What, did the lawyers' billable hours finally exceed major label profits?
A smart (and necessarily anonymous) person told me this: "They [the RIAA] have one of the worst brands in DC trade association politics. . . the RIAA is basically screwed and I'm not entirely sure how they hope to reconstitute themselves. There's no easy math here."
The decision represents an abrupt shift of strategy for the industry,
which has opened legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since
2003. Critics say the legal offensive ultimately did little to stem the
tide of illegally downloaded music. And it created a public-relations
disaster for the industry, whose lawsuits targeted, among others,
several single mothers, a dead person and a 13-year-old girl.
This is much too little and far too late. The majors had plenty of time between the Napster decision and now to develop licensing strategies for the web. Instead, they clung desperately to a rapidly-crumbling regime based on physical scarcity and complete control of the production/distribution chain. As with the War on Drugs, the RIAA's strategy of punitive action as a deterrent was/is wholly ineffective. And you don't have to be Copyleft (I'm not entirely) to see it this way.
Net neutrality rules at the FCC and copyright reform are guaranteed to be big issues in 2009 and beyond. We'll see how this all plays out with a new Administration and Congress.
Gonna see our pal Greg Davis as Sun Circle tonight at a house performance here in DC. That's after the American Film Institute's holiday party. I didn't get to go to the Chinese Embassy with Brooke (celebrating 30 years of trade with guests John Negroponte, Hank Paulson and Steve Forbes!) but there will be other society functions.
Like the second Death Star, the new Contrarian site is almost complete. It WILL destroy you.
Barack Obama's decision to offer homophobic anti-choice megachurch swindler Rick Warren a speaking slot at the inauguration is absolutely appalling. It's all fine and well that Warren believes in Space Santa. That there's a market for his delusions may be distasteful to me personally, but I can ignore it. What pisses me off is when guys like Warren actively work to diminish the rights of other Americans, particularly those whose sexual orientation differs from their own.
Warren is a staunch supporter of Proposition 8, and uses faux-compassionate talking points to distract from the fact that he's just another conservative bigot. Warren doesn't hate homosexuals. Not at all! He just believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, like it says in the Bible. Never mind that the Bible endorses marriage between man and many women — something patently illegal in these here United States. And don't even get me started on the public stoning.
Here's Little Ricky urging people to support Prop 8:
Our LGBT brothers and sisters (or whatever non-gender specific nomenclature they prefer) celebrated Obama's victory alongside the rest of us, and were among those cheering the loudest. In that moment, we all glimpsed an America where one's skin color, sexual orientation and gender no longer solely determined one's destiny. An unambiguous majority elected a leader who truly represented our diverse and pluralistic nation. A page was turned, democracy spoke and we were potentially a better people for it.
What a slap in the face it must be for LGBTs to learn of Rick Warren's "invocation" at Obama's swearing in ceremony. An invocation is the the act of calling upon a deity or spirit, for aid, protection or inspiration. Rick will no doubt petition his God to keep us safe from those nation-wrecking homos. I'll be praying to Lucifer for him to be struck by lightning.
Parag Mehta is Obama's LGBT liaison on the Transition Team. You can let her know how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've been pretty bored with internet videos lately. It seems like the lolz have been reduced to nutshots and bad car crashes at times. But then you see something like this and your faith in the online funneh is restored.
The org I work for, Future of Music Coalition, is getting its inauguration on with a bunch of kick-ass Windy City bands coming to rock D.C. on January 19. I'm too lazy (and busy!) to spin it, so here's the press release from Chicago's Hideout club (the awesome folks putting on the show). If you're in the District, come on by and help us celebrate!
Chicago musicians unite to celebrate inauguration in DC!
The Hideout and Interchange are thrilled to announce The Big Shoulders Ball: Chicago Celebrates Change. This celebration of citizen politics, independent music and Windy City civic pride will take place on the eve of the presidential inauguration—Monday night, Jan. 19—at the Black Cat in Washington, DC.
Featured performers at the Big Shoulders Ball include: Andrew Bird Tortoise Waco Brothers Eleventh Dream Day Jon Langford Sally Timms David "Honeyboy" Edwards Ken Vandermark Freakwater Icy Demons Judson Claiborne plus special guests to be announced.
On the Web, tickets go on sale via blackcatdc.com on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 4:00 p.m. CT. Cost is $50 with a portion of proceeds going to the Chicago Public Schools marching bands program and the Future of Music Coalition. In Chicago, tickets may be purchased at the Hideout. Ball-goers are encouraged (but not required!) to wear vintage, thrift-store, hand-me-down and ex-bridesmaid formal attire.
The Big Shoulders Ball represents a culmination of activities by the Hideout and Interchange during the 2008 election cycle. Interchange volunteers registered more than 1,500 voters at the Pitchfork Music Festival and the Hideout Block Party. The Hideout hosted fundraisers for Barack Obama and weekend GOTV carpools to Wisconsin and Indiana.
In addition to presenting the Big Shoulders Ball itself, the Hideout has chartered two buses to transport performers, staff, friends and participants in its GOTV activities to the DC area and back.
Hideout co-owner Tim Tuten is ecstatic about the ball. "Since the first Interchange Festival on the street in front of the Hideout in 2004, we have dreamed of the day that we could all celebrate a new direction for our country," Tuten says. "Of course we never dreamed that the person leading that movement would be a local guy from right here in Chicago. Our city's musicians, artists, writers and volunteers were part of the first wave of this ground-breaking campaign. They are the heart of our club's community. There was no way that we could miss this historic event."
The Hideout is a live music venue that supports cutting-edge creative artists. It has been nationally recognized as one of the best live music venues in the country, as well as one of the most politically progressive. Its staff and artists share a belief in artistic freedom and socially responsible business practices.
Interchange is a nonpartisan, all-volunteer effort to engage citizens in the democratic process through underground music and art. Interchange works with artists, performers, venues, and fans to mobilize individuals as enfranchised and informed voters who realize the value of civic participation and seize their power to organize, advocate, volunteer and vote.
Ever since the Netflix watch-instantly service became available for the Mac OS, I've been browsing the movie and TV selections and watching things here and there. I'm already a Netflix subscriber so it's sort of like free movies, but even so, I think I'm going to stay away for a while until the service improves.
Here's the deal: when I select a movie to view, it opens a player (I had to install the Microsoft Silverlight app for my browser first) that says it's checking my internet connection and loading the movie. Then, if I wait a few seconds before playing the film, I can watch a few minutes of the movie before my progress watching catches up to the pre-loaded media and I get a red screen again telling me my internet connection has "slowed." (I know that this is not actually the case because I can test my connectivity independently.) Then I wait (sometimes a minute or even two) while a progress bar fills to 100 percent; finally, I can watch for another five or ten minutes before the whole thing happens again.
But unlike other in-browser video players (like YouTube), I can't just wait for the whole thing to load before I hit "play" because it will only load the next few minutes at a time.
I'm actually typing this post while I'm waiting for Netflix to load the next chunk of Helvetica. This is as far as the loading movie will go. . .
I can sit here all day and it will not load more than that until I play through it and hit the point it's loaded to. I've tried this at home and at work, where my net connection is very fast.
You know what's even better? If I switch to a different Firefox tab while it's preloading the movie, it stops loading. It only works while I have that tab open!
All of this is part of the player design. There is no technical reason why it has to suck — they crafted it this way on purpose. Why? I'm assuming because in some Microsft or Netflix lawyer's brain, it's somehow helping to prevent piracy. That's probably also the reason that the video quality is so teh suck — to prevent anyone from wanting to make copies and sell them.
But here's the thing: I'm already a paid subscriber, and I don't want to use their lame service anymore. It's literally easier for me to pirate these movies than it is to watch them on the service I'm paying for. They've made it that bad.
I watch "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" on FOX.com every week in gorgeous high definition without any hiccups. There is no need for me to resort to piracy because the player works really well right away (without an install), the picture and sound are fantastic, and the commercial breaks are filled with just one 30-second spot each (and only sometimes). The path of least resistance to "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" is the official, sanctioned-by-the-content-owners path. If I had to pirate the show, it would be more of a headache for me, despite avoiding the 30-second ads.
This is the lesson content providers need to absorb. Most A/V pirates are just trying to see/hear stuff they like. Give them a painless, cheap, free or ad-supported way to see/hear the content and that's the route the fans will take to get to it. This explains iTunes' success to a large degree. They made it REALLY EASY and IT WORKS (issues with DRM and pricing notwithstanding).
Yes, indeedy — The Contrarian is getting a facelift, in order to better highlight our "online magazine" aura. The estimable Tanner McCuin of TannerMooreDesign is helping us get the aesthetics and functionality just so. We promise you'll love it.