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Episode 34 – download now subscribe now

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Here are the stories for today:

Google denies Viacom copyright charges
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Google responded to Viacom’s $1 billion copyright lawsuit on Monday, arguing that it has not infringed on the rights of the media company and that the lawsuit threatens the viability of its popular YouTube video-sharing Web site as well as others like it.

And in counter-Google news:

Panama Not Enough To Battle Google: Yahoo Acquires RightMedia

rmx direct logoYahoo announced today that it will acquire the 80% of advertising network RightMedia that it doesn’t already own for $680 million in cash and Yahoo stock.

Yahoo previously bought 20% of the company in a $45 million Series B round of funding announced in October 2006. The company has raised over $50 million to date.

This move counters Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick earlier this month for $3.1 billion, and signals that Yahoo wants more weapons in its arsenal to fight the ongoing online advertising war beyond their new Panama release.

RightMedia runs an advertising marketplace that allows for much more efficient advertsing pricing than older negotiated models (something still in the planning stages at DoubleClick). See our coverage of their RMX Direct product from August 2005.

RightMedia also tends to work with large intermediate ad brokers and addresses the short tail of the ad market (as does DoubleClick), whereas Overture and Adsense are definitely long tail products with many smaller advertisers and publishers.

In other slightly-related (in terms of acquisition) news:

Akamai Releases FoxTorrent 1.0 – Firefox BitTorrent Add-on

Red Swoosh (acquired by Akamai for $15 million earlier this month) released v1.0 of FoxTorrent today. This is a fully functional BitTorrent client for Firefox that works cross platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) and has a very cool additional feature – the ability to stream files as they are downloading.

This is no Azureus (my BitTorrent client of choice), but it does the job and saves time by allowing you to manage torrents directly from the browser. I tested it on a few (non-copyright infringing, of course) files and it worked great on the standard BitTorrent functionality. Streaming just didn’t work, although with the way the BitTorrent protocol breaks files into pieces and reconstructs them in a non linear way means you may have to wait until the file is mostly complete to even begin streaming. I’ll try it again once the files are nearly complete.

Webcasting Non-RIAA Music In Protest May Only Make The RIAA Wealthier

Following the latest webcasting rates that will likely put many webcasters out of business, one suggestion was that webcasters should simply play non-RIAA music. In theory this would help in multiple ways — giving those independent musicians more publicity while avoiding the draconian webcasting rates. In practice… however, that won’t work. Slashdot points us to an article dissecting the fine print, where you’ll discover that SoundExchange, which is the RIAA’s collection body, actually gets to collect money for non-RIAA members as well. In other words, even for independent artists who don’t want webcasters to have to pay, webcasters will still need to pay up.

The story actually gets even worse. As we noted a few years ago, part of the deal is that SoundExchange and the RIAA get to keep any unclaimed money for themselves. Even better, SoundExchange can simply pretend not to be able to find the musicians (as they’ve done with a ton of big name musicians in the past). So, chances are, many independent artists have no idea that SoundExchange is hanging onto a bunch of money they didn’t even want collected and there’s almost no chance they’ll
claim it — meaning that if you try to avoid the webcasting rates by playing non-RIAA music,
there’s a good chance you’re actually enriching the RIAA even more.

Just for fun, why don’t we compare two situations? The RIAA tells people that simply listening to music without paying for it is a terrible crime that people should be punished for. Yet… the RIAA getting money for non-RIAA music and not paying the deserving artists that money is perfectly legal? Damn, the RIAA lobbyists are good.

A related link to the aforementioned story (http://www3.capwiz.com/saveinternetradio/taf/confirm/?alertid=9631541&style=1&content_dir=). Now, be careful with your MySpace.

Be Careful In MySpace Or You May Get Denied A Degree

We’ve seen stories of people getting arrested for posting incriminating evidence of themselves on MySpace as well as people losing jobs over info posted to a MySpace profile… but what about losing a degree? techguy83 writes in to let us know of a lawsuit by a woman who was apparently denied an education degree and teaching certificate after school officials found a photo of the woman on her MySpace page from a Halloween party. In the photo (remember, this was a Halloween party), the woman was dressed as a pirate and the photo was captioned “Drunken Pirate.” The school claims that the woman was encouraging underage drinking — but the woman is 27 now and the photo was from 2005, meaning she was 25 (or close to 25) at the time. That’s hardly underage. It’s not clear why school officials were viewing the woman’s MySpace page in determining whether or not she qualified for a degree — but if other schools start doing the same, I’d imagine we’re going to have an awful lot of students who have completed their qualifications, but have no degrees due to incriminating MySpace photos.

In political news:

The US says it has arrested one of al-Qaeda’s highest-ranking operatives, as he was on his way home to Iraq to plan future attacks.

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi - picture supplied by US governmentThe Pentagon said Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was now in Guantanamo Bay.

He had been going to Iraq to take over al-Qaeda operations and possibly plot attacks on Western interests, it said.

He was accused of commanding attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan, and of involvement in plots to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao described the arrest as a “welcome development”.

An Afghan defence ministry spokesman said it was “a major success” that would “help to get to the high-ranking terrorist network figures and… have a deeply negative effect on the network”.

According to information about him provided by the Pentagon, Mr Hadi was a key paramilitary commander in Afghanistan during the late 1990s, before taking charge of cross-border attacks against US and coalition troops from 2002 to 2004.

A US intelligence source told the BBC he was arrested late last year in an operation which involved the CIA. It was not clear where he was detained, or where he has been held since.

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