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May 9, 2005

Is This A Sign Of The End Times? Or Something More Sly? (updated) [6:54 pm]

Or is Hilary Rosen demonstrating a key policy/stakeholder concept we teach at TPP - “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

After reading this post by the erstwhile head of the RIAA, complaining about (are you ready?) consumer lock-in/DRM in the Apple MP3 player, you’ll probably be scratching your head at the peculiar slant she’s taken (not to mention the weird gaps in her grasp of the technology): Steve Jobs, Let my Music Go. There have been postings on the pho list all day, but it’s hit Slashdot now, so I guess it qualifies for note here.

A sample from the posting:

Most every player device works at every one of these “stores” and it is pretty easy to keep all the songs, no matter where you got them, in a single folder or “jukebox” on your computer.

But not the iPod. Most agree it is the best quality player on the market even if the cheapest one costs a few hundred dollars. The problem is that the iPod only works with either songs that you buy from the on-line Apple iTunes store or songs that you rip from your own CD’s. But those other music sites have lots of music that you can’t get at the iTunes store. So, if you have an iPod, you are out of luck. If you are really a geek, you can figure out how to strip the songs you might have bought from another on-line store of all identifying information so that they will go into the iPod. But then you have also degraded the sound quality. How cruel.

I know that one might argue that I’ve drunk the Apple “Kool-ade,” but I can’t help wondering what she’s really up to here. Is she trying to convince people that the iPod embeds a somehow more constrained DRM system than a Janus-equipped MP3 player? Has she become a Microsoft stalking horse, attempting to help prize the iTunes music store share away from Apple? (see this Slashdot comment)

Because I can’t really grasp how the complaint she raises fits into any internally consistent perspective on digital music retailing. After all, is she really trying to convince us that the narrowness of the iTunes Music Store catalog is because the record companies think the DRM in the iPod is TOO strict? It seems to me that iTunes would be happy to carry more content — it’s that the record companies refuse to let iTunes carry it.

Maybe it’s the Kool-ade talking, but I think we should be look into this a lot more carefully before trying to read this as a change of heart on the part of Ms. Rosen. (another doubter)

(Note: A big first day for Arianna Huffington’s blog: see Slate’s comments here - Arianna’s Echo Park)

Later: See Ernest Miller’s thoughts over at CopyFight.

Much later: another observer points out that Hilary Rosen is now an MSNBC employee — the plot thickens (or the fog clears); also Ernest’s followup.

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Fair Use Perspectives and Review from Down Under [3:54 pm]

From the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department: Review of Fair Use exception (press release) [via Slashdot] From the Introduction:

The issues paper outlines the nature of copyright under the Copyright Act, the nature of and rationale for exceptions and the impact of relevant international obligations. It then discusses fair dealing exceptions under the Act and proposals for reform made in reports by the Copyright Law Review Committee (CLRC) and the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). ‘Fair use’ under US copyright law - the focus of the review - is discussed, along with comparable exceptions under European Community (EC) directives and under the national laws of the UK, New Zealand and Canada. The use of technological protection measures and of new forms of consumer contracts to restrict access to exceptions is referred to. The paper concludes by raising a number of possible options for reform. [...]

Submissions are sought on the issues raised.

A quick summary by a Slashdotter: In Summary

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J.G.Magee, Userfriendly and Filesharing [11:48 am]

Allusions to John G. Magee’s High Flight: Userfriendly, 2005 May 09

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So, the Game of Chicken Begins [8:35 am]

Broadcasters May Seek Congress’s Help in HDTV Anti-Piracy Effort

“Now we will see if threats to pull broadcasts from CBS and others are real or not,” said Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and HDNet, an all-HDTV channel available through cable and satellite, and an opponent of the broadcast flag.

Those measures are unlikely to be taken any time soon. First, advocates of the flag technology will try to circumvent the court’s ruling through Congressional legislation. And despite the industry’s alarm bells, Internet video piracy still is very much a nascent issue. At today’s transmission speeds, it would take about 24 hours to send a one-hour show broadcast in HDTV over the Internet.

[...] “We’re concerned, because if proper protection is not in place, consumers could lose content,” said John Feehery, executive vice president for the Motion Picture Association of America, the trade group representing the major Hollywood studios.

“Consumers?” Also, something to think about when you get around to buying an HDTV - make sure to know what you’re buying:

The ruling also will have little impact on consumer electronics manufacturers, many of which are introducing new digital TV’s with broadcast flag software.

Some have long included broadcast flag technology in their digital TV’s. Digital sets from Thomson-owned RCA, which developed one of its underlying technologies, have shipped with the technology for more than a year, according to Mr. Arland. Other manufacturers, including Philips and Sharp, are also continuing with their plans to include broadcast flag technology by July.

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Linkin Park Fight With Warner [8:27 am]

A Band Makes Its Case Against Record Label

The invitation to play at the stock exchange “just exemplifies how out of touch the ownership of the Warner Music Group is with our band,” said Brad Delson, the group’s guitarist and primary spokesman, in his first interview since the Grammy-winning band issued its demand in a written statement that criticized the company. “It doesn’t make any sense to us why we would play a show at the New York Stock Exchange. I don’t know what was going through their minds.”

Linkin Park, which Edgar Bronfman Jr., the chairman of Warner Music, has described as “the biggest rock band in the world,” says it is researching how it might legally sever its contract with Warner, which calls for the band to deliver four more albums. The band has released two full-length albums and three additional recordings through Warner, selling an estimated 17.9 million copies in the United States alone, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But the musicians say cutbacks at Warner have hurt the company’s ability to market future Linkin Park recordings.

[...] People involved in the talks said that the band’s representatives sent another letter, this time accompanied by a draft of the biting press release they said the band would release within days. A Warner executive who request anonymity to avoid personally inflaming the dispute, described the letter as a “blackmail” tactic.

A band representative said: “It wasn’t, ‘Send us a check or we’re going public.’ It was more like, ‘Address these concerns about the IPO, the future of this company.’ ”

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