Time Trax, a program designed to record XM radio programming directly to a PC’s hard drive, has drawn the attention of XM Radio and the RIAA — and not in a good way. Frustrated by his inability to listen to all the broadcasts he wanted to, Ontario programmer Scott MacLean wrote and began selling Time Trax. The application creates an analog recording of songs broadcast over XM along with track information which is then stored as an MP3 file. It will only work with the XM PCR receiver, as the auto and home stereo receivers lack a PC interface.
Predictably, the RIAA and XM Radio are not amused, and are looking deeper into the legality of the software:
A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America said his organization had not reviewed the software, but said that in principle it was disturbed by the idea. “We remain concerned about any devices or software that permit listeners to transform a broadcast into a music library,” RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said.
Yes, heaven forbid that a paying customer should be able to save broadcasts for his own personal use. Both XM Radio and the RIAA are looking closely at MacLean’s creation to see if it violates either the XM user agreement or copyright laws, apparently fearing that saved broadcasts could wind up on P2P networks. XM also has plans for a new version of its receiver with pause and rewind functionality, which is not as compelling when there is software that provides the same functionality.
Look for the lawyering to start soon, as XM considers it an “unauthorized” product. It’s a shame… not just because it’s a cool program, but because XM is displaying the typical knee-jerk reaction that media companies have when customers decided they want to use their products in a way the manufacturers did not intend. Too bad XM is choosing to see Time Trax as a potential legal battle rather than an sales opportunity.