Pro-Grokster Musicians Speak Up

Musicians Break With Industry on File Sharing

A prominent group of musicians and artists, breaking with colleagues and the major entertainment studios, is urging the Supreme Court not to hold online file-sharing services responsible for the acts of users who illegally trade songs, movies and software.

The group, which includes representatives of Steve Winwood, rapper Chuck D and the band Heart, said in court papers to be filed today that it condemns the stealing of copyrighted works. But it argues that popular services such as Grokster, Kazaa and others also provide a legal and critical alternative for artists to distribute their material.

“Musicians are not universally united in opposition to peer-to-peer file sharing” as the major records companies claim, according to a draft of the group’s court filing. “To the contrary, many musicians find peer-to-peer technology . . . allows them easily to reach a worldwide online audience. And to many musicians, the benefits of this . . . strongly outweigh the risks of copyright infringement.”

Hmm – not at the EFF site yet

Not entirely pertinent, but here’s Larry Lessig’s interview over at O’Reilly that’s gotten the Pho list all worked up: Remixing Culture: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig

Tickling The Dragon’s Tail

In the early days of nuclear fission research, there used to be a game called “tickling the dragon’s tail,” (a test rig photo) which basically was experimenting with assembling a critical mass by moving fissile materials closer to one another and observing the result. It looks like the DVD patent holders and, more importantly, the copyright industries, are playing their own dangerous game with a no-longer-sleeping dragon: China sends DVD royalties South

In an attempt to woo China back into the fold, the group of manufacturers responsible for setting royalties on DVD discs and equipment has slashed the rates that licensees must pay.

DVD6C, which represents five Japanese manufacturers plus Warner Home Video and IBM, has cut the royalty rate for DVD players and drives by 25 per cent – from $4 to $3 – and the per disc rate by 10 per cent, from 5 cents to 4.5 cents. The rate payable on DVD recordable discs, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM, has also been cut, from 7.5 cents to 6.5 cents. The new rates will apply retroactively from January 1.

Last week China formally adopted its home-grown EVD video disc format as the national standard. EVD means no royalties need be paid to the DVD licensing bodies, and it has the added bonus of playing HD-TV images too. Chinese manufacturer Wuxi is suing the 3C and 6C licensing groups claiming that they’re discriminating against Chinese manufacturers, and the suit seeks to rule the DVD patent pool invalid.

Copyrights Keep TV Shows off DVD

Copyrights Keep TV Shows off DVD — note that the industry is no friendlier internally than it is to those on the outside.

For many TV shows, costs to license the original music for DVD are prohibitively high, so rights owners replace the music with cheaper tunes, much to the irritation of avid fans. And some shows, like WKRP, which is full of music, will probably never make it to DVD because of high licensing costs.

“The indication from the studios is that we may never see (WKRP in Cincinnati) because of all the music that would have to be licensed,” said David Lambert, news director of TVShowsOnDVD.com, a clearinghouse of information on TV shows released on DVD. “As the DJ spins the record as he’s talking to Loni Anderson, if there is music playing even for a couple of seconds, then the people producing the DVDs would have to license it.”

[…] “I think the studios are a bit shortsighted,” Lambert said. “A lot of fans — if they understood the situation — would gladly wait a little longer and pay a little more to get the complete, original version.”

[…] Navigating music licensing issues can be more difficult for shows where the music experience is central. The producers of one current show, American Dreams, went to extraordinary lengths to prepare the show for DVD.