Games san frontieres

[As ever, this is also on the BBC News website]

Back in February early adopters of the Spotify music-streaming service found that they could no longer listen to every song in the catalogue. The popular startup had been forced to limit access some songs and artists by country because the licensing deals struck with the record companies and bands specified which territories each song could be played in.

As the company noted on its website at the time, ‘these restrictions are a legacy from when most music was sold on tapes and CDs and they have continued over into streaming music, our hope is that one day restrictions like this will disappear for good’.

Despite protests over the changes the record companies have not yet eased the restrictions, and Spotify joins the long list of digital services that have embraced the global internet but restrict access to their content on the basis of where in the world someone happens to find themselves.

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#amazonfail FTW!

[Update: You can read this on the BBC News website, as usual.  And the talented Craig Seymour – who was amused to have his many achievements summed up as ‘former gay stripper’ –  has an interesting and pretty straightforward suggestion for how Amazon could resolve the issue of ‘adult’ content on his blog.

Further news: Nick Carr quotes my comment that Amazon will take a long time to recover, but notes that ‘for Amazon, a “long time” in realtime is equal to about five minutes in clock time’. I fear he’s absolutely spot on – would be fascinating to see if Amazon’s sales figures even show last weekend as a blip. Ah well…


While millions of people tuned in to Doctor Who and Red Dwarf over the Easter weekend my holiday entertainment was provided by typing ‘amazonfail’ into the Twitter search engine and watching the stream of outraged posts about the company that used to be the world’s favourite bookstore flow across my laptop screen.

The PR nightmare started at some point on Sunday when an angry post on the LiveJournal blog site by author and publisher Mark Probst broke through into online consciousness. He had noticed that his book The Filly, though still listed on Amazon’s US website, had lost its sales ranking data and was no longer appearing in relevant searches.

An email from an Amazon representative informed Probst that his book, a romance featuring gay characters, had been classed as ‘adult’ and removed from the ratings system so that the search pages would be more ‘family-friendly.’

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My bookmarks for July 23rd through July 30th

Here’s what I tagged on between July 23rd and July 30th: