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Verizon Boosts Price of Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans By $20 ( 176

nicholasjay writes: In November, Verizon Wireless is going to start charging its customers with the grandfathered "unlimited data" plans an extra $20 for the data. This is obviously an attempt to get people off of the old unlimited data plans. Even though a Verizon spokesperson confirmed the change, I'm hoping they won't go through with this plan — but right now I'm weighing all my options.

Amazon Is Only Going To Pay Authors When Each Page Is Read 172

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has a new plan to keep self-published authors honest: they're only going to pay them when someone actually reads a page. Peter Wayner at the Atlantic explores how this is going to change the lives of the authors — and the readers. Fat, impressive coffee table books are out if no one reads them. Thin, concise authors will be bereft. Page turners are in.

Restaurateur Loses Copyright Suit To BMI 389

Frosty P writes: BMI claims Amici III in Linden, New York didn't have a license when it played four tunes in its eatery one night last year, including the beloved "Bennie and the Jets" and "Brown Sugar," winning $24,000 earlier this year, and over $8,200 in attorney's fees. Giovanni Lavorato, who has been in business for 25 years, says the disc DJ brought into the eatery paid a fee to play tunes. "It's ridiculous for me to pay somebody also," he said. "This is not a nightclub. This is not a disco joint . . . How many times do they want to get paid for the stupid music?"

Australia and NSA Gain Comprehensive Access To Indonesian Phone System 133

An anonymous reader writes "Newly disclosed documents from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that in Australia with the NSA has gained comprehensive access to Indonesian's national communications systems. They tapped into Indosat, Indonesia's domestic satellite telecommunications provider including data on Indonesian officials in various government ministries and obtained 1.8 million encrypted master keys, used to protect private communications, from Indonesia's Telkomsel cell phone network. Australia has been recently criticized for tapping the phone of the Indonesian President's wife and for the Royal Australian Navy accidental incursions into Indonesian territorial waters."

Music Industry Is Keeping Streaming Services Unprofitable 118

Lucas123 writes "Music streaming services, forced to give from 60% to 70% of their revenue to the record industry, will never be profitable in their current state, a new report shows. Unless the services can monetize their user base by entering new product and service categories, or they can sell themselves to a larger company that can sustain them, they're doomed to fail. One method that subscription services might be able to use to achieve profitability is to up sell mobile deals or bundles to subscribers. For example, a select package of mobile services would be sold through the music service provider, the report from Generator Research suggested. 'Services like iTunes Match and Google and Amazon are already heading in this direction,' the report states. Another possibility would be for a larger company to purchase the music service or for the service to begin offering sanitized user behavioral data to advertisers, who could then better target a customer base."
The Courts

'CandySwipe' Crushed: When Game Development Turns Nasty 251

Nerval's Lobster writes "King, the gaming developer behind the monster hit Candy Crush Saga, has attracted a fair amount of criticism over the past few weeks over its attempt to trademark the word 'candy,' which isn't exactly an uncommon term. The company followed up that trademarking attempt by firing off takedown notices at other developers who use 'candy' in the titles of their apps. But things only got emotional in the past few days, when indie developer Albert Ransom published an open letter on his Website that excoriates King for what basically amounts to bullying. Ransom claims that he published CandySwipe in 2010, a full two years before Candy Crush Saga hit the market, and that the two games bear a number of similarities; after opposing King's attempts to register a trademark, Ransom found that his rival had taken things to a whole new level by purchasing the rights to a game called Candy Crusher and using that as leverage to cancel the CandySwipe trademark. Ransom claims he spent three years working on his game, and that King is basically robbing his livelihood. King was not effusive in its response. 'I would direct you to our stance on intellectual property,' a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email to Slashdot, which included a link to a letter posted online by King CEO Riccardo Zacconi. 'At this time, we do not have any comment to add beyond what is outlined in this letter.' Zacconi's various defenses in the letter seem a moot point in the context of CandySwipe, considering how Ransom has already abandoned the prospect of fighting to protect his intellectual property. But the two developers' letters help illustrate how downright nasty the casual-gaming industry has become over the past several quarters, as profits skyrocket and people attempt to capitalize on others' success."
The Almighty Buck

Oil Companies Secretly Got Paid Twice For Cleaning Up Toxic Fuel Leaks 113

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mica Rosenberg reports at Reuters that major oil companies including Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and Sunoco were paid twice for dealing with leaks from underground fuel storage tanks — once from government funds and again, secretly, from insurance companies. Court documents show many of the cases and settlement agreements follow a similar pattern, accusing the oil companies of 'double-dipping' by collecting both special state funds and insurance money for the same tank cleanups. Some states say any insurance payouts should have gone to them since they covered the cost of the work. 'It appears this was a really common practice and it's very disconcerting,' says Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. 'Basically the companies were defrauding the state.' Approximately 40 states and the District of Columbia have special funds to cover the costs of removing and replacing the old tanks, excavating tainted dirt and pumping out dirty groundwater. Since 1988, there have been more than half a million leaky tanks reported across the country. Nearly 80,000 spills still are waiting to be cleaned up. The lawsuits against the oil companies allege fraud or other civil, not criminal, claims, which have a lower burden of proof and do not lead to jail time. Companies are largely cooperating to forge settlement deals and were interested in partnering with the states to clean up the legacy of petroleum leaks. For example Phillips 66 paid Utah $2 million to resolve allegations that the oil company defrauded a state fund to the tune of $25 million for cleanups associated with leaking underground tanks. Phillips sued myriad insurers over coverage for contamination arising from leaking tanks around the country and Phillips 66 wound up collecting $286 million from its insurers to resolve these disputes, but it never divulged any of this to Utah officials, the suit alleged. 'When I first saw these cases, I thought this is kind of incredible,' says New Mexico assistant attorney general Seth Cohen, who handled the lawsuit for the state. 'The oil companies have, in effect, profited off polluting.'"

How Silicon Valley CEOs Conspired To Suppress Engineers' Wages 462

Oneflower writes "As we discussed last week, a lawsuit is moving forward that alleges widespread conspiracy among the CEOs of Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar to suppress the wages of their tech staff. Mark Ames at Pando explains how it happened, and showcases some of the emails involving Steve Jobs and other CEOs. Quoting: 'Shortly after sealing the pact with Google, Jobs strong-armed Adobe into joining after he complained to CEO Bruce Chizen that Adobe was recruiting Apple’s employees. Chizen sheepishly responded that he thought only a small class of employees were off-limits: "I thought we agreed not to recruit any senior level employees. I would propose we keep it that way. Open to discuss. It would be good to agree." Jobs responded by threatening war: "OK, I’ll tell our recruiters they are free to approach any Adobe employee who is not a Sr. Director or VP. Am I understanding your position correctly?" Adobe’s Chizen immediately backed down.'"

Why the Major Labels Love (and Artists Hate) Music Streaming 164

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jay Frank writes that the big four music distributors and their sister publishers (Sony, Warner, UNI and EMI) make 15% more per year, on average, from paying customers of streaming services like Spotify or Rdio than it does from the average customer who buys downloads, CDs or both. Each label makes 'blanket license' deals with Streaming services with advances in the undisclosed millions, which is virtually the same as selling music in bulk; they receive these healthy licensing fees to cover all activity in a given period rather than allowing Streaming services to 'pay as they go.' 'Artists are up in arms, many are opting out of streaming services,' writes Frank. 'Lost in that noise is a voice that is seldom heard: that of the record companies. There's good reason for that: they're making more money from streaming and the future looks extremely bright for them.' The average 'premium' subscription customer in the U.S. was worth about $16 a year to a major record company, while the average buyer of digital downloads or physical music was worth about $14. Thus, year over year, the premium subscriber was worth nearly 15% more than the person who bought music either digitally or physically."

Apple Starts Blocking Unauthorized Lightning Cables With iOS 7 663

beltsbear writes "Your formerly working clone Lightning cable could stop working with the latest iOS update. Previously the beta version allowed these cables to charge with a warning message but the final release actually stops many cables from working. Apples Lightning connector system is locked with authentication chips that can verify if a cable is authorized by Apple. Many users with clone cables are now without the ability to charge their iPhones."

Poor US Infrastructure Threatens the Cloud 177

snydeq writes "Thanks to state-sponsored cable/phone duopolies, U.S. broadband stays slow and expensive — and will probably impede cloud adoption, writes Andrew C. Oliver. 'As a patriotic American, I find the current political atmosphere where telecom lobbyists set the agenda to be a nightmare. All over the world, high-end fiber is being deployed while powerful monopolies in the United States work to prevent it from coming here,' Oliver writes. 'I expect that cloud adoption will closely match broadband speed, cost, and availability curves. Those companies living in countries where the broadband monopoly is protected will adopt the cloud at a slower rate than those with competitive markets and municipal fiber. There's a good chance U.S. firms will fall into that group.'"
The Internet

Verizon's Plan To Turn the Web Into Pay-Per-View 332

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder writes of Verizon's diabolical plan to to charge websites for carrying their packets — a strategy that, if it wins out, will be the end of the Internet as we know it. 'Think of all the things that tick you off about cable TV. Along with brainless programming and crummy customer service, the very worst aspect of it is forced bundling. ... Now, imagine that the Internet worked that way. You'd hate it, of course. But that's the direction that Verizon, with the support of many wired and wireless carriers, would like to push the Web. That's not hypothetical. The country's No. 1 carrier is fighting in court to end the Federal Communications Commission's policy of Net neutrality, a move that would open the gates to a whole new — and wholly bad — economic model on the Web.'"
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Slams Google Fiber For Banning Servers On Its Network 301

MojoKid writes "Anyone who has tried to host their own website from home likely knows all-too-well the hassles that ISPs can cause. Simply put, ISPs generally don't want you to do that, preferring you to move up to a business package (aka: more expensive). Not surprisingly, the EFF doesn't like these rules, which seem to exist only to upsell you a product. The problem, though, is that all ISPs are deliberately vague about what qualifies as a 'server.' Admittedly, when I hear the word 'server,' I think of a Web server, one that delivers a webpage when accessed. The issue is that servers exist in many different forms, so to target specific servers 'just because' is ridiculous (and really, it is). Torrent clients, for example, act as servers (and clients), sometimes resulting in a hundred or more connections being established between you and available peers. With a large number of connections like that being allowed, why would a Web server be classified any different? Those who torrent a lot are very likely to be using more ISP resources than those running websites from their home — yet for some reason, ISPs force you into a bigger package when that's the kind of server you want to run. We'll have to wait and see if EFF's movement will cause any ISP to change. Of all of them, you'd think it would have been Google to finally shake things up."

AT&T Quietly Adds Charges To All Contract Cell Plans 338

guttentag writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T Mobility, the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has added a new monthly administrative fee of 61 cents to the bills of all of its contract wireless lines as of May 1, a move that could bring in more than a half-billion dollars in annual revenue to the telecom giant. An AT&T spokeswoman said the fee covers 'certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell-site rents and maintenance.' The increased cost to consumers comes even though AT&T's growth in wireless revenue last year outpaced the costs to operate and support its wireless business. The company has talked of continuing to improve wireless profitability. Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins noted that the new administrative fee is a key component for accelerating revenue growth for the rest of the year. He said the fee should add 0.30 of a percentage point to AT&T's 2013 revenue growth; he predicts total top-line growth of about 1.5%. Normally, consumers could vote with their wallets by taking their business elsewhere. AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge,' effectively forcing millions of people to either pay more money per month or pay the ETF."

Nintendo Hijacks Ad Revenue From Fan-Created YouTube Playthroughs 297

mcleland writes "The BBC reports that Nintendo is now using the content ID match feature in YouTube to identify screencap videos of people playing their games. They then take over the advertising that appears with the video, and thus the ad revenue. Nintendo gets it all, and the creators of these videos (which are like extended fan-made commercials for the games) get nothing. Corporate gibberish to justify this: 'In a statement, the firm said the move was part of an "on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media."'"

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