Feed me, see more (The Magazine meets BuzzFeed)

This story originally ran in issue 15 of The Magazine. You can now read it here by virtue of that publication’s impressively author-friendly contract.

One of the Web’s most popular sites — and the exceedingly rare media property soaking up tens of millions of dollars in venture-capital financing — gets much of its content without asking permission to use it, much less paying for it.

The Magazine BuzzFeed coverThat’s not news. But if you talk to some of the people whose images wind up in BuzzFeed’s endlessly clickable and heavily clicked-upon photo galleries, you may have your expectations overturned, as mine were: most say thanks for the exposure.

BuzzFeed at first looked like an appropriator that took value without returning it, irritating professional photographers who find their work both increasingly valued and increasingly used without compensation. But on closer inspection, BuzzFeed may be finding its way toward a safer course — a careful combination of conventional licensing and curatorial selection.

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Weekly output: Web radio, Facebook privacy, Windows 7, Windows 8 backup

The good thing about driving home from Thanksgiving on a Monday is skipping the Sunday traffic. The bad thing about that strategy is giving yourself a four-day week when five days is the legal minimum to catch up on everything that got shoved aside in the previous week. And then I had to burn half a day on a solid-state-drive upgrade for a laptop that remains unfinished… but I’ll save the ugly details for later.

IRFA post11/26/2012: The Internet Radio Fairness Act, And Two Things I Hate About Copyfights, Disruptive Competition Project

It had been a few years since my last rant about the illogical and unfair royalties charged to Web radio outlets (as compared to satellite and, especially, FM and AM), so I was already due. Then a few weeks of seeing Pandora demonized in ads and Congressional testimony further set me off, resulting in this essay about the inanity of intellectual-property absolutism. Fortunately, I’m not the only one thinking such subversive thoughts.

11/28/2012: Facebook Privacy Changes Not as Bad as You Think, Discovery News

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, something else irked me: Yet another round of uninformed panic over a proposed change in Facebook’s terms of service, this time featuring Facebook users sharing copied-and-pasted gibberish asserting their rights under the nonexistent “Berner Convention.” I hope this post didn’t make me sound like an apologist for a company I don’t trust completely.

12/2/2012: Tip: You can still buy a Windows 7 PC, USA Today

A reader wrote in to ask about putting Windows XP on a Windows 8 computer, which my editor and I thought a bit out there. (Seriously, about XP: Let it die already.) But we did see sufficient interest in a piece about getting a new computer with Windows 7. The column wraps up with an item about Windows 8′s backup options, which are sufficiently complicated that I may have to revisit them at greater length later on.

Weekly output: Mobile patents, Facebook, Tech Night Owl, Twitter fakes, Facebook again

This list below shows me spending more time talking about my job than actually doing it, which isn’t really something to brag about. But I also filed one short piece for print that will hopefully pass muster with the editors involved. And if I hadn’t run into some technical issues trying out a new app, I would have had a post for Discovery here as well.

10/16/2012: Will $Billions in Patent Lawsuits Kill Smartphone and Tablet Innovation?, Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus

I discussed the smartphone-patent situation with lawyer and activist Marvin Ammori, American University law professor Jorge Contreras and George Mason University law professor Adam Mossoff, with Internet Caucus legal policy fellow Eric Hinkes moderating. InfoWorld’s Grant Gross wrote up the event and was kind enough to let a quote from me serve as the last word.

10/18/2012: Is Facebook Losing Its Cool?, Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit

That link only points to an agenda page, not a recording or report of this panel I moderated at a marketing conference in Baltimore. But I assure you that we–meaning me, Mitch Arnowitz of Tuvel Communications, SocialCode’s Cary Lawrence, Kari Mitchell of HZDG and marketing guru Geoff Livingston–had a great discussion about the changing engagement of Facebook’s audience and how that differs from the crowd you might draw at Twitter, Pinterest or some other social network.

10/20/2012: October 20, 2012 — Rob Pegoraro and Joe Wilcox, Tech Night Owl Live

Once again, I was a guest on Gene Steinberg’s tech-news podcast–this time, with BetaNews editor Joe Wilcox. I talked about satellite Internet access and broadband access in general, the almost-guaranteed arrival of an iPad mini this week and Windows 8′s potential fit with consumers.

10/21/2012: Don’t get fooled by fake Twitter accounts, USA Today

In this week’s column, I ticked off a few ways to spot a phony or parody Twitter account, from the lack of a blue “verified” checkmark to a sneaky use of the number “1″ in place of a lowercase “l” in a handle. Then I share a tip about inspecting how often and in what ways you’ve interacted with Facebook friends on that social network.

Moderating a copyfight at the Tech Policy Summit

NAPA–I spent Wednesday and Thursday in this idyllic locale at the Tech Policy Summit, an annual gathering for tech-industry types to debate many of the issues I cover and care about: intellectual property, Internet governance, online identity, telecom competition and American competitiveness.

My contribution to the proceedings was moderating a discussion on copyright policy Wednesday afternoon between Jonathan Taplin, a professor at the University of Southern California and director of USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, and Mike Masnick, founder of Floor64 and editor of Techdirt, a regular read of mine.

I knew that the two would disagree about quite a few things, especially after re-reading this post from Masnick critiquing an earlier talk by Taplin–and that I’ve agreed with a lot of Masnick’s tech-policy work. So I thought I’d try to start on neutral ground, by observing how using technology to automate and accelerate a human activity can upset people who had no earlier objection to it.

I brought up one of my favorite examples of this, noting that after my car stereo was stolen with a CD in it, nobody would have objected if I burned a new disc from a digital copy I’d made myself–but what if that copy was a friend’s? What if it was a stranger’s, found online? (The prop I used at the podium was my copy of The Band’s The Last Waltz; Taplin produced the movie that yielded that soundtrack.) Then I observed that Masnick wasn’t a fan of using software to automatically ticket red-light violators, asked my first question–and things got a little contentious.

When the organizers post the video of the conversation, you’ll want to watch it. In the meantime, you can get a sense of the proceedings from the tweets by audience members, archived after the jump.

Update, 6/25/2012: The video of our panel is now up at the TPS site. Enjoy!

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