Weekly News Roundup (16 December 2012)

Welcome to the third last WNR for 2012, or if you’re a believer in the Mayan calendar termination theory, THE LAST WNR EVER! The 22nd of December is going to be a disappointing day for a lot of people no matter what happens, but I’ll be out there celebrating “The World Didn’t End” day, if in fact the world did not end.

Very light news wise this week, but I do have a legitimate and medical excuse this time. For about half of the week, I was suffering from a pretty bad case of migraines, which still hasn’t fully recovered. I’ve had it maybe once or twice before, but it was usually cured by a good night’s sleep, but this one has been really persistent. The headache I can stand, but it’s the nausea that gets you. It does make you realise all the things you’ve previously taken for granted, like being able to scroll a webpage without wanting to hurl into a bucket. Having had to work with a pounding headache, light sensitivity and nausea, I will never complain about working in normal health ever again … well until the next time I get bored of work, at least.

Copyright

Starting with copyright news, not that we have much of anything else anyway, those keeping tabs on Google’s publicly available DMCA stats will have noticed the exponential rise in the number of takedown requests over the last couple of months, something that Google has noticed too.

Google DMCA Stats

The number of DMCA takedown requests that Google receives has increased by tenfold in the last 6 month

In fact, DMCA requests are up tenfold from just six months ago, from 1.2 million per month back in July, to 12 million in just the last 30 days. The dramatic rise in request has Google worried. Not just that it takes an enormous effort to process 12 million requests and counting, but also of the effect this has on the free flow of information, especially when relating to false positives. Google for the most part tries to identify URLs that shouldn’t really be removed, but as Digital Digest found out earlier in the year, the system is by no means fool proof. That a company hired by Warner Bros. to recently locate and submit DMCA requests tried to remove an IMDb entry for one of the studio’s movies, along with many legitimate trailer and promotional links, shows that even content creators have something to lose when it comes to the way DMCA request work at the moment.

For once though, the MPAA agrees with Google that the current regime isn’t working. The only problem is that the MPAA thinks the collateral damage the current DMCA processing method should be made more deadly by introducing domain-level bans. Instead of banning each page individually, the MPAA would love nothing more than to be able to ban an entire domain name. And I’m sure I know which domains the MPAA already has in mind.

The obvious problems with this aside (I just hope they don’t ban IMDb.com, because it’s actually quite a useful little website for all involved), the real problem is that this kind of corporate controlled censorship doesn’t actually work to stop people from visiting these websites, let alone stop piracy, let alone help movie studios to make more money. Most of these websites don’t even rely on search engines for the majority of their traffic, so it’s all a bit pointless.

But since when has big content’s anti-piracy methods been anything but pointless?

Which is probably why the most successful anti-piracy initiative devised for the music industry has been something that the music industry fought hard against: Spotify. This week, the founder of Spotify Daniel Ek revealed his main motivation in coming up with Spotify, and it in fact was related to piracy. Ek wanted to create something that would defeat piracy by being better than it, and in the end, it took a lot of convincing for the music industry to actually sign up.

With Spotify now having 5 million paying subscribers worldwide, and more than half a billion dollars in revenue being generated for the music industry where previously there was none, it has to be considered a great success. I’m actually listening to Spotify while I’m writing this WNR, so even if my free ad-supported account doesn’t generate a lot of revenue for artists and labels, it’s more revenue than what would be generated by piracy.

Gaming

NPD this week released November’s US video game sales figures, the first set that includes the newly released Wii U. With Nintendo a little bit more forthcoming with their hardware sales stats, it was almost enough to grant us a full set of hardware sales figures (but Sony’s Scroogeness when it comes to PS3 sales data prevented this, sadly). So much so that I thought about doing a full NPD analysis just like in the good old days, but I ended up settling for a news article and a little bit more of an analysis right here.

The Wii U’s launch, at least in the US, looks like a success, but can also be classified as a failure, depending on where you stand. While raw sales figures (425,000 sold in the first week) were down compared to the Wii launch (475,000 sold), the pricier Wii U meant that Nintendo made more money from slightly fewer unit sales as a result. So in this respect, it was a good launch.

ZombieU on Wii U

The Nintendo Wii U should try and emulate the Xbox 360′s success in combining casual and hardcore gaming, with a good price, multimedia capabilities, and a great online community

But if you consider the fact that the Wii was coming off a largely unsuccessful Gamecube, the Wii U is coming off the ubiquitous Wii. With backward compatibility support, both in software and hardware, the natural upgrade path from the Wii to the Wii U is natural, but the sales figure so far suggests that perhaps it isn’t a natural choice for most to upgrade. On the other hand, the Wii was, by standards back then, a much more innovative console with a bigger “wow factor” than the Wii U , so perhaps it’s not a fair comparison to compare the two consoles after all.

I think this holiday period has come a little too early for the console in order for us to be able to tell whether it will be a gift-giver’s favourite just like the Wii was (or still is). Next year’s holiday period will be crucial for the console, so Nintendo has a lot of work to do between now and then to “sell” their console to the perhaps more skeptical public.

This year’s gift-giver’s favourite is the Xbox 360 though, having sold 1.26 million consoles, almost twice as popular as the next most popular console. The Xbox 360 currently has a great mix of good gaming, pricing, multimedia and online support, and it’s a formula that Nintendo will want to emulate with the Wii U.

You can tell us what you think of the Wii U by voting in this poll.

On that note, thus ends this latest installment of the WNR. See you in a week. Hopefully.

 

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