When I visited The Louis Armstrong Archives a few years ago to visit archivist Michael Cogswell, Cogswell escorted me back into the stacks to show me Armstrong's collection of 650 open-reel tapes, almost all of which sported collages assembled by the great trumpeter. More than touching his trumpet, I felt a direct connection to Armstrong viewing (and hearing) his mix tapes—Satchmo was one of us!
On June 11, Recording Industry vs the People, Ray Beckerman's popular blogspot site covering the recording industry's ongoing series of litigations, revealed that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had voluntarily and "without prejudice" filed a motion on May 27 to dismiss its ongoing complaint, Warner v Cassin, which maintained that posting files to a peer-to-peer network was distribution of those files, whether or not actual distribution occurred. This is known in copyright law as "making available."
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.