The music industry's ongoing copyright and royalty battle took a refreshing turn Wednesday, August 7, when EMI Group PLC filed suit against AOL Time Warner, Inc. over the unpaid use of songs from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movies. Filed in US Court for the Southern District of New York, the suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction barring AOL Time Warner from playing songs from MGM classics such as Singin' in the Rain and The Wizard of Oz.
"My god. This was better than any hi-fi I had ever experienced—I actually had Sergei Rachmaninoff in the room, playing Mendelssohn just for me. I am not ashamed to say that I wept." I wrote those words in the January 2001 Stereophile, about hearing a piano-roll transcription of Rachmaninoff performing Mendelssohn's Spinning Song (Op.67 No.34) on a Bösendorfer Imperial 290SE reproducing piano. I was in the middle of recording Robert Silverman's cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas at the Maestro Foundation in Santa Monica, where there just happened to be a floppy disk with Wayne Stahnke's transcription of the Rachmaninoff for the Bösendorfer mechanism, which Stahnke invented.
Choice is generally considered a plus, but as many of our readers note, when it comes to audio, a format war is the last thing consumers need. While the DVD-A/SACD conflict takes the center audio stage, other technology battles are being fought off in the wings, including the satellite radio format tussle 'twixt XM and Sirius.
It's been, as Bette Davis might say, a bumpy ride, but Genesis says it is back as a designer and manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers. Formed in 1991, Genesis was originally partnered by Canadian loudspeaker conglomerate Audio Products International (Mirage, Energy, Sound Dynamics), until famed designers Arnie Nudell and Paul McGowan bought API out in 1994.
Chip Stern heads this week's list with an evaluation of the NAD C370 integrated amplifier from the January 2002 issue. With the units priced to sell, at $699, CS wants to know if the C370 can satisfy audiophiles as well as budget-conscious shoppers.
Late July was a volatile period for the music industry. On the 29th, Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff announced his resignation. The "young lion" who ushered the German media conglomerate into the Internet age—and into an ill-advised $100 million investment in now-forgotten Napster—apparently had a very different vision for the future of the company than does the Mohn family, which controls 75% of Bertelsmann stock. "Shareholders had mid- and long-term development prospects that were different from mine," Middelhoff told reporters. "In this context, I had no choice but to resign." Bertelsmann is parent company of BMG, the music giant.
In apparent response to proposed federal legislation that would permit copyright holders to launch technological strikes against privately-owned computers, hackers launched an attack of their own over the weekend of July 27–28, rendering the website of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) unusable.
Once again, audiophiles can help themselves and others at the same time by participating in The Cable Company's seventh annual "Summer Against Hunger" campaign. The Cable Company, and several suppliers (listed below) have set up a program by which up to 10% of the Cable Company's August sales are donated to CARE and the International Rescue Committee, with contributions to be used to assist the worldwide disaster relief efforts of those humanitarian organizations.
Many audiophiles eager to try their new high-resolution disc players have been disappointed to discover skimpy offerings of Super Audio CDs and DVD-A recordings at their local music marts. Fortunately, several online sources stock such discs, and are constantly updating their inventories.
Like most of the record business, classical music is having a tough time finding a new audience in the digital download world. And in line with the recent moves by record labels to market popular music online, classical music fans in the UK will soon have another bona fide incentive for locating and legally purchasing works via the Internet.