July 28, 2003

2003 July 28 PM [3:06 pm]

(entry last updated: 2003-07-28 21:51:37)

  • From the people who brought you the PATRIOT Act, we now get Hilary Rosen’s replacement for the RIAA: GOP staffer chosen to head RIAA

    The big record labels’ trade group said Monday that Mitch Bainwol, former chief of staff to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, will replace Rosen at the RIAA’s helm. Rosen left the group several months ago, after announcing her planned departure in January.

    Although Bainwol has little experience inside the music industry, he brings deep connections to the Republican Party, something the RIAA has largely lacked under Rosen’s leadership.

    [...] Bainwol joins the RIAA at a critical moment in the group’s history, as it plans to launch what could be thousands of lawsuits against individual music consumers who have allegedly traded large numbers of copyrighted songs online. The controversial drive, already under way, has threatened to further compromise the industry’s relationship with online consumers.

  • A CNet News rundown: Net is alive with the sound of music

  • Benny Evangelista brings together everything you could want to know on this subject, for the moment: Advice to avoid copyright litigation:

    Experts sharing tips to help defend against file-sharing lawsuits [pdf]

    It’s possible the courts could one day rule file-sharing is legal or a consumer backlash could force Congress to change current copyright laws. Before that happens, however, the legal costs for an individual battling the powerful RIAA could be devastating.

    “What I think they’re going to do is start suing moms and dads and families across America,” said San Rafael attorney Ira Rothken. “They could lose their house or lose their ability to send their kids to college. That is not the intent of copyright statutes, to bankrupt a middle-class family.”

  • Something to take to read on the plane this week: Privacy, Economics, and Price Discrimination on the Internet [from JoHo] From the abstract:

    Privacy appears to be declining largely in order to facilitate differential pricing, which offers greater social and economic gains than auctions or shopping agents. The thesis of this paper is that what really motivates commercial organizations (even though they often do not realize it clearly themselves) is the growing incentive to price discriminate, coupled with the increasing ability to price discriminate. It is the same incentive that has led to the airline yield management system, with a complex and constantly changing array of prices. It is also the same incentive that led railroads to invent a variety of price and quality differentiation schemes in the 19th century. Privacy intrusions serve to provide the information that allows sellers to determine buyers’ willingness to pay. They also allow monitoring of usage, to ensure that arbitrage is not used to bypass discriminatory pricing.

    [...] There is no easy resolution to the conflict between sellers’ incentives to price discriminate and buyers’ resistance to such measures. The continuing tension between these two factors will have important consequences for the nature of the economy. It will also determine which technologies will be adopted widely….

  • From A blog doesn’t need a clever name: Another complaint to consumer watchdog about EMI music discs - truth in advertising in Australia and copy protected CDs.

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2003 July 28 Am [6:54 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-07-28 12:00:44)

For what it’s worth, and noting that Larry’s moved his blog, everyone should know that http://furd.com/furdlog will also get you here. I haven’t published it, but I’ve had the domain name for some time.

  • A few more bits from the NYTimes today:

  • Checking out the BBC site today led me to this July 10 article, Electronics firms accused over piracy, which is notable for the unearthly arrogance exhibited by the IFPI representative and the BMG chairman quoted in the article. Basically, we get an assertion that the record industry was happy to adopt CD technology because it was to their advantage, but it wasn’t up to them to understand what the implications of the technology might be (particularly the open format specification vs. copy protection). This is sheer nonsense - there were plenty of people who pointed out that this could be a problem; the industry simply elected not to invest in the development of a technology that would have met their needs more effectively - and they wanted to exploit the economics of the network effect in the adoption of the technology. It’s a stunning look at a very self-centered perspective on the problems.

    “We are not technocrats, we are humble creators of music.

    “It is a complete myth to say it is the record labels responsibility to create technology.”

    The record industry has been criticised for not embracing developments such as file-sharing or dealing with the CD piracy threat.

    But Mr [Tim] Bowen [of BMG] said: “We are not Apple and we are not Microsoft.”"

  • Siva’s third article in his series: P2P: the new information war? The topic this time is the issues of control and anarchy in the information economy when examining the progress and methods of scientific exploration.

  • Apparently, Mr. Gates likes the SCO strategy so much that he’s working an angle himself: Gates: Microsoft IP Finds Its Way Into Free Software (a worthwhile comment). The GrokLaw posting I cited yesterday is a worthwhile companion read: The Tide Turns; as well as this update: MS: Linux Will Be Hounded Over IP For 4 to 5 Years

  • Slashdot picks up the German court’s block (on constitutional grounds) of the Bertelsmann suit that claims that their financing of Napster in its end-stages constituted vicarious infringement: German Constitutional Court Blocks Napster Suit (the meta debate in this set of comments alone is worth a look!)

  • From The Register: Napster 2.0 by Christmas; SiliconValley.com: Napster re-launch due by Christmas

  • The RIAA subpoena spree: Subpoenas Sent to File-Sharers Prompt Anger and Remorse [pdf]

    The popularity of file-sharing software, which allows users to copy music, movies and other files from one another’s computers, has long benefited from a sense of impunity among users. By tearing away the Internet’s veil of anonymity, the record industry hopes to scare people away from using the software and crack a cultural consensus that tends to regard file-sharing as a guilt-free activity.

    [...] “The practice of filing thousands of lawsuits is a game of chicken, and not a sustainable model for the industry or the courts,” Mr. [Jonathan] Zittrain said. “The overall puzzle for the industry is how to truly convince the public that this is in the public interest.”

    He said there was no obvious historical analogue to the scattershot subpoenaing of individuals in copyright law enforcement, which has traditionally been aimed at businesses or people who are profiting from illegally copied material. He likened it instead to raids during Prohibition, or red-light cameras that catch drivers disobeying traffic laws when they think they are unobserved. Both have given rise to social outcry, Mr. Zittrain said, even though they were used simply to enforce the law.

    The Register has this tale of one kind of consumer response: RIAA blocks attacks with TST-Secure-OS

    Update: And Tech Law Advisor summarizes the Jonathan’s intent in his quote (and possibly Amy’s direction as well) with this posting: Should consumers be treated the same as competitors?

    Zittrain is drawing two distinctions here. The first is between use of the

    copyright and use of the work. A competitor uses the copyright, whereas a

    consumer uses the work. The second is that historically, copyright is a tool

    used against businesses i.e. competitors, i.e. the person selling pirated

    copies on the street, and not against consumers.

  • A topic from last week’s Politech gets NYTimes treatment today: Out of the U.S. and Out of Luck to Download Music Legally [pdf]

    But she said that consumers who do not have a credit card with a United States billing address cannot download iTunes, because Apple has rights to sell over 200,000 songs in its database only in this country.

  • Michael Powell defends his position in today’s NYTimes op-ed page: New Rules, Old Rhetoric. His argument seems to center on the fact that no one liked the status quo, so therefore change must be good. And HBO got lots of Emmys, so media concentratio will make it possible for local broadcasters to compete, since we all know that it’s the little local broadcasters who are anxious to buy up more stations.

  • A FoxTrot look at the music industry [local]

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