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Former Pandora exec says Taylor Swift's antics are 'mostly theater'

Apple moved fast to win over Taylor Swift and musicians, when the company announced it would pay artists while users are enjoying a three-month free trial of Apple Music. Tom Conrad, former CTO and EVP of Product at Pandora, recently took to Twitter to discuss the current drama between Apple and Swift.

 

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Apple Music launches on June 30 and will charge $9.99 per month to subscribers, but is offering a three-month free trial. Swift said she would not allow her "1989" album to be available on the service, in an effort to make a stand for rising indie artists - saying it's not fair they wouldn't be paid by Apple.

 

"Spotify, YouTube, Pandora and others all pay artists for their free tiers and trials," Conrad said via Twitter. "It's the right thing to do. Swift took her new album off Spotify not because she's not paid, but because she feels their free service 'devalues music.' Swift never pulled from YouTube which is the most popular free service and certainly devalues music if Spotify does."

Continue reading 'Former Pandora exec says Taylor Swift's antics are 'mostly theater'' (full post)

Apple bows to Taylor Swift, will pay artists during Apple Music trial

Well, it didn't take long before Apple bowed to public pressure from Taylor Swift regarding Apple Music and its free three-month trial period. The company also heard complaints from additional artists, and it was a decision made to help win over musicians to support the music service launching at the end of June.

 

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"Apple will make sure that artists are paid," said Eddy Cue, SVP at Apple, in a Tweet. "Apple Music will pay artists for streaming even during customers' free trial period. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple."

 

Swift, after announcing she would pull her music from Apple Music in defense of the indie artists, celebrated Apple's announcement:

Continue reading 'Apple bows to Taylor Swift, will pay artists during Apple Music trial' (full post)

Taylor Swift's '1989' album won't be available on Apple Music

Taylor Swift previously pulled the majority of her music from Spotify, the No. 1 streaming music service, and doesn't have any interest in Apple Music. Her record label, Big Machine, has confirmed that the "1989" music album won't be available on Apple's music service, which launches on June 30.

 

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Swift, of course, has issued a statement saying this decision is thinking of the rising musicians and songwriters. It seems Swift is most distraught over the three-month free trial that Apple will provide music listeners before the mandatory $9.99 monthly service kicks in:

 

"This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field... but will not get paid for a quarter of a year's worth of plays on his or her songs."

Continue reading 'Taylor Swift's '1989' album won't be available on Apple Music' (full post)

IMAX threatens Ars Technica for saying VR is like 'IMAX in your house'

Earlier in the month Ars Technica took a tour of the Valve headquarters in Bellevue, Washington where they got to play around with one of the hottest VR headsets out there, the Vive.

 

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Ars Technica's Sam Machkovech used an interesting headline for the article: "SteamVR: The room-scale VR world that feels like 'IMAX in your house'". Just the word 'IMAX' had IMAX Corporation contact Ars Technica, requesting that they retract the article because of Ars Technica's use of the word "IMAX" without their permission. IMAX Corporation's Deputy General Counsel, G. Mary Ruby wrote in a letter to Ars: "Any unauthorized use of our trademark is expressly forbidden".

 

Why? The article wasn't about IMAX, it was a reference to IMAX because the experience of the room-sized VR had Alex Schwartz, a game designer that Machkovech interviewed, said "It's like saying, 'I have an IMAX theater in my house'". He added: "It's so much better than we can get away with a cumbersome setup". IMAX didn't like that, with Ruby saying in the e-mail: "We believe that your incorrect reference to IMAX when describing this product is misleading to readers as we do not believe that it is possible for a virtual reality system to replicate the experience of an IMAX theater, which is provided by cutting edge projection and sound technology on screens up to 35.72 metres. We request that all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark".

 

IMAX has since apologized, after Ars Technica declined to retract their article. IMAX Chief Marketing Officer Eileen Campbell said in a letter to Ars: "Hi Joe, This is an IMAX-sized mea culpa to you, your team at Ars Technica, and your readers. We are very passionate about our brand and sometimes we can be overzealous in trying to protect it. Unfortunately in this situation we acted too quickly without truly understanding the reference to our brand. Again - we apologize for how this was handled and we will try to be better at taking compliments moving forward!"

 

What do you think about this whole kerfuffle?

AMD rumored to be breaking into pieces, could we see ATI reborn?

Update: AMD's PR agency, Edelman, reached out to us just now with the following statement: "AMD Spokesperson Sarah Youngbauer: AMD provided official confirmation that we have not hired an outside agency to explore spinning-off/splitting the company (Reuters has since updated their story as such). We remain committed to the long-term strategy we laid out for the company in May at our Financial Analyst Day, which encompasses all parts of the business".

 

Reuters has quite the report for the weekend, where according to "three people familiar with the matter" AMD will be splitting up its businesses into two. This move would see the chipmaker reverse its position in the market, and better combat against the quite unstoppable Intel.

 

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The sources said that the "deliberations are preliminary and no decision has been made" but the review highlights AMD CEO Lisa Su and her "determination to consider every possible option to turn the company around". AMD has reportedly called in a consulting firm to help look at its options, bringing up scenarios on how this would all work.

 

One of these options would see AMD separating its graphics and licensing business from its server business, with AMD thinking about this move in the past according to these sources from Reuters. If it did happen, could we see the ATI brand once again? All of this is interesting and almost damning while simultaneously exciting for AMD... with the launch of the Radeon R9 390X and the upcoming push of the HBM-based Radeon R9 Fury X.

Ross Ulbricht's lawyer criticizes plea deal for US investigator

Was the federal Silk Road investigation corrupt? Ex-Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges will plead guilty to charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice, and Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht's attorney is arguing that the plea deal "removes any question about the corruption that pervaded the investigation of Silk Road."

 

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"As a result, it undermines completely the integrity of the government's entire investigation," said Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht's attorney, in a statement. Bridges will likely face sentencing on Aug. 31.

 

Bridges and former DEA agent Carl Force stole bitcoins during the government's investigation of Silk Road - Bridges took more than $800,000 in bitcoins and diverted the funds into his own private accounts.

Continue reading 'Ross Ulbricht's lawyer criticizes plea deal for US investigator' (full post)

Sony faces legal setback after judge refuses to throw out lawsuit

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has had countless headaches involving the launch of "The Interview," including being hacked. Corporate emails and employee information were stolen as part of the breach, and nine former employees are suing the company.

 

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District Judge Gary Klausner said the lawsuit complainants will be able to say SPE was negligent - and said SPE and its employees entered a "special relationship" when Social Security numbers and other personal information are shared.

 

"We are pleased that the court has properly recognized the harm to Sony's employees resulting from their private information escaping their employer's protection," said Michael Sobol, a lawyer representing those suing Sony.

Continue reading 'Sony faces legal setback after judge refuses to throw out lawsuit' (full post)

Busted! FCC hits AT&T with $100M fine for 'misleading' customers

US wireless carrier AT&T has been hit by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with a $100 million fine for misleading subscribers about so-called "unlimited" data plans. This is the largest proposed fine the FCC has issued, and AT&T will not surprisingly try to fight to have it reduced.

 

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Consumers used more than 3GB of 3G data or 5GB of 4G data during a 30-day billing cycle would have their speeds throttled. That may seem bad enough, but AT&T wouldn't inform subscribers about the data throttling, the FCC said.

 

"Unlimited means unlimited," said Travis LeBlanc, FCC enforcement bureau chief, when discussing the penalty. "As today's action demonstrates, the commission is committed to holding accountable those broadband providers who fail to be fully transparent about data limits."

Continue reading 'Busted! FCC hits AT&T with $100M fine for 'misleading' customers' (full post)

Uber is massively successful in China, with 1 million rides per day

It looks like Uber is very successful in China right now, with the ride sharing giant saying it is logging over 1 million daily rides in China. Keep in mind, that's more than the company was logging in every single market it is in across the world, as of December 2014.

 

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has said that the company wants to raise $1 billion in orders to boost its dominance in China, with the company claiming that trip volume is climbing in Chinese cities faster than it is in New York City. But by how much? Well, Chengdu is logging 479 times the trips that NYC was logging at the 9-month mark, with Hangzhou logging 422 times as many trips. You'd think that these cities had more people living in them when compared to NYC, but that's not the case - Chengdu is home to 4.3 million, while Hangzhou is home to 2.5 million.

 

The growth that Uber is experiencing in China seems unstoppable at this point in time, with the company creating 100,000 "new full time equivalent jobs per month" according to Kalanick. With Uber only operating in 11 cities across China, most of this growth can be attributed to the heavily promoted service 'The People's Uber', which sees Uber not taking commission from completed rides.

ASUS to buyout HTC? It's a possibility, but chances 'are not big'

ASUS has reportedly shown interest in purchasing smartphone maker HTC, as the company's difficulties are only mounting even more.

 

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The Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer has slashed its sale forecast up to 35 percent, with its stock value dropping almost 20 percent combined over two days earlier in the week. If a company wants to swoop in and snag HTC, it would seem like now might be the right time to consider takeover attempts.

 

"Our chairman has chatted about the topic internally," said David Chang, Chief Financial Officer at Asustek, in a statement to Reuters. "Still, the chances of an actual takeover are not big as Asustek is a company that has depended on organic growth."

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