Home > BCS, Content Protection, Internet Business, Music, Piracy, Privacy, Startups > Beware, the Tides of Octember (sic).

Beware, the Tides of Octember (sic).

September was busy, with many interesting developments that provide further evidence of the never-ending struggle between: the good, the bad, and the ugly, in the ongoing transition towards a digital content economy – never mind the real ‘credit crunched’ version. The implications are manifold and open to interpretation as I’m sure you’ll find. 

Note: the verdict at the end of each story represents my take on the likely impact of that particular development. It is only an expression of my opinion, and the right to free speech, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all that.

  1. EU says no to 3 strikes rule, but ISPs may still get to throttle your bandwidth:

    Last week the European parliament voted against implementing the “3 strikes rule” across the EU on the grounds that it restricts user’s rights and freedoms (full story can be found here). [Verdict = 1 step forward]

  2. RIAA vs. Jammie Thomas – case headed for retrial:

    A US district judge has called for the retrial of this case which, last year, ordered the defendant, Jammie Thomas, to pay a fine of $222,000 for making songs available for download. According to this digital music news article, the evidence of infringement did not really stack up given that the party downloading the tracks was working as an agent of the plaintiff (i.e. RIAA). [Verdict = 1 step forward]

  3. Punishing Innovation – the death of Muxtape.com:

    The recent demise of Muxtape, an innovative music start-up, which allowed users to upload MP3 files for streaming in a mixtape format just goes to show how tough the struggle can get be (even for those that choose to play by the rules, and provide a legal service from the very start). The full story, as told by Muxtape’s founder, is posted on the website and it paints the picture of a dysfunctional music industry with and exhausting & ultimately unworkable licensing and legal process. [Verdict = 3 steps backward]

  4. MySpace Music launched at last:

    The highly anticipated launch of MySpace music (with backing of the four major labels) was one of the highlights of the past month, and was met with a blogstorm of mixed opinions and criticisms, as perhaps could be expected for an outfit of that stature. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the music scene. [Verdict = No Movement]

  5. Return to Phorm – BT’s Webwise for targeted advertisement:

    The final trial of BT’s targeted advertising platform commenced on the 30th of September, and it is aimed at selected BT customers who can elect to have their browsing habits monitored, in order to receive better targeted ads based on their preferences. The Open Rights group has published four reasons not to participate in this trial, but given that this is not a mandatory, or hidden exercise, I think it is an interesting one to watch for all the right reasons. [Verdict = 2 step forward]

There are several other examples but I’m sure you get the picture, September was a busy month. However, it looks like October could be even more interesting with some stories already brewing as follows:

  • Pre-emptive & “Counter-emptive” lawsuits – RealNetworks RealDVD vs. MPAA: Either way the lawyers win the day in this particular battle. (For more coverage click here (Reuters) and here (Gartner)
  • Online Royalty Decision – Apple threatens to shutdown iTunes: According to this article, the Copyright Royalty Board will make a decision today that may bring about the closure of iTunes if they insist on increasing the royalty payable to song publishers (more information here)

It will be interesting to see how these stories develop over the next few weeks, but one conclusion is that there is some progress overall. However the rate of progress may have to increase quite rapidly in order to get us to the destination of an enhanced digital content experience. The one nagging question is that if nobody knows what this destination looks like, then how will we know if and when we get there?


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

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