It All Comes Down To Price

Cinema Chains Seek Investors to Finance Digital Projectorspdf

Both theater chains and studios have strong financial incentives to make the venture work. Studios stand to save hundreds of millions of dollars by not having to print and deliver film reels to thousands of theaters. Cinema owners see the sharpness of pictures delivered digitally as a way to improve the quality of the moviegoing experience, giving consumers an incentive to continue visiting theaters.

[…] [T]he exhibitors have yet to negotiate “virtual print fees” from the studios to offset the cost of converting individual theaters from film to digital projection, [consultant Michael] Karagosian said.

Changing Life At The Front

An Internet Lifeline for Troops in Iraq and Loved Ones at Home

With mortar shells exploding near him sometimes twice a day in Ramadi, Iraq, Sgt. Mark Grelak found a way to shut out the heat, the noise, and all the demands of his job — sweeping the local highway for bombs left by insurgents. In a tiny space in his barracks, he would flip open his laptop, adjust his Web camera and watch his daughter Katie take her first halting steps.

[…] Military deployments have a way of chewing up marriages, turning daily life upside down and making strangers out of husbands and wives. But for this generation of soldiers, the Internet, which is now widely available on bases, has softened the blow of long separations, helping loved ones stay in daily touch and keeping service members informed of family decisions — important and mundane.

Another Comcast-Verizon Battleground

Caution: Unidentified callers ahead

Some callers can’t be identified because their information is blocked or unavailable, but in other cases the callers aren’t named because the customer’s phone company simply doesn’t want to spend the money to obtain the data.

A small Globe test of caller ID accuracy found several instances where Verizon Communications and Comcast Corp. didn’t provide a caller’s name because they didn’t want to pay the extra money.

In Search Of A Formula

Music Blogs Try — Futilely, Thus Far — to Generate Radio’s Communal Spirit

Despite numerous attempts, no one online has found a way to turn the hat trick that sustained radio through six decades of dominance of the music industry. The iTunes store is just a very alluring retailer; it has no defining personality and therefore hasn’t developed into the kind of mass community that assembled around the most successful radio DJ shows. Various adventures in file-sharing have been a bonanza for music collectors, but have done little to advance the cause of sounds that weren’t already popular.

See also Net changes the rules of music marketing

A Library FIght

Does ‘Freedom to Read’ Apply to DVDs?:

The library system’s 440 R-rated movies are especially popular. They are also provoking a public battle between the county’s Board of Supervisors and the library board of trustees. The supervisors recently voted 8 to 1 to ask the trustees to stop spending county dollars on adult-oriented movies with an R rating. This month, the trustees say they plan to respectfully decline the request.

Supervisors appoint the trustees and approve the library system’s annual budget of about $10.5 million. But library boards in Virginia are otherwise independent. By state code, cities and counties may control the amount of money their public libraries have to spend but not how they spend it.

Some say the Loudoun skirmish helps illustrate why. They say the supervisors’ actions are akin to censorship and violate a basic principle espoused by most libraries in the United States: that the freedom to read (and listen and view) is a right of library users with which the government should not interfere, even if the material includes strong language, violence, nudity or drug abuse and is unsuitable for children under 17.

An (Online) Life

A look into the way things work today: Someone to Watch Over Me (on a Google Map)

Don’t know you but think I may want you to be part of my network? I’ll contact you through or Nerve. Just met? I’ll look you up on MySpace. Known each other for a while, but haven’t been in touch recently? Friendster message. Friends with my friends and want to get to know you better? Dodgeball or MySpace. Good friends and want to connect more often? Dodgeball. Really good friends? Instant Message.

I now think of most people by their screen names. Even when I see them in person.

See also today’s Doonesbury (local copy)

From The New Yorker: A Review of The Long Tail

Between the 4th and other activities, I only just got around to reading the latest issue last night, and found this provocative piece – Going Longpdf

The least convincing part of Anderson’s book is his treatment of what he calls “the short head,” the part of the curve where popular products reside. Although he acknowledges that best-selling books and blockbuster movies won’t vanish overnight, he suggests that demand for them will gradually decline: “the primary effect of the long tail is to shift our taste towards niches.”

Is this what we’re seeing? In the film industry, more movies are being produced than ever before, but seven of the ten all-time top-grossing films worldwide have come out since 2000: three “Lord of the Rings” movies, three “Harry Potter” movies, and “Shrek 2.” It’s true that over-all attendance at movie theatres has been slipping, but the biggest films are still doing well, as was demonstrated recently by “The Da Vinci Code” and “X-Men: The Last Stand,” both of which enjoyed highly successful opening weekends despite tepid reviews. Four of the top-selling novels ever published—the works of J. K. Rowling and Dan Brown—have appeared since 2000, too.

[…] There’s another blind spot in Anderson’s analysis. The long tail has meant that online commerce is being dominated by just a few businesses—mega-sites that can house those long tails. Even as Anderson speaks of plenitude and proliferation, you’ll notice that he keeps returning for his examples to a handful of sites—iTunes, eBay, Amazon, Netflix, MySpace. The successful long-tail aggregators can pretty much be counted on the fingers of one hand. Although the online economy has existed for only a decade, businesses like these—and you can add Google and Yahoo—have already established seemingly impregnable positions. If you’re a typical Internet user, when you need to find information you go to Google; when you’re looking for a book or a CD, you go to Amazon; when you want a new golf club, you go to eBay; when you want to download a song, you go to iTunes.

There’s an ugly name for industries that are controlled by three or four big firms: oligopolies. A few decades ago, these lumbering creatures were easy to spot. In the skies, cosseted airlines like American, United, and Delta charged passengers a small fortune for the privilege of flying; in broadcast television, ABC, CBS, and NBC dictated what viewers could watch. Today, thanks to globalization, deregulation, and technological progress, many of the twentieth-century industrial behemoths have fallen by the wayside. But don’t assume that giant, exploitative firms are a thing of the past.

[…] In recent years, eBay has sharply increased its commission rates; Amazon has admitted charging its customers different prices for the same goods; and Apple Computer has stubbornly refused to make its iTunes service compatible with portable music players other than iPods. Has the New Economy really moved past the familiar “winner take all” dynamic? That depends on whether you’re looking at the long tail—or at who’s wagging it.

A Copyright Fight

Ren and Stimpy’s creator has a blog. He’s been posting links to YouTube, showing classic Warner Brother’s cartoons. Ooops! He doesn’t own the copyright, and promoting Warner Brothers without permission is bad. Why would anyone want to be promoted on a fan site, after all? WARNER BROS. CARTOONS HATES THEIR FANS!

These cartoon clips I post do nothing but promote Warner Bros. (and other cartoons). They don’t compete with Warners. People who discover the cartoons on my and other fan sites will want torun out and buy high rez copies of them on DVD.

Warner Bros. even advertises on my site to sell Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes related merchandise!

My blog and the blogs I link to are the best advertisements for old cartoons in the world.

While Warner Bros. stops promoting their own great properties by taking the cartoons off of the TV networks, the only way left for young fans to discover these classsic films is through Youtube and our fan blogs.

My blog is historical and educational content so is also covered by “fair use” protection.

I urge you to do the smart and right thing by restoring the low rez clips on Youtube and giving Warners back its free publicity and letting the world know more about their great historical legacy.

Do not bury Bugs Bunny and his pals.

Related – Studios catching viral bug to promo new DVDs online [pdf]

A Look At College Music Services

via Pho: Free, Legal and Ignoredpdf

As a student at Cornell University, Angelo Petrigh had access to free online music via a legal music-downloading service his school provided. Yet the 21-year-old still turned to illegal file-sharing programs.

The reason: While Cornell’s online music program, through Napster, gave him and other students free, legal downloads, the email introducing the service explained that students could keep their songs only until they graduated. “After I read that, I decided I didn’t want to even try it,” says Mr. Petrigh, who will be a senior in the fall at the Ithaca, N.Y., school.

College students don’t turn down much that’s free. But when it comes to online music, even free hasn’t been enough to persuade many students to use such digital download services as Napster, Rhapsody, Ruckus and Cdigix. As a result, some schools have dropped their services, and others are considering doing so or have switched to other providers.

[…] There is also little consensus among administrators about how successful the services have been in eliminating piracy. Although some say complaints from the recording industry have dropped sharply, no one can tell if that’s because fewer students are engaging in illegal file-sharing or if the industry simply doesn’t want to go after schools that are spending money to combat the problem. “The RIAA’s push to buy into these services strikes me as protection money. Buy in and we’ll protect you from our lawsuits,” says Kenneth C. Green, the Campus Computing Project’s director.

The RIAA denies the charge. “We do sue students and send takedown notices to universities that have legal services all the time,” says Mr. Sherman. Universities have a particular responsibility to teach students the value of intellectual property, he adds, because they are “probably the No. 1 creator of intellectual property.” And he disputes the idea that the subscription services have fallen out of favor. The number of campuses that subscribe will increase “pretty significantly” in the fall, he says.

Even at schools where more than half of the students use the services, few choose to buy songs. Only 2% of students at the University of Rochester in New York reported buying a song that they had downloaded from Napster in a fall 2005 survey of about 700 students. In the same survey, 10% said they downloaded songs from other services — not necessarily legally — after finding one they liked on Napster.