DRM, Downloads, etc.

I’ll pause in the grading I’m still doing at this ridiculous hour to offer a short quiz on Current Issues in Intellectual Property.

TheFunded: Rating and Reviewing VCs

Michael Arrington describes TheFunded, a site about venture capital firms, for and by entrepreneurs. Only members can provide content, and membership is by invitation only. So there is some diligence about the quality of the ratings and reviews at the site.

As soon as I read about TF, I had the concern that “since most startups are turned down for funding, there will be a tendency for people to leave negative comments.” (Those are Michael’s words, toward the end of his post.) I also wondered who funded TheFunded, and I’m still wondering.

TF does seem like an interesting site (and I would not turn down an invitation). I’ll watch out for comments from some of the many blogging VCs.

Chilling Effects and Ways Around

Path and Icy PondOn YouTube, viewers can see the NFL’s copyright threats in all their glory. That’s a lot more important and a lot less straightforward than it looks.

The short explanation: GooTube seems to recognize fair use of copyrighted material when prodded with the right stick. For a slightly longer, but still terse, explanation, see ZD, which I found via BB.

Globalization in the Village

I was in Roslindale Village today, calling in at Solera wine, where Michael asked me if I’d seen yesterday’s rugby match between Ireland and England. I said that I hadn’t, and that my team was Scotland, who hadn’t fared any better than England. Scotland lost to Italy, for those not following at home. So I bought some Italian wine, bid Michael good day, and went on to the cheese shop.

One of my cheese purposes was a Californian cheddar. For those knowledgable about cheese, geography, or both, that’s a little strange. But today seems like an appropriate day for cheese from California.

Globalization Just Round the Corner

Belgrade AvenueA few months ago, the three businesses housed here were, reading from left to right: a tanning salon; an Albanian restaurant, about which I posted previously; and a Brazilian market. Only the latter is still there.

The restaurant is still run by the same people, but has reopened as an American restaurant. I haven’t been there since it reopened. Adam has, though, and reports a huge menu – like 20 types of burgers, many with Boston-themed names… a similar variety of pizza choices and plenty of options for people who don’t want either (but I didn’t see any of the promised Albanian holdovers).

The tanning salon has for a while had a sign in the windows asking, it seems, if anyone wants to take over a tanning salon on Belgrade Avenue. It is indeed just round the corner from us in Roslindale. I don’t miss the tanning place, but I do miss the Albanian place.

Garbling GAPE

I hope that the previous post’s coverage of Google Apps Premier Edition was clear. I think that it was clearer than either of the following:

  • Google’s software applications… are downloaded from the Internet. OK, maybe this is clear (as in unambiguous), but it’s just plain wrong. One of the selling points of GAPE is that the apps are on the web, and don’t have to be downloaded or otherwise managed by the user. Shame on the Boston Globe.
  • “Please see the open id eff ick you.” Nobody actually wrote that (until I did just now). Andy Roberts wrote please see The OpenId FAQ, and a podcasting bot mangled his words. Andy’s main point is that: “The most important and ultimately decisive battle which starts up in 2007 may be that between OpenID and Google.”

GAPE at Google Apps

Today’s big web news is the release of Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE?). The Google Apps entry page tells us:

  • What it is, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs & Spreadsheets (but not yet Presentations), all hosted by Google
  • How it’s packaged for different markets: small business, enterprise, education, family/group.

Here are remarks from four “usual suspect” Web 2.0 bloggers.

So, what’s missing?

  • The presentation app, but I’m sure that’ll be along soon.
  • Google Reader. There are many Google services that could have been part of GAPE, but aren’t. Reader is, for me, the most prominent of these.
  • Support for OpenID. Suspicious (but “open”) minds might take this as an implication that Google considers your Gmail address the only identity you’ll ever need.

Steve Jobs on Dumping DRM

Yes, yet another blogger weighs in on Steve Job’s Thoughts on Music, published online yesterday. In a word, brilliant.

Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat…

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.

No, I’m not claiming brilliance for the familiar and stunningly obvious point that DRM hurts consumers without stopping pirates. I’m claiming it for the spin. Jobs is the good guy, on the side of the consumer and of openness, and DRM is the big four’s fault.

Apple can afford to take this stance given iPod’s dominance and profit margins. DRM gets in the way of acquiring music, and hence restricts demand for players. I’m not sure that Jobs is a good guy (nor am I sure that he’s a bad guy), but I am sure that his coming out against DRM is a good thing.

Wal*Mart Video Downloads, and Cyber-Snobs

Wal-Mart’s new video download service got a lot of criticism on blogs yesterday. For example:

These blogosnobs are missing the point. The fact that Wal*Mart’s video download page doesn’t work in Firefox is irrelevant to 90% of web users, and to at least that percentage of Wal*Mart customers. They get their browser from Micro*Soft*Mart. This majority doesn’t whine when some obscure option doesn’t work, unlike the above-quoted opinionated outposts of openness.

Ad-Free at WordPress.com

AdFreeBlogButtonI use this button to indicate that:

  • I do not accept money in return for advertising space on this blog.
  • To do so would be against WordPress.com policy, and hence against the agreement I made when I created this blog.
  • I think it’s a really cool icon.

If you follow the owl in the image, you’ll see a three-item list with some overlap with my three-item list. I’m not as implacably opposed to ads on blogs as is Laura, the owl artist and ad-free activist.

In fact, I’d like this blog to be a little more commercial than it is now. I miss the WP-Amazon plugin I used elsewhere. It’s not because I made much money as an Amazon affiliate. It’s because I think that product-related posts can be enhanced with an image and a link to specifications and reviews. Consider, for example, this review of a book on blogging.