news digest


RIAA piracy plan offers settlements

NEW YORK — The RIAA is launching a new anti-piracy program to encourage illegal peer-to-peer users to settle infringement claims before the record companies file lawsuits against them. The program began Wednesday with 400 pre-litigation letters going out to 13 universities. Currently, record companies file John Doe lawsuits because they don't know anything more than a computer address. Under the new initiative, laid out Wednesday by RIAA executive vp and general counsel Steven Marks, the RIAA will send pre-lawsuit letters to universities, asking the schools to forward them to students after they are identified. If the RIAA hears back from the students within 20 days, students can settle the suit for substantially less than they could if a suit is filed.

Grindhouse fest a la Tarantino

To pave the way for "Grindhouse," the April 6 Dimension Films release that he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino will program and host the Los Angeles Grindhouse Film Festival 2007. The event, running Sunday-April 30 at the New Beverly Cinema, will be a showcase for the 1970s films exploiting sex, violence and extreme subject matter that inspired "Grindhouse," with prints on loan from Tarantino's private collection, many unavailable on DVD and which have not screened theatrically in decades.

Sony hoping to 'catch up' with its PS3s

Sony Corp. said it is on track to ship 2 million PlayStation 3s to North American stores by the end of March and expects shortages of the video game console to have eased by May. "April or May is when we feel like we're going to catch up to demand and have product fully in stock across North America and stay there," Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton said. Sony sold 244,000 PlayStation 3s in January, compared with 294,000 for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and 436,000 for Nintendo's Wii.

Oscar telecast commercial time snipped

NEW YORK — ABC's Academy Awards telecast had 30 seconds less commercial time than last year, according to a report released Wednesday by Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The telecast had 24 minutes of commercial time, down from 24 minutes, 30 seconds for the 2006 program and also down from 2004 and 2005. ABC also ran three minutes and 50 seconds' worth of promotions for such shows as "Dancing With the Stars," "Lost" and "Ugly Betty." There were 38 national advertisements for 27 brands, with General Motors Corp. the top advertiser with 31/2 minutes of commercials.

ATAS panel picks Loesch and Schwartz

Children's television programming veteran Margaret Loesch and Teri Schwartz, dean of Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Tele-vision, have been named co-chairs of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's education committee. The education committee consists of ATAS volunteers who advise and guide the foundation staff responsible for administering its education programs developed for college and university students and faculty, including the College Internship Program and the College Television Awards.

AOL closing checkbook on

NEW YORK — AOL said Wednesday that it has decided to pull funding on the action sports Web site According to an AOL spokesperson, the decision was not performance-based. AOL helped establish Lat34 in June together with production company Fusion Entertainment. The site reportedly averages 400,000 unique visitors per month, and it had 4.5 million page views in June.