September 26, 2013 Last Updated 7:15 am

Tumblr and the Supreme Court; Google expands Google Play Books to nine more countries

Morning Odds and Ends:

Fred Wilson’s blog AVC today points out an interesting brief submitted to the Supreme Court in the case of Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee v. Federal Election Commission. The case involves limits on campaign contributions. The brief, submitted by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig includes as its evidence the Tumblr blog he set up that includes over 300 quotes from the framers of the Constitution concerning corruption. The point being that the founding fathers were well aware of the corrupting power of money. It will probably all be for not as many on the Court view money as speech.

Lawrence_Lessig-lgNonetheless, both the brief and the Tumblr are interesting reading (really).

“The Framers viewed corruption as one of the greatest threats to government,” the brief states. “They considered anti-corruption measures essential to an enduring republican system of government. As George Mason warned his fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention, “if we do not provide against corruption, our government will soon be at an end.”

“The Framers had a very specific conception of the term “corruption” in mind, one at odds with McCutcheon’s more modern understanding of that term. For the Framers, “corruption” predicated of institutions as well as individuals, and when predicated of institutions, was often constituted by an improper dependence.”

If you are wondering what all this is about, a few paragraphs later the brief gets to the point:

“The aggregate limits, which permit an individual to make a total of $123,200 in contributions in each two-year election cycle ($48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to political parties and non-party political committees), play a necessary role in securing a government free from corrupting dependence on high-dollar donors.”

Googleplaybooks-app-icon-smGoogle has added nine more countries publishers can reach through Google Books. The total list is now at 36:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

Google recently updated its Google Play Books app for iOS, presumably to make the app iOS 7 compliant. But users are highly critical of the update saying that the app crashes and that book updates are unreliable. Even one 5-star review says the app crashed every time they open it. One wonders what it would take for this user to rate something as 1-star?

Google is coming under pressure in the UK from Tory MPs over the issue of piracy, as the record and film industry try their hands overseas after years of lobbying Congress to make the giant search company crack down on file sharing.

According to a report in The Guardian this morning, Tory MP John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said his fellow MPs were “unimpressed by Google’s continued failure to stop directing consumers to illegal, copyright infringing material on the flimsy excuse that some of the sites may also host some legal content. The continuing promotion of illegal content through search engines is simply unacceptable, and efforts to stop it have so far been derisory.”

In response a Google spokesman said the company is removing links when informed of the problem by the copyright holders.

“We removed more than 20 million links to pirated content from our search results in the last month alone. But search is not the problem – according to Ofcom just 8% of infringers in the UK use Google to find unlicensed film and 13% to find unlicensed music. Google works harder than anyone to help the film and music industry protect their content online,” Google said.

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