Big Music vs Digital Radio

By Jon Newton 6/01/05

Digital radio promised to be a pain in the gluteous maximus for vested corporate interests from Day One.

After all, it allows you to do pretty much what you want with the music you're listening to, including recording it and turning the results into mp3s you can then play back as and when.

Pretty good, huh? Just like back in the days of steam radio with all those wires and tubes and thingies. And tape recorders.

Jon Newton

Remember TimeTrax from Scott MacLean, a Canadian who wanted to record straight to his PC in WAV or mp3 format from his XM Satellite Radio PCR receiver?

And Greg Ratajik's StationRipper, designed to get you a list of available Shoutcast stations you can record, "creating a single mp3 file for each song the station plays"?

Now enter Applian Technologies' Replay Music, one of the growing number of applications that lets you plug in and save.

It's a, “unique streaming music recorder that captures MP3 files from any streaming source," says the company. "Every song is saved on your PC as a high quality MP3 file, automatically tagged with the artist, song title, album and genre, and perfectly separated into individual tracks. You can even burn songs directly to CDs, or copy them to your iPod or MP3 Player.”

There is, of course, a lot more to digital radio than merely making mp3s, but the ‘recording’ aspect is the bottom line for the owners of the Big Four music cartel, EMI (Britain), UMG (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany) and Warner (USA).

So they sicced their RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) onto it and now we’re getting the standard high-flown, over-blown rhetoric about ‘theft’, starving artists and sales losses, not to mention back-door solicitations to the FTC to do something about it and front door screaming via the mainstream media, & etcetera.

The usual, in other words.

Isn't 'violation' a bit strong?

“It's like TiVo for radio, but is it legal?” – asks the headline in an MSNBC post, going on:

“Various devices that enable listeners to record Internet radio streams and then convert them into MP3 files are catching on and making Web radio and streaming services more appealing to the general public.”

But, “some legal experts say the recording software may violate digital copyright laws and does little more than promote piracy”.

Hmm. Wonder who they might be?

Anyway, "Obviously if people can use the TiVo-like unit to download a recording from Web radio and pre-program it to search digital radio to find tracks that you want, it's going to beg a big question with the record industry," entertainment lawyer Jay Cooper is quoted as saying.

"The thing to ask is if it is a violation and does it need to be examined. Technology's way ahead of the law."

Actually, the thing to ask is: Violation of what? And according to whom?

And isn’t “violation” a bit strong for copying a piece of music? It is. But “infringement” isn't highly emotive and doesn't look so good in a media puff piece or headline.

MSNBC has Cooper saying that under Big Music’s Digital Copyright Millenium Act, users can’t duplicate copyrighted material from a computer hard drive, only from a digital or analog recorder, and then only for personal use and not for redistribution.

“Webcasters similarly are restricted from promoting the recording of their content,” says the story.

Horror of Horrors!

With the likes of Replay Radio, “users can split, chop, trim and edit their recorded mp3 files from streamed music services,” MSNBC states.

Just like they can by hand, if that's what they want to do.

"There's certainly a lawsuit waiting to happen because they're basically enabling consumers to record and the recordings are not authorized," Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association, is quoted as saying.

Record something without Big Music’s say-so? Horror of Horrors!!! Where would it end !!! ???

But the story has Applian co-owner Tom Mayes saying, "We've been doing this for a long time" and pointing out that Replay Music isn’t the only application of its kind.

"I think its too late for these (record) companies to try to put a stranglehold (on technology)," he says.

Right on. But that won’t stop the cartel.

And at least two Webcasters have "raised a red flag" about Replay Radio, says MSNBC.

Who might they be?

Well, one of them is RealNetworks which demanded that Applian take the Real Rhapsody name off the list of streaming music services Replay Music works with.

The other is Yahoo's MusicMatch.

So this is what you now see for the Replay Radio blurb:

* Napster™
* Rh------™
* Music M----™
* Y! Music Unlimited™
* Y! Launch ™
* AccuRadio™

And under that, (Legal note: Replay Music is not affiliated with any of these services, nor do we encourage violating any license agreements. We offer this list only for compatibility purposes.)

But Replay Radio isn't the only Applian product.

There's also a, "Web Radio VCR" that "lets you schedule and record radio shows from all over the world, and listen anytime, anywhere. Makes MP3s or CDs".

And there's a "WM Recorder" with which you can, "Record Windows Media Streaming Video and Audio with just one click! Recordings are playable on your PC or Pocket PC."

Stay tuned.

Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.


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