Spotify is the darling of tech blogs, but the overwhelming media hype leading up to the service’s U.S. launch has seemingly not carried over to end users. According to a recent report from the New York Post, paid subscriber growth in the U.S. has failed to meet expectations thus far. Spotify launched stateside roughly nine months ago and the service amassed 250,000 paid subscribers in its first three months. According to the Post, Spotify is now home to 3 million users in the U.S., but only 600,000 are paying either $4.99 or $9.99 per month for premium service while the remaining 80% enjoy free basic service. “People aren’t 100 percent happy,” the Post’s source said, noting that Spotify plans to remove the limit of five plays per month on individual songs for free subscribers in an effort to bolster user loyalty.
RapidShare is widely known as an invaluable tool for the illegal sharing of copyrighted digital material. Much like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year when company founder Kim Dotcom was arrested and charged with racketeering and violating anti-piracy laws, RapidShare allows users to upload any file and share a link with other users who may then download the content. While some users share files legally with RapidShare, millions more upload copyrighted movies, music and eBooks which are then downloaded illegally by others around the world who find links to the files on blogs or through special search engines. Following a preliminary ruling, a court in Germany has now declared RapidShare to be legal, but it must utilize a monitoring mechanisms if it wishes to remain operational. Read on for more. More →
The past year was a good year for the music industry as sales rose to their best highest point in eight years. According to the IFPI’s annual Recording Industry In Numbers report, revenue from physical media fell by 8.7%, compared with 13.8% in 2010, but were vinyl sales up nearly 29%. Digital revenue continued to grow, increasing 8%, compared to 5.6% in 2010, with digital track sales growing 19% to 3.7 billion songs. Australia leads the way in the digital space with 60% growth, compared with 8% growth in the U.S. and 10% in the U.K. $1.27 billion in digital singles were sold in the U.S., while the U.K. accounted for $176.2 million. Digital sales made up 31% of the total revenue of the music market and reached $5.3 billion in sales. Overall global music revenue fell by just 3% in the last year, however. “2011 marked the least negative result in global recorded music sales since 2004, when revenues were flat,” the report read. The IFPI credits services like Spotify, iTunes, and unlimited-access operators like Rdio, MOG and Rhapsody for bringing new revenue models to customers that have helped the U.S. music market. More →
A court in Germany ruled on Thursday that RapidShare must implement a system that proactively filters user uploads in order to prevent the illegal sharing of copyrighted content. Like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year, RapidShare allows users to upload large files and share them online. The service has become widely known for hosting copyrighted software, music, movies and books that are then shared illegally on forums, blogs and a variety of of other websites. Following verdicts in three separate cases filed by two book publishers and an group representing music publishers called GEMA, the firm has been ordered to take a more active role in preventing infringing content from being uploaded to its servers, TorrentFreak reported. RapidShare has not yet stated whether or not it will appeal the decision.
UPDATE: RapidShare has issued a press release in response to this ruled, which now follows below. More →
Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and other Internet service providers in the United States will soon launch new programs to police their networks in an effort to catch digital pirates and stop illegal file-sharing. Major ISPs announced last summer that they had agreed to take new measures in an effort to prevent subscribers from illegally downloading copyrighted material, but the specifics surrounding the imminent antipiracy measures were not made available. Now, RIAA chief executive Cary Sherman has said that ISPs are ready to begin their efforts to curtail illegal movie, music and software downloads on July 12th. Read on for more. More →
The recent ordeal surrounding the now defeated SOPA and PIPA proposals followed by the shuttering of file-sharing giant Megaupload has put online piracy back in the spotlight. Despite studies showing Megaupload’s closure had no impact on online piracy whatsoever, copyright owners continue to pressure authorities in an effort to go after more services similar to Megaupload. The new wave of attention these file-sharing services are attracting is driving some illegal downloaders to seek out new means of sharing copyrighted materials, and decentralized torrent network Tribler emerged as one option. Another interesting solution created by a New York University professor takes things a step further, however, completely removing the Internet from the file-sharing equation and therefore putting pirates out of authorities’ reach. More →
Swedish authorities have reportedly secured warrants and are planning to raid The Pirate Bay. Unnamed Pirate Bay team members speaking with TorrentFreak claim to have learned that the raid is currently being planned by Swedish police, and they expect the operation to target Pirate Bay servers and the site’s new .se domain. Law enforcement officials in Sweden first raided The Pirate Bay in 2006, and the company’s founders were eventually sentenced to jail and forced to pay millions in fines. The service remained online, however, and it is still operational today. “The Swedish district attorney Fredrik Ingblad initiated a new investigation into The Pirate Bay back in 2010. Information has been leaked to us every now and then by multiple sources, almost on a regular basis. It’s an interesting read,” The Pirate Bay said on its blog. “We can certainly understand why WikiLeaks wished to be hosted in Sweden, since so much data leaks there. The reason that we get the leaks is usually that the whistleblowers do not agree with what is going on. Something that the governments should have in mind – even your own people do not agree.” More →
Apple has plans to launch a subscription television service by Christmas this year, according to a recent report from the New York Post. The paper states that Apple wants the service to treat channels like apps, allowing the user to purchase subscriptions for either individual channels or groups of channels a la carte. Apple has long been rumored to be pitching the service to top media executives, but according to the Post, the negotiations are not going well. Eddie Cue is reportedly leading the talks and content providers have seemingly not been partial to his propositions. Apple’s pitch can be summed up as “we decide the price, we decide what content,” one of the Post’s sources said. “They want everything for nothing,” said another. Apple apparently plans to launch some form of its TV service by the end of the year with or without full cooperation from the networks, and the service is expected to be available on Apple TV as well as the new iOS-powered HDTV Apple will reportedly launch later this year. More →
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom on Thursday questioned his accusers’ motives while speaking to The Guardian. “I’m no piracy king,” Dotcom told the paper. “I offered online storage and bandwidth to users and that’s it.” Dotcom was arrested in his New Zealand mansion on January 20th after his notorious Megaupload service was shuttered earlier that week as part of a multi-agency sting across several countries. He was released on bail and it currently awaiting trial, having been accused of money laundering, violating piracy laws and a number of other crimes. “It’s kind of like weapon of mass destructions in Iraq, you know?” Dotcom said during an interview with The Guardian. “If you want to go after someone and you have a political goal you will say whatever it takes.” Read on for more. More →
Google’s answer to iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and other popular digital music services may be in serious trouble. Reports surfaced last week suggesting Google Music wasn’t living up to expectations and now, according to music industry insider Wayne Rosso, the service may be in deeper trouble than initially thought. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” an unnamed digital music executive told Rosso. “It’s astounding. It’s hard to believe that with an install base of over 200 million Android handsets they’re actually losing customers.” The well-placed source explained to Rosso that Google Music is losing customers on a weekly basis, and that it has gotten to the point where record label executives are worried Google may discontinue the service. First launched this past November, Google Music is a music store and cloud-based digital locker combination that allows users to purchase or upload music, and then stream songs to any computer or Android-powered device. More →
Authorities in Germany recently executed a raid that resulted in at least two arrests and the takedown of another popular file-sharing service. German-language news site Heise Online reported earlier this week that German police arrested two men with alleged ties to file-sharing service Skyload.net, which was subsequently taken offline. The service’s owner, identified as 28-year-old Maik P., was taken into custody along with 25-year-old Marcel E., owner of Skyload.net’s Web hosting service. Both men have been charged with violating copyright laws and Maik P. is allegedly personally responsible for uploading and sharing more than 10,000 copyrighted films. The Skyload.net takedown follows the closure of one of the most popular file-sharing services in the world, Megaupload, which was taken offline last month as its founder and a number of other men with ties to the service were arrested in a raid. While shuttering Megaupload appears to have done nothing to slow digital piracy, authorities around the world continue to battle alongside copyright holders to shut down file-hosting services that allow users to share copyrighted content illegally. More →
Apple may be working on an overhaul of its iTunes Store and App Store, according to 9to5Mac. Due to growing competition from music streaming services like Spotify and the growing popularity of Amazon’s online music store, the redesign of the iTunes Store is considered “a top priority for Apple.” The Cupertino-based company is looking to simplify the service and deliver a more user-friendly interface than the one afforded by its current design. The redesign will reportedly simplify content discovery, and it will “make the iTunes Store a much more engaging experience.” The revamped stores are reportedly scheduled to launch later this year. More →
HTC has fallen from Android grace due to heavy competition from Motorola and Samsung, and the Taiwanese company promised to change by soon offering devices with thinner form factors and better battery life. Now, HTC and Jimmy Iovine of Beats Audio are rumored to be developing a streaming music service exclusively for HTC phones and tablets, according to GigaOM. The music service could launch at this month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and it may help make HTC devices more appealing to consumers. The company is still working on pricing plans, however, and other details for the new service. BGR exclusively reported this past November that HTC will unveil the Ville at MWC along side the company’s quad-core flagship HTC Endeavor. More →