This post originally appeared on Law.com.

I read a lot about digital media development, specifically legal topics.  Each month, I will share some top developments with and provide links to resources with more information.

Purchases in Kids Apps.  A class action suit was filed against Google.  Class members claim that it is too easy for kids to spend money with in-app purchases on Android devices.

Cecilia Kang, Google, learning little from Apple debacle, gets hit with its own kids app lawsuit, Washington Post, March 11, 2014.

Popcorn Time & Torrents. Popcorn Time launched a service that enables users to easily stream video torrents.  These torrents are most often pirated content, which was already available.  Popcorn Time removed the need to be tech savvy, opening up viewing for all!

Yannick Lejaxq, Popcorn Time Is Just Like Netflix, Except Everything Is Pirated, Motherboard, March 10, 2014.

Netflix and Comcast Make a Deal & Net Neutrality.  Netflix recently made a deal for direct access to Comcast’s network.  This bypassed the more traditional relationship of paying a third party CDN (content delivery network) such as Akamai or Level 3 for the service.  While many in the press have misunderstood the difference between transit and neutrality issue, Netflix now argues that such arrangements wouldn’t be necessary if strong net neutrality regulations were in place.  Others argue that major bandwidth users should bear more cost.

Stacey Higginbotham, Hey FCC, Netflix thinks peering should be a net neutrality issue too, GigaOM, March 20, 2014.

Peter Kafka, Netflix Says It Really Didn’t Want to Cut That Traffic Deal With Comcast, re/code, March 20, 2014.

Tim Fernholz and David Yanofsky, How the internet works, and why it’s impossible to know what makes your Netflix slow, Quartz, March 21, 2014.

Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality, Netflix Blog, March 20, 2014.

Microsoft & Privacy.  Microsoft searched a the personal email of a blogger who used its hotmail service.  The blogger threatened to leak and sell pre-release versions of Windows.  Microsoft asserted that this search was covered by its terms of use.

Mihaita Bamburic, Microsoft: Going through your private emails is like searching ‘ourselves’, beta news, March 21, 2014.

Stay tuned for updates in April!  Please comment if you would like me to post a more in depth analysis for any of the topics above.

Newspaper by Computer

January 16th, 2014 | Posted by SethDMC in Media | Newspapers - (0 Comments)

Check out this video from the early 1980s about getting your “newspaper by computer.”  My favorite part is the end: “…it takes over two hours to receive the entire text of the newspaper over the phone and with an hourly use charge of five dollars the new tele-paper won’t be much competition for the twenty cent street edition.”  Oh how times have changed!

1981 primitive Internet report on KRON


 

I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 4 of my outline on the topic.

a. Detailed Specifications

i. Mobile Platform Decisions. The publisher needs to decide whether to build for different platforms simultaneously or sequentially.

ii. Social Integration. Think ahead what types of social network integration will be used.  Options include logins, social sharing and use of social graph.

iii. Hosting & Live Operations.

  • Service Level Agreement (“SLA”).  If the app will have elements hosted online, will the publisher host them or the have the developer handle them?  If the developer is responsible, there needs to be an SLA with penalties for downtime.
  • Operations Services.  Will the app be static or consistently developed?

iv. Analytics. Publisher should look at free analytics providers, but these don’t receive customer support and may include developer’s analytics as part of larger “industry-wide” studies for re-sale.  Publisher may be better paying for higher service levels that keep analytics private.

v. Ad Server Integration.  If the app will contain advertising, publisher should think about ad placement ahead of time and the types of ads that will be served (banner, video) and whether publisher will sell ads directly or want to use an ad network.

(more…)

I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 3 of my outline on the topic.

a. Expertise and Reputation

i. Expertise. Look for a developer who has successfully developed similar app types.  There is no need to re-invent the wheel, but make sure to address intellectual property ownership of the things based on the developer’s pre-existing materials.

ii. Reputation. Look for a developer who has a positive reputation for working with clients to meet their needs.  Also, the publisher should do some level of diligence on the financial state of the developer.  If the developer is on shaky ground, make sure to address what happens if key personnel leave the developer or it ceases operations.

b. Cost Model

i. Development Fee. The developer may work on a fixed fee or time and materials basis.  It is important to scope this out in detail.

ii. Revenue Share. Some of the better developers, particularly for game apps, will require a revenue share from the app.  The publisher needs to determine what costs will be recouped before the revenue share is paid and how long it continues for.

I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 2 of my outline on the topic.

a. Business Model

i. Free. Apps are often available for free, with advertising.  The publisher should think about ad types and ad insertion technology.  There may also be a free version of a paid app.

ii. Paid. Apps are often available for a discrete one-time charge.  The publisher should think about pricing in context with other apps so as not to discourage purchases.  The developer may also move the price to make the app available at a discount to encourage app discovery.  The publisher should be conscious of the different app store arrangements and how the pricing can be controlled by the app store under some.

iii. Freemium. Many apps have a basic functionality/content available for free and then allow users to make purchases of other functionality/content in the app.

  • Payments. The additional content/functionality may be available for purchase on a per item basis, a bundle of items, or a subscription.  It is important to address ownership rights within the app’s terms of use and specifically address what happens if the publisher ceases development and distribution of the app.
  • Offers.  Sometimes, the additional content/functionality is also available if the user signs up for a certain number of offers, watches video or takes a certain action.  It is important to understand the terms of each offer provider and ensure that the offer provider complies with the applicable platform rules.

b.      Regulatory Concerns

i. Data Collection and Privacy. The publisher should determine what data it needs to collect and why it needs it.  Collecting unnecessary data creates more risk, so limit the collection of personally identifiable information (“PII”).  The publisher should also restrict access to people who need in and, ensure that there is proper technical protection and a plan in the event of a breach.

ii. Geo-tracking.  Geo-data is now considered PII in many circumstances.  The publisher should only collect use it to the extent that it is necessary for the app to perform as intended.

iii. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).   There is a whole additional set of regulations for apps targeted at, or likely to attract, children under age 13.  Check out the FTC’s FAQs online: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/Complying-with-COPPA-Frequently-Asked-Questions

I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 1 of my outline on the topic.

Definitions:

  • Publisher” means the person or company that will own and distribute the app.  It is often the holder of intellectual property that will be used to brand the app.
  • Developer” means the person or company engaged by the Publisher to technically build the app.  It is usually a professional developer that develops apps for multiple publishers.

a.      Reason for the App

i. Marketing. Is the purpose of the App to market another piece of intellectual property, like a television show, movie, car, sport?  If so, the publisher needs to make sure that is has acquired all rights in the underlying property necessary to distribute and exploit the app.

ii. Engagement. Is the purpose of the App to engage fans of something more in that thing?  The publisher should make sure this is aligned with other marketing efforts, specifically social media.  Make sure that any sweepstakes or contests comply with the rules of the applicable distribution platforms.

iii. Revenue. Is the purpose of the App to generate revenue? For apps to market television shows and movies, the producer and talent often have rights to a share of revenue, so the publisher should make sure to check the relevant agreements and appropriately account for the revenue.

b.      App Type

i. Game.

  • Casual. Casual games are easy to pick up with little instruction.  It is important to make sure the game doesn’t violate the intellectual property of previous games, by cloning their mechanics and elements.
  • Social. Social games leverage the social graph (e.g., Facebook, Apple Game Center) to compete against friends.  It is important to comply with the rules of the applicable social networks.  The publisher needs to make sure that the integration with the social network follows the license terms for the Application Programming Interface (“API”).Synchronous. Play against friends playing at the same time.
  • Asynchronous. Play against friends taking turns.

ii. Utility. These apps may leverage information collected by the device, like locations.  It is important to comply with platform rules and privacy/data security laws/regulations.  Only collect information (e.g., geo-location data and device ID) that is necessary for the app to provide the desired function.

iii. Informational. These apps provide information on a specific topic.  It is important to have all of the proper rights and clearances for articles and images.

Don’t Take Your iPad to the Beach

September 2nd, 2013 | Posted by SethDMC in Gadgets | iPad - (0 Comments)

As the summer draws to a close, this one resonated with me.  I no longer have a paperback book, or a stack of magazines. Everything is on my iPad!

 

I recently joined the Board of Advisors of the Fordham Law School Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP).  CLIP is a great resource in the developing area of information law.  I recommend subscribing to the CLIP-ings e-newsletter or following CLIP on Twitter.

For years, I have been a fan of disintermediation.  In short, this means the removal of intermediaries.  E-commerce is a great avenue for this practice, since producers can sell directly to consumers without all of the middlemen usually part of the process.  I have enjoyed experimenting with products produced this way, trying to get high quality at a lower price.  Until recently, I shaved daily with the Gillette MACH3 razor and whatever shaving cream looked good to me at CVS.

As soon as I ran out of MACH3 blades, I intended to make the move to Dollar Shave Club, motivated by the price decrease.  Notably though, Dollar Shave Club didn’t pitch itself on quality, just on value.  After reading an article about Harry’s, I decided to give that site a try.  Harry’s pitched itself on value and quality.  I was going to do a geeky cost breakdown, but didn’t have the time.  So far so good – the price is right and the blades last about 3 times as long as the old Gillette blades!

Reboot

April 5th, 2013 | Posted by SethDMC in Miscellaneous - (0 Comments)

I work at an entertainment company as a digital media lawyer.  I started to blog and use other social media several years ago to gain practical knowledge to advise my clients better.   I played with themes and plugins, while writing various posts.  I have decided to delete everything from my blog and reboot.  I will post some of my old articles (back dated) and then figure out to do next with this space.  Hopefully I will be inspired to put something new out into the series of tubes!