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PodTube and iTube: Once YouTube really got going, the video collectors blew open their vaults. This is footage no one ever saw from sources no one ever heard of — psychedelic small-town variety shows, supersaturated Scopitone camp-operas, unfinished punk rock docs, and student films. Watching them was good enough, but now you can illegally own them through programs that copy those videos to your hard drive. PodTube and iTube get you screening items unseen since the day the station filmed them.

Street Meat: Don't even need a computer to play this one: if you live in one of the RIAA's 12 priority piracy cities (which includes San Francisco) you can get bootlegs hot off the sidewalk, out the trunk, or on the bus. "A disturbing trend," said RIAA executive VP Brad Buckles. "As the pirate music trade continues to evolve, criminals are enhancing their products." Thanks for the tip, Brad! On the menu now are knockoffs of chart hits bulked up with bonus tracks, chopped 'n' screwed remixes ready right after the legit release hits stores, and the RIAA's dreaded "dream compilations," — albums that mix tracks between competing labels into albums that are too good to be legit.

Zune: Microsoft's Zune — a.k.a. "the BetaPod" — seems destined to be a sure staple at the thrift stores of the future. And that's too bad, because wireless file transfer without Microsoft's copyright hobbles is a seductive idea. Imagine the record conventions of 2016: a bunch of silent geeks pointing blinking black boxes at each other and going home with a billion-and-a-half new songs, and...actually, that's a little pathetic. But the fact remains that instant player-to-player wireless transfer would (and probably eventually will) be the most efficient reiteration of the old going- over-to-your-friend's-house-with-a-bag-of-blank-tapes ritual. Maybe it will become reality by the time Zune 2.0 rolls out, when Microsoft gets desperate to dig out from under the iPhone.

Sharity Blogs: Much better than the sanctioned sites that give you one brand-new track smothered in a bunch of recycled reviews. Instead, sharity blogs resurrect full albums long lost or forgotten and post them in their entirety on overseas hosting sites. It'd be almost obscenely exploitative except for the obvious love and research put into the selections. This is a scholarly crowd on an admirable mission: rescuing suppressed Japanese terror-folk, Brazilian psych nuggets, and buried golden-age hip-hop from graves where reissue labels fear to dig.

MySpaceGopher: Everyone with electricity and an instrument has a MySpace Music site, but the songs are still downloadable at the artist's discretion. Inevitably, hackers removed that discretion, and while it's disrespectful, it was an effective way to ransack exclusive pre-release streaming content. MySpace repeatedly repairs the code holes that allow these shenanigans, and the public responds by finding a new hole. At press time, the newly disabled MySpaceGopher was working on a fix, which will probably be ready by the time you read this.

Snob Torrents: Concentrated swapper sites are gonna strangle themselves with stinginess, the same way networks like Hotline and KDX sank into obscuro-lescence. Music freeboters don't like to follow rules about ratios — there's no homework among thieves — so sites like these will probably vanish as users move to free sharity blogs, friendlier message boards, and unstumpable fileshare networks.

Premix Leaks: Lupe Fiasco may hate these — an unmixed version of his Food & Liquor came out months early — but premix leaks are becoming routine. TV on the Radio's Cookie Mountain also came out months prematurely, the Shins' Wincing the Night Away (due in January) has leaked at least twice in different versions, and Bloc Party's A Weekend in the City (due in February) hit the networks in November. The solution now belongs to the P.R. people — lucky Lupe got an early review calling him the future of hip hop, and a correctly leveraged premix can garner a spike of welcome, unexpected publicity.

Virtual Release: If legendary 78-collector Joe Bussard could plug an iBook directly into his Victrola, he'd be making these. This is real ghostly stuff sourced from unreleased sessions, radio broadcasts, or repo'd master tapes. That's all time-honored bootleg chow, sure, but virtual releases go straight from the source to the fileshares, skipping physical media entirely. For instance: WFMU recently popularized a Faust album that never made it past a few Virgin Records promo tapes until someone copied it up to MP3. Companions to this are homemade virtual compilations — a stack of uncomped funk 45s, say — issued direct from the collector's originals to the fileshares with some kind of searchbait name like "MY HOT FUNK 45s." These albums are aimed at audiences so microscopic there's almost no profit in pressing up hard copies — and as such, they're usually pretty great.

Give It Away Now: Nobody can steal what you give away. San Francisco band Wooden Shjips put out their EP for free this year; all you had to do was ask and there was a real record in your actual hands. And it was really good, too — blown-out Les Rallizes homage with vocals echoplexed to infinity. In fact, it was so good that I bought a copy with my own actual money, just for old times' sake. — Chris Ziegler

Everlasting Sounds: Ten of the year's most timeless records

This story, as originally conceived, was supposed to be a compilation of the year's best box sets and other re-issues. But then it hit us — in today's shuffle-driven iPod world, with the pace of pop culture moving at breakneck speed, it's pointless to make such temporal distinctions. The past is ever present, and the present quickly becomes the past. So, instead of a list of old music released anew, we've come up with a list of timeless music, albums that came out this year that heed no prevailing trends and sound as if they could have been recorded any time between 1926 and 2006. Or 2106, for that matter.

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