PreDaTor News: New Bids for Napster? / Content Owners v P2P Sites / Webcasters to go Broke / Rhapsody Expands / MCA Nashville / B.I.G. & Tupac
Following the bankruptcy court ruling halting Bertelsmann's acquisition of Napster's assets, California investment bank Trenwith Securities, which represents Napster's unsecured creditors, is accepting new bids. The minimum asking price is $6 million, with Trenwith expecting to complete the sale within a month.
Updating the copyright-infringement suit against the Napster-like peer-to-peer file-swapping services KaZaa, Morpheus, and Grokster, the RIAA, National Music Publishers' Assn., and the Motion Picture Assn. of America have filed a motion for summary judgment against the services, claiming that they resemble Napster's rampant infringement operations. But on behalf of Morpheus, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) civil liberties organization pressed for an opposite court judgment, claiming that unlike Napster, the services are unable to monitor users. The motions will now be heard by a judge in December.
With the Librarian of Congress's setting of 0.07 cents per performance for Internet-only transmissions and simulcast retransmissions-which goes into effect this month--the Jupiter Research firm predicts that most music Webcasters will go broke. It suggests that labels will have to waive the fees, and that a central rights clearinghouse will have to be set up to facilitate transmission rights. Artemis Records is the only label so far to promise royalty-free content to Webcasters; RealNetworks' proposal for a subscription revenue-sharing structure for Webcasters isn't feasible, says Jupiter.
Speaking of subscription services, file-sharer Audiogalaxy, which had been one of the biggest Web sites for pirated music (but settled a copyright-infringement suit with the RIAA, the National Publishers' Assn., and the Harry Fox Agency in June), is now a distribution partner for Listen.com's Rhapsody subscription service. It's the first time a major-label-supported subscription service has been made commercially available via a peer-to-peer network. Also, Listen.com is now distributing Rhapsody through Charter Communications, the country's fourth largest cable company. In tech news, meanwhile, Microsoft has introduced Windows Media 9 Series, a new digital content-delivery platform that allows high-speed online streaming, along with home-theater-quality audio and video-starting with Peter Gabriel's new album "Up."
Over at the labels, new MCA Nashville chairman/CEO Luke Lewis has let go four more staffers-the morning after former chairman Bruce Hinton's retirement party. At Motown, a production and distribution agreement with Henchmen Entertainment is over, with Henchmen seeking another label partner. And at Island Def Jam, buyers of Bon Jovi's "Bounce," due next month, can register at bonjovi.com for pre-sale concert ticket offers, as well as downloads of unreleased music and contest entries. The gimmick is designed to encourage purchases over illegal downloads.
In artist developments, the Los Angeles Times has reported that Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G., was a major player in the 1996 murder of Tupac Shakur-as many have suspected-but Wallace's family immediately denied it, accusing the paper of irresponsible journalism. The Times story said that Wallace offered to pay the Crips gang $1 million to off Shakur and provided the gun used in the drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Wallace then paid $50,000 after the killing, according to the Times; the rapper himself was shot to death six months later in Los Angeles, in a case that also remains officially unsolved.
But last week also brought the first anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. In keeping with the country's solemn mood, no major albums were released, and overall U.S. album sales dropped 8.8% to 11 million units-9.4% behind the week's sales from last year.
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