Music Industry

Limewire Goes Legit & Google’s Music Plans

According to Digital Music News, Limewire will soon offer a legal Cloud-Based iTunes compatible music service to Americans.

This service will be available in late 2010 and will include an expansion of Limewire‘s store.

But Google will also be adding music downloads to their search engine later in the year according to the Wall Street Journal, of course enabling Americans to purchase music via their search engine.

Canadians will likely see a delay because our government is currently updating our Copyright Act with Bill C-32, whose implementation has been delayed by a scheduled adjournment of Parliament until September 30th, 2010.

The NMPA Sues Limewire

The National Music Publishers’ Association has filed suit against Limewire on behalf of eight of the association’s members.

The NMPA allege that Limewire had facilitated copyright infringement through its web application, as stated in their press release, dated June 15th, 2010.

The Recording Industry Association of America had successfully sued Limewire and is currently trying to freeze it’s assets, as of June 10th, 2010.

The music publishers represented in the lawsuit are EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Bug Music, MPL Music Publishing, Peermusic, and The Richmond Organization.

Music + More

Compact Discs and other products featuring additional material will shortly be labeled with a new logo.

In response to a 2009 survey, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers have decided to introduce a standardized logo for consumers to distinguish enhanced products and products that contain bonus material from standard CD releases.

Most CDs with bonus material contain statements in regards to this bonus content but I’ve already run into limited edition releases that were distinguished from the standard release by a slightly different color scheme or small text, which makes some releases indistinguishable from each other online.

The addition of this logo will facilitate my purchases of CDs with bonus material but this is an American group so the logos will probably just start showing up on American sites, like Amazon.com, until the Canadian retailer and label subsidiaries decide to adopt the logo.

I’m guessing that Amazon.ca will probably be the first to introduce the logo on their site because they basically share their American counterpart’s database, followed closely by Best Buy Canada.

Both Amazon and Best Buy were members of the Deluxe Product Workgroup behind the new logo, along with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group Distribution and WEA Corp.

For additional information on this new standardized logo, click here for Official NARM Site.

CPCC demands levies on MP3 Players

In a press release dated June 2nd, 2010 the Canadian Private Copying Collective criticized the recently proposed amendments to the Copyright Act stipulated in Bill C-32.

They are again proposing a levy on Mp3 players, this time at a rate of up to $25 per unit in response to a survey of 1000 Canadians. And apparently found some support in The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to extend the levy to digital music recorders.

In response to this issue Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus proposed such a levy on audio recording devices in a private members bill in Parliament, Bill C-499, on March 2010. But it stalled at first reading without the support of the conservatives, who in turn tabled Bill C-32.

The problem here is that the CPCC are trying to implement a scheme that ignores the fact that royalties are already being collected on the sale of online recordings, a medium in which copying is required for use, and that the popularity of these recordings are dependent on the sale of mp3 players.

The CPCC may claim that MP3 players are without value without music in their press release. But online recordings are nothing but a series of ones and zeros without devices to play them. And compact discs are a dying format from which people will make less and less private copies from as time goes by so the CPCC is basically trying to sustain their existence by levying anything that comes along.

One has to wonder what the true value of these rights are now that the CPCC are attempting to propose a significantly reduced rate, from $21 per gig of memory in March 2002 to $25 per unit.

Did the value of these rights drop over these eight years or is the scheme being made more palatable ? And would the later then mean the rights are being subjected to the market and are flexible in value ?

The CPCC do attempt to claim they are looking for fair value on their Save The Levy site. But how fair is it to levy consumers via the mp3 player manufacturers, who would pass on these expenditures to their customers ?

Private copying may result in copying. But this copying is distinguished from commercial distribution because it is for private use by the consumer.

It does not result in the collection of funds by the consumer, from which royalties would have been collected if it were commercial distribution.

Furthermore it is the consumer that distributes music to these devices and not the manufacturer of these mp3 devices, so the manufacturer is not engaged in the commercial distribution of music either.

Like the compact disc player, these are playback devices in which media is introduced by the consumer ; Media whose data is played from the media, stored in memory and converted into music.

Yet CD players are not levied because the distribution medium in question is the compact disc, a format whose sales result in royalties. And in turn it can be argued that online recordings are also formats whose sales result in royalties.

Bill C-32 addresses issues relating to online piracy by establishing penalties for the illegal distribution of music, both offline and online. And this will further promote the collection of royalties from legitimate online distributors and sites from which music can be streamed.

I believe the proposed mp3 player levy is redundant in light of the measures tabled by the Government of Canada and could be counterproductive if it results in significantly higher prices when it comes to audio playback devices.

In conclusion I oppose the proposed levy as a consumer and would remind the government that such a levy would promote the importation of playback devices by individual Canadians, to the detriment of Canadian retailers.

——-

I would again like to remind you that you may contact your local member of Parliament on this issue using the contact information provided by the Parliament of Canada web site.

You will find this information by entering your postal code in a form on the main page, under the words “Current Parliamentarians“.

Thank you.

New Proposed Copyright Act Amendments

The Canadian government has just introduced a bill to update the Copyright Act in response to new technology and international criticism.

Bill C-32 will further legalize private copying by enabling consumers to record and copy copyrighted music, film and television programs legally for private use.

It will also enable the consumer to convert this material into other formats, so this material can be played back on various devices. And provisions in regards to “Fair Use” have been updated, enabling copying for the purpose of “research, private study, education, parody or satire”.

Unfortunately this bill also proposes limitations on these acts, by making the circumventing of copy protection illegal, which would result in a penalty up to $5000 for non-commercial violations.

Most record companies have yielded to consumers in regards to copy protection. But the DVD manufacturers still use these schemes, including a DVD region code that renders DVDs legally purchased from one region unplayable in another DVD region.

Blu-ray discs have similar region codes and many of the film distributors have decided to release films without this coding. But what if the record companies and film distributors decided to re-introduce these “technological protection measures” ?

What if they decided to release the material in a proprietary format, rendering the material unplayable on devices not licensed to play this material ?

We should have the ability to view and make private copies of material that we’ve legally purchased but the provisions would subject us to the whims of the labels, film companies and their distributors, some of which own the rights to distribute material in certain countries and regions without the legal obligation to do so.

Canada is generally lumped with the United States when it comes to foreign films, concerts and music video compilation releases so we are subject to trends that are detrimental to material that is not or was not popular in the United States because of language or other factors.

For example, I like a french pop duo called Les Rita Mitsouko but unfortunately they did not have enough of a following in North America to justify the release of a Region 1 version of their limited edition “Bestov” CD/DVD compilation in 2001.

If I had not imported it from France back then I wouldn’t have it now because it’s no longer being distributed. And this issue isn’t limited to francophone releases.

Norwegian pop rock band a-ha had released a video compilation entitled “Headlines & Deadlines” in 1991 in the United Kingdom. This compilation was re-released again in 1996 and in 1999, whilst North American fans waited for a Region 1 release. Why ? Because in the States they’re considered a “one hit wonder”.

Then there are the complications brought on by the mislabeling of regions by the retailer or distributor, like the “Toutes Zones” Johnny Hallyday DVD I purchased directly from his label, Universal Music France.

An All Region or Region 0 DVD would not require the circumventing of region coding, complying to the provision proposed by Bill C-32. But “Master Serie” was mislabeled as an All Regions DVD on the label’s site, the DVD’s package and on the DVD.

I believe the circumvention provisions should reflect the fact that DVDs that are coded other than Region 0 and 1 can be legally imported by Canadians, resulting in the collection of rights in the country from which the products were purchased.

The copyright holders of the content found on these DVDs were compensated for transactions that would not have taken place if protectionist measures were in place restricting the distribution of Region 2 DVDs to Canadians. And no restrictions in regards to the distribution of the aforementioned Region 2 DVDs were imposed on or implemented by the re-known online retailers I purchased them from (Universal Music France, Alapage, Amazon U.K).

I will be contacting my local Member of Parliament on this issue and will be posting updates in this blog.

You can find your local MP’s contact information by postal code.

Bill C-32 was introduced by Tony Clement, Minister of Industry.

Limewire – What Next ?

As you may have heard, Limewire lost their case this week in the United States.

The Recording Industry Association of America had filed a lawsuit against them in the state of New York on August 4th, 2006, claiming they facilitated copyright violations with their file sharing software, by not taking the appropriate measures to prevent such activity. And on Wednesday the 12th of May, Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against Limewire.

Of course the recording industry praised this ruling, both in the United States and in Canada. But could this all have been prevented ?

On February 12th, 2010 Limewire CEO George Searle posted an entry on the company’s blog stating that Limewire had been “working diligently with labels, publishers and artists to introduce a full range of commercial services that harness, rather than alienate, music fans”.

The company had signed an agreement with independent music distributor CD Baby on July 1st, 2009 to sell recordings from their 240,000 plus artists to Americans via their online store.

But of course Mitch Bainwo, RIAA’s Chairman and CEO, claimed that Limewire had “thumbed its nose at the law and creators” in RIAA’s May 12th, 2010 press release on the ruling, because they failed to both negotiate licenses with the labels and impose filters on their peer to peer transfers.

By finding LimeWire’s CEO personally liable, in addition to his company, the court has sent a clear signal to those who think they can devise and profit from a piracy scheme that will escape accountability

Yes, the distribution of copyrighted material using LimeWire’s software was illegal. But whether it was a “piracy scheme” is debatable because Limewire would not have even bothered to warn its users of the implications of such violations nor would they have implemented any content filtering if they were in it to profit on the back of copyright owners.

RIAA obviously believes that the multiple statements and warnings found in LimeWire‘s end-user license agreement and copyright documentation are tantamount to lip service, along with the basic content filtering. But I believe the consumer, those that buy music or purposely use services where the copyright holder is compensated, do heed to these warnings and do use these filters.

Personally I have avoided peer to peer software because of the spam files and possibility of infection by malicious software. But now that LimeWire has partnered with AVG Technologies I may consider using the program. But only if I know the artists and copyright holders are compensated.

I believe LimeWire could distribute funds derived from advertisements and Livewire Pro software sales to copyright owners. And this could result in further partnerships with wireless device manufacturers, who could stream content and targeted advertising on their devices.

But of course we’ll need to wait until June 1st to know what the monetary penalties and damages will be, the original figure being $150,000 per occurrence of an illegally traded file according to Betanews. And then there’s the possibility of an appeal or settlement.

Here are some interesting links until then :

Arista Records LLC et al v. Lime Wire LLC et al

Press Releases

Interesting Reading