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May 3, 2004

Recording Tech [6:03 pm]

Patents: How to Take the Concert Home

Digital technology has put the “instant” into many forms of instant gratification. Instant messaging, instant photography via cellphones and instant-answer Web sites are just a few areas where people no longer have to wait for real-time satisfaction.

And now, in a growing number of nightclubs and music arenas, audiences leaving a performance can buy a CD recording of the live concert that is still ringing in their ears

[...] Mr. [David] Griner and his brother, James, have received the first patent for “creating digital recordings of live performances.” Their process uses microphones, recording and audio mixing hardware and software, CD burners and a method of executing the recording and burning process to make it unique.

[...] But the Griners’ system is not the only one for churning out instant CD’s for jazz musicians, independent bands and classic rock acts. Several companies are licensed to record live performances and sell the CD’s to audiences immediately afterward. Some also offer them for delivery within a couple of days, and several say they have patents pending. The two largest use huge trucks to move their recording and CD-burning operations from venue to venue.

[...] “The genesis of the idea is that I’m a big live music fan, and always have been, especially for some of the lesser-known bands,” David Griner explained. “With bands at that level, a lot of what goes into a concert and what you go to see can’t ever be captured again. A lot of it comes across in what they say and do. It doesn’t come out on the studio CD or live recordings. I’ve always been bothered that it was lost forever. I wished I could bottle it and carry it home.”

He and his younger brother James, 40, an electrical engineer who lives outside Seattle, also wanted their invention to combat bootlegging.

[...] “Bootlegs are less appealing because someone else gets the money, and the artist is not getting anything,” David Griner said. “Especially for the people I go see. Most are starving to death anyway. So I didn’t want to take away their money.”

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Media Consolidation — Wire Service Photography [5:53 pm]

A followup to an earlier posting (Media Consolidation: A Different Venue, Same Problems): A Photo Agency’s Partnerships Leave Some Editors Uneasy

The critics and competitors of Getty Images can tick off examples of supposed conflicts of interest like rapid-fire photographs:

The race car driver Alex Zanardi’s violent crash in 2001. A preseason basketball fistfight between Rick Fox of the Los Angeles Lakers and Doug Christie of the Sacramento Kings in 2002. The Vancouver Canucks star Todd Bertuzzi’s sucker punch of the Colorado Avalanche rookie Steve Moore in a hockey game in March, breaking Mr. Moore’s neck and ending his season.

These newsworthy sports events produced some of the most memorable, if grim, photojournalism of the last few years. But the clients of Getty, a growing stock photo agency that also produces a wire service for news organizations, were not offered any photos of the incidents.

To some newspaper editors who have stopped using Getty for sports photography - and even to some who still use Getty - the omissions raised questions about Getty’s objectivity. In the last few years, Getty has formed exclusive, lucrative relationships with the professional sports leagues it also covers as a wire service.

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EU Steps Into The Breach [5:50 pm]

Europe Worried About Music Licensing Systems

The European Union launched a probe Monday into 16 national organizations that collect royalties for composers and songwriters, charging that their system for licensing music is hampering the rollout of Internet downloading services across Europe.

Record companies in Europe say they are willing to license downloads on a pan-European basis, but the royalty-collecting societies insist on licensing music authors’ work country by country, the way they do for concerts, radio and compact discs.

In its statement of objections, the EU’s trustbuster said a preliminary assessment found the royalties societies’ cross-licensing arrangements are extending the organizations’ monopolies onto the Internet.

Such exclusivity, the European Commission said, “is not justified by technical reasons and is irreconcilable with the worldwide reach of the Internet. The commission added that the situation is “to the ultimate detriment of consumers.”

The commission wants collecting societies to compete with one another in offering pan-European licenses, which would let Internet services sell music downloads anywhere in the 25-nation bloc and could lead to big commercial song services like those that have emerged in the United States.

The licensing societies were given 10 weeks to respond and will be allowed to defend themselves at a hearing. There are no deadlines for investigations in such cases, which can take years.

If the EU rejects the groups’ licensing system, they would be vulnerable to lawsuits.

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A Look At Digital Distribution Economics [11:32 am]

From the Washington Post [via Scrivener's Error] Hollywood Writers and Producers End Talks

The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers met Saturday for the sixth straight day to try to resolve their differences over writers’ efforts to gain a larger share of profits from the $15 billion DVD market.

[...] In a recent mailing to members, the union said a typical DVD sells for $16. The studios make a $10.55 profit on the sale, while writers get 5 cents, the union said.

Producers concede they have reaped millions of dollars from home video sales and that DVDs have become a major source of revenue.

They argue that on the TV side, DVD revenue is merely replacing money that had come from international markets that have dried up, syndication deals and licensing fees that had been increased after shows became hits.

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Comcast and the DMCA [10:58 am]

Slashdot (Comcast Warns Infringing Customers Of Abuse) discusses Comcast Tells Infringing Customers They’ve Been Bad (letter image)

Some comments:

Things that encourage less security are funny. (Score:5, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, @10:40AM (#9040187)

So, the moral of the story is, if I’m pirating media online, I should leave my access point totall unguarded, with no encryption, or passwords, or logging. That way, I can just blame evil phantom wireless hackers and never get in trouble.


Oh man…. (Score:5, Insightful)

by siokaos (107110) on Monday May 03, @10:40AM (#9040190)

(http://www.siokaos.org/)

Viruses? Fine by us.

Spam? Sure, go right ahead…

Non-DRMed p2p filetransfers? STOP IN THE NAME OF THE LAW

I guess this means I’d better clear out my queues/start encrypting things.


so… (Score:5, Interesting)

by ResQuad (243184) slashdot @kon[ ]etek.com ['sol' in gap] on Monday May 03, @10:41AM (#9040212)

(http://www.konsole-tek.com/)

So if you write back, give them a crapy excuse “sorry, I didnt know kazaa was bad” They have proof in writing. PROOF IN WRITING. That you admited to violating the law. Anyone see something wrong with this??

How this for a letter: “Yes, I might have said content, I apologize if I do. Why I have it? I plead the 5th”

[Ed note: The Comcast letter actually speaks of a "counter notification," rather than a letter of apology. Either way, it is certainly the case that no one should submit such a document without consulting a legal professional, IMHO]

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Primer Materials for the Future of Music Coalition Summit [9:03 am]

[Via Current copyright readings]

The following electronic primer is an attempt to get you acquainted not only with some of the panelists and their organizations, but also with current technology news and studies that will be discussed throughout the summit. Hopefully this information will help further your participation in discussions. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of content; we just like to be thorough.

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MI2N Points To A Hearing Last Week [8:57 am]

The MI2N press release, Valenti Offers Specific Recommendations To Congress On Ways To Equip Federal Government With Resources To Fight Worldwide Piracy, is dated May 2, but the hearing appears to have been on April 29 before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on

Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary. Links to the testimony, from the usual suspects:

The thrust? More money is needed for our government agencies to protect these industries from IP theft — it’s more than the industry can afford to pay. Granted, the main point of this testimony seems to be directed at true piracy, but there’s an undercurrent here that shows where the rhetoric is going. In particular, the tying of piracy to terrorism is a recurrent theme in the testimony above. (Missed the link at Current Copyright Readings)

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JD Lasica Reviews Free Culture at kuro5hin [8:38 am]

Digital blood feud

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Missed This! [8:32 am]

Tennessee rejects Napster/RIAA tax

More than 180,000 students will be free of a Napster/RIAA music tax thanks to the Tennessee Board of Regents.

The group has rejected a proposal to slap students with a mandatory fee for the Napster music download service. The agreement with Napster would have kept the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) off the backs of the 45 schools represented by the Tennessee Board of Regents but add to already massive uni costs. Despite bullying by the RIAA, Tennessee has decided that a $9.99 per student/per month fee is too high a price to pay to solve a not terribly important problem.

[...] So far, not a single school that we are aware of has agreed to pay full price for a music download service, as an option to push students away from downloading copyrighted files on peer-to-peer networks.

This fact eludes numerous media members who have been attracted to Napster’s deals with Penn State and the University of Rochester. The two schools provide Napster at no cost to students, giving them unlimited access to tethered downloads or “rented music.” (The students have to pay 99 cents per song to burn music onto a CD, put it on an MP3 player or keep it after their university time is done.)

The trick is that Napster has cut a sweet deal with Penn State and University of Rochester in order to promote the schools as models for others to follow. Both schools, because of their pilot status, receive Napster at massive discounts - close to free. And still, they warn student IT costs may go up in the future as a result of the service.

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Pew Asks Musicians About The Internet & Policy [8:05 am]

Preliminary findings from a Web survey of musicians and songwriters [pdf]

Musicians are sharply divided about the impact of file sharing on the music business

An online survey of 2,755 musicians and songwriters shows they are quite divided in their opinions about the impact of music file sharing by Internet users. There is no clear consensus regarding the effects of online file-sharing on artists.

Some 35% of this sample agree with the statement that file-sharing services are not bad for artists because they help promote and distribute an artist s work; 23% agree with the statement that file-sharing services are bad for artists because they allow people to copy an artist’s work without permission or payment. And 35% of those surveyed agree with both statements.

[...] 67% say artists should have complete control over material they copyright and they say copyright laws do a good job of protecting artists

[...] 83% have provided free samples of their work online and significant numbers say free downloading has helped them sell CDs and increase the crowds at concerts

[...] Many musicians and songwriters do not think the RIAA campaign against free file sharing on the Internet will benefit them

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NYTimes on the Pew Report [7:59 am]

Online Music: Downloading Again

Based on responses to a survey conducted in February, Pew’s researchers estimate that 23 million people downloaded music during that period compared with 18 million in December 2003. “The increase is highly significant precisely because it occurred in such a short period of time,” said Mary Madden, a research specialist at Pew.

Of course, a different “take-away” than other descriptions of the report — read it for yourself and decide: 14% of Internet users say they no longer download music files: Data memo from PIP and comScore Media Metrix

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NYTimes Looks At FCC’s Decency [7:54 am]

Editorial Observer: Fighting for Free Speech Means Fighting for . . . Howard Stern

It is Mr. Stern’s offensiveness that makes his cause so important. The F.C.C. is using his unpopularity as cover for a whole new approach that throws out decades of free-speech law. The talk right now is over the colorful battles between Mr. Stern and Michael Powell, the head of the F.C.C. But when the headlines fade, the censorious new regime will apply to everyone. The danger it poses to the culture is real.

On March 18, the F.C.C. issued orders that spell out, as the commission puts it, “a new approach.” Some of the standards are objectionable on their face. The F.C.C.’s inclusion of “profanity,” which it concedes is often synonymous with “blasphemy,” means, a coalition of civil liberties groups, media organizations and artists points out, that “the most commonplace of divine imprecations, such as ‘Go to Hell’ or ‘God damn it,’ are now actionable.”

As disturbing as the new rules, however, is the F.C.C.’s warning that it does not intend to hold itself to any specific definitions of indecency. The commission states, at the end of a list of vague categories of forbidden speech, that it will “analyze other potentially profane words or phrases on a case-by-case basis.”

While making its criteria hopelessly vague, the F.C.C. is removing longstanding protections that give speakers breathing room. While the law has long said that violations must be “repeated” before a penalty can be imposed, the F.C.C. now says an isolated incident is enough. Instead of requiring that offenses be “willful,” the new rules hold that a broadcaster’s good-faith efforts to understand highly subjective standards are “irrelevant” to whether it will be punished.

This new legal landscape will stifle important artistic expression, since broadcasters will be afraid of wandering too close to an essentially undefined line. It also raises a real danger that indecency will be used to stifle political dissent. Among the comments Mr. Stern is in trouble for are a schoolyard epithet used about President Bush and another aimed at a Republican congresswoman.

The combination of unknowable rules and draconian penalties is already having a chilling effect. There are reports of radio stations banning classic songs like Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back.” The television show “ER” recently edited out a brief shot of the exposed breast of an 80-year-old hospital patient. And the satirist Sandra Tsing Loh was fired by a public radio station when an engineer failed to bleep out various words that were meant to be bleeped for comic effect.

Compare and contrast with Ernest Miller’s The Broadcast Flag vs. Indecency Enforcement and F*cked by the F*CC

Followup: Letters to the editor

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Dominance? [7:46 am]

U.S. Is Losing Its Dominance in the Sciences

The United States has started to lose its worldwide dominance in critical areas of science and innovation, according to federal and private experts who point to strong evidence like prizes awarded to Americans and the number of papers in major professional journals.

Foreign advances in basic science now often rival or even exceed America’s, apparently with little public awareness of the trend or its implications for jobs, industry, national security or the vigor of the nation’s intellectual and cultural life.

“The rest of the world is catching up,” said John E. Jankowski, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that tracks science trends. “Science excellence is no longer the domain of just the U.S.”

[...] “It’s all in the ebb and flow of globalization,” said Jack Fritz, a senior officer at the National Academy of Engineering, an advisory body to the federal government. He called the declines “the next big thing we will have to adjust to.”

[...] More troubling to some experts is the likelihood of an accelerating loss of quality scientists. Applications from foreign graduate students to research universities are down by a quarter, experts say, partly because of the federal government’s tightening of visas after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Shirley Ann Jackson, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told the recent forum audience that the drop in foreign students, the apparently declining interest of young Americans in science careers and the aging of the technical work force were, taken together, a perilous combination of developments.

“Who,” she asked, “will do the science of this millennium?”

Slashdot: US Losing its Scientific Dominance

Followup: NYTimes editorial: Losing Our Technical Dominance

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An Experimental Online Political Watchdog — On the Left [7:40 am]

New Internet Site Turns Critical Eyes and Ears to the Right

David Brock, the former right-wing journalist turned liberal, describes himself as once having been a rather large cog in the machinery of the conservative media.

Now Mr. Brock is starting a new endeavor built to combat the very sector of journalism that spawned him, with support from the same sorts of people (Democrats) about whom he once wrote so critically.

With more than $2 million in donations from wealthy liberals, Mr. Brock will start a new Internet site this week that he says will monitor the conservative media and correct erroneous assertions in real time.

The site, called Media Matters, was devised as part of a larger media apparatus being built by liberals to combat what they say is the overwhelming influence of conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly.

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An Unexpected Cable Competitor [7:36 am]

Local Broadcasters Offer Cheaper Premium Services

In an age when cable and satellite television companies offer channels by the hundreds, the service that Aaron White receives at his home in Sandy, Utah, seems almost quaint. For $20 a month, Mr. White has a dozen specialty channels, including ESPN and the Discovery Channel, along with all his local high-definition stations for just $20 a month.

What is quainter still is that Mr. White does not have either cable or satellite service: he and other customers in the Salt Lake City area receive premium channels through his own antenna and a set-top box he bought at Wal-Mart.

[...] The service he receives - premium channels that are ordinarily found only on relatively expensive cable or satellite services - is the result of government largesse. In the late 1990’s, broadcasters throughout the country were given large chunks of the airwaves at no cost with the understanding that they would provide free digital signals as part of the government’s push for high-definition television. But because of improvements in digital signal compression, it no longer takes nearly as much bandwidth to broadcast digital television, so the broadcasters are left with plenty of bandwidth to use, and profit from, however they see fit.

[...] Such uses are not without critics. The consumer electronics companies, which want to sell expensive components and television sets, want the spectrum used for high-definition broadcasts, not low-cost alternatives to cable. At the National Association of Broadcasters’ convention in April, Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association, called these services “technological mirages.”

The Media Access Project, a public interest law firm in Washington, was among those who were critical of the handover of bandwidth.

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Aviel Rubin Profiled [7:29 am]

Who Hacked the Voting System? The Teacher

Luckily, the setting was not an election but a classroom exercise; the conspirators were students of Aviel D. Rubin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. It might seem unusual to teach computer security through hacking, but a lot of what Professor Rubin does is unusual. He has become the face of a growing revolt against high-technology voting systems. His critiques have earned him a measure of fame, the enmity of the companies and their supporters among election officials, and laurels: in April, the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave him its Pioneer Award, one of the highest honors among the geekerati.

The push has had an effect on a maker of electronic voting machines, Diebold Inc., as well. California has banned the use of more than 14,000 electronic voting machines made by Diebold in the November election because of security and reliability concerns. Also, the company has warned that sales of election systems this year are slowing.

[...] Typically, Professor Rubin decided to confront the issue of whether he had experience with elections by taking part in one. During the March presidential primary, he signed up to become an election judge and found himself sitting all day at a precinct in a church at Lutherville, Md., helping voters use the same Diebold touch-screen machines that he had criticized so roundly. He then went home and wrote a full account and posted it to the Internet.

Slashdot stories: Avi Rubin’s Thoughts On e-Voting; E-Voting Expert Testifies

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Copyrights, Culture and DVD Releases [7:18 am]

A complex brew: Popeye fans get animated in DVD debate

[Fred M.] Grandinetti, 42, is cofounder of the 1,600-member International Popeye Fan Club and author of “Popeye: An Illustrated Cultural History.” As such, he was eagerly awaiting the release of this year’s 75th anniversary compilation of “Popeye” cartoons on DVD. But to his consternation, when the DVD was released recently, it contained only “Popeye” cartoons that aired on television in the early 1960s, and not the short black-and-white films that debuted in the 1930s — and that connoisseurs consider the best and truest representation of the sailor with the wizened mug and the bulging forearms.

[...] “What is appalling is that on the 75th anniversary, you cannot walk into a video store and get a collection of his work,” he says.

But the reality is that the early “Popeye” films cannot be released on DVD unless King Features Syndicate — which controls the rights to Popeye and the other characters — gives a green light to Warner Brothers, which owns the rights to the old films.

[...] Popeye first surfaced in January 1929 in E. C. Segar’s newspaper comic strip, “Segar’s Thimble Theatre,” which revolved around Olive Oyl and her family. Segar intended Popeye to make a one-time appearance, Grandinetti says, but “the newspaper reading public fell in love with him. Here was a character who stood up for his morals and his values and didn’t take any guff. And this was during the Depression, so you really needed to see that back then.”

Animators Max and Dave Fleischer, who also created Betty Boop, began making animated film shorts starring Popeye in 1933. The Fleischers were “innovators,” Grandinetti says, who mobilized their imaginations to create inventive stories, songs, and “just an outstanding quality of cartoons.” From 1933 to 1957, he says, the “Popeye” films were Paramount Pictures’ highest-grossing animated film short series. The black-and-white films also gained popularity on television in the 1950s.

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Janus Released [7:08 am]

After much speculation, it looks like the questions about Microsoft’s DRM for consumer electronics devices is here: Microsoft unveils copyright software

The company’s latest “digital rights management” software, code-named Janus, was released today. It will give songs and videos purchased through subscription services a sort of digital expiration date that works even when the data is transferred from a computer. The technology also protects the content against piracy. The goal is to make it easier for companies who want customers to rent songs or videos, rather than own them, to also let those users play the content on portable players.

For example, with the new technology a user could rent several movies for a long trip, download them onto a portable player, and then watch the movies until the rental expires a month later. A user also could rent songs for a set period and play them back on a portable player.

“At the moment the current subscription models that are out there are so hobbled by the fact that they cannot be taken away from the computer,” Microsoft spokesman Jason Reindorp said.

So, we can wait on the real test — will the fact that you’re getting less mean that the price will fall, too? Something tells me that, once again, the perspective of Theodoric of York will win out.

CNet’s article: Microsoft unveils new antipiracy tools

[T]he new digital rights management tools also include features that would protect content that is streamed around a home network, or even block data pathways potentially deemed “unsafe,” such as the traditional analog outputs on a high-definition TV set. That’s a feature that has been sought by movie studios in advance of the move to digital television.

“This release of technology really enables all kinds of new scenarios that are emerging now,” said Jason Reindorp, a group manager in Microsoft’s Windows digital media unit. “We’re taking quite a holistic view.”

I’ll bet.

Related: Home PCs to gain multimedia savvy

Update: Slashdot discussion - Microsoft’s Janus DRM Software Officially Unveiled — the article writer picked the same part of the CNet article to respond to that I did.

Futher update: Groklaw’s thought — Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study

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