stories filed under: "entertainment"
Wed, Jul 18th 2007 3:39am
barnes & noble
A few weeks back, Michael Moore's latest film, Sicko, was released and fared pretty decently at the box office, despite being available on P2P networks -- a situation one hyperbolic article described as "every film maker's worst marketing nightmare." That's a story that's played out time and time again, as the mere availability of pirated content hasn't held back the sales of legitimate content. Now, stories about the latest Harry Potter book being available on file-sharing networks are starting to come in, ahead of the book's release this weekend. This news isn't being met with the same level of media freakouts as when a reporter discovered Sicko online, with even the CEO of Barnes & Noble saying it "won't sell a single copy less" of the book despite it being available for free online. The biggest reason for this is the inconvenience of the pirated copies: they're huge PDFs, reportedly of low quality. To approximate the book-reading experience, users would have to print out all the pages, which could be time-consuming and expensive, while reading the book on a computer screen or monitor wouldn't be a lot of fun for many people. This draws parallels to other forms of piracy: for instance, while most new movies are available for free from file-sharing networks, plenty of people still want to pay to watch them in a theater, for a variety of reasons. Certainly there are people who will overlook any amount of drawbacks to get free content; chances are they wouldn't pay for legitimate content anyway. But there remains a large market of people who are perfectly willing to pay for content -- so long as content producers can provide them with sufficient value.
Tue, Jul 17th 2007 11:47am
from the a-new-low dept
Despite the RIAA's astounding legal gymnastics and its questionable -- if not illegal -- investigative techniques, it typically finds a way to wiggle out of paying the legal bills of anybody it has sued in its misguided legal campaign against record labels' customers. Though there's been a few exceptions, the group's strategy of dropping cases when people notice their flimsy evidence seems to generally shield them from having to pay costs. That's a real problem, since it makes it very easy, and relatively cheap, for the RIAA to abuse the legal system by filing thousands of suits, then suffer no repercussions when it drops them after they're exposed as bogus. Hopefully, though, that's starting to change, as more judges become aware of the RIAA's tactics, or at least pay attention to the facts of its cases. A judge in Oklahoma has now ordered the RIAA to pay $70,000 in legal fees to an Oklahoma woman, after tossing out the group's suit against her earlier this year. In this case, the RIAA didn't make a very good impression on the judge by claiming that they shouldn't have to pay the defendant's legal bills because she could have avoided being sued, had she "appropriately assisted their copyright infringement investigation and litigation" -- which means had she given in to their bullying and accepting one of their generous settlement offers. That's absolutely ridiculous, as the judge noted, since it steamrolls a defendant's right to defend themselves against bogus suits. It's up there with the RIAA's promise in another case not to incorrectly sue a woman a second time, as long as they didn't have to pay her legal bills for the first time they wrongly sued her. The RIAA has gotten away for far too long with bending the legal system to fit its desires; hopefully those days are coming to an end.
Mon, Jul 16th 2007 5:40pm
from the denied dept
Earlier in the month, Russian authorities shut down the well-known Allofmp3.com site, following complaints from the US government -- and the implication that if they didn't do so, the US would make it hard for Russia to join the World Trade Organization. Of course, the people behind Allofmp3 quickly set up shop at another URL, and went about their business selling dirt-cheap digital music. It's today been reported that Alltunes, another site owned by Allofmp3's parent company, has won a court case against Visa's Russian agent, after Visa refused to process its payments. As the company points out, it's never been convicted of illegal activity, and Visa cut it off after complaints from the IFPI, the international equivalent of the RIAA. It's not clear to what extent Visa and its agents can be forced to =offer their services to a business, however the Allofmp3 folks are correct when they assert that it's not Visa's -- nor the IFPI's -- right to decide when copyright's been violated, particularly when they don't hold any of the copyrights in question.
Mon, Jul 16th 2007 6:10am
from the hot-air dept
The group behind the HD DVD format in Europe claims that it has 74 percent market share of the next-gen DVD market in a handful of western European countries. Of course, they're not including Sony PS3s, which have a Blu-ray drive, in their count, but the bigger point is that they're claiming 74 percent of a miniscule market. This contrived stat, like Toshiba's claim of 60 percent share of the US market, glosses over the problems that are holding it back: DRM that breaks legitimate customers' players, low perceived benefits and high prices. Apparently, though, the HD DVD folks would rather claim to have a big share of a tiny market than to have any share in a market that's actually meaningful. Update: Just in case anybody cares, the Blu-ray people say they're actually the market leaders.