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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for May 2, 2001colored line

Latest Napster News - The U.S. District Court is frustrated with Napster's efforts to police its distribution of copyrighted music on the Web and has appointed a neutral computer consultant to delve into the facts of whether or not the company can block out enough copyrighted songs to satisfy the record industry. A. J. Nichols is first being asked to investigate whether Napster was being truthful when they claimed they were doing all they could with their technology to prevent illegal downloading. Nichols previously testified in the civil suite of Sun Microsystems against Microsoft for violating trademark agreements. Napster has retained Gracenote, a company with a huge recorded music database, to help them screen song files. But Napster users get around the accurate listings by using misspellings and nicknames. For example, thousands of Beatles songs are still available, but listed as the Fab Four.

The Secure Digital Music Initiative Mishigas - The SDMI forum was established in l998 due to the record industry's concerns that they would lose control over their product without a secure means of distributing recordings. Many companies are participating in SDMI, but it has come under attack for not representing the interests of the smaller labels. There are two very confusing phases to SDMI, with the second phase allowing players to read digital watermarks in secured music to screen out pirated copies. Both phases, however, allow unsecured MP3 files to remain playable, meaning that SDMI will not be very effective in preventing piracy. SDMI also doesn't specify a certain audio format - it is just the security framework - so there will be different SDMI-compliant formats that won't be interchangeable. Opponents are saying why bother - when those users who want to steal music without paying will still be able to?

Launch of Second XM Radio Satellite Set - XM Radio, one of the two satellite radio companies starting service this year to mostly receivers in vehicles, has scheduled launch of its second satellite to cover the U.S. It is aboard the Sea Launch platform sailing to the equatorial Pacific, where it will be shot into orbit on May 7th.

- John Sunier

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