Europe Whips Up Royalty Regulations
Today in international tech news: Europe rewrites laws to ensure royalties on digital music; Amazon contemplates entering the smartphone market; Mark Zuckerberg's college roommate heads to the Olympics; YouTube plans to launch premium channels in France; and ACTA may not be dead after all.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, introduced legislation that will make it easier for agencies to collect royalties on digital music, according to The New York Times.
The bill will aim to modernize the EU's 250 collecting societies, which collect money from music users -- bars, restaurants, radio stations and so on -- and distribute royalties to copyright holders.
These 250 societies collect about US$7.5 billion per year, according to the Times, but they are inefficient and in some cases don't properly distribute royalties. The Commission says that less than half the collected royalties are distributed within the first year, and that it can take up to three years to distribute 10 percent.
One problem with the royalty-collection scheme is that the EU has 27 countries, yet no harmonized method for regulating pan-European digital content. Apple's iTunes is the continent's only legitimate digital music service, according to the Times.
Amazon Could Enter Smartphone Jungle
Amazon.com is collaborating with Asian component suppliers to test smartphones, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon, which entered the electronics world with the Kindle e-reader and Kindle Fire tablet, is apparently also testing mass production of phones. It could start manufacturing smartphones later this year or in early 2013, according to the Journal.
While it lacked some of the Journal's details, Bloomberg first reported that Amazon was planning to make a smartphone. Amazon is working with iPad and iPhone manufacturer Foxconn International Holdings, according to Bloomberg.
Zuckerberg Roommate Heading to Olympics
The freshman roommate of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will compete in this summer's London Olympics, according to Bloomberg.
The roommate, Samyr Laine, will participate in the triple jump for Haiti, where his parents are from.
Laine, who is likely to take a job at a New York law firm after the Olympics, doesn't reveal any juicy tidbits in the article. Just that he and Zuckerberg got along and that Zuckerberg didn't sleep much.
The best anecdote may have been that Zuckerberg once overslept for a computer science final exam. Zuckerberg apparently ran out of the room and, after arriving an hour late to the exam, got the highest grade in the class.
YouTube Goes Premium in France
YouTube launched so-called "professional channels" in America last December, but this would be a first outside the U.S.
In France, YouTube is apparently collaborating with content producers and celebrities, including Oscar-winning Jean Dujardin. The programming is expected to be wide-ranging, including cooking, health and comedy, among other things.
The Next Web reports that the UK and Germany could be the next.
Wait, ACTA's Not Dead?
One week after the European Union officially voted down ACTA, leaked documents suggest that the EU might be eying a different -- though strikingly similar -- copyright agreement, according to tech columnist Michael Geist.
Geist writes that the EU could use the Canada-EU Trade Agreement, or CETA, as a "backdoor mechanism" to implement controversial elements of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which was panned across the continent.
Canada and the EU agreed in February to include many of the provisions of ACTA into CETA, Geist said, citing leaked documents. Geist goes on to compare passages of ACTA and CETA, highlighting the similarities.