2003 June 4

(entry last updated: 2003-06-04 22:00:06)

My apologies – I’ve been "off my game" since Monday, due to reasons beyond my control. I’d like to think that things will settle down in the next day or so – and I’m *really* behind in my reading.

  • Slashdot reports that sewing patterns are back in the copyright litigation arena: DMCA Vs. The Sewing Underground. From the cited article:

    Monsterpatterns.com operator Derek Gendron says he didn’t see anything wrong with posting for sale the discontinued sewing patterns he’d found in the trash heaps near some Jo-Ann craft shops.

    But sewing pattern giants McCall Pattern and Simplicity, makers of the patterns, disagreed. In February, the companies successfully convinced Web host Digital River to shut the Monsterpatterns.com site down, saying Gendron had no right to sell their copyrighted work online. “He did not pay for these patterns,” said Robert Hermann, CEO of McCall.

    Here’s Ed Felten’s interview with his mother on needlepoint piracy

  • Music industry hopes mobile phones will be new revenue source

    With sales of CDs on a three-year slide, the music industry sees mobile phones as powerful outlets for promoting artists and distributing music for profit – something it failed to do in the early days of Internet music-swapping. In recent months, recording labels have entered deals with wireless carriers and other companies. The music companies are selling rights to their musicians’ recordings and images for use in screen savers, digital images and song snippets that are then sold to mobile phone users.

  • Willful Infringement – the Movie [via BoingBoing]

    Over the last two hundred years, western law has turned ideas into something called Intellectual Property. At the same time, we have created the idea of a corporation as a property owner. The rise of digital media technologies and the Internet have brought these two developments into sharp focus. The nexus of these developments has produced some unintended consequences and as a result, copyright has become the ‘killing fields’ of culture.

    Most of us never think about copyright law. We never think about copying. Both copying and copyrights are good things. There are those who think there can be too much copying, and those who think there can be too much copyright. Watch the video and decide what you think.

  • Oh, God – Verizon stay denied; from CNet

    The recording industry claimed another victory Wednesday in its bid to force Verizon Communications to identify two of its Internet subscribers accused of file swapping, saying a federal appeals court had rejected a request to delay handing over the disputed information.

    The decision means that Verizon may be forced to comply with the recording industry’s demands despite a pending appeal in the case, which involves the validity of subpoenas issued under a controversial copyright law. A hearing is scheduled to take place in September.

    Should be interesting to see how this decision fits into the definition of "moot."

  • A student (thanks, Jennifer!) points to a very useful summary of the (then) holdings of the Big Ten media companies – a way to think about consolidation – from The Nation, 2001. Accompanies the article: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

    The media cartel that keeps us fully entertained and permanently half-informed is always growing here and shriveling there, with certain of its members bulking up while others slowly fall apart or get digested whole. But while the players tend to come and go–always with a few exceptions–the overall Leviathan itself keeps getting bigger, louder, brighter, forever taking up more time and space, in every street, in countless homes, in every other head.

    The rise of the cartel has been a long time coming (and it still has some way to go). It represents the grand convergence of the previously disparate US culture industries–many of them vertically monopolized already–into one global superindustry providing most of our imaginary “content.”

    …And so, unless there’s some effective opposition, the several-headed vendor that now sells us nearly all our movies, TV, radio, magazines, books, music and web services will soon be selling us our daily papers, too–for the major dailies have, collectively, been lobbying energetically for that big waiver, which stands to make their owners even richer (an expectation that has no doubt had a sweetening effect on coverage of the Bush Administration). Thus the largest US newspaper conglomerates–the New York Times, the Washington Post, Gannett, Knight-Ridder and the Tribune Co.–will soon be formal partners with, say, GE, Murdoch, Disney and/or AT&T; and then the lesser nationwide chains (and the last few independents) will be ingested, too, going the way of most US radio stations.

  • The Nullsoft saga continues (Rogue AOL Subsidiary Leader to Resign) while AOL and Microsoft get comfy: AOL, Microsoft Vow Messaging Cooperation

  • A flash from the past: Metallica strikes new Net chord

    The longtime opponents of Internet piracy, who sued file-swapping network Napster in federal court, are promoting downloads of their songs via Metallicavault.com, a Web site set to launch Thursday.

    But the site will be free only to people who buy the band’s upcoming album, “St. Anger,” scheduled for release the same day. The CD inset will include a unique code that people can use to access the site’s video of live performances and download newly released tracks.

    …Despite the heated charges, the band now says its early grievances were merely about the quality of music offered through Napster file-swapping, not about the theft. Metallica’s suit was later combined with many other similar suits against Napster, which were resolved when a federal judge ordered Napster to block copyrighted music files.

    Ah, revisionist history is always the most informative <G>

  • Reuters says that that RIAA has gotten a settlement on college webcasting rates: RIAA, colleges agree on Webcasting rate

    Under the deal, college radio stations and other educational broadcasters will pay a flat fee of $250 to stream their signals over the Internet this year, while other noncommercial Webcasters will pay up to $400. The deal applies retroactively to 1998 and lasts through the end of next year.

    Fees are lower if the broadcast is limited to news or sports, while those transmitting more than one channel or reaching larger audiences would pay more.

  • Streamcast is in the RIAA sights, with a lawsuit on peculiar grounds: Record labels sue Morpheus maker

    The new suit involves a Web radio service never launched by Streamcast Networks, the company behind the popular Morpheus software that lets millions of fans share songs for free.

    Record labels allege in the suit that in preparing to launch the radio service, Streamcast bought thousands of CDs with thousands of songs and then transferred the music onto a digital database on computer hard drives and other memory devices without the permission of the copyright owners.

  • Hoo-boy! The announcement that standalone Internet Explorer is going the way of the dodo has revealed some internal confusion at Microsoft: Microsoft’s browser play

    Since then, Microsoft has struggled to reconcile Countryman’s remarks with promises that current users of the standalone browser will be provided with upgrades. Pressed for clarification of Countryman’s comments–the program manager did not return calls–a Microsoft representative acknowledged that the company did not, in fact, know what it was going to do.

    … That ambiguity leaves an array of possible outcomes, including forced upgrades to the upcoming version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, for users of Microsoft’s older versions of the OS who want to patch security holes or other bugs in Internet Explorer.

  • With Amazon in the picture, Apple is gearing up to approach the independents about iTunes. (Slashdot: Apple Wooing Smaller Labels

  • For all of us who’ve forgotten (or learned the hard way) to dot the i’s and cross the t’s when it comes to computer/software maintenance: Lawrence Lessig’s birthday spam

  • Dave Winer makes an interesting announcement:

    I got a tour of the NY Times news room today from Martin Nisenholtz the CEO of NY Times Digital, and Michael Oreskes, Assistant Managing Editor for Electronic News. We also concluded our discussion about the Times archive, we found a good compromise, the archive will remain open to people who link from weblogs, but they will keep the toll booth up for others. We have to hammer out a final statement, which I expect to have in a few days.

    I look forward to hearing how to make this work – my furdlog/docs directory is taking up more space each day, and getting pdfs that include graphics without chopping text lines in half at page breaks is a surprisingly large amount of work!