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May 5, 2004

Derek’s Posting Again! [2:50 pm]

Here’s a sample: his coverage of Leibowitz’ responses to the Strumpf and Olberhozer study: Leibowitz Critiques Strumpf and Olberhozer

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Some Music Biz: MAP [2:32 pm]

Interesting that a weblog posting gets a press release at MI2N, but it did: Coolfer: Music Industry Myth: Minimum Advertised Price

Possibly it’s a consequence of today’s posting:

Damnit, readers. Yesterday I posted a long, detailed explanation of a few common misperceptions about the music industry’s now defunct pricing policies, and I get only one trackback? No comments? Anybody who hates the majors labels for the much publicized price fixing settlement needs to read this post. You can go ahead and continue to hate the majors, but at least you’ll be well informed. Geesh. I expected, at the very least, that the 1115.org guys would chime in since it was one of their recent posts that prompted me to explain my take on the pricing policies.

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Followup on AllofMP3 [8:53 am]

Russian 5c MP3 site ‘unlicensed’ (see earlier posting: How Long Will This Last?)

The site is not licensed by any labels. However, currently there is an exemption under existing Russian copyright legislation (Article 39 for the aficionados) allowing phonograms to be performed publicly without the authorisation of the copyright owner for broadcasting and cable transmission. The Internet could be deemed to fall under this exemption. A similar argument can be applied to copies in the cache memory of computers.

So as IFPI Russia’s legal adviser, Vladimir Dragunov, concedes: “Because of these loopholes we don’t have much chance of succeeding if we attack these companies who are using music files on the Internet under current Russian laws.”

As for the authors/publishers’ rights, matters are more complex. Whilst the current law makes it clear that there is a need for licences to cover the use of musical works on the Internet in Russia, a fallout between the Russian Authors’ Organisation (RAO) and the Russian Organisation for Multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS), which had been licensing Russian digital music services on its behalf, means that Allofmp3 is no longer licensed despite its claims to the contrary.

[...] New copyright legislation is in the offing but it’s a painfully slow process. The first reading of the new legislation took place back in October 2001 and this month saw another possible date for the second reading missed by the new Duma, the Russian parliament. But even the labels are not assuming that the new laws are a done deal.

“We have very great resistance to this new law in Russia,” concedes IFPI’s Dragunov.

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More on the EU Look at Music Licensing [8:48 am]

EU probes music licensing (see previous post: EU Steps Into The Breach)

EU regulators are examining the so-called Santiago Agreement that allows societies to grant “one-stop” copyright licences to on-line commercial users for the downloading and streaming of music.

However, since the Santiago Agreement insists that companies wishing to purchase music rights do so from a collecting society in their own country, the system is anti-competitive, the regulators say. A French company looking to sell music online for example should be allowed to purchase rights from any licensing body in the EU rather than from only the French body that sells rights.

Music royalty collecting societies should be forced to compete for the benefit of companies that offer music on the Internet and to consumers that listen to it, according to the European Commission. New digital music formats and the loss of territoriality brought about by the Internet are difficult to reconcile with existing national copyright licensing schemes, according to the EU body. The current royalty structure results in monopolistic music licensing environment, said the commission.

The EU press release; Commission opens proceedings into collective licensing of music copyrights for online use

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From the FairPlay Hacker [8:41 am]

DRM ‘will be cracked’ says iTunes hacker

While iTunes authentication isn’t a DRM measure as such, Hammerton believes technology is becoming too restrictive, which is why he chose to break what he sees as an anti-competitive restriction on the use of the iTunes software. “Linux is my primary desktop operating system and I wanted to be able to play my music on my desktop, and I just don’t like being locked out of stuff,” he said.

Not that he’s too worried about being locked out. Hammerton says the current generation of DRM and “anti-interoperability” measures will never beat geeks with too much time on their hands.

[...] “I would say that if I look forward five years we’re going to have the exact situation we have now. We’ll have the high-tech types wanting to be able to use their music in every way shape or form. They’ll want to transfer their music to devices that don’t have DRM,” he [Domenic Carosa of the Destra Corporation] said. “I don’t think average consumers really care about it. I don’t think they ever will.”

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A Counterpoint: From the Future of Music Conference [8:19 am]

Record Industry Wants Still More

At the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., [Real Network's Rob] Glaser recounted his general frustration in getting the record labels to offer creative pricing beyond the 99-cents-per-download model. In fact, some labels — emboldened by consumers’ apparent willingness to pay a buck a song — are talking about raising per-song fees rather than lowering them to increase volume.

“Can you explain what planet the record labels are on?” asked Walt Mossberg, tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal and moderator of a one-on-one interview with Glaser at the conference.

Glaser smirked. “I guess I’d call it Planet Spreadsheet,” he said. “The problem is that they don’t look at it holistically.”

Glaser has tried to convince the labels to compromise — perhaps by charging more than a buck for newly released songs (and more than $10 for newly released album downloads), but then slashing the price a few months later to drive demand after the new-release sheen dulls.

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It Is Nice, Isn’t It? [8:15 am]

(See yesterday’s Record Industry Biz) Record Labels Must Pay Shortchanged Performers

Mr. Spitzer said that the settlement, which amounted to nearly $50 million, was the result of a two-year investigation that found the world’s largest recording companies had failed to maintain contact with many artists and writers and had stopped making required payments to them.

In an interview after a news conference that was filled with television cameras, Mr. Spitzer said that “an array of explanations” were offered by the record companies, “like `we didn’t really pay close attention,’ ” and none were “persuasive legally.”

Of course, people say the darndest things when they are surprised:

When told that she would receive $3,079, Marian McPartland, an 86-year-old jazz pianist who is the host of “Piano Jazz” on National Public Radio, expressed surprise: “It’s always nice to get money without doing anything, but I guess many years ago I did do something.” [emphasis added]

Update - Slashdot’s story: RIAA Forgets to Make Royalty Payments

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More on US Science & Technology Education [8:06 am]

A followup to this earlier posting: National Science Panel Warns of Far Too Few New Scientists

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Speaking of Battling Ideologies….. [7:54 am]

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush

A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company had the right to quash Miramax’s distribution of films if it deemed their distribution to be against the interests of the company. The executive said Mr. Moore’s film is deemed to be against Disney’s interests not because of the company’s business dealings with the government but because Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore’s film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many.

[...] Mr. Moore, who will present the film at the Cannes film festival this month, criticized Disney’s decision in an interview on Tuesday, saying, “At some point the question has to be asked, `Should this be happening in a free and open society where the monied interests essentially call the shots regarding the information that the public is allowed to see?’ ”

Mr. Moore’s films, like “Roger and Me” and “Bowling for Columbine,” are often a political lightning rod, as Mr. Moore sets out to skewer what he says are the misguided priorities of conservatives and big business. They have also often performed well at the box office. …]

Mr. Moore does not disagree that “Fahrenheit 911″ is highly charged, but he took issue with the description of it as partisan. “If this is partisan in any way it is partisan on the side of the poor and working people in this country who provide fodder for this war machine,” he said.

Related: NASA Curbs Comments on Ice Age Disaster Movie

Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely, especially in the near future. But the prospect that moviegoers will be alarmed enough to blame the Bush administration for inattention to climate change has stirred alarm at the space agency, scientists there say.

“No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with” the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard’s top press officer. “Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA.”

and the followup [spin?] piece, Global Freezing? Do Tell, NASA Says

The e-mail messages were sent because the filmmakers and NASA never formally agreed to cooperate, Glenn Mahone, the assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, told NASA employees last week.

They “should not be interpreted as an attempt to keep scientists from speaking out on the issue of climate change,” he said, adding, “We encourage our researchers to openly answer all appropriate questions regarding the science explored in the movie.” (He made the same point in a letter to the editor in The New York Times on Saturday.)

Ideologies can be surprisingly fragile.

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