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December 10, 2007

BusinessWeek Says Subscriptions Are Coming [10:40 pm]

Seems like wishful thinking to me, but I’m old: Stars Are Aligning for Subscription Music

[C]hanging consumer behavior is giving subscription advocates new hope. Members of the Facebook Generation are bombarded with music recommendations every day, and don’t necessarily want to pay a buck to check each one out. And since people are used to getting e-mail, appointments, and news feeds streamed to smartphones and other devices, many industry watchers assume they’ll want the same for music. “If I can access whatever I want whenever I want,” says Ted Cohen, who led EMI’s digital music efforts and now runs an entertainment consultancy called TAG Strategic, “why do I need to own it?”

Don’t miss the comments section

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An ACAP Article [2:07 pm]

Although it takes a while to get there: Paying for Free Web Information

NEWSPAPER publishers and other content producers have a complicated relationship with giant search engines like Google and Yahoo. They simultaneously try to curry favor with these sites, hiring people known as optimizers with magical incantations to make articles show up high on the results pages and drive traffic, all the while grumbling that maybe, perhaps, it isn’t fair for the search engines to make copies of their material — so that it can be searched or appear on aggregation sites like Google News — without compensation.

But few are willing to speak as unambiguously as Samuel Zell, the real estate developer who intends to buy the Tribune Company, did this spring at Stanford University.

“If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content for nothing, what would Google do?” he asked. “We have a situation today where effectively the content is being paid for by the newspapers and stolen by Google, et cetera. That can last for a short time, but it can’t last forever. I think Google and the boys understand that. We’re going to see new deals and new formulas in the media space that reflect the reality of cost benefit.”

[...] The problem for the publishers is that the big search engines are largely happy with the access they have right now. The current system relies on robots.txt, a more-than-decade-old convention that Web sites can use to block automated spiders — computer applications that crawl the Internet indexing Web pages.

But robots.txt is an all-or-nothing proposition. And publishers are in need of a hybrid solution to the fundamental challenge that has come as content has migrated online. Enter ACAP.

[...] If ACAP is intended to be a “a cudgel to force search engines to change their business models,” writes Jonathan Zittrain, an Internet law expert at Oxford University, it “won’t be successful.” Rather, he writes, “if it takes off at all, it will likely be only with a few of its more basic features. That may well be enough for the content publishers.”

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No Matter How You Slice It … [10:14 am]

It still comes up bologna — McConnell heads to the NYTimes op-ed pages to tell us that we just have to have retroactive immunity: Help Me Spy on Al Qaeda

Finally, it is critical for the intelligence community to have liability protection for private parties that are sued only because they are believed to have assisted us after Sept. 11, 2001. Although the Protect America Act provided such necessary protection for those complying with requests made after its enactment, it did not include protection for those that reportedly complied earlier.

The intelligence community cannot go it alone. Those in the private sector who stand by us in times of national security emergencies deserve thanks, not lawsuits. I share the view of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which, after a year of study, concluded that “without retroactive immunity, the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful government requests in the future,” and warned that “the possible reduction in intelligence that might result from this delay is simply unacceptable for the safety of our nation.”

Actually, the issue is that we WANT our telecommunication companies to stand up to the government when it makes UN-lawful requests. Without liability, why should we expect them to do that?

Later: letters to the editor — Checks and Balances for Our Spies - pdf

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December 9, 2007

Creepier and Creepier [3:31 pm]

Identity in the ‘net: Mo. police probe blog in Web hoax casepdf

A woman linked to an online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide and has been vilified for it may be the subject of a deception — someone on the Internet is posing as her and blogging about the case.

[...] “Any Internet message that purports to be a member of the Drew family is being managed by an impostor and undoubtedly is being done for the purpose of further damaging the Drews’ reputation,” the family said in a statement.

A blog entitled “Megan Had It Coming” (snapshot) surfaced more than two weeks ago. Earlier this week, the person writing the blog claimed the messages were being written by Lori Drew.

The detailed blog lays out Drew’s would-be motives for getting involved with the MySpace hoax against Meier.

[...] Since then, the Drews have been besieged with negative publicity, and Meier’s death prompted her hometown of Dardenne Prairie to adopt a law engaging in Internet harassment a misdemeanor.

Now, elected officials say the law’s first use could be to prevent possible harassment against the Drews.

“I would say that would be a possibility, that they could be the first,” Mayor Pam Fogarty said Friday. “A law is a law is a law. You can’t discriminate.”

Story background

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Covers and Rights [3:00 pm]

Rock band’s lawsuit takes aim at videogamepdf

Cover bands and tribute bands have been a mainstay of the music scene for decades. When a company licenses a composition, it may find that licensing the original master recording is outside the budget or unavailable for licensing. Hiring the original band members to rerecord the song may not be an alternative because of contractual rerecording restrictions in the band’s record deal, the members no longer sound like they once did or they may be dead.

So when someone wants to record a cover version of a song, when does it violate the original artist’s rights?

Michael Novak, the Detroit-based personal lawyer for the Romantics, says he believes a violation occurs when consumers think they’re listening to the original band.

That’s the basis of a recent lawsuit by three original members of the Romantics against Activision Publishing and others. And though music publishers have been looking at the solidly growing videogame industry as a strong source of potential license revenue, the Romantics’ lawsuit may throw a crimp in the plan.

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Radiohead’s Experiment At A Close? [1:55 pm]

Radiohead In Talks With iTunes On In Rainbowspdf

A deal with Apple Computers download store would represent a massive breakthrough on a number of levels, and one which apparently would require a shift in position from one of the parties.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

[...] Oxford, England-originated Radiohead became one of the music industry’s hottest topics this year when they recorded the album independently and issued it digitally through its official Web site from Oct. 10, allowing downloaders to name a price to own a virtual copy.

That “honesty box” experiment will come to an end on Monday, the band has announced, paving the way for the traditional release set-up of the album within the next few weeks.

“The download area that is In Rainbows will be shutting its doors on the 10th December 2007,” reads a note posted Wednesday on the bands official Web site.

The NYTimes has a couple of articles on Radiohead today: Pay What You Want for This Article and Radiohead Payment Model, The

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December 7, 2007

Telling It Like It Is [3:11 pm]

While there’s nothing really new here in this story about Coke’s new virtual island at there.com, I love it when someone explains what it’s really all about: Coke Promotes Itself in a New Virtual World

A number of consumer brands are designing virtual worlds that may resemble Coke’s new island, said Reuben Steiger, the chief executive of Millions of Us, an advertising agency that focuses on virtual worlds.

“The ones that are going to prosper are going to be the ones that don’t feel like advertising. No one really wants to go hang out in an ad,” Mr. Steiger said.

[...] “These platforms like Makena are designed to provide market research on steroids,” said Charles I. Mauro, president of MauroNewMedia. “This level of research allows us to be extremely accurate in a way that was never possible before to pinpoint when avatars are looking at advertisements, looking at products.”

Children are using virtual worlds in larger numbers than the general population, which could bode well for the future popularity of these sites.

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December 6, 2007

Social Networking and Snooping for Dollars [7:41 am]

Back to the drawing board: Facebook hangs its head over ad system — pdf

The online advertising system that was supposed to light Facebook Inc.s way to riches has created such a storm of negative publicity that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally apologized Wednesday and told users they could turn it off.

In a mea culpa designed to appease the social networking sites more than 57 million users and the marketers trying to reach them, Zuckerberg said Facebook should have responded to the public outcry sooner.

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December 5, 2007

Something To Think About When Composing Your Next SMS [6:42 pm]

Unless, of course, you already knew it: Police Blotter: Verizon forced to turn over text messages

What: U.S. Department of Justice seeks archived SMS text messages from Verizon Wireless without obtaining a warrant first.

When: District judge rules on October 30; magistrate judge completes review of archived text messages on Friday.

Outcome: Prosecutors receive the complete contents of defendant’s text messages.

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Tthe Changing Pop Music Marketing Machine [2:35 pm]

As U.S. Pop Wanes Abroad, Talent Scout Looks Wide

Sales began shifting more than a decade ago. In 2000 roughly 68 percent of worldwide sales derived from so-called local repertory — artists working in their native country — up from 58 percent in 1991, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group in London. Though American stars like Beyoncé and the Red Hot Chili Peppers still connect with fans in territories around the world, the ranks and global appeal of major United States acts appear to be waning, many music executives say. In Spain, for instance, only one American album — the soundtrack to “High School Musical 2” — is in the most recent Top 10 chart.

The surge by foreign talent has arisen partly from the spread of state-of-the-art recording equipment and software, as well as the expansion of previously limited avenues for promotion. MTV, for example, has started more than 50 music-video channels customized for viewers in Europe, Asia and other regions. The decline of an American presence among acts abroad also stems from old-fashioned cultural differences: Genres that fed a domestic boom in the 1990s, including country music and certain strains of rap, do not sell as well overseas.

“There’s more of a nationalistic trend generally in all these countries — not just in music, but I think politically,” said Richard Griffiths, a former senior record-label executive who now runs the British talent management firm Modest Management. And repeated layoffs at the labels’ affiliates have weakened their ability to push acts imported from the United States. “It used to be they’d be breaking those huge artists in America, and then the word would go out, ‘You will break these around the world,’ and generally speaking, they did,” he said. “Mariah, Celine, Michael Jackson. Those days are obviously gone.”

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OT: Nobody Likes To Look In The Mirror [11:58 am]

(Well, not entirely off-topic, I’m afraid) Tom Friedman paints an ugly picture: Intercepting Iran’s Take on America

Yes, our last I.N.I.E. in 1990 concluded that after the collapse of communism, America was on track to become the world’s sole superpower and most compelling role model for Muslim youth — including our own. We were wrong. We now have “high confidence” that America is on a path of self-destruction, for three reasons:

First, 9/11 has made America afraid and therefore stupid. The “war on terrorism” is now so deeply imbedded in America’s psyche that we think it is “highly likely” that America will continue to export more fear than hope and will continue to defend things like torture and Guantánamo Bay prison and to favor politicians like Mr. Giuliani, who alienates the rest of the world.

Second, at a time when America’s bridges, roads, airports and Internet bandwidth have fallen behind other industrial powers, including China, we believe that the U.S. opposition to higher taxes — and the fact that the primary campaigns have focused largely on gay marriage, flag-burning and whether the Christian Bible is the literal truth — means it is “highly unlikely” that America will arrest its decline.

Third, all the U.S. presidential candidates are distancing themselves from the core values that made America such a great power and so different from us — in particular America’s long commitment to free trade, open immigration and a reverence for scientific enquiry wherever it leads. Our intel analysts are baffled that the leading Democrat, Mrs. Clinton, no longer believes in globalization and the leading Republican, Mr. Huckabee, never believed in evolution.

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Sports, Entertainment and Ownership [8:26 am]

The Patriots are in a funny place: NFL ticket resale deal may be odd play for Patriotspdf

The National Football League is preparing to embrace the ticket reselling business, which could prove awkward for the New England Patriots.
more stories like this

* In crunch time, Patriots were efficiency experts
* Patriots had luck and pluck on their side
* Patriots’ Meriweather was much more involved vs. Ravens
* Ravens’ comments may bring league penalties
* Like 2004, Steelers trying to stop Patriots
*

The NFL is planning to name an official ticket reseller for all its teams in the next two weeks. Six companies are vying for the business, including StubHub Inc., the eBay-owned company that is locked in a court battle with the Patriots over the legality of selling team tickets above face value.

The deal underscores how the ticket reselling business has gone mainstream in America. But it also highlights how the Patriots are trying to buck that trend, insisting their tickets are licenses that can be revoked if customers try to resell them.

See earlier posting

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The Ever-Mutable Music Business Model [5:18 am]

Promoting another device, and a service — why directly paying for content continues to erode: Free Universal Music Downloads on New Nokia Phones

Nokia, the telecommunications company, and the Universal Music Group, the recording company, said on Tuesday that they would offer unlimited free downloads of Universal songs to buyers of certain Nokia phones as a way to promote cellphones as media devices and to develop new revenue for a music industry struggling with piracy.

Under the agreement, Universal will let users download its entire catalog at no cost for 12 months, and keep the songs at the end of that time. Users will be able to download the songs to new Nokia phones or to their computers via mobile or fixed-line broadband connections.

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December 4, 2007

Music, MP3s and Music Technology [5:09 pm]

Does sound quality matter? Shades of The Audible Past! In defense of audiophiles (citing The Deaf Audiophile - pdf - and Hard to Be an Audiophile in an iPod World)

It’s worth noting that digital audio files will get better, just as compact discs did. (In their first decade, CDs and CD players sounded dreadful, worse than MP3s—and much worse than some other, less-compressed, downloadable formats—sound now. Click here for a note on these other formats.) When this future comes, we will all rejoice. In the meantime, to deny or dismiss the sonic differences not only deprecates the depths and delicacies that make music so alluring. It also tells the engineers and manufacturers that they don’t need to improve their products, that bad sound is good enough.

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December 3, 2007

Christmas Coming Early? [5:39 pm]

Well, no, but some interesting news on the DRM-free front: Digital developments could be tipping point for MP3pdf

Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG Music Entertainment are feeling increased pressure to follow EMI and Universal Music Group’s lead in distributing music in the MP3 format, which forgoes restrictive digital rights management technology.

A yearlong download promotion planned between Pepsi and Amazon is among several developments forcing WMG and Sony to consider the format, Billboard has learned,

News of the Pepsi promotion, which is expected to be announced February 3 during the Super Bowl, coincides with Wal-Mart’s ultimatum that major labels supply walmart.com with their music in MP3, sources said.

Labels said they have been watching the success of an MP3 test that Universal Music Group (UMG) began in August. The major label continues to allow the sale of 85 percent of its current catalog as MP3s. Sources said UMG is on the verge of permanently embracing that digital format. But a source close to the testing insisted that the decision is still up in the air while the company awaits conclusive results from the trial, which are due in mid-January.

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