Tech Bits

RealNetworks, SanDisk to challenge Apple’s iPod

RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) is teaming up with SanDisk Corp. (SNDK) to release a portable music player that more closely links with RealNetworks’ Rhapsody online music service, in the latest attempt to take on Apple Computer Inc.’s (AAPL) iPod and iTunes stronghold.

Analysts see the deal as a way for SanDisk and RealNetworks to join forces against a new common foe: Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which recently announced plans to release its own Zune portable music player and service.

Belgian court rules against Google News

A Belgian court has ordered Internet search company Google Inc. (GOOG) to stop publishing content from Belgian newspapers without permission or payment of fees.

The Belgian Association of Newspaper Editors, which handles copyright matters for the French- and German-speaking press in the country, lodged the complaint over Google News, a search service in which headlines, excerpts of stories and small versions of photographs are reproduced to refer visitors to full articles on newspaper sites.

Google currently is defending a separate lawsuit filed in the United States by Agence France-Presse, arguing the service is protected under “fair use” provisions of copyright law. In the Belgian case, Google spokeswoman Rachel Whetstone said the news service is “entirely consistent” with copyright law and benefits news organizations by referring traffic to their sites.

Warner distributes videos through YouTube Inc.

Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) has agreed to distribute and license its copyrighted songs and other material through online video trendsetter YouTube Inc., a San Mateo startup, marking another significant step in the entertainment industry’s migration to the Internet.

Google adds more mapping innovations

Google Inc. (GOOG) has added more video and other bonus features for users of its popular three-dimensional mapping software to unearth even more information about destinations around the world.

Google says more than 100 million copies of its Google Earth software have been downloaded since it was first offered to the general public last year, making it one of the company’s most successful products outside its industry-leading Internet search engine. The mapping software is free for Windows, Mac and Linux computers, although premium versions are available for sale.

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