Links for week ending 25 March 2011

Court rejects Google Books settlement
The BBC reports that a New York federal district court has rejected the settlement proposed in the class action suit brought against Google by the Author’s Guild of America. The judge ruled that the settlement, which would have permitted Google to continue digitising and making available books protected by copyright in exchange for an annual flat royalty fee, would give Google a “de facto monopoly” over digitised books. Inside Higher Ed reports on the various interests which influenced the case, highlighting law professor Pamela Samuelson’s influential amicus brief, while the Chronicle of Higher Education discuss an alternative solution to licensing book digitisation being promoted by the director of the Internet Archive, Peter Brantley. Noted Google critic Siva Vaidhyanathan praises the court’s decision, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) focus on the judge’s acknowledgement of the worrying privacy implications of the settlement.
BBC report | Inside Higher Ed report | Chronicle of Higher Education report | Siva Vaidhyanathan | EFF

US/Azeri “weaponisation” of social media: reports emerge from hacked emails
The Guardian reports that United States Central Command, a branch of the US military, has commissioned software to help its agents manage multiple “online personas” designed to intervene in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto-language online conversations. According to The Tech Herald, the existence of the persona management software contracts first emerged from hacked emails belonging to US security firm HBGary and released on the web by associates of Anonymous. Links with ongoing security service operations in Azerbaijan against opposition activists who use social media are currently being investigated by Global Voices.
Guardian | The Tech Herald | Global Voices

Member States refuse to provide information on EU transparency negotiations
Access Info Europe have released a report which highlights the dire state of transparency at Europe’s Council of Ministers. Of 27 Member States approached by Access Info, 23 used domestic right to information law exceptions to excuse themselves from releasing all or part of the information requested, which – ironically – had to do with ongoing negotiations at the Council around proposed transparency reforms.

Open Networking Foundation pursues new standards
A large group of information technology companies including Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Verizon this week launched the Open Networking Foundation, a new initiative to cooperate on a suite of open networking standards called OpenFlow. The New York Times reports: “the benefits, proponents say, would be more flexible and secure networks that are less likely to suffer from congestion”.

The coming battle for Africa’s internet
This Atlantic feature predicts how local and global web and software developers will seek to exploit Africa’s fast-growing online market.

Crowdsourced data is not a substitute for real statistics
Members of the Benetech community debunk recent research suggesting that crowd-sourced data could meaningfully help disaster relief efforts.

An introduction to the federated social network
This is a great primer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on the rise of new approaches to social networking that remove the need for personal data to be controlled by centralised corporations “whose business models are generally based on gathering, using, and monetizing data about you; and which may be vulnerable to government pressure tactics.”

ONI: Year in Review
The Open Net Initiative publish their annual report into the state of internet censorship across the world.

Interview: Claudio Aspesi
Richard Poynder interviews market analyst Claudio Aspesi about his dark predictions for the world of scholarly publishing as the Open Access movement and the global financial downturn each serve to threaten its bottom line.

Data visualisation: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests
An innovative and compelling visual index of the Guardian’s coverage of popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

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