October 18, 2004

A Word From The New MPAA Chief [4:00 pm]

Hollywood’s new director — a very careful introduction that says as little as possible

Bill Gates said recently that the movie industry is where the music industry was five years ago. Do you think five years is enough time for the movie industry to come up with a new business model?

Well, music and movies are different. I’m not sure it is exactly the same. I would have to say there will have to be an evolution of the ways in which you deliver the product.

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A Register Look At The BPI Suits [3:49 pm]

Much smoke to BPI’s fileshare suits, but where’s the fire?

So filesharing is not illegal of itself, but most of the content of current filesharing networks is “being distributed illegally.” Having categorised filesharing in this way, the BPI then seems to allow itself a certain linguistic slackness, including the use of the term “illegal filesharing” and referring to KaZaa as being the “best-known unauthorised filesharing network.”

A difficulty here is the fact that the BPI has at best defined an area where there is a high probability of illegality, but is snookered beyond this by the fact that filesharing is not illegal. Probable guilt isn’t good enough in a court (not always, not yet), and we need to know what it is that will establish guilt conclusively. The introduction of “unauthorised” doesn’t help - what’s authorisation got to do with it? But the BPI goes on to tell us: “It is absolutely clear in UK Copyright Law that unauthorised filesharing is illegal.”

Which it absolutely isn’t. It is obvious that illegal filesharing is illegal, but that’d be just the teensiest bit circular. So what is the BPI suing people for?

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Spectrum and Broadcast Rights [3:45 pm]

Word From on High: Jam Cell Calls

Purchased for about $2,000 each, they can be turned on by remote control and emit low-level radio frequencies that thwart cell phone signals within a 100-foot radius. Users get a “no service” or “signal not available” message on their cell phones.

Although Mexico has no law against the devices, the private use of cell phone blockers is illegal in the United States and most Western countries.

But the tide is turning.

Japan allows public places such as theaters and concert halls to install jammers, provided they obtain a government-issued license. And last week, France’s industry minister approved a decision to let cinemas, concert halls and theaters install them — as long as provisions are in place so emergency calls can still be made.

Canada had considered allowing blocking in similar situations. But Industry Canada, which regulates the country’s telecommunications, decided against it, saying the devices could infringe on personal freedom and affect public safety by crippling communication with law enforcement and security agencies.

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Webcasting Contract Signed [3:41 pm]

Music Publishers Sign Deal on Web Radio

Music publishers and U.S. commercial radio station owners said on Monday they had agreed to a new $1.7 billion deal to cover licensing rights for music played over radio airwaves or via radio station Web sites.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), representing over 190,000 members, and the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), representing most of the nearly 12,000 U.S. commercial radio stations, said it was the largest single licensing deal in the history of American radio.

The settlement, which was approved by U.S. District Court Judge William Conner in New York on Oct. 15, provides stations with the right to perform ASCAP music over the air and as part of a simultaneous stream on radio Web sites, the parties said.

ASCAP’s repertory, the largest in the world, contains more than 7.5 million copyrighted musical works, in addition to works in the repertories of over 60 affiliated foreign performing rights organizations.

The agreement finalizes license fees for the period 2001-2003 and establishes new ASCAP licenses for the period 2004-2009. It also streamlines the process for administering license fees, they said.

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