first monday on Canada’s Embrace of US (c)

Protecting ourselves to death

From the conclusion:

Copyright policy must support vibrant and economically viable Canadian cultural production. Protecting individual rights only will not achieve this goal: it will raise the costs of and inhibit access to cultural materials, while benefitting only a few. If we see culture as purely a market, or inevitably becoming only a market, we might say that this is the only way it can be. If we see the Internet as purely a market, or inevitably becoming only a market, we might say that this is the only way it can be. But if we see culture as an ecology including both market and non–market dimensions, in which we want to maximize quality and output, we can recognize that future creativity and initiative comes from education, from community, from experimentation, from imitation, and from absorption. Creators do not create from nothing. They borrow from peers and previous generations — through fair dealing, permission, or the public domain; they create; they have a limited monopoly to reward their talent and effort; and then that material becomes free again for later generations of creators. Cultural markets depend on non–market creativity, which generates new ideas and revisits old. Insofar as protection is a goal of copyright law and policy, it must apply to non–market cultural practices just as strongly as it does to marketed culture.

Something Stupid On My Way Out The Door

Barbie Settles Grudge for Sake of a Record Deal

LONDON (Reuters) – Barbie doesn’t hold a grudge — at least, not when she’s got a chance at a recording deal.

Barbie parent Mattel, which once sued MCA records, a unit of Universal Music, for selling and promoting a song called “Barbie Girl” by the Danish group Aqua, is putting out a new compilation album with MCA that bears the almost identical title “Barbie Girls.”

Mattel’s initial trademark infringement lawsuit, which took issue with Aqua’s lyrics “Make me walk, make me talk … I can beg on my knees,” was eventually dismissed when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Mattel last year.

The new “Barbie Girls” album will include tracks by Christina Milian, Girls Aloud and Sugababes, and is due to be released in Europe in November. Universal Music is a unit of France’s Vivendi Universal.


Although, given the rate of posting lately, you probably won’t notice the difference! Anyway, hope I’ll get back into this soon, even if I’m on the road. But at least one down day, so check the blogroll for the latest.

Wired On New Music Business Models

The Long Tail [pdf]

Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody. Not enough shelf space for all the CDs, DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough radio waves to play all the music created, and not enough hours in the day to squeeze everything out through either of those sets of slots.

This is the world of scarcity. Now, with online distribution and retail, we are entering a world of abundance. And the differences are profound.

[…] We’re stuck in a hit-driven mindset – we think that if something isn’t a hit, it won’t make money and so won’t return the cost of its production. We assume, in other words, that only hits deserve to exist. But Vann-Adibé, like executives at iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix, has discovered that the “misses” usually make money, too. And because there are so many more of them, that money can add up quickly to a huge new market.

With no shelf space to pay for and, in the case of purely digital services like iTunes, no manufacturing costs and hardly any distribution fees, a miss sold is just another sale, with the same margins as a hit. A hit and a miss are on equal economic footing, both just entries in a database called up on demand, both equally worthy of being carried. Suddenly, popularity no longer has a monopoly on profitability.

[…] Just compare online and offline businesses: The average Blockbuster carries fewer than 3,000 DVDs. Yet a fifth of Netflix rentals are outside its top 3,000 titles. Rhapsody streams more songs each month beyond its top 10,000 than it does its top 10,000. In each case, the market that lies outside the reach of the physical retailer is big and getting bigger.

When you think about it, most successful businesses on the Internet are about aggregating the Long Tail in one way or another.

Later: Slashdot’s The Long Tail

Much later: Scott Rosenberg’s Tail gunning

From the Voice of Integrity

‘iPod users are music thieves’ says Ballmer — hmm, wonder if this has anything to do with Microsoft’s Janus DRM? Nothing like watching a firm infamous for making lives difficult for customers thinking up new ways to make friends. (The Register’s Most songs on iPods ‘stolen’ – Microsoft CEO; CNet’s Ballmer: iPods packed with stolen tunes)

Billing Microsoft as the good guys and Apple the villains of the piece – at least as far as corporate America, rather than users, is concerned, Ballmer said: “We’ve had DRM in Windows for years. The most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’.”

“Part of the reason people steal music is money, but some of it is that the DRM stuff out there has not been that easy to use. We are going to continue to improve our DRM, to make it harder to crack, and easier, easier, easier, easier, to use,” he said.

Slashdot discussion: Ballmer Says iPod Users are Thieves

Another Business Model

Battle of Form (and Function) in MP3 Players

As the trading of MP3 files ate into music sales, Damon Dash, the 33-year-old entrepreneur behind Roc-A-Fella Records, turned his hip-hop music company into a platform to sell other, more profitable products.

He built Rocawear, a hip-hop-inspired clothing line, into a $300-million-a-year business. He launched Armadale Vodka, Tiret New York luxury watches and America, an urban luxury fashion magazine. He even bought the venerable Pro-Keds name to use on a new line of athletic shoes.

Now Mr. Dash is taking his celebrity and music-infused marketing approach to a product line closer to the source of his troubles: MP3 files. In November, he will introduce a line of MP3 players under the name Rocbox, including one aimed squarely to compete with Apple Computer’s iPod.

[…] Mr. Dash is capitalizing on a significant shift in the electronics business, which until now has largely designed products to appeal to a worldwide audience.

Now that electronics items are getting smaller and are meant to be carried or even worn rather than being put on a shelf, consumers are choosing them for their looks as much as function.

How Far Will The RIAA Go?

According to this report, LSU student targeted in piracy case [pdf], notwithstanding the RIAA’s contention that their lawsuits are targeted at egregious offenders, this so-far nameless LSU student is accused of distributing 9 songs:

In an order made public Friday, U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola granted the companies permission to get the student’s identity from the university through a subpoena.

The move came the same day Motown Records, Sony BMG, Arista and other corporations filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against John Doe, a student currently known only by his computer’s Internet address.

The lawsuit claims the student illegally downloaded and distributed “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men, “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, “Soul Provider” by Michael Bolton and six other copyrighted works via the Internet on Sept. 10.

The companies want Polozola to stop illegal distribution of those songs and order the recordings destroyed. They also seek unspecified financial damages and court costs.

Via p2pnet

But Can They Make It Palatable?

A new DRM consortium forming: Tech powers seek antipiracy accord

The Coral Consortium, to be announced Monday, will initially draw on support from giants such as Hewlett-Packard, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Twentieth Century Fox, along with digital rights management (DRM) company InterTrust Technologies.

The problem the group is tackling is the one familiar to anyone who owns Apple Computer’s iPod music player and has been unable to play music purchased from an online music store operated by Napster, Microsoft or another Apple rival. DRM software that protects content such as music, movies and video games is proprietary, and many different companies now produce incompatible varieties.

Participants say Coral will be aimed at creating a set of technology specifications that will let different kinds of copy protection be translated into other varieties.

Continuing the Move Toward Trusted PCs

National Semiconductor Unveils ‘Trusted’ Chip for PCs

The devices contain a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, which securely stores such data as passwords and digital certificates. National began shipping discrete TPMs several years ago and has now integrated it with other I/O logic to save cost.

The SafeKeeper Trusted I/O devices integrate TPMs with Super I/O and firmware to protect features such as operating systems, applications and BIOS, the company said. Competing solutions use discrete logic, which offers more flexibility but can be more expensive.

“What we’re selling them on is the actual transition,” said Todd Whitaker, co-general manager of the Advanced PC Division at National Semiconductor, in Santa Clara, Calif. “If they’re just dabbling, and want to try out a system, we have it as an option—they can go with a discrete system. But for those that are ready to go do it, to deliver a trusted platform, we have the way.”

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., which has used TPMs since 1999, said it is using the new devices in its latest line of ThinkCentre PCs.

Slashdot: IBM Shipping More PCs with Trust Chips

GrokLaw Channeling Larry Lessig on Software Patents

Worth reading in its entirety: Kodak Wins Java Lawsuit Against Sun

The system is broken, and the sooner people realize that, the better. Patents and software don’t mix well. The court that married them made a mistake. Software and patents need to get a divorce, so each can get on with its life in peace.

Europe. Are you watching? Is this system what you want where you live? If you think you can have a patent system and just work around US “excesses”, think again. If you read this history of patents in the US by Bitlaw, you will see that it started small here too, and everyone tried to make the kinds of distinctions you currently are trying to craft in Europe. But look at the results here. The same thing will happen to you, if you allow patents at all on software. The excesses are part of the system as it is eventually applied by greedy individuals and companies, and you can’t legislate against greedy gaming of a system. It happens.

Later: Slashdot’s Kodak Wins $1 Billion Java Lawsuit; plus Groklaw Rants On Software Patents

Even later: CNet News’ Kodak wins Java patent suit