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AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - web magazine for music, audio & home theater  

December 24, 2003

RIAA Blocked from Punishing Individual Downloaders - The Recording Industry of America has filed close to 400 lawsuits in the past year against private individuals using music-sharing networks such as Kazaa and Morpheus. Targets included a 12-year-old girl and a 71-year-old retired man...not exactly your typical cutthroat music pirates. Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the RIAA sidestepped the usual court process involving a judge and forced distribution companies to reveal the names of whatever users the RIAA wanted to punish.

Things began to change when telecom giant Verizon refused to cooperate with a RIAA subpoena. Among their arguments was that the company should not have to police its users since it merely provides the conduit thru which date flows - both legal and illegal. The U.S. Appeals Court agreed with Verizon and pointed out that a section of the DCMA provided “safe harbor” for an ISP in case of copyright infringement. The court said that the RIAA subpoenas were designed to force an ISP to remove or disable access to the infringing material - but that Verizon couldn’t do that because the material in question was not stored on the company’s servers. The music industry will now have to dig up another way to deal with file sharing if it wants to.

Rupert Murdoch to Acquire DirecTV -
The FCC has approved a $6.78 billion plan by the Australian’s giant News Corp - already owning Fox broadcast network and movie studios - to gain control of top satellite TV provider DirecTV, with 12 million subscribers in the U.S. Murdoch has been seeking this pipeline into millions of American TV sets for some years now. EchoStar Communications (DISH Network) was set to buy its competitor in 2002 but the deal was blocked by federal regulators. The complex new deal calls for News Corp to buy a 34% controlling stake in the parent of DirecTV, Hughes Electronics Corp. One of the dissenting FCC commissioners stated "News Corp could be in a position to raise programming prices for consumers, harm competition in video programming and distribution markets nationwide, and decrease the diversity of media sources." Sounds like it's all part of the current FCC's plan to do exactly the opposite of what it was originally founded for.

Intel to Announce Advanced Chips for HDTV -
Chip-maker Intel will disclose at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (opening Jan. 8) their development of a new class of semiconductors to improve the quality of large format digital TVs and substantially bring down their cost at the same time. Though HDTV has come down in price from the early-adopters phase, large-format sets still start at about $3000 and go up from there. One observer said this brings Moore's Law to digital TV; that's the idea that every couple of years the number of transistors in a typical integrated circuit double. The prediction is that we might be seeing light-weight 50-inch HD RPTVs only seven inches thick for about $1000 as early as next year’s holiday season. DLP (Digital Light Processor) and LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) are two new technologies that will be spotlit at CES, and makers of traditional TV sets are exploring lower-cost alternatives to the expensive thin plasma and LCD displays.

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