2003 August 21 PM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-21 19:58:15)

  • *Shock!* A study sponsored by Macrovision answers the question How High Is The Risk Of Home Copying To Hollywood? [also at MI2N] with the following:

    Movie studios, independent producers, music video record companies plus creators, distributors and retailers of video content collectively could be losing estimated retail revenue approaching $1 billion a year in the United States, due to lack of comprehensive application of copy protection, according to a new study sponsored by Macrovision Corporation. This level of displaced revenue would amount to nearly 5% of the $20.6 billion home video industry.

  • Kviar Music has a press release on MI2N: Brazilian Label Launches Recording CD Kiosk

    Kviar Music, Brazil’s leading online music label, presented during the Music Fair that recently took place in the northern city of Fortaleza, the first CD recording kiosk system in the country. Totally developed and patented by Kviar, the machine can record customized CDs in a matter of minutes. For that, the public can listen and choose from over 2 thousand tracks, which ones will be present in his or her CD, regardless of genre, author, album, etc. The kiosk then records a CD with only the chosen tracks, prints the cover with the track list, and prints a receipt. The whole process takes only up to 7 minutes and the resulting CD is a regular audio CD than can be listened in the car, stereo, computer, etc. Each CD can have up to 74 minutes, which amounts to more or less up to 15 regular tracks. Kviar expects to charge R$8,00 per CD, (more or less US$3,50), including the cover, media, and the copyrights and taxes due.

    […] Today, Kviar already allows the public to listen to songs in its portal located at http://www.kviar.com, and include them in what it called “Instant CD”. This system, which uses US company Immediatek‘s “NetBurn” technology, creates on-the-fly an executable with the chosen songs and CD cover. The user then inserts a blank CD in his or her CD recorder and in a matter of minutes he or she will have a regular CD which can be listened to in any CD player. Kviar is closing deals with other labels to distribute their music by this system, and now it will extend this partnerships to the CD burning kiosks as well.

    Be sure the read the technology description of Immediatek’s technologies:

    Immediatek’s groundbreaking and patent-pending NetBurn technology offers record labels, distributors, online music sources, and artists the only “one-button burn” solution which can burn an entire CD of music in only one click–directly from the Internet to the CD burner on the user’s computer.

    In doing so, NetBurn protects the copyrights of the artist by requiring either a purchase of the music through e-commerce or through a monthly membership to the Internet site offering the music.

    There’s also Netburn Secure:

    NetBurn Secure burns a two-session disc. The first session contains audio tracks which are “marked” and cannot be copied, played or ripped on a computer. The second session contains digital files, such as Windows Media(tm) DRM files, which are controlled by License Management Technology (LMT), and whcih cannot be uploaded back to the Internet. Because of the unique structure of the discs, as well as the copy control implemented, users can achieve playability on virtually every audio device (such as car and home stereos), as well as computers.

  • How long do you think this site will be available? Memepool describes it as downloading music "old skool style" – University of Colorado

    Digital Sheet Music Collection. Note that their extensive copyright information page explains the limitations as they see them.

  • Jenny Levine on Singling Out The Music Industry – comments on the MTV News article Downloads, EPs, Singles Conspiring To Kill The Album Format

  • Slashdot discusses EarthStation5 and the now defunct xMule P2P application (the SourceForge link): RIAA/MPAA vs. xMule Author, EarthStation 5

  • Lisa Bowman interviews the lead SCO counsel, Mark Heise: SCO’s big legal gun takes aim – the crux of the argument is again stated here, although it’s worth reading the whole thing to see just how convoluted a lawyer can make things when he wants to….

    This case has been characterized as an attack on the GPL.

    We never raised the GPL in this litigation. We are somewhat surprised that IBM, which has this tremendous copyright and patent portfolio, is advocating the use of the GPL since it could have an impact on them. If, for example, their copyrighted materials are finding their way into the GPL, does that suddenly strip them of their rights? We don’t think the GPL applies. We believe it is pre-empted by the federal copyright law.

    The Free Software Foundation apparently disagrees. If you look at the terms of the GPL and the terms of copyright law, copyright law governs. It is the exclusive authority regarding the use, distribution, etc., of copyrighted material. In the GPL, (there is a section that) specifically says it applies only to the use and distribution. In other words, the exact same topics that are covered exclusively by the Copyright Act are covered by the GPL. Section 301 of the Copyright Act says the Copyright Act pre-empts any claims that are governed regarding use, distribution and copying. We believe that although the GPL is being tossed into the fray, it is pre-empted by federal copyright law.

  • NPD Group seem to think the answer to Are swappers scared of the RIAA? is "Yes!"

    The report, released Thursday, said online file swapping started dropping in May, shortly after the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) publicly hinted that it may go after individual file swappers. The number of households acquiring music fell from a high of 14.5 million in April to 12.7 million in May and 10.4 million in June, according to NPD.

    Of course, school let out, too.

  • CNet updates this article: File swapper fights RIAA subpoena

    “This is more invasive than someone having secret access to the library books you check out or the videos you rent,” Glenn Peterson, one of the attorneys, said in a statement. “The recent efforts of the music industry to root out piracy have addressed a uniquely contemporary problem with Draconian methods–good old-fashioned intimidation combined with access to personal information that would make George Orwell blush.”

2003 August 21 AM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-21 08:16:36)

  • PressePapiers posts a followup to Jay Currie’s Blame Canada: Private Copying

    Well, without getting into too much details, while downloading music might be covered by the Tariff, as it does not specify any source or support requirements for the sound recording, uploading without a proper licence is not.

    The actual provision in the Copyright Act is

    Copying for Private Use

    80. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the act of reproducing all or any substantial part of

    (a) a musical work embodied in a sound recording,

    (b) a performer’s performance of a musical work embodied in a sound recording, or

    (c) a sound recording in which a musical work, or a performer’s performance of a musical work, is embodied onto an audio recording medium for the private use of the person who makes the copy does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the musical work, the performer’s performance or the sound recording.

    About all I can add is that, while it may not be expressly legal, I think Jay’s point (we’ve had a couple e-mail exchanges since) is that the legal environment in Canada is sufficiently distinct that the RIAA’s US strategies may not be so easy to implement in Canada. But Canada’s culture of copying is definitely different — how different remains to be tested by the RIAA, I suspect.

  • Mark Mulligan shows that schizophrenia is not limited to the music industry: Wanting it both ways again (this time it’s MSN)

    MSN have just launched their answer to Apple’s i-Tunes service in conjunction with OD2. Yet whilst MSN try to place them selves at the vanguard of Europe’s legitimate digital music market, they seem to be promoting MSN messenger on its music file sharing attributes. With a far from subtle ‘nudge nudge’ and ‘wink wink’ [Ed. note: link added] to the would be file sharers, MSN advertises the messenger on it’s [sic] own site as:

    “Share files or music…, you’ve got to download MSN messenger”

  • Earthstation5 has raised the ante with their latest press release [via BoingBoing]

    Earth Station 5 Declares War Against The Motion Picture Association of America

    JENIN, West Bank, Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ — In response to the email

    received today from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to

    Earthstation 5 for copyright violations for streaming FIRST RUN movies over

    the internet for FREE, this is our official response!

    Earthstation 5 is at war with the Motion Picture Association of America

    (MPAA) and the Record Association of America (RIAA), and to make our point

    very clear that their governing laws and policys have absolutely no meaning to

    us here in Palestine, we will continue to add even more movies for FREE.

    See also this James Lileks commentary: Why the Record Industry Doesn’t Stand a Chance

    But there will never be enough arrests or convictions to stop the hard-core downloaders; there will never be a technological fix that someone won’t find a way around. Copyright violations will cease when enough people decide they’re morally wrong, when the old explanation — “But Ma, even senators do it!” — doesn’t feel right. When the Internet is governed by reason, decency and conscience.

    Never, in other words. See you in Jenin.

  • This guy shouldn’t be advertising this fact – the RIAA is bound to try to do something about this – from The Onion: I Have An iPod – In My Mind

    Thirty gigabytes? So what? I know 7,500 songs, maybe more. Some songs, I forget I even have until they come around on shuffle. Why, just the other day, my mind started playing David Naughton’s “Makin’ It,” a song I hadn’t heard in years. And the sound quality was great!

    Easy downloads? You don’t know the meaning of the word “easy.” And I don’t have to know the meaning of the word “download.” You may get MP3s off the Internet, you smug scenester, but I can get music off the television, the radio, even a passing ice-cream truck. If I don’t want to waste the memory space on a high-fidelity copy, I just don’t pay very close attention. Now, that’s what I call convenience.

    All I have to do is hear a song once or twice, and it’s stored forever. I can call it up any time I want. Beach Boys. Beatles. How about some Bach? Or some Billy Joel? Sing me a song, piano man of my mind! And those are just the artists whose names begin with “B.”

    I can browse by artist, album, song, or music genre. Boom! I’m doing it right now! The “repeat” feature? Heck, songs from my iPod don’t ever have to end. I swear, I had “Music Box Dancer” going through my head for three days straight last week.

  • New ruling protects ISPs, Web operators

    Internet service providers and Web site operators are breathing a collective sigh of relief following a court decision that preserves a key aspect of their immunity under the Communications Decency Act.

    […] Section 230 of the CDA carved out significant immunity for “interactive computer services” for the behavior of their customers. But the district court ruled that dating site Matchmaker and its operator, Metrosplash–acquired by Lycos in June 2000–could be held liable for information a user posted because of the interactive nature of the questionnaire that generated the posting.

    The court of appeals disagreed.

  • Bruce Perens has tracked down the provenance of the second code snippet shown at the SCO Forum as evidence of copyright infringement in the Linux kernel – SCO disagrees with his findings, of course. Linux advocate: More SCO evidence flawed

    The SCO Group is zero for two in its efforts to prove that its Unix software was illegally copied into the Linux operating system, according to Linux advocate Bruce Perens, who on Wednesday said he traced a second example of SCO’s disputed code and that it was lawfully included in Linux.

    […] But these first two examples can be traced to the open source BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) Unix, and not to SCO’s AT&T Unix source code, and both are legitimately included in Linux, Perens said.

    “I think that these are probably the best examples that SCO has to show and they’re awful,” said Perens. “They would not stand up for a day in court.”

  • Media convergence – the MP3 player/cellphone: Brrring! A Musical Reverie Yields to Cellphone Chatter

  • Also in today’s Boston Globe, an article on the rise in used book sales via the internet, Turning over an old leaf [pdf], includes a call for the end of the first sale doctrine:

    “However much money is being made,” says Vincent McCaffrey, owner of the Avenue Victor Hugo used-book store in the Back Bay, “I know that because of the Internet more people are buying used books right now than ever before.”

    Amazon.com jumped into the used-book market last year by adding a “new or used” option to every new book listed on its site, which leads a customer to a list of small or middle-size booksellers offering the book at a deep discount to the new-book price. Since then, both Barnes & Noble and Borders have offered links to used-book sources. Mainstream publishers and the Authors Guild, a writers group, have raised a fuss, to no avail.

    “While we are glad that used-book sales are creating additional revenue for some of our booksellers,” says Random House spokesman Stuart Appelbaum, “it’s regrettable that neither authors nor publishers are benefiting financially.”

    This was a topic about a year ago, but I can only point you to the NYTimes abstracts now – see this one, for example.

    Note that considering the "used" option is also a viable strategy for those of us boycotting CDs from RIAA-member record companies — so far.

  • From today’s Boston Globe Business Roundup, we get this entry:

    Buffett loses appeal on disclosures

    Warren Buffett lost an appeal before the Securities and Exchange Commission to delay disclosure of certain stock holdings, part of an effort by the billionaire to prevent copycat investing. As chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Buffett has argued that his short-term trading strategies qualify as intellectual property and warrant an SEC filing exemption. Publication of Berkshire’s holdings, Buffett says, leads to price movements that drive up his investment costs. The SEC acknowledged that traders attempt to mimic Buffett’s selections. At the same time, the agency said Buffett failed to show that complying with disclosure rules would cause Berkshire competitive harm. The agency requires individuals and companies that manage $100 million or more of stock to disclose their holdings at the end of each quarter in a filing called Form 13F. An SEC spokesman declined to comment. (Bloomberg)

2003 August 20 PM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-20 17:40:15)

  • Elvis lives–on the Web

    Digital music service MusicNow and music label BMG on Tuesday announced a digital music channel showcasing more than 2,000 Elvis Presley songs.

    Dubbed “Elvis 2nd to None,” the channel features such songs as “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “My Way” and “Suspicious Minds,” as well as albums ranging from “Elvis is Back!” to the gospel collection “How Great Thou Art.” The launch is coinciding with a new album, also called “Elvis 2nd to None,” due to be released Oct. 7. The album will contain a recently discovered Presley track, “I’m a Roustabout.”

    […] MusicNow said subscribers will be able to stream, download and burn Elvis hits in the Windows Media 9 Series format.

  • And so it starts – the push for the next music format with a rerelease of a top stars catalog: Classic Dylan Titles Get Sonic Upgrade

    With the Sept. 16 release of 15 classic Bob Dylan albums on the hybrid Super Audio CD format, Columbia/Legacy is initiating an ambitious sonic upgrade of the icon’s CD catalog. Five albums in the series are also presented, for the first time, in 5.1-channel surround sound.

    Like many current SACD titles, the Dylan series comprises dual-layer discs featuring a high-density layer carrying high-resolution, multichannel surround sound, as well as a two-channel stereo SACD version and a standard 16-bit, 44.1kHz layer. While an SACD player is required for playback of the high-resolution, multichannel layer, hybrid discs are forward- and backward-compatible, allowing playback on standard CD players.


  • From Billboard: UMG, EMI Press On With Suit Vs. Bertelsmann

    Universal Music Group, EMI and a group of music publishers filed a motion yesterday (Aug. 18) in U.S. District Court in New York to deny Bertelsmann’s request that the copyright-infringement suits be dismissed.

    The move is a response to Bertelsmann’s motion filed last month, in which it claimed that U.S. copyright law “does not permit recovery from a third-party lender for damages the plaintiffs failed to recover from Napster.” Bertelsmann also said its actions “were aimed at benefiting the entire music industry,” as its loan to Napster was “specifically earmarked” for a service “in which all the major record labels and music publishers were invited to participate.”

  • A longstanding negotiation is coming to a close? Germany – Agreement On Royalties For DVD Writers

    The amount of payment on DVD writers and combined CD and DVD writers which can be installed in, or connected to, a PC, and which can be used to write DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and/or DVD-RAM system disks, has been agreed at EUR 9.21 as a standard royalty for all rights holders, and will take effect retroactively from 1.1.2003.

  • More on the Gartner-Berkman study: GartnerG2 Says Digital Media Publishers Must Have Portable Digital Rights Management Standards Or They Risk Alienating Consumers

    The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and GartnerG2 are hosting a one-day seminar to fully explore ways to maintain the equilibrium between technology providers, copyright holders and creators, media companies, and consumers. The event, titled “Digital Media in Cyberspace: The Legislation and its Business Effects,” [ed.note: an invitation only event] will take place September 18 at the Ames Courtroom at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass.

    The project: Copyright and Digital Media in a Post-Napster World

  • From MI2N: RIAA Response To Senator Coleman’s File-Sharing Inquiry

  • SFGate: Code presented in Linux dispute

2003 August 20 AM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-20 14:13:04)

Making progress on switching over to WordPress – now to figure out Apache’s mod_rewrite so the old links will point to the right database entries.

  • According to Cory Doctorow, DontBuyMusic.com is back.

  • Search engines making money by "selling" words may be subjected to trademark infringement suits: Trademarks cast shadow on paid search

    So far, the issue of using trademarked terms in keyword-search advertising has not been tested in court. Danny Sullivan, moderator of the panel and editor of industry newsletter Search Engine Watch, said that the most closely related case to date involved Playboy, which sued Excite and Netscape Communications over the practice of selling banner ads to third parties keyed to its trademark. The court said that companies selling products and services related to Playboy could buy the term.

    An earlier case decided in 1997 went the opposite way, with the judge barring an online publisher of sexually explicit material from inserting the words “playboy” and “playmate” into a section of its site that is seen only by search engines.

    Sullivan said Google is setting a dangerous precedent by granting eBay exclusive use of terms related to its trademarks because “anything can be a trademark.”

  • CNet profiles Sterling Ball, a perennial posterchild for the open source industry – who took his company "Microsoft free" and lived to tell the tale: Rockin’ on without Microsoft

  • Offtopic – Tufte on Powerpoint: PowerPoint Is Evil

  • "Chilling effects" Department: Music Parody Site Pulls the Plug

    Nothing can deflate a joke faster than the threat of a lawsuit.

    In the case of parody website DontBuyMusic.com, a cease-and-desist notice forced the site to go offline last Friday.

    The website, created by the online community Macteens, spoofed the BuyMusic.com website by using the same format as the original site but rewriting the text and redirecting all clicks to the Apple iTunes website. ITunes and BuyMusic.com are both online paid music services.

    DontBuyMusic.com last week brought attention to the marked similarities between TV commercials for iTunes and BuyMusic (see the ads here and here).

  • As I’m sure was the intention, Vague Limits Vex Music Traders

    The RIAA’s statement to Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, appeared to depart from previous statements in subpoenas against more than 900 file sharers, who appeared to be randomly named. The defendants included college students, unsuspecting parents, Internet service providers and even grandparents.

    “I don’t think I’ll download anymore since we don’t really know what they (RIAA) are going to do,” Craig said.

    It seems as if other file traders are in the same predicament. Because the RIAA has refused to quantify what constitutes a “substantial” amount of file sharing, file sharers are left to wonder whether they are vulnerable to litigation.

  • Media groups appeal P2P ruling

    Record labels and movie studios said Tuesday that they have appealed an April federal court ruling that held for the first time that some file-swapping software was legal.

    That ruling, made by a Los Angeles federal court judge, Stephen Wilson, came as a sharp blow to copyright holders’ strategy of suing peer-to-peer network operators and software developers in order to curb the explosive growth of file trading. Beginning with a ruling against Napster, all court rulings had been in favor of the record companies and movie studios.

    “(Wilson’s decision) was wrong,” Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) President Cary Sherman said in a statement Tuesday. “These are businesses that were built for the exclusive reason of illegally exchanging copyrighted works, and they make money hand over fist from it. The Court of Appeals should hold them accountable.”

    "hand over fist" – really? What about the businesses that make tape recorders, video recorders and other products with "substantial noninfringing uses?" So guns (rather than people) really do kill people?

    Inforworld: Recording, movie industries appeal file-trading ruling

  • Apparently the SCO presentation left them open to at least some scrutiny: see this Groklaw entry, whose conclusions were picked up in today’s Boston Globe republishing of an LATimes article – SCO undercuts its Linux case. Bruce Perens’ writeup even includes the much discussed photos of the slides posted. The Slashdot discussion: “Stolen” SCO Linux Code Snippets Leaked; a related followup: SCO Prepares To Sue Linux End Users

    Inforworld: SCO’s proof bogus, Linux advocate says

2003 August 19 AM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-19 09:19:15)

  • Jenny Levine on fair use and librarians: Librarians Fighting for Your Fair Use

  • Benny Evangelista on the Rolling Stones entering the digital distribution business: Rolling Stones license songs for file sharing:

    Exclusive deal could prompt other artists to follow example. If, as the article suggests, Listen.com was unable to land the Stones after two years of trying, one has to wonder what were the terms that got Mick Jagger to sign on the dotted line. I look forward to learning more about the economics of this deal. The LATimes article (via Denise Howell): Fans Can Get What They Want [pdf]

  • How did this writer get onto the TechCentralStation rolls? A TCS article on P2P file sharing by one Jay Currie, pointing out (approvingly!) that the Canadian levy on recordable media has essentially legalized filesharing in Canada and, through the Internet, the world: Blame Canada

    A desperate American recording industry is waging a fierce fight against digital copyright infringement seemingly oblivious to the fact that, for practical purposes, it lost the digital music sharing fight over five years ago. In Canada.

    […] As the RIAA wages its increasingly desperate campaign of litigation in terrorum to try to take down the largest American file sharers on the various P2P networks, it seems to be utterly unaware of the radically different status of private copying in Canada.

    This is a fatal oversight, because P2P networks are international. While the Digital Millennium Copyright Act may make it illegal to share copyright material in America, the Canadian Copyright Act expressly allows exactly the sort of copying which is at the base of the P2P revolution.

    […] The Canada Hole in the RIAA’s strategic thinking is not likely to close. While Canadians are not very keen about seeing the copyright levy extended to other media or increased, there is not much political traction in the issue. There is no political interest at all in revisiting the Copyright Act. Any lobbying attempt by the RIAA to change the copyright rules in Canada would be met with a howl of anger from nationalist Canadians who are not willing to further reduce Canada’s sovereignty. (These folks are still trying to get over NAFTA.)

  • The record labels announce they’re only after those who are really pregnant vs. a little pregnant? This is an odd bit of positioning: Labels: We’re after big swappers

    The recording industry is insisting its antipiracy campaign will refrain from taking legal action against small-time song swappers and will focus only on those copying “substantial” amounts of music via the Internet.

  • More on making PowerPoint (still, IMHO, the worst designed presentation package – if not application program – ever) your friend: Learning to Love PowerPoint

  • Paul Newman (yes, that Paul Newman!) speaks on the NYTimes Op-Ed page on the Franken/O’Reilly/Fox News "fair and Balanced" brouhaha: Paul Newman Is Still HUD [pdf]

  • Slashdot has a rather comprehensive article on the latest in SCO news, including a response by the Free Software Foundatation to the laughable claim that that GPL somehow violates US copyright law because it doesn’t restrict copying: FSF Reply To GPL Claims, Conference Sponsors Back Off?. As Eben Moglen puts it:

    This argument is frivolous, by which I mean that it would be a violation of professional obligation for Mr Heise or any other lawyer to submit it to a court. If it were true, no copyright license could permit the licensee to make multiple copies of the licensed program. That would make not just the GPL “illegal.” Mr Heise’s supposed theory would also invalidate the BSD, Apache, AFL, OSL, MIT/X11, and all other free software licenses. It would invalidate the Microsoft Shared Source license. It would also eliminate Microsoft’s method for the distribution of the Windows operating system, which is pre-loaded by hard drive manufacturers onto disk drives they deliver by the hundreds of thousands to PC manufacturers. The licenses under which the disk drive and PC manufacturers make multiple copies of Microsoft’s OS would also, according to Mr Heise, violate the law. Redmond will be surprised.

    […] The release of this astounding statement is actually good news for developers and users of free software. It shows that SCO has no defense whatever against the GPL; already it has resorted to nonsense to give investors the impression that it can evade the inevitable day of reckoning. Far from marking the beginning of a significant threat to the vitality of the GPL, the day SCO scuttled sense altogether confirmed the strength of the GPL, and its importance in protecting freedom.

    See also The Register write-up: The GPL will win, claims law prof. Infoworld/IDG tries to tell it from the SCO side: SCO makes legal case to its resellers; as does Lisa Bowman: SCO puts disputed code in the spotlight. Prof Moglen also speaks on CNet: Putting the GPL on trial

2003 August 18 AM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-18 11:22:58)

  • Some IT industry reaction to SCO (eWeek’s SCO coverage): HP, Intel Withdraw Support for SCO Forum; note also that Darl McBride seems to have lost it completely – SCO Turns Up the Heat on Linux Users includes the following threat:

    The SCO Group on Sunday said that it has compiled a list of all the large companies with numerous servers running Linux and warned that it would not hesitate to drag them into court if they refused to pay for UnixWare licenses.


    “In a nutshell, this litigation is essentially about the GNU General Public License and all it stands for. That license has not yet been challenged or tested in court, but it is now going to be. We are also firmly and aggressively challenging the notion that Linux is a free operating system,” McBride said.

  • Some more from the NYTimes on DVD piracy, pointing at the industry’s favorite bogeyman: Helped by Technology, Piracy of DVD’s Runs Rampant in China [pdf]

    China’s galloping market economy has long run rough and ready over copyrights. But industry executives and analysts say that in recent years piracy has become even more rampant, aided by the spread of the Internet, and computer technology that allow technology-savvy bootleggers to outrun the government’s periodic crackdowns.

    […] One reason for the ubiquity of pirated films (and music) is price. Typically, pirated discs sell for a fraction of the price of legitimate discs, while the range of choice among the bootleg versions is much larger.

    A regular customer in the pirate stores, Fu Jun, a 24-year-old accountant with a taste for science-fiction films, explained that for him and many young Chinese, attending a cinema is a rarer, more expensive experience than buying pirated films and watching them at home with friends.

    […] Much of the work of providing Chinese subtitles is done by college students in Guangzhou and elsewhere, who are grateful for a few extra dollars. Cherry Ma said she had done subtitling for a couple of years.

    […] She often took the work home, receiving about $12 for a film, though more experienced translators received up to $30. Films can earn student translators a few dozen to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the subject matter and on whether they have a script to work from or must work solely from a video copy.

    Once the subtitles are complete, the discs are then churned out in the millions in plants hidden in manufacturing cities in southern China, like Dongguan and Shantou. And then a vast web of street hawkers and small shops sells them in virtually every corner of China.

    […] Ms. Grutka of the Motion Picture Association estimated that last year film piracy in the Asia-Pacific region cost filmmakers $640 million in foregone sales, with China the top violator, accounting for $168 million of that. (The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry recently estimated that more than 90 percent of all music CD’s sold in China last year were pirated copies, costing the business $530 million in sales.)

  • Farhad Manjoo on SCO in Salon: Fear, uncertainty and Linux. To my disappointment, the article is largely about the inability to avoid the FUD that goes along with the SCO suit, notwithstanding the quote below:

    News that SCO has made some money selling rights to its code failed to convince many of its critics that the company has a valid case against Linux. “I think it’s amusing that they were willing to put out a press release for one licensee, and on top of that it’s a licensee who’s ashamed of doing business with SCO,” says Don Marti, the editor of Linux Journal.

  • The "tip jar" model in action: Open source for a song

  • The clear hit story of the morning seems to be the announcement that the Rolling Stones have decided to go online – a validation of the emerging digital distribution business models (because Mick Jagger is considered one of the shrewdest businessmen in the industry) or a capitulation in the face of continuing file sharing and/or industry pressure?

    • CNet News: Stones: Get yer ya-ya’s out online

    • Boston Globe: Stones open vaults to Net downloads [pdf]

      In granting the digital rights to their songs, the Rolling Stones fall out of a shrinking pool of prominent, well-established pop and rock stars who have refused to release the bulk of their catalog to music services like Rhapsody and iTunes Music Store.

      While musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, and the Beach Boys have made their songs digitally available in the past year, Metallica, the Beatles, and the Beastie Boys have largely held out. Some, like Madonna, have made only complete albums, not singles, available for download.

      […] But the entrance of the Stones, whose frontman Mick Jagger is known as one of the shrewdest businessmen in rock ‘n’ roll, may allay some fears that artists can’t make money through digital deals.

    • NYTimes: Rolling Stones Will Download Before They Get (Too) Old [pdf]
  • Related note: Mark Mulligan has a guess at to why OD2 might be the European leader in this tack: OD2 Catch the I-tunes Wave

    One interesting part of this development is what it means to Microsoft. Microsoft have quietly spent the last couple of years consolidating a market leading position in the digital music space, from a whole range of perspectives, but most notably DRM and the Media Player. Microsoft seems to have convinced most record labels that it is a) here to stay and can therefore be part of long term label plans, b) its technology is robust and reliable and c) it can be trusted with protecting content. OD2 are the only European DSP who have secured comprehensive major label licenses and it is no coincidence that their services are built around Microsoft technology. With Real networks increasingly focussing on developing their content businesses, Windows Media Player seems to have gained more ground, both in terms of installed base, but also as playback format of choice for many content providers. The one question mark this all raises for Microsoft though, is where the line between market leading and market dominance is seen to be by Mario Monti and his colleagues at the European Commission.

2003 August 17 AM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-17 15:18:56)

Just ran the bandwidth test – Verizon DSL to an Apple Airport Extreme to my laptop – 618kbps vs. the 49kbps I got in my office yesterday connected directly to the MIT network on what has to be at least a 10Base-T (if not 100 Base-T) connection! So, either there’s something wrong with my office machine (possible, but other machines in the area get the same results), the building network or MIT as a whole…..

  • Ernie’s calling for action on the P2P Logjam [via Matt]

  • It’s Back. But Can the New Napster Survive? – how far can brand name recognition take you?

  • While some of the NYTimes articles are troubling, this one’s just funny to me: David Byrne’s Alternate PowerPoint Universe

  • Today’s NYTimes has a number of interesting, yet troubling pieces:

    • First, a look at interactive porn on DVD: The Fantasy of Interactive Porn Becomes a Reality [pdf] – an industry that has always been in the vanguard of digital entertainment technologies.

    • Then, we have video and DVDs as art form: To Replace Paint and Page, Artists Try Pixel Power [pdf] – region encoding, anyone?

    • Finally, the video revolution in art has led to the Napsterization of it as well: When Fans of Pricey Video Art Can Get It Free [pdf]

      Not so long ago, the idea that video could be a medium for artistic expression was radical fringe; today, as Mr. Barney’s success shows, it has become conventional cultural wisdom. And so, increasingly, is the idea that video, along with film, animation, and slide-based work, can be sold in the same exclusive manner as painting and sculpture. Through the Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Mr. Barney sold each “Cremaster” film in a limited edition of 10, numbered and encased in table-size vitrines. These pieces have since sold at auction for as much as $387,500. Other emerging stars like Pipilotti Rist, the Swiss installation artist, or Pierre Huyghe, the French recipient of the 2002 Hugo Boss Award, also now command five- and six-figure prices for their video work.

      But while artists and dealers are limiting the supply of videos, and placing them in the private homes of wealthy patrons, a new breed of collector has staged a quiet revolt. These aren’t the people who keep auction prices afloat, or whose lavish support turns struggling newcomers into art-world celebrities. Instead, these are journalists, gallery staffers, professors and art students who trade bootleg copies of the coveted videos – just as Napster users did with MP3 files. Because digital technology makes these bootlegs so easy to duplicate and distribute, and because they are so close to the “original” editions sold in galleries, they pose an intriguing challenge to the authenticity on which art’s value is traditionally based.

      […] Even if it’s for love and not money, though, copying and distributing work without the artist’s permission is against the law. “Whether it is video or a painting, the principle is the same: artists own and control the copyright to their work,” explains Dr. Theodore Feder, president of the Artists Rights Society, which manages and monitors copyrights for artists. None of these underground traders have been prosecuted – yet – but the music industry’s recent legal pursuit of online file swappers prompts most traders to keep a low profile.

      Nevertheless, Chris Hughes, a 25-year-old artist and self-taught video art expert, has put his entire catalog online, at www.freehomepages.com/crhughes/. With 1,500 works, representing early pioneers like Vito Acconci and Yoko Ono as well as current stars like Mr. Huyghe, Douglas Gordon and Gillian Wearing, the breadth of Mr. Hughes’s collection rivals those of many museums. The difference, however, is that he got almost all of it through unsanctioned trading.

      […] But some critics – even some video artists themselves – have argued that such a business model, useful in the sale of prints, cast sculptures and photography, is meaningless for video. “For videos, editions are fake,” says Pierre Huyghe, in a comment seemingly designed to alarm his dealer. “When Rodin could only cast three sculptures of a nude before the mold lost its sharpness, it made sense. But all my works are on my hard drive, in ones and zeros.” His dealer, Marian Goodman, has nonetheless sold certified copies of Mr. Huyghe’s videos for prices estimated in the high five figures. Artists have the same right as anyone else to make a living, she points out, and limited editions represent a “logical, established tradition” which makes that possible.


      Loss of control can also yield fortuitous results, however, by allowing video artists to experiment with one another’s work in much the same way that musicians sample and remix one another’s songs. (Because the experiments are artistic projects in their own right, they may not violate copyright law.) In an editing tour de force, the Swiss artist Christian Marclay combined over 600 sound and film clips from over a hundred classic movies to create an intense, 15-minute musical composition, synchronized over four 10-foot screens. In preparing the work, which was commissioned by SFMOMA and the Grand Museum of Luxembourg, and exhibited in New York at the Paula Cooper Gallery, Mr. Marclay didn’t bother to pursue the rights to any of those films. Instead he pulled freely and without permission from whatever movie tapes or DVD’s he could lay his hands on.

      And a young Baltimore video artist, Jon Routson, whose work explores bootlegging itself, has tackled Matthew Barney’s work head-on. In April at New York’s Team Gallery, Mr. Routson showed his “made for TV” version of “Cremaster 4.” He cut a grainy VHS bootleg of Mr. Barney’s 45-minute film down to 22 minutes, dropped in actual commercials, compressed the end credits and even floated ABC’s logo in the lower corner of the screen. The result: a hilarious, smart, and brazen work, which drew critical praise and which may be a sign of things to come.

    Why troubling? The art world, as it embraces digital technologies, seems not to have given any more thought to the implications of digital delivery than any other industries have. And each successive industry that goes into these technologies without thinking through the implications is going to add their voices to the chorus of the RIAA’s and MPAA’s songs of woe.

  • (Giving WordPress a test run, but that means a test post there didn’t make it here)

    CNet reports on some real pirates: Studios help thwart DVD piracy ring

2003 August 16 Am

(entry last updated: 2003-08-16 10:42:34)

Got some work to do – *sigh*. Anyway, I just ran the CNet Bandwidth Meter test here and *something’s* not right – I come in at 49 kps – between a 56k modem and a 33.6k modem; I will have to start up the home network tonight and see how well things work via Verizon DSL over an AirPort Extreme – the way things feel here, I’m sure the home net is going to win. The real question is whether this is a problem with the local subnet or is this an MIT-wide (or larger) problem?

  • A look at the implications of the Eolas decision in particular, and software patents in general: Will browser verdict snare others?

    Eolas originally filed suit against Microsoft in 1999, alleging that the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant infringed on its patents when enabling the Internet Explorer Web browser to use plug-ins and applets. A federal court in Chicago found that IE violated Eolas’ intellectual-property rights.

    […] Since applets and plug-ins are also a key feature of other Web browsers, the Eolas decision could affect Microsoft’s competitors in the browser market, such as Oslo, Norway-based Opera Software and bands of volunteer developers contributing to open-source groups like Mozilla.org and KDE (K Desktop Environment).


    The threat of litigation prompted an immediate reaction from KDE developers.

    “Since KHTML is open-source software (and) it is not possible for us to license patents in exchange for money, KDE does not have a way to recoup such costs from its users,” wrote Waldo Bastian and David Faure in an e-mail exchange.

    “If this would be demanded from KDE, the only course of action that we can take is to remove the patented functionality from KHTML,” the developers continued. “That would make a sad example of how software patents are harming innovation, competition and standards compliance in the Internet age.”

Test entry

What can I say? This is a test of this setup – I’m curious to see how well that this is going to work. My standard is to post with bracketing LI and P tags, as well as blockquote. So let’s try it (even if the MIT network is still tragically slow….

  • The more real side of piracy: Studios help thwart DVD piracy ring:

    The international trade group worked with Malaysia’s Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) to organize raids that led to the arrests of nine people, according to the MPA. The people arrested allegedly ran an illegal Web mail-order ring for pirated movies. One targeted site, DVDExpress2u, sold new-release DVD films such as “Confidence” or “2 Fast 2 Furious” for about $12.

    Let’s pretend that there was another paragraph in the quote