Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley

December 10, 2003
New Music Model Proposed by Vivendi and MS

Jon Healy/LATimes has this on a tollgate for the internet. Evidently, Vivendi Universal Music Group and Microsoft are teaming up to work on something that will work with P2P sharers (good), making use of digital delivery for spreading content and compensating artists.

    File-sharing networks ... can distribute digital material wrapped in electronic locks that enable copyright owners to charge users for the contents. But the dominant brand of electronic lock, which Microsoft provides, has limited capabilities, said Albhy Galuten, senior vice president for advanced technology at Universal Music Group.
    "It doesn't provide any sort of complex or innovative business models, which is why nobody uses it," he said.
    Universal, Microsoft and the other companies — Japanese telecommunications giant Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., chip maker ARM Holdings, Internet security company VeriSign Inc. and rights-management specialist Macrovision Corp. — have joined forces in what they call the Content Reference Forum.

So people would participate in networks where media is tagged with "content references," which would trigger a series of electronic signals that determined the type of file, the amount it would cost, and how the proceeds would be divided.

Alternative pricing options include things like this: a record label could offer an album free to the first 5,000 people who download it, then charge $2 to the next 5,000 people, then $5, and so on.

We've discussed the gaming possibilities here before, and the privacy issues, and the conference at Harvard last week touched on these problem areas as well. Or maybe this system isn't so new, just the alternate compensation system, with a haircut and some new glasses, that been discussed in various forms for a while. But now, put into practice, it seems different, but the same?

Since I've gotten sick here at the end of the semester, I'm lite on blogging. But I'm working on a more comprehensive post responding to Derek's post yesterday.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 03, 2003
Digital Content Models

Today at the Micropayments Conference at the Harvard Club, hosted by Peppercoin, an MP company (named after the smallest possible coin payment in England - quarter penny=farthing?), digital content and payment systems (see this NYTimes article describing generally micropayments and these companies) were the order of the day.

On the Digital Music panel: David Card (blog) of Jupiter Research moderated, and panelists included Richard Burgess of Smithsonian Folkways, Brian Cullinan of Sony, David Goldberg of Yahoo and Howie Singer, CTO of Warner.

Notable exchange at the end of that panel:

    Singer/Warner: For rules, or an expression language? Is there a marketplace solution? ITunes appeared successful, with rules on the PC -- and 3 m downloads. Not yet known.
    Cullinan/Sony: Precedent? For DRM? Don't know until things play out, but there is no market benchmark.
    Levy/Newsweek: But what will it take, what will keep things going at this level with DRM?
    Cullinan/Sony: Deals are only as good as the marketplace will bear, and the next deal is only as good as set up; every company is different, can't speak for others… but there is a least common denominator problem with the labels, every label wants the most restrictive rule, although Universal wants no rules and they are adamant, and upset that they can't sell their stuff through iTunes with this least restrictive DRM but instead have to go with the lowest common denominator of iTunes which is set by the most restrictive models.
    The future? We won't have the rules we have today, because even now, if you burn something once, you can rip it and it's analog, what's the point of DRM? So songs eventually will be sold in the marketplace, unrestricted. There is no reason to restrict people to give less than what they have with other media, with analog or digital.

The conference covered a variety of topics from the technical, to the theoretical, looking at content, a couple of success stories now on the web, subscriptions verses downloads, granular content verses bundled, and mostly asking a lot of questions about media, the internet, and what all the considerations are regarding consumers, media companies, copyright and money. Interesting day with interesting people. Though I did hear that a couple of the journalists were unhappy due to the lack of soundbites. But these are complicated issues and it takes time to learn the intricacies and figure out the solutions, so I guess at this stage there is too much confusion over MPs for soundbites. However, it was a great opportunity to learn what people are doing and thinking about on these issues. And there were some nuggets that were very useful.

BTW, the Harvard Club is nice, surprisingly good food too. Makes you almost want to go to Harvard, just so you can hang out there.

Also, checkout Dan Gillmor's column on MP's last Sunday.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:02 PM | Permalink
October 28, 2003
BF: Derek Slater Makes a Good Point
    It occurred to me that the FCC's ownership rule making also provides a significant argument against the flag. Chairman Powell repeatedly asserted that over the air televsion is merely one small part in a large, competitive media market. It has to compete with print, radio, and the Internet. Well, if it's such an insignificant industry, then why should it get to determine policies for the entire tech industry? I'm not necessarily saying that I agree with the ownership rule changes; rather, I'm saying that the FCC has already stated that broadcast TV shouldn't be treated specially.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:48 AM | Permalink
October 25, 2003
Billy Tauzin is Taking Over for Jack Valenti

The first time I saw Jack Valenti was when I was in junior high; I was in Washington, DC at some rarefied event, full of powerful, smooth, very rich people. The people you rarely see in the media because they are so removed from the hoi polloi they are sort of ephemeral in their presence compared to the rest. As well, Senators and top Congressmen, a couple of cabinet members were floating around. Valenti was very distinctive; he arrived just after Warren Beatty. I think it was an event at the State Department on the top floor. Some annual thing for the party's biggest contributors. Sponsored by some wine trade association, so of course the food and wine were endless, glamorous and ethereal (yes, I did drink lots of champagne, over those several hours).

The venue, a very large room, with a balcony along the entire length, which as I remember seemed hundreds of feet long, was sumptuous, dark red, maybe gold leaf around the giant mirrors and on the ceiling, one single crimson and gold carpet that went on and on under antiques, flowers in urns 20 feet high, the lights of Washington were twinkling through the wide-open floor to ceiling doors. In the soft dappled lighting were dark areas where low conversation and a few careful words could be discretely exchanged.

Valenti, still today, looks exactly the same even though it's been 20 years. Now that I know he's 82, it's hard to imagine he was maybe 62 then, because he seemed 80 in a way, and yet sort of ageless. I kept watching him, after asking who he was, because he seemed to know everyone there, which was amazing in my junior high mind, because there probably were 1000 people to know. His cheeks were crinkled just as they are now, with that big shock of wild hair, and he just slipped from person to person, shaking hands and planting a few words with each. Much more interesting than Beatty, who has star power but not real power in the way he holds himself. Valenti was the opposite. He was better than anyone in that room, which was pretty much the Olympics of palm pressing and networking. At the time, I did not really understand what he did, but I could see he was very very good at it, whatever it was.

Anyway, Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin has apparently accepted the job to head the MPAA. I've only seen him on the House floor, have no idea if he can do what Valenti does, though I'm sure he's well connected. Guess it's time to go rent that Martha Stewart/Billy Tauzin bbq'd shrimp episode to rate his schooze factor. It's possible the requirements and people to know have changed for the top post at the MPAA. But I suspect they wanted the most well connected person they could find, to execute their agenda which seems to skirt public involvement in favor of courting a few powerful folks effectively, quietly, until it's too late for the public to do anything about the policies made that so unfairly tilt the copyright regime in favor of incumbent copyright holders, to the detriment of the public domain and the kind of innovation that leads to new jobs, industries and redistributions of power and wealth across existing industries, as we move deeper into an information economy.

Update 10/27/03: Bernard Weinraub/NYTimes on the idea of Valenti leaving the MPAA.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:48 PM | Permalink
October 02, 2003
Indies Mobilize Against Screener Ban

So the MPAA announced they were no longer going to send copies of movies to Oscar members and other award screeners, because they fear piracy. Basically, the MPAA has been sending all the films on VHS/DVD to members in order to vote on the nominations. Small indie type films that get nominated are often inaccessible to older Oscar members because they play in obscure theaters or have short runs. The MPAA wants to stop sending out these film copies, because of internet piracy fears, but the indie producers and directors say this ban will hurt small filmmakers, while the big ones, backed by the incumbents, who have their movies on a lot of screens, will most likely be seen by members of the Academy (why does it feel so ridiculous, typing "members of the Academy"?).

So the indies will fight back. Here's a list of some supporting the statement by Michelle Byrd, head of IFP/New York: Steven Beer of Greenberg Traurig, Ed Carroll of IFC, Ira Deutchman of Emerging Pictures, producer Nelson George, and Carole Radziwill as well as Killer Films producers Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler, as well as Ted Hope, Anthony Bregman and Anne Carey of This Is That, GreeneStreet's John Penotti and partner Fisher Stevens, along with Ed Pressman and John Schmidt of ContentFilm, Jonathan Sehring of IFC Films, directors John Waters and Robert Altman, Rachel Cohen from Artisan, producers Lee Daniels, Sarah Green, Ross Katz and Susan Stover, screenwriter Bill Condon, writer/director Peter Hedges, and actors Selma Blair, Steve Buscemi, Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, and Tracey Ullman.

Has the MPAA thought about issuing DVD's to members, with unique hash marks so they could at least trace back a leaked file to a particular member? Maybe through internal policing they could take care of this, instead of making the whole film community suffer.

The NYTimes also discusses the indie point of view.

Update: NYTimes again here, with the story that the Small Studios Say DVD Edict Will Diminish Oscar Chances.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
September 20, 2003
Can the Record Biz Survive?

The New Yorker has a reprinting of John Seabrook's article: The Money Note: Can the record business survive? because he is part of the New Yorker Festival they are holding this weekend in NYC. Today at 2pm EST he moderates a panel on this topic as part of their event series. Looks like tickets are still available if you want to go. Better hurry. You've got a little over an hour to get there.

Around the globe, the record business is sixteen per cent smaller than it was in 2000. Record labels blame the fans, for lacking the long-term loyalty to pop acts which record buyers used to have, and for engaging in wholesale "piracy" of music, either by copying CDs or by downloading music illegally from the Internet.

...Five global music companies control more than eighty-five per cent of the record business. (The remaining fifteen per cent is divided among some ten thousand independent labels.) Universal Music Group, which is owned by Vivendi Universal, is the dominant player among the majors; then comes the Warner Music Group, a division of AOL Time Warner; Sony Music Entertainment; the Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG); and the EMI Group. From the early seventies to the mid-nineties, Warner was the leading company in the record industry, but by the end of 2002, with a sixteen-per-cent share of the domestic market, the company had fallen behind Universal, which had a twenty-nine-per-cent share.

...Whether or not the record business figures out how to make money from MP3s, the format is here to stay. Just as CDs replaced vinyl, so will MP3s replace CDs. But, whereas CDs made the record business extraordinarily lucrative, MP3s are making it extraordinarily painful -- a gigantic karmic correction that may lead to a bigger music business one day, although not before things get worse. Daniel Strickland, a twenty-three-year-old student at the University of Virginia, told me recently, "Maybe it's because I'm in college and I have an eighteen-year-old sister and a ten-year-old brother, but, let me tell you, nobody I know buys CDs anymore. My sister -- she just gets on her computer, and she knows only two things, file sharing and instant messaging. She and friends go online, and one instant-messages the other, and says, 'Oh, there's this cool song I just found,' and they go and download it, play it, and instant-message back about it. My brother has never even seen a CD -- except for the ones my sister burns."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
September 18, 2003
Hollywood and Piracy

Ken Womack/The Morning News with a Dear Hollywood letter (I wish they were all this good):

Dear Hollywood:

It seems like lately you've been out of touch. I know that you've been busy, of course, what with your summer blockbuster season and all. Heck, it must take a lot of time and energy to promote all those movies! By the way, what happened to Gigli? It only came out a few weeks ago, and yet it no longer seems to be playing at my local Cineplex. ....

... there was also a commercial promoting you, Hollywood. Yeah, I was surprised, too. The commercial features a set painter named David Goldstein. Apparently, he's worked on films like Dick Tracy, Beverly Hills Cop, and Father of the Bride. What a rsum! Did you know that he even met his future wife on the set of The Big Chill? (By the way, David, is that a two-toned beard? Makeup!)

In any event, it turns out that people like David -- the construction, sound, and lighting personnel -- are worried about the effects of piracy on the movie industry. Piracy sure has turned the world of popular music upside down. And you've got to reckon that -- sooner or later -- those rascals on the Internet will figure out how to pirate DVDs at a much faster rate. And when that happens -- well, let's just say that it will no longer take four hours to download Ishtar ....

Which brings me to why I'm really writing this letter: Why shouldn't I feel like pirating movies or buying contraband DVDs on the Internet? You've been obviously lining your pockets at my expense for decades, and now you're threatening to fire some poor guy so that you can make me feel guilty. Who do you think you are?

He makes a very good point about piracy and customer relationships (As does Katie Hafner/NYTimes today. Remember, those kids will be voting in a few years!). Pointer from Choire/Gawker.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:04 AM | Permalink
September 16, 2003
Verizon Appeal Will be Heard Today

and SBC says it won't name names in file sharing cases (Seth Schiesel/NYTimes). "We are opposing these subpoenas because under the R.I.A.A.'s interpretation, they are a threat to consumer privacy and safety." (from SBC spokesman, Selim Bingol) They are the only provider holding out.

"We are going to challenge every single one of these that they file until we are told that our position is wrong as a matter of law," James D. Ellis, general counsel for SBC, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Good for them. The subpoena process is a big problem as specified under the DMCA.

Ed Felten is going to be testifying tomorrow morning in a Senate Commerce Committee Hearing about both the subpoena process, as well as the impact of requiring the building of anti-copy protections into technology.

Catch the webcast of the hearings at 10am Wednesday!

Update 9/17/03: CDT has their hearing testimony up about the subpoenas....

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
September 14, 2003
In a Cut and Paste World, Copying Means Different Things Than in the Past

The NYTimes has four articles today on filesharing, music and the state of the internet:

John Leland on Beyond File-Sharing, a Nation of Copiers.

In fact, for many people, that shift has already come. Like file-sharing -- which 60 million Americans have tried -- cutting and pasting from the Internet is just one part of a broader shift toward all copying, all the time.

Consider a night out in the wireless city: Throw on a faux-vintage sports jersey, grab a bootleg Prada bag and head to the Cineplex for the sequel to a movie based on a television show. Afterward, log on to KaZaA and download the movie's title song, based on a digital sample. While you're online, visit a blog with links to published movie gossip and use your pirated e-mail program to send tidbits to your hundred closest friends. Curl up with a best seller by Stephen E. Ambrose or Doris Kearns Goodwin, who last year admitted to slipping materials from other texts into their books.

"I don't think they think of it as copying music," said Joe Levy, deputy managing editor of Rolling Stone. "It's a very individual experience for them. They want the songs they want in the order they want. Then it becomes not the new Mary J. Blige album, but their own mix. It's a much more individual package of music. Kids view it as an interactive and creative act."

But then, get this:

"...But the process still had some hurdles to get over", Mr. Bernoff admitted. Recently he was discussing his research with an executive at a media organization that has been very aggressive about trying to discourage file-sharing. When Mr. Bernoff asked the executive how he had gotten the report, which Forrester sells for $895, the man hesitated.

"They got a copy from one of the studios," Mr. Bernoff said. "Here is an organization that's saying that stealing hurts the little people, and they took our intellectual property and they shuttled it around like a text file..."

This sort of reminds me of when Orrin Hatch's office was using unlicensed software on their website. It's a cut and paste world, for sure.

/. on the Leland article.

Adam Liptak with The Music Industry Reveals Its Carrots and Sticks:

MOST lawsuits have concrete and focused goals. They usually want money, from particular people in particular disputes. But the 261 suits launched by the record industry last Monday, against people who made the music files on their computers available to others, seek something else entirely: to instill fear.

There is little question the industry can win the individual suits. Whether it can achieve its real goal is dicier all around -- from the youth of so many of those named as offenders, to the very idea of using a relatively small number of lawsuits to deter tens of millions of people.

Steve Lohr on Whatever Will Be Will Be Free on the Internet:

The Net's free-range design, combined with the global proliferation of personal computing and low-cost communications networks, laid the foundation for the surge of innovation and new uses that became so evident by the late 1990's. The World Wide Web is the overarching example, but others include instant messaging, online gaming and peer-to-peer file sharing. And while companies are free to build proprietary products and services in cyberspace, the basic software and communications technology of the Internet lies in the public domain -- open for all to use.

And from the front page: Neill Strauss' piece on File-Sharing Battle Leaves Musicians Caught in Middle.

"It would be nice if record companies would include artists on these decisions," said Deborah Harry of Blondie, adding that when a grandfather is sued because, unbeknownst to him, his grandchildren are downloading songs on his computer, "it's embarrassing."

Even the Backstreet Boys, one of the best-selling acts of the 1990's, did not appear to have received any CD royalties, their management said.

"I don't have sympathy for the record companies," said Mickey Melchiondo of the rock duo Ween. "They haven't been paying me royalties anyway."

Musicians tend to make more money from sales of concert tickets and merchandise than from CD sales. In fact, many musicians offer free downloads of their songs on their Web sites to market themselves.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:51 AM | Permalink
June 18, 2003
For Solving the Problem of Theft of Copyrighted Works, Orrin Hatch Suggests...

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that. If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize the seriousness of their actions. There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws." (from the Washington Post/AP or htm) Sen. Orrin Hatch is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the hearing was Tuesday where he made this statement.

So, would your computer be destroyed without a court order or other due process? Without checking to see that the files were actually a copyright violation and not, say, your own personally ripped mp3s from your own lawfully purchased CDs? Or a file with a similar name as that of a copyright protected work, but one that is not another's copyrighted work at all? Like in the Penn State astronomy and astrophysics department case?

Dana Blankenhorn responds that if technology like this were developed it would get out and any hacker could use it to destroy any computer:

The nature of secrets is they don't stay secret long. The bigger the secret, the faster the discovery.... Orrin Hatch would be unable to compute anymore. Neither, for that matter, would I. Neither would you. That (secret, machine destroying) code would spread, not like a virus, but like spam, and destroy the Internet forever. You can "email" Hatch to suggest that he get a regular email address, as well as consider that his idea is unconstitutional.

Lessig comments that Hatch has been swallowed by extremists.

Donna blogs the Internet Law 2003 conference and links to some of these issues as well as P2P and technical self-help discussions at the conference. The Register weighs in too.

Update 061803: Senator Hatch can be emailed here: senator_hatch@hatch.senate.gov

Update 061803: Hatch's office has issued a statement about this:

"I am very concerned about Internet piracy of personal and copyrighted materials, and I want to find effective solutions to these problems.

"I made my comments at yesterday's hearing because I think that industry is not doing enough to help us find effective ways to stop people from using computers to steal copyrighted, personal or sensitive materials. I do not favor extreme remedies - unless no moderate remedies can be found. I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies."

Update 061903: See Ed Felten's write up on this issue.

Update 062003: Orrin Hatch, Software Pirate. Apparently, Orrin Hatch's website is using unlicensed software. D'oh!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:01 AM | Permalink
June 16, 2003
Muse.net Gets Closer to the Heavenly Jukebox Answer Post Napster

Jon Healey at the LATimes has an article on Personal Jukeboxes (htm) where technologies like Muse.Net let "people with high-speed Internet connections listen to the music on their computers from any other computer online" so that a collection of music is not about the bits on a machine but rather a collection of titles that can be anywhere. About 150,000 people use Muse.Net (of Mediacode, Inc.), which "increases consumers' appreciation of music without decreasing their willingness to pay for it" by letting one person access their own collection for about $20.00/yr.

"I just think it does all the right things," Ted Cohen, SeniorVP of EMI said after seeing the technology. "It lets people extend the reach of their music experience without tripping over artists' rights or content owners' rights."

On the other hand, there are security and privacy issues, with Muse.Net: "'You're asking me to register what I own,' Analyst Michael McGuire of GartnerG2 says. In Microsoft's Web services model, the entity that licenses and distributes songs 'knows who I am, what I have and what I'm doing with it at all times, theoretically.'"

In contrast, the NY Times has a piece on the difficulties of downloading (htm) courtesy of Frank Field... who also mentions the iPod/iTunes bundling possibilities; as well as this Miriam Rainsford (who started the Madonna remix project mentioned here before) piece on musicians and DRM:

As a musician I find the notion of using DRM technology abhorrent -- not only because of the risk that my works could be locked up indefinitely by technological means, despite my signing a non-exclusive distribution contract. Under anti-circumvention laws such as the DMCA and the forthcoming EUCD, it could well prove impossible for me to share my own work with my friends, or to distribute DRM-controlled content to another publisher.

But aside from the legal and practical aspects, I believe DRM to be against the spirit of music-making. Music is made for enjoyment -- and it is very difficult to create music without an atmosphere of freedom.

And Jenny at the Shifted Librarian talks about another idea to rent iPods filed with music.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:47 AM | Permalink
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
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
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 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
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)
April 28, 2003
Apple's New Music Service Continued

"iTunes 4 is awesome!" My brother's ecstatic praise turned me on to Apple's launch of its new music service, The iTunes Music Store, along with the latest version of iTunes, the musical listening swiss army knife-like device available free to Mac users.

It looks like the iTunes Music Store is much better than most of the previous attempts to distribute music electronically that had the backing of the major labels. But there are still limitations built in: "In a nutshell, you can play your music on up to three computers, enjoy unlimited synching with your iPods, burn unlimited CDs of individual songs, and burn unchanged playlists up to 10 times each."

My curiosity is piqued, but I still have some reservations. The major labels see the computer as a threat, and are aggressively trying to destroy the surrounding industry, which, incidentally, happens to be one of the most successful in recent history. Do I really want to spend my money on a service that supports the majors?

Posted by Daniel C. Silverstein at 11:02 PM | Permalink
Apple Throws Down the Gauntlet

Apple has created an iTunes store with 200,000 songs for downloading. Using the site includes 30 free previews and cd cover art which quotes Steve Jobs as saying, "AND it's not stealing -- it's good karma." So 5% of the market is covered, but what about the rest? I wonder if it will put a dent in Kazaa users sharing 1 billion files. But something viable for the PC needs to be offered, too, so this might be the Pepsi challenge for the RIAA....

Other IP thoughts: Matt Morse pointing out that Saturday was World Intellectual Property Day. They even have a cartoon explaining their ideas about IP (pdf) which he cannot quite believe. Among other things, they point out that animals cannot make intellectual property. Check it out.

Meanwhile Harry Shearer has been talking about overall music industry strategy: Sue Your Customers! (htm). He suggests instead that the industry target older customers for sales because they have more money than time, are less likely to pirate music and more likely to purchase....

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)
April 23, 2003
Wheat and Chaff: Pam Samuelson Talks About Making Sense of P2P Piracy

Pam Samuelson is interviewed in the (May) MIT Technology Review about the Berman bill (which he admitted in February may not be reintroduced in the 108th Congress), "self-help" and the planting of "chaff" or phony mp3s into free P2P networks, and copyright.

"... A real unfortunate thing, and the Berman Bill isn't going to solve this, is that by being so aggressive against the peer-to-peer file-sharing technologies and bringing so many lawsuits and trying to shut the stuff down, the industry hasn't won the hearts and minds of the individual users of these networks, and they haven't won the hearts and minds of the technology community that wants to use peer-to-peer technologies."

On Self-Help for Copyright Holders:
"My sense is that this bill would not just immunize this kind of interference with downloading; it also would immunize more aggressive acts, including those that would otherwise violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [CFAA] and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act'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. "

Overall:
"If the goal is compensation to artists, then it may be time, especially in view of how widespread file sharing is, to start thinking seriously about some sort of licensing scheme so that noncommercial file sharing, for example, could be made profitable for copyright owners. But it would be necessary to impose some sort of tax. This would get copyright holders some money and would stop the punitive war that has been going on, which is going to be really tough for the industry to win. "

"I don't think that there's one silver bullet that solves the whole problem. But 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 07:49 AM | Permalink
April 22, 2003
Innovation Investments: Risky... Sketchy... Non-Existant for the Music Biz?

Universal and EMI are suing Hummer Winblad, the venture capitalists, for "perpetuating global piracy through its $13 million investment in the controversial file-swapping service." Even though Napster filed for bankruptcy last June, ending the copyright infringement suits, record labels want compensation for losses they say resulted from Napster's prolonged life, which came because of investments by Hummer, as well as the $90 million Bertelsmann invested (see that lawsuit asking for $17 billion in damages). Although Hummer is expected to say that the investment they made in April 2000 happened when no court had ruled on the legality of P2P file sharing and Napster.

Suits like this, the threat of suits and the uncertain economy make investing in innovative technologies even more sketchy. Take a look at Cory Doctorow's notes from the Emerging Technologies conference happening now in Santa Clara.

In the meantime (thanks Frank!), Slashdot is discussing "All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning's Napster." Favorite comment: "My grandfather told me about how when he was a kid, they traded files on Napster, and how it got in trouble for something about "copyright." I'm not exactly sure what that is, but apparently, information wasn't free back then. I'm glad things have changed." It's not that copyright needs to go away; it's very important, but can we alter our arrangement for digital music business models enough so that statements like these aren't funny, they are just there? So that it's not about draconian all or nothing copyright?

Here is bit from the Salon review on the new Napster bio: "The story of Napster has to be seen, in the end, as a tragedy of wasted potential. Here was a system that improved everything about the way we listened to music, but nobody it touched was better off for it...."

Things seem to be reaching new levels of shrillness, between students at Penn State cut-off from networks or at Annapolis, students sued for writing google-like applications, or suing VC's who invested in something that at the time wasn't deemed illegal. Can we please consider some alternative to these measures, like the compulsory licensing, flat fee schemes we've been discussing, or anything else that will reframe the situation to a more rational tenor? I really don't think the Nancy Reagan "just-say-no" thing works. Not that music is equivalent to illicit drugs, but the abstinence argument definitely doesn't work for music, especially in the digital (media) world. There are alternatives to just suing everyone you can get your hands on for the sake of trying to get your old business model back, after it's been napsterized to smithereens. And there are alternatives to stealing, however, since the record companies and trade associations have most of the control, I think after 5 years of this mess, they need to get the memo: work with people, not against them.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:42 PM | Permalink
April 19, 2003
Comp Lic II

Donna Wentworth points to Matt Morse's latest on the compulsory licensing column by Fred Von Lohmann last week, where a flat fee scheme is discussed. Derek Slater addresses the privacy issues of tracking file sharing and watermarks. Ren Bucholz, who used to manage a radio station follows with some insights into artist compensation and the radio station model, and Alexander Payne responds on taxation and ISPs.

They are talking about the complexities of implementing a compulsory license system to track downloaded music, resulting in an accurate distribution of fees to the artists. One thought is to count watermarked songs as they pass through a pipe, no matter where they are going or who is getting the music. This way privacy for users could be ensured, with even the smallest artists directly compensated. And a portion of the fees would go to artists regardless of who owns the rights. Payne addresses the taxation scheme, suggesting that a government tax wouldn't be the way to go. Instead, he thinks an ISP based market scheme would work, where only downloaders are charged, instead of every user, since many users do not engage in music file sharing. However, the privacy issues are ripe for abuse and if the fees per song were small enough, might not be worth charging directly per user.

I like the central heat metaphor put forth by Greg Blonder, because it protects privacy, makes fees really low because everyone pays, which then encourages the eventual participation by many more than just those currently downloading. Americans like flat fees anyway; witness our cell phone system as compared to Europe. Paying per minute/per song fees isn't as fun. People get niggly over every 25 cent song (mobile minute), as opposed to paying a flat monthly amount, where they use services without thinking. It would also discourage the trading of burned cds, because why bother if a user can just download something reliable and easy? Imagine users emailing each other playlists and links to songs they wanted to share as a form of expression, commenting, and trading recommendations, to legal works.

Maybe there could be a maximum monthly download, say 1gb of watermarked content, before increased flat fees were applied. Also, because most P2P downloading is currently illegal, and because it is something people with particular music tastes engage in now, the content and distribution model mean that the entire internet population does not participate. But if music downloading were simple, cheap (and flat fee), and the available content was directed at a much wider range audience, I think a much higher percentage of those on the internet would participate, making the flat fee a more equitable and reasonable solution. It would encourage experimenting with unknown and obscure content, in formats that are also less popular, and might even be a way of allowing for, even encouraging and compensating, artists sampled by other artists, bringing back a dying category killed by the copyright wars. And, it would maintain user privacy.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:35 AM | Permalink
April 17, 2003
Let the Music Play

"What the [expletive] do you think you're doing?" says Madonna on listening to one of her downloaded, planted mp3s from some napsterlike service. Jon Healey writes that companies trying to start legitimate music downloading services are asking the same question of Madonna, because they feel she is hurting legitimate downloading business ventures. As mentioned before, she is making her "American Life" album available directly to fans. But the NY Times thinks it's all about the buzz. Wouldn't it be ironic if all the controversy in music came down to Madonna promoting herself: "'I live the American dream,' Madonna sings mournfully, going on to rap about soy latte, yoga class and nannies before saying, 'I just realized that nothing is as it seems.'" Okay, but the real deal is getting all artists paid, and getting fans who want mp3s off the hook for stealing and into some reasonable legal model for getting music. Not to mention stopping lawsuits against students who make search engines cataloging their university's servers, for 87 gazillion dollars.

There is also this argument comparing the current state of legal and illegal downloading of music to 19th century coal distribution. Apparently, coal carts would lose half their load to street urchins before making their first delivery, and various patented locking systems were invented to protect the cargo. Ultimately, the distribution model was changed from individual deliveries to one where central heating, provided by landlords who purchased in quantity solved the problem, saving everyone money and ending the coal theft model. So the comparison is to a distribution model where music theft wouldn't be attractive, but where everyone would benefit there too.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
April 15, 2003
ISP Flat Fee for File Sharing Proposal

Fred Von Lohmann of EFF has a column in the Daily Princetonian about compulsory licensing. The idea is your ISP could charge a flat monthly fee so that both record companies, as well as artists, would be paid directly. Fees would be divided based on samplings of traffic and sharing similar to Nielsen ratings.

"The reality is that file-sharing is almost certainly going to remain a fact of campus life. The debate should be about getting artists and copyright owners fairly compensated, not about how many students should be expelled or how to install surveillance equipment on campus networks."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:40 AM | Permalink
April 03, 2003
Digital TV and P2P

Reason.org has a piece on Digital TV, Prisoners of Digital Television, by Mike Godwin discussing the broadcast flag and government regulations, various economic solutions for digital TV distribution, and some solutions to these problems. In particular, the incredibly far reaching government regulations that would be necessary to institute the broadcast flag are discussed, including the changes to all of the obvious hardware, but also the non-obvious hardware like cell phones, medical scanners and astronomy equipment in order to control "what the content industry calls 'the analog hole' -- their unsightly term for analog devices' tendency to ignore or sidestep digitally based protections."

Hardware would have to be tamper-proof, operating systems regulation would affect the market, which might, if Linux were controlled, allow Microsoft to completely lock-in the market. And of course, he addresses the issue that computers and the Internet are fundamentally about making copies, and free flows of information, as well as looking at the spectrum, public policy, and consumer and broadcaster issues.

Godwin also mentions this interesting idea: "Nonsimultaneous delivery of premium content may constitute a new application for pure peer-to-peer distribution. (It would be a great irony if the Internet's peer-to-peer functionality, once regarded as an unmitigated problem, could be harnessed to enhance the delivery of commercial content in ways that financially benefit content producers even as they increase consumer choice.)"

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:55 AM | Permalink
April 01, 2003
The Honest Thief: April Fools

The Honest Thief, previously mentioned, turns out to be a promo for a book, not a new company as the WSJ (IP reprint) and CNet reported in February.

"Well, guess what April Fools! The Honest Thief file-sharing venture was no more than a publicity stunt.

Our goal was first and foremost to get some attention for our book: The Honest Thief. Secondly we wanted to confront the public with the practice of honest stealing: the tools that everybody uses to have success. Very few people will openly admit that they use these tools. In this respect our campaign was an attempt to create success to get our message across: everybody, in one way or another, is an "honest" thief.

Whether we have failed or succeeded, we hope that people won't forget the honest part of honest stealing."

Update 04/03/03: Wired reports on this, including this: "Paul Grabowicz, director of the New Media program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, said that this hoax joins a long list of schemes perpetrated on the Net. 'It's common human behavior that's suddenly distributed over a global network. Instead of a couple of suckers, you could potentially get millions. I don't care how good a reporter you are or how reputable a media organization, you can get snookered by one of these things. Reporters really need to be on their guard.'"

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:02 PM | Permalink
March 21, 2003
SonicBlue Declares Bankruptcy: Another Point for the Incumbents

And while they are reorganizing under Ch. 11, they will probably sell their ReplayTV and Rio MP3 businesses to D&M Holdings in Japan, and GoVideo Business Unit to Opta Systems, which leads to the question of what they will focus on in the future. And what about the million people who purchased the Replay system? And who will be responsible for the lawsuits? All unknowns, but it does seem that a combination of the economic downturn, less than enthusiastic adoption of digital video recorders, development costs for new technologies and the lawsuits pushed them to the point of restructuring and selling off assets.

According to the SJ Mercury News, they are declaring bankruptcy because of the "crushing debt" ($355 mil in debt verses $342 mil in assets) from acquisitions of new technologies ($150 mil) in order to move from microprocessors to consumer electronics. But last month, CEO Greg Ballard said, "Brace yourself. We are spending roughly 25 percent of operating expenses" defending the (Replay TV) case. "That amounts to $3 million a quarter on this court case alone," and that is money that could have been used to push the company into profitability or hire 128 new employees, he said. This was at the Digital Rights Summit.

It is difficult to tell based on these different remarks what portion of SonicBlue's troubles come from the lawsuits and what is a result of other circumstances. But it seems logical that if they've been spending 25% of their operating expenses on lawsuits, an equal amount of their management focus must be on them, as well as business strategies around their future liabilities. So while they said the lawsuits did not push them into bankruptcy, other remarks infer that the lawsuits didn't help, as they diverted management attention away from planning and running the company, and hiring new employees to create more innovative technologies leading to more business opportunities and potential profits. Also, I would imagine it's difficult to get additional investment capital when 25% of operating revenue is going to defending lawsuits. And if they are trying now to sell assets associated with the lawsuits, it would be silly to emphasize to the press the lawsuits as a major problem during the sale process. If I were one of the 28 companies on the other side of the Replayer lawsuit, I would feel quite satisfied with the efforts to cripple this company right now.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 04:54 PM | Permalink
March 19, 2003
Hilary Rosen's Dream

As she received the "'Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award' from the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, or NARM, in Florida," Rosen cited Martin Luther King's inspirational words: "Social change cannot come overnight, but we must always act as though it were a possibility the very next morning."

However, inspiration was not the only part of her speech; she also mentioned the self-help, such as sending poisoned files over P2P networks. Regarding the Verizon case, she mentioned that, "Verizon has unfortunately turned this case into a bogus claim to protect their members' privacy rights. When you are on one of these p2p systems and have opened your hard drive and its contents to the network, you have given away your own privacy." Yes, but what about all the people who didn't open their harddrives? They are part of the subpoena to Verizon as well. And what about the idea that the ISP's are not responsible for what users keep on their harddrives?

Meanwhile, the RIAA sent out letters to 300 companies (35% are tech companies) about illegal file sharing on their networks.

Gotta love that high road/low road thing they got goin'. In fact, I think Jack Valenti has been to the same dance party recently. Somehow they got their causes mixed up with both the high ideals of MLK and social change, 'duty, service, honor, integrity, pity, pride, compassion, sacrifice....' (~Jack) and terrorism and organized crime. They're spinning more than records.

Update: 2/19/03 Wired reports on Texas Rep. John Carter, with RIAA support, who want to jail downloaders (college students!) of illegal files.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
March 13, 2003
Major League Baseball Will Webcast Games

But anyone in close proximity to a game (and therefore, within local range and lucrative TV rights), will have the system blocked. Anyone caught circumventing will be fined $100 on their credit card. Monitoring will be done with Quova technology, matching IP addresses and billing zip codes, but the chief exec of Internet baseball, Bob Bowman says: "I don't ever underestimate the scientific capability of 16-year-old high school students."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:21 AM | Permalink
March 04, 2003
DVD Jon Back in Court

IT world reports today from Norway that Jon Lech Johansen, also known as dvd Jon, is scheduled to return to court for the appeal of the case filed against him by, among others, the Motion Picture Association of America. Johansen was sued, then aquitted, for creating DeCSS, which makes it possible to decrypt movies in DVD format.

Posted by Valentina Pasquali at 11:20 PM | Permalink
February 28, 2003
DRM Conference, Day 1

Two tutorials, with Drew Dean, SRI; Barb Fox, Microsoft Corp.; Brian LaMacchia, Microsoft Corp, about DRM technology, and one with Pam Samuelson on the legal and policy landscape regarding DRM.

It was a lot and will take a bit to post here, but late last night, I did finish the question (below under "more") that was the most interesting....

MORE...
Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:54 AM | Permalink
February 19, 2003
"It's not Hollywood Verses Technology, it's the Incumbents Verses the Innovators" ~ Hank Barry at the Digital Rights Summit

Today at the Digital Rights Summit held at Intel but organized by Digital Consumer.org, Joe Kraus, one of the founders, introduced the Summit saying that the ability to freely innovate is endangered with protected systems, and SV is under threat with something unable to be seen: over-applied copyright. The first unintended consequence of the DMCA and copyright is that we no longer ask the question, is something fair use? We ask, is it anti-circumvention? The second unintended consequence is the use of copyright to stop innovation and consumer fair use.

Panel 1:
Hank Berry at Hummer Winblad, as well as Senator Ron Wyden, Bill Aho of ClearPlay, Greg Ballard of SONICblue, Skip London of Static Control, David Djavaherian who represents Skylink, Congressman Howard Berman, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren sat on a panel discussing the unintended consequences for business of the current digital rights/IP situation.

Key points: New ventures don't get funded because of IP problems. ~ Berry

Defending SONICblue costs $3 million a quarter, which could be spent hiring 120 people to innovate. ~Ballard

None of this is as important as health insurance or the economy. ~Berman (Continued key points here.)

Complete notes are located here as a doc or here as html.
Updated: Coverage by others is here: Wired, CNET , SF Gate.com, SV.com, slashdot.

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Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:36 PM | Permalink
Business Models for the Hippest of Record Companies

Go with the flow, man. And get crackin! Profits are down for RIAA type record companies, but hey, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is making bank to the tune of a 33% increase in profits this year. They use recordable CD's, or CD-R's to copy their catalog, thereby ensuring that their extensive catalog never hits the dust bin. They've been doing this since 1996, creating a "just-in-time" model for delivery. (Every time they get an order, an employee makes 5 copies, one for the order and 4 for future orders.)

With 2,168 titles dating to 1948, they cover works from Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs to "Music From Western Samoa: From Conch Shell to Disco" (1984) and "Folk Songs of the Canadian North Woods" (1955). They are also trying out small runs of CDs, of which their first, "Bells & Winter Festivals of Greek Macedonia," was so popular, they put it into the regular retail catalog.

So, what are the rest of those less-than-hip record companies waiting around for? Hop to it! Make love, not war, with your (netgen, filesharing, the internet-is-an-environment-not-a-tool) customers!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:14 AM | Permalink
February 18, 2003
Film Sampling for the Well Connected

Mike Myers has signed a deal with Dreamworks to "film sample" various film clips, inserting himself into them while recombining and reusing existing film, to tell new stories. However, if you would like to sample, and share your work, you too might have to make a deal with a big-time company motivated (and well funded) enough to clear copyright and make the necessary deals allowing you to play with film the way people make Madlibs (or try this interactive site). That is, if you want to show your work to anyone besides friends and family, in analog, in your living room.

Even then, the technological hurdles for now are mighty, and most people who might like to play with sampling are probably deterred over the difficulty of the process. But, if this were to become something film copyright owners were willing to license or share through fair use, an industry might spring up allowing the man on the street to make something like Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid in an easy, simple way. Or maybe just make an email greeting of themselves as the Terminator.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 13, 2003
"A Hairy Kiss From a Maiden Aunt"

Or, "Some bands want you to swap music files over the internet." This from the Guardian, and Ben Hammersley, who compare MP3s to the kiss mentioned above. Instead, live concert recordings are much favored by some. Bands like The Dead (who has long allowed non-commercial trading of show recordings) and Phish let fans DAT tape the shows and then share CDs, using a file format called Shorten, on a person-to-person basis. Fans also trade CD's via websites like www.etree.org from bands allowing more than person-to-person sharing, but apparently, it's all pretty low-key. Even Clear Channel is apparently offering their services to bands who want to sell CD's of the performance they just attended, 5 minutes after the show closes.

"And there lies the rub. For bands whose main audience is the live one, allowing fans live recordings of the previous night's show could be a winner. For the more possessive record labels, it's a potential nightmare. When stadia could shift 20,000 CDs in an evening and provide free advertising for the rest of the tour, it is so potentially lucrative, it might just be the one that forces labels to reconsider their policy towards file sharing." Couldn't have suggested it better myself.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 12, 2003
321 Studios Offers 10k Reward for Busting Movie Pirates

321Studios offers a reward for anyone caught for making illegal DVD copies using with their software, DVDxCopy. This was announced with the "launch of their new DVD Piracy Prevention Program." They've established hotlines and everything: AntiPiracy@321studios.com, and the 321 Studios Piracy Prevention Hotline (636-728-0297). Cute! 321 Studios is getting so proactive about fighting those baddies Rick McCallum thinks they are on par with terrorists, eventwise!.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
February 09, 2003
Conflicts of Interest at AOL/Time Warner

AOL/Time Warner is the subject of a Salon piece, "AOL's Jekyll and Hyde Act" discussing the Verizon case, where AOL has yet to say much, because as both an ISP and the world's biggest media company, they don't want to comment on a case they are not apart of, but might affect them. AOL has been asked to remove files from websites, after those "copyright-sleuthing bots", Internet scanners that look for files that "seem" illegal, based on "as little evidence as a filename that appears fishy, like 'MetallicaSong.mp3' found 'harry potter book report.rtf'" on an AOL hosted website. But AOL has never been asked to turn over a subscriber's name, by invoking sect. 512h of the DMCA, as recently happened to Verizon.

One reason AOL doesn't want to anger subscribers is that they already face losing a lot of customers to other broadband carriers. Also, the article speculates about AOL subordinating to Time Warner, the content side. But the most interesting piece is this:

"The ISPs get thousands of these things, and they get a not insignificant percent that are not just wrong but are spectacularly wrong," says Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "And if the Verizon decision under 512h is upheld, we'll start seeing the same thing for people's identities, and they're going to be wrong in the same percentage that they're wrong now." That's because a key problem with the DMCA, critics of the law say, is that it provides little incentive for copyright owners to make sure that they're providing the court with accurate claims. "They may as well make these things as broad as possible," Cohn says. "There's nothing in the system to make them do otherwise. It's just takedown, takedown, takedown."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:26 AM | Permalink
February 07, 2003
Riding the Big Waves of Conflict In the Music Business

John Mitchell at InteractionLaw writes about the possible antitrust problems for copyright holders and technology makers, when they create involuntary DRM standards to control content, and the backroom deals on control mechanisms between hardware and CD's.

Wired writes about the internal conflicts within Sony as a content provider and an electronics manufacturer. Apparently, the weakest part of Sony's entertainment business is the music division. The company wants to make the latest cool cutting edge stuff, but they are afraid of open, flexible standards in hardware that might put things further out of control, between what customers want and how much digital rights management to inflict on them.

Peter Coffee writes about copyright and the music biz, noting "the present-day business model of the record companies is a temporary artifact of a transitional stage in a developing technology."

Fred Von Lohmann at EFF has a new edition (Jan '03) of his white paper, "Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyright Law after Napster" about the necessary aspects for creating a P2P prosecution-free network.

Steve Albini writes about "The Problem with Music" showing the details of how bands get screwed by record companies. Course, Naxos is doing it a little differently, with some success.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:52 AM | Permalink
February 04, 2003
MS Makes DRM Tools For Free

Well sort of. Microsoft is investing $500 million in DRM, hoping that by giving away the technology for free, they will make Windows Media audio and video the preferred formats, with both electronics and media companies, as well as consumers. MS worries about copy-protected CDs that won't play on PCs. But even electronics manufacturers and media companies apparently wonder whether MS has a real interest in DRM, or is just protecting the Windows monopoly. However, according to the article, Jupiter Research, "About 40 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds buying a CD in the last 12 months said downloading influenced their purchase; 28 percent had copied music from a friend." And it also mentions the paper published by some MS employees (see bIPlog post) saying, "DRM technology would likely fail because of consumer resistance to content protection and acceptance of file trading. The researchers concluded 'that a vendor will probably make more money by selling unprotected objects than protected objects'."

And the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) just announced it is finishing the MPEG-4 standard for open review at the April convention of the National Broadcasters Association. This MPEG-4 standard will include DRM. The lack of DRM has been a problem for the adoption of previous MPEG standards, which are considered to be open standards, verses the Windows and Real media standards which are proprietary.

So is the moral quagmire for the digital rights manager whether to use a proprietary system or not, or just run with the market for downloading and make something people want enough to pay for that is simple to use and comprehensive in content, forgetting the DRM altogether? I guess you know what I would do.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)
February 01, 2003
3 Billion Downloads of Music a Month: That's a Lot of Music!

Salon has a piece today called, "Embrace File Sharing or Die" written by John Snyder, president of Artist House Records, and his son Ben, of Gas Marketing/Management, a grassroots marketing company that serves the music industry.

About Eldred and copyright: "This is a clear case of a multinational conglomerate using its political muscle to the disadvantage of everyone but itself. So, instead of creating new content and allowing long-standing laws to work, the entertainment business frantically seeks to manipulate the process to its own ends. And it does this with the obsequiousness of penurious politicians and a supinely acquiescent Supreme Court. That is the best the establishment has to offer, and it has nothing to do with progress or the good of the society."

They call the entertainment industry on the current mess with radio and homogenization of content. They note the rising prices of CD's, bad economy and other better ways to get entertainment bang for the buck as reasons why CD sales have dropped and that EBay and Amazon have expanded their online businesses by paying attention and working with the internet, not against it, which the RIAA could learn from.

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Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:59 AM | Permalink
January 27, 2003
NET Act May Be Coming to You

Declan McCullah of Cnet recently wrote a piece on an obscure law called the No Electronic Theft Act (1997) which could be used soon by the Justice Department to prosecute P2P file sharing pirates. Several US Senators sent a letter last summer to the DOJ asking for this, but not much came of it. However, according to the article, the RIAA and the Business Software Alliance have been active with the DOJ in pursing this. Apparently there have already been some successful convictions using the NET Act, but not for P2P piracy. While the odds of being the test case are low, it may be that someone somewhere soon is the target. Of course, if this happens, the NET Act won't be obscure for long.

On a related note, a consortium of music sellers including Best Buy, Hastings Entertainment, Tower Records, Trans World Entertainment, Virgin Entertainment and Wherehouse Music has decided to collaborate to sell digital music online. So there may soon be better alternatives to P2P piracy on the way.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
January 13, 2003
Powell Loves TiVo

So the FCC Chair Michael Powell thinks TiVo is 'God's Machine'. Well this should be interesting. The Hollywood studios think it's Satan. Stay tuned.

Posted by John Battelle at 09:37 AM | Permalink
January 09, 2003
RIAA Admits Illegal Music Sites Here to Stay

Finally the RIAA admits they must respond to this by offering good legal alternatives, in part so that illegal downloading of online music approaches tolerable levels, comparable to shoplifting in stores. "Illegal file sharing has to be driven into the underground by making legitimate offerings compelling," Cory Sherman said. Musicnet, Pressplay, Rhapsody, Rioport and Emusic are mentioned in the article as legitimate online music sites, but it says there are almost no sites offering legal music downloads in Europe.

Fred Von Lohmann makes a good point in an interview with TechFocus: "... in response to the last revolution in distribution, namely broadcast radio and television, copyright owners learned to let go of the need to control and count every single listener and viewer. And it turned out to work pretty well for all concerned."

Ed Felten adds to the discussion that counting watermarks and other current ideas for measuring music downloads are problematic because people will over or under report what they actually listed to and that something like the TV rating system may be a better way of compensating artists for their work.

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Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:32 AM | Permalink
January 08, 2003
Blank CD Levy in Canada Grows With No Distribution to Musicians

Wired has a piece about the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) which collects CN$.21 per blank CD (pdf), to compensate musicians for the copying, both legal and illegal, of music, though less than half the blank CD's sold in Canada are used for music. Last year the CPCC collected CN$.05 per CD, but are proposing CN$.59 per CD for 2003, plus new fees for other devices like compact flash cards and recordable DVDs. Protests are being waged, especially because the CPCC has yet to distribute to musicians any of the CN$28 million they have collected over the past couple of years. The CPCC says this is a very complicated process requiring payments to as many as 12 entities per song.

The Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access, a 16-member group that includes Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sony and Apple, as well as Wal-Mart Canada, Costco, Staples, Radio Shack and the Retail Council of Canada has made one of the formal protests to the Copyright Board of Canada because they don't believe consumers should subsidize the music industry, when half the blank CD's aren't used for music. "It's not about fairness at all," said David Basskin of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency. "If it was about fairness, these large U.S. multinational companies wouldn't be trying to deprive Canadian musicians of royalties they are legally entitled to."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
January 07, 2003
Norwegian Court Rules Johansen Did Not Aid Piracy With DeCSS

The BBC reports that a Norwegian Court has ruled against the prosecutors in a case brought again Jon Johansen, the developer of DeCSS decryption software. However, the law in Norway allows prosecutors to appeal within 90 days, so until the appeal window passes, the case isn't really over.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:43 AM | Permalink
January 05, 2003
You're Buying the Key to Content, Not the Content

The NY Times reports that a DRM switch inside cable boxes allowing control over recording of pay-per-view and other special programs may soon be turned on by media companies wanting to charge additional fees for recording, on top of charging to watch the program at the time broadcast.

Media companies are investing in DRM technologies and companies in an attempt to control where digital content goes, but they may find that consumers feel that all the rules make the product not worth it. And what about fair use? Even commenting on these works by copying a snippet to write about it will be impossible if the copy disappears after a few hours or is locked up.

"You're not buying music, you're buying a key," says Larry Kenswil, president of eLabs at Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, which offers 99 cent digital singles "...that can be burned to a CD but not copied to certain portable devices, like the Apple iPod. 'That's what digital rights management does: it enables business models.'" But if the business model so favors the business and not the consumer, then what? If you throw a party and nobody comes, is it still a party? What if consumers still think they are buying music?

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 24, 2002
"What Do Intellectual Property Owners Want?"

Andy Oram writes about the new censorship, how DRM should be developed, and how it will fail because developers want to take neither the time for an open review process with other researchers, nor are they cooperative toward DRM as the security profession tends to attract people that are averse to using systems that protect people's rights.

Oram says "perfect control will fail. That's the first grounds for optimism.... The second is that people will get bored of controlled content and will turn to open systems that are intrinsically more exciting and engrossing." See his article "Stop the Copying and Start a Media Revolution." And, "third is that the public fights back. The ElcomSoft case shows that the public can understand the issues and stand up for its rights when given a voice."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:36 AM | Permalink
December 23, 2002
MP3.COM Changes Artist's Terms of Service 1/15/03

Vivendi is changing the terms for artists at mp3.com. The new rules, as reviewed by Azoz and MacWizards Music (mp3.com doesn't appear to allow the unregistered to visit the section of the site showing these terms), go into effect January 15, 2003 changing the way music is priced, shared and the artist's program works. The new terms are significantly less favorable to independent artists wanting to share their work with the public for free or through netCD's, which will disappear entirely in a couple of weeks.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:34 PM | Permalink
MacWizard's Analysis of Music Sales Refutes RIAA Arguments on Piracy

George Ziemann, owner of Azoz and MacWizards Music, has analyzed RIAA statistics on music sales, concluding the record industry released 25% fewer new works over the past two years compared to previous years (PDF: 38,900 in 1999, 27,000 each in 2000 and 2001), while sales have only dropped 6% over the same two years.

He points out that sales only started declining after Napster shut down, during the past two year's recession, when the average CD price was pushed above $14. If he is correct, the Music Industry released less new works, are more profitable per work (PDF: Dollars per released work, for 1999: $376,632.39, 2000: $533,481.48 and 2001: $507,407.41) and made more per individual CD sale. It appears from the RIAA's own spreadsheet (pdf) that despite the reduced product, they made money in 2001 on CD's, and lost on dying categories such as cassettes, CD singles (does anyone pay $4.50 for a single these days?), LP's and music videos.

Also, the RIAA stopped reporting on sales of Singles starting in 2001 (PDF). But Single sales are often held up as the big loss for record companies in terms of piracy losses, at around $50 million in 2000. He points out that the losses they claim at $4 billion from piracy can't just be made up from Singles and in fact that $4 billion number is very difficult to pin down otherwise.

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Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:35 PM | Permalink
December 12, 2002
A Nice Summary of Lessons Learned

Tim O'Reilly, a gentleman if ever there was one in the tech/Hollywood debate, has published something of a manifesto on OpenP2P.com entitled Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution [Dec. 11, 2002]. He discusses seven "lessons" learned in a lifetime of publishing books on technology, and how they might apply to the world of all media, including movies and music. A few interesting lessons:

"File sharing networks don't threaten book, music, or film publishing. They threaten existing publishers."

"Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy."

"Customers want to do the right thing, if they can."

Posted by John Battelle at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 04, 2002
...Yes, It's You!

In what is becoming a growing trend in which copyright holders go after individual users directly, the AntiPiratGruppen, a Copenhagen-based anti-piracy organization funded by Danish entertainment companies, sent bills and a settlement offer to alleged copyright offenders whose names the organization got by court order.

This is similar to the RIAA vs Verizon case here in the United States, in which the RIAA is seeking a court order to make an ISP reveal information about a pirate subscriber.

Posted by Ting Shi at 05:21 PM | Permalink
Doc Searls on Hollywood/Silicon Valley

Got this from a Digital Consumer post, and it's worth the read to get updated on the past dust-up with Chernin at Comdex a few weeks back: The Real Battle at Comdex: Intellectual Property vs. Internet Protocol. Arguably the best part is the pointer to Jonathan Peterson's annotated rebuttal of the Chernin transcript.

Posted by John Battelle at 10:27 AM | Permalink
Berkman on Grokster via Greplaw

A good summary of the ongoing case against Grokster and Morpheus is here on GrepLaw. Also offers a quick summary of how it differs from Napster.

Posted by John Battelle at 10:21 AM | Permalink
November 29, 2002
FCC Comments Deadline

This is a big deal, IMHO, and worthy of a few minutes of all of our time. Public comments on a "Broadcast Flag" have been extended to Dec. 5. (Here is the link to a PDF of the FCC request for comments.)

There is time to tell the FCC how you feel. Why should you? From a posting on the pho list: "Hollywood and leading technology players have devised a plan that would only allow 'professionals' to have fully-functional devices for processing digital broadcast materials." In other words, "normal" people can't edit and build upon the video culture in which we are stewing. This is tantamount to taking away desktop publishing tools because they might be used illegally to pirate books. Think about it for a bit, then do something about it here, if it makes you angry.

Posted by John Battelle at 11:21 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2002
$14k for a Hard Drive Full of Entertainment? Can I Sell It on Ebay to Pay the Bill?

The Danish Anti Pirat Gruppen (Anti Piracy Group) issued invoices of $14k to each of about 150 KaZaA and eDonkey users for illegally downloading copy-protected material. The DAPG went to court with screen shots of users' lists of shared files, in an effort to get their personal information from ISPs. Users were charged $16 per CD and $60 per movie, although this doesn't seem to take into account misnamed or bad files, or files the user owns through legitimately purchased CDs and DVDs.

Interesting, too, is the case last Spring in which KaZaA was ruled to be "perfectly legal" in a Danish court, regardless of whether some uses of it might be illegal.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Jurisdiction in DeCSS Cases Decided

The CA Supreme Court decided yesterday (Reuters) that Matt Pavlovich (who is an Eagle Scout, by the way, as one of his defense attorneys mentions) couldn't be sued in CA by the DVD Copy Control Association because he lives in Texas, and posted DVD decryption software, in violation of the DMCA, as a student in Indiana. Therefore CA courts do not have jurisdiction, although a suit could be brought elsewhere (Law.com).

About 500 others living outside CA were also sued in CA for posting the same DeCSS code, which seems to be everywhere on the Internet at this point. One of the three judges was interested in having the cases brought in CA because of the movie industry's economic impact in the state, in a single combined forum, but ultimately decided there was not jurisdiction to do this either.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:41 AM | Permalink
November 24, 2002
KaZaA in Court to Decide Jurisdiction

Tomorrow, a Federal Court in LA will decide whether KaZaA distributor Sharman Networks, incorporated on the island of Vanuatu and doing business in Australia, can be legally pursued by Hollywood in the U.S. Sharman does no business in the US, but its peer-to-peer technology vendor, Blastoise (dba Joltid, and founded by Niklas Zennstrm, also a founder of Kazaa/FastTrack) is located in the U.S. If Sharman loses, their case may be added into the Streamcast and Grokster case, and might be an interesting comment on jurisdiction involving Internet business disputes.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 22, 2002
A DMCA Dj Vu at Princeton?

Good thing for Alex Halderman ('03) that Ed Felten is on the faculty. The Princeton senior could use his professor's seasoned advice right about now on the perils of doing computer science research under the rule of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

On Monday, Halderman presented his junior paper, "Evaluating New Copy-Prevention Techniques for Audio CDs," at the 2002 ACM Workshop on Digital Rights Management -- an act that could be seen as a violation of the DMCA.

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Posted by Maggie Law at 10:55 PM | Permalink
Smart DVD That Will Self-Destruct In 36 Hours?

Hollywood has taken another step in preventing manipulation of its content, CNN reported. As Q outfitted James Bond with the snazziest gadgets, the latest Bond flick, "Die Another Day," used Flexplay DVDs to show reporters scenes from the movie before it was released. But 36 hours after a reporter moves the disc from its package, the disc becomes nothing more than "a nice martini coaster", according to Q, who makes an appearance in the press materials. How does the disc actually work? Chemistry, is all the patent owner will tell you. The technology could empower software companies, as well as the music industry and Hollywood.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 20, 2002
Universal Music Offering 99-Cent Songs Without Copying Restrictions

Universal Music Group has announced it will let people download individual songs for 99 cents and without the subscription fee or copying restrictions that are common at other music industry Web sites. The company will make 43,000 songs available, using Liquid Audio technology. The San Francisco Chronicle has a story on the decision, and here's Universal's press release.

Posted by Paul Grabowicz at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Cockroaches, Jackasses, and Pirates

Peter Chernin, COO of NewsCorp and the current entertainment industry anti-piracy podium pounder, showed some guts yesterday when he spoke at Comdex, the IT industry's largest gathering. George Lucas made a cameo as well. The coverage was uneven, but the Hollywood Reporter piece linked to above has the most complete I've seen. In the piece Chernin says he's not against copying per se, and that tech and entertainment companies should work together. I read this as a good sign. I think all consumers want to do is what we have always done - lend copies to friends so they might be turned on by the content we found, cut and paste good bits and send them around, build new works on the works of others. This debate is extremely important to both industries, and I hope this signals a move toward compromise. Lucas called entertainment companies Cockroaches, and Chernin said speaking in front of thousands of geeks was akin to pulling a stunt on Jackass.

Posted by John Battelle at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
November 19, 2002
There Has Got To Be A Better Way. Right?

Every so often, it's worth the time to read a rant on why many find the DMCA so evil. The laws of unintended consequences, referred to often in the H'wood/SV debate, are well summarized here. I wonder what would have happened to our culture if, back in the early days of the printing press (or the early days of the Internet for that matter), text content were as "protected" as video and audio is now.

Posted by John Battelle at 08:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 17, 2002
Darknet's Future

At the Association for Computing Machinery conference workshop on DRM tomorrow, four (Microsoft) researchers give the scholarly take on Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution. Darknet is a collection of networks and technologies used to share digital content. Interesting points: the legal system can disable the current darknet systems, but as users become more sophisticated networkers, smaller more personally established networks will take over and DRM will be useless for tech-savvy pirates. Examples: think about IM-ing a DVD to a few people, or small world networks strung together to quickly diffuse content.

Their conclusion: "There seem to be no technical impediments to darknet-based peer-to-peer file sharing technologies growing in convenience, aggregate bandwidth and efficiency." Also, they believe strong DRM may be a disincentive to legal commerce as people worry about privacy issues, and movie pirating is less of a problem because rentals on or offline are so cheap and easy, in contrast to the current state of music.

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Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:18 PM | Permalink
November 15, 2002
The Music Industry: For Overnight Relief, try a High Powered Enema

On the pho list I came across this Financial Times piece. If you want a well-crafted piece on why the music business is broken, read this. I think the best takeaway (of many) is the author's assertion that the music industry is failing its customers due to it's monolithic and rather short sighted obsession with speed (quick hits) over development. Hence, the piece argues, they prevent the next Elvis, Grunge, or Stones from ever being developed. Lyor Cohen (chief of Island/Def Jam, the most profitable label in the largest record company in the world) points out in this piece: "This industry needs a high-powered enema."

Posted by John Battelle at 05:11 PM | Permalink
November 12, 2002
I Love My TiVo, Now I Must Sue It

Late last week, SonicBlue and TiVo wisely decided to stop suing each other and focus their energies on building the PVR marketplace and fending off Hollywood's attempts to stop their products' most compelling features. If media and entertainment execs are any indication, PVRs are a hot item. Most of those I know personally have one, and they all agree that once you own one, you'll never go back.

Posted by John Battelle at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
DVD copying made easy

Robert Moore and his 321 Studios are offering DVD copying, according to CNN. Since 2001, his company has sold 100,000 copies of DVD Copy Plus, which allows people to copy DVDs onto CDs. But the latest, DVD X Copy, just released, unlocks the deCSS system. When Moore found out in March that his products might violate the DMCA, he preemptivly sued 9 major studios, so that he and his customers could retain the right to back up their DVD copies, which then cannot be reduped and have watermarking.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:40 AM | Permalink
November 11, 2002
Hollywood Ventures Online to Avoid Being Napsterized

Movielink, the Hollywood movie industry's answer to the file sharing networks that have undermined the music business, has officially launched, with 170 titles priced from $1.99 to $4.99. They include "A Beautiful Mind" and "Harry Potter," as well as many classic films, according to an Associated Press story.

But don't expect to be able to start a VCR-style film collection. Movies at the Web site can only be downloaded for viewing on a computer for 24 hours, after which they expire. It's another example of how digital technology can be used simultaneously to expand access to content while also restricting ownership rights.

Posted by Paul Grabowicz at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
DVD play back filtering

The Director's Guild of America has brought a countersuit against several companies that make DVD playback software because the DGA doesn't like the way they play their material (the original suit involved ClearPlay, Movie Mask and Family Shield companies suing 15 directors because they wouldn't allow their films to be used this way). ClearPlay, et. al. don't actually alter the DVD, just the play back so that parents can control their children's viewing of a movie. "They are taking films and using technology to alter them without permission from either their directors or their copyright holders," says DGA President Martha Coolidge. It's understandable that artists would not like new technologies that are able to automatically alter copyrighted artistic expression. And yet it's also clear that people want an easy way to filter their own viewing at times. But the ClearPlay creators are making filtering decisions in the architecture of the code, which might invisibly takes away the choice from the viewer.

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Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:05 AM | Permalink
Lo-Fi Piracy

Go to a concert... say, the Rolling Stones. Your friend couldn't get tickets, so you use your cell phone to call her from the show and let the tinny, distant music pour through the phone holes, spilling out of of the venue and into your friend's ear. Is that piracy? According to this post to a Rolling Stones mailing list, security guards are telling concert-goers to either cancel their calls or lose their phones for copyright violations.

Question: Would anyone really want a copy of a concert bootlegged via phone? I'd rather listen to pink noise.

Posted by Scot Hacker at 12:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Media Encryption Across the Atlantic

Both BMG and EMI are apparently planning not only on protecting all their music with encryption, they don't care if you can't play it on your player. BMG even developed a website to promote copy protection (at least its pretty). This doesn't seem like a very good way to do business, but when you have such a large share of the media market, I guess it doesn't matter. Just ask Microsoft.

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Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 12:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
November 04, 2002
If you can't beat 'em....

Media, music and software companies large and small are beginning to see peer-to-peer technologies like KaZaA as more than just a nuisance. As the NY Times reports, Altnet (profit from peers!) has begun helping these companies target specific audiences by placing movie trailers, sample songs and trial games at the top of search results in services like KaZaA. Promoted products include Microsoft's Windows Media Player and AtomShockwave's PhotoJam software, as well as small local bands seeing this as a way of getting their music heard.

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Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 11:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 21, 2002
Eldred transcribed

Eldred v. Ashcroft, the oral arguments at the Supreme Court, 10:03 - 11:01am 10/09/02.
And a list of the briefs filed in Eldred.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:09 PM | Permalink
October 04, 2002
Play it again, Sam

Time for dj vu all over again. IDG News Service reports that a company called 321 Studios is less than a month from being ready to sell you its tools to duplicate your DVDs, bit-for-bit. To fray the entertainment industry's nerves even more, 321's software uses controversial DeCSS decryption code. (Not to be missed: this truly inspired DeCSS haiku.)

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Posted by Maggie Law at 04:05 PM | Permalink