A collective sigh of relief was let out Thursday, as a panel of federal judges who determine royalty rates for recordings ruled to renew the current royalty rate until 2012. The ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of three judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress, applied directly to mechanical royalties (which as we mentioned before, are the fees paid directly to songwriters and publishers of music, not the performers).
The currently royalty rate of 9.1 cents was lobbied to receive a 66 percent increase by music publishers, concerned about losing income as music sales decline. Labels and retailers pushed to judges to adopt a new model that would determine royalty payments as a percentage of wholesale revenue, however neither of these suggestions made the ruling.
One document in the hearing, submitted by an Apple executive, had threatened that a significant inflation in royalty rates could potentially force them to shut down the massively popular iTunes music store, which has sold over 5 billion songs to date. While Apple sees substantial sales, they operate with very thin margins.
There are still some in the music industry that have claimed that new rulings such as these might not be enough to satisfy the insatiable rise of illegal file sharing. “Whether these developments will be sufficient to return the music industry to health is not clear,” said Jonathan Feinstien, a music lawyer at the Krasilovsky & Gross firm in New York.
Crysis Warhead, despite releasing less than a year after Crysis, has received a few more oodles of critical acclaim than its predecessor. And, as a nice bonus, it also run admirably on rigs that aren't chock-full of wallet-devouring tech and don't display disturbing signs of sentience. Thus, it makes perfect sense that Crytek has decided to jab a toothpick through the multiplayer half of its latest opus and pass out some free samples.
Starting October 6th, a few quick clicks at www.mycrysis.com will provide you with an activation code for the weekend's festivities. Once signed-up, you'll have full access to Crysis Wars from 11:00 AM PDT on October 10th to 11:59 PM PDT on October 12th. To be clear, this isn't just a demo. It's the entire, 21-map multiplayer portion of the game.
“We have been extremely pleased with the reception we have received from gamers and press for Crysis Warhead,” said Cevat Yerli, CEO and President of Crytek. “Crysis Wars is definitely a big reason for this success and something we are dedicated to, not only as a part of future Crysis titles, but in terms of releasing new modes and continued support for our growing community.”
Great idea on Crytek's part. So, those of you who pirate games for "demo purposes," will temporary full access to a game put an end to your swashbuckling ways?
Hate the blissful feeling that accompanies plucking a brand new game from the patch on launch day? Think digital distribution is just too convenient? Well then, you'll be one of the backward-thinking few who actually appreciate Ubisoft's Far Cry 2 pre-order deal. Simply stroll over to your nearest participating game store, place a few dollars in the cash register, and unlock "hours" worth of crucial gameplay! Have a looksie at what's on the other side of the hoops you'll soon be jumping through:
The Georgian: The Georgian informant has gone into hiding at the Fuel Depot in UFLL territory, find him and discover what your predecessor learned from him about the Jackal’s location.
The Bolivian: The Bolivian informant is on the run, trying to escape the country by stealing a plane from a small airfield in APR territory. Try to get to him before your predecessor does.
Special Delivery: Your employers have more information for you about your predecessor – learn the location of his new dead drop and raid it to find information about his secret meetings.
Le Francais: A French smuggler and arms dealer who may have been providing arms to the Jackal has been tipped off, and your predecessor is trying to stop him from crossing the border. Find out what Frenchman’s price is.
For those of you who don't pre-order, or who plan to (legally) download the title, we don't really know what to tell you. So far, the "bonus" seems to be limited to retail channels, but we'll contact Ubisoft for more info.
In the meantime, however, don't worry too much. We already pre-ordered the game months ago.
According to a new report from Net Applications, both Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox browsers saw a drop in market share last month. That shouldn't come as a big surprise considering that Google's Chrome browser made its debut in the same time period, but what's interesting to note is that the combined drop exceeds the gains posted by Chrome.
At some point, Microsoft has to be getting concerned. IE still dominates the browser landscape by a wide margin, but that won't always be the case if it keeps giving up market share. IE slid .63 points to 71.52 percent in September, which adds up to a 3.95-point drop on the year, or down 5.2 percent. Firefox's slide was a little less slippery at .22 points settling in at 19.46 percent, and has gained ground on the year with a 2.48-point climb, or up 14.6 percent.
It also wouldn't take a leap of faith to assume most Chrome users were previously surfing with IE and Firefox, and if true, that would mean more IE users made the jump than those using Firefox. You can draw your own conclusion on that one.
Don't own a DeLorean? Not to worry because you can still go back in time. Google turns a decade old this year, and to celebrate its 10th birthday, Google has brought back its oldest available search index.
"We had so much fun searching that we wanted to put this old index online for everyone to play with," blogs Shrin Oskoi, Product Manager. "We thought it'd be even cooler if we could actually see the full versions of the old web pages, so we worked with the Internet Archive to link to their cache of these pages from 2001."
Did you know that InfoGear put out an iPhone long before Apple turned the cellular landscape topsy turvy? And we bet you had no idea Michael Phelps invented a technique that allows imaging of biological processes in the organ systems of living individuals. Of course, that's Michael Phelps the accomplished scientist, not the record breaking Olympic swimmer.
Find anything interesting? Hit the jump and let us know.
Peter Molyneux, Lionhead boss and man behind the curtain of games like Black & White and Fable, has delivered his unofficial state of PC gaming address. His verdict? Take a gander at the headline. (Or the following quote.)
"If you look at the gamer market on PC, I'll be quite honest with you, it's in tatters," he told Videogamer. "There aren't that many releases on PC. There are some high points like Crysis and what Blizzard is doing, but other than that you are restricted to The Sims and World of Warcraft, they seem to be dominating the PC side."
"I would say while me as a player hates any restrictions, I can understand that publishers need to do something to give them the confidence to make games for the PC, to spend the huge amounts of money necessary to spend on development and to get their return," he said. "Anything that may give them more confidence on the PC means that ultimately we as gamers will come out better off because they will invest more in the game."
"I don't think three (Spore PC authorisations per game) sounds that bad. I'd prefer it not to be there but if it is going to be there then I think three is OK, but I can understand people being very upset. Personally I hate any copy protection. I hate typing in that number. I loathe it as a gamer. It just makes me feel insulted. And I always lose the blasted manual anyway."
Agree? Disagree? Think keeping track of manuals isn't all that difficult if you just keep your games in their cases? C'mon, it can't just be us.
At this year's QuakeCon, programming god John Carmack turned an entire Internet's worth of heads with his announcement that Rage would only storm your PC's walls via DVD-ROM. Well, kids, it's time to un-cry those salty tears, because id intends to digitally distribute its latest first-person beauty after all.
"We haven't quite worked through our electronic-distribution," said id Software creative director Tim Willits. "John Carmack [id co-founder] made a comment about the media size, which unfortunately wasn't exactly correct because we haven't crossed that bridge yet. He said it was going to be too large to download, and I was thinking to myself, 'You know, uhhhhh, people can do lots of things.'"
"Rage won't break the Internet. Our relationship with Valve and our stuff on Steam has been very successful for us. A lot of the older games that we had to fix to work on newer operating systems allowed us to make them current. I had a Steam account on my machine at work, and if I wanted to load up old Wolfenstein or Doom at work, I [would] load it up on Steam because of DOSBox and all that stuff. And it's actually pretty awesome. We've been very successful with that."
"We haven't figured out what we want to do yet. But I do want to fix the fact that John said [digital distribution is] not going to happen. What I'm saying is that's not true."
Apple has threatened to close its iTunes music store, if the Copyright Royalty Board approves a hike in the royalty rate on music sales. The board is to give its decision on Thursday. The National Music Publishers’ Association is pleading for a hike of 66% in royalty rates. On the other hand, digital store owners are demanding a cut in royalty rates.
"If the [iTunes store] was forced to absorb any increase in the ... royalty rate, the result would be to significantly increase the likelihood of the store operating at a financial loss -- which is no alternative at all,” Apple’s VP Eddy Cue warned the board in a filing.
Do you believe Apple can take such a drastic step?
Although RealNetworks downplayed any legal perils while announcing its DVD copying software last month, the major film studios have acted in the most obvious manner possible by suing the software company.
In the eye of the storm lies RealNetworks’ DVD copying tool called ReadDVD that allows users to make digital copies of their DVDs on their internal or external hard drives. However, the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) hasn’t taken a liking to the tool. The MPAA has dragged RealNetworks to court over RealDVD and is praying for a temporary restraining order against the sale of the software.
Greg Goeckner, executive vice president of MPAA, quipped that the software be called StealDVD instead of RealDVD. However, RealNetworks feels that the software can not be used for piracy as it encrypts the digital copies in such a manner that they can’t be shared.
That’s right, you didn’t misread the headline – Microsoft is looking to pay you to use their search engine (again). Not with real money mind you, but points that can be redeemed for prizes (read: Chuck E. Cheese).
The program, called SearchPerks, will give users of Microsoft’s LIVE Search a point each time they search, with the possibility of accumulating 25 per day. However, users will only be able to collect these points once they’ve agreed to download and install a small program that allows Microsoft to track their usage.
In the past, Microsoft hasn’t been successful in getting new users for their search engine, currently only holding 8.3 percent of the search engine market. With the Live Search Club, Microsoft saw an initial boost in their search engine usage of nearly 3 percent, but the results failed to hold. The success of the search engine appears to be directly tied with the incentive programs that Microsoft offers.
If you’re looking to get in on the point-spending goodness, be sure to sign up soon. Microsoft is only allowing people to sign up until the end of the year, or until they get their target of 250,000 participants.
I bet you never thought all those searches for Lindsay Lohan would one day be profitable, did you?