Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

Spotify, the streaming music leader with 87 million global subscribers, is appealing the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2018 decision to raise songwriters’ pay rate by 44 percent over the next five years. Spotify is joined in this unprecedented move by Amazon, Google and SiriusXM/Pandora. Artists are furious, especially since Spotify portrayed itself as being on the side of creatives. Those appealing the Board’s decision say they’re against its complex rules. Apple is the sole company who stands to benefit from the fray. Continue reading Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

Disney Reveals Details For Its Upcoming Streaming Service

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced yesterday that the company’s planned subscription video service is slated to launch November 12th of this year at $6.99 per month (undercutting competitors such as Netflix). The service, which will feature movies and TV series from Disney, Fox, Pixar, National Geographic, Marvel and the “Star Wars” franchise, is planned to roll out in Europe and Asia in 2020. Disney is anticipating 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024. To start, Disney+ will offer 10 original movies, 25 original series, all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” many of the “Star Wars” films, and family content from the Fox library. Continue reading Disney Reveals Details For Its Upcoming Streaming Service

Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Microsoft revealed plans to expand its Azure IP Advantage patent troll defense program by offering its customers building Azure-compatible IoT services with access to a library of 10,000 patents that can help protect them from IP lawsuits, especially related to cloud computing. The tech giant also announced that it is contributing some 500 patents to the non-profit LOT Network, founded in 2014, which provides patents from a growing number of member companies and additional sources to help protect startups against patent trolls. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

MPAA Announces Record Earnings in Global Entertainment

The Motion Picture Association of America revealed that the global entertainment market reached $96.8 billion in 2018, 9 percent over 2017 and a new record. Most notable was the growth of streaming video, 27 percent over 2017 to 613.3 million global subscriptions. Cable subscriptions, meanwhile, dropped 2 percent to 556 million subscribers, marking the first time that streaming bested cable (although cable still earns more money). Theatrical box office in the U.S. and Canada grew to $11.9 billion, while the overall global box office grew to $41.1 billion. Continue reading MPAA Announces Record Earnings in Global Entertainment

France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

The French government introduced a three percent tax on the revenue of technology companies such as Google and Amazon that offer e-commerce or targeted advertising in France. Experts estimate that the tax could reap “billions of dollars” from Silicon Valley companies. The tax is also likely to come up as a topic of conversation in U.S. and European talks, convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about corporate taxes in the digital age. Europe is pushing to tax Silicon Valley companies on profits made there. Continue reading France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

Facebook Teams with Viasat to Offer Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots

In Facebook’s latest effort to bring Internet access to rural communities and less developed areas, the social giant is teaming with Carlsbad, California-based Viasat to deliver high-speed satellite-powered Wi-Fi hotspots. Starting in remote regions of Mexico, the two companies are eyeing a potential global project for the future. Last April, Viasat and local partner Prosperist introduced the “Community” Wi-Fi hotspot service in Mexico, which recently became available to more than one million citizens. Community uses the ViaSat-2 satellite system, which the company describes as the highest-capacity satellites currently in orbit. Continue reading Facebook Teams with Viasat to Offer Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots

Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

New estimates from eMarketer indicate that advertisers in the U.S. will spend more on digital advertising through the likes of Facebook and Google in 2019 than traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. Advertisers are expected to spend in excess of $129 billion on digital advertising this year as compared to the more than $109 billion they will spend on traditional advertising. The shift would mark the first time in history that digital advertising would comprise more than half of the U.S. ad market. Continue reading Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Ireland, where many U.S. tech firms have European headquarters, is investigating Facebook in seven separate cases. Ireland’s data protection commissioner Helen Dixon reported that these probes are among 16 cases looking into Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram. She added that the Irish and EU investigations are “centered on the activities of very big Internet companies with tens and hundreds of millions of users,” which would be “a very large factor when looking at the scale of a fine.” Continue reading Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Apple revealed it has reached a deal with French authorities to pay back-dated taxes, reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Apple’s French division did not disclose the specific amount, but French media has reported it to be around 500 million euros, or $571 million U.S. “As a multinational company, Apple is regularly audited by fiscal authorities around the world,” explained Apple France in a statement. “The French tax administration recently concluded a multi-year audit on the company’s French accounts, and those details will be published in our public accounts.” Continue reading Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

Facebook deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts after discovering two disinformation campaigns linked to Russia. Employees of Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled agency, were linked to many of the pages that use innocuous independent news pages on sports, travel and weather to mask their disinformation. The pages, which were targeted largely at users in Europe and Central Asia, make clear that Russian-government linked groups continue their efforts to use Facebook as a means of spreading misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

During CES last week, IBM announced the IBM Q System One, the company’s first foray into commercial quantum computing outside of the lab. The 20-qubit IBM Q system combines quantum and classical computing intended for a range of business and research applications. According to IBM, these new systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” The systems are also said to be upgradeable and easy to maintain. Continue reading IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

The European Union is looking to take on China’s tech dominance by approving up to $9.1 billion in public and private funding that would enable France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom to conduct research in microelectronics. The funding would help companies and research centers work together on developing advanced sensors and microchips, with an emphasis on smarter, more energy-efficient components. The decision coincides with the EU’s efforts to limit foreign investments and restrict business with Chinese tech companies such as Huawei. Continue reading Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

Smartphones and Wearables Experience Growth in Q3 2018

Research firm Gartner published a Q3 report indicating that global smartphone shipments are continuing a slow but steady growth pattern. Handset sales only increased 1.4 percent to 389 million units overall. However, Chinese brands Huawei and Xiaomi are doing much better (Huawei recorded a 43 percent jump). Meanwhile, IDC reports a more dramatic uptick in the international wearables market. Xiaomi experienced a 90.9 percent year-over-year increase in shipments for Q3, overtaking Apple for the world’s top spot. According to IDC, Fitbit is holding strong in third place. Continue reading Smartphones and Wearables Experience Growth in Q3 2018

U.S. Rights Groups Propose Website-Blocking to Halt Piracy

Blocking piracy sites became controversial in the U.S. with SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), which although it had support of both parties and dozens of government, consumer and union organizations, was seen as a threat to free speech. A second proposal (PIPA) also met fierce resistance, culminating in a widespread service blackout by Google, the English Wikipedia and 7,000 other smaller websites. Both bills were shelved, but now, the issue is being raised in the U.S. due to success in website-blocking in Europe. Continue reading U.S. Rights Groups Propose Website-Blocking to Halt Piracy

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