Music Industry

Billboard Predicts Possible EMI Outcomes

EMI is still working to keep itself out of Citigroup’s hands. But according to Showbizz411 this company is having a hard time because some of their contacts with artists like The Beetles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Norah Jones include clauses that prevent them licensing out many of their recordings.

If they had been able to proceed Universal Music Canada would have been licensed to distribute EMI’s catalog in Canada. But it appears that option fell through, resulting in additional predictions by Billboard, which can be read here.

ACTA Vs Canadian Law

From the 12th to the 16th of this month numerous international government representatives will meet in Wellington, New Zealand to discuss the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

This agreement seeks to enforce measures to control the illegal distribution of copyrighted material internationally ; Measures that include restrictions that could result in extensive searches at the border, prohibitions in regards to the use of devices that circumvent the digital locks on media and intrusive, mandatory policing by internet service providers.

In an email to The Ottawa Citizen, Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan stated “Negotiations are continuing and there is not yet an agreement.” and that the current government would not sign on to the agreement unless it “reflects the best interest of Canadians.”

The proposed measures do not reflect the best interest of Canadians.

Since 1997 Canadians have been able to legally make private copies of audio recordings and the sale of region free DVD or Blu-Ray players have yet to be restricted in Canada.

Canadians have also not been subjected to undue searches at the border over this issue, have not been subjected to copy protection since due to the consumer and legal backlash against rootkit based copy protection, and the attempts to force internet providers to police copyright on their systems failed in federal court.

The proposed measures were also introduced in a manner contradictory to our laws on transparency and may conflict with the conclusions derived from our recent public consultations on copyright reform. Even the EU Commission had been forced to put those issues to a vote this month, to open the Agreement’s process up to the public.

Amendments to our copyright act will be proposed shortly by the Canadian Government in response to the aforementioned public consultations.

Guvera Live

Australian music download service Guvera is now online in Australia and the States.

This advertisement funded service allows registered users to stream or download music free (in the Mp3 format) from EMI, Universal and several indie labels.

The American service is in beta mode at the moment and is only giving 100,000 users access until more advertisers can be found.

Here is a Billboard article on this service

Scalpers VS Smart Chips

BBC News reports that Live Nation UK is experimenting with new smart chip technology that would identify ticket purchasers.

This technology, which may make paper tickets obsolete, is embedded in specially manufactured wristbands that are unique and may enable concert goers to purchase food and drink, according to Live Nation UK.

These “digital wristbands” will first be introduced at festivals in the UK but could make their way to concerts in Great Britain if they are successful. And perhaps they will make their way to North America, Ticketmaster and Live Nation having merged in late January in the states, creating Live Nation Entertainment.

There is some concern in regards to the ability to re-sell these wristbands online though, a concern that Ticketmaster would need to address to promote the re-selling of these wristbands via their TicketsNow subsidiary.

Would the editing of the information contained on the chip be difficult, hindering the resale of these wristbands ? Or would these wristbands simply be reissued instead with amended or updated information ?

I guess the pilot project will help answer these questions.

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Live Nation Merchandise

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EMI/Citi Financial & Arcadia finally on DVD

It appears that EMI is trying to work something out with the other labels to keep it’s assets from being taken over by Citi Financial.

Times Online reports that EMI has approached Universal, Sony and Warner and that Warner is preparing a bid for some of EMI’s assets with KKR.

All is not well at EMI.

Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Radiohead have all left the label since the company’s 2007 takeover by private equity group Terra Firma and they have recently been brought into court by members of Pink Floyd, according to this Times Online article.

Well, at least there is some good news for fans of Duran Duran and Arcadia in Canada. We will be getting the special re-releases of their CDs via EMI Music Canada in April, which will include bonus remixes and DVDs that include the music videos for these albums.

I’m particularly interested in the reissue of Arcadia’s So Red The Rose, whose music videos I wanted on DVD for decades. But the bonus material and videos on Duran Duran’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger reissue are also tempting.

Now if only EMI could release Kate Bush’s “The Whole Story” on DVD…

New Levy Proposed For Mp3 Players

A new levy for mp3 players and iPods has been proposed in Parliament.

Private Members Bill C-499 would extend the current private copying levy from blank audio cassettes, CD-R, CD-RW and DAT tapes to MP3 Players, including iPods, in order to compensate copyright holders for the distribution of copyrighted material to these devices.

Unfortunately the previous attempt to expand this levy to “digital audio recorders” called for rates up to $75 per device, which would have been passed onto consumers by the manufacturers, and would have resulted in the decimation of the Canadian sales of these devices because Canadian consumers would have imported them to avoid the additional fees.

As a consumer I oppose these levies because I believe I have already paid for the right to distribute recordings that I have purchased online to these devices. And I have also purchased the compact discs from which I make private copies, copies for personal use that are deemed legal since the passing of the Private Copying Act in 1997.

Remuneration is not required from me because I do not download music illegally off the net, yet this levy is based on the assumption that I download recordings off the net illegally simply because I own a device that can be used to store this material.

After all they had assumed that most of the previously levied items were used to make copies of copyrighted material. And this will of course result in further assumptions about film downloads, which will likely result in more levies in the future on DVD-R, DVD-RW and devices on which video can be stored or played back.

We need an equitable, logical remuneration scheme based on the realities of today’s recording industry.

Distribution is no longer limited to a physical medium like vinyl, cassette or compact disc and the consumer should not be paying for a recording every time they copy this recording to a medium when this copying is meant for personal, private use.

Please contact your local Member of Parliament and voice your opinion on this issue as soon as possible.

I will be updating this blog entry as the issue progresses.