November 20, 2003

Ed Foster’s Gripe Column On Copyright [1:21 pm]

Into the DMCA Groove — Personally, I’m surprised the Ed would expect anything more from eBay. They’ve been overwilling to cave in to copyright complaints in the past — something that Chilling Effects was set up to try to address

Of course, we mustn’t stick with the fiction that this is really about “respecting the requests” of the recording artists. It’s not Madonna or Missy Elliott who issued the DMCA takedown order for these auctions. Time Warner’s legal eagles - “under penalty of perjury” — made that decision. And it’s the Gap that is letting its paying customers be treated like criminals when they have broken no laws. And it’s eBay, which should be the greatest champion of the First Sale doctrine and secondary markets in general, that won’t lift a finger to defend them against the DMCA’s continuing assaults.

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A BigChampagne Competitor [8:22 am]

And another demonstration of the promotional merits of P2P: Nielsen Entertainment To Incorporate WebSpins P2P File Sharing And Downloading Data

Nielsen Entertainment and Uncommon Media have announced that WebSpins P2P file sharing and download data will be included in integrated client offerings with other Nielsen Entertainment and VNU research tools including Nielsen SoundScan, Nielsen BDS, and Nielsen//NetRatings. The agreement provides Nielsen Entertainment with exclusive rights to utilize WebSpins’ statistical data of music files traded among peer-to-peer networks for its music industry clients. WebSpins, the P2P music file sharing and real time downloading tracking and analysis database network, has been operating since 2001.

“After an extensive review of peer to peer tracking data providers, we found that the WebSpins information is the most reliable and useful data available. We believe that it will bring valuable perspective to our music industry clients,” says Rob Sisco, president Nielsen Music, and COO Nielsen Entertainment East Coast Operations.

A Google search shows that Uncommon Media has has a checkered past.

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Loca Records’ Strategy Differs From Mr. Lehman’s [8:13 am]

Record Label Sings New Tune

Loca Records wants to foster experimentation and freedom in music by building a stable of free music which can be shared, remixed and manipulated by anyone. Songs are not locked by digital rights management technology.

The music is available for free in MP3 format, but the company sells its CDs and vinyl in retail stores throughout Europe. Artists earn a percentage of any record sales; Loca Records makes its money through record sales, gigs it promotes and merchandise.

“You’re free to copy it, give it to your friends and you can play it. If you’re really interested, you can sample it and then re-release it,” said David Berry, managing director of Loca Records and an artist himself, known as Meme. “Because at the end of the day, if you sample the work and create a fantastic remix, we think you’re entitled to try and make some money from it.”

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Something to Make One Nervous [8:10 am]

From WIPO.org — WIPO Policy Advisory Commission Endorses Use Of Intellectual Property As A Tool For Development.

Why does this press release leave me with a bad feeling?

Discussions focused on two papers presented by PAC members. Mr. Bruce Lehman presented a paper on the management of cultural assets and Mr. Hisamitsu Arai introduced a study on the steps that Japan has taken to develop innovative strategies for the creation, protection and exploitation of intellectual property.

Mr. Lehman underlined the importance of the creative industries as a source of national wealth in today’s information-based global economy. He explained that provided an effective legislative and administrative environment existed, such industries could lead to international competitive advantage. In this regard, Mr. Lehman referred to the experience of the United States of America where in 2001, core copyright industries contributed an estimated $535.1 billion to the economy, accounting for approximately 5.24% of GDP. Copyright-based industries contributed more to the U.S. economy and employed more workers than any other single industrial sector, he pointed out.

Mr. Lehman said that copyright-based industries are flourishing not just in the United States of America, but also around the world. He noted that to capture the full economic value of these industries for local development, developing countries and countries in transition need to establish appropriate intellectual property infrastructures and enforcement mechanisms. Such measures would ensure that a country’s cultural assets realize their full economic potential. In this regard, Mr. Lehman underlined that a major task for national authorities in the future is to educate the public, particularly children and students, about the relationship between authors’ rights and a robust culture and healthy economy.

Apparently, this is not the first time Mr. Lehman has put forward this thesis.

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Glenn Reynolds’ MP3.com Eulogy [7:53 am]

Death of a Friend

It’s true, of course, that MP3.com has been sick for a long time. They foolishly bet the company on a music “storage” system called “Beam-it” that was really a filesharing system, were nearly put out of business by the resulting lawsuit, then rescued by Vivendi, a company that’s in pretty bad shape itself. But the original idea was a great one: Easy to use, easy to upload music and art, lots of networking and music-finding capabilities, and a real sense of community. That lived on, to a degree, even after the takeover. Now it’s soon to be gone, and it’s not at all clear that the replacement will be similar.

I can’t help but notice that this change seems to be working to the advantage of big record companies. It’s not just that they’re cracking down, with mixed success, on file-sharers. It’s that the environment for independent music on the Web seems to have grown more inhospitable, too. And I’ve always had a suspicion that shutting down these independent channels for music distribution, more than cracking down on piracy, has been the real goal of big record labels. The technology for making music, after all, has gotten steadily cheaper. Where once their control of big studios gave them an economic advantage, now record companies’ chief asset is their control of distribution and marketing channels. The Internet threatened an end-run around that process. It still does, but the end of MP3.com bodes poorly for the future. Its replacement is likely to be something that ought to be named DRM.com., based on Digital Rights Management, and aimed not at facilitating the spread of music, but at limiting it.

See also Digital Museum Burns To The Ground

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