Can Spam Canned

Many in the US are now openly critical of the Can Spam Anti-Spam laws enacted nationally a month or two ago. For a start, they supercede the most stringent laws already in place in states like California. For example, under state law in many states, people have the right to sue spammers, a right not available in the national law.

“(Can-Spam) is an abomination at the federal level,” said Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig … “It’s ineffective and it’s affirmatively harmful because it preempts state legislation.”

Music Industry Claims Victory – But at What Price?

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents hundreds of record producers and distributors around the world, is claiming a breakthrough in its ‘battle against illegal music downloads’, saying that they are seeing a large migration of people moving away from the ‘illegal’ downloads, and to the ‘legitimate’ online music purchase arena.

“The number of music files available illegally on the Internet at any one time fell by 20 per cent over the past nine months to 800 million in January 2004, having doubled to one billion through 2002 and early 2003”

Yes, but the ‘legitimate’ services – led by the Apple iTunes business – has only just come on the scene. One reason people used pirate systems was because there simply wasn’t an alternative. The web has been around for 10 years now, and music networks for probably close to half of that in one way or another. So it’s taken the music industry 4 or 5 years to get their heads around the issue, and their response was typically traditional. Prosecute people not conforming to their historical view of what is ‘right’, and perpetuate their business model by licencing companies to offer music for sale, track by track, album by album.

Look at the numbers – hundreds of millions of files available for swapping, tens of millions of people swapping them. And the best the music industry can do is just more of the same. Distinct lack of imagination. It’s only going to take one enterprising person to dream up a viable model, and the music industry will be back to square one. It happened with Napster, and Kazaa, albeit they both bore the brunt of the industry backlash. But they were the pioneers, the first ones to put their heads above the ramparts and invite the slings and arrows. More players will inevitably emerge, armed with the knowledge and experience of the pioneers, and new ideas with which to lay siege to the music honchos.

Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, has been beavering away quietly for the past few months, with funding from one of the original investors in Napster, on a new business called Snocap.

“Snocap’s plan, which involves identifying music files being traded through file-swapping networks and then attaching a price tag to them, is resonating well with music industry executives. “

Fanning changed the world with Napster, and it’s odds-on he can do it again.

Pepsi’s the Real Thing

Now see, you can tell when people who DO understand the marketplace are involved. Pepsi is running tv ads during the American Superbowl – which would have to be one of the largest tv audiences around – featuring 20 teenagers who previously were sued by the American music industry for illegal music downloading.

It’s all promoting a Pepsi campaign offering 100 million songs for free download from Apple iTunes.

“We are still going to download music for free off the Internet” say the teens in the ads, with a music track of ‘I Fought the Law’ recorded especially by band Green Day.

“It’s all in good spirit,” Pepsi North America’s CMO Dave Burwick told USA Today. “This has been a huge cultural phenomenon. It’s highly relevant and topical for consumers. We’re turning people to buying music online vs. stealing it online.”

Got To Get Me One of These

How did I ever live without one of these toys:

“A new gadget designed to help people shape their nightly slumber means dreams could be full of whatever the sleeper desires — whether it be a date with a movie star or winning gold at the Olympics. “

“The dream machine comes equipped with a voice recorder, array of lights, picture frame, fragrance dispenser, selection of internally stored background music, two speakers and a timer.

Working in conjunction, these components allow users to design their dreams through multisensory stimuli of scents, sounds and more. “

Ahh Bureaucracy at Big Companies

The Australian newspaper says there’s an internal battle at Telstra Bigpond, to choose the platform and operating system for the much touted $100 million upgrade of the BigPond email service. One guy likes one thing, another likes another thing.

But at least the big boss, CEO Dr Switkowski is being honest now:

“Dr Switkowski admitted the meltdown had taken Telstra by surprise and that the company had not paid enough attention to its email service, which in many businesses rivalled their telephone services for critical importance.”

And Telstra Wonders Why We Complain

If Telstra, and for that matter, other large telcos, ever wonder why they get a bad rap, they should read the results of the recent Australian Broadband Survey. The survey, with 10,335 responses in a 4 week period late in 2003, comprehensively displays the inverse relationship between telco scale and customer satisfaction. Almost exclusively the small niche providers won handsdown in the service stakes, and the large telcos performed worst.

Telsta. Unique?

Telstra as launched a “unique new online music download site, offering an extensive range of tracks for just $1.49 each for BigPond customers and $1.89 for the general public. “

What exactly is ‘unique’ about an online music download site is not exactly clear, perhaps the ability to charge downloads to a Telstra bill.

More bizarre – it’s not compatible with the most popular music player, Apple’s iPod. Apparently Telstra has decided that Microsoft rules the roost in music playback. BigPond managing director Justin Milne says “iPods don’t (work with BigPond Music) – that’s Apple’s device and it’s an Apple ambush, I guess the question is would you be prepared to bet against Microsoft? I wouldn’t”.

Perhaps that’s the ‘unique’ bit – it doesn’t work with iPods?

Bureaucrats Say Reply to Spam!!!!!!

Oh lord, never let a bureaucrat anywhere near the real world. In the UK the Office of the Information Commissioner (you know, the guy who’s supposed to be the expert), has been telling the recipients of spam to reply and opt out.

As any sane person knows this is probably the most stupid thing you can do. All it does is tell the spammer that there is a real live person at the other end, and invites a flood of yet more junk.

More Enemies Than Records is carrying a great article in response to the British music industry story below:

“In the US, the Recording Industry Association of America has made more enemies than it has records in the past 18 months and, worryingly, its UK equivalent, the British Phonographic Industry, seems to think that this is an approach it would be wise to follow. “

“Now behind the times and in a strop, the labels are picking on ‘the smallest bloke in the pub’ by turning on individual consumers unlucky enough to be singled out from the millions using download services. “