Digitize photos and videos with FotoBridge

A few weeks ago, I decided to back up my family’s photo memories with FotoBridge. I sent a combo of about 2,000 photos and negatives to their digital lab in New Jersey, and soon afterwards received a hard drive full of great scans, along with my original photos.

My FotoBridge experience was terrific. My boxes of photo memories that were once sitting at home have now been moved to the cloud to share with family and friends. I thought there might be some Murfie members out there with similar needs, so I contacted the company about putting together an offer for Murfie folks.

Special discount for Murfie members: Order by Feb 12th and receive 15% off everything (including options) + FREE Extra Duplicate Disc Set backup! COUPON CODE = MURFOTO

FotoBridge will not only take your photos, but your slides, negatives, home movies and videos. Everything is then scanned and copied the way you prefer, including high-quality DVDs, CDs, mobile drives, online delivery via ftp, and photo sharing sites. You can even customize your package to include your favorite formats and the number of copies you want made.

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It feels good to know that my family’s memories are protected forever now, and can’t be destroyed, lost, or stolen. In life, I think it’s good to have a reliable backup of the things that mean the most to you. At Murfie, we’ve got your music covered. Leave it to FotoBridge to handle your photos. As you can see, great minds think alike ;-)

Henry Mackaman

HM

Usually the fare on our blog is light and fun. With much sadness in our hearts, this is neither one of those posts nor one of those weeks.

Our co-worker and friend Henry Mackaman succumbed yesterday to meningitis. He fought hard and nobly. His family and friends were there at his bedside when he left us. He will be terribly missed. No one here at Murfie was surprised with his generosity in being an organ donor, and Henry’s untimely death may provide up to 54 other people with the chance for a better life of their own.

As our blog readers know, Henry was a contributor here, penning, stellarly, our fledgling “This Week in Music History” column. It was great.

In addition to his many other skills and talents, Henry was a musician and played guitar in his band Phantom Vibration. Take a listen to the track Sapience, which Henry wrote. It oddly seems to fit the mood at Murfie HQ – and everywhere else where people who loved Henry are mourning.

Henry had a huge, bright smile, and a genuinely happy personality. Everybody loved being around him. One of our managers shared, “I’ll never forget meeting this quirky kid for the first time in his interview. He came in with his long board, sweating after skating up State Street.”

Our friend had a great mind, and a kind heart, and no one will ever forget him.

Rest in Peace, Henry.

Update: If you’d like to make a donation in tribute to Henry to St. Paul Central High School Music Boosters, The Henry Mackaman Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin Foundation, and/or Minnesota Public Radio “The Current”, please follow this link: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/henrymackaman

Phonorecords: A Matter Where Matter Still Matters

 

Judge Sullivan’s decision in the recent Capitol Records versus ReDigi ruling allows for what we all know is perfectly legal; exchange and personal uses of original physical media, like the original commercial CDs that Murfie stores for an owner, providing access only to the owner.

Beyond that, the ruling was a bit of a letdown. In this modern era of digital audio delivered across high speed networks, we all wanted a profound decision about the future of ownership of our media.  We wanted a ruling that clearly let us know whether our iTunes downloads were albums we really owned versus data we’ve merely licensed. Instead, the case came down to the copying of… phonorecords. Phonorecords?

As defined by copyright law, phonorecords are the “material objects” in which the music is fixed. When the law was created in 1976, this meant vinyl records, eight-track tapes, and cassettes. The various music formats which followed over the years were also very clearly material objects. In the ReDigi case, the judge takes the definition of phonorecord to an entirely new level that now includes the physical section of magnetic bits stored on our harddrives in the case of iTunes downloads. By contrast, an album that is sold or accessed on Murfie’s platform simply is a CD phonorecord, stored for its owner’s convenience in Murfie’s disc vault.

And, this is where ReDigi ran into trouble. The instant that original, licensed download of Thriller was saved on our harddrive, that tiny section of bits on our physical drive became the material object associated with that phonorecord. Short of teleportation, it didn’t matter how fancy ReDigi’s system of transferring data was because, in the end, ownership of the concrete physical thing wasn’t conveyed to the buyer. The judge ruled that the laws of physics made it impossible to transfer a phonorecord (i.e. a material object) across a network in a manner that didn’t involve making a copy.

Extending the definition of a phonorecord to account for bits on a drive leaves open some interesting questions. The judge ruled that the first sale doctrine “still protects a lawful owner’s sale of her ‘particular’ phonorecord, be it a computer hard disk, iPod, or other memory device onto which the file was originally downloaded.” This seems to imply that we’re able to sell a harddrive containing a bundle of original mp3 downloads. But what about those mp3s that were transferred over to this harddrive when we upgraded it to a larger size? Or, even those files that were copied over to a new directory (file system specifics aside)?

In tying the case back to elements of copyright in place long before the rise of digital audio, the judge took a conservative approach and declined an opportunity to chart a path for first sale in the digital realm. He cited as much in his decision: “Congress has the constitutional authority and the institutional ability to accommodate fully the varied permutations of competing interests that are inevitably implicated by such new technology.”

In other words, congress needs to update our laws if the original copy of your iTunes download on your harddrive is going to be considered something more than a phonorecord that’s stuck with you (or whomever has your computer). So, for those of us waiting around for a digital first sale doctrine, it could be a while.

In the meantime, Murfie already provides a path forward for music ownership in a digital world. We’ll continue to maximize the value of your music within time-tested laws, but we also applaud any work entrepreneurs, legislators, and courts do to modernize those laws to reflect how our systems for transacting, storing, and accessing music, books, and movies that we own actually work. These advances are good for all parties and can hardly fail to lead to many new opportunities for creators, the various supporting media businesses, and fans alike.

Please drop in and check us out.

Last updated: 04/02/2013 at 4:22pm; a draft was posted by mistake

Irish Creating Their Own Luck, Attracting Investment

When government officials and business professionals meet here in Wisconsin to brainstorm ways to make our State a better destination for technology startups and to attract more investment capital, we often look for ideas from nearby states like Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. It’s certainly important to understand what Wisconsin’s neighbors are doing to promote their tech sectors, but Wisconsin should really set a goal to be the leader, rather than just keep up, here in the Midwest and beyond. Perhaps it’s time to seek some inspiration from farther afield.

My business partner, Preston Austin, and I recently had the opportunity to spend several days in Dublin, Ireland because our company, murfie.com, was selected to participate in a gathering of 150 of the top new companies from around the world (an event called START) that took place alongside the Dublin Web Summit. While in Dublin, we spoke with a wide variety of people on the public and private side of economic development in Ireland, including Naoise Ó Muirí, the current Lord Mayor of Dublin.

It turns out that Wisconsin and Ireland have far more in common than our ability to brew and drink great beer. Ireland’s population is 4.7 million versus 5.7 million in Wisconsin. The Irish GDP is $217 billion versus $251 billion in Wisconsin. In both Ireland and Wisconsin, about 25% of the general population has a college degree, and we both host a strong public university system.

Both Ireland and Wisconsin have made it a priority to attract and grow technology startups and the sources of investment these businesses require. We’ve both established venture loan programs and tax credit programs for angel and venture investors. Ireland has several venture co-investment programs in place similar to those currently under discussion in Wisconsin.

Ireland’s approach to growing its tech sector appears to be working. Many venture funds have opened offices in Dublin, and these funds now account for $800 million in available growth capital for Irish startups. Not all of this capital is guaranteed to go to Irish companies, but 70% of the capital invested by these firms last year did.

Companies here in Wisconsin often visit (or even relocate to) the coasts to gain access to pools of venture capital this large. I’d love to see that change. While I have no intent to give up my Capital Autumnal Fire in favor of Guinness, it’s worth looking at the similarities and differences and seeing what Wisconsin and Ireland can teach each other.

Open Letter to Bruce Willis

 

Dear Bruce,

We weren’t surprised to learn that the recent stories about taking on Apple over rights to your iTunes collection turned out to be false. However, we suspect that this issue may be of genuine concern to you and to others who have amassed large collections of digital music downloads. For that, we feel your pain – and would like to lend a hand.

As a way to clear up the music ownership question and hopefully make up for some of the trouble caused by the free-wheeling London media, we have a simple offer for you: let us replace your entire iTunes collection, on us, with music you’ll really own on Murfie. We’ve even already opened up a Murfie account for you with some albums we suspect are part of your library.

I’m sure you have an absolutely incredible music collection. And, if you’re like most of us, it’s split between all of your CDs and the stuff you’ve downloaded from iTunes. The ownership rights that come with your CDs are clear. You can give them to a friend, trade them, sell them, donate them, and easily leave them to your heirs–all things that can be done with the music you own on Murfie.

However, as the recent press coverage has pointed out, your rights to the music you’ve downloaded are quite a bit more complicated. You’re likely limited in terms of how or where you can listen to your music. You certainly can’t sell or trade your downloads, and only time will tell if it will ever become possible to legally transfer rights to your downloads to your estate.

So, let us move your music collection to Murfie. To sweeten the deal, for every album in your collection that you move to Murfie, we’ll donate $10 to our charity of choice, the VH1 Save the Music Foundation. What do you say? You’ll get a complete collection of music you own and help out a great cause in the process. It doesn’t get better than that!

Sincerely,
Matt Younkle, Co-Founder
info@murfie.com

Murfie, Funding and TechStars

This post belongs to Murfie Musings–a series where folks at Murfie and our guests take the time to share what Murfie is up to as well as explore issues that matter to media ecology.

It raised a few eyebrows in the tech-startup business press when we announced raising money in conjunction with joining the TechStars Boston 2012 class. If we’ve already raised capital, the thinking goes, then what’s the point?

It’s true that a crucial objective of many companies at TechStars is raising their first real round of seed capital. Turns out there are also plenty of funded companies that participate in TechStars, too. Murfie can now be added to this growing list.

I’m a competitive guy. Most entrepreneurs are. The competition to make it into TechStars is intense for a startup at any stage of growth, and it’s an awesome group that gets selected to participate. I think that what our team has built is incredible, and it’s great to see recognition of that via our invitation into the TechStars community. We’re midway through the second week of the program, and I feel privileged to be surrounded by such an amazing bunch of entrepreneurs.

So why TechStars for Murfie? Because seed funding is only one small step along a long path toward success. We need help developing our marketing strategy. We need help simplifying our message. We need help nailing our metrics. We need help establishing strong connections to additional capital for our next big raise. Murfie has a long way to go, and we want to be able to crush it every step of the way. That’s why TechStars is absolutely the perfect place for Murfie right now.