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ATPM 10.03
March 2004




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On a Clear Day You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

Did You See the Super Bowl?

Of course you did. And if you didn’t see it, you certainly heard about it. Show of hands, how many remember the score? OK, now, how many people have seen Janet Jackson’s breast? What are you still talking about at your local water cooler? Well, I’m not going to talk about any of that, as I’m sure those subjects have been talked out.

What was overshadowed by all the posturing by the various sides was a little commercial that Pepsi played, sometime during the first quarter if I remember correctly. Pepsi and Apple had gotten together to promote downloading music at Apple’s iTunes site. All fine and good. One hundred million songs for free downloading. Buy a Pepsi, get a download code.

How’d They Do That?

Very well, thank you. Seriously, back in October, Apple got together with Pepsi, and came up with this grandiose scheme. Doing the math quickly: 100 million times 99 cents is, well, a whole lot of money. Of course, this money isn’t actually spent. And of course, the launch was timed with the Super Bowl, as all Apple ads should only be premiered during the big game. Here’s the problem. Their choice of pitchmen. From Apple and Pepsi, and I quote:

This groundbreaking ad, featuring 16 real-life teenagers who were sued by the recording industry for illegally downloading music from the Internet, shows music fans a new way to freely and legally download music—the Pepsi iTunes 100 Million Song Giveaway. The commercial is set to Green Day’s version of “I Fought the Law.”

Yes, you read it right. Teenagers were sued. By the recording industry. The RIAA to be exact. For something I don’t believe they were doing in the first place. More on them later.

I’m Back Now

Last time I was here was before last year’s Showbiz Expo, and usually I report and comment on the various findings that relate to the Mac and the industry, however, there wasn’t that much there, and the release of the G5 was over four weeks away at the time. Well, OK, Final Cut Pro 4 debuted there, but that’s about it. So I took some time off.

Piracy vs. Infringement

Most of the above-mentioned technologies and more are being used to pirate movies on the Net. Or so the MPAA (read: Jack Valenti) would have you believe. In a draconian move to curb piracy, he banned the studios and producers from passing out screener copies of their movies and films, not to mention their motion pictures. Of course, the independent production companies complained, stating that academy voters wouldn’t have an opportunity to view the smaller films (meaning any film that cost less than $50 million to make, the industry average).

So, the MPAA capitulated. And, guess what happened? Well, they thought that since everyone needed to sign a release to receive a screener copy of the various films, that that simple fact alone would stop someone from putting the various films online. However, about a month ago, four different films showed up online. An arrest was made. The trial is over. The bigshot MPAA has won. OK, what’s wrong with this picture?

Was Mr. Valenti proved right? I’m sure this is what most of my three readers are thinking. And if he was, what steps should the industry take, if any? Personally, I believe that whether or not screener copies were made available, the various movies in question would’ve showed up online eventually. Maybe even in time for Oscar voting, who knows. Furthermore, I believe that screener copies were sent, whether or not the release was signed.

I’ve spoken on this issue before, and apparently, the fine folks in Hollywood haven’t been listening. Or, maybe they don’t read my column; one of the two. Creating additional laws or crippling technologies, such as the HDTV “broadcast” flag, is not the answer. Copyright infringement laws are already on the books, and allowing companies such as Apple free reign to improve existing technologies dealing with digital video and high-definition broadcast can only bring down prices for us, the consumers.

Music Is Affected, Too

And, we haven’t even talked about the RIAA and their lawsuit. It has always been my contention that if I buy a CD, I should be allowed to share it with a million or so of my closest friends. However, some don’t agree, and this is why we no longer have Napster. Would I have bought the tracks from the various music companies had I not had Napster available to me? No! I would’ve gone without. Meaning, that there’s no lost income to the various record companies from me downloading music. However, a judge disagrees with me, so 261 names of people that have downloaded music using Verizon have had their names released to the RIAA. But, wait, another judge agreed with me, and reversed the ruling. So, where do we stand? Usually, I stand downwind. Because this stinks of rotted landfill.

The good news is, some recording artists aren’t taking this sitting down, and they’ve gone and done things. Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno are launching a musician’s alliance that would allow musicians to sell their music online as well as through the various studios. Or even instead of. Some of you may remember that Peter Gabriel had one of the first interactive CDs available for the Mac, if not the first. Embracing technology and forward-thinking should be rewarded, and I look for good things to come out of this alliance.

In Conclusion

Jack Valenti has announced his retirement. That collective sigh of relief is coming from the technology companies. However, there is no joy in Mudville. We may be better off with the devil we know. If the new head of the MPAA believes as Jack Valenti does, we may be in for a bigger uphill battle. However, if we get a young, forward thinking guy, like Peter Gabriel, maybe he’ll see the error of his ways. One can only hope.

Eminem Sues Apple

Just this morning, actually. About a week ago as you, my three readers, will see this. Apparently, conversations between Steve Jobs and Eminem’s manager broke down, and a ten-year-old singing an Eminem tune was used in a commercial on MTV last July anyway. Now, I don’t know too much about this, as this is breaking news. My guess is that someone made a mistake. Hint: it wasn’t Apple. What I can tell you is one of two things will happen. They’ll settle, or they’ll go to court. If they go to court, either Apple or Eminem will win. It’s like the Super Bowl, as I already knew what the score of the game would be before it started: 0-0.

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.

e You Next Time.

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Reader Comments (1)

John Hinds · April 6, 2004 - 11:41 EST #1
Make that at least 4 readers, please. Sometimes I share too.

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