May 26, 2004

The Perils of Fame [7:20 pm]

From Slate: Beyoncè, Your Mix Tape Sucks - The perils of iTunes celebrity playlists

Since October, Apple has been collecting playlists from musicians and celebrities at its iTunes music store. For Apple, of course, these celebrity playlists are another way to package their 99-cent songs. They help Apple maintain its position as the musician-friendly computer company—an image they’ve successfully cultivated since their first music-based ads in 2001. But for musicians, iTunes celebrity playlists offer a unique form of public humiliation. Just as Us Weekly’s feature “Stars—They’re Just Like Us!” presents schadenfreude-laced shots of a makeup-free J. Lo chowing down on a Filet-O-Fish, iTunes celebrity playlists call forth visions of Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas nervously offering you a mix tape. A mix tape that sucks.

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The Beeb And CC [6:49 pm]

The BBC press release: BBC Creative Archive pioneers new approach to public access rights in digital age

The BBC Creative Archive, first announced by former BBC Director-General, Greg Dyke at the Edinburgh Television Festival in August 2003, launches in autumn 2004 and will allow people to download clips of BBC factual programmes from bbc.co.uk for non-commercial use, keep them on their PCs, manipulate and share them, so making the BBC’s archives more accessible to licence fee payers.

However, the initiative also has broader public service ambitions to pioneer a new approach to public access rights in the digital age.

[...] Access to the BBC Creative Archive will be based on the Creative Commons model already working in the United States (www.creativecommons.org) which proposes a middle way to rights management, rather than the extremes of the pure public domain or the reservation of all rights.

[...] Professor Lawrence Lessig, chair of the Creative Commons project, adds: “The announcement by the BBC of its intent to develop a Creative Archive has been the single most important event in getting people to understand the potential for digital creativity, and to see how such potential actually supports artists and artistic creativity.

“If the vision proves a reality, Britain will become a centre for digital creativity, and will drive the many markets – in broadband deployment and technology – that digital creativity will support.”

Also see

BBC Creative Archive licensing to be based on Creative Commons and

Slashdot: BBC Creative Archive Based On Creative Commons

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TechDirt on the Ringtone Biz [10:49 am]

Recording Industry’s Next Trick? Killing Ringtone Sales

Already we’ve seen applications like Xingtone take the industry by surprise by daring to let users make ringtones out of music they’ve legally purchased - and it won’t be long until ringtones are easily downloadable directly to mobile phones via a Napster-like application (if it doesn’t exist already). Still, the music industry sees money, and are increasing the royalty rates they charge for ringtones, making them more expensive. In fact, ringtones that are mere snippets of songs cost much more than actually downloading the full song from any of the various download music stores out there. Of course, all this will really do is drive more people to investigate alternatives like Xingtone, and make the “market” for selling ringtones disappear quite quickly. This was going to happen eventually no matter what, so maybe, by raising prices, the industry is just speeding up the process.

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Eric Idle On The FCC, and Others [10:17 am]

Eric Idle’s FCC Song — starts with the FCC and the profanity brouhaha, and then moves on to other concerns. [via Doc]

Eric Idle presents… The FCC Song.

“Here’s a little song I wrote the other day while I was out duck hunting with a judge… It’s a new song, it’s dedicated to the FCC and if they broadcast it, it will cost a quarter of a million dollars.”

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Adapting To A Changing Role [9:59 am]

R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux

The handling of intellectual property in open source software projects like Linux, to which many developers from around the world contribute code, is a sensitive issue, given the potential for litigation, said George Weiss, an analyst for Gartner Inc.

“It’s not SCO that concerns corporate executives so much, but post-SCO and the uncertainty of facing intellectual property claims if they use open source software,” Mr. Weiss said. “And this Linux move is a step in the right direction.”

Slashdot discussion: Linus Adopts Enhanced Tracking Process; Wired News: Linux: Whose Kernel Is It?

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Consequences of Outsourcing Military Functions In A Battle Zone [9:51 am]

This has been bandied about for a while; here’s the latest take from the NYTimes: The Law: Who Would Try Civilians of U.S.? No One in Iraq

Prosecuting civilian contractors in United States courts would be “fascinating and enormously complicated,” said Deborah N. Pearlstein, director of the U.S. law and security program of Human Rights First.

It is clear, on the other hand, that neither Iraqi courts nor American courts-martial are available.

In June 2003, L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator in Iraq, granted broad immunity to civilian contractors and their employees. They were, he wrote, generally not subject to criminal and civil actions in the Iraqi legal system, including arrest and detention.

That immunity is limited to their official acts under their contracts, and it is unclear whether any abuses alleged can be said to have been such acts. But even unofficial conduct by contractors in Iraq cannot be prosecuted there, Mr. Bremer’s order said, without his written permission.

Similarly, under a series of Supreme Court decisions, civilians cannot be court-martialed in the absence of a formal declaration of war. There was no such declaration in the Iraq war.

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PIRATE Act Up For A Vote Soon? [9:18 am]

That’s what this CNet News article suggests: ‘Pirate Act’ raises civil rights concerns

A proposal that the Senate may vote on as early as next week [search 'General Orders'] would let federal prosecutors file civil lawsuits against suspected copyright infringers, with fines reaching tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The so-called Pirate Act is raising alarms among copyright lawyers and lobbyists for peer-to-peer firms, who have been eyeing the recording industry’s lawsuits against thousands of peer-to-peer users with trepidation. The Justice Department, they say, could be far more ambitious.

[...] The Pirate Act represents the latest legislative priority for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and its allies, who collectively argue that dramatic action is necessary to prevent file-swapping networks from continuing to blossom in popularity.

“We view this as a key component of an enforcement package,” RIAA lobbyist Mitch Glazier said Tuesday. “If you’re going to try to make sure that you have effective deterrence, then one of the tools you’ll need is to make sure that prosecutors have flexibility.”

Foes of the Pirate Act have been alarmed by the unusual alacrity of the proposal’s legislative progress. It was introduced just two months ago, on March 25, and not one hearing was held before the Judiciary committee forwarded it to the full Senate for a vote a month later.

Time to write some letters, everyone. Here’s Ernest’s take: PIRATE Act Sneaking Through Congress

Update: Slashdot: ‘Pirate Act’ Would Shift Copyright Civil Suits To DoJ

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Clear Channel and Music Distribution [8:35 am]

Clear Channel Limits Live CDs [via IPNews Blog]

In the past few years, fans leaving some concerts have discovered a souvenir far better than a T-shirt: a live recording of the show they just attended. [...] The recording-and-burning company DiscLive estimated on April 12th that it would gross $500,000 selling live discs this spring alone.

But in a move expected to severely limit the industry, Clear Channel Entertainment has bought the patent from the technology’s inventors and now claims to own the exclusive right to sell concert CDs after shows. The company, which is the biggest concert promoter in the world, says the patent covers its 130 venues along with every other venue in the country.

“We want to be artist-friendly,” says Steve Simon, a Clear Channel executive vice president and the director of Instant Live. “But it is a business, and it’s not going to be ‘we have the patent, now everybody can use it for free.’”

Artists net about ten dollars for every twenty- to twenty-five-dollar concert CD that’s sold, no matter which company they use. But with Clear Channel pushing to eliminate competition, many fear there will be less money and fewer opportunities to sell live discs. “It’s one more step toward massive control and consolidation of Clear Channel’s corporate agenda,” says String Cheese Incident manager Mike Luba, who feuded with Clear Channel last year after promoters blocked the band from using CD-burning equipment.

The Pixies, who are booking a fall reunion tour with several probable Clear Channel venues, say Clear Channel has already told them DiscLive can’t burn and sell CDs on-site. “Presuming Clear Channel’s service and product are of equal quality, it may be best to feed the dragon rather than draw swords,” says Pixies manager Ken Goes. “Still, I’m not fond of doing business with my arm twisted behind my back.”

[...] Clear Channel executives maintain that they have the right to stop anyone who tries to infringe on the patent. Many say this strategy prevents inventors from jumping into a marketplace and creating further innovation.

Slashdot: Clear Channel Buys Patent For Instant Live CDs

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