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August 31, 2004
XM Radio's Stockholm Syndrome
Well, it is official. According to C|Net News, XM Radio has withdrawn their PC hardware version from the market as a response to the software known as NeroSoft TimeTrax, which permitted people to record from XM Radio to MP3 (XM Radio pulls PC hardware amid piracy concerns). TimeTrax has previously been featured here on Hatch's Hit List (Hatch's Hit List #30 - XM Radio to MP3).
Interestingly, according to the article, pulling the hardware off the market was not done at the behest of the RIAA:
"We are very concerned about a variety of technologies that essentially transform performances into music libraries," RIAA spokesman Steve Marks said. "We have communicated our concerns to XM and other broadcasters and Webcasters, (and told them) that we'd like to work together with them to address technologies that hijack these performances."
Marks said the RIAA wasn't behind the discontinuation of the PCR.
"We've raised the concern generally," he said. "They've obviously decided to take this action on their own. We've identified for them the potential problems."
Sounds like Stockholm Syndrome
The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will - prisoners - develop a relationship with their captor(s). This solidarity can sometimes become a real complicity, with prisoners actually helping the captors to achieve their goals or to escape police.UPDATE
Educated Guesswork (Death to XM TiVo):
OK, I can totally understand the objection that people will use this to build a local library of songs--not that I think that should be illegal, but I understand it--but this last paragraph is, as far as I can tell, total nonsense. The gating factor in song availability over KaZaA is unlikely to be the ability to get a ripped version of the song. It's not like there's any shortage of consumers with Britney Spears CDs and CD-ROM drives. In fact, I would expect the availability if this sort of technology to decrease the amount of file sharing by making it easier to collect a library of known-to-be-correct songs.
Indeed, and even if your rip the songs, won't you still be paying subscription fees?
Techdirt (Is XM Bending Over Backwards To Make Satellite Radio Less Useful?):
It's quite a world when it's considered a problem that someone has made your service more useful. The note at Broadband Reports also claims that XM is considering removing USB ports from future equipment for the same reason. Both of these seem unconfirmed at the moment, so it would be nice if there were some real confirmation on either rumor. However, the satellite radio business is in a tough position. For all the success they've been claiming in signing up customers, they're nowhere near profitability. Their capital costs are incredibly high, and the thing they need, more than anything else, is more subscribers. Shutting down tools that make their offering more compelling just means they're making their job that much more difficult.
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