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September 5, 2006

Rumors…. (updated) [4:04 pm]

Apple sets the scene for movie downloads - pdf

Rumors of Apple Computer Inc.’s plans to launch a movie download service gained momentum Tuesday after the company sent invitations to the media, saying “It’s Showtime,” next week.

The media event scheduled for Sept. 12 is set in San Francisco and coincides with the opening day of the Apple Expo in Paris.

Later: the LATimes adds Amazon to the mix — The Online Box Office Is Growing - pdf

The movie business is about to change: Apple Computer Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are in the final stages of building online services that allow easy, legal access to potentially thousands of movies on demand.

[...] Apple and Amazon declined comment Tuesday. Their plans, however, were confirmed by several people familiar with them. Details such as pricing and title lineups were unclear Tuesday, as was information about how the rival services will work.

But the entry of Apple and Amazon is particularly significant because they are adept at making the masses comfortable with large-scale technological shifts. Apple popularized legal music downloads and Amazon did the same for online shopping by making the process easy, fast and reliable, even for technophobes.

Analysts said the new services will almost certainly accelerate the race toward digital distribution, a transformation that is at once threatening and tantalizing to Hollywood.

[...] Although the movie majors are fearful of moving too quickly and cannibalizing DVD revenue or alienating powerful retailers, they recognize that DVD sales are slowing and hope to find new income streams.

They are also mindful that the record labels were widely seen as moving too slowly to counter the spread of online piracy with reasonably priced and easy-to-use alternatives.

“There’s a lot of talk out there along the lines of, ‘We don’t want to make the same mistake the music industry made,’ ” [Radar Research's Aram] Sinnreich said.

Later: Amazon gets in first — Amazon.com Offers Digital Films and TV - pdf; NYTimes New Service From Amazon Offers Downloadable Films

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MP3 Licensing Fight [7:55 am]

When is an MP3 player not using the Thomson/Philips patent? SanDisk faces MP3 licence dispute

In a statement, SanDisk confirmed it is facing legal action in a court in Mannheim, Germany - a separate action also brought by Sisvel - but defended its audio technology.

“SanDisk is showing that its MP3 players operate a technology which is completely different from a certain audio data transmission and reception techniques that has been patented for Philips and others many years ago.

“An expert opinion from one of the founders of MP3 digital audio compression substantiates SanDisk’s position. SanDisk is not infringing any patent in the pending litigation.”

The MP3 compression algorithm emerged in the 1990s following development efforts by two sets of technology companies and institutes.

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Drug Counterfeiting in Russia [7:43 am]

Some sloppy headline writing here — piracy is *NOT* counterfeiting, as the article itself makes clear. Drug Piracy: A Wave of Counterfeit Medicines Washes Over Russia

Russians, already adept at burning pirated DVD’s, rolling their own Marlboro cigarettes and printing knockoff Nike T-shirts, have turned to the more delicate art of making fake prescription medicine. Counterfeit prescription drugs are proliferating in Russia, and in many other countries, according to industry experts and the Food and Drug Administration.

They say fake drugs are also being smuggled to Europe and the United States, the world’s most lucrative prescription drug market, though so far in smaller amounts.

So far, the biggest problem presented by the fake drugs is violation of intellectual property rights, cutting into the profits of pharmaceutical companies. There do not appear to have been major injuries from the drugs, many of which are similar in makeup to the drugs they mimic.

Drug counterfeiting is different from the production of low-cost medicines. Some developing countries, as part of a principled stance in a broader public health debate, will allow their manufacturers to make certain generic medicines, for example, for AIDS patients, without paying license holders.

Counterfeiters, in contrast, operate illegally for profit, and the contents of the fake drugs can be different from the originals.

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A New Media Star: WoW [7:40 am]

And, a new economy? Considering the impact of this game, there are lots of implications to explore. Online Game, Made in U.S., Seizes the Globe

Less than two years after its introduction, World of Warcraft, made by Blizzard Entertainment, based in Irvine, Calif., is on pace to generate more than $1 billion in revenue this year with almost seven million paying subscribers, who can log into the game and interact with other players. That makes it one of the most lucrative entertainment media properties of any kind. Almost every other subscription online game, including EverQuest II and Star Wars: Galaxies, measures its customers in hundreds of thousands or even just tens of thousands.

[...] “I think the real key to WOW’s success has been the sheer variety and amount of things to do, and how easy it is to get into them,” said Kim Daejoong, 29, a doctor of traditional herbal medicine in Iksan, Korea, who had traveled to Seoul for one of the Chosen’s regular in-person sessions.

“Hard-core gamers will play anything, no matter how difficult it is,” Mr. Kim said. “But in order to be a mainstream game for the general public, it has to be easily accessible, and there have to be lots of things for you to do, even alone. What WOW has done better than other games is be able to appeal to both audiences — hard-core players and more casual players — all within one game and bring them together. That’s why you’ve seen people all over the world get into the game.”

[...] “Think about it: I’m a 33-year-old guy with a 9-to-5 job, a wife and a baby on the way,” Mr. Pinsky said. “I can’t be going out all the time. So what opportunities do I have to not only meet people and make new friends but actually spend time with them on a nightly basis? In WOW I’ve made, like, 50 new friends, some of whom I’ve hung out with in person, and they are of all ages and from all over the place. You don’t get that sitting on the couch watching TV every night like most people.”

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The TV Advertising Model, Evolving In The Face of New Technologies [7:30 am]

  • In a TiVo World, Television Turns Marketing Efforts to New Media

    Two deals that are scheduled to be announced today are indicative of the ways TV is headed in new directions to meet the new needs of marketers.

    One deal involves CBS, part of the CBS Corporation, and TiVo, the leader in digital video recorder technology. The agreement is intended to make it easier for TiVo subscribers to sample the four new series on the CBS schedule this fall: “The Class,” “Jericho,” “Shark” and “Smith.”

    [...] The agreement is the first time that TiVo, which is trying to change its image as being unfriendly to advertisers, and a broadcast network have teamed up for a sneak peak of a new series. Previous preview deals struck by the broadcasters have been off television, offering computer users a chance to watch streaming video on Web sites like msn.com and yahoo.com.

    The other agreement involves ITN Networks, a media sales company in New York with estimated annual billings of $300 million. ITN assembles customized national TV networks for advertisers from the commercial time it buys from local broadcast stations. ITN clients include Burger King, Capital One, Clorox, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Sara Lee and Sears.

  • Sci Fi Creates ‘Webisodes’ to Lure Viewers to TV

    Beginning tonight the television series “Battlestar Galactica” will travel from outer space into cyberspace. The Sci Fi Channel, which broadcasts the series, has created online mini-episodes, the first of which is scheduled to be posted at midnight.

    The 10 Web segments, each just a few minutes long and viewable on devices ranging from iPods to laptops to desktops to full-size television sets, feature characters from the television show. And they have the same dark feel of broadcast episodes of “Galactica,” a post-apocalyptic survival tale of humans on the run after their home planets have been destroyed.

    The mini-episodes will go online, one at a time, on Tuesday and Thursday nights until “Galactica’s” season premiere on Oct. 6.

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The ‘Net As A Basis For Mob Behavior [7:17 am]

Chinese Log On for Retribution - pdf

But how do you find a nameless woman in a country of 1.3 billion? Easily. Create a most-wanted poster and distribute it in cyberspace.

Within five days, Internet users around the country had tracked down the location of the crime scene: a park in the northern province of Heilongjiang. They found the name and occupation of the stiletto-wearing woman — she was a nurse — as well as her videographer, a man who worked at a local radio and television bureau.

Then they splattered the pair’s personal information on the Internet, including home addresses, e-mails, phone and identity card numbers, free for anyone to use and abuse.

[...] In a society where judicial corruption is rampant and ordinary people have few protections in the court of law, an increasing number of Chinese citizens are turning to the Internet to fill in society’s perceived legal and moral blind spots.

That often means taking matters into their own hands by harnessing the power of technology and then leaping beyond cyberspace to play judge and jury.

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