May 31, 2005

Sony Continues To Seek Losing Strategies [2:39 pm]

Getting in bed with WMA — now < b>there’s a solution: Sony tests anti-CD burning technology [pdf]

part of its mounting United States rollout of content-enhanced and copy-protected CDs, Sony BMG is testing technology that bars consumers from making additional copies of burned CD-R discs.

Since March the company has released at least 10 commercial titles - more than 1 million discs in total, featuring technology from UK anti-piracy specialist First4Internet that allows consumers to make limited copies of protected discs, but blocks users from making copies of the copies.

[...] Under the new solution, tracks ripped and burned from a copy-protected disc are copied to a blank CD in Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio format.

The DRM embedded on the discs bars the burned CD from being copied.

And, of course, it still won’t work

Later: Sony BMG tests technology to limit CD burning

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The Register Falls For A Contagious Media Project [7:49 am]

The Contagious Media Project nets another victim: Cheating wife? Try GPS panties. You’d think The Register’s editors would at least check out story URLs — yes, it’s funny, but the Contagious Media Project WWW page raises some interesting ideas

Global capitalism has produced hundreds of millions of bored office workers who sit in front of computers forwarding emails and surfing the web, inadvertently creating the Bored at Work Network (BWN). The BWN has become the largest alternative to the corporate media. Activists, artists, and hackers can reach millions of people through the BWN.

Solo and in collaborative groups, I create content for the BWN, including email forwards, net art, joke web sites, phone lines, and weblogs. These viral projects are examples of what I call “Contagious Media” and this site documents four examples that have reached millions of people: the Nike email, the Rejection Line, Black People Love Us, and

These experiments illustrate the practical application of concepts like emergence, 6-degrees of separation, and tipping points. The work starts small and spreads virally to millions of people without any promotions, advertisements, or press releases. In the end, the mass media picks up the story as a trend, and the work is able to permeate the culture at multiple levels.

This low-budget, bottom-up approach makes it possible to create a global cascade that begins with a small group of friends and extends to the set of CNN or the Today Show. These Contagious Media Experiments suggest new opportunities for artists and activists in the networked age.

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A Modest Proposal [7:26 am]

Photo by Mark Ralston/Reuters.

Oh, and what about that region encoding thing? A straight-to-DVD solution for piracy [pdf]

Here’s one solution to the nagging problem of movie piracy — release films in theaters and on DVD on the same day.

Frankly, it’s already happening. Less than 24 hours after its theatrical release, bootleg DVDs of “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” were selling in small shops and on street corners around New York, and probably lots of other cities as well. Though the quality ranged from poor to decent, from what I’ve seen, it’s a safe guess that lots of people bought them anyway since they cost around $5, about half the price of a movie ticket. And for those with the patience and hardware, the film was also available — illegally, of course — over the Internet.

[...] Already, the Motion Picture Association of America is threatening to file lawsuits against those downloading movies from online file-sharing services. As with the music industry, yes, that’s one way to fight piracy, but suing the same people you ultimately want to purchase your product seems like a pretty shortsighted business plan.

Instead of strong-arming its customers, the film industry needs to consider eliminating the so-called “window” between theatrical runs and DVD releases.

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May 30, 2005

But Of Course! [5:58 pm]

TiVo-like devices for radio raise piracy fears

Various devices that enable listeners to record Internet radio streams and then convert them into MP3 files are catching on and making Web radio and streaming services more appealing to the general public.

But some legal experts say the recording software may violate digital copyright laws and does little more than promote piracy.

“Obviously if people can use the TiVo-like unit to download a recording from Web radio and preprogram it to search digital radio to find tracks that you want, it’s going to beg a big question with the record industry,” said Jay Cooper, an veteran entertainment lawyer.

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May 27, 2005

OT: Speechless [6:42 pm]

living with ghosts (in re: The Choirboy [pdf])

I think I’m sticking with the hero, brave words.

Later: The Register’s take: Lawrence Lessig’s other court case

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The Complexities of Deploying MS’ Rights Management System [8:45 am]

Oliver Rist: Microsoft amends Rights Management Server

For those who don’t remember, RMS is a cousin of Digital Rights Management Server, but it’s intended to protect documents that circulate within a single organization and perhaps within some partner organizations; it’s not aimed at securing documents, such as an e-book, that have a broader, Internet-wide audience. Within an organization, RMS has the power to enforce security policies down to the document level, and it allows the document to carry its security along with it wherever it goes in the enterprise.

RMS’s security features are significant, including encryption, specific user or group access, denial of save, print, or change capabilities, and more. So BT’s Pearson could create a hypothetical document alerting senior staff to buy millions of PlayStations for the Pearson Brain-Drain Game project, and he could make the document viewable only by a select group of BT executives. Let’s call them the Guinness Drinkers. If Pearson e-mails the document to the entire BT Executive Group, only those in the Guinness Drinkers subgroup will be able to open it.

Pearson could further make sure that no one in Human Resources, Legal, or Psychological Evaluations can even see the document, let alone print or save it. And should Sony issue an announcement that it will evaluate his proposal by a specific date, Pearson can set his original document to expire on that date in favor of his new document, “I Don’t Know What I Was Thinking.”

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The Evolving Demographics of ‘Net Use [8:38 am]

Silver surfers say net is ‘vital’

Two polls marking Silver Surfers’ day, suggest technologies like the net are considered essential by older people.

More than half of over-55s online say the net gives them a new lease of life. Seven percent look for love online, and 22% play games.

The annual Silver Surfers’ day tries to introduce older groups to technologies.

The day, which gets support from the European Union’s social fund, aims to ease 10,000 “digitally excluded” older people into a digital life by showing them how technologies might add to their lives.

The attitudes towards technologies across the generations is levelling out, thinks technology giant Hewlett Packard (HP).

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Funding A Digital Conversion [8:35 am]

UK cinemas share digital windfall

More than 200 UK cinemas have been chosen to get Lottery money to cut down on Hollywood films in favour of British, classic and arthouse movies.

The 209 cinemas will share £11.7m - equivalent to £56,000 each - to install state-of-the-art digital projectors.

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New Internet2 RIAA Suits [8:33 am]

RIAA takes new shots at Internet2 swappers

The Recording Industry Association of America filed lawsuits against people at 33 university campuses accused of using the high-speed Internet2 network to swap music files, the group said Thursday. The actions follow a first set of lawsuits focusing on this network last month.

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An FCC Decency Casualty [8:27 am]

You’re #@&$% Fired!

A reporter for WCBS-TV, Mr. Chi’en was on a Midtown street doing a live standup on MetroCard swindles. This was for the benefit of however many New Yorkers happened to be awake at 6 a.m. and tuned to Channel 2. Behind him stood two dolts who taunted him on camera, gesturing vulgarly and holding up a sign for the Opie and Anthony radio show.

Opie and Dopey, you may recall, are the geniuses who once broadcast a live account of a couple supposedly having sex inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They’re still around, heaven save us, on satellite radio. Their idea of fun now includes sending dolts to torment hard-working reporters.

Mr. Chi’en, acting human, lost his cool. After finishing his report, he turned to his harassers and yelled something on the order of, “What is your problem, man?” That last sentence is sanitized here. [...]

That was Mr. Chi’en’s foolish thing. He thought he was off the air, he says. But he knew right away that he had gone too far. When he went back live moments later, he apologized, but to no avail. Before the morning was out, WCBS had fired him.

[...] SOME of Mr. Chi’en’s allies sense a climate of fear in the F.C.C.’s pumped-up campaign against indecency.

In parts of the country, television stations have refused to broadcast the film “Saving Private Ryan” because it shows soldiers at war being, of all things, violent and foul-mouthed. Some stations have rejected “Schindler’s List” for showing naked female prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp being herded to the showers. Never mind that any viewer sexually titillated by that scene probably needs a therapist.

It is in this climate that Mr. Chi’en lost his job, his supporters say. “It’s a gross overreaction,” said Al O’Leary, a spokesman for the police officers’ union, who used to speak for New York City Transit. “To sacrifice Arthur Chi’en’s career on the altar of political correctness is just wrong.”

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Ugh! [8:22 am]

As TV Moves to the Web, Marketers Follow

TELEVISION programmers are looking to make the Web a lot more like TV.

On Tuesday, the emerging-media group at Scripps Networks, part of the E. W. Scripps Company, plans to introduce an all-video Web site that will use programming from its Food Network, Fine Living, HGTV and DIY Network brands, as well as new clips.

A major advertiser in Scripps offline media, General Motors’ GMC division, has paid for a video showroom on the site and a presence throughout it.

Others are likely to follow, as advertisers show a growing interest in the approach. “One of the biggest drivers for online advertising the first time was Web sites advertising on other Web sites,” said Peter Petrusky, director for advisory services at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “This time it’s being buoyed by the offline brand builders like Coke, Honda, Nike, Visa and Nestlé.”

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Pre-empting the MPAA’s Piracy Argument [8:19 am]

With Popcorn, DVD’s and TiVo, Moviegoers Are Staying Home

With box-office attendance sliding, so far, for the third consecutive year, many in the industry are starting to ask whether the slump is just part of a cyclical swing driven mostly by a crop of weak movies or whether it reflects a much bigger change in the way Americans look to be entertained - a change that will pose serious new challenges to Hollywood.

Studios have made more on DVD sales and licensing products than on theatrical releases for some time. Now, technologies like TiVo and video-on-demand are keeping even more people at home, as are advanced home entertainment centers, with their high-definition television images on large flat screens and multichannel sound systems.

“It is much more chilling if there is a cultural shift in people staying away from movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the Exhibitor Relations Company, a box-office tracking firm. “Quality is a fixable problem.”

But even if the quality of movies can be improved, Mr. Dergarabedian said, the fundamental problem is that “today’s audience is a much tougher crowd to excite. They have so many entertainment options and they have gotten used to getting everything on demand.”

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The WaPo on News, $$’s and the WWW [8:13 am]

News Groups Wrestle With Online Fees [pdf]

“For the cost of roughly two and a half martinis, you can have access to the entire archives,” [NYTimes Digital's Martin] Nisenholtz quipped. He took issue with bloggers who predicted the subscription plan will reduce the readership and influence of the paper’s columnists. “We expect quite a number of people will subscribe,” he said.

But since the New York Times has more online readers than print subscribers, it’s hard to believe the columnists won’t see a dramatic fall-off in readership even if its subscription plan catches on.

The painful transition facing the newspaper industry was on display here this week at the Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital” conference. In a panel discussion, top executives from three newspaper companies — Knight-Ridder Inc., The Washington Post Co. and Dow Jones & Co. — expressed optimism about what they called the “challenges” facing their industry. Since most large papers have gained more Web readers than they have lost in print, the panelists said the industry has a chance to reinvent itself.

“If we’re in trouble, shame on us,” said Donald Graham, chairman and chief executive of The Washington Post, noting that total readership of Post journalism has more than doubled in the past seven years if online readers and those reading the company’s free Express paper are counted.

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I Know Where I Stand [7:55 am]

Unless the government want to pay me to get cable… Lawmakers split on subsidy for digital TV converters

Lawmakers seemed split along party lines Thursday over whether the government should buy converter boxes for millions of Americans who still use antenna-based TVs, once the nation’s shift to digital TV is finished.

A bill drafted by House Republicans sets Dec. 31, 2008, as the date by which broadcasters must return their analog airwaves to the government and broadcast in digital only. That deadline — two years later than Republicans originally advocated — drew bipartisan support at a House hearing Thursday.

But the bill includes no subsidy for the $50 boxes, which would convert digital to analog for consumers who use analog TVs that rely on antenna rather than on cable or satellite TV.

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May 26, 2005

Missed This: Music Club Suit Settlement Causing Unrest [5:09 pm]

Static Builds Over Music Club Accord [pdf]

Since becoming a federal class action, the suit has quietly expanded to include thousands of songwriters and hundreds of millions of dollars in disputed revenue. Now a proposed settlement has many music publishers up in arms, claiming that it will permanently disadvantage composers.

If approved, the settlement will no longer require that Columbia House and BMG Direct — best known for sending listeners 12 CDs for the price of one — seek permission to distribute copyrighted songs. Instead, a new Internet-based system would give songwriters 30 days to object before the license is automatically granted.

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Elite Torrents Raid [8:37 am]

One question — *what* agency spearheaded this? DHS?? Star Wars pirates forced off net

An internet site that let film fans illegally download the new Star Wars movie before it reached cinemas has been shut after raids in the US.

The Elite Torrents site allowed 133,000 members to download thousands of films and software programs, according to the Homeland Security Department.

The Justice Department said fans used it to download Revenge of the Sith 10,000 times before it was released.

It was shut after raids by federal agents in 10 cities across the country.

The WaPo doesn’t tell us which agency: Federal Agents Shut Down File-Sharing Web Site [pdf]

Wired News raises a more troubling point - U.S. Jacks Torrent Site

Acting on detailed information provided by the motion picture industry, federal agents descended on administrators and users of a popular pirate-friendly file-sharing site Wednesday in what the government is calling the first criminal law enforcement action against BitTorrent users.

FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents executed 10 search warrants in nine states in a strike on, a free, members-only BitTorrent aggregator hosted in the Netherlands.

[...] Another 10 suspects outside the United States remain under investigation, but were not a part of Wednesday’s raids, said Sevel. Casual downloaders were also spared, but a Justice Department spokesman in Washington would not rule out future federal action against them. [...]

ICE, the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, spearheaded the investigation because of its international scope.

So, yes, the Department of Homeland Security headed this up……

Later: The Register’s Fearless Feds sink Star Wars pirate website comments on the troubling, yet absurd, elements of this story.

The FBI Press release: Federal Law Enforcement Announces Operation D-ELITE, Crackdown on P2P Piracy Network

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May 25, 2005

BusWeek Gives an S&P Analyst’s View of Law and the ‘Net [6:20 pm]

How the Law Is Shaking the Net

I’ve been covering Internet stocks for more than five years and cannot remember a time when legal disputes and resolutions were having a greater impact on the industry and its companies. Perhaps this is indicative of a segment that’s becoming more stable and mature. Maybe the legal activity evidences the growing importance of intellectual property in the Net area, as companies increasingly employ it to establish and extend competitive advantages. We at S&P do think the Internet field is more crowded than it was a few years ago, and players are striving for proprietary differentiation.

The world’s largest Web companies and at least one equity analyst who covers them are taking notice. Today’s competition is taking place in the marketplace and in courtrooms. Corporate success for online businesses seems predicated on both good products and services and associated legal protections.

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BusWeek on PodCasting and (c) [6:18 pm]

Podcasters Hit the Copyright Wall

But as the medium develops and radio chains such as Infinity and ClearChannel Communications enter the field, podcasters who want to play brand-name content will face a copyright stumbling block. “It’s going to be extremely frustrating,” says Chris MacDonald, director of legal affairs for the Association of Music Podcasting, a group of Webcasters.

Why the conundrum? Simply put, copyright law hasn’t caught up to technology. While the music industry has created an efficient licensing system for music-streaming on the Web, which doesn’t entail making copies, it hasn’t cobbled together one for podcast-style music downloads.

PLAYING IT SAFE. And since podcasts enable listeners to download Web radio shows onto their iPods or other music players, the podcasters are violating copyrights if they don’t get permission from each recording label whose music they play. The one-off approvals add up to a big headache for small-time podcasters.

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Strike Vote Set [5:15 pm]

Hollywood unions set video game strike vote

Two of the key unions representing actors have asked their members to authorize a strike against the video game industry after talks on a new master agreement between the two sides broke down.

Later: Wired News’ coverage - Strike Looms Against Game Makers

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Ernest Clarifies P2P Insurance [11:56 am]

Copyright Infringement Insurance for Filesharing: An Idea Whose Time Has Still Not Come, a response to Derek’s File-Sharer Insurance? Huh?

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May 2005
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