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defamation

Monday News: YouTube targets slow ISPs, Scarlett Johansson wins limited judgment, “considering” books for review, and new DA submission forms

Monday News: YouTube targets slow ISPs, Scarlett Johansson wins limited judgment,...

YouTube, following Netflix, is now publicly shaming internet providers for slow video – This is pretty interesting. YouTube, which is owned by Google, is posting these messages on videos that have streaming issues due to insufficient ISP speeds. Netflix had been doing something similar, and Verizon apparently threatened to sue them, so they quit, but I’ve recently seen the YouTube message, so I know it’s still in use. At the same time, Quartz points out that there seems to be an awful lot of Silicon Valley silence about the proposed Net Neutrality rules, which is pretty frustrating, especially since the changes extend far past speed to the way Internet Service Providers are treated under the law.

Curiously, though, Google and other technology companies have been relatively quiet as the US Federal Communications Commission moves closer to rules that would explicitly allow those fast lanes. That’s a stark contrast to four years ago, when Google played a central—and controversial—role in drafting net neutrality regulations.

Rather than intensely lobbying the government this time around, Google and Netflix seem to be focused on a public relations campaign. Both now regularly report how well their services work on a wide range of internet providers. Netflix’s ISP Index covers 20 countries; Google’s Video Quality Report is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Google has also started labeling some ISPs as “YouTube HD Verified,” a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal for streaming video. –Quartz

Scarlett Johansson wins defamation case against French novelist – The title of this article is slightly misleading, as are articles like this one in Vogue UK,  which somewhat overstate the actual scope of the verdict by a French judge in Johansson’s suit. The fraudulent exploitation aspect was dismissed, based on the fact that she had not kept her private life private, and has spoken publicly about it. Consequently, she was awarded only €2,500, plus €2,500 in legal costs, and prevailed only on the alleged claim of two romantic relationships that never existed.

I doubt this case would have gotten very far in the United States, especially because public figures have to prove actual malice, but this case may have served as an informal precedent of sorts had she prevailed more broadly.

Emmanuelle Allibert of the publishers J-C Lattès said they and Delacourt were happy with the judgment. “All of Scarlett Johansson’s demands were rejected except one thing that was seen to be an attack in her private life over two relations that she never had.

“All her other demands, including damages of €50,000, were rejected, notably that there should be a ban on the book being translated or made into a film. We just have to cut out the bit about the affairs, which is just four lines,” Allibert told the Guardian. –The Guardian

“For Review” Vs. “For Review Consideration” – An interesting discussion on an SFF blog about the difference between reviewing every book a blogger accepts and considering for review every book the blogger accepts. I think this notion of a contract or an obligation between book blogger and author cultivates a really problematic reviewing environment, in part because it can create an environment where resentment or guilt can find their way into the reviewing process. Moreover, ARCs have historically been considered promotional items, and the more obligations that become attached to that process, the less independence of opinion you may end up with.

The main thrust of the article is that book bloggers as a whole seem to think that receiving books in exchange for a review (even an honest one) is a fair verbal contract. However, (and I didn’t know this previously) editorial media does not enter into this sort of tit-for-tat, book-for-review agreement with publishers, even when a reviewer specifically requests a book from the publisher. –On Starships and Dragonwings

Two new forms for submitting news and deal items to Dear Author – Jane has asked me to post links to two new forms, which are also available in the drop down Contact Us menu.

First, here’s a form for submitting any current book deal you think we should post.

And here’s a form for submitting and news story you think we should post.

In regard to news posts, when someone sends me a prospective item, I don’t generally reference the sender, because not everyone wants to be recognized in that way. But if you’d like a shout out, please let me know; I’m happy to oblige and always appreciate the heads up on articles I might otherwise have missed. –Dear Author

Friday News: Google’s ‘right to be forgotten,’ Amazon v. the FTC, the death of the novel (again, still), and the NSFW asymmetric man thong

Friday News: Google’s ‘right to be forgotten,’ Amazon v. the FTC,...

For Google, the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Is an Unforgettable Fiasco – An interesting — and troubling — piece on the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” ruling that contemplates the absolute mess this decision may have on the world’s largest search engine. Part of this emanates from the difficult and difficultly close relationship between public interest news and commentary and what some perceive to be defamatory. But the ruling has also exposed the way in which search results may not be so unbiased and objectively organized as Google would like everyone to believe.

In some ways, Google is just following the EU’s dictates. The company fought the EU on the right-to-be-forgotten issue, but now it has no choice but to implement the ruling, which the court says applies “where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive.” By that standard, these takedowns would seem to overstep the letter of a decision ostensibly intended to protect the reputation of individuals, not censor news. But the issue for Google isn’t just freedom of speech or freedom of the press. The “right to be forgotten” decision is calling unwanted attention to the easy-to-forget fact that–one way or another—fallible human hands are always guiding Google’s seemingly perfect search machine. –Wired

Amazon Resisting FTC on Policy Change for In-App Purchases – All of the controversy over Hachette and Amazon has overshadowed other news, in particular this issue regarding unauthorized in-app purchases children make on mobile devices. The FTC wants Amazon to comply with certain guidelines regarding these purchases, which amount to big money, especially when parents don’t submit a request for a refund. Apple is paying a hefty fine for their perceived deficiencies in this regard, and now the FTC is threatening Amazon with a lawsuit, which the company is reportedly brushing off with a statement to the effect that they will see the government in court.

App stores, such as those operated by Amazon, Apple and Google Inc., are key weapons for the technology firms as they battle for customers. The app stores maintain credit-card and other user information, leading to concerns that the companies aren’t doing enough to prevent unauthorized uses, particularly by children.

In-app purchases include things like additional game levels, new characters, songs and outfits for game characters. They are typically between $1 and $5, but can run much higher; app store owners typically keep 30% of the fee. –Wall Street Journal

The novel is dead (this time it’s for real) – As much as I agree with Will Self that close reading seems to be challenged, especially in our increasingly online culture, I just cannot swallow this diatribe against digital media disguised as a self-evident treatise on the death of paper books and, by extension, the importance of the literary novel as critical part of popular culture. Clearly there’s a lot of anxiety around this issue (witness the anger directed at Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and all the debates about whether the novel is literary fiction or not), but I tend to believe in the pendulum theory of historical evolution, and I suspect things will swing the other way, sooner rather than later. Or not, and we’re all doomed. DOOMED, I TELL YOU!

The seeming realists among the Gutenbergers say such things as: well, clearly, books are going to become a minority technology, but the beau livre will survive. The populist Gutenbergers prate on about how digital texts linked to social media will allow readers to take part in a public conversation. What none of the Gutenbergers are able to countenance, because it is quite literally – for once the intensifier is justified – out of their minds, is that the advent of digital media is not simply destructive of the codex, but of the Gutenberg mind itself. There is one question alone that you must ask yourself in order to establish whether the serious novel will still retain cultural primacy and centrality in another 20 years. This is the question: if you accept that by then the vast majority of text will be read in digital form on devices linked to the web, do you also believe that those readers will voluntarily choose to disable that connectivity? If your answer to this is no, then the death of the novel is sealed out of your own mouth. –The Guardian Books

Asymmetric Man-Thongs Are The Most Insane Thing A Man Can Wear This Summer – I so wanted to find a better source for this story, but unfortunately, BuzzFeed has the most, uh, generous coverage of the so-called asymmetric man thong. I’ve been waiting to run this story, and I’m hoping that between the US holiday and the general proximity to the weekend that this NSFW post will provide a bit of a diversion from all the serious news we’ve had to deal with this week. –BuzzFeed