YouTube prevents ad-blocking mobile apps from accessing its videos

YouTube's war with ad blockers is far from over, and it's focusing on tools that enable ad-free viewing on mobile this time. The Google-owned video platform has announced that it's "strengthening [its] enforcement on third-party apps that violate" its Terms of Service, "specifically ad-blocking apps." It's talking about mobile applications you can use to access videos without being interrupted by advertisements. When you use an application like that, you may experience buffering issues or see an error message that says "The following content is not available on this app."

The service says its terms don't allow third-party apps to switch off ads "because that prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership." Like it's been doing over the past few months since it started cracking down on ad blockers, YouTube suggests signing up for a Premium membership if you want to watch ad-free. YouTube Premium will set you back $14 a month. 

Back in November, YouTube told us that it "launched a global effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad free experience." It started by showing pop-ups whenever an ad blocker is in use telling you that it's against the website's TOS. Soon after that, you could only play up to three videos with an ad blocker on before you can no longer load any. Google also later admitted that if you have an ad blocker installed, you "may experience suboptimal viewing," such as having to wait a longer period before a video loads. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/youtube-prevents-ad-blocking-mobile-apps-from-accessing-its-videos-123055735.html?src=rss

YouTube prevents ad-blocking mobile apps from accessing its videos

YouTube's war with ad blockers is far from over, and it's focusing on tools that enable ad-free viewing on mobile this time. The Google-owned video platform has announced that it's "strengthening [its] enforcement on third-party apps that violate" its Terms of Service, "specifically ad-blocking apps." It's talking about mobile applications you can use to access videos without being interrupted by advertisements. When you use an application like that, you may experience buffering issues or see an error message that says "The following content is not available on this app."

The service says its terms don't allow third-party apps to switch off ads "because that prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership." Like it's been doing over the past few months since it started cracking down on ad blockers, YouTube suggests signing up for a Premium membership if you want to watch ad-free. YouTube Premium will set you back $14 a month. 

Back in November, YouTube told us that it "launched a global effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad free experience." It started by showing pop-ups whenever an ad blocker is in use telling you that it's against the website's TOS. Soon after that, you could only play up to three videos with an ad blocker on before you can no longer load any. Google also later admitted that if you have an ad blocker installed, you "may experience suboptimal viewing," such as having to wait a longer period before a video loads. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/youtube-prevents-ad-blocking-mobile-apps-from-accessing-its-videos-123055735.html?src=rss

Meta is testing messaging capabilities for Threads, but don’t call them DMs

As Threads has grown to more than 130 million users, one of the major remaining “missing” features users often complain about is the lack of direct messaging abilities. But those missing out on DMs may soon have a new option to message other Threads users.

Meta is starting to test messaging features that rely on Instagram’s inbox but allow new messages to be initiated from the Threads app. The feature has begun to appear for some Threads users, who report seeing a “message” button atop other users’ profiles where the “mention” feature used to be. A Meta spokesperson confirmed the change, saying the company was “testing the ability to send a message from Threads to Instagram.”

Of note, Threads still doesn’t have its own inbox, and it’s not clear if it ever will. Instagram head Adam Mosseri has said multiple times that he doesn’t want to create a separate inbox for Threads, but would rather “make the Instagram inbox work” in the app. A Meta spokesperson further confirmed that “this is not a test of DMs on Threads.”

But even though it’s not a full-fledged DM feature, the ability to send a message from the Threads app without having to switch to Instagram could at least make messaging from Threads a little less clunky. Actually checking or replying to those messages, though, will still require users to head to the Instagram app.

That may still seem like an entirely unnecessary step, but Mosseri has pointed out that building two versions of the same inbox could easily get complicated. “If, in the end, we can’t make the Instagram inbox work for Threads, we’ll have a hard choice to make between (1) mirroring the Instagram inbox in Threads and dealing with notification routing weirdness, and (2) building a totally separate Threads inbox and dealing with the fact that you’ll have two redundant message threads with each of your friends with the same handles in two different apps,” he wrote in a post in November. “Neither seems great.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/meta-is-testing-messaging-capabilities-for-threads-but-dont-call-them-dms-213536876.html?src=rss

Google, a $1.97 trillion company, is protesting California’s plan to pay journalists

Google, the search giant that brought in more than $73 billion in profit last year, is protesting a California bill that would require it and other platforms to pay media outlets. The company announced that it was beginning a “short-term test” that will block links to local California news sources for a “small percentage” of users in the state.

The move is in response to the California Journalism Preservation Act, a bill that would require Google, Meta and other platforms to pay California publishers fees in exchange for links. The proposed law, which passed the state Assembly last year, amounts to a “link tax,” according to Google VP of News Partnerships Jaffer Zaidi.

“If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers,” Zaidi writes. But though the bill has yet to become law, Google is opting to give publishers and users in California a taste of what those changes could look like.

The company says it will temporarily test blocking links to California news sources that would be covered under the law in order “to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.” Zaidi didn’t say how large the test would be or how long it would last. Google is also halting new spending on California newsrooms, including “new partnerships through Google News Showcase, our product and licensing program for news organizations, and planned expansions of the Google News Initiative.”

Google isn’t the first company to use hardball tactics in the face of new laws that aim to force tech companies to pay for journalism. Meta pulled news from Facebook and Instagram in Canada after a similar law passed and has threatened to do the same in California. (Meta did eventually cut deals to pay publishers in Australia after a 2021 law went into effect, but said last month it would end those partnerships.)

Google has a mixed track record on the issue, It pulled its News service out of Spain for seven years in protest of local copyright laws that would have required licensing fees. But the company signed deals worth about $150 million to pay Australian publishers. It also eventually backed off threats to pull news from search results in Canada, and forked over about $74 million. That may sound like a lot, but those amounts are still just a tiny fraction of the $10 - $12 billion that researchers estimate Google should be paying publishers.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-a-197-trillion-company-is-protesting-californias-plan-to-pay-journalists-175706632.html?src=rss

Your anonymous OpenTable reviews will soon display your first name

OpenTable's restaurant pages still feature a lot of reviews left by anonymous diners at the moment, but that will not be the case starting next month. The online restaurant reservation service is changing its policy around reviews so that they're not as anonymous — and it's even applying the new rule retroactively. As BleepingComputer reports, it told users in an email that starting on May 22, it "will begin displaying diner first names and profile photos on all diner reviews." Further, "this update will also apply to past reviews."

"We've heard from you, our diners, that trust and transparency are important when looking at reviews," the company also said in its letter, insinuating that it's changing the way reviews work based on user feedback. As BleepingComputer says, it'll be easy to match a bad review with customer reservation records based on the user's first name and when the post was made. It could be a very uncomfortable situation for people who wanted to talk about bad experiences without the fear of not being welcomed back into a particular establishment. Sure, the new rule could ensure that bad reviews have merit, that a customer legitimately dined at that restaurant and any complaint they mention truly is worth looking into. But we wouldn't be surprised if people feel put off and even betrayed by the decision to apply this upcoming policy to old posts. 

Those who have no intention to go back to restaurants they didn't particularly like could change their first names if they wish, though future reservations will be made under that name. Users can also change their profile pictures if they want and even delete their reviews altogether before May 22. 

Updated April 12, 2024 12:51PM: We removed the reference to Glassdoor, which did not publish real names with employer reviews. A previous report, instead, talked about how the website populated some users' profiles with their information, including their names, without their consent. In a piece published after that report came out, Glassdoor CEO Christian Sutherland-Wong wrote that "[p]rotecting anonymity is at the core of [the company's] mission and [its] pledge to... users."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/your-anonymous-opentable-reviews-will-soon-display-your-first-name-120006774.html?src=rss

Twitch CEO says DJs will have to share what they earn on the website with music labels

In an interview with the channel TweakMusicTips, Twitch CEO Dan Clancy said that DJ streamers on the platform will have to share their revenue with music labels. As posted by Zach Bussey on X (formerly Twitter), Clancy said that Twitch is working on a "structure," wherein DJs and the platform "are gonna have to share money with the labels." He said he's already talked to some DJs about it. The DJs, of course, realized that they'd rather not share what they earn. But Clancy said that Twitch will pay part of what the labels are owed, while the DJs hand over a portion of their revenue. 

Clancy's statement was part of his response to the host's question about the copyright situation of music streamers on the platform. The CEO replied that Twitch has been talking to music labels about it in hopes of finding a stable solution so that DJ streamers don't get hit with DMCA takedown requests. He also said that the website has a "pretty good thing" going on with labels right now — a "thing" that involves Twitch paying them money, apparently — but it's not a sustainable long-term solution. Plus, the labels are only OK with that deal at the moment because they know Twitch is working on another solution that will make them (more) money. 

Clancy also clarified that live streams and videos on demand have different sets of rules for playing copyrighted music, and the latter is definitely a problem. That's why he suggests that DJs should mute pre-recorded videos on their own, because Twitch's system doesn't always detect copyrighted songs to mute them. The CEO said Twitch is close to signing the deal with labels, but it's unclear how the Amazon subsidiary intends to monitor live music streams and if it already has the technology to do so. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/twitch-ceo-says-djs-will-have-to-share-what-they-earn-on-the-website-with-music-labels-060210010.html?src=rss

Twitch CEO says DJs will have to share what they earn on the website with music labels

In an interview with the channel TweakMusicTips, Twitch CEO Dan Clancy said that DJ streamers on the platform will have to share their revenue with music labels. As posted by Zach Bussey on X (formerly Twitter), Clancy said that Twitch is working on a "structure," wherein DJs and the platform "are gonna have to share money with the labels." He said he's already talked to some DJs about it. The DJs, of course, realized that they'd rather not share what they earn. But Clancy said that Twitch will pay part of what the labels are owed, while the DJs hand over a portion of their revenue. 

Clancy's statement was part of his response to the host's question about the copyright situation of music streamers on the platform. The CEO replied that Twitch has been talking to music labels about it in hopes of finding a stable solution so that DJ streamers don't get hit with DMCA takedown requests. He also said that the website has a "pretty good thing" going on with labels right now — a "thing" that involves Twitch paying them money, apparently — but it's not a sustainable long-term solution. Plus, the labels are only OK with that deal at the moment because they know Twitch is working on another solution that will make them (more) money. 

Clancy also clarified that live streams and videos on demand have different sets of rules for playing copyrighted music, and the latter is definitely a problem. That's why he suggests that DJs should mute pre-recorded videos on their own, because Twitch's system doesn't always detect copyrighted songs to mute them. The CEO said Twitch is close to signing the deal with labels, but it's unclear how the Amazon subsidiary intends to monitor live music streams and if it already has the technology to do so. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/twitch-ceo-says-djs-will-have-to-share-what-they-earn-on-the-website-with-music-labels-060210010.html?src=rss

The Motion Picture Association will work with Congress to start blocking piracy sites in the US

At CinemaCon this year, the Motion Picture Association Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin has revealed a plan that would make "sailing the digital seas" under the Jolly Roger banner just a bit harder. Rivkin said the association is going to work with Congress to establish and enforce a site-blocking legislation in the United States. He added that almost 60 countries use site-blocking as a tool against piracy, "including leading democracies and many of America's closest allies." The only reason why the US isn't one of them, he continued, is the "lack of political will, paired with outdated understandings of what site-blocking actually is, how it functions, and who it affects."

With the rule in place, "film and television, music and book publishers, sports leagues and broadcasters" can ask the court to order ISPs to block websites that share stolen content. Rivkin, arguing in favor of site-blocking, explained that the practice doesn't impact legitimate businesses. He said legislation around the practice would require detailed evidence to prove that a certain entity is engaged in illegal activities and that alleged perpetrators can appear in court to defend themselves. 

Rivkin cited FMovies, an illegal film streamer, as an example of how site-blocking in the US would minimize traffic to piracy websites. Apparently, FMovies gets 160 million visits per month, a third of which comes from the US. If the rule also exists in the country, then the website's traffic would, theoretically, drop pretty drastically. The MPA's chairman also talked about previous efforts to enforce site-blocking in the US, which critics previously said would "break the internet" and could potentially stifle free speech. While he insisted that other countries' experiences since then had proven those predictions wrong, he promised that the organization takes those concerns seriously.

He ended his speech by asking for the support of theater owners in the country. "The MPA is leading this charge in Washington," he said. "And we need the voices of theater owners — your voices — right by our side. Because this action will be good for all of us: Content creators. Theaters. Our workforce. Our country."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-motion-picture-association-will-work-with-congress-to-start-blocking-piracy-sites-in-the-us-062111261.html?src=rss

The Motion Picture Association will work with Congress to start blocking piracy sites in the US

At CinemaCon this year, the Motion Picture Association Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin has revealed a plan that would make "sailing the digital seas" under the Jolly Roger banner just a bit harder. Rivkin said the association is going to work with Congress to establish and enforce a site-blocking legislation in the United States. He added that almost 60 countries use site-blocking as a tool against piracy, "including leading democracies and many of America's closest allies." The only reason why the US isn't one of them, he continued, is the "lack of political will, paired with outdated understandings of what site-blocking actually is, how it functions, and who it affects."

With the rule in place, "film and television, music and book publishers, sports leagues and broadcasters" can ask the court to order ISPs to block websites that share stolen content. Rivkin, arguing in favor of site-blocking, explained that the practice doesn't impact legitimate businesses. He said legislation around the practice would require detailed evidence to prove that a certain entity is engaged in illegal activities and that alleged perpetrators can appear in court to defend themselves. 

Rivkin cited FMovies, an illegal film streamer, as an example of how site-blocking in the US would minimize traffic to piracy websites. Apparently, FMovies gets 160 million visits per month, a third of which comes from the US. If the rule also exists in the country, then the website's traffic would, theoretically, drop pretty drastically. The MPA's chairman also talked about previous efforts to enforce site-blocking in the US, which critics previously said would "break the internet" and could potentially stifle free speech. While he insisted that other countries' experiences since then had proven those predictions wrong, he promised that the organization takes those concerns seriously.

He ended his speech by asking for the support of theater owners in the country. "The MPA is leading this charge in Washington," he said. "And we need the voices of theater owners — your voices — right by our side. Because this action will be good for all of us: Content creators. Theaters. Our workforce. Our country."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-motion-picture-association-will-work-with-congress-to-start-blocking-piracy-sites-in-the-us-062111261.html?src=rss

OpenAI and Google reportedly used transcriptions of YouTube videos to train their AI models

OpenAI and Google trained their AI models on text transcribed from YouTube videos, potentially violating creators’ copyrights, according to The New York Times. The report, which describes the lengths OpenAI, Google and Meta have gone to in order to maximize the amount of data they can feed to their AIs, cites numerous people with knowledge of the companies’ practices. It comes just days after YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said in an interview with Bloomberg Originals that OpenAI’s alleged use of YouTube videos to train its new text-to-video generator, Sora, would go against the platform’s policies.

According to the NYT, OpenAI used its Whisper speech recognition tool to transcribe more than one million hours of YouTube videos, which were then used to train GPT-4. The Information previously reported that OpenAI had used YouTube videos and podcasts to train the two AI systems. OpenAI president Greg Brockman was reportedly among the people on this team. Per Google’s rules, “unauthorized scraping or downloading of YouTube content” is not allowed, Matt Bryant, a spokesperson for Google, told NYT, also saying that the company was unaware of any such use by OpenAI.

The report, however, claims there were people at Google who knew but did not take action against OpenAI because Google was using YouTube videos to train its own AI models. Google told NYT it only does so with videos from creators who have agreed to this. Engadget has reached out to Google and OpenAI for comment.

The NYT report also claims Google asked a team to tweak its privacy policy in June 2023 to more broadly cover its use of publicly available content, including Google Docs and Google Sheets, to train its AI models and products. The changes, which Google says were made for clarity's sake, were published in July. Bryant told NYT that this type of data is only used with the permission of users who opt into Google’s experimental features tests, and that the company “did not start training on additional types of data based on this language change.” The change added Bard as an example of what that data might be used for. 

Correction, April 6, 2024, 3:45PM ET: This story originally stated that Google updated its privacy policy in June 2022. The policy update was actually made in 2023. We apologize for the error.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/openai-and-google-reportedly-used-transcriptions-of-youtube-videos-to-train-their-ai-models-163531073.html?src=rss