Larry’s Responding To Reviews of Free Culture

Today – Steven Manes: TalkBack: Manes

Manes has made it clear that there is a lot more to be said in this debate. My book may well fail to say it well. (Failing to convince is after all my forte.) But that a technology writer feels so confident about his views about the history of copyright law that he could write a review like this shows just how much more work is left to be done.

Wired’s SXSW Bits

Go On, Say the Unpopular Thing

DiFranco talks P2P: Independent music hero Ani DiFranco sat down for a keynote chat on Saturday and weighed in on the file-sharing debate, as well as many other topics.

“It’s kinda sad, the whole ‘music should be free’ justification for piracy,” she said. She still permits fans to tape her concerts, however, and admitted she received lots of promotion early in her career from tapes of her shows that were passed around between friends.

“It’s a very blurry line for me,” she said.

Woof! That’s A Fine!

EU said to OK massive fine for Microsoft; Slashdot – Microsoft To Be Fined E500M By European Union?

European Union states on Monday backed a proposal to fine Microsoft a record $613.5 million (497 million euros) for abusing its dominance of PC operating systems, an EU member state source said.

[…] Horacio Gutierrez, a Microsoft associate general counsel for Europe, said in a statement that the fine was unjustified.

“We believe it’s unprecedented and inappropriate for the Commission to impose a fine on a company’s U.S. operations when those operations are already regulated by the U.S. government and the conduct at issue has been permitted by both the Department of Justice and the U.S. courts,” he said.

Do you think that maybe the EU doesn’t think that there’s been much regulation in the US at all?

Update: NYTimes’s report – Antitrust Fine for Microsoft Said to Be $613 Million

SXSW in the NYTimes

Bands From the World Over Come to Sing and Schmooze

At a time when sales are dropping and jobs are disappearing at the major recording companies, South by Southwest testified to the vitality of the other music business: the nonblockbuster realm of live shows and independent labels, where careers don’t hinge on Top 10 hits.

“There are major companies who are trying to keep their businesses afloat,” said Jay Boberg, president of MCA Records, in one of the conference’s panel discussions. “And there’s everybody else. Everybody else is doing great.”

NZ Copyright Stink

Music giant targets NZ laws – note the notion of copyright expressed by Universal in the article [via Michael Geist’s BNA email newsletter]

The music industry is outraged that the government is considering making it legal for people to copy a CD they’ve bought.

The proposal is being considered by the government as part of a review of digital technology under the Copyright Act.

Associate Minister of Commerce Judith Tizard says the proposed amendment would allow one person to make one copy of their CDs.

But one of the world’s biggest record companies, Universal Music, says only record companies can decide who can copy their music.

Its local managing director, Adam Holt, says it should remain illegal to make copies of any music CD.

Universal has recently moved to combat music trading over the internet by offering pay-per-download music tracks for $1.52 per song.

Minister Tizard’s response is here: Robust copyright system important for NZ music ; the position paper on the proposed revisions to the 1994 copyright act is at the base of this discussion; the Ministry of Commerce’s overall IP site

Update: Slashdot commentary — Audio Format Shifting To Be OK’d In New Zealand; The Register: New Zealand to ‘legalise CD piracy’ – music biz

Upcoming Seton Hall Law Symposium: P2P @ the Crossroads

David Opderback sent me an e-mail about an upcoming symposium being held at Setan Hall Law School on April 16 – Peer to Peer at the Crossroads: New Developments and New Directions for the Law and Business of Peer-to-Peer Networking

This Symposium will review recent developments in the law and business of peer-to-peer networks, with a view to determining where the law is going and where it should go. We will examine both the theoretical and practical implications of recent decisions and legislative initiatives, and will offer different perspectives on where the intersection between P2P technology and the law should lie. Our panelists include scholars and practitioners as well as representative from the U.S. Copyright Office.

See Ed Felten’s very appropriate questions about the composition of the speaker list: Lawyers, Lawyers Everywhere

More Music eTailing

Major labels’ CD e-tail partner preps download service

UK online music and merchandise retailer Recordstore.co.uk will this month offer artists and bands a chance to sell their own music downloads Apple iTunes Music Store-style.

[…] The download service is initially being touted at artists and labels with who the company already has a business relationship, allowing them to offer a la carte tracks in DRM-free MP3, DRM-enabled Windows Media 9 format or both. Downloaded tracks will count toward the Official Charts Company’s download chart, which is due to be merged into the OCC’s singles chart later this year.

Disruptive Technologies

From SFGate: Disruptive technology breeds innovation and obsolescence

HBS Prof. Clayton] Christensen was in town this week speaking at an open source conference and promoting the sequel to his first blockbuster. The new book, “The Innovator’s Solution,” was published in October and has garnered praise from old disciples and new.

[…] At the root of Christensen’s work is a discussion of disruptive innovations, specifically in relation to established companies. When new technologies emerge, what can your business do to survive and capitalize without upending ongoing business relationships?

From reading and listening to Christensen answer such questions, I took away the following. Few companies can survive disruption. But your best chance lies in redefining your job definition, rather than your product. Analyze why people are using your product. What are they hiring you and your product to do? From there, it’s a shorter path to finding a way to integrate or assimilate the disrupting technology, deliver what your consumers actually want — rather than updating what you’re already giving them — and therefore create a model for sustainable growth.

A Look At Emerging Music Business Models: Steriogram

The Making of a Band (Note that this is a part of the Apple WWW site, promoting the Apple tools)

The members of Steriogram — Tyson Kennedy on vocals, Tim Youngson on guitar, Jake Adams on bass, Jared Wrennall on drums and Carter on vocals and guitar — have an instinctive feel for guerilla marketing and the tools that make them potent salesmen of their own sound. They’re self-confessed geeks who take their Macs everywhere, reach for them constantly and use them for everything. “Our life is on the Mac,” says Carter.

[…] Energetic and shrewd as the young bandmates are, they invite — and sustain — genuinely friendly relationships with their fans. “Since the day we started our website, we have personally replied to almost every email we’ve received,” says Carter. “And we’ve been getting 60 to 100 a day, so that gets kind of crazy when we’e touring and playing shows.”

How do they do it? “Everyone in the band has a PowerBook with Entourage,” says Carter. “So as soon as we get to a town we go to Starbucks or somewhere with high-speed Internet hot spots. We log on and split up the mail between the five of us, and we reply to everything. We get people who say, ‘I never thought I’d hear from you guys again!’ They’re amazed that we take the time. But we know that the personal touch makes them more of a fan, and they want to work even harder for us.”

The website helps Steriogram enlist the cadres of fans who evangelize their music. “People sign up to get our email newsletter or join our street teams,” says Carter. “They go around giving out free CDs for us. And when we have a record or a concert coming up, they spread the word — it’s like an army!” The site also invites fans to submit their own guerilla marketing ideas. “They write us about what they want to do for us,” says Carter. “They come up with all sorts of wacky things.”