May 30, 2003
In MPAA We Trust

The Register is reporting that "good faith" in a take down provision is all that is needed to shut down a website that someone claims violates the DMCA. You know, that 4th Amendment thing was too messy and overly complicated to bother with anyway. Jack Valenti has more important things to think about.

A U.S. court has extended the power of the DMCA even further with a ruling this week that backs up copyright holders' ability to shut down a Web site on "good faith."

InternetMovies.com had asked the District Court for the District of Hawaii to require that copyright holders investigate infringing Web sites before shutting them down. This rational request was rejected by the court, as its granted the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and any other DMCA zealot the right to put the clamp on Web sites at will.

"This decision rules that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) does not require a copyright holder to conduct an investigation to establish actual infringement prior to sending notice to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) requiring them to shut-down an allegedly infringing web site, or stopping service all together to an alleged violator," InternetMovies.com said in a statement.

Thankfully, InternetMovies.com is appealing. But the MPAA won the last round and if they prevail, we may all be forced to trust Jack's interpretation of things, instead of a judge's.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 28, 2003
A Little Competition Goes a Long Way...

Real Networks announced today that they will offer music for 79¢ that will "Transfer to CD and Access to the World's Largest Online Library of Major and Independent Label Music... (including) 330,000 tracks available for on-demand listening and more than 200,000 songs available for transferring to CD, aka 'burning'." This is a nice contrast, and hopefully the beginning of some real competition in the legitimate online music download marketplace.

News.com mentions the Real announcement. And Wired notes the Rhapsody offer. However, iTunes has changed its sharing policy according to the Register. Apparently, iTunes music can only be shared now on up to three machines on a single network. There is also PureTunes, the Spanish service that claims that under Spanish copyright, they have the right to sell online music through, "an agreement with music publishers, the AIE (Asociacion de Artistas, Interpretes y Ejecutantes (Association of Artists, Performers and Players)." The RIAA doesn't like it but Weblisten has apparently successfully defended themselves using this argument.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
DMCA Exemption Hearings

Transcripts for all of the exemption hearings held this spring are now available....

Update 5/29/03: Seth Finkelstein in the comments here lists his copies of the transcripts, but also look at his blog posts for more perspective and info. In addition, panelists have emailed saying that the transcripts are poorly done, have incorrect words, etc. I have to say that when I read the ones from May 14 and 15, they seemed odd to me, sentences didn't make sense, etc. but since I wasn't there, I can't say what is correct and what is not.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 27, 2003
More on the FCC June 2 Meeting

Frank Field points to a couple of articles: Big Macs And Big Media: The Decision To Supersize, the text of a speech by FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein before the Media Institute on the upcoming FCC vote:

I often hear from industry sources, "we're just giving people what they want. After all, that's our business. And as we get bigger, we just have more resources and ability to deliver a better quality product."

...You might call it the "McDonaldization" of the American media. McDonald's spends a lot trying to give people what they want. They only put products out after expensive field testing. Every product is analyzed to satisfy the greatest number of people, even if the local community may have its own unique tastes. Don't get me wrong, I like McDonald's, and eat there sometimes. But I don't eat there every day. And even if I did, I know it wouldn't be very healthy.

The same goes for the media. People also need a balanced media diet -- a diverse menu, if you will. But it's a lot harder to set up a broadcast station than a new restaurant. ...Neither cable nor the Internet has changed the huge market power granted by federal license to use scarce broadcast spectrum, particularly when that license comes with the requirement to be carried on cable. If these scarce licenses weren't valuable, their price wouldn't continue to skyrocket as they have in recent years.

Also, Frank Rich has an interesting piece from Sunday's Times (or htm) comparing the Matrix to our current media world: ...The power of the five companies that foster this sequential amnesia is increasing, not declining. In a vote set for June 2, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to relax some of the few ownership restrictions meant to rein them in. Companies like Viacom (which already owns CBS and Paramount) and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (which owns Fox and is on its way to controlling the satellite giant DirecTV) are likely to go on shopping sprees for more TV outlets. But who knows or cares? Though liberal and conservative organizations alike, from Common Cause to the National Rifle Association, are protesting this further consolidation of media power, most of the country is oblivious to it. That's partly because the companies that program America's matrix have shut out all but bare-bones coverage of the imminent F.C.C. action, much as the ruling machines in "The Matrix" do not feed their captive humans any truths that might set them free.

...But neither Mr. Diller nor anyone else is likely to stop this consolidation of cultural power unless the public knows or cares enough to protest. That hardly seems to be in the cards. We reward mediocre movies with record grosses. We reward tabloid news epics with high ratings. We reward dissembling politicians with high poll ratings. We expect our journalistic media to fictionalize the truth. As others have noted, the most dispiriting aspect of the Jayson Blair scandal may be that even the subjects of his stories usually didn't bother to complain about the lies The New York Times published about them; they just assumed it was standard practice. One way or the other, we all inhabit the Matrix now.

But yesterday's Times has another perspective on media consolidation (or htm), where some speculate that in the short term, relaxing the rules will not lead to more consolidation. However, some media owners in the article do admit that in some markets, they would immediately go shopping.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 22, 2003
Why You Should Care About Media Concentration and the FCC:

Because the FCC intends to lift the restrictions on media concentration at their June 2 meeting. So instead of 4 or 5 megamedia outlets, we can have 3, or 2 or eek! 1 (check out this media map, or this one from the Nation, or this one from Media Channel). Breadth of media outlets is a critical check and balance on our democratic system, one that determines other voices, formats and viewpoints for our freedom of expression. Tipping what concentrated media balance we have today in favor of less competition, for getting information news and entertainment, will be bad all the way around. Check out this short video from the Center for Digital Democracy.

There has been a lengthy conversation going around the past couple of weeks or so about the FCC hearings scheduled for June 2, 2003 (watch the hearing via webcast at 9:30am EST, as the request for delaying the hearing was denied.) This hearing is the biennial review of rules governing media concentration. Every category from radio to newspaper to broadcast to cross-ownership rules is up for change. (Look here for the FCC hearing video from May 15.)

Among the topics discussed recently: the FCC's desire to break the Clear Channel hold over radio (htm) (see this bIPlog post on Clear Channel and the public emergency they weren't "in" to broadcast), the idea that Michael Powell believes that the Internet can adequately balance increased media concentration despite the restrictions ISPs and other access providers want to place on what you can attach to the Internet (see Larry Lessig's response to this kind of argument -- where he did not say the Internet is Dying, but instead that the Internet as Savior is a dying concept), and today's Salon piece on the The Big Blackout: "And perhaps unsurprisingly, the two television news operations most reluctant to cover the FCC debate -- CBS and Fox -- are owned by the two media conglomerates with the most to gain from a lenient FCC ruling: Viacom and the News Corp."

Tom Barger documents the change in concentration over the past six years: "I have heretofore been loath to subscribe to a conspiracy theory of the Military/Entertainment Complex. Rather, I have written on the herd mentality of journalists, and their fear of losing jobs or that coveted seat on Air force One; a relentless "dumbing down" of American culture and the obsession with celebrities, non-scripted reality programming, car wrecks, adultery, child abductions, and murders-all at the expense of critical examination of public policy. I have changed my mind."

"Commissioner Adelstein and Copps have informed us that the fix is in. On a split decision (3 Republicans to 2 Democrats), in June, all regulations on media ownership will be thrown out.... Adelstein's comment is perhaps more prescient, "The toothpaste is out of the tube.'"

Then there is the Nation's FCC: Public Be Damned: "...an examination of roughly half the 18,000 public statements filed electronically with the FCC show that 97 percent of them oppose permitting more media concentration. Even media moguls Barry Diller and Ted Turner have raised objections, with Turner complaining, 'There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It's not healthy.'"

William Safire also opposes the proposed media consolidation (or htm): "We've already seen what happened when the F.C.C. allowed the monopolization of local radio: today three companies own half the stations in America, delivering a homogenized product that neglects local news coverage and dictates music sales. ... Ah, but aren't viewers and readers now blessed with a whole new world of hot competition through cable and the Internet? That's the shucks-we're-no-monopolists line that Rupert Murdoch will take today in testimony before the pussycats of John McCain's Senate Commerce Committee.

"The answer is no. Many artists, consumers, musicians and journalists know that such protestations of cable and Internet competition by the huge dominators of content and communication are malarkey. The overwhelming amount of news and entertainment comes via broadcast and print. Putting those outlets in fewer and bigger hands profits the few at the cost of the many."

Check out how the Regulators travel on the Regulated's Nickel as reported by the Center for Public Integrity: 2,500 trips costing $2.8 million over 8 years, paid for mostly by broadcast and telecommunication companies, separate from tax payer funded travel. Also, the same report mentions the FCC's heavy reliance on industry data.

Take 5 Minutes To Do Something About It:
The Future of Music Coalition suggests writing a letter (or email the letter: mpowell@fcc.gov; or call: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)!).

Moveon.org also has an easy way to participate.

Or Mediareform.net.

Considering how many ways giga-organizations can shape our tastes (or htm) and control our access to media, we have to keep what few protections we have in place.

Update (5/23/03): Salon has an article: Last Stop Before the Media Monopoly (Thanks Frank!)

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
The Codification of Ideas: The Future of Creativity

Illegal Art, as part of their exhibit "Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age," (4/29-6/7/03) is hosting a panel discussion on the Codification of Ideas and the Future of Creativity on May 29th, 2003. If you're in Washington, DC, check it out. EPIC Policy Counsel Cédric Laurant will participate. If anyone blogs it, please let me know. Looks really interesting.

Update 5/24/03: the Washington Post has an article on Illegal Art and the difficulties with producing shows like Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 21, 2003
The Future of Film

William Gibson gave a talk on 5/17 to the Director's Guild of America for Digital Day. It's an interesting and beautiful essay, weaving the instantaneous film education he got watching one Disney piece, to that needed for reading novels, to a comparison of digital music to that of film, where he thinks the state of filmmaking now is much like that of old dial phones and, like what we use now in the form of digital cellular, we will experience something unimaginably comparible in the development of digital film in the future. He discusses the technical monopolies in the music and film production worlds, and the distinct and separate devices and computational systems we function with now, compared to the future systems that will envelope us like the spread of "warm Vaseline." It may be that to interact with DVD's in the future, the viewer will need the more complex education comparable to that now needed to understand a novel. He also mentions a new digital way of perceiving the "inbuilt peripherals" of media, the recombining of our digital artifacts:

Because I see Johnny falling asleep now in his darkened bedroom, and atop the heirloom Ikea bureau, the one that belonged to his grandmother, which his mother has recently had restored, there is a freshly-extruded resin action-figure, another instantaneous product of Johnny's entertainment system.

It is a woman, posed balletically, as if in flight on John Wu wires.

It is Meryl Streep, as she appears in The Hours.

She has the head of a chihuahua.

The essay is very hopeful and open to an unknown future, and I encourage you to check it out. Also, Frank Field has an interesting view on this essay.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 20, 2003
"Big Champagne's Burst Bubble"

BIPlog has written about Big Champagne before, and understood from their website that it is a service that measures music downloads which they point out through media quotes in the center of the front page. But Online Tonight's editorial column by David Lawrence refutes this impression Big Champagne would like people to believe, and instead points out that they monitor what is offered, not what is downloaded. And there is a big difference.

Apparently, that information can be found by using KaZaa desktop, and a few other things on the Internet. Because there are more downloaders than uploaders, offerings are not a good statistic of what people download, and the article mentions that is an impossible statistic to get perfectly. It's something more akin to Nielsen ratings, which are estimates. Big Champagne won't discuss their methods. They also don't apparently count the downloads on legitimate sites. And in using IP addresses to determine geographic location, they profess to have more accuracy than is possible.

It's an interesting look at this company that has clients like Clear Channel/Premiere, Blender Magazine and E! Entertainment, and a CEO that recently testified before the California Senate Select Committee on the Entertainment Industry. Read the article, because it makes clear how Big Champagne may have fooled the media and their clients into thinking they know much more than they do.

MORE...
Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)
May 19, 2003
Disability and the DMCA

The Library of Congress DMCA exemption hearings over the past few weeks included an exemption request for encrypted literary works not currently available on eBooks to persons with disabilities. Paul Schroeder, head of government affairs at the American Foundation for the Blind (who is blind) and Jonathan Band, American Association of Law Libraries, ALA, ARL, MLA, and the SLA were at the hearings to testify on their request.

PC World reports that copyright may have met it's match, as far as the way the DMCA restricts the 10 million blind people in the US from accessing between 60 and 90% of eBooks. Many of those are recent best sellers, but many are also works that have been in the public domain for hundreds of years, and yet their electronic versions are encrypted and therefore not available to software reading programs.

"'Easy access to e-books would be 'like water in the desert' for the blind community, says Paul Schroeder. 'We want the opportunity to do what you take for granted.'"

"'Ultimately, publishers decide whether to lock e-books', says Shafath Syed, product manager for electronic publishing at Adobe Systems. Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Reader are the two most popular programs with the text-to-speech feature. 'We provide the technology but we don't control how it's used,' Syed says. Some publishers 'think if they turn on the read aloud feature that somehow that turns it into an audiobook. It's kind of a stretch.'"

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Score One for the Commons

The Albert Einstein Library went live today, with 43,000 scientific, non-scientific, travel writings, correspondences and related items. It's a joint project between Caltech and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, CNN reports. The works are copyrighted and reproduction is restricted, but how absolutely cool for scholars, students, scientists, as well as the future of innovation and creativity to have these 3,000 digitized manuscripts along with 40,000 other documents available for the advancement of our culture and science, so easily and clearly on the Internet.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 17, 2003
Digital Cinema

The 321 Studios case started Thursday: the "Judge asked what would happen to copy-protected movies after their copyrights expire and the studios' representative said that such works would be publicly available at that point. Judge replied to this, stating 'But it's encrypted. If it doesn't stop being encrypted, it's still encrypted' and saying that under that situation, copying such works would be still illegal, even when their copyrights have already expired." CNET also has some info (thanks Donna!)

Wired is reporting that Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox filed suits against five DVD backup software companies: Internet Enterprises, RDestiny, HowtocopyDVDs.com, DVDBackupBuddy.com and DVDSqueeze.com.

Disney is apparently trying out a new technology where they rent DVD's that self-destruct in 48 hours. But the movies can still be copied within the 48 hour timeframe.

The NY Times (htm) looks at MovieLink and CinemaNow (and a third one not yet up and running: StarzOnDemand) where 24 hours after downloading a movie, it self-deletes from your harddrive. "Apart from their 24-hour availability, today's movie-download services offer no advantages over TV, video stores and NetFlix.com (a mail-order DVD-rental outfit). Movielink and CinemaNow stand out primarily for their puny selection, poor video quality and overly rigid copy protection.

It boggles the mind that these services don't exploit the potential of the Internet. Any number of improvements could make them more attractive than other video outlets. Online movie stores could offer tens of thousands of movies, dwarfing the selection of video stores. Digital rentals could last two weeks, not 24 hours, without costing the companies a penny more. And there should be a choice of download speeds; people willing to wait longer for superior quality should be allowed to. It is executives, not technology, who keep these services from greater success."

Look here for an analysis of DVD rental turnaround on NetFlix although it's totally unclear who did it.

MORE...
Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 15, 2003
DHS Used to Track Down Texas Legislators

Texas is getting to be as interesting as Florida and Modesto.

Balkinization talks about the Texas legislators that flew the coop to prevent a vote on redistricting. However, one aspect of the story not mentioned is how the Speaker of the House there, Tom Craddick of Austin (who also left the state 30 years ago to prevent a vote, btw), in his quest to find them, had underlings asking the Department of Homeland Security to track them down (Star-Telegram). They did this by finding former Speaker Pete Laney's plane through the DHS's Interdiction and Coordination center.

The civil liberties issues should be clear. Using terrorism detection methods for purposes other than detecting terrorism is not right, but for gaining political advantage, it smacks of Watergate.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Hilary Rosen Embraces Technology

Hilary Rosen wrote a short piece for Biz2.0 on why the Recording Industry loves technology. Let's count the ways:

"I'm every bit as passionate about music as you are.... The reason we do what we do is not a love of litigation but rather a love of music... the record industry is poised to rebound. And what will the vehicle for this rebound be? Technology. Yes, technology.

The RIAA believes in innovation. And we believe that consumers in the marketplace, not the government, should decide which technological innovations will thrive.

Today there are several legitimate online services...thanks to electronic distribution through multiple types of networks with varied business models... consumers can buy digital music à la carte or sign up for subscription services offering unlimited downloads, and they can take their tunes with them wherever they go.

Since portability is a compelling feature for music fans, these new ways of distributing music can bring added value to all sorts of new consumer electronics. As I prepare to leave my post this year, I'm proud that part of my legacy will be the role I played in championing new technologies. But the financial incentive required to keep music fresh and popular must be a shared commitment between the music industry and the technology community. Continued investment in and development of the legitimate online music marketplace, along with appropriate antipiracy enforcement, is the ultimate pro-technology strategy for both creators and consumers."

Where to begin? If the old-style Recording Industry rebounds, it will probably because of the lawsuits and the super-DMCA and DMCA laws, and her lobbying efforts to keeps the incumbents intact. Rosen writes as if the RIAA et al invented streaming, downloading, and might possibly embrace the rip, mix, burn philosophy. And she says they've spent hundreds of millions developing new modes of distribution. It seems to me the RIAA only loves technology when they have complete control over it. They have been more instrumental in developing anti-theft technologies like DRM that prevents music from playing, spoofing and automated mailer systems than ones that would deliver music to customers via the internet and other new digital modes of distribution.

The RIAA has done everything possible to prevent the napsterization of their industry, which she characterizes as one that used to deliver "soft drinks" in "64 ounce bottles" to one offering six-packs and cans, with "...electronic distribution through multiple types of networks with varied business models." But the RIAA has only done this grudgingly, with lots of difficulty, and I don't think anyone really believes her when she also talks about self help in terms of Martin Luther King and her organization supports the jailing of students who download music. I'm all for the RIAA getting reasonable after their extreme position in the past few years, but when she makes the contradictory arguments above, and is continuing the lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits tactic, I just don't buy it.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 14, 2003
Get Your DVD On (and Back It Up or Sample It!)

Donna points to the Library of Congress DMCA Exemption hearings happening today and tomorrow in LA, as well as the MGM Studios v. 321 Studios hearing tomorrow in SF.

EFF and others asked the LoC to create DMCA exemptions for four types of digital media:
1) music on copy-protected CDs
2) movies on DVDs whose region coding restrictions prevent playback on U.S. players
3) movies on DVDs which prevent skipping of commercials
4) movies in the public domain released on DVD

Eric Olsen at Blogcritics excerpts submissions of the "Ancillary or sole source material" exemption request (for DVDs, from LawMeme) as well as the EFF request made last December.

Literary works and censorware will also be addressed at the DMCA exemption hearings.

Update (5/15/03): Look here for Brewster Kahle's exemption comment (pdf) about literary and audiovisual works embodied in software, his reply (pdf), his speech and presentation yesterday, asking an exemption to allow archiving of software.

Also, George Zeimann of Azoz wrote a letter (late last night) to the DOJ and LOC (via Pho) about a statement made by an RIAA attorney yesterday at the hearings. Zeimann says the attorney stated that "127,000 albums have been released in the past three years." Zeimann refutes this with his own analysis of the RIAA releases at around 100,000 for the past three years.

The Register has an article on the hearings.

Update (5/16/03): Here is Victor F. Calaba's blog report on the 5/14/03 hearings.

Update (5/19/03): here are two more reports from the 5/14/03 hearings: this and an addenda.

Update (5/22/03): IP Justice and Robin Gross announcement, testimony and comments on testimony at the May 15, 2003 hearing.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 13, 2003
Universal Joins Suit Against Bertelsmann

Universal Music Group, a branch of Vivendi Universal, filed a copyright infringement suit on Monday with the U.S. District Court of in New York against Bertelsmann AG. It is expected that the suit will be combined with a $17 billion lawsuit filed in February by other music publishers, including rhythm & blues pioneers Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, that accuses the German media company of investing $100 million on Napster, which helped the service stay alive and succeed longer than it would have otherwise.

Universal released a statement saying: "Bertelsmann did not merely provide a loan to Napster; nor was it merely a passive investor in Napster. Rather, it took control of the Napster system to financially benefit itself at the expense of Universal and its artists". When it first started supporting Napster, Bertelsmann said its intent was to build a legitimate music subscription service. However, Universal alleges in the law suit that "Bertelsmann recognized it did not have the technical capacity or business model to implement such a service for some time."

Derek Caney, from Reuters, writes: "Universal [...] has been one of the more aggressive record companies in pursuing legal remedies to combat piracy. The industry has blamed file-sharing technology for much of the recent slump in record sales". In fact, only last month, Universal, together with EMI Group Plc, sued San Francisco-based venture capitalists, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, who once supported Napster.

Three among the five biggest record companies, AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Music and Sony Music, declined to comment on whether they would join the suit and EMI was not immediately available for comment. Reuters reports that "one label executive who requested anonymity said they had looked at the suit but decided it was not worth pursuing."

Posted by Valentina Pasquali at 08:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 12, 2003
"Glass houses, people. Glass houses."

Moses Avalon says this about the record companies and their apparent mishaps with recompensing the artists for those cd's sold through the record clubs... $100 million a year is a lot of forgetting. But I guess it's hard to keep track of things when you're dogging the students, the astrophysicists, and the ISPs. Michael Jackson has something to say about this, too.

Billboard mentions the CA Senate bill moving through the legislature imposing fiduciary responsibility on record companies. "Music industry officials oppose the bill, saying it would impede labels from developing new business models in the face of surging piracy. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) president Cary Sherman testified Tuesday that the bill "would distort the intensely negotiated, arms-length contractual relationship between an artist and recording label by imposing a fiduciary duty only on one party." Hmmm. In the hearings, it was pointed out that only one side, the record companies, "holds the financial records to calculate royalties."

Okay, enough of this RIAA silliness. Time to get back to studying for that last final....

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 11, 2003
New Media and the Internet

School's not quite over yet, but I just had to point out this article from today's NY Times by Steve Lohr, "'New Media': Ready for the Dustbin of History?" (htm) where he talks about how the Internet has only succeeded in shopping and searching (Amazon and Google), and how Nicholas Negroponte (a futurologist/technologist at MIT) was wrong in predicting in 1995 that "all would be digitized."

"In the early days, in the 1990's, we thought that media was the big application on the Web," said Michael Kinsley, who founded the online magazine Slate in 1996. "But it turned out to be e-commerce." About Slate, he says, "The multimedia component is our biggest failure, but it is a failure we share with everyone else."

I'm not sure what the former editor of Slate means here, but between blogging (both the writing as well as the reading) as a new media, the napsterization of all sorts of media industries and the advent of iTunes and other media downloading services, to the kind of political organizating that MoveOn.org does (raising huge sums, getting the word out, organizing people to act), to flows of information from the NYTimes.com and such, to students applying for college, finding class information and posting assignments, to the ability for citizens to monitor their government and attend public meetings via webcast, to the paradigm shift for finance and banking (see this story about George Soros' former aide going to Brazil in 1999 to save their currency as an example of how deeply the internet and financial trading have been influenced by the web, with the implication that investors get instanteous financial information via new media and react accordingly, to how understanding money movement via networks is totally different than before, and that nation-states have very little control over the huge flows of currencies and the digital information flows that investors use to make decisions) not to mention stock and other financial instrument trading, to the complete shift in communications via email and P2P, to the granular segmenting of data and information sharing for and between people and companies that engage in it, all of which are dependent on many differnt forms of digitized media, the Internet has changed everything. To say the only success of the Internet and media is shopping and searching is absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 08, 2003
School Days

Every time I think I will have a break to spend time blogging, an additional assignment or group requirement pops up, and I can't do the blogging. So I send you to Matt, Donna, Derek, Ed, Frank, Denise, JD, Dan, and those LawMeme guys, because they all do it so well, contributing in such different ways, and with such distinct voices.

Can't wait to get back to it. Just a few more days left of this difficult semester.
Thanks!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 05, 2003
Music Industry Battles and Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

The Register's Andrew Orlowski sees this fight as one where it's The RIAA Attacking Our Culture, the American Mind, relating the tactics of self-help, and the use of DRM, among other things, to cultural identity. There is some flawed and leaping logic, but mentioning having a heritage of music available is important in refocusing this debate. Copyright is about protecting artists so they can create, but ultimately making their work available to people in reasonable ways. So when Cary Sherman complains that the debate has become uncivil, the tactics described below emphasize that he and the RIAA make this uncivil, instead of just being observers of the uncivilness. Since the RIAA has a lot of power and control to steer this situation in either civil or uncivil directions, they could civilize it immediately by changing their business model. Are they maintaining such a hard line because with so many lawsuits on the fire, they have to follow some counsel's direction?

The NY Times reports (or htm) that the "music industry's five "majors" -- the Universal Music Group, a unit of Vivendi Universal; the Warner Music Group, a unit of AOL Time Warner; Sony Music Entertainment; BMG, a unit of Bertelsmann; and EMI -- have all financed the development of counterpiracy programs."

"The record companies are exploring options on new countermeasures, which some experts say have varying degrees of legality, to deter online theft: from attacking personal Internet connections so as to slow or halt downloads of pirated music to overwhelming the distribution networks with potentially malicious programs that masquerade as music files."

"Warner Music issued a statement saying: 'We do everything we feel is appropriate, within the law, in order to protect our copyrights.' A spokeswoman for Universal Music said that the company 'is engaging in legal technical measures.'"

Pam Samuelson in her MIT Tech Review interview last month mentioned that Rep. Berman's bill proposed last year would allow more far reaching tactics than those mentioned above despite the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [CFAA] and the DMCA's anticircumvention provisions. "The CFAA has quite a lot of open-ended provisions. For example, if a rights holder accessed a user's computer and disabled use of files on that computer, that would violate CFAA. As the recording industry was contemplating how to fight back against peer-to-peer file sharing using technology, they correctly reasoned that they might, in fact, be subject to liability under the broad provisions of the CFAA or other federal or state laws that forbid, for example, trespassing on somebody else's computer system."

The countermeasures stop short of crossing the liability line, but slowing connections might still be a problem. Especially because this is punishment without due process. It's a lot of trouble for the RIAA, and it escalates the music battle to new levels. Why not they just accept that they live in a different world, and their dinosaur business models need to go, in favor of working with the market. Let's hope Apple and a few other smaller services make that clear, so the RIAA abandons this punitive nonsense.

As Pam said, "...it's important to find some solution that is the least socially disruptive -- one that also then gets a wide array of wonderful creative works into the hands of lots of different people. Because that's what ultimately the copyright system is supposed to achieve."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 03, 2003
Is Apple's iTunes Profitable?

According to record industry sources, 250,000 songs were purchased and downloaded on iTunes music store's first day, at a cost of 99 cent each.

Analyst Rob Enderle of Giga Information Group, a unit of Forrester Research, told Duncan Martell of Reuters, "For the launch of a service that is Apple only, those are good numbers." Apple hasn't yet released any figures on how much it spent to develop the online music store. This is why "at this early stage we do not have a good indication of the profitability of this service," wrote Dan Niles, an analyst at Lehman Brothers .

The Apple's online music store will be competing not only with free file-swapping tools like Kazaa and Morpheus but also with paid services offered by the record industry like MusicNet, Rhapsody and PressPlay. The service will be made available to Windows-based PCs, which account for 90% of the market, starting later this year, a step that is fundamental to profitability of the system. "The big revenue opportunity is when they move this off the Apple base," Enderle said.

Posted by Valentina Pasquali at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
May 01, 2003
RIAA Suits Against Students May Settle.

RIAA lawsuits brought last month against the four students making and operating network search engines apparently will settle soon. The Daily Princetonian reports that Daniel Peng, and the three others, have been working with attorneys to negotiate an end to this, and expect some kind of announcement today. "It would be really expensive to litigate," said Peng, who has avoided commenting publicly since the filing. "I would like to reach an amicable settlement."

In a related story, the Daily Cal at UCB reported on 4/29/03 that UCB Administrators had been approached by the RIAA to close off P2P traffic ((on that note, who hasn't? Even thought there is no P2P traffic on my personal network that I know of - Housemates? Is this true? I expect the doorbell to ring momentarily where a big thug in a bowling shirt with "RIAA" embroidered on the breastpocket requests "politely" that I block traffic immediately if I know what's good for me! It's getting to be like the Nixon enemies list, where anyone who hasn't been sued, or at least been asked to stop some activity by the RIAA will feel neglected.... Not to make light of the actual hardships people who are targeted by the lawsuits experience, but the RIAA is totally out of control, suing people for making search engines that happen to capture file listings on systems that may include MP3s, not to mention IMing file sharers with a tisk tisk note.)) The UCB Administrators responded that they have a policy of not interfering with the ways people use the network and could not comply because the network is set up to respect this. I don't have more details because the Daily Cal has had trouble with it's website recently, and I'm waiting to get a copy of the article to post. Will update then.

Update: Donna Wentworth points out the Settlement for Peng, et. al. at $59,000 (verses the $98 billion they were sued for).

Update: Here is the link to the Daily Cal Story.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)