Universal Music 'Settlement' With Bolt Makes A Mockery Of The Law; Common Sense
from the ridiculous dept
The news is spreading now that Universal and Bolt have reached a settlement -- though, the details suggest this isn't so much of a settlement as it is Bolt effectively paying a ton of money to Universal and more or less shutting down. All of this is despite the fact that Bolt has an incredibly strong legal position. It seems extremely unlikely that a court would find for Universal here -- but to continue to fight it is probably prohibitively expensive. Bolt, itself, can't afford the "fees" it has to pay under the settlement, so it's selling itself to a much smaller competitor who has some cash it can use to pay off Universal. Bolt's founders have apparently already moved on to some other startup. Realistically speaking, this is Univeral Music pressuring Bolt out of business (and even getting the company to admit it was "guilty" of violating a law it didn't break).
In the meantime, Doug Morris can chalk up another ridiculously hollow victory. He's the same guy who successfully convinced Microsoft to give him a cut of every Zune sold, despite no sane legal reason to do so. While Morris may think he's cleaning up by forcing companies to pay fees they shouldn't, he's actually shooting himself in the foot with each move. Videos uploaded to these sites that include background music from a UMG act hardly hurts sales. It seems almost laughably ridiculous to think that anyone would hear a song in the background of a video on YouTube (or Bolt) and decide that he or she no longer needs to buy a copy of that song from iTunes or via CD. Having these songs in the background of videos clearly acts as a promotion -- and it's a free promotion that Morris has just killed off for the short-term gain of a few million dollars. Morris is destroying Universal Music's long term chances with each "short-term" win -- and at the same time making a mockery of both the law that protects service providers and basic common sense.