Tag: content

Online content causes online discontent

Adobe HQ - Wikimedia CommonsThe use of multiple screens and the accuracy of online content are considered sceptically by many people who view it daily.

Adobe said it had surveyed over 2,000 people and concluded that they use n average of six devices and look at an average of 12 sources of content.

Smartphones are now the most frequently used device by young people with 88 percent of people say they use an average of nearly three devices simultaneously.

Quite how they do that, Adobe did not say, but 40 percent think the deluge of information is distracting.

Over a third of young people value entertainment over accuracy, the Adobe survey said, but 60 percent wonder whether news articles or biased, whether photos have been altered, or whether people are paid to write positive reviews.

Over 70 percent will trust content from family members.

Seven out of 10 people will choose a beautifully designed over a plain page, 68 percent don’t like content to be too long, and 83 percent dislike pages where images take too long to load.

Advert blocker software pulled


StopThe developer of a popular iPhone ad-blocker app has pulled the software from the Apple store having had a change of heart about the software.

Marco Arment, a programmer who made the Peace ad-blocking app for iPhones saw his software rise from nowhere to being the number one paid app on the store.

It allows users to read online content — but strip out the ads.  This is pretty much like ad-bloc which has been around forever, so we can’t see what the fuss is about.

However media companies are furious because it prevents them from stopping you from reading their web pages with annoying adverts which take up all the screen and you have to click to close.

“Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have. Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: While they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit,” the developer wrote on his blog.

If you bought Peace, the developer is providing guidance on how to get your money back. “Even though I’m ‘winning,’ I’ve enjoyed none of it. That’s why I’m withdrawing from the market,” the developer wrote on his blog. d-blocker.

It is not as if he was the only advertising blocker software maker and there are shedloads out there. If media companies wanted to stop this sort of rubbish they should bring out less intrusive advertising.

Amazon and Microsoft clouds get Disney

Disney stamp - Wikimedia CommonsMickey Mouse outfit Disney has signed agreements with Amazon and Microsoft that will allow them to use its cloud-based digital movie service.

The deals expand the number of ways in which people can watch Disney films. The company already has agreements in place with Vudu, Google Play and iTunes.

The service includes more than 450 digital movies.

The Walt Disney said that US customers of Amazon Video and Microsoft Movies & TV will now be able to connect to Disney Movies Anywhere.

The service will let users access Disney, Pixar, Marvel and “Star Wars” movies in various ways, including through the Disney Movies Anywhere app for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and for Amazon Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.

Customers can access and watch movies using the Amazon Video app for televisions, connected devices and mobile devices and through the Microsoft Movies and TV service on Windows and Microsoft Xbox devices, as well as online.

The app will be available on Roku and Android TV starting September 15

Adobe intros Slate app

Adobe SlateSoftware firm Adobe said it has introduced a free iPad app which it reckons can turn your words and images into nice looking Web content.

The app is called Slate and Adobe claims the content you create can adapt to any device whether it’s a PC, a smartphone or a tablets.

You can also share the content using text messages, email, to put on Facebook or embed on websites.

Adobe provides professionally designed themes, photo layouts, links to online sites such as “donate now” or “learn more”.

Adobe executive Paul Gubbay said that Slate is born out of Adobe Voice and because of its move to the cloud, and uses the software expertise of its developers and engineers.

Adobe has also introduced updates to Adobe Voice today.

Disney takes away kids’ Amazon Christmas presents

Mickey Mouse outfit Disney has decided that its fluffy bunny image is not getting it anywhere and it is better to stop kids’ Christmas presents this year.

For a while now Amazon has been selling Disney’s Christmas catalogue to parents who want to sit kids down on Christmas Day with a nice cartoon. However it seems that, despite parents paying for the content, Amazon has deleted them from the library and the site.

According to Boing Boing,  Amazon said that the agreement that it has to distribute content contains a clause that Disney can pull its content at any time and ‘at this time they’ve pulled that show for exclusivity on their own channel”.

So Disney effectively pulled its Christmas content so that it could show it on its own channel and banned parents from seeing content, which they had paid for, until July.

To be fair it is all in Amazon’s terms and conditions in the small print that you never read, but it does seem rather odd that you can pay for something and have it taken away because it does not fit into a publishers’ schedule.

It is being seen as yet another example as to why Big Content completely fails to understand digital content sales. It still thinks that people will buy hard copies if digital copies are made too expensive or unreliable. In fact, they will simply go to a pirate site.

Amazon was also dumb allowing studios the right to revoke access to videos, something that many of the owners of its Kindle products would have been unaware. 

Removing DRM increases sales

A study by the University of Toronto has found that removing digital rights management from album boosts revenue rather than losing it to pirates.

The study showed that music revenue increased 10 percent on general content and 30 percent on other content.

What this shows is that buyers do not like it when you place restrictions on content and will buy something else instead.

DRM has been a complete disaster. Pirates found it easy to circumvent, but it had a nasty habit of bricking machines that it could not cope with. People buying pirated versions were sometimes getting better quality because they lacked the DRM which made paying customers’ life a misery and actually discouraged them to buy it.

The working paper published by University of Toronto researcher Laurina Zhang was based on a survey of 5,864 albums from 634 artists and compared the sales figures before and after the labels decided to drop DRM.

The effect works if Big Content tries to bring in DRM-like controls using things like album release dates, music genre and regular sales variations over time.

Older albums selling less than 25,000 copies saw their sales increase by 41 percent and overall lower-selling albums got a 30 percent sales boost. DRM only seems to work for top selling work.

According to Zhang, the 30 percent sales increase for lower-selling albums can be explained by the fact that DRM-free music makes it easier for people to share files and discover new music. The finding that removing DRM from top-selling albums has no effect on sales makes sense, since the discovery element is less important for well-promoted musicians. 

Media companies pay up for nicking snaps

Two media companies have been ordered to write a cheque for $US1.2 million to a freelance photojournalist for their unauthorised use of photographs he posted to Twitter.

The court found that Agence France-Presse and Getty Images wilfully violated the Copyright Act when they used photos Daniel Morel took in his native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people.

The case is one of the first to make a ruling on how images that individuals make available to the public through social media can be used by third parties to make a bob or two.

According to ABC, it is likely to be the first time any other major digital licensor of photography, have been found liable for wilful violations of the US Copyright Act.

US District Judge Alison Nathan, who presided over the trial, ruled in January the two companies were liable for infringement.

The court heard how an editor at AFP discovered Morel’s photos through another Twitter user’s account and provided them to Getty. The snaps were widely distributed to Getty’s clients, including several television networks and the Washington Post.

The fine of $US1.2 million was the maximum statutory penalty available under the Copyright Act. AFP had asked for the award to be limited to $US120,000. It was lucky, if they had nicked music, Big Content would have been after them for a trillion or two.

The Washington Post, CBS, ABC and CNN previously settled with the photographer for undisclosed amounts.

Getty sniffily told the court that Daniel Morel was asking the jury “to make him the best paid news photographer on the planet”.

Such a line may not have won the jury over, but it does reflect the attitude among big media companies that photographers and writers should be paid peanuts and should have no rights when big media companies steal from them.

AFP, blamed the infringement on an innocent mistake and said the Twitter user who posted the photos without attribution bore responsibility for the error. In fact it sued Morel, seeking a declaration it had not infringed on his copyrights after Morel accused it of improper use. Morel then filed his own counterclaims.

AFP then had a go at claiming it was allowed to steal the photos and Twitter’s terms of service permitted the use of the photos.

Judge Nathan found in January that the company’s policies allowed posting and “retweeting” of images but did not grant the right to use them commercially. 

Politicians, celebrities increasingly gaming search results

Politicians and celebrities are increasingly turning to reputation management companies to push out unwanted search results that reflect on them in a negative way.

A reputation management company has reported a 70 percent surge in British politicians, businesses, and pop stars who are secretly using its services to push out unwanted “damaging” information.

Over 90 percent of web users go straight to search engines when looking for information. As such, for people or businesses that depend on reputation, it’s awkward for them when unwanted details are near the top of search results – whether they are true or not.

The claim, from reputation management company Veribo, says its work covers “global household names”, including international businesses and “public figures and executives for whom protecting their online reputations is worth millions of pounds”.

Veribo’s CEO, Roei Deutsch, is Israeli Minister of Finance Yair Lapid’s top new media advisor, and has cultivated a Facebook following for the politician.

A spokesperson for Veribo told TechEye, in brief, what the company does.

“In short, Veribo uploads and promotes relevant content and websites while pushing down unwanted search results,” the spokesperson said. The company does this “by creating content and websites that will overcome existing results and blend in naturally in the individual’s search results page.

“Veribo push down unwanted search results by pushing up positive or neutral ones,” the spokesperson said. “They create relevant content and use their special tools to promote and optimise it along with the existing content that the individual is happy to showcase”.

The spokesperson said the company mainly works on search engines to alter the visibility of search, rather than affecting actual content.

Pirate Party UK: content industry wants a "music NSA"

The Pirate Party UK’s leader, Loz Kaye, has hit back at the British content industry pressuring top ISPs to introduce a database of suspected pirates for copyright breaches.

Speaking with TechEye, Kaye said the industry “seems intent on turning ISPs into the music NSA”.

Over the weekend, the Guardian revealed how BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and Talk Talk are all being told to adhere to build a database of customers who illegally download content – with the purpose of proescuting persistent offenders at a later date.

The oft criticised Digital Economy Act – drafted to make fighting piracy easier for the content industry – was voted into law in 2010, but delays have meant it may not become active policy until after the 2015 general election. This has frustrated Britain’s content industry, represented by the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), which wants action soon.

It is expected that a database would be used to send letters to repeat offenders – at first. But it could later be used to target broadband customers by blocking them from using particular sites, temporarily disconnecting them, throttling web connections, or prosecution.

Prime minister David Cameron will sit down with the BPI, the industry group believed to be the driving force behind the measures, in mid-September. Piracy is expected to be a key area of discussion.

ISPs appear resistant to such blanket measures at the moment – with a Virgin Media spokesperson telling the Guardian that the current proposals are “unworkable”, while TalkTalk said customers’ rights “always come first” and would “never agree to anything that could compromise them”.

They would likely be met with criticism from the public in light of recent privacy awareness campaigns from activists. A voluntary code would also leave room for smaller ISPs to capitalise – as Andrew & Arnolds did after David Cameron announced his now infamous pornography filter.

The Pirate Party UK’s Loz Kaye suggested the proposals are in line with David Cameron’s current policy approach to internet censorship and urged the Coalition government for “clarity”.

“The content industry seems intent on turning Internet Service Providers in to the music NSA,” Kaye said. “Having failed with the democratic and legal route as the Digital Economy Act is a lame duck, they now want to skip that and get ISPs to do the policing on their own. “This will be an unwarranted intrusion, with no clear positive outcome.

“The BPI apparently wants to take advantage of Cameron’s current wish to blame the internet for everything,” Kaye said. “The government’s digital policy making is in chaos. We need clarity from the coalition – do they back site blocking or not?”

“Do they back throwing entire households off the Internet or not? Until there are some answers, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats can have no credibility on digital policy,” Kaye said.

Google Music All Access' killer app: understanding data

Google has just rolled out its music streaming service to all Android customers here in the UK. It’s optimised for phone and tablet use with an in-browser web app too, becoming the latest in a long list to take on Spotify’s domination in music streaming subscriptions. But it has one clear advantage: Google does data, and for many users, it already has a starting point.

First impressions with Music All Access is the smooth and pleasing UI and a large catalogue that rivals Spotify.

There’s streaming radio based on whichever artist or song you want to select as your starting point, and the software’s smart enough to match it with similar – if not exactly perfect – music.

Browsing through genres falls down compared to Spotify, where you can enter all sorts of different music genres in text and get a long list of results (even if ‘heavy metal’ does bring up Nickelback). With Music All Access, there are a number of underpopulated genres you can pick from, but music geeks trying to discover neo-surf-hop won’t be able to pick from that list.

And the top albums, at the moment, in whichever genre, tend to be full of questionable comps that are hardly indicative of a genre’s best artists.

Music All Access’ killer app gives it real potential to change the way we discover music. That’s the data it already has and user interactivity that crowdsources Google’s understanding of its software and behaviour. For example, it’s possible to stream to multiple devices at the same time. In fact, it’s beneficial for Google: with interactive buttons letting you rate the music with a thumbs up or down. The more users, the better.

Pointing to the explore tab on the app, there was something interesting under ‘recommended for you’: Google had noticed searches and plays from YouTube. Not music that was accidentally opened through a social media link or background songs, but it appeared to have noticed patterns where an album was listened to deliberately and repeatedly.

A Google spokesperson confirmed to TechEye that YouTube can be a trigger point for building information around you, and subsequently offering music based on that, but existing music uploaded to Play is even better. Considering Google’s lion’s share of the smart device market, that means a lot of data points for its algorithms to calculate and offer you something you may like.

“We generate recommendations a number of different triggers, including YouTube, but actually your existing music collection that you’ve uploaded to Play is a better indicator of taste,” the spokesperson said.

“For instance, just because you watch Gangnam Style or Harlem Shake videos on YouTube, doesn’t mean you want that kind of music popping up in your recommendations on Play”.  

Spotify has a recommend feature as well. But it doesn’t seem to understand related artists or patterns or kinds of music as well as Google does. For instance, Spotify radio for ‘Can’ will queue a lot of music that was influenced by or is slightly similar to Can, including postpunk that was ultimately not being searched for, even if it did take on some musical influences.

Google, at least on repeated testing, manages to queue up music from similar eras, with similar patterns and the contemporaries of the original search come up in the results. It queued up Cluster and Faust immediately.

Undercutting Spotify on price – although sadly not offering a supported free version – could spark interest and the free trial certainly tempted me into taking a look.

But it is Google’s expertise with data and discovery – backed with enormous resources in R&D, cash, and existing data sets  – that may ultimately make the difference for music streaming.