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