November 18, 2003

Metallica Sales Poor [7:20 pm]

Yet, the Reuters Newswire fails to implicate P2P? Metallica Album Sales a ‘Bummer’ -Hetfield

“It’s a bummer,” Hetfield said. “In Europe it’s doing really good, and some other places … It is what it is. We can’t change that. We do our best and that’s all we can do.”

Drummer Lars Ulrich said “St. Anger” is Metallica’s best seller in Europe since its 1991 self-titled release, the so-called “black album,” and the band is preparing to launch its third “St. Anger” tour there in December.

“It’s a very challenging record,” Ulrich said of “St. Anger,” which was constructed by a computer program and features no guitar solos. He added that U.S. rock radio programmers seemed more interested in playing bands like Nickelback.

Well, if that’s not so entertaining, there are always the coarse but funny Napster Bad! Flash cartoons.

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Mix with TCPA and Stir? [6:34 pm]

Cisco, others plan to ban insecure PCs

The initiative, dubbed the Network Admission Control program, would allow companies to set their network devices to refuse connections from any mobile PCs or devices that fail to meet corporate security policies, such as not having the latest software patches and antivirus updates. Antivirus companies Network Associates, Symantec and Trend Micro joined Cisco in making the announcement Tuesday.

[...] The technology might also spur sales of PCs and devices that use trusted-computing hardware–controversial technology that uses encryption, special memory and security software to lock away secrets on a PC from prying eyes. Adding further protections to the system that attests to the security of a computer owned by a company is a reasonable use of the system, said Bob Gleichauf, chief technology officer for the Network Admission Control program at Cisco.

“We need a trust boundary between the network and these devices, and the system needs hardware and software to do that,” he said.

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Very OT: It’s Nice To Be Recognized [6:07 pm]

I’m going to post this, but it’s too much self-promotion to actually quote from it. Dr. Frank Field Honored with First ESD Educational Excellence Award

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Hmmmm [6:04 pm]

China Promoting DVD Alternative — it’s certainly a big enough market, but what might come of government-owned media formats? And will the content providers jump?

Looking to compete on its own terms in the lucrative entertainment industry, China announced a government-funded project Tuesday to promote an alternative to DVDs and “attack the market share” of the increasingly global video format.

The rollout of the long-planned project — known as EVD, or enhanced versatile disk — was timed to coincide with the beginning of what China calls the “golden sales” period. It is known elsewhere as the Christmas shopping season.

“By developing and promoting EVD, Chinese companies (have) gained much experience in competing with their global counterparts,” Wang Jingchuan, commissioner of China’s State Intellectual Property Office, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The new format would also relieve DVD producers in China from paying licensing fees to the companies that hold patents to the DVD format.

It was not immediately clear if any elements of EVD would help China battle the intellectual-property theft it has been promising to eradicate since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Slashdot discussion: China to Promote Own Alternative to DVDs, EVD

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Mickey Turns 75 [11:22 am]

From Yahoo! News (surprisingly, nothing at Disney.com, although there is this from Disney Consumer Products, with this press release): Disney Icon Mickey Mouse Turns 75 [pdf]

Mickey Mouse arrived on the world’s cultural stage 75 years ago Tuesday as a scrawny but buoyant black-and-white product of the Jazz Age.

He was a symbol of American pluck in his screen debut, “Steamboat Willie,” on Nov. 18, 1928. The film at New York’s Colony Theatre showed an irreverent rodent who takes Captain Pete’s steamboat on a joyride and woos Minnie Mouse by making music on the bodies of various farm animals.

The years have dulled Mickey’s personality, a result of him becoming the corporate face of a multibillion-dollar entertainment empire. In the process, Mickey also has become a cultural Rorschach test — a symbol of American optimism, resourcefulness and energy or an icon of cultural commodification and corporate imperialism.

Disney’s Mickey archive

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Another Subversive Move By John Gilmore [11:08 am]

Shawn Fanning nominated for the ACM Lawler Award (ACM’s WWW page on the award)

Why: Mr. Fanning, while a freshman student, built an application that for the first time since Internet e-mail was invented, energized millions of people to use the end-to-end capabilities of the Internet to create a huge social benefit. His Napster was “the ultimate music server”, offering the public a copy of every song ever recorded, instantly accessible — through the cooperative efforts of the music lovers themselves. More out-of-print, rare, and otherwise unavailable music was suddenly made available to the public than at any other time in history. Also, virtually all in-print music was also made available, at a distribution cost orders of magnitude lower than in previous systems. Napster offered to pay royalties to musicians and music companies, but was rebuffed. Quirks in copyright law and in the architecture of the system made it possible for the predecessor music distribution oligopoly to strangle Napster in court, despite its obvious social utility. But its energy lives on in dozens of subsequent thriving million-scale peer-to-peer information sharing networks. And Shawn Fanning’s energy lives on in the hearts, minds, and computers of more than 60 million music sharers. This rabble now refuses to merely nibble the hobbled dribble of hardscrabble babble cobbled together by the squabbling rubble of the music oligopoly.

I think this nomination goes in the category of “creative research concerning intellectual property issues”. A side benefit is “application of computers or computing techniques to problems of developing countries”.

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Looks Like Mary’s Had An Interesting Two Weeks [9:37 am]

Check out her posting on digital media and just how few seem to “get it.” It all ends/starts here: ONA Conf: Final Thoughts

The thing is, digital media disintermediates power. And all these people, nice, well educated, important, powerful people, media people, don’t want that to happen. Heck, people in power in every other kind of business don’t want it to happen either, and yet it is. So the conferences I’ve been to the last two weeks, none of which have offered anything I didn’t already know between all five of them, in various slices of the media business from micropayments to big media to social networks and media, to online news, have all had rooms full of people trying not to acknowledge the coming or present disintermediation of their own power. Yes, they acknowledge P2P or the many many digital media choices or blogs or Tivo or targeted ads or friendster (really all of these things are just tools/offerings, right, so if not these it would be something else in the digital realm) are things they need to embrace in order to move with the times, the Internet, the audience’s new found power. But they are not willing to open themselves up to the properties of digital media.

Also see ONA Cont’d: Sullivan and Blog Panel

Update: while I was listening to Sullivan, I kept having the feeling that while everything he was saying is exactly what I’ve experience (not the 1.9 million readers but the qualities of this medium, the interactions and relationships with other blogger, the value of it) here, and it was the only time, other than listening to Rob Curley or Jeff Jarvis, where I felt people were expressing some understanding of digital media, and trying to work with it, in energetic, fun, creative ways instead of fighting it, scared and from a position where they don’t use the Internet so much and so they don’t understand. Sullivan is a great guy, really a lovely person, interesting and articulate, and really humbled by his readers and the attention and hits he receives on his blog. It felt liberating to listen to his talk, after the past two weeks of fighting my urge to yell that media people just don’t get what the Internet/digital media is about.

Related: Donna points to Dan Gilmore: Decoupling the Net from the Copyright Cartel

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What’s Good for the Goose…. [9:02 am]

Is only good for the goose, apparently. Major Music Industry Survey Reveals Stats On Music Use & Legalities

A major survey compiled from 200 music business professionals at all levels who responded to a set of 30 questions on their use of music technology, purchases of CDs and online music, downloading & CD burning habits as well as the need for legislation changes to better serve music consumers has just been released with surprising results. The survey, titled “Music–The Business, Law & Technology Report” was taken at the 6th AustralAsian Music Business Conference August 14-16 and the results compiled by IMMEDIA!–leading music industry service company and publisher of the AustralAsian Music Industry Directory.

Compiled results-in graphic form, percentages & outcomes-are online at Australian music business portal site, TheMusic.com.au at http://www.themusic.com.au/stats & also posted on IMMEDIA!’s corporate site at http://www.immedia.com.au/stats. The details include all questions asked with numbers of respondents answering, bar graphs of the results showing percentile ranking of replies. Interviews with music analyst Phil Tripp are also available.

[...] But the attitudes of music industry pros toward CD burning, file sharing and copying your own music CD elicited a response that ARIA & record companies probably don’t want to hear. It’s time to change the law to allow consumers to copy their own music they say!

  1. 55% considered it an inequity that it’s against the law to make a copy of your own bought CDs, make a personal use compilation (CD or tape) or copying them to a digital device.

  2. A whopping 81% believe the Copyright Act should be changed to allow personal copying of purchased CDs (but not other peoples borrowed or downloaded music).

  3. 57% considered burning CDs stealing from artists, 29% from labels and 14% did not.

  4. 48% regarded downloading free music theft from artists, 25% from labels, 27% did not.

  5. Yet 54% admitted they illegally copied computer software. 26% copied games illegally.

From the comments by Phil Tripp:

WHAT WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT RESULTS?

“Certainly the most controversial ones were that people within the industry are against the current copyright laws that allow copying of games and software for backups and even certain portions of DVD by consumers who bought them, yet it was a criminal act to make a copy of music-whether from a vinyl album or CD-for personal use either as a backup copy, to make a tape or compilation CD for use in a car or portable application and even transferring CDs to a computer or onto a digital playback device such as an Apple iPod.”

The results overwhelmingly confirmed that view with a vast majority believing that those people who support the music industry by buying music or owning their own albums, should have the right to transfer tunes to other playback media without breaking the law. This is the case in the US for example, called ‘Fair Use’ and in many other countries. We support lobbying the government to change the law now, so that the industry does not further alienate consumers who buy and own music by preventing their personal copying.”

Other interesting results were the use of P2P file sharing to sample music before purchase, the amount of CDs bought both at retail and online by music professionals and their attitude to downloading and CD burning of music versus the rights of artists and labels. Of course, we were shocked by the amount of illegal copying of software and games that was admitted.” [emphasis added]

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Slashdot on Microsoft’s Music Plans [8:44 am]

The Slashdot article, Microsoft to Launch MSN Music Service in 2004, and its extensive URLs will help you to understand the closing paragraphs of this related article from The Register, Microsoft brings locked music downloads to US.

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A Look at Microsoft’s XML Schema Release [8:36 am]

FSF eases Microsoft schema patent fears — note that the “wait and see” approach is still probably the best…..

Whether an XML schema can be a patentable invention is an interesting question, but only fairly recently the Microsoft chairman was attracted the idea that he not only could, but should pursue the option. So the release of the first of Microsoft’s XML schemas for Office 2003 - files that describe the format for office documents saved as XML - caused some anxiety in the community yesterday.

Microsoft issued the schemas under a royalty-free license that had some wondering if they could work with GPL software. “Microsoft may have patents and/or patent applications that are necessary for you to license in order to make, sell, or distribute software programs that read or write files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas,” according to the accompany patent license agreement. Given that GPL software developers have refused to work with patent-encumbered code, the anxiety was familiar.

“I don’t think the alarm is justified,” the FSF’s pro bono counsel Eben Moglen told us last night. “This is not a license that I would like to accept; Microsoft is saying we might have some patents. But it’s not a problem if Microsoft is making it available to everyone to make use and sell.

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Why Not To Act On A Joke [7:31 am]

Ernest correctly points out that, while it might be funny, there are jokes that you really don’t want to execute. I’m sorry if I gave anyone the impression that I was encouraging that one actually follow through — Ernest is absolutely right that the RIAA would certainly see such actions as admissions of guilt!

But I still find it funny, as a statement on non-rivalrousness if nothing else.

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Who’d ‘A Thunk It? [7:26 am]

Music Labels Tap Downloading Networks

The recording industry, it seems, doesn’t hate absolutely everything about illicit music downloading. Despite their legal blitzkrieg to stop online song-swapping, many music labels are benefiting from - and paying for - intelligence on the latest trends in Internet trading.

It’s a rich digital trove these recording executives are mining. By following the buzz online, they can determine where geographically to market specific artists for maximum profitability.

“The record industry has always been more about vibe and hype,” said Jeremy Welt, head of new media for Maverick Records in Los Angeles. “For the first time, we’re making decisions based on what consumers are doing and saying as opposed to just looking at radio charts.”

One company, Beverly Hills-based BigChampagne, began mining such data from popular peer-to-peer networks in 2000 and has built a thriving business selling it to recording labels.

[...] The emergence of free online trading, beginning in the late 1990s with MP3.com and the original Napster, suddenly made it technologically feasible to track music consumption in a whole new way.

“It’s the most vast and scaleable sample audience that the world has ever seen,” [BigChampagne's Eric] Garland said.

[...] Earlier this year, BigChampagne granted a sales and licensing agreement to Premier Radio Networks, whose Mediabase service tracks radio airplay. The deal fuses Mediabase’s tracking data with BigChampagne’s, giving subscribers a way to see whether airplay or radio promotions spur online music downloads or sales, Garland said.

Sales data from iTunes and other licensed music services can, of course, be in and of themselves excellent indicators of a song’s popularity.

Recall that "substantial non-infringing uses" exempts technologies that might otherwise be considered instruments of copyright infringement. It will be interesting to see whether the record company’s own use of the P2P networks for market research will ensure the upholding of the Grokster decision.

Related article from The Register: Music labels monitor P2P nets to list most popular songs; the Slashdot commentary’s title naively misses how Eric Garland’s been positioning BigChampagne for the past year: Recording Industry’s Unexpected Benefit from P2P

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