November 7, 2003

The New Sarah McLaughlin Album … [6:55 pm]

While researching Afterglow, I came across something new and different in CD distribution. Of course, since the album fails the RIAA Radar test, I had planned to do my “buy used” strategy for the CD.

The comments on the album, specifically about some kind of enhancement called BandLink, led me to this company’s WWW site. Note that the BandLink information page makes the following assertions:

Q: What is Bandlink?

A: Music Enhancement Software Added to Specially Marked CDs

Q: What ISN’T Bandlink?

A: Anti-Piracy Software or Advertisement Spyware.

Installation:

1. Insert your Bandlink CD into your Internet Connected PC. (Bandlink should autostart on Windows).

2. Click “I Agree” to the Bandlink License and select “Connect” to install Bandlink.

3. Bandlink should detect your CD, begin CD playback, and display artist content.

The Amazon customer didn’t want to click on “I Agree,” so she ripped the files and didn’t use the CD (Other users appear not to be quite so tech-savvy and were unable to do so, despite BandLink’s claims). But the software introduces an interesting benefit to CD ownership that might be viable, provided the software gets a little better:

What is Bandlink?

THE TECHNOLOGY - Our patent-pending, Bandlink software creates a connection between artists and listeners by instantly launching an exclusive Internet powered CD Player & Content Viewer whenever the CD is inserted into a PC.

THE EXPERIENCE - The Bandlink “Player” delivers instant access to exclusive content and a “Live Chat” community with every fan in the world playing your Bandlink Encoded CD.

EXCLUSIVE - CD owners are granted exclusive access to Live Interactive content and CD Specific Chat Communities. Streaming video, photos, tour information, news… Anything you can think of can be integrated within the CD experience.

UPDATED - Additionally, your CD-based content can be updated at anytime through Bandlink’s web-based Content Management Tools. Photos, News, Tour Dates, New Releases, and more can all be updated in “Real Time”. All changes instantly affect all CDs sold in the past or present.

Interesting idea — of course, reading further, you find that it’s also a market research tool that allows the company to sell usage information back to the record company and/or the artist.

I wonder if there’s a privacy agreement in that license???????

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Illegal Art: Music Copyright Disputes [6:04 pm]

GrepLaw points to a well-constructed look at some famous copyright battles in the music realm, with associated MP3s: Copyright and Music: A History Told in MP3’s

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firstmonday Article on DRM [5:38 pm]

Provocative title for an terrific article (that I’m going to have to give a much harder read this weekend!): Digital Rights Management and the Breakdown of Social Norms

Abstract

At the centre of the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) is a long history of political bargains struck between private rights to reward and the social benefit of information/knowledge diffusion. The historical dynamic of politics in this policy area has been to expand the rights of owners while circumscribing the public realm of information and knowledge. In recent decades the public domain has become merely a residual, all that is left when all other rights (as constructed by IPRs) have been exercised. The advent of digital rights management (DRM) technologies has disturbed a reasonably legitimate politico-legal settlement over “fair use,” challenging the existing balance between the rights of “creators” and the interests of users. The breakdown of the norms underpinning IPRs has prompted renewed debate regarding their legitimacy. Although it is technological change that has enhanced not only the ability to copy but also the potential to control the distribution of content, this paper suggests that this argument will not be won or lost in the realm of technology. Rather, new technologies return the question of the control of knowledge and information (content) to the realm of politics.

Here’s a taste of where the author is heading — from the text:

Conventionally when intellectual property is eulogised, it is on the basis of the protection of the creator, the owner of such knowledge which is made property. Their rights are protected so as to act as a general spur to innovation and socially useful activity. Arguments about just desert, and selfhood are allied to the need for social efficiency in the allocation of resources. However, Jeremy Waldron argues all this talk of property “sounds a lot less pleasant if … we turn the matter around and say we are imposing duties, restricting freedom and inflicting burdens on certain individuals for the sake of the greater social good” [20]. At least part of the problem may be the over-emphasis of the second term at the expense of the first when discussing “intellectual property”; while the latter stresses legitimate control, the former encompasses notions of access to knowledge [21]. Which is to say IPRs limit the actions of others regarding knowledge vis-á-vis the owners of intellectual property, and as such non-owners are being forced to sacrifice their particular wants or needs on the alter of social necessity. Non-owners’ “rights” are constrained because these rights are regarded as less important in law than the support of the social good of innovation by IPRs, or perhaps more accurately the property rights of owners are being privileged over the political rights of users. It is also well to note that current copyright legislation across the world, and the history of such legislation has usually privileged not the creators’ rights (whatever the rhetoric) but rather has been concerned with securing the rights of commodifiers (Macmillan, 2002). Thus, the rhetoric of individual rights is mobilised on behalf of corporate entities, who receive protections legitimated not on the basis of their own (commercial) character, but derived from a narrative of individual human endeavour.

[...] At the core of DRM is the removal of the area of greyness which had allowed some flexibility in the public/private balance for IPRs; DRM technologies were intended to shore up private rights and finally make them reflect the rights that, it was claimed, had been encoded for years in IPR laws. Legal rights would be encoded in technologies that made infringement impossible, less reliant on unevenly recognised social norms of content use underpinned by the narratives of justification for IPR protection. However, at the same time this also made the private inroads into the public realm much more obvious by removing the mediated area older technologies had left as a “buffer-zone” between contending interests over knowledge and information usage. The use of DRM reverses the burden of proof.

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Interview with 321 Studios CEO Seamanns [5:22 pm]

From ZDnet News: DVD copies–backup or stick up?

Q: The Librarian of Congress denied your request to make DVD copying, or making backups of DVDs, legal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Does that affect your overall legal strategy at all?

A: I don’t know that it affects our legal position. There were there two separate matters, pursued in entirely separate venues. We went into the copyright office hoping to seek an exemption for our class of works, allowing people to make backup copies of movies. But out of 200 different applications, they only granted four exemptions, so the effort was probably from the outset doomed to failure. We didn’t get what we hoped for, but it doesn’t put us any worse off legally, either.

You’re going to appeal the ruling, however.

Yeah. We’ve decided that they ignored certain evidence. [...]

Is the appeal focused just on DVDs, or could it apply to other digital media?

Our push for fair-use rights applies to anything within the digital realm: CDs and DVDs and any other digital medium. But this is just DVDs. That’s largely because this issue deals with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Only DVDs, not CDs, have encryption devices put on them, with the CSS (Content Scrambling System). There are very few access control-protected CDs in the market today. Maybe a handful. At some point, music studios are going to start releasing more CDs that are copy-protected. But for the appeal, we’re only talking about DVDs.

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A Couple of BillBoard Bits [5:11 pm]

  • Poll: CDs Preferred Over Downloads - nothing like an online poll to give you good information!

    Even though legal digital downloads are fast becoming commonplace, consumers plan to cling to the CD format, according to a Billboard.com poll. Of 2,611 voters, 50% said the shopping experience and owning the physical product will keep the CD as their primary avenue for music purchases.

  • Jay-Z Album Moved Up Two Weeks

    Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam has moved up the release of Jay-Z’s swan song, “The Black Album,” from Nov. 28 to Nov. 14, due to piracy. “Due to individuals illegally distributing my album, I have no choice but to move the release date,” Jay-Z said in a statement.

  • Piracy Forces Early G Unit Release

    A day after the release of Jay-Z’s next album was moved up two weeks due to piracy, a similar move has been made for the debut set from the 50 Cent-led G Unit. That group’s “Beg for Mercy” will now be issued Nov. 14 by Interscope, four days earlier than originally intended.

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IMIRA - from the people who brought you Boycott-RIAA [4:26 pm]

MI2N reports that Boycott-RIAA’s Bill Evans Launches New SiteInternational Music Industry Reform Association. From the site:

IMIRA was formed to foster the creation of a fair and equitable music industry that takes market, customer and artist concerns and interests equally into account.

Music lovers want music and artists must be paid. But as things stand, The “Music Industry” is suing consumers, who are suing the industry while artists are suing to get their royalties, and to adjust unfair contracts. Confusion and bad feeling reign - and that’s how the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wants things to stay.

Solutions exist, but they’re multi-layered and each layer has its own advocates who, to the considerable benefit of the major record labels, are frequently at odds with each other, and out of synch with the realities of artist, business and consumer needs.

It’s time for musicians and the people who enjoy the fruits of their creativity to start working together to end the problems and conflicts.

IMIRA will present a middle ground. Issues before the international community centering on music, consumer and artist concerns will be discussed freely and openly, and by parties from all sides. Ideas and insights into the Music Wars will be examined in depth and in detail, and linkage provided for concerned individuals and organizations.

Some suggestions will probably anger consumers, some will probably inflame artists, but they’ll all go towards forcing the “Music Industry,” whose position is No compromise - We Want It All, to adjust its thinking and approach.

The world has changed, and they know it. They’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into this new millennium, but come they will. They have no choice.

By working together, we’ll find answers. It’ll be difficult and people on all sides will have to open their minds. But now’s the time to start taking advantage of the tremendously exciting opportunities p2p - peer-to-peer - file sharing offers listeners, music-makers and business people on- and offline.

We welcome submissions and editorials from consumers and artists, both major label and independents. We’ll keep your name confidential if you want it that way, and your name and contact information will NEVER be given out, sold or added to any list without your clearly stated prior permission.

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Donna’s Broadcast Flag Roundup [2:15 pm]

Following up Donna’s gentle chiding over my erroneous posting, please go see her summary of the critiques of the broadcast flag decision: The Broadcast Flag–Telling It Like It Is. She includes a summary of Arnold Kling’s dead-on critique of the decision, as well as promoting an interesting consumer response.

I have no plans to try to try to hack the broadcast flag. I do not care enough about your precious content to watch it, much less copy it. I will get back at you another way.

Another subsidy that “free TV” enjoys is the allocation of spectrum. I hereby declare that subsidy null and void. I am announcing the Jack Valenti Spectrum Re-allocation. As of November 4, 2003, the spectrum that was allocated for HDTV is now allocated for spread-spectrum wireless.

I will not buy any device for the purpose of receiving HDTV. Instead, I will gladly purchase devices that will route packets via the Internet Protocol over that spectrum. In the neighborhood of my house, IP packets will take precedence over HDTV signals.

I recommend that other consumers adopt the Jack Valenti Spectrum Re-allocation. I am talking about massive civil disobedience of the FCC. Remember, anyone who receives television over cable or satellite will give up nothing by assigning higher priority to IP packets. For anyone who misses broadcast television, it would be better to give them taxpayer dollars to subscribe to satellite TV than for consumers to pay the Broadcast Flag hardware tax.

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Copyright Office Rules Against Lexmark (Not!) [2:09 pm]

Donna points out that I really missed the boat on this — what I get for failing to check the original sources and being overwhelmed these days. Mea culpa and apologies all around. As has been pointed out elsewhere, this is just some legal posturing about a side issue (reverse engineering) while the larger issues remain in dispute. *Sigh*

Man, I really have been out of touch! From Isen.Blog: Copyright officials rule against Lexmark

The United States Copyright Office has ruled in favour of Static Control Components, of Sanford, N.C., saying that its microchips do not contravene the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Printer maker Lexmark International had charged that SCC violated the act by making components for use in remanufactured laser printer toner cartridges. Among the components is a chip that mimics the behaviour of one made by Lexmark.

The ruling says that section 1201 of the DMCA allows aftermarket companies to develop software for the purpose of remanufacturing toner cartridges and printers.

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MickeyD and iTunes [8:13 am]

Several of the articles on the PSU/Roxio deal have alluded to a pending McDonald’s deal with iTunes. Slashdot cites both the possibility (McDonald’s Billion-Song iTunes Giveaway) and now reports that it’s been denied by McDonalds. (McDonald’s Denies Deal With iTunes)

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Slashdot on Roxio/PSU [8:02 am]

Eventually, the Slashdot discussion, Penn State Students to Get Free Music From Napster, points out that Barry Robinson, Senior Counsel for Corporate Affairs for the Recording Industry Association of America, Inc., is on the PSU board.

A poster discusses (another) the announcement at the University of Rochester, which also seems to be considering this approach.

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Penn State’s PR [7:37 am]

In addition to the press release announcing the PSU/Roxio deal, there are some other items at the PSU WWW site.

  • U.S. Congress praises Penn State for music service initiative

    Congressman Howard L. Berman issued the following statement today (Nov. 6) regarding Penn State’s announcement that it will make Napster’s music service available at no cost to its students:

    “This is a terrific development. It shows that, with a little cooperation, the university and copyright communities can develop creative solutions to the campus piracy epidemic.

    “Penn State, and in particular President Graham Spanier, deserve tremendous credit for bringing this project to fruition. The music community also deserves credit for this venture, and for rolling out so many other legal, online services. The widespread availability of legal, online music robs piracy apologists of their last excuse.

    “I hope other universities wrestling with ways to unclog their bandwidth will adopt the model pioneered by Penn State. By providing their students with low-cost access to legal music, on the one hand, and taking action to stop piratical activity on the other, universities can return their bandwidth to the educational reasons for which it was created.”

  • Q&A: Penn State’s new online music service with Napster

    Why is Penn State providing a music downloading service to its students?

    Penn State is concerned that some of its students don’t understand that downloading music over computer networks without purchasing copyright permission is both unethical and against the law. The University believes it has a responsibility to do something to change that. Penn State will continue to try to educate students on this issue and will continue to enforce its strong policies against copyright infringement. At the same time, the University wants to provide legal alternatives to illegal downloading. This service is directly aimed at helping students to understand the issue and to provide them with an alternative.

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PSU/Roxio Deal Fallout [7:30 am]

Unsurprisingly, there’s all sorts of pushback on the Napster/Penn State deal (PSU press release) in today’s news

  • Cnet News: Penn State students blast Napster deal

    “The money I pay could go to much better things such as rebuilding the network or better lab equipment,” wrote Penn State senior Joe Jarzab in an e-mail to CNET News.com. “Almost every single student I have talked to is outraged that their money is going to a program that they don’t even want…(and that) their money is being sent to the music industry without their consent.”

  • The Boston Globe: Penn State, Roxio link to let files flow [pdf]

    Many college students have grown accustomed to getting their music for free. But the file-sharing programs they use are plagued with viruses, incomplete or fake versions of songs, and slow download speeds. If students like the Napster service now, they may become paying customers after they graduate, said Mike Bebel, Napster’s president and chief operating officer.

    “This deal encourages a new generation to try a legitimate service, enjoy and adopt it, and later when they have more time and money, continue it,” he said.

  • NYTimes: Penn State Will Pay to Allow Students to Download Music [pdf]

    Ian Rosenberger, president of the undergraduate student government at Penn State, said one student he had shown the service thought it was great. But Mr. Rosenberger added that other students were more skeptical of the university’s service.

    “There’s been a lot of attention paid to students as criminals,” he said, “and people who download don’t see themselves that way.”

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Windows Rights Management Services [7:24 am]

While I knew that Microsoft was planning to release DRM for businesses and their documents, I didn’t know that Windows Rights Management Services had been released this week until I heard a news piece about it on NPR Morning Edition this AM.

As one might imagine, the NPR piece centered on the effects of such instruments upon whistle-blowers and investigators of one sort of malfeasance or another. And they did discuss the fact that this tool is presently only available for Windows platforms, locking out not only the various open source/free software alternatives, but also the Apple platforms. CNet’s John Borland points out that there’s no real incentive for firms to create cross-platform DRM solutions in Stalemate on digital content?

Incompatible anticopying technologies known as digital rights management (DRM) are being applied to everything from music files to Microsoft Word documents, and the lack of rules that can make these schemes work together is increasingly prompting calls for a standards revolution.

The problem, critics say, is that companies can all too easily turn DRM into a powerful tool for locking customers into proprietary technologies. For example, files users purchase through Apple’s iTunes music store won’t work with portable music players other than the company’s own iPod device.

More broadly, some worry that Microsoft’s new Office suite of software, and its ability to prevent unauthorized distribution of e-mail or Word files, will lock the business world even more deeply into using Office, since other programs might not be able to read the locked files. A recent report from a panel of security experts warned against this trend, saying that using content protection to tie users to Microsoft Office and Windows could create damaging security risks.

Indeed, Microsoft’s rise in a number of different copy protection arenas worries critics. They’re calling for cross-industry agreements that will let multiple companies create and produce standard ways of protecting content, in much the same way that multiple companies can create Web browsers or e-mail programs that send secure communications to each other.

“Unless users can access content without all the hassle of dealing with different digital rights management systems, DRM is a nonstarter,” said Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) founder Leonardo Chiariglione, who recently created a new international group focused on content protection issues. “The alternative is a digital media stalemate, where nothing moves.”

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