Sonos are well-known for their innovative audio products which integrate together to build highly controllable wireless hi-fi systems. Simplistically, you can start with one or two units and build-up over time until you can play music in any room in the house. The Sonos system can be controlled via smartphones and tablets with apps available for both iOS and Android devices.
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Credits: Jack Ellis – Executive Producer
The details are not disclosed, but it looks like Rhapsody has come to an agreement with Best Buy to take over Napster service. Of course, this is Rhapsody’s attempt to counter the surge of users on Spotify.
Napster was founded in 1999 by John and Shawn Fanning. Of course, issues arose with the downloading of illegal music, which was brought to the forefront by the band Metallica. The peer-to-peer sharing site went bankrupt in 2002, then sold their assets to Roxio, who then sold the company to Best Buy.
Rhapsody has also been in the music space since 2001. Their music streaming service has gone through a few changes, but survived for over ten years. So when Spotify brought a surge to the online streaming service category, it would make sense that Rhapsody would want to counter.
“This deal will further extend Rhapsody’s lead over our competitors in the growing on-demand music market,” said Jon Irwin, president, Rhapsody. “There’s substantial value in bringing Napster’s subscribers and robust IP portfolio to Rhapsody as we execute on our strategy to expand our business via direct acquisition of members and distribution deals.”
The only thing we know from the details is that Best Buy will still keep a stake in the company. That could become a great marriage for Rhapsody, because Best Buy has been known for putting bundles into their product sales. Getting someone on a service for a couple free months and hope they don’t cancel the membership when the time comes.
Currently, Rhapsody and Napster are the two largest on-demand music services. With the acquisition, they will be able to run against Spotify and the Facebook integration.
The deal will be finalized on November 30th.
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a tool that doesn’t reflect the general preference of legal music downloaders. Before you read on, hoping that I will advocate for the free distribution of music, let me warn you: I’m a strong supporter of copyright and the protection of intellectual property; I want artists and distributors to make a decent living, but I’m frustrated by the current misuse of digital technology that attempts to thwart illegal distribution. In practice, DRM makes creates compatibility problems that make it excessively difficult, and in most cases, impossible, to listen to music that has been purchased online.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project reported this week that 36 million Americans, 27 percent of internet users, report having downloaded music or video files. Half of this group have skirted the traditional peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and commercial online distribution services (i.e. Napster, iTunes). This is a significant number of digital media users whose sharing of digital media is untraceable by the recording industry and copyright holders.
Must everything eventually be available for free on the Internet? Steve Lohr, in an article in today’s New York Times, argued that all public digital data will eventually be free on the Internet, because it’s too difficult to protect the intellectual property (IP) rights of the authors.
Mr. Lohr presents an engaging argument for accepting the inevitable distribution and public acquisition of music, words, art, and other works protected by IP law. In facing this inevitable distribution of this collective corpus, we should rethink the protection we strive to afford creators of original works in a manner that recognizes and accepts the new technological environment in which we find ourselves.
An example of the misuse of Internet-related technology that has brings Mr. Lohr to his opinion is the wanton copying and distribution of digital music through file sharing services (i.e. Napster, KaZaA, Grokster, Morpheus), a violation of copyright law. In response, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) this week filed 261 lawsuits against individual users of file sharing systems, using their attempt to enforce current IP laws as a threat to the millions of other illegal music swappers.
Although, as Mr Lohr wrote, “[the Internet has] origins in the research culture of academia with its ethos of freely sharing information,” I can’t imagine that the early-adopter, circa 1960, academicians, scientists, and scholars freely shared all of their research and hard-earned scholarly writings. Having the technology to share data doesn’t require one to share the data. Having technical skill doesn’t grant one the right to acquire, let alone redistribute, data. I agree with Mr. Lohr that we must allow our approach to protecting the rights of artists to evolve in the face of technological advances; however, I don’t agree that it’s time to roll over and accept that dissemination of currently-protected works is inevitable and, therefore, shouldn’t be restricted.
Some things are inevitable: the sun will again rise and set,the net will continue to transmit data packets, and yes, copyright-protected music will be shared illegally. However, I judge that just because a task is difficult it is no reason to give up the fight. While I have no hard evidence at hand, my perception is that file swapping is most frequently done by young adults whose civil acumen isn’t matched by their technical skill. I think it’s reasonable that our file swappers are less practiced at critically thinking about the value of their civil responsibilities.
In handing over the reins of legal protection under the guise of accepting the inevitable aren’t we, the citizens who have had more opportunities to consider our responsibilities, failing to accept one of our primary civil responsibilities: raising the next generation to be upright, law-abiding citizens?
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