by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 29th 2010 3:38pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 19th 2010 1:44pm
from the welcome-to-online dept
Hans-Joachim Fuhrmann, a spokesman for the German Newspaper Publishers Association, said the Web sites of all German newspapers and magazines together made 100 million euros, or $143 million, in ad revenue, while Google generated 1.2 billion euros from search advertising in Germany.Okay. Let's pick apart this apples and oranges comparison. First off, Google earns 1.2 billion euros from search advertising which has almost nothing to do with news. It comes from people searching for cameras or cribs or cars. Google News had no advertising at all for most of its existence and only introduced ads in the US less than a year ago. In other words, no, Google is not making more than newspapers and magazines when it comes to its News site in Germany.
"Google says it brings us traffic, but the problem is that Google earns billions, and we earn nothing," Mr. Fuhrmann said.
And, even if Google was making more money (which, again, there's no evidence that this is true), that still doesn't excuse Fuhrmann's claims -- which basically amount to him admitting that Google figured out how to make money and the companies he represents did not. Yet the publishers he represents had all of the advantages in the world. They were local. Google was not. They had been around for many more years than Google. They had brand recognition and loyalty that Google did not. Furhmann is basically admitting what a colossal failure the companies he represents have been. They failed to capitalize on a huge opportunity. And now, when Google sends them traffic, they are still failing to use that traffic wisely. And then they blame Google for it? Wow.
The publishers also complained about what they saw as a lack of transparency in the way Google presents search results and news snippets in its Google News service, saying the company was manipulating the results to help maintain its strong position....So go ahead and prove it. First of all, Google is a private company and can rank sites however it wants. It's an opinion of what Google feels is most relevant. If Google was not doing a good job, then people would go away. So basically, at this point, Fuhrmann hasn't just admitted that the publishers he represents have failed miserably to set up even the most basic business models for adapting to the internet, he's now suggesting that Google is purposely handicapping its own site by not presenting the absolute best results!
"We often feel like Web sites are elevated in Google's search results if they have a strong business relationship with Google, and we think we can prove it," Mr. Fuhrmann said.
It's difficult to see how this makes any sense at all. The publishers are claiming that Google is purposely degrading its results (and they can prove it!) and at the same time complaining that they can't compete against those degraded results. Wow.
On top of all that, the article reminds us, as we discussed last year, that these publishers have convinced German Chancellor Angela Merkel to support a new copyright law that would force aggregators to pay up just to link to stories. It's as if Germany doesn't want the internet at all.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 8th 2009 7:37am
Music Publishers Lawsuit Against Yahoo, Microsoft, Real Tossed For Failing To Prove They Hold Copyrights
from the oooops dept
Either way, Microsoft, Yahoo and Real were quick to ask for the lawsuit to be dismissed and Eric Goldman sent over the rather short ruling from last month that does, in fact, dismiss the case stating (surprisingly) that the music publishers failed to show they hold the copyrights they were arguing over. That's rather incredible, seeing as the original lawsuit went on for pages and pages, claiming to hold various licensing rights. But the court wasn't buying it:
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss All Causes of Action of Plaintiff MCS Music America, Inc. ("MCS") is granted on the ground Plaintiff MCS has failed to state a legal claim for copyright infringement. To establish a claim of copyright infringement, two elements must be satisfied: (1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) unauthorized copying of the original work. Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Services Co., Inc,. 499 U.S. 340, 111 S.Ct 1282 (1991); Jones v. Blige, 558 F.3d 485 (6th Cir.2009).On top of that, MCS requested the right to amend the lawsuit, and the court shot them down there as well:
MCS has failed to demonstrate ownership of any of the copyrights at issue. Plaintiffs allege MCS is a licensing administrator and an exclusive licensing agent of the copyrights at issue, but do not allege MCS to be an owner of such works. Without demonstrating legal ownership, MCS is not able to plead all of the necessary elements of copyright infringement.
Plaintiffs ask the court to consider the affidavit of Janice Bane with regard to MCS's rights. The court will not consider Ms. Bane's affidavit in deciding this issue. In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court properly may consider only evidence contained in or asserted in the pleadings. As a general rule, matters outside the pleadings may not be considered in ruling on a motion to dismiss unless the motion is converted to one for summary judgment under Rule 56. Jackson v. City of Columbus, 194 F.3d 737, 745 (6th Cir.1999). Weiner v. Klais & Co., 108 F.3d 86, 88-89 (6th Cir.1997). Furthermore, even if the court were to consider Ms. Bane's affidavit, it does not indicate any ownership on the part of MCS, thus rendering its consideration moot.
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss All Causes of Action of Plaintiff MCS is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs have moved to amend their complaint a second time. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state "... a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). However. Plaintiffs have not demonstrated their amended complaint would show MCS has ownership of any of the copyrights at issue and would therefore be futile. For that reason, Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint is DENIED.So much for that, then. Somewhere along the line, it looks like these publishers got some really poor legal advice, as this case didn't last long at all, and to be tossed out so early is pretty bad.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 7th 2009 7:03pm
from the not-exactly-adapting dept
The letter makes it clear that IP enforcement is seen as the only way to distribute value to authors and distributors (consumers are not mentioned). Here is a choice quote:
"The government cannot accept to see another cultural industry threatened by the pillaging."The letter also mentions the "damages observed for the music and film industries through the growth of illegal downloads." Obviously, no sources are given for that information. Most amusingly, the letter states that Christine Albanel (who kindly told us that OpenOffice comes with a firewall which would somehow block illegal downloads) should use in this mission her experience in working with the music and film industry. I like many French authors and I sincerely hope that they ignore whatever she says and instead try something which might actually work, but I'm not holding my breath..."
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 16th 2009 3:22am
from the doesn't-really-change-much dept
In my mind, the biggest news is the new restrictions on countries from which it will scan books. From now on, the book scanning project will only scan books that have registered copyrights in the US, UK, Australia or Canada. This was mainly to address ridiculous concerns by some in Europe that this project -- to help make all books more accessible -- was somehow a threat to European culture. I was in Europe on Friday (well, Saturday there) when the announcement was made, and it actually pissed off the folks I talked to about it -- who felt that their politicians were doing serious harm to European books by having them excluded from such a useful resource.
Separately, a lot of the focus on this new agreement, as with the old agreement, is over how Google treats orphan works. Again, I have to admit that I think most people are making a much bigger deal of this than it warrants. The orphan works stuff really covers a very small number of works. And giving rightsholders ten years to claim their rights seems more than adequate to me. I just don't see what the big deal is here. The real issue is that we have orphan works at all. Under the old (more sensible) copyright regime, you actually had to proactively declare your copyright interest. The only reason we have orphan works at all is that we got rid of such a system in the ongoing effort of copyright maximalists to wipe out the public domain.
Anyway, I think this is all something of a sideshow. I still stand by my original feeling towards the settlement, which is that I'm upset anyone felt it was necessary at all. Google had a strong fair use claim that I would have liked to have seen taken all the way through the courts. And, of course, this settlement really has nothing at all to do with the main issue of the lawsuit (that fair use question) and is really a debate over a separate issue: how to take the books Google scans and trying to turn them into a "book store" rather than more of a "library." And, in doing so, the important fair use question gets completely buried -- which I find unfortunate.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 16th 2009 5:46pm
from the they-shouldn't dept
Furthermore, the rest of the discussion is just silly. There are arguments about how many ebooks can be "checked out" at once or how the DRM works (which blocks the most popular ebook readers from being supported). There's also an issue of publishers charging libraries much higher prices for ebooks, and scoffing at a librarian who suggests that libraries should be allowed to offer as many copies as needed of an ebook to lend at the same time, and just pay the publishers a nominal fee.
It's hard to describe how insane this whole discussion sounds. Here you have a fantastic tool to support a library's main purpose in the world, and we're arguing over what sorts of artificial restrictions to set up to limit that tool from actually being useful? It's as if we discovered a way to make all the food the world ever needed, and we sit around talking about how to make sure that most people don't get fed. It would make me laugh if it weren't so disturbing that people seem to think this is a good thing.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 9th 2009 8:50am
Music Publishers, Songwriters To Congress: Our Royalties Should Be Guaranteed, No Matter What The Market Says
from the songs-from-luddites dept
"Technology should not be used to strip rights from songwriters, composers and music publishers. The choice of certain audiovisual delivery systems or methods over others should not result in a diminution of creators' rights or royalties."Read that one carefully. They are saying that as technology changes, and as the market changes, their royalties should never be allowed to drop. Notice that they're not taking responsibility for adapting to a changing market. They're not saying that they need to adjust and put in place smarter business models. No, they're saying that Congress somehow needs to guarantee that no matter what happens in the market, their royalties remain the same.
What's really revealing is that this quote highlights the fact that these representatives view their royalties as "rights" to be protected -- not revenue to be earned.
No wonder they're lashing out and doing all sorts of ridiculous stuff like trying to get extra royalties on embedded videos, ringtones and 30 second previews. These are the same groups that have publicly decided they need to try to start a PR campaign against people who are trying to protect user rights and fair use. Since that time, we've noticed various people associated with ASCAP and the Songwriters Guild putting up various blogs attacking copyright skeptics in the most ridiculous ways. There's one, which isn't worth pointing out, where a lawyer who works with these groups regularly mocks Larry Lessig, William Patry, Michael Geist and myself -- using nicknames and making up fanciful stories about us. It's the sort of activity you'd expect from a 12-year-old.
It looks like these groups simply feel entitled to having the government force everyone to hand over money. Songwriters who belong to these organizations are being led down a dangerous path. It seems like there's room in the market for groups to represent songwriters' interests without being anti-fan or anti-technology. Quite clearly, ASCAP, BMI, NMPA and the SGA do not fall into that category. Instead, they're pretending that the world owes them money just for existing, and they're going to lash out anyone who tries to suggest otherwise.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 24th 2009 9:55pm
from the is-singing-along-without-a-license-the-next-to-go? dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 31st 2009 1:24pm
from the sensationalism-at-work dept
Peter Cox, a literary agent and editor of the Litopia blog, said: "These people are pirates. We don't have to give in to this. We can't afford to make the same mistakes the music industry did."Apparently Mr. Cox hasn't been paying attention. The "music industry" (he means the recording industry) didn't give in on this. It fought it consistently. And lost pretty much every battle -- often making things worse for itself by simply never adjusting to the changing marketplace. So, Cox's response is to follow their exact mistakes by "fighting" this? That's exactly the mistake that the music industry made.
Instead, he might want to take a look at what folks like Paulo Coehlo discovered when he "pirated" his own books and saw sales jump. Or what Baen books has done. Or what tons of authors have found after they put their books online for free and combined it with a smart business model. Otherwise, Mr. Cox is making the exact mistake the recording industry made while thinking (incorrectly) that trying to "stop piracy" is somehow a workable solution.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 27th 2009 8:44am
from the we've-seen-this-movie-before,-and-it-doesn't-end-well dept
So why are book publishers doing the same thing?
Farhad Manjoo has an interesting article in Slate where he notes that publishers are worried about Amazon turning into "the Apple of the book industry," yet at the same time, they're the ones who are pushing for DRM and limitations that will effectively lock users in to Amazon's ebook platform for a long time. If the publishers had insisted on more open solutions, then a real competitive market could develop. That would be better for everyone. As great as the new Kindle is, it's still rather expensive. Allowing others to enter the market would lead to greater innovation -- making it easier for more people to get into the ebook reader market, and open up plenty of new opportunities for publishers. But the dumb and pointless infatuation with "DRM" and "protecting" works will basically hand the market over to Amazon for many years, and get many folks locked into to Amazon's Kindle platform, even when more open solutions finally start to become popular.