In what is intended to have the biggest impact yet on the thriving "rip, mix, burn" lifestyle, Macrovision has revealed that several record labels have been secretly putting its copy protection system onto new CD releases since around March of this year (see previous report). The process, called SafeAudio, is a Macrovision registered trademark and is intended to prevent the copying of CDs, or tracks from CDs, onto CD-R discs and computer hard drives. The technology was developed jointly by Macrovision and TTR Technologies.
There appears to be nothing more important to the music business today than controlling the distribution and use of digital content on the web and in the home. Proprietary schemes to prevent or control the use of audio files have become hot commodities and valuable assets for many companies. Liquid Audio recently announced that the US Patent Office has awarded the company a patent (#6,219,634) for its watermark technique used for distributing secure digital music files.
I have to remember how seriously audiophiles follow Stereophile. Reader David Zappardon's (email@example.com) e-mail to me began with "Hello, my friend." But I have to admit to feeling some guilt when he yowled that he'd wasted two fruitless hours of his time looking for the silver-bearing conductive grease I'd mentioned in the October 2000 "Fine Tunes."
"Adapt or die" is the first law of economic Darwinism. It's a choice that many music retailers are beginning to face with the rising tide of alternative distribution channels. According to market research organization Jupiter Research, online music services will account for approximately 9% of all CDs sold this year, a 50% increase from 2000. Retailers, once the music industry's only sales interface with the buying public, are looking at what might be an increasingly marginalized future. Those who wish to stay in the game may become "affiliates" rather than independent distributors.
Last year's media darling may be this year's has-been. Napster, the music file-sharing service that shook the music industry's foundations, remains shut down after US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled that it cannot resume operations until it can prove that no copyrighted songs can slip through its filter. In a closed session on Wednesday, July 11, Patel ordered Napster to stay offline until she authorizes it to do otherwise.
We have received an update from loudspeaker designer Paul Hales on the availability of replacement parts for Hales loudspeakers. In a previous interview, he had mentioned the availability of cabinet and crossover parts for his namesake products. Some of that information was in error, due to circumstances beyond his control, he explained in a recent email:
Music fans who use their computers to organize their CD or MP3 music libraries have found the CDDB music database, now owned and operated by Gracenote (see previous story), to be an essential part of their audio world. If you use CDDB-enabled hardware or software, the artist, album title, genre, and track titles will automatically display when you put a CD or load an MP3 file into your computer or compliant player.