ArtsWatch: Movies Going UltraViolet This Fall
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.
If dozens of participants in an international consortium have their way as announced July 20, consumers may be able to watch Ultraviolet in UltraViolet next year on any platform — PC, game console, smartphone, even cable video-on-demand. UltraViolet is a new content management system whose developers claim will give users a seamless experience with physical and digital content across all formats and electronics brands. Founded in 2008 as the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, DECE's new home is UVVU.com with a powerhouse group of multi-industry participants and beta tests of its cloud-based authentication service expected this fall. Movies will roll out first. The most notable opt-outs have been Apple and Disney, but success in the marketplace could bring holdouts onboard and lead to expanded services including e-books and music (the RIAA is already a member). DECE's premise has always been to allow multiple forms of digital rights management security to coexist, so a wide variety of platforms can determine if a consumer has rights to a title and then distributors can handle fulfillment with the leeway they need for their business' unique requirements. DECE President and Sony Pictures Entertainment CTO Mitch Singer said, "Our goal is to firmly establish UltraViolet as the symbol for digital entertainment — one that gives consumers the freedom of access wherever they are, the confidence of knowing how it will work and the broadest choice of content, stores and devices." Applying the metaphor of ultraviolet light to DRM, the goal is to have security be everywhere but invisible.
"There are no new simple answers" was the refrain given by Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel at a July 21 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on protecting U.S. intellectual property overseas. Representatives expressed impatience at the lack of simple plans to punish foreign countries for content piracy and counterfeiting within their borders — for example, by giving fewer visas to students from China. Espinel is coordinating the most comprehensive multi-agency effort in history to improve IP protection and has gained enthusiastic support from both content owners and high-tech advocates.
On July 14 the latest version of the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was posted online — the diplomatic negotiations are secret but proposed drafts of the ACTA treaty have regularly been leaked over the Internet. This latest version suggests that the United States is pushing for the option of strict enforcement against consumers but the European Union is resistant. ACTA has tremendous potential to harmonize antipiracy cooperation and set rules of the road for the relationship between law enforcement, content owners and Internet service providers. It has also served as the most conspicuous case-in-point that there are no new simple answers to prevent classified government documents from being posted online as free content.
Popular webcasting platform Ustream announced on July 16 the implementation of tougher copyright protection, including one video fingerprinting technology from Vobile already in use and an independent solution under development with BayTSP and TVAura. Ustream Founder Brad Hunstable said, "We are 100 percent committed to copyright protection and believe these tools will both support the ongoing needs of copyright holders and the user experience and safety of our community."
On July 19 Amazon.com announced that sales of its Kindle device increased each month during the second quarter of 2010. Amazon.com Founder/CEO Jeff Bezos said, "Even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books — astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months." Kindle e-book reading software is available as a free download for a wide variety of platforms.
Internet television guide Clicker released detailed statistics on July 13, surveying how much network primetime content (excluding NFL shows and games) became available online in the 2009–2010 season. Although a few shows were holdouts and most shows were only available for less than three weeks, approximately 90 percent of primetime programming — representing 4,420 full episodes from 127 shows — was made available over the Internet, legitimately authorized by rights holders.
On July 12 the Harry Fox Agency announced penny-per-stream mechanical licensing through its Songfile catalog portal, with licenses available up to a maximum of 10,000 streams per song. HFA Senior VP of Licensing, Collections and Business Affairs Maurice Russell said, "Religious organizations and educational institutions will benefit greatly from this new service. Interactive streaming licenses on Songfile will allow these markets and others to stream cover recordings easily and lawfully."
President Barack Obama signed the financial regulatory bill into law on July 21, putting an end to efforts to create commodity trading in movie futures. On July 15 when the bill passed the Senate, MPAA President/Interim CEO Bob Pisano said, "Speaking on behalf of a coalition that includes the Directors Guild of America, the Independent Film and Television Alliance, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Motion Picture Association of America and its member companies, and the National Association of Theatre Owners, I want to thank the Congress for approving this measure.... Congress has acted decisively to ban proposed trading in box office futures and to make important reforms in the country's financial regulatory system."