It has been an action packed week on the judicial copyright battlefield. One June 11, a federal district court upheld the first sale doctrine , ruling in UMG v Troy Augusto that sales of promotional CDs did not constitute a copyright violation.
As the May issue was being put to bed, the Internet was all aflutter over a proposal by digital strategy consultant Jim Griffin to have Internet Service Providers (ISPs) levy a $5 surcharge—a "network licensing model"—on all broadband users. Under this model, Griffin proposes that ISPs collect the fee, which would then be paid into a pool to "compensate music-copyright holders." Griffin says that consumers who do not download digital music files would not be forced to pay the surcharge, but that he anticipates "70–80% would pay" for all the content they could download.
Sasha Frere-Jones has a fascinating article in the June 9 The New Yorker about Antares's Auto-Tune software. In case you aren't familiar with it, Auto-Tune is pitch correction software that is used almost universally in contemporary pop recordings—sometimes just to "fix" an off note, increasingly frequently as an effect in its own right.
Some musicians are remembered for a single remarkable album; some are remembered for a hit song—Bo Diddley will always be remembered for a beat. That eponymous beat—a rhumba-inflected Bomp a-bomp-a-bomp, bomp, bomp—may well have been "the most plagiarized rhythm in rock," as Rolling Stone claimed in 2005.
Having visited China and witnessed the building boom firsthand, I must admit that I suspected corners were being cut in construction—so I wasn't surprised by how many buildings came down. Considering all the construction accidents happening in NYC this year, who am I to look askance at China?
Back in April, Daniel Jacques of Audio Plus, Focal's North American distributor, invited me to visit Focal's factory in St. Etienne. Since I'd never reviewed any Focal loudspeakers, I didn't know a lot about the company, but I have spent many happy hours in Jonathan Scull's ribbon chair, listening to his Grand Utopias, so I was eager to go—and to learn more.
Focal combines high-tech work stations with a phenomenal amount of hand labor. Metal drivers and inexpensive dome tweeters are heavily automated, but many drivers are assembled by hand, especially Focal's "W" composite cones.
Stiff, extremely light "aircraft" foam is stretched over a mold by hand and gently heated to maintain "dimensional stability," according to Dominic Baker, Focal's export sales director. The molds have different flares, depending on the driver's purpose—and they are produced in-house by Opus 42.
Another hand process is stretching and fitting various layers of adhesive-impregnated glass-fiber material to the front and back of the foam center. Again, depending on the driver's purpose, different amounts of glass fiber layers are employed. Since Focal controls the flare, drive system, and crossover, the company has massive amounts of control over elements like mass and Q.
One of Focal's core technologies is its use of "multi-ferrites," Mahul having realized that it was more precise to use multiple magnets in big drivers than it was to rely upon finding enough truly huge, uniform magnets.