New iPod Touch to Include GPS?

Music, Technology 1 Comment »

Early in 2008 Apple announced the launch of the 32GB iPod Touch to the extremely popular 8GB and 16 GB range. Knowing the new iPod Touch is due to be launched in the future is not breaking news, however some sources are reporting that there are new clues suggesting significant developments will be made in the new model.

It is being reported today that there are references being made to an Apple iPod Touch 2,1, which would insinuate a big step forward in the devices capabilities.

Currently the iPod Touch models are know as 1,1 the same group as the first generation iPhone. With the addition of models carrying extra capacity the group number is not usually altered, as was the case in January with the launch of the 32GB version.

Instead these numbers are often changed when the device launched has new features, such as the iPhons’s 3G model is now know as 1,2.

This certainly goes a long way to argue that the new iPod Touch will carry more features. What features these might be remain guarded, but with the recent launch of the new iPhone ant iPod Touch developments are bound not to overshadow that.

Some are expecting the addition of GPS with potentially a 64GB memory.

ISP’s to Combat Music Piracy

Music, Piracy 1 Comment »

Today it was announced that Internet Service Providers have finally agreed plans with the music industry that will aim to tackle piracy online.

The Shelf first discussed the proposed plans back in February in an article titled ‘Government Turns Up Heat On ISP’s and Online Piracy’ which discussed how the government was steadily growing impatient with ISP and the music industries failure to come to such an agreement, threatening that if both parties failed to come to agreement legislation would be introduced to curb online Music Piracy

Negotiated by the government, the deal has seen BT, Virgin, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse all sign up and will mean hundreds of thousands of letters could now be sent to users suspected of illegally sharing music online.

The music industry is pushing for measures that would see users who ignore written warning having their connections disabled; however ISP’s are unwilling to enforce such measures.

The plan is “a first step, and a very big step, in what we all acknowledge is going to be quite a long process” said Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of British Music Rights.

In contrast to the US which has seen thousands of lawsuits launched against alleged file sharers, over the last couple of years the BPI has been focused on educational efforts to prevent music piracy online, with limited legal action being taken against copyright infringers.

As part of the deal, drawn up by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR), ISP will be expected to ensure customers realise that file sharing online is illegal, and take measures to tackle repeated infringements.

The government is still considering plans to give ISPs a legal requirement to tackle copyright infringers.

Recently BT and Virgin have been reported to have been sending letters to customers on behalf of the BPI, a controversial move that many say puts the BPI in the role of net police, a role they don’t belong in.

It is currently he BPI who works out who it thinks is illegally file sharing by trawling file sharing websites and tracing back the IP addresses of users.

Sky to Challenge Market Leader iTunes

Broadband, Music 1 Comment »

In previous posts on The Shelf we have followed the plans of several companies who have recently entered the digital music download market, including 7digital, (7digital to offer DRM free music from Warner), and PlayDigital, (PlayDigital Offers DRM Free Downloads)

Sky is now the latest player to enter the digital download market, with plans to launch a subscription based music streaming and downloading service.

A Sky representative said of the plans to launch the service that it is “Providing a simple new way for fans to consume music, both streamed tracks and downloads to keep are available through just one monthly subscription, a world first.”

It is expected that a range of subscription options will be available to customers that offer differing download packages which can be tailored to the individual needs of users.

With contracts already signed to offer the complete back catalogue of Universal Music users are sure to get access to some of the biggest names in the music industry, and with negotiations ongoing with major and independent record labels, Sky’s catalogue of digital music offering is likely to expand significantly.

Currently Apple’s iTunes dominates the music download industry in the US and UK and Universal has long been unhappy with the company’s reluctance to offer a subscription based service, instead opting to sell tracks individually.

The digital download market it one of the few areas of growth in the music industry and Universal also believe Apple’s dominance is strangling its development.

Recently Universal, the world’s biggest record label, has stopped providing Apple with exclusive annual rights to sell its catalogue and is instead looking to retain greater flexibility as to where it can sell its tracks.

The new service from Sky will be launched independent of Sky, with the satellite provider acting as majority stake holder providing “expertise in the delivery of subscription services… content aggregation, packaging and marketing”

As yet the plans are unclear as to what format music tracks will be available in and whether there will be any form of digital rights management, but the tracks will be playable “on any mp3-compatible fixed or portable device”. Some reposrts have gone as far to say that it will be offering a DRM free format

Both services from 7igtal and PlayDigital are offering DRM free music to customers.

As yet the name and date of launch is undecided, however it is thought to go live at the end of the year.

Universal said of the deal that – “The new Sky service will provide a compelling digital music experience, built for the ever growing digital appetite of music fans. In a world where a majority of UK homes have high speed broadband access, consumers will welcome a safe, state-of-the-art service and legal alternative to those services which exploit musicians without compensation.”

7digital to offer DRM free music from Warner

Music, Piracy 2 Comments »

After news broke last week that Play.com had launched PlayDigital, offering DRM free music to its customers in direct competition with iTunes, Warner has now increased pressure on Apple by striking a deal to sell its own catalogue DRM free to customers of 7digital.

7digital is one of the biggest online music retailers and has now started selling more than 150 of the most popular albums from Warner, £3 cheaper than iTunes offers the same music for. The deal will allow customers who do not own an iPod and don’t use iTunes to get access to Warner’s offerings.

The DRM protection Apple uses on tracks sold through its iTUnes service has been a frustration for many music lovers for a long time, as in essence it is meant to prevent customers transferring music to portable music devices that are not iPods.

By offering tracks in a DRM free format Warner’s albums are available to customers of 7digital in Britain, Spain, Ireland, France and Germany and playable on almost all digital music players. Material owned by Warner includes that from artists such as Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

With the deal 7 Digital becomes the first major European download sevice offering Warner Music and EMI tracks in the MP3 file format. PlayDigital itself is yet to strike a deal to sell the Warner music catalogue. 7digital are also said to be in talks with Sony BMG and Universal to sell DRM titles from the catalogues of these big industry players.

“The addition of Warner Music’s MP3 catalogue means that over 80 per cent of 7digital.com’s 3.5 million track catalogue is now DRM-free.” - Ben Drury, 7digital’s CEO

7digital hope to make their entire catalogue DRM free by 2008.

This deal is just one example of how, due to a decline in CD sales and increased illegal music downloads, the record industry is being forced to find new ways to appeal to music fans.

“Hopefully this will lead to a price war, as I think Apple have had things their own way for too long and are simply too expensive.” - Tim Wiggins of Stuff Magazine

PlayDigital Offers DRM Free Downloads

Music, Piracy 20 Comments »

Launching an online music download store has been a popular online money maker with the rise of portable mp3 players, and with that, online retailer Pay.com is the latest company to announce that it has launched such a service, but this time with a difference – its downloads are DRM free.

Providing music tracks without digital right management copy protection will allow customers of PlayDigital to download tracks and albums onto most mp3 devices. Tracks with DRM are restricted to what players that they can be played on, and can even be restricted to a set amount of plays.

Amazon has released a similar service in the US offering DRM free music to its customers. Amazon did have plans to launch in the UK, but PlayDigital is now the first DRM free music download service to enter the UK market.

With the launch of PlayDigital, Jersey based Play.com is challenging the dominance of Apples iTunes service in the UK with Apple selling tracks with DRM included. Tracks bought without DRM from PlayDigital will not only be cheaper but can be played on more mp3 devices including Apple iPods.

The DRM free songs that are to be offered initially are made up from records from the catalogues of EMI, with expansion planned throughout the services first six months pending major deals with other record labels enabling PlayDigital to sell their DRM free music tracks.

Top 100 tracks will be available for 65p as opposed to 79p on iTunes, with albums available from £4.95.

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