Words Without Borders

Innovation in content distribution: Online Magazine Removes Cultural Blinders

First the statistics that helped inspire Ms. Mason: a widely cited 1999 report from the National Endowment for the Arts calculated that about 3 percent of the books published in the United States were translations, compared with 40 to 50 percent in Western European countries.

Then, the zeal: “I really thought after Sept. 11 we would feel more of a need to know about the rest of the world, to realize how urgent it was to know what people were thinking and feeling and writing about America and themselves,” Ms. Mason said. “It’s very easy to throw out phrases like `the Axis of Evil,’ the enemy, and we really don’t know who these people are.”

“Words Without Borders” (www.wordswithoutborders.org), supported by two grants totaling $65,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, went online in July by presenting what the editors call “literature from the Axis of Evil.” The first three issues had essays, reporting and book excerpts from writers in North Korea, Iraq and Iran who might be famous in their own countries and regions but are almost unknown in the United States.

RamBus Dodges a Bullet

For now, anyway — Rambus wins major round in FTC case

An FTC administrative law judge dismissed the case, which centered on allegations that Rambus deceived the industry and a standards body by not disclosing its patent plans regarding synchronous dynamic random access memory while SDRAM-related standards talks were under way. Once standards had been adopted, Rambus filed intellectual-property suits against several major makers of SDRAM, the most common memory found on the market.

The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, to which Rambus belongs, requires members to disclose or license relevant intellectual property to other members, but how the organization applied those bylaws has been a controversy in the case.

By ruling for Rambus, the FTC judge effectively said Rambus’ alleged conduct didn’t occur, or wasn’t illegal. Although the judge tossed out the FTC case Tuesday, the details behind the decision will not be made available until Monday.

Slashdot: FTC Dismisses Complaint Against Rambus

Partnering for Content DRM

Intel, Movielink co-star in Web movie push

Movielink, a venture backed by five Hollywood film studios, lets people pay to download and watch feature-length films on a PC. Its partnership with Intel will give it more muscle in promoting the service, and it will give it a inside edge on emerging technologies designed to let people transfer films wirelessly from the PC to the TV.

[…] As part of the Intel-Movielink deal, the companies will explore various content-protection technologies to be used in the wireless transfer of films from a home PC to a television set. They said that they will look for content protection that works seamlessly with digital media adapters (DMAs), or connectors that allow the transfer of data among various electronic devices.

Intel is developing a prototype of an Internet Protocol-enabled DMA. Movielink will support the Intel project with technical information, such as user scenarios.

Marketing plays a large role in the deal, too. Intel will sponsor and promote Movielink’s college Web site, which gives college students lower rental rates for online films. In addition, the chipmaker will promote Movielink at major retail outlets that sell PCs based on the Intel Pentium 4 processor with HT Technology. The companies plan to advertise jointly in print and in online media.

BitTorrent Gets NYTimes Ink

File Sharing’s New Face (yes, it’s from last week, but still…..)

If Napster started the first generation of file-sharing, and services like Kazaa represented the second, then the system developed by Mr. Cohen, known as BitTorrent, may well be leading the third. Firm numbers are difficult to come by, but it appears that the BitTorrent software has been downloaded more than 10 million times.

And just as earlier forms of file-sharing seem to be waning in popularity under legal pressure from the music industry, new technologies like BitTorrent are making it easier than ever to share and distribute the huge files used for video.

[…] BitTorrent, however, uses what could be called a Golden Rule principle: the faster you upload, the faster you are allowed to download. BitTorrent cuts up files into many little pieces, and as soon as a user has a piece, they immediately start uploading that piece to other users. So almost all of the people who are sharing a given file are simultaneously uploading and downloading pieces of the same file (unless their downloading is complete).

The practical implication is that the BitTorrent system makes it easy to distribute very large files to large numbers of people while placing minimal bandwidth requirements on the original “seeder.” That is because everyone who wants the file is sharing with one another, rather than downloading from a central source. A separate file-sharing network known as eDonkey uses a similar system.

Grey Album Goes Down

While the Grey Album was a big hit with fans of DangerMouse, it apparently hasn’t been so pleasing to EMI executives:

  • Ananova: EMI blocks ‘Grey Album’

  • TeenMusic: Jay-z’s Grey Album Blocked By Emi

  • Boston Globe: EMI puts it in black and white: No `Grey Album’

    When DJ Danger Mouse began garnering attention for “The Grey Album,” his inventive remix of a cappella tracks from Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” and music from the Beatles’ eponymous 1968 album commonly known as “The White Album,” it was always a question when — not if — his unauthorized project would be shut down.

    […] For his part, Danger Mouse said he always understood that his recordings were “illegal” and that “it may get me in trouble, but if I had thought about that I would have never made what I thought turned out to be one of the best things I ever did.”

  • BBC News: EMI blocks Beatles album remix

    “He’s not going to produce any more, sell any more or distribute any more – which is what they’re asking of him,” a spokesman for DJ Danger Mouse told BBC News Online.

    “He’s done that in an effort to avoid any legal proceedings. But the album’s very much out there.”

    The DJ was “just happy for people to burn it, bootleg it and post it on the internet”, the spokesman said. “Consequently, people are doing it.”

DangerMouse’s description of the project:

In November of 2003 Jay-Z released ‘The Black Album’….

Now, Producer and DJ – Danger Mouse, Presents….

‘The Grey Album’

The Grey Album is an art project/experiment that uses the full vocal content of Jay-Z’s Black Album recorded over new beats and production made using the Beatles White Album as the sole source material. Danger Mouse insists he can explain and prove that all the music on the Grey Album can be traced back to the White Album and its musical content via sampling. Every kick, snare, and chord is taken from the Beatles White Album and is in their original recording somwhere.

This Incredible re-interpretation will be one to look out for and will be made available worldwide around Feb/March of 2004. The resulting record is a unique hybrid of work from one of hip-hop’s fastest rising production stars via two of the most important musical and cultural forces ever.

In an incredible year, Danger Mouse has already received critical acclaim from his status as the Producer and DJ of the DM & Jemini duo. His work on their ‘Ghetto Pop Life’ debut showcased his enormous potential and 2004 will see Danger Mouse involved in several further projects.

Both the Beatles own remix project (‘Let It Be… Naked’) and Jay-Z’s retirement Black Album are in stores now. At the time of writing, neither Jay-Z nor The Beatles were available for comment.

See also Mary Hodder’s thoughts: Yet Another Copyright / Remix Culture Struggle With a Mouse or Why I Get Whiplash Thinking About the Disney Diachotomy

I’m Back….

With lots of catching up (and paper grading) to take care of. Hope to start posting something with content within the next day or so.

My admittedly whirlwind trip to India was amazing from a host of perspectives, as I hope the pictures that I will start posting will help to demonstrate. What I found most sobering, both in my conversations with people and from my reading of the local papers, is the degree to which American political prestige is suffering in India under this presidency.

Indians have huge economic reasons to be strongly allied to America, since the outsourcing of service jobs to India is a significant element of their economic growth. Yet, there are papers that have daily reports of "Bushisms" as well as a cartoon known as Dubyaman. (Get to it via the IndiaTimes Jokes page) The contrast in their perceptions of this president and the last was just overwhelming — even when speaking to Indians whose avowed prejudices about Muslims dovetailed with this administration’s views on terrorists.

As I said, sobering

Another University Selects the Napster Brand

University of Rochester opens online music store

University of Rochester is the second school to sign up as a Napster customer, following the ground-breaking move earlier this year by Penn State University. All 3,700 students living in Rochester dorm rooms will have free access to the Napster service and its rich listing of tethered downloads. At present, the school will subsidize the monthly Napster service fee, but it warned that students may well end up shelling out for the program at some point in the future.

“Digital distribution of entertainment media is definitely the wave of the future,” said University Provost Charles E. Phelps. “I am very proud that the University of Rochester will be at the forefront of this emerging trend by offering students easy access to a high quality, legitimate music service.”

It’s not at all surprising to see Phelps pop up as a champion of the Napster service. Phelps chairs a Task Force on Technology for the national Joint Committee on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and is a member of the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities Technology Task Force.

Hmmmm — "Proud" isn’t exactly what comes to my mind. More like "the first taste is free," but maybe I’m just a cynic.