July 2003

July 30, 2003

eBay Launches Music Downloading Auction Site

Overnight, Consumers Flock to Service in Record Numbers

San Jose, CA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 30 July 2003 -- In a stunning move that has other industry players immediately reconsidering their strategies, eBay, Inc. today announced the release of eBay Music, a new marketplace for music downloading. The service, which allows consumers to bid on rights to download any of over 18 million songs, has consumers cheering and competitors including Apple, eMusic, Real.com, and Roxio scratching their heads. The eBay Music site offers more songs than all of the other music download services combined.

"Today marks a turning point in the history of music," said Meg Whitman, eBay CEO. "With the launch of eBay Music, consumers finally have a way of acquiring all of the recorded music ever created, and artists now have a way to sell their creations directly to a global audience of over 65 million and counting."

After a year of secret development, eBay Music is launching as a new wave of post-Napster music services takes off. Earlier this year, Apple's iTunes Music Store grabbed the headlines with its slick, easy-to-use service offering some 300,000 songs for 99 cents each. Later this year, Roxio is launching a "legal" version of Napster, and MusicMatch has announced it too is launching a competitor music-downloading service. None offer anywhere near the number of songs of eBay, nor do they have the size and dominance of the web's largest marketplace.

About the eBay Music Service
eBay Music operates similarly to the rest of the eBay site, except consumers who "win" items can immediately download them rather than having to wait for a package to be shipped. Users can use the site by browsing artist names or genres, or by searching directly for an artist, song, album, or genre. Once an item is found, users can then place bids on the right to download a copy of the song.

Rather than charging a flat rate of 99 cents per download like Apple's iTunes Music Store, eBay Music is letting the market decide how to place a value on any artist's work. "We think the market is a lot smarter than the record industry, or even the artists," says Whitman. Within the eBay Music marketplace, songs by popular artists such as Eminem, Britney Spears, and Beyonce may actually be worth less than obscure independent artists who have yet to be commoditized.

A minimum bid is determined by the owner of the recording, in most but not all cases, a record company. The minimum bid may be 1 cent, 1 dollar, or 100 dollars. However, if the seller charges too high a price, no-one may buy it. Sellers may also use eBay's "Buy it Now" feature enabling buyers to skip the auction altogether and buy the item immediately. Unlike conventional eBay auctions, eBay Music auctions immediately start over as soon as anyone "wins", but the minimum bid price becomes the previous "win" price. Thus, prices may rise or fall as the market determines the true value of the song. "Songs that suck, even if performed by world-famous artists, are bound to stay cheap," says Whitman.

Potential Litigation from RIAA
Not surprisingly, the Recording Industry Assocation of America (RIAA) is up in arms over eBay's announcement. "They never consulted with us or got our permission," says Cary Sherman, the beleaguered president of RIAA. "What do they think they're doing, My.MP3.com all over again?"

Sherman vows to fight eBay's new venture with a slew of lawsuits.

"Bring 'em on," says Whitman, whose company has a market cap larger than all of the record companies combined plus General Motors.

Posted by denounce at 08:44 PM | Comments

July 25, 2003


Huge Compound Can Handle 3 Million File Sharing Suspects and Their Supporters

Mojave, CA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 25 July 2003 -- Citing lackluster results in its aggressive Subpoena-the-Family campaign, The Recording Industry Assocation of America, or RIAA, announced today it was escalating the war against music file sharing even higher by opening its massive detention facility in the high desert of Movaje, CA. The facility, designed to indefinitely detain up to three million people suspected of illegally or even legally sharing music files on the Internet, consumes 4,000 acres of the desert region some 70 miles north of Los Angeles.

"Our goal is to eliminate the threat these thieves represent to our industry," said RIAA President Cary Sherman. "We don't care if the person is eight, eighteen, or eighty or unaware of the law. If we catch 'em sharing files, we're sending them to jail. Not just any jail. Our jail. We don't even care if they're legally sharing their own personal music files with a family member. We don't care if they're simply transferring their own peronal music from their desktop machine to their iPod. If we catch 'em doing it, we'll be there to take them away. But let me be perfectly clear: even if we don't catch 'em doing it, we'll be there to take them away if we so much as suspect they're sharing files, or might like to one day."

Human rights advocates and the ACLU are criticizing both the RIAA for opening the facilily and the Justice Department for not stepping in to stop the RIAA from proceeding. "What the RIAA is doing is patently unconstitutional," said Anthony Romero, ACLU's Executive Director. "We will not stop until these people are freed and this facility is shut down forever."

"Try anything and we'll lock you up as well," countered Sherman, when asked about the threats of lawsuits from the ACLU. "We mean business. Anyone trying to free our detainees will be considered criminals as well, and will be sent to the facility with no plans for release."

Asked how the RIAA was able to afford to provide food, clothing, and medical care for up to three million detainees, he told reporters: "We can't. But hey, they knew the risks. We assume these criminals bring their own food, clothing, and medicine with them. They're on their own."

Children, parents, and the elderly are not the only ones being rounded up for incarceration at the facility. Several well-known industry figures are already being detained as well, including Ann Winblad, co-founder of a venture capital firm which invested heavily in Napster; Larry Lessig, a Stanford Law professor who was captured by RIAA stormtroopers right in the middle of a speech he was giving at a recent O'Reilly technology conference; and Michael Robertson, founder of MP3.com, who is not even active in the digital music world anymore, having gone off to launch a Linux software company. "Robertson we nailed just on general principles," said Sherman.

Ellen Murray, head of Mothers Against the RIAA (MARIAA), was herself captured and brought to the facility. "Murray was a target of opportunity," Sherman said. "Go up against us, go to jail."

Residents of Mojave and the surrounding area are also outraged, citing claims from the RIAA that opening of the facility would mean more jobs and economic activity for the area. So far, that hasn't happened, town officials argue. "We were sold a bill of goods, and the RIAA has let us down," said one official who refused to be identified for fear of being sent to the facility for criticizing the RIAA.

Asked about the legality, indeed the morality, of this new detention facility and the mass capture of music enthusiasts now underway, Sherman was unapologetic. "These are not nice people," he said. "Several have publicly stated here their intent to copy a music file before they leave Mojave. We will not give them that satisfaction."

See related RIAA articles in DENOUNCE:

Read the most recent DENOUNCE article:

Posted by denounce at 10:45 PM

July 23, 2003


Splinters Into 10 Competing Efforts

West Filabucket, CT /DenounceNewswire/ -- 23 July 2003 -- The project to design and deploy the "Friend of a Friend" social networking protocol, known by the acronym FOAF, has lost steam amid organizational infighting and competitive pressures. FOAF organizers expect the project to shut down or at least go on hold for the forseeable future.

The FOAF project was launched only a few months ago as a technology enabling computer enthusiasts to publicly share their personal network of friends and acquaintances. Envisioned as a way for people to publish personal information and relationships in a machine-readable standard format, the protocol showed promise initially but then lost ground when the elite A-list members of the blogging community could not agree on exactly what should be in the protocol and what should not.

"It sounded like a great idea," says Joi Ito, the popular jet-setting blogger and venture capitalist, "but I was uncomfortable with sharing my personal network with just anybody." Instead, Ito has launched the Joi Luck Club, or JLC for short, which anyone can apply for membership in by submitting their list of friends and explaining, in a ten-page essay, how their membership in JLC will benefit Joi Ito.

Dave Winer, a long-time software entrepreneur and pioneer in blogging, has also distanced himself from FOAF, instead launching SOD, or Supporters of Dave, a protocol for indicating to Winer who likes him and who doesn't. SOD is based in yet another new post-XML protocol, this one known as DRIB (Dave's RSS Is Best). DRIB was developed earlier this year by a group known as REEL (RSS Eats Echo's Lunch), a loose-knit group of programmers unhappy with the rise of Echo, a competitor to the RSS protocol upon which much of the blogging world is currently based.

Also splintering off from the FOAF project are LOAF (Loners Only, Absent Friends -- a group complaining that not everyone has friends and that FOAF is elitist); FOAM (Friend of a Machine -- a protocol for computer enthusiasts who don't like FOAF or LOAF, but have close working relationships with machines in lieu of human friends); FONO (Friends of No One, a group whose mission is to block all FOAF requests and treat them as spam); BOAF (Boss of a Friend, a protocol proposed by managers at various Silicon Valley companies); POAP (Phriend of a Phriend, a clone of FOAF specifically for Phish fans); FOKK (Friend of KottKe, meaning a person who claims to be a friend of renowned blogger Jason Kottke); FOBB (Friend of Boing Boing -- a group of bloggers claiming to be "in' with Cory Doctorow, Mark Frauenfelder, Xeni Jardin, and the other maintainers of the popular Boing Boing blog); and FOX (Friend of Xeni, a group dissatisfied with FOBB but still friendly with Xeni).

Posted by denounce at 10:48 PM

July 15, 2003


Foundation's Mission Is To Continue "Undermining The Efforts" of Mozilla.org and Netscape

Redmond, WA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 15 July 2003 -- Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced the creation of the "Internet Explorer Foundation", or IEF, a for-profit organization aimed at "undermining the efforts" of the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization coincidentally also founded and announced today. In addition to continuing to strengthen IE's market stranglehold through aggressive marketing and monopolistic practices, the IEF also aims to undertake what it calls "a major study" to document once and for all how the IE product managed to take over Netscape's dominant market position in the Internet browser wars seemingly overnight. "Having such knowledge," says Gates, "will help guide us in future product endeavors."

With a starting funding of $16 billion from Bill Gates, the IEF believes it has enough money to continue operations until the year 2525.

With the IEF announcement coming so shortly after AOL's recent but long-anticipated move to kill further Netscape and Mozilla browser development, Gates expressed thanks to AOL and pledged to "continue AOL's excellent work" at destroying Netscape's and Mozilla's chances of success in the marketplace. "Now that there's a well-funded Foundation to continue to keep an eye on Mozilla," Gates said, "we can rest assured that they'll never again have another chance to threaten Internet Explorer's position."

Posted by denounce at 10:49 PM

July 14, 2003


Citing How USENET Was Ruined When AOL Users Arrived, the Bill Argues AOL Users Not Sophisticated Enough to Be Bloggers

Washington, DC /DenounceNewswire/ -- 14 July 2003 -- Two members of Congress have unveiled a new bill that proposes to bar America Online from releasing blog, or web log, features to its 34 million members later this summer. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, announced today that the "Blogosphere Purity Act" would in effect ban America Online "from encouraging, facilitating, or otherwise supporting the creation of web logs, or blogs, among its users."

Citing years of complaints from non-AOL users who say AOL users are "clueless" and "unsophisticated," the bill documents how the worldwide USENET newsgroup service "went downhill and never recovered" once AOL users were given access.

Blog use has skyrocketed on the World Wide Web in the past year, and is poised to become a major new business on the Internet. Earlier this year, Google, Inc., purchased privately-held Pyra Labs, makers of the popular Blogger service, a transaction many Wall Street analysts believe is only the beginning of the commercialization of blogs.

AOL, cognizant of the controversy its foray into blogs has generated, is marketing its planned service as "AOL Journals" after its user community told the company they found the term "blog" confusing.

"These people find the word 'word' confusing," says Mort Renfro, president of Clueful Bloggers Against AOL, a Washington pressure group which has been lobbying Congress for six months. "Imagine how low the quality of conversation is going to go if AOL users start blogging all over the place!"

The CBAA organization has also proposed a replacement for RSS (known as the Really Simple Syndication protocol) called ASS (AOL-free Simple Syndication) and threatens to block any AOL-generated RSS feeds if AOL proceeds.

Another group, calling themselves ALBAA (A-List Bloggers Against AOL), has also come out against AOL's plans, citing fears that their fame and celebrity will decrease if the blogosphere grows any bigger. "These AOL bloggers won't even recognize our names," said one ALBAA member who requested not to be identified. "We've worked hard to climb to the top and we're not about to let 34 million bozos change that."

Other AOL-related stories on Denounce:
Posted by denounce at 10:51 PM

July 11, 2003


Two Seasoned Tech Rivals to Duke it Out Nightly on Fox

New York, NY /DenounceNewswire/ -- 11 July 2003 -- Fox News announces the launch of "Winer and Pilgrim", a new talk show focusing on arcane technical debates, obscure blog politics, and other pressing issues of the day.

"We're excited about this new program and the opportunity to embrace a new market segment, namely geeks and other technology misfits," said Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News. "Winer and Pilgrim is guaranteed to mesmerise, agitate, annoy, intrigue, and entertain night after night."

The hour-long program will air Friday nights at 10pm on the Fox News channel, "a day and time-slot we discovered is the best time to reach the most geeks at home," says Ailes. Topics already planned for the first week of the program will include the future of RSS feeds, fair use of copyright, Microsoft vs. Apple, and Google vs. Userland: Who Owns Blogs?.

At a press conference earlier today in New York, Dave Winer and Mark Pilgrim appeared ready to rumble in what turned into a shouting match the likes of which have not been seen since Mohammed Ali took on Joe Frazier in press briefings three decades ago.

"I'm excited about this show," says Dave Winer, who currently works at the Berkman Law Center at Harvard University, and is the founder of Userland Software. "I plan to fight the good fight and show this Pilgrim pudknocker a thing or two."

"Bring it on," says Mark Pilgrim, a web designer and programmer who operates the popular Dive Into Mark website. "Dave can say whatever he wants, and I'm gonna fact check his ass all along the way."

Fox, which gleefully awaits major advertising profits from the show, also announced today that it has plans for "Winer and Pilgrim" movie and book spin-off properties to appear later this year.

Posted by denounce at 10:53 PM

July 09, 2003


It's More Valuable Than Microsoft's Own Stock In the Long Run, Says Gates

Redmond, WA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 9 July 2003 -- Microsoft Corp. is overhauling its employee stock option program and instead will issue shares of eBay, Inc. to all of its employees as it acknowledges how the value and lure of its own options have plummeted in recent years. The new program, announced Tuesday, will commence in September.

"We took a long hard look at our industry, our market cap, and the road ahead," says Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, "and after considering a long list of alternatives, we've decided that the best way to lure new employees and keep our existing employees is to offer them considerable quantities of eBay stock."

eBay, Inc., the San Jose, CA leader in online auctions, has seen its stock double in the past year, to a recent close above $114. Wall Street analysts expect eBay stock to continue to climb for at least the next twenty-five years, at which point it will be more valuable than all other companies combined.

"We're delighted and quite frankly, truly flattered at Microsoft's endorsement of our long-term value," said Meg Whitman, eBay's CEO. "This is yet another strong validation of our strategy, vision, and focus."

For years, Microsoft used stock options to attract bright young people who were not yet savvy enough to understand Microsoft's true nature. By selling their souls to the company, hundreds if not thousands of Microsoft employees became millionaires.

But since the downturn in the stock market three years ago, Microsoft shares have dropped considerably, and the exercise price of stock options is now higher than the actual price of Microsoft stock, rendering the options worthless.

"We originally got the idea to give eBay stock to our employees after we noticed the huge number of employees selling their worthless option certificates on eBay," says Gates. "After speaking with the employees, we learned how much they respected and valued eBay, so one thing led to another and today we're announcing this program."

Whether or not Microsoft will acquire eBay, currently worth over $36 billion, is not known. Microsoft could buy eBay for cash and still have over $10 billion in reserves, Wall Street analysts pointed out.

Posted by denounce at 12:54 PM

July 03, 2003


Tired of Unavailable Netflix DVD Rentals, Customers Take Matters Into Their Own Hands By Creating a Peer-to-Peer DVD Sharing Service

San Helifino, CA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 3 July 2003 -- A group of Netflix, Inc. customers today announced the formation of the No More Long Waits Club, a rental service for Netflix customers who are tired of waiting for certain DVDs to become available for rental at the Netflix website.

"We're forming this group as a service to the Netflix customer community," said Jack Fogerty, president of the No More Long Waits Club (NMLWC). "There are simply too many titles that are listed as 'Long Wait' or 'Very Long Wait' and we don't want to wait, so we're taking matters into our own hands."

Rather than quit the Netflix service and go elsewhere, members of NMLWC decided to only address the 'Long Wait' problem by creating a workaround. "We love the Netflix service and only want the company to succeed," says Fogerty, "but we are too impatient to wait around for weeks or months for titles that are available down the street at Blockbuser and other local video rental stores."

The NMLWC service works as follows. Interested Netflix customers simply visit the the NMLWC website, where they register and pay a $30 security deposit which is refundable whenever the customer wishes to quit the service. Then, customers can search for titles which were listed as 'Long Wait' or 'Very Long Wait' back on their own Netflix Queue pages, find the title they're interested in, and click on the familiar Netflix-style 'rent' button. A small fee of 74 cents for postage to and from the customer is charged to the customer, and the DVD is then sent immediately to the customer, who has a week to watch the DVD and send it back to the NMLWC member who owns the disc. Each disc is owned by another NMLWC member. Once it's returned and deemed in good condition, the DVD is relisted on the NMLWC site as being available for rent to anyone else. If a title is unavailable for rent, the title is immediately added to a "buy list", which NMLWC members monitor regularly. Whenever a title appears on the buy list, an NMLWC member volunteers to go out and buy the title and then rent it out to other NMLWC members. New NMLWC members are encouraged to provide a list of DVDs they already own and are willing to share with other NMLWC members.

"It's a peer-to-peer DVD sharing service," says Fogerty. "We share our favorite movies with other NMLWC members, and now everybody's happy."

Netflix, Inc. had no comment.

Posted by denounce at 12:55 PM

July 01, 2003


Consumers Elated; Wall Street Thrilled, Stock Soars

Mountain View, CA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 1 July 2003 -- Yahoo, Inc., has re-listed Denounce Newswire, a site which in the past Yahoo had identified as a "Yahoo! Pick of the Day" as well as a site to which Yahoo had assigned the "cool" sunglasses icon, back in its online directory after a prolonged and unexplained disappearance.

Yahoo's new directory listing for Denounce Newswire, under the heading of Entertainment > Humor > Parody > News.

Reaction was swift and positive in the international web community. Cheers could be heard across the world as humanity breathed a sigh of relief that the long, dark De-listing of Denounce was finally over. In a prepared statement, the White House congratulated Yahoo in what it called "undoing a great wrong" and wished Denounce and Yahoo luck in the future.

Wall Street reacted positively to the news as well, sending YHOO shares up by 12% in the first ten minutes of trading this morning.

Yahoo's mention of Denounce on its What's New on Yahoo page

"We realize now we made a terrible mistake by removing Denounce from its well-earned positions on our 'Humor > Computers and Internet' and 'Humor > Parody > News' directory listings," said Terry Semel, Chairman and CEO of Yahoo, Inc. "We've identified the person who had caused the web community such harm by removing Denounce from the Yahoo directory, and, well, let's just say that person has been removed from the directory listing of Yahoo employees."

Semel went on to admit that Yahoo's favoring of SatireWire, a latecomer blatant rip-off of the one and only Denounce.com, was a wrongheaded and hurtful strategy, adding, "Had I been Chairman and CEO when Yahoo pulled Denounce and added SatireWire, well, let's just say, heads would have rolled." Interestingly, the creator of SatireWire eventually was overcome with such intense guilt over copying Denounce, that he stopped writing new material for the site in 2002.

Plans for parades, fireworks, and other civic celebrations are now underway in cities across the world as the news of Denounce's triumphant return to Yahoo's directory disseminates far and wide. Film rights for Denounce's life story have already been bought by a major Hollywood studio, and a VH1 "Behind the Browser" documentary begins production next week.

Asked to comment on this recent turn of events, the editor and publisher of Denounce.com said, in a prepared statement, "We welcome Yahoo back into the family of Denounce supporters. We look forward to a long and mutually-beneficial relationship with Yahoo, and we join the rest of the world in celebrating this tremendous day. We do expect, however, Yahoo to give us our cool sunglasses icon back ASAP or there'll be hell to pay."

Posted by denounce at 12:57 PM

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