Monday, March 17, 2008

Short Takes: 3.17.08

Here are some interesting XM and online marketing news items and links for your perusal:
  • In a victory for Web companies that publish user-generated content, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that online classified service Craigslist isn't liable for discriminatory housing ads placed by users. The 7th Circuit held that the federal Communications Decency Act doesn't permit people to "sue the messenger just because the message reveals a third party's plan to engage in unlawful discrimination." This ruling could have a larger, positive impact on social media sites, which may be protected from legal damages stemming from the posts made by users.

  • Mountain Dew continues to impress me with some bold and experimental moves online. A few months ago, the company jumped into the casual gaming waters with "Dewmocracy," which allowed players to create a new flavor of the soft drink. Now they're testing the "brandertainment" waters with an original Web series with a twist. The serialized action-adventure production from film writer-directors Shawn Papazian and Art Brown will allow viewers to alter the storyline by selecting from a menu of options after each episode that take the series in different creative directions. Of particular interest is that the brand says this will cost them less than a typical 30-second ad for Pepsi!

  • Sports Illustrated is going to give sports buffs a gift: The magazine will unveil SI Vault, a new section within that will feature digitized archives of the magazine’s complete collection of content throughout its 54-year history. At launch, the online archive will feature 150,000 articles, 500,000 images and 2,800 covers--creating a site that is three times as large as, said officials. In addition, users will be able to “flip” through back issues of the magazine from 1954 - 1995 in their entirety, including all articles and ads as they originally appeared--using their mouse.

  • Google's famous motto is "Don't be evil." That probably sounded great when the company was a couple of grad students starting the company at Standford, but what does that motto mean in a complex world of differing international standards? Guess we'll find out, because China has put Google in a tough spot. The Chinese government has blocked access to YouTube in that country after scores of clips showing violence between police and protesters were posted to the site. CNET asks, "What happens if China wants Google to begin self censoring videos or wants to know the names of the people who posted the clips of the Tibet violence?" Will Google do what it takes to succeed in the largest market in the world, or will it live its motto? (And if it "does evil," what happens to its brand in the US?) Stay tuned.

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