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Do You Read “Terms of Service”? Who Owns Your Content? Should you Be Scared?


I was recently reading the blog post by Brian Solis over at PR 2.0 entitled "Facebook and the Reality of Your Online Content" and I wanted to ask the question, do you read the terms of service?

I came from the legal world before getting into this web 2.0/social media/blogosphere/Twittersphere or whatever the case may be.  I am the first to recognize that many people have no clue what I am talking about when I mention the three letters of TOS.  We have referred to this in many circles as the fine print, the end of that car commercial where the guy talks at a million miles a minute and we really have no idea what he is legally disclosing to us.  Of the 175 Million or whatever number of users there are in Facebook and other online social networks, I wonder what the number of users are that actually pay attention to what they are signing on for and how they are effected?  Did you read the Terms of Service?

Many of us would be horrified by the things that we have agreed to in these sites.  Brian spells out for us an excerpt from the Facebook TOS that causes me alarm:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

I unfortunately understand the terms, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive and other spooky terms used.  I have seen them wielded like a weapon in the legal world and used quite effectively. This is a time of watching as we see networks try to move to the next level.  Most of them had no idea they were going down a path and now they are trying to retrofit ways to monetize and use information as it is collected.  Keep your eye out for more things like this to unfold as we see companies like Twitter try to implement a business plan.  How can they change their legal rights after the fact?  They change their Terms of Service.  Have you read them recently?

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Does Pandora Have a Future?


pandora logo

For those of you not familiar with Pandora, it is a platform devoted to the music genome.  What this means is that you can listen to a particular artist that you like, then Pandora will suggest other bands you may like based on that choice.  Pandora uses a complex system to analyze the music to make these recommendations, it’s truly a unique service.

Unfortunately, the free streaming music platform that allowed us to listen to great music while discovering new artists is in danger of closing.  Pandora is having trouble paying the ridiculous royalty and as a result may have reached the end of their figurative rope.  Pandora does generate a significant amount of revenue (25 million) but are forced to give up around 70% of that revenue to cover the fees.

Pandora has become extremely popular with monthly traffic of around 2.5 million (according to compete.com, actual number are most likely higher) and the traffic has been growing at a rapid pace.

Pandora also has one of the most popular iphone applications that allows users to stream music directly to their iphones.  According to this article by the Washington Post, Pandora attracts a whopping 40,000 new customers every day.  Tim Westergren who founded Pandora says, “We’re approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision.  This is like a last stand for webcasting.”

According to Michael Arrington from Techcrunch, Pandora may have to be our sacrificial lamb.  Let’s hope Pandora will be able to work something out so that we can keep enjoying their unique platform.

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What Do Loren Feldman and Don Imus Have in Common?


More and more we see new media imitating old media which is yet another sign of new media’s inevitable move toward the mainstream. In this case Loren Feldman the popular and controversial video blogger has just lost a distribution deal with Verizon Mobile due to a series of videos he created back in 2007 called Tech****.

This offended and crossed the bounds of socially acceptable humor for many, including Sheegeeks publisher Corvida. She explains in a post today that as a Verizon customer she could not sit by when she heard about Feldman’s deal with Verizon.

For his part back at the conclusion of the series Feldman posted a seven minute rant explaining the entire series was an experiment and demonstration of some sort. He also explains that the first video in the series referenced Jews not African Americans.

So what do Loren Feldman and Don Imus have in common?

Something they said on air (the Internet in Feldman’s case) has cost them money. The comparisons end there.

To be honest I never watched the series in full until this morning. It is pretty clear the entire thing was an orchestrated controversy. But what exactly was the point? To drive page views? To prove that other people are really racists pretending not to be? To prove that just about anyone can create a viral effect and blog storm with a little forethought? Or just a very smart guy trying to be funny and knowing full well that some people would be offended by his humor?

Feldman is without a doubt the new media equivalent of Howard Stern. Hilliarious and loved by some even though they feel he steps over the line at times and reviled and without social redemption by others.

Comparisons to Imus are lazy. Imus says stupid and offensive things unintentionally. Stern and Feldman know exactly what he they are saying and pull the puppet strings of their fans as well as detractors.

It is far too soon to dub Loren a comic genius ala Lenny Bruce, George Carlin or Howard Stern but he is crazy like a fox.

So what do you say is Feldman a small minded racist or The King of all New Media?

More on this story at Techmeme.

Join Us Friday June 20th for BlogWorld Radio Our Guest Will Be Bob Cox of the Media Bloggers Association


***Update 10:09 pm PST****

The link below now points to the archived interview Jim Turner and I conducted with Bob Cox today. A very interesting discussion and I encourage you to listen to the whole thing and share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Media Bloggers Association has posted an update here.

Join Jim Turner, me and our guest Robert Cox President of the Media Bloggers Association on BlogWorld Radio tomorrow at noon PST.

You can call in to 646-716-7047.

***Update 7:16 am June 20***

Poynter Online has a great rundown of posts concerning this controversy here.

If you haven’t heard there is a little drama going on with The Associated Press, A little blog known as The Drudge Retort ;a spoof of the famous or infamous Drudge Report as the case may be.

Very short version of the story, The AP sent several DMCA take down notices to The Drudge Retort. Some of those notices went beyond normal fair use standards. Rogers Cadenhead the publisher of The Drudge Retort complied with several of the notices and called the Media Bloggers Association for help.

Then all hell broke loose. The Blogosphere is railing against the AP. Jeff Jarvis has been very vocal. Sites like TechCrunch and Little Green Footballs are banning all AP content.

Mike Arrington and numerous others suspect a conspiracy between The AP, The NYT and The MBA.

Others are calling the MBA a flat out scam and even attacking the man at the center of this bruhaha Cadenhead.

Now some are coming to the MBA and Cox’ defense.

What is the real story? I don’t know and the truth is most folks in the Blogosphere don’t either but that doesn’t stop many from forming opinions and lynching parties.

So Join us tomorrow at noon PST on BlogWorld Radio where we hope to get the MBA’s side of the story from Robert Cox. Please call in 646-716-7047 and give us your take or leave a comment below if you have any questions you would like us to ask.

Are Traditional Magazines Unbiased?


And are blogs inherently biased?

The answers to those two questions are no, and yes respectively. The recent Wired/Arrington dust up is just the latest in a very long series of charges and counter charges between blogs and traditional media.

I am not picking any sides in this particular story. I read TechCrunch almost daily not because I am a techy and I am certainly not a tech investor but because there is always something interesting there and TechCrunch is at the center of the tech-Blogosphere. Which is one of the important communities at BlogWorld & New Media Expo.

I Also subscribe to Wired. Along with Fast Company they are two closest traditional media outlets to the Blogosphere. Mostly in tech but they certainly touch on and report on several communities within the Blogosphere.

Back to the issue at hand. Traditional media outlets for at least as long as I can remember have charged that their biggest advantage over blogs is that they are unbiased and have ethical standards and blogs are not and do not. (Study’s have proven otherwise).

This charge has been made in every realm of traditional media, from politics, to sports, to tech, to reporting on the war in Iraq to you name the topic I guarantee you some journalist or editor in that community has written the exact same thing Betsy Schiffman wrote on her Wired blog (that’s ironic isn’t it) this Tuesday. Specifically the quote from Peter Sussman who serves on the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists. (there can’t be any more credible source than that right?)

We asked Peter Sussman, who serves on the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, for his take on the situation.

“The one thing that newspapers still have over new online outlets is the brand, the name and the standards. They’ve told readers that by the mere presence of a story on the Washington Post, that it’s been through a rigorous analysis or edit and it is up to their standards. The assumption is that unless you hear otherwise, the content you see in the Post has gone through that ethical screening.”

I am sure Betsy and Peter practice ethical standards and believe what he has said and try very hard to live up to those standards but here is the rub for Betsy, Peter, and every other traditional media type who has ever uttered this mantra……


When I say we I mean bloggers, I mean blog readers, I mean every consumer of every form of news media that has ever been written or broadcast. We simply do not believe you are without bias. Why should we?

Time and time again bias in media has been proven, and when it isn’t proven we certainly have our suspicions.

Isn’t it one of the tenets of good journalism to be skeptical?

Why then do you not understand that the same rule applies to the consumers of traditional media content?

Ever heard the old saying don’t believe everything you read?

Ever heard the Mark Twain quote “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics?”

We have all heard the line about the “separation between Church and State” between editorial copy and ad-sales. Frankly that’s poppycock (I love it when I can figure out a way to throw poppycock into a post!). That’s why Consumer Reports the watch dog for consumers and the (allegedly) unasailable source of consumer product reviews had to quit taking advertising dollars. The moment you do, you create a conflict of interest. Mark Cuban addressed this in his keynote at BlogWorld last year.

We don’t care if the ad-sales guy brings in the money, and the journalist writes the story and the editors edit and verify their story. We all know the publishers job is to MAKE MONEY. You are not and never have been in the news business. You are in the advertising business. Every journalist who writes for you knows where his or her checks come from. That doesn’t make them bad people and I am not saying they don’t try very hard to be unbiased in their reporting. I am quite sure they do. We just don’t believe there is zero influence in your writing.

I have told this anecdote many times but for new readers here it is again. I have personally worked for more than one company that his written it’s own product reviews that have appeared in industry trade journals. Now that is about as bad as it gets but the fact is it is far more common than you might think.

But bias doesn’t start or end with advertising. We all have our inherent biases. Our political views, the industry we are in, where we live, who our family works for, the stock we own, how old we are, our gender, the type of family environment we were brought up in, our economic status and millions of other influences that shape our view of the world. Each of these things affects the way we see and cover any story. Journalists are no different. Sure there may be some superfreak out there without bias but that would be the rare exception to the rule.

Now here is where I will give journalism and journalists the credit they’re due. No doubt Journalists try to overcome their bias. Organizations like the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, in-house ombudsmen and editors are a fine example of those efforts.

Many bloggers could learn quite a lot about journalistic standards and would do well to try and adhere to them. However Michael Arrington and Techcrunch may be many things but anyone who is more than casual reader would have to admit that they do try to adhere to some form of journalistic standard. To Mike’s credit he does disclose which companies he invests in. There is no doubt they have broke many big stories and have offered their readers interesting and informative content.

Isn’t that what journalism is supposed to be all about?

Should Bloggers Blacklist PR Firms?


I agree with much of Stowe Boyd says in his post about PR Spam but I am going to be the devils advocate here and I am hoping we can agree on what I am about to say.

If you are a professional journalist, or editor covering a particular industry or topic then part of your job is fielding PR pitches for products in that industry.

Think of it like a buyer working for a major department store. Let’s say they buy mens clothing. That person’s job is to buy things from people they know, and people they don’t know. In fact a good buyer is actively searching for, and appreciatively receiving unsolicited emails and cold calls from people they have never met who are trying to sell them some new line of clothing they have never heard of. Why?

That new line of clothing just might be the next big thing.

It is that buyer’s job to diligently review that line and listen to that sales pitch to decide if buying that line would give his company a competitive advantage.

A buyer who only buys from his friends and buys lines he already knows about is lazy and should be fired for not doing his job.

In Journalism and PR it is the same thing. Journalists and editors should be actively seeking new stories, from new companies about new products and learning about them with enthusiasm to give their publication an advantage by breaking stories before their competitors.

Will you occasionally get pitched something that is irrelevant to you or that is personally uninteresting to you? Of course. Too bad. Get over it or get a new job. Now if the same PR firm keeps sending you irrelevant information it is entirely appropriate to contact them and politely ask them to knock it off. If they keep “spamming” you then you should complain about them publicly until they get a clue.

Now here is the difference and the fine line between bloggers and “real” journalists. If blogging is a hobby for you and you don’t really consider yourself a journalist, or you don’t really know what journalism is or means then it is understandable that you might be offended when you receive an email from a stranger pitching some product you have never heard of.

Stowe offers some great advice in his post:

I also suggest to bloggers and journalists to do as I have done, and post a persistent link on your blog called ‘How To Pitch Me’ or the like, and state how others ought to — and ought not to — pitch you.

By the way small companies are the ones who are most hurt by being ignored. Big companies will always find ways to get their message out. They have the money and resources to change tactics and to kiss and make up to whoever they have offended. And don’t try to tell me that publishers don’t forgive when they are adequately sucked up to after being offended.

Small companies do not have access, do not have the resources or the cash to pursue every single media outlet in the world that might cover their product individually. It is impossible. So if you get what you consider to be “spam” from a small company take a moment to send them a polite email and explain that you don’t like the way they pitched you and offer them some free advice. Most likely they will appreciate the advice and you might just get the inside scoop when that company makes it big.

If the polite approach doesn’t work you can always blacklist them. It’s your blog you can do whatever you like 8).


Todd Defren defends his ably defends his firm and his profession.
Infopinions points out the difference between Lifehacker’s reaction and Chris Anderson’s.

Jeremy Pepper prefers OG PR.

PR Interactive says They aren’t teaching this kind of stuff in school:

While I can’t speak from the professional side, I can agree with him from the academic side. As a recent grad, I can tell you that I have had minimal exposure to pitching the media. This is, obviously, very difficult to do in the classroom setting, and most of my internships would let me pitch only when everyone else was swamped with bigger clients. For many of my peers, ,

Brian Solis says:

>Nowadays, any mistake made in PR is really an occupational hazard where one wrong move can cause a domino effect that has the potential to eradicate months or even years of hard work.

What Brian says is true but it is also wrong and shame on bloggers who hold PR professionals to an unreasonable standard. Show me a blogger who hasn’t posted inaccurate information one time or another or flamed someone and later had to apologize for it and I will eat my hat. We all make mistakes.

Btw Brian nails it in defining SPAM. It is not any email you deem to be unwanted.

Broadstuff disagree’s with Brian’s definition…..He’s wrong.

more to come I am sure.

Bloggers Working Themselves to Death


The New York Times has a story today that suggests bloggers work too hard and cites two recent personal tragedies as proof of their claim.

I don’t buy it. Bloggers are no more or less obsessive as a group than any other group of individuals. What I noticed about this story is that there have been quite a few articles about blogging in the print and/or online editions of the NYT.  We have their attention.

There is of course lots of reaction in the blogosphere.  My favorite is Marc Andreessen’s post mocking the NYT’s take and predicting future headlines from the NYT. 

Reworded for brevity:

Blogging Causes Death

Future New York Times headline submissions from yours truly:

Blogging Causes Herpes

Bloggers Shorter than Normal People

Want To Contract Malaria? Try Blogging

Bloggers Have Bad Breath

Leprosy and Blogging May Be Connected

Hitler Probably Blogged

Now Bloggers Aren’t Even Wearing Pajamas

Blogging Fad Almost Over

Howard Lindzon has a good take:

I read The New York Times business most days and if this is Sunday Time’s worthy, we are f@#ked. They are officially out of money or ideas. The article only proves one thing…that the New York Times has allowed itself to get caught up in the hype, not real journalism. There is no real link betweeen blogging and heart attacks. Maybe the Times just wants to get to the top of Techmeme .Interesting and sad times indeed for newspapers.

Links 3.21.08


Do blogs and other Internet news sources make the media less democratic?

CNet interviews John Battelle.

Chris Brogan gives a great summary of the new media tools available to businesses and tips on how to use them.

The New York Times (yes that New York Times) has tips on how to become a successful blogger. Now that is interesting.

 Oops. Someone had a boo boo. The beautiful thing about the blogosphere is if J and J handles this correctly going forward, they can make up for all the mis-steps and come out of this thing looking like real human beings who care about bloggers.

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Jason Calacanis is Right about Start ups.


lot’s of people like to hate on Jason and he loves it. If you haven’t figured it out yet Jason is a master of link baiting and this latest post is another classic example. I have only met Jason three times in very short and casual conversations. I have seen him give three keynotes. Two were fantastic and his talk at Gnomedex got derailed before it ever got started by Dave Winer.

I understood immediately that he likes to say controversial things to get peoples attention and at the end of the day he really doesn’t care what any of us think about him. With that in mind the main theme of his post is valid and 100% accurate.

If you want your start up company to succeed you need to spend wisely, save money where you can, make smart decisions and hire excellent people. You need to ideally not make bad hires to begin with but if you do, you need to cut that deadwood right away.

Following his advice will help you succeed. It doesn’t guarantee success, ignoring it doesn’t guarantee failure but I will be any of the wise men slamming Jason a year’s salary that most companies that succeed adhere to Jason’s philosophy rather than do the kumbaya lets all love each other and have perfect 9 – 5 jobs and take vacations BS. That stuff is all important but it all comes after you have a strong foundation for your company not before.

Mike Arrington gets it. Robert Scoble gets it. Mark Evans gets it.

Dave Winer responds today with a very valid point. Hot products are what makes a company succeed. That is fundamental. Some times crap succeeds but more often than not a quality product is a requirement to success not a gaurantee of it. Lots of companies with hot products fail for many of the reasons Jason listed in his posts, and some just have plain old bad luck, bad timing, etc.

While I agree with Dave that leaders should lead by example and be a model for their employees and inspire instead of intimidate; more than anything employees particularly in a start up need to believe in their product, company and leader more than they need to love their leader.

Taking Jason’s controversial style into account his main theme was you need to be driven to succeed. That drive needs to extend beyond the owner and founder, every employee needs to believe in that dream and be driven to see it succeed to have a realistic chance of succeeding.

Those aren’t new words of wisdom. They have been said and followed since the beginning of the entrepreneur and for people to dispute them is really just silly, or more likely the latest excuse to hate on Jason Calacanis.

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