(Rinse, Repeat)

From Slashdot: RIAA Hands out more Lawsuits

The Reuters article:

Recording industry sues more U.S. file-swappers

Wed Aug 31, 2005 1:45 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The recording industry on Wednesday filed its latest round of copyright infringement lawsuits, targeting 754 people it claims used online file-sharing networks to illegally trade in songs.

The lawsuits were filed in federal district courts across the country, including California, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The world’s major record labels, represented by the Recording Industry Association of America, have filed more than 14,000 such lawsuits since September 2003.

Bruce Schneier on Trusted Computing, MS and Practices Document

Something fishy’s going on [via Slashdot’s Microsoft Stalling TCG Best Practices Document?]

In May, the Trusted Computing Group published a best practices document: Design, Implementation, and Usage Principles for TPM-Based Platforms. Written for users and implementers of TCG technology, the document tries to draw a line between good uses and bad uses of this technology.

[…] It’s basically a good document, although there are some valid criticisms. I like that the document clearly states that coercive use of the technology–forcing people to use digital rights management systems, for example–is inappropriate.

[…] Complaints aside, it’s a good document and we should all hope that companies follow it. Compliance is totally voluntary, but it’s the kind of document that governments and large corporations can point to and demand that vendors follow.

But there’s something fishy going on. Microsoft is doing its best to stall the document, and to ensure that it doesn’t apply to Vista, Microsoft’s next-generation operating system.

[…] The only reason I can think of for all this Machiavellian maneuvering is that the TCG board of directors is making sure that the document doesn’t apply to Vista. If the document isn’t published until after Vista is released, then obviously it doesn’t apply.

Near as I can tell, no one is following this story. No one is asking why TCG best practices apply to hardware-based systems if they’re writing software-only specifications. No one is asking why the document doesn’t apply to all TCG systems, since it’s obviously written without any particular technology in mind. And no one is asking why the TCG is delaying the adoption of any software best practices.

I believe the reason is Microsoft and Vista, but clearly there’s some investigative reporting to be done.

See Gambling That Monopoly & Inertia Win Out, below.

Later: Slashdot’s Trusted Computing And You

Light Posting Day

TPP Orientation is today; so I’m going to be a little tied up. Might get a few things up as the day progresses, but my laptop is going to be the presentation platform, so it’s not going to be easy!

Gambling That Monopoly & Inertia Win Out

Will the customer swallow DRM and easy access to Hollywood in exchange for being under the thumb of the OS? Is Microsoft really guessing that the era of the personal, general-purpose computer is already over? Or is this a trial balloon to get the backlash that MS needs to get Hollywood to back off? Hollywood, Microsoft align on new Windows

For the first time, the Windows operating system will wall off some audio and video processes almost completely from users and outside programmers, in hopes of making them harder for hackers to reach. The company is establishing digital security checks that could even shut off a computer’s connections to some monitors or televisions if antipiracy procedures that stop high-quality video copying aren’t in place.

In short, the company is bending over backward–and investing considerable technological resources–to make sure Hollywood studios are happy with the next version of Windows, which is expected to ship on new PCs by late 2006. Microsoft believes it has to make nice with the entertainment industry if the PC is going to form the center of new digital home networks, which could allow such new features as streaming high-definition movies around the home.

[…] “There is a concern that there is a tendency to lock down parts of the design to protect the flanks of the copy-protection system,” said Princeton University computer science professor Edward Felten, who has been an outspoken critic of rigid copy-protection rules. “That makes it harder for everyone, including Microsoft, to adapt to new uses.”

OT: It’s Not Friday, But….

Who can resist this bit: PowerPoint: Killer App? [pdf]

Did PowerPoint make the space shuttle crash? Could it doom another mission? Preposterous as this may sound, the ubiquitous Microsoft “presentation software” has twice been singled out for special criticism by task forces reviewing the space shuttle disaster.

Perhaps I’ve sat through too many PowerPoint presentations lately, but I think the trouble with these critics is that they don’t go far enough: The software may be as much of a mind-numbing menace to those of us who intend to remain earthbound as it is to astronauts.

[…] The deeper problem with the PowerPointing of America — the PowerPointing of the planet, actually — is that the program tends to flatten the most complex, subtle, even beautiful, ideas into tedious, bullet-pointed bureaucratese.

The Pending Apple Announcement

One speculation, albeit with a little more about the industry in general: An IPod Cellphone Said to Be Imminent

Apple Computer and Motorola plan to unveil a long-awaited mobile phone and music player next week that will incorporate Apple’s iTunes software, a telecommunications industry analyst who has been briefed on the announcement said on Monday.

[…] Apple, Motorola and Cingular declined to confirm or deny the report. But Apple did announce on Monday that it would hold a major news event on Sept. 7 in San Francisco that it indicated was music-related. Apple is routinely tight-lipped about pending product announcements, preferring to make a splash on the day of the event.

[…] It was not clear whether the iTunes phone would allow users to download songs directly from the Internet onto the phone, though music industry analysts said they doubted that such a capability would be immediately available. Mike McGuire, an online-music analyst with Gartner Inc., a research firm, said that so-called over-the-air downloads would first require ironing out technological and music-licensing issues.

But the day of wireless downloads of full songs is not far off, according to major wireless carriers. Sprint said on Monday that by the end of the year it planned to offer phones that allowed users to download full songs wirelessly. Mr. Nelson of Verizon Wireless said his company was also in the final stages of developing such a capability.

The Evolving Music Market

A couple of stories:

  • From the Boston Globe, a look at the latest Starbucks exclusive release from Bob Dylan: The times they are a-changin’ [pdf]

    For local record stores, this kind of exclusive arrangement — the Dylan deal is for 18 months — is more than annoying. Witness the repeated complaints from, among others, Newbury Comics boss Mike Dreese. Why do Dylan and Alanis Morissette want to sell out to Starbucks? But record industry wonks, desperately fighting for survival, can smell the sumatra.

    ”What they’re doing is moving aggressively into music retailing and utilizing their remarkable power and leveraging their unique relationship with their customers to sell music,” says Jason Flom, president of Lava Records, who struck a deal with Starbucks to sell discs from a new band, Antigone Rising. More than 60,000 CDs were sold at Starbucks the first six weeks. ”I’m delighted. There’s a limited amount of space in the stores and tens of millions of people who go through there every week. You’d be hard pressed to say you’re not thrilled they’ve chosen music.”

    And choose, they do. Not only are the barristas stocking the shelves. Through the Starbucks stereo, they’re able to play you music that’s not for sale.

  • The BBC’s expected foray: BBC targets music downloads in Internet strategy [pdf]

    The BBC wants to be a major player in the digital media world and is considering partnerships with private businesses to sell music downloads, Director-General Mark Thompson said on Saturday.

    […] “Everything we know about the online world suggests that it’s the big brands — the eBays (Nasdaq:EBAY – news), the Amazons (Nasdaq:AMZN – news), the Microsofts (Nasdaq:MSFT – news) — that punch through, and the BBC is one of the big brands,” Thompson said in a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

    […] The prospect of the BBC using its massive heft is likely to upset UK media and Internet companies, which have often complained that the corporation — funded by a mandatory tax on UK television households totaling nearly 3 billion pounds — has encroached on activities in the private sector.

Missed This Milestone In Digital Music

The day Rio’s music died

The Japanese company that makes the Rio line of MP3 players is shuttering its portable digital-audio division.

Rio parent D&M Holdings said on Friday that the ultra-competitive business no longer fit its market strategy.

Although it has only a small market share compared to Apple Computer’s iPod, the Rio brand name has been linked with the early days of digital-music history since weathering a lawsuit from the recording industry that aimed to shut down the MP3 hardware business.

We All Scream For Copyright Infringement

Follow That Truck! Mister Softee Shows Hard Side [pdf]

It was a surveillance job that would lead to car chases through side-street labyrinths. But the chases were all at very low speeds. After all, the target this day was not some elusive spy, desperate fugitive or stealthy adulterer, but rather a lumbering white truck stopping to sell soft-serve ice cream to sugar-crazed children, all while blaring the repetitive Mister Softee jingle.

“We’re lucky,” whispered one investigator named Joe, who, like his colleagues, would give only his first name because in his line of work, he makes a lot of enemies. “It’s a good ice cream day.”

He opened a leather portfolio and began scribbling notes in a packet titled, “Mister Softee Surveillance, Queens Location.”

[…] On this job, however, the sleuths were on the trail of ice cream trucks, specifically Mister Softee look-alikes. The company hired them to identify independent trucks that it says resemble the well-known Mister Softee franchise vehicles so closely that they deceive customers.

In the past several months, the investigators say, they have gathered enough evidence against 30 operators of “rip-off trucks” in New York City and on Long Island for Mister Softee to name them as defendants in a trademark and copyright infringement lawsuit that company officials say they plan to file this week in federal court in Manhattan.

They said they were preparing similar suits in Philadelphia and possibly northern New Jersey.

VHS Obit

Parting Words For VHS Tapes, Soon to Be Gone With the Rewind [pdf]

“I would think 2006 is the last year that there are major releases on VHS, and there won’t be many of those,” confirms Bo Andersen, president of the Video Software Dealers Association, a trade group for home video retailers.

[…] The following might be the ultimate proof of VHS’s demise, though: When “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” comes to home video on Nov. 1, it will be available only on DVD, marking the first time an installment in the Skywalker saga is not on VHS. As Yoda himself might say, the life of VHS clearly close to ending is.

[…] As we prepare to bury VHS, we can take solace in the knowledge that its memory will live on. In the current clash between the developing high-definition DVD formats Blu-ray and HD-DVD, we will still hear the echoes of VHS vs. Beta. At every yard sale where a neighbor tries to sell us an aging copy of “When Harry Met Sally” for $1, we will still see VHS’s black, plastic face. And on the streets of Manhattan, wherever bootleg videos are being illegally hawked, the wind will whisper the name: VHS, VHS.