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July 26, 2004

I’m Outta Here [7:09 pm]

Good luck, Boston, with the convention, but this is my chance to get a little R&R before the cycle of preparation for the new term begins.

I hope to be back ready and able to tackle the final stages of moving the server over to the new machine, and to being a better weblog host than I have the past few days.

And my PowerBook keyboard developed a sticky shift key that necessitated a replacement, so I’m not even going to be able to be tempted by posting until I’m back!!

You’ve all probably already discovered that there are some terrific people behind the blogroll to the right. If you check them out, you’ll certainly stay up to date — better than I will for a little bit!

And we can only hope that our President will keep Senator Hatch and his IICA/INDUCE cronies busy with responses to the 9/11 Commission Report in the coming weeks, so they’ll be too busy to further destabilize the institutions and instruments of creativity!

See y’all soon!

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Surprise [7:16 am]

The public performance right is only now being defended in Canada? How odd: Music industry drills dentists for royalties

The tranquil music that wafts through many dental offices to soothe patients and mask the sounds of the drill may soon be silenced. The music industry is putting the bite on dentists – demanding that they pay for the right to play it.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, which collects royalties for musicians, has targeted dental offices in its latest campaign. The group is asking them to cough up a yearly fee if they use copyrighted music to entertain patients.

The fee, a minimum charge of $100, has enraged some dentists.

“I just feel it’s a money grab,” said Vancouver dentist Kerstin Conn, who recently received a letter from SOCAN at her office. “We paid for our CD and we’re using it to listen to, and half the time my patients … don’t even hear the music.”

Of course, that defense has routinely failed in US courts, but the Canadian courts have tended to see some things differently. See also Dentists confused about music fees and the Slashdot discussion: Canadian Music Industry Drills Dentists

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Mousetrapped? [7:10 am]

Today’s Boston Globe is full of the news that RealNetworks has announced that their digital music files from their online retailing can be used on iPods: RealNetworks says music now transferable to iPod and RealNetworks Upgrades Software for IPod. So the question is going to be just how Jobs wants to position Apple in the face of what certainly could be litigated as a DMCA anticircumvention violation.

RealNetworks Inc. says it has created technology that allows songs purchased through its online music services to be played on Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iPod player, just a few months after complaining that Apple was rebuffing attempts to form an alliance.

[..] On Friday, Glaser said the new system, called Harmony Technology, will let people securely transfer music bought using RealNetworks’ music download services to an iPod or virtually any other portable music player.

[...] Glaser said the new system works by essentially translating the various antipiracy technologies, to make the players’ systems compatible with RealNetworks’ system. RealNetworks said it was not concerned that the system would be illegal.

See also CNet News’ RealNetworks breaks Apple’s hold on iPod;

Note that The Register’s Real to ‘free’ iPod from iTunes Music Store asserts that this is not likely to be considered anti-circumvention, but rather software license violation and/or straight copyright infringement

Since the system does not bypass target DRM technologies, it’s unlikely to fall foul of the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which forbid such intervention.

However, it could present Real with legal challenges if Apple believes its intellectual property was suborned during the development of Harmony. As yet, Apple has not commented on Harmony, and is probably waiting to see exactly what the software can do before responding.

RealNetwork’s press release: RealNetworks Introduces Harmony, Enabling Consumers To Buy Digital Music That Plays On All Popular Devices; Wired News’ copy of the AP newswire: RealNetworks: Files Play on iPod; Slashdot: Real Networks Hacks iPod; .rm & Real Store for iPod

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July 24, 2004

Peter Gabriel’s Thoughts [3:23 pm]

Peter Gabriel on the digital revolution [via Slashdot]

Gabriel: [...] I think it’s very important for artists to get involved in the distribution. A new world is being created — one is dying — and if artists don’t get involved, they’re going to get screwed, like they usually do.

[...] What I’m afraid of, personally, is that the business will, every time there is a technological breakthrough, the business thinks: “Ah, here we have another chance to claw a big chunk of the cake back for the business and away from the artist.” And I think it’s really important that artists act together — which we are notoriously bad at doing — and I hope that this union idea may get some blood behind it, and we will be able to become our own retailers in part.

[...] The future should be [that] you can get anything, anytime, from wherever you are, anywhere, and whoever you are, whatever country, whatever language you speak. And then the question that is fundamental to me that follows that as day follows night, is how do I actually filter the stuff, how do I really get to the stuff that means something to me? And that you can only do with an intelligent filter systems, and we were beginning to look at that with OD2 and I’m sure we’ll continue. It’s something that interests me a lot because you have limited time, and you don’t want, like with e-mail, you don’t want all of the junk, you just want the bits that have some meaning for you.

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July 23, 2004

The Register on Napsterized Colleges [3:02 pm]

What went wrong at Wright State when Napster arrived

You’ll find that almost every Napsterized school - all 8 of them - is using dot-com era methodology to justify the service. The schools receive the Napster service either for free or for a massive discount and plan to subsidize whatever costs they do incur in the short term. Then, one day, the students - or more accurately their parents - will wake up and discover they are in fact going to start paying for a service they don’t really want and that a huge chunk of students can’t even use.

“I don’t really consider us as being in the music business,” [Paul] Hernandez [director of computing and telecommunications at Wright State] said. But he is in the music business.

Hernandez admits that one of the key motivators in signing up for the Napster service was protection from the RIAA and its lawsuit machine. By targeting college students with legal action, the RIAA has managed to force a number of schools to consider opening a Napster shop. Do the schools really care about solving the long-term problem of music piracy? Not really. They just want the lawyers to go away.

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Ted Turner on Big Media [2:49 pm]

“My Beef With Big Media”

It’s not that there aren’t entrepreneurs eager to make their names and fortunes in broadcasting if given the chance. If nothing else, the 1990s dot-com boom showed that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in America, with plenty of investors willing to put real money into new media ventures. The difference is that Washington has changed the rules of the game. When I was getting into the television business, lawmakers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took seriously the commission’s mandate to promote diversity, localism, and competition in the media marketplace. They wanted to make sure that the big, established networks–CBS, ABC, NBC–wouldn’t forever dominate what the American public could watch on TV. They wanted independent producers to thrive. They wanted more people to be able to own TV stations. They believed in the value of competition.

[...] Today, media companies are more concentrated than at any time over the past 40 years, thanks to a continual loosening of ownership rules by Washington. The media giants now own not only broadcast networks and local stations; they also own the cable companies that pipe in the signals of their competitors and the studios that produce most of the programming. To get a flavor of how consolidated the industry has become, consider this: In 1990, the major broadcast networks–ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox–fully or partially owned just 12.5 percent of the new series they aired. By 2000, it was 56.3 percent. Just two years later, it had surged to 77.5 percent.

In this environment, most independent media firms either get gobbled up by one of the big companies or driven out of business altogether. Yet instead of balancing the rules to give independent broadcasters a fair chance in the market, Washington continues to tilt the playing field to favor the biggest players.

Slashdot: Ted Turner’s Beef With Big Media

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Good Proposal, Therefore Doomed To Fail? [2:45 pm]

Cheaper anti-copy CDs suggested [via TechDirt]

Atlantic Records’ UK head Korda Marshall - who signed The Darkness - said there could be different prices for CDs with different copy protection.

“Maybe there’s a point in the future where you’d buy a copy-protected CD at a lower price,” he told BBC Radio 2.

Many copy-protected CDs do not work on some players such as PCs and in cars.

Mr Marshall suggested a new pricing structure could see fans pay more for CDs that would play on more devices.

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The Perils Of Rhetorical Success [10:44 am]

From the IFPI’s report on commercial piracy (Press Release: Music pirate sales hit record 1.1 billion discs but spread of fake CD trade slows), we get an indication of what happens when you conflate language to exploit subtext:

Commercial piracy, contrary to what commentators mistakenly think, is just as important a problem for the music industry today as internet piracy. And in several of the music industry’s very largest markets - countries with low rates of broadband penetration such as Brazil, Mexico and Russia - piracy of physical discs still dwarfs its internet equivalent.

Just who are these “commentators?” Methinks that they’re largely drawn from the recording industry…..

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More On MaryBeth’s Weltanschauung [10:34 am]

In Derek’s July 15 posting, More on eBay Music and First Sale, he reminds us that MaryBeth Peter’s has some grand notions when it comes to the digital realm:

The problem is, the first sale doctrine only provides an exception to the right to distribute. It does not implicate copyright holders’ exclusive right to make copies of their works. If you were to resell your iTunes song, you would necessarily have to makie copies - a copy in RAM, in intermediate computers in transit, and a copy on the buyer’s computer. At least the latter and perhaps all would likely infringe the right to make copies, even though you might not infringe the distribution right. The only way you might be able to resell that song in a clearly legal way is to send the physical hard drive on which the song is stored to the other person.

The Register of Copyrights argued that first sale does not apply to the digital world.

Fair use, first sale — what’s going to be left of the "balance" upon which culture depends? (See Ernest’s note: Copyright Office on INDUCE Act (IICA): It isn’t Strong Enough)

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Technological Alienation [9:42 am]

The hook for this article, When Technology Imitates Art, points to the cognitive problem that comes up every time a technology is employed in a novel fashion to create something that could be produced another way, but now no longer need be.

A FEW weeks ago, a sculptor in France contacted Studio Roc, a new stone-milling company in North Hollywood, Calif., with the type of challenge the company was seeking. He had a 19th-century limestone lion’s face that he wanted to reproduce for a line of fountains. But carving each face by hand was a tedious chore for which he no longer had the time or resources.

Instead, he shipped the original work to Studio Roc, where technicians mapped it in three dimensions with a laser scanner. Then they placed a limestone blank in a computer-controlled milling machine and used the scan data to carve a duplicate lion face at the touch of a button.

[...] But the harnessing of these granite-grinding Xerox machines, able to duplicate just about any sculpture, may also blur the line between what is authentic and what is not. Is such a sculpture art, or merely a computer-aided copy? [emphasis added]

[...] While Studio Roc is aiming for the building trade, the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture in Trenton caters to New York-area artists who want to begin a new work or enlarge an existing one by sitting at a PC instead of standing on a ladder.

Slashdot: 3D Printing in Stone, or Copy a Sculpture in Rock

See also: For Doctored Photos, a New Flavor of Digital Truth Serum

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IICA/INDUCE Roundup - 1 [9:30 am]

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U2 and Theft (And Maybe P2P) [9:10 am]

Bono Moves to Preempt Thieves — Note how the title allows you to think that the “thieves” are those who participate in P2P, while the actual “thief” is whoever actually stole the CD:

Irish rockers U2 will release their recently stolen album on Apple’s iTunes music store if it shows up online, according to a report in the London Daily Telegraph.

An advance copy of U2’s brand new album, which is not due in stores until November, was stolen last week at a photo shoot in the south of France.

[...] “If it is on the Internet this week, we will release it immediately as a legal download on iTunes, and get hard copies into the shops by the end of the month,” Bono told the paper.

[...] A rough cut of the disk disappeared from a recording studio in Nice during a photo shoot. The band was putting together the finishing touches. Most of the album had previously been recorded in Dublin.

[...] “A large slice of two years’ work lifted via a piece of round plastic,” said lead guitarist The Edge on the band’s site. “It doesn’t seem credible, but that’s what’s just happened to us.”

Later: U2 vows iTunes release if album pirated

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Our Congress, Wasting Its Time [8:58 am]

When you read an article like this, House Backs Bill to Limit Power of Judges, you have to wonder what’s the point of trying to explain the subtle problems with IICA/INDUCE when the House clearly doesn’t understand the basics of judicial review:

The House of Representatives joined the fight over gay marriage on Thursday, approving legislation that would prohibit federal courts from overturning parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Republican backers of the legislation, which was adopted on a mainly party-line vote of 233 to 194, said it was needed to prevent federal judges from invalidating the part of the 1996 law that says states cannot be forced to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

[...] “If this bill becomes law, it will represent the first time in our history that Congress has enacted legislation that completely bars any federal court, including the United States Supreme Court, from considering the constitutionality of federal legislation,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House.

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July 22, 2004

*Sigh* [6:48 pm]

A number of people have posted on the IICA/INDUCE Act hearing today, and I’ve been too terribly busy today to post a lot — but there’s a piece of Sen. Leahy’s statement that points to what makes us all so uneasy:

While I understand that some have concerns with the specifics our legislation, I say to you this: work with us. No one wants to undermine the iPod, but we must recognize that some people use peer-to-peer technology in ways that are wrong and illegal

Note what Sen Leahy himself is saying — the laws that we are coming up with to penalize already illegal actions additionally run the risk of undermining the iPod; help us fix them. (See also Techdirt’s Senator Hatch: It May Be Wrong, But It Needs To Be Done)

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Scary [10:07 am]

Ernest Miller notes that Number of Co-sponsors for INDUCE Act (IICA) Growing. Worse:

I’ve yet to hear of a single senator who opposes or even has serious questions about the bill.

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Siva on INDUCE Act [9:27 am]

From Salon: Is your computer a loaded gun?

[T]he bill reflects a serious misunderstanding of peer-to-peer technology specifically and the effects of technology generally. It is the worst kind of policy intervention: destined to cause more trouble than it solves and certain to stifle technological innovation. It will make lawyers richer while failing to help the copyright holders it is supposed to save.

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July 21, 2004

A Good Fight In The Making [10:13 am]

InfoWorld: Microsoft, Apple sued for offering online updates

U.K.-based BTG Plc has sued Microsoft Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. for allegedly infringing a patent that covers Web-enabled software update technologies, the company announced Wednesday.

BTG has filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Federal Court in the Northern District of California in conjunction with New York-based Teleshuttle Corp. and Teleshuttle Technologies LLC, the holders of the patent which BTG said is being infringed. BTG holds the worldwide licensing rights to the patent.

The lawsuit charges Microsoft and Apple with infringement of United States patent number 6,557,054, alleging that Microsoft’s and Apple’s operating systems, as well as Microsoft Office products, incorporate the patented technologies.

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Call For Cross-Platform DRM [10:08 am]

Group calls for copy protection Rosetta stone — Of course, you have to agree first on “why DRM at all?”

“The digital media market is in gridlock, lacking both a moral and technological framework, and a strategy for the future,” Thomas Curran, DMP co-founder and former Bertelsmann chief technology officer, said in a speech at the group’s meeting in Osaka, Japan, last week. “Standards governing the interoperability of digital rights management technologies are essential.”

[...] But if well-intentioned, the group’s efforts face high hurdles. Digital rights management tools have proven to be a powerful way for companies to lock consumers into their brands, and interoperability would eliminate that advantage for the market leaders.

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iMesh/RIAA Settle [10:05 am]

Record labels settle with Israeli P2P company

The Recording Industry Association of America said Tuesday that it had settled its lawsuit against Israeli file-swapping company iMesh, for damages of $4.1 million.

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Digital TV Moves? [10:00 am]

Digital TV With a German Accent

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives will consider Wednesday whether to emulate Berlin in order to speed up the transition of U.S. television airwaves from analog to digital signals.

In August 2003, the German capital became the first major city on the planet to completely transition from analog to digital broadcast TV. And somewhat surprisingly, it did so without any noticeable hiccups.

The Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing is today — The Digital Television Transition: What We Can Learn from Berlin.

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