From last week: Kahle v Ashcroft

Court nixes lawsuit fighting copyright law

Kahle and his allies contended that Congress’ lengthening of copyright-protection terms–even when an author’s work didn’t request further protection–had radically transformed traditional copyright law. They asked the courts to rule that much of this recent copyright law change was illegal, which potentially could have opened up large amounts of books, movies and music created in the 1960s and 1970s to public domain use.

In a decision made available Wednesday, federal Judge Maxine Chesney concluded that Congress did have substantial flexibility in expanding copyright protections without court interference.

[…] Kahle said Wednesday that the decision would be appealed, and that they had always planned to fight the primary battle in the appellate courts. The court had not directly addressed what he said was the primary thrust of the case–a change in laws to automatically renew copyrights, instead of requiring copyright holders to reregister, he said.

Slashdot: Internet Archive Loses Copyright Fight

Stanford’s site on the case

In case you forgot that MP3 is lossy

Sound of music

Compression usually involves a loss in sound quality, but the popularity of MP3 music players shows that most people simply don’t care any more. What music lovers want today more than anything else is music – and lots of it.

The manufacturers of digital music players – Apple, Creative, iRiver and others – have been quick to grasp this. The main difference between a cheap and an expensive MP3 player is simply the amount of storage space it has.

It’s not just sound quality that’s lost its importance – the same applies to videos too. DVDs offer great quality picture reproduction, but many of the latest generation of DVD players can also play DivX files.

[…] The great irony for the entertainment electronics industry is that now that very high quality sound and video reproduction is possible and quite affordable thanks to CDs and DVDs, many consumers no longer see quality as a very high priority.

Education in the UK

Speaking of following in the footsteps of the US copyright industries: Pupils to get anti-piracy lessons

Lessons on music piracy and copyright issues are to be taught to secondary school pupils in the UK.

The lessons, aimed at 11 to 14-year-olds, will introduce them to copyright infringement – including downloading from the internet and the illegal copying of CDs – and its role in protecting creativity.

[…] British Music Rights (BMR) – which was formed to represent the interests of songwriters and composers against the threat posed by the internet – worked with education experts to put together a learning pack.

Seems to be tied with the European Music Copyright Alliance, which doesn’t quiet seem to be up and running yet.

Hmm – so maybe lawsuits aren’t a cure-all?

Music sharing continues to thrive

The number of people illegally sharing music on the internet has remained steady – despite the success of legal download services, say analysts.

[…] Simon Dyson, author of the report, told BBC News 2004 had been an “important” year for the digital music sector.

But he warned that converting illegal peer-to-peer file sharers was central to the industry’s long-term success.

He added that legal action being taken by record companies against illegal downloaders had so far failed to make an impact.

Apple Sticks To Its Guns

Apple iTunes adds Band Aid 20 – for 79p (see Why Squeeze the Retailer?)

Apple has posted Band Aid 20’s single, Do They Know it’s Christmas? on its UK iTunes Music Store (ITMS).

But it has managed to secure the track at its standard price of 79p, and not the £1.49 that the song’s owner, charity the Band Aid Trust, wanted the company to sell it for – and the price at which all the online music store’s competitors are charging.

And there’s the amusing Band Aid Dilemma (Do They Know It’s Awful?) site. It only seems appropriate, after watching Geldof on the BBC last week saying that P2P filesharers were taking food from the mouths of the starving and wresting medical materials from the hands of their doctors — the man seemed unhinged, frankly. On the other hand, he was able to get the UK to give up the VAT, so he’s actually getting somewhere. Here’s the BBC’s Q&A on the money flow.

Skirmish in the Fight Over the Next DVD Standard

Toshiba Wins Support for HD DVD from 4 Film Studios [pdf]

The studio endorsement is a setback for the Blu-ray group, but representatives said its fight to become the standard technology was far from over. Officials from the studios that backed Toshiba said they would continue working with Blu-ray.

At stake is the pole position in the $10 billion-a-year DVD player and recorder market, and a PC drive market of similar size. The winner could license its technology, meaning that billions of dollars in royalty income is also up for grabs.

KaZaA Trial Notes

In the Washington Post, we get Kazaa Launches Defense in Copyright Case [pdf] (also BBC’s Kazaa launches file-swap defence)

The owners of file-swapping giant Kazaa claimed Tuesday their software, which allows users to exchange copyrighted music and movies online, doesn’t differ from video recorders, as they launched their defense in a landmark music piracy case in Australia.

Lawyer Tony Meagher was outlining his defense strategy on the second day of a civil case in which the Australian recording industry is suing Kazaa’s owners for widespread copyright infringements by the global network’s estimated 100 million members.

From Findlaw we get an article on the industry position: Australia Music Industry Decries Kazaa [pdf]

Lawyers for Australia’s recording industry branded the popular Kazaa file-swapping network “an engine of copyright piracy to a degree of magnitude never before seen” as they launched a court battle to shut down Kazaa’s illegal activities.

Later: And this earlier article from Wired News: Trial to Unmask Kazaa Owners

Even later: Slashdot’s Kazaa Betamax Defense, Reports From The Courtroom

The Mechanics of Taking Philadelphia Wireless

Philadelphia, Verizon Strike Deal on WiFi (See earlier “Wireless-ing” Philadelphia)

The city of Philadelphia and Verizon Communications Inc. struck an agreement Tuesday that would allow the city to provide wireless Internet access as a municipal service even though Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) signed legislation giving Verizon the power to scuttle the project.

Lawyers for the city and Verizon, the city’s local telephone company, found common ground Tuesday in discussions with the governor’s office, said spokeswomen for Verizon and Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street.

[…] Even with a deal between Philadelphia and Verizon, the legislation will leave every other Pennsylvania city and town subject to a provision that gives the local phone company right of first refusal before they can move forward with any plans to provide municipal Internet.

Later: The Slashdot story links to a seamy tale from the Wall Street Journal: Verizon-Pushed WiFi Bill Becomes Law in PA; even later — The Register’s take: Philly sells Pennsylvania to Verizon and the NYTimes’ Pennsylvania Limits Cities in Offering Net Access