No Doubt is suing Activision for the use of their likeness in the new game ‘Band Hero.’ First let me say how much I love No Doubt, and secondly, how much I dislike ‘Guitar Hero’ or ‘Rock Band’ or whatever other version of those games are out there. Fake instruments being played badly by people who can’t play the real thing and would probably be able to learn the real thing if they spent the same amount of time practicing as much as they did hitting the colored buttons. Sorry for the run-on sentence but, those games bother me more than they should. Most musicians I know who actually play guitar or drums have trouble playing those games because they are nothing like the real thing. Maybe that’s not even the point of the games but still.

Less tirade about the games and more on the lawsuit.  According to a statement from the band “No Doubt agreed to place avatars containing their names and likeness performing three No Doubt songs in the upcoming ‘Band Hero.’” Their problem lies in the fact that users will “have the ability to manipulate No Doubt members, both collectively and individually, into singing popular songs by other artists– something the band said the didn’t sign up for.”

The band claims that other songs are not ‘appropriate for No Doubt.’ Having Tony Kanal, the bands bassist, singing ‘Just a Girl’ or Gwen singing another bands song isn’t what they agreed to. The members of Nirvana had a similar complaint recently when Kurt Cobain was used as a manipulated character but Activision dismissed claims from Dave Grohl and Kris Novoselic because Courtney (head of Cobain’s estate) Love gave them permission. No Doubt however are in a better position to argue their case depending on the contract they signed.

It’s all muddy waters on image rights. What your image, or name, can be used for based on interpretations of contracts. I for one don’t want to see Kurt Cobain singing ‘Just a Girl’ anymore than I want to see Gwen singing ‘Rape Me.’ It’s all money to Activision and nothing to do with artists wishes, legacies, or respect. To me it just represents one more reason to avoid these games.

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Rumor: AT&T may finally announce iPhone tethering this week.

For those who don’t know what this is, essentially tethering allows you to hook up your iphone to your computer and use it as a wireless modem–surf the web, play games, etc. through your phone’s 3G/Edge/GPRS signal.  Question though is how much extra will this be?  

14-year old already (first) inline for Macworld 2009 keynote.  

Way to go This Kid.  Blogger, school-skipper, Marriott-sleepr, Mac user.  Hopefully there will be some exciting “booms” for his wait.

Microsoft backed Obama during the 2008 elections.

Surprising, though that still doesn’t mean they make good products.

Norwegian podcast puts entire Beatles catalog online legally.

Sweet!  I know what I’m doing tomorrow at work..

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RealNetworks has suspended selling the RealDVD software after Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of U.S. District Court in San Francisco temporarily barred the company from selling it. RealDVD is a program that allows users to copy DVDs onto the hard drives of their computers. The software has only been on sale for about a week and on the same day the product launched the legal fight began. In all, six major studios are suing the Seattle based company. This is not the first time RealNetworks has made waves in the industry, their Chief Executive Rob Glaser has danced with Steve Jobs and Microsoft, so taking on all of Hollywood would seem like the natural next move.

The Tuesday the product launched and the lawsuit was filed Glaser wrote “great products should not be bullied out of the market by people trying to misuse the law to suppress legitimate innovation.” So, what exactly does the law say? Well, for starters just pop in any DVD you have lying about and you’ll find out a pretty good interpretation:


DVD FBI Warning

DVD FBI Warning



“The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a find o $250,000.”

This isn’t a case where you have to capitalize on the copied product by selling a copy. The warning is clear, ANY unauthorized reproduction is illegal. Having “users [be] on the honor system” to not rent a movie from Blockbuster or Netflix, burn the DVD, and return it isn’t enough for Hollywood. While Glaser might consider there to be an alternative interpretation of that warning from the FBI, ‘The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998‘ tends to put any doubts to rest. While this product will certainly grab the attention of the film industry it could potentially set a precedent going forward as a way to clarify the law. Depending on the outcome it could either lead to RealNetworks stepping out of their recent slump within the industry or it could see them with a takeover offer to make this problem go away.

I for one hope the precedent is perfectly clear. The more ambiguous the law is in regards to digital copyright issues the harder it is to create solid foundations for future capitalist success. I fully support the film studios in this totally legitimate claim against RealNetworks. I’m tired of being the only person I know not willing to use BitTorrent, or something else to illegally download movies, music and computer software. While my friends and peers continue to take advantage of the film/music industry with no penalties I still harbor some sense of moral indignation for such actions. I don’t steal my music or my movies. In fact it pisses me off when people do. I’m obviously a huge supporter of future technologies and ways to provide content to consumers in easily accessible ways. There is no denying that big changes are coming to the music and film industry over the next 5-10 years. However, copying rented movies to personal hard drives is, to me, a clear violation of the laws as they stand now. As with most copyright laws I’ll be watching how this one plays out, they tend to be game-changers depending on the outcomes.

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Music DVDs seem to be all the rage these days, and every band must have at least one. Everyone loves the “behind the scenes” videos and clips of band members doing things that, were they not your favorite band, would otherwise be not funny and entirely stupid.

LiveDaily is reporting that Morrissey is bucking this trend and asking fans to boycott the “Morrissey Live at the Hollywood Bowl” DVD because it is in breach of contract. What I enjoy more however:

The singer also said the DVD is the work of cash-hounds, and the sleeve art is appalling.

I hate appalling sleeve art.

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The debate over whether or not “the U.S. gov’t may owe royalties on the song that has been blared over and over and over again to weaken detainee’s” at the Guantanamo Bay may finally have an answer, no. The song you might ask is none other than one of my all time favorites: David Gray’s hit from 2000, ‘Babylon.’ No matter how much I like the song, Gray agrees “that is nothing but torture.” He told the BBC: “That is nothing but torture. It doesn’t matter what the music is – it could be Tchaikovsky’s finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn’t matter, it’s going to drive you completely nuts.”A spokesman from Gray’s record label said that the company does not license to military bases. And, given the circumstances of the base itself it is unlikely that with ASCAP relying on the user of their content or third parties to pay the royalties, that they’ll be seeing any kind of compensation for all the times ‘Babylon’ has been blasted over their speakers (can you really blast that song anyway, what a strange choice?).

If you are curious to find out what it sounds like to be a prisoner at Gitmo just cover your head with a bag, handcuff yourself in your bathroom, turn the lights low and grab a copy of ‘White Ladder’ by David Gray.

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Here, in its entirety is the new album from Sigur Ros. Even though it’s a big departure from what you might be used to hearing from the Icelandic group this new sound does not disappoint.

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A quick congratulations to the boys of ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ on their #1 album ‘Narrow Stairs’.

Narrow Stairs

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Reuters reports that longtime U2 manager Paul McGuinness took ISPs to task to curb music stealing on the interwebs.  Interestingly he states that, “There’s a lot of money in the music business, but it has stopped coming to the artists.”  That’s interesting–I thought there’d always been a lot of money in the music business and most of it never made it to the artists.  He also compared ISPs to being like a magazine that lists stolen vehicles and watches the money being exchanged.  Peter Gabriel also added his support to Paul’s statement, and said ISPs should be beaten with a sledgehammer.

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Roman Polanski, Oscar Wilde, The Dixie Chicks, Elia Kazan. A child molester, a homosexual, liberal country singers, and a ‘namer of names’. The controversies that follow these artist and many like them can at times overshadow the great works of art they have created. Do we know more about Polanski’s indiscretion with a 13 year-old or his  Academy Award winning film ‘The Pianist’? Did ‘naming names’ hurt the career of Elia Kazan who went on to direct Marlon Brando in ‘On the Waterfront’ and James Dean in ‘East of Eden’? What of the 5 Grammy’s the politically charged Dixie Chicks won this past year or the immortality Wilde has achieved even after imprisonment for committing homosexual acts?

While technology advances and allows for the easier distribution of content some of that content can be overshadowed by the personal missteps that the creators of content can make. I mention this because today is Tuesday and when looking through the list of new dvd’s and cd’s coming out today one in particular caught my attention. ‘Blackout’ by Britney Spears. I haven’t heard any of the music off the album, although I did see her MTV “performance” a few weeks ago, but I have heard a great deal about her personal life. Drugs, divorce, custody battles, etc. For whatever it is worth Britney Spears has sold over 83 million records and has had incredible success despite any personal failings. It does seem though that talent and success aren’t as connected as they used to be.

Wilde and Kazan are standing up to the test of time and even though Kazan received a cold reception when accepting his Lifetime Achievement Oscar how will Polanski or the Dixie Chicks be remembered in years to come? For their wonderful art or will they move to the ever growing category of tabloid celebrities? We can only hope that when the content is greater than the sin of the creators the future will remain bright.

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The Seattle based online music service announced that they would be partnering up with Facebook and Billboard. The goal is to create another chart for Billboard that will display the top 25 songs that facebook users (with the iLike application) have added to their profile pages. They will also be setting up charts to show the top 25 songs that users are adding to their iPods and iTunes libraries. No word yet from myspace on the snub.


Facebook recently opened the door to 3rd party developers who can now be found on Google or Yahoo! now that the Application Directory and application “about” pages have been opened to non-users. This is good for the developers and of course facebook. Developers who create sweet applications have a greater potential to be discovered and this way facebook can get a band application up there and take away the common-man’s last reason to ever visit myspace.

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