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March 4, 2004

Derek on the Digital Music Forum [3:38 pm]

Digital Music Forum: What the Industry Players Do and Don’t Get

Maybe I should have expected such sheer illogic. After all, the music industry’s backwards-thinking, pretending that P2P would just go away or would be sued out of existence or reduced through DRM, has been ever present. But I thought that, with the new music services, that thinking was starting to abate. And, I had never heard their thinking in-person. Until the forum, it had always been in a third-party’s criticism, but on Monday it was there right in front of me.

It was scary and funny at the same time. If this panel was at all representative of the industry as a whole, they are still a long, long way off from adjusting to the online market.

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KaZaA Setback in Oz Court [2:52 pm]

Kazaa Tripped Up in Aussie Court

The makers of Kazaa, the peer-to-peer file sharing software, failed to quash a court order Thursday that allowed the music industry to raid its Sydney-based offices, prompting a furious response from its chief executive.

In February, the music industry was granted an Anton Piller order, which grants copyright holders the rights of search and seizure, allowing it to raid 12 sites across Australia to seize documents and data. Sites raided included the offices of Sharman Networks, the home of its chief executive, several universities and other companies that were believed to be holding information relating to Kazaa.

Following the raids, Sharman cried foul. It made an application to have the order invalidated by Australia’s federal court, arguing the music industry did not disclose all material facts to the judge when the order was obtained.

Slashdot: Kazaa Going to Court

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Lessig on P2P [2:47 pm]

Some Like It Hot

If piracy means using the creative property of others without their permission, then the history of the content industry is a history of piracy. Every important sector of big media today - film, music, radio, and cable TV - was born of a kind of piracy. The consistent story is how each generation welcomes the pirates from the last. Each generation - until now.

Update (Mar 11): Slashdot discussion - Hollywood’s Foundations Rest on Piracy

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Open Architectures, Trade Policy and Competition [8:22 am]

U.S. Pressing China to Yield on Wireless Encryption

The unusual appeal by three cabinet-level officers is an attempt to defuse the first of a handful of potential conflicts between China and the United States in high-technology trade. The wireless encryption issue, analysts say, points to what may be a trend of China setting its own exclusive standards, including formats for future generations of cellphones and DVD players.

American industry executives and trade officials express fear that the Chinese approach could fragment global markets in high-technology products in a misguided protectionist attempt to give Chinese producers an edge.

But some industry analysts note that powerful nations over the years - Britain and the United States, for example - have exercised that kind of power by setting technical standards. With its huge population and fast-growing economy, China, they say, is merely trying to take its turn as a standard-setter.

Just wait until the Chinese start/continue offering hardware without built in DRM, eschews "trusted computing" and ignores the broadcast flag. What kind of market share do you think they might get?

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Some Tech Snippets from the NYTimes [8:18 am]

  • Furtive Surfers Find a Way to Keep Their Travels Secret

    A new thumb-size U.S.B. drive from a company called StealthSurfer aims to guard your privacy by keeping the records of your Web activity close to the vest. When you plug in the StealthSurfer and use its customized version of the Netscape browser, the device stores the cookies, U.R.L. history, cache files and other traces of your Web browsing that would ordinarily accumulate on your computer’s hard drive. When you’re done surfing, you unplug the drive and take the records of your travels with you.

  • Sounds That Surround You Make It Onto Your Playlist

    The air is full of sounds that are not filed on your digital music player: new recordings and live performances on FM radio, not to mention the ambient music of the world around you. The JMTek MelodiBox MP3 lets you add them to your collection on the fly.

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One Record Industry Story [8:14 am]

Here’s a business model: Sex, Drugs and Ego: A Music Mogul’s Swath of Destruction

Mr. Yetnikoff took over CBS Records in 1975. In the years to come, the music industry would experience explosive growth with the advent of the CD. Under his watch CBS’s annual revenue grew from $485 million to well over $2 billion. He engineered the sale of CBS Records to Sony for $2 billion in 1987. At the time, he signed a multiyear contract that was widely reported to have included a $20 million bonus. Drugs and alcohol, however, destroyed all he had built, including his relationships with colleagues and artists like Mr. Jackson and Mr. Springsteen. In 1990, Mr. Yetnikoff wrote, he was “unceremoniously canned” by Sony.

See also the book review: A Dizzying Ride on the Turntable

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Digital Bottling? [8:10 am]

At a Mountain Monastery, Old Texts Gain Digital Life

Inside the sixth-century Monastery of St. Catherine, with its small stone church, its rickety buildings covered in centuries’ worth of white paint, where bearded monks wear black robes, the modern world seems terabytes away.

But here at St. Catherine’s, in the world’s oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastic community, a Greek Orthodox monk from Texas is working with some of the world’s highest-resolution digital technology to help preserve the monastery’s 3,300 priceless and impressively intact ancient manuscripts.

[...] As interest in access to the texts has grown, so has the impetus to take new measures to document and preserve them. Making digital copies for public use will help prevent regular handling of the originals while also providing insurance in case the originals are damaged or lost.

[...] The ultimate goal of St. Catherine’s digitization project is to photograph all 1.8 million pages in the monastery’s manuscript collection. But with Father Justin working alone, that will not be accomplished in his lifetime. “The product is good, but the rate of progress is glacial,” Mr. Cooper said. “The equipment could become outdated before it’s done very much.”

There are plans to finish digitizing St. Catherine’s manuscripts in 10 years, but those efforts will require money and high-tech experts willing to live at an isolated monastery, two things in short supply.

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