Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N11): Patent Law, Cable News, Book Reviews, Amazon Prime +More

The Economist suggests there may be judicial improvements coming to US patent law:
As the Supreme Court now intends to review Alice v CLS Bank, it will finally confront the most fundamental of issues in patent law today: whether or not software patents are impermissibly abstract. A ruling is expected by July 2014.
Would it matter if software patents were judged too abstract to warrant patent protection? Despite Judge Moore’s misgivings, patent issuance is a poor measure of innovation. Patenting is strictly a metric of invention. Innovation is such a vastly different endeavour—in terms of investment, time and the human resources required—as to be virtually unrelated to invention.
Indeed, many innovators have argued that the electronics and software industries would flourish if companies trying to bring new technology (software innovations included) to market did not have to worry about being sued for infringing thousands of absurd patents at every turn. A perfectly adequate means of protecting and rewarding software developers for their ingenuity has existed for over 300 years. It is called copyright.

Forced changes at CNN may reflect fundamental changes in cable news and information (Economist):
Cable-news channels are also experiencing what print newspapers started to see over a decade ago: people are abandoning them for the web, where advertising rates are much lower. In 2008 Mr Zucker, known for speaking his mind, worried about “trading analogue dollars for digital pennies”. Since then online-advertising rates have improved. But internet economics are still less attractive, even for CNN.com, one of the most popular news websites in the world. As newspapers and online portals are making video content that they can sell advertising against, CNN also faces new competitors from the web.
Bad review? (New Statesman):
Anne Rice is not the only writer to have gone after a bad reviewer. In 2011, a self-published author in Milton Keynes launched libel proceedings against the guy who wrote a series of bad Amazon reviews of his book, The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know. Also summoned to the courtroom were Richard Dawkins and his foundation (for discussion threads relating to the review on the foundation’s website) and Amazon (for allowing this to happen in the first place). Earlier this year there was a story about another self-published author in America threatening to sue a reviewer because their single bad review allegedly lost the writer $23,000. Whether it’s back-of-the-envelope maths or real maths we’ve only got his word, but at this point it’s irrelevant. Stay with me.

Steve Brill wonders if Amazon's decision to raise Prime membership was lightly reported (WSJ):
But maybe I’m wrong. Which suggests an idea for a more enlightening story than the one the Times did: Someone ought to do a rigorous market survey of Prime customers to see not only whether they like the price increase (who likes price increases?), but whether they will continue to subscribe.
It’s an important question. Whether Amazon can succeed in realizing more of this dependable, recurring subscription revenue from its trailblazing service will say a lot about whether the company will continue to revolutionize retailing.
From the Twitter
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FIRST Act Severely Undermines U.S. Public Access Policies  
Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond
Feds to drop most of fraud charges against writer who linked to data stolen by Anonymous

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