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Database Vendors: Dumb, Dying, Reactive, Dangerous…

This sure feels familiar. Owners of large database businesses, who have been coining cash for decades based on the model of aggregating freely available information, then monopolizing access to and distribution of that information, have finally realized that their business is imperiled by search engines and the web. So they're…

This sure feels familiar. Owners of large database businesses, who have been coining cash for decades based on the model of aggregating freely available information, then monopolizing access to and distribution of that information, have finally realized that their business is imperiled by search engines and the web. So they’re pushing shitty legislation through Congress, just like Hollywood did with the DMCA. This is an important issue, well summarized in this Wired News story.

In essence, a bill winding its way through the House (HR3261) would redefine databases in such a way as to extend the owners of those databases far more power over how information could be used. This is a very bad thing. It’s part of the same creeping copyright chill driven by the MPAA and RIAA. This time, it’s Reed Elsevier and Westlaw, et al. Instead of figuring out new distribution and business models, these old line businesses are forcing Congress to do their bidding so they can sue their way into continued existence. It’s depressing, but it’s not surprising. From the story:


Imagine doing a Google search for a phone number, weather report or sports score. The results page would be filled with links to various sources of information. But what if someone typed in keywords and no results came back?

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Advocacy: Not At Google, Either

We all got peeved when CBS said no to MoveOn, but this kind of policy is quite widespread. Google also does not allow advocacy ads, in particular ads that criticize other people or companies (their terms are here). Latest news on this front: An environmental organization that had purchased AdWords…

We all got peeved when CBS said no to MoveOn, but this kind of policy is quite widespread. Google also does not allow advocacy ads, in particular ads that criticize other people or companies (their terms are here). Latest news on this front: An environmental organization that had purchased AdWords like “cruise ship” has been bounced from Google. Why? It ran ads next to the results which pointed out that cruise ships pollute the ocean (which they do, often spewing out raw sewage near coastlines. Not that the couple at left seem to mind…).

Google (and Overture) have to tread a thin line here between free speech, the law, and protecting its more lucrative clients (travel sites are huge paid search customers). Clearly this action is well within Google’s rights as per its contract. But shouldn’t Google be a bit more like the New York Times, which accepts these kind of issue ads, and a bit less like CBS? I certainly hope so.

(thanks, Dave)

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New York City: Not In Our Name

Extraordinary: The city most wounded by the Sept. 11 attacks makes a powerful statement about the Patriot Act: No thanks. The City Council has passed a resolution affirming the US Constitution and rejecting the bill, which was run through Congress in the wake of 9/11 with little debate. Some excerpts:…

Extraordinary: The city most wounded by the Sept. 11 attacks makes a powerful statement about the Patriot Act: No thanks. The City Council has passed a resolution affirming the US Constitution and rejecting the bill, which was run through Congress in the wake of 9/11 with little debate. Some excerpts:

  Whereas, The City of New York has a diverse population, including immigrants and students, whose contributions to the city are vital to its economy, culture and civic character; and

    Whereas, The members of the Council of the City of New York believe that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty — Americans can be both safe and free; and

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The Register On Orkut’s TOS

Andrew Orlowski, whose disdain for all things Google is never veiled, takes apart orkut's privacy/TOS policy in this Register piece. Andrew points out that orkut's policies are an awful lot like MSFT's were in the first version of Passport, policies which caused an outrage not too long ago. MSFT changed…

Andrew Orlowski, whose disdain for all things Google is never veiled, takes apart orkut’s privacy/TOS policy in this Register piece. Andrew points out that orkut’s policies are an awful lot like MSFT’s were in the first version of Passport, policies which caused an outrage not too long ago. MSFT changed its TOS as a result, but Passport has yet to become a web-wide standard.

This is and interesting case study. So far, there has been little outrage about orkut’s policies. I’ll posit an obvious theory: Folks generally trust Google more than they trust MSFT. (Well, most folks do. Not Andrew.) They’re willing to give Google more rope….and see if anyone’s hanging at the end of the day.

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WebFountain Gets Serious

WebFountain, which I posted about here, and which started as Clever, Jon Kleinberg's project, is getting more buzz, this time from the Merc. It's interesting to note IBM's strategy here. They are not opening it up to the world and creating another Alta Vista/Google moment, though I believe they clearly…

WebFountain, which I posted about here, and which started as Clever, Jon Kleinberg’s project, is getting more buzz, this time from the Merc.

It’s interesting to note IBM’s strategy here. They are not opening it up to the world and creating another Alta Vista/Google moment, though I believe they clearly could. They are keeping this as a behind the scenes, OEM/consulting play. Their bread is not buttered in consumerland. It’s all about the enterprise, and marketing support, or “buzz reports” as the Merc calls them.

Buzz…or buzzkill? Check this passage from the Merc’s rather short piece:

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Update: American Blind Files Suit

Trademark issue is heating up again, CNET reports…in essence, American Blind is not waiting for resolution on Google's earlier request to the courts, and is suing Google, AOL and Netscape for trademark infringement….

Trademark issue is heating up again, CNET reports…in essence, American Blind is not waiting for resolution on Google’s earlier request to the courts, and is suing Google, AOL and Netscape for trademark infringement.

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BizWeek on the Trademark Case

Nice column by Alex on the trademark controversy that is clear and concise. Of this much I'm sure: Google will be forced to look a lot harder at its keywords in the near future. Take a Google search for Hallmark. It now returns three AdWords listings. One of them links…

Nice column by Alex on the trademark controversy that is clear and concise.

Of this much I’m sure: Google will be forced to look a lot harder at its keywords in the near future. Take a Google search for Hallmark. It now returns three AdWords listings. One of them links to Speedycards.com, one of Hallmark’s competitors in the greeting-card business. If every trademarked company made its name off-limits for use as a keyword, it would mean significant potential for disruptions in the online-ad marketplace.

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On CBS and MoveOn

Loads of folks have commented already on this, but I wanted to add what I could to the meme, if only to insure one more protest is lodged in this particular record in the database of intentions. It boggles the mind how deeply lame CBS's decision to deny MoveOn's…

Loads of folks have commented already on this, but I wanted to add what I could to the meme, if only to insure one more protest is lodged in this particular record in the database of intentions. It boggles the mind how deeply lame CBS’s decision to deny MoveOn’s ad is. CBS claims “the network has had a long-term policy not to air issue ads anywhere on the network.” Uh huh. Lessig comments that somehow a War on Drugs ad from the Bush White House, a blatant piece of “issue advocacy”, made it through the CBS filter. Not to mention all the presidential advertising lucre CBS will be happy to suckle over the next 10 months. You’re telling me an RNC- or DNC-funded attack ad won’t be an “issue ad”? Did CBS refuse the Willie Horton ad back in 1988? What the fuck is going on here?

Folks are up in arms over this, but we don’t know what to do about it. We should make a concerted effort to air the ad online to at least as many people as would have seen it on the Superbowl, only for free. Get the ad from MoveOn.org, and put it on your site, or at least link to it, over and over. Maybe MoveOn can count or estimate how many folks have seen it and prove that the net can route around this mass-media market insanity. If anything proves network television is in a death spiral fueled by ignorance and blinkered reasoning, this is it.

Policy against issue ads my ass. More like policy against losing White House access, policy against sticking one’s neck out, policy against standing for anything. Pathetic CBS. The Tiffany Network has fallen, hard, long, and with abandon.

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