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May 6, 2004

CC at DMusic [12:15 pm]

DMusic Offers Creative Commons Licenses To Its User Base Of 300,000

DMusic, the first and oldest independent digital music community, announced today that it will offer Creative Commons licenses as an option to all DMusic contributing musicians.

The licenses, provided by the nonprofit Creative Commons, allow artists to invite fans to copy or build upon their work, on certain conditions - to declare “some rights reserved” in contrast to the “all rights reserved” of full-fledged copyright.

Dmusic will also tag Creative Commons-licensed MP3s with metadata - a machine-readable expression of the copyright license terms. The music can thus travel with its own terms of use across the Internet, enabling file-sharing networks and search engines to find and identify it as free to share with its author’s consent.

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Some Interesting Math [12:02 pm]

From a comment in this Slashdot story on the RIAA settlement announced this week (followup): RIAA Forgets to Make Royalty Payments

Compared to cd sales decline (Score:5, Insightful)

by nuffle (540687) <mike &sycamore,us> on Thursday May 06, @09:24AM (#9072563)

According to CNN, sales dropped about 7.5% [slashdot.org] from 2002 levels of 32.2 billion to 2003 sales of 32.0 billion. RIAA blames “rampant piracy” for this.

Therefore, according to RIAA, piracy accounted for 200 million in sales loss. Therefore (unless artists get 25% or more of retail) with this announcement of withholding 50m in royalties from artists, the RIAA itself is personally responsible for more monetary loss to artists than piracy.

Yes, the RIAA sales loss is an annual number, and it’s being compared with a number of uncertain time, but it’s an interesting way to look at it.

Update: The Rolling Stone article on the subject puts a different spin on the whole thing, though - Bowie, DMB Rescue Royalties

The deal caps a two-year investigation sparked by music industry attorney Bob Donnelly, who brought the issue of labels failing to keep contact with performers and making proper royalty payments. More than $25 million has been paid out so far, with another $25 still expected to be distributed.

[...] The investigation also found that outstanding royalties were also due to artists who didn’t necessarily make vast sums of money, and the likes of Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark or avant garde jazz pianist Cecil Taylor might benefit from the windfall of a few thousand dollars. “[Some] artists struggle,” Spitzer said at a press conference announcing the deal in New York City today. “They depend on the stream of royalties.”

Spitzer praised the record companies for their willingness to reach the agreement and suggested that the unpaid monies were an oversight. “It’s not like there was a grand conspiracy to cheat them out of these big sums of money,” he said. “It was just a failure to do what should have been done. That’s why we have this settlement.”

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So What Is This Fight Really About? [11:52 am]

Music biz fears play Apple a compliment

According to a report in the Independent newspaper, industry insiders claim the labels fear giving their songs to Apple for too little. They cite the example of MTV, which grew on the back of the promo videos the industry provided it for next to nothing.

[...] The irony here is that the music industry complains about falling sales and increased illegal download activity, yet clearly is so worried about losing control of the retail chain that it’s apparently willing to hinder the development of a legitimate download business, if the Independent’s source is to be believed.

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Looking for a Piece of the DVD Pie [11:34 am]

Screenwriters Denounce Offer From Studios as ‘Unacceptable’

In their proposal, Hollywood studios have offered no increases in royalties in the lucrative DVD and videocassette market, one of the main issues dividing the two sides, and have not addressed the status of writers on television reality shows or royalties on Internet sales, both sides said.

[...] Since negotiations have intensified in recent days, the studios have proposed raises in their minimum payments to writers, payments to the guild-run health care plan and raises in the pay television arena, according to people close to the talks. The studios also offered concessions in the area of creative rights, relating to matters like credit and script receipts.

But there was nothing in the proposal at all that related to the most important issue in the talks, that of the DVD market, whose revenues have exploded since the negotiation of the last three-year agreement. The studios have insisted that they need every penny of DVD profits to offset the rising cost of producing and marketing films, and to fend off the threat of piracy.

But guild leaders said the studios had not proved that contention. Mr. Petrie said: “The companies have refused to supply any data to support their assertion that 9 out of 10 films do not ‘break even.’ They haven’t even defined ‘break even.’ ”

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Procrustes: Still Wrong [11:20 am]

For Technology, No Small World After All

OVER the last two years, Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist employed by Intel Research, has visited 100 households in 19 cities in seven countries in Asia and the Pacific to study how people use technology. Twenty gigabytes of digital photos later - along with 206,000 air miles, 19 field notebooks, two camera batteries, five umbrellas, three hats, two doses of antimalarial drugs and one pair of her favorite sandals - she has come back with some provocative questions about technology, culture and design.

[M]any of Dr. Bell’s findings also raise deep questions about the meaning of technology in an interconnected world.

[...] “We thought, there’s a group of people just like us all over the world who will buy the technology and have it fill the same values in their lives,” Dr. Bell said. “I was fairly certain that wasn’t going to be the case. I’m an anthropologist. Culture matters.”

[...] Such insights challenged Intel’s vision of a world of “smart homes” and a chip-driven lifestyle, Dr. Bell said, which assumes that users are secular. In those visions, there’s no point at which residents stop to pray, visit a church, or have a moment of internal reflection. All this prompted her to ask David Tanenhaus, Intel’s vice president of research: “What if our vision of ubiquitous computing is so secular, so profoundly embedded in a set of Western discourses, that we’ve created a vision of the world that shuts out a percentage of people in a way we can’t really even begin to articulate?”

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The Ever Mutating Palladium/NGSCB/(new name here) [11:14 am]

Microsoft revisits NGSCB security plan (See Slashdot’s evolving coverage of the story: Microsoft Drops Next-Generation Security Project [updated])

n response to feedback from users and software makers, Microsoft is retooling NGSCB so at least part of the security benefits will be available without the need tor recode applications, Mario Juarez, a Microsoft product manager, said in an interview Wednesday at the vendor’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC).

“We’re revisiting the way that the architecture needs to be built in order to accommodate the feedback that we have gotten and provide the broader value that we want the technology to provide,” he said. Microsoft is making changes to NGSCB, but is not discarding previous work or going back to the drawing board, Juarez stressed.

See also The Register’s article: MS Trusted Computing back to drawing board

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Ahh, Copyright And Protecting The Artist’s Natural Rights [11:09 am]

Or not (isn’t it funny how, once a dialog starts on a subject — oh, like cynicism — the world seems to reflect it over and over again): The Ultimate Blockhead: ‘Peanuts’ Collection Arrives

Charles M. Schulz never wanted to publish his “Peanuts” cartoons in full: all of them, start to finish, in order.

A leading cartoon publisher offered to do just that a few years before Schultz died in 2000. He begged off. Nobody wants to read that old stuff, he said, and they’re not very good. Forty-nine years of strips? Good grief.

But now his widow, Jean Schulz, has authorized the publication of all of her husband’s work, with the first volume, 1950 through 1952, out this week.

Though not without a vague pang of guilt. “You feel a little disloyal,” she confessed, speaking in her office upstairs in the two-year-old Charles M. Schulz Museum here. “A little bit. He didn’t want to do this.” The airy, modernist structure is a few hundred yards from where Mr. Schulz drew his comic strip every day.

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Illegal Expression [11:00 am]

When One Man’s Video Art Is Another’s Copyright Crime

A 34-year-old video artist living in Baltimore, Mr. Routson has a very particular method of art-making, which will soon be illegal in Maryland, as it already is in the District of Columbia and five other states, including New York and California. Like the appropriation artists of the early 1980’s, who rephotographed existing photographs as a way of commenting on society, Mr. Routson makes movies of other people’s movies.

Since 1999 he has been going to Baltimore-area movie theaters, often on a feature film’s opening day, and recording what happens on and around the screen with a small, hand-held camcorder. He shows the grainy, oddly distorted results, which he calls recordings, as DVD installations in art galleries.

Shot without consulting the view-finder, these diaristic works are replete with the mysterious rustlings, irritating interruptions, darkness and partial views endemic in movie theaters. The shadowy images wobble, especially when Mr. Routson shifts in his seat. You hear breathing and throat-clearing.

[...] It does not matter whether you think that Mr. Routson’s work is good or bad art; it is quite good enough, in my view. It does matter that the no-camcorder laws may not do much to stem pirating while making it increasingly difficult for artists to do one of the things they do best: comment on the world around them.

Our surroundings are so thoroughly saturated with images and logos, both still and moving, that forbidding artists to use them in their work is like barring 19th-century landscape painters from depicting trees on their canvases. Pop culture is our landscape. It is at times wonderful. Most of us would not want to live without it. But it is also insidious and aggressive. The stuff is all around us, and society benefits from multiple means of staving it off. We are entitled to have artists, as well as political cartoonists, composers and writers, portray, parody and dissect it.

LawMeme’s thoughts: When Art Violates Copyright Law

Update: Wendy Seltzer’s posting over at Copyfight garners some comments rejecting the whole premise.

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OT: Thank God for Maureen Dowd [9:33 am]

Shocking and Awful. And, if what she claim Rush Limbaugh says is accurate, well … :

When a beaming Mr. Wolfowitz stopped at my table to greet an admiring Republican, I wanted to snap, “Get back to your desk, Mr. Myopia from Utopia!” Shouldn’t these woolly headed warriors burn the midnight Iraqi oil — long enough for Wolfie to learn the body count for dead American troops and for Rummy to read Gen. Antonio Taguba’s whole report on “horrific abuses” at Abu Ghraib?

[...] It seems nothing can make hard-core hawks criticize the war (even the request for $25 billion more). Rush Limbaugh compared the prison torture to “a college fraternity prank,” like a Skull and Bones initiation.

Update: Shockingly, Maureen Dowd’s description is mild compated to what apparently was said

“Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?”

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In Re: Ernest’s Discussion of Cynicism [9:27 am]

I do have a few thougts in response to/support of Ernest that I’m still working on, but the NYTimes editorial page offers up its own evaluation of the recent Disney decision to block distribution of Michael Moore’s latest: Disney’s Craven Behavior

Mr. Moore’s agent said that Michael Eisner, Disney’s chief executive, had expressed concern that the film might jeopardize tax breaks granted to Disney for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Jeb Bush is governor. If that is the reason for Disney’s move, it would underscore the dangers of allowing huge conglomerates to gobble up diverse media companies.

On the other hand, a senior Disney executive says the real reason is that Disney caters to families of all political stripes and that many of them might be alienated by the film. Those families, of course, would not have to watch the documentary.

It is hard to say which rationale for blocking distribution is more depressing. But it is clear that Disney loves its bottom line more than the freedom of political discourse.

Note: If the first rationale makes Disney craven, what does it say about a US administration that is willing to wield power in this fashion? And why are the rest of us so blasé about that? When did cynicism go from being a way to understand and become, instead, a basis to excuse (or worse, justify)? And why do we put up with it?

See also: Disney Takes Heat on Blocking Bush Film

Update: Michael Eisner writes a letter to the editor: Disney and Michael Moore

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Recording Preservation [9:18 am]

Of course, there’s still the question of digital format and media preservation, but it’s a cool technology: Playing Old Records (No Needle Required)

The method involves no contact with the recording surface. After the camera does its work, image-processing algorithms take over, detecting scratches or spots of dust and deleting them. Then software simulates the stylus motion, and the results are converted to a digital sound format.

“The advantage of the method is that it is completely noncontact,” extracting information from the groove by mapping the surface, Dr. Haber said. “You take these pictures and it’s purely a software issue of how the recording is processed after that,” he said.

[...] One day a few years ago, a radio program that caught their attention prompted them to consider a new application. “We heard a show on National Public Radio on the problems of preserving delicate recordings of the past,” Dr. Haber said. He wondered whether the precision methods the group used for particle detectors might be of use. “Why not just measure the shape of the grooves on the surface?” Dr. Haber said, and then pose the question to a software program: what would a needle do?

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The NYTimes’ Review of Sony Connect [9:13 am]

From Sony, the Hits and Misses

But in its first incarnation, you’d never guess that this service comes from a company that’s both the world’s most recognized consumer-electronics brand and the owner of one of the world’s biggest record companies. For the time being, maybe they ought to call it Sony Disconnect.

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Letter to the FCC [9:06 am]

From the Hollywood Reporter: Hollywoodreporter.com

Five senators have sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting that the panel investigate whether peer-to-peer file-sharing software companies are in violation of trade laws because they enable users to illegally download copyrighted material and pornography. The letter precedes the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection hearing on online pornography scheduled for today. The bipartisan letter was signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Gordon Smith, R-Ore. The senators claim that P2P services promote “potentially unfair and deceptive trade practices that mislead and endanger.”

A recent hearing before this subcommittee: Spyware: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

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