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July 25, 2003

2003 July 25 AM [7:51 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-07-25 11:34:05)

Karen and I went to Donna’s sendoff party at the Berkman Center last night. I’m betting that I managed to find the one un-airconditioned #1 bus from MIT to Harvard, so I was a sodden mess by the time I got there. Had a great time, though, seeing several from ILaw and getting to meet a couple of people I only know electronically: Mary Hodder of bIPlog (who was transiting Cambridge on her way back from over a month in Italy) and Wendy Koslow. Jonathan Zittrain was there, hooking his iPod into the sound system and plotting some more research with Ben Edelman, I’m sure. I also got to catch up with Diane Cabell and Robyn Mintz. Charlie Nesson was on his way out as I arrived, and Christopher Lydon was on his way in as I left.

Unfortunately, I arrived too late to hear the speeches or see the gift giving, but I think the best gift I did see was a 20" by 20" air filter with something like "Donna #1" spray painted on it in honor of her work on The Filter.

A great time - and I’m looking forward to Mary’s return to bIPlog; she’s got some very interesting stuff she’s working on.

  • Donna and Kevin point to The Subpoena Defense Alliance WWW page

  • A look at the effect of copyright term length - what to do when the inheritor cares less about the material than the fans Rock Idol’s Legacy Devolves Into Family Feud [pdf]

  • While the MPAA works to curb digital "piracy," we get these (embarassing?) statistics in a down economy: Video Revenue Is Still Rising [pdf]

    While 2003 movie box-office receipts are down by more than 4 percent from last year, video revenue is up by 16 percent, according to a report by Video Business magazine. In the first half of the year consumers spent $10.2 billion buying and renting DVD’s and videocassettes, a healthy performance for an industry that some analysts once wrote off as road kill on the supposed fast lane to the information superhighway.

    [...] Video Business reported that $4.8 billion has been spent buying DVD’s so far in 2003, as opposed to $1.05 billion purchasing videocassettes. On the rental side DVD also has taken the lead over the cassette. The studios have priced discs low for sales, but not everyone wants to buy most movies. “The single biggest change this year is the surge in DVD rentals,” Mr. Hettrick said. “At first with the prices so much less on DVD everybody dove in and bought everything, but now people are turning back to more typical habits and renting titles they don’t want to watch many times.”

  • A look at internet culture - when are bits not just bits? Star Wars Kid Files Lawsuit

  • Wired News has this article on the RIAA activity and collegiate responses: RIAA, Colleges Seek Piracy Fix. It includes a discussion of the Penn State initiatives (recall from earlier discussions of the Penn State position that they have an RIAA lawyer on their board.)

  • Slashdot discusses reports that RIAA Now Targets Pirates’ Parents. The title of the AP Wire piece is a clever subversive take on the issue IMHO: Everyone Is a Target in Music Subpoenas [pdf]; Wired News’ title is less so: RIAA Leaning on Kids’ Parents

  • Slashdot on Doc’s Save the Net: Saving the Net

  • The Register has also published some letters in response to the RIAA lawsuit spree: RIAA is ‘fighting for survival’

  • Saw Jonathan Zittrain at the Berkman Center’s send-off for Donna as she prepares to head to the EFF. Jonathan said he had recently given a seminar to the Harvard Law faculty on the SCO case that he thought went well - maybe we’ll get a peek sometime?

    In the interim, here’s something inflammatory from The Register: Uncle Sam may need to pay for Linux. On the other hand, CNet cites a Netcraft survey that concludes Web sites unfazed by SCO threats

  • Op-Ed from Newforge via The Register - one view on the question of Open Source in government: Govt. must be allowed to specify open source software; and here’s a particularly noxious opposing view by our good friend James De Long: Open source mandate–let the markets rule (Good idea - as long as the markets operate fairly)

  • Robert X. Cringely: Son of Napster:

    One Possible Future for a Music Business That Must Inevitably Change - the idea is Snapster, a "mutual fund" of CDs, collectively owned and downloadable at a pre-arranged rate. Claimed to be legal by Cringely, although I think he makes a stronger claim for "fair use" than is available and he misses the fact that, under the law, each download is a copy, meaning that there are, at minimum, royalties to be paid to both artists and songwriters (they are digital copies). Slashdot discussion: Cringely Proposes a Music Sharing Alternative; looks like Derek is going to look up some of the rules on mutual funds

  • After my assertions of credulous reporting on ACCOPS, I have to point to this Atlanta Journal Constitution editorial: Lock ‘em up, throw away the mouse [pdf]

    Critics of this harsh proposal are right. Music and movie industry people are desperate to protect their old business models, rather than finding ways to turn technology to their benefit. For instance, why not work harder on ways to market and deliver music digitally online rather than just through CDs?

    [...] Jailing music downloaders sounds more like stopgap scare tactics than business solutions. Perhaps wiser heads are busy crafting real strategies for these big and important industries.

    Note that they give Rep. Conyers an opportunity to be heard as well: Bill protects artists’ work from thieves [pdf]. His text is a little spooky, first by conflating standard criticisms of how artists get limited returns from their records with claims that now it’s file sharing, rather than exploitive contracts, that are to blame:

    Today, those same struggling musicians are having their art stolen on the Internet. The pattern has become all too clear — a musician finally makes his or her first hit single but earns almost no money from the song because someone put it on the Internet for everyone to take for free.

    And then closing with something that sounds like the standard canard about shoplifting, except somehow these shoplifters are now also giving away their ill-gotten gains:

    While those who want something for nothing like to use scare tactics about this bill, there is nothing new or different about these ideas. One cannot, under current law, shoplift compact discs from a music store and then put them on the street for everyone to take for free.

    Would he be happier if the shoplifters sold what they "stole?"

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