Business Matters: Could Deal Between ISPs and Entertainment Companies Be a Global Model?
Business Matters: Could Deal Between ISPs and Entertainment Companies Be a Global Model?

The Adam Smith Approach to Piracy: A Global Model?
-- The press releases were flying as trade groups and varied associations quickly came out in favor of the graduated response agreement between U.S. Internet service providers and the music, television and film industries. All the press releases were, of course, congratulatory, and some hit upon two of the key aspects surrounding the agreement: this is a market-driven solution that may be seized upon by other countries as an alternative to legislative action.

Europe has seen legislative intervention in France, Sweden and the U.K. South Korea has also implemented a graduated response law. But other countries may look to the U.S. deal as inspiration that similar market-driven solutions are possible.

"If ISPs can deliver in the USA, this should also be possible in Europe," said Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA (Europe's Independent Music Companies Association). "The European Commission has a vital role in brokering a similar agreement with European ISPs, whilst also ensuring an adequate legislative approach to tackle copyright infringement online."

Copyright Alliance executive director Sandra Aistars commended the "private industry coming together" to find a workable solution. Francis Moore, chief executive officer of the IFPI, sees the agreement as a signal to other countries and called it "the latest mark of recognition that ISP cooperation is the most effective way of addressing online piracy."

Independent trade group A2IM thanked the RIAA for leading the initiative. "We thank them for including A2IM members, and their artists, who wish to participate on a parity basis in the Copyright Alert Program, while still recognizing the different resources of our respective music label communities," the group said in its statement.

And there was a feeling the deal struck the right balance between rights holders' needs and the rights of Internet customers. "While it is too early to tell whether a graduated response policy will have any measurable effect on the unauthorized distribution of music files, the framework does seem to strike an appropriate balance between access to a crucial communications platform and the need to protect the rights of artists," said Future of Music Coalition Deputy Director Casey Rae-Hunter.

There was some skepticism in the online coverage, however. "It would be much easier to see 'education' focus as a principled stand by content owners if they hadn't spent years suing such end users, securing absurd multi-million dollar judgments in cases that they are still pursuing in court," wrote Nate Anderson at Ars Technica. But Anderson called the program both "pragmatic" and "fairly sane," and he noted that ISPs will not be required to disconnect infringers.

Rdio, Canada's TELUS' One Click Billing Agreement
-- Canadian telecom TELUS and music subscription service Rdio have reached an agreement that will allow TELUS customers to subscribe to Rdio through their existing TELUS account. The cost to consumers is the same with or without the direct, one-click billing. Rdio has a similar direct carrier billing arrangement with Verizon Wireless in the U.S.
( Press release)

The Apple App Store: Over 15 Billion Served
-- Apple announced Thursday that it has topped 15 billion app downloads by more than 200 million Apple device users in 90 countries. Exactly one month ago, Apple disclosed last month at its WWDC that 14 billion apps had been downloaded from its App Store. The math is easy: Apple users downloaded about 1 billion apps in a single month.

App developers have been paid over $2.5 billion to date (that's the latest figure from Apple, but it was the same back when Apple was saying it has moved 14 billion app downloads). Taking into consideration Apple's 30% cut of revenue, Apple must have grossed $8.33 billion in app revenue to date. The company has not specific how many of the 15 billion apps are either free or paid apps.
( Press release)

Europeans and Americans: Not So Different After All, Says Comscore

-- Judging from comScore's latest numbers for European Internet usage in May, Europeans and Americans have very similar browsing habits. Google sites, Microsoft sites and Facebook all rank high on the lists of top web properties. And U.S.-based video network Vevo fares well on both continents.

Google sites were visited by 333.4 million of the 366.9 million total Internet users in Europe. Microsoft sites were second with 270.9 million visitors and Facebook was third with 240 million visitors. In the U.S. Yahoo ranked first in May with 188.7 million out of 216.3 million unique visitors. Google also ranked second with 180 million visitors, Microsoft was third with 179.8 million and Facebook fourth with 157.2 million.

Music video service Vevo, which opened an office in the U.K. at the end of April, ranked ninth on Europe's list for unique visitors at 77.7 million and had 774 million page views and 11.8 minutes per user. In the U.S. Vevo was the 17th web property with 63.1 million unique viewers, according to comScore.
( Press release)

Not Enough Info-Graphics? USA Today Underwhelmed by y

-- Something other than unbridled praise for Spotify? Yes, it actually exists. USA Today tried out the service and had a few good things to day. But the reviewer cited a few major problems - one of them a "dealbreaker." An excerpt:

"Spotify's system for marking favorite songs and albums also needs some serious work. As it stands, all your favorite tracks appear in a single list, with no way to jump between artists or albums. If iTunes was laid out like this, it'd be unusable.

But the real deal-breaker for Spotify's mobile app is the lack of a radio function, which on other subscription music services lets you hear a random selection of songs by a single artist, or by related artists. For a service that's focused on discovering lots of new music, the absence of this feature is inexcusable."

In spite of these faults, the reviewer feels Spotify is worth using when the price is zero ("its free service is unparalleled"). However, the review recommended people interested in a premium level of service (presumably for the mobile apps) opt instead for MOG, a newer competitor, or Rhapsody, a fine product that mainstream American consumer have shunned for years.

A USA Today review of Spotify provides valuable insight. It better represents the opinion of the average America than the reviews of tech and music industry commentators. In fact, the paper claims 50% of its web site visitors are age 35 to 54 and 49% are either top or middle managers. For Spotify - or any service - to gain a foothold in the mainstream, it needs to meet the needs and expectations of a wide range of people. And some of those people probably read the USA Today.
(USA Today Techland blog)