June 5, 2007

Hey, Check the List [5:38 pm]

Worst Company In America: Contact Information For 50 Politicians Who Take Campaign Money From The RIAA

But wait, aren’t these representatives supposed to work for you? Sure. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 50 congresspeople who took campaign contributions from the RIAA in the last election cycle. We’ve linked their contact information so that you, as their constituents, can inform them that they’re taking money from the “Worst Company in America,” and that’s going to cost them your vote.

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Evolving Dimensions of Search [7:39 am]

Search Engine Takes Personal Approachpdf

Ask’s new search engine, Ask3D, offers far more information on the results page than previously provided by the company or its rivals. “The Web has evolved to a merged world of content” that extends beyond text to images, video, blogs and news updates, explained Ask chief executive Jim Lanzone.

The search engine also uses an algorithm called morph that provides users with more personalized results. Users can narrow or expand their searches, and the site also uses “geosniffing,” which can tailor results to the user’s location.

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A Look At Apple’s Inclusion of Buyer Info in DRM-Free Sales [7:31 am]

A little privacy wrinkle to the DRM-free iTunes offerings: Concerns emerge over iTunes user datapdf

Though piracy of digital music over the Internet remains unabated even with the growth of legitimate online retailers like iTunes, Apple’s debut of DRM-free songs could tempt some of its users to share their purchased tracks with others online.

Technology blogs Ars Technica and The Unofficial Apple Weblog were among the first to reveal that personal data remained in the unrestricted iTunes tracks. Their reports last week prompted speculation that the data could be used to trace copies uploaded to online file-sharing networks back to the people who originally purchased the tracks, opening those users to music industry copyright lawsuits.

The Recording Industry Association of America, whose piracy lawsuits have ensnared organized outfits as well as individual grandmothers and youths, declined to comment. EMI Group PLC, the major record label behind Apple’s inaugural batch of DRM-free songs, also declined to comment.

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Doonesbury Series on Music Biz [7:19 am]

We’ll see how it evolves, but today’s is pretty good. Doonesbury@Slate. The punchline:

Mark Slackmeyer: Um … How different [a music label]?

Johnny Thudpucker: Very. Burger King Records is breaking all the rules.

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Front Page News: Phone Hardware Should Be User-Configurable [7:01 am]

Today’s Boston Globe raises an “architecture” question: Cellphone users try to wrest some of carriers controlpdf

At his Warlox Wireless booth, Silbert unlocks customers’ Razrs, BlackBerrys, Treos, and other devices that start out tied to a single carrier so that, for example, a phone originally purchased through T-Mobile will work on a new AT&T account. He also uses software that can reveal menus or intrinsic capabilities that have been shut off by the carriers.

As cellphones have become more functional and ubiquitous, consumers have become aware of the ways their service providers hem them in. Features such as Bluetooth connectivity, which allows people to wirelessly transfer files, are sometimes disabled by carriers. People trying to get applications or ring tones onto their phones often find it frustratingly complicated — unless they go through their provider’s own store. People who want to switch service usually have to get a new phone.

That means Silbert’s services, which were once the domain of phone geeks, are now mainstream enough for the mall.

“You own your hardware — you have the right to be able to do what you want,” said Silbert, who says he works on at least a half-dozen phones each day, charging about $35 for most modifications, which can be done in about an hour. “People have no idea they’re buying something that locks them down so much.”

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Warner and Lala Hook Up [4:40 am]

Warner Group in Deal to Offer Free Music via Internet Site

Major labels have fought several legal battles to try to keep fans from listening to music without paying for it. Now one label, the Warner Music Group, has made a deal with an Internet start-up, Lala.com, that will allow anyone to listen to its music free, with the idea that doing so will drive music sales.

Lala.com is expected to announce today that it will make the vast majority of albums in the Warner Music catalog available at its site as audio “streams,” which can be heard online but not downloaded. Although listening to those streams will be free for consumers, Lala.com will pay Warner a royalty each time a user listens to a song.

Lala.com, which is now a site where music fans can trade used CDs for a fee, is hoping to make money by selling music, both in CD format and as digital files that it will send to iPods without using Apple’s iTunes software. [...]

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