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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Record labels rethink digital rights management at Midem

CANNES: With the falloff in CD sales persisting and even digital revenue growth now faltering in the face of rampant music sharing by consumers, the major record labels appear to be closer than ever to releasing music on the Internet with no copying restrictions.
Executives of several technology companies meeting here at Midem, the annual global trade fair for the music industry, said this weekend that a move toward the sale of unrestricted digital files in the MP3 format from at least one of the four major record companies could come within months.
Music executives, however, said Sunday that the idea was self-serving on the part of technology companies.
"Each of the majors is wrestling with the question of whether to go unrestricted," said John Kennedy, head of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. "I think this is an experimental year."
Most independent record labels already sell tracks digitally compressed in MP3 format, which can be downloaded, e-mailed or copied to computers, cellphones, portable music players and compact discs without limit

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An industry that hates its customers

Imagine an industry that was so hostile to its customers that it regularly sued them; that resisted all new technologies for distributing its products, even as their best customers were embracing them; and that lobbies in Washington to try to take away its customers' legal rights to use its products.
Sounds insane, right? I agree; the industry in question is the recording industry, whose trade association seems intent on alienating every music purchases in the United States.
The latest story: the RIAA is challenging the established legal right to "time-shift," to record programming off the air and listen to it later. In other words, what you do every time you use a DVR or VCR.
Under attack right now are satellite radio company XM's combination receivers/MP3 players, which can record what XM is broadcasting so you can listen later.

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Congress wants to DRM your podcast

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has re-introduced the PERFORM Act, a backdoor assault on your right to record off the radio. Satellite and digital radio stations as well as Internet webcasters would have to adopt digital rights management (DRM) restrictions or lose the statutory license for broadcasting music. Letters from constituents like you helped beat this dangerous proposal last year — take action now to block it again.
This bill aims to hobble TiVo-like devices for satellite and digital radio. Such devices would be able to include “reasonable recording” features, but that excludes choosing and playing back selections based on song title, artist, or genre. Want to freely move recordings around your home network or copy them to the portable player of your choice? You’ll be out of luck if PERFORM passes.
This bill would also mess with Internet radio. Today, Live365, Shoutcast, streaming radio stations included in iTunes, and myriad other smaller webcasters rely on MP3 streaming. PERFORM would in effect force them to use DRM-laden, proprietary formats, so you can say goodbye to software tools like Streamripper that let you record programming to listen to it later.
Tell your representatives to reject this bill now.

Digital Podcast

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