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AT&T Implements Anti-Piracy Termination Policy for Internet Service

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Scott Ertz

AT&T Implements Anti-Piracy Termination Policy for Internet Service

It has been 7 months since the federal Copyright Alert System, also known as the six-strikes system, went live, customers have been assured that permanent removal from the Internet was not a part of the system. According to new Alerts being sent out by AT&T, however, this does not seem to be the reality of the situation.

The letters include this verbiage,

Using your Internet service to infringe copyrights is illegal and a violation of the AT&T Internet Terms of Service (TOS) and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which apply to all users of your account, and could result in mitigation measures including limitation of Internet access or even suspension or termination.

Other providers, such as Comcast, acquired by Ars, do not include language that talks about account suspension at all. Prior to the system being implemented, AT&T had assured customers that only under court order would they terminate accounts.

This is all important because in a lot of markets there is only a single Internet provider. For example, where I live, only my cable provider offers Internet access. If my account were to be terminated, I would be completely isolated from the Internet, something that the program was assured to not allow. If you are an AT&T customer, this might no longer be the case.

Obviously, the easy way to prevent this is to not transfer content that will get your account terminated. The big problem with that is that not everyone protects their networks. Imagine your parents, who might have a wireless router that, no matter how many times you tell them they need a password on it, refuse to allow you to set one. Their neighbor kid could hop onto the open network and torrent without knowledge. Then, the account gets shut down and your parents no longer have access to the Internet.

Clearly, as everything with the government, this was a plot that was not planned out well and implemented even more poorly. With such a clear, avoidable flaw, it is evident that the government's fear of technology is still rampant.

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Michael Dell Wins Legal Battle Over Privatization

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Michael Dell Wins Legal Battle Over Privatization

In the 7 months since Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners announced plans to take Dell private, the pair has had a series of issues. He had to raise his bid because of loud major investors, plus the disaster that accompanies Carl Icahn's involvement in a corporation.

This week, the battle is over and Mr. Dell and Silver Lake have won their bid to purchase all outstanding shares for a total of $24.9 billion. The newly private company will look similar to the existing, or at least go faster down the path stockholders have been displeased with. The transition, according to Mr. Dell, is from a primarily personal computer manufacturer to a primarily software services company. Dell has said, however, that it will continue manufacturing hardware.

This transition is one that was announced by HP CEO Leo Apotheker, eventually leading to his termination. IBM also made a similar move, selling its computer business to Lenovo and immediately becoming irrelevant.

There are some companies in the industry who are having successes in both hardware and online service offerings. The biggest of these companies are Microsoft, Google and Amazon. The commonality between these three, however, is that they were offering online services first and got into the hardware business to support those services, not the other way around. This would indicate to me that corporate consumers are looking for a single stop for all of their technology needs.

Now, as a private company, there will be only one person that will answer for the decisions made: Michael Dell himself. Whether this transition is successful or not, we will know soon enough.

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Nintendo Wins ITC Case Against Creative Kingdoms Over Original Wii-mote

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Nintendo Wins ITC Case Against Creative Kingdoms Over Original Wii-mote

What do theme parks and Nintendo have in common? Both of them use magic wands. At least, that was the claim according to Apollo Global Management's Creative Kingdoms, a company who has created magic wands for kids to "cast spells" at the company's various theme parks around the world. Creative Kingdoms filed a lawsuit in 2011 with the International Trade Commission against Nintendo, claiming copyright infringement on Nintendo Wii remotes. This week, the ITC rules that the Wii could continue to be sold in the US, despite Creative Kingdoms' claims.

In the notice posted earlier in the week, the ITC says that Nintendo has not violated any patent rights that are owned by the theme park company. Because of this the agency has rejected CK's request to prevent Wiis from being imported into the States for sale. This happened after Trade Judge Charles Bullock said that the Wii-mote is not just a "toy wand" and because it does not have a hollow center, the two patents in question were invalid for this lawsuit.

The Commission has determined that complainant has not shown that the accused products directly infringe (on the) patent because they do not meet the limitation "command," and that complainant has not shown that the accused products directly infringe (on the) patent because they do not meet the limitation "activate or control." The Commission has also determined that complainant has not shown that the independently sold Wii MotionPlus and Nunchuck accessories contributorily infringe claim (on the) patent. Lastly, the Commission has determined that respondent has not shown that claim 24 of the '742 patent is obvious.

Creative Kingdoms even had the audacity to say that kids should use the PlayStation Move or Microsoft Kinect instead, because, and I'm paraphrasing, at least you could burn more calories with those systems. Nintendo turned around and called the claim "remarkable." Considering Creative Kingdoms only referred to one game in the ITC filing, the Wii Sports Resort title Airplane, Nintendo also said that demanding an import ban made no sense because you can play other games on the Wii that aren't Airplane.

All of this is really frivolous, even to Nintendo. The case was one of the oldest game-related cases still pending in the ITC's office and Nintendo said that it was finally glad everything was settled. It should be noted that the Wii U was not included in this case because it wasn't sold until after the hearing before the judge, so the new console was left alone. You can click on the source link below to read more on the ITC's ruling and, if you still don't own a Wii and don't want a Wii U, rest assured that you'll be able to purchase one this holiday season.

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Pandora Names Influential Advertising Exec Brian McAndrews as New CEO

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Pandora Names Influential Advertising Exec Brian McAndrews as New CEO

The search for a new CEO for Pandora concluded this week. Six months after the company's CEO, Joe Kennedy, resigned in March amidst strong Q4 numbers, Pandora announced its new chief executive today in a press release.

Brian McAndrews, a man who has worked with Madrona Venture Group, aQuantive and Microsoft, has been brought in to fill Kennedy's shoes and lead the company for the foreseeable future. Pandora wrote that it was looking for someone who could focus on the advertising side of the company and push it forward as fast as possible. Tim Westergreen, Pandora's founder and chief strategy officer, commented on the search.

We had very specific criteria for our new CEO, and we were very strategic about finding the right person - Brian is that person. No one better understands the intersection of technology and advertising, which he clearly demonstrated during aQuantive's meteoric rise. He has a recognized ability to set strategy, lead large teams and drive growth and innovation at great scale. He is also a natural cultural fit with Pandora. This is a great development for our company.

We also have a little more background on McAndrews. In 1999, he took over Avenue A and turned it into aQuantive, which at the time was the world's quickest expanding digital marketing firm. In 2007, that company was then bought by Microsoft for $6 billion. McAndrews continued to work with the software giant until 2009, when he left his Advertiser & Publisher Solutions position to become a capital partner in start-up focused tech company, Madrona. His accolades have led him to be named Advertising Age's first Digital Executive of the Year and was once included in AdWeek's 30 most influential marketing and advertising executives.

McAndrews concluded the press announcement with excitement on his new role.

It is a great privilege to be asked to lead Pandora at this important moment in the company's history. By capturing the enthusiasm of more than 72 million monthly listeners, the management team, led by Joe and Tim, has made Pandora the clear internet radio leader and created a product that consumers love. I look forward to joining this great team to build on Pandora's success for years to come.

Despite the obvious disagreement people outside of Pandora would have on the company being the clear leader in Internet radio, I think McAndrews stepping in as CEO of Pandora matches the new focus of the brand perfectly. Pandora has been pushing marketing and advertising hard as of late, and with someone with a background like his, I can only see good things come out of it, at least in the long-term. Pandora is still losing customers to other services, and with iTunes Radio now becoming a full-fledged product, Pandora will need to innovate and implement some stop gaps in the near future in order to prevent a sharp customer drop in subscriptions.

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Hulu Offers Several Pre-Season Premieres

posted Saturday Sep 14, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Hulu Offers Several Pre-Season Premieres

NBC and ABC are using their ownership of Hulu as a great way to get interest in their new fall shows by releasing the pilots weeks ahead of their air dates. The 5 shows below are all well-written and well-acted, and all should be checked out on Hulu today.

Back in the Game (ABC)

Raised by a single ball player father, Terry "The Cannon" Gannon, Sr., after her mother dies, Terry Gannon, Jr. goes on to play baseball herself, until she gets pregnant in college and loses her scholarship. Now, years later, Terry and her son Danny are forced to move back in with The Cannon after her husband cheated on her.

Damaged by baseball's influence on her life, Terry is less than pleased that Danny wants to play. As it turns out, however, Danny is only trying to impress a girl at his new school. After being cut from the league, Terry steps in to coach a team of misfits name The Angles, a prank played by the head of the league. Not Terry and The Cannon will help teach these boys about life through the American pastime.

Trophy Wife (ABC)

In an odd tribute from a network that unceremoniously canceled Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night, ABC has hired several members of other Sorkin series to fill out the cast of their new comedy Trophy Wife. Starring Bradley Whitford from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip as well as The West Wing as the twice-divorced lawyer father of 3 children. He has met and married Malin Akerman of Childrens Hospital fame, whose best friend and Karaoke partner is Natalie Morales from The Newsroom. Whitford's doctor ex-wife is Marcia Gay Harden, also from The Newsroom.

Now, as a major Sorkin fan, I was excited about the over-population of past-Sorkin cast. The good news is, on top of a great cast, the premise of the series is setup for ridiculous comedy. Insane ex-wives, rowdy kids and a woman who badly wants to be accepted by her new family and to live up to her new life as "mom." Oh, and Phyllis Smith from The Office is the older son's teacher.

The Goldbergs (ABC)

What happens when you combine the situation of The Wonder Years with the comedy styling of Married With Children and set it in the 80s? What if you add in some of the best situational comedians, such as Patton Oswalt, Jeff Garlin, George Segal and Wendi McLendon-Covey and put it on ABC?

You get the new sitcom The Goldbergs. Patton Oswalt narrates from the future as the youngest brother of 3 kids in the adventures of a family living through the insane 80s. The decorations, the clothes and even the hair are picture perfect for the era. More importantly, the personalities are right on. Even more importantly, the comedy is well written and delivered, even by the children. Well cast and well written.

Ironside (NBC)

Continuing the well-received (*sarcasm*) television tradition of remaking older series, NBC is revisiting a series that seems like a live-action adaptation of the American Dad detective series joke Wheels and the Legman. Unfortunately, Ironside is actually a 60s and 70s NBC series about a wheelchair-bound detective. The lead is played by able-bodied Blair Underwood, which has caused a lot of controversy, though the casting actually makes sense.

Like Artie from Glee, we see glimpses of a world where the character is fully ambulatory. Unlike Artie, though, these are not fantasies, but instead looks into the past, before he was shot and paralyzed. This helps establish the character as a no nonsense, anything goes guy both before and after his injury. I assume they are trying to get at the fact that not everyone turns into a jerk when their life is turned upside-down - some are born jerks.

Welcome to the Family (NBC)

When a high school graduate (barely) falls in love with a high school valedictorian, sometimes it results in pregnancy. When this scenario happens on NBC, the families don't like one another, and that is always a recipe for a good sitcom.

Mike O'Malley stars as the father who is looking forward to his renaissance, the beginning of the next phase in life without children in the house, now ruined by his daughter's pregnancy. What could be worse? Her boyfriend's father hates him. Oh, and his wife is also pregnant, unplanned. If you thought ABC was going to be the only one with a Modern Family-style show this season, you were wrong.

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Yahoo Releases Transparency Report on Government Agency Data Requests

posted Sunday Sep 8, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Yahoo Releases Transparency Report on Government Agency Data Requests

Ever since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO of Yahoo, the company has had a complete turnaround. Yahoo is quickly becoming more relevant again and now owns an extremely large portfolio, and capped off the transition with a logo change. Now, Yahoo is becoming more transparent as well, and released some documents this week about the number of data requests received from government agencies around the world.

In this first global law enforcement transparency report, Yahoo shows information from January 1st to June 30th of this year. In the Tumblr blog post, Yahoo explains what the report actually is, from Ron Bell, general counsel of Yahoo.

Each country report shows how we processed the government data requests we received during this period. We include national security requests within the scope of our aggregate statistics. You will also see the number of accounts specified in these government data requests, which comprised less than one one-hundredth of one percent (<.01%) of our worldwide user base.

Yahoo also said in the post that this report is an all-encompassing government agency document, meaning anything from criminal law enforcement agencies to National Security Letters are included and added up. With this information, it does not come as a shocker that the US tops the list of requests to Yahoo. In six months, US officials have asked 12,444 times for information on 40,322 accounts. In those requests, Yahoo has provided information on 37 percent of the cases, and in just over half of those, only provided non-content data, which is any basic subscriber information like alternate email address, name, location, IP address, login details, billing information and the like.

Second on the list was Germany, who made 4,295 requests for a total of 5,306 accounts. Yahoo said that they only track requests when a country hits nine total requests, which places New Zealand at the bottom of the list for 9 accounts, and five of them were disclosed to the country. Yahoo also said that because of its acquisition of Tumblr, that the company will record Tumblr account requests into a separate bi-yearly report. Yahoo also pointed out that they continue to fight against unlawful or improper requests for data.

The entire report is interesting to look at, and is a fairly short read. It really puts into perspective how many times US agencies ask for information in comparison to the rest of the world, for just one company.

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