More HDTV tuner cards on the way

It appears that since the "Broadcast Flag" was struck down, more HDTV tuner cards for PC’s will be coming to the market.  These cards are useful for hobbyists who want to build an HDTV DVR, instead of waiting for TiVo/Sony/Someone to sell one.  Since next year’s World Cup will be available in high definition, this may be a project to put on my todo list for next spring.

"With the broadcast flag being struck down this past summer, a number
of TV tuner card manufacturers are aggressively doing HDTV TV tuner
card products for retail and I’m happy to say that all of them are
bundling our software," Rakesh Agrawal, SnapStream president

Media companies overreach with DRM

Media Companies
Go Too Far in Curbing
Consumers’ Activities

DRM systems are empty vessels — they can enforce any rules copyright holders choose, or no rules at all. Apple’s DRM rules are liberal enough that few consumers object to them. In fact, obtaining relatively liberal DRM rules from the labels was the key to Apple’s success in selling music. But some other uses of DRM technology aren’t so benign.

Free 40 hour tivo after rebate

Now’s your chance, Ecost has 40 hour tivo’s free after $150 rebate.
You can then get the lifetime registrations ($299 i think) if you’re
like me and don’t like recurring bills. Or else pay $12/month. If you
get one, please use this email address when registering your tivo: regis AT oscarm DOT org.

Update:
Sandy noticed that the price has gone up to $50 since this
morning.  Also, that email address is the one tivo has on file for
me.  It’s supposed to be short for "registration" and I use it as
the spamable address I give out to big companies and
organizations.  Anyway, if you use that during registration I get
a little credit as a res

Broadcast Flag Struck Down!

Great news: The DC Circuit of the US Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC can not enforce the "Broadcast Flag" that movie and television cartels want to put into future TV hardware. Basically, this little flag would tell your TiVo/Replay/VCR if it could or could not record the latest episode of American Idol or Dr Phil for you to archive or watch at a later time. The Broadcast Flag was an attempt by media companies to control how and when you watch the shows they produce and to make you buy the DVD of a show you wanted instead of archiving it yourself. From BoingBoing:

The rules set out to ban the use of Open
Source/Free Software in digital television applications, and to require
hardware components to be designed to be hard or impossible to create
open drivers for. Fox exec Andy Setos told me that we were there to
create "a polite marketplace" where no one would be allowed to disrupt
his business model without getting his permission and cooperation first
(cough planned economy cough commies cough).

Although now the studios are going to try to buy themselves a law through Congress, this should make it more difficult. In the end, hopefully we’ll still be able to catch the few remaining shows worth watching on television.

Update: Read Susan Crawford’s post for a more complete analysis of the ruling.

The DC Circuit (in a unanimous opinion) found that the Commission
didn’t have power from Congress to make rules about what devices do
with content once that content has been received.

Washington Post: Digital Transformation Revives Old Records

My Dad’s been figuring out how to convert his music records to a digital format, since his stereo no longer has a turntable. The post has an article title Digital Transformation Revives Old Records which mentions the Audacity software project.

You can also use a free, open-source program, Audacity (Win 95 or newer, Mac OS 9 or newer, Linux, audacity.sourceforge.net). This is rougher sledding: It can’t split tracks automatically and or save songs in MP3 format. You can fix the second shortfall by downloading a separate MP3 encoder, or by saving each song as an uncompressed file, then converting it into MP3 format.

So, p2p piracy is all a smoke screen…

A recent survey shows that Americans’ download media files from both approved and, well, less approved sources in about equal proportions (found on Smart Mobs ). An even more interesting statistic is that 48% of respondents cited using other sources, such as aim and email, than online stores and p2p networks.

Coupled with that news, what are we to make of recent figures from the RIAA that CD sales are up? Boing Boing has the drawn the obvious conclusion:

So is it possible that CD sales and P2P are decoupled (as all the quantitative, independent research indicates), and that the downturn in CD sales is better laid at the feed of bad business, a bad economy, fewer albums and more things competing for entertainment dollars

The BENEFIT of registering for Newspaper content

Why are we doing this?

Registration also increases the value of the local visitor to our advertisers as well. We create additional revenue from the visitor who signs up for email newsletters and special deals by sending them targeted marketing messages. In the future we will also be able to better target advertising on the site as well (which is of more value to advertisers and a better reader experience as well).

Ad revenue with the current model is flat or declining.

The registration database will also be an asset to us in acquiring new print subscribers as well.

We’ll be able to spam visitors to get a subscription to a physical paper. Even if they only ever come to our site for one story

We are adhering to a strict privacy policy and will not be selling or providing reader e-mail address or personal information with any 3rd parties. If readers sign-up for “Special Deals”, they will receive messages from 3rd party advertisers, but those messages will be sent by KRD (using a e-mail provider). We will also be deploying industry best practices so as to not inundate our registered users with marketing messages.

We’ve outsourced the actual spamming to another company so that we can’t be accused of being spammers. Registered users won’t readily know what spam is ours.

As an incentive, any reader who registers in the first month will automatically be entered into drawings to win valuable prizes.

We’re not entirely confident that people will be willing to register so we’ll be bribing them during the first month

Will any content or services be accessible WITHOUT registering?

Yes. Registration will not be required to use Classifieds, Cars.com, CareerBuilder, Real Estate or the Shopping services on MercuryNews.com. In other words, people who choose not to register still will be able to use these services for free.

These sections we’re already profitable.

Do we anticipate a large drop-off in readers?
Other Knight Ridder sites have not experienced a drop-off in readers, especially LOCAL readers. Kansas City and Charlotte first experienced a drop-off of non-local readers, but since moving to a “one page registration-free” model, number of readers has bounced back to pre-registration levels. Other sites that have launched since the new policy was in place has not experienced a drop-off in readers.

We don’t really care about non-local readers since our Advertisers don’t care about them. And look, if you never had content available for free you won’t see a drop off. Does that make any sense?

Music Sharing Taxes

Really, why does anyone think stuff like this is a good idea? I support the EFF but making users pay for using a p2p service is stupid. First of all, the music would not go to the artists but to the labels – since artists practically sign away their life. Then, what if I don’t use the p2p network to get copyrighted music in the first place but for Free music or other software – why am I forced to subsidize the labels? Same thing for the CD Burner tax – I use it to backup stuff and burn pictures, why does the RIAA get any of my money for that? I’m sorry if piracy is hurting your business, even if part of the cause might be the ridiculously high price of CDs or lack of an unencumbered mp3 file of your music, but don’t force everyone to pay because of the actions of some users. Next thing, you’ll want to add a surcharge on my printer and printing supplies that compensates book publishers – does that make sense?

Perhaps, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The digital-rights group recently proposed the idea of having file sharers pay a monthly surcharge in exchange for the right to share away. The charge would be voluntary and could be levied through the sharers’ Internet service provider, software client or university dorm fee. And the money would go to the artists.

Hastings law professor Margreth Barrett said the proposal is a good one. She dismissed the RIAA’s objection that all music would be valued equally because those musicians whose songs are downloaded most would receive a larger chunk of money. To make up for money lost by those who still share music illegally, a small surcharge could be tacked onto music products like CD burners, which would be put into a fund divided among copyright owners.

Intuit learns from DRM mistake

Trying to saddle a software product with DRM/copy protection that is just going to piss off your customers doesn’t make you rich. Intuit learned this lesson the hard way.

When Intuit launched the copy-control program, it predicted that revenue would increase, since customers who had previously purchased only one TurboTax program would have to buy a separate copy for each computer in the house. That assumption was dead wrong. Instead, the move triggered a consumer backlash the likes of which Intuit had never seen.