Billy Bragg and MySpace

Billy Bragg’s MySpace Protest Movement

In May, Mr. Bragg removed his songs from the MySpace.com Web site, complaining that the terms and conditions that MySpace set forth gave the social networking site far too much control over music that people uploaded to it. In media interviews and on his MySpace blog, he said that the MySpace terms of service made it seem as though any content posted on the site, including music, automatically became the site’s property.

Although MySpace had not claimed ownership of his music or any other content, Mr. Bragg said the site’s legal agreement — which included the phrase “a nonexclusive, fully paid and royalty-free worldwide license” — gave him cause for concern, as did the fact that the formerly independent site was now owned by a big company (the News Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch).

OT: A Look At Massive

A Mind of Their Ownpdf

Sparked by the popularity of computer-animated movies, Hollywood is looking for new ways to stretch the art form’s boundaries. So producers are using something that Walt Disney himself could have scarcely imagined: technology with the ability to create lifelike animated characters whose actions are guided by computers emulating human reasoning through artificial intelligence.

Known as Massive, the software is the brainchild of New Zealand computer graphics guru Stephen Regelous, who helped create the spectacular battle scenes featured in director Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Massive has since been used in such films as “King Kong” and commercials such as Budweiser’s “The Wave” that aired during the Super Bowl and World Cup telecasts. In that ad, 97,000 virtual fans raise cards to create a collective image of a bottle of beer pouring into a glass.

“It’s bringing characters to life,” said Regelous, 42. “It’s allowing artists to create something more than they’ve ever done before.”

More on “Tubes”

Senator open to TV chat about Internet “tubes”pdf

Mocked by comedian and host of “The Daily Show” Jon Stewart for calling the Internet a bunch of tubes, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said on Thursday he is open to appearing on the popular cable television program for a rebuttal.

The comedian has parodied the dean of the Senate Republicans for rejecting calls by some Internet companies for a law to block high-speed Internet providers from charging higher prices to carry certain content. Backers of such a law say it would preserve what they call “Net neutrality.”

[…] Stewart parodied the senator’s remarks on three episodes, which have spread over the Internet and were widely viewed on YouTube.com. He questioned Stevens’ knowledge of the Internet, and quipped, “You’re just the guy in charge of regulation.”

[…] One congressional aide said the show had explained the controversial Net neutrality issue “better than any corporate lobbyist or policymaker I know.”

Clown IP

No clowning around in threatened lawsuitpdf [via DarkNet]

A New York law firm is threatening to sue Happy and other clowns if they don’t stop dressing as purple dinosaurs or red dogs in their shows at children’s birthday parties. Those characters, the firm alleges, are too much like Barney and Clifford the Dog.

And no more Mr. Conductor or Bob the Builder look-alikes either.

[…]

Happy’s smile — and those of at least a dozen other Bay Area clowns — started to crack in the last week when they received letters from Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP, a Madison Avenue firm that represents the owners of the rights to Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and Clifford.

“Plaintiffs will not tolerate costume infringement,” says the letter. “In view of your infringing conduct, plaintiffs have instructed this law firm to file suit against you and your business.”

To settle without going to court, the letter says the clowns should stop using the costumes, surrender them, pay $100,000 and sign an agreement never to use the characters again. The firm says its clients could be awarded damages of up to $150,000 per character if it wins a court case.

Snocap & Linx

Snocap testing online music sales servicepdf

Snocap, the digital music company founded by Napster creator Sean Fanning, is testing a new service that enables bands to sell their music from Web sites like MySpace.

Snocap’s Linx service is also designed to let online retailers sell music from the company’s vast registry of songs. It has distribution deals with Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI Group (EMI.L) and Warner Music (NYSE:WMG – news), along with a number of independent labels.

The Upright Citizens’ Brigade

War is heckpdf

The U.S. government’s crackdown on media indecency could prevent World War Two veterans from sharing their stories in an upcoming TV documentary series by Ken Burns, the head of the Public Broadcasting Service said Wednesday.

[…] [PBS president and CEO Paula] Karger said she had unsuccessfully tried to get advance clearance for the documentary from the five members of the Republican-controlled broadcast regulator. But the FCC’s policy is not to deliver an opinion before a broadcast.

See also the LATimes’ Holding course on coarse wordspdf

Whack-a-Mole

Kazaa to pay music industry $100 mlnpdf

Under the terms of the deal, Kazaa’s owner Sharman Networks will pay the world’s four major music companies — Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music — more than $100 million and commit to immediately going legal, said the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

[…] Ovum analyst Jonathan Arber said the settlement would have a mostly symbolic importance, as Kazaa was past its prime.

“It’s nowhere near as popular as it used to be. Very few people are thought to be using it anymore because better services came out,” he said. “It is a big legal victory, a good symbol for them to put out, but in terms of actually reducing piracy, people migrated to other file-sharing networks a long time ago.”

Later: LATimes’ Kazaa Settles Piracy Suitspdf

Analyst Eric Garland of BigChampagne, which tracks file-sharing networks, said the entertainment industry faces a crossroads: It can develop business models that embrace Internet distribution or engage in an even more aggressive anti-piracy campaign against people who download copyrighted works.

“Are we really going to see, at this late date, more and more court actions against kids and soccer moms or are we going to see a shift?” he said. “Are we going to declare victory, based on these big wins, and move on to the carrot?”

Somebody Stepped In Something

Shawn Hogan, Hero

Shawn Hogan received an unsettling call: A lawyer representing Universal Pictures and the Motion Picture Association of America informed the 30-year-old software developer that they were suing him for downloading Meet the Fockers over BitTorrent. Hogan was baffled. Not only does he deny the accusation, he says he already owned the film on DVD. The attorney said they would settle for $2,500. Hogan declined.

[…] Hogan, who coded his way to millions as the CEO of Digital Point Solutions, is determined to change this. Though he expects to incur more than $100,000 in legal fees, he thinks it’s a small price to pay to challenge the MPAA’s tactics. “They’re completely abusing the system,” Hogan says. “I would spend well into the millions on this.”

Of course, the MPAA isn’t backing down either. “I hear Mr. Hogan has said, ‘I’m absolutely going to go to trial,’ and that is his prerogative,” says John G. Malcolm, the MPAA’s head of antipiracy. “We look forward to addressing his issues in a court of law.” Look for a jury to weigh in by next summer.

Being Watched

Advertising: TiVo Is Watching When You Don’t Watch, and It Tattles

AS the advertising and television industries debate how to measure viewers of shows watched on digital video recorders, the pioneering maker of the recorders, TiVo, is getting into the argument. It is starting a research division to sell data about how its 4.4 million users watch commercials — or, more often, skip them.

The service is based on an analysis of the second-by-second viewing patterns of a nightly sample of 20,000 TiVo users, whose recorders report back to TiVo on what was watched and when.

[…] For now, TiVo will not be able to tell advertisers anything about the demographics of the audience it measures. The privacy policy of the service allows it to gather data about viewing habits, but not any personal information. Mr. Juenger said TiVo hoped to find a way to change that by the end of the year.

Yes, But No

You win some, you lose some: Judge dismisses phone records lawsuitpdf

“The court is persuaded that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny whether it has disclosed large quantities of telephone records to the federal government could give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government’s intelligence activities,” U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said.

A number of such lawsuits have been filed around the country in the wake of news media reports that AT&T and other phone companies had turned records over to the National Security Administration, which specializes in communications intercepts.

Kennelly’s ruling was in sharp contrast to last week’s decision from U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco, who said media reports of the program were so widespread there was no danger of spilling secrets.

The NYTimes article, Judge Rejects Customer Suit Over Records From AT&T, offers up this thought:

The ruling is at first blush at odds with a decision last week by a federal judge in San Francisco. That judge, Vaughn R. Walker, allowed a similar suit against AT&T to proceed notwithstanding the state secrets privilege.

But the two decisions can be reconciled, Judge Kennelly wrote. The Chicago case concerns records of phone calls, including when they were placed, how long they lasted and the phone numbers involved. The San Francisco case, by contrast, mainly concerns an N.S.A. program aimed not at a vast sweep of customers’ records but at the contents of a more limited number of communications.

Because the Bush administration has confirmed the existence of such targeted wiretapping, the San Francisco suit could proceed without running afoul of the state secrets privilege, Judge Walker ruled last week. ‘‘The government has opened the door for judicial inquiry,” he wrote, “by publicly confirming and denying material information about its monitoring of communications content.”

In his decision yesterday, Judge Kennelly said there had been no comparable confirmation by the government or AT&T of “the existence or nonexistence of AT&T’s claimed record turnover.” He refused to rely on news accounts of the program as proof of its existence and noted that “no executive branch official has officially confirmed or denied the existence of any program to obtain large quantities of customer telephone records.”