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August 3, 2006

Slate’s Explainer On BitTorrent Investigations [12:18 pm]

How’d they know I downloaded Meet the Fockers?

[...] How do investigators find their targets?

They join the networks. In general, the movie and recording industries search out illegal file-sharers by hiring security firms to monitor popular file-sharing communities and report back on any activity that appears illegal. A company like MediaSentry, for example, will hop on to a file-sharing network and start searching for specific files. (The client provides a list of copyrighted material to check up on.) Investigators use customized versions of standard torrent trackers to sniff out the IP addresses of anyone who makes a given file available. Then they’ll take snapshots of all the other files those users offer. They may also try to connect to one of these targets to see if they can make an illegal download.

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Subscription Model Datapoint: Napster Earnings [11:06 am]

Napster subscribers decline - pdf

Napster Inc. on Wednesday provided a disappointing outlook for its online music service and said its subscriber base had fallen 7 percent as it focused on promoting a new free Web site.

[...] “Napster’s still trying to find a working business model, which is bad from an operating standpoint. But we see an increased likelihood the company will consider a sale, especially since management mentioned it on the call,” said Kit Spring, analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co Inc.

[...] Napster’s total paid subscriber base as of June 30 was 512,000, including 4,000 university-paid subscriptions. Excluding university, the number of paid subscribers grew 26 percent year-over-year.

I’m sure they’re glad about that, given the behavior of students

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Internet Video and Music Promotion [10:57 am]

Internet Is Seizing the Spotlight in the Live-Music Business

The buzz for Mr. Campion’s new band, and others like it, is one reason why the Internet is seizing the spotlight in the live-music business — again. A dot-com-era bid by concert promoters to market live gigs online fizzled out. But now concert Webcasts and vintage performance clips are gaining new currency. An array of players — from independent record labels to major concert promoters — are drawing up plans to capitalize on fans’ appetites for everything from the latest club shows in Hollywood to decades-old film of the Grateful Dead in Copenhagen.

The promise of live-performance video has been gaining followers as more households sign up for broadband Internet access, and it leapt forward last summer when America Online drew an estimated 90 million views of its free Webcasts of the Live 8 concerts for Africa.

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An Optimist on Net Neutrality [10:10 am]

An op-ed contributor in today’s Times feels that there’s more competition out there than many think — and suggests that any effort to regulate the Internet means a new Interstate Commerce Commission and subsequente regulatory capture: Entangling the Web

Of course, incumbent broadband providers do have some limited monopoly powers, and there is cause for concern that they might abuse them. Last fall, the chief executive of AT&T, Ed Whitacre, argued that Internet giants like Google and Microsoft should begin paying for access to his “pipes”— never mind that consumers already pay AT&T for the bandwidth they use to gain access to these services. If broadband providers like AT&T were to begin blocking or degrading the content and services of companies that didn’t pay up, both consumers and the Internet would suffer.

But enforcing such a “pay to play” scheme might be more challenging than Mr. Whitacre suspects. As every music-downloading student knows, there are myriad ways to evade Internet filtering software. Moreover, an Internet service provider that denies customers access to content risks a serious consumer revolt. Unlike a one-railroad Western town, most broadband customers can choose between cable and D.S.L., and a growing number have access to wireless options as well.

With several promising new technologies on the drawing board, the market for broadband will grow only more competitive. Congress should let the marketplace develop rather than constrain it with regulation. Lawmakers should certainly be mindful of unintended consequences. The Interstate Commerce Commission’s regulations on transportation lingered for decades after their usefulness expired. Any neutrality regulations passed by Congress this year are likely to have a similarly dismal future. Choice and competition will do a better job of protecting Internet consumers than government bureaucrats ever have.

Sadly, the promise of these “competitors” that Mr. Lee sees out there seems more chimerical every day.

And the idea that getting around Internet filters to find downloadable music has *anything* to do with the problem of access control at the ISP is sophistry of the most transparent sort…..

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Experiments in Artist Development [8:45 am]

Pieces of his past, now fully imagined - pdf

How the album came to be released, however, was decidedly modern. Many tracks were first available on the audio download and file-sharing website Weed ().

Then, through a friend, the music was brought to Cordless Recordings, the fledgling digital label that’s part of Warner Music Group. There, it caught the ear of Cordless founder and industry veteran Jac Holzman.

“I heard incredibly rich melodies with beautifully textured layers, and words that meant something,” says Holzman, the man who signed the Doors to Elektra in 1966 and who worked with singer-songwriters such as Carly Simon, Judy Collins and Harry Chapin. “It has a life to it, a great vitality.”

Holzman suggested Manning drop some tracks and add others, and the artist was floored by the attention.

“It was incredibly flattering to have Jac Holzman make constructive comments about my music,” he says. “I thought, for the first time I’m actually listening to a record company guy.”

[...] “We’re trying to develop fine artists at a low cost,” he says. “Roger is ideal because he is a superior writer, musician and producer; he is a self-actuating entity.”

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