2003 April 22

(entry last updated: 2003-04-22 22:18:46)

  • The End of Free Redux/Reloaded: It didn’t last! Try this NYTimes link from April 12!!! – they’ve re-erected their Abstract/Fee barrier – now I know what I should have been doing with my weekend :-(( As Dave Winer suggested, it’s time to use the BBC instead, and I’ll have to get started on PDF-ing anything that I feel I have to have from the Times – reread Doc Searl’s arguments about the value of authority before you compose your letters to the NYTimes management. Back to my Technorati links experiment – will the NYTimes tail off or not? Today’s stats (7:19 PM) for nytimes.com – 237,256 weblogs watched, 10,204,804 links tracked; 5872 inbound blogs, 15,286 inbound links.

    Update (from home): Their Links FAQ is unchanged at this point in time, even though the question that I referenced on April 7 is no longer correct – although maybe there’s some special language in the text that I need a lawyer to interpret:

    Q. How long will links to New York Times articles remain before breaking?

    A. Links to the homepage or section fronts may remain indefinitely. Links to articles, established within the first week from the publication date will also remain stable for an indefinite length of time, unless a redesign of our website occurs that causes the links to break.

  • Cory Doctorow‘s notes on Bunny Huang’s talk on hardware hacking at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology conference – freedom to tinker, anyone?

  • Denise Howell points to an LA Times article [pdf] on the street biz in mix "tapes" and how the record industry views it:

    The mix tapes are the creations of local DJs who take hits, rarities, the works of up-and-coming rappers or all of the above, and use them to turn a blank CD into a highly personal jukebox. There is intense competition among those DJs to get the freshest material, and because the formal music industry has long viewed the whole scene as a copyright nightmare, a spirit of pirate radio pervades.

    …Now, though, with the stars aligning just right, the mix tape has not only returned as potent tastemaker, it’s also enjoying such a flurry of interest and respect from the mainstream music industry that it feels like an overnight sensation. Conflicted labels regard the scene as both piracy menace and talent mother lode.

    …Music executives, always eager to follow a trend, are swooping in to sign the stars of the mix-tape scene, be they rappers, such as 50 Cent, or the DJs who assemble the tapes and imprint them with their personalities, either through their own rapping or musical trademarks.

    …”We’ve seen a real spike, and that’s directly due to the cost of CD burners and blank media ….Now that you can get those blank CD-Rs in bulk for under 5 cents a piece, the practice has become as attractive as narcotics. The profits are just as great.” He added that “thousands” of seizures and arrests are made each year.

    I’ll take "Perjorative Characterizations" for $100, Pat!

  • Ah, cripes: Record labels sue VC firm over Napster support; find more about this from Boing Boing, via Donna. Worse, the article discusses the chilling effect on innovation:

    The National Venture Capital Association, in a recent letter to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wrote that the mere threat of such litigation against one limited partnership firm would shrink the flow of capital to the entire technology segment.

    “The uncertainty attendant to those pending lawsuits is deterrence aplenty to the flow of investment capital to new technology,” wrote association president Mark Heesen. “Even without the threat of direct suit, investors in innovative technologies face the very real risk of loss of their investment.”

    The Slashdot discussion: Record Labels Sue Napster’s VC includes comments from one Ryan Tate suggesting in two articles (Upside; Economist) the the doctrine of ‘vicarious infringement’ in copyright law may, in fact, allow prosecutors to ‘pierce the corporate veil’ and leave the VC exposed to liability in excess of their investment in the venture.

    But copyright law is broader and more flexible than corporate law. It allows for prosecution for vicarious copyright infringement, an idea developed by the courts in a string of decisions dating back as far as 1918.

    Vicarious infringement occurs when parties several layers removed from a case of copyright infringement may be held responsible for piracy. The vicarious infringers do not have to actually commit piracy, as in direct copyright infringement, or even assist in piracy, as in contributory infringement and the case against Napster Inc. Rather, they need only the ability to influence the infringing act and to derive a benefit from the act. The scope of influence and amount of benefit required for vicarious infringement has been under debate in the courts for some time.

  • More on the Penn State network crackdown at the bottom of this entry.

  • Heck, it’s the end of a long day – check out FotoLog, which got an interesting writeup at Salon today. Something that I wish I had the time for, but my gallery is more than enough work (still working on getting my Morocco pics finished). But, this is the kind of thing that Charlie Nesson is talking about (as are weblogs) – here’s my discussion from Charlie’s ILaw session last summer

  • A nice summary of the RIAA lawsuits against college students using SMB spiders to find files shared on their campus networks and assembling lists accessible by all. [via Current Copyright Readings]

  • The BBC has a concise summary of the Madonna MP3 spoof/publicity campaign for her new album. The new Tangled Web column for this week [pdf] explains the connection (note the spin on Madonna’s "interjections" in the MP3s):

    While it’s a given that any new Madonna album will debut at or near the top of The Billboard 200, this time the Internet will likely play a role in the immediate success of her latest Maverick/Warner Bros. effort, “American Life.” The album is due in stores today (April 22), but MTV.com has been streaming it for more than a week, and Launch.com, America Online (AOL), and MSN have each featured a different track over the same period. Madonna’s voice repeatedly cuts into each stream to introduce the album, with the hope that fans will buy the set to get uninterrupted versions of the tracks.

    The massive Web campaign was designed in part to keep the album from leaking to peer-to-peer sites, as was the case of the pop star’s 2000 album “Music.” But it also has meant huge exposure for the new songs. A spokesperson for MTV.com says “American Life” has been streamed more than 700,000 times in the past week, which is “definitely a record for MTV.” Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) is a distant second.

    Note that Madonna doesn’t appear on the Big Champagne charts at all for the week ending yesterday. I’m not sure whether that means Madonna’s buzz is outside the P2P nets, whether the spoofing kept down the traffic, or whether Big Champagne’s tools are flawed, but it’s worth noting. Note Mary Hodder posted a detailed summary a couple days ago.

  • RealNetworks buys Listen.com for $36 million. CNet’s report discusses the shifting alliances in the online music biz.

  • Declan McCullagh points out a Cisco technology for changing the architecture of the Internet: Inside Cisco’s eavesdropping apparatus – more from Slashdot: More on Cisco Building Surveillance into Routers; articles, RFCs, etc.

  • A little academic material from the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings: Questioning the Economic Justification for (and thus Constitutionality of) Copyright Law’s Prohibition Against Unauthorized Copying: Section 106 – an economic argument against copyright, leading to an argument that since copying prohibitions limit new creation, the First Amendment exception generally given to copyright protections under 17 USC 106 is unconstitutional. A more detailed reading is needed on my part, but…. [Thanks, Ozlem!]

  • The Toronto Star offers up some future scenarios/strategies [pdf] for the music industry. The denouement of plot 5:

    Talk to enough record people these days — you know, those former rebels who hung with Bowie — and you can hear a bit of hate in their voices. They hate that they can’t control these listeners. The industry looks and sounds more like a police force than a cultural force.

    Labels were once known for the company they kept — the audiences they developed along with the artists’ careers. The first rupture came with a blockbuster mentality about 20 years ago when entire audiences — jazz and classical listeners for starters — were deemed irrelevant or marginal.

    As it turns out, the classical and jazz crowds — older people somewhat, likely better educated — were the very ones likely to be loyal to the industry. They were the collectors. They identified certain acts with certain labels. They actually had a feel for what the industry was up to.

    By turfing them, the industry — and its artists — have been left with the great unknown mob of consumers whose patterns of listening are an utter mystery, whose loyalty is suspect and whose developing musical tastes are impossible to understand let alone shape for all of the earlier reasons.

    The industry needs to reconnect with its audience, young and old. Maybe if it knew who was out there, it would know how to sell it something.

    The Slashdot article includes a comment that picks at an earlier part of the article where P2P file sharing is compared to the Baghdad looters

    Well, if the Baghdad looters…[w]ere simply making copies of the original items and leaving them intact, I think I’d be fine with it.

  • Slashdot also discusses the Boston Globe Magazine excerpt on Napster. [pdf] Other excerpts are available at Menn’s WWW site. Salon has a review, A file-trading ship of fools, with a couple of great summary paragraphs, including this gem:

    The story of Napster has to be seen, in the end, as a tragedy of wasted potential. Here was a system that improved everything about the way we listened to music, but nobody it touched was better off for it. The recording industry suffered losses not only to piracy but also to its image; in order to defeat Napster and the dozens of clones it spawned, the industry had to make enemies of its customers. The industry certainly didn’t have to behave the way it chose to, but given its experience with Napster, one can’t blame them; in fact, one of the best things about Menn’s book is that, compared to the file-trading executives, it makes the music industry look reasonable. Music fans are not well-served by the current state of things, either. Had Napster come up with a compromise system in time, fans might today enjoy a host of subscription file-trading systems online; today, however, the industry, having seen its worst nightmare in Napster, gives us only the most bare-bones systems. And fans, after experiencing the thrill of Napster, now must use a host of ad-clogged second-rate systems, a scenario that leaves them personally liable for copyright claims.

  • Revolution is not an AOL keyword gets Slashdot ink

  • And the march of innovation continues: Synapse

    Synapse is not just an unbelievable media player, it is a way of life. It reflects certain differences from the way the music world ticks today. It represents a completely new way of thinking.

    …Synapse is a real pattern matching application. It does the intuitive — it watches you and it learns what you like. There is no wasted time looking at other people’s style and classification and making some huge database. We don’t care if other people like to mesh rap and rock; we care if you like to mesh rap and rock. Or maybe you are the one person in the world who likes to mix classical and country and brazilian pop all at the same time. The Brain will pick that up, but no other player would dare play those songs together.

    Slashdot discussion: Machine Learning and MP3s – includes links to related/competing applications

  • Apple works to build buzz around its pending music activity(ies?). ZDnet story; Wired News has the Reuter’s feed

  • The super-DMCA saga continues, with this Slashdot summary and discussion of recent developments in Tennessee, Arkansas and Massachusetts. Apparently, there’s a hearing in Tennessee today, and the Arkansas version is sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature. Notwithstanding User Friendly’s take of last year, the reported Penn State actions suggest that civil disobedience is not going to get terribly far – at least, not until the rhetoric of theft is defused for these cases.

    A particularly good summary comment:

    The dangers of this are entirely in the disturbing broadness in the definitions, and the “everything not permitted is forbidden” catch. I much prefer the “everything not forbidden is permitted” way of things.

  • Surprise! The US Department of Justice has weighed in on the side of the RIAA in the case of the Verizon ISP records subpoena. Amy Harmon at the NYTimes has a somewhat less vitriolic take

  • According to the AP Wire (via the NYTimes), Penn State has cut off of Internet access to 220 students from their dormitory computers. The students retain network access, just not from their dorm machines. No indication of who filed the complaint that led to the sanctions has been given by the university.

    Penn State deprived 220 students of high-speed Internet connections in their dorms after it found they were sharing copyrighted material, the university said Monday.

    “Basically, we received a complaint,” said Penn State spokesman Tysen Kendig, who said he could not reveal who registered the complaint.

    “Upon investigation, we found that the students had publicly listed copyright-infringing materials on their systems to other members of this network,” he added.

    So far, there’s nothing in the Daily Collegian, but that may change over the course of the day.

    Update: OOPS! I missed the Monday links! University cracks down on file sharing. There’s additional information that suggests that this closely parallels the other RIAA student lawsuits:

    The students were using direct connect file sharing methods, which allowed them to create a network and download material without the downloads counting toward the students’ university bandwidth limits officials said.

    … He added direct connect is a way for people to find out what other files people have on their computers. Once students get the internet protocol (IP) address of someone with a file they want, they connect locally to that person and download the file. This method does not count against the university bandwidth limits of 1.5 gigabytes for uploading and 1.5 gigabytes for downloading each week, he said.

    Those caught had their dorm room Internet connections shut off immediately and received e-mail from the Security Operations and Services (SOS) office concerning what happened. It said their access was shut off for “processing and distributing copyrighted materials.”

    …Judicial Affairs is working with the Recording Industry Association of America and is following the Digital Millennium Copyright Act closely, Rodack said. Federal law mandates Internet service providers shut off the connection until the complaint is resolved.