Napster has announced the launch of its new MP3 download store. The company claims to offer the largest MP3 catalogue available, at 6 million tracks. All of their tracks are in MP3 format, compatible with iPods and other portable music devices, and are completely DRM-free allowing users to make copies and transfer tracks to other devices at will.
The new service is direct competition for Apple's iTunes store. Music purchased from iTunes is usually sold in the less versatile (but possibly higher quality) ACC or m4a format and comes with proprietary digital locks that limit which devices the track can be loaded on to.
Napster, the company that started the MP3 download revolution, has most recently opperated as a streaming subscription service. That service will continue.
The Napster MP3 store isn't available in Canada. I could only access it through a web proxy to www.napster.com/store. No word on when the Canadian store will be launched. It took iTunes a year and half after the US store was lauched to get the Canadian store going. It took eMusic about 5 years to get their .ca happening.
Last summer, I inherited a fifth-hand green iPod mini from my visiting brother. I was excited to finally join the rest of the humans in this century and spent countless hours walking around the city while listening to Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A.'s "Bird Flu" on repeat, oblivious to honking cars and friends yelling "hello" from across the street.
My joy was short-lived... because my battery was short-lived. Within a month of getting the little music robot, the elderly battery came to last just long enough for me to get excited about the song I was going to hear (about five seconds). In disappointment, I retired the iPod into my junk drawer. It has languished there for months, next to several old cell phones and a surprisingly large number of random screws and nails.
Over the months, I have felt an increasing need to iPod myself. Every two weeks, I walk into a store and stare longingly at the pretty little machines only to walk out because I can't justify dropping $200 on anything.
But today at Best Buy, as I moved past the shiny little blue Nano I've been coveting, I noticed an altogether more exciting package: an iPod replacement battery. It was a mere $30 and came...
Apple Inc. is reportedly negotiating with record labels over a deal that would offer free access to unlimited music for iPod and iPhoners, according to The Financial Times (via CNN, actually -- thanks to Natasha Kaminsky for the heads up.).
What the CNN article says is:
Apple Inc. is negotiating with record labels over a deal to give iPhone and iPod customers free access to the entire iTunes music library if they pay extra for the devices.
To me, if you pay a fee, it does not equal "free." But whatever. CNN is reporting that The Financial Times is reporting that "unnamed music industry sources" are reporting that no one's sure what Apple would pay the labels for unlimited access to their massive vaults. Any deal would, naturally, hinge on that figure.
No one's reporting which record labels. (Personally, I would be thrilled with negotiations between Apple and Northside Records, North America's premier source for Scandinavian music.)
As well, there's no indication of the fee might get passed along to consumers. I'm also not certain what this means for people who already own iPods and iPhones. Thankfully, no one's iPod will last long enough for it to matter....
Norwegian hacker DVD Jon has broken the link between iTunes and the iPod. His new software will allow users to copy music and videos purchased in iTunes to other devices like mobile phones, reports the Times Online.
"In doing so, the software breaks the copy protection - known as \'digital rights management\' or DRM - that is built into all music that is bought from iTunes. Music bought from iTunes can be played only on the iPod."
DJD Jon -- a.k.a. 22-year-old Jon Lech Johansen -- and his company, DoubleTwist, has previously released software enabling iPod owners to play music bought from sources other than iTunes.
DoubleTwist maintains that its software is legal "because it only allowed a user who has already purchased music to copy it." The company\'s ceo and co-founder, Monique Farantzos, claims that they\'re simply helping friends sending things to each other. Apple disagrees and lawyers are already involved, indicating possible copyright infringement.
In other news, my third-hand iPod\'s battery works for approximately 10 seconds.
It\'s a little joke among my colleagues in the MARIA office that I get a little too excited about copyright. But who could have guessed that 2007 would end with so much buzz about copyright, and already in 2008 copyright stories are back in the media. Here\'s a couple:
iPod Levy - On Thursday, the Canadian court of appeal struck down a Copyright Board of Canada decision to move ahead with a private copying levy on iPods and other digital music storage devices. This levy is akin to the levy that is paid on blank CDs and cassettes and is designed to compensate copyright owners for the copies that consumers make of songs for their own private use. CRIA opposed the new levy, even though it would provide a whole new bundle of cash for its members (record labels) because it felt that the levy was an acknowledgement that people were using these digital devices to make illegal copies of music. CRIA chose to stand on its ideological position, and continue to pursue copyright reform that would allow them to sue music users who make illegal copies of music, rather than be compensated for private copying.
Michael Giest writes about the levy decision, and its demise. Other recent...