March 07, 2005

Durst and Denton in dust-up

Today the Guardian has taken a look at the legal status of bloggers in the wake of the Apple court battle.

But there's some other legal wranglings going on that could affect bloggers... Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst is taking action against sites - including Nick Denton's famed Gawker gossip blog - for posting a stolen sex video of him. Here's the New York Daily News, for what it's worth:

Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst struck back at the Web sites that posted X-rated video clips of him romping with an ex-girlfriend with an $80 million lawsuit yesterday.

"The Video was never intended by either participant to be shown," the lawsuit states.

Durst, who explained in court papers how he "held the camera," said computer hackers stole the video from his hard drive and posted it without his permission.

Gawker seems to have recognised that it was a poor show to post the video itself - they took it down pretty damn quickly, and before they received any legal notice from Durst's lawyers. Now they're taking the defensive line:

Honestly, though, we don’t know why you’re so mad at us. The situation is really rather simple. Someone sent us a link to a video of your penis, we went into shock, and we shared it with the world for about 2 hours. Then we wept, found God, took a hot bath, and removed the video from our site.

Journalist and blogger Felix Salmon published a long diatribe saying that Gawker jumped the shark when it hosted the video rather than just linking to it. He blames Nick Denton for the posting, which he says reflects the site's increasing tabloidisation - going from being a media gossip site to being a celebrity gossip site:

Wwhen a video appeared today featuring Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst having very explicit sex with an unidentified girl, Gawker was more than happy to link to that... so long as you're a celebrity, there's nothing that Gawker won't link to.

The real shark-jumping, however, came later in the day, when Gawker decided to host the video themselves. Anybody going to Gawker's Fred Durst Sex Tape page was immediately confronted with the full two-minute video, and quite possibly put off their dinner for the rest of the day. The irony is that the title of the page was "The Fred Durst Sex Tape You Never Wanted" – well, if you went to that page, you got it whether you wanted it or not.

Privacy is, of course, an eternal celebrity news question. But this time it could be a big deal for bloggers as a wider group of publishers - especially since internet law is so flaky most of the time, and when it does make a decision it is often incorrect or badly applied.

Posted by Bobbie Johnson at 02:15 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Camera phones recognise their owner

"The digital cameras fitted to many modern cellphones already provide a nifty way to capture and share low resolution images with others. But Omron, based in Kyoto, Japan, has developed software that it hopes could turn these built-in cameras into a useful security tool," reports New Scientist.

"The OKAO Vision Face Recognition Sensor software was created for existing phones with a digital camera fitted. After taking a picture of their face for reference, a user can configure their handset to lock itself or limit its functionality until another picture is taken.

"The software works by measuring key parameters, such as the distance between the eyes, nose and mouth. Omron says the software takes up just 370 Kb of a cellphone's memory, and takes about one second to perform the check. In testing, it correctly recognised its owner's face in 99 out of 100 attempts, the company claims."

Comment: Read about OKAO Vision here.

Posted by Jack Schofield at 01:50 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Google launches Desktop Search

"Google is set to launch on Monday an updated version of its desktop search tool whose enhancements include the ability to search the full text of Adobe Systems PDF files and the metadata of multimedia files, a Google executive said.

"Until now, the product could only index the names of PDF and multimedia files, such as image, music and video files. But the new version improves on this by indexing the entire content of PDF files and the metadata of multimedia files, such as song and artist names in music files, said Nikhil Bhatla, a Google product manager."

IDG News Service has more here. There's also Reuters etc.

Posted by Jack Schofield at 01:24 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

March 05, 2005

Ten unmissable examples of New Games Journalism

"Last week’s blog on the state of videogame writing, and the possible solution offered by New Games Journalism, attracted plenty of debate, but many of you wanted to see a few more examples of the NGJ style," writes Keith Stuart on the Guardian's Gamesblog.

"So I got together with Kieron Gillen (veteran games journalist and comic book writer, responsible for the NGL manifesto), Ian ‘Always Black’ Shanahan (writer of seminal NGJ article ‘Bow, Nigger’), Jim Rossignol (another veteran games journo and NGJ stalwart), and Mark Donald (editor of PC Gamer) and drew up a list of ten articles available online and indicative of the New Games Journalism approach...."

Posted by Jack Schofield at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Microsoft robots to watch kids

"The teddy bear sitting in the corner of the child's room might look normal, until his head starts following the kid around using a face recognition program, perhaps also allowing a parent talk to the child through a special phone, or monitor the child via a camera and wireless Internet connection," reports AP.

"The 'Teddy' project was one of about 150 projects on display at Microsoft's TechFest, a two-day event that gives Microsoft's worldwide team of researchers the chance to show product developers their sometimes far-flung creations, and perhaps find a fit for the projects in a future, marketable product."

Comment: Last year, I wrote an Online cover story on "life caching" called How to save your life. One of the things I mentioned in passing was that "in 1992, usability guru Don Norman wrote about everyone having a personal Teddy: you would get it when you were two or three years old, and it would store all the experiences you ever had." Rather than being a simple spy, this is a much more complicated idea, which you can read about here.

Posted by Jack Schofield at 07:34 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

March 04, 2005

Firm fined for port blocking

Here's one for the little guy. America's Federal Communication Commission has brought a halt - in one case at least - to the blocking of VoIP calls.

A North Carolina telecommunications company accused of deliberately blocking Internet phone traffic has reached a deal with federal regulators to halt the controversial practice.

The Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that Madison River Communication will "refrain from blocking" VoIP, or voice over Internet Protocol, calls and will pay a $15,000 fine to the government.
VoIP provider Vonage confirmed that Madison River was the broadband provider it complained to the FCC about earlier this month, leading to the FCC's investigation.

"We're very pleased that the commission took very swift action to address the concerns that we had regarding an Internet service provider's ability to block our customers' communications with each other," Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron said. "This sends a clear message that port blocking will not be tolerated."

So, Madison River - which has a revenue of nearly $200m a year - trampled over a new technology, a technology which wasn't making them any money (even though it saves customers wads of cash).

If you didn't think telcos were scared stiff by internet voice calling, then surely here's the proof that it's brown trouser time.

Posted by Bobbie Johnson at 02:41 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Apple 1, Bloggers 0

"In a case with implications for the freedom to blog, a San Jose judge tentatively ruled Thursday that Apple Computer can force three online publishers to surrender the names of confidential sources who disclosed information about the company's upcoming products," reports the Mercury News.

"Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg refused to extend to the Web sites a protection that shields journalists from revealing the names of unidentified sources or turning over unpublished material.

"In its court filings, Apple argued that neither the free speech protections of the United States Constitution nor the California Shield Law, which protects journalists from revealing their sources, applies to the Web sites. The company said such protections apply only to 'legitimate members of the press'."

Comment: Unfortunately, Apple regards bloggers as illegitimate members of the press. ....

Posted by Jack Schofield at 01:22 PM | Comments (9) | Permalink

Yahoo's 10-year "netrospective"

To celebrate its 10th birthday, Yahoo has done a 10 years/100 moments "netrospective" using Jonathan Harris's brilliant 10x10.

Comment: Before anyone says "Why not do that for Online's 10th birthday?", the answer is that Online's 10th birthday was last year....

Posted by Jack Schofield at 12:47 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

March 03, 2005

Paterson sues over Evans book

"The programmer generally credited with building the basis for Microsoft's landmark computer operation system has sued an author who alleges the software was simply a "rip-off" of another man's work," reports AP.

"Tim Paterson, who created the software later known as DOS and sold it to Microsoft, filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against Harold Evans and the publishers of his book, They Made America.

"The lawsuit is over a chapter in Evans' book about Gary Kildall, who founded Digital Research and died in 1994 at age 52. The book claims Paterson's software was simply a "slapdash clone" and "rip-off" of Kildall's CP/M operating system, developed in the 1970s."

Comment: The book was blogged here with reference to a Business Week Online story, The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates, below.

Posted by Jack Schofield at 08:28 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Bio-Pen authenticates your siignature

"Secure Signature Systems (SSS) has been busy developing this Bio-Pen that's been designed for use with laptops and PCs to prevent unsavoury types from logging onto wireless networks and VPNs. The chrome ink pen uses biometric technology to identify users via their signatures, providing a wire-free security system," reports Tech-Digest.

"According to the SSS people, it has a false acceptance rate of just 0.01% and it's currently being trialled by 'some of the UK’s largest financial institutions'."

Comment: It's for Windows only and plugs into a PC via a USB port. Let us know if you have seen one in your local bank!

Posted by Jack Schofield at 06:19 PM | Comments (2) | Permalink