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MIT 'Free Music' Scheme Comes Unstuck
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2003-10-31
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It seems the cunning Massachusetts Institute of Technology effort to get free music onto local networks has run aground - for the moment, anyway.

The idea was that students could hear songs through the university's cable TV network which would, they'd hoped, avoid incurring royalty costs and copyright infringements.

Unfortunately, however, Loudeye, the company supplying the students' service with songs, "didn't have the right to do so," writes Jon Healey in the LA Times.

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"As a consequence, the service launched Monday without some of the clearances from the copyright holders. MIT agreed to reconfigure the Library Access to Music Project and remove songs from at least one of the major record companies while it negotiates directly with the labels and publishers, Healey says, going on to quote unnamed MIT officials as saying:

"MIT at all times has sought to obtain a legal music service for its students and had relied on Loudeye to provide MIT with authorized content and for Loudeye to facilitate and obtain the appropriate licenses."

However, Loudeye publicist Stan Raymond said although the company provided content to MIT, "We did not provide licenses for them to issue that content."

Under federal law, labels are entitled to royalties from on-demand services only if they transmit music digitally. The MIT system transmits songs through an analog cable TV system, says the report, continuing:

"Kelly Mullens, a spokeswoman for Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group, said, 'It is unfortunate that MIT launched a service in an attempt to avoid paying recording artists, union musicians and record labels. Loudeye recognized that they had no right to deliver Universal's music to the MIT service, and MIT acted responsibly by removing the music'."

Universal "looked forward to working out a solution with MIT," says Healey, adding, "A spokeswoman for the Harry Fox Agency, which represents music publishers, said her firm also hoped to resolve the dispute quickly. Neither Loudeye nor MIT has a license from Fox, she said."


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