Minnesota resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 32, was thrust into the public eye in 2006, when the music industry chose her for the most unenviable role imaginable: the poster girl of the brand of digital piracy that the average Joe practices from the comforts of his home. Several record companies sued her for copyright infringement on April 19, 2006.
Though the court originally ordered Thomas-Rasset to pay a fine of $220,000, the fine was raised to a vertiginous $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song, at a retrial. She was now left with a three-pronged hope: a court will scrap the fine or at least lower it; or a bankruptcy court will pave the way for her escape; or she will land a major book deal.
The decision leaves the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with seven days to either accept the fresh fine or request a retrial. Joe Sibley, one of the defendant's attorneys, told Cnet that the judge had made “it much more equitable and this was much closer to the $0 award that we were seeking."
Cnet's Greg Sandoval has learnt from his sources that RIAA is not too keen on taking this any further as it only wanted to use the case as a deterrent. Sandoval also reminds everyone that Thomas-Rasset's refusal to settle with RIAA left it with no choice but to drag her to court.
Are you ready to rock? Because you'll be doing a lot of head-banging and dancing around once you've transformed every computer in your living area into a collective speaker system. Perhaps the better question remains unasked: Why would you do this? Because you can. Because you want to. Because it reverses the issue of having to connect to or stream from a central music repository (like an iTunes database) and instead allows you to push tunes out of a single music hub to anywhere you want to them to go.
Also, you want to do this because the app that makes this cacophonous symphony possible--SpeakerShare--is super-easy to use and well worth the small time investment you'll make. For the full details on this virtual conductor, check out the rest of the article after the jump.
Microsoft seems to be pushing ahead with software updates to the Zune HD. In an upcoming spring firmware release, the player will get support for XviD encoded videos and streaming playlists. If you have a hard drive full of XviD files (that you may or may not have gotten via BitTorrent) this is certainly good news, as you won’t have to convert them whenever you want to view them on the Zune HD. Support for the similar, but proprietary, DivX codec is unlikely.
The streaming playlists will be an extension of the Smart DJ offering already in the Zune desktop software. This will allow the device to offer playlist suggestions much like the iTunes Genius feature. Smart DJ will pack a little extra surprise, though. When the player is in range of Wi-Fi, Smart DJ can stream songs right from the Zune Marketplace without the need for local storage. Does this make the Zune HD a more appealing device in your opinion?
European Commission's consumer protection unit has chalked out a new plan under which MP3 and mobile phone makers will be required to throttle device volume in a bid to save millions from the risk of deafness. However, millions of MP3 and mobile phone users will have to bear that risk for another two years - the amount of time EU has earmarked for manufacturers to come up with new devices.
New devices will ship with their sound levels capped at 80 decibels. But the consumer will be free to tinker with the factory settings. "If consumers chose to over-ride the default settings they can, but there will be clear warnings so they know the risks they are taking," said Meglena Kuneva, the head of European Commission’s consumer protection unit.
When can a file encapsulate more than one type of data? When it’s a metafile, wrapper, or container file. You might think of a container file as a package or envelope in which other files are housed. Zip files, which can contain documents, photos, videos, software programs, and many other types of files, are one type of container that you encounter frequently.
We’ll limit our discussion here to media container formats. A pure container file specifies how the data is stored, but it doesn’t necessarily know how it was compressed or encoded or even what is required to play back those files. This can lead to confusion when dealing with container files wrapped around media because there’s a chance that the media player you’re using is capable of opening the container but not equipped with the algorithm required to decode the files inside. Although a container can theoretically hold any type of data, most are optimized during development to wrap around particular data groups, e.g., digital audio for music; static images for digital photographs; or digital video interleaved with digital audio, plus subtitles, closed-caption information, and chapter data for movies. Container formats that support video also include the information required to synchronize the various data streams in the file during playback.
Smashing Pumpkins is taking a page from Radiohead's pay-what-you-like business model the band used for its In Rainbows album, but rather than asking listeners to pony up a self-imposed fair price, Smashing Pumpkins plans to give away 44 songs free of charge.
The band said it had begun recording its new album on Tuesday called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, which will feature 44 songs in all.
"My desire is to release a song at a time beginning around Halloween of this year, with each new release coming shortly after until all 44 are out," Billy Corgan, lead guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins announced on his blog. "Each song will be made available absolutely for free, to anyone anywhere. There will be no strings attached. Free will mean free, which means you won't have to sign up for anything, give an email address, or jump through a hoop."
Corgan went on to say the band plans to sell highly limited edition EPs, details of which are still being hashed out. Other variants may also be made for sale, such as a digital single with a demo version of a song, Corgan added. And once the entire album is finished, fans will be able to buy a deluxe box set.
Apple's iTunes and other online music services might be all the rage, but don't go putting CDs into the same category as 8-track tapes. According to a new survey by The Music Ally Speakerbox, CDs are still the preferred medium.
The survey polled 1,000 people and found that a whopping 73 percent, or nearly three-quarters, preferred purchasing CDs rather than downloading their groovy tunes. And these aren't just older folk resisting change, either. The survey found that 66 percent of respondents between the age of 14 and 18 would rather buy a CD than shell out for an MP3 online.
"Music fans have spoken and digital is evidently not the clear cut replacement to the physical CD," said Tim Walker, chief executive of The Leading Question, the research division of music consultancy Musy Ally responsible for carrying out the survey.
Surprised by the results? Hit the jump and tell us which medium you prefer.
For the second time, a jury on Thursday found Jammie Thomas liable for willful copyright infringement, this time ordering her to pay fines totaling an eye-popping $1.92 million to the RIAA. The surprise decision breaks down to $80,000 for each of the 24 songs Thomas was found guilty of illegally sharing. According to ArsTechnica, Thomas let out a gasp as the fine was read.
"Good luck trying to get it from me," Thomas said when speaking about the verdict. "It's like squeezing blood from a turnip."
For those who haven't been following, Thomas in 2007 was initially accused of illegally sharing 1,700 songs, but the RIAA dropped that number down to 24. In October of the same year, a jury found her guilty and imposed a $222,000 verdict against her. The decision was later thrown out when U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said he erred when giving his jury instructions that simply making songs available amounted to copyright infringement.
The RIAA, big winners in the retrial, told reporters that they have always been, and still are, willing to settle the case. Thomas' lawyer acknowledged the settlement offer, but said he plans to file numerous motions if Thomas chooses to continue the fight.
Through a partnership with Universal, Virgin Media said it plans to launch an unlimited music download subscription service. The well timed announcement comes just one day before a British report hits the public eye detailing how the creative and telecom industries should go about bumping up digital sales to cope with lost revenue due to online piracy.
"We listened to our customers, our fans, and our artists and we think that this is an opportunity to bring music to a wider audience," said Lucian Grainge, Universal Music chairman and CEO.
According to Reuters, people familiar with the service said it would cost around $16 to $24 per month. Both sides are describing the service as a world first, which would allow Virgin Media broadband customers to both listen to streaming tracks and download however many tracks and albums they want.
Unlike other unlimited subscription services, the downloadable MP3s won't come with any DRM shackles, which means the tracks can be transferred to and played from any MP3-capable device.
"This is really high stakes, if this can't work then what will," commented Mark Mulligan, an analyst with Jupiter.
Let the streaming music wars begin. Just last week Microsoft went on the offensive and attacked Apple's iTunes service over its pricing model compared to the Zune Pass unlimited subscription service, which serves up all-you-can-listen-to tunes plus 10 free tracks for $14.99/month. Looking to leapfrog ahead of them both, Napster, now a Best Buy commodity, is planning to relaunch its subscription music service with a $5 deal that includes 5 free tracks every month.
"There's no need to settle for 30-second clips to decide if you want to buy a song," said Chris Gorog, CEO of Napster. "For five bucks now you can have access to our entire music catalog and get five MP3s to add to your permanent collection."
The new pricing model, which goes into effect tonight, could put Napster in contention with more popular music services and put the one-time P2P pioneer back on top. Napster's catalog sits at over 7 million strong and includes more than 60 commercial-free radio stations, which seems like an obscene amount of content for the same price as a Subway footlong.
Anyone plan on giving Napster a second look? Hit the jump and sound off.