Piracy and Privacy
Piracy and Privacy
IN an effort to stymie
Internet pirates, the International Federation of the Phonographic
Industry, a music industry group, is asking European lawmakers to
require Internet service providers to use filters to block the illicit
transfer of copyrighted material (dslreports.com).
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org), a privacy advocate, responded by sending a letter to the European Parliament
arguing that such filters would be an “ineffective measure that will do
little to practically address the concerns of major rights holders
while imposing serious costs on the individual rights of European
The filtering technology would not be effective, according to the
foundation, because pirates would simply encrypt files to bypass it in
the same way that banks encrypt credit card information. Meanwhile,
legitimate users of copyrighted material would be hampered in their
ability to post video and music clips. And the costs would most likely
be borne by service providers, and, by extension, their customers, the
Media companies and trade groups in the United States have sought similar measures. In a widely ridiculed letter to the Federal Communications Commission last summer, NBC Universal
said such filters would help American corn farmers because Internet
users, unable to watch pirated movies, would head to theaters and buy
The recording industry group is asking that service providers use
filtering technology like that made by Audible Magic, which identifies
and blocks audio files bearing a digital “fingerprint.” It further asks
that service providers block users’ access to specific peer-to-peer
file-sharing services — those that “have refused to implement steps to
prevent infringement,” according to a copy of the group’s request
obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“This is the latest in an ongoing effort for the entertainment
industry to pretend that the Internet needs to conform to the way it
wants the world to act, rather than conforming to the way the Internet
actually works,” wrote Mike Masnick (techdirt.com).
ADVERTISERS’ DILEMMA As ratings continue to sag for the major television networks, advertising rates are going … up?
“Although it seems counterintuitive, it’s the law of supply and
demand,” Holly M. Sanders of The New York Post reported this week (nypost.com).
“As the TV audience shrinks, advertisers have to buy more ads to reach
their target number of viewers. But that increased demand for ad slots
creates scarcity, which in turn leads to rate hikes.”
The situation highlights “the strategic blindness of advertisers,”
according to Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine. To reach the people they want,
advertisers have to “work a little harder and move past the one-stop
shopping of TV,” Mr. Jarvis wrote (buzzmachine.com). “Actual work? Heaven forbid.”
According to a recent help wanted ad seeking journalists (journalismjobs.com),
MainStreet.com “will cover breaking news, including celebrity and
entertainment news, as a means to get into personal finance.”
So, an article might be something like this, according to the ad: “Jamie Lynn Spears
is having a baby.” The article would then say: “Suddenly finding
yourself with an unplanned bun in the oven? Here’s how to start
preparing yourself financially to have and raise a child.”
One of the requirements listed in the ad is “great news judgment.” DAN MITCHELL
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Microsoft Lands Deals
With Movie, TV Titans
By ROBERT A. GUTH
January 7, 2008; Page A3
LAS VEGAS — Microsoft Corp. will get to use movies and television programming from several large entertainment companies under new deals that may help it better compete with Apple Inc.’s iTunes online service and rivals such as software maker Adobe Systems Inc.
Microsoft said it reached agreements with NBC Universal Inc., Walt Disney Co., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and CBS Corp.’s Showtime Networks Inc. to contribute entertainment content to the software maker’s Xbox Live and MSN online services. The agreements were disclosed last night by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show, the consumer-electronics industry’s annual conference here.
See live updates and videos from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on our blog, at WSJ.com/CES2.
Mr. Gates also said that Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., has sold 100 million licenses for Windows Vista, the company’s year-old operating system for personal computers. Sales of Windows Vista are being closely watched by Wall Street analysts and Microsoft customers because the software, critical to Microsoft’s growth, has had middling reviews.
Under the agreements, Disney, MGM and Showtime will contribute programming to Xbox Live, an online service with about 10 million subscribers that is primarily used for playing videogames. The Xbox Live service has a feature for downloading movies and other entertainment content, but that feature has been slow to take off, partly because it has been hard for some consumers to use, and Microsoft has done little to promote it. Microsoft already has similar deals with studios including Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.
The deals could lift the service by adding to it movies such as the Rocky series and shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty.” Still, Apple’s iTunes, with music downloads its main feature, is far more widely used.
Microsoft said it signed a separate deal with NBC to manage a Web site for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., has exclusive broadcast and video rights in the U.S. to the games. Microsoft’s MSN service will run an Olympics site that will have access to 3,000 hours of video coverage and allow Internet users to customize live and on-demand video from Beijing. “It’s going to let us illustrate why TV is going to be very different” over the Web, Mr. Gates said.
Those features will be run by a Microsoft technology called Silverlight — software that can let Web sites handle video, animations and other features more dynamically than most Web sites traditionally can. Microsoft is betting the Olympics will help push Silverlight, which to work requires software that is downloaded over the Internet, onto millions of consumers’ PCs.