This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Monday, May 08, 2006

Listening Post
Bearshare has folded its hand after being raised $30 million in piracy settlement by the RIAA, which gained the authority to go after file sharing firms after last year's momentous MGM v. Grokster decision. (The court found that P2P companies could be held liable for piracy taking place on their networks.)
Following the announcement, all file-sharing activity halted
immediately as music fans worldwide emptied their bank accounts in
order to purchase DRM-ed replacements for all of the music they'd
downloaded from P2P services over the past few years. Every record
executive was given a pony of his or her own.

Aside from incorrect parenthetical remarks, an interesting development.  It seems all the second-generation P2P services are dying out.  New ones will arise I'm sure, they'll just have to be more careful about not actively encouraging infringement.

Warner Music sued 14 times over download prices
Specifically, those offices believe that several of the largest record companies may have colluded in an effort to fix the prices of music downloads. Although the 99ยข cost of an iTunes Music Store download has become a fairly standard barometer in the industry, no one really knows if that price represents a fair market value, or is artificially high or low. Additionally, subscription-based services have entered into so-called "most favored nation" contracts with the record labels, which state that if one label negotiates a better rate with one service, the rates will automatically hike for the others as well. These contracts are considered by many to be anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

The problem with MPAA's shocking piracy numbers
Yet while busily portraying this new study as as shocker that's causing problems between the studios, the Journal failed to note that the MPAA had already conducted another study, done by Smith Barney in 2003 which determined that $5.4 billion would be lost to piracy in 2005. It's an odd omission, and an important one, too. Instead of talking about a 75 percent increase in losses, we'd only be talking about 13 percent on the losses that the studios already expected.

Now contrast these statements:

WSJ authors: "But now a study shows the damage is far worse than expected"

MPAA spokeswoman, indirect discourse: "She says the numbers weren't far out of line with what the industry expected."

How deep are those pockets?
Cable operators and the telcos aren't just spending a bit more than usual, actually; they're spending money like an OC teenager. With Congress currently considering rewrites to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the industries affected by the bill are showering money down upon Capitol Hill. Gary Arlen, who heads up Arlen Communications, recently did an estimate on what these companies are spending on TV advertising in the DC area.

According to Mr. Arlen, the U.S. Telecom Association has been spending US$250K/week (and so far has run-up a six-week US$1.5 million ad tab). AT&T is forking out US$600K per week (for its "Choice" campaign). TV4US, a telco "Astroturf" group, is spending US$75k per week for at least a four-week air time buy. The NCTA, meanwhile, has gone through at least US$1 million nationally in a year, spending US$50K a week in the DC market as Congress meets.

For those not in the DC area, you can take a look at the cable and telephone company ads online. For cable, the basic message is this: cable is good. Cable innovates. Cable creates jobs. (This of course explains why the local cable company is always so popular with consumers.) The telephone companies, for their part, have another message: cable is bad. Cable prices have risen 86 percent in the last decade. TV choice is good. We'll give you choice. We are good.

BPL "Rents" Digital Videos. Copyfight: the politics of IP
Boston's Public Library (BPL) has expanded its "Digital Catalog" to include watchable videos of various sorts - though no Hollywood fare appears in the list. The underlying technology is the same OverDrive (Microsoft only) system that they have been using for audio books and digital music "rentals" so Mac and iPod users continue to be left out. At the moment, the major requirements are a PC computer with high speed connection and a BPL card. Cards are available to non-city residents.

Say hello to DisplayPort
And as a bonus feature we could all live without, it also offers option support for copy protection. VESA describes it as an "optional robust content protection system," and for now, it is indeed optional. Expect that to change over the next few years as next-generation formats such as Blu-ray and HD DVD become more popular and as current TVs and monitors with analog and/or DVI connectors are replaced by displays with either HDMI or DisplayPort.

Someone Has to Pay for TV. But Who? And How? - New York Times
The design appears to threaten the inalienable right to channel-surf during commercials or fast-forward through ads in programs you've taped.



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