theodp writes "Q. What do you get when you surround the image of Men in Black star Will Smith trying on sunglasses with a pitch for 'MIB Bill Smith Dark Shades'? A. U.S. Patent No. 8,180,688. 'Many people consume broadcast media such as television shows and movies for many hours a week,' Amazon explained to the USPTO in its patent application for a Computer-Readable Medium, System, and Method for Item Recommendations Based on Media Consumption. 'The consumed broadcast media may depict a variety of items during the course of the transmission, such as clothing, books, movies, accessories, electronics, and/or any other type of item.' So, does Amazon's spin on As Seen on TV advertising deserve a patent?"
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Joel Tenenbaum has filed a reply brief in support of his petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, trying to get the Court to take on the thorny issue of copyright statutory damages in the age of mp3 files and micropayments."
gollum123 writes "As with past technological threats, network executives are closing ranks against a Dish Network device that undermines the broadcast business model. The disruptive technology at hand is an ad-eraser, embedded in new digital video recorders sold by Charles W. Ergen's Dish Network, one of the nation's top distributors of TV programming. Turn it on, and all the ads recorded on most prime-time network shows are automatically skipped, no channel-flipping or fast-forwarding necessary. Some reviewers have already called the feature, called the Auto Hop, a dream come true for consumers. But for broadcasters and advertisers, it is an attack on an entrenched television business model, and it must be strangled, lest it spread elsewhere."
Fluffeh writes "In Australia, we have the right to record TV and play it back at a later date; we also have the right to transcode from one format to another, so anyone with a media server can legally back up their entire DVD collection and watch it without all those annoying warnings and unskippable content — as long as we don't break encryption (please stop laughing!). Optus, Australia's second largest Telco, has been raising ire though with the new TV Now service they are offering and Big Media is having a hissy fit. The service does the recording on behalf of the customer. Seems like a no-brainer right? Let the customer do what they are allowed to legally do at home, but charge them for it. Everybody wins! Not according to Sports Broadcasters, who made this statement when Optus said they would appeal their recent loss in an Australian Court to the highest court in the land: 'They are a disgusting organization who is acting reprehensibly again and now putting more uncertainty into sports and broadcast rights going forward I'm really disappointed and disgusted in the comments of their CEO overnight.' Is this yet another case of Big Media clutching at an outdated business model, or should consumers be content with just doing their own work?"
An anonymous reader writes "Apple may soon begin production of a full-blown HDTV, dubbed iTV by Apple watchers, according to the Terry Gou, CEO of Apple's main hardware supplier Foxconn, in a brief interview with the newspaper China Daily. The newspaper reports that the device will feature 'aluminum construction, Siri, and FaceTime video calling' and will be manufactured by a 50-50 joint venture between Foxconn and the Japanese manufacturer Sharp; other details, including the schedule, were notably absent. Apple's spokesperson has declined comment. So it's not clear how solid this 'scoop' is."
Sasayaki writes "Hugh Howey's Wool, the self-published sci-fi story that's made him the best selling Indie sci-fi author of 2012 and currently the best selling sci-fi author on Amazon.com, has found its way into the hands of Ridley Scott (director of Alien, Prometheus and others)... who loved it. Rumor is the Hollywood movie will be coming to cinemas in 2013 or 2014. With Fifty Shades of Grey and now Wool getting the attention of Hollywood, it's clear the self-publishing revolution is here to stay."
joabj writes "Following up on experiments of running Internet Protocol(IP)-based networks with carrier pigeons or bongos, UofC grad student R. Stuart Geiger has demonstrated that it is possible to transmit simple ping requests across two computers using people playing xylophones. Throughput is roughly 1 baud, when the participants don't make any mistakes, or get bored and wander off. The OSI encapsulated model of networking makes this project doable, allowing humans to be inserted at Layer 1, the physical layer. Vint Cerf wasn't kidding when he used to say, 'IP on Everything.'"
fishmike writes "Online music storage firm MP3tunes, Inc filed for bankruptcy in a U.S. court, following its prolonged run-in with music publishing giant EMI Group over copyright issues, court filings showed. MP3tunes is a so-called cloud music service that lets users store music in online 'lockers.' Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc and Google Inc have similar cloud services."
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that as Nevada licenses Google to test its prototype driver-less car on public roads, futurists are postulating what a world of driver-less would cars look like. First, accidents would go down. 'Your automated car isn't sitting around getting distracted, making a phone call, looking at something it shouldn't be looking at or simply not keeping track of things,' says Danny Sullivan. Google's car adheres strictly to the speed limit and follows the rules of the road. 'It doesn't speed, it doesn't cut you off, it doesn't tailgate,' says Tom Jacobs, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. Driver-less cars would mean a more productive commute. 'If you truly trust the intelligence of the vehicle, then you get in the vehicle and you do our work while you're traveling,' says engineer Lynne Irwin. They would mean fewer traffic jams. 'Congestion would be something you could tell your grandchildren about, once upon a time.' Driver-less cars could extend car ownership to some groups of people previously unable to own a car, including elderly drivers who feel uncomfortable getting behind the wheel at night, whose eyesight has weakened or whose reaction time has slowed." Another reader points out an article suggesting autonomous cars could eventually spell the end of auto insurance.
Hugh Pickens writes "Forbes reports that Dish Network has announced a new feature called called Auto Hop for its satellite TV subscribers that will let you automatically skip all commercials for prime time television from the four major broadcast networks — when you watch programs the day after they are first aired. 'Viewers love to skip commercials,' says Vivek Khemka, vice president of DISH Product Management. 'With the Auto Hop capability of the Hopper, watching your favorite shows commercial-free is easier than ever before.' Craig Moffett says it's going to be hard for Dish to maintain good relationships with its programming affiliates when they start offering a feature intended to cut out the bulk of the affiliates' revenues. Whether the auto-skip feature can withstand legal challenge remains to be seen. 'Given the already long list of industry-unfriendly features promoted by Dish, one wonders if Auto Hop will be the final straw that provokes legal action from the broadcast networks,' says Moffett. 'We suspect Auto Hop probably uses some sort of bookmarking insertion based on automated recognition of commercial inserts (called "fingerprinting'"), which if true could certainly be argued to be a manipulation of the content stream by the distributor.'"
gotfork writes "The world's largest scavenger hunt, covered in previous years on Slashdot, is now taking place at the University of Chicago. The competition is fierce: in 1999 one team build a working breeder reactor in the quad, but only won second place. Items on this year's list include your appendix in a jar (210), a disappearing spoon made of metal (105), a chromatic typewriter (216), a xyloexplosive (33) and a weaponized Xerox machine (83). Check out the full list here (PDF). Not bad for the school where 'where fun comes to die.'" Does your school have any equivalent annual hijinks?
judgecorp writes "Anonymous launched a DDoS attack on Virgin Media, apparently in protest at Virgin's decision to block the Pirate Bay. Now the Pirate Bay has criticized Anonymous, saying it doesn't support DDoS as a form of protest. The statement is interesting, given that Anonymous has been attacking music industry sites and other targets for some years, saying it is in support of the Pirate Bay."
theodp writes "At Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern, construction workers found physical threats an effective way to discourage smart-ass Whitney Young High School students from playing annoying jukebox songs over and over again. But with Google's newly-patented technology for the Collaborative Rejection of Media for Physical Establishments, you no longer need to resort to violence to prevent Elton John Songs from being played on jukeboxes in bars. Its invention, boasts Google, 'enables customers of an establishment to collaboratively reject a media file that is currently playing and/or pending to be played within that establishment by entering data into a personal wireless portable computing device on their person, for example a cellular telephone.' But don't get your hopes up too high, kids. Much like Google's dual-tier stock plan, the patent calls for 'customer status levels including a premium status and a standard status,' so a premium customer will be able to veto attempts by lowly standard customers to kill his requests to play MC Hammer's 'Can't Touch This'. The patent comes from a quirky Outland Research IP portfolio acquired by Google; its inventor is Louis B. Rosenberg, a Stanford PhD and professional film maker."
TheGift73 sends this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "Despite the widespread availability of pirated releases, The Avengers just scored a record-breaking $200 million opening weekend at the box office. While some are baffled to see that piracy failed to crush the movie's profits, it's really not that surprising. Claiming a camcorded copy of a movie seriously impacts box office attendance is the same as arguing that concert bootlegs stop people from seeing artists on stage. ... Of all the people who downloaded a pirate copy of the film about 20% came from the U.S. This means that roughly 100,000 Americans have downloaded a copy online through BitTorrent. Now, IF all these people bought a movie ticket instead then box office revenue would be just 0.5% higher. Not much of an impact, and even less when you consider that these 'pirates' do not all count as a lost sale."
Dangerous_Minds writes "Drew Wilson of ZeroPaid has an interesting look at file-sharing. It all started with a review of a Phoenix study that was used to promote SOPA. Wilson says that the study was long on wild claims and short on fact. While most writers would simply criticize the study and move on, Wilson took it a step further and looked in to what file-sharing studies have really been saying throughout the years. What he found was an impressive 19 of 20 studies not getting any coverage. He launched a large series detailing what these studies have to say on file-sharing. The first study suggests that file-sharing litigation was a failure. The second study said that p2p has no effect on music sales. The third study found that the RIAA suppresses innovation. The fourth study says that the MPAA has simply been trying to preserve its oligopoly. The fifth study says that even when one uses the methodology of one download means one lost sale, the losses amount to less than $2 per album. The studies, so far, are being posted on a daily basis and are certainly worth the read."