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Businesses

Spotify Is Burying Tracks From Musicians Who Give Exclusives To Apple and Tidal (bloomberg.com) 80

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."
Media

The Slashdot Interview With VideoLAN President and Lead VLC Developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf 40

You asked, he answered!

VideoLan President and Lead Developer of VLC Jean-Baptiste Kempf has responded to questions submitted by Slashdot readers. Read on to find out about the upcoming VideoLAN projects; how they keep VLC sustainable; what are some mistakes they wish they hadn't made; and what security challenges they face, among others!
Crime

US Unveils Charges Against KickassTorrents, Names Two More Defendants (arstechnica.com) 110

A total of three men are said to be operators of file-sharing site KickassTorrents (KAT), according to U.S. prosecutors. Last month, federal authorities arrested the 30-year-old Ukrainian mastermind of KAT, Artem Vaulin, and formally charged him with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Two other Ukrainians were named in the new indictment (PDF): Levgen (Eugene) Kutsenko and Oleksander (Alex) Radostin. While only Vaulin has been arrested, bench warrants have been issue for the arrest of all three men. Ars Technica reports: "Prosecutors say the three men developed and maintained the site together and used it to 'generate millions of dollars from the unlawful distribution of copyright-protected media, including movies, [...] television shows, music, video games, computer software, and electronic books.' They gave out 'Reputation' and 'User Achievement' awards to users who uploaded the most popular files, including a special award for users who had uploaded more than 1,000 torrents. The indictment presents a selection of the evidence that the government intends to use to convict the men, and it isn't just simple downloads of the copyrighted movies. The government combed through Vaulin's e-mails and traced the bitcoins that were given to him via a 'donation' button."
Iphone

Steve Wozniak Says Apple Must Fix iPhone 7 Bluetooth Or Revive Its Headphone Jack (afr.com) 385

We've talked extensively about the missing headphone jack on the upcoming iPhone. While some say that the move will ruin user experience -- something that has already started to seem that way in the real world -- a few argue that someone needs to push the needle to move the technology forward. Now Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has something to say about the missing legacy audio jack as well. He is asking Apple to fix the Bluetooth first if the company intends to give users to move to wireless headphones. From a Financial Review report: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has warned Apple is going to frustrate a lot of customers if it removes the headphone jack from the upcoming iPhone 7. [...] Customers wanting to use their existing, wired earbuds and headphones might have to buy an adaptor that attaches to the iPhone's Lightning port, or to whatever port does remain on the phone. "If it's missing the 3.5mm earphone jack, that's going to tick off a lot of people," Mr Wozniak told The Australian Financial Review. "I would not use Bluetooth ... I don't like wireless. I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music." Mr Wozniak said he would probably use the adaptor to connect his existing earphones to his next iPhone, and said that, like many other users he is attached to the accessories that he uses alongside the phone. "Mine have custom ear implants, they fit in so comfortably, I can sleep on them and everything. And they only come out with one kind of jack, so ''ll have to go through the adaptor," he said. "If there's a Bluetooth 2 that has higher bandwidth and better quality, that sounds like real music, I would use it. But we'll see. Apple is good at moving towards the future, and I like to follow that."
Piracy

Cox Denies Liability for Pirating Subscribers, Appeals $25 Million Verdict (torrentfreak.com) 97

Cox Communications insists that it is not responsible for copyright infringements carried out by its subscribers, challenging the ruling by a Virginia federal jury late last year. The court had found Cox Communications guilty and had asked it to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management a sum of $25 in damages. TorrentFreak reports: The verdict was a massive victory for the music company and a disaster for Cox, but the case is not closed yet. After a failed motion for judgment as a matter of law earlier this month, the ISP has now informed the court that it will take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Cox denies any wrongdoing and hopes to get a judgment in its favor at the appeals court. Considering the gravity of the case, Cox's move is not surprising. The liability verdict has come as a shock to the Internet provider industry, as it suggests that providers have to actively disconnect repeat infringers. At the moment, many ISPs don't have a solid policy in place where repeat copyright infringers lose their subscription. In fact, the law doesn't prescribe when and based on what evidence an ISP has to terminate an account.
Music

Samsung Reminds Us That You Can't Make People Use an App They Don't Want (recode.net) 70

Samsung has announced that it will be discontinuing Milk Music on September 22. The announcement comes a year after the South Korean technology conglomerate shuttered Milk Video, another service that didn't receive the traction Samsung was hoping. Peter Kafka, writing for Recode: It's true that you can't get media/apps/services to customers without access to a platform. But control of the platform doesn't mean customers are going to use your media/apps/services: They've got plenty of choices and they'll choose the ones they want. Ask Verizon and Comcast, which both launched video apps on their networks last year and have nothing to show for it. (You've heard of Verizon's Go90 only because Verizon keeps talking about it when people ask why it spent $10 billion on AOL and Yahoo; you have completely forgotten about Comcast's Watchable.) Soon you'll be able to ask AT&T, which is launching its own video app this fall, which will also feature lots of content people either don't want or can get elsewhere.
Network

Comcast Rolls Out $70-Per-Month Gigabit Internet Service In Chicago (pcmag.com) 93

An anonymous reader writes from a report via PC Magazine: Comcast is now offering Chicagoans gigabit internet speeds. PC Magazine reports: "Launched on Wednesday, the program uses DOCSIS 3.1 technology to deliver speeds up to 1Gbps over existing network infrastructure. DOCSIS 3.1 runs through standard cable connections already in place at your home or office. So Xfinity and Comcast Business Internet customers can simply sign up for a plan and plug in a new modem; no fiber installation required. The service, according to Comcast, allows you to download a 5GB HD movie in 40 seconds, a 60MB TV episode in four seconds, a 150MB music album in two seconds, or a 15GB video game in two minutes. Initial users have the choice of a promotional contract price of $70 per month for 36 months, or $139.95 per month (plus tax and fees) with no contract."
Piracy

TorrentFreak Interviews The Pirate Bay Staff, As the Torrent Website Celebrates 13th Anniversary (torrentfreak.com) 36

For most people out there, The Pirate Bay has been their on and off go to source for torrents. The website this month celebrates its 13th anniversary. TorrentFreak spoke with several crew members of the "world's most resilient torrent site" this week. Here's an excerpt of the conversation:While they are not happy with the circumstances, they do say that the site has an important role to fulfil in the torrent community. "TPB is as important today as it was yesterday, and its role in being the galaxy's most resilient torrent site will continue for the foreseeable future," Spud17 says. "Sure, TPB has its flaws and glitches but it's still the go-to site for all our media needs, and I can see TPB still being around in 20 or 30 years time, even if the technology changes," she adds. Veteran TPB-crew member Xe agrees that TPB isn't perfect but points to the site's resilience as a crucial factor that's particularly important today. "TPB ain't perfect. There are plenty of things wrong with it, but it is simple, steadfast and true," Xe tells TorrentFreak. "So it's no real surprise that it is once more the destination of choice or that it has survived for so long in spite of the inevitable turnover of crew." And resilient it is. Thirteen years after the site came online, The Pirate Bay is the "King of Torrents" once again.
Piracy

Reddit Tells Label It Won't Cough Up IP Address of Prerelease Music Pirate (arstechnica.com) 131

David Kravets, writing for Ars Technica: Reddit says it won't give Atlantic Records the IP address of a Reddit user who posted a link on the site of a single by Twenty One Pilots a week before the song's planned release. The song, "Heathens," was originally uploaded on June 15 to the file-sharing site Dropfile. That same day, the file landed on Reddit. According to a lawsuit (PDF) in New York State Supreme Court, the file was posted to the Twenty One Pilots subreddit with the title âoe[Leak] New Song -- 'Heathens'. The Poster submitted the link under the username "twentyoneheathens," according to Atlantic. Atlantic and its subsidiary label, Fueled by Ramen, want the IP address of the Reddit leaker. The company said the file fell victim to "widespread distribution" on the Internet, so the company released the single June 16, a week ahead of schedule; the label also said the early release hindered a planned rollout on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms. Atlantic says the leaker must be an Atlantic employee who was contractually obligated not to leak the track, which is featured in the movie Suicide Squad that debuted earlier this month. Reddit, however, said that Atlantic "has failed to show that its claims are meritorious." Reddit claims Atlantic has embarked on "an impermissible fishing expedition."
DRM

Cory Doctorow On What iPhone's Missing Headphone Jack Means For Music Industry (fastcompany.com) 394

Rumors of Apple's next iPhone missing a headphone jack have been swirling around for more than a year now. But a report from WSJ a few weeks ago, and another report from Bloomberg this week further cemented such possibility. We've talked about it here -- several times -- but now Cory Doctorow is shedding light on what this imminent change holds for the music industry. Reader harrymcc writes: Fast Company's Mark Sullivan talked about the switch with author and EFF adviser Cory Doctorow, who thinks it could lead to music companies leveraging DRM to exert more control over what consumers can do with their music.From the article:"If Apple creates a circumstance where the only way to get audio off its products is through an interface that is DRM-capable, they'd be heartbreakingly naive in assuming that this wouldn't give rise to demands for DRM," said Doctorow. If a consumer or some third-party tech company used the music in way the rights holders didn't like, the rights holders could invoke the anti-circumvention law written in Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Steve Jobs famously convinced the record industry to remove the DRM from music on iTunes; is there really any reason to believe the industry might suddenly become interested in DRM again if the iPhone audio goes all digital? "Yes -- for streaming audio services," Doctorow says. "I think it is inevitable that rights holder groups will try to prevent recording, retransmission, etc." Today it's easy to record streamed music from the analog headphone jack on the phone, and even to convert the stream back to digital and transmit it in real time to someone else. With a digital stream it might not be nearly so easy, or risk-free."Doctorow shares more on BoingBoing.
Microsoft

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Anniversary Update (zdnet.com) 177

Windows 10 Anniversary Update is now rolling out, Microsoft announced Tuesday. The major update brings with it Windows Ink, a dedicated hub designed especially for 2-in-1 devices with styluses, and improvements to Cortana among others. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley writes: I'm hearing that the first users to get Anniversary Update via Windows Update will be those with the newest hardware, BIOSes and firmware. Those who may encounter compatibility issues because of drivers may get it slightly later through Windows Update, my contacts say. Microsoft actually delivered some of the Anniversary Update features for Xbox One on July 30. On August 1, Microsoft made Windows 10 Anniversary Update available to its volume licensees in the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center. It also made the Anniversary Update code available to its reseller partners via its Partner Portal yesterday. MSDN users can get the Anniversary Update bits today. Microsoft officials said a week ago to expect Microsoft to make Anniversary Update ISOs available today, August 2. The Media Creation Tool seems to now be updated to include the Anniversary Update release.We asked readers last week whether they would update their computers to Windows 10, and the majority of people indicated they wouldn't.
Microsoft

Xbox One Summer Update Adds Cortana, Music and More (mashable.com) 40

The Xbox One is finally getting the anticipated Summer update. The update brings Cortana voice assistant to all Xbox One systems in the United States and UK. "With Cortana, gamers can expect more from voice commands on Xbox," the company wrote in a blog post. In addition, the update is also adding the ability to play background music while you're playing a game. Also, users will be able to set whatever language they want, no matter what country they are in. Mashable reports: Other summer update changes tweak the usability of the console's dashboard and sharing features. There are also a number of invisible changes that prepare the console for the Windows 10 Anniversary update. Launching on Aug. 2, the Anniversary Update carries a number of benefits for gamers, chief among them the launch of Microsoft's Xbox Play Anywhere program. Play Anywhere is Microsoft's version of cross-play, allowing Xbox One users to download and play the PC version of supported games on Windows 10 machines. The list of initially supported games is rather small and it only works if you bought the game digitally, but it's a significant step toward Microsoft's goal of joining the Xbox and Windows platforms under one development umbrella.
Patents

Amazon Patents Noise-Canceling Headphones That Could Automatically Turn Off When It Detects Certain Sound Patterns (thenextweb.com) 82

An anonymous reader shares a report via The Next Web: Noise-canceling headphones are great for tuning out the din around you when you just want to focus on listening to music or enjoy some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, they also mute sounds that you might need to hear -- like someone calling your name. Amazon has a pretty cool idea for solving that problem. It was recently granted a patent for headphones that not only cancel out noise, but also listen to specific sounds or phrases (like 'Hey Ben') and respond by automatically turning off the feature so the user can hear sound from their surroundings. That should make it safer for use in noisy environments where you might actually need to pay attention to the occasional alert, such as a construction site or an industrial facility. In addition, the headphones can also listen for phrases to turn noise canceling back on again, so the user can resume their listening experience hands-free.
Iphone

The Most Popular Product Of All Time 367

Apple announced Wednesday that it has sold more than one billion iPhones. To understand the magnitude of the milestone, Asymco's Horace Dediu has compiled a list of the best-selling products across several categories. From his post (link shared via email by reader JoshTops):Car model: VW Beetle 21.5 million; car brand: Toyota Corolla 43 million; music album: Thriller 70 million; vehicle: Honda Super Cub 87 million; book title: Lord of the Rings 150 million; toy: Rubik's Cube 350 million; game console: Playstation 382 million; book series: Harry Potter Series 450 million; mobile phone: iPhone 1 billion.
The iPhone is not only the best-selling mobile phone but also the best selling music player, the best-selling camera, the best-selling video screen and the best-selling computer of all time. It is, quite simply, the best-selling product of all time. It is that because it is so much more than a product. It is an enabler for change. It unleashed forces which we are barely able to perceive, let alone control. It changed the world because it changed us. And it did all that in less than nine years.
Update: 07/28 20:07 GMT by M :Dediu just told me that the list doesn't include consumable non-durable products.
Google

Google Play Rolls Out Family Sharing (usatoday.com) 41

Google on Wednesday announced a new Google Play feature dubbed Family Library that allows up to 6 people to share apps, movies, books purchases. It will roll out to people in the next 48 hours in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States) and requires people to sign up and add family members (you can add your friends as family member). The announcement is mostly in line with a CNET report from earlier this month. USA Today reports: The feature will allow users to share apps, games, movies, TV shows or books from Google Play on Android devices. Movies, TV shows and books can be shared on iOS platforms and the Web. After a user signs up for the Family Library, the person adds up to five family members and decides on the credit card that will be used for the families purchases. Eunice Kim, head of families for Google Play said a unique feature of Google Play compared to other family sharing initiatives is that family members can also choose to pay with their personal credit card or with gift cards. The same user who organized the family can control who below the age of 18 needs permission to purchase content.The feature is strikingly similar to an option in Apple's App Store that does the same thing.
Iphone

Apple Q3 Earnings: iPhone Sales Continue To Slide, But Apple Beats Estimates (bgr.com) 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: Apple on Tuesday announced fiscal third-quarter earnings of $1.42 per share, or $7.8 billion in net income, on sales totaling $42.4 billion. That compares to a net profit of $1.85 per share in the same quarter last year, while revenue slid from the Q3 record of $49.6 billion that Apple set in fiscal 2015. Ahead of Apple's report, analysts were expecting EPS to come in at $1.39 while revenue was seen dropping to $42.1 billion, right in the middle of Apple's guidance of between $41 billion and $43 billion. iPhone sales in fiscal Q3 2016 totaled 40.4 million units, down from the 47.5 million iPhones the company sold during the June quarter last year, which was also a third-quarter record. Wall Street's consensus for this past quarter was 40 million units. The company said it expects between $45.5 billion and $47.5 billion in sales for the fiscal fourth quarter. The only part of Apple's business that's really growing is its mobile apps and online services. The company reported a 19 percent sales jump for the segment that includes iTunes, Apple Music, the App Store and services like Apple Pay and iCloud storage. "That segment produced nearly $6 billion in sales -- more than Apple pulled in from quarterly sales of either iPad or Macs," reports ABC News.
Microsoft

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: the Best New Features (theverge.com) 375

A year after the release of Windows 10, Microsoft is gearing up for Anniversary Update, the first major update to the company's desktop operating system. Ahead of the public release of Anniversary Update on August 2, Microsoft provided media outlets with the Anniversary Update, and their first impressions and reviews are out. The Verge has listed the big changes Windows 10 Anniversary ships with. From the article: Windows Ink: Windows Ink is without a doubt the best part of the Anniversary Update. It's essentially a central location to find built-in or third-party apps that work with your stylus. You can use the new sticky notes to note down reminders, and they'll even transform into true reminders as Cortana understands what you write.
Microsoft Edge extensions: If you're a fan of Chrome extensions, then you'll be glad to hear that they're heading to Microsoft's Edge browser. The Anniversary Update brings support for extensions, and it's now up to third-party developers to fill the Windows Store with their add-ons.
Cortana improvements: Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, debuted on Windows 10 last year, and the software maker is bringing it to the lock screen with the Anniversary Update. You'll be able to ask it to make a note, play music, set a reminder, and lots more without ever logging in. Cortana is also getting a little more intelligent, with the ability to schedule appointments in Outlook or options to send friends a document you were working on a week ago.
Dark theme and UI tweaks: You can switch on what I call even darker mode in settings, and it will switch built-in apps that typically use a white background over to black.
Other improvements include things like Windows 10's ability to set your time zone automatically, and opening up of Windows Hello, the biometric feature to apps and websites. Additionally, the Xbox One is getting Windows apps. The Verge adds, "It feels like a promise that was made years ago, but it's finally coming true with the Anniversary Update. As Windows 10 now powers the Xbox One, Microsoft will start rolling out an update to its console to provide support for Cortana on Xbox One and the new universal apps." Microsoft is also adding Bash, the Linux command line to Windows with the new update. It's an optional feature and users will need to enable it to use it. Users will also be able to "project to PC," a feature that will allow one to easily find a PC to project to from a phone or another PC. There's also a new Skype app, and syncing of notifications between PC and phone is getting better.
Going by the reviews, it appears Windows 10 Anniversary Update is substantially more stable, and has interesting new features. You can read the first impressions of it on ZDNet, and review on PCWorld.
Android

Phones Without Headphone Jacks Are Here... and They're Extremely Annoying (mashable.com) 536

A few weeks ago, we had an intense discussion on what would happen if Apple's next iPhone doesn't have a headphone port -- and what that means for the rest of the industry, as well as the pros and cons of ditching the legacy port. Over the past few months, we have seen many smartphone manufacturers launch new handsets that don't have a headphone jack. Mashable has a report today in which it says that it is already causing frustration among users. From the article: In the Android camp, phones like Lenovo's Moto Z and Moto Z Force and China's LeEco have already scrapped the 3.5mm headphone jack; to listen to music on the company's three latest phones, users need to plug in USB Type-C headphones, go wireless, or use a dongle. I'm all for letting go of old technologies to push forward, but what is happening is actually going to make things worse. The headphone jack has worked for 50 years and it can work for another 50 more because it's universal. Headphones I plug into my iPhone work in an Android phone, in a BlackBerry, in my computer, in my PS4 controller, in my tablet, in any speaker with audio-out, and so on. I can walk into any electronics store and pick up a pair of headphones and not have to worry about compatibility with any of my devices. I know it'll work. [...] With a universal headphone jack, I never have to worry whether or not the crappy pack-in iPhone EarPods I have will work with the Android phone I'm reviewing or not. I also never have to worry if I'll be able to plug my headphones into a friend's phone to listen to some new song. Same applies for when I want to use my earbuds and headphones with another person's device. And there lies the real issue. I will need different dongles -- a Lightning-to-headphone-jack and a USB-Type-C-to-headphone-jack to be prepared because I do carry both iPhone and Android phone on me daily. Dongles also get lost.
Advertising

Spotify Is Now Selling Your Information To Advertisers (engadget.com) 107

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: Spotify is now opening its data to targeted advertising. "Everything from your age and gender, to the music genres you like to listen to will be available to various third-party companies," reports Engadget. "Spotify is calling it programmatic ad buying (Warning: source may be paywalled) and has already enabled it." The nearly 70 million people that currently use Spotify's free, ad-supported streaming service across 59 countries will be affected. The ads will be audio-based and stretch between 15-30 seconds in length. The advertisers who buy ad spots will be able to look for specific users by viewing their song picks to find the best matches for the products they're selling. Two weeks ago, China has released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that seems to all but ban ad blocking.
Google

Google and Bing Have No Obligation To Censor Searches For Torrents (betanews.com) 62

Microsoft and Google are under no obligation to weed out 'torrent' results from their respective search engines, the High Court of Paris has ruled. BetaNews adds: French music industry group SNEP went to court on behalf of a trio of artists, requesting that Microsoft and Google automatically filter out links to pirated material. The group had called for a complete block on searches that include the word 'torrent' as well as blocking sites whose name includes the word. The court found that SNEP's request was far too broad, saying: "SNEP's requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site's content, on the premise that the term 'Torrent' is necessarily associated with infringing content".The court added that 'torrent' is a common noun, which has a range of different meanings.

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