February 6, 2005

Movie Industry Economics [3:30 pm]

An article not to miss on how the economics of the industry have shaped it - from The New Yorker: Gross Points [pdf]. The closing paragraph:

The blockbuster is a Hollywood tradition, but blockbuster dependence is a disease. It sucks the talent and the resources out of every other part of the industry. A contemporary blockbuster could almost be defined as a movie in which production value is in inverse proportion to content. “Troy” is a comic strip, but what a lavish, loving, costly comic strip it is. The talent, knowledge, and ingenuity required to make just one of the battle scenes in that film, or one mindless James Bond chase sequence, interchangeable in memory with almost any other Bond chase sequence, would drain the resources of many universities. But why doesn’t anyone put more than two seconds’ thought into the story? The attention to detail in movies today is fantastic. There is nothing cheap or tacky about Hollywood’s product, but there is something empty. Or maybe the emptiness is in us.

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UK Telecom Competition [12:05 pm]

Interesting to compare this with the current trends in US telecom, where footdragging in broadband rollout has meant that regulators have decided to help limit access: BT offers equal access to rivals

BT has moved to pre-empt a possible break-up of its business by offering to cut wholesale broadband prices and open its network to rivals.

The move comes after telecom regulator Ofcom said in November that the firm must offer competitors “real equality of access to its phone lines”.

At the time, Ofcom offered BT the choice of change or splitting into two.

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I’d Love To See An Update [11:59 am]

A June 2004 comparison among record stores and online sales outlets on the availability of “the best British albums” yielded a surprising result: Tracking down the best British albums

The Observer newspaper printed its list of the 100 best British albums of all time on Sunday. But how many of the top 20 are easily available - either at your local record store, online or to order via the internet?

[...] [I]f I wanted to add a Rolling Stones, Nick Drake or David Bowie CD to my collection, would it be better to download it, buy it over the counter or order it online?

Can the much-hyped online music stores match the range of music available in a local record store - in my case HMV in Richmond, south-west London?

Online music stores such as iTunes, Napster and OD2’s services are relatively new - iTunes in Europe is just a week old - so it was no surprise to find there was limited availability of much of the top 20.

[...] Amazon.co.uk could despatch 18 of the 20 albums within 24 hours - Public Image Limited’s Metal Box and Soul II Soul’s Club Classic would take up to four days.

My local record store in Richmond is one of the smaller HMV shops in the chain’s portfolio but it boasted 18 out of the 20 albums.

There have been concerns that the arrival of online stores such as Napster will spell the end for high street record shops.

But if I had wanted to get my hands on the cream of British music, it was the best place to start looking.

Wonder how the comparison would go today?

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Back To The Drawing Board [11:51 am]

Widely noted last week, a rewrite of the software patent provisions of the pending EU directive: Reboot ordered for EU patent law

A European Parliament committee has ordered a rewrite of the proposals for controversial new European Union rules which govern computer-based inventions.

The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) said the Commission should re-submit the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive after MEPs failed to back it.

It has had vocal critics who say it could favour large over small firms and impact open-source software innovation.

Supporters say it would let firms protect their inventions.

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How The French Do It [11:49 am]

At least they actually got to litigate: Fine for French web music sharer

A schoolteacher in France has been fined 10,200 euros (£7,033) for illegally swapping hundreds of music albums on the internet.

The 28-year-old man must pay the money to copyright companies, in a decision aimed at deterring others.

[...] The fine was less than half the amount called for by the copyright companies who pay out money to artists.

[...] He also had his computer confiscated and was ordered to take out newspaper advertisements announcing the verdict and punishment.

See earlier France Protest Over IFPI Lawsuits

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OT: Something To Think About [11:27 am]

What’s Bugging the High-Tech Car?

Mr. [Thilo] Koslowski said the auto industry was not yet very good at integrating software, so buyers inherit systems that can interfere with one another - just as installing incompatible programs can make a personal computer malfunction. He said a niche might soon emerge for companies that integrate various software systems before they go into a vehicle, in the way that companies like Dell sell PC’s with the operating system and programs already working in harmony.

Meg Self says I.B.M. is planning to provide that kind of service. She is the company’s director of Embedded Systems Lifecycle Management, its name for a new business venture dealing with automotive software and electronics. Ms. Self said that 32 percent of warranty costs could be attributed to dealership service visits at which no problem was found.

I.B.M. predicts that by 2010, almost all cars will have essentially the same mechanical systems. What will make the cars different will be software that operates the systems in ways specific to the brand of car. With so much of a vehicle’s identity riding on computer code, carmakers must get the software right.

Think you’ll get to reprogram it? Will UCITA get extended to automobiles? The possibilities are endless.

Slashdot discussion: If The Problem Persists, Reboot The Car

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Dan Glickman Speaks [11:21 am]

An interview with the new head of the MPAA, with some refreshing questions, even if the answers remain true to the Valenti dogma: Going Hollywood

Do you have any other ambitions?

The big substantive issue for me right now is antipiracy, fighting those who want to get the content of movies free.

Are we talking about school kids watching movies online? Or organized-crime lords?

We are talking about an awful lot of people worldwide who are engaged in criminal activity. We need to educate kids so they understand the value of intellectual property.

I find it hard to get morally indignant over the issue, because there are so many more pressing issues than making sure that Hollywood gets every last penny that is owed to it.

The founding fathers, in our Constitution, talked about copyright. They talked about the creative juices that are necessary for a free society and protecting property rights.

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Living With “Droit du Shoveleur” [10:59 am]

Today’s Boston Globe has some notable letters on the subject [pdf]:

  • We’ve got snow, but no parking space

    One-third of the parking spaces on my street are still filled with snow, making them unusable. Believe it or not, there are people out there who, for one reason or another, find it quite difficult to dig out 6-foot mounds of snow after the city has taken away their marker and they’ve lost their space. The city has now taken away my nice neat cones and my bucket filled with sand, but failed to remove any of the snow.

  • Parking vigilantes cross the line

    This past weekend I ventured to South Boston for the first time since the blizzard. I found an unmarked spot and pulled in. After parking there for four hours, I got into my car and started driving away to find my steering wheel off balance. I made it about 100 feet before pulling over and finding both tires slashed. One was so bad that I was driving on the rim.

    I couldn’t leave my car in the middle of the street and I didn’t want to chance ruining the rim so I pulled into another unmarked spot and left the car overnight until I could get a tow the next morning. The next day I found my car in worse condition, with smeared dog feces all over the driver’s side windshield.

  • Private property in a public space

    IN “KELLY’S parking pitch hits national arena,” Jan. 28, (Page A1), Kelly supports the tradition of “you-shovel-it-you-own-it,” but the reality is that he is storing his private property (his car) on public property (the street). If he wants his own private parking space, then he should rent a spot in a garage or find an apartment or condo that includes parking.

See “Droit du Shoveleur”

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