Publishing News: Week in Review

Amazon launched Cloud Drive, the Google Books settlement might get complicated, and good data leads to good business.

Here are the publishing bits that caught my attention this week. (Note: Some of these stories were published here on Radar throughout the week.)

Amazon wins on storage, Dropbox wins on privacy


Amazon launched its Cloud Drive Tuesday. The service offers users online space to store ebooks, music and a variety of other file types, and also offers the ability to play music files through the Cloud Player. In a post for Booksprung, Chris Walters likened the service to Dropbox and said Amazon has the edge on space:

Like Dropbox, Cloud Drive is a free storage locker in the cloud that you can access from any web browser. Dropbox’s killer feature is its set-it-and-forget-it syncing capability. Cloud Drive distinguishes itself by offering 2.5 times more storage space at the free account level.

Dropbox offers 2GB of free space compared to Amazon’s 5GB. The more notable difference between the two storage services, however, was highlighted in a couple of stories that cited from the Amazon Cloud Drive Terms of Use:

5.2. Our Right to Access Your Files. You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats; or as we determine is necessary to provide the Service or comply with applicable law.

You have the right to do what?!? Sticking with the same apples, compare that to the Dropbox Terms of Service on privacy:

The files stored on your Dropbox are accessible only to you via your login. Dropbox employees are only permitted access to file metadata only (file names and locations). No employee is allowed to view the files in your Dropbox folder.

Let us not forget Amazon’s predilection for wielding the file access — and delete — card, ala the George Orwell “1984” and “Animal Farm” debacle. Amazon apologized for that, but still … they did it. Privacy trumps 2.5GB of free space in my book.

How Golan v. Holder might affect the Google Books settlement

Google Books

In last week’s rejection of the Google Books Amendment Settlement Agreement, part of Judge Denny Chin’s ruling indicated the copyright questions in the case may best be answered by Congress. James Grimmelmann, associate professor at New York Law School, cited from the ruling:

The questions of who should be entrusted with guardianship over orphan books, under what terms, and with what safeguards are matters more appropriately decided by Congress than through an agreement among private, self-interested parties. Indeed, the Supreme Court has held that “it is generally for Congress, not the courts, to decide how best to pursue the Copyright Clause’s objectives.”

This raises the question of whether the settlement could be affected by the Golan v. Holder copyright case being heard by the Supreme Court. I posed the question to Dana Newman, a transactional and intellectual property attorney. Via an email interview, she pointed out one of the main considerations:

If the Supreme Court upholds the law at issue in Golan, then those foreign books in Google’s digital library previously considered to be in the public domain will move to the category of copyrighted works, and Google would need to obtain permission to copy them and make them available online.

As Adam Hodgkin noted, this point further muddies the waters around this question as well:

Adam Hodgkin tweet

Newman also considered overlapping issues at play in both cases:

Continue reading this story here.

Kirk Biglione outlines the data publishers need, where to get it, and what to do with it


In this month’s issue of Wired, Kevin Kelly interviewed author James Gleick about his new book “The Information.” At one point in the interview, Gleick talked about the perception of data on a universal scale:

Modern physics has begun to think of the bit — this binary choice — as the ultimate fundamental particle. John Wheeler summarized the idea as “it-from-bit.” By that he meant that the basis of the physical universe — the “it” of an atom or subatomic particle — is not matter, nor energy, but a bit of information.

While data as the basis for the universe will likely remain the subject of scientific debate, data is rapidly proving to be the basis of successful business models. A recent GigaOM story touched on the increasing volume of data being generated in relation to the publishing landscape:

For Barnes & Noble, the data they are dealing with is exploding. It’s a big, rapid change: They have 35 terabytes of data currently, but expect 20 terabytes in 2011 … The challenge now for book sellers is to merge the dot-com website, mobile devices, and brick-and-mortar stores for a seamless experience.

Where do publishers go to gather this data, and what do they do with it once it’s in-hand? I turned to Kirk Biglione, partner at Oxford Media Works for answers. In an email interview, he offered up practical ways to gather and use the sheer amount of data being generated. He also noted that traditional sales channel data, while important, is just the tip of the iceberg.

For publishers, what are the most important types of data generated?

Kirk Biglione

Kirk Biglione: All forms of data are important: traditional sales data, web data, data from interactive apps, and market research data. As publishing goes digital, publishers are being inundated with new types of data. The challenge is making sense of it all and understanding how different metrics relate not only to the bottom line, but to intangibles like consumer experience.

Continue reading this story here.

Top photo: Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom 0.1, by Michael Kreil on Flickr

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