The Wall Street Journal and Ars Technica are reporting that the RIAA has announced a fairly dramatic change in its strategy to fight piracy.
Emily bought a very “high quality” pirated copy of Windows from an Amazon seller and didn’t realize that anything was amiss for an entire year.
Last week, Walmart sent out emails to its online music store customers letting them know that on October 9th, 2008, they will no longer be able to play any DRM-crippled tracks. Unlike Yahoo, which did the right thing by offering free replacement downloads of unprotected songs when they killed their DRM program, Walmart simply brags about its new unlicensed model and tells you to burn your protected tracks to CD if you really want to listen to them in the future. Good job, Walmart, there goes another betrayed consumer into the welcoming arms of digital piracy. And another. And another…
When Yahoo announced last week that they were turning off their DRM-restricted music store store in September, thereby abandoning customers with songs that would no longer play, people were understantably angry. At the time, Yahoo suggested you burn the songs to CD while you still can, then re-rip them into unprotected MP3 files—but that was a lousy solution that took time and money, and resulted in lower-quality audio files. Now they’ve come back with a proper solution that seems to more than make up for the trouble—especially if we can believe what their spokesperson told the LA Times.
If you were still somehow unconvinced that the RIAA’s legal strategy is “be sleazy, intimidate, then profit,” their latest legal maneuvering might finally convince you. Next week, a judge was to decide whether their case against a New York family should be thrown out—the family’s lawyer, RIAA critic Ray Beckerman, argued “that if the RIAA can’t prove anybody downloaded the music from an open share folder, then the case would have to be dismissed.”
Although it won’t affect other cases, the RIAA was handed a small smackdown this week when a U.S. district judge rejected their request for a summary judgement, and ruled that putting song files in a shared directory was not enough proof that infringement had occurred.
When Dean recorded HBO’s new Tom Hanks-produced miniseries “John Adams”—which is not a pay-per-view or on-demand program—he was surprised to see it was flagged by Tivo’s Macrovision software, which controls how many times you may watch a program and how long you can store it before it’s automatically deleted. Now the question is, was this a mistake on the part of HBO or Dean’s cable provider Comcast? Or—considering HBO’s infamous anti-consumer stance on time-shifted programming—is it the beginning of a sneaky “back-door” approach to locking down all their content, something Tivo’s own people said would probably not happen when they added Macrovision to their recorders in 2004?
Last week the House voted 354-58 to approve a college funding bill that requires colleges to “make plans to offer some form of legal alternative to P2P file-swapping” and to implement some form of network filtering. Luckily for sane people everywhere, the White House has already made veto-noises at the bill for other reasons—but still, the MPAA came that much closer to forcing its admittedly false worldview on universities.
AT&T and Comcast may be willing to help Hollywood control piracy on their networks, but Verizon wants none of it, says the New York Times.
BONUS QUOTE:“Illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing is a society-wide problem. Some of it occurs at college s and universities but it is a small portion of the total,” [Terry Hartle ,vice president of the American Council on Education] said, adding colleges will continue to take the problem seriously, but more regulation isn’t necessary.
The RIAA wants you to know that everyone loses with pirated products, so they’ve put together a fake news story and sent it out to TV stations around the country—maybe it will show up on your cash-strapped local news over the next few days, if you’re lucky. We’re torn, though, on posting this because it’s being leaked (promoted?) heavily by the video news release (VNR) company that produced it—we want you to scoff at it with us, but keep your bullshit “stealth marketing” sensors up.
Remember Sony’s cringe-inducing copy protection scheme a couple of years ago, where they secretly installed rootkits on millions of customers’ PCs and then pretended it was no big deal? (“Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?” — Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG’s President of Global Digital Business.) There’s a new article (PDF) about to be published in the Berkely Technology Law Journal called “The Magnificence of the Disaster: Reconstructiong the Sony BMG Rootkit Incident.” It’s a very detailed and entertaining read that examines the conditions that led Sony BMG “toward a strategy that in retrospect appears obviously and fundamentally misguided.”
The elite cyber-squad freedom fighters of the The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released findings today that Comcast does indeed meddle with peer-to-peer file sharing. They’re also giving away some software you can install to test your own ISP. The FCC still has yet to respond to complaints and reports of Comcast’s interference.
Sometime next year, Walgreen will introduce kiosks where customers can select and purchase movies—mostly older ones that aren’t as frequently stocked in stores—and have them burned onto DVDs while they wait (for about 15 minutes). Although the idea seems like one that someone should have had years ago, it wasn’t a commercial possibility until last month, when the organization responsible for licensing CSS—the widespread copy restriction software that’s coded into pretty much every Hollywood DVD release—expanded its licensing structure to make room for business models like this one.
Four benjamins will no longer get you an iPhone, now that Apple is requiring credit cards for all iPhone purchases. The new policy, which is billed as an anti-piracy initiative, also prevents customers from buying more than two iPhones per visit. Apple claims the policy went into effect this Thursday, however we received the following tip more than a week ago:
Media companies including CBS Corp., Microsoft Corp., News Corp.’s Fox and MySpace, Viacom, Walt Disney and NBC have all agreed to some über-pact of copyright “guidelines” to protect their work, and have said they will announce the details later today. “The agreed principles include using technology to eliminate copyright-infringing content uploaded by users to Web sites and blocking any material before it is publicly accessible.” [Reuters]
Radiohead may have moved 1.2 million copies of its new album “In Rainbows” when it was released last week, but according to industry analysts, over 500,000 copies were downloaded through old-fashioned file sharing networks, eroding the perceived success of the distribution plan and possibly hindering similar release plans for other artists in the future.