piracy – Antenna http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 The Rise of Big Copyright: Content Protection and the Formation of Anti-Piracy Alliances http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2015/12/17/the-rise-of-big-copyright/ Thu, 17 Dec 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=28829 Post by Paul McDonald, King’s College London

This post continues the ongoing “From Nottingham and Beyond” series, with contributions from faculty and alumni of the University of Nottingham’s Department of Culture, Film and Media. This week’s contributor, Paul McDonald, was Professor of Cinema and Media Industries in our department from 2011-2015. 

Image - Get It Right from a Genuine SiteA few weeks ago, the Get It Right from a Genuine Site anti-piracy campaign was launched in the UK. The campaign was run by Creative Content UK, a body formed the previous year to “boost consumer awareness of the wide array of legitimate online content services and help reduce online copyright infringement.” CCUK’s founding partners were the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), Hollywood’s trade body for international territories the Motion Picture Association (MPA), and the four main internet service providers in the UK: BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. Additional support for CCUK came from broadcasters (BBC and ITV), actors’ union Equity, the Film Distributors’ Association, the Independent Film and Television Alliance, the Musicians’ Union, Pact, the Premier League, the Publishers Association and UK Music.

CCUK is the newest arrival to the UK’s anti-piracy business and as such is representative of a trend now characterizing the modern media industries—the formation of inter- and intra-industry alliances to combat media piracy and protect copyrighted content. Over recent years, claims of escalating piracy have seemingly been accompanied by a concurrent escalation in the number of coalitions formed to combat it. Although not a new development, the formation of anti-piracy alliances has intensified over the last ten to fifteen years. As a way of grasping the implications of this trend, these developments might be described as the rise of Big Copyright, the emergence of new constellations of commercial-legal power in the media economy.

There are several reasons why this trend cannot simply be seen as a continuation of the oligopolistic tendencies of so-called Big Media by means of intellectual property. First, as a label for a concentrated cluster of private firms, Big Media has no formal collective identity other than perhaps memberships of trade associations for the film or music businesses. Big Copyright, on the other hand, materializes in a multitude of specific, named alliances that are the products of formalized agreements to collaborate. Second, Big Copyright brings together interests that spread far beyond the diversified holdings of even the largest, most diversified media and communication conglomerates. Big Media are part of Big Copyright, but the latter extends further, formed of unities among multiple copyright holders from across the business software, publishing, music, film, television and game industries, plus broadcasters, internet service providers, media retailers, marketing agencies, technology firms and in some cases police forces. These alliances have become power brokers in what Adrian Johns describes as the “intellectual property defence industry,” creating constellations of interests to aggregate social and political capital against piracy. While these groupings are led by the media industries, the raison d’être behind the creation of these alliances is to reach beyond the media sector by pressuring governments to act in the interests of rights holders, working with judicial and police authorities to enforce the protection of rights, and reaching out to the public by communicating lessons in good copyright citizenship. Finally, while Big Media largely means the major U.S. media firms, with the possible addition of Bertelsmann, Big Copyright is more internationally dispersed, comprising alliances formed around various national coalitions and including a few transnational members.

Image - FACT LogoBy way of illustration, I’ll briefly review here the alliances at the forefront of the content protection business in the UK. Formed in October 1982 through collaboration between the Motion Picture Export Association of America (MPEAA), the Society of Film Distributors, and the British Videogram Association (BVA), the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) was established in the early years of the home-video boom, when Britain was regarded by Hollywood as a hotbed of video piracy due to the low fines imposed for first offenses and lenient sentences for subsequent convictions. FACT is part of the MPA’s international network of national non-profit “content protection organizations” (CPOs), which now extends to over 30 countries, predominantly in Western Europe but also in parts of Eastern Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and North and South America. Through this network, FACT has equivalents in other major international markets for Hollywood film and television, including JIMCA (the Japan and International Motion Picture Copyright Association), Germany’s Gesellschaft zur Verfolgung von Urheberrechtsverletzungen (GVU, the Society for the Prosecution of Copyright Infringement), France’s Association de Lutte Contre la Piraterie Audiovisuelle (ALPA, the Association for the Fight Against Audiovisual Piracy) and the Asociación Protectora de Cine y Música México (APCM, the Mexican Association for the Protection of Movies and Music). Image - APCM LogoCPOs localize the MPA’s global fight against piracy, providing on-the-ground points of contact for links with national governmental departments, law-enforcement agencies, and companies or trade bodies in the media sector. Although operating as a kind of outpost in Hollywood’s global fight against film and television piracy, FACT is now networked into the broader UK media economy. Alongside the MPA and the six major Hollywood corporations, FACT’s membership includes the main terrestrial broadcasters (BBC, ITV), satcaster (Sky) and cable provider (Virgin Media), plus film trade bodies (British Video Association, Film Distributors’ Association, and UK Cinema Association), and a leading sports rights holder (Premier League). As an industry body, FACT holds no statutory authority but instead functions primarily to aid anti-piracy efforts by collaborating with national law-enforcement and customs officials to investigate and prosecute alleged infringing activities. FACT operates partnerships with HM Revenue and Customs, Border Force, the National Crime Agency, Trading Standards offices, and fifteen regional police forces.

Image - Alliance Against Copyright Theft LogoFACT therefore represents a point of mediation between the MPA CPOs and various national companies, bodies and agencies. For over three decades, FACT has remained at the forefront of anti-piracy efforts in the UK, but since the late 1990s, this network organization has seen developments with the formation of various new alliances. Operating as a kind of über-association, the Alliance for Intellectual Property exists to provide a single voice representing the collective interests of the copyright industries to the UK government. Formed in 1998, the Alliance aggregates the interests of two dozen “trade organisations, enforcement organisations and collecting societies from across the creative, branded and design industries.” Beyond its own business, the Alliance pays communications consultancy Luther Pendragon to provide administrative support to the All Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group (APPG), launched in 2003 as an interest group within UK government that, according to the Register of All-Party Parliamentary Groups, serves to “debate and highlight the value of intellectual property (IP) and the importance of its promotion and protection.”

Image - Industry Trust LogoOperating since 2004 with support from the UK film, TV and video industries, the Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness describes itself as a “pro-copyright consumer education body.” Membership of the Trust extends to 44 entities, including all the major film/video distributors and cinema chains and their related trade bodies, plus marketing agencies (My Movies, Think Jam), pre-school entertainment company HIT, optical-disc manufacturer Sony DADC, digital-entertainment technology provider Rovi, home-entertainment metadata supplier West10, and leading online retailers (e.g. Amazon, eBay) and supermarkets (e.g. Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco). In addition, the Trust has 88 partners from across the UK’s film and television business, including FACT and the Alliance for IP. To promote awareness of the value of IP, the Industry Trust has run multiple campaigns, including the series of Moments Worth Paying For ads screened across cinemas, digital outdoor spaces and online media.

Following the model of the Center for Copyright Information in the US, CCUK was launched with two purposes. Get It Right from a Genuine Site is the first outcome of CCUK’s commitment to pro-copyright public awareness campaigning.

CCUK was also established to implement the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), a system for rights owners to monitor transfers of infringing content over file-sharing networks, logging the IP addresses of infringers and notifying ISPs who send “escalating” warning letters to the relevant users. Issuing only a series of educative warnings means VCAP takes a lighter touch to deterrence than the enforcement of disconnections or financial penalties proposed by the 2010 Digital Economy Act. This has led to some questioning, however, particularly from the MPAA, over whether the program has any real teeth.

As the UK case shows, the landscape of anti-piracy alliance formation is confusing: not only has there been the proliferation of alliances, but many companies or organizations are also members of multiple alliances, and some alliances partner in other alliances. The formation of, but also the blurring between, alliances is particularly noticeable in how the presence of the Hollywood majors is unsurprisingly woven throughout these networks: the majors are individual members of FACT and the Industry Trust but are also collectively represented in these groupings and the Alliance for IP through the Film Distributors’ Association and the MPA.

AImage - Moments Worth Paying For-Anchorman 2s suggested earlier, Big Copyright grows out of nationally-configured coalitions of collective interests. So in the U.S., a similar array of alliances operates to those found in the UK. Representing trade associations across the copyright industries, the International Intellectual Property Alliance annually reports to the U.S. Trade Representative on the current state of IP regimes in foreign territories, with the aim of using the trading system to strengthen the international enforcement of rights. Copyright Alliance is a pan-media coalition that lobbies Congress for stronger copyright legislation, while CreativeFuture (originally Creative America) runs television, social-media and website campaigns on how piracy threatens jobs in film and television. Pulling back from the detail of these labyrinthine connections, at a level of abstract generalization we can see these coalitions serve a limited number of core functions in the fight against piracy: the political work of lobbying government for stronger legislative protections, the legal work of aiding statutory authorities to enforce rights, and the discursive work of public-awareness campaigning.

Frequently, analyses of the media industries focus on the organization of the conditions facilitating the production, dissemination and presentation of media content. Often this means concentrating on particular media firms. But the rise of Big Copyright demands we must now equally attend to how anti-piracy alliances are today very much part of the operational purposes of the modern media industries. By their very definition, these alliances are not companies but operate in the spaces between companies. For this reason, they may slip out of sight. This is not to say they are invisible or secretive, although knowledge of the precise workings is confined to industry stakeholders and is unavailable to the public. Rather they are just not an immediately noticeable component of the media business. With their proliferation, however, anti-piracy alliances have become a distinct category of player in the media industries. Thus, it is now vital we make these alliances visible for the roles they play in regulating the marketplace of rights and in shaping the cultural sphere.


What Are You Missing? Nov 25 – Dec 8 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/12/08/what-are-you-missing-nov-25-dec-8-2/ Sun, 08 Dec 2013 15:00:09 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=23082 Here are ten or more media industry news items you might have missed recently:
(NOTE: This edition will be slightly more brief, thanks to the increased December workload.)

hotfile_logo1) A huge anti-piracy decision was handed down through the courts as cyberlocker Hotfile has been charged with infringing copyright, granting Hollywood Studios $80 million in damages. The MPAA initially brought the case back in 2011, claiming the site enabled piracy and did not do enough to combat it. What’s more, Hotfile has permanently shut down, leaving behind the note, “If you are looking for your favorite TV shows and movies, there are more ways than ever to get high-quality access to them on legal platforms.”

2) Start saving up because the FCC is having an auction! An announcement from new chairman Tom Wheeler revealed the agency’s plans on having an auction of the broadcast spectrum for wireless use to further open them up to new mobile and telecom firms, effectively reshuffling ownership. Being regarded as the most complex undertaking of the FCC ever and originally scheduled for late 2014, the auction has been pushed back to 2015 to ensure the software works properly (healthcare.gov anyone?).

3) The Fox Searchlight-Interns legal battle will not go away. An appeals court is now looking into the case which sees former interns on the film Black SwanThe original ruling found in favor of the interns, claiming they were working as employees but not being paid, while the studio argues they should not be considered employees. The case will likely have far reaching consequences for other entertainment and media internships, a field we all probably know a little something about.

4) Another appeals case has been settled, this one upholding a ban on political advertising on public television. The ruling was being challenged as a violation of First Amendment rights, but the court felt such advertising would “change the character” of public broadcasting and undermine its goals.

Amazon Drone5) Amazon has started taking its ideas from The Onion articles, as the company announced on 60 Minutes future plans for automated drone-based delivery of several of its items. Jeff Bezos unveiled their working prototypes for the service called Amazon Prime Air, which will come out in 2015 depending on FAA approval. No word on what sorts of defensive capabilities the drones will have, as I don’t want some nut to shoot down by DVD set of Psych Season 5!

6) Speaking of ridiculous things, a new report from Nielsen claims Americans spend more time listening to traditional radio than browsing the Internet or using DVD players and game consoles. Only television reigns supreme over radio in terms of time spent using. Of course, this report also reminds us the average media user is between the ages of 45 and 54, but my YiaYia (Greek for grandmother) emails me all the time. She’s getting those links from somewhere!

7) In a case WAYM has been following for months, it seems that the case against SiriusXM will be moving forward in California. The satellite radio giant is facing a $100 million class-action lawsuit for distributing pre-1972 recordings without repayment, as that was the year sound recordings began falling under federal copyright. The case could be monumental, as giving public performance rights to the copyright holders could impact not just radio, but television and film as well.

8) In other music legal news, singer-songwriter-awesome human being Aimee Mann has won the first round of her lawsuit against a company called MediaNet that delivers songs to online music streaming services. Mann claims the company has infringed upon her copyrights, using the songs after the contract expires. She is not alone in the case, as other artists are taking this as a lead to push back regarding their own copyrights.

9) Jerry Bruckheimer has found his new home. The blockbuster producer has signed a three-year first look deal with Paramount that begins next April. This will be the first time in nearly 20 years Bruckheimer will not be under a deal with Disney. First up: new installments for Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun. I’m glad to see Bruckheimer is still as creative as ever!

tennis-channel-logo10) Looks like The Tennis Channel is looking to the biggest court in the land, as The Tennis Channel has filed a petition with the Supreme Court to review their case against Comcast over whether a cable company discriminated against their channel by placing it in a separate tier from Comcast-owned cable sports channels like Golf Channel & NBC Sports Network. The original case ruled in favor of Comcast, citing a lack of evidence, but The Tennis Channel is continuing the volley, hoping to serve up some justice and take advantage on the (or in) court… I’ll stop.


What Are You Missing? Oct 14 – Oct 27 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/10/27/what-are-you-missing-oct-14-oct-27/ Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:00:22 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=22437 Here are ten or more (spooky?) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

hbo-vs-netflix1) Our top story sees what could be a monumental shift in the battle between online streaming and cable operators, as Comcast has plans to offer a new promotion called “Internet Plus,” a broadband internet bundle that includes limited basic TV and, for the first time being offered through a broadband package, HBO and HBO Go. The move is seen as a reaction to recent gains in Netflix subscribers, the rise in piracy (particularly of HBO), and the increasing number of cord-cutters throughout the nation. This would be the first time HBO is available to consumers without a cable package, placing them in a better position to challenge Netflix.

2) The timing of the (apparently) insider information is intriguing, as just last week reports came out that Netflix was in talks with pay-TV companies like Comcast about making the streaming service available via set-top boxes. While Netflix is available on other entertainment boxes like Roku, XBox, and PlayStation, this would be the first time Netflix would be available through a cable company’s box. The report comes alongside even more good news, as Netflix has come to its first production deal with a major Hollywood studio, Sony Pictures Television. The order is for 13-episodes to be released exclusively on Netflix. All this news was good for Wall Street, as Netflix shares went up 8 percent following the reports.

3) FilmOn X, the broadcast-streaming rival to Aereo with a terrible name, is faring poorly in the courts, as a U.S. District Judge has refused to lift a near-nationwide injunction against the service as part of its lawsuit with multiple broadcasters. After restarting transmissions in Boston after Aereo won a similar (but different) ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer was so upset with FilmOn X, she threatened to hold the company in contempt if they are unable to provide evidence as to why she should not. Meanwhile, Aereo continues to avoid injunctions, though broadcasters in that case are now petitioning the Supreme Court to address the suit.

4) One of the Internet’s largest BitTorrent websites, isoHunt has officially been disabled following a piracy lawsuit that saw the site settling for $110 million. The settlement was made between the operators of isoHunt and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) after the site was being sued by multiple Hollywood studios. And with this settlement, Hollywood will never have to worry about piracy again!

playground-productions5) A new challenger approaches… The world’s largest toy manufacturer, Mattel has entered the original entertainment market with the launch of Playground Productions, an in-house studio devoted to multiplatform storytelling arm that will utilize a variety of Mattel brands like Hot Wheels, Barbie, He-Man, and more. The move is seen as a way for Mattel to retain more control over its intellectual properties, as well as a way to more directly enter the lucrative entertainment market of TV, video games, and direct-to-video titles. The approach known as “push-to-play” emphasizes how Mattel wants the entertainment properties to encourage kids to play with the toys associated with the property.

6) The Federal government shutdown might be over, but Ted Cruz is still devoted to making sure nothing gets accomplished on Capitol Hill. The Texas Senator and Tea Party favorite has blocked the nomination of Tom Wheeler as the next FCC chairman. The hold, according to Cruz, is due to Wheeler not addressing a question about whether the FCC has the authority to require campaign spots to reveal the source of their funding. So, once again, hooray Congress!

7) Break out those checkbooks but keep the memo to 140 characters, as Twitter has set its IPO price at $17-$20 per share. The social media company anticipates selling 70 million shares, which would come out to… well, the company would be valued at $12 billion. #baller

8) In the latest update to the ongoing legal troubles of SiriusXM, the satellite radio company has struck back against the class action lawsuit brought against them for distributing pre-1972 recordings without license. The company contends that no state law requires them to pay such fees, and federal copyright of sound recordings didn’t apply before 1972. SiriusXM claims the lawsuit would upend traditional practice for use of pre-1972 sound recordings, massively shifting the industry and causing major harm.

sony-sues-united-airlines9) Sticking with music, Sony Music is suing United Airlines for copyright infringement, claiming the airline did not obtain permission for use of licensed music for inflight entertainment. Sony is seeking an injunction and damages, citing the music system on the airline being “interactive, on-demand” means the use is not covered by an outside royalty collection firm.

10) A new study out of Cologne University in Germany has finally answered the question no-one realized was being asked: Eating popcorn makes theater ads less effective. The awesomely-titled report “Popcorn in the Cinema: Oral Interference Sabotages Advertising Effects,” is in the latest issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology.


What Are You Missing? Feb 17-March 2 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/03/03/what-are-you-missing-feb-17-march-2/ Sun, 03 Mar 2013 15:25:22 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=18806 Dual-Shock-4_contentfullwidthTen (or more) media news items you might have missed recently:

1) Over 6 years after their last console release, Sony announced their latest gaming console, the PlayStation 4. While they did not reveal what it would look like, they did detail its functioning, new controller, hardware specs, and user interface. The system will include iOS and android apps to enhance the gaming experience.

2) The Academy Awards, or rather the Oscars, took place on February 24th. Six of the films nominated for Best Picture had earned over $100 million at the box office, making it the most commercially successful group of nominees to date. In the documentary short category, Inocente became the first Kickstarter-funded film to win an Oscar. The big news of the night became Seth MacFarlane’s hosting, which elicited a lot of criticism and sparked discussions about Hollywood’s potential sexism and racism. The Academy stood behind MacFarlane’s performance, and in fact this year’s Oscar ceremony showed increased viewership, especially in key younger audiences (which had been a concern for the producers). MacFarlane was not the only one in trouble on Oscar night, as The Onion faced an intense reaction towards a tweet, for which they offered a rare apology (And for anyone who is wondering how Ted came to life at the Oscars, here’s how!). The Independent Spirit Awards, which honor independent films, also took place last weekend.  Silver Linings Playbook came away the big winner, irking some people because the film’s $21-million budget technically put it outside of the classification for “indie film.”

3) Although they won an Oscar for visual effects for their work on Life of Pi, Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy last week. They were cut off from discussing the plight of the industry in their acceptance speech, which upset many visual effects workers. Visual effects artists are protesting the layoffs and bankruptcies their industry is facing using any outlet they can, including social media and open letters (including a second one to Ang Lee).

4) New copyright alert system is launched by the film, TV, and music industries. The warning system gives people six strikes before they begin enforcing consequencesSony has also developed a patent that would be able to distinguish between piracy activities and legal downloads. Internationally, France is also looking at increasing their (already very strict) anti-piracy laws. Thinking of piracy, how much does “free” music actually cost to artists involved?

5) For the first time in 12 years, music sales grow a small but symbolically important amount. In other music news, Billboard is beginning to include YouTube plays of a song in their formulation of their “Hot 100 List.” This change will allow YouTube hits like “Harlem Shake” to boost their stats. Most of YouTube’s top channels are music-based, suggesting the importance of this connection. Google is considering getting into the streaming music business. Pandora has put a limit on free listening, citing increased royalty fees as the reason, and Spotify is meeting with the record industry to ask for price breaks on royalties.

6) The 2013 box office totals are off to a slow start, 13% behind last year, and Jack the Giant Slayer opened to a disappointing $20-30 million. After taking a big loss on Rise of the Guardians, DreamWorks is forced to lay off 350 employees. The news is not all bad though, as Oz the Great and Powerful debuted with $75 million and The Hobbit closes in on $1 billion worldwide. In other movie news, Hollywood plans to cut back on sex and violence? And Regal Entertainment gets even bigger by buying Hollywood theaters.

7) In the publishing world, New York Times plans to sell Boston Globe. Variety announced they are making big changes–dropping their daily print editions, eliminating their paywall, and adding three new editors in chiefTim O’Brien, The Huffington Post‘s executive editor, has decided to leave.  Reader’s Digest files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And are digital book signings the way of the future?

8) Numerous companies are reporting hackers entering their systems, including Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, NBC.com, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook (no user data was taken; but if it is compromised in the future, how would Facebook recover?).

9) In TV news, it’s pilot season! ABC is developing a miniseries How to Survive a Plague, based on the Academy Award-nominated documentary about the continuing AIDS crisis. A&E hit a record number of viewers for their reality series Duck Dynasty. Nielsen ratings are changing to reflect the new ways that people access television. Kaley Cuoco of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory tweets positively about Dish Network’s Hopper, though CBS is in the process of suing them. AMC fought with Dish about licensing fees, and AMC’s fourth quarter profits took a hit as a result. The FCC is being pushed to modify the current standards of TV product disclosure to create more transparency with regard to show sponsorship. Cablevision, with the support of Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Viacom, claiming that they practice illegal block booking of stations (an accusation that Viacom leveled at John Malone 20 years ago).  The lawsuit could lead to people being able to more selectively sign up for channels, only paying for the ones they want.

10) In other miscellaneous news: Clive Davis comes out as bisexual. Girls Gone Wild files for bankruptcy. And future technologies–the iWatch? Transparent Smartphones? A computer that never crashes? Or what about touchscreen T-shirts?


What Are You Missing? Jan 20-Feb 2 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/02/03/what-are-you-missing-jan-20-feb-2/ Sun, 03 Feb 2013 16:01:24 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=17602 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The big news in Hollywood last week that caught many by surprise: Kevin Tsujihara was named CEO of Warner Bros. The studio is hopeful he’ll bring stability, but especially digital distribution savvy. Also shooting for stability is MGM, which is reworking its credit line to free up more money, while 20th Century Fox also cut a new financing deal. Unrelated bonus link: a Nielsen demographic study of movie audiences.

2. Fruitvale was a big winner at Sundance, which Variety critics thought was a successful, if commercially inclined, festival this year. Also of note was the equal gender balance of directors in competition, a first for the festival. This is representative of a higher percentage of female directors active in independent cinema than Hollywood studio filmmaking, according to research shared at Sundance by USC researchers.

3. There are still some Blockbuster stores left to shutter, and sadly, 3,000 jobs will be lost in this latest round of closings. Stores are also closing in the UK. Dish is still backing the Blockbuster brand, though, with a new On Demand redesign coming. But iTunes rules the online On Demand world right now, while discs fight to maintain home video sale prominence.

4. The music industry is having trouble making streaming royalties worth it to musicians. Too bad they can’t all enjoy a Super Bowl sales bump from being a halftime performer or make $8 million in ad deals like “Gangham Style” (though you have to watch out for sound-alikes) or have fans who are big pirates.

5. The company that supplied my very first video game console one lovely Christmas morning way back when has filed for bankruptcy, though apparently Atari hasn’t been what it used to be for awhile now, and it will even sell the iconic logo. Some other gaming bummers: THQ is being dissolved, Disney is closing a game studio and laying off fifty people while shifting to a focus on mobile and social gaming, and weak Wii U sales and 3DS piracy are hurting Nintendo.

6. Despite those bummers, the video game industry’s many challenges, and EA posting a recent loss, EA executives are optimistic about the future of console gaming. There’s a new Xbox coming with more processing power, and we’ll soon hear more about a new Playstation, though some think Sony should just move on from that platform’s legacy.

7. Samsung is warning that major smartphone growth is over, but maybe the company’s just bitter that Apple has surpassed it as top US phone vendor. The iPhone is declining in Asia, though, and Apple is losing tablet ground globally to Samsung and others. Apple’s still doing good work with tax loopholes, though. And at least it’s not BlackBerry.

8. France is having none of your English-language “hashtag” business on Twitter. For the French, “mot-dièse” will be the word for # on Twitter. (Mot-dièse means “sharp word,” though a sharp symbol leans the other way than the hashtag symbol, but hey, quoi que). France is also demanding that Twitter identify users who tweet with racist and anti-Semitic hasht…er, mots-dièse. Back in the US, Twitter’s dealing with a porn problem on the new Vine platform and is trying to censor porny hashtags. I doubt the French would respect that. #prudes 

9. GIFs are on the decline?!


10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Soap Contract Conflicts, Glee’s Song Theft, Super Bowl Ad Issue, Netflix Strategies, More on Netflix, 30 Rock Reflections, Spoiling Super Bowl Ads, CNN Changes, TWC & Dodgers, Aereo Update, The Following Criticism, Pilots Updates.


Programming note: Because I recently took on some new time-consuming duties, like Associate Online Editor for Cinema Journal, I’ve regretfully had to step away from WAYM for the time being. But don’t fear: WAYM will still be here! Eric Hoyt’s media industries course will be taking over for the rest of the semester on the regular bi-weekly schedule, and I can’t wait to see what they can do with it. (Sage advice: When in need of a good link, Lionsgate and porn are always there for you.) See you later!




What Are You Missing? Nov 25 – Dec 8 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/12/09/what-are-you-missing-nov-25-dec-8/ Sun, 09 Dec 2012 14:53:00 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=16946 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The MPAA is touting findings that the shutdown of Megaupload was a huge blow to piracy while battling against research claims that box office revenues have been negatively impacted by Megaupload’s disappearance. Such anti-piracy rhetoric will step up a notch in January, thanks to a new initiative with internet service providers, and MPAA head Chris Dodd is turning to Silicon Valley for more help along those lines.

2. While plenty of Oscar bait is still coming down the pike, we now have the shortlists for live-action shorts and documentary nominations. Of the shortlisted docs, Searching for Sugar Man is gaining some early awards momentum. Among scripted films, Beasts of the Southern Wild impressed in Indie Spirit Award noms, Zero Dark Thirty turned on the National Board of Review, and the Gotham Awards rewarded Moonrise Kingdom.

3. Tax credits are again in the news, with New York job numbers showing a boost from production tax breaks and one small Georgia town experiencing revitalization thanks to production credits. However, one Michigan city is now on the ropes due to banking on tax incentives that the state subsequently eliminated. Back in Hollywood, LA production might be slowly on the rise.

4. Disney preceded its big Netflix deal with the announcement that it is shuttering its online movie service, offering a blow to transactional VOD prospects. It does seem like subscription streaming is coming to dominate, and along those lines, details are emerging about Verizon and Redbox’s upcoming Instant service, though we won’t see it until next year. Meanwhile, good old Blockbuster will now start selling mobile phones, because it has just about nothing else going on.

5. Internet ad spending will soon surpass ad spending in all newspapers and magazines, and a striking chart shows that the decline of newspaper ad revenue has outpaced the growth of Google’s ad revenues. That would be why the New York Times is trimming staff, as not even a paywall is making up the difference. A UK study says journalists are keeping their chins up, though.

6. With the death of The Daily, it’s clear that magazine apps are struggling. Will Richmond sees video as key for the future of magazines, while Jeff John Roberts thinks BuzzFeed might point the way toward a viable business model, with BuzzFeed’s CEO touting the value of social advertising over banner ads and hoping that branded content experiments will work.

7. YouTube is aiming for professional standards in everything from its new production facilities to its interface redesign, which enhances the focus on channels, along with funding channel marketing efforts and expanding onto airplanes and into Japan. This is working well enough that big media companies are seeking ways to get on board. (And pardon the plug, but some of us wrote here on Antenna recently about the new YouTube production facility.)

8. MySpace is planning to relaunch (again) and take on Spotify; well, it has to do something, right? iTunes just continues to expand, now reaching into 56 new countries (a Coalition of the Willing?). And Google just bought access to a mother lode of European music to boost its international Google Play and better compete with Apple and Amazon.

9. Nielsen has released a big state of social media report, which offers more data showing that people love to hang out on Facebook, while Pinterest has quickly become one to keep an eye on. And while it’s fashionable to make fun of Google+, it’s actually growing just fine. What’s sad is how Google derailed Reader while building Google+.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Funding Gender Analysis, Freaks & Geeks Oral History, Netflix-Disney Deal, DVR That Watches You, Ownership Vote Delayed, TV is Exhausting, Twitter & TV Growth, TWC Threat, Walking Dead Ratings, CBS Research View, Spanish-Language Rebranding, Plot & Character in Homeland, Sports CostsZucker Reaction, NBC Signs Fellowes, Local Time Shifting Soaring.


What Are You Missing? Sept 2-15 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/09/16/what-are-you-missing-sept-2-15/ Sun, 16 Sep 2012 13:44:59 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=15395 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Twitter has Facebook beat on mobile ad dollars, but Mark Zuckerberg plans to change that. Facebook is also developing new strategies for web ads, including sponsored search results. And in an effort to maintain the integrity of perceived value, Facebook is cracking down on fake “likes.”

2. USA Today has completed a web-inspired redesign, but newspapers are still mired in a world where they’re getting only $1 in digital ad revenue for every $25 they lose in print ad revenue. The Village Voice seems in dire shape, and entertainment industry trades are fighting to stay relevant. Maybe they all need to look at Reddit.

3. The most interesting conversations in the wake of Amazon unveiling its new Kindles involve debates about Amazon’s stated strategy to go for slim profit margins on hardware and reap bigger rewards on the digital goods people purchase to use on that hardware, which is counter to the Apple model. Though early reviews of the new Kindles don’t indicate that it’s an iPad killer, some think Google should at least be worried.

4. The new Wii U console will be available in the US on November 18 (though don’t bother checking Amazon for a pre-order), in Europe a few weeks later, and in Japan in early December. Its price has proved to be controversial, though a price cut will likely come later, and we may even be treated to a console price war over the holidays.

5. Even with the profitability of music streaming still in question, Nokia has launched a free streaming music service for smartphones, and Apple has a streaming radio service in the works that would use your iTunes history to select songs. This would pose a challenge Pandora, which saw its stock plunge on the news. Meanwhile, Spotify is making some changes, with a browser-based version coming soon.

6. After 20 months of investigating and over a million warning letters sent, a French anti-piracy agency now has a conviction to point to under its “three strikes and you’re fined” law: $200 is the price to be paid for two pirated Rihanna songs. In the US, a music-sharer has seen her fine reimposed: $220,000 for 24 songs. And Pirate Bay’s co-founder has been arrested; the penalty he faces is a little bigger.

7. Film (as a format) is dying, with Fuji as the latest abandoner, and studios are trying to adapt, with Warner Bros. especially devoting considerable attention to developing digital media options. Warners hopes that its Flixster and UltraViolet combo will encourage people to buy movies rather than rent, and Fox has similar motivation behind its plans to release digital versions of films before disc versions. A new digital storefront could help UltraViolet, while Amazon Prime Instant Video has gotten a boost from a film deal with Epix.

8. The Telluride Film Festival  marked the start of Oscar bait season, and Ben Affleck’s Argo and the documentary The Gatekeepers left with the most buzz. Meanwhile, the frenzied Toronto International Film Festival saw very active sales, with Lionsgate being an especially aggressive buyer, while Sony Pictures Classics, The Gatekeepers’ distributor, was busy showing off its wares, and documentaries grabbed a lot of attention.

9. The acquisition of AMC theaters by Chinese mogul Dalian Wanda is officially complete, and Wanda is now eyeing other US entertainment purchases. Back in China, the film industry is booming, but tensions with Hollywood are increasing due to import restrictions. China at least wants some Hollywood imports, though, especially those films they’ve got product placements in.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: CBS Threatens Dish, Hurry-Up Problems, NBC is NBCU’s Priority, CBS Adjusts Schedule, Over-the-Top Increases, Netflix Good & Bad, Breaking Bad Story Sync, Colbert & Religion, No New Apple TV Products, Gilligan Interviews, Fall Schedule.


What Are You Missing? May 13-26 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/05/27/what-are-you-missing-may-13-26/ Sun, 27 May 2012 13:41:51 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=13139 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. As mobile devices spread ever more widely across the globe, the White House wants federal agencies to make information more readily accessible online and especially through mobile apps. (Anyone up for a game of Angry Senators?) Right now, President Obama dominates challenger Mitt Romney on Twitter, though Romney does well in swing state followers.

2. Bad news continues to emerge about Google+, but Google seems to be ignoring all that, or missing the point, and perhaps missed the boat in not buying Twitter. Google did buy Motorola, which puts it in the hardware business, and the company is experimenting with everything from mobile photography glasses to cars that drive themselves.

3. It was also a challenging fortnight for Facebook, what with the worst IPO of the decade, a $15 billion class action lawsuit over user tracking, and GM blowing off its advertising value. Facebook is now stuck in a tough place between users and revenue needs, and its whole base could be built on a fallacy.

4. The Cannes Palme d’Or is awarded tonight. Such accolades don’t necessarily translate into box office success, but based on buzz, you can at least expect to hear more in the coming months about The Paperboy, Killing Them Softly, Cosmopolis, Amour, and The Hunt. There’s also buzz for films that premiered promos at Cannes, including PT Anderson’s The Master and Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Overall, though, word is that the festival was a subdued affair in the end.

5. It’s yet to be seen what Chinese ownership of the AMC theater chain might bring, but the man leading the purchase is making a big bet that there’s still value in American theaters, even as he really has the global market in mind. And this could be a sign of more buyouts to come.

6. The latest symbols of the newspaper business in crisis are the vulnerability of the New York Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune making major cutbacks in print and talking vaguely about the digital future, three Alabama papers from the same owner cutting back to only three days a week, and the Denver Post showing that maybe copy-editors really are needed. Rich folks are still investing in papers, though, and some think fundamental ideological change is needed to save the form.

7. Not all magazine publishers are excited about the web, and one wonders where the concept of the controversial magazine cover goes after the death of print. Erotic books are enjoying a renaissance due to the privacy afforded by e-readers, which also have some DRM issues to work out.

8. A long-running illegal music downloading case will carry on for a bit longer after the Supreme Court declined to hear the defendant’s case. Meanwhile, in California, two men were sentenced to a year in jail for selling counterfeit CDs, while a case about pirated adult movies was dismissed due to uncertainty over IP address accuracy. And right-minded folk everywhere breathed a sigh of relief after Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” was restored to its proper place after a brief copyright takedown.

9. Spotify has added Aussies and New Zealanders to its roster of 20 million active users, and estimates of its value have reached $4 billion. Some think it’s Pandora that will truly change the music industry, though, and the increase in youth turning to internet radio bodes well for that.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: 10pm Drama Problem, Eurovision Host Issues, Girls Without TV, Auto Hop Lawsuits, Complete Season Ratings, Idol’s Drop, Simon’s Commencement Address, Season Winners, Women Writers & Pilots, Milch-Weiner-Gilligan Interview, Aereo Wins One, Dan Harmon Out, Upfronts Catchup.


What Are You Missing? April 15-28 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/04/29/what-are-you-missing-april-15-28/ Sun, 29 Apr 2012 14:37:54 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=12807 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The Cannes Film Festival lineup is out, with heavy representation of English-language films, and the jury is also set. Meanwhile, the Tribeca Film Festival has wrapped up, with jury award and audience award winners that include a film whose Cuban actors are now seeking asylum in Miami. But Robert Levin says the big impact from Tribeca will come from its new model of digital distribution via the Tribeca Online Film Festival. And Toronto wonders, can there be too many film festivals?

2. In film production tax credit news, a British tax credit system is credited with offering a big boost to indie films, California has passed a 5-year extension, and we wait to see if Ohio deems its tax credit scheme worth renewing. We’ll also wait to see if there’s anything to the suspicion that Hollywood studios bribed the Chinese to allow them access to the Chinese film market (a deal mentioned in a previous WAYM). The SEC should also investigate to see if Russians were bribed to go see John Carter.

3. More directors are clamoring to get their films on IMAX screens, while Martin Scorsese has fallen hard for 3D, but Peter Jackson is one-upping them all by going to 48 frames per second, and even though it apparently looks crappy, Jackson says there’s no stopping it now. Some think recent indie films haven’t looked crappy enough.

4. Howard Stern’s lawsuit against Sirius XM has been dismissed, but this may not be the last we hear of it. The British will get to hear more live music, thanks to new rules that will streamline the process for small venues to book live acts. And we could soon be hearing Spotify sound just like Pandora.

5. Nintendo is struggling, so much so that they’re making video game sales overall look bad, and it might even be time for Nintendo to sell, but Nintendo thinks the Wii U and especially the 3DS will save it, with a new digital distribution strategy also offering hope for growth.

6. YouTube’s video service has turned seven years old, and for its birthday, Germany wants to give it a massive music royalty bill and demand that it better police copyrighted content, though this could mostly boil down to a negotiating tactic. A group of Hollywood studios failed in their attempt to hold an Australian internet provider responsible for piracy, but Voltage Pictures just won’t quit until they chase down every last Hurt Locker pirate. And it remains to be seen if Hollywood will go after a 92-year-old shipping bootleg DVDs to American soldiers overseas.

7. Facebook has had a drop in ad revenue this year for the first time, but it apparently doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme. After all, Facebook is nearing one billion users, over half of whom visit daily, and makes about $1.21 from each user per quarter. And yet, with 58% of its user base female, Facebook somehow hasn’t found a woman to appoint to its board of directors.

8. Apple is killing it in China with iPhone sales, and, in a fascinating story, apparently iPads can only be made in China, not due to cheap labor but to rare earth elements, which China has almost exclusive control over. Meanwhile, Microsoft is looking like the anti-Apple in the smartphone market and the consumer technology arena, but it hopes it can be all China-like in controlling Windows apps on iPads.

9. Is a Facebook “like” protected free speech? Apparently not. Is a tweet yours to own? Apparently not. Is a Tumblr with ads still a Tumblr? We’ll find out starting May 2. Will we get the internet and be able to tweet about a Tumblr we like once we’re on Mars? Maybe.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: TV & Diversity, Media Use, Political Posting Imposed, Web’s Impact on TV, Hulu Partner Out, NEA Giveth & Taketh Away, David Simon’s Blog, More News Corp Trouble, Future of TV is Broadband, Assessing CNN, The CW Online Impact, Sunday DVR Slam, Girls & Race, Girls Coverage, Hulu’s Growth.


What Are You Missing? March 18-31 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2012/04/01/what-are-you-missing-march-18-31/ Sun, 01 Apr 2012 14:48:33 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=12565 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The MPAA’s 2011 Theatrical Market stats indicate that domestic movie theater attendance continues to decline and not even 3D is helping anymore. Only international attendance offers good news for studios. Theaters are getting desperate, and some are answering some spectators’ stated desire to use social media during screenings, even the Alamo Drafthouse (approved screenings only). And live theater is getting into the act by setting aside “tweet seats.”

2. DVD rentals are plunging, and internet movie consumption is about to pass DVD consumption, which is a problem for the studios because they don’t make as much money online as from DVD yet. Studios insist people still want discs (though different ones for rental and sales), and even though Netflix seems to want DVD to die off, it has just bought the DVD.com domain (perhaps for Rickrolling purposes).

3. Digital magazines are flying off the shelves…er, screens, though digital circulation is still only 1% of total magazine circulation. Unfortunately, some are reporting that magazines look terrible on the new iPad, but people will seemingly keep buying anyway. In the e-book realm, sales are surging, especially among young readers.

4. The RIAA reports that subscription music services are starting to rake in revenue, even as Spotify, whose valuation is growing, extends its free US usage. Indie bands are turning ever more to advertising to bring in revenue, and indie beers are seeking out indie bands. But Weird Al Yankovic is going the old-fashioned route: suing a music label for underpayment.

5. The next Xbox could be a stripped down version, which is interesting in light of the fact that Xboxs are apparently used more now as entertainment centers than game consoles. In terms of mobile gaming, our mobility doesn’t go much further than our beds, which means millions are playing Angry Birds Space before bedtime.

6. Racist tweets can land you in jail, profane tweets can get you kicked out of school, Chinese tweets can let you say more (poor Spaniards), and promoted tweets can make people leave Twitter. But movie tweets can’t really tell us much of anything.

7. The internet economy now constitutes 4.7% of the US economy, and growing, but a judge ruled that unpaid Huffington Post bloggers don’t deserve a cut of any of that. Bots, Democrats, Santorum searches, and stupid AOL sites are clearly vital to the internet economy, though.

8. Nielsen stats and many mobile ad execs say the smartphone race now comes down to Android vs. Apple, with Apple coming on especially strong lately, while RIM (Blackberry) is struggling. We’re increasingly using our smartphones, tablets, and computers on airplanes, leading some to call for the FAA to review its gadget policies. Just don’t leave your phone in the seat back pocket, or you’ll be just another statistic among those who lose $30 billion worth of smartphones each year.

9. Google and Twitter are running into potential censorship issues in the UK in regard to privacy, while thousands of BitTorrent clients are having their identities revealed thanks to a suit against an illegal UK porn site brought by Ben Dover Productions (I couldn’t resist adding that detail) and other porn producers. In less dirty (if not sanitary) UK video news, Charlie’s family has now banked $500,000 from the viral popularity of Charlie biting his brother’s finger (though when you consider that it’s the most viewed amateur video on YouTube in the site’s history, that doesn’t sound like that much).

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Olbermann Out, News Corp Accused of Sabotage, CBC Cuts, Premium Channel Revenue, Dodgers Bill, Cable Ratings Drop, Xbox Update, FX’s Risks, End Recaps, Variety For Sale, Smash Will Return, Aereo Likely to Lose, Network News Adds Viewers, Nielsen Measuring TV & Online.