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“When all the cops are criminals and all the sinners saints.”
— Copyright © The Rolling Stones
The war between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and file-sharing music swappers exploded this week as the
RIAA filed 261 lawsuits
against individuals, ranging from a 12-year-old girl to 71-year-old Durwood Pickle. The move signals the latest crescendo in a legalistic soap opera that’s riddled with intrigue, cacophony and irony. Especially irony.
It’s hard to find the “good guys” in this imbroglio. The main characters are self-absorbed and venal, and proclaim that the law sanctions their actions. The swappers, however, trample the concept of fair use, and the RIAA takes advantage of questionable privileges granted by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to subpoena the records of Internet service providers.
The stakes in the war are enormous. An estimated 50-to-60 million people share music and the RIAA claims that it has lost between 25 and 31 percent of music sales since the arrival of Napster in 2000. Yet only two labels have reduced the retail cost of CDs, a move that addresses the chief complaint of most swappers. And it’s a real head-scratcher that, in many cases, you can buy a DVD for the same price as a CD; the creation and production costs of the former are significantly higher than the latter.
The RIAA is attacking the very people who can best ensure its survival, especially those within the all-important 18-to-34 demographic. The industry hopes “people will return to the record store,” because of its actions (a logic that escapes me) and claims that file sharing has no use other than to help infringe copyrights. Yet, according to Wired, the recording and broadcast industries work with
a firm that analyzes peer-to-peer Internet trends, to help them determine the best geographic regions in which to push specific songs.
The industry this week took two more steps along a path that has little ground in reality. First, it associated song swapping with the distribution and availability of child pornography. The argument seems disingenuous at best, and by its specious implications, tars Internet users and service providers as criminals or “fellow travelers.” Second, the RIAA offered swappers “amnesty” from prosecution if they admit to their offending actions, but its members retained the right to sue those who come forward. Huh?
The music industry’s
aversion to mixing technology and distribution
extends back more than a hundred years, as recounted in an article in the Cornell Daily. So the final irony may be that the Mac, developed in a building from which flew a pirate’s flag, has become the foremost platform for legal music downloads, and provides the RIAA’s members with a model to follow. Mac users, after all, aren’t “the crazy ones,” they’re the sane ones.
Apple offers new iMacs, updated iPods
Apple on Monday
updated its line of iMacs, bumping speeds up to 1GHz on the 15-inch model and 1.25GHz on the high-end 17-inch machine.
iPods were refreshed, with 20GB and 40GB models added to the product line — the high-end model can now hold up to 10,000 songs. The company also announced that iTunes Music Store reached 10 million songs sold earlier this month.
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New Pioneer DVD/CD writer due mid-month
Pioneer Electronics Inc. on Monday announced that the DVR-S606, a new multiple format external DVD/CD writer, will be available in mid-September. The US$299 drive can sit vertically or horizontally, offers both FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports, and is compatible with DVD-R/DVD-RW and +R/+RW discs. The unit offers recording speeds of up to 4x write speed with DVD-R discs, 2x with DVD-RW discs, 4x with +R media, and 2.4x with +RW media. It also records CD-R media at up to 16x speed and 10x with high-speed CD-RW discs.
Canon announces five new printers
WaterField Designs offers iSight Case
Eye-Q digital camera available from Concord
AlphaSmart ships Dana Wireless
IntelliSwipe USB credit card reader debuts
iView MediaPro gets enhanced cataloging capacity
iView Multimedia on Monday announced iView MediaPro 2.0, the latest version of the image editing and cataloging application. The update offers enhanced drag & drop annotations workflow, increases its capacity to 128,000 media items per catalog, and adds support for producing customized high-resolution PDF files of any size and layout using the media in a catalog. iView MediaPro 2.0, which costs US$160, is compatible with Mac OS X and Mac OS 9.x.
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New XML export software for QuarkXPress released
LabVIEW 7 Express available in multiple languages
Blue World announces Lasso Professional 7
Maxon offers Cinema 4D, BodyPaint 3D updates
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DVDs Eyed for Archival Uses
Computer scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are launching an effort to develop
specifications for “archival quality” CD and DVD media
that agencies could use to ensure the procurement of sufficiently robust media for their long-term archiving needs (i.e., 50 years and longer). The working group shares information and best practices concerning the use of DVD and related technologies in the federal government.
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