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Paul Cooke, Ben Ohmart and Kenny Love on MP3.com, Labels & the Future
MusicDish Writers Speak Out on the Issues
By MusicDish
(more articles from this author)
2000-09-17
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[Question] What do you think will be the impact of the court ruling that MP3.com willfully infringed on Universal Music's copyright?

[Kenny Love] While MP3.com has been found guilty in its initial music distribution procedures, I would hope that this situation can be worked out much better through an appeal, than what is on the table at the moment.

If not, and MP3.com is forced into damage payout, I see some dark days ahead for independent musicians in regard to it...namely, either a newly structured pricing scheme will be implemented by MP3 in an effort to recoup a degree of its financial loss if it intends to continue its existence, or worse, a complete shutdown of this vital site.

[Paul Cooke] It [court ruling on MP3.com lawsuit] will allow mew media distributors to understand the nature of the beast, ie: the entertainment industry distribution of product. The mistakes MP3.com, Napster, Scour made was that they invariably attempted to play the product distribution game utilizing a medium (Internet) that is not about music distribution, it's about marketing. Secondly, it shows that music distribution and CD-ROM's are a thing of the past and that new forms of media like direct sharing are viable. Thirdly, why build a community to effectively market free music and artists, and then embrace traditional artists into the scheme of things? MP3.com should have marketed these traditional artists only, and ploughed the money into direct file sharing and built its community. At the end of the day, there will soon be 8 billion users hooked up to mobile communications, downloading music at 1 cent a go...why play games with the majors in-regards to re-distribution of product; it doesn't make sense?

[Ben Ohmart] Eventually I can see everything to do with mp3s tightening up, but really only for the signed, high-profile artists. Compressed, Internet music files are too much of a marketing tool nowadays to be abolished at All. It will all depend on which corp. suits what to go with using mp3s still. But in time, all contracts will talk about licensing mp3s. In fact, MP3.com always makes newcomers sign an agreement about letting people download, so it will just take time to separate the hunger of new material from shoplifting.


[Question] Even if MP3.com survives the damages, Napster & Scour are quickly running out of capital due to legal fees (with investors staying away). Which companies do you think will take their place in leading the mp3 community with new technology or innovative services?

[Paul Cooke] I'm afraid most traditional major players have developed proprietary systems and much work has gone into exploiting the WAP/mobile distribution of content. This will be the new medium of distributing audio visual product. If a 20 second clip of Britney's new video can be viewed within your mobile and costs you 1 cent to view it, why log on? If the same song can purchased via the mobile device, who needs a PC and what is the Internet going to be used for? Effective marketing of course...

[Ben Ohmart] MP3.com will stay around because it's got some big time blood behind it, like Alanis. AMP3.com, IUMA.com and a few others look good because they cater mostly to new artists. Even if the mp3 dies someday, another, perhaps smaller, music file will take it's place. Online music is here to stay, and even the rich guys know that.

[Kenny Love] While I can't provide any particular "names" that might replace MP3, I am aware that there are already a number of similarly structured organizations that have utilized the current unfortunate legal situation of MP3 as a benchmark for fine-tuning their own future legal aspects, especially, in terms of meticulously insuring the copyright aspect of their organizations are covered. I base this summation on the recent agreements the RIAA has begun (and continues) to implement with various organizations, within just the last several weeks.


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