February 25, 2004

Litman Interview at GrepLaw [1:45 pm]

Via Copyfight: Jessica Litman on Redesign of Copyright

Note also that Donna’s link points to an H2O discussion on the History of Intellectual Property in the U.S. — a reading group that I hope I’ll be able to stay on top of! First reading is Carla Hesse’s The rise of intellectual property, 700 B.C. — A.D. 2000: an idea in the balance

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K Chronicles on Gay Marriage [9:05 am]

Too funny: Happy!! Happy!! Gay!! Gay!!

And see Ernest Miller’s look at potential consequences of a federal constitutional amendment as advocated by our president: Why the FMA Would Be the Death of Marriage

Imagine if the FMA were passed and the Massachusetts courts had to address the issue again.

Undoubtedly, the unequal treatment would still be repugnant to the equal protection measures of the Constitution of Massachusetts. However, Massachusetts courts would be forbidden from requiring that marriage rights be given equally to homosexuals. However, this would not prevent the Massachusetts courts from declaring that marriage itself must be abolished to correct the disparate treatment. The FMA prevents homosexuals from having the same privileges as heterosexuals. It does not prevent heterosexuals from having their privileges taken away to make them equal to homosexuals.

After “marriage” was abolished, there would be no constitutional issue in Massachusetts establishing an equal rights friendly “civic union” law.

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An Academic Looks at Portable Digital Music [8:59 am]

An entertaining interview from Wired News: Bull Session With Professor IPod. As new owner of an iPod myself, it’s interesting to read about his studies into the culture of the digital media player,

One of the interesting things is that with vinyl, the aesthetic was in the cover of the record. You had the sleeve, the artwork, the liner notes. With the rise of digital, the aesthetic has left the object — the record sleeve — and now the aesthetic is in the artifact: the iPod, not the music. The aesthetic has moved from the disc to what you play it on … and the iPod mini will appeal to those who want an artifact for style….

The other thing is that there’s a lot of illegal downloading. Half the people I’ve talked to so far download music illegally. The investment they’re making is going into the artifact, not the music. The market is moving toward the artifact, not the music to fill it.

(Bull noted that a lot of users reported they stored a few “perennial favorites” on their iPod but generally were constantly shuffling new music in and out, which may explain why they’re reluctant to pay for something they don’t “keep.”)

Update: Slashdot discussion — Professor iPod Discusses Device’s Social Impact; recap from Slashdot based on a BBC article: The Psychology Behind Headphones

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Tom Petty Takes the Plunge [8:46 am]

What will come of it? Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ Universal Music Catalog Goes Digital For Major Download Campaign

Fans of artist-approved digital downloads are about to claim a new hero — Tom Petty. Even as Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers continue to sell major numbers of albums the old-fashioned way — 1993’s TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: GREATEST HITS was recently honored as one of the best-selling albums in history when it received the Diamond Award by the RIAA for sales of 10,000,000 units — they are now earning new and younger fans by making much of their catalog available for digital downloads.

The Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) Petty catalog is now available for digital downloading in the most significant and comprehensive artist-specific campaign of its kind for UMe. The catalog encompasses 99 different recordings spanning his career from 1976 to 1993 and heard on nine complete albums, including GREATEST HITS, plus other tracks. The first day the catalog was available cyber-wide, January 27, GREATEST HITS debuted as the #4 Most Downloaded Album on iTunes.

On March 2nd, Universal Music and Video Distribution will partner with Petty’s current record label, Warner Bros., in a unique cross-promotion to increase consumer awareness of the catalog’s digital availability. On that date, Warner Bros. will debut two previously unreleased live tracks by the band on Apple’s iTunes site, helping to drive fans to the site’s Petty catalog.

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The RSA Conference and DRM [8:38 am]

There are a number of articles out there on the conference going on — see this Slashdot posting for a way around them as it points to some new technology announcements: Buzzword du Jour: DRM

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The Register on the 321 Studios Injunction [8:33 am]

321 Studios to fight ripper injunction

In our view it is almost certain that the judge will grant the appeal and perhaps the stay, since legally there is a big issue going on here. In the US, although almost nowhere else, the right of a personal use copy of purchased entertainment has become enshrined in law. And yet the Digital Millennium Copyright Act states that it is illegal to bypass copy protection, even if it is to take a personal use copy.

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Another Wrinkle for Music e-Tailers [8:29 am]

CDNow, SightSound settle patent suit

Bertelsmann division CDNow has settled a long-running patent infringement suit with Net company SightSound Technologies, agreeing to pay $3.3 million to the smaller company. SightSound contended that it owned patent rights in the process of selling digital music downloads over the Internet.

SightSound said it viewed the settlement–which followed several court rulings in its favor last year–as a victory and that it would likely now approach other digital song and movie stores for license revenues. However, the settlement did not necessarily mean an end to patent disputes, since CDNow did not admit that it infringed on the patents as part of the agreement.

See also the press release: SightSound Technologies Successfully Settles Patent Case Against CDnow And N2K

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NYTimes on Grey Tuesday [8:18 am]

Imagine that you’re only a NYTimes headline skimmer and note the peculiar way in which all forms of copyright infringement are being associated with "downloaders" in this particular headline, even though the infringement at the heart of this issue is NOT P2P: Defiant Downloads Rise From Underground

The protesters billed the event as “Grey Tuesday,” calling it “a day of coordinated civil disobedience,” during which more than 150 sites offered the album for download. Recording industry lawyers saw it as 24 hours of mass copyright infringement and sent letters to the Web sites demanding that they not follow through on the protest.

“The Grey Album” is a critically praised collection of tracks created by Brian Burton, a Los Angeles D.J. who records as Danger Mouse. Mr. Burton created the album by layering Jay-Z’s a cappella raps from “The Black Album,” released on Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella label, over music he arranged using melodies and rhythms from “The Beatles,” commonly known as the White Album.

Mr. Burton did not seek permission from EMI, which owns the publishing rights to the White Album. When EMI learned that Mr. Burton was distributing “The Grey Album” early this month, its lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist letter, and Mr. Burton complied.

[...] Jonathan Zittrain, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, said the issue is indeed a gray one. “As a matter of pure legal doctrine, the Grey Tuesday protest is breaking the law, end of story,” Mr. Zittrain said. “But copyright law was written with a particular form of industry in mind. The flourishing of information technology gives amateurs and home-recording artists powerful tools to build and share interesting, transformative, and socially valuable art drawn from pieces of popular culture. There’s no place to plug such an important cultural sea change into the current legal regime.”

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