End of the day – 2003 July 1

(entry last updated: 2003-07-02 02:30:32)

  • An informative little piece from the WSJ, via Tech Law Advisor (sorry, there’s something wrong with the article link – look for June 29 entries): Key Questions in Music Firms’ Crackdown on File Sharing [pdf]. In the form of a Q&A, there are a couple worth reading, but here’s my pick:

    What does this crackdown mean, in the long term, for file-sharing services? How are file-sharing companies/users reacting to this campaign?

    Expect a high-tech arms race between record companies and file swappers. Already, many former users of the P2P services have switched to fledging alternatives that allow for more privacy. Some are invitation-only, to keep out investigators — but these have the downside of a limited selection of music. Others let people share files without connecting directly, which makes it more difficult to detect the users’ IP address. And some break down files among dozens of computers, so no one computer is supplying copyrighted files. The legality of that practice is unclear, as it hasn’t been tested yet in court.

    If the file-sharing networks see a big drop in traffic, they could adopt some of these technologies. Sharman, Kazaa’s parent, declined to comment. “The next wave of P2P technology is this masking of identities,” says Mr. Gonzalez of Zeropaid.

    In addition to the high-tech arms race, some file swappers may turn to an older technology: CD burning. “The most obvious alternative for the kids will be the CD burner and the ‘sneaker net,’ ” or physically handing out copies of CDs, says Mr. Leigh, the Raymond James analyst.

  • Another blow to Microsoft from down under: Aussiechip dares Microsoft to sue

    Aussiechip released for free to the internet last week details of how to make “mod chips” – microprocessors that alter the internal workings of a console – under a licence that requires anyone downloading the plans to issue proceedings in its home jurisdiction of Queensland, should they wish to sue.

    Aussiechip founder Grant Sparks says there have been several downloads of the plans from Microsoft’s corporate network in Redmond, Washington, agreeing to the click-wrap agreement. Microsoft Xbox spokesmen failed to return calls.

    Intellectual property lawyer Simon Minahan says Microsoft is bound by the actions of its workers, who agreed to download the designs under the terms of the click-wrap agreement. “In actual fact it would be a little disappointing if they couldn’t sue me,” says Sparks, known as “Donatus” in the mod chip underground. “You see, I’m quite happy for them to take us to court, I just want to see it happen under conditions where we win.

  • Cory Doctorow points out this situation: Legit Xbox Linux or else!, itself based on this ZDNet UK story: Xbox hackers attempt to blackmail Microsoft

    A group of Xbox-security researchers say they have found a way to run Linux on the Xbox games console without a mod chip and will go public with the technique if Microsoft won’t talk to them about releasing an official Linux boot loader.


    The researchers say they want Microsoft to release a “signed” Linux boot loader which would allow Xbox users to run the open-source operating system on the console without installing a chip.

    A signed Linux boot loader will not allow users to load pirated games, they say. However, the release of the new Xbox-exploits they claim to have developed to run Linux on the console would have the side-effect of allowing rampant piracy without the need to install a mod chip, something the hackers say they would like to avoid.

  • On the Aimster front, Derek’s got some more to say

  • Beyond Blubster, a little more on the P2P alliance that KaZaA ia after: P2P alliance to counter RIAA?

    Kazaa distributor Sharman Networks and partner Altnet hope their new group, called the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), will help legitimize the much-maligned peer-to-peer industry, which has come under fire from Hollywood, politicians and the recording industry for being a haven for pirates.

    Martin Lafferty, the DCIA’s chief executive, said the group is hoping to provide a neutral forum where companies that are affected by or involved in peer-to-peer or distributed computing technology can meet to establish business practices, to encourage the adoption of standards and to help shape public policy.

  • A propos of Les’ arguments about the need for market pressure to achieve innovation, we have this little bit: Netscape updates as Andreessen yawns

    At a conference in London last week, Andreessen told Reuters that “there hasn’t been any innovation on the browser in the last five years, and five years from now there won’t be any changes.”

    Andreessen went on to call the state of browser navigation “an embarrassment.”

    Slashdot discussion: Netscape Founder Says Web Browsing Innovation Dead

  • Record company realignments all around. From the NYTimes we get Vivendi Snubs Bidder as It Moves to Keep Record Group [pdf] which points out the following interesting bit:

    Vivendi’s decision to exclude Universal Music from the sale was made after the board concluded that it would otherwise be selling the unit — the recording industry leader — at the bottom of the market. Sagging CD sales and concerns about online piracy have devalued all music companies, and the Vivendi board is hoping it can attract a higher price for Universal Music later, once the industry sorts out the piracy problem, the executives said.

    The removal of Universal Music from the bidding contest is likely to benefit Liberty Media, which had been uncomfortable with the state of the music industry and may now be inclined to bid more for the other entertainment assets. MGM, NBC and Viacom were never interested in the music unit.

    And from CNet we get AOL, Bertelsmann music talks heat up which asserts

    Media giants AOL Time Warner and Bertelsmann are making headway in talks over a music merger and could strike a deal over the next couple of months, sources close to the companies said on Tuesday.