When is a music sample not a sample but an actual product? Are those 30-second audio snippets used at online music-retailer websites and in stores considered samples and therefore covered under fair use copyright laws? These are some of the questions that the National Association of Recording Merchandisers are asking the copyright office as another battle heats up between the record labels (represented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)) and the music retailers (represented by NARM).
According to a new comparison of online music business models and companies prepared by Red Herring Research, Napster simply cannot exist without the complete consent of the recording industry, and the company's recent attempts to appease the copyright infringement concerns of the industry have so far failed. The study also finds it highly unlikely that the company's peer-to-peer model will find success, given the history of its relationship with the recording industry, its declining membership, and impending competition from services like MusicNet and Duet.
Some long-time Stereophile readers were outraged when the magazine put a photo of a computer soundcard on its cover in September of 2000 (click here for the review and controversy). And then, John Atkinson added insult to injury by doing another soundcard review last November. Some readers may have been scratching their heads about why we did it, but at least one manufacturer is getting the message.
A quickly established favorite among music fans, the CDDB website provides comprehensive information for tracking who and what appears on just about any CD in existence (see previous). But as users of the service are discovering, the company that now maintains the database, Gracenote, is starting to change the rules of access.
Could the average computer hard drive soon be able to store the equivalent of over 80 DVD-Audio discs or 600 CDs? Last week, IBM announced that it is using just a few atoms of what it has termed "pixie dust" to push back the data storage industry's most formidable barrier, and will effectively quadruple disk drive densities in the next two years.
Please bear with us a moment here—we know most audiophiles react to MP3-related news with a serious case of ringing ears, but tracing where the lo-fi market is currently headed can be instructive for understanding the distant hi-fi future. And if the new technology previewed last week at Qualcomm's BREW conference in San Diego is any indication, some parts of your audio future may, in fact, be wireless.
It's been a roller coaster ride for satellite radio upstarts Sirius Radio and XM Radio this past week as both companies fortunes shifted yet again. In a classic billion-dollar consumer electronics gamble, Sirius and XM are betting that they can reach critical mass by selling enough specially equiped digital radio receivers through car manufacturers while simultaneously signing up enough subscribers to reach profitability.
Will audio dealers be interested in selling a product that's been available so far only via mail-order? Audio Advisor thinks so, and has created a new distribution company, WS Distributing, to begin selling the Musical Fidelity product line through "qualified" high-end audio dealers in the USA beginning May 21. Musical Fidelity has been available through retailers in Europe and Asia for years, but in the US, only from AA's catalog and website sales.
There is no denying that buying pre-owned high-end gear can easily provide the biggest bang for the audio buck. Many of us got our first glimpse of sonic nirvana after scoring some second-hand component at a fraction of its retail price. Or perhaps you've just bought a new product and need to unload that old classic hanging out in the closet. Stereophile wants to help.
One argument for the record industry's disappointing sales last year is a combination of high prices for official CD releases coupled with cheap prices for computer-based CD recorders and CD-R blanks. It doesn't look like retail CD prices will be coming down anytime soon, but luckily for the music business, CD-R prices are going up.