aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, September 14, 2007
Prince starts talking like it’s still 1999
Uh, apparently not.
U.S. pop star Prince plans to sue YouTube and other major Web sites for unauthorized use of his music in a bid to “reclaim his art on the Internet.” [...]
In addition to YouTube, Prince also plans legal action against online auctioneer eBay and Pirate Bay, a site accused by Hollywood and the music industry as being a major source of music and film piracy. [...]
“Prince strongly believes artists as the creators and owners of their music need to reclaim their art,” the statement added.
“These actions mark a historic moment for music artists in terms of the battle to regain control of their rights on the Internet.”
Prince...has brought on British firm Web Sheriff to coordinate the clean up of his unauthorized materials online. According to Web Sheriff, the company has removed roughly 300 items from eBay and 2,000 videos from YouTube.
Two thousand? Perhaps Prince himself said it best:
“They say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of timeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦”
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thumbs down on Ebert’s trademark claim
I’ve only peripherally been aware of the dispute around the “thumbs up” trademark claim made by Roger Ebert.
The Chicago Tribune goes to Intellectual Property Answer Man:
Q: So if Richard Roeper or his new semipermanent guest host, Robert Wilonsky, flashes a thumbs-up sign, Ebert could sue him?
A: In the opinion of intellectual property/entertainment lawyer E. Leonard Rubin, no. Ebert and Siskel trademarked the “thumbs up"/"thumbs down” catchphrases in relation to movies, and “Two Thumbs Up” has become a powerful identifier for the show as well as a potent marketing tool for the studios. But the gesture of raising or lowering thumbs to indicate approval or disapproval dates back to ancient Rome, so it’s not original and cannot be trademarked. “Disney cannot use [’Two Thumbs Up’] to indicate the show,” Rubin said. “But people on television during the show, I believe, are not prohibited from using a gesture thumbs-up or a gesture thumbs-down: ‘I liked it,’ ‘I didn’t like it.’ ”
Ron Coleman agrees. But:
...what about the fuss we made a while ago about the Jay-Z / Diamond Dallas silly hand gesture dustup? Would the same reasoning apply?
It would — only the result might well be different, because (despite the sarcasm displayed at the time here) unlike the thumbs up / thumbs down gesture, the particular combination of joints at issue in the rapper-wrestler case seems relatively novel and, for its utter incomprehensibility, pleasantly arbitrary – as a good trademark should be.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Four years of RIAA vs P2P
EFF has published the latest installment in its annual RIAA v. The People, “Four Years Later,” which is a comprehensive, exhaustively researched and cited white-paper on the RIAA’s campaign against music downloaders. The paper starts with the earliest days, when the record companies went after companies manufacturing portable music players, and continues up to the present day, with these companies suing tens of thousands of individual music fans (including people who don’t own computers, small children, military servicepeople, dead people, etc), often for sums that end up bankrupting them. EFF describes other RIAA initiatives, such as a deceptive “amnesty” campaign, advising a MIT student to drop out of school in order to pay her fines, and using universities and Congress to try to shake down students for thousands of dollars.
Then the paper moves into a section on empirical studies of P2P activity during the four year campaign—and shows that the “educational campaign” has been a total failure, with more Americans sharing files than ever, and downloading from P2P at forty times the rate that they use authorized download services like iTunes.
EFF closes by proposing a sensible solution—stop suing fans and figure out how to make money off of their preferred means of acquiring music. To do this, EFF argues that the labels should offer a “blanket license” to fans or ISPs, a flat fee that legalizes downloading music, the proceeds from which can be paid to artists and other rightsholders. This is basically the same system used by radio stations and live venues to legalize their use of music and while it’s not without its problems (the collection societies have a history of screwing indie artists and labels, and aggressively expanding their scope to include things like kindergarten classrooms), it sure beats the alternative—sue, harass and alienate customers.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wal-Mart offers 94Ã‚Â¢ DRM-free songs
Wal-Mart’s online music store started selling songs free of copy-protection technology Tuesday for 94 cents per tune.
The songs from the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Maroon 5, among others, will play on most portable media devices, including Apple Inc.’s iPod.
Via Cory Doctorow, “a marked contrast from Wal-Mart’s downloadable video store, which sucks so hard it practically implodes...”
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
RIAA “deterence” continues
The RIAA has targeted 503 additional college students at 58 colleges and universities in the seventh wave of its latest ”deterrence program” aimed at eliminating piracy on college campuses. That’s 2,926 students targeted to date.
The pre-litigation "settlement" letters, as it refers to them as, once again target those with the fewest resources and ability to fight the charges in an actual courtroom before a judge and jury. As usual, the RIAA offers a convenient method to bypass the legal system altogether and "...resolve copyright infringement claims against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed." What nice guys right?
Maybe somebody should remind them that you can’t definitively identify somebody by an IP address, that "Many computers can be connected to the Internet with identical IP addresses as long as they remain behind control points such as routers, firewalls, proxy servers, or similar technologies."
In the seventh wave of this new initiative, the RIAA this week sent letters to 58 schools including: [full list]
Friday, August 10, 2007
Universal “tests” DRM free music sales
From August 21 to January 31 of next year, but not at Apple’s iTunes Store:
January 31 is likely more of a fire escape than an end date. If UMG doesn’t like what they’re seeing, they’ll pull the plug. UMG says that it wants to watch how DRM-free music affects piracy rates. In all reality, this test is Universal’s attempt to ease into the DRM-free waters with an built-in excuse for fleeing the deep end. All of Universal’s major hit music is already available online and without DRM, thanks to the fact that anyone can rip a CD. Selling DRM-free music online won’t change that.
“Universal Music Group is committed to exploring new ways to expand the availability of our artists’ music online, while offering consumers the most choice in how and where they purchase and enjoy our music,” Morris said in a statement. Leaving Apple out of the mix leaves us scratching our heads about “choice,” but our guess is that there’s a reason for this that we’re not being told.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Film 20 seconds, face 1 year jail threat
That’s what I call a spoiler:
A 19-year-old woman is facing up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500 when she goes to trial this month on charges of illegally recording part of a motion picture.
Jhannet Sejas readily admits she used her digital camera last month in an Arlington theater to film about 20 seconds of the climax of the hit movie “Transformers.” She said she wanted to show the clip to her little brother and had no intention of selling it.
But minutes after filming the clip, police showed up in the theater, shining a flashlight in her face. Sejas and her boyfriend were ordered out, and the camera was confiscated.
Via Steve Verdon.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Google, Others Contest Copyright Warnings
Today, the Computer and Communications Industry Association—a group representing companies including Google Inc., Microsoft Inc. and other technology heavyweights—plans to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that several content companies, ranging from sports leagues to movie studios to book publishers, are overstepping bounds with their warnings. The group wants the FTC to investigate and order copyright holders to stop wording warnings in what it sees as a misrepresentative way.
“We look forward to receiving their complaint and reviewing it,” said an FTC spokeswoman. [...]
During every baseball game, a voice intones that “this copyrighted telecast is presented by authority of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. It may not be reproduced or retransmitted in any form, and the accounts and descriptions of this game may not be disseminated without express written consent.” A Major League Baseball spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment without seeing the filing. Similar claims run ahead of National Football League games. An NFL spokesman declined to comment.
Studios typically display similar warnings ahead of movies and on DVDs, and publishers include them in their books.
The CCIA said copyright holders should let audiences know they may have a right to reproduce some of the work. They even provide examples of how it can be done, as in this warning in the John Wiley & Son’s 2007 book “Hotel California.” The warning says, “No part of this publication may be reproduced...except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the United States Copyright Act,” referring to the sections that deal with fair use and reproduction by libraries and archives.
If you harbor even the slightest notion that the FTC will actually do anything about this, I urge you to watch FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras interviewed on C-SPAN’s The Communicators as “she discusses the federal government’s role in preserving the concept of net neutrality.”
That woman is a corporate shill if ever there was one. Just one little example… a favorite line she uses again and again is that we have to be very cautious and take no regulatory action because we have to guard against “unintended consequences.” As if there couldn’t possibly be unintended consequences from not taking action.
RELATED: Hopeful… F.C.C. Hands Google a Partial Victory, “The agency approved rules for an auction of broadcast spectrum that...will let customers use any phone and software they want on networks using about one-third of the spectrum to be auctioned.”
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Does file sharing depress ticket sales?
CNet’s been tracking Sicko’s bootleg presence online to see if it depressed ticket sales:
In the end, nobody really knows what effects copyright infringement has on a movie’s earning potential, said Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. Zittrain does, however, see one benefit from the controversy.
“The real benefit of this kind of leakage,” Zittrain said, “is that it pressures Hollywood to think outside of the box instead of hoping the Internet will just go away.”
Early indications are that Hollywood’s missing a big opportunity to learn from the record industry!
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Record Industry woes: where it all began
So who killed the record industry as we knew it? “The record companies have created this situation themselves,” says Simon Wright, CEO of Virgin Entertainment Group, which operates Virgin Megastores. While there are factors outside of the labels’ control—from the rise of the Internet to the popularity of video games and DVDs—many in the industry see the last seven years as a series of botched opportunities. And among the biggest, they say, was the labels’ failure to address online piracy at the beginning by making peace with the first file-sharing service, Napster. “They left billions and billions of dollars on the table by suing Napster—that was the moment that the labels killed themselves,” says Jeff Kwatinetz, CEO of management company the Firm. “The record business had an unbelievable opportunity there. They were all using the same service. It was as if everybody was listening to the same radio station. Then Napster shut down, and all those 30 or 40 million people went to other [file-sharing services].”
It all could have been different: Seven years ago, the music industry’s top executives gathered for secret talks with Napster CEO Hank Barry. At a July 15th, 2000, meeting, the execs—including the CEO of Universal’s parent company, Edgar Bronfman Jr.; Sony Corp. head Nobuyuki Idei; and Bertelsmann chief Thomas Middelhof—sat in a hotel in Sun Valley, Idaho, with Barry and told him that they wanted to strike licensing deals with Napster. “Mr. Idei started the meeting,” recalls Barry, now a director in the law firm Howard Rice. “He was talking about how Napster was something the customers wanted.”
The idea was to let Napster’s 38 million users keep downloading for a monthly subscription fee—roughly $10—with revenues split between the service and the labels. But ultimately, despite a public offer of $1 billion from Napster, the companies never reached a settlement. “The record companies needed to jump off a cliff, and they couldn’t bring themselves to jump,” says Hilary Rosen, who was then CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America. “A lot of people say, ‘The labels were dinosaurs and idiots, and what was the matter with them?’ But they had retailers telling them, ‘You better not sell anything online cheaper than in a store,’ and they had artists saying, ‘Don’t screw up my Wal-Mart sales.’ “ Adds Jim Guerinot, who manages Nine Inch Nails and Gwen Stefani, “Innovation meant cannibalizing their core business.”
Even worse, the record companies waited almost two years after Napster’s July 2nd, 2001, shutdown before licensing a user-friendly legal alternative to unauthorized file-sharing services: Apple’s iTunes Music Store, which launched in the spring of 2003. Before that, labels started their own subscription services: PressPlay, which initially offered only Sony, Universal and EMI music, and MusicNet, which had only EMI, Warner and BMG music. The services failed. They were expensive, allowed little or no CD burning and didn’t work with many MP3 players then on the market.
Rosen and others see that 2001-03 period as disastrous for the business. “That’s when we lost the users,” Rosen says. “Peer-to-peer took hold. That’s when we went from music having real value in people’s minds to music having no economic value, just emotional value.”
Via Siva, “Wow. The recording industry really blew it.”
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Chef sues for IP theft
I don’t like it in other spheres, I don’t like it here. Sorry Rebecca:
Sometimes, Rebecca Charles wishes she were a little less influential.
She was, she asserts, the first chef in New York who took lobster rolls, fried clams and other sturdy utility players of New England seafood cookery and lifted them to all-star status on her menu. Since opening Pearl Oyster Bar in the West Village 10 years ago, she has ruefully watched the arrival of a string of restaurants she considers “knockoffs” of her own.
Yesterday she filed suit in Federal District Court in Manhattan against the latest and, she said, the most brazen of her imitators: Ed McFarland, chef and co-owner of Ed’s Lobster Bar in SoHo and her sous-chef at Pearl for six years. [...]
“I would say it’s a similar restaurant,” he said, “I would not say it’s a copy.”
Lawyers for Ms. Charles, 53, said that what Ed’s Lobster Bar had done amounted to theft of her intellectual property - the kind of claim more often seen in publishing and entertainment, or among giant restaurant chains protecting their brand.
In recent years, a handful of chefs and restaurateurs have invoked intellectual property concepts, including trademarks, patents and trade dress - the distinctive look and feel of a business - to defend their restaurants, their techniques and even their recipes, but most have stopped short of a courtroom. The Pearl Oyster Bar suit may be the most aggressive use of those concepts by the owner of a small restaurant. Some legal experts believe the number of cases will grow as chefs begin to think more like chief executives.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Good luck Larry!
Lawrence Lessig, with a nod to Obama and Gore and an anonymous friend, is devoting himself to something new:
I have decided to shift my academic work, and soon, my activism, away from the issues that have consumed me for the last 10 years, towards a new set of issues: Namely, these. “Corruption” as I’ve defined it elsewhere will be the focus of my work. For at least the next 10 years, it is the problem I will try to help solve.
I do this with no illusions. I am 99.9% confident that the problem I turn to will continue exist when this 10 year term is over. But the certainty of failure is sometimes a reason to try. That’s true in this case.
Nor do I believe I have any magic bullet. Indeed, I am beginner. A significant chunk of the next ten years will be spent reading and studying the work of others. My hope is to build upon their work; I don’t pretend to come with a revolution pre-baked.
Instead, what I come with is a desire to devote as much energy to these issues of “corruption” as I’ve devoted to the issues of network and IP sanity. This is a shift not to an easier project, but a different project. It is a decision to give up my work in a place some consider me an expert to begin work in a place where I am nothing more than a beginner.
He’s not leaving Creative Commons, or the iCommons Project, but says that “I have come to believe that until a more fundamental problem is fixed, ‘the movement’ can’t succeed.” I look forward to following his new work.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Make it yourself Star Wars
George Lucas, creator of “Star Wars,” has never hesitated to protect his intellectual property, which is why some call him “Lucas the Litigator.” But this week, his Lucasfilm plans to make clips of “Star Wars” available to fans on the Internet to mash up—meaning to remix however they want—at will.
Well, actually, there are plenty of caveats to protect the franchise. And while I did, in fact, stand in line at Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd for the original Star Wars in 1977, I really don’t give a hoot about Star Wars anymore.
As to Lucas figuring out that maybe he can use the internet to keep his franchise alive, color me unimpressed. Now Jonathan Lethem’s giveaway, that I’m impressed by. Maybe I’ll have time to dig in and say more over the holiday weekend.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
On Helprin and Shakespeare and copyright claims
In A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright? Mark Helperin calls for perpetual copyright terms, “Congress is free to extend at will the term of copyright. It last did so in 1998, and should do so again, as far as it can throw.”
Helprin does not present the total cost of infinite copyright. Instead he presents it solely from the point of view of the author’s benefit. However, were the idea of infinite copyright to be taken to its full conclusion, then authors would be paying the heirs of all the ancient Greek tragedies every time they created a derivation of Homer’s Odyssey. The works of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens would require permission from someone’s distant heir… Helprin is best known for his novel “Winter’s Tale,” which is loosely based on a Shakespearean work by the same name. This raises the question as to whether Helprin intends to pay royalties to Shakespeare’s descendants.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
A Fair(y) Use Tale (NOT a Disney movie)
A MUST SEE!
Bucknell prof Eric Faden has produced the most amazing video mashup I’ve ever seen: “A Fair(y) Use Tale” cuts together thousands of extremely short clips from dozens of Disney cartoons, lifting indivudal words and short phrases to spell out an articulate, funny, and thoroughly educational lesson on how copyright works. This is the most subversive and hilarious use of Disney material I’ve ever seen—and there’s even a really smart chapter about why Faden used Disney material to make his film. This should be required viewing in every K-12 classroom in the country.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Make money by giving away your music
Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine piece by Clive Thompson - Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog - has much to commend it. I urge that you read the entire essay but I will quote here what might reasonably be called the money quote on how some musicians make money by, in essence, giving their music away for free:
Indeed, running a Web store has allowed Coulton and other artists to experiment with intriguing innovations in flexible pricing. Remarkably, Coulton offers most of his music free on his site; when fans buy his songs, it is because they want to give him money. The Canadian folk-pop singer Jane Siberry has an even more clever system: she has a “pay what you canÃ¢â‚¬Â� policy with her downloadable songs, so fans can download them free - but her site also shows the average price her customers have paid for each track. This subtly creates a community standard, a generalized awareness of how much people think each track is really worth. The result? The average price is as much as $1.30 a track, more than her fans would pay at iTunes.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Profit Guarantee Trade
Writing in the New Yorker, James Surowiecki explains how the US has been using free-trade agreements to force countries around the world to accept and adopt US definitions of I.P. (Intellectual Property):
The U.S., in its negotiations, insists on a one-size-fits-all approach: stronger rules are better. But accepting a diverse range of I.P. rules makes more sense, especially in light of the different economic challenges that developing and developed countries face. [Harvard Business School Josh] Lerner’s study found that the benefits of stronger patent laws were reduced in less developed countries. And developing countries, being poorer, obviously have more to gain from shorter patent terms for foreign innovations, since that facilitates the spread of new technology and the diffusion of ideas. Tellingly, this is the approach the U.S. takes when it comes to labor standards, arguing that we shouldn’t impose developed-country standards on developing countries. But in the case of intellectual property the government’s position is exactly the opposite. The only difference, it seems, is whose interests are at stake.
The great irony is that the U.S. economy in its early years was built in large part on a lax attitude toward intellectual-property rights and enforcement. As the historian Doron Ben-Atar shows in his book “Trade Secrets,” the Founders believed that a strict attitude toward patents and copyright would limit domestic innovation and make it harder for the U.S. to expand its industrial base. American law did not protect the rights of foreign inventors or writers, and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, in his famous “Report on Manufactures,” of 1791, actively advocated the theft of technology and the luring of skilled workers from foreign countries. Among the beneficiaries of this was the American textile industry, which flourished thanks to pirated technology. Free-trade agreements that export our own restrictive I.P. laws may make the world safe for Pfizer, Microsoft, and Disney, but they don’t deserve the name free trade.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Warner Music needs a wake-up call
Join us today in calling on Warner Music to drop their opposition to DRM free digital sales and make their catalog available through online music stores free of Digital Restrictions.
Make a call today! All the folks listed below work in Warner’s New York offices. Try to make your calls in the morning on the East Coast. If your on the West Coast, you might want to wait until around 10AM PDT (after lunch for those on the East Coast).
Monday, April 23, 2007
Code 2.0 is here
From the Preface: “This is a translation of an old book-indeed, in Internet time, it is a translation of an ancient text.” That text is Lessig’s “Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace.” The second version of that book is “Code v2.” The aim of Code v2 is to update the earlier work, making its argument more relevant to the current internet.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Lorne loves YouTube
The NY Observer says Lorne longs for YouTube:
“YouTube has been great for us,” [creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live Lorne] Michaels reiterated.
Perhaps no other network show has gotten more out of the free video-sharing Web site than Saturday Night Live. Indeed, at the very moment the long-running program seems to be emerging from a years-long slump, producing sketches-not just lip-synch bloopers-that people actually want to share, discuss, and watch again and again, YouTube has been there, doing more to re-establish the show’s cultural relevance than any honcho at NBC.
So what does he have to say about the new News Corp/NBC Universal web venture promised for this summer?
“I think it should be clear, I don’t quite understand what NBC is doing with Fox,” said Mr. Michaels. “It sounds-” Mr. Michaels paused. “Cool. But it all seems like it’s still shaking out.”
The article goes on to point out that as the political season heats up, SNL stands to miss what might otherwise be a big boost from its political sketches spreading virally on the net. If its own YouTube channel is any indication of what is to come - poorly selected clips with pre-roll ads that are only likely to get worse - we’ll all just go somewhere else.
I’ll go where it’s best and easiest. I’m among those many minions invited (and accepted) for the Joost beta. Their service doesn’t live up to its tagline - “TV, the way you want it” - I haven’t even gotten round to downloading. That very requirement bugs me (and only support for Intel Macs, I might ad).
The longer these guys hold up access to their content the longer we the people have to develop and refine our own. They live in the figmentary sky-high value of their own imagination. Their stuff’s not worth what they think it is! I want my peer-produced Web native content!
But it looks to me like Lorne gets it. And had they still been on YouTube, I ‘d have been linking to at least one clip from Saturday’s show. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been the only one.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Ed Felton: why bundle high-fidelity & freedom?
Ed’s Apple EMI analysis includes this:
Why bundle higher fidelity with DRM-freedom? It seems unlikely that the customers who want higher fidelity are the same ones who want DRM-freedom. (Cory Doctorow argues that customers who want one are probably less likely to want the other.) Given the importance of the DRM issue to the industry, you’d think they would want good data on customer preferences, such as how many customers will pay thirty cents more to get DRM-freedom. By bundling DRM-freedom with another feature, the new offering will obscure that experiment.
Another possibility is that it’s Apple that wants to obscure the experiment. Apple has taken heat from European antitrust authorities for using DRM to lock customers in to the iTunes/iPod product line; the Euro-authorities would like Apple to open its system. If DRM-free tracks cost thirty cents extra, Apple would in effect be selling freedom from lockin for thirty cents a song - not something Apple wants to do while trying to convince the authorities that lockin isn’t a real problem. By bundling the lockin-freedom with something else (higher fidelity) Apple might obscure the fact that it is charging a premium for lockin-free music.
The more it sinks in the less ho hum I become. As evolutions go, this is revolutionary. Ed says EMI’s “huge step” breaks the ice. He anticipates an increase in the market for “complementary products” like “non-Apple music players, jukebox software, collaborative recommendation systems, and so on” which will multiply and improve to make DRM-free music even more attractive and entice more companies into selling DRM-free.
I agree that over time it’s inevitable. And that it won’t happen immediately. In the meantime, “EMI will look like the most customer-friendly and tech-savvy major record company.”
And what of Microsoft & Zune?
Microsoft’s response, specifically regarding the Apple / EMI announcement:
“Consumers have indicated [having DRM free music] is important to them so Zune has been working with a variety of partners to head in this direction. [Emphasis Endgadget’s] This is a time of transition for the music industry and Microsoft is committed to striking a balance between delivering the best consumer experience while still protecting the rights of the content owners.”
Microsoft’s general response with regard to DRM:
“Regardless of the outcome of DRM for music downloads, DRM technologies will still have a key role in enabling businesses involving digital content. Subscription music services are a good example - they use DRM to enable consumers to have unlimited access to literally millions of music tracks. Other areas include the delivery of high quality video content, such as movies. Our role continues to be to deliver flexible DRM technology that provides choice for the content owner in how they distribute their content and choice for the consumer so that they have access to a wide variety of high-quality content and ways to enjoy that content.”
Apple EMI anti-DRM love-in
But we don’t believe having free, usable, uncrippled media is a feature—it’s a right. You don’t pay a premium for higher quality DRM-free physical media—DVD Audio and SACD discs costs the same as CDs (in fact, often times they come as hybrids on the same media). Asking customers to pay 30% more for no DRM and a higher bitrate is a distraction, a parlor trick to take our attention away from the philosophical issue: EMI is still selling DRMed music. EMI CEO Eric Nicoli said, “Not everybody cares about interoperability or sound quality.” Since when did the two become so intrinsically linked? Sure, not everyone cares to vote either, that doesn’t mean it’s a premium privilege. Nicoli also stated EMI has taken the view that it must “trust consumers.” It’s true, today’s announcement shows more trust than they ever displayed before—but it’s still conditional trust.
So what does this news mean for the Online Music industry? Well firstly it emphasizes the stranglehold that Apple has over the online/digital music market. [All emphasis theirs.] You have to hand it to Steve Jobs, his February open letter to record companies can now be seen as a masterstroke of strategy - positioning Apple as ‘the good guys’ in the digital music industry and giving EMI Music a golden opportunity to take the DRM-free initiative, with Apple holding its hand. It’s win-win of course for both companies - Apple reinforces its dominance and gets DRM-free music, while EMI (which had been publicly struggling to compete with the other big record companies) gets to be seen as a leader in the digital music business. [...]
Also the fact that the music is no longer tied to the device is significant. From the webcast: “These songs will no longer be tied to iTunes and the iPod - any device that plays AAC format will play these songs.”
While this may seem like a concession from Apple, in reality iPod/iTunes is so dominant (85% of the market last time I checked) that this will have minimal downward impact on Apple’s sales. [...]
The other thing this augers for online/digital music is that prices are about to go up - and “quality” is the excuse for this. Apple is going to offer EMI’s DRM-free music at twice the quality on iTunes, but at 30c per song more. While it’s interesting that EMI/Apple decided to offer album downloads at the same price, in reality this is no different to a retailer offering you a bulk discount (buy 10 songs for the price of 7, etc).
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Free Software, Free Culture
A friend who was at the Annual Associate Member Meeting of the Free Software Foundation was over for dinner last night to tell us all about it. The friend’s primary interest is GPLv3 and the grandfather clause. But he correctly assumed that I’d be most interested in a talk by Mako Hill on defining Free Culture.
My friend explains that there is a definition of free software: it is software that can be freely used, freely copied, freely modified and freely distributed. There had been no similar definition of Free Culture.
Last year Mako announced a project “to bring together artists, content creators, and others who care about freedom to come up with a clear set of goals around which a social movement for essential freedoms around culture might be based.”
In his Free Software Foundation talk he described how, like the Free Software definition, their result has four freedoms:
- The freedom to use and perform the work
- The freedom to study the work and apply the information
- The freedom to redistribute copies
- The freedom to distribute derivative works.
For more visit freedomdefinied.org.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Jobs’ Picasso quote, “great artists steal”
Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing. I mean Picasso had a saying he said good artists copy great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas ehm and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.
That’s from the 1996 documentary Triumph of the Nerds. Written and hosted by Robert X. Cringely, he doesn’t hold the copyright. He tells the story of why that quote is no longer available on YouTube in this week’s I, Cringely column.