July 9, 2004

Derek’s Week … [5:33 pm]

… seems to have been like mine. But he points out some Must-Read Articles that I’m planning to get to this weekend. I’m particularly looking forward to the second item on his list:

2. You probably remember Lee Hollaar’s incredibly informative Legal Protection of Digital Information treatise. According to Professor Lessig, Hollaar’s article Sony Revisited “is in part responsible for Congress’ current infatuation with the Induce Act.” Be sure to read not only the article, but also Lessig’s response, Ernest’s (pre-)follow-up, and the comments at Lessig’s blog, one of which is a lengthy response from an author cited in the article.

Update: Here’s Hollaar confirming that the Induce Act came in part as a result of his article. Also, see this nice clarification to Lessig’s separation of powers argument - it’s a key point.

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Fritz List Redux [1:55 pm]

Ernest Miller, who has been tracking the arguments in the press over Sen. Orrin Hatch’s IICA (once known as the INDUCE Act) with great vigor, has announced he’s doing for the IICA what Ed Felten did for the CBDTPA: Introducing Hatch’s Hit List

[S]tarting today, I will endeavor to post every weekday an example of a nascent technology that can be quashed by the INDUCE Act. Of course, “Orrin’s Hit List” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, thus “Hatch’s Hit List.” As with Fritz’s Hit List, please email me (ernest.miller 8T aya.yale.edu) with suggestions.

Hatch’s Hit List #1: WiFi Car Stereos

Be sure to click on the links cited above — Ernest has been taking the effort to cite and rebut some of the more nonsensical articles on the IICA, as well as indicating when the IICA proponents score some points.

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Illustrated History of Copyright Online [1:34 pm]

Edward Samuels sent me an e-mail to tell me that The Illustrated History of Copyright is now out of print and, moreover, is now available online at his WWW site.

While he and I don’t see eye to eye when it comes to some of the editorial position he takes in his text, the book is a great historical look at the evolution of copyright alongside the evolution of the technologies of creating/copying. As the title notes, it’s profusely illustrated. Reading the photo credits section of the book is, itself, an education.

I’m particularly pleased that it’s online because the hard copy that I have is falling apart.

Update: I had no idea Samuels was so infamous.

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Street Art in NYC [8:59 am]

Rasing an age-old policy question — when does making something illegal increase disobedience? And how does that relate to our notions of creative expression? Lawbreakers, Armed With Paint and Paste

Swoon, 26, is a luminary in a movement known, at least among many of its proponents, as street art. Two decades after the heyday of graffiti, the spray can has given way to posters, stickers, stencils and construction tools, and the streets of New York and other cities around the world vibrate more than ever with the work - some say the destruction - of guerrilla artists like her. (Swoon is a nom de peinture; like many other artists interviewed for this article, she asked that her real name not be used for fear of prosecution because unauthorized graffiti is illegal.)

[...] And while much of the work seems to be art for art’s sake - or at least humor’s sake - street art occasionally resonates with overt social and political commentary. In one arresting series that recently appeared (and just as quickly disappeared) in Lower Manhattan, an artist replaced the silhouetted dancers in the current iPod advertisement with silhouettes of Abu Ghraib torture victims. The tag line “10,000 songs in your pocket, Mac or PC” became “10,000 volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent.” [see this for images]

[...] Ask street artists to talk about why they do what they do, and brace for a torrent of rationalization. [...]

[...] But many street artists will admit to a less noble motivation: the urge to go out and break the law. The waft of fresh wheat paste, it seems, can inspire a night of vandalism. “That’s something that people really love about it: getting over on the man,” said Kelly Burns, 38, the author of the book “INY,” a photographic exploration of New York street art.

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Metallica Documentary [8:55 am]

Here’s the movie review of the Metallica group analysis that was written up a couple of weeks ago in the NYTimes Magazine: ‘Metallica’: Heavy-Metal Headshrinking and Other Secrets of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Business

The film takes for granted that rock ‘n’ roll, while it remains the soundtrack of youthful disaffection, has long since become a respectable middle-aged profession. Both Mr. Ulrich and Mr. Hetfield, the band’s founding members, who started playing music together in the early 1980’s, are married men with young children. They also behave, with each other, like a long-married couple who find themselves bored, dissatisfied and on the rocks.

Mr. Berlinger and Mr. Sinofsky have uncovered the mysterious dynamic of their collaboration, a relationship that is, superficially, both an artistic bond and a business partnership but that is also a deep, bubbling source of identity and anxiety for each man. Mr. Towle, a bald, platitudinous fellow who has soothed the battling egos of professional sports teams, thus becomes a kind of couples therapist for Mr. Ulrich and Mr. Hetfield.

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Want a Headache? [8:46 am]

Read this CNet evaluation of the 1994 Microsoft consent degree: Microsoft’s 1994 consent decree: Boon or bust?.

My head started huring about here in Bill Neukom’s part of the article:

But Microsoft still dominates the OS market.

I think the result that Microsoft’s operating systems continue to be very popular with OEMs (computer makers) and their customers has to do with the technology that was offered in those operating systems. I think what happened in terms of the shakeout with DOS, OS/2 and Windows had to do with competition on the merits of technology and price.

Before the consent decree was reached, Microsoft had disputed the notion that it held monopoly power.

There are no barriers to entry in the technology industry. It’s not like owning a quarry or a forest. Besides, having a monopoly in and of itself is by no means illegal. It doesn’t mean you are a bad company. It means you are a successful company.

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OT: Dog Bites Man - UCS Report [8:36 am]

Anyone surprised? Scientists Say White House Questioned Their Politics

In a report released yesterday, a scientific advocacy group cited more instances of what it called the Bush administration’s manipulation of science to fit its policy goals, including the questioning of nominees to scientific advisory panels about whether they had voted for President Bush.

Administration officials said that the conclusions of the report, issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists, were “wrong and misleading.”

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Winwood’s Experiment [8:33 am]

Dabbling with making P2P a part of the record distribution business: Winwood: Roll With P2P, Baby

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Winwood dipped a toe in largely untested waters this summer by giving away a track from his latest album on peer-to-peer networks. The experiment appears to be working out.

In the past month, Winwood’s label has seen a noticeable increase in record sales thanks to a promotion that included releasing a free song and video over file-trading services. The campaign was part of an experiment in whether peer-to-peer can be used to create buzz around an artist and drive up sales.

[...] “There’s really no other medium that can reach the quantity of people in such a meaningful way in such a cost-effective manner,” said Lisa Protter, a spokeswoman for the Jun Group, a marketing firm which coordinated the release of the digital media files.

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A Case of Arrested Development? [8:30 am]

Wow! Even with MIT netowkr connection, I’ve never had the inclination — am I really that underdeveloped a network user? Stolen a film? MPAA wants to know

One in four people online has illegally downloaded a feature film–and it’s cutting into box-office and DVD sales, the Motion Picture Association of America said in a study released Thursday.

A survey of 3,600 Internet users in eight countries showed that as many as 50 percent had downloaded copyrighted content in the last year. Of those people who have downloaded films, 17 percent said they are going to the movies less often, and 26 percent said they bought fewer DVDs, according to online researcher OTX, which conducted the study in partnership with the MPAA.

s to explain this story.

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Selling Gizmos With Content? [8:22 am]

Is this how Sony’s content/consumer electronics schizophrenia is going to be resolved? At least Apple figured out that they had to sell MP3 players that play MP3s.

From BusinessWeek: Imagine Sony On Steroids

[Sony vice chairman Sir Howard] Stringer has placed his biggest bet — $5 billion — in a bid to buy Kirk Kerkorian’s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM ) studio. That would give Sony Hollywood’s largest collection of older movies just as new technologies for offering flicks on demand, over the Internet, and on DVD are taking off. That follows a November, 2003, deal he engineered to merge his struggling music company with rival Bertelsmann’s BMG unit. If approved by European and U.S. regulators, as expected this year, the merger will give the combined company 25% of the market while slicing an estimated $250 million from overhead. “For a while some of us weren’t sure what Howard did at Sony,” jokes former Viacom (VIA ) President Frank Biondi. “Now we see that he’s remaking the entire operation.”

And just in time. Stringer, Sony’s vice-chairman, is under pressure from Sony CEO Nobuyuki Idei to cut costs by 10%, part of an overall corporate mandate to reduce overhead companywide. At the same time, headquarters expects Stringer to help finally make good on the long-held — but rarely accomplished — goal of using Sony’s movies, TV shows, and music to fuel sales of new consumer-electronic formats. Sony executives would not comment for this story. [emphasis added]

[...] If it does win MGM, Sony intends to combine those films with the 3,500 it currently owns to help push a next-generation DVD technology, called Blu-Ray, that offers films in high-definition. Sony needs the added muscle of a large collection of films to help win over Hollywood, which is holding back, waiting for a competing high-definition DVD pushed by Sony’s nemesis Toshiba (TOSBF ), with help from Warner Bros. and possibly Microsoft (MSFT ). To promote its own format, Sony intends to start shipping versions of its movies on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2005, according to industry insiders. Sony “knows that getting a library is key to the Next Thing — in this case video-on-demand or the Internet,” says DVD pioneer and industry consultant Warren Lieberfarb.

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