Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
On a couple of occasions in recent times I've
spoken with Michael Gladding,
the Head of Sony Music NZ and the guy at the helm of the "Burn and get Burnt"
campaign designed to stomp out illegal CD copying.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
One of the surprising things that Mr Gladding told me during our first
conversation, and which was subsequently reiterated in the second, was
that all unauthorised copying of music in New Zealand is a breach
of the copyright law and was not condoned by Sony.
Obviously Sony (and others) are working very hard to ensure that its
customers don't break that law -- hence the introduction of sophisticated
copy-protection techniques designed to stop people from burning CDs or
ripping their contents to MP3 format.
It was with some surprise therefore that I followed a link provided by
Aardvark reader Jared Yates -- to
this page on the Sony site
(click on the "Sony takes MiniDisk to the Net" link).
Low and behold, here we have "thou must not copy CDs for any reason" Sony
telling us that their latest and greatest MiniDisk player and its accompanying
software "enables users to transfer the entire contents of a
CD onto MiniDisc in just minutes".
It goes on to say that thanks to this great new product users can "quickly
and easily connect Net MD directly to their PC in order to download music
files from the Internet or their CD-Rom drive".
Jared asks the obvious question of course: "One wonders how exactly you're
supposed to copy the music from the CD to MD using your PC, when your PC cant
read the CD"
Maybe Sony forgot about that -- or perhaps their new product comes with a
black marker pen?
But hang on a minute -- aren't Sony now inciting people to breach the copyright
law -- the very law that Sony NZ's head honcho was so adamant about emphasizing just
a few weeks ago?
Of course if we were to be charitable we could put the case that perhaps,
in purchasing Sony's new product, we're being given an implied license
to copy CDs published by the company -- so everything's just fine and dandy.
After all, it's up to the publisher to define what's legal copying and
what's not because it's their intellectual property.
That's great when you're copying a CD published by Sony -- but what about
an album published by one of the many other labels?
But let's face it, why should Sony care if its competitors are suffering losses from
piracy? -- especially if they're making money by selling gear to the pirates.
The VCR Alternative
Hands up all those who think that local TV has gone to hell in a handbasket?
Just about every ad-break from 5pm onwards is filled with those self-indulgent
"We won a Qantas Award" promos and apart from a few exceptions, much of the
programme content is hardly worth staying awake for.
Even SkyTV continues to do its very best to annoy the snot out of its customers
by raising prices (at a time when the Kiwi dollar is strengthening) while
moving more of its key content (such as rugby) into a new "pay extra for it"
Given that the fact that most of us have numerous calls on our time, and that
life's too short to spend 4-5 hours glued to the sofa in a daze, it strikes
me that the time is right for the Kiwi equivalent of the TiVo device that
is currently sweeping the USA and Britain.
I plan to throw a PC together, configured with the hardware and software
required to make it into a universal home-entertainment centre -- and then
evaluate its performance for Aardvark readers.
This box will, in effect, become a CD player, MP3 player, DVD player,
VCR (with burn to CDR/RW), a Tivo (with timeshift, ad-skip, etc), a
CD copier, a Net-radio and (perhaps) even a Sky UHF decoder.
If there's any hardware vendor out there who'd be interested in providing
some of the bits for this project (in return for the obvious benefit of
having your name mentioned here) then please let me know. If such a system
turns out to be as practical as it might appear, it could even open up a
new, and potentialy lucrative, market for such a supplier.
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