March 14, 2005

“First Sale” and DVDs? [8:44 pm]

I’m not sure where this article (New methods eyed for buying movies) comes off arguing that “first sale” doesn’t apply when it comes to DVDs, but I expect I’ll get an answer soon enough.

Want to get rid of that old DVD box set of “The Best of Barnaby Jones?” Peerflix has the site for you.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company has created a site at which consumers can trade their old DVDs with one another legally, thereby stretching their entertainment budgets and clearing out clutter. Selling a used DVD outright can be legally iffy, as it gets into complex copyright issues, but Peerflix offers a way around the sticky legalities.

Peerflix is one of a number of outfits determined to change the way consumers get their movies. [...]

[...] The network in some ways harks back to the economies of medieval Europe. Technically, consumers don’t buy (or sell) used DVDs on the network. Instead, they create lists of movies they want, and movies they want to trade, and then exchange them for “peerbucks.” The peerbucks can then be traded for other DVDs, according to Danielle Levy, a Peerflix representative.

DVDs on the network cost 1, 2 or 3 peerbucks, depending on consumer demand and available supply. Consumers can buy peerbucks from the company for $9 each, but most people prefer simply to trade in that old “Men in Black” DVD for a copy of something equivalently priced, such as “Men in Black II,” she said.

Peerflicks makes its money by charging the person acquiring the movies 99 cents per transaction, she said.

Legal DVDs (that is, those that weren’t pirated) can be traded in this fashion without violating any laws. However, it is still illegal to trade unauthorized pirate disks.

Something in the EULA/shrinkwrap that I missed? Why doesn’t “first sale” apply to DVDs? (Maybe something related to this: Exceptions Consume The Rule: DVD & The First Sale Doctrine)

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News Customization [7:55 am]

News Junkies Can Custom-Design Online Channels [pdf]

Users can zap Google’s standard sports section off the page, or move those headlines higher. They can add a personal section called, say, “Wacko Jacko,” to display the latest trial headlines about the PJ-clad defendant, or “Condoleezza” to fetch news of the jet-setting secretary of state.

[...] Google’s new service, though, is more tightly focused on news and pulls up articles from a wider variety of sources than its rivals. News junkies may love this hyperactive paperboy because it lets them save a lot of custom topics — up to 20 at once — and access them using brightly colored menu buttons.

The march to EPIC 2014 continues?

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Corporate Sponsorship: Toyota and the Music Biz [7:42 am]

From Toyota, a Different Sound System

For the car and music businesses, marketing with music has been a mutually beneficial relationship: automakers stir potential customers’ emotions with old classics and next-big-thing songs, and musicians get commercial exposure.

Toyota’s new Scion line has taken this relationship to the logical next level by founding its own record label.

[...] The company is careful to play down its role as a record label. Scion A/V has no dedicated staff; the project is handled through the carmaker’s marketing division and by outside contractors. Scion does not take any profit from the releases, and it allows the artists to own their own master recordings, said Jeri Yoshizu, Scion’s manager of sales promotions. The goal, she said, is simply brand extension by association with underground music.

“If we did make money, it would not have such a positive effect,” she said. “We don’t want to cross that line.”

The risk for Scion, as music companies know all too well, is that it is extremely difficult to predict what new songs people will like.

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EU Telecoms Competition Rising [7:35 am]

For Telecoms in Europe, Turf Battles Are Escalating

Before the telecommunications bubble burst in 2000, blockbuster acquisitions were the only way that Europe’s former phone monopolies could get into new geographic territory.

Now the telecom giants are taking the much more modest route of crossing borders to sell Internet services, and rising competition has meant lower prices and improved service for businesses and consumers.

[...] This rush to broadband has put the former monopolies on a potential collision course as they begin to grope about in one another’s home markets. So far, consumers have been the main beneficiaries, with prices falling and services improving as companies try to woo one another’s clients.

[...] “You have to ask yourself what is behind this broadband expansion besides empire-building,” said Mr. Johnson, the broadband consultant.

“At the end of the day, they are working hard to become just another Internet service provider, and it’s not clear what they get out of being present in another country,” he said. “There are some economies of scale, but the whole advantage of the fixed-line incumbent operators is that their main asset is their copper wires, and they don’t have that when they go abroad.”

A discussion of the differences in the US and EU culture of telephony: Europe, U.S. Separated by Telephone Cultures [pdf] (Slashdot discussion: Reuters On Telephone Cultures)

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Here We Go [7:27 am]

A sound business strategy? Or the start of a plunge into oblivion? (and a sign that maybe it’s time to start making PDF archives for every paper?) Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?

Of the nation’s 1,456 daily newspapers, only one national paper, The Wall Street Journal, which is published by Dow Jones & Company, and about 40 small dailies charge readers to use their Web sites. Other papers charge for either online access to portions of their content or offer online subscribers additional features.

The New York Times on the Web, which is owned by The New York Times Company, has been considering charging for years and is expected to make an announcement soon about its plans. In January, The Times’s Web site had 1.4 million unique daily visitors. Its daily print circulation averaged 1,124,000 in 2004, down from its peak daily circulation of 1,176,000 in 1993.

Executives at The Times have suggested that the paper, which already charges for its crossword puzzle, news alerts and archives online, may start charging for other portions of its content, but would not follow the Journal model, which charges online readers $79 a year for everything.

[...] “We’re always looking at the issue,” said Caroline Little, publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the online media subsidiary of The Washington Post Company. She said that the online registration process that most papers now require for use of their Web sites, while free, lays the groundwork for charging if papers decide to go that route.

[...] The Post has no plans to charge now because it would mean too big of a drop-off in readers. “It’s just not a strong financial proposition at this point,” she said.

Executives at other newspaper groups, including the Gannett Company, which publishes USA Today, said they had no plans to start charging either.

Doesn’t this count for anything? Liberal Bloggers Reaching Out to Major Media

The conference call is a small development in the complex relationship between bloggers and the mainstream media. Traditional journalists largely ignored bloggers when they emerged, but have begun to take note of their influence as online commentators assumed roles in news stories like the flaws in the report by “60 Minutes Wednesday” on President Bush’s National Guard service and the comments by the former CNN chief, Eason Jordan, about the military’s treatment of journalists in Iraq.

As more news emerges online, or what is reported offline becomes fodder for further investigation, the lines between those operating in the world of online news and commentary and those at the traditional media organizations have become more blurred and sometimes less confrontational. Some news organizations now credit blogs that originate stories, extending to them the treatment other media receive. Some bloggers, in turn, argue that they should receive all the legal privileges that traditional journalists often have, including the right to protect news sources.

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Boston Globe on Music Promotion Outlets [7:12 am]

Plus, no one’s likely to make a copy: Music labels stalk captive ears at malls [pdf]

Although radio remains the holy grail for hyping new CDs, record labels are increasingly turning to other media to promote their artists. They are introducing new music through commercials (recently with U2 and iPod), television shows, video games, and in-flight music stations on airlines. Turning to the mall is the latest example of the music industry’s struggle to reach listeners at a time when radio is less willing to take risks and when people, faced with a growing array of entertainment choices, spend less time listening to the radio.

[...] Following the consolidation that swept the radio industry in the 1990s, there are fewer independent stations willing to risk losing listeners by playing music from unknown artists. As stations consolidated into fewer hands, the stakes also grew. Two decades ago, an FM station in a city such as Boston was worth $1 million to $2 million. Today, its worth would be 20 to 30 times that amount, said Tom Taylor, editor of the Inside Radio newsletter.

[...] ”You can’t rely solely on radio play and video play anymore to break through the clutter and keep your record on the top of people’s mind,” said Ronn Werre, senior vice president of sales and marketing for EMI Music Marketing. ”We’ll pursue any opportunity to expose people to the song.”

Even the mall. Mall stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch have long played music, selling CDs of songs one might hear while shopping at their stores. Pop stars such as Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson performed at malls to help launch their careers. And as malls compete with big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, they are morphing into entertainment centers.

Some statistics from a sidebar - “Number of hours an average person spent listening to the radio - Arbitron, Inc.”

1996 355
1997 352
1998 347
1999 337
2000 330
2001 324
2002 322
2003 318

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