2003 March 31

(entry last updated: 2003-03-31 13:48:13)

Here in Boston we realize that winter isn’t really over until we get a snowstorn during the baseball season. I’m not sure that last night’s snowfall counts, since the Red Sox season doesn’t start until today, but it sure would be nice to see the end of this winter!

Update: So what do I get for hoping? More snow!

  • Now how is DRM going to prevent piracy, exactly? Note that Radiohead’s latest album, Hail to the Thief, which was slated for a June release, is available now, in high quality, online. [via Aimee Deep’s Music Pundit]

    Update: Billboard’s got an article on the subject that just deepens the mystery:

    More than two months before its planned June 10 North American release by Capitol, Radiohead’s upcoming album, “Hail to the Thief ,” began appearing online in its entirety over the weekend. Radiohead’s past two albums, “Kid A” and “Amnesiac,” were also were available online several weeks before street date, despite the fact that no advance copies were circulated and journalists were required to listen to them at the office of the band’s publicist. [emphasis added]

  • Offtopic: Margaret Atwood’s letter to America needs reading – note that this is NOT a commentary on the Iraqi war. Rather, it is a call to remember the notions upon which the republic is founded. (Maybe it’s not that far offtopic, either!) [via BoingBoing]

    If you proceed much further down the slippery slope, people around the world will stop admiring the good things about you. They’ll decide that your city upon the hill is a slum and your democracy is a sham, and therefore you have no business trying to impose your sullied vision on them. They’ll think you’ve abandoned the rule of law. They’ll think you’ve fouled your own nest.

    The British used to have a myth about King Arthur. He wasn’t dead, but sleeping in a cave, it was said; in the country’s hour of greatest peril, he would return. You, too, have great spirits of the past you may call upon: men and women of courage, of conscience, of prescience. Summon them now, to stand with you, to inspire you, to defend the best in you. You need them.

  • According to Slashdot, the much-bandied about Mystro service (AOL’s TiVo) is getting closer to fruition, and is expected to go online this year (Reuters via The New York Times). An earlier NYTimes article on the service; and the accompanying Slashdot discussion

    Recall from our earlier discussion that this offers up the interesting possibility of allowing AOL to narrowcast advertising, inserting particular ads based on other information collected about each Mystro user, who will be, by definition, an AOL-Time Warner cable subscriber.

  • LawMeme reports that there will be a hearing on the Massachusetts version of the so-called Super-DMCAs

  • John Palfrey ask a more fundamental question: why are ISPs defined differently in each piece of legislation in this area? How can that be a good thing?

  • The New York Times discusses artists and the Internet: A Wary But Interested Eye on the Web. the closing paragraph says it all, though:

    But there is another possible explanation for why artists from other mediums struggle so mightily with the Internet: it is just too new. “I don’t think artists quite get the Web yet,” Mr. Ligon said. “Maybe it’s too new to be thought through.”

  • The Times discusses Madonna’s upcoming record and the problems facing a diva at the close of her second decade. Another rationale for the Madonna Project?

    Her somewhat older audience poses a problem because the biggest consumers of CD’s are between the ages of 11 to 25, and they are more apt to buy records by artists like Ms. Lavigne, Ms. Aguilera and Pink, who have far surpassed Madonna in record sales. An album by Ms. Lavigne, “Let Go,” released last June by BMG’s Arista Records, has sold 5.1 million copies so far, according to SoundScan. Ms. Aguilera’s album “Stripped,” released last October by BMG’s RCA Records, has already sold 2.2 million copies, according to SoundScan.

    “People will pay attention to Madonna’s new album when it comes out,” Judy McGrath, president of MTV Networks Music Group, said. “They will be interested and curious. But I’m not sure that 17-year-olds will go out and buy her CD. And that’s the audience she really needs to capture.”

  • In conjunction with the Boston Globe’s piece (below), we have the NYTimes discussing the Clear Channel war protest song controversy in detail.

  • A provocative thought piece at Salon: Are we doomed yet?. I have tried to put out some of the most notable bits, but you really should read the whole thing:

    In crude terms, governments are deciding what to do about networks. Since the rise and fall of Napster, everyone seems to have a theory about what to do about piracy on the Internet, but piracy is the smallest of the threats waiting for us in the digital age. The real danger is the spread of dangerous technologies.

    …But we should not be surprised. The DMCA and this ruling are only the leading edge of the fight against self-replicating threats. The fact that the legal system has used such strong information-control measures to stop the relatively innocuous threat of DVD piracy indicates that similar measures will be used against the nanotech and biotech threats described by Bill Joy. “Knowledge-enabled” is the key phrase Joy uses to describe the threats; it means that to fight them governments might have to get into the business of controlling the flow of knowledge, as Kaplan did by enjoining 2600 from linking to DeCSS sites.

    The legal line between speech and action will blur dramatically during this century. The new technologies, from nanotechnology to the online economy, will be created and implemented with computer language, which by nature is both “expressive” and “functional.” How the courts untangle these two aspects of “code” will define 21st century attitudes toward new ideas and their regulation. Even Kaplan acknowledges that, legally, code must be treated as speech: “It cannot seriously be argued that any form of computer code may be regulated without reference to First Amendment doctrine. The path from idea to human language to source code to object code is a continuum.” What he painstakingly argues, however, is that in contrast to the “expressive” component, protected by the First Amendment, the “functional” component of computer code can be regulated by government. “Computer code is not purely expressive any more than the assassination of a political figure is purely a political statement,” he writes.

    …A grim future indeed, but I am cautiously optimistic for a couple of reasons. First of all, most people in the world, despite their differences, want stable, healthy lives. As we have seen with the Internet, .1 percent of the population may always try to throw a wrench into the machine, but the rest of us will scramble to fix the problem, punish the pranksters, and defend against wrench-throwing in the future. Second, I think that even among the pranksters only a very few will cross over from fun-and-games with computers to deadly real-world viruses. At the worst, we face a few crazies and, more seriously, a handful of “rogue” nations and terrorist groups.

    …Though we might be foolish to put too much faith in the romantic notion of the “citizens’ militia,” we should be very suspicious of laws that limit the creation or dissemination of knowledge. They threaten to create a privileged class of information shepherds who, though well-meaning at first, could easily abuse their dramatic power advantage over information consumers. We should not give up our freedom to know and to communicate unless we are certain that the new order would be vastly more secure than the present one — and, as I argue above, the likelihood is that it would not.

  • Declan’s back on his soapbox, using a writeup on this week’s Computing, Freedom & Privacy conference to remind us that the real purpose of technology is to develop instruments that make current legal directions impossible to implement – encrypted e-mail, etc. This is not a new tack for Declan, but I remain terribly concerned about this idea that the role of engineers is to subvert the political process. (See the Slashdot discussion of his earlier article) I am perfectly happy to agree that a little subversive tech is a good thing, but there’s always the danger that it can get painted as seditious – at which point legislatures overreact (c.f. the effects of equating file sharing with theft and the current political climate).

  • Today’s Globe continues the discussion of Internet distribution of protest songs (see this Furdlog), contrasting it with the widespread airplay songs supporting the war are getting. The paper also has a nice sidebar on how to access some of the songs.

  • BBSpot reports on that Microsoft has made their own special contribution to the war effort – donating software to the Iraqi regime:

    Microsoft’s VP of Marketing Marie Bixby explained, “All the instability, and bugs that came with the original version are still there, but as part of the psychological operations of the war, we modified the infamous Blue Screen of Death to the more patriotic red, white and blue. General Protection Fault will be marching all over the Iraqi regime, and he’ll be waving Old Glory.”

    “We have been very careful not to destroy any critical infrastructure in Iraq,” said Brigadier General Victor Hanlon. “But that is about to change. Windows 95 will destroy the information technology infrastructure of Iraq almost immediately. Microsoft even modified their license agreement to allow Iraqis to copy the software onto multiple computers without further licensing requirements.”

    …The Iraqi government was suspicious of the deal, but accepted the donation when Microsoft showed them the powerful land mine removal simulator, Minesweeper.

    …Microsoft did not receive payment from the US government as part of the operation, but does hope to profit by offering upgrades to Windows XP after the war has ended.

  • Since I’m starting off with silly stuff, here’s a Houston Chronicle article on a brouhaha underway in Texas about who can call themselves an engineer – apparently, the state legislation holds a higher standard than many other places. The Slashdot discussion is not bad, but I would think that a careful distinction between &quot’engineer" and "professional engineer" is all that’s really necessary here.

2003 MArch 30

(entry last updated: 2003-03-30 14:02:15)

2003 March 29

(entry last updated: 2003-03-29 09:16:52)

  • CNet reports that we can expect bulk shipments of copy-protected audio CDs this summer.

    In a research note published Friday, J.P. Morgan analyst Sterling Auty said that Arista Records, a subsidiary of BMG Music, appeared to be moving to market with CD copy-protection technology produced by SunnComm Technologies.

    “We expect volume shipments of protected CDs to ship commercially in the U.S. as early as the May-June time frame using the SunnComm solution,” Auty wrote. “This will be the first major step in the growth of the CD audio protection market.”

    Can we expect compliance with Wyden’s bill?

2003 March 28

(entry last updated: 2003-03-28 17:27:03)

  • Letters to the Editor about Paul Krugman’s Clear Channel op-ed piece

  • Donna’s got the link for the final Rio ILaw session posted, but not yet populated. As she notes, the summation and final Q&A can lead in some exciting directions. Unfortunately, it appears that "communication problems" have once again interfered with her postings – with luck, she’ll have some at least a few comments/insights when she gets back from the beach!

  • Jenny Levine has found a new weblog: Legal Mp3 Downloads

  • Pursuant to the Gateway discussion yesterday, we have an LATimes article: Gateway Commercial Raises Hackles at CBS (see yesterday’s Furdlog on the subject of this www site – Rip, Burn, Respect) (via BoingBoing)

  • Hoo-boy! Jenny Levine found this SFGate article: Analyst: Internet file-sharing bigger than record business

    Free peer-to-peer music file-sharing has become larger than the multibillion dollar recording industry with a growth trend that has become “fundamentally unstoppable,” a media analyst told a state Senate committee exploring Internet piracy on Thursday.

    …Instead of fighting the trend, which he called a losing battle, Garland [of Big Champagne] said the entertainment industry should embrace digital distribution rather than file lawsuits that only make more people aware of free downloads.

    But industry representatives largely rejected the advice, instead promoting legal challenges and education, including a new anti-file-sharing movie clip that will appear soon in movie theaters.

    CA State Senator Kevin Murray’s website is pretty thoroughly devoted to this topic – see this statement as well as this discussion of his efforts as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on the Entertainment Industry.

  • Two articles from Billboard: Marley Bassist Proceeds With Royalties Lawsuit; New Metallica Album To Include Bonus DVD

  • An interesting discussion over at Slashdot on a SecurityFocus article claiming that the FBI is looking for changes in the architecture of the Internet to ease wiretapping of voice over IP telephony.

  • Ed Felten continues to discuss the super-DMCA bills pending before several state legislatures. Today he discusses why the intent provisions of these bills (‘intent to harm or defraud’) do not provide adequate exceptions to legalize the very typical applications (NAT, firewalls) that the text of these bills appear to declare illegal.
    Update: He’s been Slashdotted

  • Mark Mulligan talks about Audioscrobbler as a key element of effective music distribution networks.

  • Doc Searls points to a couple other record outlets springing up to distribute protest songs that Clear Channel and others won’t touch. I couldn’t resist including the image at the right, which is from the protest records WWW site.

  • Wired describes the release of Revolution OS on a DVD that is neither CSS-encrypted nor region encoded (available here).

    Moore is concerned that his CSS-free DVD could result in unauthorized copying and screening of the film. The film has already been made available for download on a few websites and screened sans his permission at various small technology conventions and colleges.

    He self-financed Revolution OS and worked for years without a salary to make the film. For those reasons, he said, it’s important to him that people purchase the film rather than pirate it.

    But despite his concerns, Moore said he couldn’t rationalize releasing a DVD about open-source and free software that many users of that software would be unable to view. He’s equally uncomfortable with supporting what he believes are increasingly Draconian copyright control techniques.

  • Wired has a clever title the describes the problems that Movielink continues to face in its efforts to construct a workable movies-on-demand system in a bandwidth-limited market: Movieline: Short Lines, Long Wait

  • The increasingly portable DAT has made bootlegging even easier.

  • CNet describes yet another well-thought-out piece of legislation that addresses some of the most important issues of the day: House votes on Net porn. As Declan describes it:

    During a debate over a bill to create a notification network for child kidnapping cases, House members added two technology-related amendments to the legislation. The first measure, which was approved by voice vote, says anyone who knowingly uses an innocent-sounding domain name to drive traffic to a sex site could be fined and imprisoned for two to four years.

    The second amendment, which the House agreed to by a 406-15 vote, represents Congress’ second attempt to outlaw “morphed” or virtual child pornography . Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court slapped down Congress’ first law banning nude images of computer-generated minors and underage teens, saying the 1996 measure violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression.

    After amending the bill, called the Child Abduction Prevention Act (CAPA), the House then approved it by a vote of 410-14.

    Should this become law, the court challenges are going to be ridiculous – what’s misleading? Heck, we can’t define pornography. Here’s a snippet from the first provision:

    For the purposes of this section, a domain name that includes a word or words to indicate the sexual content of the site, such as ‘sex’ or ‘porn’, is not misleading.

    LawMeme has a writeup, too

  • Maybe we’re not supposed to call it Palladium, but apparently it’ll be on display at the upcoming Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. The article has a number of good background links on what Palladium is. The Slashdot discussion offers up the typical cross section of comments, but this one got my attention – a description of the current concept of software ownership that does a great job at demonstrating why the notion of Palladium isn’t going to just fade away:

    Microsoft is taking the control out of users hands for just the same reason (and for anyone in denial, try to log in as “Administrator” on a WinXP machine). It wouldn’t make sense for anyone to be able to bypass the mandatory access controls on a military mainframe, and if they can they have to be very very trusted.

    I hear you out there! Screaming that your home computer isn’t a shared, let alone military, machine. Well, here’s a message for you: it’s shared with all the people who write software for your computer. That’s right, software has owners and when their software is on your computer they think they should have a say over how it is controlled. For better or worse, your choice to share your computer with the owners of this software is what is driving this effort.

    Not that sharing is bad. It makes sense to share. You have the choice of who you share your computer with. I’ve chosen to share my computer with people who have similar views to me on what is a fair. These people write software that they license under so called “liberal” licenses — the GPL and the BSD licenses for starters.

  • Copyfight has the placeholder up for the Rio ILaw talk on Jurisdiction & Zoning (i.e., architecting location on the Internet) by Zittrain and Edelman.

    Update: The talk notes are now up, as are those of Benkler and Carnuti on Privacy

2003 March 27

(entry last updated: 2003-03-28 12:25:08)

  • It’s buried below, but I want to make sure that you go read Donna’s notes from Nesson & Falcao on the Internet & Democracy from ILaw Rio. FWIW, I think Charlie speaks for me, too!

  • Then there’s Mary Hodder’s notes on Cory Doctorow’s talk about Open Spectrum.

  • Madonna blasts manufactured pop – BBC. No trace of irony in the article at all.

  • A while ago Derek asked about the effectiveness of education programs. TechLawAdvisor points to this site, RipBurnRespect, which certainly fits the bill. It’s also a little weird. It appears to speak for Gateway, yet a whois yields the fact that the domain name is owned by something called Dogmatic, Inc.., which is a new media company out of New Work City and Los Angeles. So, this is definitely a Gateway ad; relate to the Apple game?
    Update: Yep – here’s a CNet News piece on the ads

  • It will be interesting to see if AOL’s plan to make several of the Time-Warner online magazines accessible only to AOL subscribers and magazine buyers will win or lose them subscribers.

  • BBC News covers AudioScrobbler (WWW site), a computer science project that has become something of a fad among Internet music devotees. A WinAmp plugin that can be used to build a collaborative communities of music fans.

  • Ed Felten’s writeup [via Copyfight] of the MPAA text in support of the super-DMCA bills is not to be missed. Note that, according to Cory Doctorow, these bills are pending in more than just MA and TX.

  • Declan McCullagh writes about today’s expected discussion of the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Act (HR1417), which addresses the webcasting royalty issue, among others. However, a look at the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property hearing schedule shows that the hearing on HR.1417 has been postponed.

  • Donna’s posted her placeholder for the next Rio ILaw session: Larry Lessig and Jason Matusow on Open/Shared Source. I’m sure that Jason is expecting a more congenial reception than the one he got at the Open Source for Governments Conference, as described in eWeek. At least, I expect that his slides will work this time <G>

    Update: Donna’s summary is now available; and she’s posted her placeholder for the Nesson and Falco discussion of the Internet and Democracy – note that this session will be webcast

    Having attended the summer ILaw, it’s not clear to me that the question Donna posed at the outset of the Lessig/Matusow session can be answered in the affirmative. Donna’s notes don’t make it clear what the emotional content of the discussion was, but I remember that Larry’s use of the “stop hitting me/I didn’t hit you” example last summer made for a convivial, but tense discussion. At that point, Microsoft was deep into the “viral” smear of the GPL, and I cannot tell what the pitch was today in Rio.

    I bristle a bit at what appears to be a comment by Jason: “At MS we funnel millions of dollars into educational institutions all around the world. This is given freely.” If he means research money, that’s not at all likely – contracts are signed, agreements made. And if he means things like academic giveaways of software – come on; that’s one example of “network effects” that everyone understands.

    What is clear is that Larry’s put a little more thought into his position, no longer that of a purely open source advocate. We probably have Dave Winer to thank for that, who took Larry (and others online!) to task over that position. Donna’s description suggests that Larry’s got a more nuanced take today, but that he is still predisposed to more, rather than less, openness.

    But these are hard things to tease out from a couple thousand miles away. I’ll be interested to hear more as this develops.

  • Off-topic, but very entertaining: Dahlia Lithwick’s coverage of the Lawrence v. Texas arguments before the Supreme Court yesterday. And SCOTUSblog gives more information on Dr. Fell.

  • Donna’s first post of the day from ILaw Rio is up: Yochai Benkler on Commons-Based Peer Production

  • Mary Hodder brings together a couple of current threads on artists breaking things off with the major labels and doing their own distribution online. For completeness, let me remind you of the NYTimes piece on Natalie Merchant’s efforts in this regard (particularly if you aren’t a FT subscriber).

  • The NYTimes is carrying a Reuters newswire piece on the IFPI‘s efforts to educate college students worldwide about music piracy.

  • Of course, Internet distribution requires careful planning, too. The effort to promote Real World Adobe GoLive 6 by putting it online is going to cost the author some serious dinero, it appears. This is not a new story, but it’s surprising that people keep getting caught unaware by the pricing structure of their ISP contract. As the article points out, there are ways, largely dependent upon P2P networks or by changing the copyright to enable the use of other repositories, that could have saved money and still achieved the goal that the author had in mind.

  • Wired discusses FullAudio’s new pay-for-download music service, MusicNow, aimed at an older demographic, willing to pay for someone else to find new material and categorize it for easy retrieval.

    FullAudio also hopes to attract people who are still interested in listening to new music, but are not often targeted by music industry marketers.

  • A weird buzz yesterday surrounded the President’s release of an executive order declaring information about “infrastructure” to be potentially classifiable (word?). (See this NYTimes piece for the original take, which largely focused upon an extension of the period of time that certain materials would remain classified) Speculation abounds that this includes information about the Internet – see Declan’s column, a Slashdot discussion; the text of the order. Here’s the questionable bit:

    Sec. 1.4. Classification Categories. Information shall not be considered for classification unless it concerns:

    (a) military plans, weapons systems, or operations;

    (b) foreign government information;

    (g) vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or pro-tection services relating to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism; or

    As Declan points out, the inclusion of the word “infrastructures” was a last minute change that has so far gone unexplained – but lots of speculation.

  • Larry’s posting on the Mexican government’s plans for copyright has been Slashdotted – a few postings worth reading, especially this take on the situation

2003 March 26

(entry last updated: 2003-03-26 18:48:48)

  • Matt, who I saw ask a question at the JOLT Conference, has gone to the effort to extract the key kernel from the NYTimes article on music arrangements that I linked to a couple of days ago. While I focused my comments on the cultural trends toward slavish devotion to the original score, Matt works through in detail what we might have lost had copyright term extensions been applied earlier – and, by implication, what has already been irretrievably lost.

  • CNet reports that Sen. Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill requiring labeling of content with copy protection schemes. Slashdot discussion

  • Ed Felten points out that Massachusetts and Texas are considering laws that will make many of us lawbreakers.

  • Offtopic: A disheartening story from the Washington Post on the implications of heightened scrutiny for the citizenry.

  • Terry Fisher on Intellectual Property from ILaw, Brazil – via Copyfight; and Part II
    Now also, Larry and Yochai on Internet Policy Issues

  • Ed Felten has put up a couple of interesting posts on the Analog Reconversion Discussion Group; ARDG Bans the Press and More on the ADRG and the Press

    Despite its confusing name, ARDG is an important process, reflecting the efforts of some to promote, and perhaps eventually to mandate, the use of technical restrictions to close the "analog hole" (i.e., to make it impossible to capture and copy non-digital media). ARDG’s no-press policy is not just theoretical — Drew Clark of the National Journal’s Tech Daily was actually ejected from an ARDG meeting.

  • Kevin Heller (of Tech Law Advisor) has had it up to here with Jack Valenti speaking as a lawyer – see this rant in response to a recent Valenti Q&A.

  • Larry Lessig outlines current activities in the Mexican legislature:

    The Mexican Congress is about to consider a revision to its copyright law. Among it many changes, the law will extend the term of copyright from life-plus-70 to life-plus-100. (And no doubt thus beginning yet another cycle of "harmonization" around the world.) Worse, at the end of the copyright term, the government has the right to charge royalties for works in the "public domain."

  • As this article from Ad Age shows, the TiVo allows marketers to extract some different information from TV viewers.

  • Billboard reports on the growing trend of music artists electing to air their views on the Iraq war by releasing MP3 versions of their songs for free download. (versus Madonna’s route, discussed yesterday)

  • CNet News has an interview with Pamela Horovitz of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers on digital music distribution and retail.

    That seems like a difficult position. If a product is ubiquitous, by definition it’s harder to have a market, isn’t it?

    Well, I have to disagree. I think ultimately what people are going to come to realize is that free wasn’t free. The services that consumers are going to value are going to have different elements. You can stand in line, for example, but there is a value to not having to stand in line. There is a value to having someone arrange and select and recommend music for you.

    In some ways I really enjoyed going through my own music collection recently and organizing it after I got an iPod. Part of that was terrific, because I was very much engaged. Any time that you have people engaged with their own music, that’s a great thing. But there are times when I really would prefer to have it done for me. These are things that retailers have done to some degree, and we probably will have to get better at doing that.

  • A Slashdot story on the release of H2O gives the community an opportunity to critique the efforts of most universities to put class materials online. Larry Lessig points to Jonathan Zittrain’s public release of the software.

  • The New York Times has their own take, profiling the distributed teaching models used by many MBA programs.

2003 March 25

(entry last updated: 2003-03-25 18:25:20)

  • Mary Hodder has been following the ILaw discussions, and has some thoughts the J. P. Barlow’s latest discussion of "digital bottles."

  • Note that Donna’s posted a couple more sessions:

  • The article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the conflict between the DMCA and TEACH (Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act) has hit Slashdot. As the Chronicle article states:

    What worries the media centers is that colleges might not be allowed to bypass copying protections even when they need to do so to use materials from CDs and DVDs for distance education, as permitted by the Teach Act in certain circumstances. The problem arises when digital materials are not also released in non-digital formats that the colleges can fall back on, such as print.

  • Pursuant to Yochai’s talk on access, WLAN carriers in Korea, Australia, China, Malaysia, and Singapore agree that their customers will be able to employ the hot spots of the partners. Slashdot discussion

  • Donna’s morning summary from Rio of Yochai’s talk on Internet Access is up. Now, the Lessig/Benkler Open Spectrum discussion. And it appears that Larry’s having a good time – although I look forward to learning more about his ‘minor wars’ sentence.
    Update: Oh – I see; he’s droppped the posting about the MIT Press and fair use – luckily, you can still get the gist from Cory Doctorow’s weblog (wait for the whole thing to load and you’ll get to the entry). Note that a Google search on Lessig "MIT Press" brings up the cached material, which I’ve already saved and considering posting here. I’m guessing I don’t get enough traffic to concern whoever convinced Larry, but we’ll see.

  • Mark Mulligan speculates that the Recording Industry Association of Korea has issued blanket licences to file sharing networks – note that this is UNCONFIRMED. While waiting, it’s interesting to look at the RIAK’s Projects page, as well as the page of the Shinwon Agency, which handles IP export issues.

  • Missed this earlier posting by Lydia Loisides of Juper Research on the SonicBlue bankruptcy: I Hate It When I Am Right, wherein she quotes some unhappy statistics on Tivo

  • Paul Krugman, in today’s New York Times op-ed, points to the insidious possibilities when radio industry concentration meets a political agenda. Eric Boehlert’s series of articles in Salon on Clear Channel is cited.

    Why would a media company insert itself into politics this way? It could, of course, simply be a matter of personal conviction on the part of management. But there are also good reasons for Clear Channel — which became a giant only in the last few years, after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 removed many restrictions on media ownership — to curry favor with the ruling party. On one side, Clear Channel is feeling some heat: it is being sued over allegations that it threatens to curtail the airplay of artists who don’t tour with its concert division, and there are even some politicians who want to roll back the deregulation that made the company’s growth possible. On the other side, the Federal Communications Commission is considering further deregulation that would allow Clear Channel to expand even further, particularly into television.

    Or perhaps the quid pro quo is more narrowly focused. Experienced Bushologists let out a collective “Aha!” when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company’s top management has a history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel’s chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university’s endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.

    There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear, but a good guess is that we’re now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy.

    Here’s Lawmeme’s take.

  • Madonna releases MP3s – a break with her past practices. Moreover, it also appears that she’s toying with the a different distribution model:

    Madonna is selling her new antiwar single, “American Life” on her Web site, charging $1.49 for the download of a high-quality, wholly unrestricted MP3 file. Her publicists started taking preorders a week ago, and in a novel move for a high-profile recording artist, enlisted fans to help sell the single on their own Web sites.

    The so-called Madonna Project program–drawn directly from Amazon.com’s and other Web sites’ affiliate strategies–saw banners and advertisements for the single pop up on fan Web pages and blogs last week. Sites whose advertisements resulted in sales of the single would get credit toward Madonna prizes and merchandise.

    “The Madonna Project is a top-secret initiative to revolutionize how music is distributed on the Web, and Madonna wants you to join,” the singer’s site read last week. “The more singles sold through your site or links, the better your chance to win a pat on the back, a gold star and some serious Madonna prizes.”

    Note that Googling the "Madonna Project" turns up quite the assortment of stuff.

  • Findlaw’s Chris Sprigman has an editorial on the implications of the Lexmark suit over printer cartridges: Copyright Versus Consumers’ Rights:

    How Companies are Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to Thwart Competition

    What should be done to protect competition? Static Control has already begun to explore one possibility.

    In passing the DMCA, Congress adopted a safeguard provision directing the United States Copyright Office to undertake a triennial review relating to the statute. The purpose of the review is to exempt from the statute’s anticircumvention provisions classes of works where the Copyright Office found that technological protection measures had impeded lawful uses.

    Static Control has filed a petition with the Copyright Office asking for an exemption that would cover its Smartek chip. Specifically, it has asked the Copyright Office to exempt from the DMCA small, embedded computer programs that “do not otherwise control the performance, display or reproduction of copyrighted works that have an independent economic significance.”

    Put more simply, if Static Control gets its wish, only circumvention done for the purpose of copying an independently valuable piece of expression like a book or a film would still come within the DMCA. That makes perfect sense: Indeed, it would mean that the DMCA would be restored to its original purpose.

2003 March 24

(entry last updated: 2003-03-24 14:12:14)

  • Jenny Levine, after reading about Utah’s claims, speculates about how libraries might gain from the CD price collusion settlement.

  • Denise Howell has some enticing quotes, with a decidedly digital twist, from Steve Martin’s Academy Awards comments.

  • The first of Donna Wentworth’s posts from the Rio/Brazil ILAW sessions has started – note that there will be webcasts of some sessions.

  • Ed Felten’s blog is back! Read about the reasons for the problem here

  • Mark Mulligan at Jupiter Research discusses the Sony schism between the entertainment and electronics division:

    Both Sony Music and Sony Electronics always emphasise their independence, but the simple fact is that Sony Electronics cannot expect to have a profitable music division if the impact of piracy (both online and offline) is allowed to continue unabated, let alone with tacit support from their own products.

    Do Sony Electronics even care? Well I am sure they do to some extent, but the business case for Sony Music as provider of software for Sony Electronics products is perhaps less string than it was 10 or 15 years ago. The CD boom has subsided from a label perspective but successfully created a global market for CD players. Home entertainment technology is evolving in a far more multifunctional direction. Readers of Michael Gartenberg’s blog will be very familiar with digital ubiquity and the same principle certainly applies for music entertainment: devices and formats are becoming more focused on multiple layers of connectivity and interactivity. DVD and computer game sales are challenging the hegemony of CD sales in music retailers and home entertainment systems allow the user to interact with a far wider range of entertainment than a music CD.

    This is not say that Sony Music does not have a role in the Sony picture, simply that it’s importance has lessened as music has become less central to home entertainment.

    Or, it may mean that Sony will be the first to solve the puzzle and break the assumption in the opening paragraph of this quote – that supporting full technical capability in consumer electronics devices need not mean destruction of the music business – just the current music business model.

  • SiliconValley.com posts an article suggesting that Streamwaves is going to be a name to watch.

    Tribble says music lovers are flocking to his service because it holds several key advantages over competitors such as Listen.com and MusicMatch Jukebox.

    First, users don’t have to download or install any software. “People don’t want to mess with a program,” Tribble says. “We’re giving them a straightforward way of listening right from the browser.”

    And it is one of the few services that is Macintosh-friendly. In fact, the company is luring Mac users with a 10 percent discount on monthly subscription costs, plus an additional 5 percent discount for members of Mac user groups.

    Second, access is portable to any Internet-connected computer. Users can go to the Web site to hook into their playlists and stored music selections from anywhere in the world.

    Third, the library being assembled for Streamwaves includes entire albums, not just the tracks getting radio play, from artists such as Eminem, Alan Jackson, Bon Jovi, Santana, Sheryl Crow, Nelly and Natalie Cole.

    Finally, because of the way it has configured its servers, the service works well over dial-up Internet connections. You don’t need a broadband account for high-quality sound.

  • The NY Times discusses the Dixie Chicks backlash and the overall climate for celebrity advocacy.

  • As one demonstration of the prevalence of file sharing (and the increasingly broad demographic employing this technology), the New York Times notes that the AARP (the renamed American Association of Retired Persons) is placing ads on KaZaA.

  • The Amazon business method patent application on web space advertising bids gets some Wired ink, speculating about Amazon’s motives in the face of competition and previous art. This old Forbes article is a pertinent now as it was then.

  • Wired has more information on the SonicBlue bankruptcy:

    “The availability of these features offended a lot of major media companies,” said Adi Kishore, an analyst with the Yankee Group. Sonicblue “has been caught in an expensive legal battle with companies with huge resources.”

    “I think (Sonicblue) put a lot of resources behind ReplayTV, and that’s not a product that has been successful in the market,” he said. In an effort to drive sales, Sonicblue focused on features like ad skipping and file sharing.

    “I think they took this antagonistic approach (to advertisers and mainstream media companies) because they thought it would spur consumer adoption,” Kishore said. “They thought these features would really drive sales, but that strategy didn’t work out.”

  • BBSpot shows that sometimes the old tried and true methods can be applied to new problems – like assessing whether a computer is hosting illegal MP3s.

  • Today’s UserFriendly (wait to get past the ad/or subscribe) is another take on alienation online.

2003 March 23

(entry last updated: 2003-03-24 14:12:13)

  • Slashdot reports that O’Reilly is employing the Creative Commons licenses to construct some new copyright instruments for publishers.

  • Slashdot reports that a band called Anything Box has released an album in MP3 form that is completely freeware. See what the community thinks.

  • Something not too good seems to have happened to Freedom to Tinker – I hope it’s just that the server has lost track of the date (since March 7 seems to be the latest entry up).

  • I’ve been reading The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, albeit fitfully, what with everything else that’s going on. I haven’t gotten terribly far into it, but it’s been fascinating.

    There have been three particularly striking ideas:

    • The author argues that before the era of true sound research, the concept of sound was solely constructed around the notion of speech. Other sounds were just noises, devoid of meaning or interest. With the construction of sound as vibrations in air, speech lost its “privledged” position and became a specific type of sound, but no different at the scientific level than any other. This construction also led to the ability to measure features of sound (frequency, amplitude, speed), further abstracting the notion of sound from the meaning of the sound.

    • This re-conceptualizing of the nature of sound led researchers to consider what the author sees as the signature element that lies at the heart of all sound reproduction technologies today – the typanum or vibrating plate. The early machines sometimes literally employed the outer and middle ears of corpses, extracted via new methods of dissection. The research was directed toward the development of a specific kind of machine: machines that hear for others. Implicit in this research was the idea that such machines would also convert the sounds into visually interpretable materials that could be used to reconstruct sound, and its meanings.

    • Therefore, the bulk of the work into developing the technologies that we recognize today as the instruments of sound recording and reproduction would be regarded as failures in light of the goal that the researchers were working toward – a technology of that would transform sound into interpretable graphical form. Bell, in particular, was working to teach the deaf how to speak in the same fashion as those who could hear, and he saw the conversion of sound into something that could be interpreted by the sighted as the path to this goal. More generally, there was this overall objective of converting speech into written words (or something equivalent), (which of course remains a vital area of research and product development).

      Essentially, this work was a rejection of the notion of deaf culture, based upon a “modern” notion that communication by hand gestures was the hallmark of savages, while audible and graphical communication was modern.

    The overall notion so far is that as the science of sound and the technology of measuring and (eventually) generating sounds evolved, so too did the way in which sound was conceptualized by the public and considered within the culture.

  • Why do I bring all this up? Because today’s New York Times Magazine discusses a novel technology for sound delivery that is may lead to another wave of reconsideration of the nature of sound: The Sound of Things To Come. The article discusses the inventor of HyperSonic Sound, Woody Norris, and the bizarre features of the technology that he has been working on. Slashdot discussion: Projecting Sound ‘Inside Your Head’

  • Remember that ILAW Brazil starts tomorrow, and Donna has promised to blog it.

2003 March 21

(entry last updated: 2003-03-21 18:53:14)