April 15, 2005

“How can we screw this up?” [7:39 am]

This may be a real chance to see “evolution in action,” on Internet time: Music moguls trumped by Steve Jobs?

Now, nearly two years after Apple’s iTunes launch, record executives have become worried that they have inadvertently ceded too much power over their industry to this charismatic computer executive.

Frustrated at what they see as Jobs’ intransigence on song pricing and other issues, some record executives are now turning their hopes toward other partners, particularly mobile phone carriers eager to get into the business of selling music. They see this new focus as a way to broaden the digital music business, and lessen Apple’s dominance over their market in the process.

“The (wireless) carriers’ economics are aligned with us much better than Apple is aligned with us,” said one senior executive at a major record label, who asked to remain anonymous due to his company’s ongoing relationship with Apple. “The mobile market is very important, as important to us as the PC.”

Jobs is given undeniable credit for jump-starting what is now a fast-growing digital music market, but some music executives complain that his company, with 70 percent of the digital download market, is setting the ground rules for their own business.

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The Great Firewall [7:31 am]

Web Censors in China Find Success

The Chinese government is succeeding in broadly censoring what its citizens can read on the Internet, surprising many experts and denting U.S. government hopes that online access would be a quick catalyst for democratic political reform.

[...] The study, which evaluated China’s Internet practices over the past year, found the government employed an aggressive array of tactics, including blocking certain keyword searches and whole Web sites, and forcing cyber-cafes to keep records of users and the Web pages they visit.

“China operates the most extensive, technologically sophisticated and broad-reaching system of Internet filtering in the world,” the study said.

Researchers said they worry that China’s censorship system could become a model for other countries looking to keep the lid on Internet use.

China’s success at censorship is even more remarkable to researchers because the country is promoting economic growth using technology.

See also WIred News China’s Filters Strong, Subtle — OpenNet Initiative link, with link to full report: Internet Filtering in China

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OutKast Suit w/ R. Parks Settled [7:14 am]

Followup to this: Rap Group Settles Rosa Parks Lawsuit

The rap group OutKast settled a long-running legal dispute yesterday with Rosa Parks, whose actions helped start the civil rights movement, over the group’s use of Mrs. Parks’s name in a song.

Mrs. Parks had sued the group in a federal court in Detroit in 1999, saying that its song, “Rosa Parks” whose lyrics do not name Mrs. Parks but contain the lines “Ah ha, hush that fuss/Everybody move to the back of the bus” had defamed her and violated her right of publicity.

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Playing out all the angles [6:59 am]

Why Verizon challenged the early RIAA subpoenas: Comcast sued for disclosing customer info

Comcast, the top U.S. cable TV network operator, is being sued by a Seattle-area woman for disclosing her name and contact information, court records showed Thursday.

In a lawsuit filed in King County, Wash., Dawnell Leadbetter said that she was contacted by a debt collection agency in January and told to pay a $4,500 for downloading copyright-protected music or face a lawsuit for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[...] The company, Settlement Support Center, based in Washington state, was using information that the Recording Industry of Association of America had obtained in a Philadelphia lawsuit over the illegal sharing of digital music files, said Lory Lybeck, the lawyer representing Leadbetter.

But no court authorized Comcast to release names and addresses of its customers, or notified his client that her information had been given to an outside party, Lybeck said.

“Comcast should respect the rights of privacy who pay them monthly bills,” Lybeck said.

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