What if we’re doing this copyright thing all wrong?
What if we’re doing this copyright thing all wrong? Well, we obviously are, but what if we acknowledged that fact? What if we acknowledged that copyright as it stands doesn’t make anyone happy or make the world a better place or actually reflect how people really behave? What if we, as New Zealand Judge David Harvey has suggested, throw out the basis and rebuild copyright on something that makes sense?
There was a time not all that long ago that when you heard the word "monopoly" being used in tech circles, it was often directed at Microsoft. Some would still argue that Microsoft is a monopoly, but underscoring the changing of the guard as the market transitions to mobile, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer tossed the "m" word at Google during an annual meeting with financial analysts.
Google’s ex-CEO turned executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, was on Capital Hill recently to defend his company against anti-competitive allegations, and the details are finally beginning to trickle out. We wouldn’t begin to consider ourselves qualified to pass judgment on the charges, though we can say that some of the statements made in his company’s defense might be a bit of a stretch.
Hasbro recently showed off a new version of its popular Monopoly game at the Toy Fair in New York. The new version is called Monopoly Live, which sports the same board and properties you're already familiar with. The difference is that Monopoly Live sports a giant tower in the middle, which replaces the Chance and Community Chest cards, and the dice. A speaker issues instructions and keeps track of money, so there will be no more cheating the banker with your shenanigans.
EA Mobile, a division of Electronic Arts, is raring to go on the Windows Phone 7 platform and has announced the first batch of EA games to ship on WP7 devices this fall. EA's titles will be Xbox LIVE enabled, allowing users to track and share scores with leaderboards, unlock Achievements, add to their Gamerscore, and communicate with other Xbox Live users across the Xbox 360, PC, and WP7.
"Our collaboration with Microsoft brings EA’s world-class catalog of global game franchises to Windows Phone 7, offering a unique set of gaming features perfectly suited to the deep, innovative experiences we value at EA," said Travis Boatman, vice president of Worldwide Studios for EA Mobile. "We see consumers deeply integrating devices into their lives and entertainment in new ways every day. Challenging your Xbox Live friends to an EA game from the phone in your pocket keeps you connected and having fun no matter where you are."
The first wave of games will include Need for Speed: Undercover, Tetris, The Sims 3, and Monopoly. EA won't be the only publisher to support gaming on the WP7 platform, however. According to Microsoft, EA will be joined by a handful of studios, including Micrsosoft Game Studios, Gameloft, Konami, Namco Bandai, PopCap, and THQ. Microsoft says you can expect new titles each week.
Australians have traditionally had to deal with pretty oppressive prices and bandwidth caps, but the government is looking to break up the monopoly, and bring true broadband to the masses. The $43 billion national project includes the $11 billion it will cost to buy out Telstra, the current landline and copper network operator, as well as the additional funds needed to roll out a fiber network.
The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, but pending this our friends over in Australia can expect to see speeds of up to 100Mbps to the home, and perhaps ditch some of the stingy bandwidth caps that government sees as holding back innovation. It's normal to feel cheated when Comcast teases you with a 250GB cap, but imagine if you had to contend with 10-20GB caps for the same price your paying today.
If the deal goes through Telstra won't be competing for wired customers anymore, but rumor has it they have been promised an opportunity to bid on some pretty valuable wireless spectrum as a trade off.
It looks like the government might actually be keeping its word for a change, consider us impressed.
Google's primary creed of "Do No Evil" may give comfort to some, but according the New York Times the US Federal Government may need a bit more convincing. "They are not just on the radar screen. They are at the center of it," said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University and the author of a forthcoming book on technology monopolies, "The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires." "If you are in the federal government and are interested in antitrust, you are looking at Google."
Scrutiny of the California based search giant was bound to continue mounting as a result of its success, however recent privacy snafus, including the Wi-Fi sniffing issue have only served to further fuel the flames of mistrust between Google and federal regulators. Google executives acknowledge that being under the spotlight is expected given their rapid growth, but maintain that competition on the Internet is still strong and is a mere click away. This argument has kept regulators at bay until now, but it remains to be seen what action, if any the government is considering.
It may be a long forgotten issue for most, but Federal Judge Denny Chin is expected to rule very soon on the amended book publishing settlement inked with authors which could very well set the tone for any further interventions. Google has a tradition of breaking business models in just about every industry it enters, so it will be interesting to see how long this goes unchallenged.
Do you buy the "competition is one click away" argument, or is Google just becoming too powerful to responsibly organize the worlds data?
There are three main thrusts to the FTC’s complaint against Intel. The first is that Intel used its dominate position in the market to cow computer makers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, to buy only Intel CPUs. Intel would either threaten to withhold product, or enter into exclusive deals with computer makers that prevented them from marketing computers built with chips from other makers, such as CPUs from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
Second, according to the FTC, Intel designed crucial software, which the FTC identifies as a “compiler”, so it deliberately hampered the performance of chips from competitors. Intel failed to disclose their tinkering with the software, thus deceived computer makers about the performance differences between Intel and its competitors.
Third, the FTC says that Intel is now engaging in these same tactics in the graphics processing market. The FTC argues that GPUs are becoming more powerful, lessening the need for sophisticated CPUs, which undermines Intel’s market dominance. To protect its position, Intel is waging its battle against the likes of Nvidia, over which it holds a substantial financial and market advantage.
According to Richard A. Feinstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, “Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly. It's been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits. The Commission’s action today seeks to remedy the damage that Intel has done to competition, innovation, and, ultimately, the American consumer.”
In October of last year, Google reached a $125 million settlement as part of a three-year-old class action lawsuit accusing the search engine giant of infringing publisher and author copyrights with its library-digitizing Book Search project. But that would be far from the end of things. Last month, the Department of Justice confirmed it had launched a formal investigation into the settlement to see if it could find any evidence of anticompetitive practices, and if Google was looking for sympathy, it would be hard pressed to find any (read what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had to say on the matter here).
But despite all the negative publicity -- or perhaps because of it -- Google maintains it isn't doing anything wrong and denies any talk of a monopoly.
"Of course, no one wants Google to monopolize the poor orphans," said Dan Clancy, engineering director of Google Book Search. "And I don't want to be -- what's the woman in Little Orphan Annie that runs the orphanage? I'm blanking -- I don't want to be her."
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, which also owns a book scanning operation, sees things decidedly different than Google does. Not only will the settlement create a monopoly, but it will create two of them, Kahle says. Kahle believes Google will have a monopoly on orphans and the Book Rights Registry, as well as a second one that encompasses all rights holders who agree to join.
"Google will have permission to bring under its sole control information that has been accessible through public institutions for centuries. In essence, Google will be privatizing our libraries," Kahle wrote in the Washington Post.
Where do you stand on the issue? Hit the jump and sound off.
Russia’s state run anti-monopoly service has launched a formal investigation into Microsoft over cutbacks in the supply of Windows XP. The agency believes that Microsoft has violated antimonopoly legislation by intentionally limiting the stock of Windows XP to Russia in both retail, and OEM editions which come preinstalled on new PC’s. Analysts claim that Windows Vista continues to be available, while the ongoing demand for XP both by the public, and the government, remains unsatisfied.
Microsoft has yet to formally address the issue, but according to the Moscow regional office, nobody from the anti-monopoly service has tried to contact them. "We (have) always answered antimonopoly service questions in full and intend to continue this practice in future," Microsoft spokeswoman Marina Levina said by telephone. Full scale investigations by the antimonopoly service in Russia are rare, and Microsoft will be given more details by July 24th.
The accusations being made in Russia are drastically different than previous antitrust cases leveled by the EU and USA. In both these cases, the complaints were focused on software bundling for which it was fined $708 million in 2004 by the EU.
Could Microsoft be intentionally limiting Windows XP supply in Russia to help push Vista?