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January 5, 2009
Volume XXIV, Issue 11

Come to the P2P MEDIA SUMMIT Wednesday

The second annual P2P MEDIA SUMMIT Conference-within-CES takes place this Wednesday January 7th in Las Vegas, NV.

New speakers announced this week include Harvey Benedict, VP, Corporate Development & Strategy, Kontiki; Rick Buonincontri, CEO, Solid State Networks; Paul Ritter, Vice President, Interactive Media Strategies; and Joshua Wattles, Attorney at Law.

Several important industry announcements will be made at this DCIA flagship event. Attending the summit is your best way to learn about upcoming developments for 2009 and beyond from experts on today's most advanced digital distribution technologies from all over the world.

The most cost-effective way to attend the P2P MEDIA SUMMIT is with an all-access pass to the 2009 International CES, which includes the summit at no extra charge.

The P2P MEDIA SUMMIT offers a dozen keynote addresses; policy, technology, and marketing tracks; plus panels on content distribution, solutions development, and best practices. There will be a continental breakfast, conference luncheon, and VIP networking reception.

Registration can be done online here or by calling 410-476-7965.

New Year, New Anti-Piracy Strategy

Excerpted from BP Council Report

In its legal proceedings against 35,000 people since 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has initiated lawsuits against single moms, a deceased person, and a 13-year-old girl.

But now, in a radical shift of strategy, the RIAA has decided to drop its practice of mass litigation and, instead, opt to get the cooperation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in its bid to fight online music infringement.

When the RIAA suspects an ISP's customer is downloading and sharing copyrighted music without authorization, it will e-mail the provider, which is then asked to alert the offending customer and ask him/her to stop. Customers who continue file sharing will get warning letters from the ISP (together, perhaps, with slower service), and then may lose access to the ISP service completely.

Reactions have been swift. Many public advocate groups consider it a good move. An Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) representative said that the RIAA should have done it a long time ago and taken a cue from movie industry groups that have essentially abandoned the can't-win litigation strategy.

Some bloggers see the action in a "good news, bad news" way: The good news is the lawsuits end. The bad news is the RIAA may want to invoke a "three strikes - you're out" policy against alleged music infringers.

Public Knowledge and the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) also praised the move, with DCIA CEO Marty Lafferty saying, "We will continue to devote significant resources to technological solutions that address the problem of copyright infringement. Meanwhile, we encourage more licensing of distributed computing platforms for music delivery as the best currently available antidote."

Many observers say that US ISPs taking action against allegedly unauthorized file sharers is nothing new. The RIAA's new strategy of asking ISPs to pressure their customers into stopping unlicensed file sharing may also be the same tactic used in the UK, where ISP Virgin Media is working with the British Phonographic Institute (BPI) to send warning letters to customer accounts that have engaged in file sharing. The French government and other European countries are thinking of following suit.

Will the RIAA's new strategy work? That depends on whether several issues are resolved, according to EFF's Fred von Lohmann. Privacy concerns, retention of customer data, possible blacklisting of alleged file sharers, and lack of due process in the customer account shutdown process, are just a few of them.

But most important is this: Will the ISPs' interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) mandate regarding copyright violations coincide with the RIAA's?

Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyWe very much hope to see you this Wednesday at the DCIA's second annual P2P MEDIA SUMMIT Las Vegas, being held as a day-long conference within the 2009 International CES Show.

With more than four decades of success, CES reaches across global markets, connects the industry, and enables consumer electronics innovations to grow and thrive. CES is produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the pre-eminent trade association promoting growth in the consumer technology industry.

This year our focus is on commercial development of the P2P channel for content distribution. Delegates will hear keynotes from top P2P and social networking software distributors, attend panel discussions with industry leaders, participate in valuable workshops, and much more.

A continental breakfast and conference luncheon will be served; and the day will end with a VIP networking cocktail reception.

P2P MEDIA SUMMIT Las Vegas keynote speakers include Robert Levitan, CEO, Pando Networks; Mark Stuart, Technical Director, P2P Next; George Searle, CEO, LimeWire; Travis Kalanick, Founder, Red Swoosh; Kumar Subramanian, CEO, MediaMelon; Joey P., Co-Founder, Brand Asset Digital; David Ferguson, Chief Architect, Velocix; and Eitan Efron, VP of Marketing, Oversi.

Conference luncheon presentations will feature important NEW P2P RESEARCH from Joe Porus and Milt Ellis, both Vice Presidents at Harris Interactive; and an update on the P4P WORKING GROUP from Doug Pasko, Senior Technologist at Verizon, and Laird Popkin, CTO at Pando Networks, and both Co-Chairs of the P4P Working Group (P4PWG).

The summit will end with a very SPECIAL SESSION on the subject of the next frontier - business practices for P2P industry leadership. Speakers will include Ron Berry, Business Advisor, Isle of Man; David Rice, VP of Marketing, Move Networks; and See-Mong Tan, Director of P2P, Microsoft.

The opening POLICY TRACK panel will explore what changes the Obama administration is likely to bring to the emerging P2P industry, and answer questions, such as: What changes are taking place in the regulatory environment affecting P2P technologies? What will be the impact of recent court opinions and the music industry's announced change in policy? What else has to happen from a legal and policy standpoint to foster investment and commercial development of P2P?

Panelists will include Jim Burger, Partner, Dow Lohnes; Lawrence Hadley, Partner, Hennigan Bennett & Dorman; Louis Lehrman, Vice President, Dutko Worldwide; Steven Masur, Managing Partner, MasurLaw; and Joshua Wattles, Attorney at Law.

The TECHNOLOGY TRACK panel will examine P2P file sharing - the evolving distribution chain. Issues to be addressed include: What is the current landscape for P2P-based content distribution? What trends are emerging among participants in the distribution chain and in consumer usage? What impact do advances in digital rights management (DRM), compression, caching, content acceleration, swarming, streaming, and other P2P-related technologies have?

Panelists will include Rick Buonincontri, CEO, Solid State Networks; Matt Drown, Director of Applications, CloudShield; Nathan Good, Research Scientist, PARC; Aaron Markham, VP of Research & Development, BayTSP; Jeffrey Payne, CTO, GridNetworks; and Jonathan Zuck, President, Association for Competitive Technology (ACT).

The MARKETING TRACK panel will delve into current business models - what's working and what's not. Has any alternative business model - paid-download, subscription, or advertising-supported - yet proven to be the most promising? Is P2P more of a promotional tool than a direct sales channel? How is P2P being adopted in the enterprise space and how does that relate to the consumer sector? Have any more innovative approaches been attempted? How can institutions and end-users navigate among P2P service offerings?

Panelists will include Harvey Benedict, VP, Corporate Development & Strategy, Kontiki; Chris Gillis, Director of Sales, MediaDefender; Alex Limberis, COO, Syabas Technology; Thomas Reemer, CEO, CUGate; and Paul Ritter, Vice President, Interactive Media Strategies.

The CONTENT DISTRIBUTION panel will assess P2P for content creators. What has been the experience to date of content creators who have embraced P2P? What changes do they need to more effectively harness file-sharing and related technologies? Are there innovative art forms in development for the P2P distribution channel?

Panelists will include Daniel Harris, CEO, MediaPass Gigantic; Steve Oedekerk, CEO, O! Entertainment; Keyvan Peymani, COO, Nettwerk Music Group; Patrick Ross, Executive Director, Copyright Alliance; Rafael Solis, Director of Marketing, ImageSpan; and Laura Tunberg, Principal Partner, We Get It Consulting.

The SOLUTIONS DEVELOPMENT panel will look into advancement - creating the commercial P2P ecosystem. What architectural, CDN-related, content-security, and other technological solutions are now in development that will optimize P2P and hybrid peer-assisted deployments for the benefit of all participants in the distribution chain? Which of these have been tested and what have been the results to date?

Panelists will include Boh Dupree, Group Manager, Marketing, Verizon Communications; Michael King, CEO, Abacast; JD Lasica, President, Social Media Group; Jonathan Lee, SVP, PiCast; Neerav Shah, VP, Business Development & Strategy, Verimatrix; and David Ulmer, Sr. Director, MultiMedia & Entertainment Products, Motorola.

Please click here to register. We look forward very much to seeing you Wednesday. Share wisely, and take care.

RIAA Halts Strategy of Suing Music Downloaders

Excerpted from Home Media Magazine Report by Chris Tribbey

The Recording Association of America's (RIAA) decision December 19th to abandon its years-long practice of suing individuals who download and share unlicensed music, was something the RIAA should have done long ago, according to Fred von Lohmann with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). 

"Many people forget that the motion picture studios subtly did the same thing, but they largely gave up that approach a year ago," he said. "No press releases, no big stories. They just quietly abandoned the 'sue your customers' strategy." 

"The movie studios are pretty much offering their content for free on ad-supported streaming sites. They're groping their way toward the future much more ambitiously than the recording industry," von Lohmann said, pointing to collapsed release-windows and day-and-date digital delivery and VOD with DVD. 

First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the RIAA's decision to stop suing individuals, and instead work with Internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor users' file-sharing activity, was a good move, according to digital public interest group Public Knowledge. 

"We are pleased that the RIAA has decided largely to drop its counter-productive strategy of suing its customers," said Gigi B. Sohn, President & Co-Founder of Public Knowledge. "We also have no objections to RIAA working closely with ISPs to pass along notices to those suspected of file sharing, although ISPs should not be put into the improper role of 'copyright cop.'" 

Marty Lafferty, CEO of the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), which works to establish standards for P2P file-sharing services, praised an "end to the mass litigation campaign against consumers." 

"Neither the DCIA nor any of our member companies sanction copyright infringement, and we will continue to devote significant resources to technological solutions that address that problem," Lafferty said. "Meanwhile, we encourage more licensing of distributed computing platforms for music delivery as the best currently available antidote." 

The RIAA's announcement came the same day that media research firm NPD Group released statistics showing the number of CDs purchased in the third quarter of this year was down 19%, compared to the same period last year, while the number of music tracks shared on the Internet grew 23%.

Von Lohmann was skeptical of the RIAA's new tactic. "The end of the lawsuits is long overdue, but the apparent alternative is just as short-sighted," he said. "The recording industry has been working with the ISPs for five years. What's suddenly going to change? 

"It's hopelessly naive to believe file sharing will ever be stopped. The RIAA should instead legitimize what's going to happen anyway."

If You Can't Stop It, Monetize It

Excerpted from OMMA Magazine Report by Susan Kuchinskas

Entertainment companies have had little success stopping fans from uploading and downloading their content without authorization. Now, MySpace has a way to ease the pain: slap ads on the stuff. 

The fan-oriented social media site has partnered with tech provider Auditude to identify user-posted video clips that are under copyright. But instead of sending an infringement notice, Auditude adds an overlay that can be either advertising or e-commerce. 

Once a site publisher enables Auditude, every piece of content gets a unique ID. First, a content owner has to supply Auditude with copies of all content it wants "fingerprinted," and Auditude adds it to a database.

Once deployed on MySpace, for example, the technology can scan every digital file queued for uploading to see if there's a match within the indexed content. It can then take any action the content company prefers, including blocking the upload. MTV Networks is one of the first entertainment companies to sign-up for the MySpace service - and it's going the ad route for content from BET, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. 

Auditude works for audio-only content as well, but MySpace hasn't mentioned using this for its recently announced MySpace Music service. 

Now that infringing files can be turned into ad inventory, MySpace has even developed a more polite term for it: "audience-syndicated media."

Label & Torrent Site Revolutionize Industry Landscape

Excerpted from Zeropaid Report

Open Your Eyes Records is a label that bills itself as being "built by musicians, for musicians," with its main focus to expand the fan base of its artists by utilizing the power of P2P.

Its post on torrent tracker site What.cd says, "Open Your Eyes Records and What.cd are collaborating to revolutionize the industry landscape by making it clear that P2P technology and record labels can work hand-in-hand to accomplish their ultimate goals: getting artists heard and growing their fan bases." 

This collaboration gives members of the What.cd community the benefit and privilege of being first to get all albums released by Open Your Eyes Records. In recognition of the attraction of having a head-up on the media and mainstream, Open Your Eyes Records and What.cd are catering to the P2P community by getting all new releases, artist news, and updates to the file-sharing community before they are accessible to the general public. 

Open Your Eyes Records strives to make its artists everything they should be to the public and themselves, without taking a big piece of the cake. This is contrary to the philosophy of many of the current independent labels and all of the major label juggernauts because Open Your Eyes Records has a unique vision. Open Your Eyes Records is a launch pad for the nation's next big acts, and a starting point towards greatness. In the collaboration with What.cd, Open Your Eyes Records is recognizing the need to embrace the new possibilities of information exchange of the Internet to fulfill this mission. 

Open Your Eyes Records recently signed a new band, "I Call Fives," hailing from Southern New Jersey. The band's debut album, "First Things First" will be released to the public soon, but the What.CD community will be getting this album exclusively first. 

Open Your Eyes Records' first signing was Four Year Strong, which released its debut CD "It's Our Time" in 2005 on a fledgling label with a single employee. Since this time, Four Year Strong has gone on to sign with Decaydance Records, home of Gym Class Hereos, Cobra Starship, and Panic! At the Disco.

The concept of free albums isn't exactly a novel one, but being backed by a record label on a site that essentially caters to unlicensed music file sharing is. Most record labels can't seem to figure out that the music landscape has changed drastically since Shawn Fanning flipped the switch on Napster in 1999. 

Open Your Eyes Records is taking a new approach to music distribution by harnessing the power of P2P instead of waging a losing battle against it.

Two Boxes Expand Your Entertainment Horizons

Excerpted from Truly Obscure Report by Greg May

Popcorn Hour may sound like an excuse to visit the movie theater, but is actually a mean media box. And Neuros may sound brainy, but is actually a sexy open-source media player. Each has its uses, and we tested out both over the holidays to see how best to handle our growing collection of torrented movies and shows, digital photos, and music.

We'll start with the Neuros OSD, which serves a very specific purpose: to digitally encode videos into MP4. Small, and fairly easy to set-up, it is aimed at folks who want to record TV or video from other sources. But the lack of HDMI or even component and limited networking capabilities mean that buyers should carefully consider their needs before leaping in.

The Neuros also lacks onboard storage, so you need to use an external USB hard drive, or use the handy memory card reader for storage on an SD, MMC, or CF card. You can play the recorded videos on computers, even smart-phones, but you'll need to tweak the settings for best results. The open-source nature of the box means that you, and the fairly large community, can hack the box, changing the user interface or modifying or adding new features. Firmware updates are regular, and we did like the easy ability to rip DVDs (via s-video) and easily play them back with any media player.

Generally though, the Neuros doesn't quite live up to the promises it makes - the lack of NTFS support means that you need to format a hard-drive in the right way, the lack of larger memory card support limits options, and the USB port won't support all devices and is fairly slow. Finally, the device isn't as responsive as we would have liked. But for $140, this attractive and small box does one thing and does it pretty well - just be sure to read the manual, FAQ, and forums.

A more conventional media box, the Popcorn Hour A-110 Networked Media Tank is a media streamer - instead of encoding video into digital files, it allows easy and convenient playback of whatever digital files you have.

Offering HDMI 1.3a, DTS, and digital optical audio (SPDIF), the A-110 is one of the better media boxes we've used - an excellent GUI and support of a wide variety of formats made it a pleasure to use. Attractive, and fairly quiet, you can steam media from any PC, or install an SATA hard drive for local storage (or attach an external USB drive).

Best of all, the A-110 can serve as a fast BitTorrent client/server, and is easy to use. You can leave it running overnight without issues, and it handles most audio and photos as well, with ease. HD-capable, up to 1080p, with S-video and composite ports as well, Popcorn Hour has created quite a device.

It isn't cheap, at $215, and we wish that it had wireless networking built-in (maybe once the wireless-N spec is finalized) but we were happy with nearly every aspect of the Networked Media Tank.

New Veoh.com Beta Version Launched

Excerpted from Online Video News Report by Christopher Rick

Industry-leading P2PTV service Veoh has a new version including a website redesign and some new features. It has reorganized content into more than 100 categories to make it easier for you to find what you want. It also allows you to browse for other videos while watching something. The player now has three sizes, small, theater for a larger experience, and full-screen.

Additionally, it has given you the tools now to save videos to an 'interest' list. You can actually add videos, shows, categories, and even publishers to it so you have one place to quickly look at what's new in your particular areas of interest. Veoh is also attempting to help you find more content that you might like by expanding the recommendations area of the player. Now when you are watching something, you can opt to have Veoh give you a list of other videos that might be of interest to you based on what you are currently watching.

Veoh stripped down the user profile experience and many of the customizations that were available in the past have been lost. It states that it is still working to expand the user experience and that there will be ways to customize the pages in the future.

Upcoming features are said to include groups, video uploading, and of course the aforementioned user-profile customizations.

An undocumented feature is the fact that it has begun to block certain foreign countries from accessing its service. Hulu.com also blocks certain content from being visible outside of the US. However, you can still access its site. You just can't see any of the videos that are from the major US networks, which is the majority of content of course.

FireTorrent Adds BitTorrent Powers to Firefox

Excerpted from LifeHacker Report by Kevin Purdy

FireTorrent's alpha-level release aims at letting anyone using Firefox start downloading torrents from any source, no separate software required. For quick or one-shot downloads, it's very convenient.

The add-on, technically in the alpha stage and pseudo-invite-only, doesn't have any preferences to configure, and limits your upload speed to 15 kb/s, most likely to preserve Firefox's basic browsing ability while you download.

What it does do is simply convert any .torrent link you click on into a download, handled by Firefox just as if you were downloading a file directly.

So if you want to grab something and imagine you'll be done with the download by the time you're out of your browser, FireTorrent fits the bill. Configurable preferences are expected to arrive in the next release, according to the developer.

FireTorrent is a free download, works anywhere Firefox does (but make sure you install the right version for your OS).

SymTorrent Updated to Work with More Devices

Excerpted from Unwired View Report

SymTorrent is a currently existing BitTorrent client for S60-based smart-phones. And now it works with S60 5th Edition devices, like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the upcoming Nokia N97, as well.

SymTorrent for Symbian S60 5th Edition works fine as ever, letting users download their files on the go, whenever and wherever. One can even download multiple torrents at the same time.

Being open-source software, SymTorrent remains free for download. If you still don't have a device running S60 5th Edition, don't fret. It has other versions that are designed for older S60 editions, too.

IP Marketplace Still Sizzles

Excerpted from The Recorder Report by Zusha Elinson

Big tech companies haven't stopped patenting their inventions, but more than ever they're also buying others' patents as a weapon in intellectual property (IP) litigation.

In-house counsel know that the best defense against a high-stakes IP suit can be the ability to threaten the other side with suits based on your own portfolio. But with more patents on the market than ever, companies are on a shopping spree that a recessionary economy is only likely to fuel.

Public data is scant in the still-young market in which buyers like to keep a low-profile. But patent brokers and lawyers say that tech companies are putting more money into that marketplace than ever.

"I think if you polled companies, you would find that the amount spent on buying patents is increasing more than the amount being spent on prosecution," said Mallun Yen, Vice President of Worldwide IP at Cisco Systems, who characterized her company's patent purchasing program as "very active."

Corporate buyers are showing up more often at patent auctions, said Andrew Ramer, President of Chicago-based auctioneer Ocean Tomo. "There's been a drastic increase in the percentage of corporate buyers year-over-year," he said.

There are three reasons why companies buy patents, says Joe Chernesky, President of IP investment bank IPotential, and they have more to do with defense than innovation. The first is to assert back against a patent infringement threat. The second is to take patents that are perceived as threats off the street. And the distant third is to go into a new line of business.

"Patents covering your own technology are not very useful," said Craig Opperman, an IP lawyer at Reed Smith. "You want patents on the other guys' technology - you want patents that you can stick 'em with."

Juniper Networks first started buying patents when it got hit with an infringement suit by Toshiba five years ago, said Scott Coonan, director of IP litigation and licensing. Juniper bought patents that covered Toshiba technology, made counterclaims, and was able to come to a "reasonable resolution," he said.

Now the company continues to buy to fill in what Coonan calls "gaps" in its patent portfolio - but filling those gaps doesn't mean buying shields against lawsuits, but swords to use against hostile opponents.

"Gaps are where competitors and aggressors have known exposure," he said.

Yen said Cisco not only buys patents to round out its portfolio, but also to keep patents out of the hands of non-practicing entities that could use them to sue Cisco. The company makes these purchases by itself or through patent pools, she said.

Yen, Coonan, and other in-house lawyers emphasized that while they are buying more existing patents than before, their companies still file even more applications for new patents.

The supply of patents on the market has increased as more companies realize that IP is an asset that can be bought and sold.

All of the patent lawyers and brokers interviewed for this article predicted that the recession will only cause more companies or inventors to put their patents up for sale. But with less money available for buying, it could push prices down.

But what hasn't seemed to go down is the number of patent infringement suits, and Ocean Tomo's Ramer said that means that buying at tech companies will continue apace.

"It's definitely going to go up," he said. "They have to do it for defensive reasons."

Cloud Computing Looks to Generate Thunder in 2009

Excerpted from IT Business Edge Report by Carl Weinschenk

Cloud computing is a broadly defined concept that is slowly changing the way organizations operate and the way IT thinks about itself. This long and insightful piece by The Associated Press discusses the concept in great detail.

The writer says Genentech, a biotechnology company with 16,300 employees, is the largest company that so far has opted for Google's cloud for desktop applications. It still will use Microsoft software for some functions and the piece notes that the company's CEO is on Google's board.

The article provides a good description of the concept and major players such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite. Those who stand to lose the most - Microsoft, SAP, Oracle - also are discussed. The bottom line clearly is that cloud computing is here to stay, but that legacy approaches are far from dead.

This briefer look at cloud computing positions 2008 as a year of transition. It condenses the important announcements that were made. Microsoft, which obviously sees that cloud computing is a big threat to its desktop productivity software empire, launched Windows Azure. The program enables developers to write for a Microsoft cloud. Announcements also were made by AT&T, VMware, and IBM. Collectively, these announcements make it clear that the cloud is moving into the corporate area.

Big concepts - and cloud computing is a very big concept - generally are introduced in a generic and generalized manner. As time goes by, the overall idea is refined and subdivided into a number of different approaches and categories. This commentary, which links to the executive summary of a Forrester report on which it is partially based, suggests that there are two types of clouds. One seeks to replace device-based applications and the other to concentrate a great amount of computing power.

In the first case, a company might replace its individual versions of a word processing program with one stored in the cloud. In the latter case, a pharmaceutical firm might amass huge lots of number-crunching CPUs to research a drug. The obvious point is that these are very different uses and, thus, different skills will be needed from vendors, consultants and others to make each work.

Click here for more good detail on the cloud ecosystem. The first part of the story reiterates the point that the emerging platform is extremely broadly defined. It also has not come from out of the blue. Many elements have been kicking around for a while. The piece discusses Azure, XO Communications' Concentric, AT&T, Verizon, and Cisco. The feature is followed by a sidebar that discusses the challenges in cloud implementation. These include laws in some places that mandate that user information doesn't leave the country; the difficulty of integrating multiple services and multiple clouds; how to guarantee accessibility and the need for standards.

This rPath video is perfect to send to an executive who is curious about cloud computing. It is short - about 4 1/2 minutes - and sums up the antecedents and possible future of cloud computing. It also is entertaining. The piece says that several elements coalesced to give cloud computing life, including inexpensive broadband, virtualization, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and utility computing.

There is general agreement on the state of cloud computing: It is a big deal and still in its formative stages. It appears that 2009 will be a pivotal year as vendors and service providers refine their plans.

What Will 2009 Bring to File Sharing and Technology?

Excerpted from Zeropaid Report by Drew Wilson

As we march into 2009, what can we expect to see in a year that promises some major shifts in not only the file-sharing landscape, but also the Internet as a whole? Technology is perhaps one of the most impossible things to predict thanks in part to its fast pace, but there is no harm in looking at the past for some clues into what could happen in 2009. 

Upgrading an old television to a new one has always seemed to be an option, rather than a requirement. One mustn't forget that 2009 has a particular deadline for upgrading to a digital compliant television. That deadline is February 17th. Some organizations make the note of switching from analog to digital sound like a great thing, but last year, a senator commented that it could be a "digital disaster," pointing to many who won't be prepared for the switching off of analog towers and leaving millions without television. 

Another aspect that has caused some controversy was the attempt to bring something known as a broadcast flag into DTV which basically means some shows can't be recorded unless you have the rights holder's permission. After some legal battles, the FCC wasn't exactly optimistic about the broadcast flag and dropped the requirement to obey the broadcast flag. While it seemed like an absolute victory for the digital rights conscious, controversy sprang up over the activation of the flag in an NBC broadcast of American Gladiator. Questions were raised on whether or not computer companies will obey the broadcast flag anyway regardless of what the FCC ruled. The issue has since become a quiet one and we will see the very real effects of forcing everyone to digital television in early 2009 and whether or not the broadcast flag will somehow be resurrected after all the high-stakes drama that took place in years past. 

Some countries have already started entering a seemingly new debate on network neutrality, but the name seems to take a back seat to what is going on. The debate on whether or not the government should be blocking certain kinds of content hasn't been more fiercer then in Australia where protesters have already hit the streets to stop the government from trying to control what Australians see on their computer screens. While the subject started off with trying to rid the internet of child pornography, it quickly spiraled into other kinds of content stretching clear into the realm of blocking P2P traffic. ISPs have been fighting back against not only the plan to filter the Internet, but against the copyright industry after one of the ISPs sued for "allowing" piracy to occur on its networks. 

Of course, if one thinks that this issue is just tied to the distant land of Australia and doesn't affect North Americans or Europeans, think again. Such ideas have not only taken hold in the politics of Britain, but are already in the process of migrating to the United States. One can see that this could be a very real issue around the world in 2009. Are you for protecting the children or for protecting your civil liberties? 

In the same vain of controlling what you see on your computer screen, ISPs are being pressured by not only the entertainment industry, but also the government to do something to stop file sharing. In a stunning new twist, the RIAA has already said that it is stopping its lawsuit campaign and opting for getting accused file sharers disconnected instead. Some observers have already commented that by doing this, they are making ISPs the judge and jury on alleged copyright infringers and basically circumventing the legal system altogether. 

Why this sudden change in tactics? One possibility could be found in a long-running case known as the Jammie Thomas case where accused file sharer Jammie Thomas was originally found guilty and fined $222,000. While it seemed like a victory for the copyright industry, that's when things quickly deteriorated. There was a manifest error of law when the judge admitted he made a mistake by instructing the jury that placing copyrighted content in a shared directory was considered illegal. From there, the RIAA lost a hard fought battle to convince the judge that he was correct in the instruction. 

While one might point to the Jammie Thomas case, another possible source for this change in tactics is a strong French influence. France has been the original source of the idea of the so-called 'three-strikes' policy when it comes to file sharing and has done everything it (meaning French politicians and ambassadors) can to controversially push for the three strikes provision in Europe. Perhaps the copyright industry can't wait for the results of their petri dish experiment of France to install a three-strikes policy in the United States. 

Some open-source advocates may find the idea of having full control of their operating system as something that is essential. As Windows becomes one step closer, as made very obvious with the leaking of the first beta, to a new Windows operating system, some familiar arguments might very well emerge as seen with Vista and XP - you'll lose more control of your operating system then ever before. Some of it will be more conspiracy than fact, others might be more fact than conspiracy theory. As is almost always the case, it's going to be difficult to see what becomes truth and what becomes fiction. 

One thing certainly remains constant - legislation around copyright related issues. One of the most controversial, yet secret pieces of legislation is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). In short, those involved in ACTA have denied everything that was leaked on Wikileaks earlier this year. While there have been talks about opening up ACTA to the public, the negotiations have remained extremely secret - a trend that has many on edge about their digital rights. 

Canada has certainly been a hot battleground for copyright-related issues and legislation. What caused the biggest controversy surrounded the idea of having your iPod confiscated at the border because it could technically hold unauthorized copies of music (one point that has been denied by the European Union).

While ACTA is certainly a major concern in many countries, the main concern is Canada's long running copyright legislation. Many ministers have been run through the controversy mill from Sam Bulte to Jim Prentice with numerous ministers in between. Still, since the ever-famous "pro-user zealots" comment back in 2005, almost four years and two-and-a-half governments have passed with Canadians still in the same boat as they were back then - what to do with the copyright file? Numerous ministers have pretty much unanimously chosen to let the copyright industry dictate what laws should be passed and ignored the wishes of artists, educators, and the Canadian public, while opposition leaders slammed the legislations that came out of ministers who drank the CRIA Kool-Aid. With the current government vowing to bring in the Canadian DMCA, there will no doubt be Canadians who will be there to oppose it. 

Britain has been facing a slightly different copyright debate - namely, why is the government rejecting the educated people's opinion and just bowing to the will of the copyright industry and opting to extend the copyright term? After the Gowers reports, petitions, consultations, and pretty much everything else that spelled out to the British government that copyright term extension was bad, the copyright industry still seems to be convincing the government that Sir Paul McCartney would go broke in his retirement because some of his music is falling into the public domain. 

No doubt these debates will go well into 2009 and possibly beyond into 2010. 

Still gaining only minor coverage, search engines and online storage services are starting to fall into the cross-hairs of the copyright industry. Already this year, RapidShare lost a court case in Germany and was ordered to "pro-actively" remove copyrighted content from its service. Many point out that this is an impossible task given the complexity of what could be posted online in the first place (passworded archives to name one example). While a major legal blow to storage services, they are far from out of the picture as hundreds of alternative services will be more than happy to take their place should they go under. 

While storage services have had some trouble, search engines weren't exactly let off easy this year. Already, two search engines were sued for assisting copyright violations, thus raising what seemed to be a dead question, "Are search engines responsible for the results they bring up?" It's a question the Korean search engines are facing currently, but one hopes that this is an isolated incident, not the start of a new trend in the face of ISPs being pressured by the copyright industry to crack down on file sharing. 

The economic crisis has had some wondering if the Internet will even be the same with thousands not able to afford an Internet connection. Will the economic crisis make the Internet a little less crowded as access becomes a little harder to gain in the first place. Already, the tech industry has been hit hard with layoffs by the thousands and some people are even predicting that the money will dry up and cause another Internet bubble to burst. 

There are plenty of things that could happen, that could have a major impact on file sharing and the Internet in general. Then again, it could amount to pretty much nothing and go on as business as usual with the next year feeling like last year. Could all this amount to little more than a few headlines or was the Y2K bug 9 years late?

Do You Speak 2009? The IoS Buzzword Glossary

Excerpted from The Independent Report by David Randall

The New Year was so young it was barely on solids when the words reached us. And they were not just any old words. These were buzzwords - words so trendy they squeaked; expressions so full of sociological meaning they hurt your eyes when you read them: micro-boredom, digital diet, instapreneur, and many more.

They were in a chart produced by Future Exploration Network, trend-spotters to American cutting-edgistas (our own feeble attempt at buzz-word coinage). A few were faintly familiar; most were new; all threaten to represent trends that are the very height of zeitgeist. Intrigued, we went in search of more upcoming words and phrases. The result is this, the IoS 2009 Buzzword Glossary.

Austerity 2.0: What we're all about to experience in 2009, if those dubious think-tank predictions come to pass.

Cloud Computing: Use of the huge capacity of corporate computers by individuals or small businesses. Corporates have sophisticated software, and you have broadband that lets you connect with this computer 'cloud' floating above you. In other words, software will not be something you buy, but rent and access.

Co-Rumination: Excessive chattering about problems, real and imagined. Leads to the amplification of real anxieties, and creation of new ones. Has increased markedly in recent years, as e-mail, messaging, texting, and Facebook have given the self-obsessed a multitude of outlets.

Crowdfunding: Financing of ventures or projects by a number of individuals brought together, usually via the net. Disaster relief funds are a form of crowdfunding, and this old concept is now being used in new ways, especially in the US. Examples include ArtistShare, where musicians can raise cash via online micropayments (four years ago Maria Schneider became the first ArtistShare beneficiary to win a Grammy); BeerBankroll, a brewer managed by its online community (membership as low as $50); and greedyorneedy.com, which allows people to submit a need or wish, with participants then voting which ones get the donated cash.

Flexenomics: Our word for the economy growing up to support the need, in times of far greater uncertainty, for people to keep their spending and consuming flexible. More of us will rent homes, white goods, TVs, and entertainment systems, or lease cars. It also covers contract working, and reduction of all but essential financial commitments - which will help relieve that already established condition: "debt stress."

Instapreneur: Instant entrepreneurship, via online shops and selling services, allows anyone with something to sell - even a design or idea - to go into business right now. The online service takes a rake-off, but the instapreneur does not even have to invest the financial, or time, cost of making or buying stock. Via lightningsource.com, you can even submit a book manuscript to Amazon.com and start taking orders almost immediately. There are also sites for T-shirt designers (spreadshirt.com), and much more.

Junior Moment: Flip-side of a senior moment. Can be committed by adults, with a sudden lapse into immaturity; or by youth, displaying the lack of thoughtfulness, sense, or self-preservation we oldies associate with them.

Micro-Boredom: What we used to call downtime, now increasingly filled by fiddling with mobiles or BlackBerries. Those who market these devices, or the services they use, see it as an opportunity to sell us something.

Staycation: A vacation without the traveling. Or the expense. Or the tan.

Unplugging: Where someone realizes that the time they spend online, on the mobile, curating the Facebook page, etc., is no substitute for living. So they put themselves on a "digital diet," and possibly even cultivate an interest in things without keypads. Like other people. What we all need, probably, are more islands of tranquility, or thinking time, as it used to be known.

And finally...

If buzzwords enrage you, then write a book about it. You will thus contribute to the rising tide of books about things that make the author angry, known, of course, as "Wrath Lit." There is, it seems, a buzzword for everything.

Five File-Sharing Predictions for 2009

Excerpted from TorrentFreak Report by Janko Roettgers

What will happen to BitTorrent users and their favorite sites in the new year? What will happen to the music industry's new efforts to combat infringement with the help of ISPs? And what about efforts to legalize file sharing?

Granted, making predictions is easy. Being right is much harder, but I'm going to give it a try anyway.

File-sharing will continue to grow. Okay, this is a no-brainer. Torrent sites like The Pirate Bay have been showing huge growth rates every year, and there is no reason to assume that 2009 will be any different. Except maybe for the fact that the global economic crisis will continue to force consumers to spend less. And what's an easy way to save some dough? Exactly: free music, movies, and TV shows. File sharing is going to get a big recession bump in 2009.

One of the biggest torrent sites will close down. Just don't ask me which one. Rights holders will continue to put pressure on site admins and their hosting providers in 2009, just as they did in 2008, and at least one well-known name will fold under this pressure. For a few days it will look like the file sharing world is going to end, but then it will be business as usual again.

The RIAA's new three-strikes policy will fail. The music industry announced just two weeks ago that it will stop its mass lawsuit campaign and instead cooperate with ISPs to punish file sharers. The Wall Street Journal reported at the time about "agreements in principle" with an unspecified number of unnamed ISPs that "may cut off" net access for repeat offenders. Or not, one should add. ISPs don't like to lose customers over a few traded songs, which is why a similar deal in the UK still doesn't include any enforcement measures half-a-year after it was struck. The same will happen in the US. In fact, some smaller ISPs might even get a boost by promising that they won't disconnect customers over P2P.

P4P will work. The technology that aims to mitigate the effect of P2P transfers on ISPs' networks has proven to work well in field tests, but those were limited to a single video file provided by personal file-sharing start-up Pando. 2009 will bring us some first mass-scale implementations, and I suspect that some of you will start to use P4P-assisted file transfers without even noticing, which is how good infrastructure technology should work.

We will all become socialists. The uproar was huge when Warner Music first expressed support for a flat fee for licensed P2P music sharing in the spring of 2008. TechCrunch called the idea extortion; others warned of socialism, big government, and an unfair music tax. Then the global financial markets hit rock bottom; countries like the US started to nationalize banks left and right; and people warmed up to the fact that government intervention and taxation aren't always bad things. This will continue in 2009.

We'll see billions of taxpayers' money spent on infrastructure projects and governments taking stakes in major industries. In a way, we will all become socialists, if only to wait-out the end of the crisis. And in the process, we will warm up to the idea of collective licensing. Now, it's unclear whether the record labels will actually come through and start first blanket licensing trials by the end of the year, but I predict that consumers will be ready for it. Because really, who will object to five bucks a month in light of billions spend on bailouts?

Spanish Web Users Angry at Anti-P2P Campaign

Excerpted from Billboard Report by Howard Llewellyn 

Spain's Association of Internet Users (AUI) has demanded that the culture ministry cancel a national campaign against P2P file sharing and unauthorized downloads called "If you are legal, you're legal." The adjective 'legal' in Spanish can also mean 'okay' or 'good' when applied to a person. 

According to an AUI statement, the campaign "recklessly offers information that lacks all legal basis, with the exclusive aim of re-educating public opinion." 

The campaign launched in late November on TV, radio, and in the press. It shows people downloading, with comments from some who defend licensed or paid downloads, and criticize those who download without being authorized or paying. The campaign also specifically criticizes P2P file sharing. 

Spain has long been recognized by IFPI as one of the 10 countries with the highest levels of physical and now digital infringement - the only top 10 music market in that list. However, new figures to be published in January by labels' body Promusicae are expected to show that a dramatic increase in licensed downloads occurred in 2008. 

In a letter to culture minister César Antonio de Molina, AUI insists the campaign must end to avoid "the manipulation of public opinion to the benefit of private interests." The letter claims that the campaign's advertising "includes information that is untrue, and therefore is contrary to the constitutional principle of freedom of information, with regards to intellectual property (IP) and the protection of authors' rights, according to current legislation." 

AUI bases its demand on the Law of Advertising and Institutional Communication, which prohibits the broadcasting of institutional messages contrary to Spanish constitutional principles. The campaign "offends people's dignity and violates values and rights recognized in the Constitution," says AUI.

Coming Events of Interest

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 International Consumer Electronics Show. 

International CES - January 8th-11th in Las Vegas, NV. With more than four decades of success, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) reaches across global markets, connects the industry and enables CE innovations to grow and thrive. CES is produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the consumer technology industry. 

MIDEM & MidemNet Forum - January 17th-21st in Cannes, France. MIDEM is the international music market from all genres for all professionals providing five days of business and and a global networking marketplace. MidemNet Forum focuses on digital distribution of music.

Upsizing: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the New Digital Economy January 22nd in New York, NY. Shelly Palmer, President of NATAS-NY hosts this one-day course that will provide practical guidelines, ideas, techniques, and digital skills to help you become more competitive and make more money in the digital age.

Digital Music Forum East - February 25th-26th in New York, NY. Participants include top label execs, artists and reps, association heads, attorneys, investors, consumer electronics, plus technology leaders from social networks, payments companies, online retailers, mobile companies, technology start-ups and more.

East Coast Music Awards - February 26th - March 1st in Corner Brook, NL, Canada. Live, original music during a four-day festival. Terry McBride, Co-Founder & CEO of Nettwerk Music Group, will be the keynote speaker for the conference component of the ECMA weekend.

P2P MARKET CONFERENCE - March 17th in New York, NY. Strategies to fulfill the multi-billion dollar revenue potential of the P2P and social network channel for the distribution of entertainment content. Case studies of sponsorships, cross-promotion, interactive advertising, and exciting new hybrid business models.

Media Summit New York - March 18th-19th in New York, NY. Sponsored by McGraw-Hill and Digital Hollywood, the 2009 MSNY is the premier international conference on media, broadband, advertising, television, cable & satellite, mobile, publishing, radio, magazines, news & print media, and marketing.

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