Monday, November 28, 2011

[Book Review of Robert Levine's "Free Ride"] Inconspicuous Consumption; New York Times, 11/25/11

[Book Review of Robert Levine's "Free Ride"] New York Times; Inconspicuous Consumption:

"In “Free Ride,” a book that should change the debate about the future of culture, Robert Levine argues, in effect, that Samuel Johnson was right, and that it’s the self-interested Silicon Valley technology companies and their well-financed advocates who are wrong. “The real conflict online,” Levine writes, “is between the media companies that fund much of the entertainment we read, see and hear and the technology firms that want to distribute their content — legally or otherwise.” By delivering content they don’t pay for, or selling content far below the price it cost to create, Levine says, information and entertainment distributors like YouTube and The Huffington Post become “parasites” on the media companies that invest substantially in journalists, musicians and actors; the distributors drive down prices in a way that sucks the economic lifeblood out of those who create and finance the best achievements of our culture. The result is a “digital version of Wal-Mart capitalism,” in which free-riding distributors reap all the economic benefits of the Internet by cutting prices, and culture suppliers are forced to cut costs in response. This dynamic, Levine argues, destroys the economic incentive to create the kinds of movies, television, music and journalism consumers demand, and for which they are, in fact, quite willing to pay."

SOPA Opponents' Bogus Net Neutrality Comparisons; Forbes, 11/28/11

Scott Cleland, Forbes; SOPA Opponents' Bogus Net Neutrality Comparisons:

"In sum, net neutrality and stopping online piracy are very different issues...

With fixes to ensure the legislation only targets rogue websites and does not create unintended problems by requiring actual website blocking or traffic filtering, support for online anti-piracy legislation is likely to strongly consolidate as the bills progress, enabling it to become law in this Congressional session. To paraphrase Mark Twain: Internet reports of SOPA’s death are greatly exaggerated."

[Editorial] Piracy vs. an open Internet; Los Angeles Times, 11/25/11

[Editorial] Los Angeles Times; Piracy vs. an open Internet:

"Although much of Silicon Valley is up in arms about the House bill, there is a clear path to consensus. Lawmakers should craft a bill focused on cutting off funding for foreign sites that really are dedicated to infringement. If they have any doubt that such an approach can be effective, they should consider WikiLeaks. Efforts to block access to the site were an abject failure. Cutting off the company's ability to collect funds from its supporters, however, has pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

[Editorial ] Going After the Pirates; New York Times, 11/26/11

[Editorial] New York Times; Going After the Pirates:

"The bill should be made to stipulate clearly that all of its provisions are aimed only at rogue Web sites overseas. Foreign sites must be granted the same safe harbor immunity — and the bill must not open the door to punishments for domestic sites that abide by the 1998 digital copyright law. And rather than encouraging credit card companies and advertising networks to pre-emptively cut off business to Web sites accused of wrongdoing, a court order should be required before they take action."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Penguin Restores Kindle Lending, but Still Not Providing Digital Editions of New Titles; The Digital Shift, 11/23/11

Michael Kelley, The Digital Shift; Penguin Restores Kindle Lending, but Still Not Providing Digital Editions of New Titles:

"Penguin Group (USA) has backtracked from at least part of its recent decision to limit library lending."

Librarians Face Patrons Unhappy With Penguin Policy Change; ALA Condemns Ebook Decision; The Digital Shift, 11/22/11

Michael Kelley, The Digital Shift; Librarians Face Patrons Unhappy With Penguin Policy Change; ALA Condemns Ebook Decision:

"Todd Feinman, the chairman of the Oregon Digital Library Consortium (ODLC) , which has 22 library systems in its network (over 100 locations), said more complaints were likely forthcoming.

“I think that the whole paradigm is shifting and I imagine that there will be more of this over time,” he said. “I don’t know where this is going. These things are usually a surprise to us. It’s just hard to say what a publisher is going to do next,” he said.

Feinman said libraries could always boycott if necessary. ODLC has refused to license any ebooks from HarperCollins to protest that publisher’s February decision to limit library loans to 26 circulations."

European Court Rejects Call for I.S.P.’s to Curb Illegal File Sharing; New York Times, 11/24/11

Eric Pfanner, New York Times; European Court Rejects Call for I.S.P.’s to Curb Illegal File Sharing:

"The highest court in the European Union said on Thursday that Internet service providers could not be required to monitor their customers’ online activity to filter out the illegal sharing of music and other copyrighted material.

The ruling, by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, is a setback for a Belgian group representing music copyright owners, which had sought tougher measures to crack down on online file sharing."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movie fans turn to piracy when the online cupboard is bare; Guardian, 11/22/11

Cory Doctorow, Guardian; Movie fans turn to piracy when the online cupboard is bare:

"Ask anyone who's studied copyright policy – scholars of music and literature, economists, sociologists, law professors – and they'll tell you that the No 1 problem with copyright is that it is enacted without recourse to evidence...

Writing in the Guardian, Ben Goldacre has examined the most-cited statistics about piracy, job creation and GDP contributions in the so-called creative industries and found them so singularly lacking that he declared: "As far as I'm concerned, everything from this industry is false, until proven otherwise.""

Music label sues over Seth Rogen's 50/50; Guardian, 11/21/11

Ben Child, Guardian; Music label sues over Seth Rogen's 50/50:

"A Florida-based music and fashion label is suing the makers of the Seth Rogen/Joseph Gordon-Levitt cancer comedy 50/50, claiming it owns the copyright to the title.

Eastland Music Group (EMG) says it has been using the names 50/50 and Phifty-50 records to sell music by a hip-hop duo of the same name since 2000. They allege the film's release in US cinemas has already confused consumers."

WIPO SCCR Constructs Library Exceptions Topics For Discussion; Intellectual Property Watch, 11/23/11

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; WIPO SCCR Constructs Library Exceptions Topics For Discussion:

"The World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee today agreed on “clusters” of topics under which they will discuss topics related to limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives, with an eye toward a possible instrument in the future."

“Marathon” WIPO Copyright Session Opens With Hopes, Treaty Prospects; Intellectual Property Watch, 11/22/11

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; “Marathon” WIPO Copyright Session Opens With Hopes, Treaty Prospects:

"Officials from around the world have gathered for the next two weeks at the World Intellectual Property Organization in hopes of resolving the fate of several longstanding copyright policies under debate."

Penguin Suspends E-Book Availability to Libraries; New York Times, 11/22/11

Julie Bosman, New York Times; Penguin Suspends E-Book Availability to Libraries:

"Another major publisher has pushed back against making its e-books available to library users. Penguin Book Group said it would “delay the availability” of new e-books to libraries because of security concerns."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Anti-piracy bill meets Web-freedom backlash;, 11/18/11

Doug Gross,; Anti-piracy bill meets Web-freedom backlash:

"A bill moving through Congress is intended, on its surface at least, to do something relatively simple: Crack down on the illegal pirating of movies, music and other copyrighted material.

But a major online backlash has evolved, with everyone from lawmakers to Web-freedom advocates to some of technology's biggest players calling it a greedy and dangerous overreach that could have a chilling effect on free speech and innovation.

Google, Yahoo and Facebook are among the Web heavyweights who have joined the chorus against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which backers hope to have ready for a vote by the end of the year."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Strange bedfellows: Nancy Pelosi, Ron Paul join SOPA opposition;, 11/17/11

Nate Anderson,; Strange bedfellows: Nancy Pelosi, Ron Paul join SOPA opposition:

"And Pelosi is far from the only member of Congress opposed to the legislation. On Tuesday, ten members of Congress signed a "dear colleague" letter expressing concerns with the bill. The signers were nine Democrats plus Rep Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian-leaning candidate for the GOP presidential nomination...

Also opposed to the legislation is Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA)."

Stop Sopa now; Guardian, 11/16/11

Dan Gilmor, Guardian; Stop Sopa now:

"America is fond of chiding other nations about freedom of speech in the internet age. Leaders including President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are constantly reminding their global counterparts, especially in places like China, that internet censorship is a detriment to open government and honest self-rule. Yet, the Obama administration has used tactics that smell of censorship, and Congress is making common cause with a corporate cartel that wants to turn the internet into little more than an enhanced form of cable television. In the name of protecting copyright holders, they would censor the internet and force entrepreneurs to get permission to innovate."

Novelist Fights the Tide by Opening a Bookstore; New York Times, 11/15/11

Julie Bosman, New York Times; Novelist Fights the Tide by Opening a Bookstore:

"Cultural leaders convened meetings in the public library to discuss who could step in and open a new bookstore. One idea, to start a co-op requiring small investments of $1,000, never got off the ground.

“People were greeting each other in grocery stores, at holiday parties, wringing our hands,” said Beth Alexander, the president of the board at the Nashville Public Library Foundation, the private fund-raising arm of the library. “We’re home to two dozen universities. We need to have a bookstore other than a campus bookstore, and people were looking at each other and saying, ‘We’re very concerned about this.’ ”

Ms. Patchett, meanwhile, hatched a plan of her own. She had money, connections and countless time spent on book tours. Soon she began posing the question to friends: What if she started a bookstore?"

ReDigi, Reseller of Digital Music, Responds to Industry Criticism; New York Times, 11/15/11

New York Times; ReDigi, Reseller of Digital Music, Responds to Industry Criticism:

"What follows are excerpts from ReDigi’s response to the letter from the recording industry’s trade group..."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sopa condemned by web giants as 'internet blacklist bill'; Guardian, 11/16/11

Dominic Rushe, Guardian; Sopa condemned by web giants as 'internet blacklist bill' :

"Internet firms including Wikipedia owner Wikimedia, eBay, Google, Twitter and others protested as Congress discussed the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) now passing through Washington.

The act aims to tackle online piracy by giving the US Justice Department new powers to go after websites, both domestically and abroad, that host disputed copyright material. The act would allow the US to effectively pull the plug on websites and go after companies that support them technically or through payment systems. A vote on the bill could come as early as next month."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SOPA, The Internet Censorship Bill, Was Lauded By Both Parties In Key House Hearing;, 11/16/11

Zach Carter and Ryan Grim,; SOPA, The Internet Censorship Bill, Was Lauded By Both Parties In Key House Hearing:

"At a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans joined together to voice support for legislation that would criminalize much of the activity that occupies the Internet. The bipartisan bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act would establish major new powers for corporations intent on corralling copyrighted materials -- powers that would lead to big legal bills for start-ups and Silicon Valley giants alike."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Site to Resell Music Files Has Critics; New York Times, 11/14/11

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Site to Resell Music Files Has Critics:

"A legitimate secondhand marketplace for digital music has never been tried successfully, in part because few people think of reselling anything that is not physical. But last month a new company, ReDigi, opened a system that it calls a legal and secure way for people to get rid of unwanted music files and buy others at a discount.

The service has already drawn concern from music executives and legal scholars, who say it is operating in a gray area of the law. Last Thursday the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the major record companies, sent ReDigi a cease-and-desist letter, accusing it of copyright infringement.

John Ossenmacher, ReDigi’s chief executive, contends that the service complies with copyright law, and that its technology offers safeguards to allay the industry’s concerns that people might profit from pirated music."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Library Copyright Alliance Voices Concerns Over Anti-Piracy Legislation; Library Journal, 11/9/11

David Rapp, Library Journal; Library Copyright Alliance Voices Concerns Over Anti-Piracy Legislation:

"The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA)—whose members include the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and the Association of College & Research Libraries—yesterday released a letter [PDF] written to the ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee to voice "serious concerns" about two provisions in H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) [PDF], which could greatly increase penalties for copyright infringement."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

[Book Review]; Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, by Robert Levine; Business Week, 11/3/11

[Book Review] David Kamp, Business Week; Free Ride by Robert Levine:

"Now, as if to bolster Sulzberger’s resolve, comes Free Ride, Robert Levine’s unrelenting indictment of the free-content ethos that has dominated digital activism. Know that old Irving Kristol maxim that a neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality? Well, Free Ride is the book for the Net utopian who has been mugged by insolvency. It’s a riposte of sorts to Chris Anderson’s 2009 book Free: The Future of a Radical Price, which posits that in the digital economy, “free is not just an option, it’s the inevitable endpoint.”

Levine, a former executive editor of Billboard magazine, is here to say that this line of thinking is, to use the clinical macroeconomics term, a load of bollocks. The model of offering up content for free and making up for this lost revenue stream through advertising may work well for the likes of Google (GOOG), YouTube, and the Huffington Post, but it’s hell on the original-content creators upon which these sites ultimately depend: the professional class of reporters, authors, musicians, filmmakers, and producers whose work—books, articles, songs, TV shows, and movies—is still what the public is ultimately looking for."

Sirius’s Move to Bypass a Royalty Payment Clearinghouse Causes an Uproar; New York Times, 11/6/11

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Sirius’s Move to Bypass a Royalty Payment Clearinghouse Causes an Uproar:

"SoundExchange, a nonprofit group, was founded in 2000 and is authorized by the United States Copyright Office to collect one kind of royalty for digital music. The royalty, the performance right for sound recordings, pays performers and record companies when their songs are played on digital streams like satellite radio and Pandora. (In a rule that has annoyed record companies and musicians for decades, terrestrial radio pays only songwriters and publishers.)"