Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Man Who Broke the Music Business: The dawn of online piracy; New Yorker, 4/27/15

Stephen Witt, New Yorker; The Man Who Broke the Music Business: The dawn of online piracy:
"Napster lasted barely two years, in its original incarnation, but at its peak the service claimed more than seventy million registered accounts, with users sharing more than two billion MP3 files a month. Music piracy became to the early two-thousands what drug experimentation had been to the late nineteen-sixties: a generation-wide flouting of both social norms and the existing body of law, with little thought for consequences. In late 1999, the Recording Industry Association of America, the music business’s trade and lobbying group, sued Napster, claiming that the company was facilitating copyright infringement on an unprecedented scale. Napster lost the lawsuit, appealed, and lost again. In July, 2001, facing a court order to stop enabling the trade of copyrighted files, Napster shut down its service.
That legal victory achieved little. Former users of Napster saw Internet file-sharing as an undeniable prerogative, and instead of returning to the record stores they embraced gray-market copycats of Napster, like Kazaa and Limewire. By 2003, global recording-industry revenues had fallen from their millennial peak by more than fifteen per cent. The losing streak continued for the next decade.
The R.I.A.A. tried to reassert the primacy of the industry’s copyrights. But civil suits against the peer-to-peer services took years to move through the appeals courts, and the R.I.A.A.’s policy of suing individual file-sharers was a public-relations disaster. To some at the music labels, Congress seemed disinclined to help. Harvey Geller, Universal’s chief litigator, spent years futilely petitioning legislators for better enforcement of copyright law. “Politicians pander to their constituents,” Geller said. “And there were more constituents stealing music than constituents selling it.”"

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dice Loaded Against Public in Canada's Copyright Term Extension; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 4/22/15

Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Dice Loaded Against Public in Canada's Copyright Term Extension:
"The announcement of the Canadian Government's plan to extend copyright terms for sound recordings came as a surprise when it was released in Canada's federal budget yesterday. The smooth stage management of the announcement has to be admired, accompanied as it was by pre-prepared soundbites from Canada's music A-list extolling the benefits of this handout. In fact, with all the drama and glamor of the announcement, all that was missing was any prior public consultation or debate that could give the government an actual mandate to make this sweeping change to Canadian law.
This extension only applies to copyright in sound recordings and performances, which have always been treated differently to the copyright of authors. The rights of authors, for example songwriters, continues on from their death under international copyright law, which recognizes the qualitative difference in the creativity involved."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Woman Who Designed 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' Sign Dies; Associated Press via New York Times, 4/21/15

Associated Press via New York Times; Woman Who Designed 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' Sign Dies:
"The woman who came up with a neon sign that has welcomed countless visitors to "fabulous Las Vegas" since 1959 has died.
Betty Willis, credited with designing the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, died in her Overton, Nevada, home on Sunday, according to an obituary on the Virgin Valley & Moapa Valley Mortuaries' website.
The 91-year-old artist's often-copied sign sits in a median in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard south of the Strip.
"It's the most recognizable icon in the world," said Danielle Kelly, executive director of The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, where the signs of Sin City's past are retired and on display.
The welcome sign's design, which doesn't have a copyright owner, has become a fixture on travel tchotchkes from Vegas and everywhere else, Kelly said."

Why I'm Betting On Cities And Data; Huffington Post, 4/20/15

Michael R. Bloomberg, Huffington Post; Why I'm Betting On Cities And Data:
"Technology has unleashed an explosion of new information for city halls to work with. The possibilities for how cities can use that data to improve lives -- and improve the way services are provided to citizens -- are limitless.
To help more cities embrace those possibilities, today Bloomberg Philanthropies is launching a new national program called What Works Cities. It is the most comprehensive effort yet to help city leaders use data and evidence in their decision-making to improve the lives of residents.
The $42 million program will do that by offering technical support and guidance to cities who want to do more with data. Working with a group of world-class partners, we'll help cities create plans for using data and evidence to reach concrete goals that their mayors identify as high priorities.
We'll also provide a forum for cities to work together and learn from each other. Sharing ideas and experiences is important, because cities face many common challenges. They shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel -- wasting employees' time and taxpayers' money -- when they don't have to. By giving cities a way to study the best examples of how others are using data, we'll help them take big steps forward.
City governments have a responsibility to make the most of every dollar, and data helps them do that."

Proposed Update to Copyright Rules Eases Barriers to Security Research; National Journal, 4/20/15

Kaveh Waddell, Comic Book Resources; Proposed Update to Copyright Rules Eases Barriers to Security Research:
"Researchers who hack into everything from thermostats to Facebook so they can identify and help patch security holes may get a little assistance from Congress.
Legislation proposed last week would change copyright law to make it easier for these security researchers—not malicious hackers—to find and expose software vulnerabilities without getting in trouble for it.
The 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act made it illegal to get around technology protections—that includes ripping DVDs, copying video games, and in some cases, even jailbreaking your own smartphone. One provision of the act offers exemptions for certain activities. Ostensibly, security research is one of those activities, but the way the law is set up makes it difficult to get exemptions for research, critics say...
The bill likely faces an uphill battle."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

'Fantastic Four' trailer leaked, pulled fast on copyright grounds; CNet, 4/19/15

Michael Franco, CNet; 'Fantastic Four' trailer leaked, pulled fast on copyright grounds:
"Summer's the season for blockbuster movie releases, which means spring is the time for blockbuster-movie trailers. And this spring, it seems leaked trailers are going to be all the rage. Just last week, director Zack Snyder announced that a special screening for the trailer for the upcoming "Batman v Superman" film was to be held in IMAX theaters around the US on Monday. Then the trailer leaked online, forcing the studio to release the official trailer earlier than they'd have liked.
Now we have a just-leaked version of the new "Fantastic Four" film that's been posted online a day earlier than its official release date on Monday.
The trailer was leaked by a YouTube user going by the name of lioonelx. It's the only video posted by the user, who remains completely anonymous in his YouTube profile."

HBO tracking down pirates who downloaded leaked Game of Thrones episodes; Sydney Morning Herald, 4/20/15

Sydney Morning Herald; HBO tracking down pirates who downloaded leaked Game of Thrones episodes:
"If you've received a letter in the mail, you'll be relieved to know it carries no legal ramifications, as it's impossible to determine the individual who breached copyright from an IP address. However, repeated incidents could put a user in breach of their ISP's terms of service and result in termination of their account.
It's likely HBO simply hopes notifying users will make them think twice about their options before pirating next time (those options currently being Foxtel or wait, as HBO has announced they'll be blocking Australians from sneaking into their HBO Now service). The reminder that rights holders can track users down is particularly timely for viewers in Australia, where Dallas Buyers Club LLC recently won the right to request ISPs hand over subscriber details, and the looming Trans-Pacific Partnership has scary implications for pirates as well.
Of course any BitTorrent users hiding their locations behind virtual private networks (VPNs) — which are used increasingly in Australia — would have been invisible to HBO's investigations."