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November 17, 2003

A Quick Run Through CNet [6:30 pm]

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Utah and Broadband [6:24 pm]

In today’s ESD.10 class, I mentioned the NYTimes article on Utah and broadband. Here’s the article I mentioned, In Utah, Public Works Project in Digital, as well as this companion from yesterday’s Times, Fast and Furious: The Race to Wire America. There’s also a Slashdot discussion: Utah Cities To Provide High-Speed Net Access — the comments touch upon some of the points that were raised in class today.

Moreover, I spoke with Sharon, who’s cited in the first article. As one might expect, she spoke for over an hour with the reporter, yet all that made it through was the cheerleading quote. Sort of an object lesson in the "Lessig Dilemma" from today’s lecture (big PDF!).

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Joke of the Day [1:16 pm]

[Via BoingBoing] Send Them Back!!

Send Back Your MP3s!

We knew stealing that music was wrong. Stealing is never OK. But, it was just too easy. So we told ourselves we were just “sharing” the music, because everyone knows that sharing is a good thing.

But then we learned what we were really doing. We heard our favorite recording artists telling us that our “sharing” is really shoplifting and piracy. We were stealing from the musicians and singers we love!

That was when we looked at each other and said: “No more! It’s time to make it right by giving back what we stole!” And that’s just what we did! We sent back all the MP3’s we’d illegally downloaded. Everyone one of them!

Won’t you join us in sending them back?

Send them back! Right back to the Recording Industry of America Association, the industry association that helps our favorite artists keep on making the music we love.

Send them back! We did…and we feel great!

It’s Easy! Here’s How!!

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Another Slashdot Piece on the DMCA [1:02 pm]

Best Buy Uses DMCA To Quash Black Friday Prices

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Garage Doors Are Not Protected By the DMCA [7:33 am]

Opening Doors With the DMCA

A universal garage door opener is not in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, even if used on a system made by another company, a U.S. District Court ruled Thursday.

The court ruled on a dispute between Skylink Technologies, the manufacturer of a universal remote control for garage door openers, and Chamberlain Group, the maker of garage door opener systems.

Slashdot discussion: DMCA Doesn’t Protect Garage Door Remotes; an old FindLaw’s Writ piece by Chris Sprigman: Copyright Versus Consumers’ Rights; the EFF page on the case

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The Slashdot Title Says It All [7:28 am]

UK Becomes Sixth Country to Implement EUCD

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Innovation in Windows iTunes [7:22 am]

Update: MyTunes downloads shared music files using iTunes

A U.S. programmer has developed a software tool that allows users to download shared music files using the Windows version of Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes software, which was released last month.

The software undermines anti-piracy features developed by Apple to ensure that iTunes is not used to distribute music illegally, although the author warns that the software should not be used in any such illegal fashion.

MyTunes overrides a feature in iTunes that prevents users from downloading music files that are shared over a network, according to information posted on the Cow Pimp Productions Web site where MyTunes has been available for download since Oct. 26.

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A Look At The Music Fringes [7:18 am]

Two articles on less-than-mainstream music: The worst of Irwin Chusid and The Band That Can’t Stop Recording

From the Globe article:

These and many more are the “outsider musicians” whose work has circulated for years among a small circle of mesmerized cognoscenti, fans not just of “bad music” — whatever that may be in a world where Clay Aiken goes to No. 1 — but of truly committed musical delusionaries.

The chief standard-bearer of outsider music, and the man who coined the term in a 1996 article, is Irwin Chusid, a Hoboken, N.J.-based record producer, radio personality, and music historian. Chusid for years promulgated the sounds of this atonal fringe on his weekly “Incorrect Music Hour” on the New York City-area radio station WFMU.

From the Times piece:

Mr. Pollard knows that every album, every single and all the side-project discs he issues will probably be bought by at least a corps of diehard fans, which he numbers at about 3,000. Several Guided by Voices albums have each sold about 50,000 copies. While those aren’t platinum figures, they’re enough to allow Mr. Pollard to continue answering his apparently chatty muse.

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Pearl Jam Continues The Online Experiment [7:11 am]

Pearl Jam, on Its Own, Seizes the Moment and Sells CD on the Web [pdf]

When Pearl Jam’s contract with Sony Music Entertainment’s Epic Records expired earlier this year, how the iconoclastic band would exploit its new freedom quickly became a topic of great interest to music industry executives.

The band’s manager, Kelly Curtis, assumed that he had until next year to decide how the band would distribute its work now that it controlled its own master recordings. But the future arrived earlier than Mr. Curtis had expected when the band came up with a new song called “Man of the Hour.” Mr. Curtis and the band had to figure out how to get the song to fans.

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Two days after the band’s Web site, pearljam.com, began accepting orders on Nov. 10, almost 4,800 CD’s had been sold, Mr. Curtis said. By way of comparison, the top-selling single for the two weeks ended Nov. 9 has been the Christian band MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine,” which sold more than 7,000 copies both weeks, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

[...] Making 50,000 copies of “Man of the Hour” and issuing the song for streaming and downloading is an initial step to determine what the band is capable of on its own, Mr. Curtis said. “It’s a way for us to get our feet wet and see what works for us and where we need help.”

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Microsoft Loses Patent Suit Over NetMeeting [7:05 am]

Microsoft ordered to pay $62M in patent suit

SPX said its Imagexpo subsidiary sued Microsoft in October last year for infringing on its patent with a feature of Microsoft’s NetMeeting conferencing product. The patent related to real-time conferencing, SPX said in a statement.

The jury awarded Imagexpo $62.3 million in compensatory damages and found that Microsoft willfully infringed the patent, the company said. The court has yet to rule on other aspects of the case that could affect the final outcome, SPX said.

“We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict and we continue to stand firm in our belief that there is no infringement of any kind on the patent” and that the Imagexpo and Microsoft technologies in question are “quite different,” Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said.

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The Leverage of a Fading Pop Star [7:02 am]

Time Warner and Madonna Are at Odds on Her Label [pdf] — a look at the business.

Maverick, whose artists include Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch, is one of the biggest successes among the dozens of joint ventures in recording - often called “vanity labels” - that major music companies have created for their marquee stars over the last few decades.

But now, Madonna is locked in a dispute with the Warner Music division over whether Warner will continue to finance or buy out the Maverick label after their current partnership agreement expires at the end of next year, people involved in the discussions said last week.

It is a battle that arrays a longtime pop icon against a leading company in a once-dominant music business fallen on hard times. Madonna is now 45, and some of her recent recordings, though still selling at levels many stars would envy, have failed to match her biggest 80’s and 90’s hit albums.

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NYTimes Article On Digital Convergence Misses the Point [6:57 am]

A relatively glowing discussion of the market prospects for the Media PC and other elements of digital convergence misses the key issues: Vision of Personal Computers as Heart of Home Entertainment [pdf] — no discussion of how the consumer might feel about the digital rights management (DRM) embedded in these sorts of devices.

The two companies have been thwarted for more than a decade by Hollywood, as well as the cable and satellite television industries, in their efforts to put a wired PC at the center of home entertainment. But now, competing directly against many companies in the consumer electronics industry, Intel and Microsoft are mounting a new charge to try to make the personal computer the hearth of the information age.

[...] The new machines are not just the biggest hope for a computer industry that has been plagued by flat sales and eroding profit margins. They are also the standard bearers for an all-digital crusade the PC industry is waging to break open the satellite and cable industries, undermine powerful consumer electronic giants and restructure both Hollywood and the recording industry.

But consumer electronics makers question whether the PC industry’s grand vision is one that many Americans will want to embrace. Even family-friendly personal computers are still far more complex than today’s home electronics devices, they argue.

[...] The new computers have yet to win widespread endorsement from digital content providers. Despite extensive additional copy protection features in the machines, Hollywood studios remain worried that the systems, because they are connected openly to the Internet, could lead to widespread pirating of movies and songs.

[...] So far, the computer industry’s latest effort to move beyond the desktop PC market has not made a significant dent in the market. The new machines, which were introduced late last year at prices often twice as expensive as conventional PC’s, captured 1.9 percent of all desktop computer sales in the United States in the 12 months through September, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

But the initial disappointment has not dimmed Silicon Valley’s enthusiasm.

[...] “We’re not going in that direction,” [Apple Computer's Steve] Jobs said. “We’ve always believed that this convergence between the computer and the television wasn’t going to work.”

See also James Glieck entertaining When the House Starts Talking to Itself — another kind of convergence.

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Deja vu All Over Again [6:49 am]

The EU antitrust hearings against Microsoft take a familiar turn, this time with Media Player instead of Explorer in the leading role: RealNetworks Says Windows Works Without Media Player

In a demonstration before European competition regulators on Friday, RealNetworks, maker of a music- and video-playing computer program called Real One, showed how a little-known version of Windows - Windows XP Embedded, which is licensed only for industrial use - can work without Microsoft Media Player attached, three people at the closed-door hearing said.

Microsoft has argued that removing Media Player would harm the way Windows works. No one from Microsoft was available on Sunday to comment about the demonstration.

On the other hand, the NYTimes says Microsoft Seems Ready to Settle Europe Suit [pdf]

“We have come to Brussels not only to discuss the issues but to work things out,” Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, said Thursday. Microsoft made an eight-hour presentation in the second day of a three-day hearing on accusations that it unfairly dominated the market for operating software.

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KaZaA Goes on the Offensive [6:43 am]

An interview with KaZaA’s CEO, Nikki Hemming, at USA Today: Kazaa CEO goes on the defensive

Q: What’s the idea behind the ad campaign?

A: We’ve been trying to get a positive solution with the entertainment industry for 18 months and have heard nothing but deafness. It’s time to take a constructive stand and speak up for consumers. We want to encourage our users to buy the licensed content on Kazaa and mobilize them to write to lawmakers and the music industry.

Q: Let’s play devil’s advocate. The labels, who are suing Kazaa for copyright infringement, call you a “pirate.” Why should they talk to you when so many people use your software to download songs instead of buying them?

A: We don’t have the technical capability to stop that. What we can do is use our program to promote the content (people pay for). That sends a very strong message to consumers. Artists like Ice-T, Chuck D. and Russell Simmons are doing very well with us. The principle is now established that we can get consumers to buy. Imagine how many millions of artist dollars have been left on the table by the industry. The consumer has chosen peer-to-peer technology as their preferred method of obtaining content. I don’t buy that everything about P2P is theft.

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