Music 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

EMI Music Group Update

The Wall Street Journal reports that Terra Firma Capital Partners, the group that owns EMI, has received their stockholder’s approval to secure a $156 Million deal that will keep Citigroup at bay for the next two years.

By next March the label will still need a restructuring plan to handle it’s significant debt and people are in the industry are still speculating on whether Sony or Warner will buy up some of the company’s assets.

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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