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09/29 2009 | 09:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Wifi crowd-sourcing start-up Fon started to sell its new Fonera 2.0N router a few days ago. The router, which goes for 100 bucks a pop, comes with an integrated download manager for one-click hosting sites as well as the Bittorrent client Transmission, making it possible to download files to an external hard drive connected via USB even when your PC is offline. From the Fon website:

"Connect your external hard drive to the Fonera 2.0n and you can download* torrents or files directly to it from services like RapidShare. You can also upload videos automatically from the hard drive to YouTube, or photos to Facebook, Flickr and Picasa."

fonera n router

Fonera owners are per default sharing their bandwidth with the Fon community and in turn have the right to use any of roughly 700,000 Fon hot spots for free. Router owners can theoretically even make some money from paying Fon users, but one shouldn't expect to get rich from this. Still, it sounds like a pretty nice router, and users are free to turn off the bandwidth sharing option any time.

09/29 2009 | 08:55 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The House Energy & Commerce Committee is scheduled to mark up tomorrow a bill dubbed the Informed P2P User Act (H.R. 1319) that aims to prevent accidental file-sharing by mandating the display of clear warnings during the installation and usage of P2P software. Critics, however, fear that the final bill might end up going much further, regulating FTP clients, web browsers and even complete operating systems.

The bill could also have implications for anyone trying to leverage P2P for video distribution via solutions like the Octoshape Flash plug-in that was used by CNN.com to handle the Obama inauguration livestream traffic. The irony of the whole controversy is that much of the support for H.R. 1319 has been motivated by an almost religious disdain for just one file-sharing program in particular. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/28 2009 | 11:01 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Germany's Pirate Party got 845,904 votes in yesterday's federal election in Germany. That's not enough to win any seats in the county's parliament, but still a respectable result that might help to establish the party as a permanent player in German politics. The party received two percent of all votes cast, according to official results published today, and it celebrated the tally in a press release:

"The German Pirate Party's election result is more than just decent. Mobilizing tens of thousands predominantly young people for liberties is unprecedented in Germany.

Germany's pirates more than doubled their support compared to the result of the recent European parliament election, where it only got 0.9 percent of the vote. It missed the goal of winning any seats in the country's parliament by roughly 1.2 million votes, but the result still makes it the sixth most popular party in German politics.

The pirates were also somewhat fortunate that the election wasn't a close call. Germany's conservative CDU/CSU and FDP parties won a comfortable majority, which means that nobody will be tempted to blame the Pirate Party for being a German Ralph Nader by possibly taking away votes from the Green party as well as the moderate SPD.

It's going to be interesting to see where the party will go from here. Supporters of the party have been pointing to the German Green Party as a success story to be copied. The Greens got only 1.5 percent when they took part in their first federal election contest in the early eighties, but was able to win seats during the next election. However, German politics have changed fundamentally since then, with smaller parties gaining more and more power - a fact that could ironically harm the pirate's chances, since voters have many more choices already at their disposal.

Still, the pirates could become an effective force outside of parliament, if only for the fact that other parties may want to win back their voters and in turn make their own political programs more pirate-friendly.

09/26 2009 | 10:48 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It’s that time of the year again: TV networks are debuting new shows and hoping that established names will bring in huge ratings. These numbers became even more important than usual after Techcrunch published an internal email of CBS Interactive CEO Quincy Smith this week. Smith had forwarded to his staff a Contentinople article in which TV exes railed against Hulu, and suggested: “We should think about how hard it would be to prove that some ratings declines are a result of reckless hulu streams…”

CBS has been having a couple of good nights lately, with shows such as The Mentalist holding up against audience darlings like Grey’s Anatomy, and new shows like NCIS Los Angeles pulling in record audiences. But is that really because CBS is shunning Hulu and only posting full episodes of some of its shows to its own sites, CBS.com and TV.com? Is free online TV to blame for bad network TV premiere ratings? Take a look at fall TV shows popping up on torrent sites, and you’re gonna see a different picture. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/26 2009 | 12:04 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Music label Razor & Tie Entertainment, knwon for its Kidz Bop compilations, has dropped its lawsuit against Limewire, according to a story from Billboard.biz. Razor & Tie had sued Limewire about a year ago, at the time calling the file sharing software "a breeding ground for copyright infringement of unprecedented magnitude."

What led to the change of mind? Limewire and Razor & Tie wouldn't tell Billboard any details about the new withdrawal of the lawsuit, but Limewire CEO George Searle told the music industry publication that he views conflicts like this one not as legal issues, but business issues. In other words: Limewire promised Razor & Tie something that made financially more sense than a full-blown legal war.

Limewire has been steadily working towards partnerships with music labels in recent years. The company opened its own music download store early last year and integrated the store front directly into its client last December.

However, Limewire doesn't just want to sell a few MP3s to file sharers. The company also has ambitious plans to launch a pay-per-click contextual advertising network in its client and on its growing list of web properties. The network is supposed to share its revenue with musicians and record labels. Searle introduced these plans 16 months ago at a DCIA event in Los Angeles, and the company has since followed suit by trying contextual ads within Limewire to promote its own download store.

Limewire has been keeping mum about the launch date of its ad network, but the company has been operating a new stealth subsidiary based in Sunnyvale for around a year. The end of the Kidz Bop lawsuit could mean that Limewire is ready to roll out contextual ads on a wider basis rather sooner than later

09/25 2009 | 11:56 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Controversial one-click file hoster Rapidshare is apparently working on a music download site. The company recently hired former German TV personality Mola Abedisi as an executive consultant to "coordinate trade show participation and the new section RapidMusic," according to German business news website New-Business.de. Rapidshare also hopes that Abedisi will help them to establish new cooperations with the entertainment industry.

This isn't the first time Rapidshare has been toying with content partnerships. The file hoster launched a video game platform dubbed Rapidgames in 2007 that has been used to distribute video game demos trailers and patches. The company has been cooperating with a number of video game publishers on this platform, and it now seems to be ready to extend this idea to music as well.

Abedisi and Rapidshare COO Bobby Chang were also spotted at a music industry event in Berlin this week, where the company tried to reach out to rights holders. German file sharing news site Gulli.com reported however that Rapidshare's presence wasn't all that well received at the event. Germany's music industry has been fighting in court with Rapidshare multiple times over the last few years, but attempts to shut down the site or substantially change its business model have so far failed.

09/24 2009 | 05:02 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Mike Masnick of Techdirt this week points us to a presentation made by Paramount COO Frederick Huntsberry, who was invited by the FCC to take part in a hearing entitled “The Role of Content in the Broadband Ecosystem.” Huntsberry used his presentation to offer a quick primer on piracy, showing the commission just how easy it is to pirate movies online. In fact, it’s so easy that Paramount apparently asked the FCC to keep the presentation off its web site so as to dissuade copycats. Because, you know, the first place movie pirates go when they’re looking for a copy of the latest Hollywood blockbuster is FCC.gov.

But that wasn’t the only strange part about Huntsberry’s presentation. The Paramount COO seemed like he was out to pick a fight, alleging that a third of the world’s most popular web sites facilitate piracy. Huntsberry’s main point was that it’s getting easier every day to pirate Hollywood’s content, thanks to a new generation of sites and services. He showed off a web site with embedded Flash videos of major motion pictures as proof, but he also singled out three popular services that are all pretty bad picks to support his argument. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/23 2009 | 11:33 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The UK-based Association of Independent Music is supporting an initiative that would disconnect repeat infringiers from the Internet, also known as three strikes and you're out, according to a report from Musicweek.com. The organization, which is made up of UK indie labels, submitted its position as part of the ongoing government consultation about P2P file sharing. Here's a short quote from the Musicweek article:

"We support provision for a range of sanctions which can be invoked proportionately including, with necessary safeguards, the suspension of individual broadband accounts as a last resort against the most persistent offenders."

The consultation has divided the UK's music industry, with many artists coming out on both sides of the debate. Lily Allen wants to punish file sharers, Radiohead believe P2P is just another way to promote your music. AIMs stance is not really that surprising. The organization has advocated for three strikes in the past, but it has also always shown an understanding for the fact that the genie is out of the bottle. Back in 2006, AIM wrote (PDF):

"The average consumer will assume the right to copy what he/she wants from whatever format, to any format and to anyone. Copying and sharing is now an explicit part of modern cultural and social exchange."


Wait a minute, you might think: Why would you want to punish people for taking part in modern culture? Well, turns out, AIMs position is actually not that simple. The organization wants to legalize and monetize file sharing through licensing agreements with ISPs and others. Users would just have to pay a few bucks extra to their ISP for the right to share files without repercussion. That's the carrot, if you will. Three strikes would be the stick, according to a recent op-ed by AIM CEO Alison Wenham:

"Consumers opting for value added service would be free from any threat of disconnection. Those who didn’t, but who continued to copy and share music from pirated sites would be required to make a simple choice – pay for your content, or go somewhere else."

AIM now seems to believe that it needs the stick first in order to come up wth the carrots. It's an understandable position, even though it's not one I share. However, the tragedy of the current discussion is that everything once again gets reduced to sound bites, and you probably don't have to wait too long before someone will claim that UK's indie labels are "against file sharing."

09/22 2009 | 12:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Veteran techno DJ and producer Ritchie Hawtin has just released a free OS X application that makes it possible for DJs to automatically post the exact names of all tracks played to their Twitter stream.

twitter dj

Twitter DJ works as a extension of Traktor, a popular DJ software solution that can be used to mix MP3 files with the help of traditional turn tables or other external devices. Hawtin has been an early champion of Traktor, and his Twitter DJ press release is full of praise about the application:

"Having already revolutionised the art of mixing, it could now be about to have a profound effect on the relationship between a DJ and their audience."

Twitter DJ checks every five seconds which tracks Traktor is currently playing. The app then takes the track names and posts them to Twitter, where users can receive them practically in real time (check out Hawtin's own Twitter stream to see how this might look like).

Imagine you're going to a club, the DJ plays a great track and your mobile phone receives the name of the track through a mobile Twitter application while it's still playing. You mark the tracks you like the best as favored tweets, and you can start researching the artists and downloading their music as soon as you're back home.

But wait, that's not all: Hawtin also wants to use the application to help small producers and indie artists get their fair share from performing rights organizations. Clubs have to pay organizations like ASCAP and BMI licensing fees for the public performance of their artists music.

The theory is that bands and DJs would fill out forms listing all the songs they played, but more often than not, this doesn't happen and ASCAP just receives the money without any further information. That money gets then divided up on the basis of existing data about public performances, much of which comes from Top 40 radio stations. Said Hawtin:

"By providing the necessary information to track what is really being played in clubs, the Twitter DJ application would not only drag the likes of GEMA, PRS and SOCAN kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but make sure the real artists get paid instead of performance payments simply being carved up between the Madonnas and U2s of the world. If record sales are slowing down and performance is now the key area where artists can achieve financial stability, better solutions need to be found and a workable structure put in place as soon as possible."

09/18 2009 | 01:43 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Many people in the online video space are trying to make sense of the lawsuit Joost filed against its former chairman and CEO Mike Volpi earlier today. The lawsuit has something to do with the supposed revelation of trade secrets in connection to the sale of Skype to a group led by Volpi’s new employer Index Ventures (which is also named in the suit, as it invested in Joost). But what does a failed video start-up have in common with a VOIP operator? The answer comes down to one name: Joltid.

Joltid is a P2P technology provider incorporated in British Virgin Islands. It is owned by the Joost and Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, and its tumultuous history makes the current fight with Volpi, Skype and eBay look like nothing special. Licensing conflicts that lead to the potential shut-down of a market leader? Been there, done that. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/17 2009 | 12:26 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
UK telco incumbent and broandband provider BT wants to have it both ways: The ISP has launched a complaint against an ad of one of its competitors that claimed BT was slowing down broadband speeds during peak times, according to PC Pro. From the article:

"(BT's fair use policy) also states that BT will 'apply speed restrictions to all P2P traffic at peak times' on all of its packages, adding that: 'You can, of course, still use P2P services, but downloads will take longer during the peak times.'"


BT is apparently also slowing down video streams, which is kind of what competitor Sky had claimed in its ads. However, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority found that Sky's ad could be read as suggesting that BT was even slowing down web browsing traffic, and not just video streams and P2P.

Good thing BT made that distinction clear. And it's not like they're going to lose any customers about it, like, I don't know, maybe those 7 million file sharers that may or may not exist in the UK.

09/16 2009 | 09:25 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The major music labels are by far the most popular video publishers on YouTube, easily surpassing YouTube stars like Fred and MondoMedia by a few billion views, according to new stats from Tubemogul. Topping the list is Universal Music Group, which has been able to accumulate a total of 8.7 billion views on all of its official YouTube channels. ExpertVillage, on the other hand, which happens to be the most popular non-music publisher, accumulated only 770 million views — less than any of the four major labels as well as Disney offspring Hollywood Records.

The real loser of the list, however, is Warner Music. The label was able to accumulate almost 1.1 billion views until it pulled all of its content from YouTube earlier this year. Affected by the move were music videos from Madonna, Nickelback and Gnarls Barkley, among others. Since then, it has been losing out on millions of views each day, according to Tubemogul. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/15 2009 | 03:26 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
One of the most interesting side effects of the file sharing debate has been that it has shed some light on music industry practices. Courtney Love opened up this debate almost ten years ago when she said that the real pirates aren't using Napster, but drafting recording contracts.

Lilly Allen echoed some of that criticism a few days ago. Allen actually came out against file sharing and artists that pretend it isnt't impacting record sales, but her blog entry didn't really make her label look good either:

"You don't start out in music with the Ferraris. Instead you get a huge debt from your record company, which you spend years working your arse off to repay. When you manage to get a contract, all those pretty videos and posters advertising your album have to be paid for and as the artist, you have to pay for them. I've only just finished paying off all the money I owe my record company. I'm lucky that I've been successful and managed to pay it back, but not everyone's so lucky. "


A few European indie labels associated with the Germany-based trade association VUT decided to set the record straight and tell file sharers that they're actually paying their artists. From VUT's press release:

"An artist signed with an independent label typically makes between 1.90 and 2.60 Euros per album sold for 15 Euros."

Artists get 19 Cents per 0.99 Euro digital download, according to VUT, and even more if they're also the composer of the song.

vut numbers

VUT CEO Eva Kiltz commented on these numbers this way:

"People getting their music for free should be aware that musicians and labels won't be able to produce any new music without returns from the sale of recorded music."


VUT represents between 10 and 15 percent of the German music market, according to its own estimates. An older VUT report (PDF) reveals that most of the labels organized in the association have two or less employees. Furthermore, a quick look at the most recent IMPALA awards reveals that only three VUT artists seem to have sold more than 30,000 units in 2008, which kind of begs the question: Isn't there a better way?

09/14 2009 | 02:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Many sites and projects have rushed to the rescue ever since the Pirate Bay announced its intended sale back in June. Opentracker wants to take over the Pirate Bay's tracker duties, and Torrage wants to step in as an independent torrent file hoster, just to name two. And then there is the Pirate Kiosk - an exact copy of the Pirate Bay that's run out of an old newsstand and that can only be accessed via Wifi.

pirate kiosk

From kioskofpiracy.org:

"(A) copy of the infamous Pirate Bay is available to the public, but – here comes the catch – offline-only. Yes, offline, the Kiosk is not connected to the Internet in any way, but the interested public is invited to use the service in a wifi-radius around it.

kiosk of piracy

You probably guessed it by now, the Kiosk of Piracy is one of the many projects exploring the intersection of art and piracy that have popped up on- and offline in recent years. This particular installation is taking place at the Kiosk of Contemporary Art in the Eastern German town of Weimar, which is usually home of temporary art exhibitions and installations. The Kiosk is officially on break until October, but has now been "taken over" by pro-piracy artists with a mission:

"We want to show in a very physical way that the Internet is neither a machine nor controllable in any way – it is just a system of agreements which work in any circumstances. We don’t need the Internet – the magic can happen anywhere."

The Kiosk of Piracy not only offers a free Wifi network to access its tracker, but also an integrated seed box to host files for downloading them at the speed of Wifi.

09/14 2009 | 11:09 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Germany's Constantin Film, known internationally for movies like Resident Evil and The Baader Meinhof Complex, was able to get a preliminary injunction against Swiss-based one-click file hoster Rapidshare. Constantin Film had previously asked Rapdishare to make sure that its newly released Geman flick "Maria, ihm schmeckt's nicht!" doesn't appear on its servers. Maria leaked nonetheless, and Constantin sued. A German court now ordered the hoster to keep the movie off its servers or otherwise pay unspecified fines.

This isn't the first time Rapidshare has been defeated by German rights holders. Constantin was previously able to obtain two similar injunctions related to two if its movies, according to gulli.com, and the German music rights group GEMA won multiple times in court against Rapidshare.

Users of the service tend to argue that Rapidshare doesn't have to adhere to German court decisions because the company is based in Switzerland. I asked Rapidshare about this during an earier court battle, and CEO Bobby Chang responded:

"Rapidshare operates internationally and does of course have some German users as well. That's why this decision is obviously of importance for us."


09/12 2009 | 10:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The sale of The Pirate Bay hit another serious roadblock this week when shares of its prospective buyer, Global Gaming Factory X, were delisted from the Swedish stock exchange for allegedly misleading investors about the proposed transaction. AktieTorget claims that GGF misrepresented facts about its financial situation and its deals with the entertainment industry, though GGF CEO Hans Pandeya subsequently asserted to CNet that the transaction will nevertheless go through.

The entire saga over the sale is quickly becoming a kind of déjà vu. The Pirate Bay is not only known as the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker; its founders also gained notoriety for continuously announcing project after project, only to abandon most of them later on. There was the plan to buy an island, the idea to encrypt the entire Internet, the ad-supported music site Playable and the next-generation BitTorrent protocol, to name just a few. All of these non-starters did, however, help to keep The Pirate Bay in the news and accomplish things well beyond the stated aims of the The Bay’s site, as Co-founder Peter Sunde recently pointed out. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/11 2009 | 01:07 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
LimeWire just announced that it’s been forced to disable its Facebook integration. The feature, which was introduced with the launch of LimeWire 5.2 at the end of July, enabled users to privately share files with their contacts after logging in with their Facebook credentials. The social networking site allegedly demanded a number of changes before eventually notifying LimeWire that it would disable the feature due to “policy violations.”

LimeWire’s VP of product management, Jason Herskowitz, called the dispute “unfortunate,” adding that the two companies have a common goal: to help their users to connect and share. Herskowitz also said that LimeWire will continue to offer private file-sharing functionality for users of Google Talk and other Jabber-based services. And he apparently couldn’t resist taking a stab at Facebook by noting that his company is looking forward to working with “a number of other open platforms and social networks.” Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/09 2009 | 12:00 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
IPv6, the next generation Internet protocol, has been around for more than ten years, but has never seen any widespread adoption - until about a year ago, that is.

ipv6
Graphic by Arbor Networks.

In early August of 2008, uTorrent started to support IPv6 for its P2P traffic, and things changed drastically, according to a new blog post from Arbor Networks:

"In a dramatic reversal of long-term IPv6 stagnation, global IPv6 traffic globally grew more than 1,400% in the last 12 months. Even more remarkable, this growth is due primarily to one application and one ISP."


uTorrent's version 1.8 caused IPv6 traffic to increase 15-fold within ten months. But everyone's favored Bittorrent client couldn't completely turn IPv6's fate around, at least not on its own. Infrastructure improvements needed to be made to actually get more torrents to be swapped via the new protocol. That happened when Hurricane Electric booted up new IPv6 relays around the world this April, which gave IPv6 another huge push.

Of course, the Pirate Bay has been supporting IPv6 torrent clients since January, and currently around 200,000 users are connected to its trackers via IPv6.

IPv6 was originally invented to deal with the fact that more and more devices had a need for a finite amount of IP addresses. One interesting result of IPv6 will be that you won't need to deal with NAT anymore, which should make P2P much more efficient and accessible to the average user.

09/08 2009 | 02:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Okay, back to file sharing: File2.ws is a registration-free, Captcha-free one-click file hoster that should work well for Twitter, even though it doesn't exactly deliver the shortest Urls possible. The service is also restricted to files up to 15 Megabytes, so you won't share any movies with it. File2.ws does however have an interesting twist: It tries to embed any file in the best way possible, enabling what it calls to "(c)onvert any file into a public web site."

file2.ws

MP3s are automatically embedded with a Flash player that auto-plays once you open the page in question, pictures are displayed in full, PDFs are converted to JPEGs and code is automatically marked up in a way that makes the most sense for all you programmers out there. The original files can still be downloaded, so you're not trapped in embed-land. Now if File2.ws would only give users the option to embed those files into their own blogs, Scribd-style ... but I guess you can't have everything.

Check this list of file hosters for Twitter and also read my recent S4ve.as review if you're interested in other options to host files for your Tweets.

09/08 2009 | 12:58 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
OK, I admit it. I’ve become one of those snooty guys who is telling the rest of us what the future will look like. Case in point: I’m one of the authors of the “Internet Manifesto,” a collection of positions about the future of journalism that was published yesterday. The original manifesto was in German, collectively written by 15 journalists and bloggers more or less known in the German new media landscape, but it has since spread well beyond the krautosphere. Journalist Jeff Jarvis tweeted about it yesterday, an official English version was published earlier today, and users have contributed Finnish and Romanian translations.

The manifesto is a collection of 17 declarations about the future of media production online. At the core of the text is the claim that the Internet is a different medium with a disparate social and cultural impact than traditional mass media, and that publishers need to acknowledge these differences, rather than pretending they don’t exist or trying to make them go away. “Tradition is not a business model,” we wrote, arguing that we need new forms of journalism rather than regulations to protect the old. Fine by me, you might think, but why would anyone need a manifesto for that? Well, let me tell you why. Continue reading on Gigaom.com.

09/08 2009 | 12:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The people behind the popular BitTorrent site Isohunt.com launched a new community portal this week called Hexagon.cc that’s aimed at making BitTorrent more social by allowing groups of users to share and discuss content. The site also allows for the embedding of videos from YouTube, Video or Blip, and utilizes semantic web resources to catalog content — a first in the BitTorrent world.

Hexagon.cc is still in private beta, but invites have been made available by the thousands since it opened its doors earlier this week. The project is definitely interesting, and has the potential to become a viable competitor to many private torrent sites. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/08 2009 | 10:36 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Speaking of declarations: I just co-authored one as well, together with 14 colleagues from German blogs and mainstream news organizations. We called it the Internet Manifesto, because we're that modest. Here's the text in full:

Internet Manifesto: How journalism works today. Seventeen declarations.

1. The Internet is different.

It produces different public spheres, different terms of trade and different cultural skills. The media must adapt their work methods to today’s technological reality instead of ignoring or challenging it. It is their duty to develop the best possible form of journalism based on the available technology. This includes new journalistic products and methods.

2. The Internet is a pocket-sized media empire.

The web rearranges existing media structures by transcending their former boundaries and oligopolies. The publication and dissemination of media contents are no longer tied to heavy investments. Journalism’s self-conception is—fortunately—being cured of its gatekeeping function. All that remains is the journalistic quality through which journalism distinguishes itself from mere publication.

3. The Internet is our society is the Internet.

Web-based platforms like social networks, Wikipedia or YouTube have become a part of everyday life for the majority of people in the western world. They are as accessible as the telephone or television. If media companies want to continue to exist, they must understand the lifeworld of today’s users and embrace their forms of communication. This includes basic forms of social communication: listening and responding, also known as dialog.

4. The freedom of the Internet is inviolable.

The Internet’s open architecture constitutes the basic IT law of a society which communicates digitally and, consequently, of journalism. It may not be modified for the sake of protecting the special commercial or political interests often hidden behind the pretense of public interest. Regardless of how it is done, blocking access to the Internet endangers the free flow of information and corrupts our fundamental right to a self-determined level of information.

5. The Internet is the victory of information.

Due to inadequate technology, media companies, research centers, public institutions and other organizations compiled and classified the world’s information up to now. Today every citizen can set up her own personal news filter while search engines tap into wealths of information of a magnitude never before known. Individuals can now inform themselves better than ever.

6. The Internet changes improves journalism.

Through the Internet, journalism can fulfill its social-educational role in a new way. This includes presenting information as an ever-changing, continual process; the forfeiture of print media’s inalterability is a benefit. Those who want to survive in this new world of information need a new idealism, new journalistic ideas and a sense of pleasure in exploiting this new potential.

7. The net requires networking.

Links are connections. We know each other through links. Those who do not use them exclude themselves from social discourse. This also holds for the websites of traditional media companies.

8. Links reward, citations adorn.

Search engines and aggregators facilitate quality journalism: they boost the findability of outstanding content over a long-term basis and are thus an integral part of the new, networked public sphere. References through links and citations—especially including those made without any consent of or even remuneration of the originator—make the very culture of networked social discourse possible in the first place. They are by all means worthy of protection.

9. The Internet is the new venue for political discourse.

Democracy thrives on participation and freedom of information. Transferring the political discussion from traditional media to the Internet and expanding on this discussion by involving the active participation of the public is one of journalism’s new tasks.
10. Today’s freedom of the press means freedom of opinion.

Article 5 of the German Constitution does not comprise protective rights for professions or technically traditional business models. The Internet overrides the technological boundaries between the amateur and professional. This is why the privilege of freedom of the press must hold for anyone who can contribute to the fulfillment of journalistic duties. Qualitatively speaking, no differentiation should be made between paid and unpaid journalism, but rather, between good and poor journalism.

11. More is more – there is no such thing as too much information.

Once upon a time, institutions such as the church prioritized power over personal awareness and warned of an unsifted flood of information when the letterpress was invented. On the other hand were the pamphleteers, encyclopaedists and journalists who proved that more information leads to more freedom, both for the individual as well as society as a whole. To this day, nothing has changed in this respect.

12. Tradition is not a business model.

Money can be made on the Internet with journalistic content. There are many examples of this today already. Yet because the Internet is fiercely competitive, business models have to be adapted to the structure of the net. No one should try to abscond from this essential adaptation through policy-making geared to preserving the status quo. Journalism needs open competition for the best refinancing solutions on the net, along with the courage to invest in the multifaceted implementation of these solutions.

13. Copyright becomes a civic duty on the Internet.

Copyright is a cornerstone of information organization on the Internet. Originators’ rights to decide on the type and scope of dissemination of their contents are also valid on the net. At the same time, copyright may not be abused as a lever to safeguard obsolete supply mechanisms and shut out new distribution models or license schemes. Ownership entails obligations.

14. The Internet has many currencies.

Journalistic online services financed through adverts offer content in exchange for a pull effect. A reader’s, viewer’s or listener’s time is valuable. In the industry of journalism, this correlation has always been one of the fundamental tenets of financing. Other forms of refinancing which are journalistically justifiable need to be forged and tested.

15. What’s on the net stays on the net.

The Internet is lifting journalism to a new qualitative level. Online, text, sound and images no longer have to be transient. They remain retrievable, thus building an archive of contemporary history. Journalism must take the development of information, its interpretation and errors into account, i.e., it must admit its mistakes and correct them in a transparent manner.

16. Quality remains the most important quality.

The Internet debunks homogenous bulk goods. Only those who are outstanding, credible and exceptional will gain a steady following in the long run. Users’ demands have increased. Journalism must fulfill them and abide by its own frequently formulated principles.

17. All for all.

The web constitutes an infrastructure for social exchange superior to that of 20th century mass media: When in doubt, the “generation Wikipedia” is capable of appraising the credibility of a source, tracking news back to its original source, researching it, checking it and assessing it—alone or as part of a group effort. Journalists who snub this and are unwilling to respect these skills are not taken seriously by these Internet users. Rightly so. The Internet makes it possible to communicate directly with those once known as recipients—readers, listeners and viewers—and to take advantage of their knowledge. Not the journalists who know it all are in demand, but those who communicate and investigate.

Internet, 07.09.2009

* Markus Beckedahl
* Mercedes Bunz
* Julius Endert
* Johnny Haeusler
* Thomas Knüwer
* Sascha Lobo
* Robin Meyer-Lucht
* Wolfgang Michal
* Stefan Niggemeier
* Kathrin Passig
* Janko Röttgers
* Peter Schink
* Mario Sixtus
* Peter Stawowy
* Fiete Stegers

Translated from German by Jenna L. Brinning

2009 CC-BY

09/04 2009 | 02:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember all those ads a few years back with artists telling you that downloading the song is the same as stealing a CD in a store? Times are changing, and people are getting wiser: Three UK groups representing songwriters, performing musicians and music producers have come out with a strong-worded statement against renewed plans to institute a three strikes policy in their country.

The Featured Artists Coalition, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and the Music Producers Guild count musicians like Kate Nash, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney and Elton John amongst their members, just to name a few, and their joint statement is worth reading in full:

"Response to the Department for Business Innovation & Skills Consultation on Legislation to Address Illicit Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File-Sharing from the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and the Music Producers Guild (MPG)

The above organisations, who between them represent the people who write, perform and produce music believe that the protection offered by copyright to recording artists, composers and songwriters is vital if the UK is to continue to be at the forefront of the global music industry. Copyright serves to nurture the writer and artist and those who invest in their creativity.

However we have serious reservations about the content and scope of the proposed legislation outlined in the consultation on P2P file-sharing. Processes of monitoring, notification and sanction are not conducive to achieving a vibrant, functional, fair and competitive market for music. As a result we believe that the specific questions asked by the consultation are not only unanswerable but indicate a mindset so far removed from that of the general public and music consumer that it seems an extraordinarily negative document.

The very fuzzy estimates for the annual benefits of such legislation (£200 million per year) make clear that such estimates are based firmly upon the premise that a P2P downloaded track equals a lost sale. This “substitutional” argument is, in reality, no more than “lobbyists’ speak”: it has little support from logic and no economist would seek to weave such a number into a metric aimed at quantifying a ‘value gap’ for the industries challenged by P2P.

In contrast to the lack of any credible evidence for the size of the substitutional effect, there is evidence that repeat file-sharers of music are also repeat purchasers of music, movies, documentaries etc. Recent research by MusicAlly has demonstrated the continued popularity of the CD as the purchased product of choice by many music fans. This combined with the continued significance of the CD in the revenue balance of record labels, suggests a much more complex equation in which file-sharing may erode sales, but where it may also promote other revenue streams. For this reason it is dangerous to view the downloading of music as the direct online equivalent of CD sales.

Of equal concern are those elements of the consultation that estimate the cost of implementing the proposals. The estimate of between £65 and £85 million for the first year contained in the consultation is likely to be a gross underestimate of how much such a system will actually cost owing to the complicated nature of the system proposed. This figure (if just compared with recorded music) represents somewhere between 10-15% of the market value after accounting for fixed costs such as CD manufacturing and staffing and, in the light of our comments above, is clearly disproportionate to any possible benefit. Even if the music industry is expected to fund only 50% of this cost, it is still disproportionate to any possible new revenues based on the system proposed.

Much online activity surrounding the sharing of music often coincides with a great deal of fan support for the artist concerned. The centrality of the artist in the new music ecology is such that the lobbying by labels to continue to try to sue or sanction music fans must be placed in a broader context of those fans’ behaviour. It must also be seen in the context not of the loss to a particular business constituency but whether it represents a real loss to the economy as a whole.

A file-sharing fans’ economic contribution to an artist’s career may focus around the purchase of merchandise and tickets to live concerts – the irreplaceable experiences which contribute to artists’ success, even though this will not compensate the creators of the music and lyrics directly unless they are also performers. The loss of appetite for the purchase of CDs is not mono-causal and cannot be blamed on file-sharing alone. The increasing competition for the recorded music fan’s pound that comes from the purchase of other products such as video games, and DVDs all contribute to a shift in spending on recorded music. This shift in focus does not necessarily mean that overall the creators’ revenue is reduced, nor that the UK economy is negatively impacted.

What the consultation’s proposals singularly fail to do is differentiate between the downloading and sharing of music by music fans, on a non-commercial basis, and those who seek financial gain or commercial advantage from such activity. This second group of “commercial” P2P users and facilitators should be pursued with the full force of the law as is the case with illegal CD plants in the offline world. Ordinary music fans and consumers should not be criminalised because of the failings of a legacy sector of business to adapt sufficiently fast to new technological challenges.

Looking backward for insight into how we adapt mass-production product models to the digital age of access and services has been a major obstacle to progress over the past decade. We must begin to look forward to business models that we cannot even imagine yet.

As creators’ representatives we are willing to be partners with government in exploring and navigating the opportunities and challenges brought by digital technologies. What we will not be a party to is any system that alienates our members’ existing audience and potential new audiences.

We see forward looking developments such as the Digital Britain Test Beds being sponsored by The Technology Strategy Board as key opportunities to remove the blinkers of the music industry incumbents and welcome the innovators to ensure some progress in this sector of the market.

In the light of the above we vehemently oppose the proposals being made and suggest that the stick is now in danger of being way out of proportion to the carrot. The failure of 30,000 US lawsuits against consumers and the cessation of the pursuit of that policy should be demonstration enough that this is not a policy that any future-minded UK government should pursue."

(via Music Ally)

09/03 2009 | 02:38 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Frustrated with Rapidshare or Megaupload? Think you could do better? Well, put your money where your mouth is, I mean towards your bandwidth bill: Open Upload is a simple PHP script that makes it possible to start a one-click hosting service on any web server, MySQL database optional.

openupload

The nice thing about Open Upload is that it offers various levels of access controls, making it possible to restrict access to files either by password or to a group of registered users. It's also open source, so you can adopt it to your needs.

A new version of the script was just released a few days ago and can be downloaded from its Sourceforge page.

09/02 2009 | 11:11 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Two video bloggers from Azerbaijan are being held in prison by local authorities after uploading a satirical video to YouTube, according to a BBC News report. Andnan Hajizade and Emin Milli are part of a youth movement known as “OL !” that works towards a democratic civil society in Azerbaijan. The duo produced and uploaded a video of a press conference with a guy in a donkey suit in late June. The clip criticized Azerbaijan’s government for new laws against NGOs while making fun of staged government press conferences.

The video makers were arrested in early July after allegedly taking part in a scuffle at a restaurant — a charge that has been widely criticized as being politically motivated and an attempt to legitimize censorship of the duo. Hajizade and Milli were officially charged with hooliganism, which could land them in prison for up to five years. Their trial is scheduled to begin this Friday. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/02 2009 | 10:58 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
German authorities raided the flats of six people associated with an unnamed private tracker yesterday, according to a press release of the local anti-piracy group GVU. Two of the people affected by the raids are accused of being the admins of the tracker, and four others supposedly rented seedboxes to distribute movies, software and music.

GVU celebrates the raid as a "concerted action" against illegal file sharing, boasting that the tracker in question "granted special privileges to users that paid 15 Euros per month." The organization also touts that authorities confiscated seven computers, eleven hard disks as well as 870 CDs and DVDs.

However, if you read between the lines, it sounds like this was really just small fish. The tracker supposedly had 2000 registered members and tracked only about 500 torrents when GVU started its investigation.

Some readers of the German scene news website Gulli.com have argued that the admins of this tracker had it coming because they supposedly operated a paid tracker. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be true either. GVU's release says users paying 15 dollars per month got "a download bonus of 30 gigabytes", which makes it sound like this was merely an option to donate with the added incentive of a better ratio - a common practice with may private trackers.

09/01 2009 | 03:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
German file sharers received countless settlement notices for allegedly sharing copyrighted material in recent years, thanks to companies like Digiprotect and Logistep. However, it looks like P2P users, and others wrongfully accused of file sharing, may have a new ally: Saxony's Consumer Advocates (Verbraucherzentrale) recently announced a new legal aid program to help recipients of settlement notices. The organization's press release quotes spokesperson Beate Scharf:

"You should take the deadlines of these notices seriously, but never sign any settlement without prior review."

Many recipients of these settlement letters have never even shared any files, according to the consumer advocacy group, but merely registered the Internet account used for the alleged infringement. German courts have disagreed in the past on how to handle these and similar types of liabilities, but most recipients just agree to pre-settlement offers that cost them hundreds or even thousands of dollars instead of pursuing their case in court.

(via Arbeit 2.0)