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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Copyright Royalty Judges Release Details on Royalties

If you need a nice 2 hour read on the inner workings of royalty proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Judges, read this.

In sum, it gives you a description of the history, the respective parties' positions on the subject, then the logic in establishing rates. If you're a musician, songwriter, or otherwise interested in the industry, give yourself a crash course and read up.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Bloggers Beware - Another Lawsuit Storm is Brewing

I have serious doubts this case will make it very far (particularly since there's apparently a cross-complaint against the plaintiff alleging the identical wrongful conduct), but you should still watch it. In substance, when bloggers, news sites, etc., use headlines and leaders from third party sites as their own link points, it's now being called Copyright Infringement. Now if that ain't a crock...

First, I think it's fair use.

Second, I think it's inconsistent with the entire news-linking-web system of practice.

Third, it doesn't displace traffic to the underlying sites, it pushes traffic to those sites.

Fourth, simply because the linking party generates revenue from this business model doesn't mean it's wrong.

Fifth, I seriously doubt that the company filing the lawsuit has never done what they're complaining about.

Sixty, they will lose this case if it goes to trial.

Keep watch, my people.

~ Brock

Obama Exempts YouTube from Collecting Data

Apparently there's a long-standing rule that the federal government can't collect e-data on people that visit the Whitehouse (or other federal agency) website. Obama's team made a teeny-weeny exception...YouTube (owned by Google) CAN collect data (via cookies) relating to videos used all over the Whitehouse site. That's a pretty interesting little kickback, isn't it?

Among contractual lawyers, we tend to use "directly or indirectly" language as a means to avoid a primary party saying, "I didn't do it," when they allow someone else to do whatever it is they're not supposed to do. So the federal government can't collect data, but it can let someone else- Google- do it. Hmmmmmm. Here's a quote from CNET:

While the White House might not be tracking visitors, the Google-owned video sharing site is free to use persistent cookies to track the browsing behavior of millions of visitors to Obama's home in cyberspace.
Now I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty powerful and important exemption. So on a purely objective level, I think it's pretty fishy.

But- and that's a HUGE BUT (ha ha)- I'm also a firm believer that our government should be at the cutting edge of technology usage, not years behind (as was recently reported). I doubt this little exemption directly relates to that goal, particularly since this isn't about a technical limitation. In the end, Obama so far is pushing the technology envelope in the Office and I hope he continues to do so.

~ Brock

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Cognac-Currant Cream Sauce

It's York's birthday, so I thought I'd bake him...I mean, Tammy wanted to bake him...a nice cake using some fresh currants I bought from Trader Joes and some Hennessy I have in the vault.

First, the chocolate cake. Because of timing, I needed to make a quick cake...something I could make with the ingredients on hand. I had a Pillsbury box of dark chocolate cake (which is great on its own), and chose that as my base.

My focus was on the sauce. Using currants as my focal point, I did the following:

1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup whipping cream
1/4 Cup butter
1/4 fresh currants
2 tsp cognac

I place everything in a small pot and heat on low for about 15 minutes. Then, I mass some of the berries with a wooden spoon...some whole, some crushed. Then I bring to a medium-high boil for 4 minutes (without stirring) and remove from heat.

Here is a quick shot of the sauce after I used some...a lot of the berries left because I strained most of the sauce into a baster and on top:

Once the cake is cooled, I used a turkey baster and infused some strained sauce throughout the cake. Then I drizzled sauce over the top, and spooned berries (from the sauce) about the top. Shake some powder sugar over it all and viola!

Enjoy yourself.

~ Brock

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Right Direction, Wrong Band

Hoobastank!? I hate to even say the word...horrible name and horrible band. But, I will say that they're at least progressive in allowing their fans to modify their music video. This is where things need to be...the 'remix culture.' I'm a fan of the culture and I believe it's a part of 2.0 (whatever that is).

Cheers to Boobastank, that sorry band that only stands out for its bad name.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Grilled Flank Steak Topped with Crispy Rum Onions with Spicy-Sweet Mashed Potatoes and Glazed Green Beans

Not exactly intended for long life, this meal is full of red meat, fat, starch, and rum. But, when counterbalanced by the green beans, it's practically fitting for a vegan (at least in my view).

Grilled Flank Steak:

Get your strip of steak out and slather olive oil
Grind up peppercorn, sea salt, cumin, coriander, garlic, and paprika into a fine powder. Coat your steak and rub it in with your fingers. Don't be shy on the amount of spices.
Let your steak come to "cool" temp, for maybe 1 hour out of the fridge. Heat your grill to high and cook 5 minutes on one side- flip and 4 minutes on the other. Take off the grill and don't cut it for at least 5 minutes.

Crispy Rum Onions:

Slice onion
1/4 cup rum
make a paste by adding cornstarch
add 1 tsp of baking powder
Mix onions in mixture well to coat. Drop in hot oil, turning often, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel

Spicy-Sweet Mashed Potatoes:

Boil large amount of water
skin 3 potatoes, cut into cubes, and drop in boiling water
skin 1 Asian pear, cut 1/2 into cubes and drop in boiling water
Boil over medium heat for 30 minutes. Drain.
Return to pot. Add 1/2 small carton of whipping cream, and 2-4 TSP horseradish. Use a potato masher, and mash those babies. Dollop some butter on top and return the lid. Keep warm. Stir before serving


Boil 1 Cup beef broth, add 1/2 sliced onion, and 1 TSP thyme. Reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 TSP flour. Stir well, breaking up clumps. When you're almost ready for it, heat it up to a thick gravy, then use it.


~ Brock

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wikinomics & The Tipping Point

I'm trying to catch up on some reading and these are the most recent: Wikinomics and The Tipping Point. For me, they were fascinating. At the core, Wikinomics is about the concept of crowd-sourcing...using people outside your further, better, or assist in your product/service development. It's a great read and interesting. The question left is if this is the way things are headed, is it true (as the writers suggest) that free will cannibalize value? Will Wikipedia put Encylopedia Brittanica out of business? If enough people are willing to do it for free, will there still be a market for businesses to flourish? These are the questions you'll be asking yourself.

As for the Tipping Point, the book in and of itself is really interesting. Aside from the topic, it is packed full of anecdotes, stories, and case studies. I found those as interesting as the core itself. For instance, everyone assumes Rudy Guilliani cleaned up NY. I've heard countless people say it. When you look closer, it started before he was in office. It started in the subway. His name is on 'clean & better' NY, but it was likely a wave he was able to ride. It's stuff like that.

Anyway, read them both. You'll be happy you did.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

YouTube Killing the Music

YouTube hits the kill switch on unauthorized audio. Sure, it's logical...someone posts a video with music that wasn't cleared. Not worth suing. Probably won't respond if a cease and desist is written (and there would be millions of those, wouldn't there). What's YouTube's option? Mute the audio. It works, I guess, but it's stupid.

Over the past 5 or 10 years, anyone and their grandma can be an artist. The sea of talent just got stocked with millions and millions of mutated fishy-musics-suckers. Now, the trick is to rise above the trash. How can you do that when your music is MUTED...MUTE...MUT...MU...M... .... you can't. If a video goes off, then people here the music too. If they were 'smart' enough to use a song that gets muted, then the artist, label and publisher lose the influence.

YouTube, if you're listening, please be smart. Find a solution that allows people to use music, keeps the labels quiet, and allows fans to discover.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 Experiences Growth, but Woxy Dominates

Wired reports triple digit growth for, an online radio property now owned by CBS. It's funny, because in such a sketchy economy and with such a grim outlook for the music industry, is triple digit growth really what matters? Whoopie! represents a switch from terrestrial to digital, but not a 20th century to the 21st century. It's nothing new for you. You can listen to the radio in your car. You can listen to the radio on your iPod. Is Internet radio that's the same as run-of-mill radio "cool"? Is it important? Relevant? Nope. Nope. And nope. Just 'cuz they got an "events" page, and a "video" page, doesn't make it any better. Burger King probably has videos.

Woxy represents the new era in radio. It's digital, of course. But that's just the surface layer. Peel back and you'll find that it's not run by the "machine." You won't hear top 10, top 40, top 100, or whatever conconction that Ryan Seacrest can come up with. You WILL find good music...interesting DJs...interesting commentary...tastemaking in progress.

Don't be a dope and sell your soul for digital alone. Look for more. Want more and Woxy will deliver.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is Singing Gone From Music?

I read a really interesting article about the lost art of singing. It's funny, because we hear so much music now, I don't think many people consider vocal ability in the same way we used to. I think back to bands like Journey, Dave Matthews Band, and others, and I always thought vocal ability factored in. I thought those guys had great voices. Maybe I was wrong, but at least I considered it.

Now I can't really say. When I scan through Billboard's top 200, can I say the majority of artists are "singers"? Who knows, because I'm not expert. But I will tell you this: the article got me thinking about it.

Music Should Spread Its Context...And It Is

The guy that created the Fox show, O.C., became associated with helping bring indie bands to broader audiences. Now he's making a bigger music moves by bringing more music content from the same types of bands to an online TV show, where their talent will be showcased longer and broader. I'll at least check it out.

If you're a musician and wondering where your next buck is going to fall from, keep in mind that it will be expanding opportunities like these. If you're wise about your musical career, you'll be shrewd about finding new opportunities to showcase your talent. You need to find fans, because now you're a smaller fish in a much larger sea, with many, many more fish around you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Slicethepie Might Save Labels? Might Save Itself! just dropped a nice piece about Slicethepie's new SoundOut webservice, to be popped on Wednesday. Apparently it will crowdsource not A&R, but A&R-type ratings of music. Think of it as a market-tester for your music.

Now the article goes on about how this could save labels from disaster because they have a 5% success rate. This new tool will enable labels to (ha ha ha ha)...test the market prior to signing/recording/releasing an artist. Let me tell you this: Labels have a 5% success rate for three reasons: 1) it's impossible for 1 person to predictably predict success on an ongoing basis across such a broad spectrum; 2) A&R people- those people historically responsible for selecting future "success" stories - are people that may have found 1 band 15 years ago, and in most cases are no more aware of what will be successful than any other monkey running around (Except for the one person I've met in the 'biz' who actually has a demonstrated sense for success across a broad spectrum: Larry Little); and 3) just because labels act as gatekeepers doesn't mean they should be (and the music-blogosphere demonstrates they no longer have any credibility in this arena anyway).

So like the TuneCores, CDBaby's, and similar services of years before, will this company uncover a star? Sure. And if you believe that, please submit your CD to me with a check for $50...for all we know, you might be a star ;). Otherwise, keep in mind that of TuneCore's purporteldy $10,000,000 payout in much of that money went to how many people and for how many songs? The average TuneCore user gets what? $2 per year? Yeah, there are sure to be artists rolling in high value on CDBaby and TuneCore, and I'm sure SoundOut will eventually be the platform for a future success story, but come on.

Like I've said in the past. The business model is pretty interesting, but let's get's not going to save the music industry or labels or anyone important. It's going to make investors in Slicethepie pretty happy that they can get 100,000 "labels" (cough.."indie" artists...cough) to each spend $50 on maybe 5 songs each- That's $25,000,000, baby. Now that's saving the music industry, one pocket at a time.

Enjoy your latte,


Real Estate Website Leverages Copyright Law

There's something interesting about gets people sued, and suing. As a lawyer, my joy is doubled. I can watch a movie or listen to a song, then think about the litigation behind exciting (cough..ha ha ha).

I just read about CoStar Realty which operates a proprietary website with real estate information. Apparently you can access their stash of info, photos, etc., for about $5,000 a year. [Note to self: start a website combining free information and charge ridiculous amounts of money in subscriptions...apparently there's a market for it.] Apparently some naughty kid accessed the data using someone else's login...shame on you.

So forget "
run-of-the-mill breach-of-contract and computer fraud
" claims...let's get smart. The music industry got some courts to determine that merely giving access to music (which was available illegally, and was- most certainly - going to be downloaded illegally) might constitute copyright infringement. Now the real estate industry is wiffing the $$$. It is, afterall, an economy in turmoil. New business models must emerge. Stupidity and entrepreneurialism may even merge.

This is a joke! Copyright law was never intended to work this angle. This is not a problem of "technology has changed and the Framers could not have envisioned..." This is about using the appropriate claim for the appropriate wrongful act. Just because you get tired of 'run-of-the-mill' claims, doesn't mean you should reach for the stars...or does it? If a judge let's that one in, it's another nail in the coffin.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Try Some Dim Sum

If you're in Rowland Heights or rolling down the 60 freeway and need a pit stop, try Happy Harbor Restaurant for Dim Sum. Good prices and good food.

Unlike your typical dim sum experience, here you order off a menu. They bring it to you hot lickety-split. Just in case all you know is BBQ buns and shao mai, here are a few things to try (entry level stuff here, so don't worry):

sticky rice in lotus leaves
baked shrimp
sticky yam
sweet tofu soup


~ Brock

Dupri Leaves the Island

Jermaine Dupri may have built Kris Kross, but he just got booted from Island Def Jam- even with the likes of Jackson (if you're nasty) and Maria. Keep it up with Tag, though, because I'm still curious to see how body spray and music change the world one spray at a time. Keep it fresh, Dupri!

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

What better way to deal with the issues of remixing and copyright law than an open-source, video project with contributions from great minds and great 'users' of copyrights. Enter "RiP: A Remix Manifesto." Forget, for a minute, whether you're on the copyright right or the copyright left- I want information. I want angles. I want perspectives, and you should too. This project is one of those, so watch it.

Girl Talk's Gregg Gillis is in deep. His band's last album had more than 300 samples, and it turns out he's becoming a poster child for the remix debacle. Read Wikinomics and you'll know why. There's a shift that's a long time in coming. A culture built on overt use and reuse. Collaboration. We'll get farther as a society, but at what cost...that's the real question.

Blu-Ray for your iPod?

Cross-pollination. Only so many solutions come from within an industry. Farmers have something to learn from Pharma, just like the auto industry learns from aerospace. Will the technology behind Blu-Ray enhance your MP3 experience? That should be the tip of the iceberg.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nico Stai Rocks the Rumble LA

I wasn't sure how they'd do...heard they had a huge guest list and "followers"...always an uncertain thing. Anyway, these guys tore it up. Convinced me that they're the real deal. Fresh sounds and a good mix across the four of 'em. Check them out: Nico Stai


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'd Like to Rumble

You can choose SF, or you can choose LA, or now you can choose NY! Future Sounds and Stranded In Stereo are teaming up for the inaugural New York Rumble on January 28. Don't worry if you can't make the flight...the LA Rumble will go off tomorrow night.

Oh, the RIAA will stop suing you too

In case you missed it, the RIAA is changing its methods for bolstering the music industry (at least that's what they claim). For now, the word is there will be no more individual downloading lawsuits. After a 5 year battle, I think statistics showed that the program did little to stop piracy. It probably increased. It certainly made everyone hate and disrespect the RIAA.

Kind of reminds me of that cop that writes tickets for talking on the cell phone in the car...just saw him talking on his.

The RIAA Begins to Come to Its Senses

The Wall Street Journal reported that the RIAA just dumped is mass-lawsuit-enabling girlfriend, MediaSentry. Remember the days when the RIAA filed 35,000 lawsuits against file traders? Well, the company we can all thank for providing data to the RIAA in its battle is now kicked to the curb.

Here's what I don't get. The RIAA is the record industry advocate. It's supposed to help the industry. How did it help? By suing its customers. That's got to be one of the stupidest business choices of all time. The Net Gen, as they're called, only become entrenched by digital opposition. If they're the 'golden market,' then why alienate them? I'll tell you why- the old guard. Better get someone under 40 to start making those types of time.

Well, it seems we're now onto better days and new discoveries for the music industry.

Apple to Scrap DRM and Allow Range Pricing on iTunes

You'd think that with so much forethought, it wouldn't have taken Apple so long to make this decision. Anyway, the New York Times reports that Apple is in discussions to make it so all songs on iTunes will be DRM (digital rights management) free. EMI's songs were already this way, but the other three major labels hadn't turned the corner. As for pricing, instead of the standard $.99, we'll start to see a range from $.69 to $1.29.

As the largest retailer of digital music, Apple locked everyone down for years- price and digital control. It's about time some flexibility infused the system.