Archive for February 2007

What does it take to stop allofmp3 ?

February 28, 2007

Allofmp3.com has been trading for some years now. I read recently that it has slipped down the ratings of top web sites. I don’t know how reliable Alexa are but today allofmp3 was at 1295 in their rankings of most popular web sites. I find this astounding given the difficulty in paying now that Visa (and Paypal) have withdrawn their payment services.

What has the music industry done to kill this site?

  • RIAA filed a suit in New York  (where allofmp3’s claim to legitimacy is alleged to be ‘potentially even more damaging’ than the downloading)
  • BPI brought an action to the UK courts
  • Civil Society of record Producers has brough an action in France
  • The IFPI gained a ruling in Denmark forcing an ISP to block access to the site

 Separately a former director is being pursued in the criminal courts in Moscow in a case moving with fits and starts probably according to who is bribing.

What is most likely to resolve this issue of the site that will not die is the agreement by the Russian government to force companies to gain direct agreements with copyright owners to use their copyrighted material, rather than the current collective management of copyright which allows allofmp3 to claim a get out.

How is this going to affect the no-DRM discussions?

February 26, 2007

 Microsoft has to pay Alcatel $1.6bn for using mp3 technology which it claims to have already licensed from the MPEG patent pool. Although there will be an appeal Alcatel could go after other companies using mp3 technology (Alcatel own Fraunhofer btw) which may include some of those engaged in the music industry discussion about dropping DRM and using mp3 format.

YouTube AudioSwap

February 26, 2007

YouTube have faced a lot of criticism recently from content rights owners. Perhaps as a way to address some of these concerns with the music industry they have launched AudioSwap enables users to choose music for their video from a library of music without copyright concerns. The library is currently very small and surely the right thing to do is deal with the big labels and get their music in the libraries. Still, good idea and makes sense legally and functionally. 

British government responds to epetition on DRM

February 23, 2007

The British government receives petitions in electronic form through it’s web site these days. It recently responded to a petition asking for:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Ban the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies for digital content.”

 The petition took as it’s starting point the APIG recommendation, that digital goods be labelled clearly with what consumers can and cannot do, but went beyond that to ask for DRM to be outlawed.

The petition garnered less than 2000 signatures – which suggests that maybe DRM is not the hot topic among the masses that the online media types think it should be. The government response recognises the importance of consumer rights but places trust in the market to “reach a balance”. it also mentions the Gowers report and the proposed  limited private copying exemption for format shifting as positive developments in this field.

On a different note there is an article on the BBC site where lawyer Michael Geist look at the US stance on copyright and the recent report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance which takes a global view of IP issues and lists countries singled out for poor implementations of laws or proposed laws resulting in

“the majority of the world’s population finds itself on the list, with 23 of the world’s 30 most populous countries targeted for criticism (the exceptions are the UK, Germany, Ethiopia, Iran, France, Congo, and Myanmar).”

eMusic weighs into the music DRM debate

February 23, 2007

The Independent tells how David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, predicts the demise major label DRM before the end of this year. He’s obviously in favour of no DRM since that is how eMusic operates, so no surprises there. It is also not a high risk prediction to make in the current climate of discussion around DRM, although I would be surprised if all DRM is gone by the end of the year. 

However I suspect this public statement is aimed at some of the indies like Domino and distributor Vital Pias Digital who are taking steps to remove their content from eMusic UK following the first royalty statements from that service. This may be about negotiating for better terms from eMusic which the major might get in the future. 

With ths in mind, Mr Pakman’s comments could be intended to serve as reminders to the likes of Domino and VPD that major labels might be on eMusic in the not too distant future and then it may threaten iTunes for the number one digital retailer spot, at which point not having repertoire on there may be a costly mistake. 

Content recognition on YouTube and MySpace

February 21, 2007

The New York Times reports (login required) on Audible Magic signing a deal with MySpace to provide video recognition software so MySpace can appease content owners by eliminating unlicensed copyright content from appearing on the site.

News.com covers how YouTube is late in delivering content recognition and will only offer it to companies with distribution deals with YouTube; described by an unnamed source as a

mafia shakedown

The article talks about the positions being taken as prepartation for negotiation. There is a current trend in this space for companies to be very public in explaining where they are coming from. Viacom ordered 100,000 videos be pulled off YouTube and then within days inked a deal with Joost.

Conversion orgy

February 21, 2007

Well, not exactly, but that’s the unusual language offered in this article in Heise Online (which itself sounds like a german porn site to me). It’s is difficult to know how seriously to take all the DRM posturing going on in Europe right now but this one is that

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection has together with consumer organizations drawn up a “Charter for Consumer Sovereignty in the Digital World,”

which includes online music stores opening up their content to make it interoperable. Apparently the plan is to try to get this paper enshrined in European law.

When I read the reporting on the DRM debate there really seems to be danger of a polarisation of the discussion into DRM/no DRM, with interoperability as an option often being sidelined.

Freedom to Tinker indulge in music industry hatred, or is it merely schadenfreude, in this article but they make some interesting points about how music indiustry views have to some degree framed the way the DRM debate is reported in the mainstream press. They also point out that mp3s are not ‘unrestricted’ because they are restricted by copyright law. Check out the comments for the accusations of punditry…