March 20, 2007

Games All Around [4:36 pm]

From Techdirt: NFL Continues To Help Professor Demonstrate How Copyright Owners Abuse The DMCA

Wendy’s most recent posting on the subject

Later Slashdot: NFL Caught Abusing the DMCA

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Charlie Nesson vs. Rupert Murdoch [9:44 am]

A test of the Nesson Thesis: MySpace Restrictions Upset Some Users

MySpace, the Web’s largest social network, has gradually been imposing limits on the software tools that users can embed in their pages, like music and video players that also deliver advertising or enable transactions.

At stake is the ability of MySpace, which is owned by the News Corporation, to ensure that it alone can commercially capitalize on its 90 million visitors each month.

But to some formerly enthusiastic MySpace users, the new restrictions hamper their abilities to design their pages and promote new projects.

“The reason why I am so bummed out about MySpace now is because recently they have been cutting down our freedom and taking away our rights slowly,” wrote Tila Tequila, a singer who is one of MySpace’s most popular and visible users, in a blog posting over the weekend. “MySpace will now only allow you to use ‘MySpace’ things.”

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Lichtman on YouTube [9:02 am]

A defender of copyright makes an anti-technology argument that, in the end, cuts BOTH ways: The case against YouTube - pdf

This reinforces the importance of the three touchstones. Copyright holders cannot be armed with too powerful a legal remedy because even a well-meaning technologist might on occasion innocently misstep. At the same time, those who own and operate a new technology must feel constant pressure to account for the copyright implications of their decisions.

And, above all, copyright law can welcome only those with pure motives. Those who abuse the law’s caution have no claim for its mercy.

Purity of what? Creativity or profit? Culture or control? (See this article, for example: Film Has Two Versions; Only One Is Julie Taymor’s)

What a load!

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Diversity and Royalties [8:57 am]

A little demonstration of the thesis of The Future of Ideas? Few tune in to Web DJs - pdf

In the Internet age, anyone can be a guerrilla disc jockey.

Tens of thousands of radio shows air regularly on the Web, often with audiences whose numbers could fit around a dining room table. Virtually every musical niche is represented.

Mike Konvicka, a music critic in Texas, has a Czech polka show. Another site serves up only versions of “Ave Maria.” A German online deejay does on-air karaoke.

“Digital technology has made everyone a producer of sorts,” said Fritz Messere, communication studies chairman at the State University of New York at Oswego.

Web deejays proliferate because the costs involved are minimal, basic computer and audio equipment being the biggest expense. But a ruling this month by an obscure copyright royalty board could change that, endangering the army of moonlighters who broadcast on the cheap. The action boosted royalties due musicians and record labels whose music is streamed.

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The Market At Work? Or Regulatory Gamesmanship? [8:32 am]

Cable TV embraces an old foe: antenna - pdf

Cable Television Laboratories, a Colorado research group supported by the nation’s cable companies, says it is developing the specifications for a set-top box capable of retrieving the digital signals being broadcast by local TV stations.

“The concept combines over-the-air digital television transmission with television programming carried by the cable provider,” the cable lab said in a press release.

The disclosure is odd to say the least. Cable companies got their start by promising consumers they would receive a clearer TV picture with a cable coming into their home rather than an antenna on the roof. But now the cable lab thinks a set-top box can bring in a quality picture either way.

[...] Bruce Leichtman , head of the Leichtman Research Group Inc. in Durham, N.H., said cable companies aren’t pursuing over-the-air TV signals to benefit their customers. He said the companies are developing the new set-top box to give them leverage in bargaining with local broadcasters over the right to retransmit their channels

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Salon on the CRB Royalty Rates [7:56 am]

The fate of indie music as we know it

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for independent musicians, music labels and their fans earlier this month in Washington.

In two distinct rulings, one by the Federal Communications Commission, and the other by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Royalty Board, the U.S. government took a firm stand in favor of small artists and music labels — and local programming over media conglomerates — even as it drove a regulatory stake through the heart of a fast-growing and popular medium for niche and independent music: Internet radio.

[...] Changes wrought by the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act were at the heart of the dispute over webcasting royalties. According to that act, digital performance royalties for webcasters must “clearly represent the rates and terms that would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller.” That standard is far different from those applied to the calculation of royalty payments for digital cable providers and satellite radio networks, which consider the public benefit of such services as well as the relative contribution of the broadcaster, according to David Oxenford, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, which represented small webcasters in the recent negotiations with the CRB.

[...] Should the CRB, SoundExchange and webcasters fail to agree on a compromise, the CRB’s ruling may be remembered as a kind of Pyrrhic victory in which SoundExchange won the battle over webcasting royalties, but lost the war for the next generation of music listeners by snuffing out Internet radio. And there’s another danger for artists and even SoundExchange itself, said Oxenford: “If you end up pushing out all the folks who are legally operating Internet radio because it’s not an effective business model for ad-supported music, then the only ad-supported Internet radio that will exist will be the pirates. And they don’t pay royalties.”

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