The Year in Tech: Top 2007 News and Trends

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Music Tracks Get Cheaper and Finally Go Free

By all accounts it was a good year for music fans--especially cheapskates. The year in digital music started off promisingly when iTunes began dropping copy protection from many of the songs in its catalog.

Also in 2007, iTunes drew some serious competition in the digital download arena, with Amazon.com, Sprint, and others selling digital downloads--sans the requirement by Apple to use its iTunes software.

Skinflints, who rejoiced when iTunes' prices for DRM-free tracks dropped from $1.29 to $.99, got even better news when Radiohead and other rock bands embraced a pay-what-you-want model for record albums and began selling music directly to fans though their own Web sites.

About the only music enthusiast who wasn't happy in 2007 was Jammie Thomas of Minnesota, who was found liable for damages amounting to $222,000 for illegally sharing music files on Kazaa. In this civil suit, the Recording Industry Association of America had sued Thomas for copyright infringement in connection with downloads of 24 songs--and the jury found in the RIAA's favor.

Web Video Shake Up: Networks Put Shows Online

2007 was a watershed year for fans of the broadcast TV shows CSI, Family Guy, Lost, and Heroes (among others). If they happened to miss an episode of these or many other programs, they could turn to the Internet to view the unseen action. Previously the networks had dabbled with putting prime-time shows online, but in 2007 they embraced the Web in earnest.

After NBC got in a spat with Apple over the sale of its programs through iTunes, the network decided to offer many of its prime-time shows for free at a new service called Hulu (still in trial mode). And Viacom decided to post its entire library of John Stewart's Daily Show online for anyone to search and watch.

Television fans liked the idea of catching episodes online. But writers involved in creating and scripting the shows were irate--and went on strike--when broadcasters declined to share the extra online ad revenue with them.

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