PreDaTor News: RIAA Sues ISPs-Then Drops It / Seven-Year Statute / Vivendi Universal? / RealOnePlayer / Soul Train Awards
The RIAA, together with the major labels, sued four Internet Service
Providers (AT&T Broadband Corp., Cable & Wireless USA, Sprint Corp., and
UUNET Technologies) in federal court in seeking to halt access to
Listen4ever.com, a Web site operating through offshore servers in China that
allowed users to illegally download free music files-including entire
albums, both released and unreleased. But it dropped its action when the
site moved offline.
Artists affected included Christina Aguilera, Bruce Springsteen, Red Hot
Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, Barbara Streisand, Lenny Kravitz and Whitney
Houston; Mary J. Blige's just-released album "Dance for Me" was also
available via the site prior to its commercial release.
The ISPs that were targeted allowed users in the U.S. to access Listen4ever,
which, while based off China, was clearly directed at U.S. users. The suit
was the first time that legal action was taken against ISPs, instead of
going after individual Web sites or end users. But the RIAA, which went
after the ISPs because going to China for help was impractical, warned that
its pullback doesn't mean that it won't fight again in the future if
Listen4ever reinvents itself under a different name or move to a different
In other hard news, at the request of artists' representatives concerned
that they were being rushed into making a bad deal, California Sen. Kevin
Murray has withdrawn his proposed state bill to repeal the music industry's
exemption to the state's "seven-year statute." He now looks to introduce a
legislative package on artists' rights next year, to include the seven-year
repeal bill along with measures relating to label accounting practices and
artists' health care and pension benefits.
Cash-strapped Universal Music Group (UMG) parent company Vivendi Universal
will not be selling off its music assets, at least for the time being,
according to new VU chairman/CEO Jean-René Fourtou's recent letter to
employees and shareholders. But reports suggest that VU may spin off UMG and
other entertainment assets into a separate entity.
In legal Internet music developments, RealNetworks Inc. has a new version of
its RealOnePlayer Internet media-playing software that allows CD burning,
digital video viewing, and the capability to play most audio and video no
matter what the user's format -- even if it's programmed in a competitor's
software format, such as that offered by Microsoft or Apple Computer. But
this "universal" media-playing feature is only available to subscribers to
RealNetworks' new RadioPass subscription service or its SuperPass service,
which offers news, entertainment and other exclusive content service for
$9.95 a month.
Finally, a new low in award shows has been attained by the long-running
"Soul Train" music show, which decided to give its Lady of Soul entertainer
of the year award to rookie r&b star Ashanti. The move to so anoint the
21-year-old artist, who has sold over 2.3 million copies of her self-titled
debut album, generated an angry Internet petition drive resulting in over
20,000 signatures in opposition to the award, via the PetitionOnline.com
site. The total was 10 times greater than those signing a petition opposing
a U.S. invasion of Iraq!
But the idiocy doesn't stop there. The Lady of Soul award is named after
Aretha Franklin, rightly known as the Queen of Soul. Citing Ashanti's lack
of singing ability and stage presence, the petition said that it was
insulting to other entertainers who are more deserving, and especially,
Franklin. Inanely overreacting, "Soul Train" officials responded on the
show's Web site with outrage "over the fact that a people, whose ancestry
suffered 400 years of slavery, can be herded so easily into a virtually
bottomless mud hole and be taught to sling such mud therein."