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Thursday News: Pixar & Lucasfilm started wage-fixing cartel, Apple tells on Google, profits down at Samsung, and bookstore shelving

Thursday News: Pixar & Lucasfilm started wage-fixing cartel, Apple tells on...

REVEALED: Court docs show role of Pixar and Dreamworks Animation in Silicon Valley wage-fixing cartel – Remember the revelations of artificial wage suppression by Google and Apple? Well, that, it turns out, was just the beginning of the conspiracy, and now, with a $324 million settlement at risk, revelations about Pixar and Lucasfilm as the apparent instigators of the so-called “wage fixing cartel.” Not surprisingly, both studios are now owned by Disney, which, again, not surprisingly, is attempting to bring more international workers into the US, claiming that will help salaries for all employees. Huh??

Seriously, folks, go read the story. There are some email exchanges that almost make Apple look tame. Almost.

For one thing, most of the previous attention in the case was focused on the behavior of executives at Apple and Google. What hasn’t been fully explored is the involvement of major and minor Hollywood studios that are alleged to have been party to the same illegal cartel. The wage-fixing cartel originated with Pixar and Lucasfilm, two northern California computer animation film studios now under Disney’s roof.

Disney, in particular, has received very little public scrutiny over its own role in the Techtopus, an oversight which is made all the more troubling by the fact that the company’s CEO, Robert Iger, is now heading a campaign to increase the number of foreign tech workers coming to America, using a dubious study to promote its cause. –Pando

Apple Tattled on Google to Draw FTC Attention to Similar Kids In-App Purchasing Issue – Speaking of Apple, apparently they were pretty cranky about having the FTC fine them for not providing stronger controls against children making autonomous in-app purchases. So with a nana nana boo boo, the tech giant stooped to conquer, pointing an accusatory stylus at Google.

As it turns out, while Apple was being targeted by the FTC for letting children make in-app purchases without parental consent, the company was attempting to get Google in trouble for doing the same thing. According to a report from Politico, head Apple lawyer Bruce Sewell sent the FTC a report highlighting the same in-app purchase issues in Google’s own Play store.

“I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it,” Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill, pointing to a report that criticized Google’s app store over the same issue of unauthorized purchases. The previously undisclosed email was obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request. –Mac Rumors

Samsung forecasts 25% drop in profit – On the strength of the Korean Won, as well as competition in the Chinese and European markets, profits at Samsung are falling for the third quarter in a row. Because Samsung exports so many of its products, a strong home currency can work against them, and combined with a slower smartphone market in general, their drop is particularly acute.

“Now it is all about high-volume and low-margin handsets. And on that front the competition is getting fiercer with each passing day.”

Various other smartphone makers including China’s Xiaomi, Huawei and ZTE have been increasing their market share steadily.

Mr Sunder said that given the slowing growth and increased competition in the smartphone market, Samsung needed to look at boosting its presence in other sectors if it wanted to sustain high growth rates.

“Its over-dependence on the mobile phone division needs to go,” he said. –BBC News

Shelving to Save a Book’s Life – An interesting article by novelist Susan Coll, who also serves as director of events and programs at an independent bookstore in Washington, D.C. Coll talks about how a book can get lost on a bookstore shelf or can be featured. We all know that positioning is important, and I know there are some authors who practice self (or street team) help in this regard, either turning books so their covers face front or moving books to other areas of a bookstore. Just one more factor in a book’s performance at an individual venue. Do publishers still pay for special positioning and lay-down dates?

Save one life save the world, instructs the Talmud, a book we may or may not carry. You can’t save every life. You can’t save every book. But you can at least throw lifelines now and then. Turning a book face out is the micro version of Stephen Colbert bestowing likely bestsellerdom on a debut novel caught in the Hachette/Amazon crossfire. Collectively, bookstores can do quite a lot by getting behind certain titles, whether it be via the IndieNext list or the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers program, but even those titles are among a chosen few. When a book lands on the shelf, it can be rescued from being smothered by the behemoths, but what about books that never make it onto our shelves in the first place? What about the books that end their journeys in our staff break room, where the less desirable bound galleys that precede the final version of a book wind up? –The Atlantic

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