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:

Friday, May 19, 2006

Extracting Knowledge From Science: A Conversation With Elias Zerhouni -- Culliton 25 (3): w94 -- Health Affairs
We’re doing all these trials that record information that is never used again. We’re doing all these experiments that don’t work. We have no one place where the integration of the information can be used as a powerful hypothesis generator as well as a powerful way of understanding the change in phenotype or the change in response, whatever you can think of.

The McKinsey Quarterly: Understanding Europe's market for mobile TV
# A survey of European consumers finds that offering more free-to-air content and lowering fees for subscriptions and handsets could significantly influence demand for mobile TV.
# Furthermore, the study suggests that the sales resulting from a larger market would more than compensate operators for their smaller margins.
Once again a major content industry overprices its content to the detriment of all.  And this is McKinsey saying it, not some crazy do-gooder like myself.

Blu-ray DRM: "self-destruct sequence engaged captain!" - Topic Ars OpenForum
The player's firmware will actually be rewritten/scrambled if it detects a "pirated" disc to prevent you from using it. So...god forbid your disc "watermark" is scratched...

TechCrunch » Blog Archive » AllofMP3 Down - For Good?
The extremely popular, quasi-legal AllofMP3 site went down over the weekend and is not yet back up. The site currently says “We are sorry but the server is closed for maintainance.”

BBC NEWS | Technology | Satellite radio in recordings row
US satellite radio firm XM is being sued by record labels over a gadget that lets listeners record songs.

The recording industry said XM's Inno device, which stores music and divides it into tracks, infringes copyright.

Fair use strengthened in court decision
Bottom line: DK wins, fair use is strengthened, and corporate interests cannot simply lock up important historical artifacts by claiming copyright.


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 99¢ 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.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Another Patent Case Is Filed Against Maker of BlackBerry - New York Times
A wireless e-mail software company partly owned by NTP has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Research In Motion seeking a shutdown of its popular BlackBerry service.
This is just sad.

Mac OS Rumors :: The Original Mac Rumor Site.
According to some of our oldest and most reliable sources within Apple's software development sector, Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" will include a system-level "BitTorrent" filesharing client that can be user-customized to 'donate' upstream Internet bandwidth for things like pushing Software Update packages to Leopard users, delivering iTunes Store content, and just about any purpose to which Apple puts its bandwidth.

Space is the Place | MetaFilter
Cash in your space game bucks with an ATM card. The online game Entropia now provides players with a real life ATM card, that will convert your galactic booty into actual dollars.

The Entrepreneurial Mind: Mom and Pop Record Stores Enter Digital Revolution
Warner Music, the bellwether of the music industry, said its retail marketing company WEA is working with the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), the Association of Independent Media Stores (AIMS), and the Music Monitor Network (MMN) to bring independent, brick-and-mortar retailers into the digital age.

Digital music player market to double in next few years
At least a few more years, according to a new study. The research performed by market analysis firm In-Stat predicts that by 2010, the market for digital music players will have grown to 286 million units. That's more than twice last year's 140 million figure, indicating that there is plenty of room for Apple and everyone else to make a few more bucks before the market matures.

In-Stat says that 49 percent of those owning a digital music player (flash or hard drive) have an iPod. That number comes from surveys filled out by consumers and seems to jibe well enough with Apple's figures. When it reported its latest quarterly earnings, Apple said that it sold 8.5 million iPods during the third quarter and that it had 78 percent of the US digital music player market, 45 percent in Canada, 54 percent in Japan, 58 percent in Australia, and 40 percent in the UK.

Wired News: Soderbergh: Burn, Hollywood, Burn
"We learned this from the music industry -- you've got to give the people what they want or they'll figure out how to get from other means," Wagner said. "People like Steve Jobs (now the largest shareholder at Disney) will turn one revenue stream into three revenue streams. We need to rethink and get creative about how to exploit revenue streams in the digital (filmmaking) world."

That sounded good to Tribeca's indie-filmmaking crowd, which included a number of film students and filmmakers. But Soderbergh had something more radical on his mind.

"Let's redesign (Hollywood) from scratch," Soderbergh said. And he added a little promise as he looked at Wagner. "We'll get right on that."

Slashdot | Will Yahoo! Go Be the Next Media Bridge?
With Yahoo's acquisition of Meedio, Yahoo! Go will be in the position to be everyones media bridge.

Open Access News
A free rider in the relevant, pejorative sense is not just someone who uses a resource without paying, but someone who ought to pay instead. In this sense, there are no free riders on OA literature, any more than there are free riders on broadcast television and radio.
You know the property metaphor for intellectual output has gone too far when we're having a debate about a free rider 'problem' with academic research.

The Money Stops with Steve Jobs. Copyfight: the politics of IP
If prices were variable, however, I'd have to make several decisions: do I want that song? Do I know how much it costs? Do I want it that much? Will the price go down if I wait a bit?

I make my living studying and building user experiences and I can tell you that thought processes like the latter are a much worse model. They lead to hesitation and missed sales opportunities.

No love for network neutrality in the Senate
The bill addresses the current debate over municipal broadband access (page 105 and following in the draft) by allowing cities to become broadband providers and trumping any state laws that would restrict them from doing so.
More controversially, the draft legislation endorses both video and
audio flags (page 97 and following), though it does provide some
exemptions for fair use.
Finally, expect to pay more taxes, as the Universal Service Fee (USF) could soon be coming to your broadband connection.
The bill does nothing to enforce network neutrality.

Sony, Apple, Microsoft, and others form digital exchange group
"What we hope to accomplish is a foundation or baseline so that information about music and songs are going to be transmitted more efficiently," Chris Amenita, senior vice president of ASCAP, said in an interview with CNet. "Sort of like what the credit card industry did a number of years ago when they standardized their numerics."

CBS jumps with both feet into online broadcasting
CBS has joined the party by unveiling a service called "innertube"—an ad-supported video channel available directly from their web site.

RIAA goes after actual pirates; dead grandmothers everywhere breathe sigh of relief
The new RIAA campaign instead targets actual pirates, the ones with peg legs, eye patches, and commerical CD stampers. The RIAA's new campaign focuses on 12 US cities that were selected "based on market surveys, earlier raids and industry reviews of sales data suggesting lost sales during the past five years." Who gets to bask in the glow of the RIAA's newly-focused attention? Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, San Diego, and San Francisco.

UN Broadcasting Treaty seen as severely limiting essential freedoms
The Broadcasting Treaty, currently undergoing review at a UN convention in Geneva, Switzerland, contains passages that would severely restrict the concepts of fair use and freedom of speech—on a global level.

Slashdot | FCC Affirms VoIP Must Allow Snooping
The FCC released an order yesterday that requires all broadband providers and all "interconnected" VoIP providers to implement CALEA — in other words, law enforcement can snoop on your online conversations, both voice and text.

Slashdot | Microsoft Seeking to Patent Automatic Censorship
Microsoft is back at the USPTO, this time seeking a patent for the automatic censorship of audio data for broadcast, a system and method for automatically altering audio to prevent undesired words and phrases from being understandable to a listener as originally uttered.

Lawrence Lessig
Great writing and a great story. Good enough to inspire the 2001 film Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston, for which, I am told, Warner Bros. paid the New York Times for the movie rights. But wait -- what movie rights? According to basic copyright law, and as interpreted by the Supreme Court, the facts of Ripper Owen's life are free to be used by anyone. There is, according to the law, almost nothing to purchase. Reading the story out loud during the film would be a copyright violation, but under U.S. law, little else would borrow the expression as opposed to the facts.

Open Access News
This weekend, a bunch of intrepid GPS users aims to map the whole of the Isle of Wight, and then to use this information to generate their own detailed maps, which will be in released under a Creative Commons licence.

Furdlog » Lala gets some Globe Ink
But he plans to cut into those profits by paying 20 percent of the company’s income to the recording artists. Used-music dealers aren’t required to do this. But Nguyen said musicians too often get a raw deal from the industry, and wants Lala to do better.

Furdlog » Experiment in Collective Action?
In a rambling open letter.
We shouldn't forget that these things are pretty personal for the artists.  Doesn't mean they will always get what they want, but droit moral has some pull at the heartstrings.

Said the Gramophone: everybody's searching for a place to put their love
"Hum" - MP3
The Rappers Delight Club is the "musical sideproject" of a young man who works with elementary high-school kids. Or rather, it's the musical sideproject of a bunch of kids who sometimes work with an enthusiastic adult. In short: this is four minutes of the looped Elmo themesong, but with kids laying it down.
Remixing isn't just for adults.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » Happy Endings
To call the case of my colleagues and me a “happy ending” takes some real chutzpah. Let’s catalog the happy consequences of our case. One person lost his job, and another nearly did. Countless hours of pro bono lawyer time were consumed. Anonymous donors gave up large amounts of money to support our defense. I lost at least months of my professional life, and other colleagues did too. And after all this, the ending was that we were able to publish our work — something which, before the DMCA, we would have been able to do with no trouble at all.

In the end, yes, we were happy — in the same way one is happy to recover from food poisoning. Which is not really an argument in favor of food poisoning.

ACE | Recording and Motion Picture Industries Launch New Anti-Piracy Effort Targeting Colleges and Universities
"We are appreciative of our partners in the university community and all they have done in recent years to tackle the problem of digital piracy at campuses across the country," said RIAA President Cary Sherman in a prepared statement. "Despite the progress achieved by our collaborative efforts, this remains an ever-evolving problem. We cannot ignore the growing misuse of campus LAN systems or the toll this means of theft is taking on our industry. As we prioritize our focus on campus LAN piracy in the coming year, we hope administrators will take this opportunity to fully evaluate their systems and take action to stop theft by all means."

The Patry Copyright Blog: How Copyright is Getting a Bad Name
The short story is this. Last week, Google, in keeping with an occasional practice of honoring holidays or famous people, temporarily modified its logo on its search page with a stylized version of its name that evoked, but did not copy from Miro's works. When I saw it, I got the point and thought it quite clever and fun. Miro's estate thought otherwise, immediately sending a cease-and-desist letter, claiming copyright and moral rights violations. In my opinion, there was neither. Google did the sensible thing, though, and pulled the logo, to all of our loss.

Napster returns to free, limited music
Rather than offering free downloadable music, Napster is taking a page from RealNetwork's playbook and offering free streaming music to users in an attempt to entice them.

For theater owners, it's back to the future
Regardless, the "experience" is the focus for the future, because the other options aren't palatable (lowering prices, for instance). The Mercury News reports that one theater in Hollywood now allows patrons to bring their own alcohol to special screenings for patrons 21 and older. Other theaters are testing reserved seating and advertising-free movies, hoping that movie-goers will pay a little more for the convenience. Yet most of these ideas are "recycled" reruns.

Wired News: Movie Mashups Take on Trailers
Hollywood has drafted a British VJ outfit to produce the first official movie mashup.

In Internet Age, Writers Face Frontier Justice - New York Times
To be fair, of course, rhyming road-safety signs are common along India's expressways, so Mr. Rushdie was himself borrowing on a theme. But like everything else, even this minute similarity — homage? remix? rip-off?

Wired News: Ultimate Guide to Online Video
What do you want to watch?

The answer used to depend on limits -- what day it was, what time it was, what channels you got. A handy little thing called TV Guide laid it all out. Television was a one-way medium - big broadcasters pushing content into our living rooms at a specific time and place.

Not anymore.

An Experimental Study of the Skype Peer-to-Peer VoIP System | Willy Dobbe
The results indicate that although the structure of the Skype system appears to be similar to other P2P systems, particularly KaZaA, there are several significant differences in traffic. The number of active clients shows diurnal and work-week behavior, correlating with normal working hours regardless of geography. The population of supernodes in the system tends to be relatively stable; thus node churn, a significant concern in other systems, seems less problematic in Skype. The typical bandwidth load on a supernode is relatively low, even if the supernode is relaying VoIP traffic.

More Follow the Money. Copyfight: the politics of IP
Price pressure from discount retailers, decline of big chain music stores, competition from $10 DVDs all mean that the $18 CD is going the way of the dodo.

The Cult of Mac Blog

The Financial Times is reporting that Apple has succeeded in renewing its contract with the four major record labels to continue with flat-rate pricing of songs on the iTunes Music Store.

French DRM law gutted
No one was surprised when the proposed French law was trashed by Apple as "state-sponsored piracy." There was even speculation that Apple might leave France altogether rather than risk opening its Fairplay system. It looks like the French will still get to keep their iTunes Music Store, though, since the original bill was recently gutted in committee. Most of the consumer-friendly provisions in the legislation have since been removed or rewritten

Government report takes other nations to task on piracy
As might be expected, a number of countries have made it to the 2006 Priority Watch List, including perennial favorites Russia and China. Additionally, specific foreign markets—both physical and virtual—have been labeled as "notorious" by USTR, in large part due to excessive media and software piracy.

ABC introduces full-episode streaming
Television is in transition. Viewership is down, and in recent months, the major networks have been cautiously stepping away from their traditional broadcast model in an attempt to broaden their audiences. The latest effort comes from ABC, which is offering full episodes of some programs online for free.