Posts Tagged ‘Media



13
Apr
10

GAO piracy report: A deeper look

NEWS
GAO piracy report: A deeper look

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A report released by the Government Accountability Office questions Hollywood’s billion dollar losses claims, citing a lack of evidence as the main reason for the doubts. On the other hand, the Congress-commissioned report emphasizes that piracy may also benefit the entertainment industries and third parties.

The PRO-IP Act is a United Stated law that aims to combat copyright infringement by increasing civil and criminal penalties for offenders. As part of the Act, Congress has instructed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to quantify the impact of piracy on the economy. The results of this investigation have now been published in a report.

The report puts the claimed ‘massive losses’ by the entertainment industries in a different light. After having interviewed many experts and plowed through the relevant literature, GAO writes that it cannot make any solid conclusions about the financial effect piracy has on the economy as a whole.

“Lack of data hinders efforts to quantify impacts of counterfeiting and piracy,” is one of the main conclusions from the report.

One of the problems signaled by the GAO is that government officials admit that they simply reply on statistics and reports from the entertainment industries without conducting research on their own. These reports naturally lack transparency about the source of the figures and are often written to sell a political agenda through lobbying efforts.

Although the GAO report cannot make any strong conclusions on the financial impact of piracy and counterfeiting on the economy, the writers do note that piracy can have several benefits for consumers and businesses.

“Some authors have argued that companies that experience revenue losses in one line of business—such as movies—may also increase revenues in related or complementary businesses due to increased brand awareness,” the report states.

“For instance, companies may experience increased revenues due to the sales of merchandise that are based on movie characters whose popularity is enhanced by sales of pirated movies.”

Another aspect that was mentioned is the positive impact piracy has on the revenues of third party companies. The example of routers is given in the report, but it is not hard to see that Apple’s iPod might also have benefited from the availability of pirated music.

“One expert also observed that some industries may experience an increase in demand for their products because of piracy in other industries. This expert identified Internet infrastructure manufacturers (e.g., companies that make routers) as possible beneficiaries of digital piracy, because of the bandwidth demands related to the transfer of pirated digital content,” the report reads.

One of the most interesting benefits of piracy mentioned in the report is that it encourages innovation, since this is the exact opposite of what copyright holders always argue. Unfortunately for consumers, this innovation is not always aimed at making a better product.

“While competitive pressure to keep one step ahead of counterfeiters may spur innovation in some cases, some of this innovation may be oriented toward anticounterfeiting and antipiracy efforts, rather than enhancing the product for consumers.”

The overall conclusion of the GAO is that they can’t put a number on what the financial consequences of piracy are for the economy. However, blindly trusting statics and reports from the entertainment industry is probably not a good idea, they say.

It is unclear at this point what impact the report will have on the legislation and anti-piracy measures as proposed by the PRO-IP Act.

Story Highlights:
▪ The development of technologies that enable the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works is widely recognized as leading to an increase in piracy.

▪ To the extent that counterfeiting and piracy reduce investments in research and development, these companies may hire fewer workers and may contribute less to U.S. economic growth, overall.

▪ The U.S. economy may also experience slower growth due to a decline in trade with countries where widespread counterfeiting hinders the activities of U.S. companies operating overseas.

▪ There is no government agency that systematically collects or tracks data on the extent of digital copyright piracy.

▪ Many of the experts we interviewed identified lost tax revenue as an effect of counterfeiting and piracy on governments. IP owners or producers of legitimate goods who lose revenue because of competition from counterfeiters pay less in taxes. The U.S. government also incurs costs due to IP protection and enforcement efforts.

▪ Some authors (of studies on this issue) have argued that companies that experience revenue losses in one line of business–such as movies–may also increase revenues in related or complementary businesses due to increased brand awareness. For instance, companies may experience increased revenues due to the sales of merchandise that are based on movie characters whose popularity is enhanced by sales of pirated movies.

▪ Commerce and FBI officials told us they rely on industry statistics on counterfeit and pirated goods and do not conduct any original data.

▪ According to experts and government officials, industry associations do not always disclose their proprietary data sources and methods, making it difficult to verify their estimates.

▪ There is no single methodology to collect and analyze data that can be applied across industries to estimate the effects of counterfeiting and piracy on the U.S. economy or industry sectors.

▪ The Business Software Alliance publishes piracy estimates based on a set of annual surveys it conducts in different countries. Based on its survey results, the industry association estimated the U.S. piracy rate at 20 percent for business software, carrying a loss of $9 billion in 2008. This study defined piracy as the difference between total installed software and legitimate software sold, and its scope involved only packaged physical software. While this study has an enviable data set on industries and consumers located around the world from its country surveys, it uses assumptions that have raised concerns among experts we interviewed.

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01
Apr
10

Topeka: A different kind of company name

NEWS
Topeka: A different kind of company name

Thursday, April 1, 2010

••• Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google.
We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.
We didn’t reach this decision lightly; after all, we had a fair amount of brand equity tied up in our old name. But the more we surfed around (the former) Topeka’s municipal website, the more kinship we felt with this fine city at the edge of the Great Plains.

In fact, Topeka Google Mayor Bill Bunten expressed it best: “Don’t be fooled. Even Google recognizes that all roads lead to Kansas, not just yellow brick ones.”

For 150 years, its fortuitous location at the confluence of the Kansas River and the Oregon Trail has made the city formerly known as Topeka a key jumping-off point to the new world of the West, just as for 150 months the company formerly known as Google has been a key jumping-off point to the new world of the web. When in 1858 a crucial bridge built across the Kansas River was destroyed by flooding mere months later, it was promptly rebuilt — and we too are accustomed to releasing 2.0 versions of software after stormy feedback on our ‘beta’ releases. And just as the town’s nickname is “Top City,” and the word “topeka” itself derives from a term used by the Kansa and Ioway tribes to refer to “a good place to dig for potatoes,” we’d like to think that our website is one of the web’s top places to dig for information.

In the early 20th century, the former Topeka enjoyed a remarkable run of political prominence, gracing the nation with Margaret Hill McCarter, the first woman to address a national political convention (1920, Republican); Charles Curtis, the only Native American ever to serve as vice president (’29 to ‘33, under Herbert Hoover); Carrie Nation, leader of the old temperance movement (and wielder of American history’s most famous hatchet); and, most important, Alfred E. Neuman, arguably the most influential figure to an entire generation of Americans. We couldn’t be happier to add our own chapter to this storied history.

A change this dramatic won’t happen without consequences, perhaps even some disruptions. Here are a few of the thorny issues that we hope everyone in the broader Topeka community will bear in mind as we begin one of the most important transitions in our company’s history:

    • Correspondence to both our corporate headquarters and offices around the world should now be addressed to Topeka Inc., but otherwise can be addressed normally.
    • Google employees once known as “Googlers” should now be referred to as either “Topekers” or “Topekans,” depending on the result of a board meeting that’s ongoing at this hour. Whatever the outcome, the conclusion is clear: we aren’t in Google anymore.
    • Our new product names will take some getting used to. For instance, we’ll have to assure users of Topeka News and Topeka Maps that these services will continue to offer news and local information from across the globe. Topeka Talk, similarly, is an instant messaging product, not, say, a folksy midwestern morning show. And Project Virgle, our co-venture with Richard Branson and Virgin to launch the first permanent human colony on Mars, will henceforth be known as Project Vireka.
    • We don’t really know what to tell Oliver Google Kai’s parents, except that, if you ask us, Oliver Topeka Kai would be a charming name for their little boy.
    • As our lawyers remind us, branded product names can achieve such popularity as to risk losing their trademark status (see cellophane, zippers, trampolines, et al). So we hope all of you will do your best to remember our new name’s proper usage:

Finally, we want to be clear that this initiative is a one-shot deal that will have no bearing on which municipalities are chosen to participate in our experimental ultra-high-speed broadband project, to which Google, Kansas has been just one of many communities to apply.
• Source(s): Eric Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Topeka Inc.
• (April Fools!!!)
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31
Mar
10

Google searches turn up empty

NEWS
Google searches turn up empty

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Internet users on the Chinese mainland who tried to conduct a Google search Tuesday most likely failed to obtain results while mobile services users reported partial blocking during the last two days.

Last week, users who attempted to use Google.cn were redirected to the Hong Kong website.

Users found out Tuesday that both the English site, Google.com, and the Chinese version of the search engine failed to return search results, although the homepages popped up.

AFP reported that its Shanghai reporter experienced no problems with the Google search engine.

But an Internet user in Shanghai said no search results came up.

The advanced search icon on both the English and Chinese sites were accessible.

A Google spokeswoman in Beijing told that they were aware of the problem but she was not able to say what caused it.

In the wake of Google’s decision to redirect Google.cn traffic to its Hong Kong website last week, Google also set up a website www.google.com/prc/report.html that was still accessible on the mainland Tuesday.

It provided daily status reports on the availability of its other popular services in China, including Doc, News, Mobile, Gmail, Blogger and Picasa service.

According to that website, Google’s search engine service on the Chinese mainland experienced “no issues” Tuesday but the mobile service was partially blocked on the mainland since Sunday.

The Google search engine on a reporter’s mobile phone, which uses Google’s Android mobile phone system, was working normally after it rerouted to Google’s Hong Kong sites in Wi-fi connections.

But Google search, maps and news service could not be accessed with the same mobile phone when it uses China Mobile GPRS data connection.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency & Global Times (China)
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31
Mar
10

Google blames China’s ‘great firewall’ for blocking searches

NEWS
Google blames China’s ‘great firewall’ for blocking searches

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Google’s search sites in China abruptly stopped working yesterday, but the explanation for the outage changed as the day wore on.

The Internet giant first blamed its own engineers, citing a technical glitch, but later reversed course and pointed to the heavy hand of China’s “Great Firewall” – even as service appeared to be back to normal.

The evolving explanation caught Google watchers by surprise and showed how fraught with confusion the relationship between China and Google remains.

The episode risks escalating their battle a week after Google stopped censoring its search engine in China.

Google struggled to discern the cause of the massive disruption, in which users received error messages for Google searches from China on the company’s Hong Kong-based search site, Google.com.hk.

Google began routing Chinese Internet users to its Hong Kong site last week as it said it would no longer comply with China’s censoring policies and wouldn’t run a censored Chinese search engine.

Later in the day, Google reversed itself, saying it had made those changes a week earlier.

“So whatever happened to block Google.com.hk must have been as a result of a change in the Great Firewall,” the company said.

Wang Lijian, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, one of China’s main Internet regulators, said he was unaware of any Google disruption.

Any permanent blockage of Google’s searches by China would deal a sharp blow to the company’s hopes of continuing to operate part of its business in the country after dismantling its censored Chinese site.

Google said last week that it hoped to maintain its music search and maps services in China, along with sales and research-and-development operations.

Beijing has expressed anger at Google for publicly flouting its censorship regime, and a decision to block access to Google entirely has always been considered possible.

Many analysts have believed Beijing would stop short of that for fear of infuriating Google’s tens of millions of regular Chinese users, not to mention foreign businesses that require access to information.

Because Google censored its old Chinese site, Google.cn, in accordance with government rules, that site wasn’t filtered by the government’s firewall.

Its international sites, such as the Hong Kong one, have always been subjected to filtering, meaning that Chinese users’ searches of some sensitive terms like those related to the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the initials RFA, for Radio Free Asia, or even the names of top leaders might trigger an error message from the browser instead of a results page.

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24
Mar
10

Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

NEWS
Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

•••Google’s decision to stop censoring its Chinese search engine and redirect mainland users to its servers in Hong Kong was tantamount to pushing itself into a corner and ruining its image and interests, world media and experts say.

“If Google had hoped to rally rivals to its cause, it failed. If Google was planning to embarrass China by whipping up a global debate on Internet freedom, it failed,” the Financial Times wrote in an article published Monday.

China trade economist Derek Scissors of the U.S. Heritage Foundation called Google’s move to Hong Kong “pretty close to a complete exit” that will provoke Beijing and puts Google outside the firewall with regard to advertisers and other partners.

Russian newspaper Vedomosti said Google has completely burned all of its bridges in China behind it and is unlikely to ever return to the Chinese market.

Google, the world’s top search engine, held only an estimated 30 percent share of China’s search market in 2009, compared with home-grown rival Baidu Inc’s 60 percent. Official statistics put the number of netizens in China at 384 million by the end of 2009.

Michel Riguidel, head of the Department of Computer Science and Networks at Telecom Paris Tech, said all companies pay great attention to building their own images.

Google claimed that its image is based on freedom, information exchange and respecting human rights, but the fact is that it absorbs large amounts of personal information and does research on the information without getting agreements from web users, Riguidel said.

Izumi Harada, chief fellow of the Crisis and Risk Management Society of Japan, told Xinhua that there is no question that multinational companies should follow local laws while running their businesses in other countries.

Google has breached the commitment to observe Chinese laws and regulations that it made when entering China (four years ago), he said.

Jesse Wright, a leading expert of Institute Internet, told a Russian radio station that Google has been working in China since 2005 and knows the requirements of Chinese law.

“Compliance with the requirements of the Chinese was a condition of work in this market,” Wright said. “So, trying to force China to reconsider its own censorship requirements – be it Google or others – it seems to me untenable.”

Alexey Basov, CEO and co-founder of Begun, Russia’s largest contextual ad service, said if Google quits the Chinese market, it will be a major strategic loss for the company.

At about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing time, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond made the “stop censoring” announcement in a blog post, saying “users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored searches in simplified Chinese.”

In reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a routine media briefing that: “The Google case is just a business case and will not undermine China-U.S. relations unless someone politicizes the issue.”
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)
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24
Mar
10

Arguments over Google’s withdraw

NEWS
Arguments over Google’s withdraw

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Google is also citing censorship in its withdrawal from the Chinese mainland market. Some netizens and experts say foreign companies should abide by the laws of the country.

Chinese Internet users and experts say abiding by the laws of the country is an established convention. They say all this applies to all companies, including Google.

A Chinese internet user said, “China has its own system and you have to abide by the laws in China if you want to do business in China. “

Shi Xiangsheng, Deputy Sec’y Gen., Internet Society of China, said, “The foreign Internet companies must promise to respect the local customs and laws when they start business in China. And it’s also the international convention.”

Google says another factor in the pull-out was attacks by hackers.

Shi said, “We are not quite clear about the hacker attack Google mentioned. But it did not appeal to the relevant regulator or ask the Chinese government to carry out investigations on the case. “

Some say it’s debatable that Google has completely withdrawn from China, as it transferred its search business to Hong Kong.
• Source(s): CCTV (China)
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