The gold rush is on in the wake of a Federal Trade Commission decision effectively ending the music industry's policy of minimum advertised pricing (MAP) on compact discs. Attorneys in California and New York wasted no time in filing class-action lawsuits against the music industry's major conglomerates, following the FTC's announcement May 10 that it had reached a negotiated settlement with them over a longstanding noncompetitive pricing policy.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports that factory-to-dealer sales of audio products soared in March, with dollar volume increasing by 14% over March 1999, to a total of more than $721 million. According to the CEA, sales in the first quarter of this year were 10% ahead of first-quarter 1999, at approximately $1.75 billion.
Last week, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced that it is working to establish a single standard for high-data-rate home networking using the powerlines already installed in consumers' homes. Stating that it is "recognizing the need for a baseline technology standard," the CEA says it has invited integrated-home-systems industry stakeholders to participate in the creation of a standard for residential powerline networks, to be completed by year's end.
Retail prices of compact discs are likely to drop in the coming months, thanks to a Federal Trade Commission action ending an industry-wide price-support policy begun five years ago. On May 10, the FTC announced that it had reached an agreement with the "Big Five" of the music business—Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Music, Seagram Ltd.'s Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment, BMG Entertainment, and EMI Group PLC—that will effectively end the practice of "minimum advertised pricing" (MAP) instituted as a response to music-retailing price wars in the mid-1990s. Under MAP, retailers were forbidden to advertise CDs below an established minimum, at the risk of losing millions of promotional dollars from the record labels.
With their simple circuits and low, even zero, levels of loop negative feedback, the sound quality of single-ended triode amplifiers is very dependent on the specific output tubes used. In "In Search of the Perfect 300B Tube," Peter van Willenswaard finds that not all tubes are created equal. Measured and auditioned in his survey of 300B power tubes are samples from Golden Dragon, JJ Electronics, KR Enterprise, Sovtek, Svetlana, Valve Art, and Western Electric. "If you want the best," sums up Mr. W, "there's only the . . . "—well, you'll have to read the article to find out!
Music file–sharing service Napster Inc. appears to be losing its fight against the Record Industry Association of America. On May 8, judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the US District Court in Northern California rejected two of Napster's key defenses: that it is a "mere conduit" of information, like a telephone network; and that it had made serious efforts to prevent "repeat offenders" from using the site. Telephone companies, Internet service providers, and other types of information services are exempt by law from being responsible for the information transmitted over their systems, provided they make reasonable attempts to control abuses. Napster doesn't qualify on either count, Judge Patel found.
Digital downloading is all the rage with the major record labels. EMI Recorded Music, a unit of EMI Group PLC, announced May 10 that it will make some of its massive catalog available as digital downloads beginning this summer. More than 100 albums and 40 singles will be offered on a trial basis, according to a company press release dated May 10. EMI's musical spectrum covers every genre, including pop, rock, jazz, classical, Latin, Christian, country, rap/urban, and dance—a roster of approximately 1500 artists. Labels under the EMI umbrella include Capitol, Angel, Blue Note, EMI, Priority, and Virgin.
The entertainment industry's worst worry—copyright infringement—just got a lot worse. A consortium of 12 major high-technology companies has been organized to promote a rewritable DVD technology developed by the Pioneer Electronics Corporation, according to a May 9 press release from Tokyo.