More developments in the recording industry’s relentless war to make sure we can’t actually hear any music.

Yesterday KaZaA, the Dutch software and products company which founded, announced that it intends to shut down because it can’t afford to defend copyright infringement charges brought against it by the entertainment industry. In a court filing, it described the industry’s tactics as “Rambo-style litigation.” For the moment, the Kazaa software will still work; it’s being run by another company that bought the software and web site a few months ago, and the industry’s attack dogs have not yet been unleashed there. Here’s an article and links about Kazaa’s death.

Instead, today the recording industry announced it has filed suit against AudioGalaxy. AudioGalaxy doesn’t have the resources to withstand high-intensity litigation intended to put it out of business. Expect it to crumble as well. According to, AudioGalaxy has been downloaded thirty million times.

But that doesn’t matter – or rather, it’s just a small glimpse of the true goals of the entertainment industry. They are engineering a power grab that is unprecedented in its scope – and so far there’s no serious opposition. Here’s an article that describes the implications of their efforts to dictate the specs of all new hardware capable of handling digital bits. This will give you the flavor.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the “Content Protection Status Report” with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, laying out its plan to remake the technology world to suit its own ends. The report calls for regulation of analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), generic computing components found in scientific, medical and entertainment devices. Under its proposal, every ADC will be controlled by a “cop-chip” that will shut it down if it is asked to assist in converting copyrighted material — your cellphone would refuse to transmit your voice if you wandered too close to the copyrighted music coming from your stereo.

The report shows that this ADC regulation is part of a larger agenda. The first piece of that agenda, a mandate that would give Hollywood a veto over digital television technology, is weeks away from coming to fruition. Hollywood also proposes a radical redesign of the Internet to assist in controlling the distribution of copyrighted works. . . .

Virtually everything in our world is copyrighted or trademarked by someone, from the facades of famous sky-scrapers to the background music at your local mall. If ADCs are constrained from performing analog-to-digital conversion of all watermarked copyrighted works, you might end up with a cellphone that switches itself off when you get within range of the copyrighted music on your stereo; a camcorder that refuses to store your child’s first steps because he is taking them within eyeshot of a television playing a copyrighted cartoon; a camera that won’t snap your holiday moments if they take place against the copyrighted backdrop of a chain store such as Starbucks, which forbids on-premises photography because its fixtures are proprietary works. . . .

“. . . dramatic redesigns of the Internet are well within Hollywood’s stated desires. In 1995, Hollywood’s representatives in government penned “The Report of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights,” calling for a neutered Internet whose functionality had been magically constrained to “permit [rights-holders] to enforce the terms and conditions under which their works are made public.”

These things sound ridiculous. They’re also close to becoming law – closer than you realize.

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