The UpStream

Netflix to Join the Facebook Timeline

posted Saturday Dec 22, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Netflix to Join the Facebook Timeline

It would appear that perseverance can pay off when it comes to the federal government. After more than two years of work, Netflix has managed to get a little clause in the Video Privacy Protection Act changed, allowing them to allow you to share your own rental history with your friends. Currently the VPPA disallows any rental service from sharing your rental history without your specific WRITTEN consent.

Obviously Netflix, and other streaming services, are interested in allowing you to advertise for them... I mean share your rental history... on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Myspace. The altered bill will allow just that. First, the written consent has been altered, allowing an individual to provide consent over the Internet - no more writing a letter. Second, the consent can be granted for a period of time, instead of on a one-to-one basis. Clearly there are provisions for revoking permission, individually or bulk, but the standard permission will expire every two years.

The original law, passed in 1998, is an unusual situation in US law. It is one of the most thorough privacy laws ever passed, which accounts for the reason Netflix had so much trouble getting around it. The reason for its intensity is legendary and extremely weird. Judge Robert Bork was going through the process of Senate confirmations to join the Supreme Court, when a reporter retrieved and published the judge's rental history.

Judge Bork was not confirmed, but not likely because of his rental history. It was fairly normal for the time, with Alfred Hitchcock movies seeming to be his favorites. What it did, however, was scare the Senate enough to pass a sweeping law to protect mostly themselves. What the law, and the Senate, never expected was the Internet, at least in the state it is today. How could a group of people who are so disconnected from reality predict something no one else could see, either, right? Well, at least they are capable of learning.

So, will you be attaching your Netflix to your Facebook? Let us know in the comments.

TVii is Finally Available for the Nintnedo Wii U

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

TVii is Finally Available for the Nintnedo Wii U

Just a couple weeks ago we talked about Nintendo's Satoru Iwata apologizing for the lack of advertised features that launched with the Wii U. Most users have had to endure a 5GB firmware update upon opening up the box of the new console, which has been a downer for some. Plus, until this week, one of the biggest and most-hyped features, TVii, was unavailable. However, fortunately, Nintendo has been working hard to bring us all the things they promised, and on December 20th they finally delivered us their entertainment app.

TVii, which allows users to enjoy a second-screen experience via their GamePad, plus loads of other entertainment options, was one of the main selling points during their E3 presentation and I'm glad to see it finally hit consoles, as it's nice to see Nintendo come out with their own take on replacing your living room cable box. Plus, all of the sponsored content in TVii has extensive second-screen features, like displaying cast information, sports stats and more. The GamePad is also able to act as a universal remote of sorts, letting users change channels and adjust the volume. Plus, you can choose to either watch shows that are live right now via your satellite or cable provider, or you can quickly switch over to something on Amazon Instant Video or Hulu Plus. Netflix, while available on the Wii U, will not be included into the TVii side of things until early next year and it should also be noted that those with TiVo will not have any support until 2013 as well.

Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo North America's president and COO was excited about TVii finally making its way to the Wii U.

After Dec. 20, you'll never look at your TV the same way again. Wii U owners have already experienced the transformative effect that the GamePad has on game play and social interaction. Nintendo TVii shows how the integrated second screen of the GamePad can also transform and enhance the TV viewing experience. Welcome to the new world of TVii.

With 400,000 units moved in the first week and retailers struggling to keep them in stock over the holiday season, perhaps this addition will be the insurance marker to convince potential customers to pick up the new console. For those who don't know, TVii is a completely free update for the Wii U and both versions of the console that's for sale are compatible with it. Have you downloaded TVii yet? How are you liking it? Let us know your pleasure or problematic experiences in the comments below.

Owner of OpenTV Issues Lawsuit to Netflix Over Patent Infringments

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Owner of OpenTV Issues Lawsuit to Netflix Over Patent Infringments

While Netflix may be having continuing success through the years, competition and problems still plague the company. This time it's over patent infringement, something we're getting used to hearing a lot about lately. Interactive TV solutions provider, OpenTV, has hit Netflix with a big lawsuit over seven patents that involve over-the-top TV technology. This directly affects Netflix and its digital rights and data management, as the parents in question regard things like video playback and how the company makes title recommendations to its users.

Kudelski SA, which is OpenTV's parent company based out of Switzerland, issues the lawsuit on Wednesday with the US District Court for Delaware but we've yet to see a copy hit the net. Kudelski deals primarily in technologies that relate to digital media platforms and distribution, and the company's reps said in the complaint that Netflix has used Kudelski's patented works to boost their growth. They've also said that Netflix has refused to pay for licenses on these infringements.

Companies like Netflix have, in essence, stood on the shoulders of giants, largely focusing their R&D efforts on aggregating these previously patented technologies and using them to provide a rich customer experience.

Considering that Netflix has been in a couple of legal battles before, this one is quite note-worthy, because if Kudelski were to win, it's possible Netflix will have to shut some of its services down completely (very unlikely), redesign its interface and selection algorithms (also unlikely) or pay Kudelski a licensing fee to use the technologies in question (most likely). As expected, we're going to see more and more lawsuits like this as the digital video space expands and grows, leaving just one or two companies standing when the dust settles. I just hope that these lawsuits don't end up taking down the big companies simply because they'd be too stubborn to pay some fees. Netflix has yet to comment on the matter but they will have to issue a response to the suit soon, before the hearing. We'll let you know what route they decide to take and if they will simply settle out of court.

Day of Online Shooter Backfire

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Day of Online Shooter Backfire

Earlier this week I was invited by a fellow journalist to participate in the "Day Of Cease Fire For Online Shooters" event on Facebook. The event is described,


GamerFitNation Inc's CEO Antwand Pearman is calling for a "DAY OF CEASE FIRE" on all online shooters on Friday, December 21st, 2012. We ask for Gamers to show their support for the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy that took place in a Connecticut's Sandy Hook elementary school Friday, December 14, 2012.

Post on this Event Page that you will "Cease Fire" For the day. 26 people were shot dead, 20 of them were young children. We are not asking for money, but if you feel the need to donate I'm sure there are places that will be made available for you.

We are simply making a statement that we as Gamers are not going to sit back and ignore the lives that were lost. Instead we will embace the families with our love and support. So if you are an owner of a website I ask that you post to your readers that you will join us in our "DAY OF CEASE FIRE FOR ONLINE SHOOTERS" I ask you all to please share and I thank you for reading. This starts Thursday night, Friday morning at 12am and will in Friday night, Saturday morning at 12am.

Spelling mistakes aside, it is clear that Antwand Pearman, CEO of GamerFitNation, has very noble intentions. Of course, we are all saddened by what happened in Connecticut with the innocent children and school officials, and the natural reaction is to want to do something to show your support and respect. Immediately I was both surprised and concerned at the potential outcome of this event, however.

We have talked several times about the intersection between videogames and the law. Most famously is the California case and subsequent Supreme Court loss that cost the state $1.8 million. More recently was the federal bill to label all non-Early Childhood games, including Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, as violent.

Clearly, the government is trying to get involved in gaming regulation. Even with the disclaimer, this event still screams blame. Apparently, my fears were correct, as the National Rifle Association (NRA) big boss openly blamed videogames for what happened. Now, armed with endorsements from the NRA and gamers themselves, or so the reports will read, the government will have all it needs to mount a campaign against videogames.

Now, of course, I understand the noble and respectful place this event comes from, and I suspect anyone who has read this far will, as well. That, however, will not prevent the inevitable spin that we, as gamers, recognize that playing videogames causes violence in real life. If videogames truly influenced real life behavior on that level, I would have a SERIOUS mushroom problem today.

Clearwire Saga Ends: Sprint Purchases Company

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Clearwire Saga Ends: Sprint Purchases Company

Thank goodness, the Clearwire saga has completed. My prediction when Sprint was purchased was correct and Sprint used their new found cash pile to purchase 100% stake in Clearwire. After massive financial problems { 1 } { 2 } { 3 } { 4 }, an owner backing out, and several cash injections from owner Sprint, their fate has finally been sealed.

I suppose Sprint decided after all the money they have dumped into Clearwire, it was time they got something out of it. The something they will be getting in this deal is Clearwire's 2.5GHz spectrum, which will greatly help Sprint in deploying its LTE network transition. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said,

Today's transaction marks yet another significant step in Sprint's improved competitive position and ability to offer customers better products, more choices and better services. Sprint is uniquely positioned to maximize the value of Clearwire's spectrum and efficiently deploy it to increase Sprint's network capacity. We believe this transaction, particularly when leveraged with our SoftBank relationship, is further validation of our strategy and allows Sprint to control its network destiny.

It is nice to hear them talking about controlling their network destiny, because with Clearwire powering their initial WiMax launch, they let the control get out of their hands, mostly. Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch said about the transition,

Our board of directors has been reviewing available strategic alternatives over the course of the last two years. In evaluating available alternatives, a special committee conducted a careful and rigorous process, and based on the committee's recommendation, our board unanimously determined that this transaction, which delivers certain and attractive value for our shareholders, is the best path forward.

Obviously Clearwire isn't quite as excited about the sale, but it was the only option to keep the lights on. While it might be hard to watch your work leave your hands, it is even harder to see it go up in smoke.

Apple Terminates Kickstarter Project With Licensing

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Apple Terminates Kickstarter Project With Licensing

Apple is such a caring company. They love their customers and their product ecosystem so much that they feel they need to protect their ecosystem FROM their customers. I think it is a lot like loving two dogs but knowing you need to keep them apart so they don't eat each other's food. With that mentality in mind, Apple has ensured around $140,000 was given to a group of people to protect them from Apple's products.

POP Station, which is a portable power station with 26,000 mAH worth of charging power, was a Kickstarter project pitched by Junior Edison, the manufacturer. The charger has 4 retractable cables, each with the capability to charge either micro-USB or Apple's Lightning charger. Obviously this is a very sought-after product, with 1,000 backers willing to pay to back the project.

Unfortunately, Junior Edison never checked the licensing agreement with Apple for use of the Lightning connector. According to CEO Jamie Siminoff,

After applying to Apple (which is now required for Lightning), we learned that they are no longer willing to approve a product that uses the Lightning charger alongside any other charger (including their own 30-pin - seriously). Just like that, POP could no longer fulfill its true promise.

Because of that, this little product was destroyed before it ever got off the ground. At least some people got their money back, right? Thanks, Apple!

Check out their launch video after the break.

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