AOL Launches Clone of Yahoo Home Page

Years ago, the backronym “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” (YAHOO) was born out of Jerry [Yang] and David’s [Filo] Guide to the World Wide Web and became the first successful Web portal. Later, Amazon.com’s model was the one everybody tried to copy. And now, it’s back to Yahoo. Yahoo updated it’s home page last year, and now, AOL is launching an eerily similar version in which not much more than the name changes. Is this infringing or just down right poseurish?

More on the imitation job at PCWorld, DownloadSquad, TechCrunch.

Blogging EconSM

I’m blogging today at the inaugural EconSM conference, produced by Rafat Ali’s ContentNext Media Network (parent of PaidContent).

This conference sold out to 500 + weeksk ago and features a day of panels featuring industry heavies (see list). Currently a panel including Jimmy Guterman and John Battelle are discussing branding, marketing and Web content, involking that marketing is meant to be a conversation which is why it’s a natural for social media.

My reports will be posted at LAist. I’ll be interviewing Mike Davidson, CEO of Newsvine (which re-launched this week) momentarily. Live flickr photostream from the event below.

UPDATE: several videos at LAist via Revver.

U.S. Broadband Ranking Drops 25%

photo by Scott Beale/Laughing SquidStressing how little has happened to bridge the broadband divide in the past year, FreePress admonished the gov’t regarding the OECD’s recently released (tho dated December 2006) data on global broadband penetration. According to the latest data, the U.S. — which was 12th in June ’06 — has been leapfrogged by the likes of Japan, France, and Luxembourg and is now 15 (out of the 30 OECD nations):

“We are failing to bring the benefits of broadband to all our citizens, and the consequences will resonate for generations,” said Ben Scott, policy of director of Free Press. “There is no justification for America’s declining status as a global Internet leader. Instead of more excuses, it’s time for true national broadband policy that will put America’s digital future back on track.”

Scott will lay down the disappointing facts before the Senate Commerce Committee today, according to Katie @ GigaOm.

At SavetheInternet it’s time for action.

According to the OECD, less than 20 percent of the U.S. population has broadband access. It didn’t take this long for TV to gain such widespread usage and, in my opinion, broadband Internet access is paramount in importance in today’s world.

Nearly 400 cities and counties have developed or are planning muni wi-fi broadband. But in many cases — especially in larger cities such as Philly and SF — the task is insurmountable thanks to a lack of government initiative (or complacency w/ telecom duopoly and policy gridlock).

Congress MUST pass a bill in the vein of the McCain / Lautenberg 2005 Community Broadband Act and create and pass a new telecom bill as soon as possible.

Additionally, settle The Center for Public Integrity’s lawsuit (filed months ago) demanding data on broadband deployment from the FCC. What’s to hide?

UPDATE: Ben Scott’s testimony (.pdf).

photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

The Politics of Online Content

It’s often striking to note that the same rules and laws, from libel to copyright, apply online as they do in print. Until copyright laws are updated to reflect the Internet’s spirit of sharing, everything that is posted online is copyrighted by default. In backwards fashion, one must be *proactive* to indicate that sharing/lifting/reprinting of content, videos and photos is acceptable and *not* all rights are reserved.

The attitude of many publishers towards the Web, no thanks to Google/YouTube, is — “if it’s not fair use, what, are we gonna get sued?” And when a takedown notice comes through, the image, video, or other content is removed and usually the conflict is resolved. In other instances, however, a photographer is completely entitled to send a bill to a for-profit publication or organization that uses a photo or video without the creators permission. In the old days of print, I believe they called it “plagiarism.”

There are exceptions, of course. When user-generated content (UGC) is submitted through a module or service that requires agreeing to terms (i.e. checking a box without realizing what exactly you’re doing), the original producer of the content typically often signs off their rights completely on a non-exclusive basis.

In the case of Jamal Albarghouti’s infamous cellphone video of the Virginia Tech shootings, CNN contacted Albarghouti minutes after his submission was received to negotiate exclusive rights (for an undisclosed sum. Surely the creator was aware of the key terms and the key opening clause — submitting content meant no payment from CNN or its affiliates in exchange, automatically, for “a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to edit, telecast, rerun, reproduce, use, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute…” (emphasis mine). Yahoo!/Reuters YouWitness News has similar terms, as do other sites, although to see a YouTube “exclusive” on CNN would probably be a first. In other words, no other UGC provider likely had the breadth of worldwide video distribution outlets (and cash) as did CNN (a Time-Warner company).

I wonder if any outlet has ever “bluffed” a claim of exclusive rights to user-generated content and/or how competitors could confirm the nature of their exclusive arrangement, but then again, the distortion of the term “exclusive” (not to mention “breaking news”) throughout the media is for another blog post / conference.

How do you know what you can post and what *might* get you in trouble? I use a Creative commons license or badge to indicate content that I’m happy to share for non-commercial use with proper attribution. In other instances, I’ll gladly accept cash or PayPal. NowPublic, AP’s UGC partner, was friendly enough to send me a message via flickr asking permission to use CC-licensed photos of mine on a couple occasions. Is a CC license legit? Well, your work is copyrighted whether or not you ever file or register a copyright and — after only 5 years of operation, there are over 140 million pages with CC licenses. Where can you find CC-licensed content? They’ve got a search tool.

* C-SPAN’s CC-style license.
* BBC’s Creative Archive Licence Group.
* Poynter’s David Shedden’s guide to copyright & fair use.

Originally posted in the Digital Political Communication class blog on April 20, 2007