Audio and video

European antitrust case targets US movie studio contracts

The European Commission has opened an antitrust case involving licensing agreements between US film studios that can preclude European TV broadcasters in one country from showing movies in another.

The investigation involves licensing agreement provisions in contracts between Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, and Paramount Pictures on the one hand, and on the other "the largest European pay-TV broadcasters, such as BSkyB of the UK, Canal Plus of France, Sky Italia of Italy, Sky Deutschland of Germany, and DTS of Spain," the commission said Monday in a statement. At issue is whether such contracts hobble … Read more

MPAA joins Web standards group amid video DRM dispute

The movie business now will have a direct voice in a controversy about how to handle copy protection of videos on the Web.

That's because the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a group that creates Web standards, such as the HTML technology that underlies every Web page on the Internet.

"Just met with W3C CEO Jeffrey Jaffe. We're excited to join W3C and look forward to listening, learning and contributing," tweeted Alex Deacon, the MPAA's senior vice president for Internet Technology at the MPAA. Jaffe has … Read more

'Zombieland' TV series pilot to rise on Amazon Prime

A "Zombieland" TV series could rise from the grave on Amazon if enough Prime members give it the thumbs-up.

"Zombieland" is the 13th and latest original series to bite off a pilot on Amazon's Prime video service. Six other comedy pilots and six children's pilots will also air on Prime Instant Video and Lovefilm UK exclusively for paying subscribers. Viewers will be able to watch and review each pilot, helping decide which of them will score a full season's worth of episodes.

Amazon told CNET that the pilots are "coming soon" … Read more

YouTube vice president touts paid subscriptions

YouTube is clearly eyeing paid subscriptions, though it won't reveal if such an option has gotten the green light.

Speaking with reporters in Los Angeles yesterday, Robert Kyncl, a YouTube vice president, said that paid subscription channels are "incredibly important" in order to create "additional revenue streams" for content creators, the Wall Street Journal reported today. YouTube has reportedly already been chatting with producers about offering channels that would require a fee.

Possibly debuting as soon as next quarter, the first of such channels would charge users between $1 and $5 a month and initially … Read more

Pandora debuts ad-free app for Windows Phone 8

Pandora has tuned up a Windows Phone 8 app that's both free and ad-free.

Available as of today in the Windows Phone store, the app offers all the standard features for Pandora listeners.

You can create up to 100 different stations based on your tastes in music. You can tell Pandora what you like and don't like by giving each song a thumb's up or thumb's down.

You can filter certain songs that you won't want to hear and flip on a switch for higher-quality audio. Existing Pandora users can log in with their current … Read more

Apple could let you sell your iTunes content to other people

Want to sell that movie you bought on iTunes but never watch? You may be able to one day if a new Apple patent filing ever comes to life.

Published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and filed last June, an Apple patent application named "Managing Access To Digital Content Items" conjures up a system for legally selling or loaning iTunes items to another person.

The method involves transferring digital access rights from the original owner to someone else. Once those rights are transferred, the new owner would gain access to the content while the … Read more

YouTube to launch its own music streaming service, says report

YouTube may tune in to the online music world this year with its own streaming service.

The service would likely offer free music streaming paid for by ads as well as an ad-free subscription option, according to Fortune, which says it was briefed by sources in the record industry and by an unnamed person at Google.

A YouTube representative told CNET that "while we don't comment on rumor or speculation, there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we're looking at that."

YouTube's … Read more

Illegal music downloads dropped in 2012, says report

Fewer people are illegally downloading and sharing music, NPD Group said in a report today.

Among those surveyed for NPD's "Annual Music Study 2012," 40 percent who illegally downloaded music via peer-to-peer services in 2011 said they had stopped or decreased their illegal downloads in 2012.

Overall, the number of illegally downloaded songs from P2P services dropped by 26 percent in 2012 from 2011.

Part of that was due to an overall decline in the use of P2P services. At the 2005 peek of P2P file sharing networks, 33 million people used them. For 2012, that number … Read more

YouTube viewership takes its place in Billboard charts

Billboard's charts, the gold standard for assessing the most popular music, now have a new metric.

YouTube streaming data is now being incorporated into those charts, Billboard announced yesterday. YouTube viewership will now join digital and physical singles sales, terrestrial radio airplay, and streaming as the metrics that determine Billboard's chart order.

Since there are often thousands of clips of a single music video, Billboard's YouTube data is limited to "all official videos," Vevo clips, and user-generated videos that are using "authorized audio." In other words, only legitimately used songs can be included … Read more

Opera buying Skyfire for mobile-video technology

Opera Software is acquiring Skyfire Labs and its technology for squeezing video onto congested mobile-phone networks in a deal worth up to $155 million, the Norwegian browser maker said tonight.

Opera, the fifth-ranked browser maker in terms of global usage, gets paid for adapting its browser for mobile network operators and for driving searches to sites like Yandex and Google. It's been gradually expanding its business into domains such as advertising, though, and the Skyfire deal adds a new dimension to its business selling technology to operators.

"Both companies have evolved far beyond their browser roots," said … Read more