Green With Envy

Filed under: Dartmouth College

AOL just posted a fun look at America’s Worst College Mascots. Number 5 on the list: Western Kentucky’s Big Red, a symbol so odd that AOL has to ask, “What exactly is ‘Big Red?'”

Some current and former residents of Hanover, New Hampshire have been asking a similar question since 1974.

Facebook Ups Its Privacy Emphasis

Filed under: Technology,Telecom

(Washington, DC) By one estimate, more than 24 percent of U.S. Internet users have Facebook accounts, as do 43 percent of the online audience in the UK. Facebook’s servers host an amazing 10 billion photos.

So it’s good to see that the company just improved its privacy policies, making them more transparent to the end user. For an excellent analysis by one of the top privacy commentators in the country, click here.

God Save the Queen

Filed under: Technology,Telecom

(Washington, DC) I’m writing the following with apologies to a certain Proskauer Rose partner who’s an occasional reader, a good friend and a litigator on behalf of the recording industry. The Register (Great Britain) reports that the British Government appears to be succumbing to yet another doomed recording industry-induced effort to stop music piracy through government fiat.

It won’t work. A file sharer can incorporate some pretty simple compression and/or encryption technology to bypass government snooping.

But here’s the bigger issue: The recording labels need to stop looking at file sharing as a legal issue and instead recognize the far bigger consumer issue. The industry’s litigation in the U.S. was not only an abysmal legal failure, it completely backfired. Its heavy-handed tactics crystallized sentiment among the target audiences that the companies were clueless about the Internet. That fed the idea that “It’s OK to steal from them.”

Fortunately, the recording labels have finally begun to recover from this disaster. The morale: Don’t insert your attorneys between your customer and what he/she wants.

And if the Proskauer attorney is still reading, I’ll pick up the lunch tab at our next get-together.

RealNetworks’ Humble Pie

(New York) John Paczkowski, who writes the “Digital Daily” blog at The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece this morning about Apple and proposed RealNetworks app. According to Paczkowski:

RealNetworks has submitted to Apple a free application that will bring its $15-a-month Rhapsody subscription music service to anyone with an iPhone or iPod.. Apple [is] in a uniquely uncomfortable spot: Accept into the App Store an on-demand streaming music application that will compete [with] iTunes users or reject it and suffer. a nasty public relations nightmare.

The irony is downright amusing. RealNetworks rejected the underlying concept of the iPod back in 2000. That sent Tony Fadell, grandfather of the iPod’s technology, into Steve Jobs’ welcoming arms and the rest is history.

If Apple is smart, it will swallow its pride and approve this, which will eviscerate any PR problem. Meanwhile the roughly 500 people in the country who want to pay for Rhapsody on their iPhones will get it, while just about everyone else will be content with iTunes. Done deal.

Google’s On2 Something

(Washington, DC) Tech guru Mark Stephens, who writes under the nomme de guerre Robert X. Cringley, just posted a great analysis of Google’s recent purchase of On2, a maker of audio and video compression software. The real issue with Google isn’t hard to figure out. Its server farms stretch from Oregon to North Carolina and form the basis of the company’s move into content delivery. Witness YouTube’s increasing attempts to monetize itself through program ads a la Hulu.

That’s also why the company has kept up the drumbeat in Washington for Net neutrality, which undercuts the development of tomorrow’s Internet and – what a coincidence! – helps to freeze in place Google’s advantage in content delivery networks.

Funny how self-interest can seem so high-minded at times..