September 1, 2008
Volume XXIII, Issue 5
LimeWire Store Gets Serious - Orchard Deal Inked
Excerpted from Digital Music News Report by Paul Resnikoff
LimeWire is now getting serious about its paid platform, an alter-ego to its ultra-successful - and totally free - file-sharing service. On Tuesday, the Manhattan-based Lime Wire LLC finalized a content agreement with The Orchard, a deal that adds approximately 1.2 million songs to the LimeWire Store. The content injection pushes the total catalog past two million, according to company estimates.
The LimeWire Store first emerged several months ago, and already contains content from Redeye Distribution, Nettwerk Music Group, and IRIS. The store offers DRM-free MP3s, encoded at 256kbps, a format that plays well for most music fans. In terms of pricing, the catalog will be available as one-off, a-la-carte downloads, though fans can also secure content through monthly subscription packages.
The tiers include 25 monthly downloads for $9.99; 50 downloads for $14.99; and 75 songs for $19.99. "If you use them, you are getting deeply discounted music," Lime Wire Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jesse Rubenfeld told Digital Music News. That spells another viable option for independent music fans, though LimeWire is famous for serving free downloads to millions of file sharers across various music styles - including mainstream, major label content.
Whether those users will suddenly start paying remains speculative, and Rubenfeld declined to share pre-Orchard sales specifics. "Relative to zero, we have seen a lot of growth," Rubenfeld offered. "I have been writing royalty checks every month, and they are more than doubling."
Meanwhile, Lime Wire LLC is saddling a major label lawsuit, one that has dragged for years. In that light, the LimeWire Store offers a nice counterweight to the file-sharing free-for-all, though Rubenfeld preferred to describe the core LimeWire service as "organic peer-to-peer (P2P) results," a characterization the majors are challenging.
"Lime Wire started as a technology company, and this store represents the first intersection of that endeavor with the music industry," Rubenfeld said. "We are going to make this work for artists and labels - and for us, too."
LimeWire COO Kevin Bradshaw will present a keynote address at the P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE on October 10th at PopKomm in Berlin, Germany.
QTRAX Leverages Cloud Computing in Load Tests
QTRAX, the industry-leading ad-supported P2P music service, now in beta mode, and SOASTA, the leading provider of cloud-based testing solutions, today announced a significant breakthrough in the load testing of web applications in the cloud.
SOASTA CloudTest Lab, running in Amazon EC2, simulated 100,000 virtual users against QTRAX's soon-to-be-commercially-launched digital music service.
The test involved approximately 100 test servers located in the SOASTA CloudTest Lab. The lab produced a complete set of performance analytics that provided QTRAX with metrics on how its web-based service will respond under heavy loads - allowing it to optimize application configuration in advance of its public launch.
"We are enabling a new way of testing with the combination of our SOASTA CloudTest solution and the virtual computing resources of cloud computing," said Tom Lounibos, CEO, SOASTA.
"A load test of this scale has never been done so quickly and affordably. As businesses continue to use the web as their main sales channel, cloud computing's on-demand, scalable infrastructure is key in the way we develop, deploy and manage web applications."
The combination of SOASTA's scalable hardware architecture with leading edge web testing technology enables the testing of every layer of a web application or service. It delivers immediate value, scales seamlessly up or down with testing needs, and does not require investment in a cost prohibitive testing infrastructure. SOASTA CloudTest natively supports every testing type including load, performance, functional, and web UI/Ajax.
"We anticipate our service to be extremely popular with traffic and music content from around the world. We needed an affordable testing solution to make sure we deliver according to our own and our future customers' expectations," said Christopher Roe, CTO, QTRAX. "SOASTA helped us to check and quantify the performance of our service so we can ensure a successful user experience no matter how heavy the traffic."
QTRAX Chairman & CEO Allan Klepfisz will present a keynote address at the P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE on October 10th at PopKomm in Berlin, Germany.
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
Please plan now to attend the Distributed Computing Industry Association's (DCIA) first-ever P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE on October 10th at PopKomm in Berlin, Germany.
P2P continues to represent some of the most significant challenges as well as many of the greatest opportunities for the music industry - and we are very grateful to PopKomm's organizers for recognizing that and asking us to mount this important event.
This very timely "Conference-within-PopKomm" will feature keynotes from top P2P companies and major music distributors from all over the world, panels of industry leaders, and much more.
The event will take place at the PopKomm main venue in the Grosser Stern Conference Center on the Exhibition Grounds of Messe Berlin, Germany.
We are thrilled to announce today the first wave of speakers for what promises to be a highly stimulating and valuable conference.
P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE speakers will include AHT International's Ron Van Herk, arvato mobile's Jan Marc Kulper, Berkeley's Nathan Good, Copyright Alliance's Patrick Ross, Creative Commons' Markus Beckedahl, CuGate's Thomas Reemer, Double V3's Benjamin Masse and Martine Groulx, DowLohnes' Jim Burger, Feldman Weinstein & Smith's Lawrence Langs, Finetunes' Tom Gunther, Fraunhofer Institute's Karlheinz Brandenburg, Grooveshark's Sam Tarantino, HIRO Media's Ariel Napchi, iTunes' Lothar Land, Javien Digital Payment Solutions' Leslie Poole, LimeWire's Kevin Bradshaw, MediaDefender's Jonathan Lee, Media Universum's Alexander Kessel, New Media Law's Ian Penman, Octoshape's Stephen Alstrup, The Orchard's Scott Cohen, PacketExchange's Andy Bills, QTRAX's Allan Klepfisz, RightsFlow's Patrick Sullivan, Shanghai Media Group's Jean Hsiao Wernheim, TAG Strategic's Ted Cohen, Unlimited Media's Memo Rhein, We7's Clive Gardiner, You Bloom's Stuart Worthington, and You License's Maor Ezer.
More speakers will be announced. Agenda topics will include:
China & Russia - Market Opportunities or Previews of the Future. How can massive piracy in China and Russia be overcome so that these regions enter the global community for music distribution? Can P2P music business models be tailored for these markets? Or by analyzing what is happening in these territories is the West simply looking into its own future?
Digital Challenges - Sound Fundamentals or Changed Circumstances. What has been the impact of online file sharing on the music industry since the advent of Napster? What lessons have been learned and what have been missed? Are closed or highly filtered systems the only P2P solutions of value for music distribution? How can the phenomena of social networking and user-generated content (UGC) be monetized by the music industry using P2P technologies?
Technology Advancement - Creating the Commercial P2P Music Ecosystem. What digital rights management (DRM), content delivery network (CDN), recommendation engine, networked hardware, and other technological solutions are now in development that will optimize P2P deployment for the benefit of music distribution stakeholders? How are music rights holders exploiting P2P today and what issues remain? Can the open file-sharing marketplace be harnessed or is anti-piracy enforcement the only technologically sound approach?
P2P Music Licensing - Private Versus Public Approaches. What are the various content licensing and market exploitation strategies that have been tried to date with respect to P2P distribution? How and why is collective licensing gaining traction in some geographic regions and should this be applied globally? What should the roles and responsibilities be for P2P companies, ISPs, CDNs, and other parties in an optimal but practical P2P music licensing regime?
PopKomm, now in its twentieth year, is the leading international music and entertainment business trade show. The PopKomm Conference will offer an outlook on decisive developments within the music business. For three days, industry experts will voice their opinions on the current state of creation, communication, and commerce.
The PopKomm Festival is one of the world's major showcases with more than 400 solo artists, bands and DJs playing in over 25 official locations
Don't miss the opportunity to participate in this 2008 special event. Register online or call 410-476-7965. For sponsor packages and speaker information, please contact Karen Kaplowitz, DCIA Member Services, at 888-890-4240 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Share wisely, and take care.
Grooveshark Autoplay: A Globally Available Pandora
Excerpted from the Inquisitir Report by Duncan Riley
P2P music store Grooveshark extended its already strong free music streaming service Grooveshark Lite this week with the addition of "autoplay," a Pandora-like music recommendation service that delivers content based on suggested "likes."
The concept for such a feature isn't new, and many will recognize it as being Pandora's original model that was later picked up by Last.fm and others. However, Pandora (despite its brilliance) hasn't been available outside of the United States now for over a year.
Grooveshark has an adventurous model: users upload songs to the service and then anyone can buy those songs from Grooveshark with a cut going back to the user who uploaded it along with the record companies.
There's a strong emphasis on quality, so unlike Seeqpod (a competitor to Grooveshark Lite) where it can be pot luck sometimes in terms of the quality of the music streamed, Grooveshark tracks filtered songs based on quality, guaranteeing a decent track.
Grooveshark has still to work out all the legalities with the new streaming service, but has existing relationships with music companies and as Grooveshark representative SB Spalding said, spends far too much money on lawyers making sure they stay legal.
This is not to say that a music company won't turn around tomorrow and try to close the new service down, but it is trying its hardest to keep copyright holders happy while also trying to turn a profit by delivering great products.
The autoplay feature is still new, so it may not have the richest algorithm in terms of contextual matching, but in my test it passed the grade with flying colors. Well worth a look.
Grooveshark CEO & Founder Sam Tarantino will present a keynote address at the P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE on October 10th at PopKomm in Berlin, Germany.
BBC Plans Ad-Supported Music Service
Excerpted from Media Life Magazine Report
Attention iTunes and Amazon: rumor has it that the BBC Worldwide is entering the ad-supported online music service fray. The BBC's service would provide free and paid access to the BBC's radio and TV music programs, including Radio 1's Live Lounge.
In addition, the library will also have the Top of the Pops and the BBC's coverage of festivals such as Glastonbury. But don't try to tune in just yet. A test version is expected in November, with the service going live in January.
The yet-to-be-named online music service still requires the BBC Trust's go ahead. What sets it apart from its competitors is that users will be able to stream full-length audio and video music content free of charge.
That content can then be purchased for download. Despite media reports to the contrary, a BBC Worldwide spokesman has said that no launches have been approved involving the BBC music archive.
P4P Can Make P2P More Efficient
Excerpted from The Guardian Report by Jack Shofield
Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) and Yale University have proposed "a neighborly approach to file swapping," sharing preferentially with nearby computers. This would allow P2P traffic to continue growing without clogging up the Internet's major arteries, and could provide a basis for the future of P2P systems.
A paper on the new system, known as P4P, was presented last week at the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Data Communications (Sigcomm) meeting in Seattle, said University of Washington News.
The researchers found that "the average P2P data packet currently travels 1,000 miles and takes 5.5 metro-hops, which are connections through major hubs. With the new system, data traveled 160 miles on average and, more importantly, made just 0.89 metro-hops, dramatically reducing web traffic on arteries between cities where bottlenecks are most likely to occur."
Local traffic is cheaper for Internet service providers (ISPs), and should enable faster downloads. To take advantage of P4P, ISPs have to provide "a number that acts as a weighting factor for network routing."
P2P is now being used by broadcasters who want copyright protection, such as the BBC, and anything that makes such sharing more efficient should help everyone. It could also help legitimate file sharing replace copyright-infringing file sharing.
Comcast Amends Acceptable Use Policy
According to Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas, "We have been considering establishing a monthly data usage threshold as part of our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for quite some time."
"This week, we're announcing that, beginning on October 1st, we will amend our AUP and establish a specific monthly data usage threshold of 250 GB/month per account for all residential customers. The monthly data usage threshold will have absolutely no impact on 99% of our customers because their usage is well below 250 GB in a month. The current median monthly data usage by our residential customers is approximately 2-to-3 GB."
It's no secret that Comcast has been evaluating a specific monthly data usage or bandwidth threshold for its Comcast High-Speed Internet residential customers. Rumors circulated online last year and popped up again in May.
In January, the company added new frequently asked questions (FAQ) about what it considers acceptable use of its service to its online help site and security channel page.
After listening to feedback from customers who asked for a specific threshold to help them understand the amount of usage that would qualify as excessive, Comcast responded with its announcement this week to establish a specific monthly data usage threshold of 250 GB/month per account for all residential customers.
250 GB/month is an extremely large amount of data, much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis.
Currently, the median monthly data usage by our residential customers is approximately 2-to-3 GB. To put 250 GB of monthly usage in perspective, a customer would have to do any one of the following: send 50 million e-mails (at 0.05 KB/e-mail); download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song); download 125 standard-definition movies (at 2 GB/movie); or upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos (at 10 MB/photo).
With the new program, Comcast will continue to contact top users of its high-speed Internet service and ask them to curb their usage. If a customer uses more than 250 GB and is one of the top users of Comcast's service, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use. At that time, Comcast will tell them exactly how much data per month they had used. From experience, the vast majority of customers asked to curb usage do so voluntarily.
Vuze and MyToons Sign Deal
Excerpted from MediaWeek Report by Mike Shields
Start-up animation aggregator MyToons has inked a partnership with Vuze, a fast growing online peer-to-peer (P2PTV) application that works with media companies such as BBC and Showtime.
MyToons said it plans to launch a channel geared for Vuze's global user base - MyToons Cartoon Classics - which features short clips of vintage animated series and films, including icons like Popeye and Betty Boop.
Other channels are in development, according to MyToons executives, including one that will showcase undiscovered animation talent from throughout the world.
Vuze, which works in conjunction with P2P video-sharing technology BitTorrent, is designed for tech-savvy entertainment lovers. The product, which includes a downloadable proprietary piece of software, allows users to share both professionally produced and user-generated content (UGC) in DVD and HD formats.
The Redwood City, CA-based company claims 30 million users worldwide.
Conviva's LIVE Media Platform Attracts $20 Million
Conviva, developer of the first LIVE media platform that enables media companies to deliver an inviting, exciting, and uniting online live experience, this week announced it has secured $20 million in a Series B round of funding.
UV Partners led the round, with participation from Series A investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Foundation Capital. The funding brings Conviva's total amount raised to $29 million and will help the company expand its global platform, accelerate product development, and invest in business development with key customers.
"This investment is a fantastic milestone that validates the leadership team, the value to customers, and the confidence in our ability to execute," said Carlos Ramon, Conviva President & CEO.
"Raising such a fast and aggressive round of funding underscores the confidence in our innovative technology platform and the years of tremendous science that led to its development. In a crowded and cynical market plagued by empty promises, this funding bolsters Conviva's staying power and will propel us into the future."
In conjunction with the Series B funding, Dr. Carl Ledbetter, managing director of UV Partners, has joined the Conviva board of directors. Prior to joining UV Partners, Ledbetter was SVP Engineering / R&D and CTO at Novell, and was responsible for Novell's venture fund.
Conviva C3 is the world's first media platform that enables content owners to intelligently and securely manage the distribution of LIVE media and real-time programming online. Built for live media from day one, the platform enables content owners to create a new "virtual living room" audience experience and improve the economics of digital media on the Internet.
"Investors see that the Internet video market has reached an inflection point - it's a market poised for massive growth yet facing serious issues in meeting demand," said Adam Grosser, General Partner at Foundation Capital.
"Conviva has solved the most challenging problem of the Internet: ensuring a LIVE, high-quality, online media experience. By overcoming the broken mechanics of first-generation solutions, Conviva has radically altered the economics for content owners so they can realize new revenue streams by monetizing content never accessible before, differentiate themselves from competitors, and expand their global audience reach."
Veoh is Cleared in Copyright Suit
Excerpted from Wall Street Journal Report by Jessica Vascellaro
A federal judge ruled that peer-to-peer television (P2PTV) service Veoh Networks isn't liable for copyright infringement for material that was uploaded to its website, dismissing a 2006 case filed by Io Group, an adult-entertainment production company.
The ruling Wednesday falls within an area that has become contentious turf as professional video content floods the web. Copyright holders have sought to hold online video services liable for material that users post to sites without their direct knowledge. The video services have sought protection under "safe harbor" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which can shield them from liability as long they remove material when alerted by a copyright holder.
A more high-profile case, Viacom's suit against Google and its video-sharing service, YouTube, has yet to go to trial and recently made headlines when Google resisted a court order requiring it to turn over data about its users. Google eventually agreed to turn over data anonymized to limit disclosure of users' identities.
In response to the Veoh ruling, Google issued a statement highlighting that decision and affirming the legality of its own video-sharing service.
"It is great to see the court confirm that the DMCA protects services like YouTube that follow the law and respect copyrights," YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine said. "YouTube has gone above and beyond the law to protect content owners while empowering people to communicate and share their experiences online."
In a statement, Viacom said the Veoh decision "does nothing to change the fact that YouTube is a business built on infringement that has failed to take reasonable measures to respect the rights of creators and content owners."
In the Veoh case, US District Judge Howard Lloyd ruled that Veoh qualifies for the "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA because it doesn't "actively participate or supervise the uploading of files. Instead, video files are uploaded through an automated process which is initiated entirely at the volition of Veoh's users."
The judge, who presides in San Jose, CA, added that the evidence "demonstrates that, far from encouraging copyright infringement, Veoh has a strong DMCA policy, takes active steps to limit incidents of infringement on its Web site and works diligently to keep unauthorized works off its website."
Final Tally: Olympics Web and P2P Numbers
Excerpted from NewTeeVee Report by Janko Roettgers
The Olympics are over, and it's time for a final medal count. No, we're not talking about Michael Phelps here, nor about the fact that the Chinese got more gold medals than everyone else. Instead, we're taking one last look at where people went to watch the Olympics online.
First the good news for NBC: NBCOlympics.com served a total of 75.5 million streams during the games despite all the uproar about Silverlight, tape delays and a bad UI. The site clocked a total of 9.9 million hours of online video coverage. That's impressive, even if NBC's online video advertising revenue wasn't, but there are plenty of other success stories all around the globe.
The BBC also had some major success with its web-based offering, serving almost 40 million streams through late last week, according to the BBC Internet blog. It had almost 200,000 concurrent viewers watching a total of 6.5 million hours of Olympic coverage - and those figures don't even include the competitions held the final weekend, nor the closing ceremony. The BBC hasn't published any numbers for its iPlayer yet either, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the video platform saw its traffic triple during the games. The broadcaster only served 2.5 million streams during the games in Athens four years ago.
Other European countries saw large numbers of online viewers as well. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) estimates that a total of 18 million viewers tuned into streams from the games, and its member networks served a total of 180 million streams online. The BBC is a member of the EBU, which means that the Brits caused almost a fourth of all of Europe's Olympic video streams.
China's state television network CCTV saw even bigger numbers online. The network told the New York Times that more than 100 million people accessed Olympic video streams on its website.
But CCTV's site wasn't the only way to watch the Olympics in China. The network also sub-licensed the online rights to peer-to-peer television (P2PTV) platforms like PPLive. The company told us that a total of 5.5 million viewers used its client to watch the opening ceremony, with 1.6 million concurrent users tuning in during the ceremony itself.
PPLive saw similarly high numbers during the rest of the games, with daily peak concurrent viewers anywhere between 210,000 and 500,000 during regular competition days, and climbing up to 820,000 viewers for the closing ceremony.
Finally, unauthorized file sharing: the most popular torrent of the opening ceremony still remains in the top 10 most-viewed files of sites like MiniNova and The Pirate Bay, with MiniNova alone clocking nearly 600,000 downloads for a collection of files that totals about five gigabytes.
This particular torrent had almost 100,000 seeders at one point, according to market research company Wiredset. Also interesting: The vast majority of downloaders were from China, with the US only accounting for eight percent of downloads.
BitTorrent Appoints Mitchell Edwards as CFO & GC
BitTorrent this week announced the appointment of Mitchell Edwards as BitTorrent's first Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and General Counsel (GC). In this dual role, Edwards will be responsible for managing BitTorrent's finances, operations, corporate strategy, and providing legal counsel on all business and financial matters concerning the company.
Edwards brings over 20 years of management, finance, legal, and transactional experience to the BitTorrent team. Prior to joining BitTorrent, he had served as a senior executive and board member of numerous emerging high-tech growth companies, a private equity fund, and was a partner of a major international law firm.
Among his executive positions, Edwards was most recently CFO & GC of Groxis, a pioneering Internet search visualization and knowledge management company, and served in the same positions at VFC Technologies, Ikano Communications, and Digital Courier Technologies.
He has also worked at the White House and at the United States Supreme Court. Edwards earned a JD from Stanford Law School, a BA and MA from Oxford University, and a BA from Brigham Young University in Economics.
"It is a great win for BitTorrent to have both a CFO and General Counsel of Mitch's caliber join our leadership team. He brings a valuable combination of experience, credentials, and true appreciation for BitTorrent's potential in media distribution and Internet infrastructure," said BitTorrent's President & Co-Founder Ashwin Navin.
Gazelle Rejuvenates Tracker Community
Excerpted from TorrentFreak Report by Ben Jones
Some months ago, Project Gazelle launched as an attempt to build a new and improved BitTorrent tracker script. The ultimate goal was to produce a new framework for private torrent sites, faster than the common TBSource, while being more secure from a code point of view, easier to modify, and more flexible.
Progress from inception, through beta testing, to its public debut has now led to initial release. The first public release candidate of the script is now available for download.
Reactions from those that have given the site a try have been mostly positive. Negative comments have stemmed from the fact it's not an intuitive install.
The memory caching software, memcached, gives the project its "blazing speed." Right now the system uses XBTT as a tracker, but it will have its own multi-threaded tracker, currently codenamed "Ocelot," ready for later versions,
The project hoped for a doubling of capacity over the older TBsource script, but in practice it's actually become more like double that, meaning a 10,000 user site under TBSource can probably handle 40,000 without any major difference in site response or system load.
Interest in Project Gazelle has been fairly strong, and at least half a dozen sites are now running the new script. Perhaps more interesting, though, is that Gazelle isn't just a torrent site. Due to its modular nature, it can be used for regular sites as well. It's a bit like a content management system in that respect, and perhaps the earlier comparison to Diferior wasn't far from the mark.
If you're interested in the Gazelle code, head over to the project site and follow the instructions. The whole kit-and-caboodle is released under a modified version of the GPL.
Developing P2P Applications with Jabber
Excerpted from ZDNet Asia Report by Lee Chuk-Munn
The Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is a near real-time instant-messaging (IM) protocol used in IM applications like Jabber. XMPP is an extremely flexible and extensible protocol. It has been used in IM, presence information, VoIP, and other applications.
One of the nicest benefits of using XMPP to develop a P2P application is that there are lots of commercial and FOSS implementations of servers, clients, and also libraries that you can use with your application.
You will need the following: Jabber server - Openfire, Jabber IM client - Spark, and XMPP library - Smack. Each of these software programs can be downloaded from Ignite. After you have installed the software, either use Openfire's administration or Spark to register a few users.
An alternative to installing Openfire (Jabber server) is to use one that is publicly available. You can find a list of the servers here.
Add smack.jar and smackx.jar, from the Smack directory, to your classpath. If you are using NetBeans, then add the two above-mentioned JARs into Library Manager (see here for more details).
To connect to a Jabber server with Smack, you will first need to create a Connection Configuration object bypassing the Jabber server and the corresponding number.
In most cases, the port number to use will be the default port: 5222.
Once you have created a ConnectionConfiguration object, use this to connect the Jabber server on local host: 5222.
You are now ready to login to the server with the established connection.
The code to do this is quite simple and straightforward. The only item that warrants some explanation is the resource ("my_app_service") in the login method. This service is very similar in concept to a TCP or a UDP port.
The service parameter is used by the server to identify an incoming connection. If a user has two or more connections with the same service, then one of these connections will be terminated. So to avoid potentially clashing with an existing Jabber IM client connection, it is advisable to set this.
One other use of the service parameter is to identify a connection to an application; let's say we have written a P2P chess application using "chess" string as the resource for connection. Our chess application can now selectively accept other peers' connections only if that connection is marked with "chess" in its service parameter.
Use disconnect to terminate the connection.
You can find an example of the above code in this ZIP file. Unzip the file. The directory is a NetBeans project so you can open it with NetBeans. Do not forget to add smack.jar and smakx.jar to NetBeans.
Use Library Manager to create a library call 'Smack,' and add the two mentioned JAR files into it.
In a subsequent article, we will discuss how to look up your peers and start a chat session with them.
Colleges Back Students on Copyright Infringement
Excerpted from Politico Report by Erika Lovely
Hollywood-backed legislation to curtail copyright infringement by college students could make music and movie piracy even worse, the education lobby says.
The landmark provision, part of an expansive higher education bill signed into law last week by President Bush, requires colleges to curb students' unauthorized file sharing. But the anti-piracy plan has rankled the American Council on Education and other education groups, which warn universities could be turned into copyright police - on their own dimes.
File-sharing experts also say the legislation would probably exacerbate the growing divide between the entertainment industry and the education community, where more schools are beginning to protect their students from the legal pursuits of the recording industry.
Backed by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and powerful recording and movie industry constituents, the provision also urges schools to consider deterrents such as Ruckus and Napster. Music piracy alone costs the recording industry up to $12.5 billion annually, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The recording industry and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have tried unsuccessfully for years to tackle unauthorized activities of college students, who use powerful campus networks to download and distribute entire movies within minutes.
"We don't want people in college to go to higher education institutions where they're receiving an education that it's OK to perform illegal activities online," said Copyright Alliance Executive Director Patrick Ross.
As Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, Berman has pushed the piracy issue in hearings and elsewhere.
And his provision was barely disputed in either the House or the Senate, perhaps in part because it was buried in the 1,158-page higher education bill that was seven years in the making. By clarifying the student loan process and expanding the Pell Grant financial aid program, the new law would help cut students' college costs.
But it has been widely criticized by education experts for doing just the opposite.
Dozens of other provisions require schools to collect data about alumni success rates, fire safety, and textbook prices, many of which the education groups fought vehemently because of the new costs involved.
But only Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a former US Education Secretary, and a handful of Republicans opposed the bill because it contained too many regulations.
"This provision may lead to a Pandora's box of impractical expectations. Student privacy may be at great risk," said Tony Pals, a spokesman for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He complained that the unfunded mandate would also "add significantly to colleges' administrative costs, which is ironic given the pressure Congress is putting on colleges to control their expenses."
The University of Maryland and Pennsylvania State University are among hundreds of schools that have already installed Napster, Ruckus and other programs to curb Internet piracy.
Most universities, too, fine repeat offenders or cut off their Internet access. But the entertainment industry sanctioned programs are also experiencing backlash from students, who say a technological barrier is preventing them from transferring licensed music and movies onto Apple iPods, the world's most popular portable music players.
"These programs don't deliver the music format the students want," said Terry Hartle, Vice President of the American Council on Education. "Our belief is that if music can't be downloaded properly, the students won't use it."
More compatible technology is on the horizon but will not be ready for campus use soon. While many schools have partnered with the recording and motion picture industries to fight online piracy, many education groups view Congress's recent legislation as a threat to student privacy.
Tufts University recently refused to identify students sought by the recording industry in a file-sharing case.
"This is heading more toward polarization than a working relationship between schools and the copyright industry," said Marty Lafferty, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA). "It's a concern."
Entertainment executives argue that the bill would provide relief for colleges, where networks can be clogged with unauthorized downloading traffic and students are even being sued by the industry.
"Congress has sent a clear message that illegal file sharing and downloading on college networks is a real problem that must be addressed by universities," said Dan Glickman, Chairman & CEO of the MPAA.
Under the copyright provision, schools won't face penalties if they can't stop unauthorized activity. But the rules for implementation of the new law would have to be drawn by the US Education Department, where education lobbyists hope to find a sympathetic ear.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has criticized the many regulatory measures in the higher education bill, and experts expect the data collection process will be a huge burden for the department.
"The 110th Congress left a huge present for the next Secretary of Education," said Hartle of the American Council on Education. "These regulations will put a huge burden on a thinly staffed agency. They will certainly need to hire new staff."
Universities Push Back Against RIAA's Methods
Excerpted from eSchool News Report by Dennis Carter
Administrators and IT chiefs at public universities nationwide say the recording industry's search for students accused of online copyright infringement is cutting into their faculty's work day.
In recent months, some universities have refused to forward "pre-litigation" letters to students offering them a settlement to avoid further legal action from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Forwarding these documents is not a legal responsibility of the college, administrators say, and tracking down students who might have downloaded unlicensed music or movies is time-consuming, forcing IT specialists to comb through an enormous university network, pinpoint specific unauthorized actions, and find students.
"This is between the recording industry and the people who may be violating their copyrights," said Brian Rust, Marketing Manager of the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Department of Information Technology, which has seen a steady increase of subpoenas and "cease-and-desist" notices forwarded from RIAA officials in recent years.
"But public institutions are an easy target. We're very transparent about access to our network."
Higher education has been a primary ally in the recording industry's fight against online piracy, but over the last year, university officials say tension has mounted.
Filtering or monitoring technologies designed to spot incidents of unlicensed downloads have forced many colleges to assign full-time employees the job of tracking down the IP addresses of network users who might have violated copyright laws, find out if those users are still enrolled in the university, and make sure the alleged violators receive notice that the RIAA is looking for them. The software has been installed at campuses across the country after the recording industry's intensive lobbying effort for better network monitoring.
Denise Stephens, Vice Provost for Information Services and Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the University of Kansas, said the school decided to stop forwarding pre-litigation papers to students because the practice did not fit the mission of the college.
"We really had to make a decision philosophically about what our role was in this whole issue," said Stephens, who also has seen a rise in RIAA "cease-and-desist" notices. "We'd be acting as a go-between for an external party seeking to get information about our students. We decided that was not our role."
Stephens insisted that Kansas' new policy was not intended to pick a fight with the RIAA. She stressed that the university maintains "a zero-tolerance policy," stripping students and faculty of their network access privileges if they are found guilty of Internet copyright infringement.
"This is not an effort to thumb our nose at anyone," she said.
In courtroom arguments and media reports over the last year, the RIAA has argued that compliance with subpoenas has not been a burden to universities in the past, so it should not be considered a burden now.
But higher-education officials insist compliance with the RIAA is requiring too much of their time.
Coming Events of Interest
International Broadcasting Convention - September 11th-16th in Amsterdam, Holland. IBC is committed to providing the world's best event for everyone involved in the creation, management, and delivery of content for the entertainment industry. Uniquely, the key executives and committees who control the convention are drawn from the industry, bringing with them experience and expertise in all aspects. DCIA Member companies are exhibiting.
Streaming Media West - September 23rd-25th in San Jose, CA. The only show that covers both the business of online video and the technology of P2PTV, streaming, downloading, webcasting, Internet TV, IPTV, and mobile video. Covering both corporate and consumer business, technology, and content issues in the enterprise, advertising, media and entertainment, broadcast, and education markets. The DCIA will conduct a P2P session.
PopKomm - October 8th-10th in Berlin, Germany. The international music and entertainment business trade show, conference, and festival. Decisive developments within the business. Think forward: for three days, experts will be appraising and voicing their opinions on creation, communication, and commerce. Over 400 showcase performances.
P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE - October 10th in Berlin, Germany. The DCIA proudly presents an all-new day-long conference within PopKomm, focused totally on P2P solutions for the music industry. How to protect and monetize musical content in the steadily growing P2P marketplace.
Spirit of Life Award Dinner - October 15th in Santa Monica, CA. The City of Hope Music and Entertainment Industry Group will award the 2008 Spirit of Life Award to Doug Morris. Dinner packages and advertising information can be obtained through Mary Carlzen and 213-241-7328.
Digital Hollywood Fall - October 27th-30th in Santa Monica, CA. With many new sessions and feature events, DHF has become the premiere digital entertainment conference and exposition. DCIA Member companies will exhibit and speak on a number of panels.
P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LV - January 7th in Las Vegas, NV. This is the DCIA's must-attend event for everyone interested in monetizing content using P2P and related technologies. Keynotes, panels, and workshops on the latest breakthroughs. This DCIA flagship event is a Conference within CES - the Consumer Electronics Show.