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June 8, 2004

Duckomenta [9:23 pm]

Larry Lessig points to this bit of subversive entertainment: Duckomenta

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Microsoft v. Eolas Action [5:01 pm]

Microsoft appeals Eolas decision

Microsoft filed a blistering brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a $565 million patent infringement judgment.

NYTimes: Microsoft Files an Appeal in European Antitrust Case

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eTailing Beatles Music [4:57 pm]

Beatles in talks for online song sales

But it may be some time before “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Let it Be” are sold on Apple Computer’s iTunes or on Napster. One idea being considered is a Beatles-branded store that would be the only place online where the group’s music, videos and other multimedia products would be sold, sources said. The store could be operated by one of the existing online music services.

[...] In an earlier technology shift, the Beatles decided to wait before releasing their songs onto CDs, well after most of the music world had already made the transition.

Any exclusive deal–especially if the music is distributed in a proprietary copy-protected format from a company such as Apple or Microsoft–could spotlight the growing problem of the lack of interoperability between services, digital music formats and portable devices, analysts said.

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Day 2: WIPO [2:51 pm]

Notes from Day 2 of WIPO Meetings on the Draft Broadcasting Treaty. From Cory’s writeup:

We’ve just wrapped up the second day of Broadcast Treaty negotations at the UN in Geneva, and once again, two colleagues and I took really extensive notes on the proceeding. Brazil and India gave amazing testimony today, and I was able to address the UN on DRM — it was screamingly cool. We did a lot more editorializing today — it’s still hard to follow, but damn this is important. If we lose here, it’s a disaster for the Internet and the PC.

Copyfight writeup

Update: Slashdot has a story that points to the IP Justice’s Top 10 List of Reasons to Reject the WIPO Treaty: WIPO Broadcast Treaty Creates New Legal Rights for Broadcasters

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From June firstmonday [2:48 pm]

Pirates, sharks and moral crusaders

File sharing in peer-to-peer (p2p) networks is a popular pastime for millions of Internet users and a source of concern for copyright holders and for many others who fear the worldwide spread of offensive and illegal content. As file sharing proliferates, the question is what can and should be done to regulate this practice. Can and should governments cooperate to develop stricter laws and regulations and invest in wide-scale international cooperation in order to arrest Internet villains? Can and should copyright holders in the music, film and software industries extend their tactics of inciting fear, by randomly threatening customers with lawsuits in which they claim millions of dollars in damages?

This article explores a possible alternative, namely that of user self-regulation, and uses an empirical investigation of two different peer-to-peer networks to examine social norms in these networks and the informal social sanctions that are used to enforce these norms.

The results of this investigation indicate that some self-regulation already exists and suggest that it may be possible to strengthen this self-regulation to reduce the occurrence of some types of offences. However, there is a limit to the effectiveness of peer control of illegal and antisocial activities on the Internet.

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IFPI Lawsuits Announced [2:43 pm]

Music industry preps more lawsuits

On Tuesday, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said that it will sue 24 individuals in Denmark for trading music files online and that Britain, France and Sweden could be added to the list of target countries.

“It’s inevitable,” said Jay Berman, IFPI’s chief executive, when asked of the likelihood those countries would be included. He added that Japan, the world’s second largest music market, is also a strong candidate for lawsuits as recorded music sales there continue to slide.

Their latest news release is Recording industry shows first results of international campaign against illegal file-sharing, with gems like these:

Litigation updates

Denmark: Of 88 alleged file-sharers to receive civil demand letters in March, 17 individuals have either already paid or agreed to pay compensation averaging around 3,000 euros each. A further 23 are negotiating levels of compensation. Cases are being taken out against 24 more file-sharers on June 8-9. Several hundred further cases are planned in the coming months.

Germany: Earlier this month a 23-year old man from Cottbus in south east Germany, agreed pay compensation of 8,000 Euros. He had 6,000 MP3 files on his computer and 70 CDs containing further files. In a second case, a 57-year old teacher from Stuttgart has been charged with copyright infringement and will face similar compensation demands. Further cases will be reported to the public prosecutor.

Italy: following criminal raids, the Public Prosecutor has charged 30 individuals with copyright infringement and trials are expected to start within the next few months. Further cases will be brought in the near future.

United States: Since September 2003, the leading record companies have brought copyright infringement lawsuits against 2,947 alleged illegal file sharers. There have been 504 settlements to date.

Update: Global P2P jihad claims success

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Giving Jack Valenti Heartburn [9:16 am]

First 16x DVD R Recording Tests Available

An anonymous reader submits “CD Freaks.com has made a first preview of 16x DVD recording. Many people wondered if 16x DVD recording would be too fast and data could not be delivered by the hard disk. The first tests show that this is not a real problem. 16x DVD recording means that a DVD disk is written in about 6 minutes . The test drive, a BenQ DW1600, also supports dual layer writing and writing at 16x to 8x media.”

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Broadcast Flags Here, There and Everywhere [8:08 am]

RIAA launches radio offensive [pdf] — note the declaration that digital radio is a "bigger piracy threat" than online file-sharing.

In the face of the commercial failure of DAT, just how many cries of "Wolf!" is this industry going to be allowed as they strive to kill off innovation in delivery of music content?

The recording industry, already reeling from online music theft, is pushing the federal government to head off what executives fear is a potentially bigger piracy threat in the emerging world of digital radio.

In documents and meetings at the FCC and in communications with other industry trade groups, the RIAA is attempting to convince the government of the need for copyright protection for sound recordings aired on digital radio.

While the RIAA’s campaign has been largely behind the scenes, the association will take a higher profile on the issue this week as its CEO and chairman, Mitch Bainwol, hopes to make it a focus of a hearing scheduled on copyright issues facing webcasters. The RIAA also plans to file formal comments with the commission on the need for digital radio copy protections when final comments on a range of issues surrounding the technology are due June 16.

[...] The RIAA contends that they aren’t trying to prevent people from doing what they do now but want to head off another piracy scourge before digital radio turns into the P2P-like quagmire. The only behavior the record industry wants to prevent is the redistribution of recordings onto the Internet, removable media or to other devices [Editor's note: Is that all?] and limit automated copying such as by artist or song title so that individual recordings cannot be separated from other songs.

“The things people can do now on the radio are not the issue,” Bainwol said. “We don’t even have a problem with time shifting, the real issue is on allowing cherry-picking of individual artists or blocks of songs and passive recording. It’s really narrow.”

Broadcasters complain that the RIAA is a Johnny-come-lately whose request will simply gum up the works.

“Our question is, why now? This thing has been going on for a decade, and now that there are stations on the air and it’s authorized, they decide to weigh in. The timing just seems curious,” NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said. “We’ve been moving aggressively (in) getting digital radio rolled out, and to delay that just so the record companies can add more revenue, that causes some concerns.”

See also Cory on the Broadcast Flag for Radio Fight

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Another Stab At It — Mercora [7:57 am]

McAfee founder returns with ‘legal p2p radio’

A former McAfee CEO appears to have found a way around the legal minefield hindering anyone attempting to enter the music sharing market: by a licence to webcast content.

Mercora is a P2P - “person to person”, is how it defines the term - network that allows users to share songs without actually downloading them. It’s an approach the company dubs “P2P radio”.

The software allows users to share and catalogue digital photos, and provides instant messaging functionality too. But it’s focus is sharing music. Essentially, it streams the music files on a user’s hard drive out onto the Net. Other Mercora users can tune in and listen.

The company’s reckons it’s safe to do so because it has acquired a non-interactive digital audio webcasting licence as mandated by the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). “This license pertains to the digital performance rights of sound recordings and the associated reporting and royalty payments to SoundExchange (the independent non-profit organization that represents over 500 record companies and associated labels),” Mercora says.

[...] Had the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) exhibited a more sensible, less knee-jerk reaction to the P2P phenomenon, it’s possible Napster might have converted into something not unlike Mercora, funded like so much commercial radio, by advertising yet provided free to the listener.

But perhaps not. In any case, Mercora sounds like it is delivering that concept. Time will tell whether the litigious RIAA will allow it to continue, or what revenue streams will maintain it.

See Jenny Levine’s experiences: Naxos Music Library Group Purchase!

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More on Wireless Business Models [7:48 am]

Followup to yesterday’s Show Me The Money: Wi-Fi: If Not Free, Then How?

“Wi-Fi wants to be free,” said John Yunker, an analyst at Byte Level Research who follows wireless technology. He believes high-speed wireless access will evolve over the next several years into a freebie service, much like cable television or air-conditioning in hotel rooms, that customers come to expect at cafes, airports and conference centers.

For surviving Wi-Fi players to remain afloat, Yunker believes, they’ll have to change their business models, offer more all-you-can-surf plans and cut prices. For those who do charge, he believes customers will be comfortable paying rates of about $4 a month for unlimited access to a network of hot spots.

Today, such a price point is out of line with reality.

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Jobs’GarageBand.com’s Strategic Vision Continues [7:45 am]

More evidence that Jobs "gets it," even as he employs compromises to sustain a business model

Alert reader Luis Villa (who doesn’t "want to give Jobs too much credit when the guys behind garageband.com are doing so much cool stuff") points out that GarageBand.com is not an Apple-affiliate; predating the Apple application, this is a site for independent musicians to be heard and distributed — see additions below: GarageBand.com Leaves Door Open

Musicians who want to share and promote their music on the Net have yet another tool to help them reach eager listeners.

GarageBand.com — a site that both hosts independent music and uses a peer-review process to identify hot bands — is offering the Creative Commons Music Sharing License to artists who want to distribute their tunes for free, the company said Monday.

From the Garageband.com site:

GarageBand.com is a new type of music company that discovers, promotes, and distributes the bands identified by the will of music lovers like you. So when you review music at GarageBand.com, you help decide the fate of tens of thousands of new bands.

“What can I do at GarageBand.com?”

First, and most importantly, you can discover some great new music. Reviewing is the best way to discover the newest music at garageband.com. We also have over 100,000 songs in our database that have already been reviewed multiple times by our community of reviewers. The songs with the best reviews climb highest up our rankings, so the charts are a great place to find the best new bands.

Musicians can upload a track, the first step toward discovery by our A&R friends, airplay by our radio partners, exposure to our Advisory Board. You’ll also find a wealth of great deals and useful features in the Musicians Only section.

Now just to work on FairPlay…..

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Plus Ça Change…. [7:39 am]

Some strategies never seem to get old: Microsoft Likely to Win Stay of European Ruling

Microsoft is expected to win an immediate temporary stay of European regulators’ order that the company sell a version of its Windows operating system without Media Player software included, lawyers based in Brussels said Monday.

Such a request for a temporary injunction is often honored in antitrust cases, the lawyers noted, and at the very least, it would give Microsoft several months before it would have to comply with the European antitrust order. But such an approval by the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg would be no indication of how the court would rule later this year on the question of a permanent suspension of regulators’ remedies, the lawyers said.

Maybe it’s routine, but it’s also a tactic that has been very successful for Microsoft — once they get to release the bundled product into the market, can the courts really ever put the genie back in the bottle? So far, it’s worked for Microsoft every time — does the EU rally have enforcement instruments that will make a difference here? The longer they delay, the more moot the remedy becomes…..

See also US gov questions EC MS ruling; Update: Microsoft files appeal in EU case

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An Urban Legend With A Lesson [7:34 am]

On the Road: Hotel Key Cards That Are Encrypted With Your Secrets. Or Maybe Not.

“On balance, it is an urban myth,” he said. “But you need to put it in perspective: the black stripe on the back of key cards can easily be encoded, and is meant to be encoded.” Most encoded information is simple: Name, room number and check-out date, he said. Some hotels, he added, have been known to encode more detailed information, “so my advice, which I maintain is still valid,” is to keep or destroy the card when you check out, he said.

Hotel chains say flatly that they do not put personal guest information on key cards. “The only thing we have on our key cards is the room number and the dates that the person is going to occupy the room,” said Kathy Shepard, a spokeswoman for the Hilton Hotels Corporation. “We don’t even have the guest’s name on them.”

Technology moves fast, though, and security demand is growing more intense in every industry, including hotels.

[... I]n hotels in Las Vegas and elsewhere, the comings and goings of guests and hotel employees in any room are minutely recorded by a microprocessor in the door lock mechanism that is activated by the key card.

When someone enters a guest room, that microprocessor records what key was used to unlock the door plus “the exact time they were in that room, how long they stayed in that room, and the frequency they were in and out of that room.” The record is usually kept for at least 30 days, he said.

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Digital Tech and Currency Counterfeiting [7:16 am]

Security clampdown on the home PC banknote forgers [via EFF Mini Links]

Computer and software manufacturers are to be forced to introduce new security measures to make it impossible for their products to be used to copy banknotes.

The move, to be drafted into European Union legislation by the year end, follows a surge in counterfeit currency produced using laser printers, home scanners and graphics software. Imaging software and printers have become so powerful and affordable that production of fake banknotes has become a booming cottage industry.

See also Some More Technological Alienation and Algorithms to Defeat Currency Copying

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Apple’s AirPort Express [7:11 am]

Continuing their move toward mating digital devices with conventional consumer electronics, we get Apple’s AirPort Express

AirPort Express with AirTunes brings your iTunes music in your Mac or PC into your living room — or wherever in your home you have a stereo or a set of powered speakers.(1) All you have to do is connect your sound system to the audio port on the AirPort Express Base Station using an audio cable (included in the optional AirPort Express Stereo Connection Kit) and AirTunes lets you play your iTunes music through your stereo or powered speakers — wirelessly. iTunes automatically detects the connection of your remote speakers, so you just have to select them in the popup list that appears at the bottom of the iTunes window and click play.

Enjoy your playlists, set iTunes to shuffle through your entire library or repeat your favorite songs over and over again — however you like to enjoy your music on iTunes, you can now enjoy it that way through your stereo speakers, wherever they’re located in your house.

Buy more than one AirPort Express Base Station and connect one to every stereo or set of powered speakers in your house — one to your stereo in your living room and another to a pair of powered speakers in your kitchen, for example.

See also Apple’s AirPort adds home music streaming. Apple Pumps Music Through Air and Apple builds wireless hi-fi bridge with pocket router; SFGate: Apple’s newest gadget

Even better: And why didn’t they call it iPlug?

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The Current WIPO Meeting [7:04 am]

WIPO: The First Day [via Copyfight]

The upshot so far: many representatives appear to be skeptical about extending copyright-like protection to databases (PDF). It’s not yet clear what the thinking is on the proposed new rights in the broadcasting treaty, but there may be support for removing webcasting from the menu.

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