Joel Aschbrenner, The Des Moines Register 11:13 p.m. EST January 7, 2014
The photo of Ann Dieleman posted on SexyExecs.blogspot.com.(Photo: The Des Moines Register)
- Exec's photo posted on SexyExecs.blogspot.com
- Google refused request from company to remove photo
- Case illustrates growing pushback against those who post photos without permission, observers say
DES MOINES — A photo posted to a blog that mocks corporate headshots has pitted a Des Moines company against Google in a copyright lawsuit.
ARAG North America, which provides legal insurance, sued the Internet giant last month in a case legal experts say exhibits an increasingly common clash over bloggers who post images online without permission.
The lawsuit concerns a head-and-shoulders photo of Ann Dieleman, a senior vice president and chief marketing officer with ARAG. The photo was published in 2009 on SexyExecs.blogspot.com, a forum where users post photos of executives with satirical comments.
Google owns Blogger, the company that hosts the website.
While no new photos have been posted to the site since 2011, the photo of Dieleman remained as of Tuesday.
The page with her photo was the top result when searching Google for her name.
Dieleman, a Drake University graduate who works from ARAG's Kansas City office, said in a statement that the website invited unfavorable comments by posting the photo.
"We've followed the appropriate procedures to remove the content. However, after continued back and forth it was time to assert my legal rights," she said.
"Given I've spent the majority of my career educating and empowering people to protect their rights, I didn't feel it would be right to ignore protection of my own when this situation arose," Dieleman said.
Brett Trout, an attorney for ARAG and Dieleman, filed the lawsuit Dec. 31 in federal court in Des Moines.
The legal battle started in September 2012, when Trout sent Google a letter accusing the company of copyright infringement. Google declined to remove the photo without proof that ARAG held the copyright.
Trout responded by saying ARAG owned the copyright of the photo and requesting Google to remove it.
In an email, Google again declined.
"As always, we encourage you to resolve any disputes directly with the blogger in question," the email said.
The case illustrates the growing pushback against bloggers who post copyrighted material, said Shontavia Johnson, an associate professor who teaches about intellectual property at the Drake University Law School.
Companies like Google and Facebook receive thousands of requests each day to remove content.
Last month, Google received nearly 25 million take-down requests for copyright violations, according to the company's self-published transparency report.
Many bloggers don't realize what they post online may infringe on copyrights, Johnson said. There are many exceptions to the law, but in general you cannot post someone else's photo online without their permission, even if you attribute it.
"Bloggers think they can take a picture on the Internet and give credit to whoever and that will save them from liability, but that is really not true," she said.
Jeff Hermes, director of Harvard University's Digital Media Law Project, said the lawsuit shows Google is willing to look at copyright infringement accusations on a case-by-case basis.
"Google is apparently not rubber-stamping all of these as they come through," he said.
A request for comment from Google's media office was not returned.
Hermes said the company has little financial incentive to fight for one photo on one blog. But the company, he said, might see a competitive advantage in protecting their users' right to post images online.
"What is interesting is Google is putting up resistance to being used as a lever in this case," Hermes said.
The suspension of the 14-year-old ban permits "foreign-invested enterprises" to make games consoles within Shanghai's free trade zone and sell them in China after inspection by cultural departments, the government said in a statement posted on its website on Monday.
China banned gaming consoles in 2000, citing their adverse effect on the mental health of its youth. Consoles, however, have long been available albeit illegally, but online PC gaming remains more popular, with Internet cafes often crowded with rows upon rows of patrons.
The State Council did not say how long the suspension would last. It also did not specify the requirements for a foreign-invested enterprise.
Government officials were not immediately available to clarify the ruling.
Nintendo, which makes the Wii console, told Reuters the ruling changed little from when China's government had said in September last year that it planned to lift the ban.
"This just means one step of the process has been taken," said Yasuhiro Minagawa, Nintendo's Japan-based public relations manager.
Sony and Microsoft, makers of the globally popular PlayStation and Xbox consoles, were not immediately available to comment. In September, Sony had said it was looking at entering the Chinese market with "great interest".
China's video game market grew 38 percent from 2012 to reach 83.17 billion yuan in 2013, according to data released at the annual China games industry conference in December.
The ban on consoles has left PC games with almost two-thirds of the market. Browser gaming accounted for 15.4 percent and mobile gaming was 13.5 percent, the data showed.
© Thomson Reuters 2014
John Shinal, Special for USA TODAY 8:48 p.m. EST January 7, 2014
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.(Photo: Ethan Miller Getty Images)
With the big content push Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer showcased in Las Vegas on Tuesday, her strategy is beginning to look more like that of her Yahoo predecessors than that of her former bosses at Google.
The question now is whether Mayer's strategy will start to pay off before her extended honeymoon with Wall Street – paid for with Yahoo's lucrative stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba – eventually ends.
One thing does look certain right now: Mayer's initiative to create more original video and online magazine content will keep significant upward pressure on the company's already-surging product development costs.
Yahoo CEOs have been paying up for original content ever since Terry Semel arrived from Hollywood a decade ago.
Google, meanwhile, has trounced its smaller rival in the online ad wars by getting low-cost, text-based stories via its news-search product and high-volume video on the cheap, via YouTube.
CES 2014: Yahoo's Mayer puts on a show
Until Mayer arrived, the battle was no contest, which is why even today Google's market value is nine times that of Yahoo.
Yet Mayer has rejuvenated Yahoo's credibility within the tech industry, helping to create a buzz about the company that's not been seen since the dotcom boom.
"I hear people talking about going to (work at) Yahoo that I never thought I would," says Pete Koomen, co-founder and president of Internet software startup Optimizely and a former associate product manager at Google.
In addition to buying a bunch of small, mostly mobile-based startups to acquire both technology and talent – a la Google - Mayer has lured high-profile media names to produce original shows.
Former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and former New York Times tech columnist David Pogue were onstage with Mayer Tuesday during her keynote presentation to CES, the industry's biggest trade show.
Yet while Mayer has brought more star power to Yahoo, it's the company's roughly 24 percent stake in Alibaba that's been padding its bottom line.
In the third quarter, for example, Yahoo's earnings from equity interests – mostly from its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, respectively – were nearly $233 million .
That was more than twice its quarterly operating income of $92.8 million.
Optimism over Alibaba has helped boost Yahoo shares, which have surged more than 160 percent since Mayer arrived in July, 2012, compared to a 55 percent gain in the broader Nasdaq Composite Index.
The company's equity investments have allowed Yahoo to invest heavily in product research even as revenue has declined on Mayer's watch.
Product expenses leapt 23 percent in the third quarter of 2013, compared to a year earlier, even while Yahoo's revenue fell 5 percent.
Mayer can afford the investment – even while the company's top line slips -- as long as Yahoo's lucrative stake in Alibaba keeps padding its bottom line.
If Alibaba conducts an IPO as expected sometime this year, most of the benefit to Yahoo shareholders will also come in 2014.
When Yahoo sold its first large chunk of Alibaba shares in the third quarter of 2012, for example, it recorded net income of $3.2 billion.
That was more than 10 times the profit it recorded in last year's third quarter.
If that pattern holds, Yahoo's profit growth could face significant headwinds in 2015 – once the Alibaba halo begins to fade – if Mayer's content push doesn't boost the company's ad revenue enough to offset its higher costs.
John Shinal has covered tech and financial markets for 15 years at Bloomberg Businessweek, San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch, Wall Street Journal Digital Network and others.
Reviewed.com Staff, USA TODAY 12:17 a.m. EST January 7, 2014
With the BMW app on Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, you can check your car's remaining range, see if you left your sunroof open or windows down, or more.(Photo: Reviewed.com)
Monday was the first full day of the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas. With endless gadgets before us, from innovative to repetitive, these were a few items that caught our eye.
Samsung smartwatch to interface with BMWs
The line between wearable and drivable tech continues to blur at CES 2014, as BMW unveiled an app for a Samsung smartwatch. Today, BMW announced that its i3 electric car will feature a special app for the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Already, i3 drivers could check how much battery life they have left or send navigation directions to their cars from a smartphone using the BMW iRemote App.
LG unleashes slew of TVs, home theater tech
LG Electronics on Monday announced a whopping 15 new TV product lines for 2014. That's on top of the three OLED series already tipped last week, bringing LG's tally to 18 new series for the year. Four of the newly announced lines are UHD, seven are LCD, and four are plasmas. It's a bold statement of intent: This is LG saying it can go toe to toe with Samsung, by far the dominant force in today's TV market.
Toyota says fuel-cell car has 310-mile range
After its initial debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in November, the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Toyota FCV —short for fuel cell vehicle; the production model will get a new name—made its first U.S. appearance at CES.
The Toyota FCV promises a 310 mile range between hydrogen fill-ups, room for four passengers, and a refuel time of just three minutes. Unlike a plug-in electric vehicle, there's no waiting for a battery to recharge. Promised top speed is over 100 mph, and zero-to 60-mile-per-hour times are about 10 seconds. And most interestingly, Toyota says a fully-fueled FCV could be be used as a generator to power a home for a week during an emergency.
Bluetooth toothbrush will smarten your mouth
A French startup called Kolibree brought the world's first smart electric toothbrush to CES 2014. Sleek and fashionable, the electric toothbrush's main selling point is its ability to track just how clean you're getting your teeth—or whether your kids are actually brushing the way they should be.
For folks who really want to take dental health to another level, you can even bring in the app and show your dentist just how well (or how poorly) you're brushing.
New home tech will care for your loved ones
Alarm.com announced the Wellness Program at CES 2014, which makes use of a security suite to monitor the well-being of the elderly. Far from being a contemporary Big Brother, the system provides real-time info on your loved ones whereabouts and well being, all without the use of intrusive cameras.
The system uses a combination of bed presence monitors, motion sensors and panic buttons to track movement and alert users and caregivers of any unexpected changes in routine.