The record companies have declared war on their customers when it comes to the fair use rights of purchased music, and it would appear that they want the government to enlist in their crusade. Previous weeks have seen South Carolina senator Ernest Hollings propose draconian copyright legislation as well as recent pro-Hollywood remarks from California's senator Diane Feinstein.
According to a recent report from Arbitron and Edison Media Research (EMR), approximately nine million consumers who have ever listened to Internet audio said they would be willing to pay a small fee to listen to the one audio channel they listen to most online.
If you find yourself spending more time in a car seat than in your audio system's sweet spot each day, the trend pairing high-end audio companies with car manufacturers may offer a little relief. Lexus made a big splash last year by incorporating Mark Levinson technology into its latest cars, joining collaborations between Dynaudio and Volvo among others.
At its January CES presentation, Sony announced that this is the year that SACD will roll out big time to the masses. News from EMI/Capitol and Silverline Records would suggest that DVD-Audio may not be far behind, at least as far as available software is concerned.
Music publishing organizations such as ASCAP and BMI have long worked out licensing deals with radio broadcasters, who pay royalties in exchange for playing music over the air. A US Copyright Office panel is now suggesting that online broadcasters also pay royalties, this time directly to the record labels, in a recommendation that has so far left all parties unhappy, particularly broadcasters.
In the record industry's ongoing battle against its customers, score one for the consumer. Amid recent industry rumors that Universal Music Group has retreated from its position of adding restrictions to all of its new CDs, a lawsuit over a Charley Pride release has been settled in California, paving the way to alert the public to playback restrictions on discs.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. This is especially true for music lovers who have begun to fear that record companies purposely corrupt the data on audio CDs in an effort to restrict their use as a source for copies or MP3 files.
It's a brave group of souls who run today's audiophile music labels. Sane business minds would likely deem it foolhardy to start a new specialty label these days, but sometimes one's passion for music overrides the rational impulse to try something a little bit more secure (like perhaps an Internet company?).
After more than ten years in development, Sirius Satellite Radio announced last week that it will be officially launching its service with two events in Jackson, Mississippi beginning February 13. Sirius' competitor XM Satellite radio was able to get its service up and running last September.
Recent moves by record labels to add restricted-use technology to their compact disc releases has raised the ire of many a consumer, leading some to call for boycotts or worse (see this week's Soapbox). Late last year the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) issued a statement saying that the major labels have gone too far in restricting consumers' "fair use" of copyrighted material.