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Archive for December, 2010

NYC to GAO: NUTS!!

December 25, 2010 Comments off

This will drive the Gerd Leonhard contingent nuts, do doubt.  Bless Michael Bloomberg for leading the effort to counter the dehumanizing attacks on the creators.  Tom Papa does a great job.

Oh–by the way, if you search Google for “tom papa torrents“?  52,000 results, including The Pirate Bay on the first page of search results.  You remember the Pirate Bay–that’s the domain that Google blocked by mistake last year

Maybe Mayor Bloomberg can get Google to block it not by mistake next time.

Grande Prosecutor Macchiato: What’s next for the coffee generation?

December 23, 2010 Comments off

According to Politico, the former worldwide head of lobbying for Google, former Berkman Center poobah and now former White House technology advisor Andrew McLaughlin is moving on.  Yes, days before Congressman Daryl Issa takes over the chair of the House Government Oversight Committee but still during the statute of limitations, coffee critic McLaughlin is leaving the White House.

Recall that McLaughlin got sideways with Issa over emails sent from his personal Gmail account to lobbyists, Free Press people and others that sure looked like the improper conduct of government business to a number of people.  Also recall that the only reason anyone knew about it was that those following McLaughlin on Google Buzz was inadvertently disclosed publicly and some fast acting person grabbed a screenshot of it that set off the whole brouhaha and subsequent FOIA request.

The Politico story says, “McLaughlin drew heat earlier this year when it was discovered [through the FOIA request] that he used his personal Gmail account to consult with [approximately two dozen] former colleagues at Google [including Google lobbyists] — a breach of the ethics pledge initiated by President Barack Obama that prohibits White House employees from directly engaging their former employers and clients for at least two years.  McLaughlin was reprimanded for the incident, but the White House has maintained that the limited number of e-mails [if you think that the volume of disclosure in two separate FOIA requests is "limited"] had no influence on any federal policy decisions.  Given Google’s interest in several policy issues — net neutrality, in particular — McLaughlin’s communication with the Internet giant [and secret meetings in coffee shops near the White House] raised some concerns that Google had extra influence over the administration as it handled the hot-button issue.” 

Politico doesn’t mention that McLaughlin’s email also shows meetings arranged at coffee shops near the White House (presumably to avoid showing up in the White House visitors logs available under a Creative Commons license at whitehouse.gov).  You know, that place down where the guy did that thing, across the street from where the other thing happened that time near that bookie’s house.  With a skinny grande macchiato.

So where might McLaughlin end up?  Perhaps there’s some room with the Poker Prof  teaching ethics back at Harvard.

See also: News from the Goolag: Grande Prosecutor Macchiato

See also: Grande Prosecutor Macchiato Redux

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New Music 12/23/10: Young Buffalo, Horse + Donkey, Sky Larkin, Peligrosa, The Givers

December 23, 2010 Comments off

Digital Music News: The Year End Capitulation Issue

December 21, 2010 Comments off

Every now and then you see “stories” in the Digital Music News email newsletter that make you wonder what kind of group think is going on in the office. 

For example, two stories in today’s issue spring to mind.  One knocks Universal for spending money on lobbying, the other compares Google’s market cap with the music industry and ends with this sentence: “Now, how much are the labels losing to Google on a daily basis?  That’s a scary question…”

These two stories are actually related, although you would never know it from DMN.  “The labels” are losing money to Google on a daily basis, but not because there is some kind of competition between the two and not because “resistance is futile” which is sort of that sensationalist undertone so often springing from DMN.

One reason “the labels”–how about “the artists” or “artists and songwriters” which would be more accurate–but, OK, “the labels”–are losing to Google is because Google–among others–profits from selling advertising on rogue websites that trade in pirated works by artists and songwriters.

Due to lobbying by “the labels” as well as AFTRA, AFM, IA, DGA, SAG, the Songwriters Guild, A2IM–and Universal among others, the Congress is addressing this rampant theft supported by public companies.  And that effort produced a bill that was passed out of Senate Judiciary 19-0 and–perhaps equally importantly–has already produced public statements by Google and Mastercard acknowledging the error of their ways.

Actually, that’s a much better lead for an article on the subject if for no other reason that it is grounded in reality as opposed to the bORG. 

And by the way, if you wanted to compare apples to apples, you might want to compare the amount of money that Google has spent lobbying against the rogue sites bill–reprehensible and wasteful.

The Power of Latte: Nicholas Kristof’s Guide to Giving

December 19, 2010 Comments off

If anyone would ask me who’s on my top ten list for a Nobel Peace Prize, I’d have to say I only have one and he is Nicholas Kristof.  This man is not only a writer’s writer, he’s also fearlessly reported on some of the worst places on Earth and some of the worst–and best–people you could imagine. 

He’s written an article about charities that he’s checked out that are not widely known and you should really do yourself a favor and read “The Gifts of Hope” (it’s behind a free registration).

“One of the paradoxes of living in a wealthy country is that we accumulate tremendous purchasing power, yet it’s harder and harder for us to give friends and family presents that are meaningful. In this holiday season, sometimes a scarf from a prostituted Cambodian girl, or a scholarship for a Zambian child, is the most heartwarming gift of all.”

Now you know you’re going to lose $25 on hamburgers or latte in the next month, so don’t do that and give the money to one of these charities instead.  It’s amazing how far what’s a few bucks to us can stretch for them.  Think of it as the power of latte.

The Hargreaves Review: Liberte Egalite Downloading in the UK

December 18, 2010 Comments off

The storm clouds are forming in the UK over appointments to the Hargreaves Review, a six-month government intellectual property review to examine barriers to new internet-based business models, including the costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders. (Ian Hargreaves is currently the chair of Digital Economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School.)  Sounds like a Five Year Plan is in our future.

The costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders…let’s see now, who might be interested in that?  Perhaps the wife of Prime Minister Cameron’s chief strategist–who also happens to be…wait for it…wait for it…Global VP of Public Affairs and Communications for Google.  No, that is not a joke, and yes it is true

So aside from the fact that the impetus for the review itself is a bit dodgy, it should come as no surprise that one James Boyle was appointed to the 5 member expert advisory board.  James Boyle is a founding board member and former chair of Creative Commons, and also co-founded the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke.  And of course he was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Pioneer Award” this year.  (See also “The Great Circular Award Ceremony“.)

So let that sink in for a minute.

Having sunk in, you will not be surprised to know that Boyle also authored one comic entitled “Theft” and another which features Lessig as the Statue of Liberty holding a pirate flag in the style of Les Miserables (not touching that with your fork).  You will also not be surprised to know that a Member of Parliament has tabled a parliamentary question demanding to know how the panel was selected.

As Andrew Orlowski reports in The Register, MP Michael Wetherley said “‘I’d like to ensure the review has legitimacy…’I’d like to see a balanced review and we need to be careful it’s not pushed in one direction.'”

Right.

And when Mr. Weatherly gets done with Boyle, maybe he can also find out who the unnamed “experts” were for the General Accountability Office “review” we suffered through in this country.

Bravo Alex Luke

December 17, 2010 Comments off

I’m not going to get sidetracked about how shallow some of the news coverage has been about Alex Luke’s transition to EMI.  It’s clearly the best news we’ve had in years, and so it’s natural that some in the old school digital press want to keep the self-induced death watch stories rolling for record companies.

I’m not going to presume that I have any special insight into why people do what they do.  But when the journlistically challenged ask why would Alex leave a cash-rich company like Apple to go to a cash-strapped company like EMI, I think they reveal too much.  Particularly when they speculate about the lure of a title.

One distributes records, one makes records.

Repeat after me, one distributes records one makes records.  No matter how good they are at distribution, and Apple’s marketing and distribution skills are beyond category (demonstrated most recently by their work on The Beatles both digital and physical), they don’t make records.  So if you really want to make records, you can’t do it at Apple. 

You know–one does the thing that the digital press understands, the other does the thing they haven’t a clue about.  So naturally they couldn’t understand it.  Makes you wonder what motivates them, don’t it?

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