Explaining Southern California's economy

Peter Chernin joins Twitter board: Will Hollywood and Silicon Valley finally get along?

Malaria No More International Honors Fifth Anniversary Benefit

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Peter Chernin speaks in New York City. The former News Corp. executive was just named to the Twitter board.

Twitter announced last week that Peter Chernin, a former News Corp. executive who has morphed into an entertainment investor, will join its board. Given that Twitter is perhaps better integrated than any other social network or microblogging site with the entertainment and news businesses, this is a pretty interesting development.

It also shows that Twitter could be getting serious about bolstering its financial credibility ahead of a possible IPO. This has long been discussed, but so far Twitter has lagged behind some of its peers, including Facebook and LinkedIn.

From the L.A. Times:

Chernin had been mentioned for months as a likely new Twitter director. He joins Chief Executive Dick Costolo, co-founder and former CEO Evan Williams, co-founder and Chairman Jack Dorsey, venture capitalists Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Peter Fenton of Benchmark Capital, among others, on the board. He takes the place vacated by Flipboard CEO Mike McCue.

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Harvey Weinstein goes to London and praises Sarkozy, whales on Silicon Valley

Kris Connor/Getty Images for The Weinstein C

Harvey Weinstein has had just about enough of you Internet content pirates and proposes a draconian "French" solution.

If, in the aftermath of the Stop Online Piracy Act/Prevent IP Act (SOPA/PIPA) battle, you thought that only the most intense financiers of Silicon Valley continue to obsess over threats to the "open Internet, we give you...Harvey Weinstein! The Hollywood Reporter catches up with the outspoken producer in England, where he took the occasion of addressing the BFI London Film Festival to absolutely lay into Big Tech.

But first, he heaped praise on recently dethroned French President Nicholas Sarkozy (who awarded Weinstein the prestigious Légion d'honneur prior to leaving office):

"Whether you like his politics or not, this law was good," Weinstein said, "because people are disincentified to steal."

He said the results also could be seen in a country where 260 French movies were made last year, and difficult funding propositions, like the €14 million ($18 million) black-and-white silent film The Artist, could find people to fund it.

"You get a robust local industry from it," he said.

Weinstein's speech was full of humor and barbed observations.

"I love it when these Internet dudes say to me, ‘Hey man, we just want to be 'content neutral,' " Weinstein noted. "Next time, I'll say, 'Sure, I'll get my tie-dye shirt and come and sit in your billion dollar mansion in San Francisco or Silicon Valley for a while, soak it up.'"

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Open Internet: President Obama's Reddit answer that Hollywood won't like

President Barack Obama answering questions on Reddit on Wednesday. Did he come out in favor of the open Internet?

As you've all probably heard, President Obama took to Reddit, the Internet discussion site, to...have an Internet discussion! Which was in no way intended to upstage Paul Ryan's Really Big Speech at the Republican National Convention. Really. In no way.

As KPCC's Tony Pierce reported earlier at our Represent! blog, Obama's arrival at Reddit actually broke Reddit, for a few minutes at least.

What was truly rather Earth-shattering, however, was his answer to the first question he was asked, from "SharkGirl":

Q: We know how Republicans feel about protecting Internet Freedom. Is Internet Freedom an issue you'd push to add to the Democratic Party's 2012 platform?

Obama's A:

Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody - from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won't stray from that principle - and it will be reflected in the platform.

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Copyright Wars: Google does what Hollywood wants

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The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. The company has announced a change to its search rankings, intended to protect copyright.

Last week, Google announced that it's making a change — or more accurately perhaps, a modification — to its search algorithm. This is the explanation, from Google's search blog:

Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results....

Only copyright holders know if something is authorized, and only courts can decide if a copyright has been infringed; Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law. So while this new signal will influence the ranking of some search results, we won’t be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner.

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Chris Dodd wants Hollywood and Silicon Valley to patch things up

CinemaCon 2011 - Day 2

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Former U.S. Sen. and new Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America Chris Dodd speaks at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, March 29, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

You could say that it's the great business question of our era. Certainly it is in California. Why can't Silicon Valley, seat of the tech industry, and Hollywood, capital of the entertainment business, join forces and create a juggernaut of technotainment that will establish the Golden State as the most important place on Earth for innovation and global media?

In theory, it should be a no-brainer. But in practice it's a case of colliding business models. Big Content has built up its ownership of media over the course of a century. It's not going to share the goodies without claiming its cut.

Big Tech, on the other hand, wants all that content to be free, free, free. Chris Anderson pretty well laid it all out, in detail horrifying to Hollywood, in 2009, in his aptly titled book "Free: The Future of a Radical Price." Why? Because the ability to fragment and share content is a critical piece of Silicon Valley's overall business model. Users need to be able to do this by the millions if not billions, so that various Web companies and appmakers can sell ads against the — wait for it — free labor of those users. 

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