Thursday, September 25, 2003
Nokia Stuns Everyone
"Well, much to our surprise and delight, that Nokia phone we reported on yesterday turned out to be real. But it's not called the 7800, it's the 7600. And further stunning everyone, Nokia's also coming out with about a million other new products today. Besides the 7600 Imaging Phone (which is a WCDMA/GSM phone with a 65,000 color display, Bluetooth, and a built-in digital camera), Nokia also unveiled a new line of "Imagewear" products for displaying and viewing digital photos, including two medallions with tiny LCD screens, two digital picture frames, and a digital photo kaleidoscope.
Read - Nokia 7600 Imaging Phone
Read - Nokia Medallion I
Read - Nokia Medallion II
Read - Nokia Image Frame SU-4
Read - Nokia Image Frame SU-7
Read - Nokia Kaleidoscope I" [Gizmodo]
Some very cool stuff here that, unfortunately, I don't have time to delve into deeply tonight. Alan Reiter handles some of it for me, though.
Copyright Law Often Made Up as We Go Along
"In just a few short weeks I have become father confessor, spiritual adviser and whipping boy on the subject of copyright infringement.
Music thieves, sensing my ambivalence about 'sharing' songs and albums on the Internet, have told me freely of their offenses in hopes, I suppose, of gaining absolution or dispensation....
Copyright law allows for what's called "fair use" of copyrighted material without payment or even consent of the creator. You can, for instance, quote freely from this column in your holiday newsletter without fear that the Tribune will ask the courts to seize rights fees from your wages.
You can make copies of it for a class of students and read extended passages on the radio, all without asking. You can lift portions for parody purposes. You can include it in your personal 'Most Wonderful Columns of All Time' collection and lend it to grateful friends.
But where's the line? What if you send your holiday newsletter to 100,000 people? If you copy the column for every student in every class in an entire school district? If you read every word of the Metro section on the radio?...
What are today's norms? You tell me.
I've created one of those Cosmo-style quizzes online where I've described a series of everyday uses of copyrighted material and asked 'Is it OK...?' " [Chicago Tribune, via JD's New Media Musings]
Eric Zorn's survey is indeed thought-provoking, so I'd suggest going through the questions on your own. JD Lasica provides a snapshot of the results at the time he took it, and it makes for fascinating reading. Gray areas, indeed.
FOXSports.com Delivers MMS
"It's great to see more media companies understanding how best to use MMS. Now FOX Sports is getting in on the action -
'Want to see the comical side of sports? Experience the fun with FOX Sports FUNHOUSE! Each week a new message will be sent to your MMS handset with funny out-takes, text messages and unbelievable images of your favorite sports stars. Delivered weekly for 50 cents a message, FOX Sports FUNHOUSE is your source for the lighter side of sports.'
This is the kind of thing MMS was made for as far as I'm concerned, short, easily digested chunks of entertainment. I know some guys who convert DVDs to 3GP for playing on their 3650s but that's madness. If I want to watch a movie I'll do it at the cinema or on TV. But for all the short down-times I experience during a typical day, when commuting, queuing, waiting, etc, etc, short movie trailers, comedy clips, sports scores and family clips are ideal time fillers." [MMS Memo]
Librarians to P2P Critics: Shhh!
"In a hotly contested lawsuit before a federal appeals court, peer-to-peer companies Streamcast Networks and Grokster are about to gain a vast army of allies: America's librarians.
The five major U.S. library associations are planning to file a legal brief Friday siding with Streamcast Networks and Grokster in the California suit, brought by the major record labels and Hollywood studios. The development could complicate the Recording Industry Association of America's efforts to portray file-swapping services as rife with spam and illegal pornography....
A central argument of the brief is that the district court got it right when applying a 1984 Supreme Court decision to the Internet. That decision, Sony v. Universal City, said Sony could continue to manufacture its Betamax VCR because a company 'cannot be a contributory (copyright) infringer if, as is true in this case, it has had no direct involvement with any infringing activity.'
'The amicus brief will make the point that we are not supporting the wrongful sharing of copyrighted materials,' ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels wrote in an internal e-mail seen by CNET News.com. An amicus brief is one filed by a third, uninvolved party that comments on a particular matter of law. 'Instead, we believe the Supreme Court ruled correctly in the Sony/Betamax case. The court in that case created fair and practical rules which, if overturned, would as a practical matter give the entertainment industry a veto power over the development of innovative products and services....'
The ACLU said Thursday that the brief argues that peer-to-peer networks are speech-promoting technologies that have many noninfringing uses. If the MPAA and the RIAA succeed in shutting down peer-to-peer networks or making them more centralized, the precedent could create undesirable choke points that could be used to monitor Internet users, the ACLU said." [CNET News.com]
I'm glad these library associations are standing up to the entertainment industry in order to continue the fight to protect privacy rights, but if they're going to pull out the Betamax VCR case, I wish they had gone after digital rights management as well that locks out libraries. I know it's a stretch, but even just a single sentence noting that the loss of said potential innovation could prevent libraries from circulating digital files could go a long way towards bringing the debates to the forefront and making legislators understand the true scope of what is at stake.
Of course, it will help if they can successfully make the argument that these P2P companies have no direct involvement with possible infringing activities, because it won't be long before the entertainment industry actively turns on libraries. You can feel it coming, can't you? 12-year olds honors students, 66-year old retired teachers, and librarians.
Side note to CNET: it's a sad state of affairs when you can't think of a creative headline that doesn't involve "shhh" and librarians. Really sad. Yeah, like that's never been done before. How about a little effort next time, eh?
Free screening and discussion
5:30 p.m., Wechsler Theater, Mary Graydon Center
The Center for Social Media- AU-Washington, DC
To celebrate the launch of the Center's new research project, 'Imagination, Creativity and Control in Independent Filmmaking,' funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Center hosts a screening of the new doc by Jed Horovitz, Willful Infringement.
Horovitz' funny, insightful work shows real-life absurdities of the current copyright laws for filmmakers, musicians and-yes-clowns. The research project investigates rights management issues faced by working filmmakers. Discussion with Washington College of Law Professor Peter Jaszi and filmmaker Jed Horovitz. Read Educational Media Reviews Online of Willful Infringement." [Digital Copyright Mailing List]
According to WorldCat, six libraries own the DVD. I just submitted my interlibrary loan request. :-)
Music Biz Drills into Dentists for Royalties
"The group that collects royalties for songwriters is taking aim at an unusual source: dentists. It's not just dentists, but chiropractors and opticians -- any kind of office space that plays CDs....
SOCAN is the Canadian copyright collective for the public performance of musical works. The group administers the performing rights of composers, lyricists, songwriters and their publishers.
It says that every time a dentist or other health care practitioner plays music for its patients, he's stealing. The group wants the doctors to pay up for the right to play their songs.
Some will not like the stance SOCAN is taking. However, there are some who welcome the idea.
'Songwriters are hurting because of the perception it's the public domain ... it's about time this happened,' said Johnathan Simkin who runs '604 Records' and is the lawyer for the rock group Nickelback....
SOCAN doesn't want to press charges. It just hopes businesses will voluntarily come up with the cash -- so musicians can continue to make life a little more enjoyable." [CTV.ca, via MP3 Insider]
I can't decide if I hope this is a joke to highlight the absurdity of the music industry's position or if I should hope it is for real in order to highlight the absurdity of the music industry's position!
Entertainment Weekly (Sept. 12 issue, p.156) gives the book The Time Traveler's Wife a grade of "B."
"Here, librarian Henry suffers from a genetic condition that unpredictably flings him through the past and future, and his jaunts fule his lifelong relationship with artist wife Clare."
Apparently the movie rights have already been auctioned, and Brad Pitt is going to produce it and star in it. You can read an excerpt here.