August 27, 2005

Supreme Court Issues [10:28 pm]

An entertaining “What if?” discussion - with both Larry & Ed - with key discussion of the notions behind Ed’s blog’s name!!: Roberts v. the Future

As books, music and movies are increasingly distributed by large corporations in digital form, entertainment and publishing corporations are clamping down on the ability to access copyrighted material — sometimes by persuading Congress to extend copyright protections and sometimes by devising ingenious technological ways to block users from making copies of the product. Many digital activists fear that free expression won’t be able to thrive if people are deprived of the right to sample, remix and tinker in a world where every copyright infringement can be recorded, punished or technologically impeded.

The guru of digital activism is the Stanford law professor and cyberspace visionary Lawrence Lessig, whom I recently reached by telephone in Spain. “As life moves increasingly onto the Net and the capacity to control every aspect of our cultural capital increases almost to perfection, the question will be whether there is an affirmative right of access, to use and remix,” Lessig said. [...]

[...] Edward Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton University, told me that he hopes in 20 years that Americans might be able to assert a newly recognized constitutional right — rooted in the First Amendment — to circumvent the obstacles posed by digital-rights-management technology. He calls it “the constitutional right to tinker.” [...]

[...] Chastened by the experience, Felten decided to articulate what, exactly, is threatened when researchers aren’t permitted to experiment without first consulting their lawyers; he hit upon the concept of tinkering. “The process of experimentation, not always with a direct goal, is captured by the term tinkering,” he said. Whether the Supreme Court ever recognizes tinkering as a constitutional right, the ability to tinker may be threatened not only in computer science but also in the life sciences as well. [...]

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Artistry In Recordings [12:42 pm]

A Master of Making Old Tunes New Again

Ward Marston shut down his turntable, pulled off the record and said, “I’ll be singing ‘Night and Day’ for the rest of the week.”

Mr. Marston’s compliment was for Cole Porter, who wrote the song, and for Fred Astaire, who recorded it in 1932. But not for the recording itself, one track on a remastered CD. “The sound is thin and the surface scratchy,” he said.

And Ward Marston should know. By almost any measure, he is considered one of the best in the small but worldwide group of music lovers and sound engineers dedicated to finding new life in old phonograph records.

Related, from Sunday Weekend Edition; Tahra Records, Reclaiming Musical History — “Rene Tremine and Myriam Scherchen are the founders of Tahra Records, a small label issuing well-received historical recordings of classical music. Independent producer Julian Crandall Hollick visits with the Paris-based couple.”

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You Can Lead A Horse To Water … [12:40 pm]

But, since it’s just an animal, unable to control its greed, it just might drag you down with it to a watery grave: Apple, Digital Music’s Angel, Earns Record Industry’s Scorn

Two and a half years after the music business lined up behind the chief executive of Apple, Steven P. Jobs, and hailed him and his iTunes music service for breathing life into music sales, the industry’s allegiance to Mr. Jobs has eroded sharply.

Mr. Jobs is now girding for a showdown with at least two of the four major record companies over the price of songs on the iTunes service.

If he loses, the one-price model that iTunes has adopted - 99 cents to download any song - could be replaced with a more complex structure that prices songs by popularity. A hot new single, for example, could sell for $1.49, while a golden oldie could go for substantially less than 99 cents.

Music executives who support Mr. Jobs say the higher prices could backfire, sending iTunes’ customers in search of songs on free, unauthorized file-swapping networks.

[...] Some analysts suggest that the willingness of the music companies to gamble on a new pricing structure reflects a short memory.

“As I recall, three years ago these guys were wandering around with their hands out looking for someone to save them,” said Mike McGuire, an analyst at Gartner G2. “It’d be rather silly to try to destabilize him because iTunes is one of the few bright spots in the industry right now. He’s got something that’s working.”

Slashdot discussion: iTunes Might Lose Labels

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