January 10, 2008

Lavigne Settles Copyright Complaint [2:59 pm]

The Canadian Press: Settlement reached in Avril Lavigne Girlfriend lawsuit

Punky pop star Avril Lavigne has reached a settlement in a lawsuit that accused her of plagiarizing her summer hit single, “Girlfriend.”

As a result, claims that 70s rock band the Rubinoos were ripped off have been dropped. Songwriters Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer charged that Lavignes boppy track sounded suspiciously like their 1979 single, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”

This Celebitchy link gives you a chance to make your own call.

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A Dose of Reality [1:57 pm]

Will it matter? Digital music industry challenged to follow fans’ lead

Music industry and technology executives convened for the Billboard Digital Music Live conference Wednesday to talk about what those in the business need to do to meet the needs of music fans who appear to be running the show.

“2008 has to be the year we get real or the business as we know it goes away,” said Fred Goldring, an entertainment attorney with Goldring Hertz & Lichtenstein. He said that consumers will access music regardless of whether artists, labels, publishers, and digital music distributors approve of the means or receive money from the exchange.

[...] Scenarios like [Radiohead's foray into digital distribution] will continue to happen, both among major-label artists and independent or unsigned artists. Whether they work is not the point; it’s what the industry will do to work within these models and support them rather than continue to resist that will decide how the industry will fare in the future, said Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group. Nettwerk is a Canadian privately owned record label and artist management company.

“The corporate side of it has to shift,” he said. “The corporate people have not allowed us to do what we know we have to do. This is about the consumer, about monetizing their behavior and giving them choice. For all of the people that believe in controlling the [intellectual property] and how [the music] gets to consumers, the game is over. It was over seven or eight years ago, and soon your business will be over.”

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Tim Wu on Rowling’s Suit Against the Harry Potter Lexicon [11:58 am]

J.K. Rowling’s Dark Mark: Why she should lose her copyright lawsuit against the Harry Potter Lexicon

As I wrote in October, over the last few years, the relationship between fan-written Web sites and the copyright owners of the content they draw on, if legally murky, has at least been peaceful. Once it dawned on media companies that fan sites are the kind of marketing that they usually pay hard cash for, they generally left the fans alone. But things turned sour in the fall, when the Harry Potter Lexicon Web site announced plans to publish a book version of its fan-written guide to the Potter world. Author J.K. Rowling and publisher Warner Brothers have sued the Lexicon for copyright infringement, exposing the big unanswered question: Are fan guides actually illegal?

As sympathetic as I am to Rowling and her rights as an author, the answer is no. There is a necessary and healthy line between what the initial author owns and what follow-on, or “secondary,” authors get to do, and Rowling is running over that line like the Hogwarts Express. The creators of H.P. Lexicon may not be as creative as Rowling, but they are authors, too, and deserve a little respect from the law.

[...] Rowling is overstepping her bounds. She has confused the adaptations of a work, which she does own, with discussion of her work, which she doesn’t. Rowling owns both the original works themselves and any effort to adapt her book or characters to other media—films, computer games, and so on. Textually, the law gives her sway over any form in which her work may be “recast, transformed, or adapted.” But she does not own discussion of her work—book reviews, literary criticism, or the fan guides that she’s suing. The law has never allowed authors to exercise that much control over public discussion of their creations.

Unlike a Potter film or computer game, the authors of the Lexicon encyclopedia are not simply moving Potter to another medium. Their purpose, rather, is providing a reference guide with description and discussion, rather like a very long and detailed book review. [...]

[...] In the end, this dispute is about the current meaning of authorship. Rowling is the initial author and deserves the bulk of the credit, respect, and financial reward. But she has all of that. What she wants is a level of control over the Potter world that just isn’t healthy. The authors of fan guides, like house elves, rarely get famous or rich. They deserve legal credit for their modest contributions, not the Wizengamot.

Later: More fromTim — Harry Potter Lexicon piece & addendum.

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UK Copyright Law and Ripping [10:49 am]

Copying CDs could become legal

The government is considering legalising private copying of CDs, as it seeks to reform existing intellectual property laws.

While it is common practice for music owners to rip their CDs for use on MP3 players, most are unaware that this practice is illegal. The government wants to address this by creating an exception under copyright law, a recommendation first mooted in the Gowers report into intellectual property.

“The exception would only apply to personal or private use,” says the proposal. “The owner would not be permitted to sell, loan or give away the copy or share it more widely (for example in a file sharing system or on the internet). Multiple copying would not be allowed.”

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Wired on iPhone Development [9:30 am]

The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry

But as important as the iPhone has been to the fortunes of Apple and AT&T, its real impact is on the structure of the $11 billion-a-year US mobile phone industry. For decades, wireless carriers have treated manufacturers like serfs, using access to their networks as leverage to dictate what phones will get made, how much they will cost, and what features will be available on them. Handsets were viewed largely as cheap, disposable lures, massively subsidized to snare subscribers and lock them into using the carriers proprietary services. But the iPhone upsets that balance of power. Carriers are learning that the right phone — even a pricey one — can win customers and bring in revenue. Now, in the pursuit of an Apple-like contract, every manufacturer is racing to create a phone that consumers will love, instead of one that the carriers approve of. “The iPhone is already changing the way carriers and manufacturers behave,” says Michael Olson, a securities analyst at Piper Jaffray.

[...] The negotiations would take more than a year, with Sigman and his team repeatedly wondering if they were ceding too much ground. At one point, Jobs met with some executives from Verizon, who promptly turned him down. It was hard to blame them. For years, carriers had charged customers and suppliers for using and selling services over their proprietary networks. By giving so much control to Jobs, Cingular risked turning its vaunted — and expensive — network into a “dumb pipe,” a mere conduit for content rather than the source of that content. [Cingular's Stan] Sigman’s team made a simple bet: The iPhone would result in a surge of data traffic that would more than make up for any revenue it lost on content deals.

[...] It may appear that the carriers’ nightmares have been realized, that the iPhone has given all the power to consumers, developers, and manufacturers, while turning wireless networks into dumb pipes. But by fostering more innovation, carriers’ networks could get more valuable, not less. Consumers will spend more time on devices, and thus on networks, racking up bigger bills and generating more revenue for everyone. According to Paul Roth, AT&T’s president of marketing, the carrier is exploring new products and services — like mobile banking — that take advantage of the iPhone’s capabilities. “We’re thinking about the market differently,” Roth says. In other words, the very development that wireless carriers feared for so long may prove to be exactly what they need. It took Steve Jobs to show them that.

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Meiers Harassment Case Moving Into New Territory [9:13 am]

MySpace Is Said to Draw Subpoena in Hoax Case

According to another police report filed after a verbal confrontation between Lori Drew and Megan’s parents , Ms. Drew said that she had “instigated” and monitored the MySpace account. Ms. Drew now denies sending messages from the account, according to a statement released by her lawyer, Jim Briscoe.

“Contrary to statements reported in various news media around the nation in recent weeks, Lori Drew did not create or direct anyone to create the Josh Evans MySpace account,” Mr. Briscoe said in the statement. “Although she was aware of the account, Lori Drew never sent any messages to Megan or to anyone else using this MySpace account.”

Mr. Banas said that the author of the final message to Megan was probably Ashley Grills, 18 at the time and an employee of Lori Drew’s advertising company.

Mr. Banas said in December that he would not pursue charges against Ms. Drew because current state statutes on harassment did not address Internet communication. The investigation did not determine that Ms. Drew and the others set up the account with the intent to harm Megan, he said.

[...] “I can start MySpace on every single one of you, and spread rumors about every single one of you, and what’s going to happen to me? Nothing,” Ms. Meier said. “People need to realize that this is 100 percent not O.K., that you’re going to go to jail.”

See also L.A. grand jury issues subpoenas in Web suicide casepdf; also the WaPo’s A Deadly Web of Deceit - pdf

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All Kinds of Music Marketing Opportunities [9:03 am]

They’re Playing My Song. Time to Work Out.

The playlist fixation has a scientific basis: Studies have shown that listening to music during exercise can improve results, both in terms of being a motivator (people exercise longer and more vigorously to music) and as a distraction from negatives like fatigue. But are certain songs more effective than others?

Generally speaking there is a science to choosing an effective exercise soundtrack, said Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an associate professor of sport psychology at Brunel University in England, who has studied the effects of music on physical performance for 20 years. Dr. Karageorghis created the Brunel Music Rating Inventory, a questionnaire that is used to rate the motivational qualities of music in the context of sport and exercise. For nearly a decade, he has been administering the questionnaire to panels representing different demographics, who listen to 90 seconds of a song and rate its motivational qualities for various physical activities.

One of the most important elements, Dr. Karageorghis found, is a song’s tempo, which should be between 120 and 140 beats-per-minute, or B.P.M. That pace coincides with the range of most commercial dance music, and many rock songs are near that range, which leads people to develop “an aesthetic appreciation for that tempo,” he said. It also roughly corresponds to the average person’s heart rate during a routine workout — say, 20 minutes on an elliptical trainer by a person who is more casual exerciser than fitness warrior.

[...] Much of the research done on music and exercise is geared toward aerobic workouts like jogging and cardio. But as anyone who has heard Metallica blasting from a weight room stereo knows, music is a motivator in strength training, too. “The vast majority of bodybuilders are fans of heavy metal, if not in their personal life at least in the gym,” said Shawn Perine, a senior writer at Flex magazine. Loud, aggressive music, he said, “keeps you elevated, especially in between sets.”

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Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” CD Sales Figures [8:56 am]

Radiohead Finds Sales, Even After Downloads

In a twist for the music industry’s digital revolution, “In Rainbows,” the new Radiohead album that attracted wide attention when it was made available three months ago as a digital download for whatever price fans chose to pay, ranked as the top-selling album in the country this week after the CD version hit record shops and other retailers.

[...] In any case the figures challenge the conventional wisdom that music fans no longer have an affinity for plastic. The sales of the album, which also snagged the top spot on the British weekly music chart, came despite the fact that “In Rainbows” — in the form of digital files — had been acquired by many fans after the band offered it in an unconventional pay-what-you-want offering through a Web site, inrainbows.com. The album was released on plastic CDs and vinyl LPs on Jan. 1, with the CD priced at $13.98, though it could be found for as little as $7.99 at outlets like Amazon.com.

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Confusing Reality With Internet Postings [updated] [8:50 am]

Blog Takes Failed Marriage Into Fight Over Free Speech

Normally, Garrido v. Krasnansky, a divorce case playing out in Vermont family court, would be of little interest to anyone but the couple involved. But the court has ordered the husband to stop posting blog items about his wife and their crumbled marriage, possibly turning an ordinary divorce into a much broader battle over free speech on the Internet.

The husband, William Krasnansky, posted what he calls a fictionalized account of the marriage on his blog late last year. His wife, Maria Garrido, complained to the judge overseeing their divorce, who ordered Mr. Krasnansky to take down “any and all Internet postings” about his wife and their marriage pending a hearing next month.

Mr. Krasnansky, 51, says the order amounts to a prior restraint, a rare restriction of speech before publication, and a violation of his constitutional right to free speech. His lawyer, Debra R. Schoenberg of Burlington, Vt., has asked Judge Thomas Devine of Washington County Family Court to vacate the order and dismiss Ms. Garrido’s motion for immediate relief.

The order has surprised some experts in First Amendment law, who say it constitutes a prior restraint and appears too broad to be constitutional, especially since no hearing or trial has been held.

In many respects, this is a stunning notion. I am an avid reader of Andrew Vachss‘ “Burke” novels, which are *very* noir looks at a particularly awful family of crimes — sexual predation of children. The Burke character is wholly unconstrained by the norms of lawful society when dealing with these sorts of criminals. While they are compelling reads, they are also awful stories, and the reader gets a “Dirty Harry” sort of rush when they are resolved.

Fine and good — after all, these are novels, not anything “real,” right?

Until you learn that Andrew Vachss has past history as a prosecutor of these sorts of crimes, at which point these novels take on a different complexion — if I worked in that profession, I too would require some sort of cathartic outlet.

But would you really want to classify this sort of writing as a crime?

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