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    Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Reuters - Web manager won't say if others saw Goldman code

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    Web manager won't say if others saw Goldman code

    Friday, Jul 10, 2009 6:58PM UTC

    By Laurence Fletcher

    LONDON (Reuters) - The owner of a website onto which a purportedly stolen Goldman Sachs Group Inc computer code was downloaded has declined to say whether or not other people accessed the code while it was on the site.

    Roopinder Singh, who runs file storage website xp-dev.com, told Reuters in London on Friday that computer files show whether or not the valuable code -- which U.S. prosecutors have charged former Goldman employee Sergey Aleynikov with stealing -- was viewed by others, but he declined to say what they show due to the scale of the case.

    According to Singh, accounts at xp-dev.com initially have a privacy setting that only lets the user see them. However, users can change that setting to allow other people to view files.

    "Private is the default," he said. "You then have the option ... You can explicitly either share it (or keep it private)."

    He declined to say what the settings on Aleynikov's account were.

    Singh also said German authorities had taken hardware from the website on Monday, while the UK's Serious Organized Crime Agency visited his flat in south east London several hours later that evening. He said his website was down until Wednesday morning.

    "On Monday afternoon the hard drives were seized -- German authorities took away the hard drives to do forensic work on them.

    "I wasn't really (initially) told it was connected to the Goldman case," Singh said. "On Wednesday morning they came back to my place and I deleted the data."

    The FBI in New York said earlier this week it had taken measures to prevent code being sent from the server in Germany.

    "Working through our assistant legal attache in Frankfurt and with the authorities in Germany, the FBI has taken steps to ensure that the appropriated code was not distributed," FBI spokesman Jim Margolin said.

    Singh said that he had previously had no connection with Aleynikov and that anyone could set up an account on the site.

    Aleynikov's lawyer said on Friday that there was confusion over what was being said and written about the code.

    The lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said: "They talk about open source code and proprietary information as though it were the same thing."

    Shroff said: "He (Aleynikov) has not said anything about sharing proprietary information. In fact he denies guilt. There is no guilt, and there is no harm to Goldman Sachs."

    The purported theft of the code could cost Goldman Sachs "millions upon millions of dollars", a U.S. prosecutor, Joseph Facciponte, said at 39-year-old Aleynikov's initial court appearance in New York on Saturday. He was arrested on Friday night and interviewed by the FBI.

    Goldman Sachs declined to comment while a Serious Organized Crime Agency spokesman was unable to comment.

    (Additional reporting by Grant McCool and Steve Eder in New York, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

    Reuters - Big media seek 21st century business models

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    Big media seek 21st century business models

    Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 5:43PM UTC

    By Yinka Adegoke

    SUN VALLEY, Idaho (Reuters) - Media moguls at this week's Sun Valley conference have spent as much time discussing how to reconfigure business models disrupted by the Web as they have worrying about the weak economy.

    With difficult credit markets and an unclear future, talk of dealmaking has been at a minimum this year. Yet there has never been a more important time for media conglomerates and their financiers to act and adapt to the Internet age.

    The mood at the conference was described as "somber" and "very bearish" by executives. While the recession was a key reason, the other was the uncertainty over how future profits can be made from distributing news and entertainment online and across devices like smartphones.

    "We're not using long-form content on the Web because it's not clear to us that's the way people want to consume content, said David Zaslav, chief executive of Discovery Communications Inc, which owns the Discovery Channel.

    "But also the business model isn't there yet, so we're taking it slow," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the event organized by boutique investment bank Allen & Co.

    In the late-night bar at the Sun Valley Lodge, from which the press was banned, most of the discussions were around the issue of free versus paid content, said one senior executive who asked not to be named as his conversations with other executives were private.

    The challenge is how media companies can keep alive the lucrative cable business model at a time when consumers are increasingly used to getting content for free online. Cable operators pay affiliate fees to cable networks for their programing, and both share advertising revenue.

    Plans such as Time Warner Inc's "TV Everywhere" and Comcast Corp's "On Demand Online" seek to preserve that business model by offering cable shows on the Web to authenticated, paying cable TV subscribers.

    "Authentication is an interesting intermediate step and is something that we're looking at," said Zaslav.

    The conversations about TV Everywhere are heating up. Google Inc CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed to reporters that he has had early talks with Time Warner about the possibility of getting paid cable shows up on YouTube. But he did not elaborate.

    TV VS PRINT AND MUSIC

    Television studio executives do not want to repeat the experience of their colleagues in the hard-hit newspaper and music businesses, and are worried that consumers will expect TV shows, movies and all professional programing to be free.

    Hulu.com, owned by News Corp, NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co, offers broadcast TV shows and movies for free on the Web, but there has been talk at Sun Valley among executives of introducing a paid content model.

    Wired editor Chris Anderson argues in his book 'Free' that many companies, with media at the forefront, could build bigger and better businesses around the notion of giving away their content for free.

    Many executives in Sun Valley would not agree. 'Free' -- supported by advertising -- is not a new concept. After all, broadcast TV is free but its dominance has been eroded by cable channels and its future as an advertising outlet is bleak.

    Newspapers owned by News Corp and others are fervently examining news-bundling pricing models to seek ways to get users to pay to read news online. One consideration may be to bundle different properties along vertical lines, such as business and sports news, for a monthly fee.

    Far from free, what media moguls would want to preserve on the Web and mobile platforms is the dual-revenue stream from subscriptions and advertising.

    "The big thing for these guys is how do you come up with that dual revenue streams online," said Jeremy Alliare, chief executive of Brightcove, an online video company that partners with many major media companies. "Cable TV is a part of that but I think it's a broader industry discussion."

    (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Tiffany Wu and Richard Chang)

    Reuters - Power.com countersues Facebook over user data

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    Power.com countersues Facebook over user data

    Friday, Jul 10, 2009 7:54PM UTC

    By Gina Keating

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Power.com, a San Francisco based aggregator of social networking sites, on Friday sued Facebook in a California court to try to resolve who owns data on social networking websites -- users or the sites.

    Power says users do. It plans to take a stand in its lawsuit to ensure that users have rights to "complete and total" ownership and control of their content, and to protect their content from other users and corporate entities.

    The countersuit accusing Facebook of unfair competition, restraint of trade and creating a monopoly, comes about six months after Facebook sued Power.com for alleged copyright and trademark infringement, unlawful competition and fraud.

    Power denied those allegations in its counterclaim, and asked that Facebook be permanently barred from "anti-competitive practices." It also requested unspecified damages and costs.

    Facebook said in a statement that it made "numerous attempts" to work with Power before suing the company, "but ... they continued to put Facebook user data at risk."

    The claims in Power's lawsuit are "without merit, and we will fight them aggressively," the statement said.

    Power allows users to access multiple social networking accounts through a single portal and to manipulate features and data on those accounts.

    In its cross complaint, Power says it "believes in a borderless Internet where users have the right to control their own data."

    Facebook, which in its lawsuit says it "tightly" controls access to its network, earlier this year had to back off what appeared to users to be an attempt to take ownership of data posted on the site through a change in its terms of service.

    Power Chief Executive Officer Steve Vachani says Facebook is stifling competition by restricting consumers' access to their data, echoing a similar controversy that plagued the mobile phone industry.

    "If you block users' data or any tools they would like to use to get that data ... this is similar to phone companies that blocked you from moving your phone number," Vachani said. "Users have built huge amounts of time with (Facebook) ... and they lock up your information."

    Facebook had similar complaints against contact management web site Plaxo, which later integrated its aggregating tools on Facebook Connect, where software developers can post approved self-service tools for Facebook users.

    Power rejected the chance to post its tools on Facebook Connect, saying in its cross complaint that it could not meet Facebook's deadlines for doing so.

    Power has 8 million members and aggregates Twitter, MySpace, LinkIn, HI5 and Okut. Facebook has 200 million active users.

    Power.com's answer and countersuit is Facebook Inc vs. Power Ventures Inc, Case No. 5:08-05780, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

    (Reporting by Gina Keating, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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