thewayne: (Default)
Now it's the War on Downloads and any other type of IP infringing. I really like the last two paragraphs:

"While we applaud the idea of installing keyloggers on friends’ computers to see if they are undermining the country’s economic recovery, asking America to be on the lookout for terrorists and intellectual-property infringers at the same time could be confusing.

Say, for instance, you spot an unattended, and possibly counterfeit Gucci bag in an airport? Who do you call first: The Transportation Security Administration or the Justice Department?"

It really ticks me off that the ??AA have such a stranglehold on this administration, but Money Talks and it's getting heard loud and clear.
thewayne: (Default)
They break down how a band can sell 1 million albums and still owe the record company $500,000. I've read some stuff like this before, it's unbelievable.

This article is almost 3 years old, but it has an excellent description from the inside showing how screwed up the music industry is.
thewayne: (Default)
Very interesting stuff. This guy, John Barlow, is not only a co-founder of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, he was also a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. He had some very interesting takes on what the other people on the panel were saying because, unlike them, he personally produced creative entertainment.
thewayne: (Default)
The act would have given the governmentMPAA/RIAA power to order American ISPs to block DNS resolution of sites that are infringing content, mainly torrent trackers and download sites. Currently the government has the power to order the Department of Homeland Security to seize the domain names of sites that offend the governmentMPAA/RIAA, which is a tremendously effective tactic as it only works against specific domain types that the US controls, and no one would think of re-registering their domain under a foreign country that is not the US. Not to mention the impossibility of using Firefox add-ins that automatically reroute DNS resolution to alternates.

Definitely a Homeland Security issue. Only terrorists download copyrighted content.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) placed a hold on the Protect IP Act that will keep it from landing on the Senate floor.

“The internet represents the shipping lane of the 21st century,” Wyden said in a statement. “It is increasingly in America’s economic interest to ensure that the internet is a viable means for American innovation, commerce, and the advancement of our ideals that empower people all around the world. By ceding control of the internet to corporations through a private right of action, and to government agencies that do not sufficiently understand and value the internet, PIPA represents a threat to our economic future and to our international objectives,” he said.

This is the whole problem that the MPAA/RIAA have: they're making very little effort to adjust to the internet and new technology. They want to maintain an absolute lockdown on their old business models.

Well, as Dylan said, the times they are a' changin'. If I lived in Oregon, Wyden would definitely get my vote.
thewayne: (Default)
Basically, they've bought extreme access to some lawmakers to get a bill introduced saying that there are illegal disc pressing plants (where music CD's and movie DVD's are made) that are churning out a Sagan or two of illegal pirated material and costing Hollywood a Sagan or three, and this law will allow law enforcement to raid pressing plants without a warrant and they can seize equipment.

I freely admit that piracy is a problem. But I think the ??AA are blowing their problems with piracy totally out of the water. How can Hollywood consistently post record movie box office receipts if they're losing a brazillian dollars to pirates? It don't compute. But this is entirely overboard: if they suspect a plant is illegally pressing discs, then they should report it to law enforcement who can perform surveillance to establish the facts, they can then get a search warrant and raid the place if the evidence merits it. Conducting a raid without a warrant is beyond the pale and I doubt there's any way that such a law would survive challenge.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rules 8-1 that in a case where police kicked in a door, without a warrant, and caught the people in the apartment with drugs, that it was not an illegal search.

thewayne: (Default)
I can't say it any better than the Wired article puts it:

The Department of Homeland Security has requested that Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, remove an add-on that allows web surfers to access websites whose domain names were seized by the government for copyright infringement, Mozilla’s lawyer said Thursday.

But Mozilla did not remove the MafiaaFire add-on, and instead has demanded the government explain why it should. Two weeks have passed, and the government has not responded to Mozilla’s questions, including whether the government considers the add-on unlawful and whether Mozilla is “legally obligated” to remove it. The DHS has also not provided the organization with a court order requiring its removal, the lawyer said.

The add-on in question redirects traffic from seized domains to other domains outside the United States’ reach. Since last year, the U.S. government has seized at least 120 domains in an antipiracy assault known as “Operation in Our Sites.” The domains are taken under the same federal statute used to seize drug houses.

If the government doesn't want me to have something, then I want it all the more. DownloadCount++, it's up to over 8000.

A government by the media, for the media, and of the media.

AND there's already been a fork of the MafiaaFire addin called Fireice:

Cory Doctrow wrote about DHS's Operation in Our Sites:
thewayne: (Default)
Lots of music industry stuff!

An accounting analysis of what musicians get paid! (it ain't much, on the order of 2%). It breaks down and "explains why huge megastars like Lyle Lovett have pointed out that he sold 4.6 million records and never made a dime from album sales. It's why the band 30 Seconds to Mars went platinum and sold 2 million records and never made a dime from album sales. You hear these stories quite often."

Former Rolling Stone editor and author Fred Goodman was looking to write a book on the music undistry from an executive insider perspective, he chose Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. He had amazing access and wrote a book, this interview between Wired and Goodman was interesting.

One very good excerpt: "The sorry fact was that record executives had no personal financial incentive to be forward-thinking. In an industry where bonuses were based on chart performance and market share, incentives were tied to creating hits and not to addressing the fact that the CD business was being rendered unnecessary and needed to be reinvented. With a lethal myopia, the industry went around its day-to-day business and made sure all its windows and doors were locked, completely indifferent to the fact that its house was on fire."

Part 2 is not yet up.

This interview that Wired conducted with Tommy Silverman, the founder of Tommyboy Records, gives more information along with discussing ideas that they're hoping will improve the situation, such as 50/50 partnerships with talent so that if the talent doesn't make money, the label doesn't make money, and vice-versa. I think it looks like a good idea, whether or not it would work in practice remains to be seen.

The standard industry practice is that talent get money when they sign with a label, they get money when they give them an album, and that's about it. The costs for the album are so front-loaded that they'll pretty much never be recouped, thanks to creative bookkeeping. So if they're not doing an album every 18 months, they've got to hit the road and sell concert tickets, which might enrich Ticketmaster more than the artist.

"There were only 225 rookie artists in 2008, and less last year, that broke 10,000 albums for the first time — not that that’s the only arbiter of success, but it’s one of them. That year, there were only 10 new artists that broke through by doing it themselves. If you can’t sell 10,000 albums in digital and physical combined, you’re still relatively obscure."

And finally, someone got ahold of the RIAA's IRS Form 990S, which shows all executive compensation and lots of other goodies.

"So all in all, for a 3 year period, they spent around $64,000,000 in legal and investigative expenses to recover around $1,361,000." Interesting business model, that.
thewayne: (Default)
It's been an interesting few days. First, the full text of the working ACTA treaty is to be released on the 21st. All of the countries attending the conference in New Zealand were in favor of its release, saying that earlier release was premature. It has been leaked massively and those unofficial copies were not at all friendly to personal digital rights. Allegedly the forthcoming release will not include border searches of electronic equipment and USB flash drives, we'll see what it contains soon enough.;txt

There's always fun in ??AA land! The entertainment industry submitted a wish list in response to "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's request for comments on the forthcoming "Joint Strategic Plan" for intellectual property enforcement." Included in the list:

"Anti-infringement" software for home computers
Pervasive copyright filtering
Intimidate and propagandize travelers at the border
Bully countries that have tech-friendly policies (such as Canada, the vile den of sinners!)
Federal agents working on Hollywood's clock

Yes, they want armed Federal DOJ and DHS officers protecting Independence Day 2. (you might need to scroll down a bit to get to the article text, it displays a lot of white space on my Mac in the latest Firefox),news-6496.html
thewayne: (Default)
"'After spending a year studying how piracy and illegal counterfeiting affects the United States, the Government Accountability Office says it still doesn't know for sure.... The GAO said that most of the published information, anecdotal evidence, and records show that piracy is a drag on the US economy, tax revenue, and in some cases potentially threatens national security and public health. But the problem is, according to the GAO, the data used to quantify piracy isn't reliable.'"

Wait, so Hollywood IS LYING TO US? NOOOOOOOO! [/sarcasm]
thewayne: (Default)
"After Starr v. SONY BMG Music Entertainment was dismissed at the District Court level, the antitrust class action against the RIAA has been reinstated by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In its 25-page opinion (PDF), the Appeals court held the following allegations sufficiently allege antitrust violations: 'First, defendants agreed to launch MusicNet and pressplay, both of which charged unreasonably high prices and contained similar DRMs. Second, none of the defendants dramatically reduced their prices for Internet Music (as compared to CDs), despite the fact that all defendants experienced dramatic cost reductions in producing Internet Music. Third, when defendants began to sell Internet Music through entities they did not own or control, they maintained the same unreasonably high prices and DRMs as MusicNet itself. Fourth, defendants used MFNs [most favored nation clauses] in their licenses that had the effect of guaranteeing that the licensor who signed the MFN received terms no less favorable than terms offered to other licensors. For example, both EMI and UMG used MFN clauses in their licensing agreements with MusicNet. Fifth, defendants used the MFNs to enforce a wholesale price floor of about 70 cents per song. Sixth, all defendants refuse to do business with eMusic, the #2 Internet Music retailer. Seventh, in or about May 2005, all defendants raised wholesale prices from about $0.65 per song to $0.70 per song. This price increase was enforced by MFNs.'"

I think the odds of it succeeding are nigh unto nill, but where there's life, there's hope.
thewayne: (Default)
I can't imagine how many times that lyric has been, or will be, used to describe the Obama administration.

Among the things that concerned me about the Obama administration was the appointment of former RIAA attorneys into high positions in the Department of Justice. Add to that the fact that Veep Biden is a major friend of Hollywood and has been a proponent of DRM in the past, then this shouldn't be much of a surprise:

Obama DOJ Sides With RIAA
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Obama Administration's Department of Justice, with former RIAA lawyers occupying the 2nd and 3rd highest positions in the department, has shown its colors, intervening on behalf of the RIAA in the case against a Boston University graduate student, SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, accused of file sharing when he was 17 years old. Its oversized, 39-page brief (PDF) relies upon a United States Supreme Court decision from 1919 which upheld a statutory damages award, in a case involving overpriced railway tickets, equal to 116 times the actual damages sustained, and a 2007 Circuit Court decision which held that the 1919 decision — rather than the Supreme Court's more recent decisions involving punitive damages — was applicable to an award against a Karaoke CD distributor for 44 times the actual damages. Of course none of the cited cases dealt with the ratios sought by the RIAA: 2,100 to 425,000 times the actual damages for an MP3 file. Interestingly, the Government brief asked the Judge not to rule on the issue at this time, but to wait until after a trial. Also interestingly, although the brief sought to rebut, one by one, each argument that had been made by the defendant in his brief, it totally ignored all of the authorities and arguments that had been made by the Free Software Foundation in its brief. Commentators had been fearing that the Obama/Biden administration would be tools of the RIAA; does this filing confirm those fears?"
thewayne: (Default)
The RIAA claims that they can link an IP address to a computer. Your computer is uniquely identified by a MAC address, it's a two-part hexadecimal address burned into your ethernet card. The first part is a code that identifies the manufacturer of the chipset, the second is sort of a serial number and is supposed to be unique to that manufacturer. It's pretty critical that the combination of these two numbers remains unique for networking to work, I won't bother you with the details.

Among the many problems is that IP addresses are frequently assigned dynamically and you might not have the same address every time you boot your computer. But that's not the biggest problem.

It's possible to spoof MAC addresses and configure your computer so that whenever a program asks for your MAC address, it does not return the address burned on the chip but a specific value that you configure.

So if you're going to university, how about getting the MAC address of the school provost. Suddenly the RIAA is subpoenaing the school provost?

Of course, not everyone would be able to use the same address because, like I said before, it needs to remain unique on the network. There's forms of cache poisoning and other techniques that can be used to shut down the other address in order to make your spoofed address work.

This also requires some somewhat involved system level work in linux, so it's not for everyone. But if you're running linux, you're probably skilled enough to do this, so why not have your MAC address change every day?

But there's an easier way.

Go to Fry's Electronics, or wherever, and buy a box of Ethernet cards. PAY CASH, don't use any sort of frequent buyer club bonuses. Make it so they cannot be tracked back to you. Cards go for $10-15 these days, and if you buy a box of 'em, you might get a quantity discount. Replace the card in your PC every couple of months, sell the old card at a swap meet so that it goes back in to circulation and that MAC address appears in other network logs.

I said easy, not free. And obviously this technique wouldn't work on a laptop.
thewayne: (Default)
A treaty is being circulated, in secret, that could have some pretty amazing ramifications. Among them: all P2P would be illegal, including trading works that are legally available, and region-free DVD would also go bye-bye.

The beauty of this is that it's being done through secret negotiations, not publicly in Congress or the UN. And major backers? Hollywood: music industry, movie industry, attorneys.

From Cory Doctrow's site: "Wikileaks has the full text of a memo concerning the dread Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a draft treaty that does away with those pesky public trade-negotiations at the United Nations (with participation from citizens' groups and public interest groups) in favor of secret, closed-door meetings where entertainment industry giants get to give marching orders to governments in private.

It's some pretty crazy reading -- among other things, ACTA will outlaw P2P (even when used to share works that are legally available, like my books), and crack down on things like region-free DVD players. All of this is taking place out of the public eye, presumably with the intention of presenting it as a fait accompli just as the ink is drying on the treaty.

Such fun! We've always had the best government that money can buy, it's just inspiring to see it actually at work.

Wikileaks is definitely a good thing.
thewayne: (Default)
Gotta love these people. The RIAA is sending out subpoenas to people alleging illegal file sharing based on IP address. The problem is, and anyone with a moderately advanced knowledge of computer networking can tell you, that IP addresses can (a) be forged and (b) are not normally constant. There is a fixed number of available IP addresses (you may have heard the stories that we're going to run out of IP addresses in the not distant future, but that's another story) and the address of your computer might change several times a day (via DHCP).

Music industry business model aside, this is a lousy way to sue people.

Here's a quote from the article:

"In two separate studies in August of 2007 and May of this year, the researchers set out to examine who was participating in BitTorrent file-sharing networks and what they were sharing. The researchers introduced software agents into these networks to monitor their traffic. Even though those software agents did not download any files, the researchers say they received over 400 take-down requests accusing them of participating in the downloads.

The researchers concluded that enforcement agencies are looking only at I.P. addresses of participants on these peer-to-peer networks, and not what files are actually downloaded or uploaded—a more resource-intensive process that would nevertheless yield more conclusive information.

In their report, the researchers also demonstrate a way to manipulate I.P. addresses so that another user appears responsible for the file-sharing.

An inanimate object could also get the blame. The researchers rigged the software agents to implicate three laserjet printers, which were then accused in takedown letters by the M.P.A.A. of downloading copies of “Iron Man” and the latest Indiana Jones film.

“Because current enforcement techniques are weak, it is possible that anyone, regardless of sharing content or using BitTorrent, could get a D.M.C.A. takedown notice claiming they were committing copyright infringement,” said Mr. Piatek."

I love it! "Uhh, the lab printer was downloading Metallica and we have to revoke its network privileges."
thewayne: (Default)
The RIAA wants to make terrestrial broadcasters "pay to play", the thing that's destroying internet radio. Currently terrestrial broadcasters pay royalties to SONG WRITERS, not to the band doing the playing. So the NAB is countering by asking Congress to investigate modern recording contracts!
thewayne: (Default)
The Canadian government comissioned a study of P2P users and found that they bought more music CDs than the rest of the population. I'm sure the RIAA will be happy to totally ignore it.

And the University of Oregon has "...filed a motion to quash the RIAA's subpoena for information on student identities in what is believed to be the first such motion made by a university with support from the state Attorney General. The motion (pdf) explains that it is impossible to identify the alleged infringers from the information the RIAA has presented: 'Five of the seventeen John Does accessed the content in question from double occupancy dorm rooms at the University. With regard to these Does, the University is able to identify only the room where the content was accessed and whether or not the computer used was a Macintosh or a PC ... The University cannot determine whether the content in question accessed by one occupant as opposed to another, or whether it was accessed instead by a visitor.' The AG's motion further argues (pdf) that "Plaintiffs' subpoena is unduly burdensome and overbroad. It seeks information that the University does not readily possess. In order to attempt to comply with the subpoena, the University would be forced to undertake an investigation to create discovery for Plaintiffs — an obligation not imposed by Rule 45. As the University is unable to identify the alleged infringers with any accuracy, it cannot comply with its federal obligation to notify students potentially affected by the subpoena."
thewayne: (Default)
I wanna see the RIAA sue one of its members!

Apparently Robert Fripp & King Crimson had no agreement to allow digital sales of their library, and EMI did it anyway.

"After the licence (with EMI) expired," writes Fripp, "King Crimson tracks repeatedly appeared on various download websites licensed from EMI. If this had happened during the licence period, it would have been disturbing – even though shit happens and we should have gotten over it! - because EMI never had download rights from us."

This, mainly, is because when the licence period began, there was no such thing as downloads. Fripp says the EMI licence was subsequently not renewed because he and the band were not willing to approve download rights, "because the royalty terms offered sucked."


"It’s a little too rich to punish punters for illegal downloads of EMI copyright material when EMI are themselves guilty of copyright violation. The response, many months ago, of the EMI lawyer (the one who also said "shit happens! get over it") effectively told us "I’ve done my best! we’ve told them to take it down!"

"This isn’t quite good enough when making publicly available the copyright material of others. How bad do EMI management systems have to be that the company has no power of control over its licensing to download companies?"

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