mpaaEarlier this year we reported that MPAA President Dan Glickman is likely to be thrown out after his contract ends in 2010. Unlike his predecessor, Jack Valenti, who held the office for 38 years, the studio heads plan to ditch Glickman after just 6 years.

However, Glickman is not the only one to be critiqued by Hollywood’s bosses. Cnet reports that the MPAA has already fired three leaders of its anti-piracy operations. The MPAA’s general counsel Greg Goeckner has been told to leave at the end of the year, and their director of worldwide anti-piracy operations and the deputy director of Internet anti-piracy have also been fired.

Sources in the film industry said that the three were thrown out because the anti-piracy operations of the MPAA were unsatisfactory, and “lacked aggressiveness.” The MPAA’s anti-piracy division will not cease its activities though, but in addition to the layoffs it will remove the term ‘anti-piracy’ from its name and replace it with ‘content protection’.

Under their new name they will continue to go after the BitTorrent site isoHunt – whose owner they promised to hunt down for life – and other sites they believe are a cause of movie industry losses. Unlike the RIAA, the MPAA has refrained from going after individual downloaders, and thus far there has been no indication that this will change anytime soon.

Legal battles aside, the main task of the MPAA will be to lobby for tougher anti-piracy legislation, a role that is now mostly fulfilled by music industry trade groups such as the BPI and IFPI.

The current layoffs are most likely the result of the rapidly increasing piracy rate of movies. However, instead of changing their name and replacing a few heads, the movie studio bosses have to consider whether legislating and lobbying is the right move to beat piracy. Maybe they should consider adapting to the digital era by making it easy for consumers to download legally at reasonable prices.

This post has been written by Ernesto on October 17, 2009 couresy of


3313363232_f676486a4bMaybe you’ve read some of the stories this past week about how FriendFeed’s traffic is way down following their sale to Facebook. The stats don’t look good, as the site’s traffic may have plummeted as much as 30% following its peak just prior to the sale. But to anyone who has meaningfully used the site since its inception, you probably didn’t needs stats to tell you what should be obvious: FriendFeed has turned into a ghost town.

One of the most compelling things about FriendFeed has always been just how easy it was to have a conversation on the site. Someone posted an item, and within seconds, many had robust conversation threads updating in the speed of realtime beneath them. This also lead to the occasional trollish activity, but overall it was great.

But since the acquisition, those conversation threads have largely slowed to a crawl, or worse, don’t exist at all on many items. Previously, FriendFeed had committed to keeping the site running indefinitely despite their new jobs at Facebook. And it has remained running, but the site’s innovation, always its key attribute, has been completely halted. And perhaps as a vote of no confidence, previously rabid users are now largely staying away.

And that’s really too bad. One of the key things I used FriendFeed for was to get information. There was a great system in place that would allow interesting things to bubble up based on people commenting on and the liking of items. Not all of it was great (baby pictures, while cute, get in the way of information), but overall the system worked. It was crowd-sourcing at its finest. But that obviously doesn’t work too well when the crowd has vanished.

Sure, there are some items on the site that still garner a good amount of conversation and likes, but as a whole, my experience post-sale has been severely tainted.

So why not just move on to Facebook, you may wonder? Because while there are similarities between what Facebook does and what FriendFeed does, FriendFeed is still much better at it. Hopefully soon we’ll begin seeing the effects of the FriendFeed team at Facebook, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s still too slow to share, automatically imported items take forever to show up, the filtering system needs work (I want to be able to hide just a certain type of item from one friend, like I can on FriendFeed, rather than hiding everything), as does the relevance of the main stream.

cricketsThat last item looks like it could be close as it would appear that Facebook Lite’s “View Top Stories” will soon make its way to Facebook proper. That’s a good step, but it’s basically FriendFeed’s “Best of day” area, and doesn’t do something like push recently liked stories to the top of the stream.

But more to the point, Facebook is an entirely different beast than FriendFeed. Facebook is still first and foremost a social network for people you know and want to connect with, FriendFeed was much more about information sharing and conversation. And that’s what I miss. There are plenty of others ways to get information on the web, but FriendFeed was like a playground for information. It was fast and fun.

And the team’s rapid pace of innovation pushed others, like yes, Facebook. Moving over to Facebook obviously didn’t make the FriendFeed team any less brilliant, but I worry about their ability to rapidly innovate in a much larger company, one that has to worry about its legacy of over 300 million users.

This week, one former FriendFeeder already left Facebook. He reasoning was that he didn’t want to telecommute anymore (he lives in Seattle), but he didn’t seem to mind doing it while he was still working on FriendFeed. Read into that what you will.

The bigger picture is that we see this happen all too often. A larger service buys a smaller one and proceeds to run the smaller one into the ground. Not on purpose, but because they have bigger goals for their own products. Google is particularly good at it. Jaiku, Dodgeball, you could even put Feedburner in there. Now we’re seeing Facebook do it too. The users are just along for the ride, helpless when this happens. They take our playground, and put glass on the ground. We can still play, but it’s not as fun. And eventually, everyone leaves with bloody feet — and doesn’t want to come back.

We should consider ourselves lucky that Twitter hasn’t agreed to be purchased yet, it could have very well suffered the same fate.

Look, I’m happy the FriendFeed team was able to get an exit that they clearly felt good about. And I realize that some services, no matter how innovative or how passionate their user base is, sometimes fade away. It’s just sad to see it go. It used to be my playground.

[photo: flickr/Alejandro Hernandez]

This post has been written by MG Siegler on October 17, 2009 couresy of

In spite of recent layoffs, Funcom seems to be moving forward steadily with The Secret World, offering a peek into the secret societies and a chance at the beta. The official site invites you to take the test to win beta access, and offers up a quiz asking "Which secret society do you belong to?"

The quiz is brief, a fun diversion that serves to give an overview of the three secret societies in The Secret World: the Illuminati (described as the notorious bad boys and girls of The Secret World), Templars (Crusaders, judges, the holy terror), and Dragon (manipulators and conspirators). Taking the quiz and giving your email address nets you an initiate kit, an invitation to join the forums, and a shot at a beta key.

So if you are looking forward to this upcoming game, rest assured that it seems to be delayed, but not dead.

This post has been written by Rubi Bayer on Oct 17th 2009 at 8:00PM couresy of



A beautiful wooden radio from designers Solène Le Goff and Christophe Gouache. Solar and/or wind-up powered. [via Dude Craft]

This post has been written by Sean Michael Ragan on Oct 17, 2009 07:00 PM couresy of

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We knew Verizon Wireless would soon be throwing caution to the wind in an effort to sway uncommitted smartphone buyers towards Big Red, and it looks like the November-bound Motorola Droid will be VZW’s anti-iPhone. The spot, which launched tonight and can be view in its entirety after the break, is a 30 second clip that begins by mocking Apple’s cutesy music and iconic font typically seen in iPhone plugs. It reels off a number of things that the iPhone can’t do, and then abruptly goes into full-on tease mode by flashing glimpses of a robot-controlled future and a tagline that simply states: "Droid Does." No shots of the actual Motorola Droid (or Sholes, as it was known in the past) are shown, but a dedicated teaser portal has already been erected; through that, we’re told that the phone will boast Android 2.0 and a 5 megapixel camera. At this point, we’d say the gloves are definitely off — AT&T, have anything to say for yourself, or is the iPhone doing just fine on its own?

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

This post has been written by Darren Murph on Oct 17th 2009 at 10:04PM couresy of

The historical preservationists at NIS America are attempting to save the increasingly endangered beast known as the "Universal Media Disc." You probably haven’t heard of the format — your parents most assuredly have. Though we currently live in an age of incorporeal digital software, the developer is attempting to re-release its eccentric dungeon dive, Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? in a limited edition UMD format — provided enough PSP owners show interest in owning a tangible copy of the game.

If over 1,000 supervillains-in-training pre-order the UMD version of Badman by November 13, NIS will go through with actually producing them, shipping out to their respective buyers in mid-December. Seems like it’ll be a tough putt — but we’re sure there’s 1,000 fans of both obscure strategy games and tiny, plastic-armored discs tucked away in some pocket in the internet.

This post has been written by Griffin McElroy on Oct 17th 2009 at 11:00PM couresy of