Thursday, September 20, 2012

Google+ Studio Mode Takes The Show Online

Love the excitement of a small house show, but hate the sweaty, pushing weirdos who inevitably crowd the kitchen and block your way to the bathroom after one too many craft beers (you hip kid, you)? Then has Google+ got a service for you! Now you can experience the energy and intimacy of live performances right from the comfort of your own living room.

Well, almost.

Google has recently rolled out a new addition to Google+ Hangouts called Studio Mode, which allows bands to host real-time streaming broadcasts of their live shows online. You may wonder how this is any different from websites like Stageit that already offer the same service to bands; the proof is in the sound. According to TechCrunch, Studio Mode operates “in stereo at a higher bitrate though a different codec.” The audio that you hear in Studio Mode is actually optimized for a music listening experience instead of a regular Google+ hangout. Doubt it? Check out the video below of OurStage act Suite 709 playing their song “Life Won’t Let You Down” to demonstrate the higher quality of Studio Mode.

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Universal Music Sneaks Unfavorable Reviews Into List Of Copyright Infringement Take Downs

Under the provisions of 1998’s Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), copyright holders can make a legal claim to remove online materials which breach said copyright.

In June, the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) filed such notice on behalf of Universal Music Group, seeking to have illegal downloads removed from Google Search.

Among those illegal downloads were three URLs linking to two separate, middling reviews of Drake‘s Take Care LP. Both reviews featured a common link to a third, and far more brutal review.

An accident, as Techdirt suggests possible? Perhaps. But either way, this is an alarming illustration of the potential and, in fact, likely free speech stifling abuses of the DMCA.

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UK Music Big Wigs Want More Copyright Protections, Don't Like Google

Some of the biggest names in the UK’s music industry, both past and present, have banded together in the name of copyright. Pete Townshend, Elton John, Roger Daltry, Simon Cowell, and Tinie Tempah were just some of the music industry figures who signed their names to an open letter that ran in the Telegraph on the 24th. The letter, Musicians need strong copyright laws to excel globally, opines on Britain’s presence in the international music community and how it can be protected from the ravages of illegal file sharing.

“As a digitally advanced nation whose language is spoken around the world, Britain is well-positioned to increase its exports in the digital age,” the letter states. “We can only realise this potential if we have a strong domestic copyright framework… Illegal activity online must be pushed to the margins.” It was previously reported that the letter was going to cite Google as a primary enabler of piracy. Since the publishing of the letter it appears that the rocker are holding off their attack on the search giant, for now.

The letter goes on to reference the controversial Digital Economy Act as a key tool to fight the deleterious effects of file sharing. Some of the more hotly contested aspects of the law, including provisions that would allow the government to cut off internet access for repeat offenders, are not schedueled to be implemented until 2014.

What's In A ".music" Domain?

Every denizen of the Internet is well aware of ubiquitous domains like .com, .org, and .net. These are unrestricted generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, acting as a general organization system, by content, for every site on the Internet. Outside of these domains there are also a number of more specialized set of domains. These sponsored top level domains, or sTLDs”with extensions like .travel, .asia, .cat (not about pictures of cats), and yes, .xxx”are assigned by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) through their subsidiary, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Only certain cites can apply for and receive these requested domains. For example, you can’t have a social network with the .asia domain unless the website is catering directly to an Asian audience. The question is why should this matter to you?

Occasionally, there will be calls to develop and provide new domains. Arguments can be made that the lack of usable domains across the net can stifle web creation. More domains should, conceivably, be a boon to websites looking to capitalize and appeal to a specific, niche audience.

Recently, the IANA has been mulling over the idea of releasing a new set of domains. During a four month period, various organizations could apply for a TLD at the low, low price of $185,000 per domain application. In late June, the IANA released a complete list of the proposed domain names along with the associated companies that are trying to get a hold of them. The list revealed, more than anything else, the companies that are trying to plant a digital flag in uncharted Internet territory.

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RIAA, Google To Go After Video-To-Mp3 Conversion Services

The Recording Industry Association of America has found a new target in their crusade against the violation of intellectual property. CNET reported that the RIAA asked them to remove software from Download.com, an Internet download directory which CNET owns and operates. This request from the RIAA comes in the wake of Google’s recent legal action against YouTube-MP3, a popular YouTube video-to-audio conversion service.

Youtube video-to-audio conversion services and applications are nothing new. This Wikipedia page has a full listing of the various audio ripping services out there. But fans of such services should know that they might not have much more time to enjoy them. Since their injunction against YouTube-MP3, Google has promised that they will pursue other audio ripping services in a similar fashion. While the site does not utilize YouTube’s API, Google is still pursuing legal action against the site as its primarily functionality is in violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.

It should be noted that CNET did not directly respond to the RIAA’s request, stating that, “CNET’s policy is that Download.com is not in any position to determine whether a piece of software is legal or not, or whether it can be used for illegal activity…As for removing illegal software, CNET has a record of doing that.”