Distributed Computing Industry
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P2P Weblog

October 30, 2006
Volume 15, Issue 5

PDWG Plans White Paper

The DCIA-led P2P Digital Watermark Working Group (PDWG) met this week in Santa Monica, CA in conjunction with P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA and Digital Hollywood Fall. The meeting was chaired by Les Ottolenghi, CEO of INTENT MediaWorks, and attended by representatives and members of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Digital Watermarking Alliance (DWA) as well as by DCIA Members.

The DWA’s preliminary white paper on Digital Watermarking and P2P was distributed to attendees and presentations were made by Abacast and PeerApp.

Meeting discussion centered on next steps to be taken by the PDWG with the consensus being to develop a more detailed white paper focusing on usage cases for prospective pilot testing.

The new white paper is to be completed for publishing at P2P MEDIA SUMMIT NY in early February. Interested and qualified parties wishing to make recommendations are encouraged to call 410-476-7965 or e-mail PDWG@dcia.info by noon ET Wednesday November 1st with input.

What Comes After YouTube

Excerpted from Business Week Report

With all the hubbub around Google’s purchase of YouTube, it’s easy to think that three-minute, streaming clips mark the culmination of the online video revolution. But what Google paid $1.65 billion for is more like the king of what works now. And a crowd of start-ups is hard at work developing web technologies that will radically change how TV, movies, and other video are distributed, packaged, and experienced in the future. "We’re just at the beginning stages of what will be a long evolution," says Joe Laszlo, an analyst at Jupiter Research.

Right now, the start-up that’s creating the biggest buzz is the Venice Project. That’s the code name for a service that expects to launch by the end of this year. Rather than join the 150 YouTube video-sharing clones dishing up short, static-ridden videos, the Venice Project is tackling the problem of streaming long videos of nearly high-definition-TV quality in a cost-effective way. It’s counting on P2P technology, which creates a network of users whose individual computers help share the burden of distributing files.

That’s no surprise coming from company founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström. They’re the masterminds behind two of the best-known P2P applications: Kazaa, the file-sharing service, and Skype, which eBay bought for $2.6 billion a year ago. These two DCIA Member distributed services showed how P2P could boost data-streaming speeds while cutting costs.

The Venice Project is in talks with media and TV companies to create ad-supported channels for full-length, professional content. Individuals can also upload videos. "People love to watch TV," says Friis. "And people love the Internet because of the choice and the social qualities. We’re trying to bring the best of both worlds together."

The most dramatic proof of how the video picture has shifted is BitTorrent’s transformation. Founded by programming whiz Bram Cohen, the company has signed licensing agreements with 20 media companies, including Warner Bros., to sell movies and TV shows at prices starting at $1 apiece. Soon it will announce deals to put the BitTorrent software on DVRs, cable boxes, and wireless routers, enabling BitTorrent to link up to the net and download licensed movies or TV shows to PCs and TVs.

Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyThanks to all who participated in the inaugural P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA, and especially to sponsors INTENT MediaWorks, Sharman Networks, Altnet, Javien, FTI Consulting, Digital Containers, WOMMA, and Indie911.

Attendance increased notably over June’s P2P MEDIA SUMMIT WDC, with keynote addresses and panel discussions reflecting multi-dimensional industry development. Please click here to view presentations, speaker bios, and photos from P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LA.

Congratulations also to Victor Harwood for a highly successful Digital Hollywood Fall conference, which drew a greater number of attendees than last year’s and had many more exhibitors. DCIA Members reported substantial progress coming out of private business development meetings.

We are grateful for the participation of Jian Zhao, CTO, Thomson Content Security; Jonathan Lee, VP of Business Development, MediaDefender; Daniel Harris, CEO, MediaPass Network; Les Ottolenghi, Founder & CEO, INTENT MediaWorks; Avikk Ghose, Director of Business Development, MERCORA; and Mikkel Dissing, CEO, RawFlow; for their participation on the "Next Generation P2P" panel.

Jian thanked the DCIA for its work curtailing copyright infringement and opening communications among representatives of the content and technology sectors. Thomson’s experience has been that content security remains the principal issue for rights holders in assessing prospective usage of P2P. Content owners have the potential for more intimate communication directly with their audiences and more valuable use of bandwidth by exploiting P2P.

Further exploration among content companies, P2P developers, and solutions providers is desirable. With such efforts, to include a significant focus on security solutions, a major role for P2P can de determined in the future of entertainment distribution that takes advantage of the inherent efficiency and scalability of P2P networks.

Jonathan noted that since the Supreme Court MGM v. Grokster decision that MediaDefender’s work for some major labels has evolved from only spoofing and decoying P2P networks to exploring distribution of real content through P2P for monetization. However, the pace has been relatively slow, analogous to changing the direction of an ocean-liner.

He gave the example of the Jay-Z property featured in last week’s Wall Street Journal that was sponsored by Coke and was downloaded 2.5 million times. He noted that experiments in redirections, even when they are as close to the search as possible, are only working 1-out-of-1,000 times versus non-redirected content with ads attached. He believes that the efficacy of push-content has been adequately demonstrated in P2P, and that what is needed now is pull-content, such as P2P-exclusives of truly high-value original entertainment.

Daniel explained that MediaPass Network is set-up to serve as a credible liaison for independent as well as major content rights holders that wish to explore monetization of P2P as a channel. Its focus to date has been music videos. Daniel cited the general need for multi-disciplinary education with the intent of teaching ways for creating value through appropriate P2P usage.

He gave the examples of forward-thinking original video creation and integration with dynamically alterable advertising content in P2P. A sponsor could specify the number of impressions as well as demographic criteria and have the ads changed out once its goals have been achieved. Daniel believes that P2P technologies are essentially sound and the revolutionary aspects of P2P are beginning to be displaced by the advent of sustainable business models.

Les said that INTENT MediaWorks is now distributing authorized music, video, and games through open P2P with more than 20 million licensed content transactions per month, up from 1 million a year ago. INTENT also participated in the recent Jay-Z promotion. The advertising-supported model is working and this market is expanding as P2P is becoming integrated with social networks. P2P is now a viable content distribution channel for anything less than 30 minutes in length.

Ad-supported content enjoys an 84% uptake rate, while redirects are not working. A key to success is to deliver content to consumers where and when they want it. As entertainment sanctioned P2P models proliferate, the social atmosphere will develop and user-generated content (UGC) will grow from its current wave of popularity to a virtual tsunami. Content transportability and format interoperability will be critical.

Avikk revealed that MERCORA has attained the level of 1 million average simultaneous listeners to its P2P radio network, which is at its core a music discovery service, in 140 countries. He expressed Interest in helping the P2P channel develop as an ad-supported medium that should be able to command cost-per-thousand (CPM) rates of $20-$25 similar to that of mature video distribution services.

He called for greater flexibility and experimentation on the part of major entertainment companies and singled out BitTorrent’s being bundled with hardware as a significant development. Replication of what has occurred in the blogging space is possible with P2P, based on amateur musicians and videographers adding content and defining a wholly new medium.

Mikkel explained that RawFlow provides live server-assisted P2P streaming technology, featuring greater scalability, increased reach, and higher bit-rates than competing approaches. He noted that the perceived risk to content owners posed by P2P is not as severe as the real risk of not exploring ways to harness and exploit it. P2P represents the only way to deal with increasing quantities of files of greater sizes and the realities of limited bandwidth.

A merging of minds from content and technology communities is needed. New P2P clients such as Thor with advanced anonymizers will make user-detection difficult; but instead of trying to fight such technological developments, affected parties should work together on new models. Price points for content so far are too high. Vista will have P2P built-in. The future of P2P will involve richer content, including new elements of UGC, than alternative media.

Audience questions drew out a discussion that made the point that some filtering is necessary, but that begs the question as to how not to drive audiences to coming darknets such as Thor as a result of inadequate marketing that fails to compete with free media. Consumer engagement by content providers working closer with P2P software developers and distributors will be essential to progress. Share wisely, and take care.

BitTorrent Moves into Consumer Electronics

Excerpted from TechWeb Report by Laurie Sullivan

BitTorrent has entered into agreements with a trio of hardware makers to embed the company’s software into several new products aimed at reducing the time it takes to download and transfer files, the company said Monday.

ASUS, Taiwan; Planex, Japan; and QNAP, Taiwan; are among the first consumer electronics makers of routers and servers to implement the BitTorrent download manager into devices.

BitTorrent President & Co-Founder Ashwin Navin said the 32-person San Francisco company has been working diligently to secure a place in the content delivery services space.

"At its heart, BitTorrent is a content delivery company," he said. "We’ve been working to build the most efficient tools to distribute high-quality data on the Internet.

Earlier this year, BitTorrent inked an agreement that lets Warner Bros. distribute its shows and movies using BitTorrent’s file-sharing technology. BitTorrent will likely launch a movie download service by the end of 2006, Navin said.

Developing technology to securely move those files, BitTorrent developers have spent the past two years working on applications that run on top of the basic P2P transport protocol. The technologies include digital rights management (DRM) to protect digital media assets, a billing application to monitor and collect royalties, a quality of service (QoS) platform to track content delivery to consumers, and IP filtering to control where content is delivered.

DCIA Member SafeNet Vice President John Desmond said BitTorrent is trying to take an "elegant technology for moving big files around the Internet rapidly and make it commercially available to consumers, and this is another move in the direction."

BitTorrent’s technology is widely used. BitTorrent’s software has been downloaded about 85 million times since the company’s inception, and that number continues to grow between 75,000 and 100,000 daily, Navin said.

Daniel Harris, CEO of DCIA Member MediaPass Network, which generates about 35 million page views and 50 million hits annually, said hardware manufacturers are looking for software applications that can help consumers transfer data quickly as files increase in size. "It’s critical to the OEMs’ marketing strategy to have this type of offering preloaded on devices," he said.

Industry experts working to make P2P technology the de facto standard for moving large files around the Internet are confident consumers will see the protocol in more consumer devices next year.

Marty Lafferty, CEO of industry group Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), said, "Whether it’s short-form video content downloaded to a mobile phone, or full-length video content downloaded to a PC, all content will eventually be distributed with P2P technology because it’s most efficient. For example, we expect the BBC later this year to launch a new P2P service which will distribute about 600 new titles every week in the UK."

Lafferty believes consumers will begin to see P2P clients on cellular phones next year.

Digital River’s Torrential Prospects

Excerpted from Motley Fool Report by Anders Bylund

E-commerce support specialist and DCIA Member Digital River reported third-quarter earnings. Revenues rocketed 42% year-over-year, and GAAP EPS saw a 10% boost.

Part of the sales improvement came by way of acquisition, with the Commerce5 stock-swap buyout in last year’s fourth quarter bringing substantial customers on board, including Hewlett-Packard and Gateway. But some of it was organic growth, as Digital River continues to work hard to land new customers by merit of its quality services.

The company has been running other companies’ e-commerce websites and download-solutions for about a decade now, and has gotten quite good at it. So good, in fact, that industry heavyweights Symantec and Microsoft just signed multiyear contracts expanding their reliance on Digital River. For the first time, Microsoft will sell its Office suite via direct downloads handled by Digital River. That relationship is expected to make Microsoft the source of at least 10% of Digital River’s revenues as early as 2007.

"Our ability to execute on our business objectives contributed to our solid third-quarter financial performance and strong cash flow," said CEO Joel Ronning. "We believe we are well-positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities in 2007."

The company’s capital structure is well-suited to rapid expansion, with low debt, hardly any receivables, and costs pushed into the future by way of a large accounts-payable line-item.

P2P Skyrider Closes $12 Million Round

Skyrider, developer of a new P2P networking platform, announced continued market momentum for its P2P search marketing solution and a Series C round of funding. The new search marketing product is one of the first innovative P2P services based on Skyrider’s robust P2P networking platform designed to help bring web-like search marketing to P2P networks.

The company has secured $12 million in funding led by ComVentures. Previous investors Sequoia Capital and Charles River Venture Partners also participated in the current round, bringing the total amount raised to $20 million. The new funding will allow Skyrider to continue to deliver on its vision of helping businesses reach their customers in a highly effective way, and providing consumers with the ability to publish, find, and share information.

"The newest round of funding is further testament to Skyrider’s value proposition: providing a sophisticated P2P infrastructure through which businesses and consumers can capitalize on the immense opportunity these networks offer. Our search marketing product is the first of many valuable services we plan to offer to help these communities," said Skyrider Chief Executive Officer Ed Kozel.

"P2P networks encounter as many searches per day as Google or Yahoo; and there’s a huge potential for advertisers to reach consumers on these networks. With our infrastructure and innovations like our search marketing product, we can help businesses connect with consumers by harnessing the power of online advertising and grow their businesses within a new untapped market."

According to DCIA Member CacheLogic, more than 60 percent of backbone Internet traffic and up to 90 percent of upstream traffic from users is now consumed by P2P applications. Skyrider’s new search marketing product can help businesses capitalize on this opportunity by placing targeted advertisements within P2P search results. Additionally, it gives users new access to reliable and exact search results.

"Skyrider’s product is providing an efficient and relevant brand promotion on P2P networks, ensuring high visibility and an ability to creatively reach some of our artists’ most dedicated listeners," said Brent Muhle, General Manager, of DCIA Member Nettwerk Music Group. "Not only can we target specifically within these searches to deliver music, but we can also offer other incentives and opportunities for our artists to connect to their fans."

The strengths of the new search marketing product and future services lie in Skyrider’s infrastructure. The company’s systems are based on proprietary high-performance network stacks backed by a large-scale distributed architecture for control and transaction processing, which enables Skyrider to embed its systems within the global fabric of P2P networks. The advantage of this architecture is that every node shares in the burden of storage and distribution of information, allowing millions of network nodes to interact and handle trillions of daily network-level transactions.

"Skyrider’s unique approach to P2P networking, extensive expertise in building complex IT architectures, and ability to roll-out innovative tools like the new search marketing product have us convinced that this company will be will be widely embraced both within the P2P community and by businesses seeking to reach that community", said David Britts, Partner, ComVentures.

"Skyrider’s vision and execution is much more scalable and cost-effective than the old client-server environments, and is ideally suited for supporting the sharing and distributing of vast numbers of large files such as commercial and user-generated audio and video content. This also makes it ideal to layer value-added products like search marketing to the networks. As such, Skyrider is providing an invaluable service to consumers and businesses leveraging P2P networks to connect with appropriate audiences and share relevant information."

iLike Social Network for iTunes

iLike launched the first social music discovery service designed for iTunes and iPod users. iLike helps people discover new music and share their listening experience with friends. The iLike Sidebar for iTunes complements Apple’s popular media player with a buddy-list and features for music sharing and discovery.

The iLike website gives users a profile of their music listening habits and helps them explore the music libraries of friends. iLike also provides personalized recommendations of free MP3 downloads from almost 200,000 independent artists, drawn from GarageBand.com, the company’s first website. iLike’s key features include linking with friends, personalized free MP3s, and being designed for the iTunes/iPod platform.

iLike’s first aim is to facilitate word-of-mouth music discovery. For example, with iLike, consumers can easily see what music their friends are listening to that they don’t have yet.

Intelligent recommendation of free downloads from hundreds of thousands of independent artists is achieved via integration with GarageBand.com’s award-winning collaborative-filtering engine.

The iLike Sidebar for iTunes offers a buddy-list for discovering music through friends, inline music recommendations, and a one-click playlist generator.

"With iLike, the iTunes and iPod experience finally expands from being a solitary activity to a social one, enabling consumers to discover a world of new music and to share that experience with their friends," said Hadi Partovi, COO of iLike.com.

"In addition, the integration of iLike with GarageBand.com brings tremendous benefits to independent musicians, as it helps new artists get discovered directly based on the merits of their music."

The iLike Sidebar is currently available for iTunes on both Mac and Windows. The company anticipates supporting other media players in the future.

Zultrax P2P File Sharing Evolves

Zultrax Software shows, with the release of version 4.0 of Zultrax P2P, some of the ways in which file-sharing technology is still evolving. Originating as a spin-off of a research project focused on swarming and privacy protection, Zultrax P2P is now suitable for a larger audience, combining ease-of-use with impressive transfer speeds. Zultrax P2P is available free and comes without adware or other commercial bundling.

Zultrax P2P started as a spin-off of research on the concept of swarming. A file-sharing network is a group of connected individuals who each want to download files shared by others as fast as possible. This activity results in delays caused by congestion, while resources used are far from optimal. With a swarming strategy, however, each individually connected user contributes to the common goal of getting all transfers done as fast as possible. As a result, the entire community profits from little or no congestion and high transfer-rates.

As interesting as speed might be, another hard-to-find attribute on the web is privacy. On common file-sharing networks, nothing is done to protect the privacy of their users. Zultrax P2P adds technologies such as encryption and proxying to its software to protect the privacy of its users. Zultrax Software is dedicated to keep developing its networking technology with the focus on both swarming and privacy protection. The current technology is described in more detail at www.zultrax.com/p2p/features. With the release of Zultrax P2P 4.0, the software takes a new direction. Prior versions of Zultrax P2P were too complex for the average user. The 4.0 version has a new user-interface that is designed to be friendly for common computer users. The swarming-based networking technology is now publicly available for all who want to use it. Zultrax P2P 4.0 combines ease-of-use with smart, fast, and secure networking technology.

ToPeer Personal P2P Start-up

Excerpted from GigaOM Report by Liz Gannes

ToPeer is the latest personal P2P start-up. It offers a Windows-only, for now, browser plug-in that not only assists in file transfer, but also adds layers of tools to manipulate and manage digital content.

ToPeer is currently in private beta, though a public beta is to be released this quarter. CEO Parm S. Gill and VP Technology Stefan Van Kessel have a background in running a Canadian ISP and the company raised a Series A round last year.

Many aspects of personal P2P are compelling: no hosting; better privacy controls; speedy transfer, even for big files; and, if done well, better organization options than simply sending an e-mail. However, personal P2P is deficient in backup and syncing across multiple computers.

Other companies in this space include DCIA Members Pando Networks and Perenety, as well as other IM clients that allow personal file sharing. Pando and Wired Reach’s BoxCloud seem to have the most diverse distribution options.

ToPeer is only available for Windows, but should work within any browser. A Mac client is due next year. The business model for personal P2P is not established yet, and ToPeer may eventually charge for premium features.

ToPeer is trying to make file transfer very simple, but it’s not quite there yet. The interface mimics a desktop with an IM contact list on the left. Contacts within the system make certain files available and then users can browse through what they’ve exposed.

The coolest feature ToPeer has added is tools for playing with and displaying files; so, for instance, a user could build a personal Flickr that’s not hosted on anyone else’s server. For the first release, basic editing and album creation is the only step in this direction, but video and other tools are reportedly coming.

Setting-up Your Vista PC as a Media Server

Excerpted from Personal Computer Report by James Bannan

Media sharing or media streaming is a great way to get your music collection spread around the house without copying files all over the place. It’s becoming a much more accepted way of handling digital content, with hardware clients and wireless home routers with streaming capabilities built-in.

If you have a Vista PC, you can turn it into a streaming media server quite easily. Vista natively supports P2P networking, so it simply leverages this ability plus Media Player’s cataloging features to pump-out music, pictures, and videos across the local network.

Not all clients can connect to a Vista-based machine though. Other Vista clients can, as can the Xbox 360. Check out the PlaysForSure website for a full list of compatible clients.

Media sharing works for music files (WMA, MP3 and WAV), video files (WMV, AVI, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2), pictures (JPEG, JPG and PNG), and playlists (WPL and M3U).

According to the media-sharing documentation, other file types may also be sharable, depending on how your computer is configured. This basically means that if the content is accessible and Media Player can catalog it, it should be sharable.

Setting up media sharing is extremely easy. Go into the Network and Sharing Center, expand the Media Sharing section under Sharing and Discovery, and click Change. Tick "Share my media" and then OK.

The Media Sharing page gives you a choice of available devices to share media to. The default option is "Other users of this PC," which may or may not be relevant. Once media sharing is enabled and other devices come online, the computer will detect them and prompt you to configure sharing. Click on the Settings button and you can configure exactly how you want media sharing to work.

Once media sharing is up and running, the computer now appears twice on the network: once as the actual Windows-based host, and also as a Windows-networked media device. This is what other computers and devices will see on the network.

The one downside with media sharing on Vista is that it’s completely reliant on MP11, which means you have to catalog your digital content in Media Player’s library first. This affects how the content is viewed on the network. The library is populated and organized using metadata.

But all-in-all, media sharing on Vista is simple and fairly bullet-proof. And a nice touch is how comprehensive the documentation is. It follows suit with a lot of Vista’s documentation, which explains not only how to do something, but what the implications are. The media sharing documentation explains all about network security, streaming through a firewall, etc. Kudos to Microsoft for putting in the effort to make its products understandable and accessible. They’ve come a long way from XP’s Help and Support application.

TVU Networks Revisited

CNET News reported this week on the TVUPlayer from China’s TVU Networks, which was initially covered in DCINFO on October 9th in a PC Magazine article excerpt. The service became popular in the US among soccer fans looking for World Cup matches not offered on American television.

The service, which does not allow users to upload their own videos, offers unlicensed retransmissions of broadcast and cable television networks. The DCIA decries this practice by TVU Networks as a violation of the rights of copyright holders of such television signals.

"It could be tough to stop these guys," however, said Josh Martin, an analyst with the Yankee Group. "China isn’t known for being tough on copyright laws."

DCINFO Editor’s Note: The DCIA encourages radio as well as television broadcasters interested in licensed use of P2P streaming technologies for greater performance and efficiency to contact DCIA Members Abacast, Beyond Media, and RawFlow.

Copyright Infringer Sentenced

Excerpted from Beta News Report by Ed Oswald

The first conviction related to the BitTorrent file-sharing network has been handed down, with a 23-year-old Virginia man sentenced to five months in prison plus five months home detention for his involvement in a BitTorrent node.

Grant Stanley of Wise, VA was also fined $3,000 and would have three years of supervised release. He had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and copyright infringement charges under the Family Entertainment Copyright Act (FECA).

Stanley had run the BitTorrent node known as Elite Torrents with two other individuals. The service had more than 133,000 members and was estimated to have distributed some 2 million movie files, according to a government statement.

"We hope this case sends the message that cyberspace will not provide a shield of anonymity for those who choose to break our copyright laws," United States Attorney John Brownlee said.

The creator of BitTorrent, Bram Cohen, has worked to distance himself from those who have chosen to use the technology for illicit purposes.

Digital Freedom Campaign

Excerpted from Variety Report by William Triplett

The content industry has mounted a "sustained assault" to block legit uses of new technologies, and it’s time consumers start fighting to take back their digital rights, a new coalition has declared.

Singled out were the movie and recording industries, which, in trying to protect aging business models in the digital era, have been exploiting copyright law reform, according to several public interest groups, some independent artists, and technology companies that have banded together to launch the Digital Freedom Campaign.

In a Wednesday press conference, coalition members – including a number of groups that have been making this argument for a while – maintained that "Big Content," as they refer to the entertainment industry, is trying to control technology development and limit fair use via intimidation tactics and Congressional lobbying.

Major record labels have sued more than 10,000 people for unauthorized downloading or file sharing, and Hollywood successfully led the effort to stop online P2P services from profiting from similar activities. Industry reps have said this effort has been necessary to protect their rights and those of artists.

"Whether intended or not, these restrictions on technology muzzle free speech and put a straitjacket on creativity," said Harold Feld of the Media Access Project (MAP), a coalition member.

"Congress must realize that this isn’t a war between artists and infringers. It’s a war by incumbents against disruptive technologies, where free speech is the collateral damage," said Ed Black, President & CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), another member.

The campaign has posted a website (www.digitalfreedom.org), and Gigi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge, said she plans to spend the next few months with various other groups and individuals to enlist their support.

Gary Shapiro, President of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), some of whose member companies profit from technologies involved, framed the overall campaign as a defense of consumer rights. "This is to let the public know that they have rights to use new technologies without fear of being sued. We are going to fight back," he said.

Members agreed that copyright laws need to strike a balance between protecting the rights of artists and of consumers, but they claim the laws are tipped in industry’s favor.

"The Consumer Electronics Association and other groups are unfortunately once again sounding a false alarm," responded Motion Picture Association (MPAA) of America topper Dan Glickman in a statement. "Maintaining and enforcing strong intellectual property rights will protect American jobs, promote American economic growth and innovation, and benefit all consumers."

In a letter to the CEA, published Wednesday in a Capitol Hill newspaper, a group of musicians and songwriters stated, "To suggest that unauthorized downloading is neither illegal nor immoral – as you have – is not a mainstream position. To go so far as to recently label our efforts to protect our rights as ‘terrorism’ is offensive and worthy of an apology. You don’t advance the debate when you stake out extremist positions, engage in fear-mongering or broadly condemn a whole community for wishing to defend its lawful rights."

MPAA & The Boy Scouts

Excerpted from LA Times Editorial

Hollywood marketers can sell almost anything to youthful moviegoers — just look at the grosses for "Barnyard: The Original Party Animals" ($72 million), "Jackass: Number Two" ($71 million) and "John Tucker Must Die" ($41 million). The studios’ toughest sales job, though, may be persuading kids to stop downloading free movies from the Internet.

That’s why the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been urging schools and youth groups to hammer home the message that downloading a bootlegged movie is just like shoplifting a DVD, only without the tamper-resistant packaging. If kids understand that pirating is against the law, maybe they won’t do it. Or maybe they’ll just feel guilty about it.

The MPAA’s latest partner in this effort is the Boy Scouts of America’s Los Angeles Area Council, which recently launched a program to teach members about copyrights, piracy and its effects on the movie industry. Any of the 52,000-plus Scouts in the region can earn an activity patch — not quite a merit badge — by demonstrating the importance of protecting copyrights. The local council sought the MPAA’s help to craft the program after hearing about a similar effort the studios launched with the Scouts in Hong Kong.

This partnership is not the first time the Scouts here have teamed up with outside organizations on activity programs. There were previous patches handed out in connection with the Salvation Army (to collect canned food), Habitat for Humanity (to build homes for the poor) and environmental organizations (to clean beaches). But the MPAA’s move suggests a brave new world of creative partnering opportunities with entertainment and technology groups. The Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), whose members use file-sharing technology for legitimate businesses, could sponsor a "Copying for Profit" program to teach Scouts about new methods for distributing movies, music and games. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) could back a "Betamax Rules!" exercise showing Scouts legal ways to copy movies and music for personal use. The Screen Actors Guild could produce a "Share the Wealth" session to explain why their members should be paid more when movies and TV shows are delivered online. And the Teamsters could sponsor an "Exporting Jobs" activity about the effects of runaway production.

There are plenty of candidates outside of Hollywood too. For starters, how about a "Coyote Population Control" session with the California Varmint Callers? The possibilities are as endless as a screenwriter’s imagination — but probably not as useful as learning how to build a fire.

Coming Events of Interest

  • Streaming Media West – October 31st at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA. Streaming Media West is where the streaming industry intersects with the business world. It’s where streaming professionals, technology experts, and business executives gather to learn how to use streaming and digital media for innovative business solutions. The focus has expanded to include a wide range of digital media technology and applications providing tips, strategies, and practical advice.

  • Future of Television Forum – This year’s event has been expanded to two days and will take place at NYU’s Stern School of Business, November 16th-17th, in New York, NY. Fredrik de Wahl, the chief executive of the Venice Project, is among the keynote speakers. He will give the first exclusive presentation of the project at the conference.

  • Digital Hollywood Europe in London – November 29th - December 1st at ExCeL London, The Docklands. The DCIA will moderate two P2P panels featuring Ingjerd Jevnaker, Marketing Manager, RawFlow; Daniel Harris, Founder, Kendra Initiative; Bruce Benson, Senior Managing Director, FTI Consulting; Les Ottolenghi, Founder & CEO, INTENT MediaWorks; Chip Venters, CEO, Digital Containers; Daniel Klaus, CEO, Music Nation; Jonathan Friend, CTO, Friend Media Technology Systems (FMTS); Xavier Casanova, CEO, Perenety; and Tom Meredith, CEO, P2P Cash.

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