August 24, 2004

I’m *Still* Confused [6:51 pm]

Katie Dean’s Music Services Score an A-Plus still doesn’t answer my question — how does losing money on every transaction mean that the problem is “solved?” Does someone expect that the government is going to *mandate* that colleges and universities adopt these services? And who’s going to set *those* prices?

More than 20 colleges and universities have adopted legal music download services in the past year, and the trend is continuing, according to a report released to Congress Tuesday by a joint committee of entertainment executives and university officials.

That’s good news for both the music industry and colleges that have suffered from rampant peer-to-peer file sharing of copyright content on campuses, both groups say. Music labels blame such illegal behavior for dismal CD sales, while schools have dealt with rising bandwidth costs and legal action against their students.

I think this particular bit is the worst:

Penn State is paying a discounted rate for the Napster streaming service. The school is using its yearly information technology fee to support the program.

Students can stream an unlimited number of songs for free and download songs that are “tethered” to their computer, meaning the songs stay on the computer as long as the person (or in this case, the school) subscribes to Napster. But if students want to burn music to a CD, they must pay the regular rate — a buck a song.

Later this year, students will be able to transfer the music to a portable device for an additional fee. Napster is offering this option in partnership with Microsoft.

Spanier acknowledged some students were skeptical of the music service initially, but not anymore.

“Those complaints have pretty much vanished,” he said. “I think if we tried to take it away at this point, there would be a rebellion.”

Napster has also been useful in some music classes, he said. Instead of sending students to the library to check out CDs, students can use the service for such course work.

He’s confident that more universities will follow with similar programs: “I think this will all mushroom.”

It’s a buried fee!! With, I am guessing, a significant number of payers who are not using the service. And I’d love to know whether this fee ends up being a part of the overhead at PSU.

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Enter the Gorilla [6:41 pm]

MS to ‘quietly launch’ iTunes rival this week, citing Microsoft to join battle of the beats with music store

Microsoft will this week release the next major version of its Windows Media system - incorporating its ‘Janus’ DRM technology - along with its much-anticipated online music store.

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OT: Bob Dole — Leading the Race to the Bottom [5:19 pm]

And I note that lately he doesn’t seem to be able to sell his face for Viagra ads — or, for that matter, drooling over Britney Spears for Pepsi — but this is just disgusting: Bob Dole defends lying about Kerry’s record

Bob Dole was faced with a choice over the weekend: Do like John McCain, another decorated Republican war veteran, and denounce the unproven allegations about John Kerry’s war record, or use the respect he’s earned over the years from members of both parties to give the anti-Kerry Swift Boat veterans that much more power. He chose the latter. It’s just “political hardball,” he said yesterday. “I wasn’t trying to be mean-spirited. I was just trying to say all these guys on the other side just can’t be Republican liars,” Dole said in a follow-up interview with CNN.

That’s putting a positive spin on not only helping to perpetuate unverified allegations about someone’s record (some call them lies) but unfairly — and wrongly — diminishing a fellow veteran’s war wounds. Kerry “never bled that he knew of” in Vietnam, Dole said on CNN on Sunday, questioning whether Kerry deserved his three Purple Hearts — remarks that garnered lots of media attention for being made so bluntly by such a prominent Republican. “I mean, they’re all superficial wounds,” he said. In fact, Kerry still carries shrapnel in his left thigh. Dole insists that Kerry must understand why he said what he said — it’s a presidential campaign, after all, with only 70 days to go. Hardball.

In one of two editorials today on the Swift Boat issue, the Los Angeles Times chided Dole for his below-the-belt remarks and made a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the two parties continue what Dole started and compare whose members left more flesh and blood on the battlefield.

“So give this round to the GOP. Next, the Democrats can be represented by former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, and lost a Senate race to a Republican who questioned his patriotism. Two parties can play this game. But who on Earth would want to?”

The cited LA Times editorial asks another great question:

Why would Dole … tarnish his own heroism and sacrifice … by starting a grotesque game of wound one-upmanship on behalf of George W. Bush, who never suffered anything worse during his (intermittent) service in the Texas Air National Guard than a hangover?

Later: Slate’s For Shame

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IICA Alternative Proposed [4:03 pm]

Industry offers alternative to P2P bill

Their proposal, dubbed the “Don’t Induce Act,” is designed to provide the Senate with an alternative that’s less threatening to the industry. It is far narrower, saying that only someone who distributes a commercial computer program “specifically designed” for widescale piracy on digital networks could be held liable for copyright violations. Hardware like the iPod and other music players would not be targeted.

In an interview, Michael Petricone, a CEA vice president, said Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch told the technology industry to “give us something that reflects your concerns.”

“We came back and tried to do what Hatch asked us to do,” Petricone said. Hatch, a Utah Republican, is the primary Senate proponent of the original Induce Act, which also enjoys support from top Democrats.

[...] The recording and movie industries, which strongly back the Induce Act, were lukewarm in their reception to the new, completely rewritten version of the bill.

Fritz Attaway, vice president for the Motion Picture Association of America, said the Don’t Induce Act was so narrowly drafted, it would be impossible to use it to shutter even operators of peer-to-peer networks. “There is no way that anyone could ever meet the burden of proof that this establishes,” Attaway said. “It’s spin. (They’re) not being honest here.”

Mitch Glazier, a vice president at the Recording Industry Association of America, also offered some criticism.

“I don’t think this, as written, is a reasonable proposal,” he said. “I don’t think that, as written, anyone could be found liable…But I’m glad that people are trying to draw the line between the good guys and the bad guys.”

Of course, the question is whether there should be an act that “shutter[s] … operators of peer-to-peer networks.”

When entering into this kind of discussion, though, this is exactly the kind of “goalpost setting” by the opposition that you have to be very careful about managing. Got to be very careful about who gets to set the objectives in a negotiation!

See also TechDirt’s Time For The Don’t Induce Act and Donna’s Alt.InduceAct;

later - Ernest’s take and many more links/resources are in ‘Don’t Induce Act’ - an Alternative to the INDUCE Act (IICA) and Other News

Slashdot discussion - Alternatives To The INDUCE Act; The Register’s Major telcos and device makers go after Induce Act; Wired News’ Copyright Bill Needs Big Changes; Press Release - CEA Joins Array Of Public Interest Groups, Industry Associations And Companies In Offering Changes To Induce Act

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Am I Confused? [3:55 pm]

So, sell something at a loss, declare a victory and count on … what exactly? Somehow, I just don’t get it. College P2P use on the decline?

A combination of authorized music services and lawsuits is helping to control illegal file swapping on campuses, a joint entertainment industry-university group said Tuesday.

In the last year, more than 20 schools have signed up for deeply discounted access to music services such as Napster, MusicNet and RealNetworks’ Rhapsody, the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities said in a report to Congress. In the same period, 158 students have been sued for copyright infringement, the group said.

“Since the beginning of the last school year we have seen progress on all counts,” Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and co-chairman of the joint group, said in a conference call with reporters. “A legion of college music fans who are getting their music for free and getting the impression that music has no value are now being introduced to the idea that music does have value.”

In some cases, the traffic devoted to peer-to-peer networks on campuses has dropped by as much as half, the group said.

[...] Those low rates are made possible, in part, by a deep discount from record labels on the amount they charge for digital music services. A representative for one digital music company said that music publishers, which are also entitled to receive a small portion of payments, have not granted similar discounts.

Sherman and [Penn State's Graham] Spanier said that these new services, along with education campaigns and new technologies blocking peer-to-peer swaps, have diminished file trading on campus, but the two men provided few concrete details on overall reductions.

File sharing, particularly the swapping of video files, remains popular with many students, however.

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The Lion and the Mouse [3:49 pm]

Disney Asks Court to Spring Mickey Mouse [pdf] (See earlier Clearing Copyrights – Not Easy For Anybody and Disney’s Response on MBube)

The U.S. entertainment giant went to a South African court Tuesday seeking to set aside an order which holds some 240 of its most famous trademarks — including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck — hostage to the outcome of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the copyright to the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Lawyers for the family of the song’s original composer, South African migrant worker Solomon Linda, have sued Walt Disney in Pretoria for infringement of copyright to the song, one of Africa’s most famous melodies.

South Africa’s High Court earlier ordered that Disney be denied the right to dispose of South African rights to the world famous trademarks pending resolution of the case.

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Derek’s Continuing To Probe “Intent” & Grokster [11:35 am]

Petit’s response to Grokster, Intent, and Cert

I know exactly nothing about civil procedure so I’ll defer to those with sufficient expertise here - I would love to hear what others have to say about these issues as well. It still seems strange that, given the standards articulated in Napster, Grokster, and the court of appeals in Aimster, intent is a primary factor in the application of Sony in any of the cases. But that might just be my inability to untangle this complex topic properly, which is all the more reason for you to read Petit’s interesting take.

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Alternative Music Distribution Systems [11:25 am]

Slashdot discusses Ruckus, a music service being tested at Northern Illinois U: Ruckus starts in Grant with new downloading tool for students [pdf]

Ruckus is a digital entertainment and downloading service that will provide music, movies, TV shows, local content and community features to students free of charge, said Joseph Marone, Ruckus’ account representative for NIU. NIU pays $5 per student per month and is allowed unlimited access to the media for the testers.

On Thursday, Ruckus will be available for testing to residents in the third through sixth floors of all Grant Towers, said Keith Kruchten, president of the Residence Hall Association.

[...] Still in the pilot testing process, the program is not only tested by students, but also developed and designed by graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Marone said.

[...] Ruckus is “tethered” so students can still download music and movies without officially owning, buying or burning downloads, said Marone.

He said students can share playlists and compare theirs with other students’ likes and dislikes.

See also The Register’s More red ink spills all over online college music scene

Related: The latest version of MIT’s The Tech (available as PDF only) asserts that LAMP will be back in October.

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Schoolyard Music Dealers, continued [9:57 am]

RealNetworks offers discounts to students [pdf] (p2pnet)

RealNetworks Inc. will begin offering some university students its digital music subscription service at a steep discount in an effort to stem illegal downloads and attract long-term customers.

RealNetworks Inc. will begin offering some university students its digital music subscription service at a steep discount in an effort to stem illegal downloads and attract long-term customers.

Later: Online music at UC - Berkeley students offered low fees for Rhapsody list

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“Broken” [9:51 am]

FCC chairman calls for new telecom laws

The head of the Federal Communications Commission said on Monday that the nation’s telecommunications laws, written before the rise of the Internet, are “broken” and need to be fixed by Congress.

“Is the current law broken and we need a new one? Of course,” said FCC Chairman Michael Powell. The law is “dated–it does not match reality anymore.”

Powell’s comments at a Progress and Freedom Foundation conference here mark his strongest criticism yet of the 1934 and 1996 telecommunications acts, which created arcane regulatory categories that do not clearly include the Internet. That lack of clarity has bedeviled regulators and left entrepreneurs puzzled about what laws might eventually apply to their businesses.

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A New Wave of Suits [9:49 am]

And new incentives? Hollywood cracks down on DVD chipmakers

According to the MPAA, Sigma Designs in Milpitas, Calif., and Taiwan-based MediaTek each have sold DVD-player chips to companies that offer features in their products that aren’t allowed under the general DVD technology license. That act violated the license the chipmakers had to sign to build the DVD chips in the first place, the trade association said.

[...] The lawsuits come as part of an expanded MPAA enforcement campaign aimed at hardware makers, following some success in blocking the spread of commercial DVD-copying software. The new drive stems in part from the creation of an in-house lab that the MPAA uses to study and disassemble DVD hardware, among other products, to ensure that it complies with Hollywood requirements.

But unlike earlier lawsuits focused on the spread of DVD-copying software, the chip-focused cases rest on the contracts used to control DVD technology itself instead of on copyright law.

So, when will someone put DeCSS on a DVD’s ROM? A grey market in EPROM’s akin to those seen in the automobile industry circumventing emissions controls?

Donna’s got more links in A Different Kind of Hollywood Contract

Later: Slashdot’s MPAA Sues DVD Chip Manufacturers

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