Trying to gain ground in China, Google, the search engine company, said Monday that it had begun to offer links to free music downloads — a service it does not offer anywhere else in the world.
Google executives said they were responding to the phenomenal popularity of free music downloads in China, one of the few markets where the company lags, by forming an alliance with the music industry, including Sony, Universal Music and Warner Music.
March 30, 2009
Searching for the Model [8:36 am]
In much of the world, American newspapers are seen as journalism’s gold standard. But the American newspaper’s business model appears to be broken. While much of Europe faces many of the same problems, a few newspaper publishers have found innovative ways not only to survive, but thrive in the face of the recession and the Internet.
[...] A business that has lost more than a quarter of its global sales over the last decade might not seem like the best example to follow. But alongside the wreckage left by digital piracy, new business models are emerging in the music industry — with Europe in the vanguard.
Few Europeans willing to pay for music directly, through services like iTunes, so the industry is instead bundling music costs into a broadband subscription, like basic cable channels do in the United States.
The Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, skeptical of applying micropayments to newspapers, has suggested providing access to newspaper Web sites for a fee paid at the Internet service provider level. For such models to succeed, newspapers would have to work together.
A group of newspapers in the French-speaking part of Belgium have shown the possibilities and the limitations of cooperating when faced with Google, which some see as a common enemy.
3-D, Movies and Digital Distribution [8:19 am]
The magic bullet for the movie theater business? I know I’ve been mightily impressed by the technology (I saw Coraline a few weeks ago in 3D, which I was dreading, but I have been a convert ever since). it may not be the magic bullet, but it is an awfully impressive bit of technology: 3-D Helps Propel Success of No. 1 Film ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ (pdf)
Consider DreamWorks Animation validated in its chest-thumping about a new golden era for 3-D.
“Monsters vs. Aliens,” positioned by the studio and its distributor, Paramount Pictures, as a make-or-break moment for digital 3-D, sold an estimated $58.2 million in tickets at North American theaters over the weekend, according to Media by Numbers, a box-office tracking firm. It’s the biggest opening so far of the year. But a deeper look at the numbers indicates that 3-D is the story.
Canute Was King of England, Too [7:25 am]
In the ruling, the judge in London, Nicholas Blake, also added a peculiar twist: The Guardian must not tell readers how easy it is to locate the documents at Web sites outside of Britain. It was only the latest example of British courts trying to preserve what it saw as litigants’ rights even in the face of an onslaught of information on the Internet. To some, this may be a final, futile effort.
In November, a court order prevented British newspapers from printing a leaked list of members of the far-right British National Party. Unfortunately for the court, that material was available at, among other sites, wikileaks.org, which also hosts the Barclays documents.
[...] “The Internet is throwing sharp relief to the illogical nature of our system,” said Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian. “Technology is way ahead of the law, and the law is limping along trying to make sense of it.”
The effect of the Internet on judges’ rulings is not a uniquely British problem, said Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard law professor who taught at Oxford. There is at least one example, he said, of an American court ordering a Web site not to link to content it had been ordered to take down. But he added that “British courts may be a little more confident of their own power, and be less willing to cave in to practicalities.”
The Barclays case pits two interests against each other, said James Edelman, a law professor at Oxford who argues media law cases. Since 1988, Professor Edelman said, British law has given great protection to the right of confidentiality, applying it to third parties like The Guardian, which received the documents from someone else. Yet, the “public interest” in learning about what is contained in those documents, he said, can often outweigh confidentiality considerations.
Finally, there is a basic factual question: is the material already in the public domain? And this is where the Internet throws a wrench into the proceedings.
Internet Balkanization? Or Survival? [7:20 am]
Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable operator in the country, is working with customers here to test a subscriber model for online TV viewing. Residents who pay for HBO can watch “Big Love,” “Entourage” and other programs on their computers, using special software and a personal log-in. People who are not HBO subscribers are barred from the service.
Vanity Magazine Publishing [7:17 am]
With a new Web service called MagCloud, Hewlett-Packard hopes to make it easier and cheaper to crank out a magazine than running photocopies at the local copy shop.
Charging 20 cents a page, paid only when a customer orders a copy, H.P. dreams of turning MagCloud into vanity publishing’s equivalent of YouTube. The company, a leading maker of computers and printers, envisions people using their PCs to develop quick magazines commemorating their daughter’s volleyball season or chronicling the intricacies of the Arizona cactus business.
“There are so many of the nichey, maybe weird-at-first communities, that can use this,” said Andrew Bolwell, head of the MagCloud effort at Hewlett-Packard. Samir Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi who plans to use the technology in his classroom, said, “We’re not talking about replacing the Vanity Fairs of the world. But it’s a nifty idea for a vanity press that reminds me of the underground zines we had in the ’60s and ’70s.”
Should the service take off, Hewlett could expand its lucrative business of selling huge digital printers to companies that would print the magazine and then ship its profitable inks by the barrel instead of the ounce.