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Oct 03, 2000

‘Business-method’ patents
Patents10/3/2000; 2:26:39 PM 'Such patents on “business methods,” which have been soaring in recent years, have been denounced for allowing the patent owners to put a lock on innovation or to profit unfairly from it. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been accused of issuing way too many such patents, and for dubious innovations.'The issue is heating up in Washington.'


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Oct 03, 2000

Moving from Units to Eunuchs
Misc.10/3/2000; 2:17:46 PM 'Since this minimum per-unit cost is best spread over a large number of titles (the "economies of scale" effect), the current system favors a handful of major labels, all of which are stuck with roughly the same magnitude of distribution costs.

'The Internet upends all of that, because payment for distribution has been completely decoupled from the data delivered. Your monthly ISP bill doesn’t fluctuate, whether you download every Grateful Dead MP3 ever made or only send email to your mother on Sundays. When compared to the physical world, there is no such thing as online "distribution," in that Sony and Time Warner can’t base their markup on the costs of delivery....'Sometime in the next 12 months, someone with a large enough catalog of popular entertainment–probably music, because video isn’t yet ready for prime time–is going to begin an online price war. When that happens, all the players will quickly realize that the old pricing models no longer apply.... once the change begins, look for it to be swifter than almost anyone imagines.'
Excellent article.


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Oct 03, 2000

Web-chopping comes home to the desktop
Content Integrity10/3/2000; 1:36:20 PM 'These programs, with names like DoDots, Snippets, Yodlee, Onepage and Octopus, are actually browsers on steroids that put the user in charge of the Internet experience by providing a set of tools which allow the surfer to copy and paste content from an infinite number of web sites into one personally-designed web page.... Octopus even allows users to post their personally designed web-pages on the site, so that people with similar interests can use the new design rather than have to create their own version.'What users do on their own systems is basically up-to-them; publishing the slicing & dicing instructions goes to far, but I've been over that already. What's interesting is this quote at the end: 'Analyst Jakob Nielsen is convinced that these new technologies will force content providers to come up with new concepts for revenue - such as setting up arrangements with ISP's or charging subscriptions or micro-payments.'A reminder that if you abuse a system, it can change. If you have to pay to access it ceases to be such a big deal to construct 'personalized' home pages, because as long as people get their money, they tend to be happy.


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Oct 03, 2000

Will Personalization Be The End of Editorial Integrity?
Personal Commentary10/3/2000; 1:21:46 PM I hold in my hands the latest issue of the Official Dreamcast Magazine... covering the Dreamcast, which is the latest & greatest video gaming console put out by Sega. Contained inside this magazine are:

This is hardly an unusual magazine; there are niche magazines for every sport imaginable, every animal imaginable, every class of hardware and quite a few specific products, etc. Each of those niche magazines face the editorial integrity issue: How can we write with integrity on the very same topics that we must sell advertising for?I picked out the video game magazine because of the large number of reviews it has; most PC publications have faced the same review problem. How can we negatively review somebody's product when we depend on that company's advertising revenue? When it boils down to it, we have to take the fairness of the reviews on trust, with most magazines either finding some balance or dying due to lack of subscribers. You can also look for sources of reviews that aren't dependent on the advertising revenue of that particular type of product, because of the broad base of reviews done, like Consumer Reports. But as we enter the age of ultra-personalization, content will be divided finer and finer, and the natural effect of this division is to move the advertising even closer to the content, until you get to the point where every fishing pole review will be accompied solely by advertising for fishing poles (or fishing equipment at the very least), even if the New York Times is doing the review. The inability to target advertising at such a fine level provided shelters for editorial integrity, where it is clear that the reviewer is not recieving money (and conflicts of interest) from the reviewed topic. Thus, while there may still be entities performing broad bases of reviews, they will effectively be exactly like the niche market targetters.Will one of the effects of personalization be to render large organizations perpetually in thrall to the advertisers? If not, what will be created to combat this tendancy? (Personal websites probably aren't the entire answer; sites large enough to obtain enough credibility to seem trusted will find it increasingly desirable to sell advertisements... for instance, Tom's Hardware.)


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Oct 03, 2000

Napster Case: Hard Queries on Copyrights
Music & MP3
10/3/2000; 12:58:07 PM 'The exchange today created a sharply different courtroom atmosphere from that of two months ago when a lower court ordered Napster to stop aiding the exchange of copyrighted music. That court's preliminary injunction was quickly stayed, setting the stage for today's hearing, during which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considered whether to reinstate the injunction pending trial.'

I like the tone of what I'm hearing much more then I liked the tone of Judge Patel's case. I think Patel's decision was a strong knee-jerk reaction in favor of Big Money over those Upstart Thieving Punks. As long as we see an honest considered opinion rendered by this court, with an eye out for the future and what effects this decision will have, I will be happy. Based on this story, I think that we can at least hope for a considered opinion from this court.


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