MediaFile

Amazon sparks digital ownership debate

“Orwell fans, lock your doors,” was the reaction from Amazon user Caffeine Queen after she and others had received notice from Amazon last Friday that their e-book versions of “1984″ and “Animal Farm” had been removed from their Kindle device.

Amazon explained later that these electronic versions were distributed illegally and that customers were refunded.

Amazon’s decision to remotely delete the e-books not only infuriated customers, it sparked a debate on digital ownership.

Richard Waters of the Financial Times argues that this episode questions the future of ownership in an electronic age:

“New internet media platforms like this raise a dilemma. Their owners have the power to control information on the client. So if they have a legal responsibility to remove data from their systems – say, after receiving a take-down notice under the DMCA – failing to expunge it may expose them to liability.”

Wednesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Recession sends Americans to the Internet (Reuters)
S. John Tilak writes: “More than two-thirds of American adults — or 88 percent of U.S. Internet users — went online for help with recession-induced personal economic issues and to gather information on national economic problems, a study released on Wednesday said.”

BBC and Government Fall Out Over Financing Plan (NYT)
“The BBC and Britain’s Labour government, which has a history of support for the “Beeb,” have fallen out over a government plan to share some of the broadcaster’s £3.6 billion in public funding with its commercial television rivals,” writes Eric Pfanner.
Weisberg: Big news orgs have a stake in web-only papers not working (Economist.com|Romenesko) “Web advertising may well end up supporting big newsrooms if they can escape some of their legacy costs,” says Slate’s Jacob Weisberg. “The test I’d most like to see is of a well-financed, for-profit, web-only ‘newspaper’ with no printed version. The problem is that the leading news organizations have a stake in web-only newspapers not working because they will accelerate the decline of the large, if faltering businesses that revolve around print.”

USA Today introduces Newsdeck site for top headlines (Editors Weblogs)
“To give visitors another way to view the news, USA Today has introduced a site it calls Newsdeck that compiles the top headlines in an easy-to-read format. Users can scroll through stories in eight categories, including News, Money and Sports, with the ability to switch back and forth between the latest news and the most popular articles.,” writes Liz Webber.

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Microsoft takes on Google as Office moves to Web (Reuters)
Jim Finkle reports: “Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program. Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee.”

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Windows 7 (Reuters)
“Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.”

MySpace to Take Entertainment Tack (WSJ)
“In a brief interview, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace needs to be refocused ‘as an entertainment portal.’ Mr. Murdoch described his vision for MySpace as a place where ‘people are looking for common interests,’” writes Julia Angwin.

Most teens find “tweeting” pointless — Morgan Stanley

Taking a break from flogging the latest tired media business model, Morgan Stanley published a short report on Friday entitled, “How Teenagers Consume Media” by 15-year-old summer intern Matthew Robson that offers a frank discussion of what young digital media consumers are up to.  The FT has highlighted it on its front page, perhaps as an antidote to wall-to-wall coverage of the annual Sun Valley media moguls conference in recent days.

The most memorable moment in the report is its discussion of the irrelevancy of Twitter to teenagers:

Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale.
On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless.

Fans still buying tickets, startup CEO says

So how’s the market for sports and concert tickets holding up, given the economic turmoil that has dominated the public imagination since last year? Better than you’d think, according to Mike Janes, the founder and CEO of FanSnap, a live-event ticket search engine that launched in March.

“People’s appetite for the shared experience of a game or show hasn’t changed. Their bank accounts may have changed, but not the desire,” Janes said.

The difficult economy has had the effect of bringing many ticket prices down, he said, meaning there are plenty of bargains out there. While there will always be insatiable demand for big-name performers or games (Springsteen; Yankees vs. Red Sox) keeping those ticket prices high, Janes said tix for your average major league baseball game can be had for below face value in some cases, as folks looking to resell tickets flood the market with supply. It’s a bit too early to see about NFL games, he said.

Wednesday media highlights

News about the media industry:

Netflix looks to future but still going strong with DVD rentals (USA Today)
“Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings doesn’t think his 58 distribution centers are in immediate danger of becoming obsolete, but he knows that day will come. He believes DVD rentals have four to nine years to keep growing, despite inroads in Internet delivery of movies to set-top TV boxes and other video-on-demand options,” writes Jefferson Graham.

Is the bell tolling for Clear Channel? (San Antonio Express-News)
David Hendricks writes: “Analysts believe Clear Channel, now with about $22 billion in total debts, will have trouble making scheduled payments later this year. The company, already down to about 800 stations from its peak of about 1,200 stations, either will have to start selling stations itself or go into bankruptcy, where lenders will put stations up for sale.”

Foes No More, Ad Agencies Unite With Internet Firms (NYT)
Eric Pfanner writes: “With consumers spending more and more time online, analysts say Internet companies and ad agencies have no choice but to work together to develop ways to make money from digital media.”

In death Michael Jackson gives life to media

As the world mourned his death, Michael Jackson gave new life to all kinds of media – online, broadcast, print tabloids and broadsheets as the public appeared to lap up the extravagant reflections on the singer’s highs and lows.

T-shirts were sold and TV specials were planned giving a sense of drama reminiscent to the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

In newspapers like the New York Times, Jackson, 50, took over much of the Friday front page. Forget the political uproar in Iran, which has dominated headlines in recent days or the adulturous governor of South Carolina, or even the demise of Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett.

Yahoo and Google spice up ad offerings

The battle to build the best Internet search engine gets plenty of press.

But with the economy in the doldrums, the Internet giants are also engaged in a heated race to improve their advertising offerings.

Yahoo and Google, the top two search sites in the US, are rolling out new features and services designed to grab a bigger slice of the advertising dollars that businesses spend to hawk their wares.

On Monday, Yahoo unveiled a self-serve display advertising service which allows companies to create their own online ads.

New Internet ad technique can warn of emergencies

Location, Location, Location.

The World Wide Web has never had it, because there was no ordinary way for advertisers to know where someone was sitting as they surfed. That has made it impossible for the local hardware store to advertise to its neighborhood, or for national advertisers to target their ads geographically. It has also meant that cities did not have the means to warn residents surfing the web of a broken water main, an approaching storm, a forest fire, or a flash flood.  That may be about to change.

Feeva, a Silicon Valley start-up, has invented a way for advertisers to pay for “geo-demographic” placement. In effect, that means advertisers can choose their own zip or postal code — just as they do for mailers.

“What you get in your mail is all based on zip code,” said Miten Sampat, Feeva’s chief architect. “Zip code defines your income level, whether you have kids, how urban your environment is. But you can’t do this on the web, because geography is tough to guess.”

from Summit Notebook:

Yahoo cedes search game to Google, for now

(Updated with more quotes)

If you're losing the game, time to change the playing field. Yahoo is counting on exactly that.

Ari Balogh, Yahoo's chief technology officer and product development czar, would be among the first to admit that Google reigns supreme in the search space.

"Search the way we know it, with 10 blue links, Google has clearly won that game. Saying anything other than that is just not stating the fact," he told the Reuters Global Technology Summit.