When Is A Ringtone Not Just A Music Clip?

When it’s an endorsement, argues the family of Bob Marley — marketing, image and music: Family Challenges Verizon Wireless Deal to Sell Bob Marley Ring Tones

Chris Blackwell, a longtime spokesman for the Marley family, said by telephone from his home in Britain that he was originally approached by Verizon Wireless a few months ago and met with representatives of the company twice.

While Verizon proposed the deal as a matter of simply licensing the music, Mr. Blackwell said, the family held that if the cellular company was going to provide the ring tones exclusively and use Mr. Marley’s image to its marketing benefit, it amounted to an endorsement.

“It was not something we were willing to consider unless they were willing to view it as an endorsement,” said Mr. Blackwell, adding that along with securing a fee for the family, an endorsement contract would allow the estate to set parameters on how Mr. Marley’s image and name could be used. (The phone company is already using an image of Mr. Marley to promote itself on its Web site.)

But rather than make an endorsement offer, Verizon went to Universal, a subsidiary of Vivendi, and sewed up a deal without the family’s blessing.

Score One For Eolas

For the moment, anyway: Microsoft Settles a Dispute Over a Feature in Its Browser

Microsoft said Thursday that it had settled an eight-year patent dispute that resulted in a $521 million jury verdict against it. Terms of the accord were not disclosed.

The dispute centered on a feature within Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser that allows embedded links. The patent is owned by the University of California and licensed to Eolas Technologies, a closely held company formed by a university researcher, Michael Doyle.

“We’re pleased to be able to reach an amicable resolution in this long-running dispute,” said Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman.

SanFran Wi-Fi Setback

EarthLink Abandons San Francisco Wi-Fi Project

EarthLink’s chief executive, Rolla P. Huff, told Mr. Newsom in a telephone call on Wednesday that “they were not going to be able to fulfill their end of the bargain,” Mr. Ballard said. “Mr. Huff made it clear it wasn’t going to happen with EarthLink; they are getting out of the Wi-Fi business.”

EarthLink had already announced plans to cut costs by eliminating 900 jobs, about half its work force, and closing its offices in four cities, including San Francisco.

[…] Under the four-year agreement, which was never completed because of a political tug-of-war between the mayor and the governing Board of Supervisors, EarthLink was supposed to bear the cost of building and maintaining the Wi-Fi system, estimated at $14 million to $17 million.

Troubling Scope of the Monster Spear Phishing Incidents

What happens when we get used to routine online disclosure of information: Theft at Monster alarms expertspdf

The scam was first reported by researchers at computer security firm Symantec Inc. The company discovered a new “Trojan horse” program infecting hundreds of computers on the Internet. Machines infected with the program would log on to Monster, using legitimate passwords belonging to companies that use Monster to hire new workers. Investigators don’t yet know how the data thieves obtained those passwords. But the Trojan program would use them to collect personal data from resumes at the site, and forward the data to a computer in Russia belonging to a Ukrainian firm.

Most of the stolen data – names, addresses, phone numbers – was easily available elsewhere and posed little risk. But the e-mail addresses were valuable to phishers because the addresses gave them a mailing list of Monster subscribers. They could use the list to launch precise spear-phishing attacks with a likelihood of success.

“The phisher will look for any affinity between an institution or situation and a human being,” said Peter Cassidy, secretary-general of the Anti-Phishing Working Group in Cambridge. “They’ll find any relationship and mine it.”

Dispatch From The Facebook/ConnectU Front

Facebook seeks dismissal of copyright suitpdf

ConnectU’s complaint “contains a litany of unrelated facts and legal theories that fail to identify what role the individual defendants have played in any wrongdoing or violation of ConnectU’s rights,” Facebook stated.

[…] Closely held ConnectU, based in Cambridge, and its founder, Cameron Winklevoss, sued in March. They accuse Facebook, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., of copyright infringement, breach of contract, fraud, and theft of trade secrets.

It’s the latest development in a dispute that began in 2004, when ConnectU first sued amid Facebook’s growing popularity.

See earlier post for background.

Another iTunes Defector (updated)

Testing the relative power of the content brand with the distributor (and playback) brand — and trying to avoid replicating the “Walmart dilemma” for digital content producers: NBC says deal with iTunes will endpdf (also, this version)

NBC Universal, unable to come to an agreement with Apple on pricing, has decided not to renew its contract to sell digital downloads of television shows on iTunes.

Apple responds with their own press release [via Machinist]: iTunes Store To Stop Selling NBC Television Shows – including this slam:

Apple’s agreement with NBC ends in December. Since NBC would withdraw their shows in the middle of the television season, Apple has decided to not offer NBC TV shows for the upcoming television season beginning in September.

*Snap* (In case you missed it, September starts *tomorrow*!)

On the other hand, Sony to unplug Connect music servicepdf. Any chance that Sony will retain and build upon the lesson this time around?

Acknowledging its proprietary audio technology was a marketplace flop, Sony Corp. is shuttering its Connect digital music store and will open its portable media players to other formats.

[…] “This gives customers greater flexibility in their music software approach,” the company said in a statement. “As a result, Sony will be phasing out the Connect Music Services based on Sony’s ATRAC audio format in North America and Europe.”

Sony spokeswman Linda Barger said the new Walkman players will no longer directly support ATRAC.

“We are offering conversion software to convert ripped non-secure ATRAC files to MP3,” she said in an e-mail.

Digital Distribution and the Long Tail

Keeping out-of-print CDs in circulationpdf

ArkivMusic, an online retailer that launched in 2002, is out to reverse that trend and restore as much of the deep catalog as possible. In addition to stocking every classical CD in print, it now offers what it calls ArkivCDs: reissues of out-of-print CDs produced on demand for the consumer. The project began three years ago; as of this writing, the company has made more than 3,700 recordings available in this way.

Eric Feidner, ArkivMusic’s president and cofounder, says that the ArkivCD program grew out of the company’s original mission, which was to build an efficient distribution system for classical recordings. “We built this database structure geared to classical music that makes it easy to find every available recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which is something you can’t really do elsewhere,” he says by phone from his office in Connecticut.

“When we started ArkivMusic – and it’s only progressed further since then – there were actually more recordings in our database that were out of print than in print.” The brief shelf life is usually explained by the expense of printing and warehousing a title that may sell only a few hundred CDs per year, if that.

Feidner and his cofounders, who have all logged several years in the retail music business, realized that the labels’ woes were an opportunity. “We felt that the way to do it was to license the recordings from the label and, rather than doing standard manufacturing replication runs for them all, we would store all the components digitally – the music and the packaging elements,” he explains.

Related: New home for historic films and broadcastspdf

OT: Subprime Mortgage Crisis and The Jungle

As a reader of Gabriel Kolko’s The Triumph of Conservatism, this article strikes an all-too-familiar chord. However, in light of the prevailing market ideologies, it’s hard to imagine that a comparable Progressive response is in the offing — and that may lose us a lot! Calls Grow for Foreigners to Have a Say on U.S. Market Rules

Politicians, regulators and financial specialists outside the United States are seeking a role in the oversight of American markets, banks and rating agencies after recent problems related to subprime mortgages.

Their argument is simple: The United States is exporting financial products, but losses to investors in other countries suggest that American regulators are not properly monitoring the products or alerting investors to the risks.

“We need an international approach, and the United States needs to be part of it,” said Peter Bofinger, a member of the German government’s economics advisory board and a professor at the University of Würzburg.

While regulators in the United States have not been receptive to the idea in the past, analysts said that Europe and Asia had more leverage now. Washington might have to yield if it wants to succeed in imposing bilateral regulations on government-owned investment funds from emerging economies.

After all, how different is selling poorly-documented securities from selling adulterated foods? I am sure the Chinese are confronting precisely the same question, and while the Progressive solution was regulation to protect business interests, it’s hard to imagine any Washington policymaker able to get past the “markets good, regulation bad” mindset that has led us to this pass.

Later: shades of Kolko! Industry asking for regulation! What’ll they think of next? Toy Makers Seek Standards for U.S. Safety. And, even in this article, note the opening rhetorical tone:

Acknowledging a growing crisis of public confidence caused by a series of recent recalls, the nation’s largest toy makers have taken the unusual step of asking the federal government to impose mandatory safety-testing standards for all toys sold in the United States.

An Obviousness Smackdown

Albeit a painful and expensive process — yet one that exploited internet tools: Playing Detective in a Patent Case

“It’s a victory against patent trolls,” Mr. Goldin said. “This has changed the landscape. The days of coming up with an obvious idea and patenting it and using legal extortion are over.”

The Texas ruling was one of the first to apply a new test established by the Supreme Court on April 30 that makes it more difficult to obtain patents on new products that combine elements of already existing patents. Experts say the Texas opinion was certainly the first to apply the new standard to financial services and probably the first to apply it to a business method.

[…] On Feb. 28, 2006, at AdvanceMe’s request, he says, he met with its chief executive, Mr. Goldman, and the president, Tom Burnside, who offered to license their company’s collection methods to him. “I said, ‘I don’t understand how you can have a patent on something that has been around since the 1980s,’ ” he recalled. “They kept saying they had a ‘patent on the technology.’ ”

The next day, Mr. Goldin says, Mr. Goldman called him to say his company had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against AmeriMerchant — on the day before their meeting.

His first reaction was fear. His second was anger. “Losing was not an option,” he said.

Mr. Goldin, 35, said he found out that the only way he could win was to get AdvanceMe’s patent invalidated, and to do that he had to find written evidence that its payment system had been around at least one year before the patent was filed in July 1997.

He started a blog (http://merchantcashadvanceblog.blogspot.com/) to argue his case and appeal for supporting evidence.