June 9, 2005

Experiments in Promotion [4:24 pm]

Pennsylvania uses bloggers to lure tourists

The state tourism office has created six blogs for selected “real people” to record their visits to prime Pennsylvania locations over the summer in exchange for their expenses paid.

“I choose what sites to visit and take it as it comes,” said Robert McCreary, a 37-year-old computer software salesman from Chalfont, Pennsylvania. He has become the history buff of the project, visiting battlefields and monuments and writing about them on the VisitPA.com Web site

[...] Other bloggers are a mountain biker seeking outdoor adventures; a motorcyclist looking to enjoy the open road in this largely rural state; a couple of New Yorkers whose itinerary includes a NASCAR event in the Poconos and milking cows in Amish country; a family of four looking for theme park thrills, and a pair of “culture vultures” who are planning to check out the nightlife in Pittsburgh and go shopping in the Delaware River town of New Hope.

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Something for the New FCC Chair To Consider [4:22 pm]

Europe broadband surpasses Americas [pdf]

“Europe has outrun the Americas for the first time in history and became the second largest broadband market in the world,” TelecomPaper said in a note.

Net additions of broadband homes in Europe were greater than in the two other regions, growing around twice as fast.

[...] Consumers in European countries are reaping advantages from the fierce competition among telecoms operators and cable TV companies.

Virtual telecom operators are benefiting from European unbundling regulation that gives them access to the incumbent operator’s networks.

Funny how that competition thing works — when it’s real, anyway.

Related: FCC Moves Up Deadline To Convert to Digital TV; FCC Speeds Up Digital TV Signal Deadlines.

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What *Is* A Record Catalog Worth? [4:17 pm]

Something actually worth reading in the endless stream of drivel emerging out of this California media travesty - some interesting statistics: Michael Jackson to lose Beatles catalog? [pdf]

At Jackson’s child-molestation trial in Central California, now in the hands of a jury, government witnesses testified that the legendary pop star is facing a severe cash crunch. Likely his most valuable asset: the Beatles song rights he bought in the 1980s for about $48 million, now estimated to be worth $400 million or more.

[...] Song catalogs have become hugely lucrative in the last two decades due to the compact disc boom, rising sales of Internet downloads, and movie studios and advertisers willing to pay royalties to use hit songs in film scores and commercials.

Jackson, through Sony/ATV, owns all but a small selection of the Fab Four’s compositions, including megahits like “Yesterday,” “Let It Be,” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” He does not, however, own the actual sound recordings; those rights are held by EMI’s Capitol Records.

Royalty arrangements can be quite complicated. Basically, Jackson and Sony receive a fee each time one of the Beatles songs is played on the radio or a Beatles album is sold. Industry royalty rates for single-song plays can run under 10 cents, while rights holders typically earn a small percentage on each album sold.

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First Ringtones, Now Tetris — Business & Digital Distribution [4:03 pm]

Getting rich off Tetris

Cell phones are not just for having annoyingly loud conversations in restaurants anymore. More and more people are using them to satisfy their jones for Tetris, Blackjack and Scrabble.

Selling games for cell phones is a big business, potentially even more lucrative than trendy downloadable ring tones. And no company is reaping the benefits more than JAMDAT Mobile.

[...] Having such a large portfolio of games makes JAMDAT an attractive partner for wireless carriers, which typically get about a 30 percent cut of the revenues from game downloads, according to Mark Argento, an analyst with ThinkEquity Partners. Games typically cost around $2 to $3 a month or about $5 to $8 for unlimited use.

Argento added that the beauty of JAMDAT’s business is that it has relatively low costs so profit margins are rich: JAMDAT reported a gross margin of 77 percent in the first quarter and a net margin of 18 percent.

“If you have a game that sells a couple hundred thousand downloads it can be incredibly profitable,” Argento said. “The digital distribution model is attractive so there are no worries about inventory.”

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MS Offers Indonesia Software Amnesty [3:58 pm]

$1 amnesty for pirated software

Microsoft has reached a deal with Indonesia over the tens of thousands of pirated versions of Windows programs used in government departments.

Ministers said Microsoft had agreed an amnesty under which a token sum of one dollar will be paid for every computer found to be using illegal software.

In exchange, the government has promised to buy Microsoft merchandise legally in future.

Later: Microsoft Sets Value Of Pirated Windows: $1

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Revised Canadian (c) Legislation [3:56 pm]

Via Slashdot: File-sharing law to be tabled next week [pdf]

The federal government will introduce new legislation aimed at toughening up copyright laws in the digital world, CTV News has learned. Still, industry stakeholders who say file sharing is stealing say the laws are not stringent enough.

[...] The new legislation will contain rules that will make it illegal to hack or break into the digital locks often used to prevent the copying of movies and software — although it will remain perfectly legal in Canada to copy a CD for personal use.

“The digital locks themselves can be used to take away rights that users already have,” University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist told CTV News.

Geist’s postings on the legislation: Fact and Fiction and CRIA’s New Take on Copyright Reform

The sum total of this data (and similar relatively recent data on film) is that there are good news, bad news, and really bad news stories here. The good news is that Canadian cultural industries are doing well and that Canadian cultural support is having its desired effect. The bad news is that notwithstanding the growth, Canada still has a significant cultural goods and services deficit so that for all the success, foreign creators and companies continue to take far more out of Canada, than Canadians earn abroad. The really bad news is that we are about to see proposals for Canadian copyright laws that will both ignore our successes and exacerbate our shortcomings.

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SAG Agreement With Game-makers [8:48 am]

Actors Reach Deal With Video Makers

Hollywood actors’ unions have reached an agreement on a contract with video game publishers, accepting higher pay instead of the profit sharing they had demanded, the unions said Wednesday night.

Later: Voice Actors Win Bigger Check

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Warner Tries an Experiment [8:30 am]

Warner Gets a Jump on Film Pirates in China [pdf]

In a groundbreaking response to movie piracy, Warner Bros. Entertainment released its latest film on DVD in China the same day it debuted in U.S. theaters.

The goal for Warner is to battle rampant piracy in China by giving movie fans a legitimate alternative to bootlegs. But the boldness of Warner’s action, which it took last week with no fanfare, was tempered by its choice of movie: “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” a relatively low-budget film that the studio had not planned on releasing in Chinese theaters.

Nevertheless, several industry executives said they believed it was the first time a major U.S. studio had taken a movie scheduled for a wide-scale theatrical run and released it simultaneously on DVD in another country.

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