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PreDaTor News: RIAA Sues ISPs-Then Drops It / Seven-Year Statute / Vivendi Universal? / RealOnePlayer / Soul Train Awards
By Kevin Vazquez, PreDaTor ProDucTions
(more articles from this author)
2002-09-03
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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 server.

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 Kevin Murray has withdrawn his proposed state bill to repeal the music industry's exemption to the state's "seven-year statute."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."


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