Shawn Hogan’s Motion to Dismiss RIAA Claim Denied

Motion to Dismiss Denied (December 11, 2006)
Text of Motion to Dismiss (November 2, 2006)
Last August I wrote about millionaire Shawn Hogan's decision to fight back against the MPAA's allegation that he illegally downloaded "Meet the Fockers". Last November I wrote about his motion to dismiss based on faulty copyright registrations

District Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan agreed that Hogan was factually correct but has nevertheless denied the motion to dismiss stating:

Courts take a liberal approach to errors in copyright registrations. Serious errors—even in the claimant’s name—do not invalidate copyright registrations in the absence of fraud before the Copyright Office or prejudice to the alleged infringer … Otherwise, the infringer would get a “free pass” to infringe, essentially because of a technicality.


Hogan has not even suggested that ither Universal entity defrauded the Copyright Office, nor has he shown prejudice dueto the error. Instead, he seeks to avoid addressing the merits of the copyright infringement claim by pointing out an error in the registration. Fortunately (for authors,claimants, and the general public), the Copyright Act does not require such rigid aherence to formalities.  

Sources: Text of Motion to Dismiss | Recording Industry v. The People |

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RIAA P2P Defendant Brings Class Action Suit Against Kazaa Creator Sharman Networks

  Text of Amended Complaint (December 8, 2006)
Catherine Lewan, a defendant who settled with the RIAA in one of its many law suits, is now suing Sharman Networks, the creator of Kazaa.  The compliant alleges:

  • Sharman deceptively marketed Kazza as a product allowing "free downloads";
  • the software created a shared files folder (presumably creating the RIAA law-suit liability) without disclosing this to users;
  • the software it installed spyware 

Dale's Comment: This one reminds me a bit of the law suits against Starbucks a few years back where the plaintiffs claimed the coffee was too hot or the lawsuits against McDonalds claiming McDonalds was legally liable for their getting fat. Any user of P2P software knows how the software works and, indeed, can see it working. Files being shared in the shared folder are typically shown graphically in the P2P client's user interface as they are being shared. 

While I have little sympathy for the first claims, I do believe that most P2P users never knew that the quid-pro-quo for using the software was the installation of Spyware. Indeed, when a Spyware-free version of Kazza (Kazaa Lite) was distributed without Sharman's consent I seem to recall Sharman using efforts to shut it down.

Sources: Daily Tech | ars technica| Recording Industry v. The People | P2PNet | techdirt | TechWeb 

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Why Google & YouTube are Not Getting Sued Out of the Water

This is a terrific Business 2.0 article (linked inot a CNN story) identifying why YouTube and Google are not the subject of as many copyright infringement lawsuits as had been predicted. Namely, Big Media is finding that YouTube can be a net postitive to their ratings and bottom lines.

Sources: CNN Money/Business 2.0

Related Posts: Lives On Despite U.S./Russian WTO Agreement does not seem like it is willing to go silently into the night.

In response to Visa's and Mastercard's cessation of services to the site, AllofMP3 now uses a prepaid credit proxy, Xrost,which can, in turn, be paid by Visa or Mastercard (See AllofMP3's payment page as explained here).

This recent TechWeb article explains that the payment process is not exactly easy. Only the most determined are likely to work their way through the payment maze. See also this Wired Blog description of the process. Incidentally the Wired Blog claim about the "complete legality" of music downloading in Canada is nonsense (see my blog entry on the topic if interested)! 

On another note, AllofMP3 has engaged a New York-based intellectual property attorney, John Kheit of Chadbourne & Parke, LLP. as a U.S.-based spokesperson, advocate and PR person. In a recent panel discussion Kheit asserted that AllofMP3 has not broken any laws, that it operates legally in Russia and pays 15% of all music sales to Russia's equivalent of the RIAA, the Russian Organization for Multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS). Kheit claims that foreign rights holders could petition ROMS for payment but that record labels have specifically not requested such payments in fear of legitimizing AllofMP3.

The RIAA's response is that ROMS has no authority to issue licenses to AllofMP3 and that would require licenses from record companies to legally sell downloadable music – which it does not have. 

Under the U.S/Russian agreement, Russia has until June 1, 2007 to modify its laws and clarify that such activity is illegal. Until it does can continue as is. says it will comply with any new laws put in place by Moscow.

Sources: DailyTech | ars technica | The Register | Digital Music | TechWeb | NewHouseNews | | Press Release

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BitTorrent to Purchase Β΅Torrent

With some of the $25m recently raised from investors, BitTorrent, Inc. is set to purchase µTorrent. µTorrent has become an enormously popular, best of breed, BitTorrent client given its very small footprint, efficiency and minimal use of system resources.  µTorrent and Azureus have long eclipsed the original BitTorrent client invented by Bram Cohen. Details of the acquisition have not yet been made public. In an open post to users in the µTorrent Forum, Bram Cohen said:

BitTorrent has acquired µTorrent as it recognized the merits of µTorrent’s exceptionally well-written codebase and robust user community. Bringing together µTorrent’s efficient implementation and compelling UI with BitTorrent’s expertise in networking protocols will significantly benefit the community with what we envision will be the best BitTorrent client.

BitTorrent clients such as these have been enormously controversial as, in conjunction with tracker websites, they have become the primary means by which movies, TV shows and other video content is shared over the Internet since the RIAA and the MPAA successfully shut down most of the major P2P Networks through litigation. 

Production studios have discovered that the technology underlying BitTorrent clients is an enormously efficient method of distributing large files over the Internet and, as you can see from the related posts below, Hollywood has started to embrace this technology as a means of legally distributing movies and TV shows over the Internet.

Sources: Techcrunch | DailyTech | ComputerWorld (IDG) | InfoWorld | MacWorld | Playfuls | P2PNet| Wired Blogs | Announcement/Discussion on µTorrent Forum

Related BitTorrent Posts:

TiVo Decode Manager v1.0 Automates TiVo’s Cracked DRM on Macs

This was inevitable. I didn't expect it so soon.

Within days of TiVo's DRM being cracked, someone has automated the rather difficult to use TiVo Decode Manager and created an easy to use TiVo2Go application, without DRM, on Apple computers. The software automatically discovers local TiVos. With one mouse click shows are downloaded from the TiVo, DRM-free, to the Mac by episode, recorded date etc. The resultant Mpeg-2 files still need to be converted to a PC-usable format such as .wmv using a program like VLC. My guess is that it won't be long before the end-to-end process is fully automated.

Dale's Comment: I foresee TiVo-released DMCA take-down notices being sent to whoever controls (the site hosting the program) in the near future!

Sources: Engadget | PVR Wire

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Failed Getting TVersity to Stream to Xbox 360

After achieving success streaming videos converted to .wmv format with VLC (download here) to my Xbox 360, several people recommended I try the recent release (v. 0.9.9) of TVersity (download and system requirements here). TVersity holds the promise of transcoding and streaming most any video (in any format) to the Xbox 360 – assuming your PC has the hefty horsepower needed (mine does).

Initially, after reading the many comments in the support pages I figured this was going to be too difficult and didn't bother.  Since then I've seen articles popping up all over th net (see Sources below) touting TVersity as the second coming of video streaming to the 360.  I wonder how many of these bloggers actually tried to install it! πŸ™‚

So, reluctantly I dug in, got out the notebook and pen (actually my tablet PC) and spent the better part of a day trying to install this program and get it to work.  I failed!  I can definitively conclude that this program is not ready for prime time. If you are a software and network engineer (or just plain lucky), you may be able to get it to work. I couldn't, and I suspect the average user won't be able to either.  

Continue reading “Failed Getting TVersity to Stream to Xbox 360”

EMI’s Blue Note & Yahoo! Music Sell a Few More Songs DRM Free

Amidst the music industry's growing angst over Apple's lock on the downloadable music market, EMI's Blue Note division is experimenting with DRM-free music downloads of Norah Jones new single "Thinking About You" for 99¢ U.S. Yahoo! is also making two DRM-free songs by Christian performer Reliant K. available. The prior Jessica Simpson song sold in MP3 or WMA format back in July, without DRM, for 1.99¢ U.S. No sales figures were announced.

Red Herring's quote bu Joe Fliesche, CMO of media research ferm Big Champagne is apt: 

“Content owners believe that digital rights management will protect them from being widely copied. At this point any company that embraces DRM is doing it emotionally or politically, there is absolutely no data to support that it has ever made a difference. It’s not a business issue.”

Sources: ars technica ComputerWorld | Wall St. Journal | Beta News | InfoWorld | PC World | L.A. Times | TG Daily | Warez | | Crunch Gear | Red Herring | Fox News | San Jose Mercury News (AP) | PC World (IDG) | EFF Deep Links

Dale's Comment: The song is also available, encumbered by AAC-DRM as usual for 99¢ from iTunes. Which would you prefer to buy? It would be really interesting to get a summary of DRM-encumbered sales from iTunes vs. DRM-free sales if the same song through Yahoo!

The very fact that these DRM-free sales experiments are continuing is a positive sign of things to come.

DRM-Free Song SNAFUs Continue: When I tried to purchase the DRM-Free Jessica Simpson song last July, Yahoo! would not sell it to me because I lived in Canada. This time, when I tried to buy the Norah Jones song (available here), it wouldn't allow me to just purchase and download the song in MP3 format as allows. It forces You to first install the Yahoo! Music Jukebox. Something that is anathema to DRM-free music if you ask me. But, I soldiered on intending to de-install the jukebox software after purchasing the song.

it was not to be. When I tried to install the player, Windows XP SP2's "Data Execution Prevention" software wouldn't let me – I tried to except-out the Jukebox from the DEP protection but it refused to budge. I even tried rebooting my system twice after excepting the jukebox software from DEP protection – no go. I enjoy Norah Jones music and would love to buy the song without DRM but the DRM Gods are conspiring against me! Argh!!!

I ask anyone reading this, if you enjoy Norah Jones or Reliant K's music, if you don't mind using the Yahoo! jukebox software and you can successfully install it, to please purchase a copy of this DRM song so we can get the industry ball finally rolling in a consumer friendly direction! 

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School Teacher Looses Day in French Court for P2P Music Downloading

Twenty-nine-year-old, primary school teacher, Anne-Sophie Lainnemé, somewhat of a cause-celebre in the French P2P community had her day in court and lost. She was the first person in France arrested for downloading music. The court held that she owed two French rights organizations €2,225 (U.S. $2,955). She was also fined €1,200 (U.S. $1,600) but the court issued a deferred sentence. Apparently, if she doesn't get in trouble again, she won't have to pay the fine. 

Dale's Comment: If the past is any indication of the future, she'll have to pay.

Sources: ars technica | Paris Link | Digital Journal

Australian Copyright Reform: Copying CDs to iPods, Legal – Breaking DRM or Archiving Recorded TV, Illegal

  Text of Copyright Amendment Bill 2006
Australia is set to amend its  copyright laws to finally make it legal for consumers to record TV shows and to copy music they own on CDs onto their iPods and other portable music devices.  Such copying is now illegal under Australian and British copyright law. The Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 passed through both houses of Parliament and most of it will become law by January 1. According to

"It will legalise format shifting of materials such as music, newspapers, books, meaning that people can put their CD collection onto iPods or mp3 players." 

But, and this is a big but, it will be illegal/infringing to breach a technological protection measure (TPM) to copy or format shift content you own.  This pretty much nullifies the importance of this amendment beyond the CD format as virtually all content will be locked down with TPMs/DRM going forward.  Too bad. 

Importantly, the Australian Attorney General makes it clear in this FAQ that building up a library of programs recorded from TV broadcasts for a permanent archive is not permitted.  I have argued for years that permanent archiving of TV shows (whether on VHS cassette tapes or TiVo) constitutes copyright infringement under U.S. and Canadian copyright law. Few have wanted to believe me. Well, the question is answered with clarity in the Australian context at least!

And one more thing, the bill makes it legal to sing "Happy Birthday" in public – an act which was also previously illegal in Australia! πŸ™‚

Dale's Comment: While the CD-to-iPod amendment is a nice short term measure, the bill, overall, is anti-consumer in the long run. Australian's have a one-time get out of jail free card.  If the past is any indication of the future, the prohibition against breaching TPMs for content owned by the consumer will be completely ignored by most consumers as it is patently unfair to preclude the purchaser of content from using it/reading it/accessing it on any device of their choosing. Hence, the law is set up to fail from the start – just as the previous prohibitions against copying failed to stop consumers from copying their music onto iPods.

Sources: 1 | 2 | The Australian | InfoWorld | Syndey Morning Herald | FAQ

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TiVo’s Evan Young Discusses the Details of the new TiVoCast Service

Video: Streaming Media West 2006: Keynote by Evan Young, Dir. Broadband Services, TiVo

TiVo's Director of Broadband Services, Evan Young, gave this interesting keynote address to the Streaming Media West 2006 conference. I learned a few new things about TiVo's nascent TiVoCast service and I am concerned with the seemingly walled-garden-only approach TiVo seems to be going with the TiVoCast service.

Continue reading “TiVo’s Evan Young Discusses the Details of the new TiVoCast Service”

World Series of Video Games to Debut on CBS – December 30

CBS Sports is about to launch the World Series of Video Games on December 30. The New York Times indicates that Counter Strike 1.6, Halo 2 and Quake 4 will be among the games played.

Dale's Comment: I was quite stoked about this announcement. I'd love to learn some new Halo 2 moves from Fatal1ty. That is, until I got to the fine print. Apparently CBS will only show snippets of actual game play because the content of the competitions are too violent for prime-time television.  How crazy is this!?  While I gather getting network coverage IS a step forward, this is the same-old, same-old network thinking! Who would want to watch something called the "World Series of Video Games" without being able to watch the actual competitions in their entirety!  Clearly network TV is not the right venue for this. This will have to head on over to cable in order for it to be successful in the long term.  

Sources: New York Times | IGN | Next Generation | Team Xbox | Business Wire | | Kotaku

Morgan Freeman and Intel Team Up for New Internet-based Movie Download Service – Clickstar

Morgan Freeman's production company is in a new venture with Intel called ClickStar to launch independent films on the Internet within weeks of their theatrical debut. The first such movie to be distributed through ClickStar is Freeman's newest film, 10 Items or Less. It will be available online on December 15 – two weeks after its cinematic debut. Clickstar's next first-run digital release will be the upcoming John Travolta/James Gandolfini film, Lonely Hearts, next spring. The service will also make older feature films available for download.

Freeman and company would have launched 10 Items or Less on the Internet on the same day and date as in the cinema but this would have disqualified them for Oscar consideration. Apparently a two week delay gets them over this Oscar hurdle. Prices will range from US$1.99 for renting an older movie to around US$24.99 for buying a DVD-quality download of a first-run film.

Dale's Comment: As a movie fan, I look forward to this new form of movie distribution becoming ubiquitous.  Distribution through the net, on the same day, or close to the same day, as cinematic releases, and easily viewable on the consumer's living-room TV —  this is a winning formula!

Despite protests from the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) and the ever-present "we've always done it another way" Big Media opposition, this form of distribution is, in my opinion, a fait-accompli. It's just a matter of time. 

How it Works: This USA Today article has the best description I've found online of how the system will work. Given that this is a partnership with Intel, my fear was that this would be some kind of proprietary set-top device like Disney's ill-fated MovieBeam.  Happily, it will be a Media Center PC-based service.  Anyone with a Media Center PC should be able to download the service's content.  Media Center will be built into the higher-end versions of Microsoft's Vista operating system due out next January. All such Media Center content can be viewed in the living room on the consumer's TV through an Xbox or Xbox 360 connected to the PC via an inhome network.

Hopefully this service will not remain proprietary to the Microsoft Media Center platform.  Ideally ClickStar will also partner with TiVo, Apple and Sony for distribution through TiVos, Apple's forthcoming iTV device and/or the PS3 as well. And hopefully this will not be yet another U.S.-only service so that those of us in the movie-loving diaspora can be part of the fun too!

UPDATE: Since I've been asked this question more than once I'd like to clarify. You won't need to own a Media Center PC to use this service after January 2007. The higher-end versions of Vista (specifically the Home Premium and the Ultimate editions) will have the Media Center functionality built in. So, any PC that can run the higher-end Vista Operating Systems should be able to drive this system – assuming you upgrade your PC to one of the higher-end Vista O/S versions.

Sources: abc NEWS | USA Today | ZDNet | The Age | EurWeb | Columbus Dispatch (AP) | The Independent | Washington Post | The Mercury News | Clickstar Website

Morgan Freeman on Charlie Rose speaks about ClickStar – see time index 4:50-9.50

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TiVo’s DRM Reportedly Cracked

Gizmodo, Engadget and others are reporting that the folks at have successfully hacked the TiVo DRM using a program they call the TiVo File Decoder.

Dale's Comment: If true, expect a patch from TiVo soon! πŸ™‚  Unfortunately for those of us waiting for the TiVo Series 3 software upgrade that was due out about now, my guess is we'll be waiting awhile longer while TiVo's engineers work at sorting this one out. πŸ™

Sources: Gizmodo | Engadget | Engadget 2 | Crunch Gear | PVRWire | Megazone-TiVoLovers | PVRBlog | TiVoCommunity Forum | Daily Tech | ars technica

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BitTorrent Signs More Download Deals with Major Hollywood Movie & TV Studios

On the heals of raising $25 million in capital, BitTorrent has reportedly signed video downloading deals with 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, Palm Pictures, G4, Kadokawa and Stars Media. Last year BitTorrent had done a similar deal with Warner. The service will use BitTorrent's proven peer-to-peer technology. The technology makes the distribution of large video files faster and less expensive by offloading much of the bandwidth requirements to its users. Pricing details have not yet been announced.

Starting next February you'll* be able to download-to-own (DTO) films and TV shows, or rent films on a video on-demand (VOD) basis. Most of the entertainment content in question will be made available on the day it is released on DVD or shown on television. These videos will be playable on PCs, laptops or other portable devices.

The service's DRM will limit playback to the device you originally record the content on. So recorded DVDs will not play on consumer DVD players. Some titles will only be viewable a limited number of times before the central DRM store disables your key. For this, you'll likely be paying full DVD retail prices.

So far as I know, BitTorrent has no such deal with consumer electronics companies like TiVo, Microsoft, Sony or Apple for downloads to a TV-connected device. 

Dale's Comment:  While any news story like this is heartening, insomuch as Hollywood is slowly advancing into the future, I agree with ars technica that DVD-purchasing consumers will not be impressed with this service. As with iTunes, it limits the user's right to use the content to the device it was downloaded on – hardly useful for long term video purchasers.  But, for one-time viewing, the method by which the vast majority of video consumers consume such content, this will probably have limited success for those wanting to view such content on laptops, PCs and portable devices.  But, as I have contended for years, downloadable media sales will only really take off once consumers can purchase/rent the content for viewing on their TVs – just as Microsoft is now doing with its Xbox 360 Marketplace movie/TV show service and as Apple has announced it will do with its forthcoming iTV product.

*Caveat:  While I have not yet had my suspicions confirmed, my guess is that this service will ONLY be available to U.S. consumers at launch.  This seems to be the way of the world these days! πŸ™

Sources:  Information Week | Gizmodo | ars technica | Hollywood Reporter | Wired Blogs | USA Today | Forbes (AP) | TechWeb  Playfuls | LA Times | BitTorrent Pres Release

Related BitTorrent Posts:

Russia Agrees to Shut Down at U.S. Request – or did it?

Text of Agreement
Visa and Mastercard halting service to AllofMP3 effectively shut it down. In the face of the credit card departures, said it would move to an advertising supported model. Now Russia and the U.S. appear to have reached an agreement to shut it down – or did they?  

ars technica and others are reporting that AllofMP3 says it will not be shut down. Instead it says Russia agreed to certain copyright reforms that says it will comply with. Even if this is true, AllofMP3 could never be what it was. If the reported agreement is implemented by Russia, any new would be as close to its current incarnation as today's Napster is to its original form.

As of the time of this post, was still up and running.

Dale's Comment: This is a sad day of sorts. While the legality of AllofMP3 was always murky, its success (second in world-wide sales only to iTunes) was a clear example of the fact that consumers are willing to pay a fair price for music from a site that services the users needs, if they are given fair rights to use the music they purchase. In the case of the user could chose the format they wished to purchase and there were no restrictions on the use they could make of the music.  I look forward to the day the major labels learn this lesson and start offering DRM-free music for sale to honest users under fair terms.

Sources: TechCrunch | CNet | ars technica | Inquirer | The Register | ABC News | ComputerWorld | PC Magazine | MOSNews | | Techwhack | Techdirt | ZDNet | Macworld | DailyTech

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Techcrunch Β» BitTorrent Raises $25 million, Bram Cohen is History

Source: Techcrunch 



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Internet-TV Aggregators are Popping Up like Dandelions

I don't know what is in the air these days, but Internet-TV aggregators seem to be popping up all over the Internet. I recently blogged about Tioti and the TVUPlayer, each of which have received substantial press coverage owing to their controversial nature. 

Over the last few days, I have become aware of dozens of online TV, movie and other aggregators running the gamut from sites streaming literally hundreds of live TV channels over the Internet to others indexing and hosting thousands of TV shows and movies for instant viewing over the Internet. 

Many of the live broadcast feeds are likely accessed from Internet feeds supplied by the content owners themselves. But, I'm guessing, others are likely redirected Slingbox or similar streams. As you can read in my TVUPlayer post, the company's CEO, Paul Shen, believes he can escape U.S. copyright infringement liability using the DMCA's ISP safe harbor. He argues that the streams are made available from the service's users and not hosted directly by his company.   

peekvid and QuickSilverScreen in particular, seem to be the most blatantly infringing services of the lot. They directly index over a thousand TV shows, movies, cartoons etc. for instant viewing. Users can select a particular TV series from a list and then directly view selected episodes – on demand. Movies can similarly be selected and viewed on demand. If peekvid is located in the U.S., I suspect it won't be long before the link fails to work owing to NAB and MPAA legal actions. QuickSilverScreen was located in the U.S. until Fox sent it a cease and desist letter. The proprietor has sold it to someone offshore and it continues to operate unabated from an offshore location. 

In no particular order, here are only a few of the dozens of live TV aggregation sites that have popped up recently.

All of these have the following features in common:
  • They all actually worked when I tried them
  • Of the dozens of other aggregators available, these sites required no prior signups or passwords. 
  • Unlike Tioti and the TVUPlayer, no plugins or downloads were required for these sites to work – simply show up, click and watch.
  • My browser, Firefox 2.0, is set to disable popups and redirects – all worked without popups or redirects 
  • Many of the video streams were resizable – even to full screen in many contexts
This is clearly a new trend, or at least a new trend to me. In light of the fact that iCrave TV was so quickly shut down in 2003 for doing essentially the same thing, it is surprising to see so many seemingly thriving. I gather that most, if not all, are hosted in far-off countries outside the reach of NAB and the MPAA – for now. As has recently discovered, locating offshore will not, alone, keep you outside the reach of the U.S. copyright lobby.
See also the comments to an original story about that provided the spark to get me blogging about this.

ifpi Board Member Quoted as Saying Major Labels About to Abandon DRM

I just came across this New Music Strategies blog post quoting Paul Birch, Managing Director of indie-label, Revolver Records, and independent member of the ifpi's board of directors, as saying the following in an e-mail:

DRM as we know it is over. There may be Son of DRM but that’s another matter. Right now its dead, the majors are moving towards the new model. The one thing you can be sure of is they will still be at the centre of the world music industry whatever happens. The independents are another matter. As our sector’s share has fallen by almost half in just over twelve months, the new model for us is partnership. It always was, I’m just not sure we got it.

The ifpi is Europe's version of the RIAA. This from the man who, on the ifpi's website, is quoted as saying:

"I hate what's happening with illegal downloading. People who love music shouldn't do this. The music industry provides huge choice. By stealing music you deny other people that choice in the future. Some may say it does not affect new and eclectic music. The fact is that it is precisely this kind of music which gets displaced. For small businesses it's particularly tough. Most of us came into this business not to get rich but because we love music. No one who loves music would steal it."

Later in the comments portion of the blog post Mr. Birch confirmed he made this statement but qualifies it as a prediction based on rumblings at board meetings – rather than known fact.

Dale's Comment: If Mr. Birch is quoted accurately and his predictions are true, much of my work here would be done. Ha! I'll believe it when I see it! πŸ™‚

Sources New Music Strategies

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Success with Video Streaming to my Xbox 360 using VLC

For years I have been looking for a convenient way to stream my videos (movies, video clips, video game trailers etc.) from PCs on my home network to my HDTV in the living room. Today I have had my first success using the new video streaming functionality built into the most recent XBox 360 Dashboard software update.

This Arne360 blog entry describes the basics of setting up the new Windows Media Player 11, sharing media directories with the 360 and setting up the 360 so it can access content from a home network. That was all well and good, but a continuing basic problem was that the Microsoft video streaming solution only supports their proprietary (but still very good) .wmv codec. Most of my video content is not in the .wmv format – or at least it wasn't.

Today I stumbled across this Joystiq post about the freeware transcoding program called VLC (download here) (official website). This program is butt-simple to use.

  • Download and install the VLC program.
  • Download and save this text onto your desktop into a batch file (ie: Copy and paste it into Notepad and save it as VLC.bat onto your desktop).
  • Then simply drag and drop most any video in any format (or at least any format I use) onto the batch file's icon on the desktop, and it will automatically be transcoded into the .wmv format.

When done, a WMV version of the video will be saved in the same directory of the source file and, assuming that directory is accessible to your Xbox 360, it will be accessible and playable on the 360 with  no further effort. It's THAT simple.

All is not peaches and cream though. There's good news and bad news.

Continue reading “Success with Video Streaming to my Xbox 360 using VLC”

Universal Music Group Sues MySpace over Video Transcoding Service

Universal Music Group has sued Myspace for providing a transcoding service. Myspace users upload videos to their MySpace account and Myspace transcodes them into formats playable by its users. Alleging that MySpace "encourages, facilitates and participates in the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation, distribution and public performance,", UMG is seeking an injunction and unspecified damages, including up to $150,000 for each unauthorized music video or song posted on the Web site. Until last week the two were in licensing discussions. To paraphrase Clausewitz, lawsuits such as this are just business negotiations by another means.

Dale's Comment: This is an interesting claim. It may very well turn on the facts. As I understand them, MySpace is agnostic as to what the content is. It has taken some steps to limit infringing uploads. In this case its servers accept user video uploads, examine the format, if not a supported format they then transcodes it into a playable format. This seems to be similar to what YouTube and other video hosting sites do. But YouTube signed a licensing agreement with Universal (and others) after being threatened with a lawsuit. If Myspace fights this, it will likely argue that it is an ISP, and all they are providing is a tool that can be used by their users for legitimate or illegitimate purposes. Assuming that MySpace is otherwise responding to Universal's DMCA take-down notices, this transcoding service may very well fall within the DMCA's safe harbour.

Sources: TechCrunch | Reuters | Yahoo! News (AP) | Forbes | * | VNUNet | MTV | CIO Today | | PCPro | | BBC | CNet | DRM Watch

California Decision: Newsgroups/Bloggers Can’t Be Sued for User Posts (Barrett v. Rosenthal)

  Text of Barrett v. Rosenthal (Nov. 20, 2006)
The California Supreme Court, in overturning a San Francisco appeals court decision, unanimously concluded that the 1996 Communications Decency Act insulates Internet providers and Web sites against lawsuits for the defamatory statements of others. The Act provides:

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

In this case, the plaintiff doctors operated Web sites devoted to exposing health care fraud. Rosenthal, a woman's health advocate, posted a third party's e-mail that included harsh remarks about the doctors, calling them “quacks'' and “dishonest,''. The doctors sued for defamation, arguing that Rosenthal should be held responsible for posting the allegedly libelous material, along with the author of the e-mail.

"The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications," writes Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan in the majority opinion. "Nevertheless … statutory immunity serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation, as Congress intended."

While an important victory for the likes of AOL and Google, it is also important for the growing Bloggosphere as it represents the first time an individual has sought, and obtained, the same immunity from defamation liability that is provided to ISPs under this Act.

Dale's Comment: OK, so I guess this means I'm off the hook for the silly things you might post in the comment section of this blog – at least in California.

Sources: New York Times | MSNBC | San Jose Mercury News | BBC | Inquirer | Forbes (AP) | LA Times | ZD Net | Washington Times | Red Herring | USA Today | | Washington Post | Toronto Star | Reuters | Bloomberg | EFF |