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An Alternative And Anonymous Source of Legally Available Music on the Internet
September 15, 2005
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Streaming radio is one established way of enjoying music of your chosen genre, as are the variety of streamed juke box services now becoming available. As the responsibility for copyright and paying performance fees rests with the broadcaster, and as filesharing isn’t involved, such activities don’t currently attract the unwholesome attention of the RIAA.

The popular Winamp Pro offers excellent streaming radio capabilities especially using the well established Shoutcast network, and there are many alternatives including MusicMatch and of course the controversially bundled Windows Media Player. Recording these services is a perfectly viable and (at present) legal alternative to P2P. It's also an excellent means of discovering new music and broadening your taste.

Software for recording is still a little hard to come by, although there is a do it yourself solution in the form of Audacity – a neat free program that allows recording of all audio streams in MP3 and other formats. Alternatively Applian Technologies’ Replay Radio offers an integrated solution with a simple “tuner” interface and the ability to rip recordings into MP3 files automatically or even using it’s unique built in scheduler. Another product, 3alab’s iRadio not only acts as a “tuner” but also automatically rips streamed music and stores it in individual files for you. Such sophistication comes at a very small price, considering the risk of otherwise being faced with hefty demands from the likes of the RIAA.

The problem of course is that you do not get to choose the individual track that you want to hear next, although you can at least choose the genre. Streaming juke boxes offer far greater flexibility, allowing the user to choose genre, artist and often, individual albums or preselected playlists. Is this such a disadvantage? Not according to Apple, who market their iPod Shuffle product on the proud basis that such a limitation is actually an advantage, offering users “240 songs in a million ways”.

It must be stressed that recording of digital juke box services such as Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo’s Launchcast and the dedicated MusicMatch services probably amounts to an infringement of copyright in some countries, and uploading or sharing certainly does constitute an infringement just about everywhere. It is therefore essential that prospective users check out their local laws for themselves before using such software.

Having said this, Audacity can be used to record all such audio streams in real time and is completely undetectable in use. A useful resource if you merely want to time shift radio recording. Alternatively, the top of the range Replay Music also from Applian Technologies allows your pc to automatically rip all streamed output into different MP3 files – whatever their source – and also to store them, neatly labelled, on your hard drive with little or no user interaction.

Listening to all these files has been greatly simplified by the introduction of Windows Media Adapters (WMAs) that integrate with household wireless LANs and allow users to play their music catalogue through their own hi-fi. Many with modded Xboxes have been doing this for some time, but there are issues of legality in modding. The Philips Streamium range for example offers a comprehensive wi-fi solution to suit all, including the ability to listen to streamed radio anywhere in the house.

Digital radio in one form or another is here to stay, whether it is streamed through the internet or piped through the airwaves using digital technology. The UK has DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) and is participating in the pan European/American and rather curiously named DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) which proposes reutilizing existing AM frequencies to provide “CD Quality” sound. The latest devices even feature their own built in recording facilities

It’s no surprise that the music industries are panicking over their failure to introduce the other and far less welcome form of DRM – digital flagging – in a bid to try to prevent copying of material broadcast over such media in the USA. Few will doubt the certainty of their being successful in their endeavors, yet fewer still can doubt that such measures will be quickly and easily circumvented by those wishing to do so.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Technology News :: Software
Authorized Music Store :: Other

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