October 4, 2004

From the Voice of Integrity [8:05 pm]

‘iPod users are music thieves’ says Ballmer — hmm, wonder if this has anything to do with Microsoft’s Janus DRM? Nothing like watching a firm infamous for making lives difficult for customers thinking up new ways to make friends. (The Register’s Most songs on iPods ’stolen’ - Microsoft CEO; CNet’s Ballmer: iPods packed with stolen tunes)

Billing Microsoft as the good guys and Apple the villains of the piece - at least as far as corporate America, rather than users, is concerned, Ballmer said: “We’ve had DRM in Windows for years. The most common format of music on an iPod is ’stolen’.”

“Part of the reason people steal music is money, but some of it is that the DRM stuff out there has not been that easy to use. We are going to continue to improve our DRM, to make it harder to crack, and easier, easier, easier, easier, to use,” he said.

Slashdot discussion: Ballmer Says iPod Users are Thieves

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Another Business Model [9:02 am]

Battle of Form (and Function) in MP3 Players

As the trading of MP3 files ate into music sales, Damon Dash, the 33-year-old entrepreneur behind Roc-A-Fella Records, turned his hip-hop music company into a platform to sell other, more profitable products.

He built Rocawear, a hip-hop-inspired clothing line, into a $300-million-a-year business. He launched Armadale Vodka, Tiret New York luxury watches and America, an urban luxury fashion magazine. He even bought the venerable Pro-Keds name to use on a new line of athletic shoes.

Now Mr. Dash is taking his celebrity and music-infused marketing approach to a product line closer to the source of his troubles: MP3 files. In November, he will introduce a line of MP3 players under the name Rocbox, including one aimed squarely to compete with Apple Computer’s iPod.

[...] Mr. Dash is capitalizing on a significant shift in the electronics business, which until now has largely designed products to appeal to a worldwide audience.

Now that electronics items are getting smaller and are meant to be carried or even worn rather than being put on a shelf, consumers are choosing them for their looks as much as function.

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How Far Will The RIAA Go? [8:38 am]

According to this report, LSU student targeted in piracy case [pdf], notwithstanding the RIAA’s contention that their lawsuits are targeted at egregious offenders, this so-far nameless LSU student is accused of distributing 9 songs:

In an order made public Friday, U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola granted the companies permission to get the student’s identity from the university through a subpoena.

The move came the same day Motown Records, Sony BMG, Arista and other corporations filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against John Doe, a student currently known only by his computer’s Internet address.

The lawsuit claims the student illegally downloaded and distributed “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men, “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, “Soul Provider” by Michael Bolton and six other copyrighted works via the Internet on Sept. 10.

The companies want Polozola to stop illegal distribution of those songs and order the recordings destroyed. They also seek unspecified financial damages and court costs.

Via p2pnet

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But Can They Make It Palatable? [8:30 am]

A new DRM consortium forming: Tech powers seek antipiracy accord

The Coral Consortium, to be announced Monday, will initially draw on support from giants such as Hewlett-Packard, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Twentieth Century Fox, along with digital rights management (DRM) company InterTrust Technologies.

The problem the group is tackling is the one familiar to anyone who owns Apple Computer’s iPod music player and has been unable to play music purchased from an online music store operated by Napster, Microsoft or another Apple rival. DRM software that protects content such as music, movies and video games is proprietary, and many different companies now produce incompatible varieties.

Participants say Coral will be aimed at creating a set of technology specifications that will let different kinds of copy protection be translated into other varieties.

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