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Piracy

YouTube-MP3 Ripping Site Sued By IFPI, RIAA and BPI (torrentfreak.com) 263

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Two weeks ago, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube. The industry group said that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it had overtaken downloading from 'pirate' sites. Given today's breaking news, the timing of the report was no coincidence. Earlier today in a California District Court, a huge coalition of recording labels sued the world's largest YouTube ripping site. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others claim that YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3), owner Philip Matesanz, and Does 1-10 have infringed their rights. The labels allege that YouTube-MP3 is one of the most popular sites in the entire world and as a result its owner, German-based company PMD Technologies UG, is profiting handsomely from their intellectual property. YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures. Among other things, the labels are also demanding a preliminary and permanent injunction forbidding the Defendants from further infringing their rights. They also want YouTube-MP3's domain name to be surrendered. "YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3's users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3's servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones," the complaint reads. "Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants," the labels add.
Iphone

People Are Drilling Holes Into Their iPhone 7 To 'Make a Headphone Jack' (craveonline.com) 201

TechRax -- a popular YouTuber who destroys technology for fame and riches -- has uploaded a video where he drills a hole into an iPhone 7, claiming it to be a "secret hack" to reinstall a headphone jack in the device. The only problem is that he didn't tell people it was a joke, and of course, some people fell for it. Crave Online reports: The YouTube video has amassed over 7.5 million views since being posted online last week, with it attracting 81,000 dislikes in the process. The comments section is currently torn between people who are in on the joke, people who criticize TechRax for damaging his iPhone 7, and most unfortunately, people who have tried the "hack" out for themselves. Although this is YouTube so you can never be quite sure of whether or not these folks are trolling, parsing the comments section reveals some pretty convincing complaints lobbed in TechRax's direction. It's also firmly believable that there are people dumb enough to attempt drilling a hole into their iPhone 7, which is unfortunate but that's the way the world is in 2016. You can read the comments under the YouTube video for more "convincing complaints." But as if the report didn't make it clear enough already, the video is a joke. Apple removed the headphone jack and there's no way to get it back, unless you use an adapter.
AI

Apple Is Getting Ready To Take On Google and Amazon In a Battle For The Living Room (qz.com) 114

An anonymous reader writes: Siri may soon be making the jump from your pocket to your end table. Apple has been working on a standalone product to control internet-of-things devices for a while, but a new report from Bloomberg suggests that the company has moved the project from a research phase to prototyping. It would theoretically be pitted against other smart-home devices, including Amazon's sleeper hit, the Echo, and Google's forthcoming Home Hub. According to the report, Apple's device would be controlled using its Siri voice assistant technology. It would be able to perform the same functions that it can complete now on iPhones, Macs, and other Apple products, such as being able to tell you when the San Francisco Giants are next playing, or possibly send a poorly transcribed text message. The device would also be able to control other internet-connected devices in the home, such as lights, door locks, and web-enabled appliances, as Google and Amazon's products can. It would also have the same ability to play music through built-in speakers.
Music

Stop Piracy? Legal Alternatives Beat Legal Threats, Research Shows (torrentfreak.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: Threatening file-sharers with high fines or even prison sentences is not the best way to stop piracy. New research published by UK researchers shows that perceived risk has no effect on people's file-sharing habits. Instead, the entertainment industries should focus on improving the legal options, so these can compete with file-sharing. Unauthorized file-sharing (UFS) is best predicted by the supposed benefits of piracy. As such, the researchers note that better legal alternatives are the best way to stop piracy. The results are based on a psychological study among hundreds of music and ebook consumers. They were subjected to a set of questions regarding their file-sharing habits, perceived risk, industry trust, and online anonymity. By analyzing the data the researchers found that the perceived benefit of piracy, such as quality, flexibility of use and cost are the real driver of piracy. An increase in legal risk was not directly associated with any statistically significant decrease in self-reported file-sharing.
GNOME

GNOME 3.22 Desktop Environment Officially Released (softpedia.com) 120

Reader prisoninmate writes: Today, September 21, is a big day for Linux users, especially those who love the GNOME desktop environment, as the next major release is now officially available. Yes, that's right, we're talking about GNOME 3.22, dubbed Karlsruhe after the German host city of the annual GUADEC (GNOME Users And Developers European Conference) event, which took place last month between August 12-14, 2016. Prominent features of the GNOME 3.22 desktop environment include batch rename functionality and support for integration of compressed files built directly into the Nautilus file manager, a new Week View, support for alarms, and the ability to drag and drop events to the GNOME Calendar, as well as an updated GNOME Music app that supports handling of music libraries with thousands of tracks. There are lots of improvements for the GNOME Games app as well, as it now offers support for numerous retro gaming consoles. Among other improvements, we can mention Flatpak integration, photo sharing, revamped GNOME Software app with support for firmware updates, redesigned keyboard settings and a brand new GNOME Control Center panel, and a redesigned dconf Editor. A video overview of the new features of GNOME 3.22 is available on the official website.
Music

It Took a Couple Decades, But the Music Business Looks Like It's Okay Again (recode.net) 125

According to latest number from RIAA, music sales in the first half of the year were up 8.4 percent, to $3.4 billion -- the best performance the music industry has seen since its peak days back in the CD era. Recode adds: That boom is fueled entirely by the growth of paid subscription services. This year's numbers include Apple Music, which didn't exist a year ago but has 17 million worldwide subscribers today, as well as Spotify, which has been growing faster than Apple and has 40 million global subs. Digital downloads via stores like iTunes, meanwhile, are falling behind. Those sales dropped 17 percent to $1 billion. And some people still buy CDs, but soon that business will be a footnote: Those sales dropped 14 percent and now make up just 20 percent of U.S. sales. All good, right? Not according to Cary Sherman, who runs the RIAA, the labels' American trade group. He has a Medium post complaining that YouTube doesn't pay enough for all the music it streams, almost all of which is free.
Chrome

Google Chrome Beta For Android Now Lets You Play YouTube In the Background (techtimes.com) 51

The recently released version of Chrome on Android -- v54 (albeit in beta) -- finally brings a feature that users have been requesting for years: it lets them play YouTube songs in the background. Much like some of you, there are many out there who prefer listening to songs on YouTube instead of getting a subscription or otherwise downloading a music-streaming service. From a TechTimes report: With version 54, Google introduced a handful of updates to Chrome Beta. The new version introduces a handful of features that include background video and playback and a redesigned new tab page, among others. Among the features that are packed in the said beta version, background video playback is perhaps the most significant. In older iterations of Chrome, including version 53, videos will get paused once a new app is opened or after switching to the home screen. In version 54 beta, the videos will still get paused automatically but Android users are provided with an option to resume them via a media notification. Audio from the video will continuously be heard while using other apps.
Music

Pandora Has Announced Its $5 Subscription Service (recode.net) 64

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode: Earlier this week, Pandora signed two of the three big music labels to deals that will let it launch new streaming music services. Now it is launching one of them: Pandora Plus, an "ad-free radio experience with dramatically increased functionality," which will sell for $5 a month. Most Pandora users won't be able to listen to the service today: A Pandora rep says the service is going live to about 1 percent of its user base today and won't fully roll out to all of its users for another month or so. In the meantime, Pandora is still negotiating with Warner Music Group, the remaining big music label that hasn't signed a deal with the streaming service. Sources say the two sides have an agreement in principle, but were still papering the deal late last night -- apparently Pandora didn't want to wait before it announced the new service. Pandora also wants to launch a $10-a-month service, but that one may not launch for months. The new $5 service replaces Pandora's existing $5 ad-free service and has two new features: The ability to skip as many songs as you want and the option to download a limited number of songs for offline listening.
Cellphones

A Teenage Hacker Figured Out How To Get Free Data On His Phone (vice.com) 337

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Jacob Ajit is 17 and he just hacked his way to getting free phone data, presumably so that he can do whatever it is that teens do online these days without alerting his parents with overage fees. According to a Medium post Ajit posted on Wednesday, he made his discovery while playing around with a prepaid T-Mobile phone with no service. The phone was still able to connect to the network, although it would only take him to a T-Mobile portal asking him to renew the prepaid phone plan. For some reason, though, Ajit wrote that his internet speed test app still worked, albeit through a T-Mobile server. Ajit figured out that he was able to access media sent from any folder labelled "/speedtest," possibly because T-Mobile whitelists media files from speed tests regardless of the host. He tested his theory by setting up a "/speedtest" folder on his own site and filled it with media, including a Taylor Swift music video, which he was able to access. Ajit writes that he then created a proxy server that allows users to access any site with this method. All a T-Mobile user has to do is go to this page and input any URL they want to visit. "Just like that, I now had access to data throughout the T-Mobile network without maintaining any sort of formal payments or contract," Ajit wrote on Medium. "Just my phone's radios talking to the network's radios, free of any artificial shackles."
Books

Amazon Adds Audiobooks and Podcasts To Prime Membership (fortune.com) 60

If you're one of the 63 million Amazon Prime members out there, you may be happy to hear that Amazon will now grant you unlimited access to podcasts and audiobooks from Audible. Fortune reports: With Tuesday's news, Prime members will now be able to stream a rotating selection of more than 50 audiobooks. Prime members will also have free access to Amazon's newly launched on-demand audio service from Audible Channels, which provides ad-free podcasts and other audio content. Audible released the service in July, and is charging non-Prime members $4.95 each month to access the selection of podcasts. In addition to podcasts, Channels also includes access to audio versions of articles from major publications, comedy shows, short fiction, and more. Fingers crossed they have some engaging technology books in their rotating selection...
AI

Google's DeepMind Develops New Speech Synthesis AI Algorithm Called WaveNet (qz.com) 46

Artem Tashkinov writes: Researchers behind Google's DeepMind company have been creating AI algorithms which could hardly be applied in real life aside from pure entertainment purposes -- the Go game being the most recent example. However, their most recent development, a speech synthesis AI algorithm called WaveNet, beats the two existing methods of generating human speech by a long shot -- at least 50% by Google's own estimates. The only problem with this new approach is that it's very computationally expensive. The results are even more impressive considering the fact that WaveNet can easily learn different voices and generate artificial breaths, mouth movements, intonation and other features of human speech. It can also be easily trained to generate any voice using a very small sample database. Quartz has a voice demo of Google's current method in its report, which uses recurrent neural networks, and WaveNet's method, which "uses convolutional neural networks, where previously generated data is considered when producing the next bit of information." The report adds, "Researchers also found that if they fed the algorithm classical music instead of speech, the algorithm would compose its own songs."
Windows

Raspberry Pi Passes 10M Sales Mark (bbc.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes: The Raspberry Pi has sold 10 million units -- continuing its success as the most popular British computer ever. The computer, about the same size as a credit card, was first released in 2012 and is widely used as an educational tool for programming. However, it can also be used for many practical purposes such as streaming music to several devices in a house. A new starter kit for Raspberry Pi, including a keyboard and mouse, has been released to celebrate the success. The kit also includes an SD storage card, official case, power supply, HDMI cable, mouse, keyboard and guidebook -- it costs $130 and will be available in the coming weeks. The Pi, which is manufactured in Wales, has been adopted by pupils, programmers and inventors around the world.
Iphone

Apple Cites 'Courage' As Reason To Remove 3.5mm Headphone Jack (arstechnica.com) 761

It didn't come as much of a surprise when Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller revealed that the iPhone 7 doesn't feature a headphone jack, since rumors have mentioned this possibility months before the announcement. In fact, what some may find more surprising is Apple's justification. The company cited three reasons why they decided to eighty-six the port, as well as one word: "courage." Ars Technica reports: "[Schiller said] the company can't justify the continued use of an 'ancient' single-use port. He described the amount of technology packed into the iPhone, saying each element in Apple's phones is fighting for space, and it's at a premium. Schiller explained that no company has tried to deliver a wireless experience between your devices and your headphones that fixes the things that are currently difficult to do -- and since there's only one major industry-wide wireless-audio standard, it's easy to assume that he's talking about Bluetooth there (though he didn't say the B-word out loud). To promote Apple's wireless-audio push, Schiller announced the new AirPods, which look mostly identical to the last official Apple earbud model, only with a small piece of plastic replacing the full cord. While Schiller and Apple designer Jonny Ive talked a lot about wireless being 'the future' of audio devices -- and thus being the reason for Apple's 'courage' to move on from the 3.5mm standard -- Apple is curiously not packing those AirPods into new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus boxes. Instead, those devices will ship with the updated Lightning EarPods by default. AirPods will begin shipping in late October and will cost $159."
Music

An Asteroid Has Been Named After Freddie Mercury (vice.com) 58

An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard report: Freddie Mercury, frontman of Queen and transcendent being of pure performative joy and vitality, would have been 70 years old this Monday, September 5. To celebrate the occasion and honor Mercury's enormous impact on pop culture, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially changed the name of Asteroid 17473, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, to "Freddiemercury." It's a fitting tribute to the man who exuberantly sang that he was "a shooting star leaping through the sky" in the heart-thumping rock rager "Don't Stop Me Now." Queen's lead guitarist Brian May, who also happens to be an astrophysicist with a namesake asteroid of his own, announced the news to the band's fans via YouTube on Sunday. Mercury's asteroid is about three and a half kilometers across, and has an albedo of about 0.3, which means it reflects only about 30 percent of the Sun's light. "It's a dark object, like a cinder in space, as many of these asteroids are," May said. "It's just a dot of light, but it's a very special dot of light."
Sony

Sony's Signature Walkman and Headphones Are $5,500 of Ridiculous (theverge.com) 99

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge: Like a grand old dinosaur that's being left behind by the evolution of the tech industry, Sony is in desperate recovery mode here at IFA. The company has new phones, a rather nice pair of noise-canceling headphones, the imminent PS VR, and... a truly outlandish combo of music player and headphones that costs a mighty $5,499.98. I guess there had to be some outlet for Sony's classic wild-eyed grandeur. Sony's new Signature audio series consists of the gold-plated NW-WM1Z Walkman, which weighs in at 455g (1lb) and $3,200, the $2,300 MDR-Z1R closed-back headphones, and a desktop headphone amp whose price I haven't even dared to look up. First impressions? The portable media player barely qualifies to be called portable. This new 256GB Walkman glints beautifully under IFA's bright lights, and its hefty case is machined to a perfect finish, but its weight is overwhelming. I simultaneously love it for its looks and hate it for its impracticality. Typical Sony, then!
Security

After Breaches At Other Services, Spotify Is Resetting Users' Passwords (vice.com) 33

And now, Spotify is asking its users to reset their passwords. The popular music streaming service is "actively resetting a number of users' passwords," Motherboard reports, adding that the company is doing this because of the data breaches at other services and websites. In an email to customers, the company said, "Don't worry! This is purely a preventative security measure. Nobody has accessed your Spotify account, and your data is secure." The move comes less than a week after Dropbox began resetting its users' passwords. Earlier today we learned that the cloud storage had been hacked, and as many as 68 million accounts are affected.
Chrome

Google Integrates Cast Into Chrome, No Extension Required (venturebeat.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes from a report via VentureBeat: On Monday, Google announced Google Cast is now built right into Chrome, allowing anyone using the company's browser to cast content to supported devices without having to install or configure anything. The Google Cast extension for Chrome, which launched in July 2013, is no longer required for casting. The report adds: "Here's how it works. When you browse websites that are integrated with Cast, Chrome will now show you a Cast icon as long as you're on the same network as a Cast device. With a couple of clicks, you can view the website content on your TV, listen to music on your speakers, and so on. In fact, Google today also integrated Hangouts with Google Cast: Signed-in users on Chrome 52 or higher can now use the 'Cast...' menu item from Chrome to share the contents of a browser tab or their entire desktop into a Hangout." The support document details all the ways you you can use Google Cast with Chrome.
Piracy

Judge Allows Kim Dotcom To Livestream Court Hearing (mashable.com) 72

Kim Dotcom has been granted the right to livestream his extradition appeal on YouTube. The appeal hearing began Monday, but will be livestreamed tomorrow because "the cameraman needs to set this up professionally and implement the judge's live streaming rules." tweets Kim Dotcom. Mashable reports: "The United States, which wants Dotcom extradited from New Zealand, is against the request. Dotcom says a livestream is the only way to ensure a fair hearing. The U.S. is seeking the extradition of Dotcom and other Megaupload co-founders in hopes of taking them to court in America on charges of money-laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement. The charges stem from the operation of file-sharing website Megaupload, founded by Dotcom in 2005 and once the 13th most popular website on the internet. Users could upload movies, music and other content to the site and share with others, a practice the U.S. considers copyright infringement. The website reportedly made around $175 million before the FBI took it down in 2012. The U.S. says Megaupload cost copyright holders around $500 million, though Dotcom says it's not his fault users chose to upload the shared copyrighted material. Dotcom was arrested in 2012 after police raided his home, but was released on bail. A judge ruled in favor of his extradition to the U.S. in 2015, though Dotcom said at the time the judge was not interested in a fair hearing." Dotcom plans to revive Megaupload on January 20, 2017, urging people to "buy bitcoin while cheap," since he claims the launch will send the bitcoin price soaring way above its current $575 value. Every file transfer taking place over Megaupload "will be linked to a tiny Bitcoin micro transaction," Dotcom posted on Twitter.
Music

What Jonathan Coulton Learned From The Technology Industry (geekwire.com) 88

In a new article on GeekWire, Jonathan Coulton explains why he left a comfortable software development job in 2005 to launch a career as an online singer-songwriter. But he also describes the things he learned from the tech industry. "These guys were doing this thing they wanted to do, this thing they felt competent doing. They didn't chase after things, and they worked hard, but it was a business they created because they enjoyed it. They tried to minimize the things they didn't want to do. It wasn't about getting rich; it was about getting satisfied...

"I wanted to a set a good example to my children. I wanted to be the person I wanted to be, someone willing to take chances -- a person who didn't live with enormous regrets..." Within the first year, he had not replaced his software salary, but had enough success to cover his babysitter and to keep food on the table.

When he was younger -- in the pre-internet days -- "It was very unclear how to become a musician," Coulton explains. But somehow rolling his own career path eventually led to a life which includes everything from guest appearances on radio shows to an annual cruise with his fans (this year featuring Aimee Mann, Wil Wheaton, and Redshirts author John Scalzi).
Businesses

Spotify Is Burying Tracks From Musicians Who Give Exclusives To Apple and Tidal (bloomberg.com) 87

The music-streaming market is very competitive these days, especially since Apple released Apple Music last year. In retaliation for musicians giving Apple exclusive access to their new music, Spotify has reportedly been making their songs harder to find on its service. Bloomberg reports: "Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won't be able to get their tracks on featuring playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people [familiar with the strategy], who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world's largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn't alter search rankings. Spotify has been using such practices for about a year, one of the people said, though others said the efforts have escalated over the past few months. Artists who have given exclusives to Tidal, the streaming service run by Jay Z, have also retaliated against, the person said, declining to identify specific musicians."

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