* You are viewing the archive for February, 2007

RIAA Sends “Pre-Litigation” Letters to 400 Students at 13 Universities

Cd_lockedThe Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wants to give hundreds of college students an alternative to being sued for copyright infringement. A new site has been setup, P2PLawsuits.com, as a way for the RIAA to interface with these suspected students. The idea is that settlements out of court will be more of a convenience / cheaper for those who might otherwise find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit.

The RIAA is sending letters offering discounted settlements to 400 students at 13 universities. And that’s just the first round: the intention is for hundreds of these pre-litigation letters to go out to university computer users every month.

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Blockbuster CEO Disputes $2.3M Bonus, Says He’s Entitled to $7.6M

Blockbustertalogo_1Blockbuster today announced a dispute with its CEO over the size of his bonus. The company’s reported profit for the four quarter of last year fell 28% because of high costs associated with its new service Total Access. But despite that, CEO John Antioco says the $2.3 million bonus he received on January 25 wasn’t enough. He claims his bonus should be $7.6 million based on performance goals. *Update* Blockbuster in advanced talks to buy Movielink, which would make it the first company to offer movies online, through the mail, and in-store.

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Costco Limits Return Policy for Electronics: It Was Only A Matter of Time

Looks like your friend and mine, the amazing Costco return policy, is on its way out. Apparently, it did enough damage to the already razor thin profit margins of the company for management to take action. For those unfamiliar, it used to be that you could return anything whenever you wanted for a full refund (with the exception of desktop computers, which had a limit of six months). The policy was one of the reasons why I was an avid Costco electronics shopper (if the wanted gizmo was carried there).

But I always knew it would only be a matter of time before the too-good-to-be-true shopping scenario changed. Though even with the change, Costco likely still has the best return policy out there. Here’s what to expect:

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Google Apps Premier: Is this the beginning of the new “pick a side” battle?

Googlelogo_11In its latest effort to diversify revenue sources, Google now has a “Premier Edition” of Google Apps. The $50 per user per year is obviously much cheaper than any Microsoft equivalent. At the same time, though, Google’s spreadsheet program is nowhere near as robust and so far there’s no Google PowerPoint.

So here are major improvements you get when you pay for Google Apps Premier Edition:

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Behind the Scenes Details Leading to Google/YouTube Losing Viacom & CBS Deals

So the latest news in online video revolves around Viacom signing a deal with YouTube competitor/newcomer Joost. The deal is limited for now (no South Park or Colbert Report) and will include shows like MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, BET’s American Gangster, Comedy Central’s Freak Show, and some movies from Paramount. Financial details weren’t disclosed.

This comes just weeks after Viacom demanded YouTube to take down 100,000+ videos of various shows including the good stuff from Comedy Central. Interestingly enough, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has an article out today that details the behind-the-scenes action of Google losing Viacom and CBS deals. The whole thing cites are favorite source: “those familiar with the situation.” But, hey, that source has pulled through for us before.

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Dell Ex-CEO Gets $5 Million Cash for Screwing It Up While HP Profits Soar

Dell is shelling out $5 million to ex-CEO Kevin Rollins who stepped down on January 31 and will leave the company on May 4. The $5 million in cash will be given out over the next two years. Founder Michael Dell is back in charge and has to clean up the mess of disappointing earnings, a laptop battery recall, an accounting investigation, and HP taking over the number one spot in the market.

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Just How Digg-Like Are They? Chart Comparing New Sites by Yahoo, Microsoft & Dell

Digglogo2The Yahoo Suggestion Board, Dell IdeaStorm, and MSN Reporter were all released last week and were all at least, shall we say, “Digg Inspired.” But should we call them Digg clones? How similar are they? Let’s take a closer look and compare things like purpose, voting/bury style, uniqueness, algorithm, login, default view, etc. See the chart below.

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Yahoo vs. Digg: Is Yahoo’s Move As Innocent As It Looks?

So Yahoo today released a Digg-like voting system as the backbone of the Yahoo Suggestion Board. Even though the Yahoo announcement credited Digg, the Digg crowd is not pleased. The new suggestion system was first implemented for Yahoo Autos and of the top 5 “suggestions,” 3 have nothing to do with autos (see screenshot below).

My initial thoughts echoed what Michael Arrington said, “It’s an excellent way for Yahoo to gauge the popularity of suggestions, and is in no way competitive with Digg.” But then, what stops Yahoo from easily implementing this new Digg-like system elsewhere on the site? Answer: nothing.

Even then, if Yahoo competes with Digg down the road, what would that mean? Should I be upset for some reason? Digg has a good thing going, to be sure, I’m a huge fan. But I just can’t think of a good reason for Yahoo’s move to bother me.

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