August, 2010

Content owners, ISPs in global battle over piracy

Three-strikes Efforts by media companies to put ISPs on the hook for piracy on their networks are coming to a head on several fronts this week. In France, where the newly created HADOPI agency on Monday began processing complaints from copyright owners that could lead to repeat infringers losing Internet access, media companies and ISPs are still at odds over who should pay the cost (auto-translated from the French) implementing the new regs. The law imposes a fine of €1,500 per ISP address an operator fails to turn over when asked, but is silent on whether ISPs can charge content owners for identifying infringers.

In the U.K., this week marked the deadline for submitting written comments to Ofcom in its public consultation on regs for implementing the recently passed Digital Economy Act. The ISP Association is urging Ofcom to adopt a “soft launch” of any new regs so that a “proportionate and fair” system can be developed over time. Meanwhile, several ISPs have gone to court to challenge the underlying law. Read More »

‘Transformative’ fair use on a roll

Copyright Maybe its just a coincidence of timing, but courts and copyright authorities suddenly seem very solicitous toward “transformative” uses of copyrighted works by creators other than the original rights owner.

Last week, as part of its triennial rulemaking process, the U.S. Copyright Office granted a first-time exemption from the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions for hacking CSS on DVDs, under certain circumstances, for the purpose of “the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works.” Among the circumstances where it’s now permissible is in the creation of “noncommercial videos.” In its discussion of the ruling, the Copyright Office made it clear that it was referring to the use of snippets of a film in the sort of  transformative mash-ups popular on YouTube and elsewhere on the web.

Previously, the Office had used the exemption process largely to address limited practical or pedagogical cases, such as accessing content encrypted in obsolete formats or for face-to-face teaching. Read More »

Network operators pouring money into TV Everywhere infrastructure

Infrastructure The idea for TV Everywhere may have originated with pay-TV networks looking for a way to distribute their programs online without undercutting carriage fees from cable MSOs, but network operators have lately been getting serious about online distribution too, at least behind the scenes.

Comcast’s Project Inifinity is becoming a model for cable MSOs looking to build video-centric CDNs on top of their traditional cable plant in anticipation of expanding broadband distribution, while traditional CDN vendors rollout new platforms optimized for video delivery. Last week, Verizon FiOS announced it is deploying a new scalable TVE solution in conjunction with Turner Networks (TBS, TNT). Key technology assists came from Adobe and FreeWheel. Read More »

Take two tablets as directed

Steve Ballmer

Tablets BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion has summoned the press to an event in New York on Tuesday,

where it is expected to announce plans for a November rollout of a a tablet device. Reports say the device will be called the Blackpad and will feature the same 9.7-inch screen as Apple’s iPad. The device is also expected to be powered by BlackBerry OS 6, the previously announced overhaul of  RIM’s operating system. No word on pricing yet.

Big question for content owners and distributors is whether the Blackpad will attract a significant number of developers and whether the new OS can support rich, immersive media apps. GigaOm Pro mobile analyst Colin Gibbs has his doubts.

While RIM, Google and others rush to get into the tablet game before Apple runs away with it, however, Microsoft seems oddly unhurried. Speaking to analysts last week, Steve Ballmer said,  “We’ll talk about about slates and tablets and blah, blah, blah, blah,” as if they were the last thing he wants to talk about. Read More »