August 18, 2003

2003 August 18 AM [8:20 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-08-18 11:22:58)

  • Some IT industry reaction to SCO (eWeek’s SCO coverage): HP, Intel Withdraw Support for SCO Forum; note also that Darl McBride seems to have lost it completely - SCO Turns Up the Heat on Linux Users includes the following threat:

    The SCO Group on Sunday said that it has compiled a list of all the large companies with numerous servers running Linux and warned that it would not hesitate to drag them into court if they refused to pay for UnixWare licenses.

    [...]

    “In a nutshell, this litigation is essentially about the GNU General Public License and all it stands for. That license has not yet been challenged or tested in court, but it is now going to be. We are also firmly and aggressively challenging the notion that Linux is a free operating system,” McBride said.

  • Some more from the NYTimes on DVD piracy, pointing at the industry’s favorite bogeyman: Helped by Technology, Piracy of DVD’s Runs Rampant in China [pdf]

    China’s galloping market economy has long run rough and ready over copyrights. But industry executives and analysts say that in recent years piracy has become even more rampant, aided by the spread of the Internet, and computer technology that allow technology-savvy bootleggers to outrun the government’s periodic crackdowns.

    [...] One reason for the ubiquity of pirated films (and music) is price. Typically, pirated discs sell for a fraction of the price of legitimate discs, while the range of choice among the bootleg versions is much larger.

    A regular customer in the pirate stores, Fu Jun, a 24-year-old accountant with a taste for science-fiction films, explained that for him and many young Chinese, attending a cinema is a rarer, more expensive experience than buying pirated films and watching them at home with friends.

    [...] Much of the work of providing Chinese subtitles is done by college students in Guangzhou and elsewhere, who are grateful for a few extra dollars. Cherry Ma said she had done subtitling for a couple of years.

    [...] She often took the work home, receiving about $12 for a film, though more experienced translators received up to $30. Films can earn student translators a few dozen to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the subject matter and on whether they have a script to work from or must work solely from a video copy.

    Once the subtitles are complete, the discs are then churned out in the millions in plants hidden in manufacturing cities in southern China, like Dongguan and Shantou. And then a vast web of street hawkers and small shops sells them in virtually every corner of China.

    [...] Ms. Grutka of the Motion Picture Association estimated that last year film piracy in the Asia-Pacific region cost filmmakers $640 million in foregone sales, with China the top violator, accounting for $168 million of that. (The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry recently estimated that more than 90 percent of all music CD’s sold in China last year were pirated copies, costing the business $530 million in sales.)

  • Farhad Manjoo on SCO in Salon: Fear, uncertainty and Linux. To my disappointment, the article is largely about the inability to avoid the FUD that goes along with the SCO suit, notwithstanding the quote below:

    News that SCO has made some money selling rights to its code failed to convince many of its critics that the company has a valid case against Linux. “I think it’s amusing that they were willing to put out a press release for one licensee, and on top of that it’s a licensee who’s ashamed of doing business with SCO,” says Don Marti, the editor of Linux Journal.

  • The "tip jar" model in action: Open source for a song

  • The clear hit story of the morning seems to be the announcement that the Rolling Stones have decided to go online - a validation of the emerging digital distribution business models (because Mick Jagger is considered one of the shrewdest businessmen in the industry) or a capitulation in the face of continuing file sharing and/or industry pressure?

    • CNet News: Stones: Get yer ya-ya’s out online

    • Boston Globe: Stones open vaults to Net downloads [pdf]

      In granting the digital rights to their songs, the Rolling Stones fall out of a shrinking pool of prominent, well-established pop and rock stars who have refused to release the bulk of their catalog to music services like Rhapsody and iTunes Music Store.

      While musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, and the Beach Boys have made their songs digitally available in the past year, Metallica, the Beatles, and the Beastie Boys have largely held out. Some, like Madonna, have made only complete albums, not singles, available for download.

      [...] But the entrance of the Stones, whose frontman Mick Jagger is known as one of the shrewdest businessmen in rock ‘n’ roll, may allay some fears that artists can’t make money through digital deals.

    • NYTimes: Rolling Stones Will Download Before They Get (Too) Old [pdf]
  • Related note: Mark Mulligan has a guess at to why OD2 might be the European leader in this tack: OD2 Catch the I-tunes Wave

    One interesting part of this development is what it means to Microsoft. Microsoft have quietly spent the last couple of years consolidating a market leading position in the digital music space, from a whole range of perspectives, but most notably DRM and the Media Player. Microsoft seems to have convinced most record labels that it is a) here to stay and can therefore be part of long term label plans, b) its technology is robust and reliable and c) it can be trusted with protecting content. OD2 are the only European DSP who have secured comprehensive major label licenses and it is no coincidence that their services are built around Microsoft technology. With Real networks increasingly focussing on developing their content businesses, Windows Media Player seems to have gained more ground, both in terms of installed base, but also as playback format of choice for many content providers. The one question mark this all raises for Microsoft though, is where the line between market leading and market dominance is seen to be by Mario Monti and his colleagues at the European Commission.

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