Here’s Looking At You

One never knows when the urge will strike.

You know what we’re talking about. You’re taking calls, sending e-mail, Instant Messaging associates, ignoring calls and deleting e-mails. You’re busy, busy, busy.

That’s when it hits you. That sudden impulse to look at some music biz real estate.

But the digital millennium means you don’t actually have to make travel plans. No need to check airline schedules, rent automobiles or crash at your brother-in-law’s studio walk-up over a Radio Shack in Los Angeles, Miami or Denver. Instead, just head on over to Google Maps and click on "Street View."

Although limited in range, Google introduced Street View in May with street-level photos of some of the most traveled metro areas in the United States, including San Francisco and New York. More recently, the search company added Los Angeles and San Diego to its Street View repertoire. Just type in an address and up comes a photo of the location in all its brick and mortar glory.

And because many music industry companies are located in New York and Los Angeles, Street View gives you a ground-level view of the digs. That is, as long as you know the address.

For example, a few keystrokes and a mouse click will bring up Creative Artists Agency’s new Los Angeles HQ, from which we moused on over to the new offices for International Creative Management. From there we typed in addresses for The Agency Group, Front Line Management and The Firm. And Google did not disappoint.

However, Google’s street view isn’t all-encompassing. It came up empty when we tried to peek at the William Morris Agency’s Beverly Hills offices, although Google’s New York flavor of Street View landed us right at the talent agency’s front door in Manhattan. And Google has yet to offer anything for Nashville, so you’ll have to settle for plain ordinary maps and satellite photos if you want to eyeball Music City.

At this time Google offers Street View for parts of th eSan Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Denver, Houston, Orlando and Miami.

For music biz professionals, Street View offers many advantages, such as checking out a venue’s neighborhood, locating restaurants near hotels and street navigation. Sure, old-fashioned maps help, but there’s nothing like the visual when you want to see what traffic may be like outside Madison Square Garden or whether there’s street parking outside L.A.’s Staples Center.

But not everyone is happy with Street View. Although the feature serves a legitimate purpose, it’s also raising privacy concerns – mainly because Google’s street-level photographs also include whoever might have been on those streets when the company’s camera-equipped trucks rolled by.

Such as the bikini-clad coeds at Stanford University, the customer entering an adult book store in Oakland and the man engaged in deep nostril excavation in San Jose. These people have all been immortalized courtesy of Google’s Street View, according to the Los Angeles Times. And it’s all perfectly legal, for there is no expectation of privacy when one is in a public place. However, Google is making an effort to remove photos that might cause people problems.

Such as people entering or leaving Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, abortion clinics and battered women shelters. These are just some of the photographs Google has removed once people objected.

But there are demands that Google do more than remove photograph upon notification. Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kevin Bankston thinks the company should automatically blur the faces of people inadvertently appearing in a Street View photo. What’s more, Bankston has had personal experience when it comes to Street View’s potential for invading one’s privacy.

That’s because a shot of a San Francisco street just happened to catch Bankston indulging in a secret vice – smoking.

"The Street View issue is part of a broad trend where more and more information is taken from the public," Bankston told the LA Times. "We expect some degree of anonymity in our lives. How does one maintain a free society when all of your activity is scrutinized?"


Living On AmieStreet

It was a good week for

The indie online music store that describes itself as the "first digital music store propelled by social networking" received an undisclosed amount of Series A financing led by

AmieStreet is not your usual online music store. First off, anyone – from the local garage band down the street to the latest indie fav – can upload their music. Then, instead of setting prices for tracks in its inventory, AmieStreet prices each non-DRM MP3 song free of charge, and then increases the price as more people download the tune, until the price reaches the store’s ceiling of 98 cents.

AmieStreet refers to its way of doing things as the Recommending system, or REC system for short. Founded in spring 2006 by three Brown University seniors, AmieStreet’s REC system allows users to "invest" in songs.

If a person is the first to recommend a new track priced at 0 cents, and if other users download the track thus driving up the price, the person who first recommended the track receives credit toward future song purchases.

In other words, you have a community of users not only interested in purchasing new music, but discovering and recommending new tracks as well. Is it any wonder it caught Amazon’s attention?

"AmieStreet has a very smart and innovative team," said Amazon senior VP for business development Jeff Blackburn. "The idea of having customers directly influence the price of songs is an interesting and novel approach to selling digital music."


Copy Rights & Wrongs

Copyright cops were out in force during the last couple of weeks, going after YouTube, busting moviegoers and even coming down hard on a kid who thought it would be cool to post his own French translation of the latest Harry Potter novel.

The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) joined a lawsuit against Google’s YouTube, saying its songwriting members aren’t receiving proper compensation when their work appears on the video Web site.

It’s the ever-expanding lawsuit-in-progress, which started off with Viacom filing the original papers. Other lawsuits quickly followed, causing U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton to merge the legal proceedings into one big sue fest.

NMPA chief executive David Israelite said the music publishers’ group was "very concerned about YouTube’s approach to copyright."

Meanwhile, two suspected copyright infringement perps end up doing jail time for their actions in separate incidents.

A 19-year-old Arlington, Virginia, woman faces up to a year in jail and a fine that could reach $2,500 for recording about 20 seconds of a movie.

Jhannet Sejas used the video camera in her cell phone to record a few seconds of the motion picture "Transformers," saying she wanted to give her little brother a taste of the flick.

However, the theater’s assistant manager saw her holding up the phone and called the police, which carted Sejas and her boyfriend off to the local hoosgow.

So far, Sejas’ cell phone has been confiscated and the Marymount University sophomore has been banned for life from the Regal Cinemas Ballston Common movie theaters.

But that’s wasn’t enough for the theater, which is a part of the nationwide Regal Entertainment Group chain of movie auditoriums. The theater wants to prosecute for movie piracy, a first for the Arlington County police department.

"They were the victim in this case, and they felt strongly enough about it," said police spokesman John Lisle.

Then there’s the case of the French high school student who couldn’t wait for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" to be translated into his native tongue.

So he did it himself and posted the first three chapters on the Web. That’s when la merde frappe le ventilateur.

"The anti-counterfeiting police discovered the affair and contacted Ms.[J.K.] Rowling’s lawyer," said a spokeswoman for the publisher handling the fantasy series’ French editions, according to Reuters.

Soon after, the posting police arrested the 16-year-old high school student. The official French language version of the novel is scheduled for release October 26.