Friday News: What Google’s New “Privacy” Policy Means for You

Friday News: What Google’s New “Privacy” Policy Means for You

Google has changed some of its policies regarding how it is collecting data from users. A couple of good links on the subject include the WSJ write up and the EFF write up at the USA Today.

WSJ:

In sum, Google is tracking every move you make and connecting it together. If you watch a Youtube video, google logs this and then analyzes it against the searches you’ve made and the emails you send. To avoid this, you must be logged out and by default, Google logs you in. To make sure you are logged out, look at the black bar at the top right corner. If it says you are logged out, you should be.

Of course, with these companies, who knows. The FTC head has indicated that they’ll be watching these monoliths like Google and Facebook as it relates to the privacy of user data.

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Maggie Stiefvater may believe that bloggers are non professionals writing non reviews and therefore are not afforded respect by authors, but Reed Business who owns and runs Book Expo America apparently disagrees. It has purchased the Book Blogger Convention and beginning in 2012, the Book Blogger Convention will be part of BEA.

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Speaking of non reviews and bloggers, this one author and publisher are seeking a contractual arrangement with reviewers. Insane Hussein posts a copy of a Book Reviewer contract. Sign it and you give the author/publisher various rights to use the review in whatever way they wish. Not so bad, right? But then there are the terms. The review must be graded on an unbiased 1 to 5 scale. It must answer five questions. It must be 400 words or longer exclusive of the answers to the five questions.

No book is worth that trouble. Not one.

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Julian Sanchez takes a look at the dollar loss claimed by the entertainment industry as a result of piracy. The numbers are so outrageous as to be laughable yet most of Congress (and many in the entertainment industry) take these numbers as truth.

[H]ere’s the upshot: The $200–250 billion number had originated in a 1991 sidebar in Forbes, but it was not a measurement of the cost of “piracy” to the U.S. economy. It was an unsourced estimate of the total size of the global market in counterfeit goods. Beyond the obvious fact that these numbers are decades old, counterfeiting of physical goods imported in bulk and sold by domestic retail distributors is, rather obviously, a totally different phenomenon with different policy implications from the problem of illicit individual consumer downloads of movies, music, and software. The 750,000 jobs number had originated in a 1986 speech (yes, 1986) by the secretary of commerce estimating that counterfeiting could cost the United States “anywhere from 130,000 to 750,000? jobs. Nobody in the Commerce Department was able to identify where those figures had come from.

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Does that mean online piracy is harmless? Of course not. But the harm is a dynamic loss in allocative efficiency, which is much harder to quantify.

Source: How Copyright Industries Con Congress.

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For the UK and UK rights territories (which I think includes Australia and New Zealand), Piatkus is starting up a digital only line to release digital versions of popular books

The first titles will be released on Valentine’s Day, 14th February, with e-books including Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, 11 Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, 10 Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean, and Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James, as well as paranormal romance novella Eternal Blood by Laura Wright.

Novels will be priced £2.99, with novellas available at a lower price point. The imprint will also publish into omantic suspense, historical romance, paranormal romance and fantasy fiction, and contemporary women’s fiction genres.

Prices look good to me. UK readers?

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Remember how Apple just became the most profitable company in the world and is sitting on about 400 billion cash? Right, well, its devices are made in factories that treat people like animals. See NYTimes.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

NYTimes tweeted yesterday asking the question whether consumers would be willing to pay more for a device made in the US under humane conditions. Another person tweeted back and asked if Apple would be willing to have a lower margin than 44% to produce devices under humane conditions.

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There’s an article in Bloomberg’s Business Week that is worth a read because it is gossipy and insider-y about Amazon’s once rosy relationship with publishers and how it all fell apart when Amazon knifed them in the back and started selling digital books at a sub $10 price point. Larry Kirshbaum, the head of Amazon’s NY Publishing arm, once well liked, is now reviled according to Mike Shatzkin. Does Larry mind? I doubt it. I’ve heard that Kirshbaum’s checkbook is virtually bottomless and authors only hesitations might be their doubt that Amazon can get its books into brick and mortar stores. Amazon has signed a deal with Houghton Mifflin to print their books and distribute them but will Barnes & Noble agree to do so? After all, BN responded by pulling all the comics off the shelves when DC Comics made an exclusivity deal with Amazon. It won’t carry the digital versions of any of the Amazon publications. But if Amazon were to sign someone like Janet Evanovich or Steven King or the like, could BN say no?

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File this under “Skeptical” file, but Anobii is saying that DRM should be eliminated. The reason that this might be important is that Anobii is “backed by big publishers.

In a speech this afternoon at the Digital Book World Conference in New York, Berlucchi argued that digital rights management technology, or DRM as it is known, prevents more readers from buying e-books and may actually encourage piracy of copyrighted material.

Industry observer Mike Shatzkin, who is also chairman of the Digital Book World Conference called the argument “significant” because Anobii is partially owned by the UK arms of three major publishing companies, HarperCollins, Penguin and Random House.

As I’ve said before, elimination of DRM would actually help to loosen Amazon’s grip on digital book sales because you could shop anywhere and use a Kindle.