VCs love Obama, mapping merger, Gravatar, China rage, more

Here’s the latest action:

1) VCs love on Obama
2) Frappr-Platial merge to take on Google
3) Is China is blocking US search engines? Or is it just U.S. jingoism?
4) WordPress buys avatar company
5) Internet giants agree on copyright protection online — um, except Google
6) Data reveals iLike’s strong music momentumVCs spend on Obama — Barack Obama is getting the most this year from the private equity crowd. He has raised $128,208 from 75 different VCs, according to PEHub. Running second is Mitt Romney with $94,500 from 51 contributors, while Hillary Clinton ($45,950), Chris Dodd ($22,700) and Rudy Giuliani ($21,100) round out the top five. Democrats got 60 percent more than Republicans.

Consolidation in social mapping companies — Google keeps improving their their social map features, letting you create your own maps and putting them in places like Google Earth, and then sharing with friends. Now Platial, a Portland company that does much the same thing, has acquired competitor Frappr. (Notably, Platial is backed by Ram Shriram, who sits on the Google board. Yes, that’s a major conflict. Update: We asked Shriram whether he is feeling conflicted, and he responded: “Not true at all…I believe Google is a partner but I am not conversant with details”.)  Platial says the combined companies will reach 15 million unique users monthly, which isn’t shabby at all. There’s power in fusion. Frappr never took outside funding. Platial raised $3.4 million from a host of players, including Kleiner Perkins, Keynote Ventures, Shriram, Georges Harik, Jack Dangermon, and Ron Conway.

Is China is blocking US search engines? — That seems to be the claim from a bunch a sources today, including reports that Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are all being redirected. However, some people are stepping back and wondering if there’s confusion on the matter, and some veiled anti-Chinese jingoism thrown in. We’ll track this in coming days. [Recommended update: Danny Sullivan's report, which suggests the Chinese blockade is an effort to avoid references to the Dalai Lama.]

gravatar.jpgWordPress buys avatar company — Automattic, the company that operates the popular WordPress blog software, has acquired Gravatar, a company that gives users a 80×80 pixel avatar image that follows you from blog to blog. It appears beside your name when you comment on Gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts. What do you guys think? Should VentureBeat enable Gravatar?

Internet giants agree on copyright protection online (surprise: Google not included) — A group of Internet and media companies, including CBS, Dailymotion, Microsoft, NBC Universal, News Corp, Viacom and Walt Disney have agreed to guidelines to protect copyrights online, according to the Wall Street Journal. The principles include using technology to eliminate copyright-infringing content, and blocking infringing material before it is publicly accessible, according to the report. Google didn’t participate, however: Copyright questions, particularly surrounding the posting of video, have bedeviled Google since it bought YouTube. Google’s existing technology wouldn’t meet the agreed standard, because it doesn’t block content from being posted. Google’s technology merely takes it down “in a matter of a few minutes.” Google has been sued by Viacom for $1 billion.

Data reveals iLike’s strong music momentumiLike has a 90 percent share of the music application installations on Facebook, according to iLike chief executive Avi Partovi at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco today. (Not bad, considering there are 200 different music applications on Facebook). Of the top 10,000 bands featured on iLike, 43 percent of them have more registered fans on iLike than they do on MySpace.

[Matt Marshall and Mark Coker contributed to this report]