Thursday, March 27, 2008

RIAA doesn't want to pay for a fair defense, says victor

Even as exonerated file-sharing defendant Tanya Andersen pursues her malicious prosecution case against the music industry, there is some unattended business left over from the RIAA's original copyright infringement lawsuit. After the RIAA threw in the towel on its lawsuit against Andersen, she sought and won an award of attorneys' fees. The two parties are now trying to settle the bill, and the RIAA is only willing to pay one tenth of what Andersen's attorney is seeking.

Andersen's attorney, Lory Lybeck, is looking for just under $300,000 in fees from his defense of Andersen. The $298,995 figure submitted to the court includes a "multiplier" of two times the "reasonable" hourly rates due to the "high risk, successful" defense (Oregon law allows for multipliers).

In a brief filed earlier this month, the RIAA called the $298,995 figure "excessive" and said that it should be drastically slashed to something along the lines of $30,000. In the RIAA's opinion, Atlantic v. Andersen was a "straightforward copyright infringement claim," and the labels' independent expert believes that the fees sought are excessive "in numerous respects."

Lybeck takes issue with the RIAA's characterization of the case in his reply to the RIAA's brief. "Contrary to plaintiffs' argument, this copyright case was anything but typical or 'straightforward,'" argues Lybeck. "As the court has previously found, the proceedings were complicated, prolonged, and made more expensive by the plaintiffs' unreasonable tactics throughout the case."

Indeed, the mere existence of a malicious prosecution case accusing the RIAA of all sorts of questionable tactics seems to belie the labels' claim that Atlantic v. Andersen was "straightforward." The RIAA stands accused of racketeering, fraud, deceptive business practices, and a host of underhanded tactics such as seeking to directly contact Andersen's then-eight-year-old daughter under false pretenses.

Recently retired Judge Donald Ashmanskas, who presided over Atlantic v. Andersen, took issue with the labels' tactics, writing "[w]hatever plaintiffs' reasons for the manner in which they have prosecuted this case, it does not appear to be justified as a reasonable exploration of the boundaries of copyright law." The RIAA did not act "in an objectively reasonable matter," Judge Ashmanskas wrote in one ruling.

Lybeck is seeking payment for over 540 hours of work. That's way too much, argue the labels, because those hours include time spent on counterclaims that were voluntarily dismissed as well as on "talking to the media" and working on the attorneys' fees question. Lybeck replies that all of those things are covered and notes that the argument the RIAA makes is "exactly the opposite" of those made throughout the case.

That's not the only double standard from the RIAA, Lybeck says. He notes that the RIAA frequently had multiple attorneys present in court, including six at a single hearing. Despite that, the RIAA says that Andersen's having just two lawyers present at a hearing or deposition is "duplicative" and that only one should be reimbursed. "Defendants like Ms. Andersen... should be allowed to defend themselves as aggressively as the RIAA prosecutes claims against them," Lybeck counters.

The labels are also upset about Lybeck's travel expenses. Lybeck told Ars earlier this month that the RIAA was digging its heels in on that issue. "Andersen tried to get a local lawyer," he told us. "But no one would take the case unless she agreed to default on the judgment and file bankruptcy."

Ultimately, the dustup over attorneys' fees isn't that surprising. Losers seldom like writing checks for the winners, and the RIAA is no exception. After exonerated defendant Debbie Foster won an attorneys' fees award in the case the RIAA brought against her, the RIAA appealed and dragged its feet before finally cutting a $68,685 check.

As was the case with Capitol v. Foster, there's likely going to be more back and forth before a final fee is agreed upon—or ordered by the judge. One thing is certain: the RIAA sued, lost, and the judge has said it is going to have to pay up.

Original here

Reznor vs. Radiohead: Innovation Smackdown

Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have been taking turns giving the music industry the finger. The British band made headlines last October for releasing In Rainbows without the support (read: control) of a record label, and Trent Reznor's group followed suit with last month's Ghosts I-IV.

The two bands have also been busy one-upping each other with their innovative promotion strategies. We were tempted to let the groups coexist peacefully at the forward edge of digital distribution until Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor accused Radiohead of betraying fans by selling them low-quality files. In light of Reznor's accusations, we put together a 10-round, voting-enabled smackdown to find out which band is really blazing the trail of innovation.

Click on the head next to the best argument in each round.

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Sweded Tron Movie Is Probably Best Sweded Movie Ever

While it's not the entire movie, this sweded lightcycle scene from Tron, every computer geek's favorite movie this side of War Games, has to be the best sweded version of a film in the entire history of sweded films. It may not be as funny as the hilarious sweded BigDog quadruped robot or the sweded Star Wars after the jump, but the execution of its cardboardish cheesiness is absolutely perfect.

And yes, I like to say "swede." I like swedes, some of my best friends are swedes, and I want to move to Sweden. I can't have enough of the TIE Fighters here either.

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50 Movies That All Guys Should See Before They Die - A Modern Guide

Classic movies like Bullit, Easy Rider, The French Connection, amongst others, are guy movies, but our list is a modern guide (past 20 years). The movies in this list are pretty much everything that chick flicks are not: any or all of bad ass cars, ass-kickings, kick-ass girls, scary monsters, super creeps, outrageous or immature comedy, with the occasional bit of real emotional or intellectual depth. It’s not necessarily about an award-winning film, though we’ve included lots of those. It’s about the elements of a guy movie. Some of these should be seen for the actors/ acting, some for the story, others for the cinematography or special effects, and still others for more obscure reasons that are harder to define well.

Enjoy, and feel free to commend us or tell us how dumb we are for forgetting YOUR fave guy movie. But beg, borrow, torrent, buy, rent, pay per view, and pass the buttered Orville, please. In each of the five main sections (#50-41, #40-31, etc.), to see a larger poster, trailer, and movie details, please click on the movie title.

Please also note that much of the content in these movies, and sometimes the video trailers, is intended for adults and might be occasionally be NSFW. View with discretion.

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4 Questions for Star Wars Modelmaker Grant McCune

Before the days of computer-generated graphics (fighting Transformers! scowling sabertooth tigers!), filmmakers such as George Lucas relied on tiny plastic models to lure us into a world of X-Wings, Death Stars and Millennium Falcons. Back then, it took a lot of time and a lot of imagination to trick the eye into believing that the fate of the Rebellion rested in a small piece of plastic. Still, many film buffs maintain, the old models looked more realistic than today’s expensive effects. Lucas’s team of F/X wizards took home an Oscar for Star Wars in 1977, and one of the quiet but crucial innovators among them was Grant McCune. Since then, he’s built models for over 100 films, spanning decades of sci-fi and action classics, from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Speed and Spider-Man 2. McCune granted PM a rare interview from his California-based studio, where his company, Grant McCune Design, still pumps out today’s R2-D2 2.0 designs. —Seth Porges

What’s the secret to making a good model?
For motion picture miniatures and production miniatures, I’ve always told people to get a good background in photography first. The most important thing is what you see with your eye. Movies are a lot different from reality. This is because you’ve isolated the viewer’s eye to a certain spot—you can’t look anywhere else. If you’re a photographer, you get the idea of what you need to do by analyzing what it is that needs to be set and where it is and how much detail it should have. All the best people who ever worked for me were first good with the eye.

So what should amateurs do to perfect this?

Just look at photographs, sit and analyze what’s there and where it’s positioned. Miniaturization is really just fooling the eye about perspective—how far away it is really. The 1:10 scale is just 10 times closer. If you’re a hobbyist and want to become a movie modelmaker, take your models and set them up and photograph them and see if they look real. You can use real background with your model—they call them dioramas in hobby modeling. Some work as a diorama, but they don’t work as a realistic miniature. So you need to try different things and see what works.

What’s the simplest way to make your models better?
The first big thing is what we call surface excitement or surface enhancement. If you take a model of a 747, it’s pretty plain, it’s pretty homogeneous across the body. But if you look closely, there are really subtle differences in contrast, reflections, oil, grease spots, dents. We try to overdo that a bit. It’s kind of like extra makeup on a model: You try to get all those blank spaces that are just going to pass as nothing, and then a little excitement and a little enhancement. It doesn’t have to be real, it just has to be something that fools the eye. For Star Wars, for the models of spaceships we used to make, all the stuff on them was model kit parts from tank and bridge models. We just put them in places they were needed. And the marks don’t have to have rhyme or reason—the Millennium Falcon probably had 15 pounds of model parts off plastic trees taken from tank and bridge kits. You just clip out the stuff and glue it on and then paint it­. We painted the Millennium Falcon all gray—it makes the lighting right. There’s a certain three-dimensionality about it.

What’s the perfect scale for making a model look real?
If it’s kinetic and in motion, it has to be pretty big—minimum 1:4 scale. If it has to blow up or fall in water, then you need to go bigger, because water and fire don’t miniaturize well. Almost everything else does, but water has this peculiar property. Water drops are white when you see a bunch of them, but up close they’re clear. It’s because of surface tension.

And scale also depends on how big a space you have to photograph in. I’ve used car models that were down to 1:24 or 1:32, but they were just background stuff. And then, in the movie Daylight, we built all these 1:4 scale models that had to actually look like they were moving. When you get too small, it gets pretty tedious.

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Dr Pepper Will Give Everyone* in America a Free Soda If Axl Rose Releases New Guns N' Roses Album, Chinese Democracy, In 2008

PLANO, Texas, March 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Tired of a world in which Americans idolize wannabe singers and musicals about high schoolers pass as rock 'n roll music, Dr Pepper is encouraging (ok, begging) Axl Rose to finally release his 17-year-in-the-making belabored masterpiece, Chinese Democracy, in 2008.

In an unprecedented show of solidarity with Axl, everyone in America, except estranged GNR guitarists Slash and Buckethead, will receive a free can of Dr Pepper if the album ships some time -- anytime! -- in 2008. Dr Pepper supports Axl, and fully understands that sometimes you have to make it through the jungle before you get it right.

"It took a little patience to perfect Dr Pepper's special mix of 23 ingredients, which our fans have come to know and love," said Jaxie Alt, director of marketing for Dr Pepper. "So we completely understand and empathize with Axl's quest for perfection -- for something more than the average album. We know once it's released, people will refer to it as "Dr Pepper for the ears" because it will be such a refreshing blend of rich, bold sounds -- an instant classic."

Show your support for Axl and get on the nightrain of encouragement at -

About Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper is a leading brand in the beverage portfolio of Plano, Texas-based Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages (CSAB), a subsidiary division of Cadbury Schweppes plc . CSAB is one of the largest producers of soft drinks and premium beverages in the Americas. CSAB's brand portfolio includes Dr Pepper, 7UP, Snapple, Accelerade, Mott's Apple Juice and Sauce, RC Cola, A&W Root Beer, Sunkist Soda, Canada Dry, Hawaiian Punch, Schweppes, Diet Rite, Clamato, Mr & Mrs T Mixers, Holland House Mixers, Rose's, Mistic, Yoo-hoo, Orangina, IBC, Stewart's, Nantucket Nectars and other well-known consumer brands. For additional information on CSAB and its products, visit

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Trippiest Twilight Zone Episode Becomes A Movie

A classic Twilight Zone episode written by Richard (I Am Legend) Matheson is getting a big-screen update called Countdown. The original episode, "Death Ship," is about three astronauts who arrive on an alien planet, only to find their own dead bodies, in a crashed version of their own ship. The movie version will be written and directed by Michael Brandt, co-writer of 3:10 To Yuma and the upcoming Wanted. Details (and spoilers) below.

Says Brandt:

Countdown is fantastic because it wraps the themes of fate and predestination in a movie that is really a giant puzzle (that will also) be fun for the audience to piece together... The updates that are successful - not just of this but of any of the great 1950s Sci-Fi concepts - are those that take the idea and bring a modern sensibility to it. When it misses sometimes, it's because people get caught up in the story from start to finish.
"Death Ship" was a short story by Matheson before he adapted it into a TV episode. In the famous TV version, after the astronauts discover their own wrecked ship and corpses, they reason that they've jumped forward in time and all they have to do is change their actions to avoid this fate. (Which could be the "predestination" stuff Brandt is talking about.) But there's also a lot of other stuff, including the astronauts seeing visions of their dead friends, and it's hinted that they may actually be dead already, and just seeing weird afterlife visions. The whole episode is up on YouTube.[SciFiNow]

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Sir Ian McKellen Says He WILL Return as Gandalf in The Hobbit!


Although most of us knew this had to be the case or else we would have protested the making of The Hobbit, profound British actor Sir Ian McKellen confirms that he most definitely will return as the wonderful wizard Gandalf! Earlier today on his official website, McKellen answered numerous fan questions in an E-Post, two of which pertained specifically to The Hobbit. The short of it is that he will be back and he even in fact mentions Guillermo del Toro as the director, but unfortunately there is no signed deal yet and it's still not close to moving into production.

The third question down gets right to the point - will you again be our Gandalf in The Hobbit now that the deal is settled?

"Yes I will, if Peter Jackson and I have anything to do with it, he being the producer and me being, on the whole, a very lucky actor. I've just read your quote out loud - fabulous speech."

The quote he speaks of is one that the questioner took straight from The Hobbit: Shall the dreaming masses with their musty books and their blackened pipes at long last hear those immortal words issued from under that famous nose? "Yes, yes, my dear sir–and I do know your name, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. And you do know my name, though you don't remember that I belong to it. I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me! To think that I should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Took's son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!"

One other question inquired as to whether he had actually be approached by Peter Jackson yet since filming is supposed to commence in 2009. His answer:

"Encouragingly, Peter and Fran Walsh have told me they couldn't imagine The Hobbit without their original Gandalf. Their confidence hasn't yet been confirmed by the director Guillermo del Toro but I am keeping my diary free for 2009!"

Oh thank the heavens! Things are already starting to look up for The Hobbit! I couldn't imagine it without McKellen either and I can say that this is easily the biggest sigh of relief ever to hear him utter those words. Now the next big step is actually getting this off the ground and into production. Unfortunately given that New Line buckled, it's probably going to take even more time for this to actually come together. At least we can sit in confidence knowing that our beloved Gandalf will be back while we wait until Peter Jackson, New Line, and Warner Brothers work out their woes.

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