Sony Music Revenues Up
— Sony Music Entertainment revenue increased 7% to $1.35 billion in the quarter ended June 30, although the company’s earnings release shows a 0.6% decline in yen-denominated revenue due to the currency’s appreciation against the dollar. SME’s revenue in the previous three quarters were $1.29 billion, $1.73 billion (a larger number because it was the fourth quarter of 2010) and $1.34 billion.
Operating income rose 61% to 12.1 billion yes (US $149 million) due to strong performances by key releases and, to a lesser degree, “a favorable legal settlement concerning copyright infringement,” according to the earnings release. The latter appears to be Sony’s share of the $105 million out-of-court settlement the RIAA reached with file-sharing company LimeWire in May.
Parent company Sony Corp posted a $199 million loss in the quarter – due in part to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March. It also lowered its profit forecast for the current fiscal year (ended March 31, 2012) to $769 million from $1 billion.
UK Court Orders ISP to Block Web Site
— The UK media is quite abuzz over a court decision that forces the ISP BT to block access to the web site Newzbin 2, a members-only site that contains illegal content posted to Usenet forums. The case was brought against BT by the Motion Picture Association of America. BT will not appeal the ruling, according to a BBC report.
The judge found that BT is compelled by a section of the Copyright Act to take direct action. “In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newzbin 2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of [movie] studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
The BBC article – and many others – merit an important clarification: This is the first time a UK judge has ordered a UK ISP to block access to a web site known to be used for piracy. But it has happened elsewhere. In 2008, a Danish court ordered Danish ISP Tele2 to block access to The Pirate Bay. The following year, a Dutch court ordered Dutch ISP Ziggo to block access to The Pirate Bay. A court ruled the following year Ziggo did not have to block the site, however. In May, an Austrian anti-piracy group was granted a preliminary injunction against an Austrian ISP to block access to streaming video site Kino.to. In addition, courts have ordered ISPs to block some gambling sites in France.
These courts’ decisions should help fill the holes in some anti-piracy efforts. Not only does Usenet not use a P2P system – the target of a typical graduated response efforts – but it uses SSL encryption to keep private the actions of its users. As the Newzbin site boasts, “Your ISP and the government can’t do deep packet inspection on your Internet connection to see what you are doing.”
But getting ISPs to block access to certain sites, although it requires quite a bit of legal effort, is one viable way to deal with online storage lockers, illegal streaming sites and other sites that would not be caught in a sweep of P2P traffic. As the case of Newzbin 2 shows, the value of deep packet inspection is a moot point when an ISP has been ordered not to connect its subscribers in the first place.
Time Out: Ticket Monger or Groupon With Reviews?
— The owner of events publisher Time Out wants to turn its online sites into a “Ticketmaster with reviews” to sell bookings for hotels, restaurants and travel. The founder of Oakley Capital Investments, which bought a majority stake in Time Out earlier this year, told Bloomberg that Time Out is expanding from 25 to 50 cities and adding mobile phone applications in addition to pursuing e-commerce.
But Live Nation investors, who showed some concern when the news hit Wednesday, don’t have any reason to worry. Time Out is entering the daily deal market, not event ticketing, and shows no indication it will secure contracts with venues as would be required of a traditional ticketing company. So it would have been more appropriate to refer to Time Out as a “Groupon with reviews.”
Google Streamlines DMCA Takedowns
— Google has added a couple improvements to the DMCA takedown process for the blog publishing platform Blogger. Rights holders who send through a high volume of takedown submissions will experience a streamlined system that Google says will reduce the average response time to less than 24 hours (although one person says that’s not the case just yet). Google has also streamlined the counter-notice tools for bloggers who believe they were unfairly targeted.
( Blogger Buzz, via Plagiarism Today)