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High-End Audio Industry News

4 / 29 / 00

MP3.com  In a turn of events MP3.com's MyMP3.com service was ruled in a New York court on Friday that they violated copyright law due to making copyrighted material available for download (over 80,000 CDs to be exact). As regular readers may recall, a user simply downloads a program from the MP3 website, it then verifies you own a CD and in turn allow you to download your CD in the MP3 format. This action saved consumers/users the step of changing their CDs to MP3 files. The fines in this case could start at $750 million! "There will be a definitive impact on companies doing business on the Internet," said Don Pelto, managing intellectual property partner for Washington D.C. based law firm McKenna & Cuneo LLP. "Every company like MP3 that is doing something innovative on the Internet hopes that judges will take some leading role in fashioning the law around them. To date, no one has done that." The U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff issued a terse order Friday holding MP3.com "liable for copyright infringement."

"This is not a victory for the record labels--its a loss," MP3.com Chairman/CEO Michael Robertson said in response to the decision. "New technologies for delivering music are here to stay, and the technology trend is moving in only one direction: forward. "It is funny the parallels between MP3 and Microsoft and how defiant they are," Pakman said. "They are making the statements right before damages are assessed."

MP3.com's stock was sharply down after this legal decision was rendered by nearly dropping 40 percent to close at $7 per share, down $4.62 from the previous day's close. About a month ago MP3.com stock was trading at about $20 a share. "By standing against the My.MP3.com technology, the recording industry is standing against increased revenues for its members and damaging the chances of a responsible music delivery system to counter the unregulated systems like Napster and Gnutella. These systems do not compensate artists and rights owners," Robertson said. "When pioneering new technologies designed to grow their businesses are attacked, it leaves a vacuum which will be filled with technologies unfriendly to artists and their existing revenue streams." My.MP3.com is a system which requires the purchase of CDs. This is totally different than other programs such as Napster and Scour that do not require users to first purchase a CD before accessing MP3 music files.

The federal copyright statute calls for infringers to be liable for a minimum of $750 per violation which could amount to at least a $337.5 million judgment against MP3.com (based on 40,000 CDs and an average of 10 songs per album). As of mid-March, the database contained more than 80,000 CDs, reported MP3.com president and chief executive officer Michael Robertson. The RIAA is of course seeking damages of $150,000 per infraction which is the maximum amount available as a statutory remedy.

 

4 / 28 / 00

  Denon Electronics has released a new turntable for the DJ marketplace. While their new DP-DJ150 uses a substantial motor and offers the usual quartz direct-drive system with variable speed control like the longstanding Technics 1200 series turntables, the new Denon also offers a built-in RIAA stage and S/PDIF digital output for direct connection to outboard digital electronics such as MD, CD, DAT and hard drive recording capability. Retail pricing is set at $600 and the unit is now available at retailers throughout the USA.

 

China Net has settled a very substantial lawsuit concerning music piracy on the internet. The Chinese website was ordered to pay damages to China Records, Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music for enabling its users to download illegal MP3 files which were from hyperlinks within the China Net website. The exact amount was not disclosed at this time of reporting.

 

4 / 27 / 00

TapeDeck  The folks at recordLab Corporation have decided to simply give away their virtual Internet TapeDeck software. Unlike most free audio software which only lets you record and do basic cut and paste functions, recordlab's Internet TapeDeck allows both amateur musicians and home recordists compile a multi-track recording while also being able to add sound enhancement effects. Brian Ollodi, general manager of Internet products and services for recordLab says "The idea for TapeDeck is to be that platform for both people that have never done (multi-track recording) before, and as a working tool... for the more experienced person." Internet TapeDeck features simultaneous playback and recording of up to eight tracks. Also available is the ability to punch-in/punch-out a track plus a three-band equalizer is available on each track. Also included is recordLab's own Reverb DirectX Plug-in while about a dozen of other effects are available to users at a cost of $10-$30 each. TapeDeck Internet can also use other well-behaved Direct-X plug-ins as used with other sound editing software. With over 300 instructional articles on recordLab's website, even the most basic novice should be able to use this flexible, and free, software program.

 

Napster (which is now in version 2.0 Beta 5) feels the heat yet again as Rapper Dr. Dre filed a copyright infringement suit against them in federal court on April 25th. His lawsuit basically follows those from the likes of Metallica and also the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Dr. Dre's lawsuit asks for the complete closing of Napster and damages in the amount of $100,000 since his music has been illegally downloaded by others due to the Napster software. "Napster devised and distributes software whose sole purpose is to permit (the company) to profit by abetting and encouraging the pirating of the creative efforts of the world's most admired and successful musical artists," the suit reads.

 

K-TELDo you remember all those great music compilations by K-TEL in the 70's and 80's yet regret you foolishly no longer have your fave vinyl copy of Polka Polka Polka will soon be happy campers again. K-TEL will soon allow you to purchase the music via digital download from their vast archives via the internet! By using Microsoft's Windows Media Format for all downloads, you can once again enjoy all those great songs from Polka Polka Polka and many other titles. "We are very excited to be working with Microsoft, the technology leader in digital media today," said Ken Onstad, K-TEL's president. "We see this as a tremendous opportunity to introduce a whole new generation to K-TEL's music database while allowing members of our traditional target demographic to access their favorite music in the nearly instantaneous digital format that they have become accustomed to." So get ready to download all that great great Disco, Polka and Irish music.

 

4 / 19 / 00

   One billion dollars! Consumer electronics goods shipments of audio products to dealers during February 2000 increased by eight percent over last February to a total of $542 million (source: Consumer Electronics Association). This brings the year-to-date sales of audio to a Dr. Evil pinky biting $1 billion+. Due to the popularity of portable MP3, portable CD, Boomboxes and other such devices, the portable audio sector gave the largest increase (16 percent) for revenues of $135 million. Meanwhile the "home-theater-in-a-box" revenues are currently 40 percent ahead of their total during the first two months of 1999. The home audio separates sector was up seven percent over last February for total revenues of $118 million due partially to the vast growth of CD-R products.

 

4 / 14 / 00

  In a strange turn of events, Metallica, who were giving away their new album S&M for free streaming over the internet, has now brought about a lawsuit against Napster. Napster is software that allows web surfers to share their digital music files with others over the internet. This lawsuit by Metallica was filed in the Central District of California yesterday and claims that a few schools were encouraging students to visit the Napster website and "to unlawfully exchange with others copyrighted songs and sound recordings without the knowledge or permission of Metallica." The lawsuit might not hold any water legally as Metallica is claiming that Napster "has devised and distributed software whose sole purpose is to permit Napster to profit by abetting and encouraging the pirating of the creative efforts of the world's most admired and successful musical artists. Facilitating that effort are the hypocritical universities and colleges who could easily block this insidious and ongoing thievery scheme. The last link in the chain are the end users of the stolen musical works, students of these universities and others who exhibit the moral fiber of common looters loading up shopping carts because 'everybody else is doing it.'" At this point in time it seems that passing any laws against the digital downloading of music will always lag behind the creativity of the internet. Only time will tell where all the dust settles as any legal decision towards the digital download of music could have a far reaching effect beyond the scope of only the defendants named in this recent lawsuit.

 

4 / 13 / 00

  Many new products are now being offered from the UK-based manufacture Meridian. Their new 558 multi-channel amplifier (click here for information in Acrobat format) features five channels of 200 wpc @ 8 ohm power. No fewer than fifty pairs of 15-ampre output devices are used within this ample 114 lbs unit. Their new DSP33 DSP loudspeaker has two digital inputs with up to 24-bit/96kHz inputs (click here for information in Acrobat format) and also a new DSP5500HC DSP center loudspeaker (click here for information in Acrobat format). Top all this off with Meridian's new 568 surround processor and 562V.2 multimedia controller. According to Meridian "568 and 562V.2 is... a two box system with the 568 taking up the prime role as a surround sound processor and 562V.2 as audio and video switcher. Together these products provide a powerful solution to the most demanding of home theatre requirements for both music and film."

 

4 / 08 / 00

BMG Music Services  Sony and the likes have given in to the demand for buying music online as BMG, through strategic partnerships with InterTrust and Microsoft, will soon be offering their music for sale via secure internet download. While BMG is demanding the use of digital-rights management systems offered by Microsoft, InterTrust or IBM, we here at Enjoy the Music.com feel that it will take about two days for the protection code to be broken. As you may remember in a previous new event, we were the first to report about the code breaking of Microsoft's "protected" media within only one day of its release. "After many months of performing extensive technical and business due diligence on the long list of companies moving into the digital music market, we are pleased to take these important and very exciting steps toward making our artists' music widely available through digital downloading," said Kevin Conroy, senior vice president, worldwide marketing and new technology, BMG Entertainment. While the catalog of music will be fairly small in the beginning, BMG hopes to drastically ramp up the quantity for the holidays.

 

4 / 07 / 00

Scour.net  As the RIAA and many colleges are in battles with the legalities of Napster, a program that allows people to share their MP3 music files freely over the internet, now comes a new and even more diverse program. Welcome Scour.net whose website and free software called Scour Exchange that allows not just the sharing of MP3 files, but virtually all major streaming and compressed audio files such as MP3, RealAudio, Windows Media Player and more! The Scour Exchange program searches your hard drive and allows for file-sharing by sorting any multimedia file on your hard drive according to the file extension and then place them in folders according to file type. If a user so desires, these folders can be seen by others using the Scour Exchange software to elicit a free exchange of streaming media files on the internet (file sharing).

 

4 / 05 / 00

AOL  None other than the world's largest internet provider, America Online (AOL), has formed an agreement to offer their members free live streaming concert from the House of Blues. In this recent agreement, AOL will have exclusive rights to these live weekly concerts. Furthermore, the House Of Blues has agreed to form an archive of on-demand concerts exclusively for AOL members.

In another recent event concerning AOL, Myplay Inc. and AOL have joined forces to offer AOL members to store their MP3 files in a "digital locker". What will make the RIAA possibly take legal action in the fact that your "digital locker" play list can be displayed for others to see.. and download. Therefore pirated songs can be seen by others and illegally downloaded.

 

MIT Oracle V2Longtime cable manufacture MIT announced their new Oracle V2 Series loudspeaker interface. MIT's claims their modular design came about through "ongoing test and measurement program has resulted in advanced network topology, allowing multiple networks to be contained in a single network enclosure, machined from a solid (non-resonant) aluminum billet. The speaker cable itself attaches to the housing via a sophisticated military-spec union connector. This modularity allows for easy placement of the network housing and allows the cable to be routed through walls or under floors with ease." The new Oracle is "future proof" through the ability of upgrade ability where the Oracle V2's network enclosure and/or cable can be factory upgraded or exchanged". Pricing for the Oracle V2 starts at $6,995 for the eight foot pair while other Oracle Series Speaker Interfaces range from $2,995 to $13,999 and all include a limited lifetime warranty.

 


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