Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nothing new, nothing new.

Well, this is nice. From the good folks at CMJ:

UMG Steps Up Copyright Effort
Story by: Kevin Kampwirth

In a speech delivered last Friday during the Grammy Foundation's Entertainment Law Initiative luncheon, Zach Horowitz, president of Universal Music Groupm (UMG), remarked that in the future UMG will actively pursue litigation against social networking sites and their parent companies if they infringe on copyrights held by UMG artists and their music. UMG recently sued News Corp.'s FOX (which owns MySpace) and Sony Pictures (which controls Grouper) on the grounds that the two are attempting to shield themselves behind their creator's rights stance in order to avoid liability for copyright infringement.

Horowitz stressed that getting the courts involved was not necessarily the answer to the myriad of current problems in the industry—most notably the unwarranted use of an artists' music—but litigation might even things out, so to speak, so that one side is able to gain a foothold in the battle. Horowitz remarked that record companies are fighting a losing battle. Despite the fact that more people are listening to music now than at any time in the past, he says they are competing against those who have "no need or desire to invest in the content they distribute, and no concern that those who create will stop creating if they aren't paid for their work."

This has been an ongoing issue for a few years now. The last idea makes sense, and I agree to a point, but (and I'm positive that this is a redundant argument you'll find anywhere else) there's also the great possibility that an inability to illegally post music will result in less music posted. Because legal music is expensive, and a good chunk of the people who actually like music don't make enough money to buy every album they want to hear. A lot of smaller acts have been entirely made by the internet - illegal MP3 postings and word of mouth have made it possible for small, independent acts to gain a supportive audience that buys tickets to their live shows, or spreads word to people who eventually do buy their albums. But Universal, a major, has reason to take issue with this because they don't have any unknowns to promote through the internet, and are presumably losing money on popular artists with known names and ironically low album sales. A possible solution (and yes, it's been said many times): stop signing artists that are only good for singles, and people will start buying full albums again. Besides, the average Top 40 radio station only has enough time to play about fifteen songs before a new hour begins and its track list repeats, so Universal should be thankful for all the free promotion that MySpace users are giving its artists. Nothing like a company complaining about all the money it's not making off someone else's art.

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