December 25, 2004

The Register’s Year In Digital Music [12:00 pm]

Downloading digital music

Digital downloads are here to stay, and 2005 will be characterised by more, bigger attempts to get mainstream buyers as well as natural P2P users to pay for downloading songs. Apple’s vertical model - own the hardware and the content supplier - is likely to remain pre-eminent, but only while it’s the hardware that leads the business. Microsoft’s PlaysForSure scheme may be able to unite disparate hardware vendors and content sellers into a whole that has the synergy of iPod and iTunes, but it seems unlikely. In Europe, losing the right to bundle Windows Media Player 10 with the OS may cost MS dear.

That said, the weight of WMA-based services, many from strong music-related brands, may cause the balance to shift from hardware to content. And the effect of video remains unclear: will video devices wrest consumers’ attention away from the iPod next Christmas? Or are portable media centres to become little more than the pocket TV of the 21st Century?

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A Rare Case [11:57 am]

Where both of my research interests collide: Honda wins China copyright ruling

Japan’s Honda has won a copyright case in Beijing, further evidence that China is taking a tougher line on protecting intellectual property rights.

A court ruled that Chongqing Lifan Industry Group must stop selling Honda brand motorbikes and said it must pay 1.47m yuan ($177,600) in compensation.

Internationally recognized regulation is now a key part of China’s plans for developing its economy, analysts said.

Beijing also has been threatened with sanctions if it fails to clamp down.

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Would You Need To Clear Copyright To Do A Remake? [11:32 am]

Once Again, Having Its 7 Minutes of Flame

For some, the yule log is an easy, pleasantly cheesy backdrop to tree trimming and gift-wrapping. But it is also a Dadaist joke: television as the hearth, not just metaphorically but literally.

Whatever the reasons, there is no question that the yule log is cherished by viewers. When WPIX decided to stop showing it in 1989, the station was flooded with complaints and a grass-roots lobbying campaign sprang up to bring it back. Ersatz and, at some level, deeply pathetic, the television yule log became one of those mourned New York landmarks that make up the city’s shared nostalgia, like the Automat and Ebbets Field. (And someday, no doubt, the Naked Cowboy in Times Square.)

Connoisseurs trade as a trivia question the name of the man who brought the yule log to television (Fred Thrower, who was general manager of WPIX from 1953 to 1975, and died in 1999). The show’s mystique grew during its dark period: each year since WPIX brought it back in 2001, the log has won its time period in the city’s overnight Nielsen ratings. This year, viewers in cities like Chicago and Dallas can see what they have been missing when the log is shown early on Christmas Eve on Superstation WGN (like WPIX, a Tribune Company television station). And throughout the holiday season, anyone can start a quick fire on a laptop by linking to the log online (www.wb11.com), though it would probably be best not to download it in a crowded theater.

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