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Challenging Google’s NC Tax Breaks

The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law (NCICL), led by former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robert (Bob) Orr, is challenging Google’s tax breaks. Orr and the NCICL are questioning whether the North Carolina Constitution allows the legislature to extend tax breaks like the ones it awarded to Google. (Google is not specifically named in the legislation.)

Orr says:

“The idea is that you don’t give individuals or individual companies to receive special treatment. There are provisions in the constitution that say your tax legislation be uniform. The fact is that these are tax breaks for one company. I don’t think anybody would disagree that these are not for Google.”

Not All Google Domain Names Lead to New Services

It appears Garett Rogers has gotten a little too excited about some recent domain name activity at Google. Rogers has learned of a number of domain names that were transferred to the search engine’s ownership, including:

GOOGLE-EXPRESS.COM
GET-ME-ON-GOOGLE.COM
GETMEON-GOOGLE.COM
GETONGOOGLE.NET
GETON-GOOGLE.COM
GET-ON-GOOGLE.COM
GETUSONGOOGLE.COM
GETUONGOOGLE.COM
UONGOOGLE.COM
YOUONGOOGLE.COM

Here’s what he has to say about the activity…

Now here comes the speculation.  Given this group of new domains, Google may be getting ready to provide a pay service for webmasters that will help in the quest to “get on Google”.  If this is indeed what is happening, the service would probably guarantee faster crawl/indexing speeds.

I love speculation as much as anyone, but I doubt Google would launch any new service with a hyphenated domain or a “.net”. My guess they acquired the domain names as part of an effort to police their trademark. Although, if they do launch the “Google Express”, I’ll take two roundtrip tickets to Miami please. ;-)

Google Hands Over YouTube User Info to Court

If you think you’re safe behind your YouTube username, think again.

ASPnews.com is reporting Google’s YouTube has complied with subpoenas issued by the U.S. District Court in Northern California, and turned over the identities of two users who illegally uploaded entire episodes of “24” prior to its broadcast and DVD release.

“We intend to use the information provided to pursue all available legal remedies against those who infringed our copyrights,” 20th Century Fox Television Vice President of Media Relations Chris Alexander.

Google’s compliance has ramifications beyond just the uploading of videos. If a court asks for any information on a user, you can bet Google’s going to fold and hand it over.

Via Threadwatch.

Belgian Court Confirms Earlier Google Ruling; It’s All About the Money

A Belgian court has upheld an earlier court ruling, preventing Google from displaying items from Belgian newspapers.

The case was brought by Copiepresse, which manages copyrights for Belgium’s French- and German-language newspapers…Copiepresse argues that versions of news articles stored on Google can be seen on its service even after the articles are no longer freely accessible on a newspaper’s Web site.

One silver-lining for Google. The court reduced the fine for violation from around $1m a day to just $25,000. That probably didn’t make Copiepresse too happy, as they were hoping the fine to be substantial enough to bring Google back to the negotiation table.

…Copiepresse would still consider allowing Google to display extracts from the Belgian newspapers for a fee, although said it was up to Google to initiate contact.

Video Blogger Josh Wolf Now Longest Jailed Journalist

Back in September we highlighted the legal situation video blogger, Josh Wolf, was in, because he refused to hand over video evidence to a federal court.

Facing contempt of court, Wolf was placed in a California jail and is now the longest-serving journalist behind bars in US history, for contempt, according to CNET.

Unfortunately, state laws can’t protect Wolf, as the case is a federal matter.

Wolf might normally be protected by California’s Shield Law. But federal prosecutors, who want to see if Wolf’s footage shows a San Francisco police car being set on fire at the protest, say they have jurisdiction over the case because the car was paid for in part by federal dollars. While many states have enacted shield laws to protect journalists from revealing confidential sources, notes and unpublished materials, there is no federal shield law to protect Wolf.

YouTube’s Achilles Heel? Users Can’t Be Trusted to Self-Police

I just read an interesting MarketWatch piece on the issues Google faces with the policing of copyrighted content on YouTube. Because YouTube allows videos to be uploaded, without first being screened or approved, it’s very easy for a pulled clip to be replaced within minutes.

“It’s now a game of whack-a-mole,” said John Palfrey, a Harvard law school professor, and executive director of the school’s Berkman Center For Internet & Society.

I’m jealous that Palfrey was given the opportunity to provide MarketWatch with such a cool sound-bite, but it certainly sums-up the game YouTube is playing, perfectly. By relying on the community to flag inappropriate content and copyrighted material, YouTube is hoping to avoid the additional expense – that would surely cripple any profitability the company may have – that would come from having to screen videos before publishing them. While it’s a nice to think your viewers are noble enough to shop anyone uploading copyrighted content, it’s just not going to happen.

Online Video Ads Must Meet Council Guidelines

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus ruled yesterday that advertisers posting their ads to YouTube, and other online video sites, must follow the same guidelines used in TV ads.

The ruling comes after claims were made that online ad campaigns by vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, were deceptive and lacked clarity in their comparison with other vacuum cleaners.

“This case establishes a precedent,” Andrea Levine, the director of NAD, said in a statement e-mailed to MediaPost. “When an advertiser places a video on a site like YouTube and uses it, either to make claims about its own product or to compare its product to a competitor’s product, those claims are advertising claims and, by law, require substantiation.”