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IOS

Apple Slams Spotify For Asking For 'Preferential Treatment' (buzzfeed.com) 120

On Thursday, Spotify made major accusations against Apple of playing unfair to its music service. The Swedish-based music company said that Apple didn't approve a new version of Spotify's iOS app because "it didn't want competition for Apple Music." The Cupertino-based company has responded to the accusations. In a letter sent to Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez on Friday, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell rebutted the streaming music service's allegations, adding "we find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service," Sewell wrote. BuzzFeed News reports:"Our guidelines apply equally to all app developers, whether they are game developers, e-book sellers, video-streaming services or digital music distributors; and regardless of whether or not they compete against Apple. We did not alter our behavior or our rules when we introduced our own music streaming service or when Spotify became a competitor," Sewell explains. "Ironically, it is now Spotify that wants things to be different by asking for preferential treatment from Apple." And as for Spotify's suggestion that Apple is treading on dangerous, anticompetitive ground, well, Sewell doesn't seem too concerned. "There is nothing in Apple's conduct that 'amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws.' Far from it," Sewell, writes after wryly observing that not only has Apple's platform generated "hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue to Spotify"; but that the Spotify App currently in the App Store is still in violation of Apple's guidelines. "I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store's rules," he quips.Apple commentator John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball:Cry me a river. Spotify has long charged $12.99 via in-app subscriptions to get around the 30 percent "App Store tax". And Apple has now cut the long-term subscription split from 70-30 to 85-15. And Spotify is the streaming service most at war with artists over their abysmal royalty rates. Read between the lines and the real message here is that Apple Music is kicking Spotify's ass.
Music

Apple In Talks To Buy Jay Z-Owned Tidal Streaming Service (9to5mac.com) 58

An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is in talks to acquire the Jay Z owned streaming service, Tidal. 9to5Mac reports: "While specific details are unclear at this point, Apple acquiring Tidal would give it an incredible leg up when it comes to negotiating for exclusive streaming rights. Tidal is currently owned by Jay Z and a variety of other artists, including Kanye West, Beyonce, Chris Martin, Jack White, and many more. Negotiations between Apple and Jay Z are reportedly still early and 'may not result in a deal,' according to the report. Apple is interested in Tidal because of its strong ties to artists, many of which are owners. Tidal has secured the exclusive streaming rights to a handful of notable albums in recent months, including Beyonce's Lemonade and Kanye West's The Life of Pablo." Earlier this year, a report claimed that Samsung, Google and Spotify had all considered buying the streaming service.
Space

CBS/Paramount Sets Phasers To Kill On Star Trek Fan-Fiction With New Guidelines (audioholics.com) 232

Audiofan writes from a forum post on Audioholics: The Star Trek fan-fiction controversy that resulted in legal battles between CBS/Paramount and Axanar Productions concluded last week. However, CBS/Paramount have finally put forth its long-awaited guidelines intended to clarify acceptable fan-fiction so that it won't get the creative Star Trek fan sued for copyright infringement. But in doing so, it may have launched Star Trek fan-fiction's torpedo casket into space with a solemn salute. To be or not to be is the question which we ask about the future of Star Trek fan film. Some of the new guidelines for avoiding objections when making your own Star Trek movies and posting them to YouTube include: The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes. Part of the non-commercial requirements include: CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease. The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray. If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Preferred Media Streaming Device? 218

New submitter bkr1_2k writes: Way back when, I had a PC dedicated as a media server using MythTV. That died and I didn't bother building a new one. Consumer electronics caught up and I recently bought an Apple TV (3rd Generation) to use for streaming my media library. I am, unsurprisingly, finding flaws with it. I'm looking for alternative devices that allow me to stream from my media server directly, without the need for a middleman app like iTunes for the Apple TV. I don't need a ton of streaming services (we have Netflix and Amazon Prime but don't use anything else). I primarily want to use this for streaming my own music and movie libraries over my home network, preferably with a user interface that lets me browse those in a fashion that doesn't force me to scroll through my whole library to get to the title that starts with the letter "Z" (A very poor design choice in the Apple TV). Nor do I want any voice controls since they all suck, in my experience. I would prefer an 'open' device that I can update at will with add-ons, but it's not a requirement. What are the current options out there? Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast. Anything else that might fit my needs better? Last week, we asked a similar question: "What's your preferred music streaming service?"
IOS

Spotify Says Apple Won't Approve New Version Of Its App Because It Doesn't Want Competition For Apple Music (recode.net) 282

According to a report on Recode, Apple has rejected an update to Spotify's iOS app, and that this has caused a "grave harm to Spotify and its customers." The Swedish-based music company competes with Apple's Music streaming app and service. In a letter to Apple's top lawyer, Spotify says that Apple turned down a version of the app citing "business model rules" and demanded that Spotify uses Apple's billing system if it wants to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions. From the report:The letter, sent by Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez to Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell on May 26, suggests that Spotify intends to use the standoff as ammunition in its fight over Apple's rules governing subscription services that use its App store. "This latest episode raises serious concerns under both U.S. and EU competition law," Gutierrez wrote. "It continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple's previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify ... we cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors."
Television

IMAX Will Build You a Home Theater -- Starting at $400K (arstechnica.com) 93

An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: If you have about $400K to spare, IMAX's Private Theatre division will now build an IMAX cinema setup in your own home. The entry-level IMAX Private Theatre is the "Palais," which starts at about $400,000 for a screening room with up to 18 seats. For your money you get dual 4K 2D/3D projectors, a proprietary IMAX sound system, and a media playback system that supports everything you might want to throw at it (TV, games, Blu-ray, etc.) No word on the exact specifications of the projectors, but they're probably not IMAX-with-laser. Screen size will vary depending on the setup, but generally they will be 3 metres (10ft) tall or more. Stepping up to the "Platinum" IMAX home theatre for about $1 million gets you a much larger screening room with space for up to 40 people.
Businesses

FCC Says TV Airwaves Being Sold For Wireless Use Are Worth $86.4 Billion (reuters.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday the price of 126 MHz of television airwaves taken from broadcasters to be sold for wireless use in an ongoing auction is $86.4 billion. The FCC disclosed the price in a statement after completing the first part of an auction to repurpose low-frequency wireless spectrum relinquished by television broadcasters. The so-called "broadcast incentive" spectrum auction is one of the commission's most complex and ambitious to date. In this round, called a reverse auction, broadcasters competed to give up spectrum to the FCC for the lowest price. In the next stage, the forward auction, wireless and other companies will bid to buy the airwaves for the highest price. If wireless companies are unwilling to pay $86.4 billion, the FCC may have to hold another round of bidding by broadcasters and sell less spectrum than had been expected, analysts said. The Wall Street Journal points out that $86.4 billion is more than the market cap of T-Mobile and Spring combined. It's roughly double the amount raised in the last FCC auction, where ATT spent $18.2 billion and Verizon spent $10.4 billion. It's highly likely we'll see multiple rounds stretching into 2017 that will eventually match the supply with the demand.
The Almighty Buck

RIP Xbox Fitness: Users Will Soon Lose Access To Workout Videos They Bought (arstechnica.com) 111

insitus quotes a report from Ars Technica: Xbox users who purchased training videos through the Xbox Fitness app probably thought they were buying a workout program they'd be able to use regularly for the life of the Xbox One, at the very least. Instead, those videos will soon be completely unavailable to those who paid for them up front, according to a "sunset" plan announced by Microsoft yesterday evening. Xbox Fitness first launched in late 2013 with the console, offering a Kinect-powered health app that uses the 3D camera to evaluate users' form as they perform the exercises demoed by on-screen video trainers. The app, which provided 30 basic routines for free with an Xbox Live Gold account, will be coming to an end on December 15. The paid content associated with the app will also no longer be available for purchase, and those who purchased it previously will be able to use it for over one more year before the app becomes completely unavailable to download or use on July 1, 2017. What some have found especially upsetting with the news is that Microsoft has yet to announce any plans to compensate users who have paid for content or to provide downloadable versions of paid workouts that can be used after the phase-out date. Thus, many upset users have taken to the sunset announcement post and various other outlets to speak their mind on the situation. "I bought 140$+ worth of content just this year... I don't want a refund, I want to be able to continue to use what I PAID for !!!!!!!!!!!" Xbox Live user QuickSilver wrote.
Patents

Apple Patents a Way To Keep People From Filming At Concerts and Movie Theaters (qz.com) 265

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has patented a system that prohibits smartphone users from taking photos and videos at concerts, movie theaters and other events where people tend to ignore such restrictions. The patent has been award to Apple today and was first spotted by Patently Apple. QZ reports: "It outlines a system which would allow venues to use an infrared emitter to remotely disable the camera function on smartphones. According to the patent, infrared beams could be picked up by the camera, and interpreted by the smartphone as a command to block the user from taking any photos or videos of whatever they're seeing. The patent also outlines ways that infrared blasters could actually improve someone's experience at a venue. For example, the beams could be used to send information to museum-goers by pointing a smartphone camera at a blaster placed next to a piece of art." The report also mentions that the patent could in theory be used to help police limit smartphone filming of acts of brutality, or help a government shut off filming in certain locations. Last week, SlashGear reported that Alicia Keys is the latest musician to ban cellphones at her events.
Google

Google Partners With LyricFind To Display Songs Lyrics In Search Results (billboard.com) 35

Google has signed a multi-year licensing deal with LyricFind, a Toronto-based firm that provides lyrics of songs. As a result of the collaboration, users will now see song lyrics directly in the search results, both the companies have announced. From a BillBoard report:A query for the lyrics to a specific song will pull up the words to much of that song, freeing users from having to click through to another website. Google rolled out the lyrics feature in the U.S. today (June 27), though it has licenses to display the lyrics internationally as well. While the terms of the deal weren't disclosed, LyricFinder Chief Executive and co-founder Darryl Ballantyne projects publishers and songwriters seeing "millions" of dollars in additional revenue from this arrangement.The move comes six years after Microsoft partnered with LyricFind to display lyrics on Bing.com (Archived link).
Piracy

Judge Dismisses Movie Piracy Case, IP-Address Doesn't Prove Anything (torrentfreak.com) 164

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: In what's believed to be a first of its kind ruling, a federal court in Oregon has dismissed a direct infringement complaint against an alleged movie pirate from the outset. According to the judge, linking an IP-address to a pirated download is not enough to prove direct copyright infringement. In the Oregon District Court, Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman recently recommended dismissal of a complaint filed by the makers of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler. According to the Judge both claims of direct and indirect infringement were not sufficient for the case to continue. What's unique in this case, is that the direct infringement claims were dismissed sua sponte, which hasn't happened before. To prove direct infringement copyright holders merely have to make it "plausible" that a defendant, Thomas Gonzales in this case, is indeed the copyright infringer. This is traditionally done by pointing out that the IP-address is directly linked to the defendant's Internet connection, for example. However, according to Judge Beckerman this is not enough. In response to community backlash, Oculus has decided to change its DRM policy (again) to allow HTC Vive games to play on the Oculus Rift virtual-reality system.
Movies

Minecraft Movie To Compete With Avengers and Star Wars In 2019 (polygon.com) 90

An anonymous reader writes: Warner Bros. announced today that it will be releasing its upcoming Minecraft movie on May 25, 2019, if all things go according to plan. It will be competing directly with Lucasfilm's Star Wars: Episode IX film, which will be released the same weekend, only a few weeks after Marvel's Infinity War film. The Minecraft movie has already faced some problems. The film's original director, Shawn Levy, left the project in 2014 after his Goonies-inspired movie idea was rejected by Warner Bros. executives. Mojang announced a new director for the movie last July -- Rob McElhenney, star of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The movie is likely to be a hit at the box office as the game has a massive following. Earlier this month, Mojang announced the game passed 100 million sales across all platforms, including PC, Mac, consoles and mobile.
Government

Tour de France To Use Thermal Cameras To Spot Cheats (npr.org) 158

An anonymous reader writes: At this year's Tour de France, thermal cameras and various other tools will be used to detect "mechanical doping." The image tests can be done anywhere and their locations will not be publicized, according to officials. NPR reports: "As far back as at least 2010, accusations have flown that elite cyclists were turning in superhuman performances with the help of motors that are hidden inside their bike's seat tube. Commercial versions of such devices can provide a steady power stream of around 200 watts -- the lower range of a pro cyclist's average output in a stage race. They can also be set to assist riders automatically if their pedaling cadence falls below a certain threshold. Tour de France officials explain how the detection system will work: 'Developed by the CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission), the method consists of using a thermal imaging camera capable of detecting mechanical anomalies on the riders' bikes. The checks can be made in the race and on the side of the roads.'"
Movies

You Are Still Watching a Staggering Amount Of TV Every Day (recode.net) 188

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:TV! It's cooked! Toast! Doneso. Ready for the fork. Except not yet, because Americans are still watching a ton of TV, every day. For some of them, it's the equivalent of a full-time job. The average American watches an astonishing 4.5 hours of TV a day, according to a new report from Nielsen. Add in DVR time, and that number gets up to 5 hours a day. That usage is shrinking over time -- a couple of years ago, Americans were averaging five hours and twenty-three minutes a day.Nielsen's data also shows that people are now consuming more content on their smartphone devices than ever. Compared to just 47 minutes usage in 2014, it is now up to one hour and 39 minutes.
Education

New 'Civilization' Game Will Be Sold To Schools As An Educational Tool (technobuffalo.com) 197

An anonymous reader writes: In the fall of 2017, a special version of Civilization V will be made available for schools to use as an educational tool. "CivilizationEDU will provide students with the opportunity to think critically and create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical ramifications of their economic and technological decisions, and to engage in systems thinking and experiment with the causal/correlative relationships between military, technology, political and socioeconomic development," announced Take-Two Interactive Software.

"We are incredibly proud to lend one of our industry's most beloved series to educators to use as a resource to inspire and engage students further..." said the company's CEO. "I can't think of a better interactive experience to help challenge and shape the minds of tomorrow's leaders."

Special lesson plans will be created around the game, and as an alternative to standardized tests teachers will have access to a dashboard showing each student's progress. Of course, this begs an important question: Are educational videogames a good idea?
Television

Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward? (washingtonpost.com) 295

The average American watches three hours of TV each day, and researchers have found that most people already prefer listening to accelerated speech. "After watching accelerated video on my computer for a few months, live television began to seem excruciatingly slow..." writes the Washington Post's Jeff Guo. "Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down, to be able to parcel my attention where it's needed..." Slashdot reader HughPickens.com distills some interesting points from Guo's article: You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like, and a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime. Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. "Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!" one user wrote.

According to Guo speeding up video is more than an efficiency hack. "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder. I get less frustrated at shows that want to waste my time with filler plots or gratuitous violence. The faster pace makes it easier to appreciate the flow of the plot and the structure of the scenes."

Guo writes that "I've come to believe this is the future of how we will appreciate television and movies. We will interrogate videos in new ways using our powers of time manipulation... we will all be watching on our own terms." Will this eventually become much more common? How many Slashdot readers are already watching speeded-up videos?
Transportation

Star Trek Actor's Death Inspires Class Action Against Car Manufacturer (cnn.com) 361

Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed Sunday when his own vehicle rolled backwards. Now Slashdot reader ripvlan writes: It has recently emerged that his vehicle was a Jeep. As discussed on Slashdot previously consumers are having a hard time knowing if the vehicle is in "Park." A new class action lawsuit is gaining momentum... Also Maserati has a similar system and can join the class action.
In fact, Maserati "is recalling about 13,000 sedans that have the same sort of gear shifter that was used in the Jeep that killed Yelchin," according to CNN Money, and Chrysler Fiat had in fact already filed a recall notice with federal regulators in April for Yelchin's band of Jeep, "but owners had only received a warning and not an official recall notice at the time of Yelchin's death". The lawsuit claims Chrysler "fraudulently concealed and failed to remedy a gear shifter design defect affecting 811,000 vehicles and linked to driverless rollaway incidents," including 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s, and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers.
Crime

From File-Sharing To Prison: The Story of a Jailed Megaupload Programmer (arstechnica.com) 126

An anonymous reader writes: "I had to be made an example of as a warning to all IT people," says former Megaupload programmer Andrew Nomm, one of seven Megaupload employees arrested in 2012. Friday his recent interview with an Estonian journalist was republished in English by Ars Technica (which notes that at one point the 50 million users on Megaupload's file-sharing site created 4% of the world's internet traffic). The 37-year-old programmer pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement in exchange for a one-year-and-one-day sentence in a U.S. federal prison, which the U.S. Attorney General's office called "a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history."

"It turned out that I was the only defendant in the last 29 years to voluntarily go from the Netherlands to the USA..." Nomm tells the interviewer, adding "I'll never get back the $40,000 that was seized by the USA." He describes his experience in the U.S. prison system after saying good-bye to his wife and 13-year-old son, adding that now "I have less trust in all sorts of state affairs, especially big countries. I saw the dark side of the American dream in all its glory..."

In U.S. court documents Nomm "acknowledged" that the financial harm to copyright holders "exceeded $400 million."
AI

Scientists Force Computer To Binge On TV Shows and Predict What Humans Will Do (geekwire.com) 63

An anonymous reader quotes a report from GeekWire: Researchers have taught a computer to do a better-than-expected job of predicting what characters on TV shows will do, just by forcing the machine to study 600 hours' worth of YouTube videos. The researchers developed predictive-vision software that uses machine learning to anticipate what actions should follow a given set of video frames. They grabbed thousands of videos showing humans greeting each other, and fed those videos into the algorithm. To test how much the machine was learning about human behavior, the researchers presented the computer with single frames that showed meet-ups between characters on TV sitcoms it had never seen, including "The Big Bang Theory," "Desperate Housewives" and "The Office." Then they asked whether the characters would be hugging, kissing, shaking hands or exchanging high-fives one second afterward. The computer's success rate was 43 percent. That doesn't match a human's predictive ability (72 percent), but it's way better than random (25 percent) as well as the researchers' benchmark predictive-vision programs (30 to 36 percent). The point of the research is to create robots that do a better job of anticipating what humans will do. MIT's Carl Vondrick and his colleagues are due to present the results of their experiment next week at the International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in Las Vegas. "[The research] could help a robot move more fluidly through your living space," Vondrick told The Associated Press. "The robot won't want to start pouring milk if it thinks you're about to pull the glass away." You can watch their YouTube video to learn more about the experiment.
Microsoft

Surface 3 Stocks Dwindling As Microsoft Plans System's Demise (arstechnica.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's Surface 3 may be coming to an end. Brad Sams at Thurrott.com reports that many versions of the Surface 3 are listed as being out of stock in Microsoft's online store, with no expected availability. He notes that the only version in stock online is the version with 2GB RAM/64GB storage/LTE. There's more availability in-store, but stock appears to be limited overall. What this generally means is that manufacturing is slowing down or going to stop entirely. In a statement, Microsoft said: "Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers. Inventory is now limited and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices." It's possible a Surface 3 successor is right around the corner, although Ars Technica notes "there hasn't even been the merest hint of a rumor about such a device." The Surface 3 is being powered by a Cherry Trail Atom processor, which hasn't seen a major upgrade or replacement since they were released in the first quarter of 2015. "Without new processors, there's little reason to update the Surface 3 line," writes Ars. Microsoft could equip the Surface 3 successor with a Core M processor, but the implications of that decision would likely cause the device's price to shoot up or cause the device's quality to significantly decrease. Microsoft may simply abandon the segment entirely and focus strictly on the Surface Pro line.

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