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April 2, 2004

A Look At Janus [4:04 pm]

Microsoft’s iPod killer? (Slashdot discussion: Microsoft Preps ‘Janus’ Music Copy-Prevention Scheme)

Microsoft is expected to unveil copy-protection software this summer that will for the first time give portable digital music players access to tunes rented via all-you-can-eat subscription services–a development that some industry executives believe will shake up the online music business.

[...] Few online music subscription plans have enjoyed great success to date, but some music company executives said they believe Janus will make renting music more attractive to consumers and eventually give a la carte download services such as Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store a run for their money.

Device makers, too, see the software as a way to take on Apple and its industry-leading iPod player, which for now offers no support for rented music. Anticipating the Janus release, MP3 player makers including Samsung have already begun advertising support for the technology in a handful of high-end products.

[...] David Card, a digital media analyst with Jupiter Research, said he doesn’t expect Janus to drive dramatic growth in online music subscriptions, adding that it could take years for music rentals to challenge CD and download sales, if they ever do.

“I think this is good, but it’s not as if this is a silver bullet,” he said. “It is important in adding another feature to the ultimate goal of creating the ‘celestial jukebox,’ but it’s probably not going to jump-start the market.”

[...] Although Microsoft plans to get into the retail music market, its primary ambition is to be a technology provider and ultimately make its software the de facto industry standard for encoding and playing back digital media files–goals toward which the company could take a big step if subscription services based on Janus catch on.

Microsoft has worked hard to establish its Windows Media file formats in the industry and has won converts among record labels and music services. But it has struggled to win over consumers, having made relatively little headway against the dominant MP3 file format even as it has drawn antitrust scrutiny over its digital media plans.

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Ruling on Broadband Regulation at the Local Level [11:41 am]

Court ruling points way to broadband regulation (Slashdot discussion: Court Ruling Points Way To Broadband Regulation)

A U.S. appeals court has rejected the Federal Communications Commission’s request to rehear a case, in a move that could prompt local governments to regulate the cable industry.

In essence, the court said that cable networks’ broadband services have an element of telecommunications services in them. The rejection could pave the way for municipalities to force cable companies to share their broadband Internet lines with third parties.

This opinion is going to merit some careful reading, because, while it may open up cable to local provider competition, the article says it does so by making cable (at least in part) into a telecommunications service — which means a whole bunch of new legislation/regulation suddenly obtains — CALEA for the internet?

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MIT Network In Trouble [11:36 am]

I’m not sure what’s up, but the MIT network is tragically slow — only one of the three nameservers can be pinged and the round trip time to Google.com on a ping is in the stratosphere.

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Florida On RIAA Suits [8:14 am]

Florida Court Sends RIAA Away

Record labels must file individual lawsuits against suspected file sharers rather than lumping them together in a single suit, a federal judge in Florida ruled Thursday.

The Recording Industry Association of America has sued nearly 2,000 file swappers in jurisdictions around the country. In this lawsuit, the music trade group bundled 25 suspected file swappers who share the same Internet service provider, Bright House Networks, into one legal action.

With this ruling, the RIAA must refile the lawsuits individually, marking another setback in its campaign to sue swappers. Judge David Baker of the U.S. District Court in Orlando is the second judge to rule that the RIAA cannot group individuals together. Last month, a Philadelphia judge made a similar ruling.

“Beyond the circumstances that the defendants used the Fast Track peer-to-peer network and that the defendants access the Internet through Bright House, no other facts connect the defendants,” Baker wrote.

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"Text Copying" — Next? [8:11 am]

Electronic Snoops Tackle Copiers

New markets are finally opening up for plagiarism-detection software, a mainstay of academia that has struggled to expand its reach beyond term papers.

[...] But experts say the biggest potential market might be the publishing industry, which one day may find itself coping with the same kind of piracy that bedevils movie makers and music producers.

Some law firms are already using one type of technology “to essentially troll the Internet for the next Stephen Ambrose,” said plagiarism-detection software developer John Barrie, referring to the late historian accused of peppering his bestsellers with snippets stolen from other people’s work.

[...] [Plagiarism-detection software developer John Barrie] predicts that text piracy will soon haunt authors and their publishers.

“With books beginning to become digitized … and with a generation of readers growing up using a computer to read their journal articles and books, the publishing industry is about to be visited upon by a problem the likes of which will make the music industry’s problem look like a baby’s game,” Barrie said.

[...] “I’d caution anyone against jumping to conclusions based on what the software spits out,” said Wendy Seltzer, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There can be legitimate reasons for parallelism between two works, when neither has come in contact with the other.”

She adds that not every case of text borrowing is a copyright infringement. Book reviewers, for example, would find themselves out of business if it wasn’t for the principle of fair use, which allows writers and broadcasters to excerpt copyright material in order to comment on it. “False claims or misguided claims are as much of a problem as actual infringements,” Seltzer said.

As for plagiarism, “you can say (an action) is ethically and morally wrong, but there may be no law against it,” she said.

Well, in this climate, that’s just the rationale that’s needed to get cracking on writing one, isn’t it?

See also: Reuters Uses Search Against Copyright Abuse {via EFF MiniLinks]

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MTV Reaches Royalty Agreement [7:45 am]

Another skirmish is the battle over who’s promoting whom (And the smile on the face of the Tiger; alt): MTV in Deal on Royalties With Labels in Europe

MTV Networks Europe capitulated to the threat of a boycott by European independent record labels, and agreed on Thursday to a new three-year deal that dropped a proposed 55 percent cut in royalties for playing rock videos.

European trade groups that represent the labels said that they would look to the United States next, where they plan to help local independent producers organize to force MTV and other music broadcasters pay royalties for using their music.

Major record labels have global contracts that spell out the royalties they receive when MTV plays their videos anywhere in the world, but the independent labels generally have such contracts in their local area. MTV pays no royalties at all to independent labels in the United States.

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