Rapidshare is one of the most popular file-hosting services in the world. It is not in an entirely enviable position, though, as the affection it commands among its patrons is offset by the contempt it receives from content owners affected by the abundance of unauthorized content on its servers. The courts have time and again made it clear Rapidshare has no choice but to proactively filter content. Having been pushed into a tight corner, the Germany-based file host has come up with a plan to pacify the entertainment industry.
“If a user finds out that several attempts to download an illegal copy of a DVD are in vain, and if his several attempts to ’steal’ this DVD have just brought him to an online-store, he may finally be frustrated and willing to purchase a licensed version of this movie,” Chang wrote in a letter to entertainment industry executives. “We are willing to invest substantially into this online store and I would be glad to not just talk about RapidShare as a threat for the entertainment industry, but also about RapidShare as an interesting option to sell your products.”
Rapidshare owes most of the several petabytes of data it hosts to its popularity as a safe haven for both uploaders and downloaders of unauthorized content. It is difficult to imagine its success without the free reign its users have enjoyed over the years, although it denies ever conniving at illegal file sharing. Ironically, Rapidshare has no recollection of its past business practices and even accuses competitors of “trying really hard to gain the favor of those users, who rely on cyberlockers to spread and distribute copyright protected content.”
Europe’s favorite streaming music service, Spotify, is finally on track for a US launch. The expected release should happen in the third quarter of 2010. The Stokholm-based company is in talks with unidentified internet and cell carrier partners about the details for the launch. Spotify’s senior VP said to day that they are already in the process of buying servers space in the US.
Spotify currently has 7 million customers in Europe, about 325,000 of which pay a monthly fee for additional features. In Europe, Spotify allows users to choose specific songs to stream. This is different from US services like Pandora which just stream songs from a particular genre. However, it is currently unclear what form Spotify will take in the US.
Mobile apps already exist for the iPhone, Android, and Symbian. These would presumably be available for US users. Would you be interested in Spotify? What features would you need to see before paying for a premium subscription?
One way to put your system at risk is to zip across seedier sides of the Web visiting a bunch of porn sites, but there's an bigger threat, according to McAfee. In a new study, the security firm says that downloading digital music is twice as dangerous as visiting triple-X sites.
McAfee claims just 9 percent of adult sites are riddled with malware, adware, and spam, compared to 19 percent of digital music sites. The reason? It's harder to make a buck selling music than it is peddling porn.
"The tier-one adult sites are doing phenomenally well as businesses, and because of that they very much have their house in order," McAfee senior product manager Mark Maxwell told The Los Angeles Times.
Stalking certain celebrities online is pretty risky too. According to McAfee, searching for Britney Spears turns up more dangerous sites than searching for Lindsay Lohan. And here's your quirky stat for the day: searching for Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston is 36 percent more likely to bring up suspect sites than searching for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
A thousand pardons! I got so caught up in various bits and pieces of the weekend that I completely forgot to grace Maximum PC with a Web App of the Week for last week! It's a real shame too, as I was totally proud of (and wasted a lot of time playing with) last week's big selection.
I won't put off the details any more than necessary with my usual rambling introductions. The app's called Codeorgan and, like the name implies, it's an excellent fusion of raw geek Web construction with music--truly, my two passions.
So what is Codeorgan? You'll find out pretty quickly as soon as you hit up the main Web site. In short, the Web app uses a fairly complicated algorithm to scan the behind-the-scenes HTML content of any given Web page. It then takes this information and automatically crafts up a little synthpop-style piece of music that's somehow related to the coded mumbo-jumbo. Your results will vary (extremely). However, the beauty of the app isn't necessarily for the music it creates. Rather, it's just a great example of how data in one construct--Web creation--can be parsed out to a completely different form and function--music--with a touch of engineering prowess.
That, and Codeorgan will waste two to three hours of your day as you frantically leap about the Web trying to find the coolest automatic construction of a song that you can lay your hands on. I had great results with CNN one day, yet found the song lacking as the news updated throughout the next few hours. If you find a relatively static site that delivers a rocking beat, do be sure to leave it in the comments!
Apple on Thursday announced that more than 10 billion songs have been purchased and downloaded from the company's iTunes Store.
"We're grateful to all of our customers for helping us reach this amazing milestone," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet Services. "We're proud that iTunes has become the number one music retailer in the world, and selling 10 billion songs is truly staggering."
Louie Sulcer, a 71-year-old from Woodstock, Georgia, made the 10 billionth purchase when he bought Johnny Cash's "Guess Things Happen That Way." As a result for his good timing (and good taste in music), Sulcer will receive a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card.
In a recent presentation to music and tech industry executives, NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick had some interesting things to say about music streaming. According to Crupnick, on-demand streaming services like Spotify result in a 13 percent decrease in paid downloads. He went on point out that services that follow the “radio” model, like Pandora, increase sales 41%.
Pandora doesn’t allow users to select specific songs like Spotify, but instead plays music in a chosen genre more or less randomly. The unsurprising conclusion is that people are less likely to buy a song if they can stream it at any time. Perhaps it isn’t that simple; is it possible to draw enough new users to increase overall sales? The key for Spotify may be the effort to convert free users to paid premium users.
This report is just the sort of thing music labels could use to justify keeping Spotify from launching in the US. Warner Music Group Chairman Edgar Bronfman said earlier this month, “Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry.” If Spotify launched stateside, would you ante up for extra features like mobile streaming?
Music, music everywhere, and a ton of programs with which to organize it. But how will you know which of the many iTunes-equivalents (if not iTunes itself) are going to be right for your needs?
If you're one of the many people using Windows' default music libraries to organize and store your files, stop. Just stop. There's so much more you can do beyond that-which-is-given by Windows Media Player's library features, it's not even funny. Conversely, if you're one of the people who clings to Apple's iTunes with a death grip by virtue of it being one of the first big music organizing tools to really "stick" amongst the general geek population... you might be in good hands. You also might be missing out on a ton of additional functionality, depending on what you're looking for and how you typically go about rocking out on your computer.
To keep the playing field fair, we'll look at three different applications in this ultimate guide to media organizing: iTunes, Songbird, and Zune. For those keeping score at home, that's one big solution from Apple, one big solution from Microsoft, and one big solution from the open-source community. There are certainly other options around--Foobar comes to mind as one such example. None are as comprehensive in their combination of features and/or customizability as these three, however. They're all easy to install and easy to set up, but which application has the features and usability that'll make it a hit?
BitTorrent has plenty of practical and legal uses, but sadly, if you're one of the millions of people using it, you're probably breaking the law. A student at Princeton University by the name of Sauhard Sahi has conducted a study of more than 1,000 random files acquired using the trackerless Mainline DHT, and found that more than 99% of them infringe on copyrights. I somehow doubt this news will shock or amaze you, but at least one interesting discovery was made and it makes a pretty compelling argument against those who would try to claim that DRM helps prevent piracy.
According to Sahi's findings, movies and TV shows are among the most popular files being downloaded, and he argues that the onerous DRM which accompanies protected video could be to blame for this trend. This would also explain why music downloading is on the decline, and points out the sad reality that people who download video legally often have to deal with far more challenges than pirates operating over BitTorrent. It certainly makes an interesting hypothesis, but you could also argue that BitTorrent is a bit too much of a hassle just to track down a $0.99 song, but might be more worthwhile for those looking for a $20 DVD.
Sahi's results only reflect data collected from Mainline DHT, but its hard to argue with these numbers, even if they are off plus or minus a few percentage points. Do you think BitTorrent can continue to function as a viable medium with such a high percentage of abuse? It will certainly be interesting to see how things play out over the next few years, or if governments will ever get involved. What do you think?
You didn't really expect the RIAA to roll over and accept the latest verdict in the Jammie Thomas trial, did you? There's too much at stake for that to happen. To quickly recap, the Minnesota mother who opted not to settle with the RIAA for $5,000 over copyright infringement allegations ended up being hammered in court to the tune $222,000, an award that was later increased to $1.9 million following a retrial last June.
The shocking turn of events came last Friday when District Court judge Michael Davis reduced the award by 97 percent, dropping the "monstrous and shocking" damages to $54,000. Davis then gave the RIAA seven days to challenge his ruling and schedule a trial on the damages.
Since then, there's been yet another twist in a case which has already had more twists and turns than a Six Flags theme park. While $54,000 is a far cry from $1.9 million, Thomas' lawyers have challenged the constitutionality of not just the current ruling, but the minimum amount of statutory damages. That's what we call a game changer, and as CNet words it, one that puts the RIAA in a pickle.
"This means that the RIAA cannot avoid the constitutional issue, even if (it accepts the latest ruling on the reduced damages)," said Kiwi Camara, one of Thomas' attorneys.
But even if Thomas' side doesn't challenge the ruling, the RIAA almost has to, lest the organization let a legal precedent remain that could impact any future copyright claims.
"There's some interesting language in (Davis' decision)," said Denise Howell, a Silicon Valley-based attorney. "The constitutional nature of statutory damages comes up over and over again. If you're in any kind of copyright case, and you've gotten a very high damage award entered against you, you're going to want to bring this up and use Judge Davis' reasoning. I know a few folks in other copyright cases that have nothing to do with P2P file sharing but think this is quite an interesting development."
So do we, and like everyone else, we'll have to wait to see how it unfolds.
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.