19 Sep 2018

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Senate Passes Music Modernization Act With Unanimous Support

After the House's unilateral support back in April, the Senate has unanimously voted to pass the Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act, which is named in honor of the Republican senior senator from Utah -- a songwriter himself -- who will retire at the end of the year. Billboard explains the bill: The bill creates a blanket mechanical license and establishes a collective to administer it; reshapes how courts can determine rates, while making sure future performance rates hearings between performance rights organizations BMI and ASCAP and licensees rotate among all U.S. Southern District Court of New York Judges, instead of being assigned to the same two judges, Judge Denise Cote for ASCAP and Judge Louis Stanton for BMI, as its done now; creates a royalty for labels, artists and musicians to be paid by digital services for master recordings created prior to Feb. 15, 1972, while also eliminating a Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 carve out for "pre-existing digital services" like Sirius XM and Music Choice that allows for certain additional considerations not given to any other digital service when rates are set; and codifies a process for Sound Exchange to pay producers and engineers royalties for records on which they have worked. Over on the music publishing side of the business, there was much happiness too. For example, ASCAP noted that the legislation reforms an "outdated music licensing system and give music creators an opportunity to obtain compensation that more accurately reflects the value of music in a free market." Billboard notes that the revised Senate version "will go back to the House where it needs approval due to all the changes made to the bill in order to get it passed in the Senate." Once the House approves, it will then head to President Trump's desk.

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19 Sep 2018 7:00am GMT

Facebook Wanted Banks To Fork Over Customer Data Passing Through Messenger

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: For years, Facebook has publicly positioned its Messenger application as a way to connect with friends and as a way to help customers interact directly with businesses. But a new report from The Wall Street Journal today indicates that Facebook also saw its Messenger platform as a siphon for the sensitive financial data of its users, information it would not otherwise have access to unless a customer interacted with, say, a banking institution over chat. In this case, the WSJ report says not only did the banks find Facebook's methods obtrusive, but the companies also pushed back against the social network and, in some cases, moved conversations off Messenger to avoid handing Facebook any sensitive data. Among the financial firms Facebook is said to have argued with about customer data are American Express, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. The report says Facebook was interested in helping banks create bots for its Messenger platform, as part of a big push in 2016 to turn the chat app into an automated hub of digital life that could help you solve problems and avoid cumbersome customer service calls. But some of these bots, like the one American Express developed for Messenger last year, deliberately avoided sending transaction information over the platform after Facebook made clear it wanted to use customer spending habits as part of its ad targeting business. In some cases, companies like PayPal and Western Union negotiated special contracts that would let them offer many detailed and useful services like money transfers, the WSJ reports. But by and large, big banks in the U.S. have reportedly shied away from working with Facebook due to how aggressively it pushed for access to customer data. Facebook said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal: "Like many online companies, we partner with financial institutions to improve people's commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service, and people opt into these experiences. We've emphasized to partners that keeping people's information safe and secure is critical to these efforts. That has been and always will be our priority."

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19 Sep 2018 3:30am GMT

Wharton Professor Says America Should Shorten the Work Day By 2 Hours

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, New York Times best-selling author, and The Wharton School's top professor, says Americans should work two hours less. Instead of the typical 9-to-5, people "should finish at 3pm," says Grant in a recent LinkedIn post. "We can be as productive and creative in 6 focused hours as in 8 unfocused hours." CNBC reports: In the LinkedIn post, Grant was weighing in on an Atlantic article about the time gap between when school and work days end, a bane for many parents. But it's not the first time Grant has given his stamp of approval to less work with more productivity. "Productivity is less about time management and more about attention management," Grant tweeted in July, highlighting an article about a successful four-day work week study. For the study, a New Zealand company adopted a four-day work week (at five-day pay) with positive results; the company saw benefits ranging from lower stress levels in employees to increased performance. In a recent blog post, billionaire Richard Branson also touted the success of a three-day or four-day work week. "It's easier to attract top talent when you are open and flexible," Branson said in the post. "It's not effective or productive to force them to behave in a conventional way." "Many people out there would love three-day or even four-day weekends," said Branson. "Everyone would welcome more time to spend with their loved ones, more time to get fit and healthy, more time to explore the world."

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19 Sep 2018 2:10am GMT

18 Sep 2018

feedArs Technica

Russian surveillance plane got shot down by Syria—and Russia blames Israel

Did Israel fail to warn Russia in time, or are Syria's aging air defenses to blame?

18 Sep 2018 9:21pm GMT

You think your neighbors can drive energy conservation

Beliefs about neighbors' environmental attitudes might trump your own.

18 Sep 2018 8:57pm GMT

Apple repays €14B in “illegal aid” to Ireland, so EU drops court case

"Always Ireland's intention to comply with our legal obligations in this regard."

18 Sep 2018 8:34pm GMT

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Apple's Big iOS 12 Update Is Now Available. Here's How to Upgrade and What You'll Get

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SpaceX announces 1st customer to orbit the moon

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Won the Internet and a Bunch of Emmys in the Process

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