Digital Music/Copyright

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Digital Music/Copyright stories for 2000

  • PAY-TO-PLAY: Now that the fun has been sued out of Napster, music companies of all stripes are jumping into the online music business. Just in the last week several big players have entered the pay-to-play business, each with their own variation on paid downloads. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/06/01
  • CANADIANS LOVE THEIR (FREE) MUSIC: So where are all those Napster users coming from? No. 1 is Canada and Spain. "On-line surfers in Canada and Spain spent an average of 6.3 days in February visiting the Napster site to download or upload digital music files, according to research firm Jupiter. They were ahead of Napster users in the United States, Argentina and Germany, who spent an average 6.1 days, 6 days and 5.9 days, respectively. The global average was 5.9 days." Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/06/01
  • WHAT'S THE MUSICIANS' INTEREST? Surprise surprise - musicians tell the US Congress that record company lawsuits over Napster have not served musicians' interests, and that the legal actions bring more money to the companies, but do little to promote musicians to a wider audience. The Age (Melbourne) 04/05/01
  • NAPSTER USE UP: "Napster saw traffic surge in the last week of March, even as the Internet site scrambled to block trade in copyrighted material, a study said on Wednesday." Wired 04/04/01

  • SAYING GNO TO GNUTELLA: The recording industry, flush from its bloody victory over Napster, is now turning its attention to Gnutella, a loosely-structured file-sharing service where piracy is reportedly rampant. But stopping the swapping may be harder even than it was with Napster. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 04/05/01

  • IN THE ARTISTS’ INTEREST: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday into online copyright issues, both music and publishing. Artists themselves testified that musicians’ interests - namely that they get paid for their work no matter what - are getting obscured by the larger economic battle between the recording industry and Napster. "As [we] sit here, there is a Ping-Pong game going on over our head about business models on the Internet when we do not know how our intellectual property is going to be protected." Washington Post (Reuters) 04/04/01
  • TAKING UP THE CAUSE: "Long-time foes of the recording industry, the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, are preparing to clash with the music labels over consumer rights issues and unfair business practices...They believe the recording industry has too much of a competitive advantage in the distribution of digital music." Wired 04/04/01
  • JUMPING THE GUN: The recording industry's plan to launch a new online music subscription service with RealNetworks seems to have overlooked one whopping issue: such a service would have to negotiate with artists for the rights to distribute their work, or they could find themselves shut down before they start. 04/04/01
  • LOCKING IT UP: The recording industry is preparing to debut a new system of copyright protection which would make it impossible to "rip" tracks from a CD into digital MP3 files. However, the system would also make the discs unplayable on many CD players, which might not go over well with consumers. 03/27/01
  • NAPSTER HITS BACK: Napster has filed court documents claiming that the recording industry is intentionally making it difficult for them to filter copyrighted music. "While Napster engineers have added 200,000 musicians along with 1.2 million file names into its filter, the...industry has sent over incomplete lists of artists and songs that leave Napster to sort through hundreds of thousands of files." Wired 03/23/01
  • THE WHINING CONTINUES: The recording industry plans to file a complaint in federal court next week that Napster is not adequately complying with the court's order to filter copyrighted material. Napster says they're doing their best, and that the lists of songs provided to them are "riddled with errors." BBC 03/22/01
  • BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU: The recording industry has been threatening to attack online music piracy (Napster-style swapping) "at the source," meaning the user doing the downloading, rather than the company facilitating it. A new report claims to have screen shots of an unobtrusive program that tracks the movements of individual users who are illegally transferring copyrighted material. The Register 03/22/01
  • BUT IT'S REALLLLLY HARD! Napster is complaining that complying with the court order to block all access to copyrighted material on its song-swapping service is turning out to be, well, every bit as difficult as everyone had expected it to be. The recording industry is, understandably, not terribly sympathetic. Wired 03/21/01

  • WORLDWIDE WEBCASTING: The big problem of streaming audio and video on the web is that such webcasts cross international boundaries, and require multiple sets of legal permissions. "To figure out what licensing agreements a business needs to launch a legal, digital music company is like searching for the beginning of an M.C. Escher painting –- everywhere you look, it seems like you've found the start of the maze, until you look somewhere else." Wired 03/17/01

  • IF NOT NAPSTER… Digital song-swapping is down almost 60% since Napster introduced its filters Wednesday to block copyrighted material, with the number of downloads per individual user down from 172 files each to 71. But "anecdotal evidence already indicates that users were switching to other peer-to-peer song-swap systems. It is only going to be a matter of days before Napster users start migrating to those systems in large numbers." 3/15/01

    • HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT TOO: Having successfully crippled Napster (at least partially), record labels are turning to coopting the song-swapper's mission, and preparing to launch their own streaming/downloading sites. Wired 03/16/01
    • IX-NAY ON THE EVER-CLAY ICKS-TRAY: The website "Aimster" has removed, at Napster's request, a program that allowed users to translate song titles into Pig Latin to circumvent filtering software designed to stop illegal downloads. Nando Times (AP) 03/15/01
  • THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT... An Austin-based software firm comprised largely of former intelligence agents has developed the next generation of copy protection for online media. The program works by taking control of your computer, and disallowing the copying of trademarked material. Try to hack the nearly invisible program, and it destroys itself, and all your copyrighted files. No doubt, some 15-year-old in Topeka is already working on how to crack this one. 03/13/01

  • NAPSTER TO GET LEGAL: The CEO of Bertelsmann says Napster will be relaunched in July and that "a re-launched Napster will likely charge $2.95 to $4.95 a month for a basic service and $5.95 to $9.95 for a premium service. Bertelsman, which owns the BMG label, has invested in Napster as part of a bid to convince music companies to drop their lawsuits and support a 'legal' version of the service." Wired 03/12/01

  • GUILTY PLEASURES: So Napster As We Know It is dead. The new Napster is yet to come. By law, now, trading music files without paying royaties is officially wrong. So how did so many users decide that it wasn't? And what has the experience done for the millions who participated? For some, it has meant a guilt-free way of exploring the music they'd be too embarrassed to buy at the store. Boston Globe 03/13/01

  • FREE FLOW: A group of programmers dedicated to keeping the flow of free internet music going is hard at work on son-of-Napster, which they say will circumvent the crackdown on Napster. "The Freenet programme is similar to the popular Napster file sharing software, but uses a different storage and retrieval system which maintains no central index and does not reveal where the files are stored." BBC 03/13/01

  • EXAGGERATED: Napster has been shut down. No, it is being shut down. What we mean is, it's in the process of being treated as if it might eventually be in a position which someone with minimal Internet skills might mistake for shut down. "So basically Napster is still a free-for-all for everyone -- unless, that is, you are a fan of Roy Orbison... much to the chagrin of at least a couple Napster users, the service has started blocking people who have Roy songs in their libraries." Wired 03/09/01
  • END RUN THROUGH NAPSTER: The judge may have ordered Napster to start filtering out copyrighted songs, but Napster users are resourceful. They're finding ways around the filters and traffic is still robust. 03/07/01
  • BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER: Don't think the other music retailers out there on the web aren't cheering the looming demise of Napster. In particular, EMusic, which has joined the list of companies suing embattled song-swapper, is hoping that Napster's loss will be its gain. Wired 03/08/01
  • NAPSTER BITES: As ordered by a judge, the file loader has three days to remove copyrighted songs from its trading lists. Or else. Wired 03/06/01
  • SPLIT ENFORCEMENT: Judge rules recording industry must share responsibility for monitoring copyrighted songs over the file-share service. 03/06/01
  • WHO NEEDS WHOM? Free-music fans continue arguing that Napster doesn’t harm the music industry; it actually serves it well by letting consumers sample before they buy - and then buy even more. "The music industry wouldn't last two weeks without Napster." New York Times 3/06/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • MUSIC CONTINUES FLOWING: Napster had promised it was going to start filtering out copyrighted music this weekend. But "all the top 10 songs listed on the Billboard Hot 100 list were available on the company's servers late yesterday, including the No 1 Stutter by Joe featuring Mystikal. Songs by longtime Napster foe Metallica also showed up in searches." The Age (Melbourne) 03/05/01
  • NAPSTER CLONE? As Napster's wings get clipped, a Canadian entrepreneur prepares to "clone" Napster's program and base it off the coast of Britain, where he believes it will be untouchable by meddling authorities. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/05/01
  • GETTING AROUND A CRIPPLED NAPSTER: Millions of music fans jammed onto Napster's servers this weekend to try and beat court-imposed filtering out of copyrighted songs. Alternative music file-trading services also had big surges of users as traders explored alternative means of getting music they wanted. Dallas Morning News (AP) 03/04/01
  • NAPSTER LOSES - WILL BEGIN FILTERING SONGS: The recording industry and motion picture association have succeeded in lawsuits against Napster and under provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This weekend Napster will begin filtering out copyrighted songs available through its service. Wired 03/02/01
  • RIAA GETS SERIOUS: The recording industry is enlisting the support of top Republican politicians as it prepares for what record company execs hope will be the final charge against Napster. Wired 02/27/01
  • NAPSTER & CD SALES: Has Napster hurt sales of compact disks in the US? That's what recording execs are claiming. Sales of CD singles have fallen (even though the industry made more money than ever last year). BBC 02/27/01
  • IT ISN'T GOING AWAY: Even as Napster prepares for its next court date, countless other music-on-demand services try to come up with new ways of picking up where Napster may be forced to leave off. What's legal seems fairly fluid, and entrepeneurs want to be prepared to take advantage of any loopholes they find. Wired 02/27/01
  • THE PLOT THICKENS: A German newspaper is reporting that a Napster-like song-swapping service that was beta-tested earlier this month was in fact designed by the Bertelsmann record group, in preparation for the possibility of a Napster shutdown. 02/26/01
  • WHY THE FIGHT OVER NAPSTER MATTERS: "Suggested revenue models for making money on the Net trickle up from the software industry: you give away the intellectual property, then make your money in services and customization. These models simply don't make sense when talking about a great riff, an evocative piece of photojournalism or a work of fiction good enough to anthologize in the world of dead trees. Art is not information. Art is precisely that which can last and last — whereas nothing dates faster than a revision to a piece of software." The New York Times 02/23/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • PURE NAKED GREED? Why were recording companies so quick to turn down Napster's offer to pay them $1 billion? "While the money sounds like a huge chunk of change for the recording industry to pass up, that's exactly what several label executives have said. The reason: The economics of the system don't add up." Wired 02/23/01
    • COMPETITION: Music giants Vivendi Universal and Sony are starting their own music-file sharing service. "The news is a fresh blow to Napster which is trying to reach a compromise with the record firms after losing a legal case about copyright." BBC 02/23/01
  • CHUMP CHANGE? Trying desperately to stay alive, Napster offered the recording industry $1 billion this week. But the offer has been swiftly rejected: "It is Napster's responsibility to come to the creative community with a legitimate business model and a system that protects our artists and copyrights. Nothing we have heard in the past and nothing we have heard today suggests they have yet been able to accomplish that task." Variety 02/21/01
    • NAKED PLOY FOR SYMPATHY: "You could, perhaps, call Napster's latest machinations the death throes of a company in the last minutes of life; but this final rally could also be interpreted as a savvy attempt to pull the record industry's strings by gaining public sympathy. If the record labels don't accept the billion, don't they end up looking like killjoys determined to put an end to music sharing once and for all?" Salon 02/21/01
  • NAPSTER WILL NO LONGER BE FREE: With all that money going out, Napster hopes to bring more in by charging for on-line file exchange -- from $5.95 to $9.95 for unlimited downloads. But questions remain, such as "whether Napster users will be willing to pay, whether the company will be able to build the technology to securely transfer files, and whether the record companies will go along." The New York Times 02/21/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • NAPSTER OFFERS SETTLEMENT: Napster, under threat of being shut down and bankrupted by the courts, offers the recording industry $1 billion to drop their lawsuits. The company says it is "willing to pay $150 million per year in licensing fees to major record companies and $50 million per year in fees to independent labels and artists." Wired 02/20/01
    • FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL: "Napster said that for months the company has pitched the record labels on a model that would split subscription revenues with 64 percent going to the labels and 36 percent going to Napster." When the labels turned down the deal, Napster decided to guarantee the cash. 02/20/0
  • CREATING THE FUTURE: The digital-music industry continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate, and the debate is on over what will become the consumer standards for the medium. Security is important, as is convenience, and several companies are banking on the potential of a secure streaming service called Bridgeport, which has the potential to solve many of the problems that currently plague online music. Wired 02/20/01

    • The New York Times:"The Internet is a revolutionary medium whose long-term benefits we are only beginning to fathom. But that is no reason to allow it to become a duty- free zone where people can plunder the intellectual property of others without paying for it." 02/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)
    • Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "The prevailing view of Napster, reinforced by last week's court ruling, paints it as a digital burglary tool that scofflaw youngsters can use to grab free music and beat musicians out of royalties. This is a convenient oversimplification by the recording industry, whose archaic business model is as big a reason as any for the success of the Internet music-swapping services it is trying to shut down." 02/19/01
    • Toronto Globe & Mail: "We've used Napster to explore, educate ourselves and chase down obscurities -- areas either badly served by the companies, or not served at all. Napster gives you access to music at the speed of intellect. I can recall more than once a quick download settling a musical argument." 02/20/01
  • WHY RUIN THE PARTY? All the record-company high-fives the other day over their appeals-court judgment against Napster looks like a Jurassic convention of brontosauri celebrating the death of the first mammal. They may not have noticed how few of the critters scuttling around at their feet share their enthusiasm." Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/19/01
  • WHY ARE WE SO FASCINATED WITH NAPSTER? It raises fundamental questions about art and the ownership of creative work. "What is the appropriate relationship between the artist and fan base? Is the capitalist model the right model for creating art? What is copyright for? And what is art for in a consumer society?" The New York Times 02/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • STOP ROMANTICIZING NAPSTER: Time to stop romanticizing the Big Guy/Little Guy struggle between Napster and its users and the big recording companies. "The much-posited notion that 'the internet is the new punk' is soon destined to follow its discredited predecessors 'brown is the new black' and 'poetry is the new rock'n'roll' into the dustbin of history. For the simple reasons that true cultural upheavals are not about delivery systems, they are about content." The Telegraph (London) 02/17/01
  • NAPSTER'S PLAN TO GET LEGAL: Napster reveals its plans to retool. "But, as Napster acknowledges, the restructuring of its architecture will not answer the demands by the recording industry that it block songs whose copyright holders do not want them to appear on the service. Napster presented the new features as the initial moves in a series of alterations that will, company management hopes, ultimately transform the file-swapping service into a valuable - and profitable - part of the music industry." Inside 02/16/01
  • NAPSTER: THE POLICE STEP IN: So far in the US, the Napster controversy has been confined to the courtroom. In Belgium, however, it's gone a step further. "[P]olice have raided the homes of users of music-sharing websites looking for evidence they infringed copyright rules.... the searches were part of an investigation of the Internet site" Salon (AP) 02/15/01
  • KIDS VS THE GROWNUPS? "According to a recent survey by Family PC magazine, one out of three teens ages 12 to 17 download songs through Napster. The proportion of college students is considerably higher. Young people have gotten used to doing whatever they want to do on the Internet. Until Napster blew up, they didn't understand they could be regulated." Now they're considering what to do. Washington Post 02/16/01
  • NAPSTER'S FINANCIAL PERILS: It's not just the judges' ruling giving Napster a reprieve that the company has to worry about. If recording companies continue to pursue Napster, the copyright violation fines could bankrupt the service. "Statutory damages could quickly add up to big bucks. A federal judge in New York ruled last year, for instance, that was liable for $25,000 in damages for each CD copied. It's extremely likely that Napster will have a very large financial judgment against them." Wired 02/13/01
  • END OF THE LINE? Napster execs say they don't know whether they can continue the company given restrictions imposed by Federal judges Monday. The New York Times 02/14/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • NO LEGISLATIVE RELIEF: The US Congress could make Napster's problems go away by passing legislation aimed for for new digital realities. But "I don't think you're going to see legislation in the Congress.... We just spent years trying to get things right. Things are changing much too fast for us to jump in and try to get it right a second time." Wired 02/13/01
  • THE REAL GENIUS OF NAPSTER: "Napster is considerably more than an online shoplifting service. What Napster has done is to provide access, from any Internet connection, to nearly every recording anyone could want. Napster hasn't copied or accumulated those recordings. It searches the ad hoc network of people using Napster at any moment and, like a card catalog or a virtual bulletin board, it simply helps people find the music they seek. By doing so, Napster provides something that for many listeners is even more desirable than free tunes: access." The New York Times 02/14/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • COURT TO NAPSTER - STOP: A US appeals court rules against the music-sharing service. But Napster lead counsel David Boies stressed that, "in his view, the court was saying that 'the Napster architecture does not have to be redesigned,' and that Napster need only police its files 'within the limits of its system.' If so, then the ruling really might not be the catastrophe that it seemed on first glance." 02/12/01
  • HANGING BY A THREAD: "The court is requiring that Napster be notified in advance that it is in violation of copyright in particular cases, and if Napster refuses to bar transmission of the songs across the Napster network, it will then be in violation - and will be shut down." Salon 02/13/01
  • RESISTANCE IS FERTILE: Napster opponents may have won in court, but online resistance to the commercial recording industry is growing. "With every song they tell Napster to remove, the political resistance to this extreme view of copyright law will grow stronger." The New York Times 03/13/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • SO MUCH FOR THE NAPSTER EFFECT: Sales of recorded music in Australia rose again last year (mirroring sales figures in the US) despite free digital sharing of music over the internet. "In Australia, CD sales rose by 2.9 per cent to almost 43 million, while vinyl continued its comeback, with sales increasing by 23 per cent to 37,400 records, according to Australian Recording Industry Association figures." The Age (Melbourne) 02/13/01
  • FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNED: In theory, it makes a lot of sense for the recording industry to set standards to combat music piracy. But the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) is in trouble, with one of its major proposals finding nearly no support from the industry it is supposed to help, and another facing major delays. "These setbacks have contributed substantially to the dearth of unambiguously legal music online. The big record labels have refrained from releasing much music on the Net until they feel confident they can protect their copyrights. As a result, the landscape continues to be littered with trial projects and start-ups failing for lack of access to the most popular music." ZDNet, 01/24/01
  • NAPSTER KAYOED: A US appeals court has ruled against the music-file trading service Napster. "The court ruled that "Napster, by its conduct, knowingly encourages and assists the infringement of plaintiffs' copyrights." The recording industry was understandably thrilled with the decision." Wired 02/12/01
    • LAST MINUTE TRADING: Napster was swamped this weekend (some 10,000 users at any one time) as music fans spent the weekend madly copying music files just in case a US court shuts down the service Monday. "A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will issue its ruling on Monday on the recording industry's request that Napster be ordered to stop enabling users to swap songs for free." Wired 02/11/01
    • FAIR USE: Napster has already made a deal with music giant Bertelsmann. "For obvious reasons, media moguls and teenage music fans are watching the deal closely. But so should everyone who writes or creates for a living: we are about to witness a live test of whether technology can protect digital intellectual property." Columbia Journalism Review 02/01
  • WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "EVIL" NAPSTER? Last year they were all trying to sue the upstart music file trader out of existence. This year they can't wait to make a deal. TVT Records, one of the largest of the "independent" record labels, has agreed to a partnership with Napster, and dropped its lawsuit against the Internet music service. TVT becomes the third label to break ranks and join forces with the embattled Napster, following the Bertelsmann and Edel labels. BBC 01/25/01

Digital Music/Copyright stories for 2000





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