Microsoft Will Refund Some Xbox Owners’ Xbox Live Gold Fees

Xbox One Media Apps

If you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription only to access media apps such as Netflix and Hulu, Microsoft’s recent decision to remove the digital requirement may have left you feeling short-changed. After all, many consumers buy an upfront 12-month subscription to get a discount on the standard monthly fee. To make amends, Microsoft is promising to refund Xbox Live Gold subscribers who will no longer need their membership from June, when the changes come into effect. Payments will be made on a pro-rata basis, calculated from the day of cancellation to when their membership would have normally ended. “Cancellation and pro-rata refund requests must be made by August 31, 2014 and require six to eight weeks for processing,” the company said.

Read the full story at The Next Web.

Warner, Universal and Sony Invest in Shazam

Shazam

Shazam Entertainment, the music-identification app, landed small investments from the world’s biggest record companies, according to people familiar with the matter. Warner Music Group owner Access Industries – the holding company of billionaire Len Blavatnik – along with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, are each taking $3 million stakes in Shazam, these people said. All of the shares were purchased from a single third-party investor, according to people familiar with the transactions. Shazam’s most recent valuation was $500 million, a spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on the labels’ stakes. Shazam, which is based in London, helps people identify music playing on the radio or other public setting. For the labels, Shazam’s biggest value lies in its role as a marketing partner.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal’s Bits Blog.

Full Steam Ahead: Court Refuses to Rehear Case Against Aereo

Aereo

In another victory for Aereo, the controversial TV-over-the-Web startup, a federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to rehear an earlier decision allowing the service to continue in the New York City area. Aereo, which is backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller, uses antenna/DVR technology to let consumers watch live, local over-the-air television broadcasts on some Internet-connected devices, including the iPad and iPhone. That capability provoked a lawsuit from TV broadcast giants including NBC, ABC, and CBS (the parent of CNET), which allege that the service violates their copyrights and that Aereo must pay them retransmission fees. Today’s decision lets stand a ruling in April in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a preliminary injunction (PDF) from the TV networks preventing Aereo from transmitting recorded broadcast television programs to subscribers.

Read the full story at CNET.

Report: MegaUpload’s Shutdown Increased Movie Sales

While Kim Dotcom continues to fight his Megaupload copyright case in New Zealand and the United States, a new academic study concludes that “the closing of a major online piracy site can increase digital media sales, and by extension we provide evidence that Internet movie piracy displaces digital film sales.” On Wednesday, Brett Danaher and Michael D. Smith, professors at Wellesley College and Carnegie Mellon University respectively, published a paper on the well-known Social Science Research Network. The pair write: “Controlling for country-specific trends and the Christmas holiday, we find no statistical relationship between Megaupload penetration and changes in digital sales prior to the shutdown. However, we find a statistically significant positive relationship between a country’s Megaupload penetration and its sales change after the shutdown.”

Read the full story at Ars Technica.

Report: YouTube to Launch Music Streaming Platform This Year

We’ve been hearing rumblings about Google’s plans for a Spotify-killer for what seems like forever now. More recently, there’s been word that the company’s YouTube brand is also getting set set to enter the space, albeit with some overlap from a Google-branded effort. Fortune spoke to some anonymous-type folks in the record industry who confirmed the latter, adding that the service is set to launch this year. The offering will apparently give users some free streaming, with additional features being made available for a subscription fee. The site reached out to YouTube, who offered the following bit of hopeful non-commitment: “While we don’t comment on rumor or speculation, there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we’re looking at that.”

Read the full story at Engadget.

Valve’s Gabe Newell: Apple is the Steam Box’s Biggest Threat

Gabe Newell, the co-founder of gaming company Valve, has revealed that he views Apple, rather than traditional gaming consoles, as the biggest competitive threat to the Steam Box and other PC-based entertainment solutions looking to enter the living room, according to Polygon. Newell made the remarks during a lecture at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He noted that Apple comes as a threat because it has a “huge amount of market share” and a “relatively obvious pathway” to taking over the living room. “The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room?” Newell asked. He pointed to projects like Miracast, which is baked into Android 4.2 Jelly Bean devices like the Nexus 4, and Nvidia’s Project Shield, which includes support for Valve’s Steam Big Picture mode.

Read the full story at The Next Web.