July 28, 2008

DMCA Safe Harbor: Part One

There are few laws that affect bloggers more directly than the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (PDF) safe harbor provisions. Not only do bloggers use it to secure removal of their works when copied without permission, but many also take advantage of its protections to offer new services to their readers.

But the safe harbor provisions are also one of the least understood laws actively being used. Many do not understand exactly what the DMCA safe harbor protections do and what they protect protect. As such, they do not understand what their rights and obligations are under the law.

So we’re going to take a moment and analyze what the law actually says and how it applies to bloggers, both as content creators and as hosts, and look at how we can best use the law as it is written today.
read more

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SquareSpace Gets Even Better

Filed as News with 3 comments

Since early 2007 I’ve hosted my primary blog, Jobacle, with SquareSpace. As a user of WordPress, Blogger and several other platforms, I’ve always been impressed with the ease-of-use of SS.

Recently, the publishing platform launched system wide upgrade (V5) that is worth giving the company a second look if you’re searching for a blog solution.

You’ll find all of the goodies you’ve come to expect: WYSIWYG editor, pretty spiffy templates, metric counter, etc. However, what really sets SS apart from the pack is its back-end CMS, enabling novices to create a fully functional Web site. And the more advanced users can fully customize.

“Squarespace V5 seamlessly welds together easy-to-use content creation and management tools with a structured back-end that has all the building blocks for creating powerful and elaborate websites,” says Anthony Casalena, founder of Squarespace Inc. “Central to this experience is a new way of thinking about website design and management—semi-structured publishing—that seeks to make advanced web publishing widely accessible.”

Among the recent upgrades:

- Drag and drop editing interface, allowing complete real-time website control directly from the browser.

- Powerful pluggable architecture with modules covering every aspect of Web site construction from blogging to galleries, search, form-building and more. Each module is completely configurable and flexible enough to fit into any sized site.

- 60+ Web site styles that are completely modifiable by users with point and click simplicity and speed. The number of controls available virtually ensures that no two Squarespace sites will look the same while their owners can get the exact look and feel they want in the least time possible.

- A robust back-end grid architecture powered by Oracle Coherence and hosted by Peer1 Networks to ensure reliability for each and every Squarespace website, no matter the size. All features are implemented using the same high-performance back-end to eliminate worries about system downtime.

One thing that turned me on to SS was their 14-day trial. They give you full use of the tool to make sure it’s a fit. You can expect to pay around $12 a month.

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Know More Media Closes Shop

Know More Media will be closing its doors as of August 1, according to editor Easton Ellsworth, who confirmed the open letter from b5media’s Jeremy Wright to the KMM bloggers. Still no official announcement on the Know More Media blog though.

Jeremy pitches the KMM bloggers, asking them to join b5media by buying their blogs. It is all very tactful, I think. He also has an offer to the founders. read more

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Apple Launches Non-Blog Blog

Apple have had a lot of issues with the follow-up to .Mac, called MobileMe. The worst would be that 1% of its users didn’t have functional mail, something I’d say is quite an issue, given the fact that e-mail is the key to the whole thing. This has, of course sparked a lot of questions and such for users, without anywhere to turn.

Until now. A bloggish news page called MobileMe Status is keeping track of what is going on with the service.

Steve Jobs has asked me to write a posting every other day or so to let everyone know what’s happening with MobileMe, and I’m working directly with the MobileMe group to ensure that we keep you really up to date. In the 14 days since we launched, it’s been a rocky road and we know the pain some people have been suffering. Be assured people here are working 24-7 to improve matters, and we’re going to favor getting you new info hot off the presses even if we have to post corrections or further updates later.

No comments section or anything, but still! I hope this is a step towards the new information age for Apple, because they suck at keeping in touch with their users. Why isn’t there an official Apple blog? Why would there be? Well, this is a good explanation:

For example, when I was waiting to download the iPhone 2.0 software upgrade legitimately, I really wanted to know why it was not available in the iTunes Store even though the website and iTunes said that it was available. A quick note on a blog like this would have calmed me down. That was not nearly as big a deal as the rest of the problems that day, but I think Apple could have saved some of its good name by communicating earlier.

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July 27, 2008

Networks Come After Redlasso

Filed as News with 2 comments

Redlasso, a Website that enables users to search media broadcasts and create clips to share, has suspended its service. The service is in the midst of defending itself from copyright infringement lawsuits filed by NBC and FOX News.

All is not lost, however. Users can still use the site’s business-targeted service to track and clip content for internal use.

According to Redlasso Chief Executive Ken Hayward:

“We are very disappointed in the actions of select networks. We believe we have always acted within the law and have been respectful of the networks’ rights. They have forced our hand and are denying the blogging community access to the Redlasso platform that beneficially tracks the usage of newsworthy clips across the Web.”

Do you think bloggers should be allowed to use clips and full-length programs of shows within their posts?

Another point of contention is that RedLasso claims to split advertising revenue with producers and owners of the content. However, broadcasters appear to be unaware of any such arrangement.

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July 25, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: Pictures of Our Bloggy Friends

If you are a member of a social networking service, it’s natural that you want to put the HTML code in your sidebar that shows off the faces or avatars of your buddies. After all, that’s what these social networking sites are all about. Your face on their blog and their face on your blog.

Is it? What good it is? How does it help your blog?

As part of this going series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, let’s look at the visual social clutter that clogs our blogs.

If your blog is a social blog, and the pictures of the folks participating on your blog might be helpful. People like seeing their faces or avatars on other blogs. Besides, it should be good link juice, right?

Maybe. read more

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Duncan Riley Interviewed Over at BloggerTalks

The founder of The Blog Herald, one Duncan Riley, also known from TechCrunch, b5media, and his current project The Inquisitr, is interviewed over at BloggerTalks. The interview tackles his clash with Michael Arrington, how The Inquisitr was built on a premium WordPress theme, and his views on the development of The Blog Herald – this very site. That last one was asked by yours truly with some trepidation, I must confess.

Check out the interview if you’re interested in Duncan’s views on launching a site, tackling blogging with a personal life, and more.

Disclosure: I own BloggerTalks and did the interview.

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Fake Steve Jobs Becomes Real Dan Lyons

Fake Steve Jobs, you know, the fake Steve Jobs blog, have closed for the time being. Enter the real Dan Lyons, being the guy behind the whole Fake Steve thing. As far as I can tell, he pretty much rambles on as always on his new blog, incidentally designed by cnp_studio, and is powered by WordPress.com’s VIP hosting plan.

I wonder if people will find the real Dan as interesting as fake Steve?

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AOL Feels Pressure. Halts Some Blogs.

Filed as News with 2 comments

The Washington Post has obtained an internal memo from Weblogs Inc, part of the AOL Group. The notice asks bloggers at Diylife.com, The Unofficial Apple Weblog, and DownloadSquad to cease blogging due to budget overages.

1) That’s kind of scary that they can’t afford to publish a week’s worth of posts.

2) On second thought, how much are these folks making per post?!

Here’s the memo:

“Hi Teams. I’ve spoken to your respective leads about some budget concerns, but wanted to pass along one more last-minute (and unfortunate) effort: we must halt any new posting on the blogs through next Thursday, July 31. There may be some exceptions, and not all blogs will be paused in the same manner.”

The goal is to safeguard against further budget overages, thus protecting our business and hopefully continuing as usual (though maybe a little restrained) in August. Going forward we will remain slightly leaner, but my hope is that by the end of the year we’ll continue to ramp up as we have historically.

You may see posts get rescheduled to account for the change, and if you have larger features those should not be published until August. Sorry about that, and very sorry about the unintended shortfall of income for all of you. Again, the long view is to return to normal as we re-align with our original budget estimates.

I’m here all day for questions and concerns, on this lists or off. Again, I know this is difficult and will cause some worry.

As of now the only blog to be put on hiatus after this month is DIY Life, effective August 1 (DIY Life could be resurrected at some point, but that is out of my hands). Everyone else should make plans for a resumption in a week. DLS bloggers should immediately press pause on new content. TUAW can continue with 1 or 2 App Store posts a day.

Thanks in advance everyone, we’ll get through this an emerge stronger, I know it.”

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New Advertising Service from Performancing and Splashpress

Filed as Features with 1 comment

PerformancingAdsIf you are a reader of Performancing you might have already seen the announcement last night of the new Performancing Ads service.

Some highlights:

  • Open to all publishers big and small
  • Book your own ads for free
  • Gain free traffic through the “exchange” program
  • Recurring commission from affiliate referral program
  • and of course buy and sell ads!

If you have a space in your blog then this is at least well worth a try. In fact as a publisher I much prefer these sorts of ads over Adsense and I will tell you why… read more

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