Yahoo To Support Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia

Yahoo To Support Wikipedia Online EncyclopediaYahoo’s search engine division has announced that it will be dishing out hardware galore, resources and “critical material aid” to support the non-profit Wikipedia online encyclopedia.

Yahoo Search’s contribution is the most significant received by Wikimedia from a corporate sponsor to date, costed at “several hundred thousand dollars,” by David Mandelbrot, Yahoo’s vice president of search content.

Wikipedia is a global charitable effort, to create and give away a freely licensed encyclopedia in every language of the world.

In just four years, the non profit Wikimedia Foundation has created the largest English language encyclopedia in history, supported by substantial encyclopedias in French, German, and Japanese with “strong efforts underway” in over 100 other languages.

Much like Google’s new Q&A service, Yahoo Search will also feature abstracts of Wikipedia content at the top of relevant search results in the form of “shortcuts,” containing factual information or links to factual information.

Yahoo’s shortcuts are intended to give users the answer they’re looking for on the search results page, saving them the bother of clicking onto other Web sites for the desired information.

Yahoo’s support comes completely free of charge and they will in no way benefit from the positive world-wide publicity or continuing access to Wikipedia content. No sir.

To the strains of “We Are The World” serenading in the background, Mandelbrot explained Yahoo’s generosity, “To operate a site that reaches as many people as Wikipedia can be costly for a non profit, and we’re contributing with resources to help with that effort.”

Yahoo To Support Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia“Their popularity is growing very fast and, accordingly, their bandwidth and hardware needs have increased substantially.”

Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia’s president, was naturally well chuffed with the announcement; “Our growth in Web traffic continues to be staggering, doubling every few months. Yahoo’s generous donation to our cause in the form of servers, hosting and bandwidth will have a huge impact on our ability to get our message of sharing knowledge out to the world.”

In a separate statement from Wikimedia, the charity revealed that Yahoo will also be dedicating “a significant number of servers” in a Yahoo facility in Asia.

Yahoo’s profits tripled from $65.3 million (£34.9m/€50.9m) to $253.3 million (£135.4m/€198m) last year.


Google Video To Expand Search To “Video Blogging”

Google Begins An Experiment In Google plans to invite users to submit personal video clips for archiving as part of its recently launched video search service.

In a speech at the annual cable industry convention in San Francisco, company co-founder Larry Page announced that the company will start taking home video submissions from people, adding that, “we’re not quite sure what we’re going to get, but we decided we’d try this experiment.”

Not surprisingly, Page admitted to having concerns about the nature of content that people may want to upload (but we think that that may only add to the appeal of the service!)

Google first rolled out the test version of its video search service in January, allowing users to find content in television programs from such providers as PBS, Fox News, CSPAN and local ABC and NBC affiliates in San Francisco.

The service, called Google Video, offers up still images from the video clips and associated closed-captioning, but users cannot view video or read a transcript of the program due to unsettled licensing terms.

In the meantime, an “About this show” option provides information on the program’s next air time.

Google has already established search relationships with numerous content and broadband providers, with Google co-founder Sergey Brin commenting, “We’re always looking for ways to expand partnerships.”

Google Begins An Experiment In The company also announced that it would provide data about popular Web searches to Current, a new television network for the 18- to 34-year-old audience, backed by former US Vice President Al Gore and other investors.

Arch-rivals Yahoo have already begun promoting their own TV and video search site, launched as a beta in December of 2004.

Yahoo has also partnered up with TVEyes to index closed captioning content from BBC, Bloomberg and Sky programming, while Blinxx launched their own movie and TV service,, at the end of last year.

Google barged its way into the world of blogging after buying the popular blogging tool, in 2003.

The growth of affordable digital camcorders (and movie enabled digital cameras) coupled with cheaper (or free) Web space suggests that vblogging could be big news for 2005, creating a need for suitable search tools.


AFP Sues Google Over News Copyright

AFP Sues Google Over News CopyrightA large question mark hangs over the future of aggregated news sites supplied by Web companies such as Google after it was revealed that Agence France-Presse had sued the world’s most popular search engine for alleged copyright infringement.

Google had been making the headline, summaries, and thumbnail photos of news stories available to everyone via a search function. Clicking on the story would then take users to the full story and photos on the original site.

It was this practice that set AFP into a giant hissy fit and before you could say “avocat”, the French news agency were filing a law suit in a Washington court.

The action sought damages and interest of at least US$17.5 million dollars (£9m, €13) and an interdiction on the publication of its text and photos without prior agreement.

“Without AFP’s authorisation, defendant is continuously and wilfully reproducing and publicly displaying AFP’s photographs, headlines and story leads on its Google News Web pages,” AFP huffed and puffed in their lawsuit.

The news agency added that it had already asked Google to stop using its copyrighted work, but that the cheeky monkeys “continued in an unabated manner to violate AFP’s copyrights”.

Since the law suit was announced, Google has embarked on the process of removing all AFP content, but has not released a schedule for when the removal will be complete.

Already some pundits are questioning the wisdom of AFPs litigious action, with the Political Gateway Web site serving up a damning article denouncing the ‘stupidity’ of the press agency:

AFP Sues Google Over News Copyright“AFP has over 600 online clients using their news services, sites like Political Gateway. Being blacklisted by the number one search engine in the world is enough to make a news site immediately drop AFP and go to another news service like AP, Reuters, UPI, and the like. We know this to be true because Political Gateway is looking at options right now.

AFP will lose all its online clients except (which is a search engine itself). However, Yahoo also syndicates its news out via RSS or ‘XML’ feeds. RSS allows webmasters to place news headlines on their site. This would be an offense to AFP and result in suing of Yahoo.

When the dust settles we believe AFP, the oldest news organization in the world, will have lost most of their online clients, their reputation, and face the worst Internet backlash a news service has ever encountered.

As of this week, all AFP news information will be deleted from Political Gateway and hundreds of other sites in protest against the stupidity of AFP.”

The Google News service was launched in 2002 with the site – still in beta – gathering stories and images from the Web and making them freely available to everyone.

With Google making the vast majority of its revenue through online advertising, the news service looks to be an important sector in the increasingly competitive online arena.

If other press agencies follow AFPs litigious route, we could see a premature end to this fledgling service.

We hope not.

Agence France-Presse
Google news
“Google shows AFP who is boss” (

Yahoo Buys Flickr

Yahoo Buys FlickrYahoo has whipped out its wildly wedgified wallet and snapped up the online photo-sharing service Flickr, less than a week after launching a beta test of its new blogging tool.

Flickr lets users upload digital photos from computers, PDAs and camera phones, create their own photo albums, post photos to blogs, and store, sort, search and share your photos online.

Joanna Stevens, a spokeswoman for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo, confirmed the deal Sunday: “We look forward to working with them for their innovation and product development across the Yahoo Network in the coming months,” she said.

Stevens said Flickr will remain a standalone site for now. The company’s employees, however, will have to up sticks to Sunnyvale later this year.

Yahoo’s existing photos hosting and sharing service, Yahoo Photos, will gain features from Flickr, although the two services will remain separate “for the foreseeable future.”

Yahoo Buys FlickrThere will be some early integration, however, with the ability to log into Flickr using a Yahoo ID and password.

According to Caterina Fake, Flickr’s vice president of marketing and community, users of the company’s free and paid-for services will get more space, while prices for professional accounts are expected to fall.

This announcement comes less than a week after Yahoo announced Yahoo 360. This service combines a new blogging tool, along with long-established Yahoo products such as instant messaging, photo storage/sharing and Internet radio.

The service also includes social networking tools for sharing recommendations about places to eat, favourite films, fab music, great clubs (like London’s Offline, for example!) and so on.

The acquisition of Flickr (and parent company Ludicorp Research & Development) and the development of the Yahoo 360 service reflects a growing interest in social networking and blogging services.

Microsoft added a blog product for its MSN Web service in December, called MSN Spaces. Google, meanwhile, owns the hugely successful Web log service Blogger and social networking site Orkut.

Yahoo 360

Yahoo 360 Service Blends Blogging And Social Networking Tools

Yahoo 360 Service Blends Blogging And Social Networking ToolsInternet giants Yahoo are preparing to introduce a new service that blends several of the popular features of its site with two of the Web’s fastest growing activities – blogging and social networking.

The hybrid service, snappily entitled “Yahoo 360,” won’t be available until 29 March, but the company decided to announce the product early after details were leaked to news outlets.

The service is designed to enable Yahoo’s 165 million registered users to grab content from Yahoo discussion groups, online photo albums and review section and slap it into their own blogs (web logs).

The service also aims to be big on ‘social networking’, making it easy for users to connect with others who share common interests and friends. Yahoo bloggers (Yahblogoos?!) can either choose to open their blogs to the entire world or restrict access to chums invited through e-mail.

“We heard from people that they have a strong desire to stay close to the people who are important to them, but at the same time they didn’t want to feel like they were exposing themselves online,” said Julie Herendeen, Yahoo’s vice president of network products.

“Yahoo 360 has also been designed to let users consolidate a variety of existing Yahoo services and content in one place, with the goal of increasing users’ interaction” added Paul Brody, the company’s director of community products. “It’s about integrating all the great resources across the Yahoo network into this service to deepen the users’ engagement,” he said.

Similar to Microsoft’s Space and Lycos’ Circles, Yahoo 360 represents Yahoo’s effort to tap into the popularity of blogs and social networking sites.

Although sniffy critics continue to dismiss blogs as the dull mumblings of the self obsessed generation, recent figures reveal that 27 percent of online adults in the United States read them and another 7 percent write them (source: Pew Internet and American Life Project).

Blogging has also started to be recognised as a credible news reporting tool, often publishing stories missed by the mainstream media – the first hand accounts posted on the Web after the Asian tsunami being a notable example.

Of course, the big draw for Yahoo is that social networking sites are establishing themselves as major online attractions, with the prospect of lots of luvverly advertising opportunities.

According to comScore Media Metrix, a research firm, Yahoo notched up 110 million unique visitors last month, accounting for nearly 30 billion page views.

By expanding into social networking and blogging, Yahoo are hoping to make its Web site a more alluring prospect, with the blogs attracting even more visitors to their site.

It has to be said that Yahoo are unfashionably late arrivals to the blogging party, with competitors like Chief Executive Chris DeWolf predicting they’ll have a tough time catching up with entrenched social networking sites.

But Yahoo have some major tricks up their sleeve: millions have already shared their personal information with the company via the registration process and the company has deep, deep pockets, with US$3.5 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of 2004.

When the service goes online later this month, Yahoo 360 will be initially restricted to users invited by the company. Those early participants will then be able to invite their chums to join in.

Yahoo 360

Digital Music Forum :Summary

More than 400 industry professionals gathered for Digital Media Wire’s 5th annual Digital Music Forum at The French Institute in New York City on Wednesday. Discussion topics recalled the creation of the original Napster, examined the current business and legal environment, and looked ahead optimistically towards the future growth of subscription and mobile services.

In a widely anticipated keynote conversation, Napster founder Shawn Fanning described how early peer-to-peer file trading networks fundamentally changed consumer expectations for the breadth of music content available to them. Speaking about his new venture, Snocap, Fanning outlined his plans to create a central database for rights clearance while introducing a digital identification and acoustic fingerprinting architecture for file trading systems. Fanning expressed his hope that the creation of a trusted third party to manage rights administration will create an environment in which the interests of peer-to-peer companies, retailers, and content owners will not be in conflict.

Technology and rights management remained in the spotlight during a panel discussion about the forthcoming MGM v. Grokster case that will go before the Supreme Court on March 29th. At issue, according to Digital Media Association Executive Director Jonathan Potter, is whether a software developer can be held liable for the actions of its users. Martin Elgison, a partner at Alston & Bird, advocated separate assessments of legality for a company’s business conduct and the associated technology. Jim Delong, senior fellow at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, agreed that the courts need to examine a company’s underlying business model and question whether it depends on copyright infringement.

Speaking to technology’s current effects on artist management, Nettwerk Productions CEO Terry McBride conveyed that digitization currently represents a mixed opportunity for his clients like Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan and Barenaked Ladies. On the one hand, McBride reported, Barenaked Ladies sold more than 900,000 live tracks in the past year and archives 150 concerts for sale online. On the other, he voiced concern that his artists’ catalog sales are being negatively affected by peer-to-peer file trading. On the whole, McBride was bullish on technology’s long-term potential, both for management companies seeking to provide for all their clients’ needs, as well as for artists pursuing long term careers.

In an afternoon keynote, Yahoo Music Vice President and General Manager David Goldberg highlighted the opportunities created by consumers’ desires to discover and control their music in an on-demand environment. Goldberg predicted the continued emergence of subscription-based digital music services, as well as the use of customization and community functionality to drive traffic and consumer engagement. According to Goldberg, playlists will become the “killer app of music” for users confronted with more than a million tracks at their fingertips and services will need to focus on delivering appropriate recommendations to create the ultimate listening experience.

MSN Marketplaces General Manager Mike Conte addressed Microsoft’s digital music effort which initially launched last October as an a-la-carte download service. According to Conte, Microsoft is principally involved with music to drive traffic and advertisers to while contributing to the company’s strategy to build an overall ecosystem for digital media. While emphasizing that Microsoft’s plans were still in their early stages, Conte echoed Goldberg in emphasizing the importance of building community to engage customers and alluded to future digital music integration with messaging, blogging and playlist capabilities. Conte also agreed with predictions for the future growth of subscription services, citing company research indicating that the younger the consumer, the lower the likelihood that they desire to own their music.

During morning and afternoon panels, participants painted a positive future for the mobile music marketplace. Sony BMG Senior Vice President Thomas Gewecke noted that mobile services continue to be the dominant digital revenue stream outside the United States. Gewecke further predicted that mobile devices will become the dominant method for initial music purchases, even if the content is eventually consumed on another platform. Sprint General Manager of Wireless Music and Personalization Nancy Beaton reported that music represents an important way for the company to boost its current average monthly bill of $62. Beaton also cited successful ringtone launches with artists like Beyonce and 50 Cent, with both reaching platinum sales levels.

Thanks to Wesley Radez (wradez @ over at Digital Music News for this report.

Blinkx, Movielink Provide Dialogue Searchable Movies

Film Site Lets Users Search For Downloadable Movies To Buy Or RentA deal between a search technology company and an online film distributor could be a further step towards the next Big Thing on the Web: search engines that let you find movies and TV episodes by what is said within them – and then buy or rent them.

The tie-up between Santa Monica-based Movielink and Blinkx from London/San Francisco, has got some excited analysts declaring it to be a key development in bringing together television and movies with the world of Internet search. We’re inclined to agree and have touched on Blinkx TV search before.

The two companies plan to announce that Movielink, a downloading service owned by five major studios, will make its pictures available through the Blinkx search engine.

There’s no cash involved in this deal, as the synergetic partnership will give Movielink additional exposure and Blinkx access to movies that other search engines lack.

Blinkx uses speech-recognition and other technologies (licensed from Autonomy) to make a searchable index of trailers for the movie service’s nearly 1,000 titles.

So far, it has permission from Movielink to index only film trailers, but the company hopes to expand the index to include dialogue from the movies themselves allowing users to type in key phrases to find the required film and immediately download it for a set fee.

So an amnesiac Monty Python fan wanting a side-splitting night of sacrilegious entertainment could simply type in “he’s a naughty boy!” into the search engine and be offered “The Life of Brian” to immediately buy or rent and then download it to his media centre.

Not surprisingly, there’s a veritable minefield of technical, legal and DRM issues to be overcome before legal downloading of films and TV shows hits the mainstream, but Movielink’s willingness to work with Blinkx may open the door to Web big boys like Google, Yahoo and AOL etc.

“It is the next frontier,” said Allen Weiner, an analyst with research firm Gartner, “What we’ve been working with until now, is one-dimensional content on the Web that is advertiser supported. The next level, which will really change the economics of the Web, is searching and indexing premium content that does not live on the Web.”

“It’s kind of a small deal, but I think it will be a forerunner to the types of deals that you’ll see,” said Yair Landau, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a unit of Sony Corp. and one of Movielink’s owners. “We’ve been waiting for Yahoo, MSN and Google to get serious about video distribution.”

The big search engines are already starting to index video content: Yahoo’s Video Search program already crawls the Internet looking for video files and Google has been recording thousands of hours of programming and indexing the closed-captioning text.

Film Site Lets Users Search For Downloadable Movies To Buy Or RentWith TV networks starting to distribute more of their productions on the Web and the growth of broadband-enabled, home media PCs there’s clearly a growing demand for consumers to be able to access and download content legally.

This partnership between Blinkx and Movielink appears to be the first tentative steps into what may turn out to be a stampede of Web-based movie distribution deals.

Film Download, Search Firms to Link Services (LA Times)

Sony Pictures Entertainment
Gartner Inc
Yahoo Video Search

Video/TV Search Beta Launched By Google And Yahoo!

Google VideoGoogle has added another product to its long list of extended beta services. Google Video is a TV video-search service that searches the closed captioning content of television programs – from major American TV content providers including PBS, the NBA, Fox News, and C-SPAN, among others – to return still photos and a text excerpt at the point where the search phrase was spoken.

Google Video also; displays a preview page of up to five still video images and five short text segments from the closed captioning of each programme; lists when a particular programme will next be aired in a given area (US only); and allows for searches within a particular show.

Transcripts are available, but not video clips. This service is another milestone as it broadens the company’s strategy of expanding search to information on and off the Web, and it takes it into a market where more advanced services have been available for years.

“What Google did for the Web, Google Video aims to do for television,” said Larry Page, Google co-founder. “This preview release demonstrates how searching television can work today. Users can search the content of TV programmes for anything, see relevant thumbnails, and discover where and when to watch matching television programmes. We are working with content owners to improve this service by providing additional enhancements such as playback.”

Not to be outdone, US-based rival Yahoo! has also launched a video search link on its home page. The Yahoo! service searches and returns actual video clips for playback, but does not offer transcripts. Google and Yahoo!’s video searches are interesting launches, but they do not match those of video search services currently available on the Web. Examples include and SpeechBot from Hewlett-Packard, which uses speech-recognition in its search, and ShadowTV, which offers a paid business service. Nevertheless, when a leading search engine company enters a new market, we all know something big is going to happen.

Google Video

Yahoo Hires Former ABC TV Exec

What better person to appoint to head your media and entertainment division than a Hollywood executive with shows like ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Lost’, ‘Desperate Housewives’, ‘Wife Swap’ and ‘Boston Legal’ under his belt? Prior to this, he served as co-chairman of the division with responsibility for all creative, programming and business areas of the division, which encompassed Touchstone Television and ABC Entertainment.

The man in question is former ABC Entertainment Television chairman Lloyd Braum, and he will oversee Yahoo’s movies, TV, entertainment, music, games, finance, news and weather, sports, health and kids businesses. He will also do the negotiating with Hollywood to release exclusive content on Yahoo, as well as developing original new content within the company. It has been reported that he was fired from his ABC post in April following disagreements over the direction and management of the network, which had fallen to fourth place in the ratings.

His main task will be to convince movie, TV and music companies to distribute more content exclusively on Yahoo. His impressive pre-ABC resume reads like he is tailor-made to do some convincing – chairman of Disney’s Buena Vista Television Productions, president of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, and partner at the law firm of Silverberg, Katz, Thompson & Braun.

Yahoo already took the Hollywood route a few years ago when it appointed former Warner Bros. chairman Terry Semel as its CEO in 2001. In recent months, the company has signed several deals to provide related Web content for popular television shows such as NBC’s “The Apprentice” and CBS’ “Survivor”.

It’s all about getting exclusive content. In September, Yahoo announced that it would produce, host and sell advertising for the official Web site of reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” in which contestants battle to win a job working for real-estate mogul Donald Trump.