2003 March 10

(entry last updated: 2003-03-10 17:35:11)

  • Slashdot also reports that the Honest Thief‘s business model is profiled over at USA Today (earlier CNet News piece)

    Plass says his firm has developed software, to be available in the second quarter of this year, enabling file-sharing providers to capitalize on the unused computing power of their members. That in turn would allow them to raise money to compensate artists for the use of their material, he said.

    He said the software, known as ThankYou 2.0, enables a peer-to-peer file-sharing client to turn the computers of digital music fans into a node in a network of computers linked through the Internet.

    By leasing out the unused processor power on those multiple PCs to research facilities — a technology known as “grid computing” — the software, Plass said, could generate revenues that would be distributed back to the musicians.

  • CNN says that Roxio is getting ready to relaunch Napster. – Slashdot discussion

  • HP announces a couple of new Media Center PCs

  • Donna’s got some good links from SXSF and on CIPA.

  • TCS has a provocative piece on a problem the European courts are facing: offering trademark protection to sounds. The title is probably at least an allusion to this piece – well, no, probably not. But what is it that is about associating Jefferson with idiosycratic animals?

  • An interesting profile of the challenges facing college CIOs in today’s Boston Globe.

  • The Times has an editorial calling for the rejection of the CIPA by the Supreme Court.

  • According to the NYTimes, AOL-Time Warner is considering developing a TiVo competitor. (A quick web scour finds this article from last November also discussing the possibilities.) (Slashdot discussion now online)

    The essence of AOL Time Warner’s Mystro TV is a technology that uses a cable system itself to provide viewers capabilities similar to computerized personal video recorders like TiVo: watching programs on their own schedules, with fast-forward and rewind. But it also lets networks set the parameters, dictating which shows users can reschedule, and it also creates ways for networks to insert commercials.

    … But the demonstration also stresses that the Mystro TV system offers networks and studios considerable advantages over in-home personal video recorders such as TiVo or ReplayTV, which is made by Sonicblue . Not only can networks determine the availability of their shows, but Mystro TV prevents consumers from making, storing or sharing copies (something ReplayTV allows). Mystro also does not automatically skip commercials or even include a fast-forward button that leaps past one 30-second commercial at a time (another feature of ReplayTV.)

    While a program is paused or rewinding, networks can insert new commercials during the process or display them around the periphery of the screen. On the CD-ROM demo, for example, a viewer pausing “Charmed” might see a commercial for Special K or Pizza Hut.

  • A different kind of music distribution innovation:

    In a first for the music industry, a major record label will introduce new songs on a new video game, not the radio. The goal is to lure young, male consumers into buying entire CD’s when they are released to stores up to four months later.

  • Declan McCullagh describes the conflicting motives that emerge in the face of the DMCA

    The split highlights a real difference between software and hardware manufacturers. While they may be longtime allies on everything from free trade to mandatory stock option expensing and broadband implementation, software companies are more at risk to Internet piracy than hardware makers. That means they’re more eager to endorse laws that intend to thwart copying, even if their side effects hinder research and punish heretofore-legitimate activity with hefty prison terms.

    …To its credit, Intel has taken a leadership position in Silicon Valley in pointing out the problems with expansive copyright proposals. A year ago, Intel co-founder and Vice President Les Vadasz correctly warned the Senate that a proposal to implant copy-protection technology in nearly everything with a microprocessor would have dire side effects.

  • Off topic – a new Get Your War On installment is up. And today’s Tom Tomorrow is also worth a look.

  • A little less off-topic – the complexities of digital moviemaking and the Oscars is discussed in the NYTimes and on Slashdot.

  • Terribly off-topic, but an interesting look at the dynamics of online commentary (you need to read the comments!), if nothing else – irrespective of your opinion of the news conference last week.

2003 March 7

(entry last updated: 2003-03-07 18:35:25)

  • News.com writes up the DMCA “takedown” of NeoWin.

  • Slashdot reports that Zoe Lofgren introduced The Balance Act:

    My bill, H.R. 1066, the Balance Act, seeks to restore it. Without utilizing government mandates or other prescriptive measures that will ultimately only stifle innovation, it gives lawful consumers the tools to enjoy digital entertainment in their home or car, or on their favorite mobile device. Consumers have demanded this flexibility. It is time to heed their demands.

    An impressive list of supporters, and the press release The Library of Congress’ Bill Summary and Status page for H.R. 1066

  • Check it out – World of Ends by Doc Searls and David Weinberger (Slashdot discussion; another one). Then, to see a discussion of exactly the kind of repeatable errors cited, read the piece from New York Metro, Stop, Thief! that I cited late yesterday.

    Initial (Half-Baked) Thoughts

    I’ve got fifteen minutes before I rush off to my next meeting, and I’m thinking about the world of ends article. It appears to me that there is a dangerous assumption at the heart of this excellent piece — one that is going to get us in trouble if we don’t address it. That assumption is that the “dumb net” will drive out the “smart net.” The technical argument is clear from what Doc and Dave write, but technical superiority does not necessarily have the traction that the economically sustainable or the politically acceptable does. Of course, the article says that there is no economically sustainable mechanism that is based on notions of “ownership” and “access,” but that’s not quite what I mean.

    It brings to mind the Microsoft DarkNet paper. Doc and Dave are saying that the Darknet is the best way to go. Yet, the Microsoft paper suggests that there are non-technical imperatives that can lead to the development of something very different from what we have today; and there are real pressures out there to move in that direction, modifying the network to make it less dumb and less valuable.

    Moreover, as Larry Lessig has been pointing out to us, it’s not as if there are very potent forces out there that demonstrate the fallacy of characterizing the Internet as the Darknet. A lot of criminally stupid institutions can persist in the face of social forces that are striving to destroy them (c.f., communist Russia) – all it takes is will. And people like Jack Valenti and his ilk have demonstrated that there’s money and a certain kind of power behind that will today.

    So, I have concerns that echo those of Donna. It’s not that this piece is wrong – it’s that we can already see that there are plenty of social forces that will contend that the construction Doc and Dave have made is wrong. And, in the fullness of time, they will be able to point to this page and say “I told you so!” (I hope). But, in the interim, there’s a lot of possible pain to endure.

    If we agree that this is the inevitable future, how do we demonstrate that there is a path to that future that we can convince the non-believers is defensible and achievable? We’re all convinced, but there are a lot of people out there that don’t even see that there’s a problem.

    Gotta go; but I’ll be back to this, I’m sure.

  • BusinessWeek Online posts one of the standard gloom-and-doom stories for the media industry in the digital age. But you have to read today’s Good Morning Silicon Valley to learn what sort of technology is needed to make the horror-story real:

    “Imagine … being able to download two full-length, two-hour movies within a minute,” Cottrell said. “That changes the whole idea of how media is distributed.”

    … Scientists were able to get 93 percent efficiency out of their record-setting connection because they didn’t have to share bandwidth, they received donated equipment in excess of $1 million and they changed the setting of Internet protocols to allow faster data transfers, Newman said.

    Even if they could transfer vast amounts of data tomorrow at reasonable prices, Newman noted that present-day computers are unable to handle such loads.

    Of course, a read of the World of Ends might help one understand what’s really going on.

  • A longstanding capability for Europeans is coming to the US via Xingtone, which allows users to download favorite songs as ringtones. The RIAA is not expected to like it much:

    A tiny company called Xingtone on Thursday said it has developed technology to enable users to load digital songs onto cell phones for the first time, but admits the software may hit a sour note with the embattled music industry.

    …But [Brad Zutaut of Xingtone] also admitted he ran the risk of angering the labels, which have gone after many Internet services like Napster and Kazaa that enabled users to swap their copyrighted material without their permission or financial gain.

    “I know that we’ll have licensing issues, but if people take their own music and put it on their phone, it’s not my responsibility,” he said.

  • Derek adds his thoughts on yesterday’s DeLong TCS piece. He goes beyond my questions yesterday (toward the bottom) about the historical claims DeLong makes into other important areas.

  • OK – I don’t want to become a warblogger, but I have to say it: last night’s Presidential press conference was a disappointment. This Slate piece expresses almost everything I would have wanted to say, except that this question was a shameful waste:

    Q. As the nation is at odds over war, with many organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus pushing for continued diplomacy through the U.N., how is your faith guiding you? And what should you tell America or what should America do collectively as you instructed before 9/11? Should it pray? Because you’re saying let’s continue the war on terror.

    Update (Mar 24): This piece is an even better characterization of the whole problem.

  • On the weirdness front, we have a NYTimes review of The Sphynx of Imagination by Hypnotica.

    So what is it? It is a 51 minute 50 second CD called “The Sphinx of Imagination” (www.hypnotica.org), which comes emblazoned with the warning, “Do not listen to while operating any type of machinery.” Intended to be heard in its entirety on headphones, the CD uses music and words to speak to the unconscious of the listener. Its intent is to do a little rewiring and expand listeners’ perceptions, open their minds and allow them to change themselves, sort of like a Grateful Dead concert without the band or the drugs.

    … The CD has found its own solution to a problem that is the bane of the music business: downloading, copying and piracy. “Make sure this is an original, noncompressed recording,” a voice says at the beginning of the CD. “Listening to any other encodement process will take away from its full effect.”

    … That being said, he added, “if people are in a proper state of mind and really want to accomplish something and are open to it, then these images, tidbits and metaphors can be helpful cues to stimulate a person’s imagination in the direction that they already want to go.”

    Uh-huh, right!

  • Wired also chimes in on the putative Apple music service.

  • One of the key pieces of the distributed wireless/WiFi net model has always seemed to be the question of who supplied the eventual “pipes” that achieve connectivity between nodes of relatively dense mesh networks. The obvious answer is that such connectivity should be a public utility, analagous to the highway system. Wired has an article suggesting that a public broadband system need not match the inefficiencies of past bureaucracies.

  • BT’s DotMusic.com service started up yesterday. Mark Mulligan, of Jupiter Research, opines in his weblog that, although the service is currently structured as a demonstrably-unpopular rental model, it is a harbinger of potential real change in the European market. The Register points out that some things never change, though – like litigation over what “unlimited” means

  • The Register takes a certain glee in recounting a BSA excess in software piracy policing – of the distribution of Open Office. They also point to the use of a software copy protection company’s “newsletter” to market its own services. Update: Another “anti-piracy bot” gets some Register ink.

  • Turf wars between the FCC and Congress are a brewin’. It appears that some see the broadcast flag as an infringement of the Congress’ power under the copyright clause.

    Democrat Rep. Howard Berman , whose southern California district borders Hollywood, said he was worried that the FCC could veer in a direction that might mandate “fair use” rights that would not be favorable to the entertainment industry. “I’m opposed to the FCC attempting to…limit the exclusive rights of copyright holders in its broadcast flag rule making,” he said.

    Berman said the FCC must not require that “copyright owners surrender any of their exclusive rights to consumers…I’m unaware of any precedent for a federal agency doing so. The closest precedent involves the Copyright Office, not the FCC.”

  • News.com discusses the SCO Unix’s filing against IBM for patent infringement, with a note that IP lawsuits are on the rise in this industry. Slashdot discussion. This Register piece gives a little background on the company. And SCO has put the text of the complaint online, and you can get to the exhibits from here.
    Update: Wired represents the open source developer community as mightily pissed at Caldera/SCO. And Slashdot has more stuff to add.

  • COPA is struck down again.

    “COPA will likely deter many adults from accessing restricted content, because many Web users are simply unwilling to provide identification information in order to gain access to content, especially where the information they wish to access is sensitive or controversial,” the court said. “People may fear to transmit their personal information, and may also fear that their personal, identifying information will be collected and stored in the records of various Web sites or providers of adult identification numbers.”

    The opinionSlashdot discussion

2003 March 6

(entry last updated: 2003-03-06 17:46:21)

  • I’m closing out the day with this piece from New York Metro, called Stop, Thief!, on the ironies of the actions of media industries in the era of declining value for content.

    They just didn’t understand how the whole media view came together, how synergy happened. In the empire’s view, consumers had to be made to consume—growth depended on media being everywhere, media being transparent, a utility. And as with a utility, it was better that you not really even be aware of how you consumed the product. It would just be on and available all of the time. The way to do that was to commodify the product and to make it ever cheaper—or in the case of the Internet, to make it free—and then to figure that with a giant audience and vast brand awareness and utilitylike dependency and this incredible cross-platform cross-marketing apparatus and an instant star-making and self-promotion machine, you couldn’t help but make a big pile of money for the conquering empire. (“DISNEY TO PUSH RETAIL GEAR TIED TO ITS TV SHOWS,” read an ever-hopeful headline in last week’s Wall Street Journal.)

    The thing that I always try to say to the movie and music executives frothing at the mouth about this stealing issue (accusing my children and, one might fairly suspect, their own) is that everybody can’t be an outlaw. If everybody does it, it’s normal rather than aberrant behavior. It’s not so much the consumer who is on the wrong side of the law, but the entertainment industry that’s on the wrong side of economic laws.

    For better or worse, the media business has created a world where consumers feel content is worth less and less and they are entitled to more and more of it. And now the chickens have come home to roost.

  • Yow! Cornell is taking what may prove to be a risky plunge into innovative bandwidth management – billing for “excess” bandwidth.

    The new billing system, which Cornell expects to begin using July 1, is more equitable than the one it replaces, officials say; it is also more complicated. The new system incorporates data collected from network-router logs. The logs provide an irrefutable record of which departments and users are consuming the most Internet bandwidth.

    …For each IP number belonging to an employee’s computer, Cornell will charge an Internet-use fee of $4 a month for downloading or serving 2 gigabytes of information. For every megabyte over the basic allocation, individual employees or their departments will be charged a fraction of a cent. (A gigabyte is approximately 1 billion bytes, and a megabyte is approximately 1 million bytes.) Any employee who uses the Internet to download or serve less than 2 gigabytes of data in a month will pay no Internet-use fee.

    The Slashdot discussion is notable not only in that it documents the policies of other universities, but because it also cites some technical workarounds that might be used. Entertaining reads.

  • I’m just going to quote from this CNet article:

    Digital broadcaster Pseudo.com plans to release a weekly TV show hosted by rap star Ice-T on the Internet file-sharing network Kazaa, in attempts to start a new model of advertising-supported television.

    Just how big will this hour-long media file be?

  • Today’s the anniversary (March 6, 1875) of an infamous Supreme Court decision; Dred Scott v. Sandford

  • Dahlia Lithwick’s writeup of the arguments before the Supreme Court on library WWW filtering is a riot. For example:

    A good question from Kennedy: Wouldn’t it be a lot easier just to have two separate computers, a filtered one for children and an unrestricted one for adults—you, know, in the section behind the black curtain, with the bound back editions of Hustler and the very sticky floors? Olson replies that Congress could have done this lots of ways, but it chose a rational mechanism (the financial blackmail method) that is constitutionally sufficient. Olson then offers up the incredibly weird argument that this statute actually saves librarians from being inundated with lawsuits from authors suing because their book wasn’t stocked. Because if the blocking software is unconstitutional, then “so are the types of decisions librarians have been making all along.” This is part of Olson’s whole “librarians love this” defense of a statute librarians seem to pretty universally detest—as evidenced by the fact that the named plaintiff in the case is, in fact, the American Library Association.

    Slashdot has a discussion going with some more pointers as well.

  • eWeek reviews Hacktivismo‘s secure P2P application, Six/Four

    The Six/Four System is peer-to-peer technology that makes it possible to carry out almost any Internet activity securely and—more importantly, for all sorts of reasons—anonymously. The Hactivismo system, or anything based on it, just may become the Internet’s next killer app.

    Many who will be affected by Six/Four might use the term “killer” in another sense of the word—from record industry executives fearing a file sharing network where they can’t see who’s sharing what, to law enforcement personnel tracking illegal activity, to oppressive governments attempting to filter information to its citizens.

  • Hey! Cast your vote and let Bill Frist know what you think! (Keep trying – you’ll eventually get through – after my vote, it was running 52% in favor of working with the UN vs. 48% to going it alone.)

  • Working through the backlog, Siva points us to a very interesting article in Reason that discusses a controversial economics paper that concludes that the economic role of IP is not as necessary as has been suggested, Perfectly Competitive Innovation. The Reason article is certainly worth a read, and my printer is working on the economics paper now. (Note: Derek points me to another block of printouts to make!)

  • I’m with Dave on this <G> (Dave has a more directed response.)

    Update: And there are moments when the pathos pays off: Thanks, Derek and Donna!

  • ZDNet Tech Update has an in-depth discussion of the implicit threats in Web Services protocols that are making many companies think twice about adopting these (potentially closed) technologies.

    It will be exactly the scenario that I’ve warned about , where the intellectual property owners of one critical protocol could end up in control of an important part of the Internet. At the very least, if you end up being seduced by the promise of standards by using the two Web services protocols (SOAP and WSDL) that IBM and Microsoft shoved down the W3C’s throat, it may not be long until you find out that your investment in open standards has locked you into using a proprietary technology.

  • The tradition of taping and sharing concert recordings, made an obsession by the fans of the Grateful Dead, lives on

  • More on Tatu, another distressing indication of the depths to which record companies might be going to “promote product.” This MTV news piece includes the following:

    Their racy image has been carefully crafted by the group’s producer and manager, Ivan Shapovalov, who makes Lou Pearlman look downright virtuous. A former psychologist and advertising executive, Shapovalov glanced out at a sea of suggestive teen pop and experienced an epiphany. So he put together T.A.T.U. and tried injecting a stagnant genre with new forbidden fruits, pushing buttons and ruffling feathers, but stopping just short of being outright lewd.

  • David Pogue asks How Important is Copy Protection?. He interestingly makes the know-nothing argument: DVDs are copy protected and no one seems to care, while CDs are not and retroactive copy protection makes people mad. The reason: consumers are trained by what they get, not by what they want. But, even more ominously, he argues that the record companies’ apparent relaxation of concerns over CD burning of for-pay downloads from the online services

    (his summary review article) is based on an expectation of Palladium-like DRM:

    Given that Texas-sized loophole, why do the record companies grant downloading permission to the online services? Because they know something that you probably don’t: According to one of the music-service executives I interviewed, a generation of new, copy-protected CD players and discs are on the way. They’ll work exactly like DVD’s.

    Are we really sufficiently sheep-like that we’ll buy them?

  • FindLaw columnist Anupam Chader looks at the ongoing negotiations around TRIPS – the future of patented pharmaceuticals and Third World disease.

  • A look at the movie industry’s fight to keep DVD recorders out of the home

    The MPAA claims that its member studios lose $300-million a year to VHS and DVD knockoffs, but allows that little of this comes at the hands of DVD burners. Which leads to the logical question: If people aren’t burning DVD movies with DVD burners, what are they doing with them?

    According to clerks at Bay Bloor Radio in Toronto, buyers can archive videotapes, record TV shows, and convert home movies straight from camcorders.

    Meanwhile, one Bay Bloor customer has spent the past 14 months transferring his collection of 3,000 VHS movies — “one by one, I’m up to about 300” — onto DVDs. “They’re more permanent, easier to store, and I’m assuming that in the next couple of years, VHS will be kaput,” he says.

    It doesn’t bother him in the least that his DVD burner does not allow him to copy today’s DVD movies. “God, no,” he says. “I’m afraid I’m really not much of a fan of modern movies.”

  • Wired’s Katie Dean adds her interpretations of the LexMark DMCA suit. Ed Felten points to the East Kentucky district court opinion and discusses its implications going forward.

  • TechCentralStation has an opinion piece on the Eldred decision by James DeLong that works to rearrange the debate on the topic of digital copyright. Most interestingly to me, he essentially rejects the argument that the Copyright Clause is predicated on utilitarian arguments on historical grounds, without citation or defense, of course.

    This one-dimensional utilitarianism is dubious because the moral claims of creators were more prominent in the minds of the Founding generation than the conventional view would have it. The copyright clause is best seen as a blend of utilitarianism, recognition of creators’ rights, practical economic assessment of what is necessary to foster creativity, and political compromise.

    Yet others argue that the clause is purely utilitarian developed without the such political compromises. Certainly, Jefferson’s oft-cited letter seems to favor utilitarianisms with:

    He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me….

    The exclusive right to invention [is] given not of natural right, but for the benefit of society.

    Seems like there’s a need to track this down more formally within the historical community, even if historical construction is only a weak argument overall.

  • Billboard agrees with others on the rumored pending Apple music service.

  • Via Slashdot, Australian ISPs raided in MP3 probe.

    The investigation comes as the music industry lines up against alleged pirates at some of Australia’s top universities.

    In an unrelated matter, music labels Sony, EMI and Universal have taken the University of Sydney, the University of Tasmania and the University of Melbourne to the Federal Court in an effort to secure information about alleged piracy.

    The three universities have agreed to preserve possible evidence, but they’re expected to fight any attempt to get them to hand this over when the case resumes later this month.

  • As the Supreme Court reviews laws requiring the use of filtering software in libraries, CNet has an interview with Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

    And Donna has a ton of related links, as well as Ben Edelman’s photo!

2003 March 5

(entry last updated: 2003-03-06 11:22:41)

  • Sorry for the paucity of postings. After that httpd crash, I’ve been busily hunting for a tool that will stay on top of things enought to keep things limping along until I get back to fix problems. It took a while to find a working setup (I had to resort to rpms, because the configure/make/make installs all threw segfaults), but I now have a working monit setup that should help. And now that the FastLane buttons have been “pushed,” I hope to be a little more attentive. Thanks for the patience!

    In the interim, check out Donna’s yoeman efforts in the face of this cold/flu onslaught! Pay particular attention to the picture that she cites as “prescient!”

  • We’re falling like flies – now Donna’s under the weather. If my experience with this cold/flu is any guide, it’s not too hard to get functional, but it feels like it’s going to take a long time before I feel good again.

  • Rumors out there that Apple is going to enter the digital music business. The Register article (second link above) discusses the implications of Apple’s rumored decision to eschew MP3 in favor of the more restrictive Dolby AAC/MPEG-4 AAC (licensing pr)

  • An unhappy trend of sloppy "coding" in the law continues.

2003 March 4

(entry last updated: 2003-03-04 13:20:09)

  • Over at Findlaw, Julie Hilden asks Should Universities Crack Down on File Swapping? – and then answers her question in the subtitle: Why They Should Resist Congress’s Call And Fight for Students’ Free Speech Rights. It’s a peculiar article, IMHO, because it raises not only some good points about speech and fair use, but also some odd ones centering on the (outdated?) in loco parentis role of colleges. I think there’s some useful stuff here, but it’s not her best writing.

  • I see that this nasty flu is taking its toll in the weblog world. I’ve been beaten up since Sunday, and it looks like Cory and Jenny are also hurting.

  • Arnold Kling takes another shot at discussing IP over at TCS. I will have to read the referenced links to see if I can follow his argument, but the general application of metaphor as the basis for what he wants to say tends to make me itchy. While the article suggests that he’s worried that the idea “intellectual property” is too broad, he clearly seems to be arguing for a natural rights basis for copyright. Given his forum, that’s understandable, but as even basic texts in public policy can tell you, natural rights as applied to any sort of property is as much a political statement as anything else.

  • Ed Foster over at InfoWorld is asking the right question.

  • Slashdot has a fun discussion (once you get past the petard comments) on the current legal wranglings over Lindows/Windows – Is Microsoft Hoisting Its Own Copyright Petard?. My favorite comment is this one:

    Trademark 101

    Apple is a generic term for fruit. It is a unique term for computers, thus acceptable as a trademark.

    Windows is a generic term for computing. There are numerous examples of the term being used prior to Microsoft’s introduction of it’s OS with the name (as is shown by Microsoft’s own documentation). Since it is decidedly not unique for computing, it should never have been given. On the other hand, Windows would be a proper trademark for a brand of fruit.

  • While I suppose my own glass house is not the best place from which to throw this particular rock, it’s worth noting that the Register seems to have been working assiduously to find out why the RIAA WWW site has been so hard to find of late.

  • The Reg also notes that the Johansen verdict will be appealed this summer. (Reuters)

2003 March 3

(entry last updated: 2003-03-03 13:00:45)

Well, I’ve really gotten a serious cold, and I’m under the gun to get a proposal done today, so it’s going to be thin. And, so far, all from the NYTimes.

  • Amy Harmon’s summary of the DRM Conference and the Spectrum Conference is Pondering Value of Copyright vs. Innovation.

  • The Times also tries to suggest that the record industry is getting its online act together in E-Music Sites Settle on Prices. It’s a Start. An interesting set of cost statistics that bears researching:

    A basic wholesale price structure is coming together that online services can use to create product offerings. For example, a download of a song, with a suggested retail price of 99 cents, has a wholesale cost of about 65 cents from the labels, according to music executives.

    The streaming services and tethered downloads have a more complicated price structure. Basically, the services pay between two-tenths of a cent and a penny to the label every time a user listens to a song. But there are monthly guarantees to the labels that together make the minimum monthly cost for music licenses to offer an unlimited streaming service about $5, according to music executives.

    Internet radio is far cheaper for the online services to offer, costing stations seven-one hundredths of a penny a song for each listener, under a royalty arrangement the federal government set last year. And the services like MusicMatch’s Radio MX that let users choose the artist they want to listen to but not the song, have a wholesale price that is higher than regular Internet radio and less than services that let users pick each song.

    “We found demand drops off quickly after about $5 month,” said Dennis Mudd, the chief executive of MusicMatch. Indeed, Radio MX, which has $2.95 and $4.95 a month options, has 120,000 subscribers, more than MusicMatch and PressPlay combined, according to analysts estimates. (Neither releases their subscriber counts, but they admit they are small.)

    There is quite a debate about whether $9.95 (or $8.95 on AOL) is the right price for the unlimited streaming services.

  • A look at the selling of Robbie Williams to the US market gives an insight into the music business today, as well as EMI’s position.

2003 March 01

(entry last updated: 2003-03-02 07:27:16)

Well, I’m back, albeit a little under the weather with a nasty cold. Sorry about my virtual absence as well – I have to check my Apache logs to figure out what happened, as well as get serious about generating a script to put in my crontab to restart the server if it goes down – my family couldn’t even track my itinerary

I can see that I have lots of catching up to do – especially reading about the DRM Conference this weekend