“To most people, counterfeiting means forged currency first and foremost. But counterfeiters are copying an ever widening range of products. For some time they have been churning out imitation designer fashion, software and CD s. Now they are copying medicines, mobile phones, food and drink, car parts and even tobacco. New technology has broadened the range of goods that are vulnerable to copying. It has dramatically improved their quality, as well as lowering their cost of production. Where once counterfeits were cheap and shoddy imitations of the real thing, today their packaging and contents (especially for digital products such as software, music CD s and film DVD s) often render them almost indistinguishable from the genuine article.”
The movie industry is suing to block software that allows consumers to make copies of their DVDs. “The powerful Motion Picture Association of America argues that this type of software circumvents the anti-copying digital ‘locks’ that studios employ on DVDs, which would be illegal under the 1998 copyright law. There are typically no such locks on music CDs. The Motion Picture Association maintains that consumers aren’t permitted to make personal backups of DVDs, saying a movie buff whose disc becomes scratched needs to buy a new one.”
The FCC’s Michael Powell seems determined to deregulate media company owenership. This despite overwhelming public opposition. “Powell’s contempt for public opinion, evidenced by his scheduling of only one official hearing on the proposed rule changes, is so great that he refused invitations to nine semiofficial hearings at which other commissioners were present. The hearings drew thousands of citizens and close to universal condemnation of the rule changes. Likewise, an examination of roughly half the 18,000 public statements filed electronically with the FCC show that 97 percent of them oppose permitting more media concentration. Even media moguls Barry Diller and Ted Turner have raised objections, with Turner complaining, ‘There’s really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It’s not healthy’.”
“For its new Symphony Center, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has approved a risky, radical interior design that departs from traditional concert halls. The unorthodox plan… features surround seating and a ceiling that moves up and down, one of the few of its kind in the world. The center — expected to open in 2008 — is intended to lift the 58-year-old orchestra up from its acoustically atrocious Symphony Hall.”
The Cleveland Orchestra must really like its new music director. Just a year into the Franz Welser-Möst era, the orchestra has extended the young conductor’s contract through 2012, a nearly unprecedented move obviously designed to showcase the organization’s confidence in him. Welser-Möst’s appointment was somewhat controversial, as might be expected when a young and relatively unknown conductor takes the helm of an ensemble widely regarded to be among the top five in the world. But the musicians are reportedly more than happy with Welser-Möst’s leadership, and he is now guaranteed a place in Cleveland for the next decade.
The board of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has canceled a major European tour planned for summer 2004. The PSO’s continuing budget crisis prompted the move, and the orchestra insists that it still considers international touring to be an essential component of its mission. The PSO estimates it would have lost as much as $200,000 had the tour gone on as scheduled.
Some 500 arts supporters gathered in New Jersey’s state capital to protest proposed cuts in the state’s arts budget. The governor had originally proposed eliminating arts funding, but has recently suggested that half the cut might be restored. “This is a national calamity. It’s going to leave us a poorer and dumber nation. And we’re dumb enough.”
A proposal in the New York state legislature would create culture zones in cities. “The program would provide for designation of culture-zone areas, and calls for tax incentives for owners to improve properties and provide low rents for artists. Local governments would receive the ability to identify specific geographic areas that would benefit from ‘enhancements to the local arts community’.”
The Dia Foundation’s new outpost in beacon, an hour north of New York City, “changes the landscape for art in Ameria” writes Michael Kimmelman. “The museum, the largest one yet for contemporary art, enshrines part of a generation of big-thinking artists in a former Nabisco factory, a building with nearly a quarter of a million square feet of plain exhibition space.”
“After 16 troubled years and a seemingly endless series of setbacks and reverses, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, which many predict will be one of the world’s greatest concert halls, is at last on target for its twice-postponed dedication, now scheduled for October 23. The gloriously dramatic, undulating expanse of shimmering stainless steel is finally almost completed, gleaming on a 3.6-acre city block at the corner of Grand and First Streets in the centre of Los Angeles. It is expected to become a landmark which will bring new life and vitality to the area as well as providing a striking addition to the city’s cultural and architectural landscape and a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.”