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First-Amendment

Monday News: Router company threatens a reviewer; credit card technology changing; the Amazon-Hachette spat; and ornamental alphabets

Monday News: Router company threatens a reviewer; credit card technology changing;...

How Does A Negative Amazon Review Result In Threats Of A Lawsuit? – This is a fascinating, frightening story of how an Amazon review of an wireless router earned the reviewer a threatened lawsuit and the router company a ban on selling its products on Amazon.

I highly recommend reading the story for all of the details, but in short when this guy was searching for a router he came across Mediabridge routers, which were incredibly well reviewed — except that he could not find any reviews outside Amazon. Furthermore, there were some assertions about the similarity of the router to another, less expensive router. When the guy posted these things on Amazon, Mediabridge took offense and sent him a cease and desist letter, insisting he remove the review or else face suit. What’s interesting is that when Amazon got wind of this situation, they revoked Mediabridge’s right to sell its products on the site. There is a link in the story to Mediabridge’s explanation, posted on Facebook, along with the information that Amazon has suspended their seller rights.

The letter T. received zeroed in on two of his assertions: that the product was identical to another product, and that it was “very likely” that Medialink was paying for reviews. The company, via its lawyer, not only demanded that T. immediately delete his review, but also told him that to avoid a lawsuit, he would need to “agree to never purchase any Mediabridge or Medialink product” and also agree “to never publicly comment in any online forum, directly or indirectly through others,” about the company’s products.

In other words, the letter basically says “if you don’t stop saying mean things about us forever, we will sue you.” –The Consumerist

United States credit card system begins complete overhaul in the next 18 months – The massive security breach Target suffered earlier in the year has resulted in a more efficient timeline away from traditional credit card technologies (the magnetic strip) to a pin and chip combination, which, among other things, may lead to more significant use of the so-called “mobile wallet,” namely apps that allow you to use your cell phone to transmit credit card information to POS stations. The process should be underway in the next year and a half.

According to research firm Javelin, the upgrade could take about three years, with international and premium cards getting the switch to the new system. For the record, there are already several cards with chip technology available to Americans, from American Express and JPMorgan Chase among other institutions. –Engadget

Here’s Why People Shouldn’t Freak Out About The Amazon-Hachette Fight – If you’ve read the rather hysterical piece in the New York Times on the Hachette-Amazon conflict (Amazon is delaying shipment of Hachette books), I hope you read this piece in Forbes that both reveals the biases in the Times’ piece (e.g. the Times seems to think it’s all about authors being victimized) and challenges the pearl-clutching panic. The way the Times reacted says a lot, though, and not much of it is professionally complimentary.

But the point is that a hardball fight between a retailer and a supplier is the oldest news in the world, that Hachette, a global multibillion dollar conglomerate, is hardly a helpless flower, and that this is how our economy functions. –Forbes

11 Beautiful Alphabets from Ancient and Medieval Times – To quote Monty Python, ‘and now for something completely different.’ And just plain lovely. It’s amazing just how modern some of these renderings appear, as well. –Mental Floss

Thursday News: Getty frees its images; Massachusetts law protects upskirt photos; Justice Department v. Aero; and the importance of the author brand

Thursday News: Getty frees its images; Massachusetts law protects upskirt photos;...

The world’s largest photo service just made its pictures free to use – This is great news for bloggers; Getty Images, which owns 100+ years and millions of photos, is opening up its archives so everyone can use the images for free. This move is in marked contrast to certain other companies (cough*Adobe*cough) in regard to managing their intellectual property in an online environment where providing users with an easy way of legally consuming information and entertainment may be the best defense against piracy. Getty realized that its content was already being used, in many cases illegally, and so it has evolved and looked to other ways of generating income. Now, if you use a Getty image, they can generate advertising or collect user data from your site, giving them a potential revenue stream that doesn’t require direct payment from the photo user.

Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program that will let users drop in any image they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For a small-scale WordPress blog with no photo budget, this looks an awful lot like free stock imagery. –The Verge

Mass. High Court: Subway Upskirt Photos Not Illegal – I haven’t actually read this decision yet, so I can’t comment on it, but the ruling in this case is upsetting enough. Shooting a picture up someone’s clothing is legally protected. The way the laws in Massachusetts are written only gives protection to people who are in a nude or semi-nude state. Someone in public, fully dressed, does not, according to the Court, have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Clearly the law needs to be re-written, but in the meantime, this is a pretty disturbing situation.

So-called Peeping Tom laws protect people from being photographed in dressing rooms and bathrooms when nude or partially nude, but the way the law is written, it does not protect clothed people in public areas, the court said. The SJC ruling went on to suggest that the act in this case should be illegal, noting other states including New York and Florida have explicit laws criminalizing public upskirting. –CBS Boston

Justice Department Backs Broadcasters in Aereo Dispute – The Justice Department has indicated that it will not support Internet startup Aero in its fight against traditional broadcasters, over the way in which Aero allows consumers to view and record programs in such a way that allows Aero to bypass licensing fees. The US Supreme Court will hear the case next month, and you can read the Justice Department’s amicus brief via the re/code article.

Aereo allows consumers to see local broadcast programs on the Internet by renting them access to tiny remote antennas. Subscribers pay up to $12 a month for the service, which allows them to record shows remotely and store them online for playback on laptops and mobile devices.

Last week, the big four networks warned that an Aereo victory in the case would essentially destroy the broadcast industry’s business model of charging pay-TV companies like Dish Network and Time Warner Cable fees to retransmit broadcast signals. –re/code

The Strongest Brand In Publishing Is … – Yet another episode of “who’s the boss” when it comes to book sales and profitability. David Vinjamuri comes at the issue from the perspective of brand recognition rather than book sales, which he notes has historically been the way traditional publishers have measured success.

Brand loyalty is important because it has a direct impact on profitability. In fact, Codex data shows that consumers are willing to pay a 66% premium for a book by a favorite author over an unknown author. The chart below is for eBooks only (the prices are higher and premiums narrower for print books), and it also suggests that ebooks from new or lesser-known authors should be priced under $6.00, versus the $9.36 or more that readers are willing to pay for a favorite author. –Forbes