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October 17, 2006

Creative disables Zen FM recording

Creative has a new software update for some of its Zen personal media players with an interesting property – it disables an advertised feature of the player. Ed Oswald explains at BetaNews:

Creative has apparently bowed to RIAA pressure, issuing a firmware update for two of its players that removes the FM recording feature. In the past, the music industry has argued that recording from radio broadcasts hurt music sales, and has most recently attempted to stop satellite radio services from implementing similar features.

Specifically, the firmware change affects the company’s Zen MicroPhoto and Zen Vision:M players. In the release notes, Creative gives no reasoning for the change other than saying “this firmware removes your player’s FM recording feature.”

The change overshadows other enhancements, including support for Audible Type 4 tracks, the addition of a volume restriction feature, and enhancements to the user interface and usability. But many customers may be less apt to apply the update in order to save the FM recording functionality.

I’m sure the customers can hardly wait to apply the update. Worse yet is the speculation that:

As far as I know, this is something that many companies will have to remove from their players due to RIAA regulations.

I thought it was settled a long time ago in law (in the USA, at least) that end users were permitted to record broadcast music for personal use, but I guess that doesn’t prevent the recording industry from leaning on the hardware manufacturers. Frankly, nothing the recording industry does can surprise me anymore – if they had their way consumers wouldn’t be able to own any device capable of audio or video recording.

Posted at 8:44 pm. Filed under Companies, Creative, MP3 Player, Portable Audio, Thumbs Down

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