with respect. In this case, it involved putting the album up themselves as well, and proactively communicating with fans. And the response was that fans loved it, with some pointing out they were buying the album just to show support for a band that would act that way:

The response could not have been better. Many fans praised us for being “adults” about the situation and countless fans were thankful they got a record they had been waiting for a month early. Other said they would buy the record just to support a group behaving in this fashion. On messageboards and blog comments we could not have gotten a better response,with at least two dozen compliments on how cool it was for us to release the record to our fans early instead of inflicting the usual torture of waiting upon our fans.

We earned loyalty from our fans and made them into evangelists by doing them right, which coincidentally also did us right. A win-win situation that most labels turn into a lose-lose situation. We could not be more thankful to have a smart label and team that made us able to benefit from something that is usually thought of as a catastrophe.

Nice to see some people making this work. Somehow, I doubt we’ll see many of the “big” guys figure this out any time soon, unfortunately.

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RIAA Defends Lawsuit Spending… But Reminds Everyone How It Helps Screw Over Musicians

A few weeks ago, there was a lot of attention paid to the story of how the RIAA had spent $17 million and got back $391,000 in settlements. The RIAA is now defending its legal strategy by claiming that the lawsuits had other benefits, such as injunctions against certain sites and (my favorite) to “foster a respect for the rights of creators.” It’s difficult to see how that’s working, as the legal strategy has not only mobilized many music fans against the RIAA and ridiculous copyright laws, but has even gotten top musicians to speak out against the RIAA and its views on copyright. On top of that, given the continued increase in file sharing usage, the whole claim is a joke.

Separately, though, the RIAA says that the numbers are misleading because “sometimes recoveries go directly to record label plaintiffs.”

But that raises a different question. If the labels are getting this money… has any of it been passed on to artists? In the discussion on the original story, we had one commenter, who works as an auditor in the music licensing field, who pointed this out and noted that this money isn’t going to artists or songwriters at all. We had pointed this out back in 2006, when part of the Google buyout of YouTube involved paying off the big record labels… and that deal was structured in a way that those labels didn’t have to share that money with artists.

We’ve already seen how record label accounting is used to screw over musicians, but this is an important point as well. The RIAA positions itself as defending artists’ rights. It talks about how these lawsuits are carried out to protect musicians and help those musicians earn a living. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that of the money that actually comes in from these lawsuits, very little of it ever is seen by the artists the labels claim they’re protecting.

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Well That Should Fix Things: Goldman Sachs Implements Email Filter To Ban Swear Words

You may recall the infamous Senate hearings looking into Goldman Sachs a few months back, where Senator Carl Levin repeatedly quoted an email about how something was “a shitty deal.” Included during the discussion was this fun exchange between Levin and Goldman Sach’s CFO, David Viniar:

LEVIN: And when you heard that your employees, in these e-mails, when looking at these deals said, God, what a shitty deal, God what a piece of crap — when you hear your own employees or read about those in the e-mails, do you feel anything?

VINIAR: I think that’s very unfortunate to have on e-mail.

(The gallery bursts out laughing.)

LEVIN: On an e-mail?

VINIAR: Please don’t take that the wrong way. I think it’s very unfortunate for anyone to have said that in any form.

LEVIN: How about to believe that and sell them?

VINIAR: I think that’s unfortunate as well.

LEVIN: That’s what you should have started with.

VINIAR: You’re correct. It is.

Well, now it appears that Goldman Sachs has figured out a way to try to prevent that “unfortunate” situation from occurring again. Rather than not selling shitty deals while pretending they’re golden, it’s putting in place an email filter to block swear words from being sent over email. The filter will apparently even block out **** for those who try to textually bleep their swear words. That’ll fix things.

To be fair, the whole “shitty deal” comment did get blown out of proportion. It certainly does look bad, but Goldman Sachs was correct in that it was not acting as an advisor in that situation. Its job was merely to sell the client what they wanted to buy. But, even so, it does seem kind of amusing that the response to this getting publicity is to try to stop the swearing…

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An Open iPhone App Market That Doesn’t Require Jailbreaking… And Which Apple Can’t Stop

In all of the fuss, hype and obsession over the iPhone/iPad app store, people seem to forget that when the iPhone first launched, it had no app store and no ability for third party developers to create native apps. Instead, Steve Jobs suggested the high quality Safari browser on the iPhone meant the end of native apps, as everything could and should just be done in HTML. And yet, a year later, Steve Jobs totally changed his tune, the iPhone app store was launched, and suddenly this obsession with everything “apps” began. Of course, the media industry fell in love, because they thought that they could regain an element of control, thanks in part to Apple’s incredibly arbitrary iron fist over what got into the store.

And yet… in all of that, it seems that many people forgot that original promise of apps all just being created in HTML. Indeed, if you look beneath the surface, you would realize that many iPhone apps really are just made in HTML and then compiled into being native iPhone apps. Using HTML alone, you can access many of the phone’s features and certainly create all sorts of apps. But still, there has been general anger over Apple’s mercurial gatekeeper activities. Back in January, we noted that Google had remembered the ability to create apps via HTML and had simply routed around the App Store. It made us wonder why others weren’t doing it too.

While there have been a few “independent” app stores for the iPhone, they’ve all required jailbreaking the phone. And while that’s now officially legal as per the Library of Congress, it’s still not something your everyday iPhone user wants to do. So I’ve been somewhat fascinated by a new offering that’s launching today called OpenAppMkt, which effectively creates a brand new app market for iPhones all via HTML (both the openappmkt app itself, and all the apps in it are HTML based). The experience is very much like the regular app store, with the small exception of having to tap the “add to home” button:

While many of the initial offerings in the OpenAppMkt are free, it does let developers charge for their apps as well. Effectively, this is an entire “app market” for the iPhone that simply routes around Apple as a gatekeeper, and there’s really not much that Apple can do to stop it. And, of course, since the apps in the OpenAppMkt are just HTML, it likely won’t be difficult for OpenAppMkt to extend this to other platforms as well, such as Android (even though Android’s much more open market means that there’s less of a reason to developers to use OpenAppMkt for Android).

Overall, this fascinates me for two reasons. First, it’s good to get more people realizing that HTML is already pretty damn good at creating app-style experiences, without having to create special compiled code and, second, it’s a really clever way to totally route around Apple as a gatekeeper (without requiring a jailbreak), and is a reminder that even on “closed” systems, openness will often find a way.

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Connecting With Fans… In The Porn Industry?

The same professors who recently wrote on the Freakonomics blog about how restaurant innovation thrives without copyright recently wrote another post about how the porn industry is also thriving despite widespread infringement. Even though there is copyright on porn works, with rampant infringement, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of less porn being made these days. The professors make the argument that the overall porn marketplace will likely adapt and change without copyright enforcement, but it certainly won’t go away:

Here’s a prediction: the porn-tube sites are here to stay, and yet many, many people and companies will continue to produce pornography — even in the face of virtually uncontrolled copying. Like it or not (and we’ll leave the morality of this subject to others), there is huge demand for porn. And although we are not economists, we feel safe in saying that where there is demand, there will be supply….

In short, the porn-tube sites probably won’t kill the porn industry. But they will change it. Production is likely to shift even more from “features” to short porn-tube-friendly clips….

They then try to suggest some business models that the porn industry might pick up in the changing marketplace. One is to go upscale (such as an upcoming 3D porn film) that gives people additional “reasons to buy.” The other is to focus in on specific niches.

The predictions are a bit simplistic, and economist and Techdirt reader Eric Crampton wrote in to point us to his own attempt at applying my “connect with fans + reason to buy” formula to the porn industry. He finds the suggestions in the Freakonomics article not very workable, and also points out that some of the classic “reasons to buy” probably wouldn’t work all that well, at least in some circles. Unlike with musicians, people are probably a lot less interested in wearing a t-shirt highlighting their favorite porn star (yes, I’m sure there are some exceptions, but…).

He then suggests that touring is a possibility — with online clips being used as enticement to come out and see “live” performances of some kind, though, I would imagine that might not fully work either. I would guess that for most — “stripping” and “porn” aren’t quite the same thing, and while I’m not familiar with how licenses for strip clubs work, I’d have to imagine that most don’t allow actual sexual acts between people to happen either. Though, the Freakonomics article does say that some porn actresses use online clips to drive people to come see them strip — which is a higher margin business.

Of course, a commenter suggests an even more obvious (though very illegal, mostly) form of CwF+RtB: prostitution. Though, that’s got all sorts of problems as well.

What surprises me is that one of the more obvious models is mostly left out: straight up advertising. One thing that porn does well is attract a lot of eyeballs. In fact, plenty of online porn sites have supported themselves with advertising for ages. There’s no reason for that to change. And, certainly you could think of interesting “tiers” that some top porn stars could use to attract people to pay for greater levels of access, such as private videos, chats and the like. A few months ago, someone had submitted a story about a porn star who was offering special packages on her website where she would attend sporting events with you (I believe for the Phoenix Suns), but I can’t find that submission any more.

Either way, I have to concur with the initial analysis. Whatever the business model that comes out, it doesn’t seem likely that porn is going away any time soon, even if copyright is totally ignored.

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Filter data in a WPF ListBox

In this post, I will demonstrate how to filter data from the list box in WPF. To do this, I am using LINQ to Collections.
Assuming you have a WPF project, add a class file ‘Employee’
class Employee
  public int EmpNo { get; set; }
  public string EmpName { get; set; }
In the MainWindow.Xaml, add the following code:
<ListBox Height="298" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="80,55,0,0"
Name="lstEmpData" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="252">
<TextBlock Text="{Binding EmpName}"></TextBlock>
<TextBlock Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="60,18,0,0"
Name="textBlock1" Text="Search Name"
VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="134" />
<TextBox Height="27" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="208,13,0,0"
Name="txtNameToSearch" TextChanged="txtNameToSearch_TextChanged"
VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="202" />

The xaml code shown above defines a ListBox which has ItemTemplate set to TextBlock. This TextBlock is bound with EmpName. The TextBox(txtNameToSearch) is used to define filter values.
In the Window_Loaded event, add the following code
ObservableCollection<Employee> lstEmployee =
new ObservableCollection<Employee>();

private void Window_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1001, EmpName = "Mahesh" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1002, EmpName = "Amit" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1003, EmpName = "Vaibhav" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1004, EmpName = "Ashwin" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1005, EmpName = "Prashant" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1006, EmpName = "Vinit" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1007, EmpName = "Abhijit" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1008, EmpName = "Pankaj" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1009, EmpName = "Kaustubh" });
lstEmployee.Add(new Employee() { EmpNo = 1010, EmpName = "Mohan" });

lstEmpData.ItemsSource = lstEmployee;

The code shown above defines an Employee collection bound to the ListBox.

Now in the TextChanged event of the TextBox, add the following LINQ code which filters data from the collection and binds the result to the Listbox:

private void txtNameToSearch_TextChanged(object sender,
TextChangedEventArgs e)
  string txtOrig = txtNameToSearch.Text;
  string upper = txtOrig.ToUpper();
  string lower = txtOrig.ToLower();

  var empFiltered = from Emp in lstEmployee
  let ename = Emp.EmpName
   || ename.StartsWith(upper)
   || ename.Contains(txtOrig)
   select Emp;

  lstEmpData.ItemsSource = empFiltered;


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Copyright Getting In The Way Of Preserving Video Game History

We keep hearing stories of how copyright is getting in the way of preserving or archiving cultural works. The latest is video games, which face a double whammy of obsolete proprietary hardware and restrictive copyright laws, making it quite difficult to legally preserve those games:

Even if preservationists had the resources to develop the kind of emulators that can stand the test of time, their task would be made all the more difficult by the tendency of game companies to worry more about piracy than preservation. This means that documentation on how their machines work is either non-existent (if the company goes out of business or fails to preserve it) or secret, so makers of emulators must laboriously reverse-engineer existing hardware.

Finally, there’s the copyright issue. Getting permission to preserve a game requires signoff by everyone with a stake in it–its creator, publisher, etc.

Given the current legal situation concerning emulation, it is not possible to preserve video games digitally using emulators and copy media to different physical layers without the manufacturer’s agreement. Establishing responsibility for the preservation of digital data must be seen as a priority. Awareness has to be raised among the manufacturers of console video game systems and console video games to reach agreements about how to preserve their work.

The article also notes that there probably needs to be a legal change, such as exempting such archival activity in the DMCA rulemaking process that just concluded — but so far it doesn’t seem like such changes are likely.

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