XM Radio Helix

Uh oh. It looks like XM satellite radio is about to have even more legal trouble with RIAA. I blogged a while back about how RIAA filed a lawsuit against XM over the alleged ability of XM’s Inno player to not only play music but also record it.  Well, the news about XM’s new Samsung Helix player may be likely to strengthen the RIAA’s case — it records music too. If you hear a song and right in the middle decide to recort it, the Helix records it, from the beginning. 

Samsung Helix

TO be filed under Best Ideas of the Year: Imagine a tiny music player, smaller than an iPod, that’s also an XM satellite radio receiver. When you hear a song you like — even if it’s halfway over — one press of a button records it from the beginning.

Meet the Samsung Helix (and its twin, the Pioneer Inno): a tiny, well-designed $400 radio that not only lets you enjoy satellite radio in the car, at home or when you’re jogging, but also plays back your own MP3 files and up to 750 songs that you’ve recorded from the satellites.

… Now, not everybody is happy about this feature of the Helix and its Pioneer sibling. XM, which was largely responsible for the design of both players, has been sued by the increasingly busy lawyers of the Recording Industry Association of America. They’re calling the design of these players a tool for copyright infringement.

Or not. It turns out that you can’t do much more with the music you record on the Helix than listen to it on the device. You can’t export it to a computer or another MP3 player. You can’t burn it to a CD, at least not before you download from a pay service like Napster. And since it’s music you already payed to listen to via XM, if you download it you’re actually paying for it twice

So maybe this doesn’t bolster RIAA’s case much. Then again, maybe it’s the price that’s bothering them. They’re asking $150,000 per song in their lawsuit. But to doanload a song you "bookmark" on the Helix is only going to cost you $1.

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