NPR Files Appeal of New Webcasting Rates

NPR, others challenge online royalties – Yahoo! Newspdf

NPR filed a notice with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington Wednesday signaling that it would challenge the ruling by a panel of copyright judges that would sharply raise the amount of royalties that NPR stations and others have to pay record companies for streaming music over the Internet.

NPR also said it was filing a request with the same court on Thursday along with other Webcasters for an emergency stay blocking the adoption of the new rates, which are set to go into effect July 15.

“Perfect” Copies

A reminder that “perfection” is in the ear of the listener: Where’s the Other Half of Your Music File?

Last fall, Dr. Naresh Patel, a physician in Fort Wayne, Ind., moved into a home he designed with his wife, Valerie. It has a home theater, complete with projector, surround-sound speakers and a high-end amplification system. The sonic centerpiece is two Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers that cost Dr. Patel $12,000 “with a discount.”

It was all working beautifully until Dr. Patel connected his iPod to the system. Sitting down in the theater’s sweet spot to enjoy his music, he was instead appalled.

“I couldn’t believe what I heard,” he said. “You don’t need a trained ear to hear the complete lack of so many things: imaging, the width and the depth of the sound stage. It almost sounded monaural, like listening to music in mono. The clarity, silkiness, the musicality of the music, if you will, was not there.”

Later: reversing the effect — That Warm Sound of Old in a Cold, Compressed Worldpdf

Microsoft and the Open Source ‘Tar Baby’

Let’s see whether Microsoft can really do better than Brer Rabbit (or how long it will take to get the US Government to, once again, throw them into the “briar patch” with another toothless remedy): A fight Microsoft can’t win?pdf

Whatever its motives, Microsoft may be picking a fight it can’t win. Free-software advocates have challenged the company to specify which patents were being violated so open-source developers could write around them. And a group of high-tech companies with critical patents stands ready to defend Linux and bring its own claims of infringement against Windows.

More significantly, the battle raises questions about the value of software patents. [….]

Or, is it possible that Microsoft is forcing an issue to get the issue of software patents on the agenda? (earlier post)

Speaking of Ongoing Strategies …

News Corp. isn’t letting up: 2 amateur video sites snapped uppdf

News Corp.’s Internet division plunged further into the fast-growing world of amateur video Wednesday, buying two young companies for a combined $270 million.

Fox Interactive Media spent about $250 million for Photobucket Inc., which draws more than 30 million monthly visitors who view and store billions of digital photographs, videos and slideshows.

The Beverly Hills-based News Corp. group also spent more than $20 million for little-known Flektor Inc., which offers free tools for editing and displaying online videos.

Other Strategies

Of course, this will do nothing to resolve Sony’s schizophrenia about what business it’s really in: content or electronics — but it does show which personality is currently calling the shots there: Viacom to sell music publisherpdf

As part of the deal, Sony/ATV will be entering the production music business through the Famous Extreme division.

[…] Publishing has become one of the more coveted segments of the music industry as recorded music has been hit by piracy. It has been affected by consumers’ relatively slow transition to buying digital songs to make up for the downturn in CD sales.

Publishing is less vulnerable to the vagaries of music retailing, generating revenue by licensing songs to a variety of users, including television, advertising, radio and live performance.

This month, French media giant Vivendi’s Universal Music Publishing Group unit became the world’s largest music publisher after it bought BMG Music Publishing in a $2.19-billion deal.

Related: Comedy Business Turns to the Web

Monitoring The “Use” Of Copyrighted Content

So, let’s see if I get flagged: AP steps up online copyright protectionpdf

The Associated Press will intensify its efforts to protect its copyrights on the Web and possibly uncover new sources of revenue by working with a Silicon Valley startup that’s trying to help the media gain more control over digital content.

Under an agreement to be announced Thursday, the AP will subscribe to a service developed by Attributor Corp. [Ed: Let’s make it easy.] to track how its stories are distributed across thousands of Web sites. The monitoring tools eventually will be expanded so the news cooperative will be able to keep tabs on the use of its photos and videos on the Internet, too.

Only Makes Sense In The Funny Pages

Cute in the funny pages (the current Jumpstart series on Doctor Appleby’s blog), stupid in a malpractice trial: Blogger unmasked, court case upendedpdf

It was a Perry Mason moment updated for the Internet age.

As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question.

Was Lindeman Flea?

Flea, jurors in the case didn’t know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.

In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff’s case and the plaintiff’s lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.

With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.

The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston’s tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement — case closed.

Here We Go, In Reverse Order of Size

Trying out different distribution models: Warner to put ad-supported video archive onlinepdf

Warner Music, the world’s fourth largest music group, is putting its archive of music video online and making it available for free to fans.

Warner, home to Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, will work with digital services provider Premium TV to create online TV sites or “digital hubs” that will be organized by artist, genre or label and funded by advertising.

The move is part of the music industry’s drive to generate revenue from new sources to offset the fall in CD sales and follows the explosion in popularity of online video.

Also, the Apple-EMI DRM-free distribution model takes the next step: Apple rolls out copy protection-free iTunespdf

Google+DoubleClick=1984?

The FTC is going to try to figure out what this portends: Google deal to get antitrust reviewpdf

The Internet search leader said Tuesday that the Federal Trade Commission had launched an antitrust review of its plan to buy DoubleClick Inc., an online advertising firm, for $3.1 billion. The FTC gave Google a detailed list of questions about the deal’s potential effect.

[…] The FTC’s decision to seek more information from the companies after a standard initial review doesn’t necessarily mean the deal is in trouble. The agency often asks tough questions, then approves a deal with few or no conditions.

But some analysts and privacy advocates said Google’s accrual of data could factor into the FTC’s decision about whether the deal would hurt competition.

[…] The big question facing Google: By using DoubleClick’s technology to collect even more detailed information about how millions of people use the Web, would the world’s biggest online marketer make life even more difficult for its competitors?

“The privacy issue is also the competitive issue,” said Blair Levin, an analyst at brokerage Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., who expects the FTC to approve the purchase. “The biggest barrier to entry is not money or engineers or the networks but the information on the behavior of people on the Internet.”

Also: Google Deal Said to Bring U.S. Scrutiny

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said that decisions made now about the structure of the online advertising industry could have lasting effects on data collection and personal privacy on the Internet, especially if control rests with a “few powerful gatekeepers” led by Google.

Still, privacy issues are not typically the concern of antitrust officials. In reviewing a proposed merger, legal experts say, regulators weigh the likely impact on competition and struggle with tricky technical matters like defining the relevant market to measure.

“To the extent that a reduction in competition could make it more difficult to protect privacy, it could be a consideration,” said Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University. “But it would have to be linked to competition. Strictly speaking, privacy is not an antitrust issue.”

Maybe not, but it *is* clear that, to the extent that the US Government is concerned with protecting the privacy of its citizens (versus infringing upon it), at least part of that task *has* been apportioned to the FTC, and I hope that they plan to make privacy a part of its deliberations — and give it a review that’s independent of its consideration of competitiveness.

More on eStonia

War Fears Turn to Cyberspace in Estonia

“This may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of widespread awareness of the vulnerability of modern society,” said Linton Wells II, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration at the Pentagon. “It has gotten the attention of a lot of people.”

The authorities anticipated there would be a backlash to the removal of the statue, which had become a rallying point for Estonia’s large Russian-speaking minority, particularly as it was removed to a less accessible military graveyard.

When the first digital intruders slipped into Estonian cyberspace at 10 p.m. on April 26, Mr. Aarelaid figured he was ready. He had erected firewalls around government Web sites, set up extra computer servers and put his staff on call for a busy week.

By April 29, Tallinn’s streets were calm again after two nights of riots caused by the statue’s removal, but Estonia’s electronic Maginot Line was crumbling. In one of the first strikes, a flood of junk messages was thrown at the e-mail server of the Parliament, shutting it down. In another, hackers broke into the Web site of the Reform Party, posting a fake letter of apology from the prime minister, Andrus Ansip, for ordering the removal of the highly symbolic statue.

Later: A Cyberblockade in Estonia