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August 6, 2004

First the US Schoolkids, Now the UK’s [10:29 pm]

Acting to modify norms: ‘Stealing songs is wrong’ lessons head for UK schools

A half-day seminar on copyright education took place two weeks ago, and there the Times Educational Supplement reports that “Estelle Morris, the arts minister [she gave the keynote], education and music industry professionals expressed concern that children were increasingly downloading illegally copied material from the Internet.” And according to The Guardian EMI is planning a conference for teachers, and “working on lesson plans to explain copyright properly.”

Slashdot: British Schoolkids Get Copyright Education; see also Education or Propaganda? What’s the Diff? on the US program (all of Furdlog’s Junior Achievement posts)

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An Old Issue Heating Back Up [10:17 pm]

Record Industry Faces Duel Over New ‘DualDiscs’

Plans to sell new hybrid CD/DVDs have hit legal and licensing snags that threaten to scuttle a mass rollout that the hard-hit music industry had been counting on to aid its recovery, people familiar with the matter said this week.

[...] DVD Plus founder Dieter Dierks claims Warner Music’s distributing and manufacturing arm, known as WEA, breached a 2000 contract in which Dierks bought the patent position for hybrid disc technology and perfected it.

That agreement called for the DVD Plus logo to be placed on the discs for a set period of time, but WEA’s manufacturing operations were later bought by Cinram International Inc. . Cinram is now making the hybrids and calling them DualDiscs for most of the labels, except for Sony.

[...] Philips Electronics, the licensor of the CD logo, also has refused to allow the hybrid discs to be sold with the logo because it doesn’t fit CD specifications, a spokeswoman for Philips said.

[...] Finally, record companies normally license content separately for different formats — cassettes, CDs, albums or DVDs. The new hybrid discs require new licensing agreements that have yet to be worked out, industry sources said.

See earlier Innovation � Just What This Market Needs on the new format and Two For the Price of Two on how hard the record companies have already worked with companies who put two copies of the same content on a CD.

Later: Wired News also carries the Reuters feed - Record Industry Duel: Disc Duos

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Carmack/id Profile [1:24 pm]

A look at John Carmack and open frameworks: In the Background, a Man in the Gaming Forefront

It is chiefly Mr. Carmack’s programming that has led, over more than a decade, to a series of breakthroughs in the way computers graphically render believable environments and characters. He has been largely responsible for making those characters appear to move convincingly through three-dimensional space while interacting with much of what they encounter.

Without his innovations, many say, it is difficult to imagine how a pioneering first-person-shooter game like Id’s Wolfenstein 3D, released in the spring of 1991, would have looked or played.

He is also credited with helping to pave the way for popular multiplayer gaming and with unlocking his programming for players, enabling them to modify the games’ look and feel.

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Convergence Fallout Continues [11:20 am]

Licensing Computer Techs As TV Repairmen. From the cited article:

As home computers come to the fore as entertainment devices, powering home theaters, audio systems and the like, the Radio and Television Technicians Board is seeking to license computer technicians much the way it has licensed television and radio repair workers since the 1950s.

To that end, the board last week informed Broussard that he would have to send the board $55 and an affidavit from an employer, customer or computer school attesting that he was a computer consultant. In exchange, Broussard would receive his license.

Mark Lewis, president of the Louisiana Technology Council, a trade association based in New Orleans, said he finds the situation absurd.

“They’re taking a law passed when computers weren’t even around and applying it to computers,” Lewis said. “The whole thing is mind-boggling to me — how they could come up with something like this?”

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AGs Fire A Shot [11:16 am]

So, who’s next: State AGs warn file-sharing companies (see also this p2pnet story - http://p2pnet.net/story/2081

A group of 46 state attorneys general sent a deeply critical letter to file-sharing companies Thursday, asking them to take stronger action on privacy and intellectual-property violations.

[...] A group of 46 state attorneys general sent a deeply critical letter to file-sharing companies Thursday, asking them to take stronger action on privacy and intellectual-property violations.

Slashdot story: States Threaten P2P Companies

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JibJab News [7:59 am]

General coverage can be found in this Wired News article: JibJabbing for Artists’ Rights

Ludlow Music, which owns Guthrie’s copyright to the song, threatened to sue JibJab Media, which created the animation. But attorneys for JibJab struck first, filing a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Northern California that asks a judge to declare that This Land does not violate copyright.

Copyfight has a number of postings on this: Embargo Lifted tells us that the EFF is representing JibJab, and This Use Is Fair Use; Ernest Miller also has considerable to say about it: JibJabapalooza 3

Earlier Wired News coverage is here: Sue You: This Song Is Our Song; JibJab’s site

Later - Donna documents what I knew I had read online, but whose source I couldn’t remember — some of the living Guthries’ take on the current fight — Copyright Law Wasn’t Made for You and Me; even later, Lessig’s Publisher v. Author

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Perspective on the Apple/Real Fight [7:33 am]

Apple and the legacy of Napster

During the height of the Napster controversy, the sides remained too far apart to figure out how to make it work: You either believed that bits and bytes should be free or dismissed Napster as the epitome of corrosive cyberanarchism.

What a stale conversation–and one that missed the bigger point: Napster had the technology, Hollywood had the music, and something big was on the horizon. If only the opposing sides could ever see the forest for the trees. That was not to be. The music industry was too afraid of losing control, and Napster couldn’t run away from the fact that it was a clearinghouse for stolen intellectual property.

[...] Apple deserves the kudos it’s gotten–but will squander a lot of that good will if it goes ahead with an ill-considered jihad against RealNetworks.

The company had a classic hissy fit last week, after RealNetworks released its Harmony software.

[...] In the struggle over Napster, the music companies turned out to be their own worst enemies. So intent on kneecapping Napster, they ignored the best interests of their customers–which would have been to find a way to coexist with the new Internet technology. Is Apple going to go down a similar path?

Maybe big companies periodically can’t help conducting business as if Tony Soprano were running the show. But I can’t figure out who’s looking out for the best interests of the user in this cockamamy story. It’s a question that Apple can’t answer with a straight face.

See also Memo to music services: Wise up!.

The real outrage should be from you, over the fact that the legal music stores are still a balkanized mess of odd marriages between certain services, their file formats, and the players that recognize those formats. Do you think the legal music library you buy online today will be usable in any form 20 years from now?

[...] Bottom line: Don’t fall for any of these systems until they look and feel like CDs. Buy once, play anywhere, forever. How do they accomplish that and reduce piracy? Not your problem.

See also this letter to the editor: Behind Apple’s ‘hissy fit’

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The New Music Business Model [7:19 am]

From USAToday: Summer tours help bands pay bills [pdf]

Summer touring season is the working musicians’ version of retail’s holiday shopping season: a chance to reap bigger dollars from more people in a compressed period, before students return to school.

A look at banjo master [Béla] Fleck and how he runs his business in the digital age shows how drastically the industry has changed. A new CD release gets attention, but with many young customers bypassing CD purchases for free pirated songs on the Internet, touring pays the bills. Fleck says concerts reflect 70% of the band’s income, records 20% and merchandising 10%.

Fleck will realize 40% of his yearly touring income crisscrossing the country to perform with his jazz/bluegrass/world music band at amphitheaters, auditoriums, amusement parks — even a farmer’s market in Kansas City.

[....] Even in flush times, the economics of the recording industry make it hard for most acts to make money from CDs.

Fleck says most of his CDs cost $100,000 to $200,000 to produce. The budget — fronted by the label — has to be recouped from CD sales before Fleck and the band see royalties.

Getting royalties from albums can take years. Fleck says that even though his first album with Warner Bros. Records sold well, “We didn’t see money from that deal until eight records down the line.”

Fleck manager David Bendett says the band switched to Sony because the label offered a big advance — he won’t reveal the number — and a unique arrangement: three albums on Sony’s Columbia jazz label and two on Sony Classical.

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