INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Yahoo offers DRM-free music, sort of

A story on Slashdot notes that Yahoo is now selling one (yes, one) MP3 without digital rights management shackles. The best comment I saw: This isn’t a marketing ploy to pretend to be anti-DRM when they are not, and this is not being done because they “want to work on other stuff”. This is being done because DRM free music is the only way Yahoo and company can break into the monopoly iTunes has over the iPod, which itself has a near monopoly on MP3 players.

Xiph, Ogg, FLAC, et al.

Late last year the Xiph QuickTime Components project took up where the moribund qtcomponents.sourceforge.net had left off – great news for lovers of open audio formats like Ogg Vorbis. (Vorbis encodes music at higher quality than MP3 at equivalent bitrates, and is unencumbered by patents and licensing.) The latest release of the components, earlier this month, features Intel compatability and preliminary support for FLAC (a lossless encoding). The thing that makes this project so useful is that QuickTime components can transparently provide services to any OS X application relying on QuickTime – such as iTunes.

Songbird, open source competition for iTunes

Songbird, an open source would-be iTunes killer, was made available to the public for the first time today. Version 0.1.0. It builds on well-tested open source projects such as VLC and Firefox. Since iTunes is free, and most consumers don’t particularly care one way or the other about open source, the success of Songbird will hinge on the things it can offer that Apple can’t or won’t. The most promising one is easy access to, and integration with, non-iTunes online music retailers like eMusic.

Unclear on the concept, installment #7,423

Various advertising blogs have been linking to the website of a firm called Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, whose splash page is nothing but a disclaimer (in Flash). It reads: The materials on this website are copyrighted and are presented exclusively for viewing by clients, prospects, and employees. Before entering the site we ask that you agree not to copy, rebroadcast, or otherwise reproduce the work displayed here. This is followed by two buttons labeled “ACCEPT” and “DENY”.

Hopeful news from the USPTO

I can’t really believe this is happening, but the words are right there on the home page of the US Patent and Trademark Office: The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has created a partnership with the open source community to ensure that patent examiners have access to all available prior art relating to software code during the patent examination process. Last month, USPTO representatives met with members of the open source software community, which provided an opportunity for members to discuss with the USPTO issues related to software patent quality.

Holy hot-headed hippies, Batman

There’s a blowup in progress in the Internet Archive forums over the removal of Grateful Dead concert recordings. The official announcement at the top of the thread reads, in part: Based on discussions with many involved, the Internet Archive has been asked to change how the Grateful Dead concert recordings are being distributed on the Archive site for the time being… Audience recordings are available in streaming format (m3u). Soundboard recordings are not available.

Texas Justice

Oh, this is good. The state [of Texas] sued Sony BMG Music Entertainment on Monday under its new anti-spyware law, saying anti-piracy technology the company slipped into music CDs leaves computers vulnerable to hackers… The Texas spyware law allows the state to recover damages of up to $100,000 in damages for each violation. Abbott said there were thousands of violations… Sure, it’s a Draconian money grab, but that’s the way these laws are designed.