Howie Cockrill

June 30, 2008

Music Biz: Live Nation Slows 360s

by Howie Cockrill

In late April of this year, I wrote a three-part “Spotlight” article on Live Nation, exploring in depth the massive steps being taken by the concert impresario to secure its primacy not just in the live events market, but also in pretty much every ancillary market you can imagine.

One strategy Live Nation used in this business blitz was to identify major-player executives in both its core markets and its areas of expansion, and to bring them into the Live Nation fold.

Michael Cohl was one of these major-player executives.

Continue reading "Music Biz: Live Nation Slows 360s" »

June 26, 2008

(C): First Sale Doctrine Pt. 3

by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this article I explained what the First Sale Doctrine is, how the it was first applied in the U.S. and how it became part of federal copyright law.

In Part 2 I began looking at Universal Music Group v. Augusto, the most recent application of the First Sale Doctrine in federal courts.

Part 3 focuses on Augusto's particular arguments, and what the court thought of each. 

Continue reading "(C): First Sale Doctrine Pt. 3" »

June 22, 2008

(C): First Sale Doctrine Pt. 2

by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this article, I explained the First Sale Doctrine, and we saw how it was first applied in the U.S. and then became part of federal copyright legislation.

The First Sale Doctrine has been in the news lately due to a recent California federal district court ruling. 

So in Part 2, I'll explore a 2008 application of the First Sale Doctrine in Universal Music Group v. Augusto.

Here's what happened:

Continue reading "(C): First Sale Doctrine Pt. 2" »

June 15, 2008

(C): First Sale Doctrine

by Howie Cockrill

Last week, a federal district judge in California dismissed a copyright infringement suit brought by Universal Music Group against a man selling Universal’s “promo” CDs on eBay. 

This decision is not a minor blip on the music industry’s radar, and at the case’s heart was something called the “first sale doctrine.” 

So – what is the first sale doctrine, and why should you care?

Excellent questions – let’s see if I can answer them.

Continue reading "(C): First Sale Doctrine" »

May 30, 2008

(C): Notice & Take Down Pt. 3

by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this article, I outlined the 4 types of Service Providers qualifying for protection under the DMCA and explained the 3 types of copyright infringement - strict, contributory and vicarious liability.

In Part 3, I provide an explanation of the DMCA's Section 512 - more commonly referred to as the "notice and take down" or "safe harbor" provisions.

Continue reading "(C): Notice & Take Down Pt. 3" »

May 28, 2008

(C): Notice & Take Down Pt. 2

by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this article, I outlined the 4 types of Online Service Providers (OSPs) that qualify for protection under the DMCA and the 3 types of infringement liability.

I also explained the concept of "strict liability."

In Part 2, I discuss the "contributory" and "vicarious" infringement liability and explore the notion of no liability for copyright infringement. 

Continue reading "(C): Notice & Take Down Pt. 2" »

May 25, 2008

(C): Notice & Take Down Pt. 1

by Howie Cockrill

If you are an individual or company offering a service on the internet, you may already be aware of notice and takedown or safe harbor rules for copyrighted content online.

If not – now is the time to learn. 

These rules, enacted in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), may just protect you and your website from landing in hot water for copyright infringement.

In this series, I will discuss the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, who they apply to and the varying types of liability associated with online copyright infringement.

Keep in mind throughout this article that I have oversimplified many of the legal concepts and issues in order to provide a layman's overview of the subject. 

As always on MELON, the specifics of any particular situation will probably require a more in depth understanding and analysis.

Continue reading "(C): Notice & Take Down Pt. 1" »

May 04, 2008

Spotlight: Live Nation Pt. 3

by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this "Spotlight:" article - I provided an overview of Live Nation and its executive team, as well as explored some of the company's core business (live event) deals.

Part 3 brings Live Nation's plans for ancillary revenue streams into focus by giving an overview of several deals Live Nation has cut in the past few years. 

I also take a look at Live Nation's vision for 2008.

Continue reading "Spotlight: Live Nation Pt. 3" »

April 26, 2008

Spotlight: Live Nation Pt. 2

by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this "Spotlight:" article - I provided a quick snapshot of live event impresario Live Nation

In Part 2, I will focus on the team Live Nation has built to help the company move into a new era of entertainment, and some of the core business deals that exemplify what Live Nation is all about.

Continue reading "Spotlight: Live Nation Pt. 2" »

April 25, 2008

Events: SanFran MusicTech Summit

The SanFran Music Tech Summit is just around the bend - Thursday, May 8th @ the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown

BEAT-Law's Howie Cockrill will be on the "Legal Issues in Searching, Linking and Blogging" panel @ 9:20 am, moderated by Joe Gratz of Keker and Van Nest LLP. 

The other panelists are Andrew Bridges (Winston & Strawn LLP), Mark Palermo (ASCAP, Dir. of Special Projects), and John Potter (DiMA, Exec. Dir.).

From the SFMT website:

"The SanFran MusicTech Summit will bring together digital thought leaders from the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as from all around the country, to the region which currently leads the way in innovating (both socially, and technologically) new ways of interacting with both music, and musicians.

We will be working long term to help enable a sustainable, ongoing, Northern California based music and related technology market."

Hope to see you there!

Spotlight: Live Nation Pt. 1

by Howie Cockrill

INTRODUCTION

The advent of digital media as a content format and of the internet as a distribution platform can now be squarely seen with the 20-20 hindsight of perspective as having been the end of one era and the beginning of another in the entertainment industry.

Those ripples that began in the 1990s have grown over nearly two decades to become tidal waves of change crashing into the vessels, small and large alike, of anyone trying to make a living or trying to get noticed in this business.

Will all the vessels stay afloat? Will rising tides truly float all boats?

Continue reading "Spotlight: Live Nation Pt. 1" »

April 16, 2008

Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 4

by Tony Berman

Researched & edited by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this article, I introduced the "360 Deal," and in Part 2, I delved into the specifics of 360 deals to give you a flavor of how they work.

In Part 3 I explored several issues that all parties thinking of signing a 360 deal should consider. 

Part 4 is a continuation of my look at specific issues regarding 360 deals.

Continue reading "Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 4" »

April 14, 2008

Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 3

by Tony Berman

Researched & edited by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this article, I introduced the "360 Deal," which is similar to a recording agreement between an artist and a record company but encompasses much, much more than just recordings.  I also provided a bit of history to put the 360 Deal in context.

In Part 2, I delved into the specifics of 360 deals to give you a flavor of how they work.

Now, in Parts 3 and 4 I will explore some issues that all parties thinking of signing a 360 deal should consider.

Continue reading "Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 3" »

April 05, 2008

Music Biz: MySpace Music

by Howie Cockrill

The music industry is all abuzz over the long-awaited announcement from MySpace executives that the social-networking behemoth is moving forward with extensive, formal integration of music into the website. 

MySpace’s initial focus as of the April 3rd launch is on bringing in major label content. 

MySpace has officially partnered with three of the four majors – Sony BMG, Universal and Warner.  EMI is expected to join up soon, with delays being attributed to recent management restructuring.

Continue reading "Music Biz: MySpace Music" »

April 03, 2008

Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 2

by Tony Berman

Researched & edited by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this article, I introduced the "360 Deal," which is similar to a recording agreement between an artist and a record company but encompasses much, much more than just recordings.  I also provided a bit of history to put the 360 Deal in context.

In Part 2, I am going to dive right into the specifics of 360 deals to give you a flavor of how they work.

Continue reading "Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 2" »

March 30, 2008

Music Biz: Monetizing File Sharing

by Howie Cockrill

Recently Warner Music appointed Jim Griffin, formerly head of technology at Geffen Records and one of the preeminent minds in the digital music business, to explore and oversee a project to monetize P2P music file sharing online. 

The idea is to add a $5 fee to current monthly ISP user charges.  This fee would then go into a fund used to compensate musicians, songwriters, labels and publishers for the use of their content online. 

The money collected would be distributed amongst rights holders by a collection agency, similar to what ASCAP and BMI do for public performance royalties.

Griffin himself has estimated that this fund could create up to $20 billion in annual revenue, which is approximately double the current annual revenue of the American music industry. 

Continue reading "Music Biz: Monetizing File Sharing" »

March 26, 2008

Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 1

by Tony Berman

Researched & edited by Howie Cockrill

Professional and armchair music industry pundits alike have a new and seemingly bottomless discussion thread.

The topic is a controversial new business model being explored by record companies to save their business: the “multiple rights” or “360” deal.

This is Part 1 of a multi-part, comprehensive article about 360 deals - what they are, where they come from and what issues everyone involved should be aware of. 

Continue reading "Music Biz: 360 Deals Pt. 1" »

March 04, 2008

Events: REMIXER AUSTIN @ SXSW

If you're heading to Austin's SXSW music festival, by now you are probably sifting through reams of info about parties, panels, bands and barbecue. 

You may even be trying to concoct something vaguely resembling a schedule. 

Isn’t it all just ex-austin?!

BEAT-Law's "REMIXER" is here to save the day (or at least the early afternoon).

REMIXER AUSTIN is BEAT-Law's relaxing gathering in Austin for industry folks to hang out, have a drink (or two) and swap stories from the worlds of entertainment, technology, business and law.  

REMIXER AUSTIN details:

  • Date:   Saturday, Mar. 15th
  • Time:  12:00 noon - ???
  • Place:  Bourbon Rocks - 508 E. 6th St.
  • Note:   For best socializing - arrive by noon
  • RSVP:  Click here.  Type "REMIXER" in the same box as your name.

Continue reading "Events: REMIXER AUSTIN @ SXSW" »

February 28, 2008

Copyright: Performance Rights Act Pt. 3

by Howie Cockrill

THE PARTIES & THEIR ARGUMENTS

In Part 1 of this article, I introduced the pending Performance Rights Act and provided some background on the controversial topic of a general public performance right for sound recordings.

In Part 2, I comparedthe current Copyright Act with the proposed changes of the Performance Rights Act.

In Part 3, I’m going to look at the parties involved and their arguments for and against the sound recording performance right.

Continue reading "Copyright: Performance Rights Act Pt. 3" »

February 24, 2008

Writers' Strike: Pt. 4 - That's a Wrap

by Howie Cockrill

After 100 days of strike, the writers and the producers have come to an agreement that will see both parties through until the next negotiation in 2011.

Both sides had to make difficult concessions, and the industry as a whole no doubt took a big hit.  The estimates range from $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion lost by the industry and dependent businesses. 

While the WGA made a number of demands throughout the course of the strike, the most ground-breaking and newsworthy were those pertaining to the writers’ share of online revenue. 

Continue reading "Writers' Strike: Pt. 4 - That's a Wrap" »

February 18, 2008

Copyright: Performance Rights Act Pt. 2

by Howie Cockrill

In Part 1 of this article, I introduced the Performance Rights Act which is pending in the House and Senate and briefly examined the background leading to this legislation.  (Senate version) (House version)

In Part 2, I compare the current Copyright Act with the proposed changes of the Performance Rights Act. 

Interestingly, some of the most profound changes would arise because of the deletion of 1 word - "digital."

Continue reading "Copyright: Performance Rights Act Pt. 2" »

February 02, 2008

Copyright: Performance Rights Act Pt. 1

by Howie Cockrill

In December, 2007, several members of Congress introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to their respective floors.

The subject:  sound recording performance right for terrestrial radio.

If this aptly named "Performance Rights Act" is passed, it will send major ripples throughout the entertainment industry. 

Regardless of its success in the House and Senate, however, the rhetoric from both sides is bringing to boil a controversy that has long been simmering.

Continue reading "Copyright: Performance Rights Act Pt. 1" »

January 29, 2008

Film/TV Business: Writers' Strike Pt. 3

by Howie Cockrill

In the Part 1 and Part 2 of this article, I discussed the “who” and “what” of the current WGA strike and some of the history leading up to the current situation. 

In this article I’m going to touch on a few areas that are being affected or are affecting the WGA strike.

Continue reading "Film/TV Business: Writers' Strike Pt. 3" »

January 27, 2008

Copyright: The 3 "C"s - Compensation, Control & Credit

by Tony Berman

If you’ve ever been hired or hired someone to perform creative services or to create an artistic or technical work, either orally or by signing on the dotted line, this is an article you should read.

Regardless of:

  • Whether the deal terms are straightforward or complex,
  • Whether you’re dealing with your best friend or a faceless corporation and
  • Whether the negotiating process is informal or formal –

this article will give you a FRAMEWORK for thinking about what terms are crucial to you and what is open for discussion. 

This framework is applicable to deals involving copyright, trademark, patents and publicity rights – essentially the entire spectrum of intellectual property. 

In short – if you buy, sell or trade creative services or works, and the very thought of negotiating a deal gives you a massive migraine, you need a simple way to organize the deal points in your mind. 

In addition to some aspirin, you need perspective and context.   

You need the Three C’s.

Continue reading "Copyright: The 3 "C"s - Compensation, Control & Credit" »

January 22, 2008

Film/TV Business: Writers' Strike Pt. 2

by Howie Cockrill

Following up on "Writers' Strike Part 1," in which I discussed the basic "who" and "what" of the current strike by the WGA against the AMPTP - this article is geared toward giving some background information to understand where the current dispute comes from.

The topics are:

  • Timeline - WGA and AMPTP
  • 1960 WGA Strike
  • 1988 WGA Strike

Continue reading "Film/TV Business: Writers' Strike Pt. 2" »

January 21, 2008

Film/TV Business: Writers' Strike Pt. 1

by Howie Cockrill, Esq.

If you watch television, live in Los Angeles, read Entertainment Weekly, are in the entertainment industry or know someone who is – chances are you’ve heard that there’s a writer’s strike going on.

But who is involved and what do they want?  And, aside from some extra facial hair on our favorite actors and talk show hosts, what have the effects been?

This will be a multipart article giving a broad-brush, non-partisan view of the current writer’s strike  - essentially “Writer’s Strike 101.” 

Continue reading "Film/TV Business: Writers' Strike Pt. 1" »

December 24, 2007

Copyright: Exclusive Rights 101

by Howie Cockrill, Esq.

Here at MELON, we're working around the clock to bring you articles to help you navigate the pocked landscape of the entertainment and technology industry. 

And what better way to celebrate the holidays than a copyright article on the exclusive rights set forth in Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act?!

In previous articles here on MELON, we have discussed at great length “who” is entitled to copyrights. 

(see “Who Is An Author,”  “Joint Ownership,”  “Works for Hire,” and “Assignments Of Copyright”

In this article, I want to focus not on the “who” but the “what” of copyright.  This article will lay out the specific rights that the term “copyright” encompasses.

Continue reading "Copyright: Exclusive Rights 101" »

November 25, 2007

Trademark: Theories of Harm

by Howie Cockrill, Esq.

After spending a few weeks entrenched in copyright law, I thought I’d switch things up and take a look at trademark theory.

In this article, I want to explore some of the theories behind how consumers and companies are harmed by trademark infringement. 

But first, as always – the basics:

Continue reading "Trademark: Theories of Harm" »

November 04, 2007

Copyright: Registration Pt. 2

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed:

  • What happens if you don't register your copyright
  • Automatic copyright protection
  • The theory behind copyright registration
  • General benefits of registering your copyright

In Part 2 I want to go into some real, tangible benefits of registering a copyright and then explain how the process of registering a copyright works.

Continue reading "Copyright: Registration Pt. 2" »

October 28, 2007

Copyright: Registration Pt. 1

by Howie Cockrill, Esq.

To register, or not to register?

That is the question for most musicians, songwriters, authors, filmmakers and other creators of copyrightable content.

The simple answer is “yes.”

Leaving off there, though, would do a disservice to inquisitive minds scouring the  internet for deeper answers to this most basic of copyright issues.

Hopefully the following FAQ will guide you towards registration enlightenment.

Continue reading "Copyright: Registration Pt. 1" »

October 20, 2007

Editorial: Download + Subscription = Celestial Jukebox?

By Howie Cockrill, Esq.

The music, film and television industries can no longer refer to the current internet era as part of some kind of “revolution.”  The revolution is over.  Digital won.  The internet won.

The tired term “digital content revolution” still gets bandied about quite a bit.  Perhaps it is just easier to use this term than to think about what happens next. 

This is usually the biggest problem with revolutions – making sense of the aftermath.

No – we currently find ourselves in the post-revolution internet era, where the questions are no longer, “Will digital become the primary format?” or “Will the internet change the rules of the game?”

We know the answers to those questions, and so many others, which were the news headlines and industry panel topics from 1995 to 2005.

The immediate issue is how to survive – or in modern capitalist terms, how to “monetize.” 

The urgent question for content providers is no longer whether to offer content on the internet.  The question is how to do it.

And so the beating heart of the post-revolution debate has become “download versus subscription.”

Continue reading "Editorial: Download + Subscription = Celestial Jukebox?" »

October 18, 2007

Events: CLA Music Business Seminar

This Saturday, October 20th, is the Bay Area Music Business Seminar.  California Lawyers for the Arts puts this event on annually for local musicians, songwriters, djs, producers, executives and lawyers to learn about the current state of the music industry and meet other like-minded people.

It will be at the SomArts Cultural Center at 934 Brannan Street.  Check-in starts at 9 am, and will be followed by some great panels and workshops.

I will be on a panel at 11:30 am with Jeff Daniel (Rock River Music), Lisa Klein (OpTic NoiSe), Noah Perry (Merritt Sound) and moderated by attorney Val Hornstein.  We will be discussing the ins and outs of licensing music in the digital age. 

Check out the CLA website and the BEAT Law Events Calendar for more information.

October 14, 2007

Copyright: Terminating Transfers Pt. 2

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed:

  • the concept of "transferring" a copyright and "terminating" that transfer
  • transfers made before 1.1.1978 and those made after 1.1.1978
  • the basic rule for transfers made after 1.1.1978

Click here to read Part 1 of "Terminating Transfers."

In this Part 2 I will explain:

  • how to terminate a copyright transfer (with 2 examples of how this plays out)
  • that the right to terminate a copyright transfer is absolute and inalienable
  • how the termination right applies to "work for hire" and "joint author" situations 

Continue reading "Copyright: Terminating Transfers Pt. 2" »

October 01, 2007

Copyright: Terminating Transfers Pt. 1

Did you know that if you assign or license your copyright to someone else, you may have the right to terminate that assignment or license later on?

Conversely – did you know that if you get the rights to use someone’s copyright, they may be able to terminate those rights at some point?

Whether you’re an artist, a computer programmer, a publisher, a record label or someone commissioning a piece of art, this is an area of copyright law that is rarely discussed and little understood – but knowing about it could make a big difference in your business.

Continue reading "Copyright: Terminating Transfers Pt. 1" »

Internet Law: Website Development Agreements Pt. 3

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed:

  • Formats for Website Development Agreements
  • Typical phases for website development
  • 8 important issues in Web Dev Agreements

I also looked at 2 of the issues (developer's services and website development). 

In Part 2, I looked at 3 more issues:

  1. Delivery & Acceptance
  2. Compensation
  3. Term & Termination

Finally, in Part 3 I discuss:

  1. Warranties
  2. Ownership of Intellectual Property
  3. Confidentiality

Continue reading "Internet Law: Website Development Agreements Pt. 3" »

September 23, 2007

Internet Law: Website Development Agreements Pt. 2

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed:

  • Formats for Website Development Agreements
  • Typical phases for website development
  • 8 important issues in Web Dev Agreements

I also looked at 2 of the issues (developer's services and website development). 

In this Part 2, I will look at 3 more issues:

  1. Delivery & Acceptance
  2. Compensation
  3. Term & Termination

Continue reading "Internet Law: Website Development Agreements Pt. 2" »

September 20, 2007

Internet Law: Website Development Agreements Pt. 1

Developing and maintaining a website can be relatively simple and cheap or complex and expensive, mostly depending on what the website is supposed to do.

Getting the right website may mean hiring your own employees to create the site, hiring an outside developer or learning to do it yourself with programs like Microsoft Frontpage or Macromedia Dreamweaver.

If anyone other than you is designing, maintaining or hosting the site, chances are there is (or should be) a Website Development Agreement in place.

Continue reading "Internet Law: Website Development Agreements Pt. 1" »

September 12, 2007

Events: Expo for the Artist & Musician

This Saturday, September 15th, is the 8th annual Expo for the Artist & Musician - an event offering networking, free workshops, performances, exhibits and other services to the arts community and the public.

I will be on a panel with Trevor Stordahl from the Pranger Law Group entitled "Intellectual Property and Creative Licensing."  We will be discussing licensing music for films, digital music distribution (downloads and streams), traditional music distribution, copyright basics, trademarks and parties that are implicated in music licensing.

Check out the Expo website and the BEAT Law Events Calendar for more information.

I have also updated the Calendar with several other events in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York during September & October.

August 18, 2007

Tech News: ICANN & Domain Names - Pt. 3

Welcome to Part 3 of this ICANN article.  Part 1 discussed the definitions of IP addresses, domain names and the Domain Name System.  Part 2 discussed the origins of ICANN, which manages the DNS. 

With all of this as background, let us now move (finally) to Part 3 – ICANN and new domain names.

Currently ICANN is considering the approval of new Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).

More accurately - ICANN is considering a new PROCESS for the approval of new gTLDs.

According to the ICANN website

“The development of an appropriate process and policy for the creation of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) is central to fostering choice and competition in the provision of domain registration services, and as such is critical to the promotion of ICANN’s core values. 

The questions to be addressed in the implementation of a new gTLD strategy…draw on technical, economic, operational, legal, public policy and other elements.”

Continue reading "Tech News: ICANN & Domain Names - Pt. 3" »

Tech News: ICANN & Domain Names - Pt. 2

Following up on Part 1 of this article, in which I discuss the Domain Name System (DNS), IP Addresses and domain names, Part 2 explores the origins of ICANN, which is charged with the management of the DNS. 

(Part 3 will delve into a rising debate over ICANN’s approval of new Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).)

ICANN is a non-profit corporation based in Marina del Rey, California. 

Because of the U.S.’ pivotal role in the creation and development of the internet, the U.S. government essentially created ICANN.

In 1998, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce) wanted to improve the management of domain names and IP Addresses. 

In its “Green Paper,” the NTIA proposed to create a private sector non-profit with an international board of directors.  ICANN was the result.

ICANN is run by a Board of Directors, which consists of 6 representatives from 3 Supporting Groups and 8 independent representatives.

Continue reading "Tech News: ICANN & Domain Names - Pt. 2" »

Tech News: ICANN & Domain Names - Pt. 1

Have you ever typed in a domain name & wondered how it came to be? 

Probably not – when functioning & designed at its best, the internet provides a seamless form of data transfer. 

The information or content you are seeking out is just THERE – and as long as you can see it, hear it, watch it, or read it without problems, there is no need to question how the architecture of this system works. 

The beauty of advanced civilization is specialization – you don’t HAVE to know about internet architecture because there’s plenty of other people out there who do.

But the internet is supposed to provide a bottom-up democratization of information, right?  That depends on who you talk to. 

Regardless, just like a regular democracy – if you don’t understand how it works, it is hard to make it work for you & it is bound to work against you from time to time. 

So let us explore, at least superficially & simplistically, the workings of the DNS – the Domain Name System.

This article is divided into 3 parts.

Part 1:  discussion of IP addresses, domain names & the Domain Name System.

Part 2:  what is ICANN?

Part 3:  ICANN and the debate over a new approval process for domain names.

Continue reading "Tech News: ICANN & Domain Names - Pt. 1" »

July 30, 2007

Music Law: Ring Tone Licenses

Recently I hosted a workshop for California Lawyers for the Arts.  The topic was “Downloads & Streams: Laws, Licenses & Controversies.” 

During the talk, there were a lot of great questions by the attendees.  One of these questions had to do with ring tone licenses. 

As the revenue stream from ring tones has become a revenue river (Jupiter Research is estimating $6.6 billion in 2006) – I thought an article about ring tone licensing would be rather timely.   

Continue reading "Music Law: Ring Tone Licenses" »

July 28, 2007

Tech News: Open Source Phones

Since the release of the iPhone, many telecom analysts are already looking down the road to the next shakeup of the industry.

Many believe that this will come from the development of “open source” phones. 

As it currently stands in the U.S., a consumer signs up with a wireless carrier, and the carrier offers the consumer a few cell phones to choose from. 

These phones are pre-loaded with locked-down, proprietary technology for a handful of activities – text messaging, voice mail, camera, contact lists, and web surfing.

However, there is a revolution brewing on the horizon for cell phones. 

Continue reading "Tech News: Open Source Phones" »

Tech News: iPhone - Pros/Cons Pt. 3

The previous 2 iPhone articles discussed user interface, DRM, activiation, pricing & plans, AT&T's data network, battery life and GSM/SIM.

So where does that leaves us going forward with this device?

MARKET DOMINATION & THE FUTURE

As of now, Apple is a:

  • software/hardware, cell phone, portable music player, desktop/laptop manufacturer
  • retail outlet - both brick&mortar and internet
  • content provider
  • network owner, distributor

That's not only very impressive - its also a little scary.

Now imagine the following hypothetical:

  1. More and more cell phones become WiFi capable.
  2. More and more urban centers implement "city-wide" WiFi service. 
  3. The use of VOIP and instant messaging becomes a popular alternative to the traditional cell carrier services because VOIP calls are free or extremely cheap comparatively.
  4. Rogue cell phone manufacturers begin to build open-source Linux phones. 
  5. Hundreds of cell phone applications are designed, which consumers can install into their individual phone - allowing their phone to become their internet browser, calendar, planner, camera, mp3 player, even their guitar tuner.
  6. Cell phone carriers scramble to prepare for the telecom revolution.
  7. ISPs like Comcast, search engines like Google and device/application designers like Apple get into telecom business for real.

Think this sounds crazy?  Think again.  1 through 5 are already happening and 6 and 7 are just over the horizon in my view. 

Tech News: iPhone - Pros/Cons Pt. 2

In Part 1 of this article, I laid out some of the main discussions regarding the iPhone's user interface and digital rights management restrictions.

Other popular topics that get tossed around in iPhone banter are - activation, pricing/plans, AT&T's data network, battery life, GSM phones and SIM cards and the future of telecom.

Continue reading "Tech News: iPhone - Pros/Cons Pt. 2" »

July 14, 2007

Tech News: iPhone - Pros/Cons Pt. 1

Unless you’ve been living in a sealed vault deep beneath the earth’s core, you probably know that Apple has released a new device called the iPhone.

And if you live in a major urban center in the U.S., chances are you’ve been hit by gale force winds of promotional hype from iFans and the inevitable backlash to the hype by iCritics.

Living in the Bay Area, the epicenter of the Apple-quake that’s been going on the past few weeks, I’m reeling from all the talking heads and pundits who have been adding their 2 cents.  In fact, I’m just happy they finally released the phone so all the speculation could finally come to an end.

But it is still early on yet, and while we know what the iPhone looks like and mostly how it works, there are still a host of issues following it around like a swarm of bees. 

For that reason, I have tried to compile all the issues I have heard or read about in one place to help you (and me) make sense of all the noise.

Continue reading "Tech News: iPhone - Pros/Cons Pt. 1" »

June 28, 2007

DRM: Economic Theory

In the previous DRM articles, I’ve looked at how the Incentive and Labor Theories impact the way people argue DRM issues on both sides.

This article will focus on Economic Theory and DRM.

Economic Theory is cynical of the Labor and Incentive Theories as it looks through the eyes of Homo economicus, the rational self-maximizer

The basic assumption in Economic Theory is that in market scenarios individuals will act rationally to get the highest level of utility or value for the least cost.

In an economic rhetoric, the fundamental purpose of copyright is to create ownership rights in creative works in order to commodify them. 

Why is it in the best interest of society to commodify creative works?  Because doing so creates wealth and social order

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June 27, 2007

DRM: Locke's Labor Theory

In the last DRM article, I discussed Incentive Theory as it applies to the debate over DRM.  In this article, I will focus on Locke's Labor Theory and DRM. 

Originally applied to real property, Locke’s theory of labor has since gained a strong foothold in intellectual property, especially copyright law, and especially in Europe. 

The Labor Theory consists of 3 general principles and 2 caveats. 

The 3 principles are:

  1. an individual owns his body;
  2. an individual owns his labor; and
  3. an individual owns the fruits of his labor. 

The first two principles combine to produce the third. 

Locke believed that people have a natural ownership right in their bodies, and by extension in the labor of their bodies to create or produce.   As applied to copyright, this means that people have natural ownership rights in their creative works.

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DRM: Incentive Theory

The previous 2 DRM posts discussed the definition of DRM, gave examples of DRM methods and discussed internet business models utilizing DRM.

In this article, I will begin to explore the rhetorical roots of the various arguments for and against DRM.  This way - next time you're at a cocktail party and someone starts discussing DRM, you'll be able to blow their mind with your depth of understanding. 

Yes - everyone seems to have an opinion on this controversial topic.  But as the entertainment and technology industries search for commercial and legal equilibria between authors and users of digital content, it is important to look beyond the face value of their various DRM proposals.

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June 19, 2007

DRM: Primer Part 2

DIGITAL CONTENT BUSINESS MODELS

In Part 1 of this article, I discuss an overview of what Digital Rights Management (DRM) is, some basic examples of DRM and the arguments from copyright owners and consumers on this controversial technology.

In Part 2, I will outline 5 business models that have been proposed by copyright scholars to utilize DRM technology to offer digital content online.  Of course these are not the only available models, but I find these models either prevalent or at least thought-provoking. 

These models vary depending on how they deal with three aspects of digital content:  access, copying and distribution.

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June 12, 2007

DRM: Primer Part 1

BACKGROUND:

The entertainment industry is currently moving through a period of trial and error as it attempts to adapt to and capitalize on the market for digital copyrighted content.  Old business models translated wholesale to the internet are proving inadequate, and new and hybrid business models are being suggested and tentatively applied. 

As copyrighted content like music and film moves online and is accessible to millions of people worldwide, the debate between copyright owners and content consumers has grown fiercer – with the owners demanding stringent control over their property and consumers demanding convenient and affordable access to that property.

Enter – Digital Rights Management (DRM), the application of technology to control access to and use of digital content. 

The perfect DRM has been the “holy grail” search of content owners since the advent of the internet.  When one looks at the market for copyrighted content over the past two decades, the reason behind the search for the best DRM is clear.

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May 31, 2007

Internet Law: Podcasting Music for Money, Pt. 2

This is Part 2 of a two part article about podcasting and the music industry.  To read Part 1, click here.

The Solution – Making Money and the Future of Music in Podcasting

Successful podcasters in the music industry will take advantage of a variety of revenue opportunities while minimizing unnecessary expenditures.  The podcast’s content itself will determine the selection and success of any economic model.   

So what are these "revenue opportunities"? 

There is money to be made from those seeking to be affiliated with the podcast (advertisers and sponsors), as well as those seeking to listen to the podcast (consumers).  Deals with those seeking to use or re-purpose the podcast (radio stations, cell phone companies, aggregators) also have money-making potential.  Even the demographic information generated by consumers downloading podcasts is valuable.

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Internet Law: Podcasting Music For Money, Pt. I

This is Part 1 of a two part article in which I discuss podcasting as a revenue source in the music industry. 

Part 1 focuses on the basics - how podcasting works and what the current obstacles are to podcasting becoming a main stream media outlet for the music industry.

In Part 2 I dive into some possible solutions in advertising and subscription models for podcasting, and I also identify other potential revenue streams for this fledgling media.

Introduction
Podcasting, one of the newest media on the block, has money-making potential in the music industry – that is if podcasters can find a sound economic model and survive licensing plagues. 

Imagine the following hypotheticals:

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