Distributed Computing Industry
Weekly Newsletter

In This Issue

P2P Safety

P2PTV Guide

P2P Networking

Industry News

Data Bank

Techno Features


May 4, 2009
Volume XXVI, Issue 4

Isle of Man at Digital Hollywood Spring

The Conference Luncheon Speaker at Monday's P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA, the DCIA's flagship conference within Digital Hollywood Spring, will be the Isle of Man's (IOM) e-Commerce Advisor, Ron Berry, who will personally update attendees on the IOM P2P music initiative.

In addition, Ron will also chair an open meeting at 10:00 AM on Wednesday at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for all who want to learn more about this effort and offer their input. To sign-up, please call +1-410-476-7964 or e-mail sari@dcia.info.

Since the public announcement at MIDEM of IOM's plans to create, in the words of TAG Strategic's Ted Cohen, a unique and very valuable "digital sandbox" for the music industry, Ron Berry has been on a whirlwind tour of meetings with music and technology industry representatives, including P2P companies and Internet service providers (ISPs), on many levels in multiple counties.

In twelve short weeks, IOM's initial approach has evolved with input from stakeholders representing all sectors. In particular, the plan now responds fully to issues voiced by Universal Music Group (UMG) chief executive Lucien Grainge at the recent Digital Britain Summit.

What attendees will be the first to hear next week reflects a program that has quickly come a long way in addressing concerns of all constituencies - to the point that it's now an unprecedented and truly history-making initiative.

Attend P2PMSLA from Anywhere in the World

Thanks to Abacast, you can attend the entire P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA on Monday live from the comfort of your nearest networked device. And participate by asking questions of our keynotes and panelists. Abacast is producing the live interactive webcast of the DCIA's flagship day-long conference. To sign-up, please call +1-410-476-7964 or e-mail sari@dcia.info.

Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyHere's an in-depth look at what you can expect Monday at our fourth annual P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA, the DCIA's flagship conference within Digital Hollywood Spring. This promises to be a very valuable experience for all who can attend.

Opening keynote Jim Kott, Co-President, Abacast, will highlight how, in the growing P2P content delivery marketplace, Abacast is making the business of streaming better. He will focus on online video trends from the perspectives of users and content owners.

The Usage Data panel will examine P2P utilization trends and address the key question, what information has value to key constituencies?

Who are the key constituencies that have interest in P2P usage statistics? Which types of information should be gathered and analyzed for each group? What are the concerns associated with developing and exploiting this data, and how can they be mitigated? Which figures have the highest potential to be monetized and why? What can be learned from prior and parallel experience?

Panelists will include Ted Cohen, Managing Director, TAG Strategic; Jonathan Feinstein, Partner, Krasilovsky & Gross; Steve Masur, Managing Partner, MasurLaw; and Cory Mitchell, Consultant, Motion Picture Industry.

Keynoter Kevin Kuzas, former VP & General Counsel, Comcast Interactive Media, will address privacy, data collection, and behavior targeting - a legal update.

Keynoter Mitchell Edwards, General Counsel & CFO, BitTorrent will discuss the seismic evolution in content delivery and BitTorrent's developing role in organizing the world's Internet bandwidth.

The Analytical Tools panel will explore technological solutions, and address the question, what P2P measurement products and services are available?

What metrics, demographics, tracking, and other offerings are now available to commercially optimize P2P for the benefit of all participants in the distribution chain? How is P2P usage data being exploited and by whom to benefit the success of the channel? What else is in the works and what more is needed, analytically, to fully realize the potential of the enormous consumer traffic generated by P2P?

Panelists will include Rick Buonincontri, CEO, Solid State Networks; David Klein, Executive Vice President, Centris; Daniel Leon, SVP, Business Development, DigiMeld; Steve Lerner, Founder & CEO, P2P Cleaner; Alex Limberis, COO, Syabas Technology; and Benjamin Masse, Founder & CEO, AdSong.

Keynoter Eric Garland, CEO, BigChampagne, will offer his leading P2P media measurement firm's latest perspectives on online media consumption and its analytic tools for measuring the impact of marketing impressions online and off.

Keynoter Joey Patuleia, Co-Founder, Brand Asset Digital, will present P2Panalytics, BAD's new service that provides marketers with exclusive access to consumption behavior statistics of users across P2P for the branded content advertised through P2Pwords.

As outlined above, our Conference Luncheon speaker will be the Isle of Man's (IOM) e-Commerce Advisor, Ron Berry, who will update conference delegates on the unprecedented and truly history-making IOM P2P music initiative.

Immediately following the luncheon, keynoter Rick Sizemore, CEO, MultiMedia Intelligence, will discuss the market as MMI sees it, P2P networking by the numbers, P2P facts for success, the problems with P2P networking, global average monthly P2P forecast in petabytes, and more.

Keynoter Adam Fisk, Founder & CEO, LittleShoot, will talk about using this new P2P entrant's analytics to help bands access their fans, and how this approach also applies to Hollywood. LittleShoot's analytics are very detailed thanks to its centralized search and robust log-keeping.

The Relevant Trends panel will examine digital convergence, and address the question, what can be learned from related activities?

What has been the experience of related digital distribution platforms with data measurement? How can lessons from these areas be applied to P2P? Which business models that involve a significant analytic component are showing the most promise? How can comparable approaches be developed for P2P implementation? How should P2P relate to other distribution channels?

Panelists include Jonathan Anderson, Founder & CEO, SelfBank Financial; Larry Gerbrandt, Principal, Media Valuation; Mark Isherwood, Director & Co-Founder, Rightscom; Donald A. Jasko, Founder & CEO, Digital Economics; Jeffrey Payne, Founder & CTO, GridNetworks; and John Rudolph, Founder, Music Analytics.

Keynoter Charlie Hellman, Product Manager, LimeWire Store, will discuss connecting artists with fans in P2P. Learn how the rapidly expanding LimeWire Store, launched in March 2008, is stimulating digital commerce in P2P.

Keynoter Clark Siegel, Partner, Hughes, Hubbard, and Reed will examine P2P and piracy - where have we been and where are going? Clark will review relevant law and case histories and then explore current trends and possible solutions.

The Future Opportunities panel will explore transactional accountability, and address the question, how can participants optimize the channel?

What can the industry do to ensure that appropriate analytics are married to the benefits of P2P scale and efficiency for the distribution of copyrighted works? How can participants at various levels of this channel gain support of rights holders? Which identification techniques (e.g., watermarking and/or fingerprinting) should be used to protect content and enhance the ecosystem? What new solutions will impact P2P software developers and distributors to the greatest degree?

Panelists will include Larry Hadley, Partner, Hennigan Bennett & Dorman; Daniel Harris, Founder & CEO, MediaPass Gigantic; Dana Jones, CEO & Founder, Ultramercial; Colin Sebastian, SVP, Equity Research, Lazard Capital Markets; Yangbin Wang, CEO, Vobile; and Bo Yang, Founder & CEO, Veetle.

Keynoter Devon Copley, CTO, Noank Media, will discuss usage metrics for blanket licensing and P2P. Noank Media proposes a fresh and radically different approach for a commercial solution to the ongoing conflict among copyright "police," copyright "anarchists," and "realists."

And finally Travis Kalanick, Founder, Red Swoosh, will end the conference with a very stimulating and inspiring visionary presentation.

All attendees will receive Ignite Technologies' brand new whitepaper "2009 Best Practices for Enterprise Content Delivery."

To extend the reach of the P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA to those unable to travel to Los Angeles, the DCIA is partnering with Abacast to produce a live interactive webcast of the event.

The P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA is being held at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in conjunction with Digital Hollywood Spring.

P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA pre-registration rates include student at $75, under-employed at $99, unfunded start-up at $250, VC funded start-up at $349, academic/analyst at $375, and standard at $399.

Adding registration for Digital Hollywood Spring brings the total fees for both events to just $150 for students, $204 for under-employed, $385 for unfunded start-up, $649 for VC funded start-up, $799 for academic/analyst, and $825 for standard.

To obtain one of the specially discounted rates, please call +1-410-476-7964 or e-mail sari@dcia.info. To sign-up at the standard pre-registration rate, please click here. Share wisely, and take care.

US Online Sales Up

Excerpted from eMarketer Report

In dark days, e-commerce shines. Most US economic indicators were down in Q1 2009, but online sales were an exception.

According to a survey by Forrester Research and Shop, US online retail sales rose an average of 11% in the first three months of 2009.

Of the 80 companies studied, 58% saw online sales increases compared with the same quarter last year.

Looking further into the findings, 44% of the e-tailers reported increases of over 10%, 14% showed increases up to 10%, and 13% reported flat sales.

In the survey, about 70% of both consumer brand manufacturers and multichannel retailers reported online sales increases. However, web-only merchants had a different situation. About six-in-ten reported web sales declines.

"It seems that consumer confidence is getting better," Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester analyst, told Bloomberg News, "Hopefully the worst is behind us."

Looking ahead, Citi Investment Research projects that US retail e-commerce sales will grow 4.4% in 2009 to $141 billion - and jump to 16.5% growth in 2010.

Velocix Powers Televeo's Service in Spain 

Excerpted from IPTV Watch Report by Jan Harris

Distributed computing industry leader Velocix has secured a deal to provide its digital delivery services to Televeo, which aims to become the leading provider of "Spanish Television over the Internet."

Using the H.264 codec and Velocix's global network, Televeo will provide high quality video content from National Geographic, Fox, and other leading publishers.

Velocix enables high quality streamed video to be played uninterrupted from start to finish and file downloads to be completed without failure in a fraction of the time of competing alternatives.

Jose Antonio Ruiz, CTO for Televeo said, "We conducted a rigorous selection process and Velocix proved to be head and shoulders above the competition, not only for their solution and technical expertise, but also their excellent customer service,"

QTRAX Challenges iTunes: Ads to Ring up Revenue

Excerpted from Internet Retailer Report

Where others have already tried and failed, QTRAX has launched a free P2P music service in a bid to take market share from Apple's iTunes.

QTRAX allows users to legally download for free millions of tracks onto most Microsoft Windows-enabled devices. It has licensing agreements with all four major labels: Warner Music Group and Warner Music International; EMI Music North America, and EMI Publishing; Sony BMG Music Entertainment; and Universal Music Group North America and International. In addition, it is working on a licensing agreement with Apple to enable downloads of music to iPods.

QTRAX is the latest in a string of companies offering free music to consumers. Internet radio station Pandora and streaming music service Last.fm are two, but they don't allow users to download music onto their PCs or other devices.

QTRAX also plans to make money from displaying advertising while users search for and play music. The company will share ad revenue with labels and artists. Consumers also will be able to create playlists and share them with friends, as well as purchase music, tickets, and related items on the site. The company plans to launch in 10 countries over the next month, followed by a phased global rollout.

Wixi - The P2P Virtual Desktop

Excerpted from Zeropaid Report

Wixi is an interesting new "Online Media Center" that allows you to store and stream audio and video files from anywhere, including the living room TV and iPhone.

It has a simple, easy-to-use desktop-like interface to which you upload content, and from which you then share access with family or friends. It offers unlimited storage space so one could theoretically upload a good-sized movie or music collection and then browse on-the-go or enjoy it from the comfort of the living-room sofa.

The social networking aspect is particularly cool because you can stream a movie or song recommended by a friend, or simply check out a stack of pics they've recently taken. And "Friends Activity Report" is how you keep up with those you add to your trusted network.

An additional feature worth mentioning is that it has an XBMC plugin so you can use your Wixi page on a game console of your choosing.

It's a subscription service with packages ranging from $7.95 per month to $69.95 annually.

Akamai: We're a Cloud Provider, Not a CDN

Excerpted from Contentinople Report by Ryan Lawler

During its first-quarter earnings call, Akamai Technologies CEO Paul Sagan might have signaled a shift in describing the company as a cloud computing provider, moving away from the dreaded term content delivery network (CDN).

According to the transcript of yesterday's call, you'll find only about 10 mentions of "delivery" or "content delivery," some of which are tied to the description of what other competitors have to offer. But do a search for "cloud" or "cloud computing," and you'll see that Sagan mentioned those terms 14 times.

More important than the number of times those terms were used is how they were used. Over the call and in the question and answer section, Sagan pointed to the opportunity that the company sees in offering cloud services.

"As our clients evolve more and more to take advantage of cloud computing, we're continuing to invest in even more advanced solutions to help them realize the full potential of network computing over the Internet," Sagan said.

While acknowledging that cloud computing "happens to be the phrase of the day that everyone wants to use," Sagan went on to justify how Akamai and its distributed architecture fit into the market for cloud services.

"It's really about network and distributed computing, and virtualizing infrastructure rather than dedicating a machine, or a license, or a person for each instance of an application or each end-users use of it," Sagan said.

It could be, in fact, that Akamai's always been a "cloud computing" provider. But now that the marketing jargon has become "hot," they are looking to take advantage of that.

In fact, Sagan suggested that Akamai was offering "cloud computing" services long before they were hip. Referring to cloud computing as "the idea of dynamic, adaptive computing capabilities," Sagan said, "This is an idea that we've been talking about at Akamai since we started more than 10 years ago."

Sagan went on to point to the company's edge computing and application acceleration offerings as examples of cloud services."

"We're already delivering on much of the promise of cloud computing with our edge computing offerings, which we introduced almost six years ago," Sagan said. "This is where we host and deliver applications from the Akamai cloud. The tens of thousands of servers we control around the world and manage like one big resource on behalf of our clients.

"In addition, our Application Acceleration Solutions, which we began rolling out in 2005, are designed to offer a cloud-based solution to the majority of enterprises that want to maintain a centralized computing infrastructure and make their applications available to a globally-distributed user base."

While much of the broader CDN market is focused on more commodotized bit delivery for media and entertainment customers, it will be interesting to see if Akamai's new cloud messaging starts to catch on.

Babelgum Targets US Audience with Flash Player

Excerpted from Online Media Daily Report by Mark Walsh

Launched in 2007 by Italian billionaire Silvio Scaglia, Babelgum was among the wave of Web video start-ups that charged online to challenge YouTube's hegemony. Because of its European pedigree and use of P2P technology, the company was often lumped in with its better-known video rival - Joost.

Taking a page more recently from Joost, the London-based company also launched a browser-based player and is now focused on building a following among urban hipsters here with an array of edgy niche content.

It has also introduced a free iPhone app in the US and Europe and enlisted Stolichnaya Vodka as its first sponsor since launching the Flash-based version of its video service, which doesn't require users to download any software.

"Making sure consumers could get to our video content in the easiest possible way while still maintaining global rights management (of content) was something that was very important to us," said Michael Rosen, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer at Babelgum, which opened a sales and marketing office in New York a year ago.

With a cleaner, more user-friendly design and a lineup featuring independent programming, Babelgum wants to claim the ground between viral video hubs and network TV-focused sites such as Hulu. "We're trying to focus on the third part of the ecosystem, which is professionally produced content around very specific passions and created by experts in their fields," said Rosen.

With an audience of less than 200,000 globally and 117,000 in the US as of March, according to comScore, Babelgum will have to count on quality over quantity in appealing to advertisers. "Sometimes you have to sacrifice reach to get passion," said Rosen. He added that since the company switched to a Flash-based video player at the end of March, its global traffic had already swelled to 800,000.

Even so, it still has a long way to go to catch up with Joost's global audience of 2 million (1.2 million in the US). And compared to another "pro-tail" video competitor such as Metacafe, with about 47 million visitors worldwide earlier this year, Babelgum's audience looks like a blip.

Nevertheless, Rosen said the company is hoping to entice upscale advertisers with integrated ad programs that will align brands with site content. It can also offer offline ad opportunities through events such as its Online Film Festival, chaired by Spike Lee and culminating with an awards ceremony Monday night in connection with the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Babelgum has also extended its brand of web TV to mobile screens via its iPhone app and through devices from companies such as Nokia and wireless operators including Vodafone. A promotional push via social media properties and search marketing have led to the Babelgum app being downloaded 500,000 times to date, according to Rosen.

The Benefits of Cloud Hosting

Excerpted from Best Syndication Report by Adam Singleton

The term "cloud hosting" has caught the attention of web developers the world over. But while the underlying concepts of cloud technologies date back to the 1960s, and even with the term first coming into commercial use in the 1990s, there is still a great deal of uncertainty revolving around the capabilities and benefits of cloud hosting.

Cloud hosting ("cloud" being a metaphor for the Internet) is a computation or storage service that's supported by a pool of distributed computing resources. But before attempting to grasp the concept of cloud hosting, it first helps to know a bit about cloud computing. Cloud computing is a form of computing where resources are provided as a service over the Internet. It enables the on-demand allocation or de-allocation of the central processing unit (CPU), as well as large-scale storage and network bandwidth.

Moreover, it can meet scalability requirements to cater to user demands quickly; however, it does not require users to be experts on the technology that supports them. Cloud computing entails three major elements: software as a service (SaaS) - where applications are available on demand and on a subscription basis; utility computing - where server capacity is accessed across a grid as a variably priced and shared service; and virtualization - where applications are separated from infrastructure.

Derived from the principles of cloud computing, cloud hosting enables the sharing and management of large amounts of distributed data, representing the ultimate in scalability for unpredictable demands. It handles security, load balancing, and server resources virtually, so users are not restricted to the limits of one physical piece of hardware or server. Instead, online operations have access not only to a number of servers distributed in real time, but to the heightened processing power that comes with them.

So who uses such services, and could they be right for you? Cloud hosting is ideal for web developers who need a reliable platform for applications, but who would rather not meddle in the technological aspect of the operations. Thus, the service gives developers more room and flexibility to practice innovation, rather than having to worry about web servers.

Indeed, there is much to take into consideration as to whether cloud hosting might be right for you and your web development services. Therefore, it is important that you understand as much as possible about such services; that way you can help determine if cloud hosting could be of benefit to you.

Transmission 1.60 Beta 1 Released

Excerpted from Zeropaid Report

Transmission is one of several popular Mac BitTorrent clients, which includes XTorrent and BitRocket among others. Its developers recently announced the release of version 1.60 Beta 1 for users to test out in advance of a new stable update.

Some of the more popular new features are the choice of a port randomization on start-up and prioritization of download transfers.

Other changes include the option to specify if transfers are included in the global bandwidth limits, groups (moved to preferences) can be auto-assigned to transfers when adding based on multiple criteria, groups can have a default location when adding transfers, the speed limit scheduler can now be applied to only specific days, Bonjour support for the web interface, file filter field in the inspector, and the option to include beta releases when auto-updating.

Please note that 1.60b1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

LimeWire Assures Congress: Privacy Safeguards in Place

Excerpted from Wired News Report by Eliot Van Buskirk

P2P software company LimeWire is gently telling Congress to calm down, reassuring anxious lawmakers that the company's software prevents users from putting the nation's top secrets or their tax returns at risk, according to an advance copy of a letter obtained by Wired.

Earlier this month, Congress re-opened an investigation to determine whether LimeWire added security safeguards, as it promised legislators it would two years ago. That came in response to reports that detailed information about President Barack Obama's "Marine One" helicopter leaked over a P2P network, and that P2P users were still inadvertently sharing hundreds of thousands of tax returns, medical records, credit reports and other sensitive documents via mis-configured P2P software.

Wired obtained an advance copy of LimeWire Chairman Mark Gorton's response to Congress, sent by LimeWire to the House Committee Friday morning. In it, Gorton explains the extensive steps his company has taken to eliminate the inadvertent sharing of documents, including ignoring document-related file types in its default setting.

"LimeWire 5 by default does not share documents even if a user purposely attempts to do so," writes Gorton. "LimeWire will not allow it. In fact, LimeWire 5, released in December, goes so far as to automatically un-share documents that a user may have shared using a 4.x version of LimeWire."

The House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform demanded his response with a stern letter issued to Gorton on April 20th with specific questions about steps his company has taken to ensure that people no longer inadvertently publish such documents to the world at large.

Congress views this not only as a matter of personal privacy for citizens, but also of national security, because LimeWire is installed on some government and/or defense-contractor computers. Detailed data about Obama's helicopter was downloaded by an Iranian IP address, according to WPXI. And Bob Boback of Tiversa (the company that discovered the leak in February), pointed to IP addresses in China, Pakistan, Qatar, and Yemen as having sought similar information via P2P.

However, the latest version of LimeWire appears to solve the problem. Only older versions of the software put users at risk of sharing their social security number, schematics for the President's helicopter, or whatever other sensitive documents are stored on their hard drives.

The program ignores documents completely unless you blow off several warnings and decide to share them anyway, and several other safeguards are in place. For instance, the program no longer shares everything in a particular folder, only specifically chosen files. If you set a folder to be shared, then mistakenly drag a document into that folder, LimeWire will no longer share that document.

"To understand first-hand the level of security we have achieved I encourage any member of the Committee to do a default install of LimeWire 5 or later on any computer and attempt to share a document type file," wrote Gorton. "LimeWire will not permit it."

After reading the full text of Gorton's responses, we're satisfied that the latest version of LimeWire solves the problem. We should soon find out whether Congress feels the same way.

LimeWire: P2P Software is Safe Now

Excerpted from CNET News Report by Elinor Mills.

In response to the reopening of an investigation into inadvertent file sharing with P2P software, an executive for LimeWire told Congress in a letter on Friday that the new version of the program is "the most secure file-sharing software available."

The main investigative committee in the US House of Representatives reopened a probe of LimeWire and other P2P file-sharing companies last week, citing data breaches blamed on the technology.

In February, a security firm alleged that information about President Obama's helicopter was breached via P2P. There have also been reports of inadvertent exposure of consumer financial data and medical records over P2P, according to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In a letter sent Friday to the Committee and Congressional members, Mark Gorton, the Chairman of LimeWire parent Lime Group, said LimeWire 5, released on December 8th, was designed to eliminate inadvertent file sharing in response to privacy concerns.

LimeWire 5 by default does not share documents, it automatically un-shares documents a user may have shared using an older version of the software, and by default will not share documents regardless of whether they exist in a folder that has been shared or whether a user shared the document in an older version, said Gorton's letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNET News.

"In short, there is absolutely no way to access a LimeWire 5 user's documents unless that user affirmatively elects to make them available," he wrote. "LimeWire 5 does not share any file of any type without explicit permission from the user."

The company has no specific information about the reports of data breaches that the Committee had mentioned, Gorton said.

The Committee initially launched its probe into inadvertent file sharing with P2P in mid-2007 and had called Gorton and others to testify.

Meanwhile, another Congressional Subcommittee is planning to hold a hearing on P2P technology. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday at 2:00 PM ET on the "Informed P2P User Act," introduced by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), her office said.

Scheduled to testify at the hearing are the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Progress & Freedom Foundation (PFF), and Tiversa.

Mike Masnick's Keynote at Digital Music Summit

Excerpted from Techdirt Report by Mike Masnick

In mid-March, I had the pleasure of giving the second day keynote talk at the Leadership Music Digital Summit. It was a lot of fun, and generated some really fascinating discussions. 

There was a lot of demand to get the video online, and I wanted to thank the team at Leadership Music (Kira and Abby) and Matt Houser who volunteered to put together the video with my slides, which you can see on this media page

If you've seen my earlier MidemNet presentation, this is actually an extended and improved version of that, so part of it will already be quite familiar to you. However, the final 10 minutes of the presentation gives me an opportunity to respond to the biggest question that came after the original presentation: how does this work for less well known musicians? 

So, I went through five different musicians, who each come from different backgrounds and experiences, representing different "success levels" in the industry, to show that this basic concept of connecting with fans, giving them a reason to buy (and not freaking out about infringement) works quite well.

At the beginning of the presentation, I note that the RIAA was a major sponsor of the event, and there was a huge RIAA logo hanging over my head (not seen in the video). The RIAA also sponsored the lunch following my keynote. 

While I actually did end up talking to representatives from all four of the major record labels while in Nashville (with very, very, very different reactions from reps from each label, from outright frosty, to curious, to very interested and engaging), no one from the RIAA itself actually said hello. Too bad.

Songwriters Rewrite Proposal on Authorized File Sharing

Excerpted from Vancouver Sun Report by Michael Geist

In November 2007, the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) shocked the music industry and many Canadians by proposing the full authorization of music file sharing. The SAC proposal was based on the premise that file sharing was not going away, that lawsuits against file sharers do more harm than good, and that the continued emphasis on using digital locks to control copying has been a complete failure.

In the view of thousands of Canadian songwriters, the better way forward was to encourage sharing by monetizing it.

The SAC proposal envisioned a levy ($5 per month was floated as a possibility) that would be used to compensate creators for the sharing.

In return, Canadians would be entitled to freely share music for non-commercial purposes.

The reaction to the SAC proposal was generally critical.

The recording industry rejected it out-of-hand, arguing that it violated international copyright law. Consumer groups were also skeptical, noting that a mandatory universal levy would result in payments by non-music-sharers, who would effectively subsidize those sharing music.

Notwithstanding the criticism, the SAC persisted. Last week, it quietly unveiled a revised version of the proposal at a public forum on copyright in Toronto.

The new version, which addresses many of these earlier criticisms, is far more promising and there are indications that the SAC may be joined by other creator organizations in pursuit of an authorization strategy.

The foundation of the proposal remains the same - the creation of a new right of remuneration for music file sharing in return for the consumer freedom to share an unlimited amount of music across all platforms including P2P networks, mobile devices, instant messaging (IM), and even e-mail. The SAC notes that downloading music for non-commercial purposes is arguably already lawful in Canada due to the copying levy, but that its proposal would cover more broadly all music file-sharing activities.

The most important change to the SAC proposal is that it would now be voluntary for both creators and consumers. Artists could choose to participate, thereby addressing international copyright law concerns about mandated participation. The proposal also envisions providing consumers with the right to opt-out of the plan if they do not share music files.

The voluntary approach - which resembles elements of a plan the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) began promoting in 2003 - should remove the consumer concerns associated with stiff monthly fees for non-music sharers. While some artists may reject the plan, the SAC is betting that most will participate given the opportunity to benefit from a new source of revenue.

The SAC has also made changes to the pricing model, dropping the $5 monthly fee and instead leaving the issue in the hands of the Copyright Board of Canada. The board would set the fee after input after full public hearings.

While these changes may address many criticisms, some issues remain, including fears that a music-only approach leaves open the prospect of future demands for levies on other forms of content such as video.

If last week's copyright public forum is any indication, other creator groups may be ready to join with the SAC in a broader proposal that covers video works as well. ACTRA, which represents 21,000 Canadian performers, indicated its willingness to pursue a similar plan. National Executive Director Stephen Waddell told the audience that solutions based on locking down content were failures and that it was time to explore other options such as collective licensing that would fully legalize sharing activities in return for creator compensation.

As creator groups begin to line up behind these proposals, the public may still need convincing. A recent public opinion survey from Angus Reid Strategies found widespread Canadian opposition to new levy schemes, suggesting that even the revised SAC approach will be a tough sell. With the willingness to move toward voluntary plans, however, we are witnessing a dramatic shift in attitude as groups abandon their reliance on outdated legislated solutions in favor of innovative new alternatives.

How P2P Piracy Showed BTK the Way

Excerpted from Sofia Echo Report by Rene Beekman

On April 27th the newly formed Intellectual Property Rights organization honored Bulgaria's BTK for its intellectual property (IP) policy, which, according to a self-congratulatory media statement, had led to "the formation of the largest portal for the legal online downloading of music in Bulgaria." 

Stanislava Armoutlieva, Executive Chair of the Board of the Bulgarian Association of Music Producers (BAMP), was quoted as saying that "we reward selected businesses in Bulgaria, which respect the rule of law, a European spirit in relation to IP rights and their importance to society, and assert the protection of these rights with good practice and a clear corporate policy." 

The service in question is BTK's 4fun.bg, the first large-scale licensed pay-per-download portal in Bulgaria. In itself, the portal offers nothing new. Apple and others have long shown that the business model of pay-per-download is viable, especially when combined with the sales of MP3 players and software. 

The problem is that BTK is not in the business of selling MP3 players or software for mobile devices. So instead, it has picked a business model that proved highly successful for many LAN-Internet providers in Bulgaria in the past decade; tying access to music (or software or films) to Internet access. 

About a decade ago, the norm in Bulgaria was dial-up Internet access, mostly using pre-paid cards that were sold at newspaper stands. At that point, Bulgaria had several so-called free-zones; parts of the national network that were invisible outside the country and from where just about anything could be downloaded. 

Access to these free-zones was, more often than not, limited to one or several LAN broadband Internet providers and used openly to push the sales of broadband Internet access. It was no surprise that in some cases the owners of the network provider and the free-zone were alleged to be one and the same person or group of persons.

BTK has liberally copied this business model by making its "licensed download portal" 4fun.bg only accessible to its ADSL clients. With all international licensed download portals telling Bulgarians they are "unavailable in your country," BTK's offer is the only alternative. 

But can it compete with the treasure troves of P2P networks? 

The hard nut to crack for Big Media still seems to be that in the digital world artificial scarcity does not increase profit margins but instead leads to market loss. It is high time IP associations, new and old, understand the urgency of IP rights' reform that would lead to real increased income for artists, shorter, not longer, copyright terms and wider and greater ease of availability of copyrighted material.

Poll: Sweden's Pirate Party Will Win EU Parliament Seat

 Excerpted from Digital Media Wire Report by Mark Hefflinger

Sweden's Pirate Party, formed in the wake of law enforcement actions against file-sharing networks there, is expected to garner 5.1% of votes in the upcoming European Union election, according to a poll conducted by a Swedish newspaper, TorrentFreak reported.

If the results of the poll are duplicated in the actual elections, the Pirate Party would get a set in the EU Parliament. "This poll confirms our recent phenomenal growth in support, and says there will be pirates in Brussels after this election," Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge said.

Coming Events of Interest

P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA - May 4th in Santa Monica, CA. The fourth annual P2PMSLA, the DCIA's flagship event, featuring keynotes from industry-leading P2P and social network operators; panel discussions covering P2P usage, analytical tools, relevant trends, and future opportunities; valuable workshops; networking opportunities; and more.

Digital Hollywood Spring - May 5th-7th in Santa Monica, CA. With many new sessions and feature events, DHS has become the premiere digital entertainment conference and exposition. DCIA Member companies will exhibit and speak on a number of panels.

Streaming Media East - May 12th-13th in New York, NY. The number-one place to see, learn, and discuss what is taking place with all forms of online video business models and technology. Content owners, viral video creators, online marketers, enterprise corporations, broadcast professionals, ad agencies, and educators.

World Copyright Summit - June 9th-10th in Washington, DC. The international forum that brings together all those directly involved in creative industries to openly debate the future of copyright and the distribution of creative works in the digital era. WCS is organized by CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

Structure 09 - June 25th in San Francisco, CA. A world-class roster of speakers break down how to put cloud computing to work. Cloud computing's movers and shakers go beyond theory to discuss how they have leveraged cloud computing in their businesses.

Copyright 2008 Distributed Computing Industry Association
This page last updated April 2, 2014
Privacy Policy