First Looks at France, Post-Legislative Mandate

French law on iPod, iTunes takes effectpdf

A closely watched French law that lets regulators force Apple Computer Inc. to make its iPod player and iTunes online store compatible with rival offerings went into effect Thursday.

The Internet copyright law passed France’s parliament June 30 after fierce debate and a gradual weakening of its initial punch. Apple had called an early draft “state-sponsored piracy,” and some analysts have said the law could force Apple to close iTunes France and pull its market-leading player from the country’s shelves.

But the law was expected to have little immediate effect. A new government regulatory authority assigned to monitor the law is not expected to be in place until this fall. Much will depend on the law’s interpretation by the French courts, as well as the stance taken by recording companies.

Keeping Up The Pressure

Apple, like rust, never seems to sleep: Apple and 3 Automakers Plan Alliances on iPod Use

Apple Computer said on Thursday that it was teaming with General Motors, Ford and Mazda to integrate the iPod into car audio systems.

The alliances mean that the iPod will be compatible with more than 70 percent of the new 2007 model vehicles sold in the United States, Apple said.

ZDNet’s David Berlind points out that this suggests the ascendancy of FairPlay DRM: GM, Ford, Mazda to drive acceptance of Apple’s C.R.A.P. 

End of an Era?

Firms Said to Stop Supplying Tower Recordspdf

At least three major music companies cut off CD shipments to Tower Records on Thursday after record executives said that the iconic music retailer had stopped paying its bills.

Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group Corp. and EMI Group sources confirmed privately that each of the companies had stopped sending albums to the Sacramento-based chain, which has struggled with declining sales as digital technologies have changed the way consumers buy music.

Slate’s Explainer On BitTorrent Investigations

How’d they know I downloaded Meet the Fockers?

[…] How do investigators find their targets?

They join the networks. In general, the movie and recording industries search out illegal file-sharers by hiring security firms to monitor popular file-sharing communities and report back on any activity that appears illegal. A company like MediaSentry, for example, will hop on to a file-sharing network and start searching for specific files. (The client provides a list of copyrighted material to check up on.) Investigators use customized versions of standard torrent trackers to sniff out the IP addresses of anyone who makes a given file available. Then they’ll take snapshots of all the other files those users offer. They may also try to connect to one of these targets to see if they can make an illegal download.

Subscription Model Datapoint: Napster Earnings

Napster subscribers declinepdf

Napster Inc. on Wednesday provided a disappointing outlook for its online music service and said its subscriber base had fallen 7 percent as it focused on promoting a new free Web site.

[…] “Napster’s still trying to find a working business model, which is bad from an operating standpoint. But we see an increased likelihood the company will consider a sale, especially since management mentioned it on the call,” said Kit Spring, analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co Inc.

[…] Napster’s total paid subscriber base as of June 30 was 512,000, including 4,000 university-paid subscriptions. Excluding university, the number of paid subscribers grew 26 percent year-over-year.

I’m sure they’re glad about that, given the behavior of students

Internet Video and Music Promotion

Internet Is Seizing the Spotlight in the Live-Music Business

The buzz for Mr. Campion’s new band, and others like it, is one reason why the Internet is seizing the spotlight in the live-music business — again. A dot-com-era bid by concert promoters to market live gigs online fizzled out. But now concert Webcasts and vintage performance clips are gaining new currency. An array of players — from independent record labels to major concert promoters — are drawing up plans to capitalize on fans’ appetites for everything from the latest club shows in Hollywood to decades-old film of the Grateful Dead in Copenhagen.

The promise of live-performance video has been gaining followers as more households sign up for broadband Internet access, and it leapt forward last summer when America Online drew an estimated 90 million views of its free Webcasts of the Live 8 concerts for Africa.

An Optimist on Net Neutrality

An op-ed contributor in today’s Times feels that there’s more competition out there than many think — and suggests that any effort to regulate the Internet means a new Interstate Commerce Commission and subsequente regulatory capture: Entangling the Web

Of course, incumbent broadband providers do have some limited monopoly powers, and there is cause for concern that they might abuse them. Last fall, the chief executive of AT&T, Ed Whitacre, argued that Internet giants like Google and Microsoft should begin paying for access to his “pipes”— never mind that consumers already pay AT&T for the bandwidth they use to gain access to these services. If broadband providers like AT&T were to begin blocking or degrading the content and services of companies that didn’t pay up, both consumers and the Internet would suffer.

But enforcing such a “pay to play” scheme might be more challenging than Mr. Whitacre suspects. As every music-downloading student knows, there are myriad ways to evade Internet filtering software. Moreover, an Internet service provider that denies customers access to content risks a serious consumer revolt. Unlike a one-railroad Western town, most broadband customers can choose between cable and D.S.L., and a growing number have access to wireless options as well.

With several promising new technologies on the drawing board, the market for broadband will grow only more competitive. Congress should let the marketplace develop rather than constrain it with regulation. Lawmakers should certainly be mindful of unintended consequences. The Interstate Commerce Commission’s regulations on transportation lingered for decades after their usefulness expired. Any neutrality regulations passed by Congress this year are likely to have a similarly dismal future. Choice and competition will do a better job of protecting Internet consumers than government bureaucrats ever have.

Sadly, the promise of these “competitors” that Mr. Lee sees out there seems more chimerical every day.

And the idea that getting around Internet filters to find downloadable music has *anything* to do with the problem of access control at the ISP is sophistry of the most transparent sort…..

Experiments in Artist Development

Pieces of his past, now fully imaginedpdf

How the album came to be released, however, was decidedly modern. Many tracks were first available on the audio download and file-sharing website Weed ().

Then, through a friend, the music was brought to Cordless Recordings, the fledgling digital label that’s part of Warner Music Group. There, it caught the ear of Cordless founder and industry veteran Jac Holzman.

“I heard incredibly rich melodies with beautifully textured layers, and words that meant something,” says Holzman, the man who signed the Doors to Elektra in 1966 and who worked with singer-songwriters such as Carly Simon, Judy Collins and Harry Chapin. “It has a life to it, a great vitality.”

Holzman suggested Manning drop some tracks and add others, and the artist was floored by the attention.

“It was incredibly flattering to have Jac Holzman make constructive comments about my music,” he says. “I thought, for the first time I’m actually listening to a record company guy.”

[…] “We’re trying to develop fine artists at a low cost,” he says. “Roger is ideal because he is a superior writer, musician and producer; he is a self-actuating entity.”

Scandinavian Copyright Concerns With Apple iTunes

With a little news on the French front, as well: Apple meets Scandinavia’s reply deadlinepdf

Apple Computer Inc. met a Tuesday deadline to respond to Scandinavian regulatory claims that Apple is violating their laws by making its market-leading iPod the only compatible portable player for iTunes downloads.

[…] The Scandinavian troubles for iTunes come as the French Parliament in June passed a hotly debated law on Internet copyright that could force Apple to make its iPod player and iTunes online store compatible with rival offerings.

A French court last week threw out some measures of the law, though appearing to leave the thrust of it intact.

It is now up to French President Jacques Chirac whether to sign it with the court’s changes or send it back to parliament.