June 3, 2004

Quashing Another Innovation [8:17 am]

Self-destructing MP3s don’t satisfy Korean RIAA

Korea’s version of the RIAA - the Korean Association of Phonogram Producers - says it is going to sue the carrier LG Telecom for distributing MP3-capable handsets. The network operator has sold 80,000 of the devices in two months. In a compromise reached in April, LG agreed to limit the capabilities of the phones: the MP3s would self-destruct 72 hours after being downloaded onto the handset.

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Wireless Networking Innovation: non-US [8:15 am]

Promiscuous BluePod file swapping - coming to a PDA near you — with screenshots and discussion

Simeda, based in Bucharest, has ported Rendezvous to the Pocket PC platform and bundled it with a web server. The software automatically discovers other devices on a WiFi network and allows people to stream or share music with just a couple of clicks. Simeda’s CTO Razvan Dragomirescu tells us that the inspiration came from a series of speculative articles that ran here at The Register eighteen months ago in which we envisaged an Apple iPod enhanced with Bluetooth and Rendezvous, which is Apple’s trademark for the ZeroConf LAN discovery protocol. We nicknamed this ‘BluePod’.

Razvan says that after being inspired by the idea, he set about examining various implementations. He chose 802.11 networking because of its speed and range advantages. Given the overheads of the protocol, Bluetooth devices typically exchange data at only around 20 kbits/s.

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UberSoft on the Pirate Act [8:01 am]

  1. Friday, 28 May 2004: “Ahoy”

  2. Tuesday, 1 June 2004: “Ahoy, Continued”

  3. Wednesday, 2 June 2004: “Step Three: Profit”

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Interview with Chuck D & Hank Shocklee of Public Enemy [7:31 am]

How Copyright Law Changed Hip-Hop: Interview with Chuck D & Hank Shocklee of Public Enemy [via IPNewsBlog]

In the mid- to late 1980s, hip-hop artists had a very small window of oppor-tunity to run wild with the newly emerging sampling technologies before the record labels and lawyers started paying attention. No one took advantage of these technologies more effectively than Public Enemy, who put hundreds of sampled aural fragments into It Takes a Nation and stirred them up to create a new, radical sound that changed the way we hear music. But by 1991, no one paid zero for the records they sampled without getting sued. They had to pay a lot.

Stay Free! talked to the two major architects of P.E.’s sound, Chuck D and Hank Shocklee, about hip-hop, sampling, and how copyright law altered the way P.E. and other hip-hop artists made their music.

This comes from StayFree!, whose about page announces:

Stay Free! is a print magazine focused on issues surrounding commercialism and American culture. It is published about every ten months… some people seem to think that’s funny.

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Sharing? Stealing? What Would You Call This? [7:17 am]

A writeup on peerflix — a DVD sharing club: Online Diary: Uncanny Connections and DVD’s to Trade

Dan Robinson, however, thinks trading movies with other DVD owners on the Web is better than hoarding them. Mr. Robinson is the founder and chief executive of peerflix.com, a new site that seeks to blend two trends: online DVD rental sites like Netflix and music-file-sharing services like Kazaa.

Peerflix users maintain a list of DVD’s they want and post a list of movies they own that they are willing to trade. Once a member makes a commitment to send a disc to a fellow user in a Peerflix prepaid shipping envelope, that member will receive a disc or discs from other members. (Some DVD’s are worth more than others, based on factors like popularity and retail price.) As in a file-sharing network, Peerflix manages the flow of content; traders do not select their partners.

“Your movies are doing nothing for you on the shelf,” Mr. Robinson noted. Peerflix charges members $10 a month or $2 a trade (there is a 15-day free trial). It plans to add video game trading in the fall.

The service has been in test mode for several months and has made a few adjustments. Some members, it seems, find it hard to part with their own DVD’s yet still want to take part. So as part of its monthly membership plan, Peerflix will provide them with company-owned discs with which they can start trading.

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Here Comes Microsoft [7:07 am]

Since Microsoft can’t just give it away, it’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft remembers how to operate in a competitive market: Microsoft Edges Into ITunes’ Turf

But it takes more than a software upgrade for Microsoft to catch up with Apple. The company also has to convince the music labels that its digital rights management technology isn’t easy to crack or circumvent, said Mike McGuire, an analyst at Gartner/G2. And Microsoft, its music allies and the hardware makers have to educate customers about the notion of “leasing” music, McGuire said.

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“GYWOing” With Videogame Sprites [7:02 am]

Instead of Microsoft clip art, videogame sprites: You, Too, Can Be a Comics Whiz

Video-game characters in a comic strip were not unheard of, but the remarkable thing about Anez’s comic was that rather than using drawings of the characters, he used the actual video-game character art — “sprites” in programming jargon — along with some simple backgrounds and word balloons. The effect re-created the feel of the game with a minimum of artistic effort.

Anez eventually got his scanner and twice attempted to launch the “real” Bob and George — a hand-drawn comic about superheroes in college — but both times he abandoned the strip and went back to the Mega Man characters.

“Eventually I realized that I can’t draw and that the hand-drawn comic idea was dead in the water,” said Anez. “So I stuck with the sprites.”

[...] Anez has made some attempt to resolve the copyright question. “A friend of mine asked them (Capcom) anonymously on my behalf and they replied with something along the lines of, ‘Sprite comics are illegal and Capcom will never officially endorse them.’ They’re almost certainly aware that sprite comics exist, but they’ve never contacted me to take them down, so I’m not sure what their unofficial stance is.”

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Textbooks and Piracy [6:50 am]

Is this the NYTimes’ effort to promote the PIRATE Act? In the Virtual Stacks, Pirated Books Find Eager Thumbs

He emphasized that he had sought alternatives to downloading books without permission by turning to publishers that allow readers to view a book’s pages one at a time. And he confesses to a sense of guilt over playing the role of a “leech.” But “as a student, I was pretty broke and couldn’t really afford $100 textbooks,” Mr. Ruesewald said. “I had to turn to the Web for help.”

He is clearly not alone. While the music industry’s effort to quash the trading of pirated songs over the Internet has attracted far more headlines, the unauthorized sharing of digitized books is proliferating in news groups, over peer-to-peer networks and in chat rooms.

The activity is all the more striking because making a book available online is as cumbersome as ripping a CD is effortless. Each page must be scanned, run through optical character-recognition software and proofread before the complete work is uploaded to a network or transferred directly to a recipient.

Yet a quick survey conducted with peer-to-peer file-sharing software revealed the digital availability of dozens of titles currently on the New York Times best-seller list …

[...] Envisional, a company based in Britain that tracks Internet piracy, estimates that 25,000 to 30,000 pirated titles are available on the Web. The vast majority are English-language titles, although pirated German, Spanish and French books are also plentiful.

An estimate of how many people are actually downloading the books is harder to come by, however, said David Price, a researcher at Envisional.

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