AfterDawn: Tech news

News archive (12 / 2005)

AfterDawn: News

Reminder: AfterDawn is hiring...

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 28 Dec 2005 11:44

Reminder: AfterDawn is hiring... We simply wanted to remind our readers again about the fact that we're looking for a news/guide writer for our site and that the deadline is set to midnight 31st of December.

The position is a paid position and the applicant would begin work ideally in January or February, 2006. For more details, read our previous article about this position.




AfterDawn: News

New copyright law approaches -- content to be removed

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 26 Dec 2005 2:18

New copyright law approaches -- content to be removed As some of you might remember, Finnish Parliament approved a new copyright legislation in October, 2005 and that new legislation will come into force on 1st of January, 2006. As AfterDawn Ltd is a company based in Finland, we have to play along with the new law, however vague and draconian it is.

We tried to find alternative solutions and have asked our lawyers to evaluate various options that would have allowed us to continue our operations as they used to be. Unfortunately, none of these options were solid enough to escape the new restrictions.

Thus, we've made our own analysis of the law and come to a conclusion that yes, we can continue running our site, but need to make some adjustments to the content. The law is extremely vague and leaves thousands of questions open, mostly leaving media corporations very free hands to sue whoever they wish to. Despite this, we decided to remove the content that most obviously violates the letter of the law, but decided to leave some breathing room for other areas.

The law has phrases like "Offering commercial services that allow circumventing technical copy protections ... is illegal." But doesn't provide any guidelines on what is considered to be "commercial" and what type of service the law is talking about. Our and our lawyers' analysis is that as we're a commercial company, having ads on our site, and providing guides -- written by our paid staff members -- and tools that help breaking protections like extremely weak CSS found on virtually all DVD-Video discs, we can be sued. And for those of you suggesting "move!", I can tell you that we evaluated that option with our lawyers as well and it would have required not just moving our company and servers, but all individuals involved with the site's day-to-day business as well.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Happy holidays!

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 24 Dec 2005 4:40

Happy holidays! Its, once again, the time of the year when AfterDawn.com team would like to wish all our users very merry Christmas and happy holidays!

It is time for us to take a short break with news and site updates, but we'll be back after holidays.

On behalf of AfterDawn.com Team,

-Petteri Pyyny




AfterDawn: News

French lawmakers support file sharing

Written by James Delahunty @ 22 Dec 2005 2:54

French lawmakers support file sharing French lawmakers have shocked the rest of Europe today by endorsing amendments to legislation that was designed to fight digital piracy. Instead, the amendments would make the sharing of copyrighted music and movies online completely legal if a user was willing to pay a monthly royalty fee of only a few euros. Under the original proposals, those caught pirating copyrighted material would have faced $360,000 in fines and up to three years in jail.

As you would guess would happen, French actors and musicians have condemned the vote. "To legalize the downloading of our music, almost free of charge, is to kill our work," rocker Johnny Hallyday said in a statement. The actors' and musicians' branch of France's largest trade union, the CFDT, said the plan "would mean the death of our country's music and audiovisual industries." Bernard Miyet, president of the French music composers' and publishers' organization SACEM said it amounted to a "Sovietization" of the arts.

"You're talking about an administered price, set by a commission without regard to the music and film economy," he added. However, consumer group UFC-Que Choisir, applauded the vote saying it would create a "new area of freedom allowing Internet users access to cultural diversity and fair payment for creators." The final lower-house vote is not expected until after Jan. 17, when deputies return from their winter break. The bill requires only one further vote in the Senate to become law.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

The truth about SuprNova closure

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Dec 2005 2:28

After over a year of rumor after rumor and countless numbers of conspiracy theories circulating around the P2P community, sloncek has decided to give some real information on why SuprNova was shutdown. Here is a post he made on SuprNova.org on Tuesday...

For a year now, there have been many rumors why SuprNova.org was taken offline. Some have said that it was because of legal issues, some said it was because I sold out to eXeem project, or because I became a millionaire and did not want to bother with the site anymore, and the rumors go on.

Today, on the exact day, when SuprNova.org went offline, I decided that it is time for everybody to know the truth and that it is time for me to stop pretending like nothing ever happened.

On November 2004, I received a call from my ISP saying that all of my servers had been raided by the police. I received nothing from the police before or after the raid, nobody told me what was going on.

In early December, Reuters did an article on me, and many Slovenian newspapers jumped on the story. So I ended up reading about myself in Slovenian newspapers. And right about that time, I had a feeling something was wrong. I do not really know what the feeling was or where it was coming from, but I decided it was time to take SuprNova.org offline.
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AfterDawn: News

Music Publisher apologizes for pearLyrics letter

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Dec 2005 2:16

Music Publisher Warner/Chappell Music has apologized for a letter it send to Walter Ritter, an independent Austrian programmer over his pearLyrics program. pearLyrics which worked nicely with Apple's iTunes music store, simply scoured through sites on the net for song lyrics that users could then import. It did not have any database of lyrics itself, it just searched for them on public websites. After Ritter received the letter he immediately pulled the software.

Richard Blackstone, Warner/Chapell's chief executive office, noticed the loud outcry on the Internet and called Ritter to apologize for the letter. He also offered him the chance to work together. "The goal of Warner/Chapell's prior letter to Pearworks was to gain assurance that PearLyrics operated according to (legal) principles," a statement on the Pearworks Web site read. "However, in both tone and substance, that letter was an inappropriate manner in which to convey that inquiry. Warner/Chappell apologizes to Walter Ritter and (his company) Pearworks."

This is just the latest incident in a growing issue over free song lyrics web sites. Music Publishers believe the lyrics to a song and sheet music are copyrighted aspects of their compositions and shouldn't be given away freely online.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Apple pondering release of 1GB iPod Nano

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Dec 2005 2:02

Apple pondering release of 1GB iPod Nano Apple Computer Inc. is pondering releasing a 1GB version of the iPod Nano music player. The company seems to have surprised even itself with the success of the model. Apple is currently shipping approximately 100,000 of the devices each day as the company struggles to keep up to demand for this holiday season. The Nano has proved a hit with consumers despite widely publicised concerns about the protective coating used on the model.

It comes in 2GB and 4GB models currently. AppleInsider cites sources that say the marketing team wrangled over the release of 1GB iPod Nano, which could appear as early as next year. According to some members, it would then occupy the same value space as the redesigned iPod Shuffle which is expected to be unveiled at the Macworld Expo in January.

The source say however that for Apple to make a 1GB Nano successful, it would have to be priced around $149.99, which brings the question of whether Apple can make a good profit from it. "I think the pricing may be tough at $149, but Apple has proven that customers are willing to pay for style over storage capacity," said one Wall Street analyst. "Apple's profitability should improve as the price of NAND flash has been falling and from what I understand, the recent $1.25 billion in deals with 5 [NAND flash] suppliers through 2010 are favorable for Apple. $149 for a 1 GB Nano sounds economically feasible and may in fact be very profitable."

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AfterDawn: News

Hackers make PCs download pirated movies

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Dec 2005 1:41

Hackers make PCs download pirated movies In a bizarre "attack", some hackers have made use of PCs infected with the lockx.exe rootkit to install a doctored BitTorrent client that then downloads Disney movies and the film version of the Mr. Bean comedy. The attack was linked to a Middle East-based group but the motive for it is still unknown. It was uncovered by FaceTime Communications, which believes the attack was simply just an experiment and could be used for other purposes in future.

Of course there is an obvious problem here for the users with infected machines and for anti-piracy efforts too; what if someone with an infected machine has unknowingly shared pirated content and gets sued? The lockx.exe rootkit file was bundled with a variant of the SDBot worm. Of course, it would be silly at least to say the concept of hackers using other people's PCs to download pirated material is in any way "new".

Thousands of infected (r00ted) PCs connect to IRC networks every time they are booted and act as file servers for pirated content for example. It is also possible (and most likely) that many machines connected to P2P networks have been hacked and may be used to spread new files quicker. The victims in these attacks are usually running unpatched insecure installations of Microsoft's Windows operating systems.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Three men face jail for selling modified Xbox consoles

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Dec 2005 1:22

Three men face jail for selling modified Xbox consoles Three men have been charged with copyright infringement by U.S. Prosecutors for modifying Xbox consoles and selling them. ACME Game Store co-owners Jason Jones, 34, and Jonathan Bryant, 44, as well as Pei "Patrick" Cai, 32 have been charged with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The complaint claims that Bryant and Jones sold Xbox consoles that Cai had modified with modchips and HDD's pre-loaded with pirated copies of games.

They could face up to five years in prison when they appear in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in late January. They charged from $225 to more than $500 for the modifications, depending on the amount of requested pre-loaded games. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement undercover agents paid $265 for a chipped Xbox that included 77 pirated games, according to the criminal complaint.

It is unfortunate that publicized modchip-related cases usually also include details about individuals selling pirated copies of games. Modchips themselves offer many other uses besides the ability to play game copies, such as allowing homebrew to be run and bypassing region restrictions on imported games. They can unlock much more potential in a console.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

AfterDawn launches user profile pages

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 20 Dec 2005 11:14

AfterDawn launches user profile pages Our regular forum users have been, for years, asking us to implement some form of user profile pages where they could share some basic information about themselves, like on most other forums. However, we didn't want to offer a basic one-page profile system that would simply state user's basic information, but wanted to provide more "complete" solution instead.

Our new user profile pages allow users to upload full-size pictures (yes, unedited, full-size 5Mpix digicam pictures are fine), write their own blogs, have their link lists stored on their home pages, etc. All of our registered users are free to create their own "home" :-)

Currently the user profile system is in "public beta", which means that we hope to gather as much user feedback about the profile pages as possible and implement the best ideas as soon as possible. We have plenty of ideas already in store, but now we simply want to hear how the pages "feel" now, whether users like them or not.

To visit our user profile pages, go here:

http://my.afterdawn.com/

If you find any bugs, got any ideas how to improve the service, etc, please feel free to contact us.




AfterDawn: News

Hewlett-Packard backs HD-DVD format

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Dec 2005 11:36

Hewlett-Packard backs HD-DVD format As it threatened to do if the Blu-ray Disc Association did not give in to its demands, Hewlett-Packard has now thrown support behind the HD-DVD format as well. This all started when HP requested that Mandatory Managed Copy and iHD be part of Blu-Ray. While Mandatory Managed Copy is part of the Blu-ray Disc specifications, iHD is not. The XML-based interactive functionality provision is currently supported by the HD-DVD group and will be an integral part of Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista operating system, expected to be released in late-2006.

The Blu-ray group did say that iHD may be included in a future iteration of the specifications but for now they were going to proceed using the java-based BD-J for the format instead for the time being. This is simply not good enough for HP and now the company is backing both formats, so effectively is neutral. However, it did point out the advantages HD-DVD has over Blu-ray for PC manufacturers. "[iHD] integration will reduce development costs and provide a more affordable solution for consumers," HP said in a statement issued Friday. "In addition, HD-DVD provides a rich, cost-competitive solution for the consumer and is easier to manufacture."

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Taiwan and China cooperate to promote FVD

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Dec 2005 11:13

Taiwan and China cooperate to promote FVD Taiwan's Advanced Optical Storage Research Alliance (AOSRA) and China's China Audio & Video Association (CAVA) and the China Audio Industry Association (CAIA) will form an alliance to promote the compatibility of FVD with EVD. FVD was developed by Opto-Electronics and Systems (OES) laboratories, a division of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and the AOSRA. It can hold 5.4GB data per layer compared to DVD's 4.7GB per layer.

The format specifications also detail a 15GB+ three layer disc which the format's backers claim is sufficient for 135 minutes of 1080i video content. Through the agreement announced Friday, the alliance will promote FVD to the Chinese market. AOSRA chairman Der-ray Huang (also deputy general director of OES) said that CAIA and CAVA may very well choose the FVD format over EVD.

This alliance will be established in January 2006 at the earliest according to Huang. AOSRA has also signed an agreement with Microsoft Taiwan to adopt the company's Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology for the FVD format. It is estimated that 100,000 FVD players will ship in Taiwan for the year.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

More artists take a stand against DRM

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2005 12:14

More artists take a stand against DRM The battle between artists and Sony BMG over the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) copy protection on audio CDs just got even more interesting as some more artists have decided to act. This time it is My Morning Jacket, who's album "Z" is copy protected. They are doing their very own recall of the CDs and get this... they are burning unrestricted copies of the CDs themselves and sending them out to fans. Oh I wonder how Sony BMG feels about that.

It would appear that their actions are actually clear violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), even though it is a CD with their own work on it. They aren't the first to make their thoughts heard on DRM either; Foo Fighters, Switchfoot and Dave Matthew's Band have all done so but none of them have actually burned copies of CDs for fans.

Sony BMG is re-evaluating copy protection on CDs following the XCP DRM nightmare that has only died down a bit recently. Immediately following the XCP situation, MediaMax became a problem also when a vulnerability was revealed. However, more artists standing against DRM is a good sign and if more artists make their thoughts heard, then Sony BMG might just cave in to the pressure.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

RIAA drops 750 lawsuits

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2005 11:45

RIAA drops 750 lawsuits The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has dropped 750 lawsuits against students from Drexel University, Harvard and the University of Southern California. The trade group representing some of the world's largest record companies including Warner, EMI, Sony BMG and Universal gave no reason for this action. The group has managed to sue 7,000 people so far this year for copyright infringement. It accuses those it sues of illegally sharing copyrighted music owned by its members.

The NPD group has made a claim that illegal file sharing has dropped as much as 11% since the U.S. Supreme Court "Grokster" ruling. However, BigChampagne has contested this figure saying that from its own research it concludes that P2P use has just increased ever since. Whatever way it is the music industry is determined to keep up the legal pressure on users, though even two years later, experts and general consumers alike frown on these tactics and believe the recording industry is doing a terrible job dealing with the problem.

Source:
The Inquirer




AfterDawn: News

SlySoft offers holiday discount to AfterDawn users

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 16 Dec 2005 12:22

SlySoft offers holiday discount to AfterDawn users SlySoft is offering a discount to AfterDawn users who buy their products before 1st of January, 2006. The discount can be redeemed by using promotion code "afterdawn" when making a purchase through SlySoft's site.

Discount depends on how many products customer buys. Customers buying one product will get total discount of $5 (off normal price of $39), those buying two products will get discount of $10 (normal price $59) and those who buy three products get a discount of $15 (normal price $78).

To purchase either AnyDVD, CloneDVD or CloneCD, simply visit SlySoft's site at:

http://www.slysoft.com/

Enter the promotion code "afterdawn" on the Personal Information page at the checkout to receive the discount.




AfterDawn: News

RIAA files 751 more lawsuits

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2005 12:30

RIAA files 751 more lawsuits The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed another 751 lawsuits against Internet users it accuses to have distributed copyrighted music online through P2P networks. This brings the total number of cases in the United States above 17,000. The "John Doe" lawsuits filed today simply serve as placeholders until the RIAA can find out the true identity of the P2P user. The RIAA singles out P2P for the massive drop in CD sales over the past 5 years.

It is only now however that the RIAA is seeing any real challenges. Normally people would be inclined to take the settlement offer from the RIAA, which is about $3,500 or more. However, some people being sued have decided that they won't pay the settlement and are willing to bring the case the whole way instead. One such woman is Patricia Santangelo, a mother of five who claims she is completely innocent.

Instead, she thinks the likely culprit could have been a friend of her children. That brings an important question up - is an IP address and some information on the actual music files enough to sustain a lawsuit against n Internet account holder? We will perhaps find that out soon, as Santangelo has requested a trial by jury.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft and MTV team up - RealNetworks shares fall

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2005 8:35

Microsoft and MTV team up -  RealNetworks shares fall Redmond software giant Microsoft is teaming up with Viacom Inc.'s MTVM to launch a music download service. The new service, URGE, will roll out next year and will incorporate Microsoft's Windows Media Player. It will offer a catalog of 2 million tracks to download individually for a set price per track, or on a subscription basis like Napster's subscription service, or Real Networks' Rhapsody.

After the news about the new Microsoft / MTV venture surfaced, RealNetworks' shares fell 4%. Obviously Real will now be competing with URGE for the same customers. Real's Rhapsody service is currently being advertised through Microsoft's MSN sites (as part of the pairs anti-trust settlement). When the details about the anti-trust settlement emerged, and details about Real's new web-based Rhapsody emerged, the media painted it as a sort of strong co-operation between Microsoft and Real.

Obviously Microsoft has other plans. "We believe Microsoft continues to be very interested in providing a service ultimately competitive with Rhapsody and is likely to learn 'best practices' from Rhapsody off of its partnership on MSN," Oppenheimer analyst Sasa Zorovic wrote in a research note.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft downplays possibility of HD-DVD equipped Xbox 360

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2005 7:30

Microsoft downplays possibility of HD-DVD equipped Xbox 360 Microsoft, one of the world's best known software firms and the company behind the Xbox 360 console, has downplayed the possibility that future releases of Xbox 360 which include a next generation optical disc drive. Microsoft spokesman reminded the media that Microsoft has not yet announced any plans related to the rumors. "Microsoft, in both America and Japan, has not announced anything regarding the possibility of a next-generation DVD drive being placed in the Xbox 360," he told IGN.

"There are currently no plans to release an Xbox 360 equipped with a next generation DVD player." he added. Japanese news agency Jiji made a report recently that Microsoft was set to release a version of the Xbox 360 console that included a HD-DVD drive. Concerns from game developers have been spreading as many claim they are struggling to fit games on DVD-9 discs.

Two major Microsoft names, Bill Gates and Yoshihiro Maruyama have indicated in the past that it is a possibility we will see a next generation disc drive included in a future release of the Xbox 360. In August, Gates said the company was "looking at whether future versions of Xbox 360 will incorporate an additional capacity of an HD-DVD player or something else". Maruyama said last month too that it is a possibility but most likely just for playback of movies, not games.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

HD-DVD launch may be delayed again

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2005 6:31

HD-DVD launch may be delayed again Toshiba, the company leading the HD-DVD group has hinted that the next generation optical disc format, HD-DVD, may be delayed again. The company blames the delay in the finalizing of the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) for any potential delays. It said it has "completed the design of HD DVD players for the US and Japanese markets and are ready for volume production at our manufacturing facilities in Japan."

However, one more comment was made. "Toshiba will only launch its HD DVD products after AACS is finalized.... Under these circumstances, Toshiba plans to launch HD DVD players and notebook PCs with HD DVD drives in Japan promptly following the implementation of AACS into hardware and software products." HD-DVD was already delayed to Spring 2006 (Q4 2005 was original target) presumably for the same reasons.

The AACS Licensing Authority (AACSLA) published v0.9 of the AACS specification in April earlier this year and then said it would aim to make the final release, v1.0 by the end of the year. Toshiba's comments indicate that it doesn't expect AACS 1.0 to appear anytime soon. The AACS Licensing Authority (AACSLA) was co-founded by Toshiba.

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AfterDawn: News

Sony BMG to re-evaluate CD protection

Written by James Delahunty @ 12 Dec 2005 11:31

Sony BMG to re-evaluate CD protection Sony BMG will now step back and reconsider its approach to protecting the contents of audio CDs, following over a month of controversy about the Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology in use on million of CDs it shipped. Thomas Hesse, head of Sony BMG's global digital business said the firm will "diligently re-evaluate" how it protects CD audio. He declined to give any specific details but said the company is taking the issue very seriously.

This is all a result of two cases of DRM nightmares for Sony BMG. Firstly, Mark Russinovich unmasked the rootkit techniques that the XCP copy protection in use on some Sony CDs was using to hide itself in the operating system. The DRM made permanent operating system changes and left no way of uninstalling. To make matters worse, hackers and virus writers began to exploit the file hiding abilities of XCP.

Just when that situation was dying down, Sony along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told consumers about a security flaw with SunnComm's MediaMax DRM, which is also included on millions of CDs the company shipped. Again, to make things worse, a patch that was issued had flaws of its own. A second patch is now being tested by security experts. All in all, the means Sony BMG was using to protect music from piracy just harmed its consumers, its CD sales and its reputation. I think the "re-evaluation" is definitely in order.

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AfterDawn: News

MPAA proposing legislation to tackle camcorder pirates

Written by James Delahunty @ 12 Dec 2005 11:10

MPAA proposing legislation to tackle camcorder pirates The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is pushing legislation that would mean tougher penalties for individuals who record movies whilst in a theater using a camcorder. Under state law in New York right now, somebody caught recording a movie in a cinema will be fined a minimum of $250. The MPAA wants the operating of recording equipment inside a theater to be a criminal misdemeanor, which raises the fine to $1,000 and possibly a year in jail.

Police would then also have the right to make an arrest on the spot, not just issue a summons. People who would be caught for a second time would be charged with a felony. "We have to do something, because right now there's no risk," said William J. Shannon, a Yonkers-based deputy director of the association's U.S. anti-piracy operation. "Right now, you're looking at something about the same as a parking ticket."

But Pace Law School professor David N. Cassuto however likened the use of tough criminal penalties to attack the lowest-level offenders in pirating operations to "using a howitzer to solve a roach problem." He said the same rule laws and penalties would apply to some kid using a camera phone to snap a picture while being in a theater. Movies distributed to theaters are now watermarked, making it possible to track them back to the theater they came from. The movie industry reckons half the movies recorded in theaters and distributed around the world came from New York.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

RIAA lawsuit victim loses appeal

Written by James Delahunty @ 12 Dec 2005 10:49

RIAA lawsuit victim loses appeal Cecilia Gonzalez, 29, has lost an appeal against a decision by an earlier District Court hearing that awarded $22,500 damages to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). She was accused of downloading and sharing copyrighted music on P2P networks, and is only one of many thousand U.S. P2P users that have been sued. She claimed that she was only downloading the music to sample it and that if she liked it, she would have bought it at a later date.

However, the appeals court wasn't convinced. "A copy downloaded, played and retained on one's hard drive for future use is a direct substitute for a purchased copy," the judges said. "Gonzalez' argument is no more relevant than a thief's contention that he shoplifted only 30 compact discs, planning to listen to them at home and pay later." Her lawyer had contested that she hadn't broken any copyright laws by sampling the music.

She had rejected a $3,500 settlement offered by the RIAA's settlement centre earlier on and the case was taken to court. She apparently downloaded and distributed at least 30 tracks. She was fined $750 per track.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Over 50 million software downloads

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 12 Dec 2005 10:16

Over 50 million software downloads Last night, our little website reached yet another milestone during its 6+ year life cycle, when we served our 50,000,000th software download. Previous reported milestone was 25 million downloads back in September, 2004 -- it took about 14 months to double that figure that originally took over five years to achieve.

Considering the fact that our software selection is rather limited, only 600+ tools, the figure is quite nice. Again, thanks for everybody who've helped us to grow by visiting our site constantly, linking to our site from other websites, spreading the word to your friends, etc. And obviously, we'd like to thank all the great software developers making their freeware and shareware tools available to public.

-Petteri Pyyny
AfterDawn Ltd




AfterDawn: News

Loudeye Corp. dumps Overpeer

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Dec 2005 9:51

Loudeye Corp. dumps Overpeer Loudeye Corp. has announced that it is closing its anti-piracy / content protection unit Overpeer Inc. Overpeer is responsible for poisoning some of the world's biggest P2P networks with useless digital audio files that often just play 5 second loops of songs over and over (or intentionally corrupted files). The company has issued a press release detailing why it has taken this step. Here is the important part of it...

Seattle, WADecember 9, 2005 — Loudeye Corp. (Nasdaq: LOUD), a worldwide leader in business-to-business digital media solutions, today announced an important step in its effort to focus its business and reduce its cost structure. Loudeye announced that Overpeer, Inc., Loudeye's wholly-owned content protection subsidiary, has ceased operations effective immediately and will continue to pursue options to maximize the value of its assets.

As a result, Loudeye has reduced its quarterly consolidated cost structure by approximately $1.6 million, or 10%, compared to third quarter 2005 levels. Overpeer expects to incur approximately $200,000 in severance and related payroll costs associated with the closing of its operations, which is expected to be paid during December 2005. In addition, Overpeer may incur additional wind-down costs to terminate property or equipment leases, and other contracts. The cessation of the Overpeer operations may also result in the acceleration of depreciation or amortization or the impairment of certain fixed and intangible assets. Loudeye anticipates that the net assets and results of operations for Overpeer will be presented as discontinued operations in its consolidated financial statements.
Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft shuts down pirate software firm

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Dec 2005 9:34

Microsoft shuts down pirate software firm Working closely with online auction site eBay, Microsoft has managed to shut down a firm responsible for selling more than £3 million worth of fake Microsoft software. The outfit, Zoobon, first came to Microsoft's attention after receiving complaints from dissatisfied customers about problems they had after purchasing Microsoft software. Microsoft began to investigate the matter, and almost a year later identified the people behind the operation.

Microsoft and the individuals involved reached an out of court settlement, where these individuals have ceased trading and cannot sell Microsoft products in future. They also paid a reportedly huge amount in damages to the software giant. "We take our responsibility seriously to protect consumers and legitimate channel partners from counterfeit software," said Michala Alexander, Microsoft head of anti-piracy. "This was a major counterfeit operation selling goods which were hard to distinguish from the genuine article. By working with eBay, Zoobon has been taken out of business."

This is the latest event in a new war on piracy that Microsoft launched. By adding legitimacy checks to the Windows download sites, Microsoft is able to alert consumers if they are using a counterfeit operating system. With information provided by these users, Microsoft has taken down many software dealers who were providing customers with counterfeit goods.

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AfterDawn: News

Free German Wikipedia DVD

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Dec 2005 9:16

Free German Wikipedia DVD German publisher Directmedia is taking thousands of Wikipedia entries and images and putting them on DVD and making them available in print. The DVD is available as a free download, a 7.5GB ISO image (which of course you can burn directly to DVD, if you have a dual layer burner and DL media). An earlier DVD version released in spring had just 2.7GB in comparison. That version however, was found to contain over 100 copyrighted articles; when noticed, Directmedia replaced the DVD image.

This new version has 200,000 - 300,000 entires (all in German) and over 100,000 images. Only content from writers known to be reliable is included. The print version will be sold for €9.90 to cover expenses. Wikipedia publishes everything under a GNU Free Documentation Licence, the same licence used by developers of open-source software; the publisher cannot claim copyright.

Anyway, I thought some of our German users would be interested to know that. The DVD ISO is available here. To burn ISO images, I recommend ImgBurn (freeware). Get it here.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Xbox 360 launched in Japan

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Dec 2005 8:49

Xbox 360 launched in Japan Today, Microsoft's next generation console, the Xbox 360, has launched in Japan, where the company hopes to steal some of the market away from Sony Corp. So far the company has struggled to gain ground on Sony Corp. and Nintendo Co Ltd. in Japan, leaving it a distant third place (with the first Xbox). Microsoft hopes this time around it can win the hearts of gamers there and dethrone Sony as the dominant games console maker. "We are up and running here," Microsoft's Xbox marketing chief Peter Moore told Reuters.

Microsoft threw a launch party for gamers in in Tokyo's Shibuya, a shopping and entertainment centre. "We think (Japan) is the springboard to Asia," said Moore. He believes that Xbox Live will aid in the success of the Xbox 360 console in Japan. He also added that at the store he attended for the launch, several hundred consoles sold out very fast. Only the premium pack is being sold in Japan for 37,900 yen.

Microsoft is aiming to sell one million consoles in Japan by next summer; a rather ambitious figure considering the company has not yet managed to sell half a million Xbox consoles there. Now though, Microsoft has the advantage of being first to release a next generation console, and has months over Sony and Nintendo whom will (are expected to) release the PlayStation 3 and Revolution consoles respectively in 2006.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Sony still on track for Spring PS3 launch

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Dec 2005 7:53

Sony still on track for Spring PS3 launch Sony Corp. said on Thursday that despite rumors and speculation, it remained on track to release the PlayStation 3 (PS3) console in Spring 2006. The launch of the PS3 is being eagerly awaited by many, as Microsoft has already started to eat more into the $25 billion market with the release of the Xbox 360. Also, Hollywood studios backing Blu-ray await the launch of the console to boost the Blu-Ray format.

Larry Probst, chief executive of the No. 1 video game publisher Electronic Arts, said last week that he believed Sony's console would not be available until fall 2006. However a Sony spokesman said it was still targeting a Spring 2006 launch. The PS3 will provide a huge push for the Blu-ray Disc format also, which is battling with Toshiba's HD-DVD format to become the next generation DVD standard.

Hollywood is hoping that releasing movies on BD discs in high definition will send consumers back out to buy new players and their favorite movies on the new format. The PS3's launch will effectively put a Blu-ray player in many homes very fast. Blu-ray is still also set for a Spring 2006 launch (along with HD-DVD).

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AfterDawn: News

Napster expands to Germany

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Dec 2005 7:26

Napster expands to Germany Napster has expanded its music downloading service to the German market, the company announced on Thursday. This will be the first music subscription service to the available in the country. The company struck deals with major labels in Germany as well as 150 independents, allowing it to offer a catalog of 1.5 million tracks. Over 20,000 German albums and 135,000 local acts are included.

The Subscription service is available for €9.95 per month, or the Napster to Go service is available for €14.95 per month. Tracks can also be purchased for 99c per track or €9.99 per album. Music subscription services basically allow users to "rent" music files. As soon as they stop paying the monthly subscription, they can no longer listen to the music. The Napster to Go service also allows music to be stored on compatible portable players.

Source:
Betanews




AfterDawn: News

Legal crackdown on lyrics and song scores sites

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Dec 2005 7:17

Obviously getting fed up with suing file sharers for sharing their music files, the music industry is now looking to target sites that offer "unauthorised" lyrics and unlicensed song scores. The Music Publishers' Association (MPA), which represents US sheet music companies, said it will launch its first campaign against such sites in 2006. However, lawsuits alone aren't good enough for the MPA. MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be jailed.

He told the BBC that these sites that are widely available on the Internet are completely illegal. He said he didn't just want to shut down the sites and impose fines, saying if authorities can "throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective". Publishing companies have taken legal action against some sites in the past but this is the first co-ordinated effort by the MPA.

"The Xerox machine was the big usurper of our potential income," Mr Keiser said. "But now the Internet is taking more of a bite out of sheet music and printed music sales so we're taking a more proactive stance." David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers' Association, added his concerns. "Unauthorised use of lyrics and tablature deprives the songwriter of the ability to make a living, and is no different than stealing," he said. "Music publishers and songwriters will consider all tools under the law to stop this illegal behaviour."

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AfterDawn: News

EFF: SunnComm's MediaMax security patch is not secure

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Dec 2005 6:51

EFF: SunnComm's MediaMax security patch is not secure The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is now urging consumers not to apply the patch released by SunnComm just days ago to fix a security vulnerability in the company's MediaMax content protection software. This Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology has shipped on over 5.7 million CDs in the Unites States and Canada (50 different titles). The EFF and Sony BMG had announced the release of the patch just days ago but it has been discovered that the patch leaves users open to other security holes.

Researchers Ed Felten and Alex Halderman discovered the new vulnerabilities. "We take any security problems identified by these security researchers very seriously," said the EFF. Dr Felten and Mr Halderman called on Sony BMG to recall all the CDs bearing the MediaMax software. All this comes just weeks after Sony BMG was forced to recall all CD titles that included XCP DRM, as the rootkit-like software file hiding techniques it used were exploited by virus writers.

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AfterDawn: News

Creative touts ownership of key MP3 player patent

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Dec 2005 6:35

Creative touts ownership of key MP3 player patent Creative Technologies Inc. has once again touted ownership of a key MP3 player patent, which could force Creative's rivals to pay licensing fees. Of course, Apple is Creative's biggest rival, yet speaking at the launch of the Vision:M in London yesterday, the company's CEO Sim Wong Hoo, didn't mention any specific companies Creative would target. The User Interface described in the Creative patent is remarkably similar to that used by Apple's iPod players.

Creative was first to use the UI though, back in September 2000 whereas the iPod didn't show up until November 2001. Creative shipped 8 million MP3 players this year according to Hoo, whereas Apple shipped 18 million in the first three quarters of 2005 and looks set to reach 22 million this year. These are figures that Creative should be happy about if it can force Apple to license the patent.

The very fact that there has been no lawsuit filed by Creative against Apple indicates that the two companies are negotiating.

Source:
The Register




AfterDawn: News

Music giant forces down song-lyric search utility

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Dec 2005 11:49

Walter Ritter, creator of the Mac OS X-based pearLyrics has been forced to kill the application after being threatened with legal action by UK music publishing giant Warner/Chappell. He received a cease and desist letter this week from the publisher. The company claims pearLyrics "enables people to copy and download lyrics. Inevitably this will enable people to download lyrics owned or controlled by this company, Warner/Chappell Music Ltd."

Amusingly, the letter cites the U.S. Supreme Court "Grokster" ruling, which is ridiculous as Ritter is based in Austria and the publisher is based in the UK where the U.S. Supreme Court has no jurisdiction. However, by reproducing song lyrics, pearLyrics is arguably infringing on Warner/Chappel's copyright. A song's words, music tabulation and guitar chords are all as protected by copyright law as the actual sound recording.

Of course, one can find song lyrics in a few seconds using Google and an Internet browser. Also, under Warner/Chappel's argument, Microsoft and Mozilla could be sued for their browsers contributing to copyright infringement, yet you wont see the publisher pursue Microsoft on the matter.

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AfterDawn: News

Study shows effects of software piracy reduction on UK and world economies

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Dec 2005 11:35

Study shows effects of software piracy reduction on UK and world economies According to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) a 10% reduction of software piracy would result in 34,000 new jobs, £11bn of economic growth and a £2.8bn increase in tax revenues in the UK alone. The study, which was carried out by International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that the UK has a relatively low piracy rate of about 27%. A growth of 30% is expected in the UK IT sector through 2009, but a 10% piracy reduction apparently would increase that to a 37% growth.

There are 64,296 business in the IT sector, employing 534,718, contributing £25.9bn in tax revenues and the whole UK IT sector is valued at £39.8bn. However the IDC claims the 10% reduction in software piracy would boost this value to £54.5bn, create 33,874 high paying IT jobs and an addition £2.8bn in tax revenues. "The software industry has a key role in the UK economy and acts as a catalyst for productivity and growth," said Janet Anderson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Intellectual Property Protection. "Piracy stifles innovation and creativity and clearly has a significant impact on employment, economic growth and public spending."

The global piracy rate is about 35%. A 10% reduction in that rate would spur the global IT industry to grow 45% larger by 2009, creating another 2.4 million jobs, economies could grow by $400bn and $67bn in tax revenues could be created. The study recommends nations update copyright laws so they implement World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) obligations, create strong enforcement mechanisms, dedicate government resources to piracy, improve education and awareness and only use legitimate software in the public sector.

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AfterDawn: News

Warner boss blasts Sony Corp

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Dec 2005 11:16

Warner boss blasts Sony Corp Warner Home Video president, Warren Lieberfarb, has slammed the strategy used by Sony Corp. to help the Blu-Ray Disc optical format compete with Toshiba's HD-DVD format. Warner, like Paramount, is being safe so far by planning to release movies in both formats. However, Lieberfarb believes that Sony has brought the format fight into the next generation console fight. With Microsoft's support behind HD-DVD, he is sort of right and you have to remember that BD being used in the PS3 console is a main reason for content companies to support Blu-ray.

"If I put Blu-Ray in PlayStation and I don't license it to Microsoft for Xbox and I get all the studios to only publish in PlayStation, I'll beat Microsoft in the next-generation games market," said Lieberfarb, speaking at the European Video Perspectives conference in Biarritz, France. "Hollywood blew it. They got duped," he claimed. "They could have created the format that optimised their creative interests. It looks like we lost, because there are six studios supporting Blu-Ray and only three supporting HD-DVD. We've been sucked into PlayStation versus Xbox."

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AfterDawn: News

AfterDawn.com is looking for a new staff writer

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 08 Dec 2005 1:47

AfterDawn.com is looking for a new staff writer We, as in AfterDawn.com, are looking to expand our team of site's content writers within next couple of weeks and we want you to tell us why you should be the one picked to fill the role.

We ran a search for new staff writers back in September, 2005 and found several good candidates, but due variety of reasons, we failed to find a suitable candidate for our aD staff writer position. However, we did find two people for our soon-to-be-relaunched gaming site, so as far as gaming section goes, we're now covered.

But, the position of staff writer for AfterDawn.com remains open. This is what we're looking for:

  • must be able to write good/excellent English (this does include people whose primary language isn't English, after all, we are a Finnish site..)
  • good knowledge about digital video, movie backups, P2P, etc (read through our news section and you'll get an idea what type of areas we normally cover)
  • ability to write articles and guides in a way that they are easy to understand, even for a person who doesn't have the in-depth knowledge of the subject covered
  • willing to commit at least 15 hours each week to write content
  • able to work as part of a team, with weird working hours
  • good writing skills -- the fact that you know your grammar, doesn't necessarily make you a good writer :-)
  • able to work remotely, using ICQ and email as the means to communicate with other members of the team
The person who gets selected will write news articles, guides, glossary entries, FAQ items, etc to our main site, AfterDawn.com. He/She will work together with our team of admins (Dela, Ketola, myself, etc) using ICQ and email. This is a paid position.

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AfterDawn: News

CinemaNow Japan announces agreement with Warner

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 12:06

CinemaNow Japan announces agreement with Warner CinemaNow Japan has announced a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. International Television to offer the studio's movies for download on a subscription and pay-per-view basis, marking the first time major Hollywood movie downloads will be "legally" available to Japan's 32 million broadband Internet users. "This groundbreaking agreement is a great accomplishment for CinemaNow Japan and will deliver a first-of-its-kind service to the burgeoning Japanese market," said Curt Marvis, CEO of CinemaNow and chairman of CinemaNow Japan. "It marks another major step forward in CinemaNow's mission to build a truly global distribution network that reaches localized markets."

The movies that will be added include new major movies Constantine and Ocean's Twelve and older movies like the original Batman movie. The titles will be available on CinemaNow Japan's subscription service, which allows its users to download movies on an unlimited basis and watch them whenever and wherever they want. "Leveraging CinemaNow's unmatched operational experience, technical expertise, and growing content portfolio, CinemaNow Japan was able to quickly establish itself as a leading online video-on-demand service," said Toshiyuki Tomii, president of CinemaNow Japan. "With the addition of Warner Bros. International Televisions content, CinemaNow Japan will offer its broadband users a high-quality, easy-to-use, on-demand entertainment experience that is unmatched in the marketplace."

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AfterDawn: News

UK games industry opens site for parents

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 11:24

UK games industry opens site for parents The UK games industry trade body, the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (Elspa) has opened a new website aimed at helping parents decide what games they should allow their children to play. Askaboutgames.com details what kind of material children will be exposed to based on the rating of the games. The games industry hopes that this will show parents that games are as well regulated as other entertainment products.

A recent survey showed that most parents completely ignore game age ratings and let their children play whatever games they want. "Armed with the facts on game ratings, parents will be able to buy games for their children for Christmas and throughout the year with the assurance that they are not being exposed to content unsuitable for their age," said Elspa director general Roger Bennett.

Minister for the Creative Industries James Purnell welcomed the effort saying it is important that parents understand game age ratings. "Too often parents unwittingly allow their children to play unsuitable games," he said. "I'd like to remind parents to look carefully at the games they are putting in their children's stockings this Christmas."

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AfterDawn: News

Podcast named 'word of the year'

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 11:04

The word "Podcast" has been named "word of the year" by the New Oxford American Dictionary. It has been defined as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player". The word came from combining "broadcast" with "iPod". It will be included in the online dictionary early next year. Podcasts are growing in popularity at huge rates as they are fast and easy way to get digital audio content.

Some people criticize the word because it gives too much credibility to Apple's iPod, even though Apple had really nothing major to do with the development of the "technology" although it did boost its popularity by including podcasts in iTunes. Some people have suggested other terms such as Blogcasts or Audioblogging. Anybody with a PC, microphone, recording software and a net connection can easily make and distribute their own podcasts.

Its popularity has gotten to a point where it is beginning to challenge conventional radio's broadcasting and business model. Many radio stations have responded by offering their content as MP3 downloads as well, like the BBC for example. "Podcast was considered for inclusion last year, but we found that not enough people were using it, or were even familiar with the concept," said Erin McKean, editor-in-chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary.

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AfterDawn: News

New Creative MP3 player targets video iPod

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 10:37

New Creative MP3 player targets video iPod Creative Technologies is soon going to launch its alternative to Apple's latest iPod player, which has video playback capabilities. The new player, the Vision:M, is not going to be announced until tomorrow but the Japanese division of the company gave details away already, The Register reports. The new player has music, video and photo capabilities with its 2.5in, 262,144-colour, 320 x 240 LCD screen. The player measures 10.4 x 6.2 x 1.9cm and weighs about 166g.

It includes a 30GB Hard Disk Drive and a rechargeable battery that can play video for 4 hours (compared to Apple's 2 hours) and music for 14 hours according to the company. It's audio support includes the MP3 format (of course), Windows Media Audio (WMA) and WAV audio. Windows Media DRM-protected tracks are also supported. The Vision:M will play MPEG 1, 2 and 4, WMV 9, Motion JPEG, DivX 4 and 5, and XviD video files.

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AfterDawn: News

Matsushita sued by Samsung for patent violations

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 10:14

Matsushita sued by Samsung for patent violations South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung has sued Matsushita's Panasonic subsidiary for violating nine plasma display panel patents it holds. It filed lawsuits today in the US District Court in Los Angeles and Pennsylvania. Samsung's PDP division, Samsung SDI claims it had talks with Matsushita on 9 occasions in the last year but both companies failed to reach a deal that suited both. One big question though is why would a South Korean company (Samsung) sue its Japanese rival (Matsushita) in the United States?

"We filed a lawsuit in the US, where there is the greatest demand for digital TVs, because we thought the US, as a third-party would, have no conflict of interest and thus ensure a fair trial," a Samsung spokesman explained. Samsung has a history of related suits too. In 2003 it sued Fujitsu for infringing its PDP patents. Fujitsu eventually counter-sued both it was settled out of court. Matsushita also had a similar case with LG earlier this year.

Source:
The Register




AfterDawn: News

More insecure CDs from Sony BMG

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 9:56

More insecure CDs from Sony BMG Sony BMG, which was caught up in a Digital Rights Management (DRM) mess for the last month over the XCP copy protection has today announced, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation that SunnComm has released a security update for its MediaMax Version 5 copy protection software, which ships on "certain Sony BMG CDs". The vulnerability discovered could allow an attacker to hijack a user's PC if the MediaMax software has been installed.

The EFF said the vulnerability centers around a file folder installed by the MediaMax software "that could allow malicious third parties who have localized, lower-privilege access to gain control over a consumer’s computer running the Windows operating system." This time around, Sony wasted no time in bringing this to consumer attention after being criticised for how badly it handled the XCP "rootkit DRM" situation.

Even besides the vulnerability, the EFF has pointed out other major problems with the DRM technology including "undisclosed communications with servers Sony controls… undisclosed installation of over 18 MB of software regardless of whether the user agrees to the End User License Agreement; and failure to include an uninstaller with the CD." So there are some obvious privacy concerns with this DRM too.

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AfterDawn: News

Best Buy's Brian Dunn writes open letter apology to consumers

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 9:13

Best Buy's Brian Dunn writes open letter apology to consumers Best Buy President of Retail in North America Brian Dunn has written an open letter apology to all consumers that were charged several hundred extra dollars for accessories they had to buy in order to get their hands on an Xbox 360. He had commented a few days ago that the company was aware that "some stores acted inappropriately" and yesterday he wrote an official apology to anyone caught up in the scams. Here it is...

TO: Open Letter to Customers

FROM: Brian Dunn, President – Retail, North America

RE: Launch of Xbox 360

CC: Best Buy Store, District and Territory Employees; All Officers and Directors

DATE: December 6, 2005

I’m writing to apologize.

While all of us at Best Buy were thrilled to be part of the recent launch of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game system – one of the most anticipated events in the history of electronic gaming – the launch did not go as we had hoped. We sold out of Xbox 360s nationwide in less than two hours, and most of our stores did an outstanding job of serving our gaming customers. I’d like to thank the majority of our employees, who provided a terrific experience for customers at the launch date. However, our promotional activities in certain cases failed to follow company guidelines. As a result, some of our valued gaming customers had an experience in our stores that was inconsistent with what you’ve come to expect from us, as a leader in the consumer electronics industry.
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AfterDawn: News

iTunes sold 3 million videos

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 8:53

iTunes sold 3 million videos Apple's iTunes download service has sold over 3 million videos now, the company has confirmed. iTunes first started offering TV show downloads (and music videos and short animations) in October when it unveiled the video iPod. The first TV content to be added were ABC shows including Desperate Housewives and Lost. Yesterday, another 11 shows were added from NBC Universal, bringing the total to 15 shows, making up more than 300 episodes available.

"Customers have purchased and downloaded more than three million videos since their debut on October 12, making the iTunes Music Store the world's most popular video download store," the company has said. iTunes offers the TV content for $1.99. You can watch it using the iTunes software or on a video iPod, but that is it for now.

NBC's Law & Order, The Office, Surface, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the USA Network's Emmy Award-winning Monk and Sci-Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica as well as classic TV shows including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dragnet, Adam-12 and Knight Rider were the shows added from NBC yesterday.

Source:
Macworld




AfterDawn: News

VSO-Software fears the worst with DADVSI bill

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Dec 2005 8:26

VSO-Software fears the worst with DADVSI bill VSO-Software, a company famous for tools such as BlindWrite and DivxToDVD, fears that a bill the French government is about to pass could lead to the end of the company. Here is an article posted on the homepage of the VSO-Software site...

The French government is about to pass a bill known as the DADVSI (Droits d'Auteur et Droits Voisins dans la Société de l'Information n°1206) prohibiting everything that could be considered as a tool or a solution to bypassing protections or read copyrighted formats. VSO Products may be banished as well as P2P clients, instant messaging, emails, Internet servers using GNU licensing, and free software including the most popular media players.

Today, French citizens may no longer be able to make a safe backup of their purchased CDs, Movies, Games, etc. or use a software/hardware reader of their choice. Tomorrow, other countries may use this law as a model.
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AfterDawn: News

ratDVD updated to v0.78.1444

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 Dec 2005 1:27

ratDVD updated to v0.78.1444 ratDVD, a tool used to compress entire DVDs (including full motion menus, extras, angles, audio tracks, subtitles etc..) to a single .ratDVD file has been updated today to v0.78.1444 with several imrovements and some bug fixes also. Here is the changelog...

  • MediaPlayer now supports ratDVD files in the video media library
  • MediaPlayer now supports direct convert and burn of ratDVD files
  • Added convert/burn option in navigation menu of standard direct show players
  • Added "/burn" command line option
  • Added support for ShowCommand in StartupInfo when started from another process
  • Added movie name recognition into ISO import plug-in
  • Added translation support for playback navigation menu
  • Updated danish translation
  • Updated codecs for higher performance
  • Fix for Media Player seeking issue
  • Fix for starting playback quickly after ending playback issue
  • Fix for stop/restart problem in Media Player
  • Fix for some Subtitle/Audio display/selection issues in navigation menu during playback
  • Fix for a problem that a DVD to ratDVD profile could have consequences when converting ratDVD to DVD
  • Fix for access violation during repeated starting and stopping of preview in converter

You can download ratDVD from: http://www.afterdawn.com/software/video_software/dvd_tools/ratdvd.cfm

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AfterDawn: News

Panasonic begins pilot production of 50GB BD-ROM discs

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 Dec 2005 1:16

Panasonic begins pilot production of 50GB BD-ROM discs There is a press release at Panasonic's website, detailing how the company has begun pilot production of dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray Discs. Blu-Ray Disc is the leading format in a battle to become the next generation DVD standard, fending off Toshiba's HD DVD. Here is the press releases...

Torrance, CA (December 5, 2005) — Panasonic has modified its existing pilot production line for single-layer Blu-ray Discs, called BD-ROM, so that it is able to replicate dual-layer BD-ROM discs with 50 gigabytes (GB) of storage capacity. The new pilot replication line is housed within the Panasonic Disc Manufacturing Corporation of America, which is located here in Torrance, Calif. Single-layer Blu-ray Discs have 25 GB of storage capacity for holding video and other data, while current DVD discs have 8.5 GB of storage at most.

The doubling of BD-ROM disc storage capacity is enabled by spin coating technologies developed by Panasonic that create two recorded layers on a single side of a Blu-ray Disc. In the process, readily available inexpensive UV curable resins are used in the creation of the space layer, cover layer and hard-coat, resulting in a reduction in disc replication costs. Video and other data is then embedded in the layers for playback later using a blue laser-equipped Blu-ray Disc player, recorder or BD-ROM drive-equipped PC.
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AfterDawn: News

More on Sony PSP graffiti

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 Dec 2005 1:01

More on Sony PSP graffiti Wired has an article on the Sony PSP graffiti that has popped up in several U.S. cities, much to the annoyance of some people in those cities. The graffiti is of kids playing with the PlayStation Portable (PSP) console. Due to the strange looking big eyes on the graffiti, some residents found the graffiti weird and posted on the Internet about it. In one case, a woman was so offended she complained about the graffiti and asked for it to be cleaned.

Since the graffiti didn't mention Sony or PSP, nobody really knew for sure if Sony was behind the graffiti or not. Of course, the company was, and Sony spokeswoman Molly Smith explained how the company was targeting these ads. "With PSP being a portable product, our target is what we consider to be urban nomads, people who are on the go constantly," she said.

As well as receiving criticism, many also approved of the artwork. "It's a cheeky wink toward a savvy audience who are already familiar with the product," Piers Fawkes, who runs the IF blog that focuses on new currents in marketing said. "It's reflective of modern approach to marketing. The creative classes are sick of marketing when done badly or blandly, but when it's done in (an) intelligent manner, we appreciate it."

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AfterDawn: News

NBC TV shows added to iTunes

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 Dec 2005 12:30

NBC TV shows added to iTunes Apple's iTunes music store is now offering another 11 TV shows on top of the five it has been offering since October. This new content comes from NBC Universal. They include popular shows like Law & Order, Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica, The Office and The Tonight Show. Apple's iTunes service also offers downloads of music videos and some short animations from Pixar studios. Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, is also head of Pixar.

Pixar has a feature film agreement with Disney, which is probably the reason why Apple could strike a deal to offer shows Desperate Housewives and Lost through iTunes. NBC's agreement with Apple is now an indication that the entertainment industry is warming even more to selling its content on the Internet. "We are committed to helping viewers enjoy the wide breadth of our programs across an equally wide range of devices and distribution models," said Bob Wright, chairman and CEO of NBC Universal.

TV shows sell for $1.99 each from iTunes. You can watch them back on the video iPod. However, critics believe that Apple can't do the same for feature films, because they are far too long to watch on small portable screens. However, you could always watch the movies on your computer screens.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Illinois video game laws blocked

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 Dec 2005 12:03

Illinois video game laws blocked A federal judge has blocked two laws in the U.S. state of Illinois that would have made it illegal to supply (sell or rent) violent or sexually explicit video games to minors. The judge found that the laws violate free speech rights. This is the latest event in an ongoing battle over the content in some video games. Some claim that these games have a terrible effect on the behavior of minors but so far there has been no solid proof of that.

Video games are a $10 billion industry in the United States, rivaling box office of Hollywood movies. The laws would have went into effect on January 1st, and would have fined retailers for any violations. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly issued a permanent injunction blocking the restrictions, commenting it would have a "chilling effect" on vide game creation and distribution.

He said no evidence was provided that violent games have a lasting effect on aggressive thoughts and behavior and that the definition of "sexually explicit" was too vague. "The public itself has an interest in ensuring that the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights are protected to ensure the availability of various forms of expression, including video games, to the broader society," Kennelly said.

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AfterDawn: News

Do you think Apple is 'pig headed'?

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 Dec 2005 11:42

Do you think Apple is 'pig headed'? RealNetworks' boss Rob Glaser took a small swipe at Apple at the Digital Living Conference, saying the company's refusal to make the iPod music player compatible with music from other music stores was "pig headedness". RealNetworks just launched a web-based version of its Rhapsody service yesterday which has the support of Microsoft as part of the pair's antitrust settlement. He also said that Apple's unwillingness to co-operate with other music stores promoted piracy.

Last year it was Apple that was targeting Real for criticism, after Real launched a service called Harmony, allowing its customers to transfer their music to iPods. Apple accused Real of cracking but strangely never filed a lawsuit. Glaser also said that Steve Jobs makes for a "good pinata" because he's taken a position against interoperability. He believes that customers should pressure Apple to change its ways.

He said Apple being on its own in term of interoperability makes piracy more compelling for consumers. "If I take all my MP3s from this illegal site or that illegal site, they'll work on the iPod or anything else. Whereas if I buy them legitimately, they'll only work at one place," he told News.com.

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AfterDawn: News

ARIA: Kazaa breached court order

Written by James Delahunty @ 06 Dec 2005 11:22

ARIA: Kazaa breached court order The Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) has accused Kazaa owner, Sharman Networks, of ignoring a court order to implement filters to block copyright infringement by December 5th. ARIA's Stephen Peach said that Kazaa completely ignored an order to implement a non-optional 3,000 word filter to its software (that was provided by the ARIA). However, Sharman Networks doesn't see it that way; the company believes it has gone one step further than filtering.

Yesterday Australian Internet users were redirected from the Kazaa homepage to a page explaining that they cannot use the Kazaa software anymore. "We have put in measures more stringent than the keyword filter - we have shut it down," a Sharman spokeswoman said. "We were told that if we comply with the court order by December we would get our appeal heard in February so that is what we've done."

Mr Peach doesn't see blocking Australian users as complying with the order however. "They cannot be trusted to even take the simplest steps towards complying with the court's orders and again have shown they intend to do nothing about the illegal activities occurring on a massive scale on their system," he said. "They were given a chance to do the right thing and they've ruined it."

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

VideoLAN may disappear due to EUCD

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 11:51

There is an alarming post over at videolan.org that discusses how the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD), a European version of the U.S.' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) will affect VideoLAN. Here is the post...

During the night of 22nd to 23rd December 2005, while everybody is preparing for Christmas, the French Parliament will rule about the "DADVSI" law. This vote will be made with minimal discussion, as an "emergency" has been declared on this law.

This law is the French transcription of the European EUCD (European Union Copyright Directive) text, which itself comes from the American DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

The main goal of this law is to restrict the rights of digital content purchasers. It most notably forbids them from working around technical content protection measures.
Doing so, writing or publishing software allowing to do so, or even merely talking about ways to do so becomes an offence that can be punished with three years in jail.

VideoLAN is directly impacted, most notably for its reading capability (all Linux DVD reading software has the same problem). Should this law be passed, this would seriously hinder VLC's development.
Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Alcohol Soft offering pre-Christmas discount

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 11:38

Alcohol Soft offering pre-Christmas discount I thought it would be worth mentioning that Alcohol Software is offering a 40% discount on purchases of Alcohol 120% until December 23rd. Alcohol is an excellent piece of software for backing up games or DVDs. It has support for many popular copy protections. You can also mount images onto up to 31 virtual drives using Alcohol. Here is the announcement as seen at the Alcohol Soft store...

Reduced price! (For a limited period only)!
Alcohol 120% enables you to make a duplicate back-up to recordable media of nearly all your expensive GameSoftwareDVD* Titles, and/or an image that can be mounted and run from any one of Alcohol's 31 Virtual drives.

Purchase Alcohol 120% download version 1.9.5.3105 or boxed version 1.9.2.1705 before December 23rd and receive a 40% discount off the RRP (valid only for single license purchase). This offer includes free updates and support.

You can download a trial of Alcohol 120% from: http://www.afterdawn.com/software/video_software/dvd_tools/alcohol120.cfm

You can purchase Alcohol 120% from: http://shop.alcohol-soft.com/




AfterDawn: News

DVD format just too small for Xbox 360 games?

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 11:16

DVD format just too small for Xbox 360 games? There is an interesting article over at Joystiq that discusses the problems that Xbox 360 games will face in the future due to Microsoft's decision to go for the current DVD format instead of a next generation format. So far, 360 games have yet to come on multiple discs, but an issue of Game Informer indicates that multi-disc games will be coming soon. GI said that nearly every developer it spoke to at X05 complained about the storage issues developing Xbox 360 games.

Apparently, one "highly anticipated" title coming for the Xbox 360 has already used up four full dual-layer 9GB DVD discs. So to play this unnamed game will take 4 disc swaps from start to finish. Japanese RPGs that Microsoft has also been touting are likely candidates. While a game being multi-disc doesn't really effect the quality of the game itself at all, the question has to be asked whether gamers in this day will be OK with having to swap discs mid-play.

Games that would be likely affected by the DVD storage problems in future would be new Grand Theft Auto games for example. Would moving from one part of a city to another require swapping a disc? hopefully not for GTA fans. J Allard has downplayed the storage problems and said improved compression rates in the future will allow more data to be stored on single discs.

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AfterDawn: News

Microsoft sued over Xbox 360 crashing

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 10:53

Microsoft sued over Xbox 360 crashing Microsoft, the world's largest software company, is being sued by an owner of an Xbox 360 console for an alleged design flaw that makes the console overheat and lock up. The Chicago man who brought the suit, Robert Byers, said the power supply and CPU overheat affecting heat sensitive chips and causing the console to freeze. Reports of crashing and lock-ups during normal usage or online play using Xbox Live, were scattered across the Internet in the days following the November 22nd U.S. launch.

The suit, which asks for class action status, blames Microsoft's determination to release a console for the Christmas market and ahead of two competitors, Sony Corp. and Nintendo. Both companies will release their next generation consoles, the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Revolution in 2006. Byers alleges that Microsoft wanted to be first to leave the starting line so much that they sold a "defectively designed" product.

Molly O'Donnell, Microsoft's spokeswoman, declined to comment to Reuters, saying the company has a policy not to comment on pending litigation. "We have received a few isolated reports of consoles not working as expected." she told Reuters a few days after the US launch of the console. She declined to give any details on the amount of console affected but said it was a "very, very small fraction." Microsoft later estimated that 3% or less of the consoles shipped were defective.

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AfterDawn: News

RealNetworks will offer web-based Rhapsody

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 10:23

RealNetworks will offer web-based Rhapsody RealNetworks is planning to offer a web-based version of its Rhapsody music service. It will be subscription based and will only allow users to stream music content through the web; downloading it still requires Rhapsody software. However, it does open up the music store to Linux and Mac users and it's a service that will work anywhere regardless of location. Users will be allowed to stream 25 songs for free, but for a subscription fee it will become unlimited.

All you need is a web browser for the service, no extra software from Real. A beta version of the service will be available on Monday, the company said. Real also doesn't mind that the vast majority of visitors will just stream music for free and not get a subscription. The company will sell ad space on the service's webpages to make up for any lost revenue for the free streaming.

In addition to this, Real said it would also offer a service to webmasters to let them stream music to people on their websites. At first, webmasters will have to link in to the Rhapsody site but Real expects to be able to offer better options sometime in H1 2006. Microsoft will also help promote the new service through Windows Media Player and across its MSN properties as part of the $761 million antitrust settlement announced in earlier this year.

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AfterDawn: News

iPod Shuffle named this year's 'must chav gadget'

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 10:03

iPod Shuffle named this year's 'must chav gadget' The iPod Shuffle music player has been labeled as this years "must chav gadget" by the UK’s top gadget experts and the staff of Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny. "The shuffle is perfect for chavs," said the judge's citation. "It’s cheap. It’s by a cool brand, and you can let others know you have one as it is designed to be worn round your neck. As it is white it also accessories well with those classy gold chains Chavs wear."

However, the iPod Shuffle is possibly the worst music player in Apple's line-up. It has no screen display so you have to rely on the player to choose the music for you in an appropriate order - and it doesn't really look that good in comparison to other iPod models. So maybe it's not the best gadget for a bunch who claim they "got style n' class". Runner up for the Chav gadget was the Motorola RAZR phone.

Apple was also lucky to have the iPod Nano win the Shiny Shiny icon award and for a while it was tied with Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) console for the gadget of the year award. However, in the end, the PSP pulled ahead of the tiny MP3 player to take the award. Still though, second place isn't bad for one of the most complained about MP3 players in the history of the market.

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AfterDawn: News

Australians blocked from Kazaa use?

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 9:45

Australians blocked from Kazaa use? We reported a couple of weeks ago that Kazaa had been given a deadline to start filtering copyrighted material or shut down completely by an Australian court. It was expected that a filter of about 3,000 words would be added to the P2P client, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Instead it appears that Kazaa is going to be refusing service to Australian users and everything will continue as normal around the rest of the world. Here's a message on Kazaa.com to Australians...

Attention Users in Australia:
To comply with order of the Federal Court of Australia, pending an appeal in February 2006, use of the Kazaa Media Desktop is not permitted by persons in Australia. If you are in Australia, you must not download or use the Kazaa Media Desktop.

Along with that, a lot of Australian users are reporting problems trying to connect to the FastTrack network with their current Kazaa installations. Any visit to Kazaa.com with a ".au" IP Address also redirects to a completely different page which you can see by clicking here. So will Sharman Networks be able to avoid filtering by blocking its service from Australian users?

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AfterDawn: News

UK Retailer investigating Xbox 360 bundles on eBay

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Dec 2005 8:11

UK Retailer investigating Xbox 360 bundles on eBay Game, a well known retailer in the UK, is investigating claims that a store manager has put 8 Xbox 360 bundle packs on the world's biggest auction site, eBay. "I have 8 units for sale, these were obtained from a store of which I am the manager, receipt will be supplied for your guarantee, just return to any branch of 'game'", said the auction details. "I am open to reasonable offers to end the auction early." He describes the items as "brand new, factory sealed, Xbox 360 Premium Pack with three games".

Supplies of Xbox 360 are reportedly exhausted in the UK right now, forcing some gamers to turn to eBay to get theirs. Elsewhere, the consoles often go for around £600 or more. Some gamers are angered that when supplies are low, some manager of a retail store would put the consoles on eBay hoping to get more money for them than the retail price. Then again, it has not yet even been proven that this guy is a manager of a Game store.

Some are already saying the auction is a complete scam. However a spokeswoman for Game has said the company is going to investigate the matter. In the U.S., retailer Best Buy has apologized for some stores selling the console with some accessories for much higher than the advertised price on launch date.

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AfterDawn: News

Fox has no plans to release movies on HD DVD format

Written by James Delahunty @ 04 Dec 2005 4:56

Fox has no plans to release movies on HD DVD format Fox Filmed Entertainment has already chosen its side in the ongoing battle between the yet unreleased next generation DVD formats, Blu-Ray Disc and HD-DVD. Fox has said that it wont release movies in both formats like some other studios have decided to. The company see PlayStation 3 support as enough to indicate Blu-ray as the clear winner already. Also, like other studios backing the Sony developed format, Fox is very interested in the copy protection technology that it provides.

"We believe that Blu-ray not only has the superior technology and backing in terms of strength to market but also the superior content protection," Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman James Gianopulos said. Blu-ray Disc allows movies studios to decide on Mandatory Managed Copy on a per title basis, which may be bad for consumers as it might leave them with no way to backup the movies they buy on Blu-ray Discs.

HP had demanded that Blu-ray adopt Mandatory Managed Copy completely, as well as iHD, which would provide new interface features for the format. The Blu-ray group however declined to use iHD, and are backing a Java-based menu system instead. iHD is slated to be part of Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows Vista, and it is already supported by HD DVD.

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AfterDawn: News

San Francisco residents destroy PSP graffiti

Written by James Delahunty @ 04 Dec 2005 8:15

San Francisco residents destroy PSP graffiti As we reported yesterday that some Las Angeles residents were getting fed up of the Sony PSP graffiti popping up in U.S. cities, we thought we'd let you all see an article showing how some residents decided to deal with the graffiti; deface it. If people were really annoyed about this artwork because they didn't like how it looked, then how does spraying red paint on them and anti-Sony messages beside them make a better picture?

Sony has not officially endorsed the various pieces of art, and claimed to be unaware of such a campaign. However, claims on the Internet are that Sony paid for the characters to be painted onto public and private property as an advertising campaign. The characters were all very well created, and all were somehow playing with Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) console.

Here is the source news article with some pictures of the defaced PSP art: http://www.secondaryscreening.net/static/archives/2005/11/index.html




AfterDawn: News

Electronic Arts sued over Madden NFL 06 features

Written by James Delahunty @ 04 Dec 2005 7:57

Electronic Arts sued over Madden NFL 06 features Electronic Arts Inc., one of the world's biggest video game companies is facing a lawsuit from a game developer accusing the company of stealing an idea for a game feature. He says that the features are included in Madden NFL 06. Electronic Arts denies that it stole any game features from Virtual Jam owner Pernell Harris. "We have read the complaint and the allegations are completely without merit," an EA spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday.

Specifically, Harris has met with EA in late 2003 to discuss "Heart of a Champion," a football game that he was developing. In the game, the user guides a player from school to professional football, handling all sorts of daily activities including sports and school homework. Harris claims that EA stole some of the features he had revealed to the company. He accused EA of breaching an "implied in fact contract" for using the features without compensating him.

The lawsuit was filed on November 28th with the California Superior Court in San Mateo County. Harris is seeking unspecified damages, attorney's fees and restitution. Madden is one of the world's best selling video game properties, accounting for $232 million in sales in 2004.

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AfterDawn: News

Microsoft aims for 1M Xbox 360 sales in Japan

Written by James Delahunty @ 04 Dec 2005 7:36

Microsoft aims for 1M Xbox 360 sales in Japan By next summer Microsoft hopes to have sold one million Xbox 360 consoles in Japan. This is a pretty high target when you consider that the first Xbox console has not yet even sold half a million units in Japan. Japanese gamers also seem to be more interested in Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3 (PS3) console than the Xbox 360. Japanese Xbox business manager Yoshihiro Maruyama, revealed this target to one-time publication Dengeki Xbox 360.

"It's only a target," Maruyama said, "but the one million mark is a figure we'd like to reach by next summer. And then, we'd like to go to 1.5 million, then 2 million in next year's end of year sales rush. We believe the one million mark to be an important figure. If we cross one million, it will be easier for developers to do business, so we'd of course like to reach it quickly."

In the U.S. and Europe, the Xbox 360 console is selling out fast. Along with other popular gadgets like Apple's iPod music players, the console is on many Christmas lists. However, with shortages, many people will have to wait until the new year to get their hands on one.

Source:
IGN




AfterDawn: News

Best Buy apologizes for Xbox 360 bundle scams

Written by James Delahunty @ 04 Dec 2005 7:11

Best Buy apologizes for Xbox 360 bundle scams Retailer Best Buy has "sort of" apologized to gamers who were caught up in an Xbox 360 bundle scam. Customers were waiting in queue to buy the consoles at the advertised prices of $299 or $399, but what they were told by Best Buy staff in stores across the U.S. is that they were several hundred dollars short for the new bundles of the console that came with some more accessories. These bundles went for around $700 or more in some cases.

One employee at a Best Buy store who remains anonymous revealed that the store was intentionally ripping off customers on the launch night. He said the worst part was trying to explain it to children who had just saved enough money for an Xbox 360 based on the advertisements for the console. Best Buy now acknowledges that "some stores acted inappropriately."

The store has promise to refund "any unwanted Xbox 360-related purchases," and said it will ensure that appropriate measures be taken to stop this from happening with future Xbox 360 promotions.

Source:
Joystiq




AfterDawn: News

Patricia Santangelo requests trial by jury in RIAA suit

Written by James Delahunty @ 03 Dec 2005 4:56

Patricia Santangelo requests trial by jury in RIAA suit Patricia Santangelo, a mother of five who is being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for copyright infringement has requested a trial by Jury. This is the first time that an RIAA lawsuit against an alleged Internet pirate is headed for trial. Santangelo refused to pay the RIAA's settlement center as she says she is completely innocent of these accusations. The likely culprit she says, is a friend of her children.

The RIAA's evidence against file sharers it sues has to be tested in court sooner or later, and many legal experts say it is not good enough for a lawsuit. Relying on an IP address alone to prove that Santangelo is guilty is just not good enough. Even putting that aside, the RIAA has actually managed to sue a dead woman before. 83-year old Gertrude Walton shared over 700 pop, rock and rap songs according to the RIAA.

The reason Santangelo is the first to stand up to the RIAA is simple, people are afraid of what might happen if they go to court. The RIAA threatens to sue for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars if a case goes to court, forcing most people to pay a settlement of $3000 - $4000 to have the lawsuit disappear.

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AfterDawn: News

Apple's upcoming new content distribution system

Written by James Delahunty @ 03 Dec 2005 4:23

Apple's upcoming new content distribution system According to Think Secret, Apple is planning to launch a new content distribution system alongside the Mac Mini in January at the Macworld Expo. This service is made with content providers' interests in mind more than those of consumers. To ease worries about Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection on video content, Apple's new service will deliver content to customers in a way that it will "never" be stored on a user's hard disk drive.

Instead it will be stored on a user's iDisk which Front Row 2.0 will tap into. When someone wants to watch content they have purchased it will have to be served live at the highest bandwidth the Internet connection will allow. It is more than possible that video content can be stored on a video iPod however, but never on a computer HDD. There are a few advantages to this approach for consumers however.

Consider that you pay 99c per track on iTunes per music download, they are then stored (DRM protected) on your HDD (or your iPod). If you somehow lose those files, they are lost forever and it's just tough luck for the consumer as far as Apple is concerned. With the new distribution system, you are guaranteed not to lose your content. Also, purchased content will not fill up a user's hard disc drive either since it will be stored on Apple's servers.

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AfterDawn: News

Disney is unhappy with 50GB Blu-ray Disc delay

Written by James Delahunty @ 03 Dec 2005 3:39

Disney is unhappy with 50GB Blu-ray Disc delay At a Blu-ray Disc press demo held on November 29th, Andy Parsons, senior VP advanced product development for Pioneer announced the delayed readiness of the 50GB disc but downplayed it saying that it was something the industry would grow into over time. However, Buena Vista Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek said Disney was expecting the 50GB disc "from the get-go." The 25GB standard single layer Blu-Ray discs will be launched in the first half of 2006.

It is believed however that the 50GB disc will not be available until late in 2006. Chapek's reason for discomfort is understandable; he envisions packing a disc completely with high definition movies and extra features, which would require the bigger 50GB disc. He also envisions releasing Blu-ray/DVD hybrid discs for consumers who want to buy a movie but wont have a Blu-ray player for some time - another possibility that will probably need a lot more time to be available.

Blu-ray Disc currently is ahead in the format war with HD DVD, a rival next generation format developed by Toshiba Corp. Blu-ray has most major Hollywood movie studios on its side. Concerns about production costs of Blu-ray have also been growing however, especially from manufacturers who will require completely new equipment to produce BD discs, whereas HD DVD discs can be produced with tweaks to the existing equipment used for DVDs.

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AfterDawn: News

Sony launches TV rental service for PSP in Japan

Written by James Delahunty @ 03 Dec 2005 3:11

Sony launches TV rental service for PSP in Japan Sony has launched a new service for its Japanese PlayStation Portable (PSP) customers that will allow them to rent video content. It was always a plan of Sony's to expand upon the entertainment features that the Sony PSP already offers to its owners. This rental service uses the PSPs WiFi abilities to give consumers access to an archive of video content that can be downloaded and stored on the console's Memory Stick Duo.

The video content will include TV shows, music videos and movie trailers. The price for the content ranges from $1 to $3 each. The content can be viewed for just a set amount of time (usually a week or two) but then it will be unusable after that. Popular anime shows like Mobile Suit Gundam, Noein and Private Princess: Ayase Haruka are included in the initial line-up.

It is unknown whether or not this service will become available ever for PSP users outside of Japan. Sony usually launches products and services first in Japan so it is likely. However, with the market for TV show downloads (that are intended to be stored on a portable video player) just starting and already including Apple, Sony will be in for tough competition if the rental service reaches beyond Japan.

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AfterDawn: News

US and EU to fight intellectual property violations

Written by James Delahunty @ 03 Dec 2005 2:50

The United States and the European Union are to work together to fight against intellectual property violations. The announcement was made by EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson and US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. "We are sending a message of zero tolerance to the rest of the world," Mandelson said. He said the two sides had agreed on a "focused and comprehensive enforcement process" for intellectual property violations but didn't give any specific details.

It is estimated that violations of copyright that protects brands and inventions from illegal imitation results in up to $360bn in illegal trade each year. The EU said this is unfairly depriving legitimate business of income. China was targeted by the EU in a customers operation that recovered over 2 million fake products.

Gutierrez said that the justice department, state department and the US trade representative will be included in the Government-wide operation. "We are putting the full resources behind the subject of intellectual property rights," he said. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) also announced that developing states have been given another 7 and a half years to supply trademark and copyright protections. The original deadline was January 1st, 2006 but many states couldn't meet it.

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AfterDawn: News

Songwriters & composers challenge BPI

Written by James Delahunty @ 03 Dec 2005 2:21

Songwriters & composers challenge BPI British composers and songwriters hit back at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) yesterday in the battle over royalties from music download sales. Music downloads are just a small fraction of the overall music market currently, but in coming years music downloading will become a multi-billion dollar industry. The BPI, who's members includes big shots such as Sony BMG, Universal, EMI and Time Warner, wants to cut the royalties songwriters receive per 79p download by half.

That means instead of the current 5p per download, songwriters will get just 2.5p. Songwriters and composers were not willing to just sit back and let that happen however. The Music Alliance, a body representing some 44,000 songwriters and composers through the Performing Rights Society and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society lodged a counter-claim yesterday demanding an increase in royalties to between 7p and 9p per download.

The group also challenged the record labels to reveal just how much money they are currently receive from digital downloads. The Music Alliance has said that if the BPI gets what it wants, then BPI members would receive 40p - 50p per download whereas composers and song writers will get just a few pennies. "We have now submitted our reasons for why the record industry should adopt fresh economic thinking in a digital age to sustain the composing community upon which they rely." said Adam Singer, head of the Music Alliance.

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AfterDawn: News

Another lawsuit filed against Sony

Written by James Delahunty @ 03 Dec 2005 2:02

Another lawsuit filed against Sony Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Sony concerning the XCP DRM software created by UK-based First4Internet. The lawsuit was filed by legal firm Finkelstein, Thompson & Loughran for a resident of the District of Columbia on behalf of the general public of the capital. 52 CD titles contain XCP copy protection, Digital Rights Management technology that is intended to protect Sony's intellectual property by limiting copies being made of the music.

"By surreptitiously encoding its CDs with XCP and MediaMax software for the purported purpose of securing its intellectual property, Sony has endangered the security of personal information for computer users throughout the District of Columbia. To date, nearly 5 million copies of the XCP encoded CDs, and nearly 20 million of the MediaMax encoded CDs, have been sold," the legal firm stated.

"District of Columbia residents have played these disks on their personal computers and thus have had their systems unwittingly compromised. To date, several viruses have been reported that exploit the weakness that was created by the surreptitious installation of the spyware on their computers. Consumers are at risk from these and future viruses that will destroy software and steal personal information."

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AfterDawn: News

Intellectual property laws review in the UK

Written by James Delahunty @ 02 Dec 2005 2:44

The British government has launched a review into the intellectual property protection laws. The subject of IP laws has been in the headlines a lot this year as it grows more and more important to the technology industry. In the last UK election, the Labour party made a commitment to "modernize copyright and other forms of IP so that they are appropriate for the digital age." Chancellor Gordon Brown asked former editor of The Financial Times, Andrew Gowers to lead an independent review into IP rights in the UK.

This review will consider how well businesses are able to negotiate the complexity and expense of the copyright and patent system, including copyright and patent-licensing arrangements, litigation and enforcement, according to the U.K. Treasury. It will also look at whether provisions for fair use by citizens are reasonable.

Earlier this year, software patents in Europe were thrown out despite their heavy backing by many software companies. Now European politicians are considering another directive, which would change intellectual property violations from a civil offense to a criminal offense. Legal experts have warned about the problems with the proposed directive, which was adopted by the European Commission in July, saying it could send a company executive to jail if another's copyright was infringed by that company.

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AfterDawn: News

PSP graffiti getting on LA residents' nerves

Written by James Delahunty @ 02 Dec 2005 2:18

PSP graffiti getting on LA residents' nerves In Los Angeles, some residents are starting to get annoyed with graffiti that has popped up around the city of weird looking characters playing with Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) console. Sony has not officially endorsed the various pieces of art however, and claimed to be unaware of such a campaign. Also, many of them are illegal as they are painted onto public and private property without any permission. One woman posted on a blog how annoyed she is by these weird looking figures appearing around her neighborhood.

"Is anyone else concerned that Sony PlayStation paid someone to vandalize our neighborhood to sell their latest toy," said Michelle, who claims to be a Lincoln Heights resident. "It's quite obviously an advertisement, but when I called PlayStation Consumer Services this morning, they claim to know nothing about the campaign. I guess there's just some clever youngster out here in LH that just really LOVES the PSP and wants the whole world to know about it..."

She also decided to take some action against the works of art. "I called the city today to have the stencils on the back of Juan's Market painted over," she wrote. "For some strange reason, I'd rather see my friendly local gang lay claim to that wall then have it given over to some crappy corporation and their urban marketing campaign." One noticeable thing is that they are in fact, very well done and high quality works - so it's probably not just some random kids with a spray can.

Read more...


AfterDawn: News

Xbox 360 launches in Europe

Written by James Delahunty @ 02 Dec 2005 1:45

Xbox 360 launches in Europe The launch of the Xbox 360 console in Europe has gone ahead with too many gamers disappointed by limited stock. In the UK and Ireland, many stores which had taken pre-orders for the console didn't receive near as many units to fill the demand. For example, when I went for my Xbox 360, I learned that the store I had pre-ordered mine in had just four; nowhere near the huge number of pre-orders they had taken and were convinced they could meet (lucky I was first in queue then?).

More than 200 gamers queued for hours in the rain for the midnight launch of the console at Game's flagship store in London's Oxford Street. The first man to get one there, Kevin Sage, had been waiting since 14:45 GMT. "We have been waiting in this queue for hours and hours and now I can't wait to get home and play this game," he said. "I've made so many new friends through this, it's a surreal experience and I will remember this for the rest of my life."

Many more gamers turned up at retailers at the usual opening times, but most weren't lucky enough to get one. Retailers blame Microsoft for failing to provide enough supply to go around. "As predicted, we counted them in and counted them out quick as a flash. Someone at Microsoft seriously needs their ears Xboxing for failing to give us enough to go round." said Tony Page, Asda, non-food director.

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AfterDawn: News

Lightning UK! updates ImgBurn to v1.1.0.0

Written by James Delahunty @ 02 Dec 2005 1:15

Lightning UK! updates ImgBurn to v1.1.0.0 Lightning UK!, infamous for his authoring of DVD Decrypter, once the world's best DVD ripper, has updated his new ImgBurn software. ImgBurn carries on from where DVD Decrypter left off! (Well, for the burning part anyway!). ImgBurn can write most types of CD / DVD images and it supports all the latest writers (including booktype / bitsetting on many of the major ones - i.e. BenQ, LiteOn, NEC, Plextor, Sony). You can even use ImgBurn to erase / format your rewritable media!

ImgBurn will try its very best to burn your DVD-Video double layer images using the layer break you've specified in the IFO files, but it can also calculate the best place for you, to save you the trouble. The update to v.1.1.0.0 has a truck load of additions and some bug fixes. Here is the very large changelog...

  • Added: ''Verify'' mode for both CDs and DVDs.
  • Added: ''Discovery'' mode for testing out media to full / custom capacity without the need for an image.
  • Added: Support for queuing up images to burn (with full Drag ''n'' Drop support).
  • Added: Support for specifying how many copies of an image to burn (within Queue window).
  • Added: Support for Drag ''n'' Drop of multiple images / folders (containing images) to Write mode''s ''Source'' box.
  • Added: Export of graph data from previous burn.
  • Added: Display of graph data from previous burn - using DVDInfoPro. Now you can see pretty graphs showing you exactly what speed your drive was burning at and when.
  • Added: Overburning support for DVD+R discs in BenQ (and other?) writers.
  • Added: ''Test Mode'' for DVD+R/+RW/+R DL media when using a BenQ drive that supports the feature.
  • Added: New device capabilities window to replace old method that just used a MessageBox.
  • Added: Additional methods of finding a nice layer break position on a dvd.
  • Added: Recent Files list to File menu and context menu on the ''Browse'' buttons.
  • Added: Enhanced ''File Association'' code to overcome certain problems where the associations wouldn''t be visible in the explorer context menu.
  • Added: Support within the installation program for disabling DVD Decrypters file associations.
  • Added: Some additional lines in the log when burning double layer discs so the user knows when layer 0 / layer 1 are being written.
  • Added: /CLOSESUCCESS CLI switch. Will only close the program after a successful burn/verify - unlike /CLOSE which closes regardless of what happens!.
  • Added: /WAITFORMEDIA CLI switch so /START /CLOSE doesn''t mean the program loads / quits if the drive isn''t ready.
  • Added: Media ID is now displayed for DVDRAM media.
  • Added: ''Display IFO Layer Break Information'' to Tools -> ISO menu.
  • Added: Device name/string to the info panel when there is no disc in the drive.
  • Added: Support for Ctrl-A in change volume label edit boxes.
  • Added: Support for Ctrl-A in L0 Sectors edit box in the Settings dialog.
  • Added: Additional limiting of L0 Sectors edit box to numbers only.
  • Added: ''All'' and ''None'' buttons for file association stuff in the settings.
  • Added: ISO9660 field in label change dialog now always uses uppercase.
  • Added: Character counter to the change volume label dialog box.
  • Added: Settings -> Events -> On Startup -> Set Program Mode.
  • Added: Settings -> General -> Warnings -> Images Still Queued (prompts to save queue when you exit the program if there is more than 1 image in it).
  • Added: Ability to save/load queue (new .IBQ file type (stands for: ImgBurn Queue)).
  • Added: Some more code for BD and HD DVD drives - to support write/erase etc. (not tested yet, obviously! - anyone got a spare drive?!).
  • Added: Current / Maximum Format Capacity to the info panel in Write/Discovery modes for rewritable discs.
  • Added: BETA support for Layer Jump Recording (alternative to DAO and Incremental on DVD-R DL media) - Must be enabled via registry key.
  • Added: Double click ''Graph Data File: '' log entry to display that IBG file in DVDInfoPro.
  • Added: ''Layer Jump Recording'' capability to the Drive Capabilities page.
  • Added: Warning message when burning DVD-R DL media and Layer Jump Recording is not supported/being used.
  • Added: Support for latest version of bitsetting in LiteOn drives.
  • Changed: 16x16 icon now also has the flame in it.
  • Changed: The old SpeedButtons for a custom built PngSpeedButton - The images look nicer ;-).
  • Changed: Pressing F5 now refreshes the image info, not just device info.
  • Changed: ''Max Speed'' is now sampled more frequently to hopefully provide a more accurate value.
  • Changed/Fixed: Patin-Couffin ''Lock Volume - Exclusive Usage'' code. New drivers (post version 32) were not made backwards compatible with old IOCTLs.
  • Changed/Fixed: Method of calculating free sectors on media - mainly for DVD+RW and DVDRAM (fix was needed for DVDRAM).
  • Fixed: Could lose the layer break dialog if minimised to system tray when it pops up.
  • Fixed: UDF allowing too many chars in the field without any message to say it will be truncated.
  • Fixed: Unable to delete folder of image you''ve just ''browsed to'' and burnt.
  • Fixed: Devices drop down box now looks disabled when it is disabled.
  • Fixed: Burning to DVDRAM didn''t issue any erase/format/overwrite dialog boxes - even when they were needed.
  • Fixed: Double clicking log entries wasn''t correctly parsing the strings for ''known'' variables.

You can download ImgBurn from: http://www.afterdawn.com/software/cdr_software/cdr_tools/imgburn.cfm

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AfterDawn: News

German police make arrest in warez bust

Written by James Delahunty @ 02 Dec 2005 12:56

German police make arrest in warez bust German police confiscated five warez servers and arrested one 26 year old man in the German town of Coburg yesterday. The servers contained over 6TB of pirated movies, software and games. Over 1,200 are thought to have been using the servers which reportedly had a fee of €30 to €150 per month. Last September, German police also arrested a 46 year old Lawyer and two brothers, who were offering a paid download service at the address Ftpwelt.com for over a year. The site offered pirated games, movies and software through a high speed connection to customers.

In yesterday's bust, anti-piracy organisation GVU worked closely with police forces from Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Arnsberg and Meschede. In the year that the servers have been running for, over 130TB of pirated products were uploaded. According to GVU, the servers are part of a Internet piracy network in Europe thought to have more than 50 groups that release massive amounts of pirated material through closely knitted warez networks.

GVU believes that as many as 300 Germans are involved in these crimes. Those who were simply using the servers to download the warez may still face legal action. After the Ftpwelt bust, he state prosecutor's office of Mühlhausen in Germany started criminal proceedings against up to 15,000 of its users for "knowingly purchasing illegal content."

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AfterDawn: News

AnyDVD v5.6.1.1 targets Macrovision's RipGuard

Written by James Delahunty @ 02 Dec 2005 12:18

AnyDVD v5.6.1.1 targets Macrovision's RipGuard With the amount of problems users have been having lately making backups of new movies they buy, it is important to keep updated on software changes that tackle these copy protections. AnyDVD's latest update, v5.6.1.1, has support for two Macrovision RipGuard protected titles, Madagascar (R1) and Vet Hard (R2). Using past versions of AnyDVD with CloneDVD to make a backup of a RipGuard protected movies has worked, but this version supports copying the files from the disc to a HDD also.

The Information window also now tells you if Macrovision RipGuard is detected. Support was also added for a new version of Sony ARccOS that's found on Seinfeld Season 6 Disc 3 (R2) (German). For those unfamiliar with AnyDVD, it is a tool that automatically removes the copy protection and RPC region codes from your DVDs when you insert the disc in. All of this is done in the background. SlySoft keeps AnyDVD up to date to cover new DVD releases, so it is a good investment.

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AfterDawn: News

Taiwanese FVD format goes mass-market

Written by James Delahunty @ 02 Dec 2005 11:54

Taiwanese FVD format goes mass-market The Taiwanese next generation optical disc format, FVD (Forward Versatile Disc) has gone into mass production to compete with HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The FVD format can provide high definition video content on a disc that can be read by red lasers like those used for the current DVD format. Single layer FVD discs can store a maximum of 5.4GB - 6GB of data and dual layer (single sided) FVD discs can store 9.8GB - 11GB of data.

The format's backers claim this capacity if sufficient for 135 minutes of 1080i video content. FVD video content is encoded in Microsoft's WMV HD format. Der-ray Huang, deputy director of Opto-Electronics and Systems (OES) laboratories, said that FVD players are now in volume production from Taiwanese manufacturer Idar. The company expects to ship 300,000 FVD players in 2006. It hopes that by year's end, over 1,000 movies will be available on FVD discs.

The format will be promoted by the Advanced Optical Storage Research Alliance (AOSRA). It is being pitched mainly at the Taiwanese and other Asian markets but its backers would like to see it adopted in the West too. It would face tough competition from Sony's Blu-Ray Disc format and Toshiba's HD DVD though.

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AfterDawn: News

DVDFab Decrypter updated to v2.9.6.2

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Dec 2005 6:54

DVDFab Decrypter, an excellent freeware DVD ripper from Fengtao software, has been updated to v2.9.6.2. In this update, nothing much has changed except for more improvements in copy protection removal of Sony ARccOS. DVDFab Decrypter is a good replacement for DVD Decrypter for DVDs that you have trouble ripping. Now with so many problems arising with making backups (especially with Macrovision's RipGuard finally making its appearance), it's best that all users keep up to date with their rippers.

Here is the changelog...

  • Change: Improved "Sony ARccOS protection" detection and removal engine.
  • New: Added support for a new ARccOS protection as found on "The Longest Yard" (R2, Greece).
  • Also, we can make sure "Madagascar" (US) contains Macrovision RipGuard, which was already supported from version 2.9.5.8.
  • http://www.forbes.com/personalfinance/philanthropy/2005/11/22/macrovision-dvd-ripping-1122markets03.html

You can download DVDFab Decrypter from: http://www.afterdawn.com/software/video_software/dvd_rippers/dvdfab_decrypter.cfm




AfterDawn: News

Another 754 RIAA lawsuits

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Dec 2005 6:44

Another 754 RIAA lawsuits The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has issued another 754 subpoenas targeting file sharers it alleges to have distributed copyrighted music online through P2P networks. Among those on the list are students from 12 separate colleges. Over 15,000 people in the United States have become the target of the RIAA's campaign against illegal file sharinbg, which it claims is responsibly for sinking CD sales worldwide.

Lawsuits from the RIAA are no new news to anyone, and most of us are sick of reading about it (or writing about it). But soon things might make a change because some people are not willing to pay the settlements that the RIAA requests to make lawsuits disappear. For example, one women, Patricia Santangelo, a divorced mother of five children, claims that she knows nothing about downloading or sharing music, and that the likely culprit is possibly one of her kids' friends.

If that is the case, then why should she be forced to fork out thousands of dollars to the recording industry for somebody else's crime? Many experts have dismissed RIAA evidence as it is based only on an IP address to file a lawsuit. Many believe that this is not enough evidence to sustain a lawsuit. We will soon find out how reliable an IP address is as Santangelo's case looks very likely to go ahead to trial.

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AfterDawn: News

MP3.com-like 'locker' feature from MP3Tunes

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Dec 2005 6:02

MP3.com-like 'locker' feature from MP3Tunes If you remember back to the late 1990's, MP3.com got in a whole lot of trouble with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) over MyMP3.com, a secure "locker" for users to store their digital music collection. Now that service has been partly resurrected by MP3Tunes (from the same founder of MP3.com, Michael Robertson) except this time users will have to upload their own files, not use pre-ripped files from 80,000+ CDs that were ripped by MP3.com.

The Oboe service allows users to stream the music to anywhere they are using an Internet connection. This was the same with MP3.com, though users were only supposed to stream music that they actually already owned. The RIAA didn't have much faith in the honesty of MP3.com users and neither did US District of Southern New York Judge Jed Rakoff, who ruled that MP3.com had infringed the rights of some copyright holders.

The main difference between MyMP3.com and Oboe however is that users have to upload their own music files. The MP3, Ogg, WMA and AAC formats are supported and the service works with the Mac OS X, Windows and Linux operating systems. DRM-protected WMA and AAC files from licensed music download services are not supported yet however, but you can still archive them for now.

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AfterDawn: News

100 million PlayStation 2 consoles shipped

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Dec 2005 3:20

100 million PlayStation 2 consoles shipped As of 29th November 2005, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) has shipped more than 100 million PlayStation 2 (PS2) consoles since it was launched first in Japan in March 2000. This means the 100 million shipment goal was reached in 5 years and 9 months since its launch. Its Predecessor, PlayStation, was the first console to reach 100 million shipments 9 years and 6 months after the console was launched. The PlayStation brand has a loyal, massive following.

The PS2 has many great features, including backward-compatibility of software titles for its predecessor system for the first time in the history of computer entertainment. PlayStation 2 has become the standard home entertainment system with over 14,000 PlayStation and PlayStation 2 titles playable, of which 6,200 titles are for PlayStation 2 alone.

Cumulative software shipment has reached a total of over 1.869 billion units as of September 2005. PlayStation 2 still continues to enjoy great popularity in only the 5th year of its life cycle, and with steady demand for the slim-line model introduced in November 2004, PlayStation 2 is sure to surpass the shipment of PlayStation, the best selling computer entertainment platform to date.

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AfterDawn: News

Skype 2.0 adds support for video calls

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Dec 2005 2:55

Skype 2.0 adds support for video calls The fastest growing Internet Telephony Company, Skype, has added support for video calls in the latest version of the increasingly popular software. The beta version released today has included "enhanced features that allow people to stay in touch and express themselves online." Skype has approximately 70M users worldwide, all who can now possibly see the person that they are talking to aswell. The company wants to make this form of communication as easy as it can possibly be on the net.

"At Skype we want to make talking over the Internet the most natural, simple thing for people to do all over the world," said Skype chief exec Niklas Zennström. "With the release of our new software, it's never been easier for people to talk to one another for free, and now they can see each other with video as well," Skype is teaming up with Logitech and Creative who make equipment (webcams, headphones etc.) that you can use with the new Skype service.

Here is the changelog...

  • feature: Skype video (webcam)
  • feature: contact grouping
  • feature: quickfilter in contact list and history (enable from Options->Advanced)
  • feature: new language - Portuguese (Portugal)
  • feature: new sound events for chat user join, leave and incoming message to existing chat
  • feature: chats and conference calls shown in history
  • feature: expandable "My Panel" (mood, events, services integrated)
  • feature: add contact directly from main window
  • feature: show file transfers in history
  • feature: quickfilter in history
  • feature: delete single or multiple history items
  • feature: compact chat participant list
  • feature: save user''s last auth request
  • feature: API commands GET/SET PCSPEAKER
  • feature: API commands BTN_RELEASED PAGEUP/PAGEDOWN
  • feature: API command SET VIDEO_IN
  • change: auth requests new design
  • change: changed group selection hotkeys to Ctrl-PgUp/PgDn
  • change: call tab visual layout changed
  • change: UI design elements changes
  • change: tray icon flag animation on missed events
  • change: tray icon connecting animation
  • change: changed "Free Internet Telephony" to "The whole world can talk for free" in file description
  • change: import contacts error dialog displayed when there is nowhere to import contacts from
  • change: file transfer in DND mode open file transfer dialog in minimized mode
  • change: new installer and uninstaller icons
  • change: history limited to 30 days for all events
  • change: new login animation
  • change: new layout for sound options
  • change: show my buddy count as an option in profile
  • change: new design for user creation
  • change: new design for log in
  • change: main/tools menu reshuffled
  • change: new sounds
  • change: display full name in profile
  • bugfix: drag and drop to chat - whole window should accept target
  • bugfix: accessibility: tab navigation on login dialog
  • bugfix: missing window title string for remove group dialog
  • bugfix: MSAA result codes on lists
  • bugfix: accessibility: can''t navigate to related tasks in options
  • bugfix: accessibility: advanced settings not accessible by tab
  • bugfix: accessibility: make ''Your e-mail will be kept private...'' link accessible
  • bugfix: 98/Me: some languages in EULA not shown
  • bugfix: doubleclick on tray icon brings main form to top correctly
  • bugfix: JPY sign not displayed in client
  • bugfix: import contacts search made faster
  • bugfix: Voicemail was not played if enter is pressed
  • bugfix: low credit notification improved
  • bugfix: voicemail menu item should be visible for non voicemail subscribers
  • bugfix: login - save button should be disabled, if one password is unfilled
  • bugfix: login - incorrect error message, if Skype Name starts with non-Latin letter
  • bugfix: Skype UI doesn''t follow Windows DPI changes
  • bugfix: accessibility: speed dial announcement not reported via MSAA
  • bugfix: contact list - delete does not work on multiselect
  • bugfix: API notifications missing
  • bugfix: add a contact and search are not changed maximize on dual-head
  • bugfix: My Profile - each month contains 30 days
  • bugfix: call forwarding and voicemail statuses in MSAA
  • bugfix: profile view: not been online for long time?
  • bugfix: chat participant list MSAA support
  • bugfix: multichat doesn''t update names when contacts change them
  • bugfix: invalid date in profile
  • bugfix: profile: Default day item in birthday dropdown
  • bugfix: hotkeys value not changeable back to ''blank''
  • bugfix: better usability of several forms with high dpi settings
  • new language files: Portuguese (Portugal) - Francisco Miguel Oliveira Ferreira, Arabic - (Maktoob.com Inc), Bulgarian - (Nikolay Filipov, Nikolina Filipova), Chinese Traditional - (Morden Chen/PChome Online), Chinese Simplified - (Leon Yang/TOM Online), Danish - (Eriksen Translations Inc), Dutch - (Kees Koenders), Czech - (Petr Silon), Estonian - (Eve Loopere), Finnish - (Heino Keränen), French - (Fabrice Imperial), German - (Claudius Henrichs & Dick Schiferli), Greek - (Panagiotis Sidiropoulos/Magenta LTD), Hungarian - (Mark Bender), Italian - (Daniele Conte), Korean - (Eriksen Translations Inc), Norwegian - (Stig Auestad), Polish - (Karol Szastok), Swedish - (Anders Olsson)

You can download Skype from: http://www.filepedia.com/network_software/messaging/skype.cfm

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AfterDawn: News

No iPod tax in Japan

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Dec 2005 2:36

No iPod tax in Japan Japanese record labels have been pushing for an "iPod tax", a levy between 2% and 5% of the retail cost of flash and HDD-based MP3 players. However, today a government panel decided against expanding the current levies to cover iPods and other MP3 players and also an increasing number of similar new gadgets that use flash memory and hard disks. Similar requests for levies on top of the retail price of MP3 players have been denied also in many other countries.

In Japan, a royalty was introduced in 1993 that covers disc-based media, such as MiniDisk and CD recorders and also tape recorders/players. This adds about 400 yen to the price of MiniDisk recorders and 4 yen per MiniDisk for example. The levy is then distributed to copyrighted holders. This is intended to cover for "fair use" (such as copying your music from one media to another) and for possible piracy.

The panel also commented that not enough was being done to make the general public aware of the extra levies on some things they buy and what they are for.

Sources:
The Register
Japan Today




AfterDawn: News

UK e-tailer unknowingly sold counterfeit software

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Dec 2005 2:16

UK e-tailer unknowingly sold counterfeit software A British software website has discovered that it had been unknowingly selling pirated Microsoft software to its customers. Monitorshop.co.uk was selling popular Microsoft software titles that came from a Chinese source which the e-tailer thought was a legitimate source. It had obtained copies of Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 from this source and had sold $7,000 worth of the counterfeit goods to customers until Microsoft stepping in.

One of the customers who purchased a counterfeit copy of Windows XP, discovered that it wasn't legitimate when he used Microsoft's Product Identification Service. This data led Microsoft to Paul Rowling, owner of Monitorshop.co.uk. According to Microsoft, Rowling was shocked to discover that he had been unknowingly reselling the counterfeit software, and that he was extremely supportive at all stages of the investigations.

He gave Microsoft all the details of the Chinese source, and of customers who had accidentally received the software. He then help Microsoft to recover all the pirated software that was sold and paid for the customers to receive legitimate software instead. "Monitorshop.co.uk has been in business just over two years and we've prided ourselves on providing top-quality software, hardware and gadgets at reasonable prices," said Paul Rowling. "We were shocked to find out that the software we'd been selling was counterfeit and apologize unreservedly to any customers affected. We have done everything in our powers to put the situation right and will continue to assist Microsoft while investigations continue."

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