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Balance August 31, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in chronicnews, Copyright, Kangaroo Copright Court, Law & Politics, unbundled content.
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Yesterday I received a letter from Godaddy, our hosting provider, that they were suspending one of our servers due to a claim that there had been a copyright violation. A blogger claimed his content was being aggregated without permission yet we had not received notice. Had we had even the slightest inkling the content would have been removed immediately.

This was the capper to a bad few days and not really necessary nor does it actually help anyone or prove a point. The sites we run all ask for permission before aggregating a blog. Mistakes happen allot so we have a big printed note on the front saying that if you find your content here and didn’t give permission then please send us a note and we’ll remove it.

We got two such notes from other bloggers on Phoenixsnews.com last week and removed the content immediately. Both bloggers had given their written permission to aggregate but the swirling accusations made them decide to remove. No problem in both cases it was done in less than 24 hours.

I wrote hime. Here is what I said last night. I was really tired.

This is the first I’ve heard about this really.

All I can do is say that I”m really and truly sorry.

They’ve taken taken our server offline. If you sent an email notice we didn’t get it to my knowledge but we very well may have and our systems just didn’t work.

Since I’ve been personally involved with this we’ve been sending letters to the blogger — for over six months — before aggregation the feed. I’m attaching an example.

I”ve been spending way more money keeping this thing going than I’ve ever brought in — zero actually. My wife just had a baby so I’ve not been paying as much attention to what’s been going on and missed your pleas. Again. I’m sorry.

John B
your sploggoer.

We’ve deactivated Phonexsnews.com now. Godaddy would let us reactivate at any time. Its just that despite what was said we don’t make money at this. Our intent has been to do so but at this stage its not happening. We’ve actually been investing in finding ways to help the bloggers make money and therefore make the whole thing make sense economically. I’ve written allot about this on these pages. Sorry its not more interesting.

The upshot of this was that Godaddy analysed the facts I provided and responded quickly (in under 1 hour) to restore service.
The Chronicnews Network runs network of blogs that are aggregations of blog content focused on various topics. Prior to aggregation we send a letter to every blogger. Here is an exact replica of the most recent letter.

BELOW IS THE LATEST VERSION OF THE EMAIL WE SEND TO EVERYONE

RE: yourblog.com
We would like to ask permission to aggregate your blog’s feed on on our site – http://www.selfemployedworker.com . The site is an aggregation of the best feeds we can find on subjects concerning self employment, freelance employment and the attendant issues.

We believe there is a need for good high quality aggregators on these subject and we’re looking for blogs that either deal directly or touch on self employment issues.

All you need to do is reply to this email and tell us if you are okay with that or not.

To see the initial version of one of the sites go to http://selfemployedworker.com/ Creative huh?

Why would you want to do this?

There may be little traffic at the site for the moment because we’ve not started a general ad campaign. We will soon start an Adwords campaign but want to set the initial blog slate and let the site settle down.

We’ve done this for a few other cities. To see some of the results click on the following links:

http://nashvillesnews.net [this is our oldest and least advanced site however it gets a lot of daily traffic]
http://tucsonsnews.com
http://houstonsnews.com
http://LAsNews.com

You may get more readers as a result of our adwords campaign. It’s not guaranteed however there’s nothing to lose in this regard.

We only promote aggregated content we like and actually have pretty high standards. Our taste and judgment might be impaired but we like your blog’s feed items and believe this can only help you get more readers.

You need do nothing more than reply to this email giving the go ahead. If you should want admin control over your feed at a later time you need to create and account which of course is free. This is completely discretionary and doesn’t affect your feeds aggregation one way or the other.

The site should give you a pretty good idea of what it does and if you allow us to aggregate you can find your feed several ways. First you can click the sources link in the left menu or either the ‘categories’, ‘sitemap’, or ‘content list’ tabs along the top.

The feed items should show as being contributed by you or whomever you have designated in the originating blog or content feed.

Each feed had a link to ‘original article’ AND ‘source’ to be a redundant as hell.

There is a feature on the site that allows you to add your Pay Pal info and give the readers the ability to “Tip” you with gratuities for writing such wonderful content. Again you can deal with this at some other time. You can see a demo at http://www.tipit.ws or on Phillysnews.com.

Almost all the bloggers are happy to be carried. But if you decide its not for you just send us a note and we will take down your feed.

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Google PR quotient just doubled January 20, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Civil Liberties, Federal Courts, Google vs. US, Government & Politics, Law & Politics, Pontification.
1 comment so far

Today or in the last 24 hours Google has scored two perfect PR coups by doing the right thing.

The first — telling Bellsouth to take a hike (detailed below) — was a no brainer in many ways. After all it is Bellsouth and what can they do? I mean as a company they save all their abuse for customers which I can assure you Google is not among. As a matter of fact and completely off point I don’t think anyone who isn’t forced by circumstance would willing become their customer.

PR coup number two is telling the US government to take a hike with a subpoena for search records as detailed by this New York Times story. Now this one can result in some problems even for big G.

I’m not a lawyer but I’ve noticed over the years there has been a slight increase in the power of the federal prosecutors while the state and city DAs have been losing authority. I for one think this is a very bad thing for the simple and uncomplicated reason that federal prosecutors are not accountable to the local populace.

The gument boys are saying they aren’t going after individuals and even if there is some data that would point to the identity of users they wouldn’t use it. I mean if you don’t trust a United States law enforcement group to keep their word then.. well then you are probably not an idiot. Google isn’t an idiot either.

The last few years have been a big power grab by the feds. My opinion is that a power grab is power grab and the reasons why civil liberties must be circumvented in these special cases is never more than a cover story de jour. The cover stories have been drugs, child porn and terrorist. This latest is child porn but you could do a search and replace in this subpeoena substituting the words porn with drugs or terrorist and it would be the same.

But once again Google’s backbone is good business sense. People don’t much like the idea of the guvment knowing what they search for on the net. It doesn’t matter than 99.99% of internet users are not searching for child porn or illegal drugs (notice the words ‘child’ and ‘illegal’) or how to manuals on becoming a terrorist either. I can hear it now — “well if you aren’t a child pornographer, pusher or suicide bomber what have you got to worry about?”. The answer my friend is quite allot.

Conservative bloggers have been too quick to side with this administration. I don’t think this administration is actually very conservative when it comes to increasing the scope of federal power. In fact George Bush has never seen a power grab he didn’t like. Federal law enforcement is a special interest no different than big pharma or big oil or big fill in the blank. The Ronald Regan conservatives clearly saw this in the social welfarecrats of the seventies. They — the drug, terror, porn warriors — have a massive payroll that needs to be justified plus like all special interests they have to ratchet up the threat level in order to grab more power, money, prestige.

But you say their cause is noble and they are good people. So to was the cause of the social welfare barons. But someone has to pay the bill in both cases. We got sick of paying for a welfare machine that never seemed to win the war on poverty till the money dried up.

These conservatives (I use this in the sense they label themselves as such) fail to grasp that the very principal of power in the hands of a central distant authority is anti-conservative no matter what your reason ..er cover. Moreover the great idea and intellectual basis for Ronald Regan 80’s conservatism was that there is an inextricable connection between economic freedom and liberty and political freedom and liberty. You don’t get one without the other and when one is slowly but steadily eroded the other is not far behind.

The bill for all these wars, drugs, terror and whatever is coming due. Your economic freedoms will be quickly eroded in order to aid the tax collector. So if the Google records can somehow create a profile of a child pornographer why not a profile of a tax cheat. Tax cheat is a notoriously vague term and given to constant reinterpretation by the IRS. The problem people is that their is no due process in such matters. If the IRS decides you are a target then you’re screwed and if you can become a target because of your search patterns on Google then I would say you will soon have concentric circles painted on your back.

As an aside Yahoo, MSN and another company quickly handed over your search data to the feds. If I were you I woulnd’t be using them anymore just in case.

So wake up people and see that Google’s battle is more than just about the search records of porn freaks. Its your money they are protecting.