RealNetworks’ Success Story Raises Some Questions

CNet News posts a positive article on RealNetwork’s earnings report, which beat the street estimates in RealNetworks’ loss narrows, sales up

However, the Rhapsody statistics (published for the first time) are, to my jaundiced eye, pathetic (but maybe I’m missing something):

Trumpeting its success in digital music services, RealNetworks made public for the first time its subscriber numbers for that division, which includes premium radio and newly acquired Rhapsody. It said that the number of total music subscribers grew by more than 46 percent from the second to third quarter. RealNetworks’ music subscribers, including Rhapsody members, now total 250,000.

Overall, the number of people who pay RealNetworks to stream news, audio and video content to their PCs went up by 15 percent to more than 1.15 million. Most of those gains came through its Rhapsody and RealOne radio subscription services.

Playlouder MSP

There’s the stodgy press release at MI2N (Playlouder & Bulldog Join Forces To Launch The World’s First Royalty Paying ISP), but I like the announcement on the PlayLouder site

As you know only too well, we here are PlayLouder get excited about new things – and so it is with a happy heart that we announce a world first! That’s right, PlayLouder is bringing yours truly the first ever Music Service Provider! Raaaaaaahhhhh!

Which basically means you will now be able to share and download music with your mates and virtual chums all over the UK without worrying about Mr Big beating you with a truncheon, nicking all your cash and throwing your miserable ass in chokey. Because PlayLouder is the first Internet Service Provider to pay Royalties to Record companies.

For a monthly subscription we will bring you a broadband internet connection with high quality music services, whilst paying royalties to rights owners, songwriters, publishers…allowing subscribers to freely exchange licensed music!

What makes PlayLouder MSP so great, is that for the first time – you dear music lovers – can enjoy unlimited access to thousands of legal music files from artists like the White Stripes, the Pixies, Interpol, Underworld, Stereophonics, Soulwax, Mr. Scruff, Elbow, Coldcut, Badly Drawn Boy, Laurent Garnier, Basement Jaxx, Dizzee Rascal, blah blah blah…with royalties being paid to the record companies for activity that previously was unlicensed and unlawful. Neat eh?

Billboard’s Tangled Web On P2P Evolution

This week’s Tangled Web column discusses the regional distinctions in P2P technology application

Two years later, it is clear that despite the industry’s valiant efforts, Internet users continue to “share” unlicensed digital music across the Web, via a variety of services. But this illicit marketplace is still growing and evolving, and a recent study by Canadian network equipment manufacturer Sandvine, Inc. reveals it as a “regionally differentiated, multi-application reality.”

From the Sandvine News site:

DMCA Exemptions on Anti-Circumvention

[via Copyfight] – Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works

On October 28, 2003, the Librarian of Congress, on the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. The four classes of works exempted are:

  1. Compilations consisting of lists of Internet locations blocked by commercially marketed filtering software applications that are intended to prevent access to domains, websites or portions of websites, but not including lists of Internet locations blocked by software applications that operate exclusively to protect against damage to a computer or computer network or lists of Internet locations blocked by software applications that operate exclusively to prevent receipt of email.

  2. Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete.

  3. Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and which require the original media or hardware as a condition of access. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.

  4. Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling of the ebook’s read-aloud function and that prevent the enabling of screen readers to render the text into a specialized format.

Short Lived DVDs Not Selling

From Wired News, a look at how well the test-marketing is going: Two-Day DVDs a Slow Sale

“Too expensive,” said Tom Tow, who manages the Cub Foods 40 miles away in Bloomington. “That’s the most echoed comment I’ve heard.”

Customers aren’t interested in paying more than $6 for a limited-play DVD when they can pay $2 at the video store. Even with a $2 late fee, it’s cheaper than buying a disposable DVD, Tow said.

“I don’t think they like the idea that it self-destructs in 48 hours,” he said. “I think a lot of them are worried about the quality of the DVD for that price. Seeing as how it self-destructs, can it really be that good?”

[…] “They think it’s ridiculous,” said Joseph Pellegrino Jr., manager of the Rivers Avenue store in Charleston. “They won’t pay that type of money for something that’s going to vaporize.”

CNet on the Pending Broadcast Flag Vote

FCC nears vote on TV ‘broadcast flag’

The FCC is expected to vote on the issue this week, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Any decision is likely to be closely scrutinized by Congress, where lawmakers have indicated they are worried about the FCC usurping their legislative authority on the issue.

A cynic might ask "Why hasn’t Congress taken a hand before this?" but we already know the answer to that.

Norm Coleman On Copyright

The Register points to a Washington Post hosted online chat with Senator Norm Coleman on copyright Senator Coleman, many of our participants are asking questions about the state of copyright law in general. Do you think 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act struck the right balance between the rights of consumers and those of intellectual property owners? If not, what can Congress do to adjust that balance?

Sen. Norm Coleman: I think one of the problems with the 1998 DMCA is that it was created before the advent of KaZaA, Napster and the P2P technology that is used today to facilitate illegal downloading. This is what I mean when I say the law and technology are not in sync.

It is a great challenge for Congress to “adjust that balance” because technology changes so much quicker than the legislative process.

[…] Binghamton, N.Y.: Sen. Coleman – good morning – I know it’s a little off-topic, but who were some of the acts you worked with before you were in Congress?

Sen. Norm Coleman: I was a roadie for ten years after 1969. I drove a truck for Jethro Tull. Carried some equipment for Savoy Brown. Did concerts at both the Spectrum in Philly, and the racetrack at Laurel, Maryland. One of my jobs was to stand behind the big marshall amps and make sure they didn’t fall over. In those days there was no wireless technology.

That was a long time ago in a universe far, far away.

It was fun being online, I will try to get to some of the unanswered questions later. If you have any additional comments or questions, please contact me at