September 1, 2008

Broadway, YouTube and Performance Rights [6:07 pm]

After the Curtain Falls, the Web Gets Into the Act (pdf)

Theater is the ephemeral art — except, that is, when it’s bootlegged on YouTube.

[...] Few shows are as omnipresent online as “Wicked,” but others — musicals, almost exclusively — are out there, even the best-protected among them. Mel Brooks might be the king of premium pricing on Broadway although his “Young Frankenstein” has been on the discount rack for months, but does he know that anyone with an Internet connection can watch Sutton Foster in the Teri Garr part doing “Roll in the Hay” during last years tryout in Seattle?

[...] Should actors be paid for such usage? Should penalties be imposed when such footage mysteriously migrates from official Web sites to less-governed areas of cyberspace? This is the frontier, and the contract negotiated between Equity and the Broadway League this summer (scheduled for ratification this week) specifically allows for more marketing flexibility in the brave new world.

[...] Media corporations are reportedly growing less interested in banning contraband video (shared yuks from TV, for instance) than in milking unplumbed advertising opportunities from whatever arrives online. [...]

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The Shoe Drops [9:49 am]

Comcast to Place a Cap on Internet Downloads

Beginning Oct. 1, Comcast will put a 250 gigabyte-a-month cap on residential users. The limit will not affect most users, at least not in the short-term, but is certain to create tension as some technologies gain traction.

A Comcast spokeswoman, Jennifer Khoury, said 250 gigabytes was about 100 times the typical usage; the average customer uses two to three gigabytes a month. Less than 1 percent of customers exceed the cap, she said.

Many Internet providers reserve the right to cancel the service of the most excessive users. The 250-gigabyte cap is Comcast’s way of specifying a longstanding policy of placing a limit on Internet consumption, and it comes after customer pushed for a definition of excessive use.

But on the Internet, consumer behavior does not stand still. As the technology company Cisco stated in a report last winter, “today’s ‘bandwidth hog’ is tomorrow’s average user.”

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Wikipedia and Political Reputation [9:47 am]

Don’t Like Palin’s Wikipedia Story? Change It

While ethically suspect, the idea that a politician would try to shape her Wikipedia article shouldn’t come as a surprise. In modern politics, where the struggle is to “define” yourself before your opponent “defines” you, Wikipedia has become an important part of political strategy. When news breaks, and people plug a name into a search engine to find out more, invariably Wikipedia is the first result they click through to; it is where first impressions are made.

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Fighting Over “Cloud” [9:45 am]

A New Battle Is Beginning in Branding for the Web

In recent years, patents — not trademarks — have been the main focus of intellectual property experts and the courts, especially around the issue of whether patents on software and business methods have become counterproductive, inhibiting innovation.

But some legal experts say trademark issues may take on a higher profile, fueled by the escalating value of brands in general and trademark holders increasingly trying to assert their rights, especially on the Internet.

“Trademark is the sleeping giant of intellectual property,” said Paul Goldstein, a professor at the Stanford law school.

Just ask Disney!

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