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Sling-ing pucks to the Web

Sling_media_logo A deal announced today by Sling Media and the National Hockey League shows off not only an intriguing TV-PC convergence app, but also a content provider recognizing the opportunity to make it work for them.

Sling Media is the company behind the Slingbox, a set-top box that lets people beam the cable or satellite TV channels they receive at home to their computer (think: laptop) via the Internet (e.g., to a hotel room or airport many miles from home). Under its deal with Sling, the NHL will be able to cash in on fans' enthusiasm for sharing highlights from the games they watch, rather than trying to stop them from uploading those clips.

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Lala.com gives it away

Lala.com's new on-demand music service launched with a splash today, with coverage in the major papers and numerous blogs. It certainly turns the longstanding music-industry assumption on its head: by giving people unlimited access to a fully stocked online jukebox, Lala's Bill Nguyen believes he'll increase music sales, rather than slaking demand. Nguyen, who made a fortune on previous dot-com start-ups, says he's trying to save the music industry by providing a great place online to buy music. I'm not sure the site he's building fits that description, however.

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eMusic adds Paul McCartney

In for a penny, in for a pound. Concord Music Group's Hear Music label (a joint venture with Starbucks Entertainment) announced today that its latest release -- Paul McCartney's "Memory Almost Full" -- will be available on eMusic -- the subscription service that sells discounted MP3 files. Concord has been making its releases available on eMusic since 2005, and "is consistently among the site's top five labels," according to the press release (download the release here).

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RealNetworks embraces streamripping

Why isn't anybody commenting on the irony of RealNetworks' announcement yesterday that its new media-playing software can capture streams, turning temporary on-demand transmissions into permanent downloads? Real went to court in 1999 to stop another software company from distributing a program that captured Real Audio streams. The main difference -- and it's not a trivial one -- is that Streambox's software bypassed the encryption that Real used to protect its streams. Real CEO Rob Glaser stressed that the new RealPlayer software won't save encrypted streams. It also captures the ads that are attached to streams, Glaser told the audience at the All Things Digital conference, adding, "We support the content creator's business model."

Umm, no, not really.

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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