Facing Reality

Telling the Heavyweights They Have to Be Agile

[Speaking to the leadership conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Tom] Carroll acknowledged that it would be hard work to “change the way we do our business,” but called it a necessary response to the profound shifts in media, consumer behavior and technology that are remaking the advertising landscape.

“All industries recalibrate themselves,” Mr. Carroll said, illustrating his point with a rhetorical question, “How’d you like to be in the CD business?”

Project Playlist Targeted

This ought to be a pretty interesting test case. They appear to be doing nothing different than what Google does, and they go out of their way to explain how to set up a robots.txt file to make sure they don’t crawl content you don’t want indexed. But, since it’s music, who knows how this will turn out: Record companies sue Project Playlist on copyright (pdf)

Nine major record labels filed suit against an online music provider on Monday, accusing Project Playlist Inc of a “massive infringement” of their copyrights to the songs of artists such as U2 and Gwen Stefani.

Project Playlist (http://www.projectplaylist.com) enables its users to easily find, play and share music with others for free, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

From the Project Playlist site:

The Project Playlist website includes a search engine that automatically spiders websites for our search engine index. In addition, users are freely able to submit links for their playlists.

Most webmasters love links to their website because it drives traffic to their site and increases the site visibility. Many musicians, record labels, music blogs and other music related websites want links to their music files to promote their music. We provide this service for that reason.

Any media files or html pages uploaded to the internet becomes part of the world wide web and, if placed in a public part of your site, become viewable by everyone and anyone. When creating your website it is important to keep this in mind.

“Web celebs?”

Web celebs consider their role (pdf)

“This conference was an idea waiting to happen,” said David Weinberger, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. He kicked off the confab with a keynote speech examining the Web’s new brand of celebrity, where popularity frequently bubbles up through truly populist channels, such as word of mouth or e-mail recommendations, rather than by paparazzi.

That sort of celebrity dominated the conference – an ever-expanding cast of people who look ordinary – even nerdy – but were welcomed by adoring fans for creating Internet “memes,” cultural building blocks that are the equivalent of genes.

The Right Tool For the Job?

And, what *is* the job, anyway? Cartoons of a Racist Past Lurk on YouTube

A representative for Warner wrote in an e-mail message that “Warner Brothers has rights to the titles” in question and that “we vigorously protect all our copyrights. We do not make distinctions based on content.”

The cartoons, known as the “Censored 11,” have been unavailable to the public for 40 years. Postings no longer appear if YouTube is searched for “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs,” a parody of “Snow White” and the most famous of the cartoons. But a search for “Coal Black” does find the cartoon.

These cartoons were controversial when first released; the N.A.A.C.P. unsuccessfully protested “Coal Black” before it was shown in 1943. Richard McIntire, the director of communications for the N.A.A.C.P., wrote in an e-mail message that “the cartoons are despicable. We encourage the films’ owners to maintain them as they are — that is, locked away in their vaults.”

WMAV01, a YouTube user who posted some of the cartoons and preferred not to give his name, wrote in an e-mail message that “these cartoons were never officially ‘banned’ by any law” and added that the cartoons had “historical value.” […]

New Business Models

It’s not all about relying upon copyright, exactly. At least, not the more draconian notions of control: Golden Years of Television Find New Life on the Web

In putting old episodes online, broadcasters are tapping into the “long tail” of niche content that the Internet has monetized. While executives are reticent about the costs involved, and while syndicated and DVD sales remain dominant sources of revenue, the repurposing of long-dead shows is creating another new revenue stream for distributors.

The online re-creation of the WB — a network that disappeared in 2006 when it merged with UPN to become the CW — will represent another step in that direction. While Warner Brothers would not confirm the plans, preferring to wait until a press conference on Monday, Bruce Rosenblum, the president of the company’s television group, said in an interview last week that “premium ad-supported digital destinations that are demographic-specific” are a key part of its strategy going forward.

Advertising-supported TV streaming sites like Hulu, Veoh and Joost are forming a time tunnel to 50 years of television — to shows like “Bewitched” and “Seinfeld” and even 26 episodes of the 1966 drama “The Time Tunnel”.

Microtargeting

Cute name for the same disturbing thing — dataveillance for niche marketing: Steven Levy – In Every Voter, A ‘Microtarget’ (pdf)

Microtargeting, as its name implies, is a way to identify small but crucial groups of voters who might be won over to a given side, and which messages would do the trick. It’s a bit scary because instead of trying to figure out how to direct media and mailings to a fuzzy cohort such as “soccer moms,” microtargeters know who you are and try to push your personal hot button so that you’ll choose their candidate.

Martin Going Off Script?

Comcast’s Network Practices Need Scrutiny, FCC Chief Says (pdf)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin yesterday challenged several of Comcast’s claims about how it operates its Internet network, taking his strongest stance yet against the cable operator.

Martin’s comments (local copy) came during a hearing held by the Senate Commerce Committee on the future of the Internet. Comcast is under investigation for allegedly delaying some Web traffic over its network.

Specifically, Martin said in his testimony that it appeared Comcast had singled out content for delay over its network, even when the network may not have been congested with overuse. He also said he doubted the company’s statements that it would stop some of its practices by the end of the year.

“I believe that we should evaluate the practices with heightened scrutiny,” Martin told lawmakers.

Testimony was given by:

Slate’s Reihan Salam On Terry Fisher’s Plan

The music industry’s extortion scheme (see earlier post)

That’s why piracy can’t be stopped. Meanwhile, artists aren’t being compensated in a sensible way. Sure, some musicians will make a living by playing live shows and selling T-shirts. A massively popular band like Radiohead can give away its music and still make millions. But plenty of other artists will no longer be able to make a living in the music business as royalties dry up, which will leave our culture a little less vital and a little less fun. What we need is a reward system, one that could eliminate middlemen and encourage a massive upsurge in creativity.

[…] All-you-can-eat iTunes works for Apple. Voluntary blanket licensing works for Big Music. The problem is that both of these grand plans cut out the little guy. Apple wants to ensure that the iPod will crush all other music-playing devices for 1,000 years by building an overwhelmingly dominant music retail platform. Big Music sells 90 percent of records; if they manage to squeeze money out of the ISPs, one suspects they’d be more than happy to screw the independent labels that make up the other 10 percent.

What plan will work best for music lovers and artists? Instead of a fake music tax, the best solution might be—sorry, libertarians—for the government to step in with a real music tax. In the book Promises To Keep: Technology, Law, and the Future of Entertainment, Harvard Law School professor William Fisher devised an ingenious reward system that levels the playing field for artists. […]

Limits to Media Consolidation?

Wow — and here I thought the market was supposed to take care of all of these problems: News Corp.s bid for Newsday has Congress looking to block more media consolidation (pdf)

Congress took the first step this morning toward invalidating new rules making it easier for companies to own newspapers and TV stations in the same city, with the leading backer of the legislation saying News Corp.s preliminary agreement to buy another New York newspaper highlighted concerns about increased media consolidation.

The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved a rare “resolution of disapproval” that would invalidate the Federal Communications Commissions controversial vote in December to ease a ban on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the nations top 20 markets.

Electronic Devices and Searches

Court says search of laptop with porn is legal (pdf)

A lower court agreed with Arnold, but on Monday the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, saying reasonable suspicion is not necessary to check laptops or other electronic devices coming over border checkpoints.

“Arnold has failed to distinguish how the search of his laptop and its electronic contents is logically any different from the suspicion-less border searches of travelers’ luggage that the Supreme Court and we have allowed,” Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for a three-judge panel.

Local copy of the opinion; see earlier posting: Searches and Digital Devices

From the opinion:

With respect to these searches, the Supreme Court has refused to draw distinctions between containers of information and contraband with respect to their quality or nature for purposes of determining the appropriate level of Fourth Amendment protection. Arnold’s analogy to a search of a home based on a laptop’s storage capacity is without merit. […]

[…] Moreover, case law does not support a finding that a search which occurs in an otherwise ordinary manner, is “particularly offensive” simply due to the storage capacity of the object being searched. […]