Enjoying Media On The Internet
Enjoying Media On The Internet
Ethan Feerst and Dylan Stewart (Technology Therapist, Mac Guru) gives expert video advice on: Is it legal to download copyrighted media via the Internet?; How does file sharing work?; Can I watch my favorite TV shows over the Internet? and more...
How do music services work on the Internet?
Well, there's a lot of storage space available on the internet, so a lot of these services like Itunes or Rhapsody or Emusic or some of the up and comings like the Amazon music store, can store huge quantities of different types of music online. This allows you to navigate to their website or their web service and listen to small samples or sometimes entire songs to decide whether you like them. There are two basic models for how internet music is working at the moment and those two models are: the Itunes store for example uses a pay as you go model which means that as you want a song, you purchase and you keep that song or that album, you download it to your computer and it's yours for as long as you have that computer. The other model is called the subscription based model the concept of that is that you pay a certain amount of money per month and you download as much as you want. This is Rhapsody, this is Napster, some of the other sites also support that. The plus to subscription music is lots and lots of music for very very small prices. The minus is if you ever discontinue your subscription service, that music goes “poof.”
How has the music industry dealt with Internet music sharing software and file formats?
The music industry has dealt with Internet music sharing softwar and file formats badly! Take the early days of Napster. Had the music industry been one of the earlier adopters of that kind of technology, the technology that allowed you to share songs with other people through the internet, they could have saved their industry. Because they fought it as long as they did, file sharing and stealing music became common practice. As an end result, when the I-tunes store finally opened up, and finally gave people a lagitamate legal way to down load music for their digital players to their computers, the music industry saw the first boom they had financially ever since computers and music got mentioned together. Now at this point this is all starting to change, the music industry protects their tracts with what is called DRM technology. Which stands for digital rights management. This allows you to download a track, but you can only play it on certain computers a minimal amount of times. You can put it on a minimul amount of digital players like i-pods, and that's the way they keep piracy at bay. What's starting to happen at the moment is the question of DRM's neccessity, would the music industry fair better and make more money if music was free on the internet as well? Some services like EMI and Universal are begining to offer their music tracks online without this digital rights management. What happens after that remains to be seen, but the common consensus is that if the music industry continue to support technology they will see that the income that they've lost based on file sharing can be regained through the internet and online services.
Is it legal to download copyrighted media via the Internet?
Yes, it is legal to download music, assuming you are going through one of the legal music providers such as the iTunes store, or Amazon or eMusic or Rhapsody. In these cases you're purchasing that and a portion of the money that you pay is going to the artists. So the copyright is not being infringed upon. However, sites such as Limewire enable you to log on and download any song you want for nothing. This is called “file sharing”, and this is not legal.
How does file sharing work?
File sharing has changed a lot in the last several years. The first really notable case of file sharing was Napster where kids in colleges with high speed internet connections were sharing their entire musical library and it was transfering through a central hub. They would allow some of their music to be shared and they would take music from other people, and the hub would collect all of that music centrally. When Napster was banned and put out of business, initially that model changed, people realized that if file sharing pure network to pure network was going to survive, they needed to not be centralized. What that means is that each person's content is stored on their machines which means that each machine is connected to each other machine and a huge wide network of machines that are sharing, giving and taking music. If you shut one machine down, it doesn't matter, there is hundreds of others, this is akin to the music industry stomping out Napster is akin to stomping a cockroach that you see, not realizing that that's going to scare the other cockroaches into the corners. What happened when Napster was destroyed was that a centralized hub stopped happening and suddenly, there was no way to stop file sharing because it's hidden on every computer in every corner around the world.
What is an "MP3"?
MP3 is really one of the most common forms of music on the internet. The actual files that music is stored on are extremely large. In order to get CD quality sound, it takes approximately 1 megabytes per minute of song. MP3 is a compression format that allows you to maintain most of the quality of CD at a tenth of the size of the CD audio format. What that means, is that a song that would have been 45 or 5 megabytes, a large file by anyone's standards, is only 3 or 4 megabytes and able to be downloaded in a few minutes on dial-up or a few seconds on DSL.
What is an "AAC"?
“AAC” can also be referred to as “type mp4.” AAC is a newer format of an mp3 that allows you to encode additional information such as Digital Rights Management. This allows you to have protected files that can't be shared across wide uses on endless machines or endless iPods.
What is a "WMA"?
WMA is very similar to MP3s. In my estimation, the quality is not as good as MP3s. The size is about half of MP3 size. It was a Windows media format and has really proliferated more on the Windows platform. The Macintosh platform really rarely sees WMA files unless it's a website. And in that case, you can use Windows Media Player, or there's a or there's a program for Macintosh called Flip for Mac that allows the normal QuickTime player on the Macintosh to read Windows Media Player files.
How does video on the Internet work?
Video on the Internet takes a lot of different forms. Video on the Internet can be something such as a streaming video clip that you're seeing on CNN.com or another web site. This is a file that they've loaded that is ready to be accessed at any point that your web browser or your streaming video player requests a connection. In some cases you'll also find video formats that are in an mp4 movie file format, which can either be downloaded to your computer if your Internet connection is slow, or in some cases, or with some programs play it over the Internet. Video formats are in flux right now. The music formats that the Internet have more or less stabilized with the advent of MP3 players and iPods by necessity. But there is not a lot of standardization in the video format, so you can see video in litterally dozens and dozens of different types of programs and different types of formats, some of which are completely incompatible with certain browsers, or certain programs, or certain computers entirely.
What is "streaming"?
Streaming is the act of, well to understand what streaming is you kind of have to understand what something that's not streaming is. Something that's not streaming is waiting for you to access it, waiting for you to download it and start the connection to start playing. Whether it's video or whether it's music, you click on that link and it plays that static file. A streaming file is one that is constantly playing, constantly ready for you to tap into. A streaming radio station, for example, if you tap into, you won't start at the beginning of a song, it would be just like turning on your normal radio station and coming in in the middle. Streaming video is often ready to play at the beginning for you, but always active on the internet. This is done so that it takes up less storage space and is more easily played in a quicker format even with a lower speed connection.
Can I watch my favorite TV shows over the Internet?
Not just on the Internet but computers are beginning to do what they did for music with movies and television shows right now. Television shows are being broadcast on the television first and some stations, such as NBC and CBS and even ABC for some particular programs are immediately putting their entire program on the Internet, on their website for viewing. This enables people who missed the show to come back and see it later. But that's not the only way that television shows are being watched today. Television shows can be loaded through iTunes or other Internet programs where you can download that TV show that played last night or last week or three weeks or three months ago onto your computer, to be watched on your computer screen, to be watched on an iPod or other videoplayer screen, or to be watched on your television screen via some of the new technologies such as TiVo, Apple's Apple TV.
What is an "RSS feed"?
RSS feeds take many different shapes and forms. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and the most commonly used type of RSS feed is for a website to maintain basic information with one of the people who visit the website. The way I explain it is, if you were in CNN, at the actual CNN office and something around the world. You might see a tele-type ticker sending you information and read it "Oh there was an earthquake in Bangladesh two seconds ago", but it takes time for that news to process, put on the television show on the case of CNN.com Put on their website needs video needs additional information. On RSS feeds allows you to get that information out to the public on a simple text format. RSS readers know when a new feed been added to a particular signal. They know there is a new, new story; they check it on a regular innervolk. So that earthquake or whatever happens, it hasn't hit the website yet and hasn't hit the television site yet, on RSS feed might blink or beep at you and let you know that something happen that needs your attention.