ArtsWatch: Microsoft Calls, Nokia Answers

Nokia's Devices & Services business acquired by Microsoft as part of $7.2 billion deal
September 09, 2013 -- 7:10 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

Microsoft Buys Nokia's Smartphone Smarts
On Sept. 3 Microsoft and Nokia announced an acquisition and licensing deal valued at $7.2 billion, deepening the firms' corporate partnership and resulting in the transfer of the majority of Nokia's mobile phone operations and personnel to Microsoft. Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa referred to Microsoft's "determination to succeed in the mobile space," and this acquisition should put the company in a better position to do so while leaving Nokia well equipped to develop its independent lines of business. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, "In addition to their innovation and strength in phones at all price points, Nokia brings proven capability and talent in critical areas such as hardware design and engineering, supply-chain and manufacturing management, and hardware sales, marketing and distribution." Variety called attention to the remaining fact that Microsoft's future is now tied to providing consumers with digital entertainment, an area in which its Xbox gaming console is strong. Former Microsoft executive and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be returning Microsoft under the terms of the new deal, fueling speculation as to where he will land in the company's hierarchy following Ballmer's planned departure in about a year. Today's smartphone marketplace is dominated by the Apple and Google Android operating systems, but Microsoft may now be more competitively positioned with its own hardware platform.

Espinel Steps Up, Dotcom Steps Down
Former U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel started her new gig on Sept. 3 as president and CEO of BSA: The Software Alliance. As BSA has long led the struggle to gain recognition and respect for antipiracy efforts among the general public and law enforcement agencies, it is exciting to see it invigorated by Espinel's unique experience and international standing. On the opposite end of the antipiracy spectrum, The New Zealand Herald reported on Sept. 4 that former Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom resigned the directorship of his recently launched Mega cyberlocker service "to focus on the extradition case, an upcoming music website and to build a political party." Dotcom's gamesmanship reflects his special talent for finding the sketchy side of the line separating copyright infringement from legal uses of other people's content. Regardless of the trouble his activities have caused, Dotcom's continued evolution will likely be significant.

GEMA Scores Against RapidShare In Germany
Germany's Federal Court of Justice released its full verdict against RapidShare, first announced on Aug. 15, confirming that cyberlocker services must now monitor new activity on their networks if they are to avoid copyright infringement liability. In 2011 RapidShare shared top rank with the now-defunct Megaupload and Megavideo as major destinations for infringing Internet traffic. German rights society GEMA initiated the lawsuit in 2009 and RapidShare has since altered its business model, but this newly imposed legal liability will remain in place, changing the reality of doing business for similar Internet services. ISPs that promote file-sharing will need to either block German traffic, proactively monitor and filter their networks for infringing material, or remain liable in Germany for potentially sizable damages.

Russia's Internet Antipiracy Fines And Proposed New Fines
In late August Russian regulators obtained approval from the Supreme Arbitration Court to fine three Internet service providers $1,000 each for failing to log in to the country's new official blacklist of banned Internet sites. Separately, on Sept. 3 the State Duma lower legislative chamber approved a bill imposing new antipiracy fines including $150 for consumers and up to $30,000 for ISPs including search engines. In December 2012 Russia committed to an Intellectual Property Rights Action Plan that covered some of these changes, including a new antipiracy law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 2, allowing rightsholders to pursue an expedited process to add Web addresses to the official blacklist. The antipiracy law drew 100,000 signatures to an online petition last month — on a government-authorized petition website — requesting that the law be suspended or amended.

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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