January 28, 2005

Another Blast [10:19 am]

RIAA sues 717 file-swappers

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said Thursday that it had filed 717 new lawsuits against alleged file-swappers, including 68 unnamed people at universities.

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CNet’s Cooper on MGM v. Grokster [10:18 am]

Charles Cooper on the war on file sharing: Why punish the technology?

Why punish the technology because some people use it for unlawful means? Speaking as a consumer (and occasional file downloader–legally, of course!), it should be as easy to use content legally as it is illegally. [...]

[...] Ever since Napster got closed down, the content industry’s strategy for dealing with the peer-to-peer challenge can be summed up in three words: Sue the bastards. Everyone of sane mind can agree there’s a need to address digital piracy. But how about trying something more nuanced than a sledgehammer approach?

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Viral Marketing Games [8:45 am]

Fake Commercial Spots Spread Quickly on the Internet (CNet’s version) - Democratizing the semiotics of product promotion, or just a new way to be manipulated?

Viral marketing, in which low-profile ads spread quickly online as people share them, has become an intriguing strategy for many marketers trying to look beyond traditional 30-second television commercials.

But marketers are not the only ones taking the viral approach. Because the Web and cheap video technology keep making it easier for anyone with some knowledge and equipment to produce spots that look almost like real commercials, brand managers may find their carefully calibrated marketing messages increasingly being tweaked, teased, spoiled or entirely undermined.

Consumers, on the other hand, can now wonder whether each supposed hoax is an authorized, but deniable, below-the-radar marketing ploy.

The spoof Polo ad [QuickTime] that has revved up the discussion lately.
CNN Money: Report: VW to sue makers of bomb ad [pdf]; Lee and Dan’s WWW site

Later: Xeni says VW files complaint against makers of “suicide bomber” ad

Later still Fake Ad Creators Issue an Apology

“The creators regret the distribution of the film, will not publicize it further and apologize unreservedly for the damage caused to Volkswagen,” it said, adding that the company would now drop legal action against them.

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Media Consolidation Receives A Blow [8:40 am]

U.S. Backs Off Relaxing Rules for Big Media

Media companies hoping to expand their television station holdings and to own both TV stations and newspapers in the same markets suffered a setback yesterday when the Bush administration decided to abandon its challenge to a ruling that blocked the relaxation of ownership rules.

The Justice Department will not ask the Supreme Court to consider a decision last year by a federal appeals court in Philadelphia that sharply criticized the move toward deregulation and ordered the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its action. The decision is a final slap to Michael K. Powell, the departing chairman of the F.C.C., who had advocated the changes. [...]

[...] Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps, the commission’s two Democrats, who opposed the changes to the rules, applauded the administration’s decision, which they suggested was a sharp rebuke of the agency under Mr. Powell.

“This is a recognition of the failure of the commission to adequately justify its rules and is a recognition of its failure to protect the public interest,” Mr. Adelstein said. “This is an historic decision for the media democracy movement.”

See also the Washington Post’s FCC Drops Bid to Relax Media Rules [pdf]

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“Droit du Shoveleur” [8:11 am]

Kelly’s parking pitch hits national arena [pdf]

Not since he was the angry voice of South Boston’s campaign against busing 30 years ago has [City Councillor James M. Kelly been such a hot interview. The fight he's picked with Mayor Thomas M. Menino over Southie's sacred you-shovel-it-you-own-it tradition of saving parking spaces after snowstorms has become a national story.

It's just the kind of spectacle that resonates these days, featuring characters whose accents are straight from central casting, and with a story line played as both epic and ridiculous. The tales of ironing boards and household furniture reserving curbside spots has become a novelty in places where parking is not so scarce and winters not so snow-packed. And after a bitter presidential campaign in which the Northeast showed itself to be out of step with much of the rest of the country, this part of the the world offers another curiosity.

"By itself, it's not life or death, but it gets at this great cultural divide," said Bill Radke, cohost of "Weekend America," a slice-of-American-life radio show that has interviewed Kelly twice in the past month. "It's not just about saving your parking spot with a chair. It's something we can talk about when were really talking about a bunch of other values and approaches to life."

Besides, Radke added, "It's funny."

[...] Turns out a couple other cities have similar traditions, including Philadelphia and Chicago. (One Windy City newspaper columnist has called the local version “droit du shoveleur,” pidgin French for “the rights of the shoveler.”) But none has a mayor willing to take on the tradition as Menino has. And only Boston has Kelly, who rarely shies away from a fight.

Also in today’s paper: Menino guarded on law of the shovel: No crackdown yet on saving of spaces [pdf]

If only the stakes in the DRM fight were the same. (See It Snows, You Shovel, You Mark; OMG - Term Extension Proposals?! and DRM Is A Folding Chair)

Later: Not making a lot of progress, it appears, but some great pictures - X still marks spot [pdf]

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