Study: Should Innovation Play a Larger Role in Today’s Copyright Debates?

  • Michael A. Carrier, Rutgers University School of Law, has published a paper (“Copyright and Innovation: The Untold Story”) that details the results of a study intended to examine the relationship between copyright law and innovation.
  • The study includes in-depth interviews with 31 top executives from the recording industry, technology companies, and venture capital firms. The paper tells a story about the Napster decision that ultimately led “to losses to innovation, venture capital, markets, licensing, and the ‘magic’ of music.”
  • The following quotes are taken from Carrier’s paper:
  • “The record labels had an existing business model that was profitable and that they knew how to exploit. As a result, they ‘thought they were bulletproof.’ They ‘saw the Internet as a fad or problem that need[ed] to be eradicated.’”
  • “Another ill-fated decision was for the labels to treat record stores, rather than end-users, as their customers. Yet because of this focus on the record stores, the ‘real customers’ became ‘pissed off and angry at the pricing of albums and/or the weakness of most of the songs’ and turned to file-sharing.'”
  • “Lawyers at the labels historically drove the digital agenda. There was no one there with a truly entrepreneurial spirit. Zero, zilch, zingo, nada. No one there whose entire initiative was not to hang on to the past.”
  • “A record label official admitted that the ‘digital strategy’ was ‘just a plain defense’ that focused on antipiracy, copy protection, and ‘doing everything in their power to keep it locked up.'”
  • “The respondent explained that he ‘did one music deal [where] the company ended up shutting down because the labels just kept taking more and more and more.'”
  • A record label executive observed “the industry had a ‘missed opportunity’ to create ‘stronger connections with fans.’ ’15 years into digital exploration…when I buy a song, I still only get the song’ instead of extras, like exclusive interviews and backstage access.'”
  • “The labels ‘had an opportunity to achieve their dream of owning everything from content creation to distribution to sale’ but ‘chose not to’ in order to ‘eke out a few more years of CD sales.'”

Apertus Project Seeks to Develop Open Source Digital Cinema Camera

  • The Apertus Project, which seeks to build an open source digital cinema camera, was introduced at the Libre Software Meeting in Geneva this week. This will become a Kickstarter-funded project to create both the hardware and software.
  • The “Axiom” camera will have 4K resolution, a Super 35mm sensor, global shutter, up to 15 F-stops of dynamic range, high speed capture at full resolution, Cinema DNG raw recording and a target price of $10,000.
  • The project seeks to build a community of artists, engineers, filmmakers and programmers from around the world to work together in the development.
  • Work has already begun on various components and software elements. Take a look at the video which provides an overview.
  • There are discussions underway to create an Apertus Foundation, a non-profit organization.
  • The group already has a partnership with Dynamic Perception which is funding part of the development. The Apertus camera will work seamlessly with Dynamic Perception motion control systems.

Robert Cringely Predicts Death of the PC as Demand for Mobility Grows

  • Twenty years ago, Robert Cringely predicted that PCs would be dead by now. While his timing was off the mark, he still sees their demise.
  • “Fifteen years from now, we won’t be able to function without some sort of machine with a microprocessor and memory inside,” Cringely wrote in 1992. “Though we probably won’t call it a personal computer, that’s what it will be.”
  • Today, smartphones and PCs each comprise a $250 billion industry. However, the smartphone industry is still rapidly growing, while the PC industry is not.
  • We continue to rely on devices with processors and memory, but the mobility trend has led us to different devices such as notebooks. Still, hardware is becoming disposable while our data in the cloud becomes more important.
  • “How long before the PC as we knew it is dead? About five years I reckon, or 1.5 PC hardware replacement cycles,” writes Cringely today. “Nearly all of us are on our next-to-last PC.”

Opinion: USTR Makes Stunning Turnaround, MPAA/RIAA Remain in Denial

  • Yesterday, ETCentric reported that the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced it would include a provision to recognize the “limitations and exceptions” to copyright, “consistent with the internationally recognized 3-part test” designed to identify what constitutes suitable limitations and exceptions in regards to intellectual property.
  • The announcement was made as part of the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partners (TPP) trade agreement.
  • Harold Feld, senior VP of Washington, DC advocacy group Public Knowledge offers his take on the proposal through a post on Wetmachine, a group blog on telecom policy, software, science, technology and writing.
  • Feld suggests this provision was apparently made in response to an anticipated rejection by the European Parliament of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement largely due to objections “trying to force copyright maximalism on other countries” at the behest of the MPAA and RIAA.
  • “The Hollywood crazy train on intellectual property enforcement now very visibly threatens the ability to get future trade agreements ratified by Congress or by foreign governments,” he writes.
  • “The anti-SOPA campaign has genuinely changed the way in which IP policy gets negotiated, rather than fading away as memory of the legislation recedes,” notes Feld. “What the ACTA defeat in Europe and the pressure on USTR to shift position show is that the campaign to prevent the further erosion of free expression in the name of copyright maximalism has staying power. It now falls to all of us to ensure that we keep moving things in the right direction.”

Will Software-Defined Radio Revolutionize Wireless and Launch New Uses?

  • Rather than a separate chip to communicate with cell phone towers, another for Wi-Fi base stations, a third for GPS signals, and a fourth for Bluetooth, software-defined radio hardware receives the raw electromagnetic signals and uses software to handle each frequency.
  • In theory, a single software-defined radio chip could perform the function of all these separate chips simultaneously, plus record FM radio and digital television signals, read RFID chips, track ship locations, or do radio astronomy.
  • “Software-defined radio will make it possible to use the electromagnetic spectrum in fundamentally new ways,” reports Ars Technica. “Most radio standards today are designed to use a fixed, narrow frequency band. In contrast, software-defined radio devices can tune into many different frequencies simultaneously, making possible communications schemes that wouldn’t be feasible with conventional radio gear.”
  • Per Vices co-founder, Victor Wollesen, whose company has developed a low-cost software-defined PCI Express card, one day sees a time when every home will have a similar radio device.
  • “We see our device being used as a center that’s able to take any sort of wireless signal, process, and re-package it. A universal router,” he explains. “Our device, by loading a piece of software on it can replace a router, a cell phone, a base station, or a garage door opener.”
  • More importantly, these devices will usher in a new era of wireless experimentation leading to innovative new uses such as spread spectrum approaches that make much more efficient use of the frequencies.

Verizon Argues that FCC Net Neutrality Rules Violate Freedom of Speech

  • Verizon argues that the Federal Communications Commission’s new network neutrality rules exceed the agency’s regulatory authority and violate network owners’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech and its Fifth Amendment property rights.
  • Congress has debated net neutrality 11 times since 2006 but has yet to enact legislation. Even if it had, Verizon argues that it would violate its constitutional rights.
  • “Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners [e.g. Verizon] engage in First Amendment speech,” writes Verizon.
  • “Although broadband providers have generally exercised their discretion to allow all content in an undifferentiated manner, they nonetheless possess discretion that these rules preclude them from exercising,” the company adds. “The FCC’s concern that broadband providers will differentiate among various content presumes that they will exercise editorial discretion.”
  • Verizon also believes the FCC’s rules violate the Fifth Amendment through a “government compulsion to turn over [network owners’] private property for use by others without compensation.”

European Court of Justice Ruling Upholds Right to Resell Downloaded Software

  • The European Court of Justice has ruled that customers have the right to resell software purchased even if the software was only downloaded rather than purchased on physical media.
  • The doctrine of copyright exhaustion (or the first sale doctrine in the United States) prevents rights holders from controlling used copies of their work.
  • However, software developers have made the case that exhaustion only applies to copies on physical media such as CDs and DVDs, not downloaded copies. Thus, they were able to make the case that they could prohibit reselling of downloaded copies.
  • The ruling means that in the EU, there is no difference between copies on physical media and downloaded copies. Both are eligible for reselling.
  • Still the European court issued some qualifiers. One, the original owner must make any copies they possess inoperable. Plus, they are not allowed to split the licenses for resell.
  • It is not clear how this ruling would apply to downloaded media such as films, TV shows, books and magazines.

Case Study on the Pitfalls of Success: Inside Microsoft’s Lost Decade

  • In its August issue, Vanity Fair offers analysis of what the article describes as the “astonishingly foolish management decisions” at Microsoft that “could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success.”
  • According to the article, Microsoft’s “stack ranking” — where all employees are ranked as top performers, good performers, average, and poor — was “the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees” and eventually “crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate.”
  • The company’s focus on Windows and Office blinded them to opportunities in emerging technologies. “Ideas about mobile computing with a user experience that was cleaner than with a PC were deemed unimportant by a few powerful people in that division, and they managed to kill the effort,” suggests the article.
  • “I see Microsoft as technology’s answer to Sears,” said Kurt Massey, a former senior marketing manager. “In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Sears had it nailed. It was top-notch, but now it’s just a barren wasteland. And that’s Microsoft. The company just isn’t cool anymore.”
  • Vanity Fair notes that today the Apple iPhone “generates more revenue than all of Microsoft’s wares combined.”
  • “They used to point their finger at IBM and laugh,” said Bill Hill, a former Microsoft manager. “Now they’ve become the thing they despised.”

Twitter Publishes First Transparency Report, Expect Updates Twice a Year

  • Twitter has released its first Twitter Transparency Report. The report is intended to show government requests received for user information, government requests received to withhold content, and DMCA takedown notices received from copyright holders.
  • “The report also provides insight into whether or not we take action on these requests,” adds the Twitter blog.
  • The report indicates that from January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012, Twitter received 849 user information requests. Of those, 679 came from the United States where 75 percent produced some or all the information.
  • Twitter also received 3,378 copyright takedown notices affecting 5,874 users. In response, some 5,275 tweets and 599 media elements were removed.
  • “We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011,” reports the Twitter blog.
  • Twitter will be releasing these reports every six months.

New York Venture Capitalist Comments on the Significant Growth of Mobile

  • “There is a significant shift going on this year, much more significant than we saw last year, from Web to mobile,” notes Fred Wilson, a VC and principal of Union Square Ventures. “It is most noticeable in games, social networking, music, and news, but it is happening across the board and it presents both great opportunity and great challenges.”
  • Companies that were significant Web presences such as Google, Yahoo! and even Facebook are being challenged. Meanwhile, mobile companies like Instagram, Foursquare and Twitter are flourishing.
  • Unlike the Web which requires feature richness, mobile demands small app specific services. Facebook should break out a number of small mobile apps such as Messenger, Instagram, and Camera.
  • “In the past fifteen years, we have seen Microsoft go from being an unstoppable force to being a non-factor in many important new markets, we have seen Google go from being an unstoppable force to being a non-factor in many important new markets, and I suspect we are going to see Facebook struggle with the same thing,” writes Wilson. “RIM is dying quickly now. Yahoo! is a question mark.”
  • He also notes that while mobile is today’s priority, next year it may be something entirely new.

Coalition Issues Declaration of Internet Freedom, Lacks Specific Reform Agenda

  • A broad coalition of public interest groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Mozilla Foundation, and dozens of others have jointly issued the “Declaration of Internet Freedom.”
  • “We stand for a free and open Internet,” reads the document. “We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles.”
  • 1) “Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.”
  • 2) “Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.”
  • 3) “Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.”
  • 4) “Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.”
  • 5) “Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.”
  • The principles are intended to be nonpartisan and are supported by both liberal and conservative groups. There will be local meetups to discuss the principles and later plans to promote them to Congress.
  • Still, the declarations are vague and will require focused political pressure to insure changes in public policy, notes Ars Technica. An example of public pressure is a campaign from Demand Progress — “the Internet vs. Hollywood,” which suggests that government seizure powers such as those exhibited in the Megaupload case could be used in the future against mainstream Web services like Gmail and Flickr.

Nexus 7: Is the New Kindle Fire Competitor Really a Retooled Asus Tablet?

  • While Google and Asus supposedly created the new Nexus 7 tablet in four months, the device may simply be a version of an existing product minus some features to bring down the price.
  • At CES, Asus was showing its Eee Pad MeMO ME370T, a 7-inch tablet that looked like the Nexus 7 but also included a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera, a microSD slot, and a micro HDMI port. While it had a Qualcomm chip at the time, Asus announced they would replace it with an Nvidia Tegra 3, but the device would cost $250.
  • After CES, Nvidia announced a family of low-cost Tegra 3 tablets designed to sell at $199. Removing some of the ME370T’s features and reducing the memory may simply have been a way to get the price point down to the $199 target.
  • “While the base design and setup was completed in the 370T to meet a certain price point and option list, the efforts required to get that design to $199 meant going back to the drawing board and starting over on just about every aspect of the unit,” an Asus rep told The Verge.
  • “But if Asus, Nvidia, and Google hadn’t made it a priority to challenge Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the ME370T could have been just another outdated Android tablet on the pile,” concludes the post.

E-Book Apps Collect Data on Reader Habits: Helpful Tool or Invasion of Privacy?

  • E-book apps from Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble track reader behavior and pass that information back to be analyzed as an aggregated data pool.
  • The apps can determine how much time readers spend with a book, where they lose interest, which search terms they use to find books, which sentences they highlight, and much more.
  • Barnes & Noble, for example, found “nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts, while novels are generally read straight through, and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans often read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction do, and finish most of the books they start.”
  • “The bigger trend we’re trying to unearth is where are those drop-offs in certain kinds of books, and what can we do with publishers to prevent that? If we can help authors create even better books than they create today, it’s a win for everybody,” explains Jim Hilt, Barnes & Noble VP of E-Books.
  • Still, some publishers are skeptical about using the data. “The thing about a book is that it can be eccentric, it can be the length it needs to be, and that is something the reader shouldn’t have anything to do with,” says Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. “We’re not going to shorten ‘War and Peace’ because someone didn’t finish it.”
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation working with the ACLU has argued that people’s reading habits should be private. They are lobbying states to enact privacy provisions as California has done.
  • There is one company that has taken this approach to an extreme. Coliloquy is not only gathering reader data to help authors craft their works to best fit reader interests and behavior; it uses a proprietary data platform that allows readers choose from different paths through the story.

Next Up on YouTube: For Producers and Stars, Amateur is the New Pro

  • Google hosted its “Next Up” event, where talented YouTubers were invited to New York for tips and training and were awarded a check for $35,000. The purpose is to accelerate “the growth of the next big YouTube stars,” according to the YouTube blog.
  • There are hundreds of YouTube stars — such as Ray William Johnson, Mystery Guitar Man, Smosh, Michelle Phan, the ShayTards, Jenna Marbles, Freddie Wong and Philip DeFranco — whose videos attract millions of views, and a share of the resulting ad revenue that could amount to six figures or more.
  • The New York Times interviews a number of these stars to understand how they got into the business, what motivates them and how their lives have changed.
  • About half of the Next Up winners live in and around Los Angeles where a YouTube ecosystem has developed among YouTube pros, YouTube-focused production companies and agencies.
  • The bond between YouTube creator and audience has attracted interest among advertisers. Some brands are paying stars six figures to create an ad.
  • “Five years ago, ‘brands would not touch this stuff,’ says Barry Blumberg, the former president of Disney television animation who now runs Web sites and YouTube channels for Alloy Digital,” reports NYT. “‘The audience thinks they know them.’ And that, he says, can be monetized.”
  • Google is now expanding its efforts by identifying and seeding separate categories — including Next Chef, Next Comic, Next Vlogger.
  • “YouTube is doubling down on content creation as a core feature of its site,” Richard MacManus argues on ReadWriteWeb. “It is doing this across the whole spectrum of content creation: from amateur to professional, with a lot of gray in-between.”

Gartner Says Consumer Cloud Storage to Skyrocket in Next Four Years

  • A new Gartner study predicts that by 2016, consumers will store a third of their digital content in the cloud. This compares with only 7 percent in 2011.
  • “Gartner believes consumers’ affinity for mobile devices such as smartphones and cameras — particularly those with high-end camera apertures — will help drive this increasing need for digital storage,” reports Slashdot.
  • The average amount of data stored by households will increase from 464GB last year to 3.3TB by 2016.
  • Consumer cloud services are now available from Google, Microsoft and Apple. Business services are also proliferating such as Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and Oracle.
  • “As we enter the post-PC era, consumers are using multiple connected devices, the majority of which are equipped with cameras. With the emergence of the personal cloud, this fast-growing consumer digital content will quickly get disaggregated from connected devices,” writes Shalini Verma, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Cloud storage will grow with the emergence of the personal cloud, which in turn will simplify the direct-to-cloud model, allowing users to directly store user-generated content in the cloud.”

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