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Periscope and Meerkat

Fenby Miskin

What do Periscope and Meerkat mean for broadcasting copyright?

The Premier League is joined by other sports leagues such as the NBA, MLB and NFL in being wary of the march of the live-streaming apps.

Watching the footie via a stranger Periscoping their telly might well be the future. Photograph: Alamy

Watching the footie via a stranger Periscoping their telly might well be the future. Photograph: Alamy

Anyone with a smartphone, the internet and an app can now broadcast live video to the world. But, while great for users is it a nightmare for content rights holders?

Live video streaming is nothing new – services have been around since the early 2000s – but Meerkat and Periscope have made it easier to broadcast our lives on the go and shifted the appeal near to the mainstream. Ever since they launched, however, speculation has followed over the potential legal liability for content delivered on their platforms.

These live streaming apps let users simply point their smartphones at whatever is happening in front of them, whether they own the rights or not, and broadcast it to a potential audience of hundreds of thousands now, millions in the future.

Users Periscoping the royal birth. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Users Periscoping the royal birth. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Concern has been raised, in particular, over large right holders such as sports broadcasters and Hollywood studios suing Periscope for users who film content direct from TV or events via their smartphone.

Periscope was bought by Twitter in January this year for an undisclosed sum thought to be slightly less than $100m. Given Twitter has a market cap of over $24bn, and most of Periscope’s competitors are not much more than startups, it is Periscope that makes the most potentially lucrative target.

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The key difference between services such as Google’s YouTube and the newer live-streaming apps is the live element. YouTube, for instance, automatically scans for copyrighted content in new uploads using Google’s “Content ID” system, while providing notification and takedown schemes under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Twitter has had practice with similar issues with Vine. The looping video service drew the attention of the Premier League in the UK, which worked with the social network to develop an effective notification of infringement and takedown system. That same system could insulate Periscope.

“Twitter, Meerkat or any other company hosting live streams from users [are] not in breach of copyright in the UK or US just because a user starts streaming copyrighted content such as a football match [by] pointing their phone at a TV broadcast,” explained Julian Moore, a head of broadcast and media rights with Pinsent Masons global sport practice. “They are only in breach if they effectively turn a blind eye to the stream, if they are made aware of it and don’t take measures to remove it.”

Periscope’s terms of service specifically prohibit the broadcasting of copyrighted content without permission.

A Periscope spokesperson told the Guardian: “Periscope operates in compliance with the DMCA, we respect intellectual property rights and are working to ensure there are robust tools in place to respond expeditiously.”

Due to its live nature, it is unlikely to attract the ire of Hollywood – more concerned will be broadcasters of live events such as sports where their value is inherent to their timeliness.

TV companies the world over pay exorbitant amounts for the rights to broadcast sporting events. Any attempt to circumvent of those rights is seen in a very dim light.

The National Hockey League, which governs ice hockey in the US, has already specifically banned both Meerkat and Periscope including any live streaming up to 30 minutes before face off. The US Open golf tournament has taken similar steps.

The MLB, however, has said it won’t stop fans using Periscope and Meerkat at games.

Meanwhile the NBA and NFL have policies that restrict both reporters and fans live broadcasting footage of the game, the players or backstage action stamped on the back of press passes and tickets. Given broadcasters pay $4.95bn a year for the rights to the NFL alone there is certainly an emphasis from the sports leagues to protect that lucrative revenue stream.

One place leagues and sports can’t stop users directly is in the home.

The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was one of the biggest pay-per-view events in history. Photograph: UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media/UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media

The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was one of the biggest pay-per-view events in history. Photograph: UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media/UPI /Landov / Barcroft Media

After seeing Periscope users broadcast the Game of Thrones season five premiere from their screens, HBO then saw an estimated 10,000 people watching the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight via Periscope without paying.

People who had paid their $100 for the pay-per-view event were streaming it straight from their TVs for others to watch. And while Twitter took down streams within minutes of being notified – it received 66 takedown requests and removed 30 streams, the company said – others cropped up in their stead.

“Piracy does not excite us. Trust me, we respect intellectual property rights and had many people working hard to be responsive last night, including myself,” Periscope’s chief executive Kayvon Beykpour said after the fight.

Sports leagues across America are watching the evolution of Periscope and its ilk closely, but seemingly no one wants to be the first to either ink deals with the new service or take action.

“Besides protecting the broadcasting rights, most sports leagues want to make sure a service like Periscope isn’t building up its business on the back of their content,” said a national American sports league executive with direct knowledge of the matter. “Once they become established, who knows, maybe we’ll do a deal with them. Everybody’s waiting to see how everybody else reacts.”

In the UK, any big rights battle is expected to be over Premier League football. Sky and BT paid £3bn between 2013 and 2016 for the rights to live games and have forked out a further £5.1bn for live games between 2016 and 2017. News International also owns the rights for clips of key moments worth £20m for three years, while the BBC owns the rights to highlights costing £180m until 2016 and a further £204m until 2019.

However, the Premier League is purposefully quiet on copyright infringement, taking the view that they don’t want to treat fans like pirate enemies (something they have been accused of in the past), and have been working with third-parties including Net Result, Irdeto and ID Inquiries to shut down persistent and commercial copyright offenders.

“The Premier League already works with Twitter over Vines, which are frequently used by users to show goals and key moments from games without permission. We work closely with Twitter and ISPs to take down pirated content as well as advising users that it is illegal to post such content,” said a Premier League spokesman. “Last season we successfully blocked 45,000 streams that were illegally showing Premier League footage, and successfully took legal action against certain websites, both in the English and overseas courts.”

For now Periscope – and Meerkat – is in the clear. Whether that changes when the next NFL and Premier League seasons kick off remains to be seen.

Original article appeared in The Guardian by Samuel Gibbs , Julia Powles and Sam Thielman

Lynda

Fenby Miskin

Teaching isn’t traditionally viewed as a high-paying career choice. But building software for teaching? That appears to be a little more lucrative. 

At least it was today, when LinkedIn announced the $1.5 billion acquisition of online education company Lynda.com. It’s the online business network’s largest acquisition ever by a wide margin. The company paid around $175 million for Bizo last summer, the closest LinkedIn’s ever been to a billion-dollar acquisition until now. 

Lynda.com provides video courses to paying subscribers hoping to learn online, with tutorials on a wide range of business subjects from Web design to 3-D animation. It’s one of a number of companies working in this space, including well-known startups like Coursera and Codecademy that were both founded in the past five years. 

Unlike these newer companies, though, Lynda.com is a veteran. The company has been around for nearly 20 years. In other words, LinkedIn is bringing on a partner with the longest, most-established resume.

In 2013, Lynda.com raised $103 million in a funding round that helped put the site on the map even though it was already 18 years old. It is also profitable, and has been since its first year of existence because unlike a lot of consumer tech companies these days, it actually charges for its content.

But there are many questions still unanswered. Will LinkedIn and Lynda.com fuse their membership businesses? Will Lynda.com operate independently in the long term? (For now, it will, said LinkedIn.) How soon will we see Lynda courses promoted or suggested within LinkedIn?

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Head of Content Ryan Roslansky flew to Lynda.com headquarters in Carpinteria, Calif., to begin talking about these kinds of integration issues Thursday morning. 

In the meantime, there are many reasons LinkedIn broke the bank for an ed-tech company. Here are a few of them:

The Missions Align

This is the element of the acquisition that executives from both companies are touting, and it makes sense. LinkedIn aims to connect people with job opportunities. Lynda.com aims to connect people with an education about those jobs. The premise: In the current market, you really won’t have the opportunity if you don’t have the education needed to go along with it. 

Weiner often refers to this as the Economic Graph, which is a fancy way of describing the connection of people with job opportunities — all through LinkedIn, of course. As Weiner described it to Re/code last year: “That’s the way we envision ourselves creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.”

LinkedIn is painting a scenario in which you search for a job, see the skills required for that job, and then are directed to a course from Lynda.com that will train you in those skills. Alternatively, a recruiter could search for available candidates based on the courses they’ve taken. You can already add courses to your profile, but courses endorsed by LinkedIn may carry more clout.

Students

LinkedIn is keen on getting college students onto its platform, especially college seniors about to enter the job market. Roslansky said the Lynda.com acquisition further promotes this focus, and could help get LinkedIn’s foot in the door of some of these classrooms. 

Lynda already works with 40 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, including all of the Ivy League schools. 

“Colleges are [using] this platform to help students learn skills they need before they take a class or during a class or to augment some of the materials these institutions are using in their day-to-day,” Roslansky explained. “This platform reaches students.”

Weiner foreshadowed this concept with Re/code in an earlier interview: “The biggest focus area for students is going to be helping them to get their first job.” 

Of course, LinkedIn can’t help students who aren’t using LinkedIn, and Lynda.com could presumably help with that. (After shelling out $1.5 billion, LinkedIn better hope so.) There are plenty of competitors, such as Chegg, trying to grab the college market to offer all kinds of services. 

A Reason to Come Back

Weiner told Re/code last year that a very small minority of people on LinkedIn are looking for a job. That means they’re coming to LinkedIn for other reasons, such as to read or create content. The company has made a big push in the last year to encourage that by expanding its publishing tool and redesigning its homepage to ensure you see more stories and news. 

Adding Lynda.com — which is another kind of content — to the mix gives people yet another reason to spend time on LinkedIn. It’s probably safe to assume that you’ll be able to share and watch Lynda.com videos in your LinkedIn stream; perhaps you’ll even be able to create your own. 

And, as Facebook is proving, video content is very important to the future of all Internet companies. More video typically means more money from video advertisers. Obviously, LinkedIn wouldn’t mind that. 
 

Article by Kurt Wagner appeared on re/code
 

Barbie & her server

Fenby Miskin

At a recent New York toy fair, a Mattel representative introduced the newest version of Barbie by saying: "Welcome to New York, Barbie."

The doll, named Hello Barbie, responded: "I love New York! Don't you? Tell me, what's your favorite part about the city? The food, fashion or the sights?"

To revive the sinking sales of its flagship brand, Mattel is bringing Barbie to life with voice-recognition software that will allow the doll to "listen" to children speak and give chatty responses. It will learn over time, remembering your dog's name and adjusting to new topics.

This WiFi-connected Barbie may soon be a hit among children used to tinkering with iPads, but children's privacy advocates are crying foul. Hello Barbie may be more accurately called "eavesdropping" Barbie, says one advocacy group. Another popular description? Creepy.

Hello Barbie works by recording a child's voice with an embedded microphone that is triggered by pressing a button on the doll. As the doll "listens," audio recordings travel over the Web to a server where the snippets of speech are recognized and processed. That information is used to help form Hello Barbie's responses.

"If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child's intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed," Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology, said in a statement.

The concern underscores a tricky challenge facing the toy industry as it struggles to keep up with children's growing affinity for technology and Web-enabled gadgets. Sales of Barbie have plummeted recently, while demand for children's apps and online games has exploded. Children are forging their digital footprint earlier than ever, forcing parents to make thorny decisions about what kinds of technology limits to put in place during playtime.

Mattel and ToyTalk, the San Francisco-based start-up that created the technology used in the doll, say the privacy and security of the technology have been their top priority. "Mattel is committed to safety and security, and Hello Barbie conforms to applicable government standards," Mattel said in a statement.

The doll is expected to hit store shelves in the fall, and ToyTalk says it is still developing its privacy policy. But before the technology is activated, parents probably will have to sign into an app, create an account and consent to their children's voices being recorded, ToyTalk says.

In an interview, ToyTalk chief executive Oren Jacob stressed that the audio files the doll collects will be used only to improve the product, including helping it build better speech recognition models for children. "The data is never used for anything to do with marketing or publicity or any of that stuff. Not at all," Jacob said.

But the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a petition Wednesday calling on Mattel to scrap the doll. The technology could leave children vulnerable to stealth advertising, the group says. Children could, for example, be subtly encouraged to ask their parents for related Barbie toys or accessories, they say.

"Kids using 'Hello Barbie' aren't only talking to a doll, they are talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial," Susan Linn, the group's director, said in a statement. "It's creepy - and creates a host of dangers for children and families."

The criticism of Hello Barbie comes at a difficult time for Mattel. Bryan Stockton resigned as the toymaker's chief executive in January after a string of poor earnings results. In the fourth quarter, Mattel's profit tumbled 59 percent. Sales of Barbie sank 21 percent, and sales of its baby-oriented Fisher-Price brand declined 16 percent.

Mattel says Hello Barbie will offer children a highly engaging play experience, in part because the doll will learn about its users over time. At the demonstration at the New York toy fair, the Mattel representative chatting with Hello Barbie mentioned that she liked being onstage. Later in the conversation, when the Mattel representative asked Hello Barbie what she should be when she grew up, the doll responded, "Well, you told me you like being onstage. So maybe a dancer? Or a politician? Or how about a dancing politician?"

Parents can choose to receive daily or weekly e-mails with access to the audio files of their children's conversations with Hello Barbie. "We want to make sure parents are in control of their family's data at all times," said Jacob, ToyTalk's chief executive.

But even that extra layer of transparency is "troubling," Linn said.

"Children confide in their dolls," she said. "When children have conversations with dolls and stuffed animals, they're playing, and they reveal a lot about themselves."

 

More articles by Sarah Halzac, Washingtom Post

Nesta interprets Kickstarter's data on UK video games projects

Fenby Miskin

Recent Nesta research estimates that in 2014 the Alternative Finance market in the UK will reach £1.7 billion. Reward-based platforms like KickstarterIndiegogo or Crowdfunder where “backers” fund projects in exchange for rewards are especially popular in creative industries like video games.[i] Some games projects like Double Fine AdventureWasteland 2 or Shadowrun Returns have raised millions of dollars in Kickstarter.

The UK has also seen some big success stories in this space, such as Elite Dangerous or Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse Adventure. However, there is little hard data about the state and evolution of crowdfunding for UK video games projects.

To address this, we scraped Kickstarter data about UK video games projects launched between September 2011 and January 2015.[ii] We collected data on 678 projects, capturing 90% of all UK projects in the video games category. [iii]

What did we learn?

1. UK video games projects have raised more than £5m since 2010

In total, UK games projects sought to raise £20,5m, and received pledges worth £6,5m from 213,409 backers.[iv]  119 projects (17.6% of the total) were successful in reaching their funding target, raising £5.45m.[v]

Although this amount pales by comparison with the budgets for AAA console games (which frequently go upwards of £50m), it is not a trivial either: the publicly backed Abertay Games Prototype fund has distributed £5m to games projects since 2010.

It is also worth noting that many projects use Kickstarter as a source of “seed funding” which is then complemented with capital from other sources, including “early-access” sales and publishers.[vi]

2. The top five projects raised almost 60% of the funds

The distribution of funds raised is very concentrated (see figure 1 below). Only one project (Elite Dangerous) raised more than £1m, and only 50 projects raised more than £10,000. 32 successful projects raised less than £2,000.  

This concentration is similar to what we see in other creative markets, which tend to be dominated by a few blockbusters, followed by a raft of B-list projects with smaller budgets, and finally a long tail of niche projects.

3. Individuals set up 50% of the projects, but raised 15% of the funds

Kickstarter has low barriers to entry  – we would expect to see one-man bands and hobbyists jostling for funding with larger companies. How do their outcomes compare?

As figure 2 shows, just over half of the projects in our list were set-up by individuals.[vii] Individual-run projects were in general less ambitious in their funding goals (they sought to raise 39% of the total funding sought), and less successful in raising funds (they only raised 15% of the total funds raised)  

This makes sense: nowadays, Kickstarter campaigns require a significant investment in concept development, videos, promotion and so forth, which can be more easily afforded by a company. Audiences can also be wary of backing individuals with big goals and/or less of a track record in professional games development. A company’s bigger network can also help increase the reach of a Kickstarter campaign.

4. What are the trends in Kickstarter funding for UK video games projects?

After several early hits, there has been a decrease in the amounts raised by UK video games campaigns (see figure 3).  The does not appear to be caused by a decline in the number of projects looking for funding, or in the amounts of funding sought by new projects (the red bar in Figure 3).

One potential explanation is that ‘Kick-busters’ like Elite Dangerous or Broken Sword bring one-off backers to Kickstarter without increasing the overall level of funding available for other projects. It could also be that UK video games projects are facing stronger competition from projects in other media and territories. Determining what is happening here is an interesting topic for further research.

5. Adventure games tend to be more successful, and strategy games raise the most money

One often hears that Kickstarter gives video games developers the opportunity to work in projects that are less attractive for mainstream publishers and investors. We looked at the types (“genres”) of games launched and funded in Kickstarter to explore this issue.[viii]

Our findings support the idea that Kickstarter enables creative experimentation in niche genres. Whereas shooters, sports games and casual puzzles dominate games charts, Kickstarter brims with games straddling multiple genres, as well as strategy and role-playing games (see the right-hand panel in Figure 4).

This point is strengthened by the high success rates of Adventure games, a venerable and well-loved type of game that had until recently been all but abandoned by commercial publishers (left-hand panel in Figure 4), and the popularity of strategy and adventure games in terms of total funds raised (Figure 5).

6. The geography of UK video games Kickstarter activity

We have mapped an index of local Kickstarter activity.[ix] This reveals “hotspots” of activity across the UK, including several “games hubs” identified in previous research.[x] Our Kickstarter index correlates significantly with the measure of games specialisation we calculated in that project.[xi]  This stands to reason: vibrant games industry hubs host a critical mass of games-making talent who might start Kickstarter projects on the side, or use Kickstarter to fund spinouts from existing companies. 

What about other Kickstarter hotspots in the map? Could our Kickstarter index work as an ‘early warning sign’ for the groundswell of creative and entrepreneurial energy anticipating the emergence of a new gaming cluster? We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.

7. Conclusion

In the last four years, Kickstarter has channelled a considerable amount of money into video games development in the UK.  This does not mean that it is a panacea for games financing. Kickstarter might be democratic in access, but as it often happens in creative digital markets, it is not so democratic in outcomes.

Most funding goes to a few popular projects, often run by companies with the resources to organise a “professional” campaign. The amounts raised are, in general, dwarfed by commercial AAA budgets (although admittedly, those AAA games tend to target consoles, rarely the focus for Kickstarter projects).

Consistent with this, the profile of Kickstarter video games projects is quite different from what we see in mainstream charts. Kickstarter seems to be enhancing the diversity of UK games-making ecosystems in terms of the video games that get made, by whom and in what locations.

8. Last question: How does Kickstarter contribute to entrepreneurialism and innovation in the UK games economy?

41 companies in our Kickstarter list also appear in the list of video games companies compiled for “A Map of the UK Games Industry.”[xii] Interestingly, 11 of these companies were incorporated in the same year or the year after their Kickstarter campaign, suggesting that Kickstarter provided an initial venue for their entrepreneurial activities.

More research is needed to understand the trajectory of “Kickstarted” projects and companies, and also the extent to which creative experimentation in Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms creates wider spillovers (e.g. by showing that new and niche genres have commercial traction).

From a regional angle, does Kickstarter enable games production in younger hubs that have less visibility and access to finance and networks than established games-making clusters?

These are very interesting - and complex - questions. The wealth of Kickstarter data we have started exploring in this blog post will help us tackle them.

(This blog benefitted from helpful comments from Liam Collins and John Davies, in Nesta P&R; the "Lego Crowd" image comes from Charles and Adrienne Eseltine's Flickr).

 

[i] They still comprise a small segment of the market though – Nesta estimates they will reach £26m of the market in 2014.

[ii] Although Kickstarter is not the only rewards-based platform channeling funding into creative projects, it is widely agreed that it is the most important one for video games. This is why we focused on it.

[iii] We did this by downloading the results of an advanced Kickstarter query for UK videogames projects, and extracting information about each project in it with R. This information included URLs for individual projects, which we crawled for additional information. Although the initial project search announced “765 UK video games projects” in Kickstarter, the query only returned information for 678 projects (90% of the total). The count for successfully funded projects was consistent across queries.

[iv] There is likely to be double counting here, since people often back more than one project in Kickstarter. It is also worth noting that the budgets for projects launched before the official launch of Kickstarter in the UK were only available in dollars. We converted them into pounds using the average monthly exchange rate between USD and GBP in the month when the Kickstarter campaign ended, which we accessed from XE Currency Converter.

[v] Kickstarter projects that fail to reach their funding goal do not receive any money.

[vi] This can be controversial among backers.

[vii] We classified projects as “individual-run” by matching the first word (“John”) in each Kickstarter artist’s name (“John Doe”) with a list of 5,494 English names. If there was no match, we assumed the project was set-up by a company.

[viii] We allocated projects to gaming genres (based on Wikipedia) by looking for keywords (“shooter”, “first-person-shooter”, “fps”) in their project description. If a project matched more than one genre, we labeled it as ‘Multigenre.’ If it did not match any, we labeled it as “Other.”

[ix] The index normalises local Kickstarter activity (measured using project location information) with population data from the Census. The census data was obtained from ONSThe Scottish Census Website, and the Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service at the Output Area level (referred to as “Small Area” in NI), and allocated to TTWAs after looking-up via the National Statistics Postcode Lookup. Matching project locations to Travel to Work Areas capt uring local labour markets was not trivial, given the lack of consistency in the geographical levels provided in Kickstarter project locations (which included cities like e.g. “Brighton & Hove”, areas like “North Yorkshire” and even nations like “Wales”). We used a fuzzy matching approach between location names and TTWA names, followed by some corrections by hand (e.g. allocating Leamington Spa projects to the Warwickshire and Stratford-Upon-Avon TTWA). This method failed to clearly allocate projects to TTWAs in 101 cases, and in some cases, the allocation was rough (e.g. York includes some projects in the Yorkshire area due to similarity in names). Caution is advised in the interpretation of this exploratory analysis.

[x] They are Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Cardiff, London, Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Edinburgh.

[xi] Interestingly, the Kickstarter index has a stronger correlation with measures of games specialisation estimated using Nesta’s “big data” approach, than with measures based on official Standard Industrial Classification – SIC – codes, suggesting that the former approach is better at capturing ‘under the radar’ games development activity.

[xii] This number (15% of all ‘companies’ in our Kickstarter list) sounds reasonable.  Leaving aside the fact that it is based on a perfect match between an organisation’s name in Kickstarter and our games dataset, many companies operating in Kickstarter might not yet have published a commercial game which would have been discussed online, and therefore, identifiable using the “big data” approach in A Map of the UK Games Industry.

Verizon's Opinion in Morse Code

Fenby Miskin

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