$30 Clicks!

Back in November I reported on my findings that people were paying a whopping $8 for search engine clicks for the term “data recovery”. I did a little checking around today and found the most expensive clicks I can comprehend: $30! So if you type this particular word into an Overture affiliated search engine (and most of them are – not Google though), and click the first couple of results, you will cause someone to pay $30 to someone else. Who is paying this much? Tort lawyers.
And now… the word: mesothelioma

Decizzle fo’ Shizzle: Court Defines Words with “izzle” in Them

There was a lot of court activity today, but instead of focusing on these serious US decisions, I’m going to bring your attention to a rather silly decision from the fifty-first state:
The United Kingdom apparently has some stronger copyright moral rights protection than we do here in the US. I haven’t studied UK copyright law, but this case would never make it to trial in the US where our moral rights laws allow for protection of the artist’s name (for visual works only) and not much more. In the UK, however, a garage producer got to court by suing some MCs for spewing violent lyrics over the beats. This left the judge attempting to determine whether the lyrics were in fact violent. He was unclear as to the meaning of phrases like, “shizzle my nizzle”. Fo’ rizzle.
The garage scene does have a problem with violence, so I’m assuming the claim is not completely unfounded. Radio 1 did a documentary a couple years back.
An article is here.

Community Hater

Apparently I’m a hater for setting up a law school discussion board, fostering a community through participation and promotion, and then being upset when people use my community to promote yahoo groups. I don’t know what part of me wants to protect free expression to the point where I’m willing to let people promote competing goods on my property, but some idealistic notion prevents me from hitting the delete button.
Arguments are brewing in the BU Students’ Discussion and Minnesota Students’ Discussion. Feel free to participate.

Tortfeasor Shirts Profitable

I’m happy to announce that tortfeasor.com is a success. I’ve sold enough shirts to pay back the site costs and, more importantly, the shirt printing costs. If sales continue at the current rate, there should be more colors and designs in the future. Strangely, the small an XXL shirts are much more popular than I anticipated. Apparently, most tortfeasor’s are either tiny or gigantic.

MSN’s Spider Egg

DayPop reports that a lot of people are linking to MSN’s information page about their new webcrawler. MSN currently uses Google to produce some of their search results, so this could be seen as the first step in developing their own search engine database.
But unless MSN can do a similarly good job as Google, there isn’t much point to them developing their own search engine. If the results suffer, people will just go over to Google. Still, competition is good among search engines because it prevents one organization from controlling all the traffic on the web. People still use search engines to find new sites, and a change in Google’s algorithm or database can now have huge ramifications for millions of sites. (And they are changing some stuff. A search for my name, Andrew Sinclair reveals that a link to some eclipse website has eclipsed me for the number one spot. My old URL comes up number 2. Obsessed people discuss here. (Winds from Update Esmeralda are now in full force.)
For now, Google’s database and MSN’s developing database are nearly irrelevant to placement in MSN search. MSN pulls the first results (and I think search engines are now good enough to prevent people looking past the first few results) from the Looksmart directory. You have to pay to be in Looksmart, but if you’re a non-commercial site, you can get into Looksmart free by getting into Zeal. Thus, Zeal is much more important for search engine traffic than most people think.

Law School Discussion Update

I just finished a medium size update of Law School Discussion, but you wouldn’t know it. I moved the whole site over to a new (much less expensive) host. While in the process I decided to rename the directories of the message boards to make them more intuitive. That might have been a mistake, because Google keeps sending people to the old pages. One flaw with Google: it still takes about a month for less important pages to get updated.
I also installed a new version of the message board, YaBB, which is open source and feature rich, yeh! Of course, to anyone but me these changes are of little or no significance. I’m just writing about it because nothing else is going on – a little peak into the life of a small-time webmaster.
The only noticeable update to the site is the entry page, which now features pictures of some of my friends.

Inactive Account Charges

Nick Aster’s PayPal scam spotting reminded me of this: a lot of companies seem to be closing out inactive accounts lately. Half.com emailed me today saying that I hadn’t sold anything in a while and that they’d be closing my account a month if I don’t confirm that I still want to use it. I got a similar message from cnet. (I had a cnet account? I don’t anymore…). It seems these companies are realizing that it’s not efficient to keep inactive users in a database. They might have some value if you could email them, but I think a lot of these places (which are actual, at least somewhat ethical companies) can’t get the value from the volume of names because they let people opt-out of mailings (and rightly so). The renewal requirement gives these places another chance to get those people to opt-in to email newsletters and advertisements.
It does something else too. In some cases (ie cj.com and cafepress), the companies have user agreements that allow them to charge inactive accounts. Cafepress won’t give me the $3 I earned on my primitive tortfeasor shirts (so I now make my own). They’ll let me have it as credit, but the reason I don’t want to use the account is because I don’t think people should have to pay $15+ (plus shipping) for a t-shirt online. I certainly don’t, and I’m not going to by a $12 (plus shipping) shirt from them either.
I think a reasonable account processing fee is fair for underused accounts. My three measly sales on cafepress were still sales. Sales through which they no doubt earned a profit. $3 to keep one web page active and to keep my name in a database might even be reasonable, but they are taking up to $24.99 from inactive accounts. $24.99!

Segway Spotted

I spotted someone on a Segway yesterday on Harvard Ave in Brookline. It was like spotting a deer in the wild: I’d seen it before on television, read about it, and find it interesting but not amazing… but I couldn’t help but stop and stare as the rider (driver?) waited to cross the street.
I wasn’t alone. A driver waiting at the light had his window down to ask questions. I felt like I was in a movie about someone who goes back in time and everyone is staring at him because he has some funky sunglasses or something. What is this obsession? Are these things really that innovative? They don’t do much more than a skateboard really. I think it’s just that the product is starting to catch up to the hype: you can actually buy those things!
In a related story, President Bush ate it yesterday on a Segway. It is today’s most emailed photograph on yahoo (seems to be down at the moment, but you can always looks somewhere else – try msn’s slideshow). That tennis racket must have thrown off his balance. Maybe he would have had better luck riding the Megway.

“Most Wanted” Playing Cards Part II: Copyright Jokers

Another thing I found interesting about the playing cards spam outbreak was the copyright implications. The original decks were Federal government work, and thus were not protected under copyright law. However, muhahahaha, it turns out that the government used commercial joker images that were protected. Thus, the commercial distributors of the cards had to obtain a license from the card company from which the joker image was taken unlawfully. The Joker always gets the last laugh.