2003 May 06

(entry last updated: 2003-05-06 18:14:43)

Still navigating around my upgraded system; a little more work involved when it’s something that I rely on for my work, after all. But most pieces are in place, so I’ll be getting back into it after I get back from the dentist <G>

  • Jupiter Research has a new report: CD Copy Protection: A Bitter Pill to Swallow. I don’t have the report, but the summary given is something to consider:

    Key Findings

    Over the last three years, the rate of CD copying has doubled; one-quarter of online consumers admit to doing so, according Jupiter research. Adding copy protection to CDs decreases demand as much as 76 percent, depending on the price of the disc. Music labels should leave CDs alone and migrate consumers to DVDs and digital downloads.

    Compare and contrast with David Card’s May 2 weblog posting

    I have mixed emotions about file sharing. While some sharers spend more on music (12% of online teen file sharers, 16% of online adult file sharers), more of them spend less (28% of teens, 31% of adults). I think the file sharing networks are a great, low-risk way for fans to explore (and labels promote) unfamiliar artists & genres.

    I also think their threat to music sales is way overrated. The big file sharers, teens & college students, don’t buy much music anyway. 75% of CDs are bought by over 25 year-olds, although that wasn’t the case 15 years ago. Music sales are in the tank because a) the vinyl upgrade is done, b) teen pop is done & nothing has replaced it yet, and c) entertainment dollars are going to DVDs & videogames.

    I stll think the labels should spend more money on biz dev than on lawyers.

  • The Register’s Andrew Orlowski pulls together a couple of elements to put out this piece that several have commented upon: RIAA attacking our culture, the American Mind

  • A Slashdot discussion on the Apple iTunes sales figures: Apple Sells A Million Songs in Debut Week. With this informative comment on elements of the DRM:

    There’s a less invasive way to demonstrate that the m4p file contains the name/address of the purchaser: buy a song and e-mail the file to a friend who also has a Mac and iTunes4. When they double-click it open, they will be prompted to “authorize” their computer to play this song — and the text of the prompt includes the e-mail address of the original purchaser, and prompts for their password. That the files contain the identity of the purchaser is not really a secret, especially given that it displays it prominently in the password challenge dialog box when m4p files are moved to a new computer. I found this the first time when my wife mailed me some songs she had bought, and I had to ask her to come over to my computer and enter her password.

    But the easiest way to see that the songs contain the purchaser’s name is this: open iTunes, click on a song you’ve purchased, and choose Get Info… and there’s your name!

  • Slashdot posts a story linking to an interview transcript from CNN with one of the students sued by the RIAA

    HEMMER: Andy, do you think, with the case of your son right now, how do you categorize this? A case of intimidation?

    ANDY JORDAN, JESSE’S FATHER: Well, it’s — I categorize it as an elaborate publicity stunt. Nothing more, nothing less.

    HEMMER: How so?

    A. JORDAN: This entire episode was concocted, it was really staged. You showed a clip of the rally that was held for Jesse the other day. This is at RPI, at Rentlier (ph) Polytechnic. It’s not a hotbed of piracy; it’s a hotbed of technological innovation. You have me on screen now singing. And if you were behind me or if you were looking at what I was looking at that day, I thought the kids were coming over to the rally. We weren’t through the second song yet. A few freshman machine [sic] came out of one their dorms, and they said, could you turn the volume down, we’re trying to study for finals?

    …HEMMER: You know, Andy, I think a lot people — and I asked your son this; I’ll ask you it as well, if you weren’t guilty, why pay the cash? It’s a lot of money, especially for a college student.

    A. JORDAN: We didn’t have any choice. The RIAA had a deadline. What they didn’t tell the press, when they first hit Jesse with the papers, is while they were serving the papers on him, they also had a letter that they didn’t give to the press and they told us that, oh, that was supposed to be the cover letter to the papers that he received, gee, we’ll get it to right away. It was an offer to settle.

  • Does shrinkwrap licensing pre-empt fair use under copyright? There’s a petition for certiorari (see also Supreme Court Rules #10-16)before the Supreme Court wherein that’s a key topic at issue. Donna’s got two postings (post 1; post 2), with links and the petition.

    Update: How Appealing points to the legal docs

  • Matt points to a USA Today article that perpetuates the spread of dubious statistics: Piracy has its hooks in [pdf]

  • A look at how the medium is reshaping the notion of the art: Terrence Rafferty’s Everybody Gets a Cut [pdf] discusses how the DVD changes the nature of the movie – both as art and as business.

    I’ve always thought it was the artist’s job to make that sort of decision, but as I watched Lyne smugly leaving it up to the viewer, I realized with a jolt that I had fallen behind the times. I still think of a film as a unified, self-sufficient artifact that, by its nature, is not interactive in the way that, say, a video game is. To my old-media mind, the viewer ”interacts” with a movie just as he or she interacts with any other work of art — by responding to it emotionally, thinking about it, analyzing it, arguing with it, but not by altering it fundamentally. When I open my collected Yeats to read ”Among School Children,” I don’t feel disappointed, or somehow disempowered, to find its great final line (”How can we tell the dancer from the dance?”) unchanged, unchanged utterly, and unencumbered with an ”alternate.” For all I know, Yeats might have written ”How can we tell the tailor from the pants?” and then thought better of it, but I’m not sure how having the power to replace the ”dance” version with the ”pants” version would enhance my experience of the poem.

    And although ”Among School Children” is divided into eight numbered stanzas and therefore provides what DVD’s call ”scene access,” I tend to read them consecutively, without skipping, on the theory that the poem’s meaning is wholly dependent on this specific, precise arrangement of words and images. If you read ”Among School Children” in any other way, would it still be ”Among School Children”? Would it be a poem at all?

    The contemporary desire for interactivity in the experience of art derives, obviously, from the heady sense of control over information to which we’ve become accustomed as users of computers. The problem with applying that model to works of art is that in order to get anything out of them, you have to accept that the artist, not you, is in control of this particular package of ”information.” And that’s the paradox of movies on DVD: the digital format tries to make interactive what is certainly the least interactive, most controlling art form in human history.

    … There’s not much point speculating on what the ending will be for the strange process of DVD-izing cinema. Many suspect that the DVD is already the tail wagging the weary old dog of the movies. Will the interactive disc ultimately become the primary medium, with film itself reduced to the secondary status of raw material for ”sampling”? Maybe; maybe not. The development of digital technology, along with the vagaries of the marketplace, will determine the outcome, and neither of those factors is easily predictable. What’s safe to say, I think, is that the DVD — at least in its current, extras-choked incarnation — represents a kind of self-deconstruction of the art of film, and that the DVD-created audience, now empowered to take apart and put together these visual artifacts according to the whim of the individual user, will not feel the awe I felt in a movie theater when I was young, gazing up at the big screen as if it were a window on another, better world.

    I no longer look at movies with quite that wide-eyed innocence, of course, but it’s always there somewhere in the background: an expectation of transport, as stubborn as a lapsed Catholic’s wary hope of grace. Perhaps the DVD generation, not raised in that moviegoer’s faith, will manage to generate some kind of art from the ability to shuffle bits and pieces of information randomly — the aleatory delirium of the digital. It just won’t be the art of D.W. Griffith, Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, Sam Peckinpah, Andrei Tarkovsky and Roman Polanski.

  • OK – I realize it appears that I have a Dixie Chicks fixation, but this AP Wire report via Salon is ridiculous: DJs suspended for playing Dixie Chicks [pdf]

    Country station KKCS has suspended two disc jockeys for playing the Dixie Chicks, violating a ban imposed after the group criticized President Bush.

    …”They made it very clear that they support wholeheartedly the president of the United States. They support wholeheartedly the troops, the military. But they also support the right of free speech,” Grant said.

    The station has received a couple of hundred calls and 75 percent favored playing the music.

    …”I gave them an alternative: stop it now and they’ll be on suspension, or they can continue playing them and when they come out of the studio they won’t have a job.”

    The station plans to play the group’s music again eventually. “Most stations are starting to play them again anyhow a song here, a song there. I just have a problem with the way this was done. We would have put them in anyhow. But we’d like to do it on our terms,” he said.

    Industry consolidation thoughts, anyone?

  • Still working through my reading backlog, which includes All the Rave (NYTimes reviewpdf; Salon’s review still says it best) – Wired News has an excerpt online. As excerpts go, it’s pretty tame – the descriptions of the early days of Napster and the degree to which its direction was influenced by some tragically bad choices at the outset is better reading, IMHO.

  • In Program Lets P2P Users Roam Free, Wired News discusses a firewall (Peer Guardian) that it describes as follow:

    A new “cloaking” application that protects individuals from network snooping is making the rounds among file traders, marking the latest salvo in the increasingly volatile battle between music labels and file traders.

    Free software called PeerGuardian creates a personal firewall that blocks the IP addresses of snoops. They can see the names of files being traded, but they can’t download the file to tell whether it’s a copyrighted file.

    …The software, though, doesn’t provide complete protection for individuals, said Travis Hill, BayTSP’s director of engineering. PeerGuardian’s weakness stems from the fact that users must continually update the list of IP addresses that are blocked. As a result, network security companies like BayTSP can find holes in the PeerGuardian system.

    Another example of MAD-thinking in the P2P wars; and endless game of Spy vs. Spy as each side fights for the upper hand, while huge amounts of innovative energies get wasted on technologies that narrow, rather than widen, the breadth of utility of the network. The software copy-protection game, updated.

  • Cory Doctorow has an update on the Disney/Pooh copyright contretemps (a little LawMeme background). In Judge Rules Against Pooh Heir, we find:

    A U.S. federal judge has ruled tentatively that the granddaughter of Winnie the Pooh’s creator cannot have the U.S. marketing rights to the character, delivering a blow to the Walt Disney Co. in its fight for Pooh rights, the Reuters news service reported. If finalized, the ruling would be a major victory for Stephen Slesinger Inc., the company that currently holds the Pooh copyright and has filing lawsuits claiming that Disney owes it millions in back royalty payments, the news service reported.

    Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles reviewed the copyright case and will hear oral arguments on May 5. But in her initial ruling, designed to clarify the legal issues in the case, Cooper held that Clare Milne could not use a change in U.S. copyright law to reclaim the U.S. rights to Winnie the Pooh next year, her lawyer David Nimmer told Reuters. Her grandfather, British author A.A. Milne, sold the U.S. rights in 1930 to American literary agent Stephen Slesinger.

    Disney, which makes about $1 billion of Pooh-related merchandise each year under the disputed contract with Slesinger, joined Milne asking the court for a judgment on her behalf, although it did not ask for assignment of the U.S. rights to itself, the wire service reported.

  • This week’s Tangled Web [pdf] gives a music industry look at the Apple iTunes project:

    So while the P2P networks are here to stay — at least for the immediate future — Apple’s new venture does have a big potential market, and it looks to be a key ally in the record industry’s ongoing attempt to build digital marketshare. Until the iTunes launch, the major labels’ best efforts to win back the business lost to Napster and its kin had been the subscription-based services MusicNet and PressPlay. While these ventures are necessary steps for the beleaguered industry, their working models are just not close enough to those of the peer-to-peer networks to truly be able to compete with them. Now that fans have something that offers quality and flexibility, a lot of eyes will be trained on the service in the coming months, especially as Apple rolls out a Microsoft-compatible version later this year.

  • Siva Viadhyanathan posts a couple of interesting items (Donna, too):

  • CNet reports that the RFID chips intended to be embedded in retail products are going to get a refinement: Radio ID chips to come with kill switch

  • From BBSpot: Success of Apple Music Store Proves Apple Users Will Overpay for Anything (see Derek for a more serious look at pricing)

    The iTunes music store offers AAC encoded songs for a dollar a piece, infinitely more expensive than the free songs windows users enjoy.

    Steve Jobs said, “Over the years our dedicated users have been willing to pay a premium for less flexibility and smaller selection, from the original Macintosh to the current OS X. Now we’ve applied this concept to the world of entertainment. It’s absolutely phenomenal that they fell for it again.”

    Loyal Apple computer users were unsurprisingly excited by the new offering. “I really appreciate the cost-savings of being able to download songs for a buck,” said Pentagon procurement officer and Macintosh user, Wendy Sykes. “Before the iTunes Music Store I had to listen to one of the $37 music CDs that I purchased.”