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Why own media when you can rent the library?
April 30, 2015 | 2:51 pm

eatIs ownership of media passé? Over the last few years, I’ve noticed an interesting trend develop. It started with music, as “all-you-can-eat” services like Pandora and Spotify popped up to offer users a chance to listen to as much music as they wanted either free with advertising, or for a small monthly fee. Amazon, Google, and Apple soon followed suit. Then came video, as the holy trinity of Netflix, Hulu, and (again) Amazon launched streaming video services for television and movies. Next, it moved into e-books, with Oyster, Scribd, and, yes, Amazon launching services. (Amazon doesn’t seem...

Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now
April 23, 2015 | 5:52 pm

Hugo-Awards-logoThe Hugo Puppies affair proceeds apace. As it will for at least the rest of this year, and probably the next as well. Everyone is having their say, and some excellent things have been written about the whole matter lately. I’ll get to those in a moment. The Internet Breaks the Hugos Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No,...

Apple music DRM case wraps up with final witness
December 14, 2014 | 11:07 am

The Apple iTunes DRM case proceeds apace. After finding a replacement plaintiff to supplant those who were found not to have bought iPods during the required time period, the case moved forward, hearing reluctant testimony from a former iTunes engineer who worked on blocking the interoperability of competitors’ music DRM with iPods. (The engineer basically rehashed the same arguments Apple’s made all along: Apple had to lock out competitors because the music labels demanded it.) This was the case’s last witness; it will go to jury deliberations next week. As I’ve said before, this case could potentially have profound...

YouTube pressures independent music labels in Amazon/Hachette-like way
June 18, 2014 | 3:21 am

A major electronic media company and its suppliers face contentious contract renegotiations, with the company making it harder for its customers to find the supplier’s products. It’s a story familiar from the last few weeks…except this time I’m not talking about Amazon and Hachette. The BBC reports that YouTube is set to remove music videos by major independent artists including Adele, Arctic Monkeys, and Radiohead because their indie music labels aren’t able to reach terms with YouTube over its new music subscription service. While content from channels such as Vevo will remain available, exclusively-licensed videos such as acoustic sets...

Amazon Prime Streaming Music is terrific for Prime subscribers
June 17, 2014 | 3:41 pm

Juli gave her review of Amazon Prime Music yesterday. Now I’ll have my say. First of all, as Slate and the Verge point out in their reviews, Amazon Prime Streaming Music is not a Pandora or Spotify killer, and it’s not meant to be. It really isn’t even a new service at all, so much as an extension of an old one. Amazon has offered cloud music storage since 2011, after all. You can already upload music to Amazon’s cloud and stream it, or stream mp3s you buy from Amazon’s mp3 store. Prime Streaming Music just lets you stream...

Violinist Lindsey Stirling’s success story is like those of self-publishers
June 11, 2014 | 7:47 am

lindsey-stirling-music-33545711-2560-1440A creative talent is told by the establishment that she’s “unmarketable,” but goes on to leverage social Internet media to become a new rising star. This is the success story of many self-publishing writers, but the phenomenon isn’t unique to writers. I ran across an article about “hip-hop violinist” Lindsey Stirling that put me in mind of just how much her career follows the same formula. Stirling made it to the quarterfinals of “America’s Got Talent,” but washed out, with judges telling her she “wasn’t good enough” for the style of performance she wanted to do. But after that,...

House first sale doctrine hearing: My points of view
June 4, 2014 | 2:49 pm

Well, that was quite a few articles. I hope you at least read my summaries, and they didn’t put you to sleep. I was impressed by the breadth of viewpoints represented in that sample of testimony. We heard from a major publisher, a company and an interest group lobbying for digital resale, a graphic artist, a media executive, a major library, and more. They all had their own unique viewpoints, and reading all of them really gave me a new appreciation for how complicated first sale is—not just the proposed digital type, but the ordinary physical media type we all...

Department of Justice to review ASCAP, BMI consent decrees
June 4, 2014 | 11:21 am

The Tennessean reports that the Department of Justice is opening a review of the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two largest performance rights organizations. The decrees haven’t been updated in well over a decade, and the organizations are concerned they haven’t kept pace with changing times and technology. ASCAP wants three changes: first to replace the federal rate court review procedure with arbitration, which they believe will be faster and less expensive (and, perhaps, more favorable to them in negotiations than the rate court has been). Second, ASCAP wants to be able to allow its members...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Public Knowledge, John Villasenor, The Software Alliance (BSA)
June 4, 2014 | 7:31 am

Previously in this series: House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Graphic Artists Guild, Owners’ Rights Initiative House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Matthew B. Glotzer, New York Public Library Here’s the last batch (so far) of documents from the first sale House subcommittee hearing. If any additional material becomes available, I’ll pick that up down the line. Public Knowledge The first document for this entry comes from Sherwin Siy,...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Matthew B. Glotzer, New York Public Library
June 3, 2014 | 12:14 pm

Previously in this series: House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Graphic Artists Guild, Owners’ Rights Initiative This post continues a theme from the last couple, in which one side’s statement is for preserving/extending first sale, and the other is against it. Which is kind of stretching a point, given that the “pro” post really isn’t about digital resale and the con post isn’t against physical resale, but still, I take what I can get. This time...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Graphic Artists Guild, Owners’ Rights Initiative
June 3, 2014 | 5:04 am

oriPreviously in this series: House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi Here are two more documents from yesterday’s first sale hearing. Like yesterday’s pair, they’re a half-and-half split: one in favor of expanding first sale, the other concerned over what the implications might be. We begin with the concerned one. Graphic Artists Guild Writing on behalf of the Graphic Artists Guild, Ed Shems explains graphic artist concerns over the possible expansion of fair use in a 5-page PDF. Graphic artists, Shems explains, frequently license their work rather than selling it outright. This allows them to tailor their fees...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi
June 2, 2014 | 4:54 pm

We’ve covered the history of efforts to implement resale of digital goods before (more than once, in fact), and there’s been quite a discussion of why it would be a bad idea. Now it’s Congress’s turn to talk about it. Today a House subcommittee held a hearing concerning first sale and how it related to digital items. InfoDocket has links to the prepared remarks of a number of the attendees, as well as the opening statement by Representative Bob Goodlatte. Noting the importance of the first sale doctrine, Goodlatte said Although some legal doctrines...

What you should know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership
February 21, 2014 | 1:27 pm

freetradepanelWe’ve mentioned the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty in passing, but in case you’re wanting to find out more about these treaties and why they might not be such a good thing in general, you might want to take a closer look at this. I’ve run across a great explanation in the form of a 27-page online comic book that explains exactly what trade agreements in general are supposed to do, what they actually end up doing, and what we know about the TPP. The biggest problem with these treaties is that they basically override nations’ laws—but unlike those...

ReDigi awarded patent on digital resale ‘without making a copy’
January 29, 2014 | 7:00 am

Yesterday I received a press release from ReDigi, the company trying to allow (and monetize) the resale of “used” digital goods such as music or e-books, with an embargo time of, well, right now. The release claims the award of a patent on the technology ReDigi wants to use to enable the resale of digital media. It says the patent covers the transfer of digital media files without making a copy. ReDigi has been in the news a great deal in the last couple of years. The RIAA complained, and record label EMI sued, over ReDigi’s plan to allow...

Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one
January 23, 2014 | 9:28 pm

polaroidtabI have mentioned more than once that Android lacks a real equivalent to the iPod Touch. Sure, there are plenty of smartphones, and there are more than a few mini-tablets, but the mini-tablets generally seem to be running version 2 of Android, which means they have no (legitimate) access to the Play Store. Since I’ve ended up switching to an Android smartphone that fills my music-playing needs, I haven’t needed one as much, but I’ve still been curious whether one might become available. I was interested the other day when Nate mentioned on The Digital Reader that Sony was...

Demise of digital disruption imminent? Music might give hope for print
January 5, 2014 | 12:00 pm

digital disruptionThe music business has long been the test case for digital disruption of traditional media. After all, "napsterize" became a verb off the back of the impact of MP3s on album and single sales, for an industry that had just about managed to handle the transition to CDs. Now the latest music sales figures for 2013 might give a crumb of comfort to a traditional publishing industry eager for reassurance. For, according to the full-year music sales data recorded by Nielsen SoundScan and reported by Billboard, "for the first time since the iTunes store opened its doors, the U.S. music industry...

13-year-old bemusedly tries old Sony Walkman for a week
December 24, 2013 | 2:40 am

Kids these days, eh? The BBC’s Magazine section has a story on a 13-year-old kid’s experience over the course of a week using one of the original Walkman tape players, which came out 30 years ago this week. As you might expect, it’s replete with “How does this work? This looks funny. I can’t believe people actually used to think this thing was awesome!” from the younger generation. (It’s easy to wonder how he couldn’t understand a Walkman, but you have to remember he’s just 13. It would be like asking someone from my generation to figure out a...

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