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Internet Radio's "Last Stand" 316

We've been discussing the plight of Internet radio for some time, as the Copyright Royalty Board imposed royalties that industry observers predicted would prove lethal to the nascent industry. We discussed Web radio's day of silence in protest, which won the industry a reprieve, and the futile efforts to find relief in Congress. Now it's looking as if the last act is indeed close. Death Metal Maniac sends along this Washington Post story with extensive quotes from Pandora CEO Tim Westergren, who said: "The moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we're doing is wasting money... We're funded by venture capital. They're not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken." The article estimates that XM Satellite Radio will pay "about 1.6 cents per hour per listener when the new rates are fully adapted in 2010. By contrast, Web radio outlets will pay 2.91 cents per hour per listener." That's 70% of projected revenue for Pandora; smaller players estimate the hit at 100% to 300% of revenue.

Collective Licensing for Web-Based Music Distribution 236

Two weeks ago we discussed a proposal from music industry veteran Jim Griffin to implement a monthly fee from ISPs in exchange for the legal distribution of copyrighted music. Now, quinthar brings news that Warner Music Group has hired Griffin with the intention to make that proposal a reality. Warner wants Griffin to establish a collective licensing deal with ISPs that would let the ISPs stop worrying about their legal responsibilities for file-sharing while contributing to a pool of money (potentially up to $20 billion per year) that would be distributed amongst the music industry. "Griffin says that in just the few weeks since Warner began working on this plan, the company has been approached by internet service providers 'who want to discharge their risk.' Eventually, advertising could subsidize the entire system, so that users who don't want to receive ads could pay the fee, and those who don't mind advertising wouldn't pay a dime. 'I.S.P.'s want to distinguish themselves with marketing," Griffin says. "You can only imagine that an I.S.P. that marketed a 'fair trade' network connection would see a marketing advantage.'"

MPAA College Toolkit Raises Privacy, Security Concerns 188

An anonymous reader writes "The Motion Picture Association of America last month sent letters to the presidents of 25 major universities (pdf), urging them to download and install a 'university toolkit' to help identify students who were downloading/sharing movie files. The Washington Post's Security Fix blog reports that any university that installs the software could be placing a virtual wiretap on their networks for the MPAA (and the rest of the world) to listen in on all of the school's traffic. From the story: 'The MPAA also claims that using the tool on a university network presents "no privacy issues — the content of traffic is never examined or displayed.' That statement, however, is misleading. Here's why: The toolkit sets up an Apache Web server on the user's machine. It also automatically configures all of the data and graphs gathered about activity on the local network to be displayed on a Web page, complete with ntop-generated graphics showing not only bandwidth usage generated by each user on the network, but also the Internet address of every Web site each user has visited. Unless a school using the tool has firewalls on the borders of its network designed to block unsolicited Internet traffic — and a great many universities do not — that Web server is going to be visible and accessible by anyone with a Web browser."

Ballmer Suggests Linux Distros Will Soon Have to Pay Up 520

An anonymous reader writes "Via Groklaw comes comments from Microsoft's Steve Ballmer at a UK event, in which the company once again threatens Linux distributions that haven't signed up with their program. '"People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us," Ballmer said last week ... Ballmer praised Novell at the UK event for valuing intellectual property, and suggested that open source vendors will be forced to strike similar deals with other patent holders. He predicted that firms like Eolas will soon come after open source vendors or users. Microsoft paid $521m to settle a patent claim by Eolas in August.'"

Indiana Jones Gets Robbed 227

HotChk101 writes "Over 2000 production stills, plenty of sensitive paperwork including a complete production budget breakdown, possibly the script from Indiana Jones 4 and multiple computers were stolen from Steven Spielberg's Universal Studio office. The thief started contacting multiple entertainment websites including and offering the stolen goods for a sum of $2000.00."
The Courts

RIAA Adds 23 Colleges to Hit List, Avoids Harvard 282

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has added 23 new colleges and universities to its hit list, but deliberately omitted Harvard, apparently afraid of the reaction it's likely to get there, having been told by 2 Harvard law professors to take a hike. 'Under the new scheme, the RIAA sends out what it calls 'pre-litigation' settlement letters. Actually, they're self-incrimination documents and they're designed to extort preset amounts of around $3,000 from students with the empty promise that by paying up, they'll remove the threat of being hauled into court on charges of copyright infringement. In reality, all the students are doing is providing the RIAA with personal and private information which can conceivably be used against them ...'"

Web Radio Negotiations Carry Poison Pill 243

Adambomb writes "It seems that the deal that saved Net radio at the 11th hour, the new terms that would limit the maximum fee for multiple-channel Web radio broadcasts, contains a hook. To qualify for the cap, broadcasters must work to ensure that stream-ripping is not feasible. Given that the analog hole will always exist as far as I can imagine in such scenarios, is this even possible?" The article mentions the measures Net stations could easily take but have been reluctant to — lowering bit rates, playing jingles over the music, cross-fading songs. How long before they are backed into using these techniques?
The Almighty Buck

False Copyright Claims 268

FreetoCopy writes "Teenagers downloading music may not be the worst copyright offenders. See this item (available for download in PDF file with free registration) about the growing problem of copyfraud — in which publishers, archives, and distributors make false claims of copyright to shut down free expression. From the paper: 'Copyfraud is everywhere. False copyright notices appear on modern reprints of Shakespeare's plays, Beethoven's piano scores, greeting card versions of Monet's Water Lilies, and even the US Constitution. Archives claim blanket copyright in everything in their collections. Vendors of microfilmed versions of historical newspapers assert copyright ownership. These false copyright claims, which are often accompanied by threatened litigation for reproducing a work without the owner's permission, result in users seeking licenses and paying fees to reproduce works that are free for everyone to use...'"

The SoundExchange Billion Dollar Administrative Fee 127

palewook writes "On June 7th, Yahoo, RealNetworks, Pandora, and Live365 sent letters to US lawmakers emphasizing they owe SoundExchange 'administrative fees' of more than $1 billion dollars a year. These fees would be paid for the 'privilege' of collecting the increased CRB royalties effective July 15th, unless the Internet Radio Equality Act passes Congress. SoundExchange, the non-profit music industry entity, admits the levied charge of $500 per 'channel' is supposed to only cover their administrative costs. Last year, SoundExchange collected a total of $20 million dollars from the Internet radio industry. Under the new 'administrative fee' RealNetworks, which hosted 400,000 unique subscribed channels in 2006, would owe an annual administrative charge of 200 million dollars in addition to the retroactive 2006 rate hike per song played."

Microsoft Gives Xandros Users Patent Protection 298

DigDuality writes "Microsoft, shrugging off licensing moves to prevent it from repeating its controversial patent deal with Novell, has signed a set of broad collaboration agreements with Linux provider Xandros that include an intellectual property assurance under which Microsoft will provide patent covenants for Xandros customers."

University of Ohio Abandons Students Attacked by RIAA 242

newtley writes "The University of Ohio was putting a brave face on being #1 on the RIAA hit list, but it now appears they have caved in to RIAA intimidation. Now, 'It appears that many institutions are simply prepared to wash their hands, refusing even to question the tactics of the industry,' let alone giving students meaningful legal assistance, says Ohio lawyer Joe Hazelbaker. He's written to OU associate director of legal affairs Barbara Nalazek saying, 'Ohio University has an obligation to protect the privacy of its students and their records, which includes directory information.' The Recording Industry vs. The People blog is hosting a letter universities whose students being attacked might want to consider."

Small Webcasters Offered a Rate Break, Reject It 123

Pontifex minimus writes "Music royalty collection group SoundExchange has offered an olive branch to small webcasters. They are willing to delay the exorbitant new rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board until 2010 for small webcasters in hopes that they can keep Congress from passing the Internet Radio Equality Act. Larger outfits, like Live365 and Pandora would not be affected and would have to pay the new rates. '"Although the rates revised by the CRB are fair and based on the value of music in the marketplace, there's a sense in the music community and in Congress that small webcasters need more time to develop their businesses," said John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange.' SaveNetRadio rejected SoundExchange's offer, saying that it 'throws large webcasters under the bus.'"

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