Tech News May 2011

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1. Opera plugs in to the high-tech

In advance of Opera America’s annual conference in Boston – during which futurist and technology guru Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of MIT's Media Lab, will give the keynote address – an article in the L.A. Times reviews some of the innovative uses of technology to enhance the live performance experience in the opera house and to distribute operatic content beyond the opera house.  (Source: Los Angeles Times)

2. Why Eminem could spell major trouble for the major labels

The question of whether a digital download counts as a straight sale or a license threatens to cost Universal Music millions and set a precedent for the interpretation of contractual arrangements between many artists and other recording labels.  Under traditional recording contracts, a major popular artist gets 50 percent of the royalties for a license but only 10 to 12 percent for a sale. (Source: The Guardian)

3. Canadian creates online sheet music library

A young Canadian composer studying law at Harvard University has created an online music score library for thousands of pieces of classical music. The Internet Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) makes it possible to download classical scores, from Mozart to Beethoven to Tchaikovsky, for free. What makes the project possible is Canadian law that says works by classical composers are considered in public domain 50 years after their deaths.  The young inventor has run afoul of some European and U.S. copyright holders, which has more stringent regulations.  (Source: CBC News)

4. Price war! Amazon launches 69-cent MP3 store for top-selling tunes, which is a distant No. 2 to Apple Inc. as a retailer of downloadable music, has upped the ante or, rather, lowered its prices to compete with iTunes.  The Seattle online company is now pricing select top-selling tunes for 69 cents, down from 89 cents previously.  Many of the songs in Amazon's 69-cent store sell for $1.29 on iTunes.  (Source:  Los Angeles Times)

5. Radiohead's 'newspaper album'

To offset the trend of people buying fewer albums on CD, Radiohead has created a more extravagant and exclusive product and increased the price to £30 (US $50).   Containing large sheets of newspaper and 625 tiny pieces of artwork, alongside the CD, vinyl and digital code for downloading, Radiohead's "newspaper album" is one of the most elaborate recent releases.  (Source: The Independent)
6. Ruling Spurs Effort to Form Digital Public Library

A recent ruling by a federal judge in New York that derailed (at least temporarily) Google’s plan to build the world’s largest digital library and (commercial) bookstore is being seen by some as an opportunity to bring new urgency to a project to create a universal (non-commercial) public library.  The project’s ambitious mission, recently described in a four-page memorandum, is to “make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all.”   (Source: New York Times)