SOPA Controversy Continues While Congressional Vote Is Delayed
SOPA Controversy Continues While Congressional Vote Is Delayed

Obama Administration Reacts to SOPA and PIPA, Hoping For Revisions
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) isn't dead, but expect revisions. On Saturday officials in the Obama Administration outlined their reservations with the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act. This just might create a bill Google can support.

In a response to an online petition against SOPA by IP enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel, U.S. chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra and cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt laid out the administration's concerns. "While we believe that online piracy by foreign web sites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."

In other words, DNS-blocking aspects of the bill could be history. "Overall, it's bad for the content side," one Washington insider tells Perhaps more than anything, this shows the ability of the Internet to become a powerful tool of protest for legislation that had previously enjoyed widespread and bipartisan support.

But the White House officials' letter isn't as damning as people are being led to believe, this person continues. For one, the letter vaguely addresses larger issues rather than directly addressing the provisions of the bills. SOPA will continue to focus on the financial services that enable infringing websites. And considering neither SOPA nor its Senate counterpart, PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), have yet passed either chamber, calls of the bills' demise are premature.

So now what? Leaders of both chambers have said they will remove DNS blocking, the most controversial aspect of the bills. That would mean the bills would have teeth in going after advertising and payment systems that enable many websites that offer pirated goods. PIPA will see floor time in the Senate on Jan. 24. SOPA, currently in the middle of the markup phase, will be addressed now that the House has reconvened.

If DNS blocking aspects are taken out of the bills, will Google support them? Yes, if recent statements of a Google attorney are any indication. "There's a lot about these bills that Google and, frankly, a lot of other folks in the tech community are fully on board with," said Google senior copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann at a SOPA panel discussion in Nashville on Jan. 10. "We think that the provisions regarding ads and payments make sense."

The RIAA has pledged to continue working with lawmakers toward a bill that protects American content creators from foreign-operated sites. In a statement, Mitch Glazier, Senior Executive Vice President, RIAA, took aim at the rhetoric surrounding the bills. "Hyperbole, hysteria and hypotheticals cannot change the fact that stealing is wrong, costing jobs and must be contained."

Vevo Viewing Time Down, Google and Facebook Up in December
The holidays resulted in mixed results for online video in December. The average U.S. Vevo viewer spent 68 minutes watching Vevo in December, according to figures just released by comScore, down from 71.3 minutes in November. Vevo attracted fewer viewers, too: 53.6 million viewers in December compared to 55.4 million viewers in November.

Google sites (YouTube, basically) and Facebook attracted fewer people but average viewing time was up in December. Google sites received an average of 471.9 minutes per viewer, up from 444.5 minutes in November. Those sites had 157.2 million unique U.S. visitors in December compared to 151.6 million in November. Facebook viewers spent 23.9 minutes watching viewing in December, up from 19.1 minutes in November. Facebook dropped to 42 million U.S. video viewers in December from 50.8 million in November.
( comScore press release)

Self-Published eBooks Sell Fast, Burn Out Quickly
For insight into digital albums, look to the ebook. Piotr Kowalczyk of Ebook Friendly looked over's bestseller rankings and found a couple of interesting trends: self-published hits burned brightly but faded away quickly, and Amazon's Daily Deal helped push down prices.

The issue of longevity is important for pricing. A low-priced album or book may draw attention, but that attention could be short-lived. "Out of 75 authors listed in all 12 monthly lists, only five were present for six months or longer," wrote Kowalczyk. "The usual self-published book stays in the Top 100 for one or two months. Books from established authors like Suzanne Collins, Sare Gruen, Stieg Larsson or Michael Connelly were present in bestseller lists for most months of 2011."

Of course, one could argue that a self-published artist or author wouldn't have had even a short time in the spotlight without attracting buyers with a low price. That's true. But these numbers underscore the importance of having a team and plan in place to take advantage of a brief window of opportunity.

At the beginning of 2011, there was an obvious divide between self-published and big publisher books: self-published books cost 99 cents while big publisher books cost $5 or more. But over the year that divide began to disappear and low-priced books became more frequent. Why? The Kindle Daily Deal, Kowalczyk writes, created downward price pressure. "Self-published books are doing worse in the second half of the year mainly due to Kindle Daily Deal…There is no better way to encourage a price-sensitive customer to buy."
( Ebook Friendly, via mocoNews)