2003 May 14

(entry last updated: 2003-05-14 14:00:24)

  • Ed Felten points out that the Texas version of the super-DMCA has been voted favorably out of committee.

  • Another Australian article: First criminal charges of internet piracy [via Aimee Deep]

    Michael Speck, of the industry lobby group Music Industry Privacy Investigations, said the move to criminal action, rather than the civil action used in all previous international music piracy cases, was a reflection of a toughening in attitudes to internet-related offences.

    “Internet infringers have relied on the soft option of civil action being taken, but the tide has turned,” he said.

    And trying to find out more about this company led me to this March 25 discussion of legal hardball: Music industry fears Uni stalling will derail case

    The music industry has expressed concern that alleged “delaying tactics” by the University of Melbourne over access to information revealing possible copyright breaches may make Federal Court action over the issue immaterial.

    Despite agreeing last month to preserve copies of files on the university network which may contain evidence of breach of copyright, the University of Melbourne has failed to do so, according to Michael Speck, the managing director of Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), the company retained by the Australian music industry to conduct surveillance of possible illegal activity.

  • The Microsoft pro-NGSCB/Palladium spinmeisters are out: Is Palladium Getting a Bad Rap?

    Privacy advocates warn that NGSCB can, and probably will, be abused by content providers to enforce draconian copyright protections. But Microsoft representatives insist these worries are rooted in an incomplete and incorrect understanding of what NGSCB is and can do.

    “There’s this mythology surrounding NGSCB that Microsoft is in league with the media industry to override consumers’ rights,” said Mario Juarez, an NGSCB product manager. “That makes no sense. Who would buy a product that doesn’t allow them to do what they want to do? No one. So why would Microsoft choose to commit professional suicide in that fashion?”

    Ummm, how about because most users don’t/won’t use anything but the dominant monopoly operating system?

  • CNet has an opinion piece by a Stanford senior: The mood among campus file-swappers. Fuzzy around the edges, but one look at the current mood.

    Why is a compromise in everyone’s best interest? Take the case of Sony, which operates a strong electronics wing along with several music labels under its Sony Music brand. It is not uncommon to see students parading through campus with a Discman, playing the latest MP3s that they just downloaded. Sony’s overall strategy has been to accommodate new music technologies by generating new revenue streams and changing its business strategies.

    … But fighting a war against educational institutions and P2P companies is bound to be expensive. The opportunities lost in such a battle are also quite large, especially as Internet radio and streaming audio become increasingly popular. If the recording industry cannot create a compromise for its Internet strategy, the future is clear: P2P alternatives will continue to develop, and organizations like the RIAA will wind up in one court battle after another and end up with one heck of an image problem.

    If the music labels want to play a defining role in the future of new media, they’ll need to work with Silicon Valley to establish mutually beneficial terms. Otherwise, the occasional blasting of copyrighted music from the speakers of students in college dorms will be the least of the their worries.

  • Slashdot also has a story asserting that the Music Publishers’ Association is going after fan sites that publish song lyrics.

    Update: Although the Slashdot piece has no substantiation, there is this BBC piece: The joy of lyrics

    The bad news for anyone with a troublesome lyric on the brain is that most sites are illegal: Sarah Faulder, chief executive of the Music Publishers Association, says that unless the websites have the permission of the copyright owners to display the lyrics (which most do not), they are breaking the law.

    LyricFind’s Ballantyne says that getting permission is impractical as there is no central body to approach to license lyrics en masse, but Faulder says this is no excuse for breaching copyright.

    “Just because there is no central licensing body it doesn’t make it right to take lyrics and publish them without permission. It is as frowned upon as the downloading of music illegally, and when publishers know about these sites they follow them up”, she says.

  • The above piece on lyrics reminds me of something that is discussed in The Audible Past. While, on one hand, every generation insists that their sound reproduction technology offers “perfect fidelity,” it remains the case that much of our ability to interpret sound recordings depends upon our already knowing what to expect.

    The need for song lyrics is a great example of this need (and the examples given in the BBC article above are excellent – don’t miss the comments at the bottom of the article!) Isn’t it surprising that, once you know the lyrics, then you can hear the artist saying those words, when beforehand all you heard was gibberish? The classic is Jimi Hendix’s Purple Haze lyric “‘scuse me while I kiss the sky,” but my own personal lyric issue has been Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” When that song came out, I asked all sorts of people what they thought the lyrics were, up to actually paying a kid in a pizza place in Detroit one night to go through the whole thing.

  • Pursuant to David Weinberger’s piece in Wired: When copy protection backfires (Slashdot discussion: When Copy Protection Fails)

    His response was to send an email dripping with sarcasm to EMI.

    “Just a courtesy email to inform you, that as a result of problems experienced playing the Norah Jones CD containing your Copy Control measures on Apple OS10.2 Titanium Laptop, Windows 2000 workstation and Windows XP workstation, I have now been forced to copy your CD just to listen to it,” he wrote.

    “In all circumstances the CD drives could not recognise, load or play the disc. Maybe you should consider displaying a warning on the covers of all of your CDs i.e. Warning: This CD may not work!”

    “Please congratulate the genius that concocted this anti-pirating strategy.”

    Doc Searls points to AKMA’s comments on DRM and re-purchasing music as media evolve.