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May 24, 2004

Cory on the Broadcast Flag for Radio Fight [7:22 pm]

Leaked docs show the CEA standing up (finally) to the RIAA

The RIAA is arm-twisting the FCC over a “broadcast flag” for digital radio, to keep you from recording and saving digital radio broadcasts. They’re trying to get the Consumer Electronics people — who sold us all out in the digital TV Broadcast Flag fight — to play along, but this time around, the CEA has grown a spine and is pushing back.

Slashdot discussion, with more links: The RIAA’s Push for an Audio Broadcast Flag

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Ernest on Kevin Murray [7:20 pm]

Ernest Miller gets upset with Kevin Murray, a California state senator who routinely shills for the copyright industries: Copyfight: Calif. “True Name” Bill Passes Senate - Sponsor Misleads About Purpose

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N+493 [7:10 pm]

RIAA Press Release: More Copyright Infringement Lawsuits Brought Against Illegal File Sharers

As with all the lawsuits filed so far this year, the RIAA is utilizing the “John Doe” litigation process, which is used to sue defendants whose names are not known. In addition to the “John Doe” lawsuits against 493 illegal file sharers, the RIAA, on behalf of the nation’s leading record companies, brought a lawsuit against 24 named defendants — individuals who were identified through “John Doe” litigations and then declined or ignored a RIAA overture to settle the case before it proceed any further.

CNet: RIAA sues 493 more music swappers; Wired News: RIAA Bags 493 More Swappers; Slashdot: RIAA Sues Nearly 500 New Swappers

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MS v. Lindows Update [1:19 pm]

Microsoft loses Lindows appeal

Microsoft wanted the trial to concentrate on what consumers make of the word “windows” today, while Linspire wanted a longer timeframe. The original judgement ruled that the jury should look at what the word meant to consumers when Microsoft Windows 1.0 became available in 1985. This decision will now be upheld because Microsoft’s appeal was rejected.

Slashdot: Ruling Clears Way For Lindows Trial

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Free Speech, Satire and Image Ownership [1:10 pm]

The NYTimes editorial page on the governor of California’s recent lawsuit: Whiplash

Mr. Schwarzenegger has every right to claim full legal ownership of himself and his image as an actor and to guard it jealously against infringement. It’s a little tougher for him to do so as a politician. A company cannot legally make money by selling ordinary Schwarzenegger merchandise without his permission. But it can do so if something is done to the image to make it satirical or a commentary. That’s something political figures have to learn to live with.

For the governor, this bobblehead case may be the first clear indication that he has crossed an invisible line from one kind of public life to another. As a politician, he belongs to the people now, especially if they’re making fun of him.

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A Rose By Any Other Name [12:47 pm]

Internet Companies Turn to Games of Skill

FOR United States companies locked out of the lucrative global industry in Internet gambling, there is still money to be made - as long as they don’t call it gambling.

[...] “We refer to this as competitive entertainment,” said Stephen J. Killeen, chief executive of WorldWinner, which runs a game site that charges tournament players and head-to-head challengers about $1.50 for every game they play, while awarding winners roughly $3.20. “The idea behind this is ‘Loser buys drinks.’

[...] The generally accepted standard for legal gaming is that it must involve a contest where skill is the predominant factor in winning or losing; if a game is too easy or too hard for the participants, skill is less a factor in the outcome than luck.

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Selling What The Customer Wants? [12:43 pm]

Some Hit Singles Are for Sale While They’re Still New on Radio

Catchy singles reach radio as much as eight weeks before the full-length CD’s they are on land in stores, but even customers willing to pay for legal downloads have been forced to wait until a day - or at most a week - before the CD’s release date. Music companies feared that issuing the songs any earlier could fuel piracy, upset traditional marketing plans and anger brick-and-mortar retailers.

But in the last six months, recording companies have had a change of heart. Songs are now routinely released for sale by download through iTunes, Napster, RealRhapsody and other services on the same day those tracks hit radio.

Companies now largely agree that the early releases, rather than encouraging piracy and hurting sales, combat file-swapping by offering fans a way to obtain songs legally as soon as they turn up on the airwaves.

[...] “It seemed silly not to give listeners the opportunity to purchase, and for them only to have an opportunity to steal,” said Amanda Marks, senior vice president of eLabs at Universal Music Group. Protests from retailers about early downloads have been minimal, she said, in part because some major outlets, like Tower Records, FYE and Wal-Mart, have their own download stores.

[...] A growing singles market represents an opportunity for labels not just to capture lost sales, but also to gauge fan interest in coming recordings. Record companies in the 1950’s and 1960’s tested the waters for new artists by first issuing singles to decide if an album was warranted, Mr. Mayfield said. As the market for downloading grows, data from early downloads are expected to play a similar strategic role for modern labels.

“We know exactly who’s buying what, when and at what frequency,” said Micah McKinney, a senior director for content programming for the Napster download store operated by Roxio. “All that data is very valuable for them developing their marketing plans and initiatives.”

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Thursday’s Frontline [8:48 am]

the way the music died

The modern music scene was created in 1969, at Woodstock. Half a million fans, dozens of artists, and the politics of the times came together as a big bang moment that eventually would generate billions of dollars. But over the last twenty years, MTV, compact discs, corporate consolidation, Internet piracy, and greed have contributed to a perfect storm for the recording industry. FRONTLINE examines how the business that has provided the soundtrack of the lives of a generation is on the verge of collapse.

PBS’ press release: The Way the Music Died

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