Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Record an MP3 Stream, Go to Jail: Will the Record Industry Go Gunning for RadioLover?

I wonder if the dinosaurs filed a lot of lawsuits after the asteroid hit.

On Sunday, a news article from Reuters hinted at what might be the next battle in the recording industry's ongoing attack on its customers: utilities that enable you to record streaming MP3 radio stations and then split the streams into individual audio files.

Here's a snippet from the article:

"With products such as San Francisco-based Applian Technologies' Replay Radio, users can split, chop, trim and edit their recorded MP3 files from streamed music services.

"The company's Web site says the product 'works like a TiVo for Internet Radio' and can turn streaming music into perfectly tagged MP3 song files.

"'There's certainly a lawsuit waiting to happen because they're basically enabling consumers to record and the recordings are not authorized,' said Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association."

Oh, puleeease. (That's me again, not the article.)

These kinds of utilities have been available for a while now. The aforementioned Replay Radio is for Windows and has a user interface only a mother could love. In the Mac world, we have Bit Cartel's lovely $15 RadioLover, which I've written about for Macworld and Playlist and which I cover in my book.

RadioLover not only lets you record streaming MP3 stations—the kind that appear in iTunes' Radio list—it automatically splits incoming streams into individual song files, tagged with the artist name and everything. (Many streaming MP3 stations send this information with their webcasts.)

It's very cool, and it's helped me discover new artists whose music I've subsequently bought. But as a getaway vehicle for music theft, it isn't very effective: the beginning and ending of a song are often cut off. And a 128kbps MP3 stream isn't exactly hi-fi.

Never mind that, says the recording industry. It's wrong, evil, and dastardly, and it's taking bling off the pinkies of music industry executives.

My advice: if you're interested in trying out RadioLover, download it sooner rather than later.

The discount's back: As I reported on Friday, Amazon has finally restored the 34 percent discount on my book. Joy! The top-selling book on iLife—345 gorgeous, full-color pages and a two-hour, 43-minute instructional DVD—is yours for $23.09. Buy it—before the recording industry sues me, too.