iTunes schmiTunes

June 29th, 2005

Apparently the iTunes podcasting support is neither “all that” nor “a bag of chips.” For starters, so many new people found and downloaded the Little Gray Books podcast that our web host shut us down for the day. I know! And the same thing seems to have happened to a few other podcasts too. It’s a shame that the iTunes store doesn’t include support for Bit Torrent – of course it may never, because you-know-which organization (initials are RIAA) is a hulking, stinky, litigious monster, and even though Bit Torrent isn’t illegal as a technology, it sure does “induce” people to infringe on copyright. Meesa people gonna get sued.

And not everybody’s jazzed about the functionality or the mainstreamification of podcasting that ITMS brings. The Wizards of Technology had an interesting discussion about it with the makers of iPodderX in their most recent podcast. Seems that some rss details aren’t getting picked up right. And it also seems that the top 100 podcasts list on ITMS includes a lot of corporate stuff (some kind of deal with Disney) and not so much the indie-type shows. Is this the beginning of the end of free, amateur-produced podcasts?

All in all, I still think this is good for podcasting, even for us indies. It’s fun doing it for free, but you can’t really make a living that way. Just like blogging, podcasting is going to become one of the many ways we all get information and entertainment – just another medium. And some of it may cost money, and some of it will be done by companies instead of individuals, and that’s just the way it is. You’ll still be able to listen to what you want ,when you want, where you want (er, at least until they add DRM to everything).

Just, please lord, make sure Adam Curry’s OK.

Podcasting Mainstreamed!

June 28th, 2005

Version 4.9 of iTunes now supports podcasts. I installed it today and had a look, and as expected they did a pretty good job. It’s integrated nicely into the iTunes store, so you can search for, download and listen to podcasts the same way you do songs. This is going to be interesting for the makers of current podcast managing software like iPodder and iPodderX because they now have to compete with free software from Apple. Gulp.

This also means that all of you people who have been afraid of the spooky spooky podcasting can now relax. Just pretend they’re mp3s (because they are) and that you can get them easily and freely in iTunes (because you can). You should really check out a few if you haven’t before, it’s all very exciting and indie and change-the-world-in-a-tiny-way. Also, be sure you search for and subscribe to the Little Gray Books podcast. I swear to God we’re going to do more of them.

Grokster Decision

June 27th, 2005

Before I begin, I will say that I haven’t read the decision (too boring) and I am not a lawyer (too hard). Nonetheless, here is What I Think About This:

With a strange little sidestepping head fake, the supreme court has today ruled that makers of P2P software may be held liable for their users’ copyright infringement activities if the software was created with the intent of inducing users to infringe. Yipes. I think everyone expected them to uphold the old Sony Betamax decision that technology that had some infringing uses was OK as long as it had substantial non-infringing uses, and in fact the lower courts had used this as a precendent to rule in favor of Grokster and pals. But they pirouetted neatly around it by saying that it’s not about the technology, it’s about the intent and the business model and the marketing.

I’m kind of torn about this decision. While I do think it’s maybe not so good for a company to promote their software as a means to obtain free copyrighted material, this decision clearly makes it much scarier to make P2P software, even if you have completely non-infringing uses in mind. It’s just one more way you can get sued when you create innovative technology, and that’s probably bad for everyone. A decent, but certainly biased summary of this case can be read here at EFF.org.

Legal P2P

June 24th, 2005

Well, kind of. From the AP via Slashdot, this article about the emergence of authorized P2P sites. PeerImpact is one that’s already in beta – it’s sort of the bastard child of the iTunes store and say, Limewire. You’re still buying songs and the money still goes to the store, and you’re still limited in how you use the songs you buy (cursed DRM!), but now you’re getting the files from other users in the network. It’s file sharing without the “sharing” part. File buying maybe, which doesn’t really sound as sexy. PeerImpact has the added wrinkle that you actually earn Chuck E. Cheese Bucks (or whatever) every time someone gets a song from you, and you can use these Chuck E. Cheese Bucks to buy music for yourself. Now everybody can be in marketing.

We’ll see if people go for it. I personally would guess that there’s not enough new stuff here to significantly divert people from other established online music stores. Who cares where the file comes from? You’re still just buying WMA files that won’t play on your iPod (whoops). But it does show that the RIAA understands that P2P is here to stay, and that it recognizes that there’s a financial benefit to allowing users to share content with each other. Turns out these RIAA people are actually quite reasonable when they’re not suing 13-year-olds and dog-food-eating grandmas with broken hips.

One More Score

June 23rd, 2005

Hey, that was fast. Here’s an mp3 of our live performance from Little Gray Books Lecture #31: How to Commit the Perfect Crime. Music by me, lyrics by me and Adam Stein. In a related story, I have decided that I can no longer stand to listen to live recordings of me singing or playing the guitar.

Did I mention the teddy bear was filled with diamonds?