2003 May 20

(entry last updated: 2003-05-20 17:58:31)

  • Something to consider: the RIAA Radar bookmarklet [via BoingBoing]

    What is RIAA Radar?

    The RIAA Radar is a tool that music consumers can use to easily and instantly distinguish whether an album was released by a member of the Recording Industry Association of America.

    How does it work?

    When you run the RIAA Radar from an Amazon album detail page, it uses Amazon Web Services to get the album information. It then checks the record label data of the Amazon item against a database of the current list of RIAA members, and returns the result.

    Very cool! Now I can comfortably buy the Hank Dogs followup to Bareback!

  • Ed Felten points us to the New York Times’ robots.txt file, noting that this might have something to do with the reason that the Times’ articles don’t rank too highly on Google [pdf] (note that robots.txt is a file that is used to instruct webcrawlers). Also, see yesterday’s Furdlog entry on Doc Searls’ writing on the subject.

  • Mary Hodder suggests that, based on Bursting BigChampagne’s Bubble, there may be less to Big Champagne than meets the eye:

    No, BigChampagne may be offering TopSwaps charts, but they don’t appear to be what their cult of personality would tell you they are. And to pass them off overtly or covertly as something other than what they are is disingenuous and misleading.

    I would hope that potential clients, as well as their current clients, would look a little deeper behind BigChampagne’s processes and methodology to find the real story behind their output. And I would hope that BigChampagne would be more forthcoming about what substance there is behind their data.

  • The EMI Group’s preliminary year-end financial figures were announced this morning.

    While we recognise that, in the long term, sales growth is an important objective, the year ended 31 March 2003 was clearly one during which we repositioned EMI Recorded Music on profitable foundations, and its performance did improve markedly. Operating profit increased 81% to £150.5m (£150.1m at constant currency), more than doubling operating margins to 8.5% compared with 4.1% last year.

    This margin increase is not simply the result of cutting the cost base. In the year just ended, we pursued an aggressive policy of refocusing Recorded Music on its core business by streamlining the artist roster and exiting unprofitable operations and costly joint ventures.

    The improvement also demonstrates the importance of concentrating on profitable, sustainable sales from artists with long-term potential….

    Beyond improving immediate profitability, containing piracy has become another major priority for EMI. During the year, EMI Recorded Music created a global anti-piracy team. Overall we have allocated substantial management time to lobbying governments to enact and enforce stronger legal penalties, and to identifying technologies and establishing procedures that protect our music. The group is determined to contain the sales erosion caused by physical counterfeiting, illegal file sharing and CD burning.

    In recent months we have started to see a shift in the attitudes of governments as to the seriousness of the situation and are starting to witness their willingness to confront the problem.

    Piracy containment is one important part of the new environment. It is, however, clear that consumers want to access music legally via the net and we are making considerable efforts and progress in turning this into reality. EMI’s catalogue is very widely available in digital delivery services and the group has taken a leadership position in offering more of our content on the net. EMI is also actively pursuing opportunities offered by the digital world such as ring tunes and video distribution as well as gaining further insight into music consumers’ behaviour.

  • From SFGate.com: Computers at the center of home entertainment: Only TVs rated higher in new survey [pdf]

    But regardless of the platform, computers already are playing a large role in entertainment. A Harris Interactive Inc. poll will show that U.S. residents 13 and older consider computers more important for home entertainment than the CD player, stereo or DVD player.

    Only the television was ranked more important in the poll of 2,070 computer users conducted between Feb. 24 and March 12. Nearly half those surveyed tuned into TV while using the computer.

    The poll has a technology bent because it was commissioned by software giant Microsoft Corp. However, the results echo similar data from other independent researchers.

    And a companion piece: The other shared files: pornography: Adult film industry profits from services [pdf]

    Most of the controversy surrounding file-sharing programs like Kazaa, Grokster and Morpheus has centered on the trading of free music and movie files. The recording and film industry call this practice piracy and have filed copyright infringement suits trying to shut them down.

    But the adult film industry has not taken such a stance, despite the plentiful amount of porn available. Instead of fighting file sharing, some in that industry — estimated to be generating $750 million to $1 billion per year in revenue — are quietly finding new ways to profit from it.

    “The porn guys are smart, they’ve figured out how to use the technology,” said Grokster President Wayne Rosso.

  • I wasn’t going to cite Sonia Arrison’s Linux screed today until I found a counter-position. Luckily, it didn’t take long:

  • Glenn Reynolds TCS piece today, Open and Shut, discusses media concentration:

    So, Michael, here’s the deal: if you think that concentration in Old Media is okay because New Media will provide the discipline, then stand up for freeing the New Media from the shackles that the Old Media are trying to weld on. Because if you’re not serious about freeing the New Media, then you’re not serious about competition, and what you’re describing isn’t a bold new world, but a sellout

  • This week’s Tangled Web points to Epitonic, a WWW site distributing free MP3s of some independents.

  • The continuing development of file sharing around iTunes [via Michael Gartenberg’s Weblog]: ShareiTunes.com (whose WWW homepage title is "Our Parents Taught Us Well. Don’t Steal. Share!!") and iLeech

    What is iLeech?

    Introduced in iTunes v4.0 is the ability to share your playlist with other iTunes users. This is accomplished locally using Rendezvous/zeroconf/mdns/whatever, or if you know the IP address of a machine you can access it’s playlist via daap:// (provided port 3689 is open). However, you can only stream the music from the iTunes host — no copies are made on your machine.

    iLeech will connect to an iTunes host, display their playlist, and allow you to copy the files to your local drive. It can be downloaded by clicking the “Download” link in the right-hand navigation bar.

  • From the recent Pew Internet Life report on broadband growth trends in the US: The next broadband users: Their current online behavior and their work at home are key

    In sum, it is not just length of time online that may drive dial-up users to broadband at home, but also the nature of their online activities. In other words, users who are ardent information gatherers and producers are the dial-up surfers who are poised to purchase home broadband service. Although it is hard to pinpoint specifically which factors will drive the next set of broadband users to purchase a home high-speed connection, it appears that job-related reasons will loom large. Experienced dial-up users who want broadband are already as likely as broadband users to do research related to their jobs online. And experienced dial-up users interested in broadband are more likely to have college degrees than today’s broadband users (by a 53% to 45% margin), are more likely to be employed and are, on average, a bit older than broadband users.

    Yet, the statistics that the study actually cites suggest that the degree of multimedia activity online, particularly streaming of music and MP3 searching & downloading, are the key distinctions between broadband and non-broadband users.

  • The BBC on the Roxio/Pressplay move: Roxio continues online consolidation

    Analysts said the deal suggested more consolidation ahead in the online music business, where commercial services have struggled to survive.

    “The market’s going through consolidation because these services have been around for a couple of years, burning cash and not generating much revenues from subscribers or advertising,” said PJ McNealy, an analyst with GartnerG2.

    Another subscription service, Listen.com, was recently sold to RealNetworks while the independent service FullAudio denied rumours this week that it was looking for a buyer.

  • While hunting up more information on WebListen, I came across this site: The Global Internet Policy Initiative which “supports adoption in developing countries of the legal and policy framework for an open and democratic Internet. The project works with local stakeholders in consultative, coalition-based efforts to promote the principles of a decentralized, accessible, user-controlled, and market-driven Internet.”

    One interesting reference from their site is Significant Developments in Global Internet Law in 2002 from the law firm of Covington and Burling

  • CNet: Site in Spain to reign in MP3 playin’? A look at PureTunes, a competitor to WebListen, a Spanish P2P file sharing service that, according to CNet, has resisted litigation so far. This brief summary from the Perkins Coie WWW site:

    Ediciones Musicales Horus v. Weblisten, Provincial Court of Barcelona (2003). A Spanish court ruled on a Spanish version of “Napster,” which offered downloadable music online. Ediciones Musicales Horu sued Weblisten for copyright infringement under the Spanish Intellectual Property Act. Weblisten argued that the copying of CDs onto MP3 files was not a “reproduction”, but rather a public performance of the songs and that a license was not necessary. The court disagreed, finding that “reproduction” includes the uploading of digital files. Therefore, the court held that Weblisten had not obtained the necessary license and was liable for copyright ifringement.

  • Declan suggests that the formation of a new congressional caucus means that P2P is in Congress’ sights: Congress calls to arms against pirates

    Three members of the U.S. House of Representatives are creating a new congressional caucus devoted to combating piracy and promoting stronger intellectual property laws.

    A letter sent to some members of Congress last Friday by Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., warned of the threat of “ever-changing technologies” and asked colleagues if they would like to join the caucus. “The concerns of the thousands of Americans whose livelihoods depend on intellectual property protection are not being fully debated or addressed,” said the letter, which was obtained by CNET News.com.

    …Joining Wexler as co-founder of the caucus is Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who helped author a note last fall to 74 fellow Democrats assailing the Linux open-source operating system’s GNU General Public License as a threat to America’s “innovation and security.” Smith’s Ninth District includes the Seattle surburbs near Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. The third founder is Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., a first-term congressman and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives who was once Gov. Jeb Bush’s running mate.

    …Mike Godwin, senior technology counsel at the Public Knowledge advocacy group, said the House subcommittee that oversees intellectual property law “has been pretty energetic” already in reviewing the intersection of technology and copyright policy.

    “If they believe that the best way to do it is to develop a caucus around P2P sharing, that’s a fine idea,” Godwin said. “As long as they remember that P2P sharing is at the heart of the design of the Internet.”

    Slashdot discussion: racy Caucus Formed