It’s Friday: And I Had To Get Up Early

And one of the joys of that is that, on occasion, the morning news gets a little scrambled. Today, Kim Carrigan, from our local Fox affiliate, reported that the Nobel prize in chemistry had been awarded to someone who had discovered that Coca-Cola killed sperm. Of course, it was really an Ig Nobel, but they had a clip and everything. Sadly, by the time I got to the office to try to capture their error, I couldn’t find any of it on their website – so here’s the Boston Globe article instead: Ig Nobel prizes: Awards showcase humorous side of research (pdf)

Greasing the Rollout of Digital Distribution of Movies

But it took more than the distribution costs savings to make the sale — but 3-D movies? Really? Hollywood studios agree to digital rollout (pdf)

Five Hollywood studios have agreed to help pay for a $1 billion-plus rollout of digital technology on about 20,000 movie screens in North America, a precursor to showing movies in 3-D.

Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, a consortium of major theater chains, announced the deal Wednesday. The rollout in the U.S. and Canada, covering about half of all screens, is planned to start early next year.

To help offset the costs — about $70,000 per screen — the studios plan to pay the consortium slightly under $1,000 per movie per screen, roughly the same amount it costs them to print and ship a celluloid film copy.

Adding digital equipment is the critical first step in the technological upgrade to being able to show 3-D movies.

Just Because You’re Paranoid

It doesn’t mean that someone’s not watching you. The technology that makes it possible to communicate makes it possible to monitor the communication, too. It all depends on how you decide to employ it: Huge System for Web Surveillance Discovered in China (pdf)

A group of Canadian human-rights activists and computer security researchers has discovered a huge surveillance system in China that monitors and archives certain Internet text conversations that include politically charged words.

[…] The researchers were able to download and analyze copies of the surveillance data because the Chinese computers were improperly configured, leaving them accessible. The researchers said they did not know who was operating the surveillance system, but they said they suspected that it was the Chinese wireless firm, possibly with cooperation from Chinese police.

Independent executives from the instant message industry say the discovery is an indication of a spiraling computer war that is tracking the introduction of new communications technologies.

“I can see an arms race going on,” said Pat Peterson, vice president for technology at Cisco’s Ironport group, which provides messaging security systems. “China is one of the more wired places of the world and they are fighting a war with their populace.”

And, hey, don’t hardware vendors market their equipments’ capabilities to “shape” traffic? It’s just a matter of how, and why. Of course, see also Jim Fallows on the Great Firewall on how a surveilled population devises response strategies.

Showdown with Apple (updated)

Digital music retailers await copyright board decision (pdf)

For five years, Apples iTunes Music Store has been the Internets most successful music store. But as music publishers have sought a higher share of its proceeds, Apple has threatened to shutter iTunes.

The Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, D.C. is expected to rule Thursday on a request by the National Music Publishers Association to increase royalty rates paid to its members on songs purchased from online music stores like iTunes. The publishers association wants rates raised from 9 cents to 15 cents a track – a 66% hike.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) declined to discuss the boards pending decision or its previous threat to shut down iTunes. But it adamantly opposes the publishers request. In a statement submitted to the board last year, iTunes vice president Eddy Cue said Apple might close its download store rather than raise its 99 cents a song price or absorb the higher royalty costs.

Later: from the 10/3/2008 Boston Globe (pdf)

Songwriters royalty rates to remain at 9.1¢ a song
The US Copyright Royalty Board left unchanged the royalty rates paid by record labels to songwriters and music publishers, trade groups said. Royalty rates for permanent digital downloads and compact discs will remain at 9.1 cents a song, the National Music Publishers’ Association said. It said the copyright board for the first time established a rate for mobile phone ringtones, setting it at 24 cents. The Recording Industry Association of America said in a statement it was “pleased” the decision freezes the current rate for CDs and downloads for five years. (Bloomberg)