Monday, October 29, 2007

A Cuckoo Time to Release Hulu

The News Corp. - NBC site has launched in public beta, reports Variety. It's an ad-supported web site for viewing TV shows and movies, with non-skipable commercials included in the video stream.

The timing's not great though: the studios and networks are busy trying to persuade the Writers Guild that new media is irrelevant as source of income. A new and exciting Internet platform is scarcely persuasive.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Online Pirate Faces the Music

A women found guilty of sharing 24 songs, out of 1,700 she had on offer through her Kazaa account, will have to pay $222,000 in damages for copyright infringement to a group of record labels, reports the Los Angeles Times.

That's a jury verdict of $9,250 per song. Under the copyright act, the Minnesota woman, Jammie Thomas, could have been forced to pay as much as $150,000 per infringement. The record labels involved were Arista Records, Capitol Records, Interscope Records, Sony BMG, UMG, and Warner Bros. Records. The RIAA issued a statement hailing the decision. The industry has brought 26,000 lawsuits over the past four years. 10,000 of those cases have settled, typically at less than $5,000 each.

I think the industry's victory will have some deterrent effect, but not enough to sink all the pirate ships a' sail. Ultimately - sooner rather than later - all online music will probably be unprotected MP3's, and price points will probably have to come down as well, for individual songs or for monthly subscriptions.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Radiohead Sings "OK Consumer"

Rock band Radiohead is selling its next album as a £40 ($82) special edition - and as a name-your-price set of MP3's available online, reports Reuters via the Los Angeles Times. The special edition includes a CD, a supplemental CD with music not (legally) available online, and two vinyl albums for the truly low-tech.

Radiohead can afford to sell its music for potentially close to zero because of its huge fan base. And it has the freedom to experiment because it's currently unsigned. There'll be a traditional CD available next year, for those whose tastes are material, but modest.

Nokia Unstacks the Deck in Mobile Video

Nokia has been embedding video links in its new-ish N95 handset pursuant to a deal with News Corp., Sony Pictures, and CNN, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

This allows video to be streamed from those companies' sites without being included on the carriers' decks, or menus. Content companies find those decks to be expensive, and crowded, pieces of real estate.

In separate news, Nokia is buying mapping data company Nav-teq, a major player in that field.