aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Why Facebook needs the money
Earlier in the week I posted about a WSJ report that Microsoft is in talks to buy up to a 5% stake in Facebook for $300-500 million. Why would a company anticipating revenues of $150 million and profits need capital?
The New York attorney general has started investigating the safety measures Facebook has put in place, and based on his preliminary investigations, he is not happy. His staff has found sexual predators and a wide variety of pornographic material, including images and videos, prompting him to issue a subpoena.
“My office is concerned that Facebook’s promise of a safe website is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“Parents have a right to know what their children will encounter on a website that is aggressively marketed as safe.” Cuomo is angered by the fact that Facebook has “ignored several — and repeated — complaints from our undercover investigators concerning persons who made inappropriate sexual advances to underage users.”
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but the way it looks to me, Facebook needs money for what is clearly a big crisis facing the company. MySpace, the company the FB-crew used to mock, has already had to deal with a similar mess, both legal and image-wise, which not only proved to be a major disruption to their business but cost a ton of money. And that was without a subpoena.
I was kind of hoping Facebook might defend itself with facts about online youth victimization. I realize that’s crazy in this atmosphere and that it will not happen, but if it were going to happen it would certainly be pricey.
Around here, cursing is frowned upon. In New York I cussed with the best of them. Even there I wondered why and thought that, for my own personal aesthetic, I’d rather not. Here I hardly do.
Pupils are being allowed to swear at one Northamptonshire secondary school - as long as they limit their use of bad language to five times a lesson.
“Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score,” [assistant headmaster Richard White] wrote in the letter.
“Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson.”
All is not lost. Parents of children who do not swear in class will receive “praise postcards.”
Student doesn’t apologize for “F--- Bush” editorial
Collegian editor J. David McSwane declined to apologize for the profane “F --- Bush” editorial printed in the Colorado State University student newspaper last week, but acknowledged recent days have been “hell.”
McSwane was called before the university’s Board of Student Communications, or BSC, on Wednesday night to hear complaints that the editorial was offensive to the university community. The BSC is considering whether to fire McSwane over the editorial and its financial implications for the newspaper. Advertisers have pulled thousands of dollars in ads from the paper.
Student Cody Bartlett said he understood McSwane has the right to publish what he wants, but urged greater respect for the president.
He added: “Since when has this word been acceptable? This is not OK. Have you ever heard news reporters say the weather is going to F us over this weekend?”
Audience members laughed aloud at Bartlett’s joke, but vehemently shouted down another speaker who used the N-word in connection to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.
That speaker, who prefaced his remark by saying he was trying to make the point that some words are unacceptable, called for “common decency” in the widely distributed free newspaper.
Other speakers said the F-word is a common utterance on a college campus and said newspapers should be free to publish what they want.
At least the lions, buffalo, and crocodiles in that African watering hole had a happy ending.
ISBN NOT IP
The apparent new policy could be a response to efforts by Crimsonreading.org-an online database that allows students to find the books they need for each course at discounted prices from several online booksellers-from writing down the ISBN identification numbers for books at the Coop and then using that information for their Web site.
Murphy said the Coop considers that information the Coop’s intellectual property.
Yesterday a friend pointed me to the coop’s claim - “more hawkish than I” - and to the lambasting of the Intellectual Property claim by copyright lawyers from Harvard’s Berkman Center:
We’re not sure what “intellectual propertyÃ¢â‚¬Â� right the Coop has in mind, but it’s none that we recognize. Nor is it one that promotes the progress of science and useful arts, as copyright is intended to do. While intellectual property may have become the fashionable threat of late, even in the wake of the Recording Industry Association of America’s mass litigation campaign the catch-phrase-and the law-has its limits.
Since the Coop’s managers don’t seem to have read the law books on their shelves, we’d like to offer them a little Copyright 101.
Copyright law protects original works of authorship-the texts and images in those books on the shelves-but not facts or ideas. So while copyright law might prohibit students from dropping by with scanners, it doesn’t stop them from noting what books are on the shelf and how much they cost.
The Supreme Court tells us that “[t]he sine qua non of copyright is originality.” That’s why the compilers of a white-pages telephone directory lost their claims against a competitor who copied listings… What about the prices that the Coop set and affixed to books? Copyright doesn’t protect the “sweat of the brow” involved in compiling facts, either…
We recognize that the Coop can kick anyone they want out of its store-although even the Cambridge police seemed to think the Coop was taking things a bit too far. If they call again, the Coop’s managers might want to come up with a better reason than “intellectual property” or risk marring the intellectual face of Harvard. And Harvard might want to re-think its relationship with an institution that seems to put its own profit margin ahead of its students’ access to information.