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Old 01-06-22, 06:53 AM   #1
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Default Peer-To-Peer News - The Week In Review - June 4th, 22

Since 2002

"Texas’s HB 20 is a constitutional trainwreck." – Chris Marchese

June 4th, 2022

Netflix’s Password-Sharing Test in Peru is Confusing Subscribers, Report Suggests
Lauren Forristal

It’s been a bumpy ride for Netflix recently, and the announcement that it will be charging for password sharing hasn’t gone as smoothly as it might have hoped, a new report claims. Subscribers in Peru who were opted in to new password-sharing restrictions have reported confusion over Netflix’s loose definition of “household” and noted the lack of clarity around the differing charges imposed on consumers.

Global tech news site Rest of World informally surveyed more than a dozen Netflix users in Peru, after Netflix’s March announcement that it would be asking customers in the country — as well as in Chile and Costa Rica — to pay extra when sharing their account passwords outside their homes. Central and South America represent Netflix’s lowest revenue per user, which helps to explain the markets’ selection.

The majority of those surveyed by Rest of World in Peru said that they have still not received uniform messaging around the new charges, even though it’s been over two months after the policy was first announced. Some subscribers experienced the price increase and then canceled their Netflix accounts as a result. But others who ignored the message about the new policy were able to share their accounts across households without an extra charge, they claimed.

An anonymous Netflix customer service representative reportedly told Rest of World that if a customer called in to argue that a member of their immediate household was using the account from a different location, the rep was instructed to tell them that person could continue to use the account via a verification code without experiencing an extra charge. This basically meant those who called in for support could ignore the new policy and continue to share the subscription without repercussions. The rep said members of their team were often confused about the policy as well. In a statement to the outlet, the company said that the rollout has been “progressive.”

A Netflix spokesperson told TechCrunch, “While we started working on paid sharing over 18 months ago, we have been clear for five years that ‘A Netflix account is for people who live together in a single household‘. The millions of members who are actively sharing an account in these countries have been notified by email, but given the importance of this change, we are ramping up in-product notifications more slowly. We’re pleased with the response to date.”

According to Statista, in 2021, Netflix generated approximately US$3.58 billion in revenue with its operations across Latin America. The figure accounts for around 13.4% of Netflix’s global revenue that year, which in total amounted to approximately $30 billion.

In Peru, two additional people using a subscriber’s account but living in another apartment, city or country are charged 7.9 soles (about $2.99) per month each. This option is cheaper than creating new Netflix accounts, as Peruvian subscribers pay 24.90 soles (around $6.80) for a basic plan.

While Netflix has long had a policy against sharing passwords, it was never heavily enforced. In fact, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has previously said that it was a good thing.

However, after the particularly harsh Q1 2022 that saw Netflix’s first drop in overall subscribers since 2011, the streaming giant has made it clear that it will charge extra for those that split a subscription across multiple addresses. Approximately 33% of Netflix subscriptions are shared in multiple households, per Leichtman Research Group. Netflix confirmed this in its recent earnings report by saying approximately 100 million households have freeloaders logged in to the streaming service account.

Analysts predict that Netflix subscriber growth has peaked, and the company seems to have hit a ceiling of 220 million subscribers. In addition, the streamer has laid off around 150 workers after losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter.

Given the confusion around early adopters’ firsthand experience with the new feature, Netflix will likely need to revise the password-sharing system before launching it worldwide. The company intends to extend the rollout at the end of 2022, in tandem with the launch of a cheaper ad-supported tier.

Can Paramount Go It Alone?

The dominance of Netflix and Disney in streaming has forced many companies to join forces. So far, Paramount has gone its own way.
Benjamin Mullin

In January, the board of Paramount, including Shari Redstone, the company’s chair, met with a group of bankers to get an update on the media industry and to hear about potential deals that might help the company better compete with streaming giants like Netflix and Disney.

The bankers, from Goldman Sachs and LionTree, came with many deal ideas, according to four people with knowledge of the meeting. The most logical one, the bankers said, was combining some parts of Paramount — which owns networks like Nickelodeon and MTV, and the Paramount+ streaming service — with those owned by Comcast, the cable giant that owns NBCUniversal and the Peacock streaming service. The two companies already have a streaming joint venture in Europe.

But in the end, the board, Ms. Redstone and Bob Bakish, the company’s chief executive, did not feel compelled to pursue any of the combinations. They would continue to zig while Hollywood zagged.

That is, Paramount — with its collection of streaming services including Pluto TV and Showtime in addition to Paramount+ — would keep going it alone.

The fast rise of streaming has reshaped the media industry in just a few years as companies have felt pressure to spend billions on new TV shows and movies to attract enough subscribers to compete with the industry’s giants. MGM, the famed movie studio, sold to Amazon. And Discovery combined with WarnerMedia, the film and TV giant behind “Game of Thrones” and “Succession.”

Not Paramount. Since the company was created from the merger of Viacom and CBS three years ago, it hasn’t sought another big deal. Instead, the company has been trying to build its own profitable streaming business before the flow of cash from traditional TV, still its big moneymaker, runs dry.

In interviews, both Ms. Redstone and Mr. Bakish said that Paramount, with its global footprint, its streaming businesses and the movie studio behind the new hit film “Top Gun: Maverick,” would have success on its own terms.

“In many respects we continue to be the underdog, and that’s OK,” Mr. Bakish said. “But I think as time goes on, people will continue to increasingly see that Paramount is powerful.”

Ms. Redstone and Mr. Bakish still have to persuade much of Wall Street. In the years since Ms. Redstone championed the effort to unite the two halves of her family’s media empire — Viacom and CBS — to form Paramount, the value of the combined company has fallen significantly. The day the merger was announced, in August 2019, Wall Street valued both companies at $29.6 billion. Today, Paramount is worth $22.1 billion, a 25 percent decline. The share prices of Paramount’s competitors, including Disney and Netflix, have also declined over the same period.

Rich Greenfield, a co-founder and analyst at LightShed Partners, a research firm, is skeptical that Paramount can survive on its own. Paramount’s streaming business is growing quickly, but it’s still not profitable, Mr. Greenfield said. And much of the audience for Paramount’s signature content — think MTV and Nickelodeon — has shifted to new-media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who believes that in five years, this company won’t either have bought other things or become part of something larger,” Mr. Greenfield said. “It’s eat or be eaten time.”

In recent weeks, Wall Street has put a sharper focus on the profitability of streaming businesses. Netflix said in April that it lost streaming subscribers in the first quarter of the year, reversing a decade of growth and causing its stock to tumble. Mr. Bakish said that competitors like Netflix — which he cheekily calls “legacy streamers” — are only now coming around to the importance of the revenue strategies Paramount has embraced for years, including advertising.

The box office, another traditional business largely eschewed by Netflix, is another example, Mr. Bakish said. “Top Gun: Maverick,” is on pace to generate $150 million in ticket sales during its opening weekend, but, in an exception to most movies produced by the studio, it won’t appear on Paramount+ within the typical 45-day window.

Still, some experts think Paramount’s strategy is sound. Brett Feldman, an analyst for Goldman Sachs, said that the global market for streaming subscribers is far bigger than the audience for pay-TV subscribers. Paramount+ added 6.8 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. Mr. Feldman is in the minority of analysts who have a “buy” on Paramount.

“Not everybody pays for cable, especially outside the U.S.,” Mr. Feldman said. “Most people have an internet connection or cellphone to stream video.”

Paramount got a recent vote of confidence this month from Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company run by the billionaire Warren Buffett. Berkshire Hathaway said in a filing that it had amassed a $2.6 billion stake in Paramount. Berkshire Hathaway did not explain its rationale for investing in Paramount, and the company declined to grant an interview to The Times. But the news caused Paramount’s shares to spike 15 percent.

Ms. Redstone said Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in Paramount took her by surprise. She got the news hours after it had become public.

“I was out to dinner and the person said to me, ‘What do you think of Buffet’s investment?’” Ms. Redstone said. “And I was like, ‘What?’”

Paramount’s ultimate fate will most likely be determined by Ms. Redstone, who emerged victorious in 2018 from a bitter legal fight with Les Moonves, then the chief executive of CBS, to keep control of the entertainment assets her family had owned for decades. Like her father, the shrewd and bellicose lawyer-turned-mogul Sumner Redstone, Ms. Redstone controls Paramount through National Amusements, a holding company she runs that owns voting stock in the company.

Whereas Mr. Redstone was known for cantankerous and impulsive decisions — he once threatened to sever Paramount’s ties with Tom Cruise after his couch-jumping episode on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — Ms. Redstone is a more understated leader. She underscored the contrast with a joke.

“As I said to my dad once, I said, ‘Everything I am is because of you, except for the nice parts — that came from my mother,’” she said, laughing.

Ms. Redstone said she weighs in on the direction of the Paramount in one-on-one conversations with Mr. Bakish and spends time cultivating business relationships inside and outside the company. She introduced Mr. Bakish to Brian Robbins, who eventually became chairman of Paramount with her support, and helped broker a deal with the South Korean entertainment firm CJ ENM by connecting Mr. Bakish to Miky Lee, the vice chairwoman of the firm’s parent company.

Ms. Redstone was an early supporter of Paramount’s decision to compete directly with major players like Disney and Netflix in direct-to-consumer streaming — a strategy that was still up in the air when Viacom and CBS merged in 2019.

In the aftermath of the merger, leaders at the company debated whether to invest in its existing subscription streaming service — then known as CBS All Access — or to forgo streaming for an “arms dealer” strategy: selling movies and TV shows to other streaming companies, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

So In early 2020, just weeks after the deal closed, Paramount decided to make an initial foray into streaming: The company would put some content from Viacom on CBS All Access, effectively bulking up the service quickly without spending to produce original content.

A few months later, with encouragement from Ms. Redstone and Marc Debevoise, then the company’s digital chief who had co-founded CBS All Access, Paramount decided it would spend money on original movies and TV shows for the service, effectively entering the streaming fray, the people said.

That spring, Mr. Bakish called a series of meetings and asked the heads of each of the company’s network groups to pitch projects for inclusion in a companywide subscription streaming service.

By July of that year, the company was finalizing its current course. At a board meeting, company executives summarized the strategy, along with several possible names for the as-yet unnamed streaming service: Paramount+, Honeycomb, The Eye and Pluto+. (The last option was inspired by the company’s popular advertising-supported streaming service.) Over the summer, they settled on Paramount+, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Under the revamped streaming strategy, major Paramount movies — with the exception of some hits, like “Top Gun: Maverick” — are released on Paramount+ within 45 days of theatrical release. The idea behind that approach is that it gives Paramount one foot in the emerging streaming era and one planted firmly in the traditional moneymaking ways of old Hollywood.

At the premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick” last month, shortly after a splashy promotion on a rented aircraft carrier in San Diego, Mr. Cruise paid homage to Sumner Redstone. As Ms. Redstone looked on, Mr. Cruise noted that the movie was being widely released on May 27, which would have been Sumner Redstone’s 99th birthday. (He died in 2020.)

Ms. Redstone said she believed that her father would generally agree with her approach toward Paramount. And she said she thinks that Wall Street will ultimately come around, provided the company delivers on its promises.

“I think the market keeps saying, ‘Show me, show me,’” Ms. Redstone said. “And I really believe we keep showing them.”

Are the Movies Liberal?

Everyone knows Hollywood is progressive. But look at the films it churns out. They tell another story.
A.O. Scott

One of the surprises of this strange, not-quite-post-pandemic movie year has been “Dog,” a modestly budgeted road picture that opened in February and grossed almost $80 million in its theatrical release. (It’s now available on various digital platforms.) That’s a very good number for a film that isn’t part of a franchise or cinematic universe.

The appeal of “Dog” isn’t much of a mystery: It’s right there in the title. Who doesn’t like dogs? And who doesn’t like Channing Tatum, who co-directed and who stars alongside a charismatic Belgian Malinois? Americans may not agree on much these days, but this man-pets-dog story managed to rise above our much-lamented divisions of taste, background and belief.

Those fractures are, both overtly and obliquely, what the movie is about. Tatum’s character, Jackson Briggs, is a former Army Ranger with multiple deployments behind him and the psychic and physical scars to prove it. Lulu, his canine companion, has also been traumatized by combat, and by the loss of her handler, a buddy of Jackson’s who died in a car crash.

Jackson and Lulu wind their way across the American West, with stops in Portland, San Francisco and San Diego, on their way to the funeral in Arizona. Politically, too, “Dog” is all over the map, or perhaps deliberately blurry. It loves the warriors and hates the wars. It tweaks what one character calls “the woking class” and rolls its eyes at their intolerant antagonists.

At times, in his disaffection, his loneliness and his latent, proven capacity for violence, Jackson Briggs recalls John Rambo. Not the shirtless jungle avenger of the movie that bears his name, but the sullen, fatigue-wearing Vietnam vet of “First Blood,” which introduced the character to movie audiences in 1982. Like Jackson, he was adrift in the Northwest and alienated from the country he had risked his life to serve. The difference, of course, is that almost no blood is shed in “Dog.” Rather than a fable of regeneration through violence, it’s a gentle, therapeutic parable built over a deep reservoir of pain and hard feelings.

One of the reasons I’m still thinking about “Dog,” months after publishing a lukewarm review, is that it manages to feel at once politically charged and steadfastly neutral. That’s quite a feat in the current culture-war climate, when movies and their makers are perpetual targets of populist rage, and also, frequently, of progressive finger-wagging. “Dog” offers a smooth ride over scorched earth. Which makes it a throwback: That’s what movies have always done.

SOME IDEAS IN AMERICAN LIFE are so widely held and frequently invoked that it can seem like bad manners or outright delusion to suggest that they might not be true. There is a class of facts — it would be more accurate to call them myths or shibboleths — that everybody knows and nobody entirely believes. The Supreme Court is above politics. Rock ’n’ roll will never die. Hollywood is liberal.

It should go without saying that every myth has some grounding in reality. Los Angeles is a deep-blue city in a mostly blue state. The film industry has been a hub of Democratic Party fund-raising and activism at least since the McGovern campaign 50 years ago. Executives and actors are proud to associate with progressive causes. Everybody knows that.

And everybody is aware of the “what about” argument that consists, mostly, of a roster of well-known or suspected conservatives. What about Kelsey Grammer? James Woods? Mel Gibson? Clint Eastwood? And don’t forget that most of the celebrities who have crossed over from Hollywood into electoral politics have been Republicans, including Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and (once again) Eastwood. Behind them is a long history of Hollywood conservatism, a tradition that embraces moguls like Louis B. Mayer (who according to Lillian Ross’s book “Picture” kept a GOP elephant figurine on his desk at MGM), directors like John Ford and Cecil B. DeMille and screen idols like Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne.

The counter-counter-argument is that these are exceptions that prove the rule, representatives of a red minority that has been tolerated and sometimes persecuted in blue Hollywood. Our 21st-century ideological color-coding, somewhat confusingly, reverses an older one. In the McCarthy era, the specter of Reds — which is to say Communists — lurking in the studio commissaries and writers’ bungalows and smuggling their subversive messages onto the screen was a source of considerable alarm.

Today, the ghost of that Red Scare — with its legacy of blacklisting and betrayal — is sometimes invoked to suggest that the tables have been turned, that conservatives are now the reds who face purging and intimidation in a town ruled by the tyranny of wokeness. Maybe it’s true that entertainment-industry conservatives face hostility and mockery from their peers, but a sense of grievance and victimization has come to permeate the modern conservative identity. In particular, the modern right defines itself against the cultural elites who supposedly cluster on the coasts and conspire to impose their values on an unsuspecting public. In this account, Hollywood acts in functional cahoots with academia and the news media, and what drives the populism of Republican politicians like Ron DeSantis in Florida and J.D. Vance in Ohio is full-throated opposition to those institutions.

Maybe it’s folly — or bias — to raise an eyebrow at such partisan political rhetoric, or to challenge the emotions and assumptions that underlie it. And perhaps a defense of Hollywood against the charge of leftist propagandizing will seem, well, defensive. But the argument I want to make doesn’t really concern the sociology of the business. I’ll stipulate that the people who make movies may skew progressive in their beliefs, commitments and voting patterns. The movies themselves tell another story.

MANY DIFFERENT STORIES, OF COURSE. About the grit and glory of the American military; about the heroic, essential work of law enforcement; about the centrality of revenge to any serious conception of justice; about the superiority of common sense over credentialed expertise; about the lessons ordinary small-town folks can teach fancy city slickers; about individual striving as the answer to most social problems; about the need for heroes.

None of these stories can be said to reflect or advance the agenda of anything you might call the left. Mainstream American movies have, for decades, been in love with guns, suspicious of democracy, ambivalent about feminism, squeamish about divorce, allergic to abortion, all over the place on matters of sexuality and very nervous about anything to do with race.

I know there are exceptions, and I’m not trying to flip the script and reveal the reactionary face of Hollywood, though it’s true that in the years of the Production Code (from the mid-’30s until the late ’60s), Hollywood upheld a fairly conservative vision of American life. Nonmarital sex was strictly policed, interracial romance completely forbidden. Crime could not pay, and the dignity of institutions had to be protected. Even in the post-Code years, what mainstream American movies have most often supplied aren’t critical engagements with reality, but fantasies of the status quo. The dominant narrative forms, tending toward happy or redemptive endings — or, more recently, toward a horizon of endless sequels — are fundamentally affirmative of the way things are. What they affirm, most of all, is consensus, an ideal of harmony that isn’t so much apolitical as anti-political, finding expression not in the voting booth but at the box office.

At least since the end of World War II, the production of consensus has been integral to Hollywood’s cultural mission and its business model. During the war, the studios worked closely with the military to deliver morale-boosting, mission-explaining messages to the home-front public, a collaboration that helped raise the industry’s prestige and its sense of its own importance. In the postwar era, even as they faced challenges from television, the antitrust division of the Justice Department and the demographic volatility of the audience, the studios conceived their mission in universal terms. Movies were for everybody.

That article of faith has always been a hard sell in a society defined by pluralism and, perhaps more persistently than we’d like to admit, by polarization. The notion that movies in the second half of the 20th century reflected a now-vanished consensus is doubly dubious. The consensus was never there, except insofar as Hollywood manufactured it. Perhaps more than any other American institution, Hollywood worked to foster agreement, to imagine a space — within the theater walls and on the screen — where conflicts could be resolved and contradictions wished away. In the westerns, the cowboys fought the Indians, the ranchers battled the railroads, and the sheriffs shot it out with the outlaws. But the outcome of those struggles was the pacification of the frontier and the advance of a less violent, more benevolent civilization. In the dramas of racial conflict, Sidney Poitier and an avatar of intolerance (Tony Curtis, Spencer Tracy, Rod Steiger) found common ground in the end.

This wasn’t propaganda in the usual sense, but rather an elaborate mythos, a reservoir of stories and meanings that didn’t need to be believed to be effective. We’ve always known that movies aren’t real — we like to insist that watching them is a kind of dreaming — and that’s partly why we love them so much.

By “we” I mean the movie audience, a collective that for a long time implied a parallel form of citizenship, a civic identity with its own ideology. The best cultural history of American movies, by the critic and scholar Robert Sklar, is called “Movie-Made America.” The corollary to that title, and one of Sklar’s arguments, is that moviegoing made Americans.

So now what? Every time I type the word “Hollywood,” I feel a twinge of anachronism, as if I were speaking a dead language or writing about a country in the process of being erased from the map. Moviegoing is no longer what it used to be, and the machinery that fed it is at present a Frankensteinian hybrid of tech, media, private equity and precarious labor. It’s Amazon and Apple, Netflix and Discovery. And Disney, of course.

Which is not “the left,” any more than the old empire of Fox, Universal, Columbia and, of course, Disney ever was. The question is whether this new thing can still manufacture consensus with the same coherence, and the same confidence, that used to be the signature of Hollywood.

IF “DOG” WAS THE SURPRISE HIT of the late winter, “Top Gun: Maverick” — another movie about a man who serves in an elite section of the American military — is the first big movie of the early summer. A sequel more than 35 years in the making, it has been hailed by many critics as a sign that some of the old vigor and swagger is back. Much as I would like to think so, the movie feels to me more like an exercise in nostalgia, a wistful, perhaps desperate throwback to an old normal.

The politics are perfectly opaque — almost literally, since the enemies Tom Cruise and his brave fellow pilots face are invisible behind their helmets — and the detachment from reality is more thorough than what you find in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” or “The Batman.” That last film, aware of the allegorical responsibilities inherited from “Joker” and “The Dark Knight,” at least gestured toward seemingly timely issues of law and order and societal malaise.

That has been the dominant style of modern Hollywood: to project vague vibes of real-world relevance into imaginary spaces. From Middle Earth to Hogwarts, from the expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe to the rising Planet of the Apes, what look like political questions — about the problem of evil, the nature of authority, the possibility of justice — bubble up and evaporate. Those movies invite arguments — is Batman a conservative? Are the Avengers woke? Is Caesar the chimpanzee a dictator or a democrat? — that are unresolvable because the movies finally lack all conviction.

“Top Gun,” in contrast, is downright utopian in its projection of a nearly frictionless world of camaraderie and courage. There is almost no real dramatic conflict, and nothing not to like. It wants to be a movie for everyone.

Which gives it a strangely nostalgic power — not because it looks back fondly on the Reagan era or the Cold War, but because it summons up the myth of a hegemonic Hollywood. Which was never perfect, and never what it claimed to be. But like American democracy, we’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Record Labels Dig Their Own Grave. And the Shovel is Called TikTok.

It's not just the music biz—legacy media outlets everywhere are playing the same dangerous game
Ted Gioia

With each passing month, record labels grow more attached to TikTok—but it now looks more like addiction. Some have reached the point where they won’t release an album until the music goes viral on TikTok.

Consider the strange case of Trevor Daniel, who had more than one billion streams for his breakout hit “Falling.” The song climbed the chart in more than 20 countries. But now his label requires TikTok success before releasing a new record.

“It’s just been pretty much impossible to put out music,” he recently told Rolling Stone.
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That’s dumbfounding.

A 27-year-old with a billion streams can’t release new music? But he isn’t exaggerating. He keeps uploading snippets, waiting for one to go viral—but they don’t reach the threshold his label demands.

This is hardly an isolated case. The singer Halsey put up a TikTok last week complaining about her label’s obsession with TikTok. “I have a song I love I wanna release ASAP,” she told fans on the platform, “but my record label won’t let me. I’ve been in this industry for eight years and I’ve sold over 165 million records, and my record company is saying that I can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok.”

The story gets weirder. This public shaming of her label did go viral on TikTok, and that was sufficient for the label to agree to issue the song. There’s some heavy metanarrative baggage there for us to unpack. In order to conquer your label’s TikTok addiction you need to use. . . TikTok.

The labels think they have found their savior. Artists will get famous on TikTok, and label execs can just sit back and watch the cash pour into their bank accounts.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but it won’t turn out that way. In fact, labels will end up like so many addicts, destroyed by the very thing they crave.

I’ll spell it out as simply as possible.

1. Record labels have lost their ability to launch new careers.

2. Like Bartleby the scrivener, they really prefer not to deal with this whole issue because career development is such a hassle.

3. So they demand that musicians build their own audience via TikTok and other social media platforms.

4. But the moment musicians become capable of doing this, they don't need record labels anymore.

I think this is what Joseph Heller called a Catch-22.

As you can see, it's a fool's game. Record labels are digging their own grave. They finally have achieved their dream—which is to make money while doing as little work as possible. But the end result is a world in which they add so little value that no successful musician will want them any longer.

Do musicians really need a label? Years ago, it was essential. You couldn’t get records in the hands of your fans without a label doing all the heavy lifting. But nowadays?

Streaming has changed all the rules. Musicians can upload songs on to a streaming platform without a label. If they still want to sell physical albums, Bandcamp has made it very easy—no label required. They can deal directly with fans, journalists, promoters, booking agents, etc. without a label. They can set up a publishing company with almost no trouble. Getting royalties from ASCAP is simply a matter of filling out a few forms.

The one last piece of leverage labels possessed was their marketing and publicity clout. But now labels want musicians to go viral on their own? Well, at this point the obvious question is: What does the label offer in return?

Almost nothing, except the lingering prestige—carryover from a different day—of having a record deal. But the terms of those deals are out of whack with the new normal.

The first TikTok stars were slow to realize how much negotiating power they actually possessed—they’re just youngsters, after all. So they got dazzled by the promise of a big upfront payment from a label. But in the last few months, many have started to figure out that the so-called ‘advance against future royalties’ is actually just a loan under a different name.

Even scarier—for the record label execs—is that the TikTok stars are now demanding a much bigger cut of the action. And getting it.

The shift is huge, and it’s arguably the biggest change in the record business in ages. But few insiders want to talk about it. You can’t blame them. They are agreeing to payment terms that are sweeter than anything they’ve offered before. And this is just the start.

Consider this amazing situation:

According to this in-depth investigation, record labels who sign TikTok stars initially demanded complete ownership of all the master recordings, and tried to keep 85% of future revenues. And those poor TikTok youngsters wouldn’t even collect the paltry 15% until they paid off their advance.

You might think this sounds like exploitation pure and simple, but these terms have been standard industry practice for ages. But guess what, the TikTok influencers now have so many labels chasing after them, they can play them off against each other. They’re now putting the squeeze on the legacy music industry in a way I’ve never seen before. According to this same source, labels are now offering a 50/50 sharing arrangement, while also agreeing to return ownership of the masters to the artists at some later date.

This is a massive shift in revenue-sharing.

Why are record labels suddenly so generous? They really don’t have any other choice. After decades of destroying their own value chain, they have little value to offer.

Here’s my prediction: Soon even a 50/50 split won’t be enough to sign up a young TikTok star. Even 14-year-old influencers will soon realize that the label hasn’t earned anything close to half of the income from a viral TikTok hit.

From the TikTok star’s perspective, dealing with the label will soon be like talking to an ex-spouse after winning the lottery. Sorry, dearie, but this ain’t community property any more. Here’s five bucks as a gift. Go buy yourself a double soy latte on me.

Except that the labels will be lucky to get even a double soy latte.

Let’s cut to the chase. If this TikTok-ification of the music biz continues, what will be the end result? Here it is, in a single sentence: Only unsuccessful musicians still need a label. Think over the deep implications of that fact.

The single best thing that could happen for the legacy music business is for TikTok to disappear. Then they would be forced to rebuild their value chain. They would relearn skills they have forgotten, especially how to develop the careers of young musicians through their own marketing and promotion efforts. If they did this, they would have some role to play in the culture. Otherwise they will have none—except selling those old songs in their catalog, reminders of a day when record labels actually mattered.

Now you know why they are so anxious to buy up the old songs. That’s the only game in town they still know how to play.

As for new music, label honchos still hold cards and sit at the poker table. But they’re lousy cards, so it’s mostly puffing and bluffing from now on, with jackpots scooped up by others.

If you think this phenomenon only involves music and TikTok, think again. The same power shift is happening in almost every creative field. Or will soon.

I see it firsthand in publishing. In fact, I've lived it myself. I found a way to create an audience without relying on the gatekeepers. But that very fact is what makes gatekeepers more interested in me.

This is the publishing paradox nowadays: opportunities come to you in direct proportion to your ability to operate without them. In my case, I've turned down every freelance writing gig offered to me for years now, unless I do it as a favor or because it fits in in with my direct-to-reader approach.

Editors are surprised when I say no. But they shouldn’t be. Media outlets incentivized me to operate without them, and as a result. . . I do just that.

This is happening everywhere. There are thousands of people thriving nowadays without the support of any legacy media outlet or powerful institution. They deal directly with their audience via YouTube channels, Substack columns, TikTok videos, NFT offerings, Patreon relationships, Bandcamp, Instagram, etc.

They don't need legacy media. They don’t need to apply for grants. They don’t need tenure. They don’t need to jump through hoops to please a gatekeeper.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s hard work doing it this way. But if you succeed, you’re very reluctant to go back to the old way of doing business.

That’s why this trend will not reverse. It is the next wave, and it’s only just beginning.

But here’s the funny part: the gatekeepers haven’t figure this out yet. They've convinced themselves that creative professionals will do all the heavy lifting to build a huge audience on the new web platforms, and then just hand it over to them.

It won’t happen. Folks in suits in highrise offices are in for a series of painful surprises. A hard reign is gonna fall, as a wise man once told us. This TikTok power shift is just the first taste—because even older creative professionals are starting to learn from the youngsters.

Britain Should Scrap its Online Safety Bill
It is both illiberal and impractical

Boris Johnson’s government is up to its neck in short-term crises. Amid a great deal of sound and fury, Britain’s prime minister is trying to survive the fallout from a string of illegal parties in Downing Street and is pondering how to ease a nasty cost-of-living crunch. In the long run, though, it is usually the day-to-day business of government, passing laws, that matters more. One law in particular—the Online Safety Bill, a bumper piece of legislation that aims to fix almost everything that is wrong with the internet—could reshape life dramatically.

Its aim is to make Britain “the safest place in the world” to use the internet. So says the government, and it is not just talk. Fed up with what it sees as the failure of big internet platforms to self-regulate, it has decided to lay down the law. The bill will require tens of thousands of internet firms, from foreign giants like Facebook and Google to niche web forums, to do more to protect their users, on pain of fines of 10% of their worldwide revenue, or even being blocked entirely.

As with motherhood and apple pie, it is hard to argue against the idea of a safer internet. Few people would disagree that social media in particular can be a sewer. But Britain’s bill is illiberal and impractical. Even if it could achieve its goals—which is unlikely—it will do so at too high a price. The government should scrap it, and think again.

Start with the illiberalism. This newspaper believes that if restrictions are to be applied to speech, the bar should be high, and the rules should be applied carefully, frugally and narrowly. Instead, the Online Safety Bill hands the government a very big stick in pursuit of a great number of different aims. Because so much of life is now conducted online, the Bill has become a magnet for lobbyists, activists and those with an axe to grind. The government hopes to stamp down on, among other things, death threats, knife sales, assisting people to commit suicide, the glamourisation of anorexia, vaccine scepticism, fraudulent advertising and racist abuse directed at England’s football team.

Some of these are illegal already. Others will be put in a category that has come to be known as “legal but harmful”, a newly invented sort of speech without precedent in British law. The government insists that this imposes nothing more than a duty of transparency on tech firms, which will be forced to announce explicitly whether they will allow such speech on their platforms. But it would naive to think that a list of topics that are officially disapproved of will not exert a chilling effect. Worst of all, it is impossible to know exactly what will end up in this category, for the legislation allows ministers to add things to it with minimal parliamentary scrutiny.

As for practicality, the technological realities of enforcing the rules will make them even more burdensome. The bill proposes to delegate enforcement to the same tech companies that the government says have failed to police themselves properly in the past. When it comes to illegal content, they will be forced to scrub it from their services. For some posts, that will entail tricky legal judgments. But given the size of the potential penalties, firms will have strong incentives to block anything even remotely controversial first and ask questions later—or, more likely, not at all.

That problem will be exacerbated by the awkward fact that the sheer quantity of stuff posted to social media every minute means that most of the time, humans will not be making those judgments at all. As the bill itself acknowledges, firms will have to rely on automated systems. Anyone who spends time on social media knows that such content-moderation algorithms are already arbitrary and inconsistent, banning some people for trivialities while leaving others untouched for flagrant breaches of the rules. The bill will expand their use to cover even more kinds of speech, backed up with the force of law. Over-blocking, arbitrary enforcement and the chilling of legitimate discussion is thus built into the legislation.

Not everything in the bill is bad. Proposals to force firms to allow users to choose sanitised versions of websites and limit whose posts they see are a good idea, since participation is voluntary. Attempts to exempt smaller firms from the most onerous rules are welcome. But a few bright spots are not enough to save a fundamentally misguided piece of law. It is often said that free speech is the lifeblood of a democracy. That is true, but incomplete as a defence. Freedom of speech is also a good thing in its own right. As a general rule people should not be told what they can think or say, whether by politicians, policemen or priests. Exceptions should be rare, tightly defined and policed by the criminal-justice system, where alleged criminals can have their cases considered by judges or juries. The Online Safety Bill flouts those principles. The government should delete it.

Supreme Court Blocks Texas Social Media Law that Tech Companies Warned would Allow Hateful Content to Run Rampant
Lauren Feiner

• The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a controversial Texas social media law from taking effect, after the tech industry and other opponents warned it could allow for hateful content to run rampant online.
• The legislation would prohibit online platforms like Facebook and Twitter from moderating or removing content based on viewpoint.
• A lower court initially blocked the law, but an appeals court allowed it to move forward as it deliberates on the broader case.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a controversial Texas social media law from taking effect, after the tech industry and other opponents warned it could allow for hateful content to run rampant online.

The decision does not rule on the merits of the law, known as HB20, but reimposes an injunction blocking it from taking effect while federal courts decide whether it can be enforced. The Supreme Court is likely to be asked to take a look at the constitutionality of the law in the future.

Five justices on the court voted to block the law for now. Justice Samuel Alito issued a written dissent from the decision, which was joined by two other conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal, also voted to allow the law to remain in effect while a challenge to it is pending.

The law prohibits online platforms from moderating or removing content based on viewpoint. It stems from a common charge on the right that major California-based social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are biased in their moderation strategies and disproportionately quiet conservative voices. The platforms have said they apply their community guidelines evenly and right-leaning users often rank among the highest in engagement.

Two industry groups that represent tech companies including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter, claimed in their emergency application with the court, “HB20 would compel platforms to disseminate all sorts of objectionable viewpoints, such as Russia’s propaganda claiming that its invasion of Ukraine is justified, ISIS propaganda claiming that extremism is warranted, neo-Nazi or KKK screeds denying or supporting the Holocaust, and encouraging children to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior like eating disorders.”

Texas’ attorney general Ken Paxton, a Republican, has said this is not the case, writing in a response to the emergency application that the law does not “prohibit the platforms from removing entire categories of content.”

“So, for example,” the response says, “the platforms can decide to eliminate pornography without violating HB 20 ... The platforms can also ban foreign government speech without violating HB 20, so they are not required to host Russia’s propaganda about Ukraine.”

Alito’s dissent opened by acknowledging the significance of the case for social media companies and for states that would regulate how those companies can control the content on their platforms.

“This application concerns issues of great importance that will plainly merit this Court’s review,” Alito wrote. “Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news. At issue is a ground-breaking Texas law that addresses the power of dominant social media corporations to shape public discussion of the important issues of the day.”

Alito said he would have allowed the law to remain in effect as the case proceeds through federal courts. He emphasized he has “not formed a definitive view on the novel legal questions that arise from Texas’s decision to address the ‘changing social and economic’ conditions it perceives.”

“But precisely because of that, I am not comfortable intervening at this point in the proceedings,” he wrote. “While I can understand the Court’s apparent desire to delay enforcement of HB20 while the appeal is pending, the preliminary injunction entered by the District Court was itself a significant intrusion on state sovereignty, and Texas should not be required to seek preclearance from the federal courts before its laws go into effect.”

Where things stand now

The legislation was passed in September but blocked by a lower court, which granted a preliminary injunction keeping it from going into effect. That changed when a federal appeals court for the Fifth Circuit ruled in mid-May to stay the injunction pending a final decision on the case, meaning the law could be enacted while the court deliberated on the broader case.

That prompted two tech industry groups, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), to file an emergency petition with Alito, who is assigned to cases from that district.

NetChoice and CCIA asked the court to keep the law from going into effect, arguing social media companies make editorial decisions about what content to distribute and display, and that the appeals court’s decision would get rid of that discretion and chill speech. It said the court should vacate the stay as the appeals court reviews the important First Amendment issues central to the case.

“Texas’s HB 20 is a constitutional trainwreck — or, as the district court put it, an example of ‘burning the house to roast the pig,’” said Chris Marchese, Counsel at NetChoice, in response to Tuesday’s ruling. “We are relieved that the First Amendment, open internet, and the users who rely on it remain protected from Texas’s unconstitutional overreach.”

“No online platform, website, or newspaper should be directed by government officials to carry certain speech,” said CCIA President Matt Schruer. “This has been a key tenet of our democracy for more than 200 years and the Supreme Court has upheld that.”

The Supreme Court’s decision has implications for other states that may consider legislation similar to that in Texas. Florida’s legislature has already passed a similar social media law, but it has so far been blocked by the courts.

Soon after the tech groups’ emergency appeal in the Texas case, a federal appeals court for the Eleventh Circuit upheld an injunction against a similar law in Florida, unanimously concluding that content moderation is protected by the Constitution. Florida’s attorney general filed an amicus brief on behalf of her state and several others, urging the court to continue to allow the Texas law to be in effect, arguing the industry had misinterpreted the law and that states are within their rights to regulate businesses in this way.

Testing ground for Congress

The state laws serve as an early testing ground for the ways the U.S. Congress is considering reforming the legal liability shield tech platforms have relied on for years to moderate their services. That law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, keeps online platforms from being held responsible for content users post to their services and also gives them the ability to moderate or remove posts in good faith.

The law has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans, but for different reasons. Democrats seek to reform the law to give tech platforms more responsibility to moderate what they see as dangerous content, including misinformation. While Republicans agree certain types of content like terrorist recruitment or child sexual exploitation material should be removed, many seek to make it harder for platforms to engage in some other forms of moderation that they view as ideological censorship.

One of the authors of Section 230, former Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., filed an amicus brief supporting the industry groups’ plea for the Supreme Court to reverse the stay. In the brief, Cox argues that HB20 “is in irreconcilable conflict” with Section 230, which should preempt the state law.

Still, at least one Justice on the Supreme Court has already expressed interest in reviewing Section 230 itself.

In 2020, Thomas, a conservative, wrote that “in an appropriate case, we should consider whether the text of this increasingly important statute aligns with the current state of immunity enjoyed by Internet platforms.”

Last year, he suggested in a concurrence that online platforms may be “sufficiently akin to common carriers or places of accommodation to be regulated in this manner.”

--CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.

ExpressVPN Rejects CERT-In Directives, Removes its India Servers
Arun Padmanabhan

New Delhi: Virtual private network (VPN) operator ExpressVPN is pulling its servers out of India, citing the impossibility of complying with the country's upcoming mandate to record users' names and activities.

"With a recent data law introduced in India requiring all VPN providers to store user information for at least five years, ExpressVPN has made the very straightforward decision to remove our Indian-based VPN servers," the company said in a blog post.

"ExpressVPN refuses to participate in the Indian government’s attempts to limit internet freedom," it said.

All companies will be required to notify any cybersecurity incident to CERT-In within six hours and store all data for a specified period of time under the new rules, which will take effect 60 days after being notified, ET had reported earlier.

The new data law proposed by India's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to combat cybercrime is incompatible with the purpose of VPNs, which are supposed to keep users' internet behaviour private, the company said.

"Rest assured, our users will still be able to connect to VPN servers that will give them Indian IP addresses and allow them to access the internet as if they were located in India. These “virtual” India servers will instead be physically located in Singapore and the UK," it added.

In terms of the user experience, there is minimal difference. For anyone wanting to connect to an Indian server, simply select the VPN server location “India (via Singapore)” or “India (via UK).”

"The law is also overreaching and so broad as to open up the window for potential abuse. We believe the damage done by potential misuse of this kind of law far outweighs any benefit that lawmakers claim would come from it," the company said.

Elon Musk Reveals Details of Next-Generation Starlink Satellites

The generation-2 satellites are meant to be more powerful than their earlier counterparts.
Passant Rabie

The next generation of Starlink satellites are going to be larger, and more powerful, designed to provide internet access to remote parts of the world, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The space billionaire recently discussed the details of the Starlink Gen2 System on the popular YouTube show, Everyday Astronaut.

In the 32 minute clip, Musk reveals that SpaceX has already produced the first Starlink 2.0 satellite. The new generation satellite is 7 meters (22 feet) long and weighs about 1.25 tons (approximately 2,755 pounds or 1,250 kilograms). Starlink 1.0, by comparison, weighs about 573 pounds (260 kilograms). The extra weight accounts for a more effective satellite, according to Musk.

“Just think of it like how many useful bits of data can each satellite do,” Musk said during the interview. “Starlink 2.0 in terms of useful bits of data is almost an order of magnitude better than a Starlink 1.0.”

As part of its growing megaconstellation of internet satellites, SpaceX first announced a new generation of its Starlink satellites in August 2021, “designed to complement the first-generation constellation SpaceX is currently deploying,” according to the company.

But the heavier satellites make for a more challenging cargo. Starlink satellites are lifted to low Earth orbit on board a Falcon 9 rocket, but the rocket will not be capable of carrying Starlink 2.0. “Falcon neither has the volume nor the mass [for the] orbit capability required for Starlink 2.0,” Musk said. “So even if we shrunk the Starlink satellite down, the total up mass of Falcon is not nearly enough to do Starlink 2.0.”

Instead, SpaceX is banking on Starship, a heavy lift launch rocket that is currently under development, but has already suffered from numerous delays. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been working on an environmental review of the Starship program for months to assess its impact, and the report is expected in mid June, although it has been repeatedly pushed forward, much to Musk’s dismay.

“We need Starship to work and fly frequently or Starlink will be stuck on the ground,” Musk said during the interview.

Meanwhile, not everyone is on board with a second generation of Starlink satellites lifting off to low Earth orbit. Earlier this year, NASA officials drafted a letter to the FAA expressing their concern over Starlink 2.0, and the risk of collision with the space agency’s various satellites and spacecraft.

Musk is building-out a megaconstellation of internet satellites, hoping to launch a whopping total of 42,000 satellites to orbit in order to provide broadband internet to distant parts of the world. So far, SpaceX has about 2,300 functioning Starlink satellites that have been placed in orbit.

The satellites are already drawing criticism from various sources, including a group of researchers in China who recently drafted a paper on ways to destroy the satellites should they start posing a national threat.

Greece, Saudi Arabia Eye Fibre Optic Data Cable to Link Europe with Asia

Greece and Saudi Arabia agreed on Tuesday on the main terms to set up a joint venture to lay a fibre optic data cable that will link Europe with Asia, Greek sources said on Tuesday.

The "East to Med data Corridor", an undersea and land data cable, will be developed by MENA HUB, owned by Saudi Arabia's STC and Greek telecoms and satellite applications company TTSA.

Greece's power utility Public Power Company (PPC) and Cyprus' telecoms operator CYTA, will also hold a stake in the project, pending final corporate approvals, a Greek diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The final closing of the deal is expected by July, for the project to launch in autumn and be completed by the end of 2025, the diplomat said.

Another person close to the deal said the cable, which will connect users from Italy to Singapore, will cost about 800 million euros ($857.68 million).

Greece's conservative government has made digital transformation a priority since taking office in 2019, a year after Greece exited the biggest financial bailout in history.

A big part of about 30 billion euros in grants and cheap loans allocated to Greece from European Union's post-pandemic Recovery Fund will be spent on 5G and fibre optic infrastructure.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou Editing by Tomasz Janowski

Chorus Shows off 25 Gigabit per Second Retail Fibre Broadband
Juha Saarinen

Broadband infrastructure wholesaler Chorus has demonstrated symmetric fibre to the premises service that is rated at 25 gigabits per second, running over its existing passive optical fibre (PON) network.

The demonstration in Auckland achieved 21.4 Gbps throughput, tested simultaneously on the same strand of fibre that ran an 8 Gbps symmetric HyperFibre connection, and a 900/550 Mbps UFB link.

Nokia is Chorus's equipment supplier for the Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) fibre to residential and business premises network that the wholesaler has rolled out the last few years, in partnership with the New Zealand government that is part funding the project.

Chorus uses Nokia's Lightspan FX and MX access nodes for multiple types of fibre service, including standard GPON, the XGS-PON behind HyperFibre, point-to-point Ethernet, and envisages the 25 GPON service to run on it as well.

It is based on the Quillion chip set line cards, which Nokia says are 50 per cent more energy efficient than earlier models.

Currently, Chorus has no wholesale 25 GPON product, with its fastest offering topping out at 8/8 Gbps HyperFibre.

The wholesaler expects to develop a 25 GPON based services within the next two to three years, with a Nokia optical network termination unit that supports either 25/25 Gbps or 25/10 Gbps options.

Kurt Rodgers, network strategy manager at Chorus, said the faster broadband service would come into its own for industrial metaverse applications, the Internet of Things, and low-latency cloud connectivity.

The 25 GPON service uses a single wavelength, with Chorus's test set up using 1358 nanometres for the downstream, and Nokia's systems supporting three options from 1286 to 1300 nm for the upstream, for co-existence with other services running over the same fibre pair.

Chorus chief technology officer Ewen Powell said the 25 GPON service demonstrated "a future-proofed technology."

Although two-wavelength 50 Gbps service is appearing as a choice for providers, with 100 GPON on the horizon, Chorus is betting that the 25 Gbps variant will offer the best cost benefit overall for providers, as it can use existing optics equipment.

Nokia said it is possible to use some 25 GPON components when upgrading to 50 Gbps, but new and more expensive transmitters are required to avoid signal distortion.

The technology is backed by a multi-source agreement among ten communications industry providers and vendors in Asia and the Asia-Pacific, including Australia's NBN Co.

Blistering Data Transmission Record Clocks Over 1 Petabit Per Second

Researchers in Japan have broken the data transmission speed record
Michael Irving

Researchers in Japan have clocked a new speed record for data transmission – a blistering 1.02 petabits per second (Pb/s). Better yet, the breakthrough was achieved using optical fiber cables that should be compatible with existing infrastructure.

For reference, 1 petabit is equivalent to a million gigabits, meaning this new record is about 100,000 times faster than the absolute fastest home internet speeds available to consumers. Even NASA will “only” get 400 Gb/s when ESnet6 rolls out in 2023. At speeds of 1 Pb/s, you could theoretically broadcast 10 million channels per second of video at 8K resolution, according to the team.

The new record was set by researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), using several emerging technologies. First, the optical fiber contains four cores – the glass tubes that transmit the signals – instead of the usual one. The transmission bandwidth is extended to a record-breaking 20 THz, thanks to a technology known as wavelength division multiplexing (WDM).

That bandwidth is made up of a total of 801 wavelength channels spread across three bands – the commonly used C- and L-bands, as well as the experimental S-band. With the help of some other new optical amplification and signal modulation technologies, the team achieved the record-breaking speed of 1.02 Pb/s, sending data through 51.7 km (32.1 miles) of optical fiber cables.

This isn’t the first time scientists at NICT have surpassed the 1-Pb/s milestone for data transmission. In December 2020, the team reported a then-record of 1.01 Pb/s, using an optical fiber cable with a single core and data encoded into 15 “modes.” As impressive as the feat was, it required some complex signal processing to unscramble the data, which would mean dedicated integrated circuits would have to be developed and deployed if the tech was ever going to be rolled out on a practical scale.

The new breakthrough is not only faster, but it only transmits data in one mode per core, meaning it can be read by technology already in wide use. To top it all off, the four-core optical fiber cable has the same 0.125-mm diameter as a standard cable, meaning it should be compatible with existing infrastructure and manufacturing processes.

The research was presented at the International Conference on Laser and Electro-Optics 2022 in May.

Source: NICT

RED Sues Nikon for Infringing on its Video Compression Patents
Jaron Schneider

RED has sued Nikon for illegally copying its data compression technology. The lawsuit asserts that Nikon infringed on its patents through capabilities granted to the Nikon Z9 in the recent firmware 2.0 update.

The lawsuit was filed in a southern California federal court today and asserts that the Japanese camera manufacturer and its United States subsidiaries have illegally infringed on seven patents that deal specifically with “a video camera that can be configured to highly compress video data in a visually lossless manner.”

In the filing, RED notes a type of compression that it says it has patented and is in use by Nikon in the Z9:

“The camera can be configured to transform blue and red image data in a manner that enhances the compressibility of the data. The data can then be compressed and stored in this form. This allows a user to reconstruct the red and blue data to obtain the original raw data for a modified version of the original raw data that is visually lossless when demosaiced. Additionally, the data can be processed so the green image elements are demosaiced first, and then the red and blue elements are reconstructed based on values of the demosaiced green image elements.”

Nikon Camcorder Grip

In Nikon’s latest firmware update announced in April, the company enabled 8.3K RAW video capture at up to 60 frames per second in Nikon’s N-RAW format or up to 4.1K at 60 frames per second in ProRes RAW HQ. Nikon says that N-RAW (which appears as a .NEV file) contains all the depth and detail of a 12-bit RAW video and crams it into a file that’s half the size of equivalent ProRes RAW HQ files.

This compression comes thanks to a partnership with intoPIX’s TicoRAW which was announced last December. At the time, intoPIX said its technology delivers the most efficient RAW files that do not compromise image integrity at all thanks to “innovative processing and coding.” The process would retain the full power of the image sensor while also reducing bandwidth, storage needs, and transfer times.

The TicoRAW feature has been in the news for months, but RED was likely waiting for it to be implemented into a competitor’s camera before filing a lawsuit. RED’s lawsuit says Nikon’s infringement on its patent was “willful” and claims Nikon would have known about RED’s patents.

“RED is informed and believes and thereupon alleges that Nikon knew about prior disputes involving the asserted patents as well as discussions in the public forum surrounding the patents and RED’s assertion of those patents in various actions,” the filing reads.

“For example, given the foregoing and Nikon’s significance and history in the camera industry, RED is informed and believed and thereupon alleges that Nikon also knew about RED’s prior lawsuits involving one or more of the asserted patents.”

RED then cites multiple lawsuits it has filed against Kinefinity, Sony, and Nokia over the years. RED is seeking damages or royalties for the infringement as well as an injunction to ban Nikon from further infringing.

Until next week,

- js.

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