Joho the BlogOctober 2005 - Joho the Blog

October 31, 2005

Author’s Guild speech on Google’s evil

Paul Aiken gave a speech presenting the Authors Guild position on Google Print. I’ve posted a copy here. Here’s a snippet:

We bet Google is right. If books were digitized and searchable on the Internet, we bet Google could make a pretty penny by allowing its legions of users to search that database. And what a mind-boggling database! An assemblage of the nation’s copyrighted books, the result of the efforts and investments of hundreds of thousands of authors and thousands of publishers, served up in handy excerpts by Google’s generous computers.

But here comes the bad part. Google says that its copying of these books — that its scanning of countless copyrighted volumes, then using optical character recognition technology to digitize the text of those works to create files to assemble into a new, unimaginably vast database, surely one of the largest databases ever assembled — that all of that copying and use of these works, would be fair use, so it doesn’t need a license from anyone for this copying. For good measure, it’s handing over a digital copy to its partner libraries, and telling them its OK to post the works to their websites. That, too, I guess, is fair use.

Hint: He doesn’t really think it’s fair use.

I’m not a lawyer and don’t know whether it counts as fair use. But as a citizen who wants to live in an ever smarter world, I hope Google Print goes ahead. I think ultimately it’s going to build more business for publishers, but that’s not my first concern. We need to get way smart real fast, and Google Print is a big step forward. [Thanks to Mark Dionne for the email.] [Tags: ]


WSIS blog aggregator

Andy Carvin has set up a multi-lingual blog aggregator for the WSIS conference in Tunisia at which governments that don’t understand the Internet will propose regulating it into something they do understand. [Tags: ]


Reason #523 to oppose the DMCA

ATTACK THE HOST. Find some copyrighted text that a blogger has lifted from your Web site and threaten to sue his Internet service provider under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That may prompt the ISP to shut him down. Or threaten to drag the host into a defamation suit against the blogger. The host isn’t liable but may skip the hassle and cut off the blogger’s access anyway. Also:Subpoena the host company, demanding the blogger’s name or Internet address.

Number 5 on Forbes’ list of how corporations should fight back against bloggers who say things companies don’t like.

For the record: Daniel Lyons’ Forbes article about blogging is basically an argument against free speech. [Tags: ]

Since I’m saying something Forbes won’t like, please allow me to “lift” some copyrighted text from, just to make it easier for them:

NEW YORK – For a company whose motto is “do no evil,” Google (nasdaq: GOOG – news – people ) has come under a surprising amount of criticism of late for being green-eyed. The internet giant and abettor for college term papers is facing a legal obstacle against its plans to scan and index books from three major university libraries. The cry for an injunction comes just weeks after the Authors Guild sued Google for copyright infringement–and the same day as a small financial firm in London cajoled the internet giant into dropping its Gmail trademark in the U.K. In defense of its latest venture, Google, led by Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, has maintained its intentions are to “make millions of books easier for people to find and buy,” by cataloguing them online. Not so, says the Association of American Publishers, which is filing the suit. As the suit was quoted by The Associated Press, Google is infringing publishers’ copyrights “to further its own commercial purposes.” The internet behemoth’s “Print Library Project” is an offshoot of “Google Print,” a program which publishers are not as vexed about–because work is used with permission. The former, more controversial project sees a part of each book scanned and displayed online as part of a sprawling catalogue. Any featured author who is rattled by the idea has until Nov. 1 to notify the company so their work can be excluded. In the last year, media reports have speculated that Google, the research-project-turned-corporate-giant started by Forbes 400 members Larry Page and Sergey Brin, was beginning to lose its “no evil” philosophy. But with deep-pocketed competitors like Yahoo! (nasdaq: YHOO – news – people ) and Time Warner’s (nyse: TWX – news – people ) America Online, can the Google mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” really be all that straightforward? Meanwhile, Google’s earnings are announced today. Its shares gained about 8% over the quarter, and are up about 60% since the year began. On Oct. 4, the stock hit a 52-week high of $321.28 on the Nasdaq.


Real disclosure

In the lefthand column, I have a link to my disclosure statement, a practice I recommend. But, although I’m honest in it, it doesn’t really get at the truth.

For example, I’m on Technorati’s board of advisors. But that’s not the relevant fact. Yes, I’ll make some money if Technorati goes public or gets bought. I’m not sure how much, but not enough to consciously affect my behavior. What does affect my behavior and disposes me to like Technorati, despite their flaws, is that some of the people who work there are my friends. Even then, I wouldn’t knowingly lie or go out of my way to mention the company. But I like helping my friends, even in tiny ways. The possibility of making some money actually serves as an inhibitor: Before I post something about Technorati, I think about my motives. (And, yes, I generally add a disclosure statement in brackets.)

So, in the interest of transparency, I propose a standardized Disclosure Code to get at the actual influences that affect one’s blogging. Entries would include:

WT Work there
WXT Worked there
AWR Applied there, was rejected
FT I have friends there
CPF Cocktail party friends
BTMHF Been to my house friends
HMS Hot monkey sex. Say no more, wink wink.
PIHT I have people I hate there
X +1/-1 Ex-girl/boyfriend works there; ended well or badly
WSLTH Went to school with someone there but I’ve lost track of her/him
FT2 A friend of a friend works there
SUT I’m sucking up to them
WTOMS Wish they’d offer me stock
ITOF I thought of it first
SBO I sued the bastards once
IJND I’m just name-dropping

Anyone know how to submit a proposal for an ISO standard?


October 30, 2005

One generation sets, another rises

This evening as we were trying to TiVo The Simpsons while watching The West Wing live by using the second cable input, which goes straight into the TV, an operation requiring the use of all twelve remotes, two of them simultaneously, I lost track of the Grand Unified Theory behind our TV/TiVo/DVD/VCR/cable box/PS2/amplifier configuration and had to be guided step by step by our 14 year old son.

My time has passed. Today and tomorrow belongs to him.


BBC language course

Poking around the BBC site, I found some free online language courses that may have been there forever. I spent a few minutes learning Italian, and now I’m ready to go to Firenze. (Of course, I’m always ready to go to Firenze.) [Tags: ]


October 29, 2005

McDonald’s fair trade coffee

It’s hard for a vegetarian — or, well, an inhabitant of the earth — to say something good about McDonald’s, but here goes:

McDonald’s is switching to Newman’s Own fair trade coffee in 658 of its New England outlets. And it’s pricing a cup lower than Dunkin Donuts and (of course) Starbucks to further entice people to drink coffee that’s better for others.

Of course, McDonald’s will be carving each cup out of a half pound of rare Amazon woods encased in styrofoam that’s been specially formulated to suck ozone out of the atmosphere, but, still, you have to give McD’s some credit… [Tags: ]


October 28, 2005

Hemorrhoidal poetry

First, read Jeneane‘s prose-poem, We used to bleed here.

Then go to the Hemorrhoids Tips page and read the list of helpful information for hemorrhoid suffers.

Two points:

1. The hemorrhoid page might want to refine its search string since it seems to be getting a feed of anything with “bleed” in it.

2. Congratulations, Jeneane, on having your poetry published in the prestigious literary journal, Hemorrhoidal Tips :) That’s gotta be a first.

(Thanks to Euan for the link. Plus, he has a PDF capture in case they fix their query.) [Tags: ]


From VB to MT

Does anyone know how to program a Visual Basic 6 (not .NET) form so that its contents get loaded into the Movable Type create-a-post Web form? So, imagine that I have a text box in VB that gets filled with the text “Here is my post.” I’d like to press a button, launch a browser so that it opens up my MT editing page, and have the “Entry Body” text box there get loaded with “Here is my post.” (I know how to launch a browser to a particular URL.)

Note: Comments telling me that VB6 sucks and I suck for using it are not, technically speaking, helpful.



3D stereogram movies

You know those 3D pictures you have to go cross-eyed to see? Here are some short 3D movie clips of the same sort. To get the illusion, start off with a still from the AVI and get it to go all 3D on you. Then hit the play button. (If you can’t get them to pop into 3D, poke around on the Web for instructions. I don’t know what to tell you.)


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