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Archive for May, 2004

Personal Side of the Lawsuits

Thursday, May 27th, 2004

JAPAN IS SERIOUS about this stuff. On May 10th Isamu Kaneko, the developer of the popular Japanese filesharing client Winny, was arrested. By May 20th freekaneko.com had raised $100,000 for his defense. $100,000 in 10 days. Right now the defense fund (which just started accepting contributions from outside of Japan) is up to over $130,000. We’re impressed, and we wish him well.

Back at home, here’s an article about one family that’s been targeted by the major labels, and a reminder that there’s nothing at all reasonable about the RIAA lawsuit strategy.

Downhill Battle Labs

Monday, May 24th, 2004

Downhill Battle Labs

We’re up and running!

Monday, May 24th, 2004

Downhill Battle Labs is now public! This is the place where all of our behind-the-scenes software technology gets developed.

I’m the co-ordinator for this part of Downhill Battle. I’m the person to contact with questions about Battle Labs itself or organizational questions about projects. Bug reports should be made using the Source Forge bug trackers. Over the course of the coming weeks, we’ll be making more and more of our Labs projects public and setting up the infrastructure to make them easy for you to access.

Right now, our focus is on small projects that scratch an itch. We’re especially interested in tools that simplify existing tools/concepts that we think are useful and important, but too difficult to use. Existing shopping carts were too complicated, for the buyer and the seller, for people who just want to sell a few t-shirts and stickers, so we came up with Battle Cart. Bit Torrent is great for letting people without lots of bandwidth share large files, but it is complicated enough that novice users just won’t get the files, so we’re working on Battle Torrent.

No News Is Good News

Monday, May 24th, 2004

Downhill Battle Labs is new today. Look for rapid updates over the next few weeks.

Downhill Battle Labs

Monday, May 24th, 2004

OVER THE PAST FEW months, we’ve found ourselves working on more and more software projects that help us in the fight for a better music industry. There’s been some great work done by programmers who’ve signed up on our get involved page. But we want to take on even more projects and get even more people involved. So today, we are very pleased to present:

Downhill Battle Labs

Downhill Battle Labs brings everything into one place and we’ve got a great programmer and friend, Nick Nassar, who we’ve coaxed into managing our software endeavors– he is a huge boost for the Downhill Battle team and has been working very hard already (and we’ll be trying to raise some money so that he can continue to devote his time to this). We’ve got some solid projects that are very close to being finished and we’re diving into a whole bunch more. A lot of what we’re working on are things that are we need for downhillbattle.org, and we think that a lot of them will be useful for other organizations (everything is free and open-source, of course). A larger goal of the Labs is to build some momentum and bring together great coding talent to work on more ambitious software projects. Big plans, big plans.

Creating the Labs also represents the beginning of what we see as a second phase of Downhill Battle. We started from scratch in August 2003 and things have grown wildly fast since then. Up til now, we’ve been generally organized around single, big impact projects and events, and the response has been amazing. Now we’re ready to get more systematic, and if we can pull it off, we’ll be devastatingly effective. Downhill Battle Labs is starting this by organizing and accelerating our software projects, many of which, in turn, will help us get more people involved in more ways. We want every concert to have people flyering inside or outside, we want every newspaper to get letters to the editor about why the major label monopoly needs to end, and we want everyone who’s excited about fighting for a better music business to be able to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. There’s amazing enthusiasm, largely because people sense that things are ready to change– we just need to find ways to harness that energy. So we’re building, and building, and building.

Check out the new Downhill Battle Labs.

Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

I couldn’t resist posting a link to this funny song by Mr. Eric Idle, of England, about the FCC. It really quite says it all, I should think: The FCC Song

Big week

Saturday, May 22nd, 2004

It’s looking to be a big week at Downhill Battle, starting with the premier of Downhill Battle Labs, our new home for software and coding projects. It should be up on Sunday or Monday. We also have maybe 3 or 4 new projects that are pretty close to debut, so maybe one or two will be ready this week.

Screwed out of Royalties

Saturday, May 22nd, 2004

IT’S JUST THIS SIMPLE. Take a look at the chart on the left-hand side of this USA Today article. It’s another reminder of the unbelievable shakedown of musicians that is status quo in the music industry. There’s a tendency for everyone who’s interested in these issues– musicians, record labels, music fans, policy makers– to get so caught up in the details of how the music industry works, that they lose perspective on how thoroughly broken things are. There is absolutely no justification for a system that works like this. The only reason it persists is because the major labels have blocked competition from the outside while they’ve turned their lawyers and accountants against musicians on the inside. And the only way things will get better is if the public decides to stop keeping these companies alive.

P.S. On the chart, where is says “independent promotion”– that means payola. It’s supposed to be illegal. For more on artist royalties, check out Steve Albini’s famous article and then read The Reasons.

Update on pirate bill

Friday, May 21st, 2004

SO THE BILL WE MENTIONED on Wednesday never made it to the Senate floor, which buys us some time (until June 1, we’re told). The p2p companies and some ISPs are fighting this, and hopefully there can be something of a public interest voice as well– we really need some hearings. Thanks to everyone who called their Senators.

Senate Bills

Wednesday, May 19th, 2004

THERE’S SOME TALK that the RIAA and possibly the movie industry are trying to quickly push through legislation in the US Senate that would, among other things, use the Department of Justice to investigate and criminally prosecute filesharing. What a totally ridiculous idea. The only way the bill will actually pass is if there’s never a hearing or any debate on the floor, and that’s exactly what seems to be happening. The legislation left committee with no debate and could be passed as early as tonight with a voice vote in the Senate. But just one Senator could put a hold on the bill and demand some real debate. So, if you have a moment, please drop a line to your Senator and tell them you care about Senate bill S.2237. Find your Senator’s contact info here.