aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, January 22, 2007
2007: the year music DRM begins to fade
Derek’s a whole lot more optimistic than me, but who knows? We can only hope:
First it was Yahoo!’s Dave Goldberg, now Real’s Rob Glaser has called for an end to DRM on music downloads. At the Midem conference, Glaser reportedly stated that he is “seeing some signs the industry is open to … giving consumers a way to purchase music with the flexibility that you can only get if you take the DRM off…. For purchases, move away from DRM” (emphasis added). What common sense — when you buy music, you own it and should be able to make personal use of it however you want.
With six prisons in my town I always say we’re not a college town, we’re a prison town. A couple stories today highlight the state of justice in Georgia. We’ll begin with the a man in prison twenty two years for rape. He always claimed he was innocent; last week he was proven right:
An Atlanta man sentenced to 45 years in prison, who has always claimed his innocence, is being released after modern day technology cleared his name.
Willie ‘Pete’ Williams was convicted in 1985 for raping a woman near a Sandy Springs apartment complex. The case relied heavily on eye-witness accounts, and with the help of the Georgia Innocence Project, Williams was finally able to clear his name.
The Innocence Project also identified someone they believed to be the real attacker. That guy still lives in Atlanta, apparently free after a 4 year sentence for pleading guilty “to rape, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.”
Four years for the guilty guy vs 45 years for the innocent guy, the Innocence Project does the detective work that police are reluctant to accept and finds an admitted rapist that fits the profile who “reached by phone Saturday, said he has not heard from authorities.”
Michael wonders, what if that innocent guy had been sentenced to death? McClatchy Newspapers answers in a special series that finds few safeguards in capital cases in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia. Bad lawyers and Appeals Courts reluctant to intercede are the culprits.
That said, Georgia may be “an emerging bright spot” thanks to “a publicly funded, statewide capital defenders office began spending whatever is necessary to scour clients’ backgrounds for mitigating evidence.” McClathy profiles that office:
They spend what’s necessary. They do what’s necessary. They work every case as if it were their only one, no matter what.
The idea is to fulfill - at long last - the Supreme Court’s edict that everyone who’s accused of a capital crime receives an adequate defense, in accordance with the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. [...]
Their record: 23-0.
I’ve been using Ubuntu full time since October (I know, I’m really lagging in my promise to document my switch, but it’s coming) and I’m really, really impressed with it. My new Thinkpad is rock-solid, fast as hell, and does almost everything I want it to do (I can’t get iPod synch working, but I have some expert assistance in that regard). The most amazing thing is that my OS and all the incredible programs I use every day are totally free—and when I submit bug-reports or feature requests for my favorite apps, they get fixed!
I’m pretty excited at the idea of an Ubuntu optimized for multimedia creation—the regular Ubuntu is so solid and well-thought-out, so I have a lot of hopes for Ubuntu Studio.
My furor at Intuit’s Quicken (which will be recounted here one day soon, in the meantime you can revisit last year’s anger over their sunset policy) has led me to return to Ubuntu and learn GnuCash. I’ll let you know how it goes. By the time I get that down I should be ready for Ubuntu Studio.
Keeping for-profit student lenders happy
In its report on the House passing a student loan interest rate reduction last week, the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Barmak Nassirian, an official with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers:
“It’s a significant shift ... to see that Congress is, for a change, going to think about the intended beneficiaries of the program, who are the students,” he said, adding that hasn’t always been the case.
Over the last decade, Nassirian said, congressional discussions about student lending have focused on making private mega-lenders Sallie Mae or Nelnet (National Education Loan Network) happy rather than helping students lessen their debt.
Today we learn from The Chronicle (subscription) that the practice of keeping private lenders happy is ongoing:
The U.S. Department of Education will not require the National Education Loan Network, a major for-profit student-loan provider based in Nebraska, to return hundreds of millions of dollars in excess government subsidies, but it will cut off the payments as of July 1, 2006, the department announced on Friday.
The department will also stop paying lenders at the highest subsidy rate until they can prove, via audit, that they qualify for it.
Under the terms of the settlement, Nelnet will be allowed to keep $278-million in payments that the department’s Office of Inspector General says it improperly received from January 2003 through June 2005. It could lose out on an estimated $882-million in future federal subsidies.[...]
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress have said they will step up oversight of the lending industry in the coming year. Democrats have accused the administration of being too soft on the student-loan industry, in part because it is a major donor to Republican campaigns. Among lenders, no company has been more generous than Nelnet, which gave $153,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in the first three-quarters of 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (The Chronicle, November 7, 2006).
In a statement issued on Friday, Rep. George Miller, the California Democrat who is chairman of the education committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, said his panel would review the Nelnet settlement, along with the federal student-loan programs “to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently and effectively.”
Here’s the Dept of Ed Press Release on the settlement. See if you can decipher what it’s saying.
More from the Times on mixtapes
Mixtapes and the DJ Drama raid in the Business Section of today’s Times:
last week, local authorities, working with the recording industry’s trade association, stunned fans and music executives alike by raiding DJ Drama’s studio in Atlanta and arresting him and a fellow D.J., Don Cannon, on racketeering charges. Investigators seized more than 81,000 allegedly pirated CDs and say the pair were producing unlicensed recordings and selling them without permission.
The raid sparked an outcry among many rap fans. But it also threatens to throw into public view the recording industry’s awkward relationship with mixtapes, long an integral element of rap culture and now commonly for sale on street corners, Web sites, many independent record shops and occasionally big chains.
Even as industry-financed antipiracy squads hunt for unauthorized recordings, senior executives at the major record labels privately say that they have courted - and often paid - top D.J.’s to create and distribute mixtapes featuring the labels’ rappers as part of efforts to generate buzz.
Label executives remained puzzled over the sudden arrest of DJ Drama, whose ascent through the unregulated world of compilations has largely taken place in plain sight during the last couple of years. There has been speculation that the police inquiry into his business affairs was further spurred by tips from a competitor or unhappy customer. Chief Baker of the Morrow police declined to comment on the participation of any informants.
I’m not into Rap, I don’t buy mixtapes. I did frequent clubs and know and buy them way back when:
Mixtapes have been part of rap since the genre’s earliest days in the 1970s - back then, D.J.’s who spun records at clubs or parties committed their playlists to cassettes. But the proliferation of CD burners in the last several years has made the production and wide circulation - or sale - of mixtapes easier than ever.
It has also enhanced their role in tastemaking. Particularly since formerly underground mixtape hero 50 Cent broke out as a mainstream rap superstar in 2003, the top producers of unlicensed CDs have been embraced by the industry’s biggest corporations, who wager that the D.J.’s reputations as renegades will translate into the sale of legitimate, licensed compilations, too.
The story reports that hip hop sales were down 20% last year. How the business types can think arresting DJs will help sales is beyond me.