Unthink, the social networking platform whose marketing campaign involves a lot of Facebook bashing, has reached 100,000 registered users, the company is now reporting. As you may recall, the site quickly crashed after TechCrunch sent its usual heavy stream of traffic to the network, and it took Unthink over a day to recover.
Now the number of visitors to the site is doubling daily, including both active users and casual visitors.
According to Rachael Vicari, Unthink COO, the company was unprepared for the amount of traffic it saw. The first two days sent the amount of visitors it expected to see over the first 90 days, she said, and they had to triple the number of servers to keep up. She also cites Alexia’s statistics, which report a 14,800% increase in traffic over the past 7 days alone. Tomorrow will be a week from launch, and since its public debut, 100,000 users have set up their own “Suites” on the network. (For background, Unthink user profiles, which involve a public, private and professional aspect, are called “Suites.”)
Growth like this is impressive for an outsider to the typical startup scene (case in point: they didn’t know how much traffic TechCrunch sends!), and especially one that has the chutzpah to take on Facebook itself. Still, one has to wonder how many visitors are driven to the site out of sheer curiosity and disbelief, e.g.: Silly little startup, you think you can beat Facebook? Now that’s something I have to see!
Instead of touting week-old numbers, Unthink should check back in a month, a quarter, 6 months, then a year, and see whether or not the current growth trajectory holds up. User engagement is another important (and unanswered) question. Who’s actually participating on Unthink? How many of the 100,000 are friending users, posting updates, uploading content, etc.?
Vicari says the reason for the growth is because “the time is right” for a network like this, but it’s far too soon to make that claim.
For comparison’s sake, Facebook took a year to reach a million users, and Google+ reached 25 million in around a month’s time – something it took Facebook three years to achieve and which took Twitter over 30 months.
Tampa-based Unthink has $2.5 million in funding from DouglasBay, which publicly claims to have a 21% share in the site.
For more on what Unthink is up to, check out the previous review.
President Barack Obama got a virtual smackdown this week — all the way from Tunisia.
Tunisian Facebook users posted thousands of comments on Obama’s Facebook page this week, launching what they dubbed a “virtual surprise attack” mocking him and showing support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.
The Facebook spamming was organized on Twitter over the weekend through the hashtag #TrollingObama in response to the police brutality some users said they saw at Occupy Wall Street via social media websites.
A number of the most popular and reposted comments were jokes connected to the Arab Spring, such as “Tunisia is the first country to recognize the American Transitional National Council” and “To overthrow any corrupt system in the world, please contact the Tunisian people.”
Some of Obama’s individual entries received over 20,000 responses each from the users trolling his page.
Many comments focused on the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, with one frequently reposted message saying, “Tunisian people are calling the U.S. authorities to respect freedom of expression and not to resort repression and assault on the rights of American citizens.”
“Tunisian people denounce violations against the American people by the security forces, which affect the freedom of expression,” another user wrote.
One Facebook commenter noted that Obama could blame the weather for the Internet takedown.
“Sorry OB! Today’s a rainy and boring day in Tunisia so we Tunisians, having nothing better to do, decided to decorate your Facebook wall!” user Sami Agina wrote, according to Storyful. “All the Arabic writings (These should look like ‘gibberish’ to you I guess) are hilarious!”
Article source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/67338.html
That’s the (incorrect) reason why Facebook has a minimum age requirement, according to parents in a peer-reviewed study, “Why Parents Help Their Children Lie to Facebook About Age: Unintended Consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’ (available from FirstMonday.org).
Other wrong responses included “because it’s more for adults,” “children don’t need to have a social media presence” and “due to adult content and language.” Still, ”I don’t know” was the most common response from parents who were even aware Facebook has an age restriction.
Of the 1,007 parents polled (all with kids aged 10-13), only two referenced the correct answer: “Privacy.” More specifically, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Should Facebook have an age restriction?
Enacted by U.S. Congress in 1998 (practically the Paleozoic era of the Internet), COPPA requires commercial websites to obtain parental permission before collecting the personal info of any user under the age of 13. Facebook and other popular social networks avoid COPPA’s costly, cumbersome restrictions by simply restricting user age.
Thirteen years later, parents know little about the government restrictions meant to protect their kids’ privacy, and many allow their children to lie about their ages to join Facebook, while losing the intended protections of the government.
That’s not how it’s supposed to work, according to the study which published these findings:
- Half of parents in the study reported that their child is on Facebook, even in cases where children do not meet the legal age requirement for use of the site.
- Among parents of children who are old enough to be on Facebook — the parents of 13– and 14–year–olds — almost three quarters (72 percent) report that their child uses the site.
- Almost a fifth (19 percent) of respondents who were reporting on their 10–year–old child’s online experiences also noted that the child has a Facebook account. This number increases to nearly a third (32 percent) for children age 11 and over half (55 percent) for 12–year–olds.
- While only 53 percent of parents believe that there is a minimum age, most (89 percent) parents stated that they believe that there “should” be a minimum age for Facebook use.
- Of the 89 percent who believe that there should be a minimum age, the average age that they suggest is 14.9, which is considerably higher than the current minimum age (13). Interestingly, this age is also higher than what these same parents suggest is an appropriate age for a child to join Facebook: 14.
Why parents help their children lie to Facebook
But it’s not Facebook and other such sites that need to change, or even parents, the study concludes. It’s COPPA.
For the most part, Facebook and other social networks respect COPPA by promptly dumping any account tied to an underage user.
“Facebook removes 20,000 people a day, people who are underage,” Facebook privacy czar Mozelle Thompson asserted in March, following a study by the Pew Internet American Life Project that found nearly half of all 12-year-olds in the U.S. are using social network sites.
“If you are reporting a child’s account registered under a false date of birth, and the child’s age is reasonably verifiable as under 13, we will promptly delete the account. If the reported child’s age is not reasonably verifiable as under 13, then we may not be able to take action on the account,” Thompson said.
Why parents help their children lie to Facebook about age
In May, Consumer Reports said that 7.5 million Facebook users are under age 13, and ”a majority of parents of kids 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children’s use of the site.” Further, the magazine’s survey found “found that their accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents, exposing them to malware or serious threats such as predators or bullies.”
These findings don’t differ much from the new study:
Although many sites restrict access to children, our data show that many parents knowingly allow their children to lie about their age — in fact, often help them to do so — in order to gain access to age–restricted sites in violation of those sites’ Terms of Service (TOS). This is especially true for general–audience social media sites and communication services such as Facebook, Gmail, and Skype, which allow children to connect with peers, classmates, and family members for educational, social, or familial reasons.
Parents equate age restrictions with maturity, and many considered that the litmus test as to whether they allowed their kids to violate Facebook’s Terms of Service by lying about their age to join, according to the study. It also found that parents are indeed concerned about privacy and online safety issues, but they also may not understand the risks that children face or how their data or how their data are used. “
Perhaps parental unawareness of privacy issues speaks well of COPPA’s initial effectiveness. “COPPA has succeeded both in stopping some egregious predatory data practices and in raising some level of awareness of the issue of collecting data about children,” the study points out. “The FTC has actively enforced COPPA, leveraging civil penalties against those who fail to obtain parental consent or ineffectively implement its provisions.”
Of course, when kids lie about their age to get on Facebook, their personal data is collected, no parental consent needed. Indeed, a lot has changed since COPPA launched in 1998. “Social network sites, mobile communication technology, geo–locative data (i.e., a child’s physical location as known to a Web service or mobile device), and interactive media,” are the examples cited in 2010 by the FTC calling for public comments revisiting COPPA.
“Perverts” will always be an Internet danger parents need to be concerned about. “Adult content and language” is now unavoidable in any media form, and arguably “a social media presence” is now a fact of life. Laws can’t replace parents when it comes to safely shepherding children through the unavoidable Internet, but there online privacy has its place for both children and adults.
As the government continues to wrestle with Internet regulation and online privacy, the study points out that age restriction — given both the difficulty in online age verification and parental willingness to allow kids to lie — is not a realistic solution. Instead, the study proposes that “policy–makers shift away from privacy regulation models that are based on age or other demographic categories and, instead, develop universal privacy protections for online users.”
Note:“Why Parents Help Their Children Lie to Facebook About Age: Unintended Consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’ (available from FirstMonday.org) is authored by Berkman Center for Internet Society members danah boyd, Eszter Hargittai, Jason Schultz, and John Palfrey.
More on the annoying way we live now:
- Celebrate Kill-A-Zombie Day with a computer exorcism
- Facebook adds ‘trusted friends’ and app-specific passwords
- Internet talks about ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ media listen
Philadelphia, PA – The NBA essentially fined Micky Arison $500,000 on Monday for being a moderate.
“How does it feel to be a part of ruining the best game in the world? NBA owners/players don’t give a damn about fans … Fans provide all the money you’re fighting over … you greedy pigs,” the poster wrote.
Arison answered: “You are barking at the wrong owner.”
By engaging his critic Arison unmasked a rift between the big- and small- market owners, something that has long been suspected by the players but had been kept under wraps for the most part by NBA commissioner David Stern.
Arison also outed himself as one of the “moderate big market” guys who really don’t care all that much about the hardliners that are losing money and willing to risk the season if the players don’t agree to their demands for sweeping financial givebacks.
Of course, Stern is usually the smartest guy in any room so he didn’t take action without some plausible deniability.
Arison also made the mistake of answering another fan on Twitter who asked him what he thought about oft-criticized Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Arison responded with a simple “lol” (laugh out loud), something virtually all of us do when asked about the mercurial Sterling.
The tweets, predictably, went viral rather quickly and Arison was forced to delete them.
Too little, too late, however, for Stern who rules his sport with an iron fist and has implemented a strict policy that no league official is allowed to speak about the lockout. That’s his job with an occasional helping hand from deputy commissioner Adam Silver.
By ‘criticizing’ another league owner, however, Stern could take action without having to worry about receiving criticism for bullying Arison.
Call it a personal luxury tax for not toeing the party line or call it a $1 fine for laughing at Sterling and $499,999 for pulling back the curtain without Stern’s permission and pushing the league to make a deal with the players against the wishes of the small-market owners.
The fine was one of the largest in NBA history but don’t feel bad for Arison. At last check the Carnival Cruise mogul’s net worth was $4.4 billion so a half-million dollars amounts to little more than a parking ticket on a personal level.
The fine does suggest, however, that the owners are far more divided than Stern has let on, something that undoubtedly makes Arison the most popular employer among NBA players right now.
That said, any perceived added leverage to the players’ side as negotiations continue could only threaten a deal that seemed to be in the home stretch late last week.
Washington Post reporters or editors recommend this comment or reader post.
Computerworld - When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security receives information about potential threats to the U.S., agents may turn to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Caryn Wagner, undersecretary of the DHS, told an audience Monday at the National Symposium on Homeland Security and Defense in Colorado Springs that the agency began to draw up guidelines for monitoring social networking sites after the sites were heavily used during government uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa this year.
According to an Associated Press report Tuesday, federal agents are still mulling over how to best pull intelligence from social media sites and determine whether it is valid or Web chatter.
“We’re still trying to figure out how you use things like Twitter as a source,” said Wagner, according to the AP report. “How do you establish trends and how do you then capture that in an intelligence product?”
The DHS, whose mission is to protect the country from terrorist attacks, isn’t actively monitoring Facebook or Twitter. However, when the agency receives a tip about a potential threat, agents will scour public sites for information.
According to the report, the DHS is working to set up rules for pulling information from social media sites without infringing on U.S. citizens’ privacy.
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said people might be alarmed to learn that the federal government is monitoring social networks, but he isn’t surprised.
“Some users might be disturbed, but what would they expect?” Olds asked. “The info they post online is essentially in the public domain in most cases and it’s easy to understand why the government would look for any edge they can find vs. terrorists.”
What’s more surprising than government security agencies monitoring Facebook and Twitter is that they might just be starting to figure it out, Olds added.
“We’d like to hope that government security agencies are ahead of the game when it comes to things like ferreting out useful intelligence from social networking; then we learn that they’re probably even with, or maybe a bit behind, businesses on this score,” he said. “Corporations, particularly those with consumer products, have been trying to use social networking to understand consumer views and purchasing behavior for quite a while now. While this is still in its infancy, it looks like businesses are a bit ahead of the security agencies on this score.”
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said that since social networking sites are relatively new, everyone is still trying to figure them out.
“For governments, the challenge is bigger than most,” he added. “I imagine they’re looking for patterns and codes. The volume of messages is so high that filtering the information is incredibly difficult.”
Kerravala noted that it’s a good reminder for everyday social network users to be aware that what they post is often available for the public to see.
“You know that a lot of this information is being seen, maybe watched and maybe even archived,” he added. “Information doesn’t go away once it’s posted.”
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed . Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Web 2.0 and Web Apps in Computerworld’s Web 2.0 and Web Apps Topic Center.
In May, Consumer Reports revealed that there were 7.5 million kids younger than 13 using Facebook, including more than five million 10 and under. In every case these kids had to lie to get around Facebook’s rule that you must be 13 or older to join.
One might assume that these kids are also deceiving their parents, but that’s often not the case. As I point out in my CNET blog, many parents are not only aware their kids are on Facebook but actually helped them set up the account.
Most parents know
A new study, “Why parents help their children lie to Facebook about age: Unintended consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,’” points out that:
- 95 percent of the parents whose 10-year-old was on Facebook knew about it
- 78 percent of them helped the kid sign up. Of all kids under 13
- 68 percent of parents helped their child create the account
- 78 percent of parents think it is OK for their child to violate minimum age restrictions on services
Overall, said the survey, “Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of parents whose child is on Facebook and who reported a minimum age knew that their child was on Facebook below what they believed the minimum age to be.”
COPPA to Blame?
The primary reason that Facebook doesn’t allow kids under 13 is because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The law doesn’t force companies like Facebook that collect personal information about users to block kids under 13, but it sets up a lot of road blocks including a requirement that the company get “verifiable parental consent.” The process is expensive for companies and time-consuming for parents so, most companies that allow users to enter personal information, simply don’t allow kids under 13.
COPPA was written back in 1998 — long before Facebook — to protect kids from revealing information to be used for marketing purposes and also to reduce their risk of exploitation. But, as the study’s co-author danah boyd (her legal name is all lower case) pointed out in my CBS News / CNET interview (click to listen to MP3), “If you want to participate in social media, it’s not that you can participate without giving over information, that simply is not possible.” The whole purpose of Facebook is to share and you need to provide at least some personal information to use the service. The solution, said boyd, “is not to make it harder for them to lie.”
In June, I blogged that Facebook ought to allow children under 13, because I think that it would be a lot safer to let them on in an age appropriate manner than to collectively bury our heads in the sand and pretend that they’re not there. If this were the case, it should be accompanied by all sorts of parental controls as well as greatly increased privacy settings. I would also argue that the children to given an ad-free environment and that, of course, no information be used to market to them now or in the future. There should be a limit on who they can communicate with, but they should be allowed to use the service to interact with family members and others approved by their parents. As my ConnectSafely.org colleague Anne Collier pointed out in a NetFamilyNews post, there are plenty of good reasons why we should close the “communications gap,” by allowing kids under 13 to communicate via popular social networking sites.
Facebook has indicated that it has no immediate plans to challenge COPPA and has no announced plans for finding a COPPA compliant way to welcome pre-teens. So, in the mean time, it will continue to block those who enter a date of birth that indicates they’re below 13 and continue to remove the account of those who they catch after the account has been established.
The Federal Trade Commission is currently reviewing COPPA and is seeking comments from the public about proposed rule changes which, currently, do not include removing the under-13 restriction.
For more, see danah boyd’s post Why Parents Help Tweens Violate Facebook’s 13+ Rule and Anne Collier’s Kids lying to Facebook, not their parents: Study.
Disclosure: Larry Magid is co-director of ConnectSafely.org, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives financial support from Facebookand other Internet companies.
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Facebook has said the state’s action has the potential to rewrite an economic development deal it cut with Crook County, but not even state tax officials seem to know for sure whether the company is overreacting or it’s truly facing a tax surprise.
Facebook chose Prineville in central Oregon as the site of its first company-owned data center, where a collection of servers stores and transmits photos, links and status updates for many of the social networking service’s 800 million users. The facility employs 55 people and expansion plans are already in the works.
Such “server farms” are popping up around the world to facilitate a voracious appetite for high-bandwidth applications like streaming video and cloud-based computing.
Facebook chose Prineville based in part on the tax breaks, but also because of the cool and dry high-desert climate that helps reduce the amount of energy needed to cool rows of humming computers.
The company this week announced plans to build its first data center outside the U.S. in Sweden near the Arctic Circle. It’s also expanding a facility in North Carolina. Google last month opened a data center in Oklahoma, and Microsoft recently announced it will expand a facility in Iowa.
Many of the projects have benefited from tax incentives offered by local governments eager to lure high-paying jobs.
Officials in Crook County, where unemployment reached a high of 18.7% in June 2009 and still sits above 15%, hoped Facebook’s decision to build in Prineville would help incubate a new industry for a region decimated economically by the decline of Oregon’s timber industry.
Under its agreement with local officials, Facebook built its data center in a rural enterprise zone, allowing the Palo Alto, Calif., company to pay property taxes only on its land, not on its buildings and other assets, for 15 years.
Confusion arose when the state Department of Revenue asserted that Facebook is a utility company because it’s involved in the communications business, and its taxes should therefore be assessed by the state under a different section of the tax code.
Oregon lumps Facebook with 75 other corporations classified as cable and Internet companies. Many of them are television and Internet access providers, but the list includes technology companies including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo Inc. and AOL.
State officials say their decision doesn’t change Facebook’s tax bill — about $26,000 this year — and the money still goes to local governments in Crook County. But Facebook is concerned that the state will someday try to tax the company based on the value of its intangible assets, perhaps including computer files, patents, its labor force and goodwill.
The company says state tax officials sent a letter in August saying, in part, that Oregon law requires the Department of Revenue “to assess any property, real and personal, tangible or intangible.”
Investments this year have pegged Facebook’s total value at as much as $50 billion. Tax officials say the company’s Oregon property taxes are calculated based only on the share of its business that is tied to the state.
Last week, tax authorities told the Bend Bulletin newspaper that Facebook would be taxed on $25 million in assets, leading to an annual property tax bill of $390,000. The next day, authorities said they made a mistake and backtracked, pegging Facebook’s taxes at $26,000 on $1 million in assets.
After a public kerfuffle last week, Facebook and state officials have tightened their lips. They say they’re researching the complicated tax laws involved and won’t have more to say until they wade through them.
“We are looking forward to receiving further clarification as to the Department of Revenue’s policies, so that the data center industry in Central Oregon can move forward,” Facebook said in a statement.
The dispute has concerned Roger Lee, director of Economic Development for Central Oregon, who said murkiness surrounding taxation makes companies nervous.
“Companies want some type of certainty to be able to proceed in whatever they’re doing,” Lee said. “This provides a great deal of uncertainty and ambiguity.”
People involved say it’s unclear what a final agreement might look like, but it could involve new legislation next year, a definitive legal opinion from the state Department of Justice, or litigation in tax court. The dispute has risen to the governor’s office, where aides have tried to intervene.
“We are researching the issues to be able to provide clarity to all parties,” said Tim Raphael, a spokesman for Gov. John Kitzhaber.
“If I were starting now,’’ he said, “I would do it very differently, but I knew nothing back then. Honestly, if I were starting now I would have just stayed in Boston.’’
(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Updates with Twitter in Patent section.)
Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a ruling that lets Merck Co. block Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. from selling a generic form of the brain-cancer drug Temodar until 2013.
The justices yesterday turned away an appeal by Teva’s Barr Laboratories and Barr Pharmaceuticals units, which contended that a Merck patent protecting the drug was unenforceable. A U.S. appeals court had rejected that argument.
The two sides agreed last year that if Merck and its Schering unit won the court fight, Teva could begin selling copies of Temodar in August 2013, six months before the patent expires. The legal fight also affects Perrigo Co., which will eventually supply the active ingredient for Teva’s version.
Temodar, approved by U.S. regulators in 1999, generated $704 million in global sales during the first nine months of this year.
A federal trial judge last year ruled against Schering and its British licensor Cancer Research Technology Ltd., saying they took too long to pursue the patent and didn’t provide sufficient information to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit then reversed that decision, saying no one was harmed from the nine- plus years it took Cancer Research to obtain the patent. The panel also ruled that the inventor hadn’t intended to deceive the patent office when he failed to disclose a paper he had written about the compound.
Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, is the second-largest U.S. drugmaker by revenue behind Pfizer Inc. Teva, the world’s biggest generic-drug company, is based in Petach Tikva, Israel.
The case is Barr Laboratories v. Cancer Research Technology, 11-131.
Twitter Wins Patent Trial Over Virtual Internet Community
Twitter Inc., the biggest U.S. microblogging service, won a trial in which closely held VS Technologies LLC alleged infringement of a patent for building virtual communities.
A federal jury in Norfolk, Virginia, yesterday cleared Twitter of claims made by VS Technologies, according to a statement from Twitter. The patent, issued in 2002, is for “creating an interactive community of famous people.”
Twitter, which says it has more than 100 million active users, argued that its service works differently than the VS system covered by the patent. San Francisco-based Twitter had urged the jury to find the patent invalid.
“We are gratified that a jury has agreed that this suit had no merit,” Sean Garrett, a spokesman for Twitter, said in an e-mail. “While we would prefer to compete on the Internet rather than the courtroom, we will continue to vigorously defend groundless patent lawsuits filed against us.”
VS, based in Alexandria, Virginia, had been seeking about $8.4 million in compensation, an amount Twitter said would have been unreasonable even had it lost, according to a court filing.
The case is VS Technologies v. Twitter Inc., 11cv43, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk).
For more patent news, click here.
Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against Movie Downloading Site
The movie-streaming website Zediva.com has stopped operating now that a federal district judge has entered a ruling enjoining its service. On Oct. 28 California federal judge John Walter entered a ruling stemming from a settlement between Zediva’s owners and the major motion picture studios. The settlement permanently bars Zediva from offering movies without obtaining permission from the studios and also requires Zediva’s operators to pay $1.8 million to the movie studies.
The closely held company, based in Santa Clara, California, had offered 14 rentals of new-release DVDs for $2 a movie, or $1 when ordering 10 films. That undercut what cable companies charge for on-demand and is less than the $3 that Time Warner Inc. began charging in a test of 24-hour rentals on Facebook.
In a statement, Dan Robbins, the associate general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America, said “Today there exist myriad ways for customers to watch movies legally over the Internet, from iTunes to Hulu to NetFlix to Vudu to Amazon to cable and satellite video-on-demand services, and many, many others.”
Joseph Gratz, a lawyer with San Francisco’s Durie Tangri who represents Zediva, declined to comment.
The case is Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. v. WTV Systems, 11-2817, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)
Disney Licenses Older Shows to Amazon’s Video Streaming Service
Walt Disney Co., owner of the ABC TV network and Disney Channel, will license a limited number of its older TV shows to Amazon’s Prime streaming video service, the world’s biggest Internet retailer said in a statement.
Disney will license more than 800 episodes of such shows as ABC’s “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Phineas and Ferb” from its Disney Channel. The titles will be available for the holidays, Amazon’s director of video content acquisition, said in the statement. The service will have almost 13,000 episodes by early next year, he said.
The newly licensed Disney content will be available on more than 300 devices, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the company said. Disney also extended its agreement with NetFlix to add older movies and TV shows for that service as well, according to a separate statement.
For more copyright news, click here.
MGM, Boyd Gaming Form Online Poker Venture With Bwin.Party
MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming Corp., preparing for the U.S. to legalize online poker, agreed to form a venture with the biggest listed Internet gambling company, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc.
Bwin.Party, based in Gibraltar, will contribute technology and its PartyPoker and World Poker Tour brands to a new company that will be owned by all three. The U.S.-based company will offer online poker to U.S. players should it become legal, the companies said in separate statements.
MGM Resorts will own 25 percent of the venture, Boyd will hold 10 percent and Bwin.Party the rest, MGM Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren said yesterday in an interview. The U.S. casino companies each will use Bwin.Party technology to run their own online poker services, Boyd CEO Keith Smith said.
“It’s all about preparing for the eventual opening of the market,” Bwin.Party Co-CEO Jim Ryan said in a phone interview. “There’s been an awful lot of momentum at the state and federal levels.”
Congress is considering federal regulations that would allow Internet poker while states explore their options. Casino companies are lobbying for rules would generate tax revenue and provide players a secure system that prevents under-age gambling and money laundering.
“It’s such a shadowy, amorphous market today,” Murren said in a telephone interview. “We do know that millions of Americans are gambling online, we do know that they’re gambling billions of dollars, we know that the U.S. government is deriving no benefit from this, no job creation, no tax revenue, and we know that many are at risk” from unregulated websites, he said.
The Justice Department in April indicted PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, alleging the three foreign companies circumvented a 2006 federal law barring banks from processing payments to offshore gambling websites. That prompted Wynn Resorts Ltd. to abandon an alliance announced weeks earlier with PokerStars.
Comings and Goings
Winston Strawn Adds 2 Dickstein Intellectual-Property Lawyers
Winston Strawn LLP, a Chicago-based law firm with more than 900 attorneys, added intellectual-property lawyers Alfred Fabricant and Lawrence Drucker from Dickstein Shapiro LLP.
The pair will work in the IP practice group at the firm’s New York office, Winston Strawn said yesterday in a statement. Fabricant will be the group’s leader.
The new partners have represented clients based in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Both litigate in patent, trademark and copyright matters, the firm said. Their experience includes electronics, robotics and computer software cases.
–With assistance from Greg Stohr and Susan Decker in Washington; Beth Jinks and Cullen Wheatley in New York; and Ronald Grover and Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles. Editor: Glenn Holdcraft