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Archive for the ‘DRM’ Category

If you didn’t see the 90 minute MacWorld keynote here is a quick summary of the product launches yesterday.  Jobs photo courtesy of Apple.  

  • Ad:  Hi I’m a Mac and I’m a PC — New Years ad ran which poked fun at Vista…what are you going to do in ’08…  Then Jobs enters stage.
  • Time Capsule:  backup hardware device the same size as the Apple TV product.  Two models both include Airport 802.11N in a 500MB and 1TB configuration.  Priced at $299 and $499 works in conjunction with Time Machine (back up system) which is included in OS X Leopard.
  • iPhone: 4M sold in the first 200 days (averaged ~20K/day); currently has 19.5% MSS (more than combining the bottom three companies – Palm (9.8%); Motorola (7.4%); Nokia (1.3%).  Enhancement announced:
    1. Maps w/ locations (joint effort by Google and Skyhook Wireless (drove the US & Canada mapping 23M wi-fi hot spots and allows triangulation on the hot spots.  Google triangulates off cell towers and Apple uses both systems in iPhone for identifying location)
    2. Webclips (clipping links to favorite web sites or sub-site
    3. Custom home screen (up to 9)
    4. SMS multiple people at the same time was only one prior
    5. Chapter search for videos and song lyric’s displayed if available
    6. Free software update for all current owners which include the above enhancements
  • iTunes: 4Billion songs sold through iTunes; Christmas day sold 20M songs in one day – highest ever; 125M TV shows sold (more than any other service); 7M movies sold (more than anyone, but didn’t meet expectations).  Enhancements announced:
    1. iTunes Movie Rental (music users have not wanted music rental); Studio’s on board at launch (20th Century Fox, TouchStone, Miramax, MGM, Lions Gate, New Line Cinema, WB, Disney, Sony, Paramount, Universal – essentially all of the studios; More than 1000 films by February
    2. Films available for rental in the 30 days after DVD release
    3. Watch anywhere (PC, iPod or TV)
    4. iPod Touch added 5 new apps including maps, email, SMS, web clips and chapter search
    5. Didn’t state, but looks like progressive download as the movie starts within seconds of the rental purchase
    6. 30 days to watch the movie and 24 hours watch it once started
    7. Can transfer the movie watching to another device in the middle (start on a PC then xfer to iPod for a flight)
    8. DVD quality, but also providing Hi-Def (100 titles today growing fast) with 5.1 Dolby surround sound
    9. Pricing is DVD library release – $2.99; DVD New Release – $3.99; HD library – $3.99 and HD new release – $4.99
    10. Service started today in the U.S. and goes International later this year
  • Apple TV: stated that we’ve all missed (Microsoft, Netflix, Nubu and other logos on screen) how to get the movies to the flat panel in the living room.  Apple TV was designed as an accessory for iTunes & computer, but it’s about Movies, Movies, Movies.  Enhancements announce:
    1. Price dropped from $299 to $229
    2. All new user interface
    3. Leverages the new iTune movie rental service
    4. Rent directly from the Apple TV box – no computer needed now
    5. Photo from Flickr can be streamed or from your dot mac accounts
    6. Will auto sync with your computer if you want
    7. Free software upgrade to all existing users and get the functionality
  • 20th Century Fox: Jim Gianopolos (Chairman & CEO) on stage to discuss movie rental deal.  Talked about biz models being super important, gushed about how great it is to work with Jobs and put a major plug in for Blu-ray winning the format war as the crowd applauded.
  • MacBook Air: launched a new ultra-thin MacBook to compliment the notebook line up. Standard model priced at $1799.  Model with the 64GB SSD flash over $3K,.  Compared the “Air” to the Sony TZ series which had previously set the benchmark in this category.  The thickest part of the Air is thinner than the thinnest part of the Sony for comparisons.  Features:
    1. .76 to .16 thin (no optical device, can get one external if you need)
    2. 13.3 inch LCD back light display
    3. Full size and backlight keyboard
    4. Multi-touch (similar to the iPhone – swipe, pinch etc.) capability on the trackpad
    5. 80GB HDD and optional 64GB SSD (pricey however)
    6. 2GB memory and 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo (C2D) standard or optional 1.8GHz
    7. 802.11N and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
    8. Usage model changing and driving wireless even for software download – now leverage a PC optical drive across the network
    9. Talked about environment: mercury free, arsenic free glass, Bromide Fire Retardant (BFR) and PVC free
    10. 56% less packaging waste
    11. Jobs applauded the joint effort and working with Intel
  • Intel: Paul Otellini was invited on stage to evangelize the 30% reduced form factor of the C2D.  Gave Jobs a souvenir of one and gushed about how great it was to work with Apple.  For those of you into little known factual tidbits, it was interesting to note that the video graphic overlay while Paul walked on stage used the old Intel dropped “e” logo.  The graphic/name/title on the projected stage TV was correct.
  • Summation: In the first 2 weeks of the New Year Apple launched:
    1. Fastest ever Mac Pro desktop system
    2. Time Capsule
    3. Software updates for iPhone, iPod Touch along with new apps for Touch
    4. iTunes Movie Rental
    5. Apple TV (software upgrade) along with HD video content
    6. MacBook Air – Ultra thin laptop
    7. Last slide stated…And there’s still 50 weeks left….
  • Randy Newman: Music artist extraordinaire played a couple songs for the audience.  Newman photo courtesy of YouTube. He starts by telling us about his trip to Europe, where he noticed that “they don’t like us so much.”   And he sang a song he wrote about it…”A Few Words in Defense of Our Country.”

 A couple of parting thoughts about Randy Newman.  The song choice was odd.  If Apple signed off on the first song he sang they have some guts.  A little piano ditty that compares the U.S. to Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Europe during the time of the Inquisition.  Now that’s an interesting mix of art meeting commerce.  Highly political and bashed a number of things which will only add to the blog fodder I’m sure.

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itunes_roundJust days before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where legendary musicians and the buzz of new product introductions will showcase how consumers manage and enjoy their digital media “everywhere”, the Washington Post is reporting that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has a federal case against Jeffrey Howell, an AZ, man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer.  RIAA maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.  

Huh?  It’s illegal to transfer CDs to a computer?  I thought court rulings over the last 20 years have found no violation of copyright law in the use of VCRs and other devices to time-shift TV programs; that is, to make personal copies for the purpose of making portable a legally obtained recording?

Who is RIAA?  It’s an organization that represents the major recording labels in the USA. These labels pay multi-millions of dollars for this representation and since RIAA is based in Washington, DC., they act as an industry lobbyist, literally.  They often urge, cajole or otherwise influence Congress to take their side in the “battle” against “music piracy.”  I’m not sure who would visit, but the RIAA even ran a Holiday Anti-Piracy Campaign message streaming across its web site offering tips on “avoiding pirate products.”

And northwest news the Oregon State Attorney General and the University of Oregon are being assaulted by RIAA’s tactics.  RIAA subpoenaed the University asking it to turn over the names of students that it suspected of making copyrighted material available to file sharers.  Note the keyword here is suspected.  While no one would disagree that it’s appropriate for victims of copyright infringement to pursue statutory remedies, shouldn’t that pursuit be tempered by basic rights of privacy and due process?

Typically RIAA harassment comes in the form of a pre-litigation letter to “suspects” they believe are guilty file sharers. There is even a credit card payment link – p2plawsuits.com where these so called “suspects” that receive the pre-litigation letters can drop off a quick $3000 to stop the RIAA from suing them.  Maybe next up is payroll deduction options?!  Good grief!

But that’s not good enough.  RIAA is now running around with deep- pocket teams of lawyers saying that even making a personal copy on your computer is a violation.  This hard-line position is clear. RIAA wants to roll back time to pre-internet days of vinyl albums.  If you make copies of copyrighted music recordings – even on cassette tape – you’re stealing.  You’re breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages.

The RIAA’s legal crusade against consumers (its customers) is a text-book example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed.

UPDATE: The Washington Post left out a couple of facts that are now being reported for the people who need to read all the details.  Turns out the article was misleading in that the RIAA was not only going after Howell for ripping his CD’s, but for also putting those ripped files into a shared Kazaa folder.  I disagree that because he put them in a shared folder its infringement, but its a different claim than the original one of just ripping them to his PC.  It will be interesting to watch…

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synctvLet’s see, I slept for 7 hours; it’s a new day and an announcement of yet another start up in the internet video space.  This seems like a daily ritual. 

The newest is Sync TV, a spin off from consumer electronics company Pioneer, which launched a beta download service.

The audio and video quality of the TV shows is comparable or superior to the same show on DVD.  SyncTV will provide HD programming across some of the different channels and will also have programming available in discreet 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus, giving you the “home theater” experience.  They allow you a great deal of flexibility in how you play back the TV shows you download. You can play back shows on up to five ‘home’ devices which mean PCs/Macs now and other home entertainment devices in the future (read portable players). 

That’s the good news.  The bad news is yet another DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology for the consumer to try and get their head around.  Sync TV is using an open-standard DRM called Marlin.  Yet another group of top electronics manufacturers joining forces to develop a standard for content management and protection.  Marlin is also referred to as “OMArlin” because it supposedly bridges between the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM v.2.0 and the Marlin DRM standards.  Does anyone care, outside the companies involved?  Not really.  Consumers might agree that content protection is a good idea but, they just want to play their stuff on all their devices. And they want everything to be cheaper, too. 

It’s another set of companies trying to protect what they see as their intellectual property and make money. You could make the claim as the same motive as Microsoft, Apple, RealNetworks and others in the DRM struggle.  The marketing spin tries to convince us that DRM is intended to make it easy for us to buy content and share it, without being encumbered by content protection schemes.   But, adding Marlin to this mix will be yet another failed attempt to create a DRM “standard”.   

What I do find interesting with Sync TV and all the regulatory noise about bundled programming, is the fact that users can subscribe a-la-carte for a variety of programs they want to watch. Each channel costs about $2 each per month, and currently there are four subscription channels available. Showtime is the foundation partner with promise of more.  

The Sync TV launch underscores the two worlds that now exist–the heavily regulated telecoms and broadcasting sectors and the almost entirely unregulated internet channel.  

Where do you think most of the innovation is?

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Steve Jobs provided a good read on his view and thoughts of the music industry yesterday and basically asks for DRM free music, something the entire world has been asking for. Jobs can be a catalyst, but towards what? What should the music industry do?

He makes excellent points in his post:

Today’s most popular iPod holds 1000 songs, and research tells us that the average iPod is nearly full. This means that only 22 out of 1000 songs, or under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM. The remaining 97% of the music is unprotected and playable on any player that can play the open formats. It’s hard to believe that just 3% of the music on the average iPod is enough to lock users into buying only iPods in the future. And since 97% of the music on the average iPod was not purchased from the iTunes store, iPod users are clearly not locked into the iTunes store to acquire their music.

Unfortunately, Jobs asking the music industry for DRM free music is nothing but a pipe dream. It would take cooperation of an ego driven industry (remember the SonyBMG root malware crisis?) and they don’t care about understanding the user interdependencies. They care only about optimizing revenue across the entire scope of options.

We’re kidding ourselves thinking it’s an industry driven by art.

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Los Angeles area Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts have a new way to earn an activity patch — there’s a new “Respect Copyrights” activity patch offered by the LA area Boy Scouts and the MPAA.

I find this industry intervention creepy. I have no problem with Scouts being instructed in copyright law, but I’d bet a paycheck that the MPAA won’t be giving them an accurate description of the doctrine of fair use. So their badge isn’t going to signify a knowledge of copyright law so much as a knowledge of what the MPAA thinks copyright law should be.

This is about the money!  The motion picture industry is a major economic engine.  It contributes about $38 billion in revenue to the state of California alone.  $34 billion of that revenue goes directly to Los Angeles County where the movie industry is the third largest job producer having created more than 246,000 jobs in 2005 alone.  The worldwide motion picture industry, including foreign and domestic producers, distributors, theaters, video stores and pay-per-view operators estimated a loss of $18.2 billion in 2005 as a result of piracyover $7 billion of which is attributed to Internet piracy and more than $11 billion attributed to hard goods piracy including bootlegging and illegal copying.  We all know that motion picture piracy hurts more than the motion picture industry, and results in lost jobs and wages for American workers both inside and outside the movie industry and lost tax revenue for all levels of government. 

I find this MPAA shallow attempt at fighting piracy, and rooting out pirates in the Scouts to be the lamest thing ever…they should give this patch out right after the ‘I can think for myself’ badge!  I think consumer advocates should pull together and develop a “Respect Fair Use” activity patch.

The 52,000 Scouts in Los Angeles will not be required to act as spies to earn their badge, although snitching is not discouraged.

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