ArtsWatch: Internet Gets Exponentially Bigger

Size of the possible Internet universe goes from billions to trillions
June 11, 2012 -- 6:16 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

On June 6 the Internet Society organized World IPv6 Launch to inaugurate the deployment of their new system for composing Internet addresses out of numbers, enabling all computers to find each other online. If this hasn't hit your radar screen then that shows the engineers are doing their job well. IPv4 addresses are closing in on their maximum of 1 billion addresses. IPv6 supplies an astronomically larger capacity for trillions more so the Internet will still have plenty of room to keep growing. The domain names users see — for example, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube — get converted into numerical IP addresses behind the scenes. Popular websites such as those already mentioned are participating in World IPv6 Day along with ISPs AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and other types of vendors including Akamai and Cisco. Cnet News reported, "The World IPv6 Launch might look from the outside like a PR stunt designed to drum up enthusiasm for the new Internet technology, and there's an element of that to it. But given that real IPv6 services are now available from major sites, there's deeper substance, too." Aside from tech-minded features such as better efficiency and security, IPv6 provides the foundation for routine communication between any consumer Internet devices. Now that gobs of our gizmos will be able to find each other and play together, this could begin a new entertainment era once innovators explore the experiences they can create composing for orchestras of different devices that work together and communicate. Separately, on June 13 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is expected to announce the applications it has received for new generic top-level domain names, including candidates for the upcoming expansion of dot suffixes that Internet consumers use routinely, such as .com or .org.

The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on "The Future of Audio" on June 6. The diverse panel represented the chain from musical conception to listener.

  • Opening the hearing, subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said, "Today's audio market is certainly not boring. I was a radio broadcaster for more than 20 years, and I barely recognize the industry anymore. ... One thing is certain — experimentation will be critical as new technologies challenge existing business models."
  • Listing several examples of how today's recording industry has already evolved, RIAA Chairman/CEO Cary Sherman said, "The bottom line is that the music industry today has transformed how it does business. ... Digital is not just our future, it is our present. ... But in the end, what gives us hope and optimism is that music matters, perhaps now more than ever. Music is often the hub of your smart phone experience, it is the backbone and soundtrack to many TV shows, it is the focal point of conversation in social media. Of the top 10 most-followed people on Twitter, seven are music artists. Of the top six videos on YouTube, five are music. Music remains a centrifugal force in culture and commerce, and it's only going to get stronger. It's worth creating, and it's worth protecting."
  • Recording Academy New York Chapter Governor and bassist/composer Ben Allison has been described as "the only artist invited to testify." Although delighted by the easy access part-time musicians now have to consumers, Allison said, "We must not allow the market to make music a non-profession. ... Each one of my fellow panelists here has a role in connecting the music creator to the fan. But they'll have no business if there's no great music. ... In this regard, the future of audio is the same as the past: it is dependent on the creator."

Other panelists included National Music Publishers Association President and CEO David M. Israelite, Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro, Pandora founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren, and representatives of the National Association of Broadcasters and wireless telecommunications industry. Broadcasters emphasized the continuing relevance of radio in today's marketplace, including the need to conserve spectrum and provide an alternative channel suited for emergencies. Many commented on the relevance of the Clear Channel royalty deal with Big Machine Label Group that hit the news the day before — an example of progress made through voluntary agreement in the private sector — but the entire hearing as well as the timing of that news were compelling evidence of legislators' important role.

On June 5 YouTube announced a slew of publishers' agreements to participate in the site's Content ID monetization program, another example of progress achieved in the private sector that was announced right before the subcommittee hearing. YouTube Music Head of Strategic Partner Development Elizabeth Moody said, "Today we're happy to share that we've reached publishing deals with BMG Rights Management, Christian Copyright Solutions, ABKCO Music Inc., Songs Music Publishing, Words & Music, Copyright Administration, Music Services, Reservoir Media Management, and Songs of Virtual. ... These publishers represent works from artists like Adele, Cee Lo Green, Foo Fighters, the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, and many others. ... These new deals, along with the licenses from the many publishers who have opted in to last year's deal with the NMPA/Harry Fox Agency, will allow us to monetize nearly all of the user-generated videos with music on YouTube."

The Pirate Bay used its blog to taunt RIAA's Cary Sherman after the June 6 subcommittee hearing. Referring to Sherman's hope that search engines will agree to avoid linking consumers to foreign rogue websites, TPB said, "Right now about 10 percent of our traffic comes from these competing search engines. With that ban in place that means that our traffic numbers probably will increase. Users will go directly to us instead and use our search instead. We'll grow even more massive. ... For once, we support your efforts in something!"

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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