In the 1990s the former maker of playing cards Nintendo faced much mock when it decided against using CDs on its Nintendo 64 system and stuck with expensive and (in comparison) lower-capacity cartridges.
Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, both used CDs and Nintendo’s choice lost a lot of loyal third-party supporters who went to the PlayStation.
Now retro collectors are saying that Nintendo’s stubbornness was actually far sighted because optical media is rotting away while the cartridges still go on.
The world is fast learning that even if you care for CDs they are useless after 30 years’ service because the chemicals used in the disc’s protective layers fail.
The CD’s reflective layer, usually made of aluminium also starts to oxidise and the discs “bronze” over.
However, cartridges are traditionally quite robust – hence the fact that people are still happily playing Atari VCS and NES games on original hardware – so N64 games should continue to be playable for quite some time yet.
The RIAA is patting itself on the back after an alleged content pirate was sentenced to 15 years in jail after a sting operation saw him selling six copyrighted items to an undercover agent.
37 year old Patrick Lashun King was lured into selling five films and one music CD to an undercover agent from the Attorney General’s Intellectual Property Theft Task Force. Later searches turned up equipment for copying and over 10,000 pirated discs, along with weapons, though it is not clear whether those were legal or not. It’s also not clear what King intended to do with the pirated CDs.
King had previously been found guilty, in 2003, for selling on copyrighted material and was made to serve a year under house arrest.
Copiah County Circut Court demanded King would serve 15 years along with a further three on supervised release, TorrentFreak reports.
Executive VP of anti-piracy at the RIAA boasted that the term showed big content still had some muscles to flex. In a statement, Buckles said the sentencing “demonstrated that theft of intellectual property is treated as a serious crime in Mississippi and highlights the fact that the individuals engaging in these activities are frequently serial criminals for whom IP theft is simply the most convenient and profitable way they could steal from others”.
Buckles went on to thank the Attorney General for his leadership in “IP enforcement” and to “dedicated law enforcement officers and prosecutors who worked on the case”.
Another man, Antwun Sharell Jones, was sentenced to two years for selling one pirated film.
By contrast, a Mississippi teacher was sentenced to five years in prison for sexual battery of an ex student, while a former officer got five years after pleading guilty to five counts of child exploitation. A woman, 22, accused of gun trafficking, has been told she will serve 15 years in jail.
A leaked cable between the US and the Australian governments has shown how far the land of the fee is having its foreign policy dictated to it by Big Content.
The Canberra Wikileaks cables, found by Torrent Freak revealed the US Embassy blessed a conspiracy by Hollywood studios to hit an Australian communications company iiNet through the local court system.
The big idea was to create a binding common law precedent which would make ISPs responsible for the unauthorised file sharing of their customers.
Big Content selected Australia and iiNet, carefully. If it managed to set a precedent in Australia, then it would be influential in other Commonwealth countries.
Telstra had too many legal resources to see off such a complaint so, iiNet was gauged the perfect candidate.
The US embassy cables noted that the case was filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its international affiliate, the Motion Picture Association (MPA), but neither wanted the fact to be broadcasted.
The case was bought by the local Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT). It is a consortium of American movie studios with token Australian representation, began legal action against iiNet in November, 2008.
The US Embassy, in Canberra wrote that it would monitor this case see whether or not the ‘AFACT vs. the local ISP’ featured attraction spawns a ‘giant American bullies vs. little Aussie battlers’ sequel.”
As it turned out the Americans and MPA and US Embassy badly misjudged their target and found iiNet put up the legal fight of their lives. AFACT was routed in every court in the land.
Crime figures are proving that CDs and DVDs are on their way out.
According to figures released by Inspector Knacker of the Yard, London’s burglars won’t even grab them anymore.
These days it’s getting too difficult to shift them, after all, in a burglary you don’t get the chance to select the goods you steal. Given that people have put Celine Dion, Craig David, David Gray and other atrocities into the charts, that is probably all the rubbish that a lot of people have in their collections.
And anyway, how often have you ever been asked if you want to buy a delux edition of Babylon 5 down the pub?
Apparently, the thieves will get more dosh from an ancient laptop than they would for an entire CD collection. Eric Phelps, a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police told the Economist that years ago there always used to be a man in a pub selling CDs.
Thefts of entertainment products like CDs and DVDs have collapsed in England and Wales, to the point that they are now taken in just seven percent of all burglaries in which something is stolen. They are now targeted no more frequently than toiletries and fags, he said.
Despite industry claims that online music is destroying the business, revenues continue to climb by around half a billion dollars a year.
According to Gartner stats, worldwide revenues for online music sales are set to reach $6.3 billion this year, up from $5,9 billion last year. This is set to continue to $6.8 billion in 2012, before hitting $7.7 billion in 2015.
It is a sign that industry business models are gradually taking online music fully into consideration, following a decade since Napster burst onto the scene, before much burying of heads in sand by the record labels.
Of course the days of ridiculous profits for labels are disappearing in line with overpriced CDs, with the memory of shelling out the best part of £20 on a disc fast fading.
In fact as more and more people gain access to devices on which they listen to music digitally, be it smartphones or MP3 players, CD sales are expected to continue to spiral downwards.
Apparently further drops to profits are expected, with revenues of $15 billion for CD sales to sink to $10 billion over five years from 2010 to 2015.
This means that CDs will in fact represent the majority of cash collected by labels up to the end of the decade, a long time since file downloading began to become popular.
In some areas this will presumably happen sooner than in others. In the US the online music sector is already reaching maturity, with online growth in the double digits levelling off. Growth is now expected to stay flat for the next few years.
This is echoed in Western Europe and Japan, with regions such as the Middle East and Latin America picking up on online music more slowly.
Further increases to revenue in all regions could also be seen in the rise of subscription based sites such as Spotify. Although these sites offer little in the way of remuneration to artists and labels they are expected to quickly grow as a way of funding the industry.
After nearly a decade losing out to Internet piracy, the music industry has finally worked out that users will not do what they are told. .
According to the Guardian for years the music industry had a technique called “setting up the record” – this involved giving the single to the radio stations up to six weeks before releasing it.
The idea was that it would be brilliant advertising and drive a desire to own the single. That was all well and good until the internet came along.
It meant that people who wanted the single would just download it from a torrent site from a place where the music had already been released.
Now Universal and Sony Music have given up and will release singles at the same time as they give the music to the radio stations.
David Joseph, the chief executive of Universal Music, said that wait was not a word in the vocabulary of the current generation. “It’s out of date to think that you can build up demand for a song by playing it for several weeks on radio in advance.”
He said that searches for songs on Google or iTunes were peaking two weeks before they actually became available to buy, meaning that the public was bored or had already pirated new singles.
One advantage is that it will mean that Top of the Pops style charts will be quite interesting again. At the moment, heavy pre-release marketing had tended to mean a new single crash-landed at its peak position on its first week of release. Now it will be possible for records to climb the charts as excitement about a new song builds up.
The music industry is seeing a dramatic rise in digital revenues, but these have not been able to offset a fall in traditional music sales.
According to figures released by the British Phonographic Industry, sales of albums and singles in 2010 fell seven percent from a year earlier to 119.9 million.
Digital album sales rose almost a third to 21 million, CD albums fell from 112.5 million to 98.5 million.
The BPI insists that the slump is due to evil pirates and is calling for a pirate to be crucified at every half mile of the M4 as a warning to others.
Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive, said that while the growth in digital sales was positive, “legal downloads are unable to offset the decline in CD sales because they are dwarfed by illegal competition”. He said that “meaningful action to tackle illegal downloading remains absolutely critical if we are to stabilise British music sales, let alone return to growth,” adding that otherwise investment in digital services and British musical talent would dry up
However the figures seem to reveal something a little different. For a start the singles market was six percent higher than last year on 161.8 million.
In the last week of 2010, the number of singles downloaded breached the 5 million mark for the first time. Digital sales represented 98 per cent of single sales for the year.
So what we are seeing is the death of the album which used to be the biggest money spinner for the industry. The album, as Pink Floyd found out this week, is next to near useless for sales on formats where people download long lists of singles they like.
True, piracy is a problem for the industry, but it is not the only thing to blame. The fundamental structure of the entertainment industry and music is changing and it seems that the BPI has not worked that out yet.
Of course I could start to show my age and say that the artists of today are shallow, pointless, untalented morons and the industry does not make decent music any more. However my Dad pointed out that he said the same thing in the 1980s.
A class action started in a North California district court against Sony, Sony Optiarc, Toshiba, Samsung, Hitachi and LG Electronics.
Patrick Keyes, on behalf of himself and others, alleged that these defendants engaged in a conspiracy to “fix, raise, maintain and stabilize artificially” the prices of optical disk drives and products containing optical disk drives.
The drives include CD, DVD and Blu-ray drives.
The suit also alleges that other companies including Philips and Lite-On participated in the violations, brought under the Sherman antitrust legislation.
The suit continues: “The market for optical disc drives exhibits numerous characteristics that suggest the price stabilisation beginning in 2005 resulted from an illegal conspiracy. These characteristics include the hihg level of market concentration, the existence of numerous joint ventures among defendants, trade organisations that provide opportunities for the sharing of anticompetitive information, product homogeneity and significant barriers to entry in the optical disk drive market.”
A handful of companies dominate the market for the drives, the suit continues. In 2008, Hitachi-LG, Toshiba Samsung and Sony controlled 67 percent of the market, says the suit.
This class action follows the announcement by the Department of Justice in October last year that it was investigating several companies for alleged antitrust behaviour.