IT Confidential: The Library Of Google, Loot Of A Spammer
MODERN LIBRARY. Google has resurrected its plans to digitize the contents of the world's major libraries, and some writers' and publishers' organizations aren't happy about it. Google revealed its plan to catalog the majority of published works, and allow that content to be searched, last December (see "The Promise of Technology Kept,"), and it was met almost immediately with howls of protest from publishers and authors. That's because the copyright issues are enormous and lay at the heart of the controversy over the Internet's effect on intellectual property. Google argues that its search capabilities constitute what's commonly known as "fair use," that its search function displays only a limited number of pages of any given book, no matter what the search criteria. Publishers say Google is stretching the meaning of fair use to its breaking point, and Google's intentions run counter to the spirit of copyright law. The issues around the Internet and intellectual property go all the way from open-source software and software patents, to peer-to-peer technology and the reach of search engines. Google's ambitious effort--reminiscent of either the Library Of Alexandria, the ancient seat of knowledge, or Jorge Luis Borges' "Library Of Babel," an infinite repository of inaccessible tomes, depending on your point of view--seems destined to end up in court.
SMUT SURFERS VEXED. A Trojan virus that monitors when a PC user accesses a porn site and then displays a quote from the Quran is making its way around the Internet. The Trojan, Yusufali.a, watches which sites a Windows user visits by examining the browser's title bar. When it sees something it objects to, such as "teen" or "XXX," it minimizes the window and displays this quote from the Quran: "Yusufali: Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and women who believe: for Allah knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes."
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CAR SMARTS. Toyota is testing technology meant to keep a driver's eyes on the road, according to The Associated Press. The technology employs a camera attached near the car's steering wheel and image-processing software that recognizes when the driver isn't facing forward. The system flashes a light on the dashboard and beeps when the driver looks away, according to the AP. If the driver doesn't respond, the brakes are applied automatically. The feature will be in Lexus luxury models to be sold in Japan next spring.
AOL DELIVERS. America Online made good on its promise to share its spam bounty with the winner of its "Spammer's Gold Sweepstakes," handing over gold bars and coins worth about $20,000 and $65,000 in cash to Marc Daniels of East Haddam, Conn., at a ceremony last week at AOL headquarters in Dulles, Va. Daniels also got a 2003 Hummer H2. The loot was part of a settlement AOL received last year from a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against a spammer. AOL says more than 1.1 million people entered the contest.
Loot--what a great word. It's the kind of word we use on The News Show, which can be seen at noon EDT every weekday, at www.thenewsshow.tv, or on informationweek.com. If you know where I can find some loot, or have an industry tip, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 516-562-5326.