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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for May 22, 2002

Librarian of Congress Rejects Fees for Webcasting Music - The Librarian of Congress has rejected the determination of the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) setting rates and terms for nonsubscription services to webcast sound recordings, although the final determination will not be made until June 20. The fee proposal had already caused a number of public stations who simulcast on the web as well as non-commercial web-only music-casters to close down in view of the high charges, which were even supposed to be retroactive. So this appears to be a victory for those desiring an online music industry that serves artists, consumers and webcasters rather than just the record labels. One observer said that if implemented the CARP rate structure would turn web music distribution into commercial radio's ugly twin. Another noted that the testimony failed to address the most harmful part of the CARP proposal - discriminatory licensing rates between broadcast stations who simulcast and pure webcasters.

Possible Change of Attitude Regarding Copy Protection - At the recent San Francisco convention of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers the group's president told them about a new policy position that still fights outright piracy but supports fair use of commercial music recordings. Pamela Horovitz was quoted as saying "...we're as angry at our customers as they are at us. But is calling them 'pirates' or treating them like criminals really going to help us sell more records?" Sony is encouraging the use of their MiniDisc system for "ripping" four CDs onto one MD in their latest model. This would be useless if the record labels use any of the copy-protection software with which they are now experimenting.

Cactus Data Shield, Key2Audio, Verance and SDMI have all had serious problems on CDs that used them, including making the discs unplayable on many different players. Macrovision claims their SafeAudio works better and is completely inaudible, but as yet has not identified any of their listening panel, the music and equipment used, nor the nature of the listening tests. SafeAudio introduces deliberate errors into the audio data which push the CD player into interpolation - using electronic guesswork to bridge the gaps left by uncorrected errors. They say the original discs will play perfectly but copies will be spoiled, and this approach has less risk that the protected CD won't play on some players. But audiophiles are concerned that the interpolation will have an audible effect on the sound.

Hi-Fi Show & AV Expo in London in September - The 2002 Hi-Fi Show & AV Expo, sponsored by Hi-Fi News magazine, will be held September 13-15 at Le Meridian and Renaissance hotels in London, close to the world's most-used airport. Over 59 exhibit rooms will present over 80 brands of audio and video equipment and software representing 60 countries.

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