The latest action:

searchles.bmpGrouper sends “cease & desist” letter to Searchles, but it may backfireGrouper, the online video sharing site now owned by Sony, sends a C&D letter to Searchles to demand it stop taking Grouper videos and placing them in Searchles’ own player skin. Grouper says the practice removes things like copyright protection technology, as well as buttons such as “flag as inappropriate.” The controversy is recorded at Searchles’ blog, which, incidentally, provides a witty defense. The ruckus only serves to give more publicity to Searchles’ new TV feature Grouper is so protesting. Indeed, we found ourselves reading up on Searchles, checking out its TV feature (see video), and being impressed. It lets users run multiple back-to-back videos on one player, allowing them to import the videos from anywhere, including MySpace, YouTube, Google Video, or Grouper. Users can then post those players to their own blog or elsewhere. There are other companies doing similar things (stripping video from other sites, and then putting their own players around it), but much of this has been untested in the courts. Speaking of video controversy, turns out Viacom, which is suing Google for copyright violation, has its own video-pirate subsidiary, iFilm.

Determining a video’s relevance — These legal fights will intensify when there’s actual advertising running alongside and inside of the videos. Now there’s a company, Visible Measures, that says it has technology to analyze a video’s various characteristics, to help publishers and advertisers know when and how users are likely to engage with a video. The company looks at which users are forwarding the video, where they are embedding it, and whether they are rewinding to a specific part. This gives publishers and advertisers a way to rate a video’s worth, and to target specific individuals. The Cambridge, Mass. Visible Measures has just raised $5 million in a first round of financing from General Catalyst Partners, according to VentureWire (sub required). Now, this technology may not yet be the video equivalent of Page Rank — which, as you’ll recall, is the technology (based on incoming links and other factors) that Google uses to rank Web pages in its results. Google is still looking for a way to rank videos, though this technology may bring it closer. Indeed, Visible Measures says it has received an “endorsement” from YouTube.

Lycos releases Jubii in the U.S. — The NYT has the details. But the NYT apparently didn’t try out the service. We did, and didn’t like it.

Obama’s California campaign being run of Kleiner’s office — Former Democratic controller Steve Westly, as reported, has taken an office at the respected Silicon Valley venture firm, Kleiner Perkins. Now we learn he is co-chair for Sen. Barack Obama’s Democratic presidential run. Also, Westly’s new venture fund has already invested in a local solar company.

Tello, launches and crashes within a yearTello emerged with great acclaim last year with a service that allowed companies to detect the “presence” of employees, such as whether they are best available on landline, cellphones or IM. We wrote about them here. The company has just gone belly up. It raised $10 million in July.

Ouch, Scoble says Microsoft’s web initiatives “suck” — Former lead Microsoft blogger, Robert Scoble, has turned on his former employer: “Microsoft’s Internet execution sucks (on whole). Its search sucks. Its advertising sucks (look at that last post again). If that’s in it to win then I don’t get it.”

More confirmation of Google phone — This time, the Google executive in Spain and Portugal spills the beans, and the Google PR folks are somewhat more forthcoming than when we asked them about it earlier this month.

FeedYes throwing in towelFeedYes, the company that created RSS feeds for sites that don’t have any, which we first wrote about here, is now up for auction. It has many competitors, including and