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Vocapedia > Arts > Music > MP3, Internet / online music, streaming services





Napster Documentary: Culture of Free        Video        Retro Report        The New York Times        8 December 2014


In 1999,

a file-sharing program

created in a Boston dorm room

sent shock waves across the music industry

and served notice that a major cultural shift

was underway.


Produced by: Retro Report

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1wSGHLN

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video









































music and the internet        UK










online music        UK / USA













online music        1998        USA

































music streaming / streaming        USA
















streaming music        USA






TikTok        USA






streaming service > Tidal        UK / USA










streaming service > Apple Music        USA






download songs over the internet











UK music download sales hit £1bn        UK        2011


BPI figures reveal

total digital spending by fans since 2004,

with Adele's 21 the biggest-selling album






legal music download business > iTunes, Napster        UK








legal downloading





digital album sales        UK






illegal downloading        UK








Microsoft > Zune music service        USA






where to download music legally        UK












download        UK











the age of the download





music downloading





the cloud - online storage and software        USA












Google's cloud-based music player        USA        2011


Allowing people to upload and store

their music collections on the Web

and listen to their songs

on Android phones or tablets

and on computers
















share files





illegal file-sharing network eDonkey





file-sharing        UK








file-sharing software





illegal filesharers        UK






Illegal filesharing        UK






online music sharing





illegal file-sharers





face lawsuits for illegal file-sharing





music piracy        UK






digital pirate





illegally downloading tracks

and violating copyright laws





online music pirate





crackdown on music piracy        UK






piracy        UK









music download service








online music service Deezer










peer-to-peer (P2P) technology





file swapper





online file-swapper





music fan





playlist        USA










large-scale record store        USA







on-line / online music store        UK





the first "official" chart

to measure tracks bought on the internet        UK






music player





music player > touch screen        USA






music player market





digital music        USA






digital music market





record label





legal sites





Apple’s iTunes > legal download catalogue








Apple's iCloud > online music service




















compressed computer files        USA






sound quality        USA






file-sharing network










Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing network















online piracy        UK






rip        UK
















"lossy" formats > AAC, M4P or MP3        UK






MP3        USA












MP3 jukebox manufacturer





MP3 blogs















digital age        UK











Corpus of news articles


Arts > Music


MP3, Internet / online music, streaming services




The Cloud That Ate Your Music


June 22, 2011




I’M ready for the cloud. Soon, I hope, it will be ready for me.

Recent weeks have been filled with announcements about music taking residence in the cloud, the poetic name for online storage and software that promises to make lifetimes worth of songs available to anyone, anywhere, as long as those people and places have Internet connections. (Which of course is a long way from everyone, everywhere, but utopian tech dreams tend to ignore mere hardware.)

I can’t wait. Ever since music began migrating online in the 1990s I have longed to make my record collection evaporate — simply to have available the one song I need at any moment, without having to store the rest.

But I have, as they say, special needs. In three decades as a critic I have amassed more vinyl, CDs and digital files than I know what to do with. Periodic weeding can’t keep up with the 20 to 30 discs that arrive in the daily mailbag; the overfull floor-to-ceiling shelves are already straining under thousands of CDs and LPs. Any affection I had for physical packaging, no matter how elegant or unique, has long since vanished; it’s a reference library, not an art collection.

And it grows, and grows, because I never know what I’ll need: the limited-edition 45, the home-burned debut CD. Yet I’d much rather have it in the cloud than in my apartment.

In recent weeks Amazon, Google and Apple have announced services to store individual music collections in the cloud, ready for access online and for syncing to multiple devices. Pandora Internet radio, which extrapolates individual playlists from users’ likes and dislikes, raised hundreds of millions of dollars with a huge initial public offering (followed, however, by a steep drop in stock price; with operating costs and royalties to copyright owners, the company has never made a profit).

Dar.fm recently arrived as a free service that records radio stations — like TiVo for radio — and, as a bonus, conveniently indexes any music from those stations that has been electronically tagged. (Choose a congenial radio station and assemble a well-chosen collection.) Other companies — Rdio, MOG, Napster, Rhapsody — have been offering huge catalogs of music on demand (and transferable to portable devices) for some time as subscription services for a monthly fee, and Spotify, already online in Europe, is likely to join them in the United States soon.

That’s not to mention the many unauthorized sources for music; virtually any album can be found for downloading with a simple search. Free or paid, the cloud is already active.

Dematerializing recorded music has consequences. On the positive side it hugely multiplies the potential audience, letting the music travel fast and far to listeners who would never have known it existed. It escalates music’s portability, as it adds one more previously stand-alone function — like clocks, cameras, calendars, newspapers, video players and games — to the omnivorous smartphone. That’s instant gratification, but with a catch: Smartphones aren’t exactly renowned for sound quality. And the MP3 compression that has made music so portable has already robbed it of some fidelity even before it reaches my earphones.

The ritual of placing an LP on a turntable and cranking up a hi-fi home stereo disappeared — when? Perhaps with the cassette and the Walkman, the ancestor of the portable MP3 player. Now even the thought of having a separate music player is a little quaint. The smartphone will do it all — just adequately, but convenience trumps quality. Baby boomers who remember the transistor radio, that formerly miniature marvel that now looks and feels like a brick compared to current MP3 players, can experience again the sound of an inadequate speaker squeezing out a beloved song.

As the last decade has abundantly proved, freeing music from discs also drives down the price of recorded music, often to zero, dematerializing what used to be an income for musicians and recording companies. Royalties generated from sales of MP3 files and by online subscription services are unlikely to ever make recorded music as profitable as it was in disc form.

There has also been another, far less quantifiable, effect of separating music from its physical package. Songs have become, for lack of a better word, trivial: not through any less effort from the best musicians, but through the unexpected combination of a nearly infinite supply, constant availability, suboptimum sound quality and the intangibility I’ve always thought I would welcome.

Now everyone, not just a critic, can feel awash in music, with an infinitude of choices immediately at hand. But each of those choices is a diminished thing; attainable without effort, disposable without a second thought, just another icon in a folder on a pocket-size screen with pocket-sized sound. The tricky part, more now than ever, is to make any new release feel like an occasion: to give a song more impact than a single droplet out of the cloud. This presents a challenge to culturally ambitious musicians: before they can be larger than life, they have to be larger than the LCD screen.

Or they can try to conquer that screen and play the Internet as an instrument, using its defining attribute: interactivity. When Google replaced its logo with a virtual instrument for Les Paul’s 96th birthday — not strictly speaking a guitar but a harp, with one note per string — people worldwide played tunes on it and recorded them into the cloud. And of course there are smartphone apps to simulate guitars, keyboards, drums and recording studios.

Bjork’s next album, “Biophilia,” is due to arrive this fall with a smartphone app built around every song: apps that diagram the song in both conventional music notation and invented graphic notation, that remap the songs as scientific phenomena like (among other things) planetary systems and crystal structures, that encourage listeners to toy with components of the music to create songs of their own.

“I’m excited to embrace a different handshake between the object and sound,” Bjork said in an e-mail. “It seems like every couple of decades this takes a somersault, and I enjoy the fresh point of view, like the honeymoon of the new format where you can really have an effect on the overall direction, and things like enjoyment, love and freedom matter again.”

She added, “I definitely wanted the songs to be a spatial experience, where you can play with lightning or a crystal or the full moon and the song changes. I would like to feel the apps are equal to the song in the same way I have always aimed for the music video to be equal to the song: the 1+1 is 3 thing. Not that it works every time, but you have to aim for it.”

But while musicians learn to play in the cloud, I need it as a repository. For the moment, the much-ballyhooed cloud music players leave me unimpressed. Each has different mechanisms, features, prices and limitations, including one major one: They all depend on first uploading the collection into the cloud.

Google Music Beta’s Music Manager has been running for days on my laptop, and it’s barely one-third of the way through a mere 4,000 songs from a single hard drive — a tiny random fraction of the collection. Amazon and Apple will automatically add the music purchased through their respective stores, but the rest is slow going.

Apple is also promising that later this year, for a fee it will share with record companies, that it will implement a service called iTunes Match, which will scan and recognize music and add Apple’s own copies without uploading. That was an idea that mp3.com implemented back in 2000, when its Beam-it function recognized CDs in home computers to add immediately to online collections. But Beam-it was soon stopped by a record-company lawsuit. Now Apple has gotten permission from the major labels, though at least one independent, the archivally minded Numero Group, has turned down iTunes Match, describing Apple’s financial terms as a “pittance.”

Meanwhile, as many technology writers have pointed out, iTunes Match as currently described will in effect launder music that was copied illicitly, replacing home-ripped files with standardized, good-quality MP3s. But now record labels and publishers will receive 70 percent of Apple’s fee.

As for the far greater part of my music library that’s just on CDs, well, it’s too bad no one is bringing back Beam-it, and even then the uploading would be endless. But yes, it’s charming to see an album that’s nowhere in my phone’s memory available for listening, with the option to copy selected files for offline (which to me means subway) play. The cloud services are, after all, just getting started; speed and storage capacity will only increase.

For me, though, the great hope of the cloud is the subscription services, like MOG and Rdio. Their catalogs are deep, their interfaces sensible, their sound quality decent though not spectacular. For every fan who imagines herself a D.J., there’s a new social curatorial model arising in these services, somewhere between the old homemade cassette mixtape handed to a friend and full-scale broadcasting, with a giant potential library. You can flaunt or hide what you’re listening to; you can get ideas from others’ playlists or copy them wholesale.

But as deep as the subscription catalogs go, they aren’t deep enough: imported albums, out-of-print albums, minuscule independents and big-time holdouts like the Beatles aren’t in that sector of the cloud.

Yet, again, there’s hope. Apple’s Match is a sign that copyright holders are starting to rethink their licensing terms for the cloud, which will make subscription catalogs even larger. And, practically speaking, for those obscure, orphaned releases there is the unlicensed but hyperactive community of collectors who continue to share their finds online, with downloads just a search away. As for sound quality — well, maybe that’s wishful thinking.

But I have to stay optimistic that it won’t be another decade before all my discs really can disappear into the cloud. And then, having solved the space problem, I can turn to something even more intractable: the time to listen to it all.



This article has been revised

to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 26, 2011

A cover essay this weekend

about the online storage of music misstates

the name of the Apple service

that will scan and recognize music

and add Apple’s own copies without uploading.

It is iTunesMatch, not iMatch.

The Cloud That Ate Your Music,






Google to Unveil Service

to Let Users Stream Their Music


May 10, 2011
The New York Times


SAN FRANCISCO — Google plans to introduce its long-awaited service to allow people to upload and store their music collections on the Web and listen to their songs on Android phones or tablets and on computers.

The announcement of the new service, a so-called cloud-based music player, will be made on Tuesday at Google I/O, the company’s developers conference here, which will run through Wednesday.

The service, to be called Music Beta by Google, is similar to one introduced by Amazon in March, although it will store considerably more music. And like Amazon, Google does not have the cooperation of music labels, which means that users cannot do certain things that would legally require licenses, like sharing songs with friends and buying songs from Google.

But Google’s announcement at this time was unexpected because it has been negotiating with the music labels for months to try to make a deal to team with them on a cloud music service.

“A couple of major labels were not as collaborative and frankly were demanding a set of business terms that were unreasonable and did not allow us to build a product or a business on a sustainable business,” said Jamie Rosenberg, director for digital content for Android. “So we’re not necessarily relying on the partnerships that have proven difficult.”

After Amazon introduced its service, music label executives said they were disappointed and exploring their legal options.

Neither Google’s nor Amazon’s cloud players make true many Web companies’ dream, which is for people to be able to listen to their music whenever they want, on any device. Ideally, Web companies would keep a copy of every song in the cloud, creating a kind of Internet jukebox, and give users instant access to those they own without uploading. But that would require licenses.

“This whole upload thing just seems like a significant barrier to wide consumer adoption, because even with broadband it just takes a long time” to upload, said David Pakman, who invests in digital media start-ups for the venture capital firm Venrock, and helped found a similar music service, Myplay, in 1999.

But Amazon forced Google’s hand, he said. “If you’re faced with another six months of brutal negotiations and your competitor just launched this, you just get in the market and get a lot of users.”

Mr. Rosenberg characterized Music Beta as a first step in a broader cloud music service and said Google hoped to continue negotiating with the record labels to get licenses to offer other things, like a music store that sells songs or a service that suggests new music to listeners.

For Google, the new service is a way to compete with the iPhone by giving Android users the ability to easily use their music collections. Android users could previously store MP3 music files on their phones but it was a cumbersome process. Amazon’s service, Cloud Player, also works on Android phones, but stores many fewer songs free.

Since songs stored by Google will stream from the Web, they are not always as accessible as songs stored on iPods, because people can’t listen to them in places without data connections, like airplanes. But Google stores copies of recently played songs and certain songs that users choose for offline access.

The music labels have long argued that they should be paid when people listen to songs on various devices. Google, Amazon and Apple, along with start-ups like Spotify and the now-defunct Imeem, have struggled to strike agreements.

Apple is still expected to be working on such a service. It acquired Lala, a cloud music service, and built a data center in North Carolina that could store users’ music collections. It also has relationships with the labels through iTunes.

Google and Amazon, meanwhile, say they do not need licenses to store music for users and play songs on multiple devices because users upload the songs they own, just as they would if they backed up their computers. “This is really a personal storage service in the same way that you would put songs on an iPad or you would put songs on a backup hard drive, so this service does not involve licenses for the music industry,” Mr. Rosenberg said.

The service is invitation-only to start. Verizon Xoom owners will receive invitations and others can sign up at music.google.com. Users download an application to their computer and upload their music, which could take many hours. The songs will be available on any device linked to the user’s Google account using a mobile app or a Web-based player, as long as they support Flash, which excludes iPhones and iPads.

Users can store 20,000 songs free, as opposed to Amazon’s service, which stores up to 1,000 songs without charge.

The service syncs activity on different devices, so if users create playlists on their phones, the playlists will automatically show up on their computers.

“We looked at the power of Google to deliver a compelling cloud-based service and essentially married those technologies with what we felt was lacking in the Android experience up until now,” Mr. Rosenberg said.

    Google to Unveil Service to Let Users Stream Their Music,
    R, 10.5.2011,






Platinum Is So Passé.

In iTunes Era, the Singles Count.


August 30, 2010
The New York Times


By traditional measures, the British hip-hop artist Taio Cruz is far from being a star. But in the new world of pop music, he is certified gold.

Mr. Cruz’s latest album, “Rokstarr,” has sold just 93,000 copies in 12 weeks, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and this week sits at No. 54 on the Billboard 200 chart.

But while he has sold relatively few albums, he has sold 4.9 million copies of two singles from the album, “Break Your Heart” and “Dynamite,” and videos for those singles have been viewed more than 49 million times online. For his label, Mercury Records, that means he is a commercial success.

For decades, the music industry has been looking to the album charts to establish what made a hit. In the past 10 years, though, album sales have plummeted, sales of singles have surged and new sources of revenue have emerged — like fees for music streamed online and ringtone purchases — that are changing the definition of a hot artist.

Still, much of the industry relies on the Billboard 200, the longtime album sales chart, as the primary measure and talking point about an artist’s moneymaking prowess.

“The music industry has trained people to focus on the album chart for 20 years,” said Jay Frank, the head of music for CMT, the country music cable network. “Now they need to get them to focus on something else.”

BigChampagne, a media measurement firm in California, believes there is an opening for a new chart that better captures an artist’s popularity and commercial success. Last month, the company introduced a service, which it is calling the Ultimate Chart, that ranks artists based on the number of albums sold, singles sold, songs streamed online and other factors. The service also ranks sales of albums and singles, though they diverge little from Billboard’s charts.

On the most recent Ultimate Chart, Mr. Cruz is the No. 2 artist. Lil Wayne ranks as the fourth most popular artist, while his most recent album, “Rebirth,” is on the Billboard album chart at No. 89. (The two charts are not always at such great odds. Eminem is the No. 1 artist on the Ultimate Chart while his album sits at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.)

The new charts reflect the shift in music industry revenue. Even established performers like Rihanna, whose latest album, “Rated R,” broke into the top five on the Billboard 200 in 2009, receives half of her revenue through those other avenues, according to Jim Urie, the head of distribution for the Universal Music Group, which owns her label, Def Jam, as well as Mercury.

“We used to have basically a single line on the revenue sheet,” Mr. Urie said. “Now we have many.”

For most labels and artists, though, revenue from those new streams has not made up for the sharp drop in CD sales. While labels would not discuss overall revenue for specific artists, total revenue from recorded music peaked in 1999, at $13.4 billion, according to Forrester Research, and was about half of that in 2009.

But the multiple ways to make money provide hope to a struggling industry and are also changing the kind of music that gets made and promoted. Album sales are often driven by older listeners who typically favor country and soft-rock artists like Taylor Swift and Susan Boyle.

Pop and hip-hop artists like Taio Cruz and Rihanna are sometimes underrepresented on the album chart, as younger fans in particular have moved to buying singles and streaming music online.

In the near future, that could mean more Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, less Nickelback and Keith Urban.

“It’s becoming clear this year, to the industry and the artists, that when you’re having real hit singles, it has great value,” said David Massey, president of Mercury Records, Mr. Cruz’s label. “They can be more important than the album chart position.”

The Billboard charts have been modified over the years as the music industry changed. Back in 1913, Billboard published a chart showing the popularity of sheet music. In 1945, Billboard magazine introduced a chart displaying the top five albums. Five eventually grew to 200, the number the magazine has stuck with since 1972.

The album charts were largely a guessing game and could be manipulated by music insiders. That changed in 1991, when SoundScan began electronically tracking sales by retailers. The labels signed on to the service, and Billboard used the data for its Billboard 200 chart.

It didn’t take long for the industry to realize that albums usually peaked in sales during their first week of release, rather than build up momentum over time, as they had long thought. That discovery changed the marketing strategy at record labels, said Peter Lubin, a former record executive, putting the focus on the weeks leading up to the release.

“The music industry got very good at creating stories about artist launches,” said David Pakman, a venture capitalist and former chief executive of the digital music store eMusic. “You created a story to get radio programmers to get behind it.”

If a record had a bad first week, Mr. Lubin said, the thinking at a label quickly became, “This record is a loser; if you invest any more money in it, you’ll be a loser, too.”

And no one wants to be a loser. But until a new measurement tool is widely adopted, labels are largely left to their own devices to figure out a profitable strategy and a way to compare their success with the competition.

Cliff Chenfeld, an owner of Razor and Tie, an independent label in New York, said his company tailored a revenue strategy for each project rather than immediately falling back on a calculation of how many albums could be sold.

The singer-songwriter Dave Barnes, an artist signed to Razor and Tie, has never broken the top 50 in the Billboard 200. But Mr. Barnes found success on Christian radio and landed a deal with SongFreedom.com, a site that provides music to wedding photographers and videographers.

The commercial success of that deal, according to Mr. Chenfeld, is not reflected on the Billboard 200, even though its revenue is “considerable, and opportunities like that are viral.”

“The reliance on album sales is very 20th century,” he said.

Bill Werde, the editorial director of Billboard, said its Hot 100 chart lists the most popular songs based on a formula that factors in single sales, radio airplay and online streaming. “We’re constantly evolving what we’re doing and how we do it,” he said. Nielsen, the company that provides the album sales data to Billboard, has started to compile an artist’s revenue streams on a single sheet that it calls a scorecard.

But the top spot on the album charts, like a No. 1 book or a big opening weekend at the box office, remains a salient — and marketable — shorthand for industry success.

“We still fight for the No. 1 spot,” said Lee Stimmel, executive vice president for marketing at Epic Records, a Sony Music label. “It’s still a very important tag to have on a record.”

    Platinum Is So Passé. In iTunes Era, the Singles Count,
    NYT, 30.8.2010,






Apple Rolls Out Talking iPod Shuffle


March 11, 2009
Filed at 1:16 p.m. ET
The New York Times


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc introduced a smaller version of its popular iPod Shuffle music player on Wednesday with a new feature that tells the user what song is playing.

The new 4-gigabyte gadget costs $79, is half the size of the previous Shuffle, and carries up to 1,000 songs -- twice as many as the last generation of the device.

All of the controls on the new Shuffle have been moved from the device to the earphone cord. The new VoiceOver feature announces songs and playlists to users in 14 different languages, according to Apple, whose shares rose 4.5 percent.

The voice function is particularly useful on the Shuffle, which does not have a display screen like most iPods or other digital music players.

Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf said the new Shuffle design was appealing and called the voice function a "nice a little gimmick. It shows that Apple intends to keep that piece of the portfolio going. They're going to continue to innovate, upgrade the sub-$100 device."

"It won't necessarily stimulate sales, but it clearly will keep sales of the Shuffle going forward," he said.

The VoiceOver feature works by synchronizing with iTunes software, which installs a voice kit on the user's computer. VoiceOver can also tell a user how much battery life remains.

"You previously couldn't have multiple playlists on the iPod Shuffle because you couldn't really switch between them as there was no way to know how you would switch," said Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of iPod marketing, told Reuters. "So now instead of seeing, you get to hear."

Although Apple does not break out Shuffle sales, Needham's Wolf estimated some 7.5 million units were sold in the December quarter, it's biggest-selling quarter. Apple sold 22.7 million iPod units overall in the period.

The third generation of iPod Shuffle will be the world's tiniest music player, smaller than an AA battery. It comes in two colors, silver and black.

Apple will continue to sell the second-generation version of the 1-gigabyte, 240-song Shuffle for $49. but phase out the 2-gigabyte Shuffle, which sells for $69.

The iPod music player has played an important role in the revival of Apple's fortunes. The company has sold more than 200 million iPods since they launched in 2001. It launched the first Shuffle in January 2005.

The refreshed Shuffle comes just a week after the company updated its line of Mac desktop computers. Apple refreshed it MacBook laptop computers last fall.

Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple rose $3.97 to $92.59 in early afternoon trading on Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke and Gabriel Madway;

Editing by Derek Caney, Steve Orlofsky

and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Apple Rolls Out Talking iPod Shuffle, NYT, 11.3.2009,






Record Companies

Win Music Sharing Trial


October 5, 2007
Filed at 2:31 a.m. ET
The New York Times


DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- The recording industry hopes $222,000 will be enough to dissuade music lovers from downloading songs from the Internet without paying for them. That's the amount a federal jury ordered a Minnesota woman to pay for sharing copyrighted music online.

''This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK,'' Richard Gabriel, the lead attorney for the music companies that sued the woman, said Thursday after the three-day civil trial in this city on the shore of Lake Superior.

In closing arguments he had told the jury, ''I only ask that you consider that the need for deterrence here is great.''

Jammie Thomas, 30, a single mother from Brainerd, was ordered to pay the six record companies that sued her $9,250 for each of 24 songs they focused on in the case. They had alleged she shared 1,702 songs in all.

It was the first time one of the industry's lawsuits against individual downloaders had gone to trial. Many other defendants have settled by paying the companies a few thousand dollars, but Thomas decided she would take them on and maintained she had done nothing wrong.

''She was in tears. She's devastated,'' Thomas' attorney, Brian Toder, told The Associated Press. ''This is a girl that lives from paycheck to paycheck, and now all of a sudden she could get a quarter of her paycheck garnished for the rest of her life.''

Toder said the plaintiff's attorney fees are automatically awarded in such judgments under copyright law, meaning Thomas could actually owe as much as a half-million dollars. However, he said he suspects the record companies ''will probably be people we can deal with.''

Gabriel said no decision had yet been made about what the record companies would do, if anything, to pursue collecting the money from Thomas.

The record companies accused Thomas of downloading the songs without permission and offering them online through a Kazaa file-sharing account. Thomas denied wrongdoing and testified that she didn't have a Kazaa account.

Since 2003, record companies have filed some 26,000 lawsuits over file-sharing, which has hurt sales because it allows people to get music for free instead of paying for recordings in stores.

During the trial, the record companies presented evidence they said showed the copyrighted songs were offered by a Kazaa user under the name ''tereastarr.'' Their witnesses, including officials from an Internet provider and a security firm, testified that the Internet address used by ''tereastarr'' belonged to Thomas.

Toder said in his closing argument that the companies never proved ''Jammie Thomas, a human being, got on her keyboard and sent out these things.''

''We don't know what happened,'' Toder told jurors. ''All we know is that Jammie Thomas didn't do this.''

Copyright law sets a damage range of $750 to $30,000 per infringement, or up to $150,000 if the violation was ''willful.'' Jurors ruled that Thomas' infringement was willful but awarded damages in a middle range; Gabriel said they did not explain the amount to attorneys afterward. Jurors left the courthouse without commenting.

Before the verdict, an official with an industry trade group said he was surprised it had taken so long for one of the industry's lawsuits against individual downloaders to come to trial.

Illegal downloads have ''become business as usual. Nobody really thinks about it,'' said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, which coordinates the lawsuits. ''This case has put it back in the news. Win or lose, people will understand that we are out there trying to protect our rights.''

Thomas' testimony was complicated by the fact that she had replaced her computer's hard drive after the sharing was alleged to have taken place -- and later than she said in a deposition before trial.

The hard drive in question was not presented at trial by either party.

The record companies said Thomas was sent an instant message in February 2005 warning her that she was violating copyright law. Her hard drive was replaced the following month, not in 2004 as she said in the deposition.

''I don't think the jury believed my client regarding the events concerning the replacement of the hard drive,'' Toder said.

The record companies involved in the lawsuit are Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros. Records Inc.


On the Net:

RIAA: http://www.riaa.com

Lawsuit-tracking blog: http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com

Record Companies Win Music Sharing Trial, NYT, 5.10.2007,






Leading article:

The sound of a revolution


Published: 04 October 2007
The Independent


A revolution has been taking place in the commercial music industry. For several years, online music file swapping has been hitting CD sales and diminishing the profits of the major record companies. The runaway success of high-memory digital music players and online music stores (iPods and iTunes in particular) has accelerated this process.

This week, the revolution entered a new stage. The Charlatans have announced that they will make their new album available to anyone who logs on to a radio station's website. And Radiohead are asking their fans to pay as little or as much for their latest album online as they see fit. The era of free recorded music would appear to be dawning.

This is another major blow to the record companies, which thought they had finally begun to arrest their profit slump by agreeing to sell their artists' products through online music stores at knock-down prices. If other bands follow the lead of Radiohead, the record companies will not even receive the 79p it costs to download a single song from iTunes.

But could this latest development also be damaging to popular music in general? A case can be made that it is a dangerous thing. It is all very well for established bands to give up their revenue from CD sales and rely solely on merchandise sales and income from live shows. But smaller, up and coming bands tend to rely on CD revenue for a much greater proportion of their income. They could never afford to follow suit. And if the superstars encourage the public to believe that recorded music ought to be free, will people not be less inclined to pay for the product of smaller bands?

That is a risk. But there are compensating aspects of the musical revolution as far as smaller artists are concerned. They can promote themselves and connect with their fan base much more effectively through the web. Smaller bands are also benefiting from falling CD production costs. Artists can produce their CDs themselves and keep all of what they sell, bypassing the old record companies entirely.

As for the record companies, the smart ones have already realised that targeting niche audiences through intelligent marketing and advertising is the future. The days when they could simply sign the hottest bands and then wait for the cash to flow in from record sales are over. They will have to work considerably harder for their revenue in the new musical marketplace. Some will thrive. Others will go to the wall. But one thing is for sure, the revolution is too advanced to be turned back now.

Leading article: The sound of a revolution, I, 4.10.2007,






Microsoft Shows Off New Zune Players


October 3, 2007

Filed at 7:49 a.m. ET


The New York Times


REDMOND, Wash. (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. took the wraps off its second-generation Zune digital media players late Tuesday, showing three models that bring the software maker's offerings more in line with Apple's market-leading iPod.

One model -- available in black -- has an 80-gigabyte hard drive and a 3.2-inch screen. It's slimmer than last year's Zune, which had a 30 GB hard drive and a smaller screen. Microsoft also will sell a smaller, flash memory-based Zune, similar in shape and size to the original iPod Nano, in pink, green, black and red with either 4 GB or 8 GB of storage.

Like the original Zune, the new models include an FM radio tuner and the ability to wirelessly share songs with other Zune owners.

The latest generation sports a shiny glass screen and a new touch pad navigation button. The gadgets use Wi-Fi to sync music, movies and photos wirelessly and automatically with users' PCs.

The new Zunes are to go on sale in mid-November. The 4 GB Zune will cost $149, the 8 GB one will sell for $199 and the 80 GB model for $249. The prices match those of Apple Inc.'s comparable iPod models.

Microsoft has yet to wow consumers or analysts the way Apple has done consistently. As of the end of the last fiscal quarter, Apple Inc. had sold more than 100 million iPods, while Microsoft had sold about 1.2 million Zunes.

''There's nothing earth-shattering there,'' said Van Baker, an analyst at the research group Gartner, in an interview about the new Zunes.

Baker said he expects the changes to help Microsoft keep its distant No. 2 spot in the digital media player market, but improving the software and adding a new model isn't going to radically change Microsoft's market share.

''Maybe next year they can make an aggressive push against Apple,'' he said.

To get its first-generation Zunes to consumers quickly last year, Microsoft relied heavily on partners, including Toshiba Corp. for the design of the device.

This time, the company bulked up its own staff to include industrial designers and rebuilt the software for the device and the linked computer and Web services from scratch.

Microsoft tweaked the look of the new Zunes' display and menus, and added the Zune Pad, a combination mouse-button and touch pad that lets users scroll down a long list of songs with a few flicks of the finger, then click the button to select tracks or change the volume.

Zune users can set up their devices to connect automatically to their home Wi-Fi network, and sync music, podcasts and video while the device charges. They can also sync the device with TV shows recorded using Windows Media Center on Windows Vista PCs.

First-generation Zunes will automatically get software updates this fall.

In November, Microsoft will also release redesigned Zune desktop software, revamp its Marketplace store and launch a social networking site called ''Social.''

The new Marketplace will carry about 3 million tracks, about 1 million of which will be sold as MP3s without copy protection, in line with the number of songs Apple offers without digital rights management.

Microsoft executives have denied plans for a ''Zune phone'' since the iPhone was introduced this summer. J Allard, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, said designing a touch pad instead of a touch screen was a deliberate decision to let users skip tracks and change the volume without having to look at the screen.

Allard said that for this generation, Microsoft was focused on improving the hardware and software.

''Market share comes after,'' he said.

Microsoft Shows Off New Zune Players,
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