Monthly Archives: June 2010

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Folk Singer Just Notices That Led Zeppelin May Have Copied His Song Forty Years Ago

Reader Tim DiPaula alerts us to the news that folks singer Jake Holmes is suing Jimmy Page for copyright infringement, claiming that the Led Zeppelin song “Dazed and Confused” is a copy of his own song, of the same name, recorded two years earlier. The TMZ link above has clips from both songs, which certainly have some pretty serious similarities. But what’s really amazing, of course, is that Holmes recorded his song in 1967, and Zeppelin did their song in 1969. And Holmes is just noticing now? TMZ notes that copyright law has a three year statute of limitation, saying that this lawsuit can only cover damages from the last three years. But, of course, as with all things copyright law related, it might not be that simple. The courts have been somewhat divided on this, but some interpret the law to say exactly what TMZ says — that it will only cover infringement from the past three years. However, others have interpreted it to mean that it’s only three years from the last infringing act. So as long as infringement has been happening all along… some courts will cover that entire period. Of course, you might think that regardless of the statute of limitations issues, Page has a pretty damn good laches claim. Forty plus years to bring the lawsuit? Yeah, the courts might not like that very much.

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Google Suggest searches blocked in China

Internet users inside China are unable to use Google’s suggested searches feature after Chinese Internet regulators imposed a block on that feature Wednesday.

Originally posted at Relevant Results

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Firefox’s Jetpack extensions get 2010 goal

Mozilla hopes to release the first full version of the Jetpack programming tools by the end of the year. Also a priority: Web-based Flightdeck tool.

Originally posted at Deep Tech

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Microsoft’s Comparison To Linux In The Server Market Conveniently Leaves Out Free

If you get to define a “market” you can create all sorts of misleading results. Take, for example, this recent blog post from Microsoft, where it tried to show off just how big the company was using a variety of numbers. Thankfully, Charles Arthur, over at The Guardian went through the numbers in greater detail to point out where and how they were misleading. One example, highlighted by Glyn Moody is the claims of Linux server market share, and how it supposedly “failed” to live up to expectations. Here’s what Microsoft had in its blog post (which I recreated by hand, because, as Arthur notes, Microsoft’s HTML is full of ridiculous crap):


24%
Linux Server market share in 2005. [source]

33%
Predicted Linux Server market share for 2007 (made in 2005). [source]

21.2%
Actual Linux Server market share, Q4 2009. [source]

Now, this might strikes some of you as not sounding right. After all, most of have have noticed that Linux servers seem to be pretty damn common throughout the world. Most of the biggest online companies in the world use Linux, and it’s difficult to think of an online startup that doesn’t use Linux. Charles Arthur breaks down how incredibly misleading this is:


This is a really interesting one, because it is a distortion of reality that would have Steve Jobs applauding at its subtlety. You look at those numbers and think: wow, Linux servers really aren’t popular. How odd, because you’ll notice that you come across Linux servers all over the place: Google, Facebook (which runs F5’s Big IP, which is Linux), Yahoo, Amazon, Wordpress.com (which hosts millions of blogs), Twitter… so why such a small number? (The only major site I could quickly find that runs Windows Server is eBay.)

Answer: because those “market share” figures are for Linux server licences sold. Microsoft doesn’t count them – and because the market research companies can’t count them – if money doesn’t change hands. True, this indicates that companies selling Linux servers (principally hardware) aren’t making headway against Windows Server. But what it doesn’t tell you is what progress Linux is making overall on the web. For that, you need Netcraft. And that suggests that Linux has a really big market share.

In other words, to make these numbers come out this way, Microsoft is pretending that “free” Linux servers are not competitors. This is a silly sort of willful blindness. Obviously, free Linux is a huge competitor to Microsoft’s servers, and widely used in place of it. To ignore those numbers to try to suggest Linux has less marketshare is to deny reality.

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YouTube cuts music license deal with Rumblefish

A new agreement between YouTube and Rumblefish lets YouTube users buy lifetime licenses to legally add music to their online videos.

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Google swings, misses with FastBall promo

A promotional Flash game designed to show off Google’s newest Chrome browser backfired Wednesday when interested users were unable to load the YouTube page.

Originally posted at Relevant Results

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Research 2000 Sends Cease & Desist To FiveThirtyEight For Discussing DailyKos Concerns

Want to know how to take a bad situation and make it significantly worse? Check this out. We were just discussing how the website DailyKos was going to sue its former pollster after an investigation turned up fairly compelling evidence that the data it presented was either faked or manipulated. Pretty quickly, a few folks sent over the news that Nate Silver, at the always fascinating FiveThirtyEight, (though, frankly, I miss his Baseball Prospectus work…) had received a cease & desist from R2K’s law firm:

As Silver notes in his post, the letter, in part, credits statements made on the Kos website to Silver, which is just really bad lawyering. On top of that, it takes issue with some of Nate’s Twitter messages, such as one where he clearly opines that R2K’s results have “maginal quality.” That’s a clear opinion statement, and not defamatory at all. The whole thing is bizarre and clearly makes R2K look even worse — especially considering the claims on Kos that it was given weeks to defend its research and chose not to for whatever reasons. But as soon as the reports come out demonstrating the likely problems with the research, R2K rushes out the cease-and-desist letter… and to a third party site that was just reporting on what folks on Kos had found? Yikes.

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Should Schools Be Involved In Disciplining Students For Off-Campus Bullying?

The NY Times is running a long article looking at one of the favorite moral panics of the day: cyberbullying. The specific article questions how schools should be dealing with the issue, especially when it comes to activity that takes place entirely off-campus. The article actually focuses a lot of attention on the middle school principal we wrote about a couple months ago who sent a long email to parents telling them to ban all social networking from their kids — effectively taking the “head in sand” approach to dealing with these issues. To be fair, in this article, that principal comes off as a lot more reasonable, initially telling angry parents that off-campus activity really is outside of the domain of what the school should be involved in.

In reading through the article, though, part of what struck me is that it seems like some parents are simply trying to get the school to act because they’re unwilling to act themselves. Take, for example, this exchange towards the beginning of the article:


Punish him, insisted the parents.

“I said, ‘This occurred out of school, on a weekend,’ ” recalled the principal, Tony Orsini. “We can’t discipline him.”

Had they contacted the boy’s family, he asked.

Too awkward, they replied. The fathers coach sports together.

What about the police, Mr. Orsini asked.

A criminal investigation would be protracted, the parents had decided, its outcome uncertain. They wanted immediate action.

In other words, there were plenty of paths that the family could have taken, but they didn’t want to actually do anything. They wanted the school to act as parents for the kid because they were unwilling to do so. That’s not to say these things don’t create difficult situations, but it seems like a weak solution when parents just punt the issue and demand that schools handle it. And, of course, the article also highlights cases where parents also get (reasonably) upset when schools punish their kids for off-campus activity.

It’s no secret that kids can and will be mean. And with modern communication technology it’s easier for kids to be mean directly more often and in much more public ways. That’s a challenge, to be sure, but asking schools to handle those issues doesn’t seem like an effective or an efficient solution.

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How Copyright Is Denying Us Our Own History

The Guardian has a fantastic article on a topic we’ve mentioned before, but haven’t discussed in a while. It’s about how copyright is getting in the way of us preserving our history. Archivists around the world are facing a massive problem: what should be easier due to new technologies has become an incredible legal nightmare. Digital content degrades quickly, and formats change all the time. Locking up that content, and using things like DRM (where it’s illegal to even try to circumvent it) is making it impossible to do important archival activities. This is a huge problem that’s only been getting worse — so it’s great to see a mainstream publication like The Guardian addressing it.

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Music Licensing Firm Offers Cheap Licenses For YouTube Videos

The New York Times is reporting that music licensing firm Rumblefish is trying to help people making YouTube videos avoid takedowns or the dreaded YouTube ContentID “silencing” by offering music that can be licensed for YouTube videos at $1.99 per song (for non-commercial purposes only). While it’s at least somewhat good to see music licensing firms recognizing that this market isn’t going to buy hugely expensive licenses, and trying to adjust to handle this new market, it sort of ignores the fact that there are still a ton of Creative Commons and similarly licensed (or public domain) music out there that they can use. Since the Rumblefish catalog in this offer doesn’t include any major label music or “big name” artists, it seems like those who might be interested in such a thing could probably find just as good, if not better, Creative Commons-licensed music. On top of that, this is the same Rumblefish who caused some problems last year when it claimed licensing rights over some public domain music, pissing off a bunch of YouTube users.

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