May 30, 2003

2003 May 30 [7:50 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-30 18:14:25)

Sorry for the relative paucity of links today: MIT’s grades came out today and, with graduation a little over a week away, there are all sorts of evaluations, checks and meetings that get held to make sure that the academic programs are on top of the situation. A long day……

  • Something that came over the transom as I was getting ready to head home - a datapoint in the Aimee Deep discussion:


    Subject: Aimee Deep - EFF amicus filed

    From: “Aimee Deep” <suppressed>

    Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 17:06:30 -0400

    To: <furd@mit.edu>

    Hi Fred, [sic]

    I thought you’d be interested to know that the EFF has filed an amicus brief

    in our appeal. I blogged a little at musicpundit.com. Oral arguments are

    June 4. Would love to see you there! (Maybe I could prove that I exist. I

    understand your skepticism. Right now it’s just, I link, therefore I am.)

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m grateful,

    /Aimee


  • Mary Hodder is on top of the current activity around the DMCA good faith takedown provisions and the Internetmovies case: In MPAA We Trust

  • DeCSS back in the news: Arguments made in DVD-cracking case (Slashdot: DeCSS Arguments in CA Supreme Court Case)

    California Attorney General Bill Lockyer called DVD-cracking software DeCSS a tool for “breaking, entering and stealing” during a hearing before the California Supreme Court on Thursday.

    …California’s high court is considering whether a ban on the posting of the code, which cracks the content-scrambling system designed to protect DVD movies, violates free speech. Lockyer, who’s gearing up to run for governor next year, appeared on the side of the DVD Copy Control Association, which is arguing that the posting of the code on the Net should be banned.

    The case, DVD CCA v. Bunner, started four years ago, when the DVD CCA sued Andrew Bunner and hundreds of other people, saying they violated California trade-secret law by displaying links to the code.

    See also Donna’s collection of links: DeCSS Code–Free as in Speech?

  • From BBSpot: Sony Unveils New Self-Destructive DVD Player

    Wang addressed the safety concerns of destroying a DVD player: “Sure there are safety issues, but most homes are equipped with smoke detectors these days, and are chock full of pirated material which would be destroyed in the blaze. OK, their house might burn down, but isn’t that a small price to pay to combat piracy?”

    Instead of the standard low-powered laser most DVD players are equipped with, the SD-DVD player from Sony has a high-powered laser which will eventually burn through the DVD and ignite the highly flammable material from which the player is made.

    …Hollywood applauds the move. Chairman of the MPAA Jack Valenti said, “Not having a DVD player makes it absolutely impossible to view pirated content, which makes copying a DVD entirely useless. Granted, it also makes watching the damn thing impossible, but we don’t care if you can’t see the content, just as long as you buy brand new, legitimate copies from your local or online store.”

    funnily, this article appeared on CNet later in the day: Sony sets movies to self-destruct. Luckily, th actual concept is not quite so pyrotechnic in nature:

    A subsidiary of electronics maker Sony is to sell downloadable movie files that self-destruct after a given time.

  • The final article in the Digital Remix series is out: Free vs. fee: Underground still thrives

    Rather than fear their demise, free music services say the large music companies and e-tailers will have no choice but to work with file-swapping technology instead of against it. They say a rise in consumer awareness from paid services, a series of favorable court rulings and a shift in law-enforcement tactics all seem to signal the beginning of a new, third age of file swapping that will postdate the death of Napster and the troubles of its offspring.

    “Apple and others are competing with extremely large numbers of people who are using P2P (peer to peer) and other forms of technology to get free content,” said Kevin Bermeister, chief executive of Altnet, a company that distributes paid content through the Kazaa file-sharing service. “Unless this is addressed directly, which entails reaching those users, I don’t see how content companies are going to get to the masses on the Internet.”

    Including this very potent analogy:

    “You have to liken P2P to tap water,” said Wayne Rosso, president of the popular Grokster peer-to-peer service. “It is always going to be there. It’s free, and people are going to use it. But bottled water makers make a lot of money too.”

  • Today’s Boston Globe has a number of relevant and interesting bits:

    • Two pieces on media consolidation:

      • Media giants circle [pdf]

        Boston broadcast executives and analysts predict that the area’s media landscape will largely remain stable after Monday’s expected deregulation vote. But they say that the greatest chances of ownership changes could come from Boston Herald owner Patrick Purcell, who might sell to the paper’s former owner, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and from WHDH-TV (Channel 7), if owner Ed Ansin would look favorably on suitors that could range from NBC, a subsidiary of General Electric Co., to The New York Times Co.

      • Protests target media consolidation [pdf]

        Protests were planned at Clear Channel stations in 14 cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco.

        Protesters say Clear Channel stifles diverse points of view by programming local stations with national shows.

        A Clear Channel spokesman said the media coverage of the protests is evidence that diverse viewpoints are not ignored.

    • An odd snippet to track down on Michelle Shocked in this music gossip column: Viva la Vega [pdf]

      Michelle Shocked’s story could fill three episodes of VH1’s ”Behind the Music.” She went from punk rocker to homeless peacenik to political crooner to mainstream star, all in less than 10 years. Then she sued her record label using the 13th Amendment - the reform abolishing slavery. The one constant throughout these episodes has been Shocked’s ability to write everything from rock to swing to blues.

    • This article on John Cougar Mellencamp’s new album includes this provenance of the project grounded in the business of record-making: Mellencamp lands in ‘Trouble’ [pdf]

      The idea for it came, Mellencamp says, when he played Johnson’s ”Stones in My Passway” at a New York benefit last fall for the family of deceased Billboard editor Timothy White, who was a friend. A record-company exec said, ”Why don’t you make a record of songs like this for us?” he recalls. Mellencamp was stunned, because most of his contracts had stipulated that he had to write at least 10 songs per album himself, so the label wouldn’t have to pay royalties to other publishers.

  • The Microsoft-AOL settlement over browsers and antitrust has all sorts of implications. From the Boston Globe article Microsoft to pay $750m to settle AOL antitrust case [pdf]

    Another spur to a settlement could be the need for both companies to embrace digital media technologies. In a key portion of the agreement, AOL agreed to long-term licensing of Microsoft’s Windows Media software for video and audio services. The companies said they will also work together on ”digital rights management” systems that will allow consumers to download and use files, but will set limits on their ability to copy and share them with others who haven’t paid for them.

    AOL and Microsoft agreed not only to work on technologies to address the issue, but even to present a united front in lobbying elected officials for laws to protect the copyrights of digital media producers.

    From the NYTimes: AOL Time Warner and Microsoft End a Bitter Rivalry [pdf]

    The agreement, Mr. Gates said, carried a message that “Microsoft is focused on the future of digital rights management.”

    CNet has a number of articles here: Burying the hatchet

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May 29, 2003

2003 May 29 [6:52 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-30 07:32:47)

  • Interesting Applications of MicroEconomic Theory In Public Policy Department: Malaysian govt tells public to quit buying CDs, DVDs

    Just ask the Malaysian government. This week, Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk S Subramaniam told buyers to quit spending - temporarily, at least - to force the industry to reduce prices.

    Subramaniam’s statement, reported by the New Straits Times, apparently followed requests by Kualur Lumpur that “industry players” reduce “CD and VCD” prices - a demand rejected by the music and video business.

    Ironically, the government made the request in order to help the industry: it offered the move as a solution to escalating music and movie piracy.

  • Dave Winer points to today’s Daily Princetonian article on another RIAA target: RIAA sues over file-sharing site, but settles suit

    This past semester, the nationwide debate over file-sharing and online music theft hit the University in a personal way as the Recording Industry Association of America – a trade group representing the interests of the major record labels – sued sophomore Daniel Peng for what could have been billions of dollars.

    Peng had been operating a website known as “Wake” — accessible at wake.princeton.edu — which let campus network users search for shared files. The RIAA alleged that this search engine facilitated music theft on a grand scale and that Peng himself had made hundreds of copyrighted works available from his computer.

    …”The RIAA really wants to send a frightening message,” wrote David Dobkin, chair of the computer science department and next year’s dean of the faculty, in an email. “These students (Peng et. al.) are being set up to scare others away from doing this.”

  • Wired News has a business briefs column today that has a number of interesting elements, including Amazon’s consideration of an online music service. But this was the item that drew my attention - more changes at NYTimes.com:

    The New York Times will start charging online readers who use its service for receiving e-mail alerts on any news topic of their choosing.

    In an e-mail to readers, the Times said News Tracker, which notifies readers of articles containing keywords they choose, will become a subscription service June 13 because of the time and resources needed to run it. A Times spokeswoman said about 500,000 readers get News Tracker, which was introduced in March 2002.

    In principle, I see no problem with the idea that this kind of service could be a subscription. However, following the removal of free public access to all archives, one has to wonder how many other elements of their online business model are undergoing revision at this time?

  • Missed this earlier: Two Labels Warm Up to MP3’s [pdf]

    In early April, the Palm and Mute labels began to release discs that include unprotected MP3 files along with conventional CD audio tracks. Palm, working with a small independent label, Kemado, released “Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid” from the New York band Elefant; fans can listen to all 10 tracks on a CD player or in MP3 format, and the disc includes a bonus song available only in MP3 format.

    Mute, well known among fans of electronic music, released a double album of techno tracks, “2 CD’s & MP3’s.” The album has 12 MP3-only cuts in addition to 16 tunes in both formats.

    Representatives of the labels say the decision to include MP3 files on the CD’s does not reflect a surrender to illegal file traders, but rather, pragmatism.

    …”We spoke with some of the D.J.’s we work with, and it became clear that more and more of them were abandoning vinyl for programs such as Final Scratch and Traktor, and playing digital files,” Mr. Hodder said. “It just made sense to include them on the CD.”

    Pragmatism? What will they think of next? <G>

  • For your next trip to Starbucks: The Photographer’s Right - A Downloadable Flyer

  • Bringing all new features into the mix, the DVR continues to challenge the notions of fair use: For TiVo and Replay, New Reach [pdf]

  • The NYTimes covers Apple’s removal of the Rendezvous service from the iTunes player (correction - thanks Kevin!; it’s not that Rendezvous was removed; rather, it was changed so that it could not be routed, thus restricting it to a single subnet. This retains the ability to stream iTunes within a subnet (e.g., your home network). As the yesterday’s Slashdot discussion suggests, you can still tunnel or use other tricks to make it route, but it’s not transparent): Apple Finds the Future for Online Music Sales [pdf]

    But it would not be an online success story without a complicating twist. That complication came this week when the specter of the music industry, which has been publicly supportive of iTunes, began to loom over Apple. The success of iTunes, after all, depends on cooperation from the music business, which controls the songs that iTunes wants in its collection. Apparently trying to stay in the record industry’s good graces, iTunes removed a service it had previously offered customers. Called Rendezvous, the service enabled listeners and their friends to access one another’s music and listen to it — but not download it — from any computers. Hackers, however, had figured out how to download the music as well, creating programs with names like iLeach and iSlurp. So on Tuesday Apple sent out an update for its iTunes software, disabling Rendezvous and limiting music access to a user’s local network at home or at work.

    … Most of the uses for Rendezvous were not about illicit downloading. For example, Richard Yaker, co-founded — with a friend, Christian Bevcqua, who is in the band Ditch Croaker — a Web site called shareitunes.com. His intention was to enable iTunes users to see one another’s song collections and then listen to the music (but not download it). Next to every song, Mr. Yaker put links to the iTunes Music Store and to online mail-order retailers like Amazon and CDBaby, so that users had options to buy the music. As far as he knew, his application was neither illegal nor even sneaky.

    “The industry has never explored the idea of how people sharing and listening to one another’s music helps sales,” he said. “We’re all about selling the music once people find it and like it.”

    “But,” he continued, referring to Apple, “they just closed everything down. I was totally disappointed. We were hoping that traffic would continue to grow and we could quit our day jobs.”

  • Salon also covers the last of the "unsanctioned" FCC hearings on media consolidation in Atlanta: Just say no to supersized media

    While speakers repeatedly advocated for a diversity of voices and viewpoints in media reporting, the crowd itself lacked the more buttoned-down elements of the city’s population that would bespeak true diversity. There were no obviously suburban-looking types, and not one of the 600 or so people there, at a meeting that started at 6 p.m., was wearing a suit (except for the two commissioners, who were, after all, FCC bureaucrats, and one other panelist).

    The speakers’ unanimous agreement that Big Media is bad for democracy irritated at least one citizen, overheard grousing outside that the hearing was nothing more than a pep rally against the rule change. “I thought there’d be some argument — some people here for the change,” he said, although on questioning he admitted that he too was against deregulation. Any Atlantans against the rule change either didn’t know about the hearing, didn’t care enough to attend — or, perhaps, didn’t exist.

    The narrow, albeit eclectic, demographical turnout made sense, given that the hearing was publicized only in the city’s alternative weekly, Creative Loafing, and by two community radio stations, WRFG and WRAS….

    Even right-wing types might have cared to attend, as evidenced by the National Rifle Association’s support for Copps and Adelstein’s drive to preserve the existing regulations. So why didn’t local conservative talk show host Neal Boortz, an avowed libertarian, mention the hearing to his loyal troops? Possibly because his station, WSB-AM, is owned by media giant Cox Communications. Centrist and right-wing Atlantans did not learn of the hearing because their media outlets are owned, in large part, by the self-same Big Media corporations that want the ownership caps relaxed — which is, of course, the very problem that the dissident commissioners are trying to publicize.

  • This article in Salon about "Harvey Birdman" almost makes me want to get cable TV. But, more importantly, it illustrates what can happen when copyright and creativity do not actively contend, although I have no idea how that was accomplished: Pillaging the cartoon universe

    Fred Flintstone as a mob boss! Yogi’s pal BooBoo as a terrorist! Jonny Quest as the subject of a gay child-custody battle! All these outrages and more can be found on Cartoon Network’s hilarious, hallucinatory “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.”

  • Part two of Digital Remix at CNet: Microsoft, again: Apple’s old nemesis. Increasingly, this series appears to be pitched as an Apple v. Microsoft story, with CNet pulling for the underdog. For example:

    Few know that pattern better than Apple, which lost its fight for desktop computing to Microsoft long ago. So today, with an uncomfortable sense of deja vu, the Mac maker is facing a crossroads similar to one it encountered in the 1980s: whether to develop and promote technologies exclusively for Apple products or follow Microsoft’s PC plan and work with as many partners as possible in hopes of becoming the music service used by all, regardless of software or hardware differences.

    Apple has so far benefited from the music industry’s reluctance to cede too much control to Microsoft. But the Mac maker will need to deal with Microsoft at some point, as a competitor or an ally, while the digital music business quickly evolves and various players begin taking sides.

    One important quote:

    “The market for digital rights management (DRM) technology for music is never going to make anybody rich. People are realizing that,” said Larry Kenswil, president of eLabs, the new media and technology division of Universal Music Group. “Microsoft looks at the codec and the DRM as a means to an end, not as an end in itself.”

  • As mentioned yesterday, AOL is severing its relationship with RealNetworks. So, Real is responding with changes in the Rhapsody online music service. Some aren’t so impressed.

  • SCO is clearly on a self-destructive death spiral, in that they are continuing to make not only controversial claims but also inflammatory threats. And, as many have pointed out, SCO has yet to offer any evidence of this infringement to the public, or the objects of their threatened legal actions. Here are CNet’s assembled articles on the issue. Wired News’ Michelle Delio suggests that Novell’s counterclaims will cause SCO serious headaches. She also gives Eric Raymond a broader platform for his position paper on the subject:

    “We wrote our Unix and Linux code as a gift and an expression of art, to be enjoyed by our peers and used by others for all licit purposes both nonprofit and for-profit,” open source software advocate Eric Raymond wrote in a position paper about this fray. “We did not write it to have it appropriated by men so dishonorable that after making profit from our gift for eight years they could turn around and insult our competence.”

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May 28, 2003

2003 May 28 [6:39 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-28 18:17:23)

  • The market push to get rid of MP3? AOL forms duet with Dolby

    As previously reported, AOL has been planning the switch to Dolby AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) for months, in the latest sign that the digital audio format is gaining momentum against competing technologies such as MP3.

    AOL’s decision comes at the expense of its longtime audio technology partner RealNetworks. Although AOL will continue supporting RealNetworks technology in other areas in its service, the longstanding relationship between the two companies has withered.

  • I remember when these came out: Bowie Bonds Under Review

    Moody’s Investors Service says it may downgrade about $55 million of bonds backed by music royalties of rock icon David Bowie in light of the sales slump in the recording industry.

    In 1997, Bowie was the first musician to sell bonds supported by future revenues generated from his record master and publishing rights….

    “The rating review was prompted by lower than expected revenues generated by the assets due to weakness in sales for recorded music as well as the recent downgrade of an entity that provides credit support to the transaction,” the bond rating agency said last week.

  • Cory Doctorow points to a weblog that certainly gives one credible explanation for the Starbucks picture policy. Give it a read just to learn about the evolution of coffee bars

    Eventually competitors started getting jobs with Starbucks just to take the classes and gain the expertise, then take it back to their stores. Few people know it, but there was a cutthroat coffee chain war going on from 1991-1996, many of Starbucks policies came from this period.

    Photography was a big thing. Most retailers have a similar policy to Starbucks, customers are not allowed to take pictures inside a Starbucks without the permission of Media Relations. The reason was that competitors were coming into the store, posing as customers with an accomplice, and taking snapshots of every angle of the store.

    I caught a few of them early on, you could spot them from a mile away, mainly because of their poor acting skills. They overemphasized everything, spoke loudly and tried too hard to be the perfect customer. Later as the no photography policy became strictly enforced, competitors just starting take picture from outside. It was funny, you were on bar, had a line out the door and someone is staring right at you taking pictures of you.

    Unfortunately this policy is still in place today.

  • Larry Lessig points out that the Democratic contenders are picking up some interesting notions: MediaCon: Edwards questions the FCC’s mandate and Joe Lieberman on End to End

  • With OSCOM going on, I thought I’d see Dave’s thoughts on interoperability of weblog formats when I stumbled across this:

    About APIs, I request others support the MetaWeblog API without reservation. If you want me reorganize and move the docs to a neutral place and put an IETF-like disclaimer on it, I’m happy to do so. Maybe this is something Harvard could help with. I ain’t going with MIT, they’re the competition.

    Really? <G>

  • CNet News is putting together a special report over the next three days: Digital remix. Today’s entry: A medium reborn. While there’s a lot of familiar background, it is a nice packaging of the current potentials and issues in digital distribution of music. I like this (admittedly optimistic) bit:

    “Content companies have put themselves through a lot of unnecessary pain. If these commercial solutions work, they will prove very much what happened in the Betamax case: that on the other side of lawsuits is a thriving industry,” said Kevin Bermeister, chief executive of Altnet, a distribution service whose alliance with Kazaa has put it at odds with entertainment companies. Apple’s service, he said, is “slowly turning this 50-year-old ship to a different path.”

  • Offtopic: Maureen Dowd’s op-ed piece today, In-a-Gadda Da-Vida We Trust [pdf] is worth reading, if only as a test of how long it takes us to take the step of formally making Iran the next target, but it also raises an etymological question for me - namely, how did “decimate” come to mean “essentially wipe out?”

    “Al Qaeda is on the run,” the president said in Little Rock, Ark. “That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly, but surely, being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they’re not a problem anymore.”

    But Al Qaeda, it became horrifyingly clear a week later in Riyadh, was not decimated; it was sufficiently undecimated to murder 34 people, injure 200 and scare the daylights out of Americans everywhere.

    The term derives from the Roman practice of punishing a mutinous group by killing one out of every ten (see the OED definition or the American Heritage definition), but the Romans must have looked upon this as a disciplinary action, rather than one meant to expunge the group - after all, they left 9 out of 10 members in place. Nevertheless, it is clearly common usage today to use it to mean “to eliminate almost completely.” The OED points out that this usage emerges in the late 1800s, and the American Heritage usage panel gives such constructions a 66% level of acceptability (vote of confidence?) today. It would be interesting to see how the change came to be.

  • Maybe this article is closer to what Larry Lessig was hoping for: Ideologically Broad Coalition Assails F.C.C. Media Plan [pdf]

    A broad coalition of both conservative and liberal organizations expressed deep criticism today of a plan by the Federal Communications Commission to relax the rules that have restricted the nation’s largest media conglomerates from growing bigger.

    …The meeting today illustrated that no issue has created more of a furor at the commission in recent years than this proposal, which would allow conglomerates to enter more markets and control both newspapers and broadcasters in more than 100 cities. In recent weeks, the commissioners have received hundreds of thousands of comments urging them to delay their action.

    … Supporters of the proposal, who are led by Mr. Powell and include the major broadcast networks and some large news conglomerates, say that technology and the proliferation of competition have rendered the current rules unnecessary. They say that free over-the-air television may be jeopardized without changes as more expensive programming migrates to subscription services offered by cable and satellite companies.

    What’s particularly interesting is that the Times also has this article today: Commercial Time Selling Quickly for Cable, Too [pdf]

    The upfront market for broadcasters, now virtually concluded, is likely to total $9.2 billion to $9.3 billion, compared with $8.1 billion last spring. The deal-making for spots on the cable networks, being completed more quickly than usual, could result in increases of a similar or even larger percentage, reaching $5.4 billion to $5.6 billion, compared with $4.6 billion last spring; the negotiations are expected to wrap up in mid- to late June.

    There had been fears among some cable executives that the robust upfront market for broadcast networks, which is ending even more strongly than forecast a couple of weeks ago, could potentially cut into their take. But it seems that the rising tide - in the form of demand from marketers in large, important categories like entertainment, pharmaceuticals and restaurants - is lifting all boats.

  • David Weinberger’s Copy Protection is a Crime … against Humanity is back on the front page at Wired News. Check out the May 14 Furdlog entry, with an object example (at the bottom of the entry).

  • Cory Doctorow went straight to Starbucks to get the answer to the question of picture-taking: We’re allowed to take pix at Fourbucks, apparently. Larry Lessig went to BumperActive.com. (See Donna’s Copyfight entry for a good wrapup of the issue)

  • A couple of CNet NewsWired News articles:

    • The noxious effects of the so called business practices patent - eBay loses the first round of a patent fight over the “Buy it now” button: Jury: eBay guilty of patent infringement

      “I think it’s a red flag to the Internet commerce industry that there’s a whole slew of these patents that are issued that are basically what I would call well-known or common methods of doing business,” said Norm Beamer, a partner at Fish and Neave, a law firm specializing in intellectual property.

      “Right now it seems there is this looming problem of not very sensible patents that are nevertheless being used to threaten and extort people who are in business, and this appears to be one (being used against eBay) of them,” he added.

      Wired News has the AP Wire report: EBay Has to Pay in Patent Suit

    • RealNetworks pushes lower-cost Rhapsody

      RealNetworks on Wednesday will cease selling the music-subscription service MusicNet in favor of one from Listen.com’s Rhapsody, which also plans to charge a new low of 79 cents per track to rip CDs.

      … The RealNetworks’ product is the first major development following the company’s proposed $36 million acquisition of privately held Listen in April; the buyout is expected to be complete by the end of the third quarter. It is also a visible sign that RealNetworks has opted to back Rhapsody as its music service of choice at the expense of MusicNet, the rival subscription service it helped create in 2001 and in which it is still part owner.

      Wired News has something on this too: Listen Up: Songs Now 79 Cents

      Most online music retailers have been focusing on pushing subscription models, where users pay a set fee each month. But the success of Apple’s iTunes shows that “there is a demand for a la carte downloads and it’s important to know that people will pay for a high-quality downloadable file when the same file is most likely available through a free service as well,” IDC’s Kevorkian said.

  • Apple responds to SpyMac: Apple halts iTunes’ Internet sharing ability. Also see SpyMac’s announcement.

    Slashdot discussion: Apple Updates, Cripples iTunes; and CNet News’ article: Apple limits iTunes file sharing

    Cory Doctorow’s reaction: Apple force-feeds customers shit, calls it sunshine

  • NPR’s Morning Edition is running a three part series on the upcoming FCC vote on ownership deregulation - today’s first part was a history of the FCC and radio commercialization.

  • Today’s Globe has a nice rundown on Puretunes and the current licensing issues: New model for music on Net faces challenges [pdf]

    Madrid-based Puretunes, located on the Internet at www.puretunes.com, is a subscription-based service. But unlike similar services, such as Pressplay or Rhapsody, it allows customers to subscribe not just by the month, but also for as little as eight hours. This brief subscription costs just $3.99. And on Puretunes, subscribers can download all the music they want.

    …Puretunes’ press release says that what it’s doing is perfectly legal, because the company has struck a deal with the Spanish Association of Authors and Editors and the Association of Artists, Performers and Players, two of Spain’s major organizations for protecting the intellectual property rights of music producers. ”They pay a percentage to these organizations,” said Kelly O’Neil, a spokeswoman for Puretunes. ”The organizations, in turn, pay everybody associated with the song.”

    There’s just one problem, according to Allen Dixon, executive director of the London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the global trade group for the record companies. ”It’s only half the deal they need,” Dixon said.

    Despite any agreement with the two Spanish organizations cited by Puretunes, Dixon said the company still has to obtain permission from the recording companies.

    SFGate’s Benny Evangelista’s article on PureTunes is also very thorough: Spanish firm offers low-cost downloads:

    But music industry group calls it illegal

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May 27, 2003

2003 May 27 [6:46 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-27 17:58:11)

  • Musicrypt and EMI Music Canada Make History:

    Music Delivered From Recording Studio to Record Label to Radio Entirely in Secure Digital Format

    Music history was made at 12:55 PM ET, Tuesday May 20, 2003 when, for the first time, a major record company completed the delivery of music files securely from recording studio to record label to radio stations across Canada via the Internet using Musicrypt’s Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS).

    That’s one way to keep the bootlegs off the street….maybe.

  • A couple of Billboard articles:

    • Jewel Pleasing Fans Online, On Tour

      Atlantic Records is offering something extra to Jewel fans who buy her forthcoming album “0304,” due June 3, during its first week of release. Each copy in the first run of “0304″ will include a download card with a unique PIN number allowing access to a secure site from which users can download solo live MP3 versions of “The New Wild West” and “Life Uncommon.” The promotion runs through June 9.

    • Britney Copyright Infringement Suit Dismissed

      A federal judge dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Britney Spears, saying two Philadelphia songwriters failed to prove the pop singer copied the melody of one of their songs. U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller ruled last week that Michael Cottrill and Lawrence Wnukowski couldn’t provide enough evidence to prove Spears had access to their song titled, “What You See Is What You Get,” when she recorded, “What U See (Is What U Get).”

  • Yesterday’s odd article floating the PSU president’s solution to illegal file sharing gets the Slashdot treatment: University Sponsored Music Services?

    Other Slashdot discussions of note:

  • I had planned to take a Starbucks photo this weekend, but got to the store and didn’t have any “film” in the camera (I have one of the Mavicas that burns miniCDs). So, I failed to participate in Larry’s exercise, but I enjoyed Donna’s writeup of the potential theories of damage.

  • Derek points out some of the developments in the video rental business, both from a historical perspective as well as the current considerations of the next generation of video delivery.

    Note that the reason that audio CDs and software CANNOT be rented (versus VCRs) lies in specific legislative constructs developed in the Congress (1984 for audio recordings and 1990 for software) - see Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 109, subsection b.1.A. (The Cornell listing also has Notes that are worth reading.)

    Note also that video rental is not necessarily allowed under the 1996 WIPO treaty, which puports to protect exclusive rental rights to video as well as audio and software. In particular, a showing of sufficient market effects is enough to kick in the need for signatories to explore legislative relief. Thus, the Blockbuster arrangesments that Derek cites could be interpreted as a negotiated settlement balancing the first sale doctrine rights of video stores against the potential legislative threat that might emerge under the WIPO.

    Finally, if you’re interested in the price discrimination angle, you want to look up Hal Varian’s work - try Differential Pricing and Efficiency - or these PDFed slides if you’ve got the economics background.

  • Via ScriptingNews, this CNet article: File swapping shifts up a gear

    Going by names like eDonkey and BitTorrent, many of the latest generation of file-swapping tools have been designed specifically to increase the efficiency and speed of transfer for large files such as movie files. Some of these tools have been in development for several years, but are just now reaching the critical mass needed to make a dent in the file-trading world.

    Some in the copyright community say these new tools are finally starting to rival the piracy potential of the post-Napster generation of swapping services.

    … The BitTorrent technology isn’t intended for movie piracy. Indeed, open-source advocates recently used it to distribute a new release of the Red Hat Linux software, making an end run around clogged company servers. One Web community that specializes in swapping high-quality recordings of live jam bands such as Phish, usually with the bands’ permission, also uses the technology.

    “It’s definitely a technological marvel,” said Wayne Chang, a Massachusetts college student and system administrator for PickATime.com who has used the technology. “The more people using it, the faster the whole system is.”

  • Larry Lessig also liked the Frank Rich piece from Sunday’s NYTimes. However, I doubt that yesterday’s article on media consolidation is what Larry had in mind with his posting:

    Easier Rules May Not Mean More Newspaper-TV Deals [pdf]

  • This article from the BBC suggests that, between free downloads and online CD retail, the online music download for fee sites are getting squeezed: Positive signs for online music

    People are beginning to pay for music on the net but they are more likely to buy CDs online than individual tracks, research suggests.

  • Wired News also carries a Reuters piece on the rise of the ring-tone business in the US, matching similar trends overseas, albeit possibly without the copyright issues they once engendered.

  • Wired News has a Reuters newswire that suggests the sale of PressPlay to Roxio means that the record companies are coming to a new way of thinking about digital distribution - sacrifice control and take a slice of the equity - Let Someone Else Do It: Dig Tunes

  • Jenny Levine points to a PCWorld interview with Jack Valenti, who’s up to his usual tricks, with all sorts of rhetorical tricks. A few examples:

    PCW: Why can’t people who legally purchase DVDs make one backup copy? How come the same fair use rights that let you make a backup copy of other media do not extend to DVDs?

    Valenti: That question has nothing to do with fair use because a DVD is encrypted and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act says to circumvent an encryption violates that law.

    …Do you know anything else in the country that if something is abused for any reason they’ll give you a backup? If I go down to the hardware store and buy an electric lawn mower and I take it home, and three weeks later my wife runs over it in the driveway, I can’t take it back and get a new one. I can’t get a backup.

    PCW: You have suggested in some of your comments that the computer industry is profiting off Hollywood by selling computers that rip, burn, and copy digital content. Are you suggesting the movie studios’ profits are more important than the computer industry’s profits?

    Valenti: I’m not suggesting anything. I’m only saying that there is a huge avalanche of thievery today. Researchers estimate that 400,000 to 600,000 movies are being illegally uploaded and downloaded every day.

    People will say, “Well, you Hollywood guys are always whining. Why don’t you change your business model?”

    Well, my answer to that is: There is no business model ever struck off by the hand and grain of man that can compete with free. It can’t be done.

    If I have a Pizza Hut and I’m selling pizzas at $1.50, somebody puts up a Pizza Hut next to me and gives them away, who do you think is going to get the business?

  • The Music Industry News Network has the text of remarks by FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein Before The Media Institute on the upcoming FCC vote: Big Macs And Big Media: The Decision To Supersize (A PDF version from the Commissioner’s WWW site)

    From the outset of broadcasting, policymakers have always understood that localism and diversity are inefficient. If efficiencies were all that mattered, Congress would have told the FCC to give out national or regional broadcast licenses. After all, the most efficient possible structure is for one large company, let’s call it Pravda, to gather the news for everyone. American broadcasting has never been about maximizing bottom-line efficiencies over all else….

    Localism continues to be the core organizational principle of the Commission’s dispersal of valuable spectrum rights. Nothing in the 1996 Act jettisoned this core principle. In fact, the 1996 Act’s legislative history strongly reaffirms localism over efficiencies, saying “Localism is an expensive value. We believe it is a vitally important value, however, [and] should be preserved and enhanced.”

    So to avoid backlash from the public and its representatives, it will be up to many of you in the room today to prove that efficiencies gained by any relaxation of broadcast ownership rules are channeled in the direction of serving local communities and local residents.

    I often hear from industry sources, “we’re just giving people what they want. After all, that’s our business. And as we get bigger, we just have more resources and ability to deliver a better quality product.”

    …You might call it the “McDonaldization” of the American media. McDonald’s spends a lot trying to give people what they want. They only put products out after expensive field testing. Every product is analyzed to satisfy the greatest number of people, even if the local community may have its own unique tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I like McDonald’s, and eat there sometimes. But I don’t eat there every day. And even if I did, I know it wouldn’t be very healthy.

    The same goes for the media. People also need a balanced media diet – a diverse menu, if you will. But it’s a lot harder to set up a broadcast station than a new restaurant. …Neither cable nor the Internet has changed the huge market power granted by federal license to use scarce broadcast spectrum, particularly when that license comes with the requirement to be carried on cable. If these scarce licenses weren’t valuable, their price wouldn’t continue to skyrocket as they have in recent years.

  • A look at the current thinking in re DRM and music downloads/subscriptions can be found in this CNet News article on Microsoft’s planned release of their next-generation Media protocols: Microsoft prepares reply to iTunes

    Subscription services are “ahead of their time” according to a senior executive at another record label, who said a key stumbling block is providing unlimited access to subscription music away from the PC on portable music players and other devices. “Ultimately, there will be a huge audience for this, but the services need to provide portability,” he said.

    “Downloads are very close to an old-fashioned experience,” he added. “Subscriptions are much more of a shift…but the technology isn’t right for the shift to happen. We’re hoping it will happen this year, that the technology companies will provide portable players that can play the music.”

    … Microsoft plans to add support for a clock in portable music players and other consumer-electronics devices. The clock would provide a “time out” feature much like that used in PC versions of its DRM software. If customers don’t pay their monthly subscription bills by a certain date, access to the files on those devices is cut off.

    Time-outs can be supported relatively easily on PCs, which have plenty of memory and processing power to handle a clock and the associated DRM. But supporting clock DRM on small handheld devices poses a considerable engineering challenge, thanks to limited CPU resources and battery life. Usher said Microsoft is working with consumer-electronics device makers to add clocks that can be hooked up to its rights-management system.

  • CNet also has an opinion piece, Steve Jobs’ half note that discusses the limitations of iTunes when it comes to solving the real problems of music distribution, starting with this statistic:

    But in the end, iTunes Music Store is just a music fulfillment service. It has done little or nothing to change the ways people explore and learn about the music that they eventually buy, and that’s a disappointment.

    If online music were approached in the right way, it would have the power to transform and enrich an industry that historically has courted consumers with a blunt marketing instrument.

    Currently, a mere 2 percent of releases account for 80 percent of music industry sales. (emphasis added) Online distribution could help rebalance that ratio, building careers for hundreds of artists who now linger in obscurity, and drawing in millions of new fans bored and alienated by the industry’s star-making machinery.

    The key is getting more and better information to consumers. The music store of the future can and should be a primary force in making that happen.

    There’s a letter to the editor that makes some damning charges regarding record industry innovation.

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May 26, 2003

2003 May 26 [4:47 pm]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-26 16:58:50)

  • Now, today we offer up a truly peculiar & dumb set of ideas, as outlined in the Boston Globe article Another Spin on Digital Music. [pdf] Penn State, unsurprisingly, is at the heart of this proposal:

    Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University, wants colleges to license songs and charge students to listen to them online. He has proposed that schools increase each student’s tuition or fees by perhaps a few dollars in exchange for unlimited listening, though the ability to burn songs onto a CD might cost extra.

    Worse, we get this:

    ”I really don’t think they understand or believe that illegal file-sharing is the same thing as going into Tower [Records], grabbing a CD off the rack, and running out the door with it,” said Scott Hervey, chairman of California Bar’s cyberspace law committee.

    Is it possible that Scott Hervey really thinks this? What does that say about the California Bar’s cyberspace law committee?

    And I guess I am also stunned to see that cable TV is already included in Northwestern University’s fees.

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May 25, 2003

2003 May 25 [1:45 pm]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-25 13:50:34)

  • I’m really busy today, but this NYTimes Op-Ed piece cannot go unremarked - media consolidation as The Matrix: There’s No Exit From the Matrix [pdf]

    But the media giants that wield such clout don’t always put it to such frivolous use. We are not just plugged into their matrix to be sold movies and other entertainment products. These companies can also plug the nation into news narratives as ubiquitous and lightweight as “The Matrix Reloaded,” but with more damaging side effects.

    This is what has happened consistently during America’s struggle with Osama bin Laden. During the years when Al Qaeda’s terrorists were gearing up for 9/11, the media giants were in overdrive selling escapist fare like the Clinton scandals, Gary Condit’s sex life and shark attacks. They were all legitimate stories. But just as “The Matrix Reloaded,” playing on a record 8,517 screens, crowded most other movies out of the marketplace last weekend, so those entertaining melodramas drove any reports of threatening developments beyond our shores to the periphery of the mass-media news culture.

    …It took the bloody re-emergence of Qaeda terrorists in Riyadh two weeks ago to recover the repressed memory that none of the 9/11 terrorists were Iraqis and that most of them were Saudis. And whatever happened to Saddam’s arsenal, all those advanced nuclear weapons programs and biological poisons that George W. Bush kept citing as the justification for going to war? Well, sarin today, gone tomorrow. That laundry list of terrors, none of them yet found, vanished from the national consciousness as soon as the cable outlets of AOL Time Warner, Fox and NBC put their muscle behind The Laci Peterson Murder.

    …The power of the five companies that foster this sequential amnesia is increasing, not declining. In a vote set for June 2, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to relax some of the few ownership restrictions meant to rein them in. Companies like Viacom (which already owns CBS and Paramount) and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (which owns Fox and is on its way to controlling the satellite giant DirecTV) are likely to go on shopping sprees for more TV outlets. But who knows or cares? Though liberal and conservative organizations alike, from Common Cause to the National Rifle Association, are protesting this further consolidation of media power, most of the country is oblivious to it. That’s partly because the companies that program America’s matrix have shut out all but bare-bones coverage of the imminent F.C.C. action, much as the ruling machines in “The Matrix” do not feed their captive humans any truths that might set them free.

    …But neither Mr. Diller nor anyone else is likely to stop this consolidation of cultural power unless the public knows or cares enough to protest. That hardly seems to be in the cards. We reward mediocre movies with record grosses. We reward tabloid news epics with high ratings. We reward dissembling politicians with high poll ratings. We expect our journalistic media to fictionalize the truth. As others have noted, the most dispiriting aspect of the Jayson Blair scandal may be that even the subjects of his stories usually didn’t bother to complain about the lies The New York Times published about them; they just assumed it was standard practice. One way or the other, we all inhabit the Matrix now.

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May 23, 2003

2003 May 23 [7:44 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-23 17:28:01)

Man! Even with all this rain, hay fever is blowing me away this year. Surpisingly, it’s not so much that my nose is running as it’s the feeling that my head is stuffed with cotton. I’m afraid that, given how addled I feel, just about everything that I’ve been doing these past couple of days has suffered. I’m hoping that the side effects of antihistamines won’t lead to a net decrease in my functionality, but we’ll just have to see.

  • Larry points out that the governor of Colorado has vetoed their super-DMCA. Bill Hobbs adds the observation that the Tennessee one is going to be sent back to committee for redrafting.

  • Offtopic: Apparently, one has to go overseas to get this sort of thing covered: Bush ‘is on brink of catastrophe’ [pdf]

    The most senior Republican authority on foreign relations in Congress has warned President Bush that the United States is on the brink of catastrophe in Iraq.

    Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Washington was in danger of creating “an incubator for terrorist cells and activity” unless it increased the scope and cost of its reconstruction efforts. He said that more troops, billions more dollars and a longer commitment were needed if the US were not to throw away the peace.

    Echoing his Washington Post editorial of the day before: A Victory at Risk [pdf]

  • Reuters says that ISPs reel from P2P bandwidth hogs

    Now ISPs say that as much as 60 percent of data traffic zipping around their networks is in the form of large music, movies and software files. For a large ISP, experts say, the bandwidth costs needed to accommodate the traffic could run into the millions, if not tens of millions of dollars per year.

    … And yet it’s the popularity of sharing music, film and game files with other computer users that is drawing many customers to high-speed broadband Internet services in the first place.

    A variety of ISPs including Europe’s third largest, Tiscali, even promote their broadband services on peer-to-peer networks to woo people with slower connections.

    You can’t have it both ways. And, frankly, I’m not sure why my Red Hat Network account (used to keep my Red Hat Systems up2date <G>) is something that ISPs should be worried about, either.

  • Bill Gates’ testimony (Microsoft.com copy) to the Senate Commerce Committee during their hearing on spam; and Larry Lessig’s thoughts in response.

  • American Idol gets a look: Fox Mulls How to Exploit the Mojo of ‘American Idol’ [pdf]:

    But the show’s reliance on a brand of pop music some find stale could turn off younger music fans. The finale on Wednesday included songs made popular by Olivia Newton-John, Neil Sedaka and Lionel Richie, not a roster of singers with large followings among younger music fans.

    “There is already a contingent of young viewers who are very anti the show,” said Brian Graden, the president of entertainment at MTV. “But it’s not a significant factor at this point. So far it’s cool to watch as long as you say up front that it’s cheesy. That protects you.”

    Craig Marks, the editor of Blender, a music magazine, said he personally loved the show, but added: “The music on the show is hollow; it’s essentially awful. People who enjoy the show would never buy the records. It’s just very wholesome. It has no edge whatsoever. It’s edge-free music.”

    …And Mr. Levy pointed out that as much as some music fans want to eradicate what he called the “teen pop trend,” as personified in stars like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, the genre seems to be hitting what he called “a second wave.” The proof, he said, was the hit album now out from Hilary Duff, the teenage star of the Lizzie McGuire series on the Disney Channel, and the success of “Thankful,” the album by Kelly Clarkson, who won the first “Idol,” which reached No. 1 its first week in release.

    “Even if the teenage boy who loves the show now thinks it gets old soon, he has a little sister who’s ready to decide it’s cute,” Mr. Levy said.

  • Slate’s American Idol writeup is far nastier: Inside the American Idol Studio

    On the surface, these what-are-you-really-like questions seemed only natural: After all, American Idol purports to offer a sped-up, interactive look inside the star-making process. But really, those questions were irrelevant. American Idol eliminates the element of mystery from stardom, with its message that a star is not a special person with secret passions but a piece of equipment that can be melted down and reconfigured whenever the powers that be think of a new way to sell soft drinks. Take a look at American Idol’s credit sequence, which features a quicksilver cyborg—transformed from male to female and back again by animated force fields that slice through its body—making a glorious, pointless march across an imaginary America.

  • The NYTimes offers up a look at the making of a pop band: Fashion Tip in Rap for Brooklyn Girls [pdf]. If you don’t get the joke/song title, you’re going to have to look it up yourself! <G>

  • Eric Boehlert of Salon discusses the upcoming FCC vote, and works to document the degree to which it appears that overwhelming public opposition to further deregulation is being ignored: Last stop before the media monopoly

    Powell countered critics who complained the FCC process was not open enough by noting that the commission had received a record number of public comments regarding the ownership issue and that most of them were filed by private individuals. Usually of interest only to broadcasters and a handful of D.C. communications attorneys, the comment period for media ownership has attracted nearly 20,000 filings. “That’s a landslide in terms of comments,” says Belendiuk.

    Powell agrees. “This record clearly demonstrates that in the digital age you don’t need a 19th century whistle-stop tour to hear from America,” said the chairman earlier this year, essentially dismissing the hearings organized by the Democratic commissioners as dog-and-pony road shows.

    What Powell does not mention, though, is what people are saying in their FCC filings. “The statistics on public comments are just off the charts,” says Robert McChesney, coauthor of “Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media.” “More people want Osama bin Laden up on Mt. Rushmore than want the media companies to consolidate.”

    Neverthless, follow Mary Hodder’s advice at the close of this excellently referenced post on the subject and send something to the FCC.

  • James De Long posts a provocative piece at TCS: Moral and Economic Clarity

    …So it is time for the downloaders to respond and end the free lunch. Most iTunes users agree, and have recoiled in dismay at the crackers. (It helps that the target is Apple, beloved by techies, not just the demonized record industry, of course.)

    This leaves two groups of resisters. The first consists of the morally obtuse, who, while they will undoubtedly think of some new rationale to justify piracy, are responding either to the simple principle, “if it’s there, steal it,” or to the vandalistic itch to destroy for the sheer hell of it.

    The second group of resisters is more complex, more ideological, and more important, especially because it is not clear that Steve Jobs of Apple knows that it exists. Many members of the academic and tech communities are opposed to the idea of property rights in the creations of the intellect. They assert not only a right but a duty to make all systems for enforcing intellectual property rights untenable, and regard breaking protections as a public service.

    OK - rhetorical tricks to deconstruct (via Stephen Downes Logical Fallacies Index (a possibly better-maintained mirror), for more resources, try here, especially Labossiere’s list):

    1. The false segregation of the despised constituencies into two categories - False Dilemma, plus the Undistributed Middle

    2. The narrow definition of those categories so that they can be easily debunked - The Straw Man

    3. The association of the “intelligencia” with the despised category(ies). (partly Ad Hominem, partly Appeal to Popularity)

    4. The false association of copyright with property rights

    5. With that association developed, bring in communism so that the opponents can be mated to the failures of the Soviet Union (again Popularity, Ad Hominem, plus an implied Appeal to Consequences, plus probably more)

      Were these abstractionists running the show, the impact on the creative community would be similar to the description of the Soviet Union in the 1920s provided by novelist Alan Furst in Dark Star, as “[A] kind of dream world, a mythical country where idealistic intellectual[s] . . . actually ran things, quite literally a country of the mind. Theories failed, peasants died, the land itself dried up in despair. Still they worked twenty hours a day and swore they had the answer.”

    6. Eventually, as a continuation of the contra-intelligencia/”know nothing” effort, assert that ideology is essentially destructive (at least, that’s what I think this paragraph is supposed to mean):

      Apple and the other music services, and, ultimately, providers of Internet distribution of movies, books, and other information, must cope with both these oppositions. It will not be easy because they tend to merge, with vandalistic impulses often hiding behind ideology. [sic]

    7. Finally, always fall back on the assertion that the market is, by definition, your friend - Appeal to Popularity, Complex Cause:

      In fact, consumers should want to pay for creative work. It is through prices and markets that they can send signals that something is valued and that more of it should be produced. And all non-market forms of financing - taxes, subsidies, pooled funds - depend on committees of bureaucrats for their allocation, the antithesis of consumer sovereignty. It is markets that make consumer preferences effective by providing financing for what consumers want. Those who insist on making content free are simply spoiling the system for everyone, and the “information should be free” crowd is actually the enemy, not the friend, of consumers. The content producers should reiterate this incessantly.

    Mr. De Long is pretty good at this - he certainly got my blood boiling. But it is possible to see how he does it, and how he can be challenged.

  • CNet posts a Reuters wire report on KaZaA’s progress: Kazaa nears download record

  • And RealNetworks’ deal with Playboy is paralleled with the past development of cable TV: RealNetworks gets steamy with Playboy

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May 22, 2003

2003 May 22 [7:23 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-22 18:43:36)

  • Donna and Ed Felten note that the governor of Colorado vetoed that state’s super-DMCA.

  • As Donna notes, Derek gives a gracious and rousing sendoff as his academic year draws to a close: As I Was Saying

  • Although the creation of this neologism at Salon drew my eye (see this Yahoo! News or Salon piece, btw), the additional materials raise some key, albeit offtopic, questions. For your reading:

  • As a Linux user, I hope this won’t lead to a lockout from Amazon.com: Amazon.com, Microsoft in streaming deal

  • Ben Edelman’s taking on Gator: Documentation of Gator Advertisements and Targeting. Declan describes the work here: Harvard study wrestles with Gator

    Donna’s remarks: Gator Aid; John Palfrey’s notes: One interesting thing not to miss in this Gator story

  • William Safire joins the ranks of conservatives opposed to media consolidation: The Great Media Gulp [pdf]

    We’ve already seen what happened when the F.C.C. allowed the monopolization of local radio: today three companies own half the stations in America, delivering a homogenized product that neglects local news coverage and dictates music sales.

    … Ah, but aren’t viewers and readers now blessed with a whole new world of hot competition through cable and the Internet? That’s the shucks-we’re-no-monopolists line that Rupert Murdoch will take today in testimony before the pussycats of John McCain’s Senate Commerce Committee.

    The answer is no. Many artists, consumers, musicians and journalists know that such protestations of cable and Internet competition by the huge dominators of content and communication are malarkey. The overwhelming amount of news and entertainment comes via broadcast and print. Putting those outlets in fewer and bigger hands profits the few at the cost of the many.

  • One of the things that the Internet and connectivity is good for - community building. Although the site described is definitly still going through growing pains and, in the end, may be more about community and less about success in the music business: In a Battle of the Bands, Musicians Are Judges [pdf]

    Like many working stiffs, I’m also a musician, and my band, named Augean Stables after the Herculean task, recorded a full-length CD of original music last year. Along the way we received positive reinforcement and kind words from everyone around us. Still, once we had the finished product in hand, we longed for some sort of third-party validation, or at least a cold splash of reality.

    With that desire in mind, my partner, Dave Riedel, began posting our songs on garageband.com. Once an Internet darling bent on shaking the foundations of the crusty old music industry, Garageband is home to over 325,000 musicians and new-music hunters who review original songs in an ongoing round-robin tournament.

    Garageband’s beating heart is a “preference engine” that combines the reviewer’s emotional reaction à la hotornot.com (Does the song put a smile or a frown on your face?) with the more intellectual judgments of, say, slashdot.org (With your knowledge or experience, how would you improve this song or recording?).

    Because of its design and the atmosphere of friendly competition, Garageband manages to persuade thousands of musicians to assess one another’s music.

    What would be the effects of ubiquitous DRM (a la CBDTPA/SSSCA) upon this activity? Even assuming that it were well designed?

  • The BBC has an article on the pending PureTunes fight: Music site faces legal challenge

    Puretunes says it is taking advantage of a loophole in Spanish copyright law so that it can sell songs online without the direct permission of the record companies.

    …But the music industry believes that it has no legal basis and promises to fight it as vehemently as it has other illegitimate music services.

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May 21, 2003

2003 May 21 [7:37 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-21 19:59:58)

  • Cory Doctorow points to William Gibson’s talk to the Director’s Guild of America on the evolution of media and technology. I cite below the same paragraph that Cory picked (and I see that it’s time to get back to technological alienation again, especially as I’ve had a little time to think some more about it):

    But I need to diverge here into another industry, one that’s already and even more fully feeling the historical impact of the digital: music. Prior to the technology of audio recording, there was relatively little one could do to make serious money with music. Musicians could perform for money, and the printing press had given rise to an industry in sheet music, but great fame, and wealth, tended to be a matter of patronage. The medium of the commercial audio recording changed that, and created industry predicated on an inherent technological monopoly of the means of production. Ordinary citizens could neither make nor manufacture audio recordings. That monopoly has now ended. Some futurists, looking at the individual musician’s role in the realm of the digital, have suggested that we are in fact heading for a new version of the previous situation, one in which patronage (likely corporate, and non-profit) will eventually become a musician’s only potential ticket to relative fame and wealth. The window, then, in which one could become the Beatles, occupy that sort of market position, is seen to have been technologically determined. And technologically finite. The means of production, reproduction and distribution of recorded music, are today entirely digital, and thus are in the hands of whoever might desire them. We get them for free, often without asking for them, as inbuilt peripherals. I bring music up, here, and the impact the digital is having on it, mainly as an example of the unpredictable nature of technologically driven change. It may well be that the digital will eventually negate the underlying business-model of popular musical stardom entirely. If this happens, it will be a change which absolutely no one intended, and few anticipated, and not the result of any one emergent technology, but of a complex interaction between several. You can see the difference if you compare the music industry’s initial outcry against “home taping” with the situation today.

    …Which is to say that, no matter who you are, nor how pure your artistic intentions, nor what your budget was, your product, somewhere up the line, will eventually find itself at the mercy of people whose ordinary civilian computational capacity outstrips anything anyone has access to today.

    Interesting that Gibson, who has made a career around examining the seamy side of technological innovation (and particularly by considering the illegal activities of a technological elite), elects to avoid the flip side of the technologies that he describes here - their potential to impose control in ways that are not necessarily apparent to the users of that technology.

  • Siva Viadhynathan summarizes Doc Searl’s Printwash discussion (see more below), and then closes with this observation:

    One thing that complicates Searls case is that the Times and other newspapers sell their archives to Lexis/Nexis. So maintaining open archives on the Web would undermine those contracts.

    While this may complicate things, I don’t think it is a defensible basis for putting online archives behind walls. (Unless the NYTimes signed a really stupid contract with Lexis/Nexis - unlikely in light of their past efforts to capture the digital rights to all their contributors’ articles- see also New York Times v. Tasini) The Lexis/Nexis business case, as I understand it, is based on the quality of the search they can provide, not the exclusivity of their content. Is a Google search really competitive with Lexis/Nexis? And, if it is, does that mean that Google should be cut off - or that Lexis/Nexis ought invest some more effort into making their searches something worth paying for?

    The notion that the value proposition in Lexis/Nexis should be sustained by exclusive access seems dangerously anticompetitive, not to mention inhibiting technological advance - an example of the issue of MediaConcentration in the very space that is expected to offset its effects!

  • The Shifted Librarian discusses the Pro-Music WWW site: Clueless International Music Industry

  • Something on the mechanics of the music industry and studio recording: Searching for Kelly Clarkson: The grim fate of American Idol winners.

  • Benny Evangelista gives a little more detail on the conversion of Pressplay into Napster by Roxio: Online musical chairs

    Roxio buys Pressplay from industry titans for its revived Napster

  • The Copyright Office has posted proposed rules for licensing rates for certain digital performance rights, superseding an earlier posting: Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings and Ephemeral Recordings. (Related www site: SoundExchange)

  • Billboard discusses Elvis Costello’s statements at the ASCAP event last night: Costello Defends Outspoken Artists

  • Donna’s resurfaced briefly and left us with a host of links: Working Full Time

  • The Tennessee Digital Freedom Network is actively tracking that state’s super-DMCA proposals; SB213 and HB457

  • USA Today has an article on the new sound reproduction technology that got a great write up in the NYTimes Magazine a couple of weeks ago, but is now gone (the Slashdot discussion is still around, of course): Sound technology turns the way you hear on its ear

  • Wired News’ writeup of Dusney’s plan for disposable DVDs introduces another constituency: Disposable DVDs Go to the Dumps

    “We’ve developed a new type of DVD that (can be) sold at any point of sale that your imagination can think of,” said Art LeBlanc, president of Flexplay, which manufactures the discs. “It brings an unprecedented level of convenience. This is intended to address people who find renting inconvenient.”

    Yet for the environmentally conscious, that argument is as appealing as the pile of garbage these DVDs will create.

    “This is taking the idea of planned obsolescence to a whole, absurd new level,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a nonprofit environmental group. “This is one of those disposable products that we don’t really need. This is actually building a limit into the device.

    …The trash generated by the DVDs is not as much of a concern as the environmental impact of producing these one-use products, Murray said. Now, instead of producing a disc that will be used by 50 to 100 people, he said, the resources and energy used to create that one DVD will be multiplied 50 or 100 times.

    Hmmm - strong copyright is not only unsustainable in an economic sense but also an environmental one? What an interesting angle to consider…….

  • The Doc Searls Printwash discussion continues: Follow along. Or contribute. Or both. Whatever. Welcome to DIY journalism, folks.

  • From Salon: Can the Web beat Big Media?:

    So, given the power of the technology, one may reasonably ask: What harm can come of Powell’s plan to let the big guys get bigger if the rest of us, the little guys with laptops and Wi-Fi, can simply steer around the monopolies?

    But when you set out to answer that question, it’s hard to find anyone in the media world — aside from interested parties — who can furnish serious proof that new technologies are shaking the foundations beneath the entrenched media giants. If anything, the Web and cable and satellite have expanded the reach of media conglomerates. Ninety percent of the top 50 cable channels are owned by media giants. Every single one of the top 20 news Web sites is under the thumb of a media giant.

    … “What will happen is that the economics of show business will shape the Internet economy,” Jeffrey Chester, of the Center for Digital Democracy, says. “Those services owned by cable companies will be able to afford the kind of lightning-fast distribution that will be standard for broadband applications. My fear is that in the absence of policy safeguards, progressives and alternative media and civic sites will wake up too late to recognize that although people can reach us on the Web, by God we are slower and it costs us more to transport our messages. There will be a dimming and a gradual banishment of our views on the Internet. And it’s a terrible error on the part of progressives and others to hold out for an imaginary redoubt such as wireless. Cable is the dominant medium, and there are just really three or four companies doing it, and we better ensure we have a voice there on the broadband Internet.”

    Chester’s fear sounds alarmist — by what mechanism could the corporate media stifle bloggers and alternative publications? But surprisingly, Glenn Reynolds, the proprietor of InstaPundit, a very popular, mostly right-leaning blog, says something similar. “Powell’s theory is good as far as it goes,” he says, “but as people try to tame the Internet, how long before the concentrated big media try to shut down guys like me? I’m not trembling over it — but honestly, if you asked me 10 years ago if the DMCA was even possible, I’d say no way.”

  • From ExtremeTech: Digital Rights Management: For Better Or For Worse?

    Based on the available evidence (i.e., broken DRM systems), the persistent protection methods employed to date have been extremely lame. It’s difficult to know exactly what protection mechanisms are being employed by most unbroken DRM products, since companies are extremely tight-lipped when it comes to technical details. This secrecy is itself disturbing since one of the fundamental principles of security engineering (Kerckhoff’s Principle) states that a system must be open to public scrutiny before it can be trusted. This basic principle is grossly violated by virtually all DRM purveyors today. As far as I am aware, MediaSnap, Inc., is the only DRM company that provides a reasonable technical overview of the security features in their product.

    This dearth of technical information should be viewed with considerable suspicion. The likely explanation is that DRM products rely on “security by obscurity”, which, in the eyes of most security experts, is equated with “no security at all.”

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May 20, 2003

2003 May 20 [7:20 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-20 17:58:31)

  • Something to consider: the RIAA Radar bookmarklet [via BoingBoing]

    What is RIAA Radar?

    The RIAA Radar is a tool that music consumers can use to easily and instantly distinguish whether an album was released by a member of the Recording Industry Association of America.

    How does it work?

    When you run the RIAA Radar from an Amazon album detail page, it uses Amazon Web Services to get the album information. It then checks the record label data of the Amazon item against a database of the current list of RIAA members, and returns the result.

    Very cool! Now I can comfortably buy the Hank Dogs followup to Bareback!

  • Ed Felten points us to the New York Times’ robots.txt file, noting that this might have something to do with the reason that the Times’ articles don’t rank too highly on Google [pdf] (note that robots.txt is a file that is used to instruct webcrawlers). Also, see yesterday’s Furdlog entry on Doc Searls’ writing on the subject.

  • Mary Hodder suggests that, based on Bursting BigChampagne’s Bubble, there may be less to Big Champagne than meets the eye:

    No, BigChampagne may be offering TopSwaps charts, but they don’t appear to be what their cult of personality would tell you they are. And to pass them off overtly or covertly as something other than what they are is disingenuous and misleading.

    I would hope that potential clients, as well as their current clients, would look a little deeper behind BigChampagne’s processes and methodology to find the real story behind their output. And I would hope that BigChampagne would be more forthcoming about what substance there is behind their data.

  • The EMI Group’s preliminary year-end financial figures were announced this morning.

    While we recognise that, in the long term, sales growth is an important objective, the year ended 31 March 2003 was clearly one during which we repositioned EMI Recorded Music on profitable foundations, and its performance did improve markedly. Operating profit increased 81% to £150.5m (£150.1m at constant currency), more than doubling operating margins to 8.5% compared with 4.1% last year.

    This margin increase is not simply the result of cutting the cost base. In the year just ended, we pursued an aggressive policy of refocusing Recorded Music on its core business by streamlining the artist roster and exiting unprofitable operations and costly joint ventures.

    The improvement also demonstrates the importance of concentrating on profitable, sustainable sales from artists with long-term potential….

    Beyond improving immediate profitability, containing piracy has become another major priority for EMI. During the year, EMI Recorded Music created a global anti-piracy team. Overall we have allocated substantial management time to lobbying governments to enact and enforce stronger legal penalties, and to identifying technologies and establishing procedures that protect our music. The group is determined to contain the sales erosion caused by physical counterfeiting, illegal file sharing and CD burning.

    In recent months we have started to see a shift in the attitudes of governments as to the seriousness of the situation and are starting to witness their willingness to confront the problem.

    Piracy containment is one important part of the new environment. It is, however, clear that consumers want to access music legally via the net and we are making considerable efforts and progress in turning this into reality. EMI’s catalogue is very widely available in digital delivery services and the group has taken a leadership position in offering more of our content on the net. EMI is also actively pursuing opportunities offered by the digital world such as ring tunes and video distribution as well as gaining further insight into music consumers’ behaviour.

  • From SFGate.com: Computers at the center of home entertainment: Only TVs rated higher in new survey [pdf]

    But regardless of the platform, computers already are playing a large role in entertainment. A Harris Interactive Inc. poll will show that U.S. residents 13 and older consider computers more important for home entertainment than the CD player, stereo or DVD player.

    Only the television was ranked more important in the poll of 2,070 computer users conducted between Feb. 24 and March 12. Nearly half those surveyed tuned into TV while using the computer.

    The poll has a technology bent because it was commissioned by software giant Microsoft Corp. However, the results echo similar data from other independent researchers.

    And a companion piece: The other shared files: pornography: Adult film industry profits from services [pdf]

    Most of the controversy surrounding file-sharing programs like Kazaa, Grokster and Morpheus has centered on the trading of free music and movie files. The recording and film industry call this practice piracy and have filed copyright infringement suits trying to shut them down.

    But the adult film industry has not taken such a stance, despite the plentiful amount of porn available. Instead of fighting file sharing, some in that industry — estimated to be generating $750 million to $1 billion per year in revenue — are quietly finding new ways to profit from it.

    “The porn guys are smart, they’ve figured out how to use the technology,” said Grokster President Wayne Rosso.

  • I wasn’t going to cite Sonia Arrison’s Linux screed today until I found a counter-position. Luckily, it didn’t take long:

  • Glenn Reynolds TCS piece today, Open and Shut, discusses media concentration:

    So, Michael, here’s the deal: if you think that concentration in Old Media is okay because New Media will provide the discipline, then stand up for freeing the New Media from the shackles that the Old Media are trying to weld on. Because if you’re not serious about freeing the New Media, then you’re not serious about competition, and what you’re describing isn’t a bold new world, but a sellout

  • This week’s Tangled Web points to Epitonic, a WWW site distributing free MP3s of some independents.

  • The continuing development of file sharing around iTunes [via Michael Gartenberg's Weblog]: ShareiTunes.com (whose WWW homepage title is "Our Parents Taught Us Well. Don’t Steal. Share!!") and iLeech

    What is iLeech?

    Introduced in iTunes v4.0 is the ability to share your playlist with other iTunes users. This is accomplished locally using Rendezvous/zeroconf/mdns/whatever, or if you know the IP address of a machine you can access it’s playlist via daap:// (provided port 3689 is open). However, you can only stream the music from the iTunes host — no copies are made on your machine.

    iLeech will connect to an iTunes host, display their playlist, and allow you to copy the files to your local drive. It can be downloaded by clicking the “Download” link in the right-hand navigation bar.

  • From the recent Pew Internet Life report on broadband growth trends in the US: The next broadband users: Their current online behavior and their work at home are key

    In sum, it is not just length of time online that may drive dial-up users to broadband at home, but also the nature of their online activities. In other words, users who are ardent information gatherers and producers are the dial-up surfers who are poised to purchase home broadband service. Although it is hard to pinpoint specifically which factors will drive the next set of broadband users to purchase a home high-speed connection, it appears that job-related reasons will loom large. Experienced dial-up users who want broadband are already as likely as broadband users to do research related to their jobs online. And experienced dial-up users interested in broadband are more likely to have college degrees than today’s broadband users (by a 53% to 45% margin), are more likely to be employed and are, on average, a bit older than broadband users.

    Yet, the statistics that the study actually cites suggest that the degree of multimedia activity online, particularly streaming of music and MP3 searching & downloading, are the key distinctions between broadband and non-broadband users.

  • The BBC on the Roxio/Pressplay move: Roxio continues online consolidation

    Analysts said the deal suggested more consolidation ahead in the online music business, where commercial services have struggled to survive.

    “The market’s going through consolidation because these services have been around for a couple of years, burning cash and not generating much revenues from subscribers or advertising,” said PJ McNealy, an analyst with GartnerG2.

    Another subscription service, Listen.com, was recently sold to RealNetworks while the independent service FullAudio denied rumours this week that it was looking for a buyer.

  • While hunting up more information on WebListen, I came across this site: The Global Internet Policy Initiative which “supports adoption in developing countries of the legal and policy framework for an open and democratic Internet. The project works with local stakeholders in consultative, coalition-based efforts to promote the principles of a decentralized, accessible, user-controlled, and market-driven Internet.”

    One interesting reference from their site is Significant Developments in Global Internet Law in 2002 from the law firm of Covington and Burling

  • CNet: Site in Spain to reign in MP3 playin’? A look at PureTunes, a competitor to WebListen, a Spanish P2P file sharing service that, according to CNet, has resisted litigation so far. This brief summary from the Perkins Coie WWW site:

    Ediciones Musicales Horus v. Weblisten, Provincial Court of Barcelona (2003). A Spanish court ruled on a Spanish version of “Napster,” which offered downloadable music online. Ediciones Musicales Horu sued Weblisten for copyright infringement under the Spanish Intellectual Property Act. Weblisten argued that the copying of CDs onto MP3 files was not a “reproduction”, but rather a public performance of the songs and that a license was not necessary. The court disagreed, finding that “reproduction” includes the uploading of digital files. Therefore, the court held that Weblisten had not obtained the necessary license and was liable for copyright ifringement.

  • Declan suggests that the formation of a new congressional caucus means that P2P is in Congress’ sights: Congress calls to arms against pirates

    Three members of the U.S. House of Representatives are creating a new congressional caucus devoted to combating piracy and promoting stronger intellectual property laws.

    A letter sent to some members of Congress last Friday by Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., warned of the threat of “ever-changing technologies” and asked colleagues if they would like to join the caucus. “The concerns of the thousands of Americans whose livelihoods depend on intellectual property protection are not being fully debated or addressed,” said the letter, which was obtained by CNET News.com.

    …Joining Wexler as co-founder of the caucus is Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who helped author a note last fall to 74 fellow Democrats assailing the Linux open-source operating system’s GNU General Public License as a threat to America’s “innovation and security.” Smith’s Ninth District includes the Seattle surburbs near Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. The third founder is Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., a first-term congressman and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives who was once Gov. Jeb Bush’s running mate.

    …Mike Godwin, senior technology counsel at the Public Knowledge advocacy group, said the House subcommittee that oversees intellectual property law “has been pretty energetic” already in reviewing the intersection of technology and copyright policy.

    “If they believe that the best way to do it is to develop a caucus around P2P sharing, that’s a fine idea,” Godwin said. “As long as they remember that P2P sharing is at the heart of the design of the Internet.”

    Slashdot discussion: racy Caucus Formed

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May 19, 2003

2003 May 19 [7:15 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-19 17:05:01)

  • Doc Searls ties together the Google/blog story and the loss of perpetual access to online news articles in this discussion: Printwash and More on Printwash

    Blogs are one big fat op-ed section for the news organizations out there. Thanks to the ethics of linkage (crediting sources — a polite grace learned from orthodox journalism and years of compiling footnotes and bibliographies for term papers in high school and college) and of Google’s PageRank algorithms, the blogosphere is a vast watershed of credit-giving: an authority-granting system of a high order.

    It is vastly dumb, given this situation, for the newspapers to continue hiding their stories and archives from search engines. The cost in lost authority far outweighs the benefits in selling those archives for $2.95 (or whatever) per story.

    They almost get it, but not quite.

    Dave Winer points to a Guardian piece that continues the discussion: The blog clog myth

  • Ed Felton discusses Orin Kerr’s Cybercrime’s Scope: Interpreting ‘Access’ and ‘Authorization’ in Computer Misuse Statutes

  • This one’s going to be interesting, given that the airwaves are in the public domain. What sort of encryption will they use? Disney in Plan to Beam Films to TV Viewers [pdf]

  • A few more pieces from CNet on the 321 Studio case:

    • Judge mulls DVD-copying case

      The judge in a closely watched lawsuit challenging the legality of DVD-copying software said she was “substantially persuaded” by past court rulings that favored copyright holders, but closed a hearing Thursday without issuing a ruling in the case.

    • DVD-copying case heads to court

    • Napster killer takes on DVD copying - a story on Russ Frackman:

      …the same lawyer who has represented the recording industry against Napster and a host of other file-swapping services. Over the course of four years, he and his legal team have made a deep mark on Net culture and history, stopping in their tracks some of the all-time fastest-growing and most-popular online services.

  • Findlaw has a guest editorial today: Enforcing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Internationally:

    Why Congress Shouldn’t Lock in the Current DMCA By Approving the Current Version of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement

    The FTA’s language regarding copyright circumvention technology goes no further than the DMCA’s. However, its status as an international treaty adds a new facet to the debate, especially as the FTA does not contain any of the DMCA’s exceptions to the scope of digital protections for copyrighted works.

    Unfortunately, in Congress, at least, the debate on the FTA is likely to be limited. The FTA was negotiated by the President under the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) - formerly called “Fast Track” authority - delegated to him by Congress. Accordingly, Congress may only consider the FTA as an entire package - voting up or down on it as is, rather than considering amendments.

    …Unless and until the FTA is enacted, courts will be able to narrow the DMCA’s scope to respect free speech and the public domain. After the FTA, however, that will be impossible: it is not the judiciary’s role to decide whether the United States should honor its treaties.

    I’m with Derek in that I think the author overstates the degree of judicial deference afforded treaties. In fact, the Constitution says:

    Art III; Sect. 2; Cl. 1

    The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;….

    See also Missouri v. Holland (1920) where we find this tidbit:

    It is said that a treaty cannot be valid if it infringes the Constitution, that there are limits, therefore, to the treaty-making power, and that one such limit is that what an act of Congress could not do unaided, in derogation of the powers reserved to the States, a treaty cannot do.

    Justice Holmes for the majority

    However, it is true that there has been a certain amount of end-running undertaken in the copyright area when it comes to duration - the arguments about reconciliation of WIPO and US copyright, for example.

  • Roxio, the owner of Napster, is getting ready to get into the business with the acquisition of Pressplay, according to CNet. Is it really the case that the problem with the record industry online sites is brand recognition? Or is Roxio going to change the pricing model?

    Update: Amy Harmon has a piece on the NYTimes - Deal May Raise Napster From Online Ashes [pdf]

    Update: The Register report: Napster reborn! Roxio buys PressPlay; and Slashdot: PressPlay + Roxio?

  • Even *I* got one of these this morning, so check it out: Why is support@microsoft sending me computer virii this morning?

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May 17, 2003

2003 May 17 [5:57 pm]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-17 17:57:49)

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May 16, 2003

2003 May 16 [8:39 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-16 18:40:53)

  • Cory Doctorow points to Aaron Swartz’s first hand report from the Copyright Office hearings on DMCA exemptions. This paragraph puts the Hilary Rosen comments from Business 2.0 into their correct perspective (IMHO):

    Responding to IP Justice’s comment that consumers should be able to play a CD in any device of their choosing by virtue of the fact that they own the CD, the RIAA argued that consumers do not have this right and that it is instead a luxury that consumers to date have incidentally enjoyed. Mark Belinsky then stated that as multiple formats of CD and DVD (blue laser, etc.) develop, the 5 1/2 inch disc will embody ubiquitous formats, and this will prevent playback of any given disc across various platforms even though each platform may read content from some form of 5 1/2″ media. Overall, Steven Marks did a bang up job for the RIAA, making well-crafted arguments and maintaining a steady, calm and collected tone despite a few heated questions from one Copyright Office attorney who almost seemed to have it out for the RIAA. Overall, the RIAA took the position that present and future technological devices are not intended to deny consumers of their expectations, and Mark Belinsky chimed in by saying that future CDs (to be released as soon as November I think he said) would contain “two sessions” of data — one for playback in traditional audio devices (stereos), and one for playback in computers running Windows XP, which should meet consumer’s expectations while addressing the RIAA’s concerns about piracy.

  • Matt mentioned this article from the Chronicla of Higher Education, but his URL is defective. Here’s one that works: A President Tries to Settle the Controversy Over File Sharing

    Right now Mr. Spanier is pursuing two very different tacks. One is a policy of tough enforcement: Penn State has already started monitoring its network for file-sharing activity and shuts down any it finds.

    The other tack — little more than a suggestion at this point — is more radical and may reshape the debate on file sharing. Why not pay a record-industry-approved music service a yearly, blanket fee, Mr. Spanier wonders, and let students download songs as they please? Record-industry officials are skeptical, but say the idea is worth talking about.

    The article goes on to discuss the differences in universities’ approaches to the problem, ranging from hands-off to something like Penn State’s monitoring of as much network traffic as they can manage.

    More distressingly, it also claims that the universities and the recording industry should be making common cause, since they both rely upon the value of their intellectual property to maintain their existence.

    This argument is troubling on two levels. First, the value of traditional academic creations stems from the fact that it is widely cited and copied, not in spite of that copying. This is a nasty little rhetorical trick that ought to be snipped easily.

    On the second level, however, we are confronted with the trend wherein universities are entering into lucrative shared research and intellectual property relationships with companies, with the drug companies being the most notable form (there’s also the Harvard/DuPont cancer mouse). These are situations where the boundary between academic and industrial research blur, with the associated confusion about the role of traditional academic openess.

    Although this has been largely restricted to the patent area, it is the case that such efforts also have meant delays in publication.

    Thus, the confusion that we see in the Chronicle article is a reflection of the fact that the academy is increasingly slipping into a proprietary mode of thinking about intellectual advancement. This is not a good trend, IMHO, but it’s definitely one that can be seen in every institution, and it may well be that this little contretemps with the music industry will force academia to decide what its role is supposed to be.

  • Derek and Matt are having an ongoing discussion about filesharing and copyright:

    1. Matt: Crisis!

    2. Matt: I have developed what I believe is a novel line of reasoning on copyright law and the Internet.

    3. Derek: Oh The Tangled Web We Weave

  • From CNet and Digital Media NewsWire: Studios broaden DVD-copying fight

    In the latest development, lawyers for Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox Film filed for an injunction in U.S. District Court in New York to bar five companies from selling DVD copying software.

    The suit names Internet Enterprises, RDestiny, HowtocopyDVDs.com, DVDBackupbuddy.com and DVDSqueeze.com as defendants. None could immediately be reached for comment.

  • Is this really possible: F.C.C. Studies Market Power of Radio Giant [pdf]

    The Federal Communications Commission is trying to devise rules aimed at breaking the hold Clear Channel Communications has on radio markets in some rural areas, a commissioner, Kathleen Abernathy, said today.

    The five commissioners, led by the chairman, Michael K. Powell, are trying to redefine radio markets as part of their June 2 vote on new media-ownership rules, Ms. Abernathy said at a news conference. Clear Channel, which is based in San Antonio, is the largest owner of radio stations in the nation. It is the focus of bipartisan concern on the commission, said Ms. Abernathy, a Republican.

    “Because of the way our markets are defined, in certain markets they’ve clearly acquired more power than we would have wanted,” she said. “Everyone agrees this is something we have to fix.”

  • Yesterday’s article [pdf] has a followup today: Microsoft Official Tells of Use of Special Fund [pdf]

  • Here’s something to think about from Business 2.0 by Hilary Rosen: Why the Recording Industry Loves Tech

    In fact, record companies and tech firms have long had a symbiotic relationship. Every new music format of the last half-century has come as the result of collaboration between our industries. And in January we announced a set of joint policy principles with two leading tech-industry groups, the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project, which collectively represent virtually all the big players: Apple (AAPL), Cisco (CSCO), Dell (DELL), IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC), and Microsoft (MSFT).

    One of the key planks of these joint principles calls for “private and governmental enforcement against infringers.” This is critical to fostering innovation — after all, recording artists and software developers alike do what they do at least in part for financial gain. And it bears repeating that this is the view not just of the RIAA but of the technology companies as well. They support appropriate enforcement against copyright pirates every bit as much as we do.

    Here’s something else that may surprise you though: Another important plank in this agreement is a firm commitment to opposing government-imposed technological mandates. The RIAA believes in innovation. And we believe that consumers in the marketplace, not the government, should decide which technological innovations will thrive.

    Is she serious (and this represents a continuation of the split from the MPAA on copy controls), or is this a cynical ploy to keep the customer off balance while music moves to DVD and other protected formats?

    See Mary Hodder’s comments: Hilary Rosen Embraces Technology

  • Slashdot points out that NewsHour Online is sponsoring an online discussion of copyright in the digital age

  • Catching up on the 321 Studios lawsuit:

  • I’ve been staying on the outside of the media concentration discussion that been rising over at Larry Lessig’s and others, but there’s a nice summary of the discussion over at The Register that’s worth a read: Internet is dying - Prof. Lessig.

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May 15, 2003

2003 May 15 [8:01 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-15 12:34:12)

Going to be a light day for me; I’m in Washington today for an NSF review panel. Maybe I’ll get some time later but, as this is my first time to do this, I think I’m going to be pretty busy today.

  • A chilling tale: How Microsoft Warded Off Rival - discounting to keep Linux out of government and companies, and the legal complexities in the EU.

    Last summer, Orlando Ayala, then in charge of worldwide sales at Microsoft, sent an e-mail message titled Microsoft Confidential to senior managers laying out a company strategy to dissuade governments across the globe from choosing cheaper alternatives to the ubiquitous Windows computer software systems.

    Mr. Ayala’s message told executives that if a deal involving governments or large institutions looked doomed, they were authorized to draw from a special fund to offer the software at a steep discount or even free if necessary. Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, was sent a copy of the e-mail message.

    The memo on protecting sales of Windows and other desktop software mentioned Linux, a still small but emerging software competitor that is not owned by any specific company. “Under NO circumstances lose against Linux,” Mr. Ayala wrote.

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May 14, 2003

2003 May 14 [7:21 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-14 14:00:24)

  • Ed Felten points out that the Texas version of the super-DMCA has been voted favorably out of committee.

  • Another Australian article: First criminal charges of internet piracy [via Aimee Deep]

    Michael Speck, of the industry lobby group Music Industry Privacy Investigations, said the move to criminal action, rather than the civil action used in all previous international music piracy cases, was a reflection of a toughening in attitudes to internet-related offences.

    “Internet infringers have relied on the soft option of civil action being taken, but the tide has turned,” he said.

    And trying to find out more about this company led me to this March 25 discussion of legal hardball: Music industry fears Uni stalling will derail case

    The music industry has expressed concern that alleged “delaying tactics” by the University of Melbourne over access to information revealing possible copyright breaches may make Federal Court action over the issue immaterial.

    Despite agreeing last month to preserve copies of files on the university network which may contain evidence of breach of copyright, the University of Melbourne has failed to do so, according to Michael Speck, the managing director of Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), the company retained by the Australian music industry to conduct surveillance of possible illegal activity.

  • The Microsoft pro-NGSCB/Palladium spinmeisters are out: Is Palladium Getting a Bad Rap?

    Privacy advocates warn that NGSCB can, and probably will, be abused by content providers to enforce draconian copyright protections. But Microsoft representatives insist these worries are rooted in an incomplete and incorrect understanding of what NGSCB is and can do.

    “There’s this mythology surrounding NGSCB that Microsoft is in league with the media industry to override consumers’ rights,” said Mario Juarez, an NGSCB product manager. “That makes no sense. Who would buy a product that doesn’t allow them to do what they want to do? No one. So why would Microsoft choose to commit professional suicide in that fashion?”

    Ummm, how about because most users don’t/won’t use anything but the dominant monopoly operating system?

  • CNet has an opinion piece by a Stanford senior: The mood among campus file-swappers. Fuzzy around the edges, but one look at the current mood.

    Why is a compromise in everyone’s best interest? Take the case of Sony, which operates a strong electronics wing along with several music labels under its Sony Music brand. It is not uncommon to see students parading through campus with a Discman, playing the latest MP3s that they just downloaded. Sony’s overall strategy has been to accommodate new music technologies by generating new revenue streams and changing its business strategies.

    … But fighting a war against educational institutions and P2P companies is bound to be expensive. The opportunities lost in such a battle are also quite large, especially as Internet radio and streaming audio become increasingly popular. If the recording industry cannot create a compromise for its Internet strategy, the future is clear: P2P alternatives will continue to develop, and organizations like the RIAA will wind up in one court battle after another and end up with one heck of an image problem.

    If the music labels want to play a defining role in the future of new media, they’ll need to work with Silicon Valley to establish mutually beneficial terms. Otherwise, the occasional blasting of copyrighted music from the speakers of students in college dorms will be the least of the their worries.

  • Slashdot also has a story asserting that the Music Publishers’ Association is going after fan sites that publish song lyrics.

    Update: Although the Slashdot piece has no substantiation, there is this BBC piece: The joy of lyrics

    The bad news for anyone with a troublesome lyric on the brain is that most sites are illegal: Sarah Faulder, chief executive of the Music Publishers Association, says that unless the websites have the permission of the copyright owners to display the lyrics (which most do not), they are breaking the law.

    LyricFind’s Ballantyne says that getting permission is impractical as there is no central body to approach to license lyrics en masse, but Faulder says this is no excuse for breaching copyright.

    “Just because there is no central licensing body it doesn’t make it right to take lyrics and publish them without permission. It is as frowned upon as the downloading of music illegally, and when publishers know about these sites they follow them up”, she says.

  • The above piece on lyrics reminds me of something that is discussed in The Audible Past. While, on one hand, every generation insists that their sound reproduction technology offers “perfect fidelity,” it remains the case that much of our ability to interpret sound recordings depends upon our already knowing what to expect.

    The need for song lyrics is a great example of this need (and the examples given in the BBC article above are excellent - don’t miss the comments at the bottom of the article!) Isn’t it surprising that, once you know the lyrics, then you can hear the artist saying those words, when beforehand all you heard was gibberish? The classic is Jimi Hendix’s Purple Haze lyric “’scuse me while I kiss the sky,” but my own personal lyric issue has been Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” When that song came out, I asked all sorts of people what they thought the lyrics were, up to actually paying a kid in a pizza place in Detroit one night to go through the whole thing.

  • Pursuant to David Weinberger’s piece in Wired: When copy protection backfires (Slashdot discussion: When Copy Protection Fails)

    His response was to send an email dripping with sarcasm to EMI.

    “Just a courtesy email to inform you, that as a result of problems experienced playing the Norah Jones CD containing your Copy Control measures on Apple OS10.2 Titanium Laptop, Windows 2000 workstation and Windows XP workstation, I have now been forced to copy your CD just to listen to it,” he wrote.

    “In all circumstances the CD drives could not recognise, load or play the disc. Maybe you should consider displaying a warning on the covers of all of your CDs i.e. Warning: This CD may not work!”

    “Please congratulate the genius that concocted this anti-pirating strategy.”

    Doc Searls points to AKMA’s comments on DRM and re-purchasing music as media evolve.

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May 13, 2003

2003 May 13 [8:35 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-13 19:51:57)

  • Matt Morse writes about rhetoric and the RIAA apologies in today’s weblog entry - reacting to some things listed below.

  • David Weinberger has a column in Wired this month: Copy Protection Is a Crime

    Yet we’re on the verge of instituting digital rights management. What do computers do best? Obey rules. What do they do worst? Allow latitude. Why? Because computers don’t know when to look the other way.

    We’re screwed. Not because we MP3 cowboys and cowgirls will not have to pay for content we’ve been “stealing.” No, we’re screwed because we’re undercutting the basis of our shared intellectual and creative lives. For us to talk, argue, try out ideas, tear down and build up thoughts, assimilate and appropriate concepts - heck, just to be together in public - we have to grant all sorts of leeway. That’s how ideas breed, how cultures get built. If any public space needs plenty of light, air, and room to play, it’s the marketplace of ideas.

    …But in the digital world - the global marketplace of ideas made real - we’re on the verge of handing amorphous, context-dependent decisions to hard-coded software incapable of applying the snicker test. This is a problem, and not one that more and better programming can fix. That would just add more rules. What we really need is to recognize that the world - online and off - is necessarily imperfect, and that it’s important it stay that way.

  • CNet has updated their RIAA apologizes article (see the end of this entry): RIAA apologizes for erroneous letters

    The fact that no one seems to be ready to make the RIAA suffer for these “errors” is worrisome - and worse, the ink they’re getting helps to establish the notion that apologies are all that’s necessary.

    Speakeasy, a national broadband provider, said on Tuesday that the RIAA had apologized for sending a cease-and-desist letter alleging illegal activity on an FTP site devoted to the Commodore Amiga computer. The RIAA’s form letter sent to Speakeasy last Thursday alleged the Amigascne.org site illegally “offers approximately 0 sound files for download. Many of these files contain recordings owned by our member companies, including songs by such artists as Creed.”

  • OK - Donna repeatedly urges us to consider the rhetoric of copyright when getting into discussions. In the interest of improving all our skills, I offer up this distressing screed [via Not-So-Private Ryan] from NRO Online written by someone from Smith College: James D. Miller’s Digital Communism. If we can’t knock this one down, we don’t have a chance with a real argument. Here’s his opening paragraph:

    By legalizing Internet file-trading tools, a California court handed a major victory to communism. The Internet allows the well-wired to take copyrighted material freely. Left unchecked, rampant copyright theft may soon destroy the for-profit production of movies, music and books and may usher in an age of digital communism.

    We can start with the conflation of property rights and copyright (shocking for a Stanford Law Review grad), but I would argue that this attack gets its potency from its lowest-common-denominator framing of the problem - know-nothingism as a rhetorical basis. Granted, we all know what to expect from NRO, but this is a particularly shameless argument.

  • More dead horse-beating of a particularly dangerous sort, threatening to “pierce the corporate veil” via vicarious infringement: Universal Sues Bertelsmann Over Ties to Napster [pdf]

    Universal Music Group, part of Vivendi Universal, joined EMI this month to sue Hummer Winblad, the venture capital firm that was one of Napster’s chief backers. Music publishers are also suing Bertelsmann for prolonging the life of Napster.

    Universal’s lawsuit cites an internal Bertelsmann memo that became public during Napster’s bankruptcy proceedings as evidence that the company deliberately planned to keep Napster’s illegal service running to aid a legitimate music subscription service Bertelsmann planned to have take its place.

    … But some intellectual property lawyers said the lawsuit was advancing a theory that stretches the traditional bounds of the law and that could have a chilling effect on investment in new technology companies.

    “What does this mean for other people who loan money to companies?” said Mark F. Radcliffe, a partner at the Gray, Cary, Ware & Freidenrich law firm in Palo Alto, Calif. “If you’re a bank and loan money to somebody who pollutes, are you responsible for cleaning up the pollution?”

    …”By the time the Napster system was shut down, Bertelsmann had materially contributed to, aided and facilitated millions upon millions of separate acts of infringement by millions of Napster users,” the lawsuit says.

    Of course, Amy Harmon’s example of loaning to polluters is a red herring, unless pollution is protected under copyright law. See Fred’s article above, this article from Upside and this Furdlog entry for more details.

  • Speaking of Verizon, Derek points out that a stay has been granted. Can’t find the order online, though. The motion for the stay, yes. (wrong motion)

  • More on the streaming of iTunes content via Spymac: Hackers: iTunes can be shared over Net. Like I said a couple of days ago, this looks like a webcasting game and it’ll be interesting to see what the reponses will be, both technically by Apple and legally by the RIAA/ASCAP/BMI/SESAC and/or the Federal Government.

  • Ed Felten continues the discussion of Steve Lohr’s article [pdf] in the NYTimes Week In Review.

  • A very distressing story from CNet: RIAA apologizes for threatening letter

    The Recording Industry Association of America apologized Monday to Penn State University for sending an incorrect legal notice of alleged Internet copyright violations.

    The notice and subsequent apology appears to mark the first time that a faulty notification has been made public. The incident also shows just how easily automated programs that search for copyrighted material can be fooled, as well as how disruptive such notices can be on college campuses.

    …A representative of Penn State said Monday afternoon that the university accepts “that this was an honest mistake by the recording industry.” Spokesman Tysen Kendig said Penn State “remains committed to working closely with the RIAA and other law enforcement entities” to take actions against the trading of copyrighted material. Penn State President Graham Spanier, who testified before Congress in February about online piracy, is the co-chairman of a working group that includes the entertainment industry.

    …The RIAA’s notice went to the university’s central computing office, which told the department to delete the material or “we will need to disable access to the machine hosting the infringing song.” The central office then notified the department. Soccio said: “The swiftness of the activity the university wanted to take just around finals time scared the living daylights out of me. I’m just glad the university took my word for it that we weren’t violating copyright law.”

    Now, Soccio said, he’s writing a letter to his members of Congress opposing the DMCA and will post it in the department for signatures. “I’m loath to think that our educational resources and years of valuable resources can be jeopardized just because some kid in a dorm room is downloading copyrighted material,” he said. “That’s not a price that society should have to pay.”

    Hmmm - I thought that there were supposed to be real teeth in these laws when false allegations are made; wasn’t that the argument that the judge made in the Verizon lawsuit? Instead, we get a lot of stumbling all over each other to get along - an abdication of responsibility by the university?

    Update: Slashdot discussion: RIAA Apologizes for Incorrect Infringement Notice - two particularly relevant comments: (1) RIAA == Penn State Board Member and (2) Perjury?

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May 12, 2003

2003 May 12 [7:21 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-12 18:04:59)

  • BusinessWeek Online has picked up the SecutiryFocus coverage of Bunny Huang’s Hacking the XBox sales: ‘Banned’ Xbox Hacking Book Selling Fast

  • Cory Doctorow points to Magnatune - why from the founder, John Buckman

    We are an Internet record label which sells and licenses music by encouraging MP3 file trading and Internet Radio.

    When you find an artist you like, pay what you can afford to show your support, starting at $5 for an entire online album. Companies can sublicense our music for commercial use using our no haggling, easy online forms.

    All money from your purchases is split 50/50 with our artists.

    No major label connections.

    We are not evil.

  • Music biz news from Billboard:

    • Appeals Court Revives Parks/Outkast Suit

      A federal appeals court in Detroit today (May 12) revived a lawsuit by civil rights icon Rosa Parks against the rap group Outkast over a song that uses her name for its title. A federal judge in Detroit had dismissed Parks’ lawsuit in 1999 over the song “Rosa Parks,” saying Outkast’s use of her name was protected by free speech, and the group did not need to compensate her.

    • Jackson Sues Universal Over Motown Royalties

      The 10-count suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that under a 1980 agreement, Motown agreed to pay royalties to Jackson on the distribution of select pre-1976 material, including solo and Jackson 5 recordings, as well as any “best-ofs” or compilations of unreleased tracks.

      Jackson says UMG has since released such albums and licensed songs commercially without his consent. He claims the label failed to provide him “with a single accounting” and has not paid him “a single dollar in royalties.”

  • Mary Hodder’s surfaced from her end of term exertions to add commentary to Lohr’s ridiculous article in the NYTimes yesterday [pdf].

  • Larry Lessig’s editorial [pdf] in the FT gets Slashdot coverage: Lessig on Streamcast/Grokster Decision (Derek’s thoughts)

    No doubt, the court observed, these companies benefited from the sharing. And no doubt, it went on, peer-to-peer networks were designed in part to avoid the ability to block infringing sharing. But because the law requires that there be both a benefit from the infringement and an opportunity to do something to stop it, District Court Judge Stephen Wilson was not willing to find either company responsible.

    The reason the court hesitated is a good one. As the district court reminded us, the practice in copyright cases has not been for courts to expand liability in response to new technologies. It is instead that any such expansion be done by Congress. This principle was the basis upon which the Supreme Court decided that Sony was not responsible for the copyright infringement that the VCR enabled. As the Court reasoned, no doubt Sony could have designed the VCR to disable the ability of users to record shows from the air. But whether Sony should have been so required was a decision for Congress. The only question that a court should ask is whether the technology has the “potential for a substantial non-infringing use”. If it does, whether its use should on balance be considered infringing is a question for policymakers, not courts.

    …The wisdom of this rule is something innovators in Silicon Valley are increasingly coming to see. When courts intervene to maintain copyright’s balance, the inevitable consequence is that innovation is harmed. If every innovator with technologies affecting content must bear the burden of a lawsuit before his innovation can be allowed, there will be many fewer innovations in the distribution and creation of content. That in turn will harm artists and technologists alike. Better to let the innovation happen, and then consider whether the change caused by the innovation is so significant as to require new legislation by the legislature.

    Judge Wilson’s decision is the first sign of a thaw in the winter that has stopped the technology revolution cold. Everyone would benefit if the wisdom of this lower court could percolate up through the federal judiciary. Within the limits of the constitution, the balance that is copyright protection is not meet for judicial review. The costs of the inappropriate review that has defined the past half-decade should remind the courts of a lesson they should have learned long ago.

  • A KaZaA worm: Fizzer stealth worm spreads via KaZaA (CNet coverage)

    To spread via email, Fizzer scans the addresses in a victim’s Outlook and Windows address books or it randomly attacks email addresses in public email systems such as hotmail.com and yahoo.com. Next, the worm, in the name of the computer owner, clandestinely sends out infected messages using different subjects, message texts and file attachment names.

    To spread via KaZaA, Fizzer creates multiple copies of itself under random names, and places these files in the victim computer’s dedicated KaZaA file-sharing folder. By doing so, Fizzer becomes “available” to all other network participants.

    Fizzer carries a dangerous payload that can cause confidential data to be leaked from infected computers. The worm installs a keyboard-logging program that intercepts and records all keyboard strokes in a separate log file. To transmit this information, Fizzer loads a backdoor utility that allows crackers/VXers to control a computer via IRC channels.

  • Merger rumors betwen BMG and AOL-TimeWarner: Merger Talks Surface in Music Industry [NYTimes pdf]

  • David Coursey chimes in on the apparent differences between Microsoft’s and Apple’s policies when it comes to DRM: Digital rights: What MS could learn from Apple. The article is more about what’s not there on the Microsoft side, along with the typical pro-Microsoft spin that underlies most (but not all!) of Coursey’s pieces. For example:

    Beyond that concession, Microsoft has been silent on the issue of content rights for consumers. What they’re doing in the business arena (building rights management into the enterprise versions of Office 2003) makes a lot of sense. But those efforts just make the company’s silence on fair-use rights even more apparent.

    Looking at Media Player 9 and the Ballmer e-mail, I would claim that Microsoft has a quite strong position on DRM, they just aren’t brave enough to own up to it, hoping that we’ll all just stay ignorant until it’s too late to fight back. But, then again, I have my own spin, too.

  • Siva Viadhynathan gets into a justifiable snit over Bruce Lehman’s remarks published in Technology Review: Invention International [pdf] .

    Larry Lessig points out that, rather than adopting Lehman’s theory that copyright is everything, he’d "suggest a Creative Commons license, or at least some way to keep Mr. Lehman at home."

  • My French isn’t good enough to read the source material, but Advogato has an article on France’s pending implementation of the EU Copyright Directive, and the implications aren’t pretty.

  • Dave Winer points to a BBC article: File swappers fight back - more on firewall technology

  • Speaking of cool technology (not to mention preservation through digitization): The Evelyn Wood of Digitized Book Scanners [pdf], a story about the automated book scanners produced by 4DigitalBooks

    Mr. Keller admits that his dream to have the entire Stanford library in a digital database is unlikely in the foreseeable future because such an undertaking — involving eight million volumes — could cost upward of $250 million.

    In the meantime, the Stanford librarians have begun digitizing books and documents where there are no thorny copyright barriers and have important historical and political significance.

    … For Mr. Keller the most vexing challenges are neither labor costs nor technology. Librarians, he said, must find a way to address the copyright restrictions that appear to be tightening as a result of new federal laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

    Stanford is struggling to comply with copyright restrictions while making works that have recently lost their copyright protection available digitally. Mr. Keller said the library increased the circulation of its collection by 50 percent when it computerized its card catalog. Digitizing out-of-print books could likewise make them available to a much wider audience, he said. The payoff for building such a digital collection, he added, is vastly improved availability of a huge store of knowledge and information for teaching, learning and research.

  • This was covered in the Times a while ago, but the link is lost now since it predates my realization that the NYTimes was going to kill off access, so I’m going to repeat it here: To Err Is Creative in Net Art

    While other Web programmers seek to iron out the glitches in their code, Paesmans and Heemskerk intentionally replicate them. It’s how they make their art.

    With graphics.

  • Wired News reports that devices that are essentially TiVos for radio are coming; A TiVo Player for the Radio

    These digital radio recorders, which can be preset to record a program at a certain time, enable customers to record any radio program they want and have it converted into a digital format. They then can listen to the program or upload it onto a PC in a transferable file.

    Like TiVo, the audio recorders will let customers fast-forward over commercials — although this isn’t a feature the industry is actively promoting.

    …As companies prepare to release more of these digital radio recorders, the potential conflicts the devices raise over copyright issues remain unresolved. While it is legal to record material off the radio, swapping certain digital files as was the case with copyright music on Napster is not, said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.

    …”We are not convinced these products will sell particularly well … until the signal coming in has to be digital,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Forrester Research.

  • Mark Mulligan of Jupiter Research suggests that KaZaA is seeing a falloff in advertising because of a fear of an upcoming effort to associate P2P with child pornography. I can’t find anything to support this, but it’s still early in the week.

    He closes his weblog entry with a stupid question, though:

    However, even if child pornography allegations do prove to be valid and action is taken, the question that remains is why on earth are big established brands advertising on illegal file sharing networks in the first place?

  • David Card of Jupiter Research comments on yesterday’s NYTimes article on new media [pdf]

  • Some cool technology described in this month’s First Monday: The Syracuse University Library Radius Project: Development of a non-destructive playback system for cylinder recordings

  • Declan McCullagh discusses one of the key ideas floating around in the background of the copyright debate: Hold technology creators liable?

    “Grokster and Streamcast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights.” Wilson wrote. Even if the companies vanished overnight, the P2P networks would continue to operate, he noted.

    That’s exactly right, and it’s heartening to see that at least one federal judge is tech-savvy enough to get it. Wilson rejected the arguments from the RIAA and its Hollywood co-plaintiffs who wanted to establish the legal principle that creators of general-purpose technology can be sued if it can also be used for illicit purposes.

    … Pay attention to the endgame. In the 1994 U.S. v. LaMacchia prosecution, a judge dismissed charges against a 21-year-old MIT student who ran a pirate Internet site, saying that it was not a criminal offense to do so under current federal law. Criminal penalties “should probably attach to willful, multiple infringements of copyrighted software, even absent a commercial motive on the part of the infringer,” Judge Richard Stearns wrote. Stearns suggested that Congress step in.

    Congress obliged. Three years later, President Clinton signed into law the No Electronic Theft Act, which makes–as I’ve written about before–copyright infringement a federal crime even if not done for commercial purposes.

    Watch for the same thing to happen here. In a little-noticed part of his decision a few weeks ago, Judge Wilson said current copyright law does not prohibit the creation of P2P networks–and then suggested that Congress might want to rewrite it. “Additional legislative guidance may be well-counseled,” Wilson said.

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May 11, 2003

2003 May 11 [10:03 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-11 13:09:02)

  • Noted elsewhere, this Slashdot article points out that an iTunes P2P-like network (SpyMac - their announcement) is up and running: Mac P2P Music Sharing with iTunes is Online. Strictly speaking, this seems to be about streaming your iTunes, so this may become a Webcasting royalties issue, rather than a copyright infringement thing. Either way, as the article says, how long will this last before Apple mucks with their closed protocol?

  • Slashdot points to the SecurityFocus article that suggests that posting spoof files to the P2P networks is actionable under the recent VA anti-spam law. The Slashdot discussion: The War Between p2p and Record Companies Heating Up? is notable for pointing to the current IEEE Spectrum Online, which includes this piece introducing the May issue (with several articles accessible): The Copyright Wars:

    A new world of digital entertainment beckons, but industry clashes impede progress

    From Hollywood’s point of view, the best way to prevent copying from getting out of control is to prevent copying at all. “What we really want to do is not to stop copying, simply to stop redistributing. But the technology available doesn’t distinguish between the two,” said Larry Kenswil, president of the eLabs division of Universal Music Group (Universal City, Calif.), speaking at the January Consumer Electronics Show (Las Vegas, Nev.).

    Meanwhile, the consumer electronics industry, while working with the entertainment industry on copy protection technologies, is not willing to make copying outright impossible. Without the freedom to copy music from CDs to digital jukeboxes and portable players, for instance, entire categories of products, like MP3 players and hard-disk recorders, would disappear. People just aren’t going to pay for the same album three or more times—once to use in their car CD player, again to use in their home audio jukebox, and once again to listen to while jogging.

    At the same time, the electronics industry is not going to put out technology for totally unrestrained digital copying, in case the content owners retaliate. So the introduction of new products, such as portable TV players that download content from home video recorders into pocket-sized devices, is reportedly being delayed. The fear is that systems will never even be imagined because of the copy control constraint. Consider the broadcast flag, a technology intended to prevent unauthorized retransmission of digital TV broadcasts by inserting a coded signal into programs (though the signal may also end up preventing copying). Had some form of it existed 30 years ago for analog products, the consumer VCR, sales of which were worth over US $2 billion annually in the late 1990s, might never have reached the market, says Joe Kraus, cofounder of DigitalConsumer.org (Palo Alto, Calif.).

    …So wave your broadcast flag, load your DVD burner, or pack up the CDs you filled with MP3 tracks and send them with a letter of apology to the MPAA or the Recording Industry Association of America. It is time to pick a side; the fight for the future is now.

  • !Shock! I had to go to Technorati to find that one of my nephews has a weblog - and then only found it because he found me first!

  • Howard Berman defends the P2P Privacy Prevention Act over at Findlaw’s Modern Practice [via Doc]

  • Denise Howell has an update on the Pooh/Milne/Disney copyright suit [Fortune summary].

  • Wired News has an interview with one of the students who recently got a settlement with the RIAA, Joseph Nievelt: P2P Whipping Boy: Know the Risks

    “It seems the RIAA thinks that shutting down the index would prevent any file trading from going on, but that is not the case,” said Nievelt, who compared his former site, Flatlan, to Google rather than Napster. “The functionality is built into Windows. All you do is go to a folder, set the folder to share and then people have no problem accessing it or anything inside of it. Anyone who lives in the dorm can access the files in the folder that is being shared.”

    …But an RIAA spokesman disagreed: “When you search on Google, you get links to Web pages. These mini-Napster networks do not create indexes of links to websites; what they create are indexes of media files. Then with a single click of your mouse, the file is immediately downloaded to your hard drive. This is just like Napster,” he said.

  • New “Get Your War On” - in case you miss the underlying joke, The Book of Virtues is a book by that gambling specialist (joke site!), William Bennett, protector of our nation’s moral fiber.

  • While we’ve been hearing about how pop music is being homogenized by media consilidation, the effect on country music has been less discussed. This article from today’s NYTimes Magazine section adds quite a bit to the discussion: The Country of Country [pdf].

    There was a time when the fire that country music lighted beneath its listeners was to get down to the bar, get drunk and see if you couldn’t find somebody to go home with. But the only rabble being roused these days is the call to arms. Country music has become so squeaky-clean that a recent song in which Tracy Lawrence claimed that his grandfather taught him ”how to cuss and how to pray” was banned from several radio stations, cussing being too strong a concept for airplay. Long gone are the days when Merle Haggard took care of his searing morning hangover with an ”afternooner” and sang about it. This is thanks in large part to the vice grip of Clear Channel Radio, which buys up radio stations and makes carefully researched decisions about what Americans are free to listen to. Clear Channel has decided that patriotism sells, and that cussing and afternooners are definitely out. As a result, the music industry is frantically trying to find people who look and sing like whoever was on the top of last week’s chart.

    Until the invasion of Iraq, the band that everybody in Nashville most wanted to copy was the Dixie Chicks, whose most recent album, ”Home,” had the best of the war singles, a Vietnam ballad called ”Travelin’ Soldier.” Then, in a concert in London, the group’s lead singer, Natalie Maines, told a cheering audience that ”we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” And that was it for the Dixie Chicks. Suddenly they were standing on the other side of the Merle Haggard line in the sand. They had become those hippie-liberal protesters they should have been singing against.

  • Another music business piece in today’s NYTimes - a look at a BeeGee’s finances: Harmony on the Stage, Solo at the Bank [pdf]

  • A little more on the music biz: No. 1 With a Bullet: Madonna Opens Big, and She’d Better [pdf]

    To create big first weeks, labels use “smoke and mirrors,” says a manager who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    “It’s a well-known dirty secret,” he said. “Some labels buy their own records. It’s part of the marketing plan, to buy CD’s wholesale at $6 a pop, and Sound-Scan them.”

    Two years ago, a Los Angeles Times article reported that record companies hired “independent consultants” to generate falsely high sales, and although all five record groups denied engaging in such duplicitous behavior, SoundScan eliminated some stores from its tallies because of what it called anomalies in the reporting system.

    Because a strong first week creates self-fulfilling momentum, leading to more airplay, press and touring opportunities, most blockbuster records have big debuts. Of the top 10 albums of 2002, eight had first-week sales of 220,000 or higher. One exception was the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, a sleeper analogous to the surprise hit film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

  • Say what you will about mash-ups, once they start getting reviewed in the NYTimes, you have to ask how long it will take to get these legal issues on the table: Um, Beyonce, Meeting Jimi Isn’t Such a Good Idea

    BEYONCE VS. JIMI HENDRIX “Work It Out With a Foxy Lady,” the mash-up track created by merging Beyonce’s “Work It Out” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” (It is hearable online at www.gohomeproductions.co.uk.) Odi et amo. Whoever’s behind Go Home Productions (we don’t know the names, for obvious legal reasons) created stop-time sections in the Hendrix to drop in Beyonce’s melismatic vocal track; her phrasing fits as an effective counter-rhythm against the music of the Hendrix Trio. It’s like a superhero, this compound: a mixture of rock’s groove and pop’s gleam. (Beyonce’s song even uses the word “foxy.”) But the seduction lasts for a verse and a chorus. Then its machine-soul becomes suddenly, repulsively manifest. Call it a cheap holograph. It drives me back to the real thing, people making music together in the same room.

  • For a look at conventional wisdom throwing up its hands when confronted with the promise and perils of the internet, read this little piece from the NYTimes: ‘New Media’: Ready for the Dustbin of History? [pdf]

  • From today’s Boston Globe Magazine, a look at the modern pop music business: Idol Worship: The Making (and Unmaking) of a Teen Idol [pdf]. Not a great piece from the viewpoint of improving one’s understanding of the business, but a little insight into pop stardom then and now.

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May 9, 2003

2003 May 09 [9:02 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-09 23:39:26)

  • Another Mike Langberg piece from the San Jose Mercury News: CD, DVD duplicators easy to use but won’t let you burn Hollywood - reporting on the power of the CD/DVD duplicator and its rejection of movie DVDs - would DeCSS make a difference?

  • Here’s a lovely story: Record Executive Expected to Thrive Despite Setback [pdf]

  • Off-topic chuckle of the day, courtesy of the New York Post: 9/11 PLOT HIDDEN IN E-PORN (oops! it appears that the error has been corrected <G> - update: Nope! it’s still there!)

    Investigators believe cell members were using a process called stenography, in which special software allows a text message to be hidden inside a small part of a computer photograph.

    Better send this reporter off to check out the membership of the National Court Reporters Association. Or maybe just send him a dictionary: stenography - steganography

  • Derek and Slashdot both point to an Orrin Kerr article: Cybercrime’s Scope: Interpreting “Access” and “Authorization” in Computer Misuse Statutes. Like Derek, I haven’t read it yet, but it looks like I need to:

    Abstract:

    In the last twenty-five years, the federal government and all fifty states have enacted new criminal laws that prohibit unauthorized access to computers. These new laws attempt to draw a line between criminality and free conduct in cyberspace. No one knows what it means to “access” a computer, however, nor when access becomes “unauthorized.” The few courts that have construed these terms have offered divergent interpretations, and no scholars have yet addressed the problem. Recent decisions interpreting the federal statute in civil cases suggest that any breach of contract with a computer owner renders use of that computer an unauthorized access. If applied to criminal cases, this approach would broadly criminalize contract law on the Internet, potentially making millions of Americans criminals for the way they write e-mail and surf the Web.

    This Article presents a comprehensive inquiry into the meaning of unauthorized access statutes. It begins by explaining why legislatures enacted unauthorized access statutes, and why early beliefs that such statutes solved the problem of computer misuse have proved remarkably naïve. Next, the Article explains how the courts have construed these statutes in an overly broad way that threatens to criminalize a surprising range of innocuous conduct involving computers. In the final section, the Article offers a normative proposal for interpreting “access” and “authorization.” This section argues that courts should reject a contract theory of authorization, and should narrow the scope of unauthorized access statutes to circumvention of code-based restrictions on computer privileges. The section justifies this proposal on several grounds. First, the proposal will best mediate the line between securing privacy and protecting the liberty of Internet users. Second, the proposal mirrors criminal law’s traditional treatment of crimes that contain a consent element. Third, the proposed approach is consistent with the basic theories of punishment. Fourth, the proposed interpretation avoids possible constitutional difficulties that may arise under the broader constructions that courts recently have favored.

  • Here’s the text of the widely-discussed Steve Ballmer e-mail on Microsoft and DRM. An excerpt that I’ve missed up to this point raises a very interesting question - is Microsoft creating a walled village on the Internet and, if so, which side of the wall do you want to be on?:

    Anyone who uses a personal computer for word processing, email, data analysis or other common purposes is creating digital content – content that if unprotected might be misused by others. One of the touchstones of our Trustworthy Computing initiative is responding to customers’ demands for technology that protects the confidentiality and privacy of their information.

    This year we will release Microsoft Windows Rights Management Services, a security service for Windows Server 2003 that works with applications to help customers protect sensitive Web content, documents and email. The rights protection persists in the data regardless of where the information goes, whether online or offline.

    Building on this technology, our forthcoming Office 2003 productivity software suite will enable users to designate who can open a document or email message, and specify the terms of use – for example, whether they can print, copy or forward the data. A rights management add-on for Internet Explorer will extend these protections to Web content. Independent software vendors and application developers also will be able to build on Windows Rights Management, using software development kits that we will make available.

  • Donna’s entry today gives links to the ongoing Library of Congress hearings on the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions as well as other DMCA concerns being raised on the international education front.

  • Thought piece from last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle - a little network economics, a little copyright diatribe, a little discussion of art and culture - well worth devoting a little time to: Destroy the media [pdf]

    These are fearful times for the megalithic media corporations who produce and sell movies, music, television shows, books and magazines. With each passing moment — each advance in chip and network technologies, each increase in connection speed, each additional user signed on to the Internet — computer networks are more capable of absorbing and distributing copyrighted materials for free. And so with each passing moment, folks are becoming a little less enthusiastic about paying.

    …Destroying that [recording] industry is a very, very good idea. And roughly the same might be said of the slavishly starstruck movie world with its bloated blockbusters, or of book publishing with its twin obsessions on authorial prestige and print run. All these industries operate by trying to enforce on us a hierarchy of artists and ideas of their own devising for their own benefit. But it is already easily possible to publish your book yourself and distribute it free to anyone who wants to read it without using paper at all or make your own music and send it out over the telephone wires. Surely that can’t be something bad.

    The only reasonable concern here is that it is going to become harder for people who want to work in the arts to make a living. It is of course worth keeping in mind that most such people are already excluded from making a living by the industry itself. But it is true that in a universe of free information, no one is going to be able to get rich making records, though certainly people will still pay to see live performances.

    …Indeed, if you take some of the money out of this thing, you’ll get in compensation an increase of diversity, creativity, courage and intelligence. The audience disintegrates from a mass united by advertising campaigns into communities of sound that coalesce around expressions they find meaningful. Smaller and more various audiences entail more various and authentic art.

    In short, don’t assume that it is self-evident that people can own all the reproductions of the material they generate. It isn’t self-evident at all. And don’t assume, as the entertainment industry contemplates with horror its own destruction, that it’s not going to be a pleasure for everyone else.

  • Looks like the Big Champagne business plan is on track: Uncorking What’s Top in Pop:

    Company Tracks Online Song Swaps for Radio Play [pdf] [via BoingBoing]

    “When you really boil it down to what’s hot on the downloads,” Demery said, “it’s the same stuff people are buying, the same stuff people are requesting, the same stuff the radio stations are playing.”

  • The Register picks up on the message in Ballmer’s latest DRM pitch: DRM is your fluffy friend - Ballmer stakes out MS’ turf - see other discussion in yesterday’s Furdlog

  • Derek’s Perhaps I Spoke Too Soon makes an excellent point about these university file sharing crackdowns: you really can’t have it both ways. If a university sees internet access as a key instrument of education (and more & more see it that way), then it seems that using the throttling of that access as a mechanism of control is a contradiction of their stated educational mission.

    It’s an open secret that the university has traditionally acted as an intermediary between law enforcement and undergraduates, giving students a semi-protected space within which they get to work through a host of issues that many only confront once they leave home. Not to say that universities condone this behavior - but there are a host of instutions created within the university to manage things that are formally illegal (e.g., recreational drugs, sexual experimentation) in ways that limit the difficulties all around.

    Before I get categorized as simply a denizen of the Peoples’ Republic of Cambridge, note that, for example, running a crank lab in your dorm room would NOT qualify as "experimentation with recreational drugs." But it’s not hard to construct scenarios where simple recourse to law enforcement is not in anyone’s interest.

    For example, suppose a freshman’s high school girlfriend decides to run away from home, cross state lines (using cash sent to her by her sympathetic boyfriend) and take up residence in her boyfriend’s dorm. That’s a Mann Act violation - a Federal felony! Does the university call up the FBI and ask for a raid? Certainly not! Rather, dormitory staff work through the student affairs deans and others to try to resolve the problem, with a recourse to law enforcement as a last resort. (a little more on the Mann Act)

    Somehow file sharing is being distinguished from the university’s standard approaches to coping with potentially (and actually) illegal student behavior where the harm is far more difficult to characterize than the illegality. It would be interesting to speculate upon the whys of this. Is it possible that universities are resorting to this mechanistic perception for file sharing because it’s easier than confronting the real complexities of the issue at dispute? If so, that’s a tragic shame and a real abdication of the university’s role.

    Derek is absolutely right that universities should be doing better - it’s their job!

    Update: Here’s The Register story: Cops seize dorm PCs in college raid

  • “Bunny” Huang’s Hacking the XBox is being sold online after the publisher backed out for fear of DMCA lawsuits [via BoingBoing]

    Update: Slashdot coverage: Xbox Hacking Book Prepares to Fly Off Shelves; The Register: ‘Banned’ Xbox hacking book selling fast - in fact, the first printing seems to be sold out, with 52 preorders for the second printing already in place…..

  • A little progress on the recording artist’s side of the contract: California Panel OKs Artist Contract Reform:

    A bill designed to provide California recording artists with more leverage in forging contracts is headed to the state Senate floor after winning approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Billboard Bulletin reports. The bill, introduced by Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City), would make it a “fiduciary duty” for labels to accurately calculate royalty earnings owed to artists.

    …Music industry officials oppose the bill, saying it would impede labels from developing new business models in the face of surging piracy. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) president Cary Sherman testified Tuesday that the bill “would distort the intensely negotiated, arms-length contractual relationship between an artist and recording label by imposing a fiduciary duty only on one party.”

    According to observers at the hearing, several committee members countered that only one party, the record company, holds the financial information to calculate royalties.

    But will it eliminate abuse like this cited by Derek: Major Labels Caught Stealing $100m a Year:

    Record Clubs Get a Smack Upside the Head by Federal Judge

  • I’m not sure what the title means (probably just a way to get the TCS crowd in an uproar), but Arnold Kling’s article Marx’s Nightmare is a nice roundup of copyright/file sharing thinking. Given Matt’s recent efforts to discriminate between theft and copyright infringement, it’s a helpful basis for thinking about elements of the issue.

  • I’m with those who assert that this is a demonstration of the desperation of the record industry, even though it’s also probably true that there may be some benefit to using the technology: Hit-song predictions get a scientific spin [pdf, graphic]. A discussion of Hit Song Science. Note that this is not particularly new news, as it was discussed on Slashdot this past February: New Computer Program Determines “Hitability”

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May 8, 2003

2003 May 08 [7:51 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-05-08 16:23:40)

  • Donna’s got two provocative entries today: MPAA Who? Part II and Public Domain Papers–Published

    She also points to a blogger named Bill Hobbes whose entry Digital Freedom UPDATE points to yet another site with notable materials: The Digital Speech Project.

  • Bill Hobbes points to a NYTimes article [pdf] that I didn’t get to yet on the economics of Wi-Fi. Hobbes’s associated weblog entry agrues that the super-DMCAs are, in part, a mechanism to kill off this kind of cheap internet access.

  • The Future of Music Coalition is sponsoring a letter to the FCC complaining about media consolidation [via BoingBoing]

    We are writing to insist that Congress and the public have a full opportunity to review and comment on any specific changes that the Commission intends to make in the biennial review of media ownership rules before such rules are issued in final form.

    As musicians, recording artists, citizens and small business owners we are uniquely qualified to comment on the increased consolidation of the radio dial since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. We write to you today to emphasize that this period of consolidation has had far-reaching negative repercussions on our ability to gain access to the public airwaves and to make a living.

    We are therefore rightfully cautious and extremely concerned as American citizens that increased concentration of media ownership will have a negative impact on access to diverse viewpoints and will impede the functioning of our democracy.

  • Someone has noted the preponderance of Microsoft news today and has posted a provocative question over at Slashdot: What’s Microsoft Up To? This should be fun to follow.

  • From Denise Howell: Copyright Myths Debunked - informative and entertaining - what more could you ask for?!

  • A look at Net radio from Mike Langberg at SiliconValley.com: Net radio poses threat to local broadcasters

    If I’m any example of where the world is headed, local radio broadcasters are in big trouble and are blind to what’s ahead.

    I got disgusted with most broadcast radio long ago, thanks to huge doses — up to 20 minutes an hour — of loud commercials and ever-diminishing creativity in programming.

    But there was no reasonable alternative for news and entertainment during much of the day — while shaving, or commuting or washing the dishes — until I got high-speed Internet access four years ago. Through my cable modem and a wireless home network, I now listen to commercial-free Internet radio anywhere in my home office and in the kitchen. I also quickly download digital audiobooks from Audible (www.audible.com) which I transfer into an MP3 player that hooks to my car’s radio speakers.

    As a result, I haven’t listened to music on local broadcast radio since before the dawn of the 21st century. I once frequently turned on the radio at the top of the hour for news, but I now visit news sites on the Web whenever I feel the need for a headline fix.

    …Even as Arbitron sends out ratings diaries that foolishly neglect to ask about Internet or satellite radio, the company commissions research reports that clearly show the start of significant change.

    “An estimated 103 million Americans, 44 percent (of the total population over age 12) indicate they have used Internet audio or video,” says an Arbitron report called “The Emerging Digital Consumer,” released in February. “Many of those who have tried Internet broadcasting now consume streaming media on a regular basis, with 47 million Americans — one out of five — indicating they have listened to or watched Internet broadcasting in the past month.”

    In the same report, Arbitron cites surveys showing a high level of satisfaction with broadcast radio — “contrary to media pundits . . . (who) complain about radio’s lack of variety.”

    Find the report here - summary report pdf

  • A look at the pop life: Given Up, a Dream Returns to Life [pdf]: the rise, fall and rise of The Matrix

  • Wired News reports that the students who settled with the RIAA are getting offers of money from online sympathizers: Support for Fingered File Traders

  • Wired News’ coverage of the Bill Gates’ WinHEC talk is far less laudatory of the NGSCB technology, contradicting some of yesterday’s reports:

    “This is scary stuff,” said a developer who asked that his name be withheld. “I could see a lot of people sticking with their old computers, operating systems and media players to avoid all this permission crap. Any geek who does use Windows is going to stick with Windows 2000; most of them are already not thrilled with XP anyway.”

    Gates became noticeably touchy when quizzed by reporters on NGSCB’s potential to be used as a personal copyright cop.

    “We’re building a security system that people can use or not use as they please,” he said. “We are not telling anyone what they have to do or not do with their computers or with their content.”

    Some developers assumed, from Gates’ comments, that NGSCB would be a user-enabled option. But currently there doesn’t appear to be any way to disable NGSCB, as it will be built into both a computer’s hardware and its operating system. It’s also possible that its protections would not work correctly or would prevent content from being viewed on non-NGSCB systems.

    Plus, Michelle Delio got the doublethink (see below):

    Given NGSCB’s potential to be a very personal Big Brother, it’s interesting that Microsoft’s other main focus at WinHec this year is encouraging hardware developers to build devices that, according to Gates, “provide consumers with more options to enjoy digital entertainment on a PC, television or portable media player and easily distribute digital media experiences throughout their homes.”

  • On a related note, the NYTimes reports on the release of Terminator 2 DVD [pdf] using Microsoft’s media technologies:

    The two-disc set, to be released in June by Artisan Home Entertainment as “T2: Extreme DVD,” will have a list price of $29.98. One disc will include a digitally remastered high-definition version of the film, with enhanced 5.1-channel surround sound, using a new Microsoft format called Windows Media 9. It promises almost three and a half times the resolution of a traditional DVD.

    But there is a catch: it will play only on a computer using Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system. And to appreciate the effects, users will have to download the free Windows Media 9 player software.

  • Findlaw’s Writ: Why Grokster and Morpheus Won, Why Napster Lost, and What the Future of Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Looks Like Now - a nice little summary, but nothing new here, including the expectation that Apple will show the way….

  • So, do you think that Madonna’s "What the f*ck do you think you’re doing” was effective? From Billboard: 50 Cent Holds Off ‘Idol’ To Return To No. 1

    Linkin Park’s “Meteora” (Warner Bros.) falls 4-7 on a 17% drop to 92,000 copies, followed by last week’s No. 1, Madonna’s “American Life” (Maverick/Warner Bros.), which tumbles to No. 8 as sales of the album slid 62% to 91,000 copies.

    Effective, indeed - just not the desired one. (See also the Reuters News piece from Yahoo! - via Aimee Deep)

  • Today seems to be the day for CNet News to report the obvious. In addition to the item below on music online, there’s this gem on Microsoft and DRM: Ballmer touts DRM to customers:

    “Some of technology’s potential…has not been fully realized, because of concerns about illegal use of digital information, about confidentiality and about privacy,” Ballmer wrote. “E-commerce in music and movies has been slowed, because artists and publishers have been concerned about protecting their copyrighted works from illegal use. More broadly, businesses don’t exchange digital information with customers and partners as freely as they might, because they fear it could fall into the wrong hands.”

    The e-mail contained few if any new tidbits of information about details of Microsoft’s technology or strategy. But as a policy statement, it highlighted for customers one of the key features that the software company sees as an impetus for growth across its product line in the next few years.

    … The idea is to protect corporate and personal data from finding its way outside the circle of people who are intended to see or use it, the company says. Just as songs could be pre-loaded with rules that prevent them from being copied or distributed online, e-mails or Word documents could be wrapped with protections that prevent them from being sent to unauthorized individuals or outside a corporate firewall.

    “As these technologies become widespread, their protection will help encourage wider sharing of information within and between organizations, improving communication and productivity by assuring information workers of the confidentiality of their documents and data,” Ballmer wrote.

    Did you catch the little 1984 moment in the above excerpt: freedom is slavery - to your computer!

  • Surprise! Music swappers are music buyers too

    Offering some insight to the recording industry as it struggles to boost sales online, a survey finds that Web surfers who download music from song-swap sites are more likely to buy music online, as well as offline at retailers.

    The research put rap music as the No. 1 genre purchased by online fans, which may help record companies gain a better understanding of who their online customers are.

    The survey released Wednesday was based on 36,000 Internet users and released by Web tracker Nielsen/NetRatings, a unit of NetRatings.

  • More Dixie Chicks commentary over in The Boondocks

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