from the too-flipping-bad dept
In the meantime, if Playmobil does not want to be associated with the Pirate Party, perhaps it shouldn't sell Pirate Party Cups.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 20th 2012 2:58pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 3rd 2012 9:28am
One way to think about the War for the Internet is to cast it as a polar conflict: Order versus Disorder, Control versus Chaos. The forces of Order want to superimpose existing, pre-digital power structures and their associated notions of privacy, intellectual property, security, and sovereignty onto the Internet. The forces of Disorder want to abandon those rickety old structures and let the will of the crowd create a new global culture, maybe even new kinds of virtual "countries." At their most extreme, the forces of Disorder want an Internet with no rules at all.This is an interesting, and somewhat different way of positioning many of the battles that we normally talk about. I think that some of the descriptions in the article are overly simplistic (to downright misleading), but the framing is still interesting. I cringe a little at the use of "chaos" as being the opposite of control here, because I think chaos (and disorder) have negative connotations. Furthermore, when you set it up that way, you are effectively suggesting that order or control on the internet is possible. I don't think that those pushing back against the folks described in the article as seeking "order" are necessarily in favor of "disorder." It's more that they recognize the impossibility of controlling a system that is effectively uncontrollable, and that each attempt to do so has significant (sometimes intended, but frequently unintended) consequences.
A conflict with two sides is a picture we're used to--and although in this case it's simplistic, it's a way to get a handle on what the stakes are. But the story of the War for the Internet, as it's usually told, leaves out the characters who have the best chance to resolve the conflict in a reasonable way. Think of these people as the forces of Organized Chaos. They are more farsighted than the forces of Order and Disorder. They tend to know more about the Internet as both a technical and social artifact. And they are pragmatists. They are like a Resistance group that hopes to influence the battle and to shape a fitful peace. The Resistance includes people such as Vint Cerf, who helped design the Internet in the first place; Jeff Moss, a hacker of immense powers who has been trying to get Order and Disorder to talk to each other; Joshua Corman, a cyber-security analyst who spends his off-hours keeping tabs on the activities of hackers operating under the name of Anonymous; and Dan Kaminsky, one of the world's top experts on the Internet's central feature, the Domain Name System.
by Tim Cushing
Fri, Mar 30th 2012 3:37am
Digital distribution can be a good thing, eliminating shipping, packaging, printing, storage, etc. and allowing instantaneous order fulfillment. Unfortunately, it has its downside, especially when digital products are tied to "walled gardens." The possibility always exists that the product you purchased, for all intents and purposes, never really belongs to you. We've seen it previously with Amazon's decision to suddenly remove purchased e-books from customers' e-readers.
Stuart Campbell at Wings over Sealand has another example of this unfortunate byproduct of digital distribution: the fact that you don't own what you've purchased. This means that at any time, for nearly any reason, the product you paid for can be rendered completely worthless.
"According to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are ineligible for refund. This policy matches Apple's refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials."In Campbell's case, the product in question isn't actually a bad piece of software, unlike the many clones and scamware inhabiting app markets. By his own account, he purchased and enjoyed the game (Touch Racing Nitro). After he purchased it, the developer (Bravo) went through a series of price adjustments, trying to find a sweet spot, ranging from £1.19 - £4.99. When this failed to make the impact on sales, Bravo offered a few free trial periods before marking it all the way down to 69p, which moved it back into the top 10 for a short time.
Last October the game went free again, and stayed that way for four months. Then the sting came along. About a week ago (at time of writing), the game received an "update", which came with just four words of description - "Now Touch Racing Free!" As the game was already free, users could have been forgiven for thinking this wasn't much of a change. But in fact, the app thousands of them had paid up to £5 for had effectively just been stolen.Campbell's paid-for software suddenly became indistinguishable from the free version, despite his having anted up for the game months ago. He fired off an email to Bravo, asking the developers to explain their reasoning for removing previously paid for content and asking these same paying customers to pay up again in order to return the game to its previous state.
Two of the game's three racing modes were now locked away behind IAP paywalls, and the entire game was disfigured with ruinous in-game advertising, which required yet another payment to remove.
"Hi!For all the supposed "entitlement" game fans have attributed to them constantly, nothing quite matches the entitlement "radiating from Sra. Hildalgo." For starters, if a developer feels that making an app free was a "mistake," it only compounds its errors when it starts taking it out on paying customers, especially when those customers number in the thousands.
Thanks for contacting us.
I'm really sorry about that. I knew that this could happen. The team had no option but to do that.
We're not trying to make money from people who have already bought the game like you did. It is not an excuse, but only 4% of the 2MM downloads have been paid ones. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't provide with any methods to know when an user has paid or not for an app. We just want to monetize the game from that 96% who are enjoying the game for free. Our goal is to monetize them via advertisement. We understand that this is annoying for the players that have paid for it.
Yes, maybe we could have released a LITE version, but if we release a new free version, we couldn't monetize near 2 MM free downloads we already have. And why we have 96% free downloads? A very bad old decision.. We've begun a new phase at Bravo Games and we definitely need some revenues from those downloads.
At the moment all our efforts are focused in new projects. When we finish those projects, we'll evaluate the possibility of adding new content to previous games like Touch Racing Nitro.
I regret to hear that you never buy another of our apps."
If 96% of those were free downloads, that means that a whopping 80,000 people who paid money for Touch Racing have just been screwed. If we assume an arbitrary but reasonable average price of £1.19 (the second-lowest App Store price tier at the time most of the sales were made, though the app has cost at least twice that much for most of its life), that's just short of £100,000 that Bravo have extracted from consumers for what is in effect a "Lite" demo version of the game.Campbell is, unfortunately, right. Digital distribution puts control of purchased products completely in the hands of the developers and the distribution service. There are some game developers who would love nothing more than to go to 100% straight digital distribution, not only for the previously mentioned savings, but to allow them to retain complete control of their products. A fully digital distribution disguises DRM as a facet of the service (constant online connection, some or most content inaccessible offline) and helps eliminate the used game market which seems to rank very slightly below straight-up piracy in their minds.
Imagine if the rest of the world worked this way. Imagine you went to Tesco and bought three boxes of Corn Flakes on a "three-for-two" offer, only for a Tesco employee to turn up at your house one day a month later and confiscate not only the "free" box but also the second one that you'd actually paid for. There'd be riots, or at the very least a long court backlog of assault cases and battered workers. Yet apparently, for videogames it's the dynamic economic model of the future.
WoSland is a pretty wily consumer, and currently has eight apps sitting in its iPhone's "update" queue which are never going to get those updates, because the "update" in question is in fact a downgrade, removing functionality and/or adding ads. We've deleted many others altogether for the same reason.Of course, this is far from convenient. Once you run into this situation, you're left with the choice of allowing all updates (even those that downgrade your software) or tediously updating all of your apps one at a time after verifying that said update won't remove functionality. Hardly ideal.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 26th 2012 1:25pm
I think once you publish something, you lose control of it. At worst, you inspire mockery and parody. At best, you become material for future work, because what you’ve made is successful, interesting, or relevant. Usually, it is both.So many excellent points in such a short comment. In fact, economic studies have actually shown, in fairly great detail, that it's exactly these kinds of "spillovers" that lead to economic growth (in fact, they were regularly called spillovers, until the economic language finally clarified a bit further). The fact that you can build on ideas is a natural resource that only expands. It's not limited by scarcity, like many natural resources. It's the nature of an idea to be infinitely copyable at no cost that acts as a resource multiplier that leads to economic growth. That's what's so powerful about it.
All work produces spill-over repercussions that usually go against the will of the work’s creator. The creator wishes to retain authorship and control the work, while those in the culture wish to use, transform, and remix it. If the work is truly successful, it will defy authorship and turn into a shared experience for everyone. Those works are the hardest to control, because they diffuse, and spread wide by permeating into the air. The become a shorthand for those who make or enjoy similar work, becoming a shared vocabulary.
The situation requires things from both those who create the work, and those who wish to use it.
For the initial creator, they must resign most control upon publication, especially on the internet. Their work will be used to say and do things they don’t intend. Ideas, in truth, go further when others carry them, and this usually means they will go in directions the original author did not intend or imagine. For instance, I’ve had a quote of mine (“People ignore design that ignores people.”) taken out of context and used to justify two completely contradictory design methods. So it goes.
For those that use the things made by others, they should credit where possible, and have their work be transformative in some way. They can carry the ideas of others, but they must to take it further or a new direction. Then, they are obliged share alike. To not do both is to go against the goodwill initiated by the work’s creator.
And for both, we should recognize that all creative processes use materials from those who came before us, and respect the meaningful influence of others. We’re part of a long line of people who make things. It is a privilege to get to use the work of others in our own.
by Leigh Beadon
Mon, Mar 26th 2012 8:21am
According to rumors reported by Business Insider, music streaming service Spotify is currently working on raising another round of funding at a valuation of about $3.5 billion—a figure that is making some major investment firms skeptical, despite the service's considerable success at growing its customer base. Over at TechCrunch, Josh Constine points out the most likely reason investors are reluctant: they know that the recording industry uses its copyright monopoly to exact a "tax on success" from innovative music startups.
Unfortunately, this is why investing in Spotify may not be wise and why firms like Andreessen-Horowitz may have passed. It’s a great service with a big lead on other music streamers. But as it scales and gains traction, the record labels will increase their tax. There’s no way Spotify will pay the same fees if it hits 15 million subscribers as it does now. That will make it harder for Spotify to return the multiple most investors want any time soon.
In most industries, if a partner charges you too high a licensing fee you can go to one of their competitors. That’s not how it works in music. You can’t get a cheaper equivalent to Michael Jackson or Lady Gaga like you could for enterprise software. If you want “Thriller” you have to pay whatever the labels ask. And even if it does, Spotify isn’t getting exclusive access to that content.
Though the specifics of the deals between record labels and music streaming services are secret, many details have been leaked over time, and it's long been known that they are onerous and one-sided. Last year, Michael Robertson of MP3tunes explained how the general structure of the deals make growth and innovation extremely difficult, while collusion among the labels eliminates any last shred of competition and ensures that a service like Spotify can never negotiate better terms. Investors know that music startups essentially live or die at the behest of the legacy industry, and investors are smart—they aren't about to bet millions on record labels making good decisions.
Economically speaking, none of this is surprising, because copyright is a monopoly and this is what monopolies do. They distort the free market and allow the monopolists to control the competition. Adding insult to injury, recording industry defenders like to tout streaming services as examples of how the industry embraces innovation, and RIAA CEO Cary Sherman recently said he was surprised that Spotify wasn't generating more revenue for the labels. To anyone who understands how difficult the labels have made life for these startups, claims like these don't pass the laugh test—and Spotify's difficulty securing funding is just more evidence of this fact. Its numbers would make it a hot investment property if it operated in any space other than music, but because it is shackled to a dying industry with a long history of technophobia, investors take their money elsewhere. Who can blame them?
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 22nd 2012 10:13am
“Easy access to information online is a huge safety issue,” said Von Palmer, the real estate board’s chief privacy officer. “There is a real possibility of break-ins and assaults; you only have to read the headlines to imagine what might happen. You hear stories about realtors getting attacked and killed. Can you imagine if we put that information out there about consumers? You can only imagine the headlines.”Also, they could just look south of the border. The information that the Canadians are now discussing putting online is, for the most part, already available online here in the US. And while I'm sure if they tried hard enough, somewhere, somehow, someone might be able to connect a real estate listing to crime, it's certainly not a common occurrence.
A spokesman for the Toronto Police Service said he wasn’t aware violence against real estate agents was a problem in the city.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 21st 2012 8:16pm
Cable companies want to increase the cable bills of millions of Americans and to virtually eliminate competition from third party devices like Boxee. We want you to know because it will affect millions of people, non-Boxee and Boxee users alike, and we need your help to fight it.It should come as no surprise, of course, that cable companies are seeking to limit consumer choice and better control the market, and even less surprise that they're doing so by making "piracy" claims (next it'll be "for the children!") but that's no reason that the FCC has to simply roll over and break innovative devices and services like Boxee's.
For the past several months, Boxee has been forced into a legislative battle with cable companies. Right now, anyone can get basic tier cable. Attach your TV, computer, or Boxee Live TV tuner and everything just works. Cable companies want the federal government to end that, and to require every user to have ALL of their TVs attached to cable boxes. We’re concerned many users who have Live TV tuners and rely on basic cable will be hurt by this, but we’re also focused on how the issue goes far beyond Boxee.
Here are the effects of the rule:
1. It could more than DOUBLE the cost for the typical new basic cable subscriber.
2. If you have a TV that’s hooked up to cable without a box, you MUST rent a set top box for that TV.
3. If your computer’s TV tuner is connected to your cable connection without a box, it will no longer work unless it uses a CableCARD.
4. If you bought a DVR that does not include a CableCARD it will no longer work without an antenna. If you don’t get signal with the antenna, your DVR is now worthless.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 6th 2012 1:24pm
...…long-held stance on how third-party websites access proprietary AAdvantage member details… Because travelers’ AAdvantage account numbers and passwords can be used to claim AAdvantage mileage awards out of their accounts and access personal details, American will always protect this information.But that falsely assumes that the browser plugin is a "website." It's possible that American is just confused... but the more likely situation is that American Airlines is still just worried about controlling the customer, rather than making sure they have the best experience for them. What services like Award Wallet do is make American's frequent flyer program more valuable to consumers, but apparently American doesn't want that if it means having less control.
We simply cannot permit websites that have not satisfied our security requirements the access needed to track AAdvantage balances or any other function that is otherwise secured behind AA.com login credentials.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 27th 2012 11:50am
The MPAA's O'Leary concedes that the industry was out-manned and outgunned in cyberspace. He says the MPAA "is [undergoing] a process of education, a process of getting a much, much greater presence in the online environment. This was a fight on a platform we're not at this point comfortable with, and we were going up against an opponent that controls that platform."Yes, even when he tries to say that they're trying to learn about that confounded internet thingy, he sounds ridiculous and dismissive. But the real point is his inadvertent admission within that statement: the MPAA (and the rest of "old" Hollywood) simply "is not comfortable with" the internet. And that's really what SOPA and PIPA were about. Rather than trying to understand this new platform, and learn from the many entertainers who do get the internet, they did what the MPAA does and simply tried to regulate that which they don't understand and fear.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Dec 5th 2011 2:01pm
As a rule, we're always supposed to applaud the collapse of the record industry. We are supposed to feel good about the democratization of music and the limitless palette upon which artists can now operate. But that collapse is why Lulu exists. If we still lived in the radio prison of 1992, do you think Metallica would purposefully release an album that no one wants? No way. Cliff Burnstein from Q Prime Management would listen to their various ideas, stroke his white beard, and deliver the following 45-second pep talk: "OK, great. Love these concepts. Your allusion to Basquiat's middle period was very apt, Lars. Incisive! But here's our situation. If you guys spend two months writing superfast Diamond Head songs about nuclear winter and shape-shifting, we can earn $752 million in 18 months, plus merchandizing. That's option A. The alternative is that you can make a ponderous, quasi-ironic art record about 'the lexicon of hate' that will outrage the Village Voice and mildly impress Laurie Anderson. Your call." Ten minutes later, Bob Rock would be parking his Lexus at the studio...To be fair, Klosterman is stating this as a conclusion, rather than an indictment. There's an underlying tone of accusation there, but I don't think that his overall point is to decry file sharing as ruining music, but rather pointing out that an album like this could only be made in this day and age.
But if the fundamental goal of Metallica is to make good music, it seems like trying to get rich while doing so dramatically improves their creative process. The constraints of late capitalism really work for them; they're extraordinarily adept at making electrifying heavy rock that's designed to generate revenue. The reason Lulu is so terrible is because the people making this music clearly don't care if anyone else enjoys it. Now, here again - if viewed in a vacuum - that sentiment is admirable and important. But we don't live in a vacuum. We live on Earth. And that means we have to accept the real-life consequences of a culture in which recorded music no longer has monetary value, and one of those consequences is Lulu.
Explore some core concepts:
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