There’s still a chance that the copyright police will be forced to back down. There’s lots of market forces favoring the .mp3 format and it’s possible that consumers will turn away from the expensive locked-down files that will be made available by the recording industry.

In the next few weeks, the record industry will finally launch two high-profile subscription services, Pressplay and MusicNet. For a fee, you’ll be able to download music – but the files will be secured in several different ways. Details are not yet available, but you will likely be prevented from copying the songs to portable devices and prevented from creating a music CD, and the files will probably turn themselves off if you end your subscription. Presumably some effort will be made to obscure the most annoying restrictions – read the fine print instead of the headlines when these hit the market.

The record industry and copyright police might have waited too long. There’s a lot of hardware devoted to playing music, and none of it is currently set up to play the files that will be available from the industry. With luck, these pay services will be dead on arrival, generating no interest, no money, and no sympathy for the industry and its constant whining about piracy. Here’s an article about two new portable devices that will be hot Xmas gifts. There’s also several devices that fit on the shelf with your home stereo equipment and play .mp3s, there’s lots of other portable devices, and more auto .mp3 players are appearing all the time. Don’t be seduced by other file formats! In the long run, the .mp3 format is your pocketbook’s best friend.

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