Freebies May Threaten The Ringtone Business

from the short-lived-business-plan dept

Lots of content providers (in the music business and elsewhere) have been looking to the mobile world as a savior. They seem to think that since the mobile carriers control the network, they’ll always be able to charge for content on the phone. I think it’s a limited-time business model. Eventually, the internet and the “mobile internet” will need to merge. While companies like Sprint PCS made a huge mistake pitching their WAP service as “the wireless web”, as the devices and mobile networks get better, there’s simply no reason why you shouldn’t have full internet access from your mobile phone. As that comes closer, the idea of charging extra for mobile content that is available for free online becomes much more difficult. It looks like the first stage of this process might be happening already with ringtones. Ringtones, of course, are the popular “success story” of mobile content – though, I’ve never fully understood why people are willing to pay good money to annoy everyone around them, but I’ve been told it’s a “youth thing” (which, yes, does make me feel old). However, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the ringtone business may be threatened by internet-style freebies. Already there are “Napster-like” sites where you can share ringtones. More importantly, though, new applications are showing up that let you just take a music file you own and turn it into a ring-tone for yourself. While the music industry is likely to get very angry about this, it would appear to fall under their own definitions of fair use, according to statements made by their lawyer (scroll down to where he says: “When you buy a CD, you should feel free to consume the music. That means you should listen to that disc, and feel free to make a copy of that disc for your own use so that you can have a copy in your home and your office. You should feel free to copy it onto other formats, such as .mp3, so that you can listen to it on your computer. You should feel free to copy it to cassette.”). I assume that means you can copy it to your phone as well.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...