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Ring-Tone Barons? Japanese Record Companies Raided

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the economy-based-on-pokeman dept.

Communications 181

PuceBaboon writes " The Asahi Shimbun is reporting that officers from the Fair Trade Commission raided several major record companies in Japan, including Sony Music Entertainment, Toshiba EMI and Avex, on suspicion of creating a monopoly for the purpose of maintaining artificially high prices on... telephone ring-tone tunes."

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Good (4, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101344)

I'd like to see this happen in the US. I'd also like to see pressure put on Cell phone makers to open up the system for user created tones.

Or why not just let a phone play a 10 second or so clip of an MP3? The decoder chips are cheap enough now.

I won't use the word conspiracy, but there is collusion between service providers and phone manufacturers to keep the price of ring tones so fucking high.


Re:Good (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101354)

Cloning Muslim homosexuals is a bad idea.

Re:Good (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101384)


hahah take that you damn dirty sand niggers

w0rd up, GNAA!

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

evvk (247017) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101356)

At least my phone comes with software (albeit winblows-only) to convert
normal midi tunes to the limited format the phone wants. Then you can
transfer them to the phone with whatever expensive cables they sell or
by IR, or by putting the tune on a wap-enabled apache server.

Re:Good (4, Informative)

Daleks (226923) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101401)

Then you can transfer them to the phone with whatever expensive cables they sell or by IR, or by putting the tune on a wap-enabled apache server.

Not all carriers allow OTA (over the air) downloads of ringtones, wallpapers, or Java programs. I almost didn't get T-Mobile service because of this, but they were the only carrier with good reception in my area. AT&T (soon to be Cingular) is good about being open. I'm not sure where the other carriers stand.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101393)

You voted last time, did you?

Re:Good (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101426)

Or why not just let a phone play a 10 second or so clip of an MP3?

Actually, phones are already available which play mp3 ringtones.
Google: "mp3 ringtones" []

Re:Good (1)

SoCalAndy (808076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101442)

Or why not just let a phone play a 10 second or so clip of an MP3?

My phone ,Motorola V600 [] , does have this. I have about 6 megs to play around with... And the sound quality ain't half bad either!

Re:Good (1)

kunudo (773239) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101764)

Mine too, a Sony Ericsson k700i. I have 40 mb though :) And the sound quality is awesome, if you use the handsfree. 40mb isn't much for an mp3 player though..

Re:Good (3, Informative)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101450)

Personally, I use Bluetooth between my phone and PC to manage ringtones, make additional phonebook entries, install games/apps, and copy pictures from the phone to the PC. This cuts out the middleman and any unexpected charges.

I find this especially useful since I compose my own music. Simply export a mix to a MIDI file and copy it over. Instant custom ring-tones like none other!

You do not need Windows, as suggested in other posts. Dig around on SourceForge and other Open Source sites, all the tools you need are there regardless of your OS.

Personally, I do not like the idea of MP3 ringtones. It is much easier on the brain to hear a dinky midi of an Emeniem song a thousand times than to hear the real thing with vocals. I know, I'm screwed on that one. It is enevitable.

Re:Good (1)

Robotz (451860) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101691)

With Bluetooth, my phone allows me to transfer my camera pics (and any other bitmap that I've stored on the phone) to another Bluetooth phone.

However, it will not allow me to transfer any of the midi files that I have uploaded to it, or even any audio (conversations / meetings) that I have recorded with the phone directly to another bluetooth phone.

I wonder if this is a deliberate limitation of the phone that has been imposed by my carrier? The phone is a Nokia 6600.

Re:Good (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101782)

That's possible. I can transfer sound files with my SE T630 without a problem. (To other phones.)

I can't transfer programs though.

this is not about polyphonic ringtones (1)

stray (73778) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101456)

correct me if i'm mistaken here, but as i read the article, the collusion charges *are* in fact about the sale of "real" recording snippets, be they in mp3 format or whatever is en vogue over there.

the article states that the record companies don't have control over the "instrumental" versions, which mostly are polyphonic midi ringtones. the prices for those may be too high also, but for different reasons (well, the same reason but a different set of unscrupulous companies i guess :-)).

it seems that snippets of real recordings (i.e. digital wave samples a la pixmap images as opposed to descriptive interpreted music notations (midi) a la vector images) are popular ringtone choices... in Japan (hey, what happened to that meme anyway?)

Re:Good (1)

itsthebin (725864) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101470)

yes my phone plays an Mp3 as my ringtone, it's a nokia ngage original. I just edited out the section I wanted using audacity and loaded it on my MMC card. you could also put it on the phones internal memory with bluetooth or fileExplorer.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101477)

I guess you havent been here. []

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101489)

Buy your own phone instead of using the telco's one and you can do that. I bought a nice Nokia 6820 (because it has the qwerty keyboard when you open it - hard to irc with a number pad only). It plays standard MIDI files. I just stuck the MIDI files I wanted on my website, and just used the phone's web browser to fetch them.

I personally use the introduction to a fairly obscure game because it more or less guarantees my ring tone is unique (so no hunting for my phone when someone else with the same tone has their phone ring). With my last phone (a cheap Nokia, the type usually bought for kids for PAYG service), I simply composed my own ring tone with the phone's composer (for the same reasons). When I bought the 6820, I gave away the cheap Nokia to a friend who needed a phone, I think they probably still use my ring tone :-)

Re:Good (1)

grolschie (610666) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101558)

My Siemens C55 which is quite old now, plays wav files no problem.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101606)

Or why not just let a phone play a 10 second or so clip of an MP3? The decoder chips are cheap enough now.

I always assumed that, but why are crappy MP3 players still up around $100? A crappy portable CD player is around $20 with a laser and more moving parts, but a smaller portable MP3 with no moving parts is still around 5 times as much.

I know, -1 Offtopic.

Re:Good (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101646)

Or why not just let a phone play a 10 second or so clip of an MP3?
I'm sure that will happen - the cameras did, but for now phones like my nokia come with PC software to convert sound files to ringtones. Using it completely voids copyright on the songs, and every time it rings it is a "public performance", but I suspect hardly anyone is ever going to care about that.
I won't use the word conspiracy
I'll say it - the music industry is nasty and full of types that openly boast about getting people kneecaps smashed (a muso that pissed off Sharon Osbourne's dad was given that treatment). What's a bit of price fixing after grevious bodily harm?

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101738)

They do accept user-created ring tones, in fact, they openly support it. .MID files are common, and lots of new (and not-so-new) phones support MP3 ring-tones already.

There's no conspiracy, just a bunch of stupid people who don't realise you can get the ringtones for free off the net, and who don't realise the incredible lack of value a ringtone has. Because these people don't have a clue, they keep on paying $3 for 20K of data, which keeps these companies in business. If people stopped paying the extortionate prices, they would drop.

Re:Good (1)

Gandalfar (599790) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101808)

Maybe it's easier and cheaper for most of the people to just pay $3 for a ringtone they like once in a while instead of spending hours of searching the net for them and stumbling through all the paying ringtone sites. And even if you do find a midi you maybe don't have correct cables/knowledge to do it in a timely manner.

With your cell provider you at least know who you are dealing with and that it will work with your provider and phone and that you will possibly get support for it. I guess the ringtone has got a value for some people.

everyone is asleep (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101345)

time to sneak in an FP.

Re:everyone is asleep (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101370)

Failed it you have. Weak in the Force you are. Greased Yoda I have up my ass!

Is it just me (4, Insightful)

aixou (756713) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101346)

or are almost all telephone ringtones *overpriced*. I mean, come on, they are selling crappy midi files for outrageous (comparatively) prices. Perhaps its all just good business, but I get irritated at such extreme profit turns.

Re:Is it just me (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101369)

or are almost all telephone ringtones *overpriced*. I mean, come on, they are selling crappy midi files for outrageous (comparatively) prices. Perhaps its all just good business, but I get irritated at such extreme profit turns.

Tell me about it. Or tell my brother about it, he's the one who had to pay for my nephew's $550 cell bill. Most of the cost?

Ring tones.

The kid should have known better yes, he's fifteen, but damn.

Re:Is it just me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101504)

The kid should have known better yes, he's fifteen, but damn.

I'd use the phrase "oh he should have known better" perhaps if he'd clocked up $550 on your bro's credit card for shopping, or gone a bit far on ITMS with REAL music downloading, or given them free reign for a weekend party, but fucking RING TONES.

Your nephew has some problems.

Why is the mobile market so expensive? (5, Informative)

hkmwbz (531650) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101490)

"or are almost all telephone ringtones *overpriced*"
Mobile services are way overpriced. At least in Europe. The reason? Mobiles allow the people who run the network to make deals with people who deliver contents.

Because mobiles have traditionally had very limited software capabilities, they have been able to charge outrageous sums for mobile services. Instead of browsing the web you'll be browsing some specialized service with content created specifically for mobiles.

And the problem isn't just that the mobile operators and content owners do everything they can to keep it that way.

And even worse, people like Danish mobile analyst John Strand [] from Strand Consult are attacking anything which threatens this mobile hegemony by operators and content owners.

John Strand has been known to use his influence to try to make sure that today's situation with crappy and overpriced services will remain. He basically tells the press that "yeah, these people don't understand the mobile market and won't survive for long" if it threatens today's hegemony.

One specific example is the rise of software on mobiles that can browse the web instead of the customer being force fed what the operator wants him to. John Strand is using his influence to claim that companies that offer such solutions will never survive because they operate outside the "mobile food chain".

John Strand and his ilk are basically trying to maintain today's situation because overpriced mobile services are a good thing to them. It's a mobile market they know, and they are making good money by just being "consultants".

So yeah, mobile services suck and are over priced. Software like real web browsers is arriving to give the customer an actual choice and make it cheaper, but on the other hand, corrupt "analysts" like John Strand are doing everything they can to stop this more customer friendly development, and really fight to keep today's system with customer lock-in and over priced services.

Re:Why is the mobile market so expensive? (3, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101669)

Because mobiles have traditionally had very limited software capabilities, they have been able to charge outrageous sums for mobile services. Instead of browsing the web you'll be browsing some specialized service with content created specifically for mobiles.
Do you mean WAP? I agree it is somewhat limited, mainly because of the limited memory, keyboard and displays of mobile phones. IIRC, WAP is actually just toned-down HTML with some extra protocols. But anyone can create content, and my provider (Orange) at least do not limit access to these. A number of newspapers have WAP pages alongside their regular ones, and services like Google and Yahoo are available on WAP as well. Most of the premium stuff like traffic info and route finders offered by providers, can be had for free elsewhere. The best thing is that I pay only a few Euros a month for data access, but all my WAP browsing is free!

The one service that I still find greatly overpriced is direct (non-WAP) data transfer. On GPRS, usage is charged by the MB since the connection is always-on. Typical fees here range from 1,5 Euro/MB (Telfort), 3 Euro/MB (Orange) to an unbelievable 7,5 Euro/MB (KPN).

My question is: how on earth can the hope to sell these shiny new broadband 3G phones, if we are to download all that "exiting new music and movie content" to the tune of 7,5 Euro/MB? Perhaps you are right again... since these days my phone/PDA can browse proper WWW pages after a fashion, they'll charge me an arm and a leg just to encourage me to stay on WAP.

Re:Is it just me... (2, Insightful)

BigBlockMopar (191202) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101514)

I mean, come on, they are selling crappy midi files for outrageous (comparatively) prices.

I have no problem with companies selling the ringtones at whatever the market will bear, as long as there's no collusion.

What I have a problem with, is any idiot who butchers *any* piece of music by playing it through a 1.5" diameter piezoelectric speaker. Even rap "music" deserves more respect than that.

It's bad enough that I have to cope with cellphones ringing everywhere I go, but it's worse still when it's another anime-loving dimwitted 17-year-old whose cellphone is playing Britney Spears' Toxic from the back of a Hello Kitty schoolbag, or some poseur with a 3-series BMW who wants to appear cultured with a rousing rendition of the 1812 Overture.

I hope every single person with a ringtone on his or her cellphone contracts inoperable colon cancer.

Re:Is it just me (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101534)

I was suprised when I was on AOL today and saw their prices for ringtones.

I signed up for AOL because of that "freeipods" deal (I referred [] you, wink wink). During my exploration of all the new stuff put on AOL over the past 10 years since my last free trial I noticed an area called AOL "My Mobile".

Well, clicking around I found a "ringtones" section and checked it out. Seems that they offer a subscription(!!!) to their ringtones service which makes them 60 cents a piece or they sell them outright for $1.20.

What? How many ringtones can you use at once? I'm not aware of a phone which will cycle ringtones from a playlist but I'm sure that is next. I'm happy with the Imperial March... why would I change it anyways.

Seems like a huge waste of money. Next your phone company will be charging you for receiving ringtones. Either way, I could get the entire songs from iTunes anyways.

Notice, the prices above are close to what I remember... don't hold me to it. Get free ringtones from this site [] anyways.

:0 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101348)

You got to be kidding.

Ringtones?? (5, Funny)

newdles (794384) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101350)

You have to BUY ringtones? What's this world coming to? Next thing you know, MS will charge extra for ding dongs it adds to messenger :O

Re:Ringtones?? (4, Funny)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101360)

yes, one penny per ring or part ring.

I get one over on them by putting it on silent instead.

Re:Ringtones?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101415)

Next thing you know, MS will charge extra for ding dongs it adds to messenger :O

Good Idea!

Thank you!


Re:Ringtones?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101454)

Lol, and I was just thinking as I started to read the comments... how will they turn this into an MS bashing opportunity... yup... there it is.

Re:Ringtones?? (1)

morganjharvey (638479) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101575)

Next thing you know, MS will charge extra for ding dongs it adds to messenger

Dude. Leave Hostess out of this.

Record Companies have monopolies?! (2, Insightful)

chi11er (804807) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101351)

Not being horrible or anything... but

"The companies are suspected of colluding to restrict sales of recordings "

Well duh! How long did it take to figure this one out???

vocals? (1)

thekitch (805453) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101352)

"But when a clip from the original hit recording including the vocals is used as a ring tone, record companies can control who has the right to distribute it." I don't see why the record companies don't have control if the vocals aren't included.

Re:vocals? (1)

dnixon112 (663069) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101418)

I don't see why the record companies don't have control if the vocals aren't included.
Probably because most hit songs out now use 'samples' of other people's music to begin with.

Re:vocals? (5, Informative)

yo303 (558777) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101443)

I don't see why the record companies don't have control if the vocals aren't included.

Because they are recording companies.

(And to clarify, it's not just the vocals -- it's the particular recording, usually including vocals.)

The record company owns the recording, not the composition. To sell the record, the record company must licence the song from the composer (who is often not the performer in question.)

As an example, let's take the song "Remember (Walking in the Sand)", originally performed by the Shangri-Las, and written by George Morton. It was since covered by Patsy Cline, the Beach Boys and Aerosmith, among others.

If you wanted the Aerosmith version as your ringtone, you'd have to licence it from whoever owns that Aerosmith recording, and from whoever now owns the rights to the composition... but not from the Shangri-Las' right-holders, because you're not using their recording.

If you just wanted the song itself as a midi file in your phone, you don't have to pay anything to Aerosmith's label, nor to the Beach Boys' label, nor to the Shangri-Las' label -- because you're not using those recordings. You just have to pay whoever now owns George Morton's composition rights (provided the copyright hasn't lapsed) because that's all you're using.


Re:vocals? (1)

coolsva (786215) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101954)

IIRC, the recording company owns the right to the original recording. There is some provision in the copyright act which gives permission for others to reproduce a 'cover version' sans copyright violations.
Or else, we would reach a point where simple tune 'da-ra-pa-pa-pa' is copyrighted by some artist/company and can no longer be used.

Sounds like the Japanese version of the RIAA... (3, Insightful)

Photo_Nut (676334) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101357)

Make sure you pay top dollar for that ring tone. After all, it is _stealing_ if you use a ring tone you didn't pay us extra for, and only _we_ can allow you to add a new ring tone.

Is it just me, or is this rediculous?

First, that there is money to be had in making consumers pay to be able to upload a WAV file into their Cell phone, and second, that the government is breaking into corporate offices over this?


Yes, there is money to be made (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101380)

As far as i know, they are making more money with ringtones than with ordinary CD-singles by now. Meaning that every time you buy a single, you (statistically) have bought at least 20 ringtones.

Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101363)

Fuck 'em. Sony can go to hell. That company hobbles a good deal of its consumer electronics. If you can get a pair of Sony headphones to last a year of regular use, save $100.

Collusion among Japanese companies? (4, Insightful)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101364)

Collusion among Japanese companies?
I'm shocked! Shocked!!

The GOJ raids probably 2-3 major industries each year on average. Collusion is bound to happen when:
1. almost every major company has its HQ in one city (Tokyo)
2. everyone knows each other
3. if/when a manager changes teams, it is assumed he will take the Db and any other data he can obtain on his way out the door
4. "gentlemanly cooperation" is seen as a way to maintain safe sales levels for everyone, while going for the jugular on external (overseas) sales

Re:Collusion among Japanese companies? (0, Offtopic)

Pythagorus (779697) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101435)

Tokyo's not a city, but a prefecture...I live here...Now if there's anything that can be done about the rest of the criminally high prices in every other aspect of life in Japan. The economy here will never recover because so many families have a few million in the bank, but are afraid to spend it. Nothing's moving. The government wants more kids so they'll have more tax-payers, but not only is the cost prohibitively high, standards for pollution levels, building safety, etc. are in the gutter with all the other corruption...

Re:Collusion among Japanese companies? (1)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101447)

Tokyo's not a city, but a prefecture

Close, but it's a Metropolitan Area (to), not a prefecture (ken). Prices are certainly high in Tokyo, but not where they really would be had it not been for a 12 year malaise. Prices have been pretty much stagnant for the last 6-7 years. Coupled with loans at 3%, and capital is pretty much "free" at this point.

If you are worried about shoddy building codes and pollution, then you probably have not been to Seoul, Pusan, Shanghai, or anywhere in the interior of China. Tokyo is a rocksafe paradise by comparison.

Re:Collusion among Japanese companies? (1)

Pythagorus (779697) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101500)

To/Do/Fu/'s all the states in the US exept they don't get their own laws... These other places you mention in asia aren't "the world's second largest economy" or G-8 countries. Japan is full of those "so advanced" in one way/"ages behind" in others. You'd expect a better standard for a supposedly advanced country. That's all I meant in regard to that...

Cartels (3, Informative)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101565)

"gentlemanly cooperation" is seen as a way to maintain safe sales levels for everyone, while going for the jugular on external (overseas) sales

Just for clarification this is referred to as a "cartel" in economics terms.

OPEC, the RIAA, the Cali (cocaine) Cartel, all the same.

Definition of cartel from my economics text (from the glossary):

A form of oligopoly characterized by collusion; intended to increase profits, but illegal in the United States.

From the actual text:

The objective of a cartel is to increase price to the profit-maximizing monopoly price. The higher price implies a smaller output, which must be allocated among members of the cartel.

Basically the group gets together and decides that they will compete but not enough to put each other at risk. No one member can do something that would be harmful to the group.

For example, this is the reason that OPEC collectively controls oil output and not just one OPEC country. They decide together what is in the best interest of them all, creating unfair prices for the rest of the world as suplus is un-naturally replaced with deficit. (as opposed to an equilibrium being struck on its own)

iTMS? (2, Informative)

InternationalCow (681980) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101376)

It's interesting in this regard to think of the announcement some weeks ago of iTunes coming to Motorola cellphones. Then you have several record companies offering tunes and whatnot through a single channel. Talking about set prices... I wonder what the antitrust laws would have to say about that.

mp3 as ringtone (5, Informative)

MoZ-RedShirt (192423) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101379)

Or why not just let a phone play a 10 second or so clip of an MP3? The decoder chips are cheap enough now.

The newest Nokia phones are able to use midi files or mp3 files as ringtones. You can load them via infrared, cable or bluetooth connection and thus don't have to pay a single cent for your new ringtones.


Re:mp3 as ringtone (1)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101478)

You can load them via infrared, cable or bluetooth connection and thus don't have to pay a single cent for your new ringtones.

You still need a license to play them in public, though.

Re:mp3 as ringtone (1)

darekana (205478) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101496)

Or maybe the phone companies would rather make money by restricting the handset to only use pay services?

The top 10 ring tone services have about 800,000-1million subscribers, at $3 a month each or so that's pretty big business (at least in japan).

Re:mp3 as ringtone (1)

maidhc (795249) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101536)

My Siemens s45 (from about 2001) can play midi files! Nothing very complicated, but at times I swear it almost sounds like the piece of music i uploaded.

Re:mp3 as ringtone (1)

xmda (43558) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101612)

Only problem is that they are mosly useless as *ring tones*. I recently bought a Ericsson T630, a phone that has almost all the latest bills and whistles, but one thing that annoys me is that all ring tones suck! They do not ring loud enough for me to heard them. *All* previous phones I have had (different brands) have had ring tones that you could actually heard, but now that they primary use these darn .mid songs, well...

Re:mp3 as ringtone (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101865)

Just fire up a MIDI sequencer and make the loudest beep you can. The sounds on an Ericsson that actually are annoyingly loud are also MIDI files, just not polished polyphonic ones.

*sigh* (1)

boypharmacy (751950) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101381)

Another example of what happens when the police get bored.

Where ringtones would get us (0)

Renegade Lisp (315687) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101386)

It is interesting that the money spent on ringtones world-wide (approx. $2 billion a year, from a random statistic I just grabbed off the web) would be all that it takes to fund a manned mission to Mars (estimated at maybe $10 billion, over a period of, say, 10 years).

Here's an idea: what if the prices for ringtones were kept at the current level no matter what, whereas the record companies etc. were forced to turn over their excess profits so they can be invested into space exploration?

Re:Where ringtones would get us (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101559)

You stupid fuck. How come you can have ideas such as this and not commit suicide right afterwards ? This is the dumbest ideas I have ever heard of. You really are a fucking asshole-licking bitch.

Re:Where ringtones would get us (1)

mikael (484) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101806)

Better still, someone comes up with a composition for a song/ringtone that is used to fund such a mission. Various wildlife charities are already doing this and it allows mobile phone users to choose where their money goes. I certainly don't like the idea of maintaining artificially high prices for the sake of any government funded project, no matter how good the intentions.

I make my own (4, Informative)

Facekhan (445017) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101396)

I bought the cable for my LG VX6000 phone and use some third party software bit_pm to upload ringtones that I make from any sound file. I just lower the quality a bit (soundforge free trial or any other editor) and make it mono and cut about 30-60 seconds out of an mp3 to make my ringtones then upload them to the phone. Took a fair amount of head scratching to get it all to work right but there is no reason to pay just to format shift the music you already have to a ringtone. Its amazing how the verizon software that comes with the cable can't even convert my phone book into a .csv but some guy in his spare time has managed to let me make my own ringtones.

If you have bluetooth... (3, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101400)

... or a datakit you can often copy .mid files over to the phone and use them as ringtones.

They're easy enough to find, e.g. here [] , but a web search for your favourite artist / song + "mid" will find them quickly enough on plenty of sites. Some sites even make them available by WAP so you can grab them straight to your phone with no PC.

Or be a chump. Most of the lowest common denominator tabloids are filled with full page ads where you can download ringtones and wallpaper for 4.50 / £3.00 each. You probably end up with the same MIDI file that the operator found on one of the free sites. I very much doubt that the artist gets a slice of that so why hand out money for something you can have for free?

Can't you just upload them? (1)

BobTheAtheist (805111) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101417)

With my phone I can just upload any ring tone via cable or IR... Do new phones allow this?

Re:Can't you just upload them? (2, Interesting)

mali (157259) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101448)

In theory, this should be possible with most newer phones. However, if you have bought the phone from your network operator, you might have bought a crippled version of the phone: Vodafone sells these kind of phones here in Germany: You cannot use get photos out of the phone or get ringtones into it via Cable/IR/Bluetooth ...

Re:Can't you just upload them? (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101469)

Just an FYI on this subject:

T-Mobile does not appear to cripple their phones in the US. The worst I have seen them do on my phone is set some files as read-only. I have two stupid wallpapers and a game that will not delete.

Anybody have any suggestions which does not involve a hammer?

A ring-tone sure to be a hit!!! (1)

DonaldDuckBigO (749237) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101428)

Download this ring-tone sound [] if you want to be sure you never confuse your ring-tone with someone else's again.

In Capitalistic America (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101431)

Record company raids you!

Re:In Capitalistic America (1)

Powercntrl (458442) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101556)

And if you're the record company, in Soviet Russia everyone raids [] YOU!

Re:In Capitalistic America (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101634)

best comment ever

Re:In Capitalistic America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101789)

Its funny because its true!

Download for free (5, Interesting)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101441)

Applicable for Nokia phones, but may apply for other brands too.

You can always save the $, Euro, YEN for ringtones by finding a free midi site [] (annoying banners warning) and convert them yourself with the included Nokia software (sorry, Windoze only).

In addition I get the bonus of not knowing anybody else to have Led Zeppelins "Kashmir" as a ringtone.

Works for me and makes me laugh every time when I see those fantastic 4EUR99 offers...

Re:Download for free (4, Insightful)

moonbender (547943) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101459)

Or you preserve global public sanity by just having a ringtone that rings instead of abusing cell phone rining as some sort of individualised message to the world. Bah. It's not like I have anything against mobiles, but heck, the vibration alarm is really all you need in public.

Re:Download for free (1)

timerider (14785) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101567)

as long as its some sort of individual ringtone, ok.

ever been in a bus/cable car/{insert public transport of choice} with lets say 2 dozens of suits, everyone having a nokia phone because they were 'in' with the suits back then, every one having not cared to change the ringtone setting, then somewhere in the bus the default nokia ringtone starts blaring, and 24 bankers do the macarena?

i rather have midi files. as long as those are not the "top 10" from last week...

Re:Download for free (2, Insightful)

Erik Hollensbe (808) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101628)

We have a guy at work (that I'm "lucky" enough to sit next to) that has a phone that supports polyphonic ring tones.

After hearing a really bad midi version of "The Final Countdown" for a good 9 months, at full volume, having the majority of the people in proximity to him complain about it, he replaces it with some bullshit spewing out of William Shatner's mouth. Meanwhile, the rest of us leave our phones with the generic stock tones (polyphonic or not), and those that get calls often set their phones to just vibrate.

Granted, this is the guy who is proud of writing 40k LOC of useless code that we replaced with a 100 line perl module and doesn't even work because he never finished a working build system for it. I guess that explains a lot.

Bubble Burster (sorry) (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101580)

I love Kashmir too but a quick Google search [] tells you that many other people have it too. Albeit in the form of "Come With Me" by Puff Daddy.

True, it's not "the" Kashmir, but it sounds the same coming from a phone which plays midi files.

(Likely because it is the same though too).

Collusion? Well Duh! (1)

Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101451)

``We never asked the record companies to offer their songs only to us,'' said a Label Mobile official. ``The record companies would not be likely to do that anyway.''
Of course, Label Mobile never had to ask for the monopoly. They were set up by the record companies for that very purpose.

Insignificant (-1, Offtopic)

Greenisus (262784) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101461)

I'm actually willing to risk my "excellent" karma on this. This article is so irrelevant, I'm going to post Beck lyrics:

The Golden Age
Put your hands on the wheel
Let the golden age begin
Let the window down
Feel the moonlight on your skin
Let the desert wind
Cool your aching head
Let the weight of the world
Drift away instead

These day I barely get by
I don't even try

It's a treacherous road
With a desolated view
There's distant lights
But here they're far and few
And the sun don't shine
Even when it's day
You gotta drive all night
Just to feel like you're ok

These days I barely get by
I don't even try

Don't get me wrong. I hate the RIAA too, but c'mon!

For starters... (3, Insightful)

intekra (754612) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101479)

They need to make new phones come with NORMAL standard ring tones. Not fairy tale musicals, no rotary style ring rings, how about a decent sounding 'ring ring' eh? The fact that I had to use Adobe Audition and pieces of a midi ringtone to make my 'ring ring' is an outrage. As far as musical ringtones from MP3s some phones support MP3 ringstones and more often than not, WAV ringtones. If you're lucky enough to have a smartphone, well you're like me and have a LOT more freedom over ringtones on your phone. MP3 > edit > drag drop > set as tone > done! Hell, I just got a freeware DiVX player for my cell phone :)

Japan, a nation based on principles of free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101480)

It's no wonder that the nation with the Constitution based on protections of free speech would step up to these bullies trying to lock down the free exchange of information.
Wait? Japan? What has happened here?
It's almost as though the net result of WWII was just to have the axis and the allies trade places. The US have become the nazis and the Japanese are protecting individual liberties.

Er, MP3s? (1, Redundant)

kahei (466208) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101483)

1 -- plug phone into USB port
2 -- drag MP3 files into phone, unplug from USB port
3 -- set one of the MP3s as the ringtone
4 -- profit!

This seems to work pretty well for me... am I missing something?

Yeah, you're missing something. (2, Insightful)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101546)

Profit - yeah, bad joke. A lot of cell phones don't support MP3. A lot of people don't connect their phones to computer. Those that do may not use USB. They might use IR or Bluetooth. You're missing a lot.

Re:Yeah, you're missing something. (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101549)

Here's a nickel, son -- buy yourself a proper phone.

*presses nickel into grubby outstretched hand*

Re:Yeah, you're missing something. (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101551)

Mmm, except that I don't have a cell phone. I have a cordless home phone that works plenty well enough, thanks.

Blasted Ring Tones (3, Insightful)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101498)

I don't know about anybody else here, but I imagine I'm far from the only one who would love to see those blasted things continue to have artificially inflated prices.

Mine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101506)

I picked "Oh Canada" I am not from Canada. I get weird looks. Mosty folks who don't follow Hockey or Baseball never hear it.

Pay for a ringtone? Yea right.

I never paid... (2, Interesting)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101517)

Don't search for "Free Ringtones" because you can only find pages with text that says "Free Ringtones**".
Usually with disclaimers at the bottom of the page like: **Free Ringtones by opening your phone and letting them out.

Try this site [] , went to check if it still worked and voila! Getting "Star Wars Theme".

I wonder which it is because I already have both of my cell phones set to "Imperial March" (been there for over year, had Super Mario Brothers Theme for a few weeks).

Check out their XXX [] text messages [] too. They include classics such as:
Id fuck u sitting
id fuck u lying,
if u were a bird id fuck u flying.
And when ur dead and long forgotten
ill dig u up and fuck u rotten
I've only used the TDMA (monophonic) tones from this site but they always worked, and sounded good.

Jeez... (5, Insightful)

MarkMcLeod (759072) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101535)

Full song on iTunes: $.99

30 second clip of "similar" song made with high pitched tones: $3+

Getting raped by your cellular provider: Priceless.

While people pay for bleeps and bloops...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101553)

Millions of people are on the streets, homeless,
including the United States. That 2 billion can
go to much better uses than crappy MIDI files.

Really bad joke ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101570)

They have to find the ringleaders ...

Just make your own (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101601)

The thing with the Japanese ring tones recently is that it's not just a crappy MIDI file, you can actually get real audio files on most of the cell phones. I have an old(ish) DoCoMo P504i and recently found out that it actually supported these audio files, which I had always assumed was just for the most recent phones.

But I wasn't interested in paying the insanely high prices for a low-sample clip of some song, especially since I have my phone on silent mode for most of the time. But just for the heck of it, I tried making my own, and found out that it was really easy. Just use wav2mld [] which will convert a .wav file into a .mld file. Upload the .mld file to some server, type in the URL in your cellphone and download it! Pretty darn easy. The wav2mld software costs 900yen (about US$8.00 or so) if you want to make clips longer than 2 seconds, which I figure is fair. The software works really well and automatically creates a file for about 10 different models, automatically adjusting volume levels etc. along with some kinks that some phones have.

Ringtones will go the way of the hip-pack (4, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101649)

One of my side hobbies is making people feel old by reminding them of past events that seemed like yesterday. I remember in 1995 saying to someone, "remember the early 90's with hip-packs? We're in the mid-nineties now."

I think I'll be saying the same thing about ringtones in 2006. At the office, it used to be a game to show off ringtones in a meeting -- all phones were left on. But that's gotten old, and so now they're all on vibrate. Of course the rules are looser in social situations, but I think it'll get old there too -- think restaurants, movies, even at-home DVD movies.

Besides staleness, I believe ringtones are an anachronism because:

  1. The concept of a telephone ringing is from the 20th century where one had to run to the phone, rather than the phone being a personal borg-like appliance.
  2. Cell phones are getting smaller all the time, so it's not as likely for one to, for example, leave it at the office desk and walk around the office.
What I see more likely is the cell phone replacing the iPod, but of course it's going to take some innovative hardware manufacturer to push this; the music industry is too laggard and reticent.

The often asked question these days.... (2, Insightful)

wing03 (654457) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101712)

Government raiding corporate offices?

Dear or dear, what does that say to business?

That's just contrary to a free market system where market conditions are what should rightfully dictate to corporations what prices should be.


Is it me or is it that any time in North America, where busines activities are curtailed by societal interests, the business community comes out swinging with the words of "what are they saying to business?".

As far as I am concerned and I'm a business owner too.... The message to business should be to play fair, don't be greedy and respect the world you're making a living in.

Who cares? (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101737)

Sane people, I mean. Why would you even need to change the ringtone? You can't do it on a normal phone, and I didn't hear anyone complain.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101803)

No, but with a cellphone you can download the sound of someone complaining ...

Stupidest Raid Ever. (0, Troll)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101742)

The idea that you can have a monopoly on ringtones that the government should care about is patently stupid.

Let's say you owned the rights to all of the yellow tulips in the world. If you charged $1 billion each, should the government break down your doors and accuse you of price fixing?

Of course not. If you get the rights to all of the yellow tulips, all other colors of tulips are still available. For that matter, tulips compete against other flowers, etc.

Likewise, ringtones compete for your entertainment dollar along with countless other entertainment sources (psst--audio CDs too). To price them at anything but near what the market will accept is just stupid.

Now, that said (and I didn't RTFA) I'm guessing that this article is not about monopoly, but rather a price-fixing cartel like scheme. Big deal. Same rule applies. Dont buy ringtones if the price doesn't suit you.

meaning of polyphonic (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101761)

from reading through the comments, it's painfully obvious that so many of you have no idea what the word "polyphonic" means. you seem to think it's the ability to play mp3s or whatnot from your phone. in fact, it's simply means the phone can generate two or more tones at once, hence giving it the ability to play some of the more complex midi files out there... /rant

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10101770)

...welcome our new ringtone overlords.

Why Not Create Your Own with Ringtone Tools? (4, Informative)

nz17 (601809) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101795) [] has a great little F/OSS program called Ringtone Tools for generating your own ringtones from a variety of different formats for a cavalcade of phone models. The program (Ringtone Tools) runs on Windows, DOS, and *nix'es, with source fully available, and some purchasable PHP and Java versions. Really nice tool, I've used it to translate Nokia text ringtones into ones for my Motorola t120.

Yes, that's right, older cell phone models used to actually let you type the ringtones directly into them, without special software or cables, though that option has always seemingly been available for these types. Very nice, economical solution for those of us who want custom or special ringtones but not enough to pay a high price for them. Besides, it's not like these companies are making anime ringtones (Go Totoro!) available anyway.

It amazes me (1, Troll)

fermion (181285) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101807)

that the same people who would never play a boom box in a public place, and would consider anyone who did ghetto, feel it is not only appropriate but necessary to randomly assault strangers with their vile taste in muzak.

The basics of manners are fundamental principles, not individual rules that must be torturously recompiled every time technology changes. I hear people complain all the time about the rap and hard rock and the like blaring from peoples cars and stereos. Well, if you want to help it stop, set an example. Don't subject the world to the din of Kenny G. Put your phone on the least offensive short ring, and when in a quiet place, put it on vibrate. You are more than welcome use the music when in the company of your gullible and easily impress technologically retarded friends. The rest of us know that is just a cry for attention. Get a life.

Sprint users need not pay for NUFFIN (2, Interesting)

djdrew6k (526089) | more than 10 years ago | (#10101837)

For anyone using Sprint phones - I've never payed a single cent for ringtones or images on my phone, barring the cost per K for sending the raw data to my phone (somewhere in the realm of a few cents per K).

You can go to, and using their Focus Uploader, you can send a JPG, PNG, QCP, or MID file directly from the internet (or from your computer, through the net) to your phone through a text message. This works with anyone using Sprint service. I love it.

I've tried looking for "real" ringtones, by going to ringtone websites or searching for "free ringtones" (which ALWAYS leads to sites asking you to pay for them... wtf?), but I've found that almost every time I could find a free, HIGHER QUALITY tone if I simply searched the web for MIDI files, totally ignoring the whole "ringtone" aspect of the search.
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