Thursday, February 22, 2007

The week in news

The RIAA has sent complaints about illegal downloading to 15,000 students at 25 schools. We didn't have illegal downloading when I was a student -- but we did have great independent radio. And thanks to the internet, I can listen to that radio anywhere I have an internet connection.

Not for long, if the RIAA and SoundExchange, have any say. They have bureaucratized internet music streaming so heavily, that this form of music enjoyment is also at risk: If you stream digital music, you must file 11 pieces of information about each track played with SoundExchange. For that effort a musician receives about a penny in royalty for every 12 tracks played. The catch is musicians can't claim until they have $10 in credit -- or, about 12,000 tracks played. There probably are some bands out there that can lay claim to $20 or $30 from all the independent radio stations out there, but isn't that the point of independent radio, to hear things you don't hear anywhere else?

DRM-free music sales continue to get buzz, and if this study has any merit, it appears illegal downloading has nothing to do with declining music CD sales after all. RIM (the blackberry people), known more for corporate email than music, have created more DRM-free music buzz... expect to hear the music on your blackberry soon.

But! Don't start hammering nails into the DRM coffin yet... Widevine, in a new twist on DRM, sees opportunity in their "device agnostic platform." The MP3 format itself may be at risk: Alcatel/Lucent have just won a copyright infringment case against Microsoft for the MP3 playing capability built into Windows XP and Vista. I expect that ruling might one day affect the little play button right here on earhead#101111.

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