Media Industry Groups Announce New Anti-Piracy Coalition

  • A collection of Hollywood studios and guilds this week announced the formation of “Creative America,” a non-profit grassroots organization intended to fight piracy that threatens creative jobs.
  • Creative America intends to provide a unified voice for some 2 million Americans who work in film, television, and other creative fields and believe, “that halting the looting of America’s creative works and protecting jobs must be a national priority.”
  • Members of the coalition include: AFTRA, CBS, DGA, IATSE International, NBC Universal, SAG, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom, Disney and Warner Bros.
  • The coalition supports a new bill before the U.S. Senate, which would allow the Department of Justice to pursue pirates overseas.
  • The group aims to provide IP protection and related information through its website and social networking entities such as Facebook and Twitter.

3D Printing Technology Opens Potentially Thorny Legal Issues

  • Paramount Pictures recently issued a cease and desist order to a 3D replicator of “Super 8” cubes.
  • Todd Blatt, an engineer from Baltimore, replicates interesting devices and props he sees in movies (such as the cubes from Paramount’s “Super 8”), sends the digital models to 3D printer Shapeways, and then sometimes sells the resulting metal or plastic models to fans online.
  • New fronts in copyright law are developing as digital tools increasingly encroach on the physical world. Emergence of low-cost 3D printers and software will continue to push these issues.
  • From a copyright viewpoint, this case illustrates how 3D printers will possibly impact product licensing the way the MP3 codec impacted the music industry.
  • This may raise some interesting near future questions regarding how film props will need to be legally classified (especially in terms of patent, copyright and fair use laws).

Rovio Planning Angry Birds Feature Film, Acquires Animation Studio

  • Rovio, creator of the game app “Angry Birds,” is planning the next step for its popular IP: a feature-length motion picture.
  • The expanding franchise has already proven successful with plush toys, iPhone cases, a Mattel board game, a cookbook, and an interesting tie-in with 20th Century Fox’s feature film, “RIO” (Rovio launched mobile game “Angry Birds Rio” to coincide with the film’s release).
  • In order to facilitate its next steps, Rovio has acquired Finnish animation studio Kombo and has attached former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel as special advisor.
  • Based on the global popularity of the app and the “emotional connection” that gamers experience during play, Maisel sees continued success for “Angry Birds” as an entertainment brand.

Access to Month-Long iTunes Festival Available via iOS App

  • The annual iTunes Festival kicked off Friday in England, streaming select performances live in HD to iPads and iPhones for those who downloaded the free app.
  • The event is scheduled for 31 consecutive nights at the Roundhouse in London.
  • Paul Simon was the first artist to take the stage. Additional headliners include Coldplay, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Moby and more.
  • Apple funds the event by recording the live sets and selling them exclusively on iTunes.
  • Wired suggests an alternative business model: “But it makes me wish more festival organizers would do this the other way around — free recordings of the gigs you paid to see at festivals. Or perhaps a handful of free tracks to choose from an entire festival’s lineup, with the complete collection put on sale. There’s no better live recording than one created during the night you attended.”

Three New PEN Camera Models from Olympus

  • The Olympus PEN series extends its successful Micro-Four-Thirds lineup to include upgraded technology in its higher-end models in addition to the new pocket-cam and entry-level E-PM1.
  • The E-P3 is the new flagship PEN that “brings the series up to DSLR quality with new sensor and processor technology.” Features include a 3-inch 614K pixel OLED touchscreen, 2-1/4000 second shutter speed, and 12.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor. The E-P3 will be available in August for $900.
  • The most notable addition to the E-PL3 is “its tilting, 3-inch, 460K pixel LCD display,” and like the E-P3 includes 3D capability. It also includes a 12.3-megapixel Live MOS Image Sensor, that “addressed some of the low-light issues holding back former PEN units.” Price and availability have not been announced.
  • The pocketable six-inch E-PM1 — designed for consumers who have outgrown their point-and-shoots — promises a simplified UI for beginners, 12.3-megapixel MOS, and 3-inch LCD display, but no tilt or touchscreen. Again, price and availability have yet to be announced.

Acer Launches Colorful Line of Affordable Netbooks

  • Computer manufacturer Acer announced the launch of its Aspire One Happy 2 netbook line.
  • The new netbooks feature 10.1-inch displays, Intel Atom N570 processors, and battery lives of up to eight hours.
  • Less than one inch thick, they also come in four colorful cases (Banana Cream, Blueberry Shake, Papaya Milk, Strawberry Yogurt).
  • Additional features include 1GB DDR3 RAM, 250GB hard drive, Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking, and a VGA webcam for video chat.
  • Price point may help make the line a viable alternative to tablets; the Acer netbooks are currently available starting at $270.

MySpace Efforts May Have Cost News Corp. More Than Millions

  • ETCentric reported earlier in the week that social networking site MySpace would be sold to Irvine-based advertising firm Specific Media for $35 million in cash and stock.
  • Although News Corp. has claimed that its Google ad deals helped curb MySpace losses over the recent years, others suggest a darker picture.
  • The sale of MySpace for a mere 6 percent of its original $580 million purchase price may be yet another chapter in a disappointing tale, one which started with a failed attempt to build an all-service media empire.
  • Ars Technica suggests that when considering the entire picture, including the operating losses over the years, the MySpace acquisition may have cost News Corp. well over $1 billion (read the article for a breakdown of the math).
  • Specific Media, with Justin Timberlake as a backer, is expected to focus on music for MySpace’s new direction.

Internet TV More Popular than 3D TV, 3D Jump Expected by 2015

  • Only 2 percent of U.S. homes will have a 3D TV by year’s end, and the market is expected to only improve slightly to 5 percent penetration in 2012.
  • However, SNL Kagan reports that these figures will jump to 21 percent in 2015.
  • Internet-enabled TVs are currently more popular, projected to go from 14 percent penetration this year to 51 percent in 2015.
  • The report also concludes that a lack of 3D content has been a problem thus far, but growing interest in 3D sports and films should help sustain the technology in the future.

Positive Review for the New Tumblr iPhone 2.0 App

  • Social blogging network Tumblr announced the release of its Tumblr iPhone 2.0 mobile app this week.
  • According to Digital Trends: “Users can now manage multiple Tumblogs, reply to messages and save drafts — important functionality that was completely lacking from the first version.”
  • Another positive addition includes the ability to sign up directly through the mobile app, rather than on the Web.
  • Digital Trends offers a positive review and suggests: “If you’re on Tumblr (and have an iPhone), definitely download this app right now.”

Will Apple Offer a Free Version of its iPhone?

  • Apple may soon “amp up competition with Android” by offering its iPhone 3GS for $0 (with a qualifying service contract).
  • The iPhone 3GS was launched in the U.S. in June 2009.
  • RBC Capital Market analyst Mike Abramsky suggests the free phone will be made available the same time that Apple releases its successor to the iPhone 4, providing options for different demographics.
  • Abramsky also forecasts the free 3GS could “expand the iPhone’s worldwide marketshare from some 64 million users to more than 150 million users.”
  • Google’s Android is currently the top-selling smartphone platform in the U.S.

HP Enters the Tablet Fray This Week with the TouchPad

  • Hewlett-Packard will start selling its new TouchPad on Friday, entering the tablet market currently dominated by the iPad 2.
  • The new tablet, starting at $500, features a 10-inch screen with “a slick, distinctive software interface.”
  • Walt Mossberg likes TouchPad’s UI but downgrades it for poor battery life, a small number of apps, and an operating system that is buggy and requires regular rebooting.
  • The TouchPad will initially be available in two versions (16 or 32 gigabytes of storage) and will only offer Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Mossberg: “At least for now, I can’t recommend the TouchPad over the iPad 2.”

MediaMall PlayLater Serves as DVR for Online Video

  • MediaMall, the group behind the popular PlayOn media software, announced this week a closed beta of an online service that allows users to record online video for later viewing (including offline).
  • PlayLater works similarly to a DVR, allowing “recording” of online video from sites such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and major networks.
  • Early reporting suggests playback of DRM protected files only on approved programs running on PC (using Windows Media Player), Android, iOS, Google TV, game systems, etc.
  • PlayLater is expected to eventually be available for $5/month, or $50/year.
  • CrunchGear reports: “Believe it or not, the term DVR is actually appropriate here. I’ve used the service and it actually records the programming and wraps the video file in a DRM-laced .plv container that’s only playable on approved programs.”

Google Launches WDYL.com: What Do You Love?

  • Google quietly launched WDYL.com this week, a new site that presents search results across 20 different products/widgets on one page.
  • The acronym asks the question: “What do you love?”
  • WDYL.com was launched without fanfare or marketing, and while little more is known about it at this time, a box at the bottom of each search result suggests: “More coming soon.”
  • According to TechCrunch: “The most striking thing about the new site is that it seems pretty well designed — not always a given with Google.”

SMPTE Conference: The Need for Science Education in 3D Production

  • SMPTE recently held its 3D Conference for Media and Entertainment in New York City.
  • One significant outcome resulted from scientists who are studying how the brain processes visual images.
  • They suggest that Hollywood needs an improved academic understanding of stereoscopic 3D to avoid making viewers uncomfortable.
  • It was recommended that content creators and vision scientists get together to evaluate different demographics, 2D-to-3D conversion, potential harmful effects, eye fatigue and much more.
  • “The problem is that we’re looking at this from a top down perspective instead from the bottom up. With HDTV, it took us more than 20 years to get the science right. Here [with 3D] we’re starting with the screen and working backwards. That doesn’t seem right,” suggested Joseph Flaherty, senior VP of technology at the CBS Network.

Social Networker MySpace to Be Sold to California Ad Agency

  • News Corp. is in the process of selling once-popular social networking site MySpace to Specific Media, an Irvine-based ad network.
  • The cash and stock deal is reportedly valued at $35 million — a mere 6 percent of the $580 million News Corp. paid for the site in 2005 (although News Corp. claims it made back its investment earlier from a Google ad deal).
  • The one-time leading social networking destination, MySpace was decimated by the global popularity of Facebook.
  • Specific Media is expected to return MySpace to its music roots as a location to discover new bands and songs.
  • The sale comes in the same week that Google announces its own new networking service, designed to directly challenge Facebook for dominance in the space.
  • Facebook is presently valued at more than $70 billion.

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