« February 2005 | Main | April 2005 »

March 31, 2005

Japan Warns Record Labels Over Ringtones - Take 2

Japan.Inc: A week ago I linked to an article about the Japanese Fair Trade Commission warning five major record labels over restrictive music licensing for ringtones. I also opined that the labels were simply making the most of their intellectual property. This feature goes over the whole situation in a lot more detail, including the history of the case (which is the result of a nine-month long investigation) and the fact that the MIDI-based ringtone market has "a large number of providers and much competition based on price. In order to avoid this situation, the labels established a joint venture called Label Mobile which would be the exclusive content provider for the new service". The issue appears to be one of collusion. If Sony had independantly decided to sell ringtones at a high price and refuse licences to other people the FTC may not have intervened - but when five large record labels collude to keep prices high and competition low the FTC decided it was a breach of the anti-monoply law...

I'm still not sure whether the labels have done anything wrong. I'm trying to put it into context - at first I thought it was like several petrol stations colluding to raise the price of petrol without fear of being undercut by the competition. However, petrol stations don't create the petrol they distribute it, so it's more akin to the OPEC nations colluding to set the price of petrol at the source - and the only reason OPEC got away with it is because they are nations. I've come to the tentative conclusion that licensing your intellectual property in a selective or restrictive way is not wrong, but colluding to reduce competition to allow you to license your intellectual property in a selective or restrictive way is. It's certainly not good for the industry or for the consumers.

Posted by James in Mobile Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CinemaNow Releases Concert Video Downloads in High Def and Portable Device Format

Cinema_now_logoBusinessWire: CinemaNow Inc., the industry leader in video-on-demand for broadband, today announced an agreement with Virgin Records to make the concert video of Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama's "Live at the Apollo" available for download in multiple ways using Windows Media Video, including a High-Definition format for the PC as well as versions that can be played on various Windows Mobile-based devices including Portable Media Centers, select Smartphones and Pocket PCs. This marks the first time that a concert DVD has been made available in both High-Definition format and for portable devices highlighting the broad flexibility of CinemaNow's video-on-demand services.

Posted by Todd in General | Permalink | Comments (2)

SafeNet Acquires DMDSecure

Dmdsecure_2DRMWatch:  SafeNet, a leader in the information security market, agreed last week to acquire the Dutch vendor DMDSecure, a global leader in carrier grade server-side Digital Rights Management (DRM) components for solution providers and software vendors as well as broadcasters, broadband & mobile operators and service providers. DMDSecure's products support both Microsoft Windows Media and Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM technologies and are well respected my many industry insiders. Acquiring them is a smart move since they are on the cutting edge in rights management and active members of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF), the Digital Video Broadcasting Forum (DVB), the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) and the Coral Consortium. In addition, DMDsecure is a Dutch representative for the MPEG standards organization.

Posted by Todd in M&A | Permalink | Comments (1)

More Discontent Over DRM Fees

Gsma_logoITNews: The Board of the GSM Association (GSMA) - which is the global trade association for the world's GSM operator community that serves more than 1.3 billion mobile telecommunications users - has called for an immediate review of the current licensing program proposed by MPEG LA and the companies involved in this patent pool (including ContentGuard, Intertrust, Matsushita, Philips and Sony Corporation) for use of the Open Mobile Alliance's (OMA) Digital Rights Management (DRM) 1.0 standard.

CEO and Board Member Rob Conway stated that the GSMA's Board had recognized that there was significant discontent for the terms of the licensing scheme as proposed by MPEG LA - describing the regime as "impractical, excessive and short-sighted." According to the report, members not only view the 'per device' fee, as unreasonable and excessive but they also consider the 'per transaction' fee as unworkable in the market.  The huge issue at stake here is that many frustrated mobile players just might plan to avoid using OMA DRM Standards altogether in the near future if the overall implementation is too unreasonable - which would be like letting a second cat out of the bag, since the carriers are currently enjoying what the labels wished they had - an end to end closed network that allows them to control content distribution. This would not be a good thing as we would get farther and farther away from true interoperability by proprietary DRM solutions getting implemented instead...

Posted by Todd in DRM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Orb Network's Media Streams Now Free For All

Orb_networks_logoInternetNews: It looks like the 3 yr. old Orb Networks, a developer of streaming media software and services, has decided to adapt to change and radically change its business model according to a press release sent out on Tuesday. The Orb Media software, will now be FREE to all users. Orb’s software and service gives consumers the ability to spontaneously access their live TV, music, photos, videos, and other digital content located on their home PC from virtually any Internet-enabled device, from anywhere in the world, and now provides that service without adding any new monthly fees for new and current customers.

In comparison to other services, Orb says not charging customers actually gives it a competitive edge. Jim Behrens, Orb Networks CEO, said, "By eliminating subscription fees, Orb eliminates the final barrier between consumers and their digital media...and in our view, a free Orb service will exponentially increase our value proposition for those customers -- and millions of new customers as well."

What's interesting though, as far as DRM goes - Orb locks down the content and does not allow content copying for its service. In other words, Orb only allows one stream allowed per authenticated user and only one stream for each piece of content at any time. Customers cannot skip advertisements, but Orb can impose additional content-specific controls on copying (i.e. re-broadcasting, streaming, and device restricted viewing.) Other subscription companies should take note - this is one way to compete with the free-for-all going on with P2P ...

Posted by Todd in General | Permalink | Comments (2)

WurldMedia Partners With Peppercoin

Wurld_media_1MassHighTech: Peppercoin has landed a deal to provide Wurld Media (which is the parent company for Peer Impact P2P Software) with its Peppercoin Small Transaction Suite payments software to allow Wurld Media to sell legal digital content through Peer Impact's network.  Using micropayment software such as this will allow Wurld Media (and others) to accept credit and debit cards for small payments (i.e. $.99 song downloads) enabling profitable new business models for low-priced digital content and physical goods.  Last month, MashBoxx signed a similar deal too...(There's some good digital market facts HERE on Peppercoin's website)

Posted by Todd in P2P | Permalink | Comments (0)

iTunes for Film?

CNET: Apparently, Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment is trying to develop and own the next iTunes--but for films...At the Digital Hollywood Conference (Track II:
Hollywood and the Digital Home: How Technology and Content Establish the Next Level of Consumer Entertainment Experience) , Michael Arrieta, senior vice president of Sony Pictures, said, "I'm trying to create the new anti-Napster" and his group plans to digitize Sony Pictures' top 500 films and make them available for the first time in various digital environments within the next year.  According to the report, Sony plans to sell and make films available in flash memory for mobile phones in the next year and will also further develop its digital stores for downloading and owning films on the PC. "The future is about creating an entertainment ecosystem," in which players, platforms, content rights and the user interface are fluid."

Posted by Todd in General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomson Acquires Inventel

InventelAccording to a press release sent out on Monday, Thomson (which many consider to be a world leader in DSL and video technologies - also a major stakeholder in ContentGuard along with Microsoft and Time Warner) has acquired Inventel, a leading provider of innovative voice and data solutions to telecom operators and internet service providers (ISP). This acquisition will bring synergies in terms of technology, products and services, customer base and geography and also strengthens Thomson's technology portfolio, design capabilities and products and services offering to telecom operators worldwide...

Posted by Todd in M&A | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 30, 2005

Intel, Bertelsmann Team Up for Online Download/Sharing Venture

Reuters: Intel and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann plan to cooperate in developing technology for downloading and sharing digital content online....Intel will make chips for PCs, notebooks and mobile phones that are compatible with a new online media file-sharing platform from Bertelsmann's services and technology arm Arvato....
Arvato announced the launch last week of a new P2P platform, which it plans to sell to mobile phone operators, Internet providers and TV stations.
"Our emphasis with the digital home is obviously to do the architecture, the user interface, the platform," Intel CEO Craig Barrett said.
Related: Bertelsmann Launches New P2P Download

Posted by Rafat Ali in DRM, P2P | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mobile Killed The Radio Star

Big plans are underway to use mobile phones (and other mobile devices) to store, play and - most importantly - to sell music. Ringtonia has pointed to an Israeli article concerning musicians who are using mobile phones to sell and promote their music rather than radio stations: the article mentions tensions over playlists created by station managers. "All these moves would seem to indicate that 2005 will be the year the cellular companies become the dominant force in distributing Israeli music. Advanced cellphones are already capable of doing all sorts of things familiar mainly to youngsters."

Of course, the most-hyped threat to radio was originally aimed at the iPod - podcasting. The BBC has run a story on it centered around the developement of iPodder, which collects and automatically sends MP3 files to any digital music-playing device that can play WMP formats when the device is connected to the computer. "It is totally going to kill the business model of radio". Or is it?

According to this writer "Podcasting has quickly caught the eye of traditional broadcasters who want "in" on what appears to be a great way to reach new listeners or at least old listeners who somewhere along the way became disenfranchised." Loyal Ears is already marketing a way for radio stations to use the new medium. "The technology provides radio stations with a platform for free podcasts with sponsorship opportunities or an on-demand model with download revenue...Armed with monthly research from Bridge Ratings, Loyal Ears will also offer a highly valuable advisory service offering new and exciting ways to advance commercial podcast efforts." After all, radio stations survived the advent of the vinyl record, tapes, CDs, Walkmans...why should podcasts suddenly threaten them?

Perhaps it is Podcasting that is dead. "Podcasting has had its day…and must make way for Microcasting". Well, it's more of a marketing exercise than a radical change in technology (I mean, that would have been one of the shortest 'days' a technology could possibly have). "Microcasting by definition includes; all 'rich' media (audio, video and beyond) syndicated across all devices and platforms; the ability to provide a more finely tuned specialization of content on a program-by-program basis rather than a channel-by-channel basis; and most importantly, the concept that a program is delivered on a 'one-to-one' basis."

Radio won't be killed by this any more than the music industry was killed by p2p networks. In fact, radio stations are likely to use this technology to their advantage. Mobile carriers will also have to start taking note - handsets will soon be able to store a half-hour (or longer) audio and/or video program, which will be much cheaper to put onto the device via a hook-up to a computer. Still, there's got to be some way to make money out of it...

Posted by James in Mobile Music | Permalink | Comments (0)