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In Brief

Despite the hubbub over the revelation that well-known Youtube gaming channel Machinima takes “marketing partnerships” with game companies that essentially amount to paying vloggers to hype up followers about games, and the mounting gray area over whether such a thing is ethical, the FTC told Polygon that it can’t really do anything about it from a legal standpoint.

Apparently because the FTC guidelines are just guidelines, they are unenforceable in a court of law. There is a possibility that the FTC could go after a big player, like Machinima or the game companies it works with, for unsavory practices at some point, but until then, it’s best to stay smart about which media sources you trust.

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TiVo is laid off most of its industrial designers, according to a Wired report, which initially speculated that this may be part of a bigger strategy shift that would result in TiVo exiting the hardware business. TiVo has since assured me that the company will continue to make hardware, and in fact has plans for future retail products. Of course, TiVo has seen most of its growth coming from its operator business for some time, but last year, it nonetheless revamped its entire hardware line. This story was updated on 1/23 with additional information made available by TiVo.

On The Web

Gradual copyright enforcement legislation, also known as three-strikes laws, don’t curb piracy: That’s the result of a new study that looked at the effectiveness of France’s anti-piracy legislation, which fines and disconnects users after repeat warnings. Researchers found, according to Torrentfreak, that this simply results in users getting smarter about piracy, shifting from monitored file sharing networks to other sources for unlicensed downloads.

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In Brief

The developer of Freevo, a pioneering media center app for Linux, Windows and OS X, announced that the app won’t receive any future updates. Freevo, which was first released in 2002, combined DVR and media playback capabilities for home theater PCs. Freevo’s developer wrote Monday on a mailing list that Freevo has been surpassed by other technologies including the media center competitor XBMC and Google’s Chromecast.

In Brief

Updated. The iPhone app for Beats Music, the much-anticipated music subscription service that is spearheaded by Jimmy Iovine, went live in Apple’s iTunes app store  ahead of its official launch Tuesday morning. Beats will also be available on Android, but the app can’t be found on Google Play yet – and we just got words from Beats that the version on the app store (1.0.0) isn’t actually the final launch version, so installing may not get you very far. Beats has a big focus on mobile; new users that want to take advantage of the services 7-day free trial need to go through an onboarding process that is only available through its mobile apps. A sign-up page with links to the apps is also already available online. This post was updated at 9:12pm with more information on the iOS app.

On The Web

It’s true: Digg is doing original content, and one of its first pieces is a great long-form read titled “Is this thing on?” The article has radio journalist Stan Alcorn wondering why there are tons of viral videos on the internet, but rarely any viral audio stories. Alcorn found one great exception from that rule, but it’s not a podcast — and it may be hard to replicate. A must read for everyone interested in the future of radio, podcasts and online storytelling.

In Brief

Rdio is now letting U.S. listeners use its music subscription service for free — on the web, anyway: The music service announced Thursday that it is allowing users to listen as much as they want on its website. Rdio is monetizing the new free offering through ads, which are sold by its new partner Cumulus. Ad-free listening still costs $10 a month. The announcement comes a day after Spotify announced that it is removing limits to free listening in all of its territories, and less than a week before Beats Music launches its service in the U.S.

In Brief

Google brought its Google Play Movies and TV app to iOS Wednesday, making it easier for users of the service to watch rented and bought videos on their iPad or iPhone. The app also includes Chromecast support, making it possible to beam titles to Chromecast-equipped TV screens. However, there’s one thing amiss: Users won’t actually be able to rent or buy any movies or TV shows through the app — Google apparently wasn’t willing to send Apple checks for its 30 percent cut on in-app purchases.

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