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Musicians Sing Different Tune on File Sharing

The San Jose Mercury News described more about Fanning's unorthodox bedfellows. Universal Music "has licensed its 150,000-song catalog to Snocap. The company's technology allows music lovers to buy songs the record labels have authorized to be distributed over file-swapping networks. Such networks allow people to share online songs and other digital files that are on each other's computers. ... Quincy Jones, the musician, composer and producer, had befriended Fanning during Napster's heyday and embraced the technologist's vision," the article said.

More from the Merc: "The record labels have been unable to tap into the larger file-sharing marketplace, in part because negotiating with the big, established networks would undermine the industry's sue-the-pirates-into-oblivion legal strategy. And the file-sharing networks have been unwilling to accede to the labels' demands to filter out copyrighted works, because it would undermine their legal defense and chase away all the users. With Snocap, Fanning wants to end the stalemate. He created an independent platform where music labels and garage-band acts alike can come and register ownership of their songs. They lay out a set of rules for each track, specifying whether it can be traded freely on file-sharing networks or whether they must be purchased. Unlike the original Napster or Kazaa, Snocap's software identifies every new song someone puts on their computer to share with others on a file-sharing network and prevents the unauthorized swapping of copyrighted songs. Snocap uses each track's acoustic properties to assign it a unique 'fingerprint' and attaches the rules for the song."
The San Jose Mercury News: Napster Founder Goes Legit (Registration required)

_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
IBM PCs Hop a Fast Boat to China (washingtonpost.com, Dec 8, 2004)
More Web Shopping Is What's in Store (washingtonpost.com, Dec 7, 2004)
Our Holiday Guide to ... Holiday Guides (washingtonpost.com, Dec 3, 2004)
Microsoft Hopes Its Blogs Will Hunt (washingtonpost.com, Dec 2, 2004)
Telecoms Winning the WiFi War (washingtonpost.com, Dec 1, 2004)
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Fanning and his Snocap posse must have been on PR circuit last week. The BBC, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle were among the publications with articles on the newer venture. Mike McGuire of GartnerG2 told the Chron: "It is ironic that they are working with Shawn as opposed to finding a way to sue him out of existence. But what you might be seeing is folks at the labels becoming a little more pragmatic about the way the world is."
The San Francisco Chronicle: Banking on Snocap

'Blog' Is a Four-Letter Word

An update on Microsoft's new venture into the Web log world. It didn't take long for veteran bloggers to try and find faults with MSN Spaces. According to CNET's News.com, the popular "BoingBoing" blog reported Friday that "MSN Spaces is rejecting certain blog titles or URLs because they contain words that Microsoft has deemed inappropriate. However, like so many censorship tools, Microsoft's is proving less than perfect. BoingBoing found that all of the most obvious profanities fell foul of Microsoft's electronic sentries. But the fun started for many users when blogs with tricky titles that resembled innocuous terms -- think of a racier version of 'tit for tat,' for example -- cleared Microsoft's censorship filters."
CNET's News.com: MSN Bloggers Try to Foul Up Censorship Tool

The Washington Post's Leslie Walker gave her synopsis in her Web Watch column yesterday. "In our testing, MSN Spaces performed so-so at best. The photo publisher choked over a dial-up connection and wouldn't accept any images. Occasionally, text entries disappeared instead of getting published to the Web. The established blogging community was quick to try out Microsoft's new service, and several bloggers noted Microsoft is running an automated text filter that blocks certain words from getting published."
The Washington Post: A So-So Debut for Microsoft's Blog Service (Registration required)

Carly's Ups and Downs

Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina is a popular poster child these days for chronicling the failures and fortunes of a heavy weight technology company. Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote about the "rough ride" for HP's chief. "Few executives have been buffeted more by the boom, bust and recovery. ... The 50-year-old former Lucent Technologies Inc. executive has reshaped HP since joining the Palo Alto, Calif., tech giant in 1999. First she centralized HP's semiautonomous divisions. Then she staked her job on the contested $19 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp., a move designed to turn HP into a giant the size of industry behemoth International Business Machines Corp. The jury is still out on whether Ms. Fiorina's strategy is working. HP's stock is down about 55 percent since her arrival, more than the 30 percent decline at IBM and 7 percent decline at Dell Inc. over the same period," the paper said in introducing a Q and A with Fiorina.
The Wall Street Journal: Carly Fiorina's Rough Ride (Subscription required)

This week, Fiorina and her leadership made the cover story for Business Week's latest issue: "It has been more than five years since Carleton S. Fiorina hit town with bold plans to reinvent the Silicon Valley icon, and she's still struggling to put the company on the right track. The charismatic chief executive with the million-dollar smile has zealously pursued a bigger-is-better strategy, with hopes of creating a technology world-beater. Thanks largely to [the Compaq acquisition] in 2002, HP has doubled its sales in the past five years and become a competitor in an unrivaled number of markets, from $100 digital cameras to billion-dollar tech-services deals. Yet in too many of the businesses, HP is losing steam. Sure, its one champion, the $24 billion printing division, gushes profits. But look beyond that crown jewel, and the rest of HP is an underachiever. In personal computers, it's no match for Dell. And HP is too often outgunned by IBM in the global markets for corporate computing. Worse, Fiorina's team faces steep operational challenges as it tries to come to grips with HP's huge stable of businesses."
Business Week: Carly's Challenge

Big Blue Deal

You can bet HP is watching the latest moves of IBM closely. IBM is moving to get out of the personal computer business and the change could have significant implications for the PC industry. "Inside Hewlett-Packard ... executives greeted the news on Friday that IBM, the world's No. 3 PC maker, might be retreating from the market, with good cheer. Executives at Dell Computer, the largest personal computer maker, would not comment, but some industry analysts speculated that they too were smiling about IBM's decision. Still, many in the industry were concerned that an IBM withdrawal could accelerate competition in an industry where prices were already falling," the New York Times said. "According to people close to the negotiations, IBM is in serious discussions to sell its PC business to Lenovo, the largest maker of PC's in China -- a rapidly expanding market that Hewlett-Packard and Dell covet."
The New York Times: Contemplating a PC Market Without IBM (Registration required)

The Wall Street Journal in its coverage said: "With Big Blue in talks to sell its personal-computer business to China's Lenovo Group Ltd., and at least two other suitors still interested, investors are starting to ask what International Business Machines Corp. might look like without the IBM PC. The answer: considerably smaller but more profitable -- and probably better positioned in the fast-growing Chinese market."
The Wall Street Journal: Less is More: IBM Is Likely To Gain From Sale of PC Unit (Subscription required)

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