January 30, 2005

Norwegian Filesharing Conviction Upheld [6:39 pm]

Norway upholds ‘Napster’ ruling

Frank Allan Bruvik set up the napster.no website as part of a school project in 2001 while studying computer engineering in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer.

[...] Bruvik’s site was online between August and November 2001, and while it did not host any music, at its peak it was providing links to more than 170 free files on other servers.

As well as providing links, the site allowed those visiting it to submit links that could later be accessed by other visitors.

A legal complaint for copyright violation was filed by groups including Norway’s performing rights society, Tono, and the Norwegian branches of Sony Music and Universal Music, who saw it as an important test of principle.

[...] [T]he case was decided based on the responsibility for abetting an illegal act, and that Bruvik’s actions were premeditated.

Slashdot: Norwegian Student Ordered to Pay for Hyperlinks to Music; The Register: Norwegian student fined for MP3 links

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Business Models in the DIgital Age [5:44 pm]

Having attended a WEF in Davos once, I expect that the real talking is unlikely to have made it to the press, but Executives’ Thoughts on Financing Content in a Digital Age gives at least a sense of what might have been the basis for the discussions:

Imagine a future in which media consumers, empowered by new technology, demand everything for free. What they can’t get legitimately, they show no qualms about pirating. August names of film studios, television networks and newspapers lose their aura of trust and authority. TV viewers turn off advertising with nifty digital devices - or simply tune out apathetically, leaving marketers powerless and media companies with no way to finance their content.

Some media industries, particularly the music business, have already had to come to terms with such dystopian visions. Others may never have to, as new technologies offer more opportunities than threats.

The spread of broadband, for instance, provides video and interactive experiences of a quality unimagined a few years ago. Digital distribution of music and other media via the Internet creates a whole new business model, not just a vehicle for runaway piracy.

In public at least, some of the media chiefs who gathered here last week at the World Economic Forum dismissed talk of dangers to their businesses as overblown angst, like the paranoia of Hans Castorp, who sequestered himself in a Davos sanitarium in “The Magic Mountain” by Thomas Mann. In closed-door sessions, however, the executives also examined darker scenarios, participants said.

See also Taking the Pulse of Technology at Davos

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“Roll-Your-Own” Tech for TVs [5:12 pm]

Here we go again - the end of television is nigh, according to Steal This Show. Yet, the author fails to reconcile these two points:

  1. Executives at the entertainment conglomerates and the Motion Picture Association of America argue that the industry and the government have to move - fast - to establish rules by which copyrighted television programming “cannot be moved around willy-nilly,” as Rick Cotton, executive vice president and general counsel of NBC Universal, puts it.

    Otherwise, television executives say, the very creation of television programming is placed in jeopardy. “It’s very expensive to produce and market, and people will be very reluctant to provide that content if it can’t be adequately secured,” said John Malcolm, the senior vice president and director of worldwide antipiracy operations for the M.P.A.A.

    One way to protect such content, according to the industry, is through the introduction of something called the broadcast flag. [...]

  2. Television DVD’s, an afterthought in the DVD market just three years ago, were an estimated $2.3 billion-dollar business last year, according to a recent Merrill Lynch research report. They now represent nearly 15 percent of total DVD revenue, with profit margins between 40 and 50 percent.

    Recent hit shows like “The Simpsons” can make a profit of $15 million - a season. And those are exactly the shows traded most online, according to Big Champagne. Although older shows are not quite as lucrative, the better ones can still bring in $1 million in profit for each season, the Merrill Lynch report found. So it’s no surprise that the studios and networks are emptying their vaults; “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Dynasty,” “The A-Team,” “Moonlighting” and “Remington Steele” are just a few of the DVD’s planned for release this spring.

Is it really the case that the copyright holder is supposed to be able to extract all the value of the copyright? Versus enough? How is this economic equation supposed to be balanced?

Slashdot: It’s Not TV, It’s MythTV

Related: the head of the U.K.’s OfCom says Net regulation ’still possible’; also the EFF’s (HD) Myth Becomes Reality TV

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