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Archive for July, 2009

ICANN (But U Can’t, Yet)

July 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Starting spring of 2010, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will begin taking applications for additional generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) that could see an expansion of up to 500 new domain suffixes (such as: .food, .drink, .books, etc.). So what are the implications for established online brands, Internet Governance, and Cyber-crime?
For one thing, an expanded set of gTLDs has long been positioned by ICANN as something that “will allow for more innovation, choice and change to the Internet’s addressing system”. This is well in line with ICANN’s founding principle to promote competition whilst ensuring security and stability. Also the expansion programme is being undertaken only after lengthy and on-going consultations with the numerous communities of stakeholders across the global Internet Community, (apparently the new gTLDs can be up to 63 characters in length, and will provide support for Chinese, Arabic and other characters), thus opening up the field more fully to a global audience. Furthermore, several organisations have apparently announced plans to apply for the new gTLDs. So what’s the controversy you might ask?
Well, according to this article, there still several issues / criticisms to be addressed by ICANN e.g.:

  • What protection exists for trademarks and intellectual property (i.e. protecting brands from phishing and cyber squatting)?
  • Whether registrars can operate new gTLD registries (thereby overturning the previous ICANN requirement to separate the two entities / activities)
  • How will community and geography-based gTLDs be evaluated (i.e. who will oversee the criteria and validity of applications for geographically-based gTLDs)
  • The fast tracking of foreign language domains (e.g. for new language character support);
  • How will this impact the domain naming market overall (who will win / lose in the new gTLD landscape)?
  • At some $185,000 per new gTLD, this won’t be cheap and ICANN faces criticism over the fees it plans to charge new gTLD applicants (i.e. if only rich organisations can afford a new gTLD, then how does this cater for poorer but equally legitimate applicants)?
  • Finally, according to an analysis piece in the Financial Times, there is ongoing tug-of-war over if and when ICANN should transfer full accountability for its operations to an international body

In summary, although there are still lots of issues / questions / criticisms to be addressed, the overarching goal of providing more choice, innovation and wider reach for the gTLD namespace is both laudable and to be encouraged. However, it must be done in a controlled manner in order to avoid any unintended consequences that could lead to irreparable fragmentation in the global Internet naming and addressing system.

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Categories: Capgemini, Internet Business, ISP Tags: ,

Innovation & Entrepreneurship Go Marching On

July 24, 2009 Leave a comment

After all, necessity is the mother of invention, and apparently there may be no better way out of a recession than to innovate your way out. This means you, you, and you at the back there. But how does one get going in the midst of: continuing job losses, corporate blood letting, and Swine Flu?

Weeeell, certainly not an easy one to answer, but one good approach may be to take a close look at whatever’s still going on out there, in spite the gloom. For example, technology innovation appears to be doing great (or Business-As-Usual) especially considering the recent parade of big player initiatives and announcements like: Google’s WaveMicrosoft’s Bing, and Apple’s iPhone 3G S launch etc. But what about the smaller guys, the start-ups and venture backed innovators? That may best be illustrated by a few examples, admittedly from my own acquaintance and / or interest, specifically in the areas of digital content business and enablers, such as:

1. ImageRights – A chance encounter with the CEO of this innovative company at the World Copyright Summit led to an overview of their recently launched service for online digital image providers and users (see:Imagerights.com). This service provides both photographers and publishers with the ability to source the right images for their projects. The killer application will be an extensive and global rights registry for images on this service – so I guess it can be done after all. Watch this space.

2. Audio Recognition – BMAT (or Barcelona, Music & Audio Technologies) is a prize winning technology start-up, that has just announced the launch of a new audio recognition / tracking service that can identify not only master recordings, but also the plethora of adaptations, interpretations and derivations (e.g. cover versions) that can often be found on the Internet. According to this report, this service will enable rights holders identify / capture revenue from a source that has proved too difficult to police and monetise hitherto now. Another innovative application from BMAT is the popular Skore, an online application that can analyse and evaluate singing performances (i.e. a virtual Simon Cowell). Whatever next, I wonder?

3. Music Valuation Service – Detica & SoundExchange developed this online tool which allows artists and rights owners to model and predict the impact of various strategies for generating revenue on their assets. According to this Music Tank article, the service (A Price For Music) this tool will stimulate debate over the potential financial impact of various services, over time.

4. Entrepreneur Country – Where have the VCs gone, and how easy is it to raise start-up funds in this current economic climate? Well the answer is not very far away, and if you really want to know, then head over to Entrepreneur Country and find out more. This networking organisation, founded by Julie Meyer (ofFirstTuesday fame), champions the belief that Entrepreneurship is the best way to economic growth in the UK. More power to them, I say.

So there you have it, a tiny glimpse at the constant push for ever more innovative services and businesses, even in harsh economic times. This to me is an encouraging sign of optimism and faith that things will eventually get better, and when it does, the sky will be the limit for those innovators left standing.

To quote Bachman Turner Overdrive, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

Is There Anything Like Acceptable DRM?

July 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Apparently so, and in the world of computer games no less. Yes I know this confounds previous media coverage, or user experience, with games DRM (e.g. think Spore), but there is strong indication that one company may have come up with something close to acceptable DRM for gamers.

So last Friday I spoke with the CEO and Marketing VP of Byteshield Inc., who confirmed that their award winning, eponymous product had been endorsed by none other than fervent gamers-only DRM watchdog / group, PRISM (or Players Resisting Invasive Security Measures), on their gamer-advocacy website at:www.reclaimyourgame.com. According to an issued statement, they found ByteShield to be “safe, transparent and non-invasive” after extensive testing. So how come you ask?

Well for starters, Byteshield offers protection via an online activation mechanism which works on the principle that only genuine users will be able to activate / access their game via a specific key (purchased with the game) by downloading integral parts of the game code from a secure server. Those that tested it claim it is transparent and non-invasive to the gaming experience, and they would “have no problem recommending it to other gamers”

The few limitations I can think of include platform support (Windows only for now), and connectivity requirements (i.e. probably works best via Broadband). But these are not show-stoppers judging by thenumbers of potential customers who now consider broadband a necessity.

Also although I think this is an effective approach to content control, that might work equally well with video content, I am not so sure it is applicable to high volume, low value content such as music tracks or ring tones, but that remains to be seen.

So there you have it, finally a Technology Protection Mechanism (TPM) that caters for the needs of its key stakeholders, which in this case are the developers, publishers and end-users of the games!

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.