May 10, 2005

Moves To Consolidate Next-Gen DVD Formats [8:55 am]

Sony said to get boost in DVD race

Talks between Japan’s Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. to unify next-generation DVD formats are leaning toward a disc structure supported by Sony, a source close to the matter said Tuesday.

Sony and Toshiba, heading rival groups, have waged a three-year war to have their new technology standards adopted by the industry and gain pole position in the multi-billion-dollar markets for DVD players, PC drives and optical discs.

But the companies said last month they were in talks to develop a common standard, in a move to avoid VHS/Betamax-like dual formats that could discourage consumers from shifting to advanced discs and stifle the industry’s growth.

[...] The source said a unified format based on Blu-ray’s disc structure was being discussed in the talks, held between Sony, Toshiba and Matsushita.

He added, however, it was unclear whether and when the two sides would reach a final agreement on a common format.

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The Joys of Hypocrisy [8:06 am]

Hip-Hopping Mad Over Beats and Hooks [pdf]

Squabbling is a staple of hip-hop music. So is stealing. Except hip-hop artists have never considered it stealing to take riffs and pieces from each other’s work. It’s a form of creative appropriation. That’s why no one made any artistic objection in 1979 when hip-hop’s first mega-hit, “Rapper’s Delight,” by the Sugar Hill Gang, openly borrowed the catchy rhythm and background music of an earlier song called “Good Times” by the group Chic. All that mattered was that the Sugar Hill version of the song made people want to “up jump the boogie to the bang bang boogie.”

Today, however, hip-hop artists are trying to shield what they once happily shared. Producers and rappers, heirs to a culture built on borrowing, are now worrying about intellectual property and copyright. And the purveyors of this anti-establishment style of music, much of which glorifies “gangstas” and thumbs its nose at the justice system, are availing themselves of the legal establishment and the courts to settle disputes over the ownership of lyrics, rhythms and the catchy refrains known in hip-hop as hooks.

Opinion cited in the article: Positive Black Talk v. Cash Money Records [pdf]

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A Closer Look At The Transition To Fiber [7:42 am]

While there’s been a lot of talk about fiber to the home, and the bandwidth advantages that it provides, people have started to look a little more closely at the deployment. This Washington Post article points out a few things: FiOS Speeds Up Web, Phone and TV Access [pdf]

Using a new, growing fiber-optic network, possibly coming to a neighborhood near you, Verizon can provide a connection faster than most digital subscriber lines or cable-modem services. The hair-thin strands of glass that make up this network can also carry up to four telephone lines to each subscriber.

What’s more, FiOS, as Verizon calls its new service, can carry video signals as well. [...]

[...] So, for speeds that beat a DSL or cable-modem connection and cost a few dollars more, what’s the catch? For some customers, one worrisome aspect is that upgrading to this fiber network constitutes a one-way trip. When Verizon installs the fiber-optic connection to your home, the technicians cut down the old, copper-line connection to the telephone network and will not replace it if you later decide to cancel. So the next folks to buy your house will inherit Verizon’s fiber connection with it.

The service will also take up one of your power outlets. While phone lines carry their own power, fiber-optic lines do not, so FiOS subscribers need to provide an electrical outlet to power the new box that will go on the side of the house when FiOS is installed. [...]

Hmm, wonder if Verizon will let you (or whoever moves in after you) buy internet sevice from anyone other than Verizon, now that Verizon’s fiber is your only access to the network? Ooop, wait — fiber to the home is not a communications service; it’s a data service, so forget about all that common carrier stuff. Maybe the questions raised in this earlier WaPo article [pdf]

Another point made in the article doesn’t make as much sense until you read the current terms of service. First, the WaPo paragraph:

Whether fiber is worth the investment might depend on what you need in an Internet connection. Robert Borochoff, a computer scientist who lives in Chevy Chase, said that when Verizon’s FiOS network becomes available in his neighborhood, he’ll probably pass, because it’s more speed than he can use. “There’s nothing [on the Internet] today that fully takes advantage of that bandwidth,” he said. “It’s nice to flash big numbers, but am I getting any value for that today?”

Now, from the Terms of Service for Maryland:

3.6 If you subscribe to Broadband Service:

A - You may not resell the Broadband Service, use it for high volume purposes, or engage in similar activities that constitute resale (commercial or non-commercial), as determined solely by Verizon.

B - You may connect multiple computers/devices within a single home or office location to your Broadband modem and/or router to access the Service, but only through a single Broadband account and a single IP address obtained from Verizon. [...]

E - You may not use the Broadband Service to host any type of server personal or commercial in nature.

3.7 Verizon reserves the right to audit connections electronically to enforce these or any other provision of the Agreement.

So, you can get fiber, but you can’t run a server. As was asked by the researcher providing this information to the CyberTelecom mailing list, what’s all this bandwidth for, then?

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At Least P2P Isn’t Being Blamed…Yet [7:13 am]

Hollywood Worries as Decline Continues

The poor box-office performance last weekend of the first major film of the summer, “Kingdom of Heaven,” released by 20th Century Fox, made for 11 weeks in a row of declining movie attendance and revenue compared with last year, adding up to the longest slump since 2000 and raising an uncomfortable question: Are people turning away from lackluster movies, or turning their backs on the whole business of going to theaters?

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