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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Censorship in the name of copyright infringement – Updated

Google announced this week that it will begin censoring  “piracy-related terms” from its Instant Search feature.  Now, when you type a movie or album name into Google Search, it will not longer suggest terms like BitTorrent, Rapidshare, or Megaupload.  Google’s Instant Search algorithm likely found these piracy-related searches popular enough to place their terminology higher than official information on the content.  By censoring its term suggestions, Google avoided likely grandstanding from the content industry claiming Google was sanctioning copyright infringement.

As a private company, Google has every right to censor or limit itself product as it sees fit. What’s unfortunate is we are finding ourselves more accepting of censorship in the name of copyright infringement.  Google, often professing a love for freedom of information, is censoring access to legal software and being arbitrary about it.  uTorrent is blocks, but BitComet is fine.  Rapidshare is blocked, but Mediafire is okay.  Remember, BitTorrent and file-sharing lockers are not illegal, even if they can be used for piracy.  Nothing stops users from typing in these words and searching for them manually (the censorship only applies to Google’s Instant Search suggestions).  But it’s a slippery slope that we are sliding further down.

The government confiscates domain names without due process, courts can ban books, and now Google has no issue censoring its search suggests, all in the name of copyright infringement.  Oh, so how has any of this stopped piracy?

UPDATED – Another 51 domains have been taken down, in a joint effort by the MPAA and Dutch equivalent, BRIEN.  It’s uncertain if the domains were actually confiscated by the government like in previous cases or if these were just DMCA takedowns.


Android fragmentation: Benefits of experimentation

The battle of mobile OSs often revolves around open and closed systems and open source and proprietary.  For many, like myself, the more open approach of Android has been a selling point, but the same openness has led to a fragmented market where hundreds of android products all handle the operating system differently.  Every iPhone (disclaimer, I have a Motorola Droid phone and an iPod Touch) however, pretty much is the same.  Fragmentation for Android has been seen as a negative for the platform, limiting app developers who can’t predict the system used by the users.  But fragmentation has other more significant benefits.

Fragmentation also means experimentation.

There are Android phones with and without keyboards, large and small screens, lots or limited on board memory, slow and faster processors, high and low priced, etc.  This is all about testing and innovating the marketplace and finding out what consumers really want.  Remember Android is just over two years old (released September 2008).  It sees rapid software upgrades and even faster hardware releases, each time out innovating the previous generation.

Right now this is a slightly controlled chaos.  Many parallels can be seen between the early Mac OS and Windows battle for desktop supremacy where Apple again chose to offer limited options for its OS while Microsoft let anyone able to pay its license.  Google does not even charge to use Android. This pretty much means anyone can choose to put Android in their hardware (even a set of headphones have their own operating system).

For now Android looks like somewhat controlled chaos.  While Apple’s iPhone comparably looks sleek and simple, it is one-size fits all.  To its benefit it is a very nice size and thus has widespread appeal, but in the long-term, this is just as limiting as it was for the Mac OS.  Already patterns are emerging in leading Android hardware developers, focusing on faster processors and larger screens which only a year ago started catching up to the iPhone’s processing power but are now boasting higher specs.  This is innovation benefited by competition.  Android handset makers must compete and outpace each other while and Apple.  It’s in all of these handset makers to make Android as appealing as possible. Only Apple cares about making iOS and the iPhone better.

For now this means Apple, with its head start and compelling product, is a formidable opponent.  But this is marathon, not a sprint, as Google seems perfectly aware. Constant small upgrades and enhancements over the long term can add up to something pretty amazing.


New Year, New Prodigeek coming soon

Well the New Year has passed and Prodigeek has not been well tended.  I’m still finishing up some big freelance projects that have sadly dominated my time (plus I started playing World of Warcraft over the holiday and that was a huge mistake). I will be revisiting Prodigeek with some big changes as my freelance work winds down and I stop saying yes to everyone with a bank account.  Look forward to Prodigeek 3.0 around March/April.  I will try to do some posting between now and the big relaunch.