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Guilt-Free File Sharing
Legitimate Music Services Offer Alternative to Napster
By Heather Johnson
(more articles from this author)
2001-03-12
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Consumers who acquire music digitally don't have to feel guilty about cheating an artist out of hard-earned royalty monies anymore. While record companies and Napster continue to sort out their differences, several music delivery and file sharing services are offering digital access to music while respecting the rights of copyright holders.

J. River, developer of the Media Jukebox software, recently announced a campaign to bring together 3 million subscribers for a legal, Napster-like music delivery service. A free trial and sign-up form is offered from a new web site called www.AfterNap.com.

The service will not cater to the music fan looking for a "free lunch." Instead, the service targets consumers who want easily obtainable, quality music, but are willing to pay a reasonable price.

The Minneapolis-based technology company is adding a user interface, similar to the Napster interface, to its Media Jukebox player. The player is equipped with peer-to-peer networking and streaming, and the company has existing server technology to manage high-volume music content.

Cantametrix followed suit by partnering with Wippit, a legitimate MP3 file sharing service, to implement their MusicDNA digital copyright identification and reporting technology. The technology guarantees that Wippit subscribers have access to accurate, high-quality song titles while providing a detailed global royalty and usage accounting of the musical copyrights licensed to Wippit.

Song trading also recently began on FLIPR (Future License of Intellectual Properties Registry), the first peer-to-peer digital distribution system that integrates a royalty payment mechanism. A beta version of the system, presently being tested by a host of international labels and artists, will deliver free music to listeners while compensating rights holders.

These new developments alone will help to lessen the friction between record companies and file sharing services, while still giving consumers the convenience and selection of digitally distributed music. "Everyone - including consumers, software developers and service operators - must respect copyrights," Will Poole, Vice President of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Digital Media Division, said in a recent statement issued by the company. "With constructive input from all parties, fans will get what they really want and artists will retain acceptable control over their creative expression."

Steve West, VP of Sales for J. River hopes that the bridges burned by the Napster fiasco can be mended by copyright-friendly services. "There is a free music crowd that won't ever pay for streaming or downloaded music, and we are not targeting this group," West said. "There is also a significant community that is willing to pay for easy access to quality music. We intend to mobilize this group and show the labels that these customers can't be ignored."

With the April 10 delivery date of www.AfterNap.com, J. River hopes to build a system that will give consumers a legal way to get music they want. Their success, however, is contingent on the support of the record labels. With the music industry currently losing an estimated $100 million in revenue each month from free music downloads, many are developing a strong affection for the new file-sharing services.

Such record labels as Aesthetics, Tiger Style, Om Records, 75 Ark, Leaf Recordings, Indica Records, Amalgamme, Bombay Records, Emperor Norton, Breakbeat Science, Platform Records, Dune/Nude Recordings, Red Giant and Teenage USA are already taking advantage of FLIPR, the software product developed by the Montreal-based company, Mondo-Live Inc.

According to Victor Shiffman, an Artist and Label relations representative for FLIPR, the process of approaching individual labels to acquire artist-approved content for a free file sharing system has been a challenge, but of the independent labels that have jumped on board, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

One of the reasons for the labels' enthusiasm is FLIPR's non-exclusive policy, which allows copyright holders to distribute their catalogue to as many file-sharing systems as they please. "Would you only give your recordings to one radio station?" asked Daniel Webster, head of product development for FLIPR.

FLIPR's business model is also artist and label-friendly. The model is based on a proposed royalty rate of four cents per completed transfer of a music file, payable to copyright holders directly every 30 days.

Wippit, another peer-to-peer file sharing service created by former X-Stream Network CEO Paul Myers, also helps, rather than harms, recording artists and labels. Wippit works to reduce distribution costs to a minimum while offering Internet-friendly music fans a cost-effective, legitimate means to acquire music.

Using Cantametrix's MusicDNA technology, Wippit users are guaranteed correct, complete songs and accurate textual information, as opposed to the garbled text and inaccurately labeled material found on other popular file sharing systems. Wippit's business model will also contain Cantametrix's Electric Ear service, which provides search and personalized music recommendations for users.

Cantametrix considers MusicDNA as the most viable solution for "legitimizing" MP3 file sharing on the Internet. MusicDNA will enable copyright holders to identify their content usage across all forms of networks and operating platforms, to insure that ownership and royalty rights are fully accounted for and reported.

These Internet services, portals, peer-to-peer networks, digital warehouses and online communities provide an important link between online consumers and businesses. Music buyers have made it clear that they want the convenience, selection and low cost of digitally distributed music, and thankfully "matchmaking" services, as Poole calls them, are making sure that copyrights are respected in the process and artists can retain control over their creative work.

Napster-like services are beginning to reinvent themselves so that consumer demand will be met with a business plan that is fair to content providers. As Pool explains, the "matchmakers" must continue to work to achieve and maintain this balance. "Consumers no longer can expect to freely share digitized works of intellectual property. Given quality and selection, they will pay a reasonable price for content," he said. "Content providers need to make it easier and more affordable for consumers to access to their creations. Finally, matchmaking services can't expect to build new businesses around the content owners' property without first establishing licensing agreements."

The courts have made it abundantly clear that copyright ownership counts. Now, with legitimate file sharing services introduced into the marketplace, consumers can download their favorite music off the Internet without feeling bad about it in the morning.

Linkography

AfterNap - www.AfterNap.com
Cantametrix - www.cantametrix.com
FLIPR - www.flipr.com
J. River - www.jriver.com
Microsoft - www.microsoft.com
Mondo-Live - www.mondo-live.com
Napster - www.napster.com
Wippit - www.wippit.com

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» Judge's Ruling Furthers Marriage of Napster and the Recording Industry - If Digital Music is the Drug and Napster the Needle, Then Who's the Pusher? (2001-03-06)
» Napster Extends a $1 Billion Olive Branch - The Industry Reacts - And Other Emanations from the Napster Decision... (2001-02-22)
» Interview w/ Jim Hillegass, CEO J. River (1999-09-08)

Related News from Mi2N:
» J. River To Enroll 3 Million For Legal Napster-Like Service
» Microsoft Comment On Peer-To-Peer Content Distribution
» Cantametrix Partners With Wippit To Offer Secure Legal MP3 File Sharing Service
» FLIPR Launches Legitimate File Sharing To Labels


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