December 22, 2003

Update on SCO Letters [2:38 pm]

Slashdot has a bunch of pointers in SCO Invokes DMCA, Names Headers, Novell Steps In, including:

As Slashdot notes, the letter essentially asserts SCO’s ownership of a bunch of header files (e.g., ctype.h) — interesting to claim what I assume is part of the ANSI and ISO spec for C/C++.

See also: SCO sees loss on legal fees

The Lindon, Utah-based company said it had a fourth-quarter net loss of $1.6 million, or 12 cents per share, compared with a loss of $2.7 million, or 26 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. SCO said it would have reported earnings of $7.4 million, or 44 cents per share, for the quarter before making a $9 million payout to lawyers who represent the company in its Linux battles.

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BBSpot Reviews Online Music Stores — For Real [11:43 am]

Not a joke: Reviews: Digital Music Stores. The following emusic stores were reviewed:

  • iTunes Music Store

  • Napster
  • Musicmatch
  • Rhapsody
  • Wal Mart
  • BuyMusic
  • EMusic

and this wrapup says it all:

The Perfect Service

I think the perfect music program would have the selection, allowance feature and store design of iTunes, the abilities to download songs and playlist searching of Napster, the price of Wal Mart or BuyMusic’s cheap tracks, the powerful jukebox, tagging features, and streaming service of Musicmatch, the file format and rights of EMusic, all fit into the program size of Rhapsody. As quickly as these programs are updating, maybe we’ll get there some day.

(Orig timestamp — 8:52:03) Updated: See also Cory Doctorow’s discussion with Fred von Lohmann about the Walmart system: WalTunes ToS suck: they 0wn the music they sell you, not you. Also, Larry Lessig has his own analysis: WalMart’s way to the future

Up-Update: Slashdot discussion — Digital Music Stores Reviewed

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Some Propaganda [9:48 am]

‘Saving’ the Internet? purports to explain why the recent Ninth Circuit decision that found that internet over cable is a “telecommunications service” is a disaster for the industy. Of course, it fails to point out that, as things stand, cable companies can now monitor and control internet traffic over cable lines in ways that telephone companies cannot do with DSL service — but hey, you’re supposed to buy the neo-con argument that all regulation is bad.

Truly dismal writing

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SCO’s Last Gasp Strategy? [9:35 am]

With their recent court loss, indicating that the SCO will have to demonstrate infringement in court soon, we get this move: SCO Sends Second Warning Letter to Linux Users. Slashdot guesses this is a trick to distract the stock analysts (SCO Gets More Desperate; Sends More Letters) GrokLaw’s just paying attention at this point in More Threatening Letters from SCO and SCO Sends DMCA Notices,

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Surprise - LotR:TRotK is online [9:28 am]

Film Piracy Still Steals the Show — so what’s the MPAA response?

Like other blockbuster films, the copies of this movie appear to be high quality. The most popular versions seem to have been taken by professional pirates, rather than a regular ticket-buying audience member, he {Eric Garland of BigChampagne] said.

The Motion Picture Association of America, however, estimates that about 90 percent of films on peer-to-peer networks originated from camcorder versions of films, and is working to enact laws that will penalize those who surreptitiously record films in movie theaters.

Plus, there’s the interesting question of economic harm given these kinds of results (from: ‘Rings’ Shows Trend Toward Global Premieres)

By opening in 28 countries in its first five days, “The Return of the King,” made by New Line Cinema, raked in $246 million — an astonishing sum, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars — from fans eager to revisit the world of hobbits and orcs.

Of course, there’s the question of how global premieres are going to influence the use of region encoding of DVDs.

Instead the trend [of simultaneous global releases] is being pushed by the threat of movie piracy and the harsh realities of marketing costs, combined with ever-briefer theater stays as highly promoted films quickly saturate their markets.

As recently as three years ago Hollywood studios often released their biggest movies abroad only months after those films had opened in the United States, choosing release dates depending on what suited the local market.

Now they are finding they no longer have that luxury. When the first film of the “Rings” trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” came out in 2001, New Line found pirated copies on the streets of Asian capitals within a day.

When “The Return of the King” opened around the world last Wednesday, there was no time for counterfeiters to compete with theaters. “We had not one pirated copy,” said Rolf Mittweg, the studio’s president of worldwide marketing and distribution. “Nothing surfaced before the film opened, which means we have done an extremely good security job. You definitely want to open around the world in as close proximity to the U.S. as possible, because of piracy.”

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Another Holiday Gift - Johansen Acquitted [9:08 am]

Via Slashdot: DeCSS: Jon Johansen Acquitted In Retrial. From the cited news article: DVD-Jon wins new legal victory

Norway’s most famous computer whiz got an early Christmas present on Monday. An appeals court in Oslo upheld Jon Lech Johansen’s earlier acquittal on all counts of alleged copyright violations.

A verdict in the case, which has caught international attention, wasn’t expected until early January. But the appeals court (Borgarting lagmannsrett) apparently didn’t see any need to wait with its decision.

A panel of judges Monday cast aside the appeal that prosecutors had filed to a lower court decision handed down in January. That means the lower court’s decision will stand, at least until another eventual appeal takes the case to Norway’s supreme court.

Update: (2:45 PM) The Register: DVD Jon wins again; News.Com: Norwegian cleared of DVD piracy

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Real’s Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft [9:06 am]

The Register offers up some interesting analysis, pointing out that this is about more than the desktop PC, but rather about the future of digital multimedia: Why Real sued Microsoft

According to records of a June 5, 1997 meeting made by Microsoft’s Jim Durkin, at which Gates, Maritz and Muglia attended, Muglia said RealNetworks “is like Netscape, the only difference is we have a chance to start this battle earlier in the game”. Adding to the familiarity, Real makes extensive use of the Findings of Fact in the earlier, federal suit against Microsoft.

“Microsoft’s current tactics in digital media are the unlawful tactics it followed in annexing other markets: product bundling, technical tie-ins and/or lock-outs, restrictive licensing, exclusive dealing, predatory pricing, refusing to sell unbundled operating systems and discriminatory disclosure and withholding of information needed to interoperate with Microsoft’s operating systems,” claims Real.

“The prices at which Microsoft distributes its digital media products (zero and negative prices) are below any relevant measure of Microsoft’s costs, including its average variable costs, its average total costs and its short-run and long-run marginal costs,” Real argues.

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