The Null Device


Hungary votes yes to EU membership, with a large majority (albeit of a low turnout) assenting to joining the EU next year. Meanwhile, a pro-EU party wins the Maltese general election, confirming the island state's (non-binding) yes vote last month. Next stop: Lithuania, in around a month's time.

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Gangsta rap, it seems, is the new Norwegian Black Metal, with performers competing fiercely for who can be the baddest. One rapper allegedly murdered his roommate and ate her flesh, apparently to be the most stupendous badass who ever cut a record. It has been alleged in court that Death Row Records supplied Antron "Big Lurch" Singleton with drugs "to encourage (him) to act out in an extreme violent manner so as to make him more marketable as a 'Gangsta Rap' artist."

"Part of what makes a Gangsta Rap artist marketable is the fact that the artist is a current ongoing participant in violent gang activities," the lawsuit said.

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India considers preemptive strike on Pakistan, cites U.S. Iraq war precedent.The world feels much safer already.

Meanwhile, weapons inspector Hans Blix speaks out, accusing the US and Britain of planning a war long in advance and undermining weapons inspections. Another former weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, meanwhile, has apparently jumped on the Mike Moore bandwagon and made a documentary about the whole thing, making a similar point.


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating complaints against EMI over its crippled CDs. The complaint does not claim that copying CDs is a right, but instead argues that the audio provided for PC users is of inferior quality. Though isn't the ACCC now run by a pro-business figure appointed by Howard? I suspect that it may not be as keen to take on big business as it was during the Fels days.

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This afternoon, I went along to the Museum to see Architecture in Helsinki and their new video. They performed in one of the galleries (a room full of contemporary Australian objects, lit dimly in various contemporary Australian colours), playing in front of a large video screen, and doing various of their songs, as well as a cover of The Cure's Close To Me, before putting on and playing along to the videos. Firstly they played a video they had made that day in the museum, full of stop-motion video of band members and various kids moving around in the museum (which was quite amusing, and very impressive given the timeframe in which it was made); and then, their video for Like A Call, which had apparently been aired on Rage. The latter video was, as you'd expect from them, exceedingly twee. Two little kids (a little boy and girl) and a puppy go for a ride in a borrowed car, and end up jumping off a cliff. All very cute, in a South-Park-meets-Czech-animation sort of way.

(One thing I noticed: the little boy in the video looked like a baseball cap-clad homie, unlike the twee characters seen elsewhere. (You wouldn't expect to see Boy in Cat and Girl wearing Fubu thugwear, would you?) Perhaps AIH, drawing on post-hiphop kidlore, are being up-to-date in their twee iconography, with all the other twee popsters being retro?)

Anyway, with any luck they'll end up releasing their animations, perhaps on a DVD.

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Apple, the company who brought the iPod MP3 player, "Rip, Mix, Burn" and Macintoshes which die when you put copy-protected CDs in them, is allegedly planning to buy the Universal Music Group, the world's largest music copyright-holding conglomerate. I wonder who'll have the whip hand in the deal; whether Apple will end up going towards end-to-end copy-control à la Intel/Microsoft, or whether copyright hardliner Edgar Bronfman's old empire will do a 180-degree turn and take a more reasonable approach to intellectual property issues; not to mention whether the deal will just include the recording-industry part of Universal or their numerous MP3 operations, such as EMusic and (which, I imagine, Apple could combine nicely with their iPod business). One thing's for sure, though: they're not going to call the new operation Apple Records.

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While the recording industry is going to hell, blaming the MP3 kiddies and the lack of legally mandated end-to-end copyright enforcement for their woes, indie labels and artists have never had it better. Sure, Clear Channel (or Austere-o or JJJ) won't play their material, but profits and sales are up for them. Meanwhile, their artists get a bigger cut of their sales and actually end up seeing some of their money (unlike the major-label artists who don't happen to shift a million units). (And the indie labels are also in no hurry to put the latest form of copyright BDSM on their discs, unlike the majors.) (via Graham)

At a major label, most artists are unlikely to earn anything unless they sell at least 1 million albums, and even then, they could wind up in debt. Everything from studio time to limo rides are charged against their royalties, which might be only $1 per disc sold. That compares with an indie artist, who can sell a disc for $15 at a concert. If they make $5 profit a disc on 5,000 discs, they pocket $25,000.

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