iPod Muzak Isn't Same Old Song

from the when-will-the-lawyers-show-up? dept

Last week we had a story wondering why Apple wasn’t selling space on their iPods, which was updated with a story of a DJ in Philadelphia who rents out iPods filled with music to local restaurants to play. Wired News has picked up on this story and found others who rent out iPods to retails establishments to give them some variety when it comes to the muzak they play. Of course, the legal questions still loom. The retailers all pay their ASCAP/BMI fees, but the person putting the music on the iPod itself may be infringing copyright rules, according to current laws. One of the operations doing this is (smartly) only using tracks they licensed from independent artists, but another is assuming he’s covered by ASCAP/BMI. On top of that, lawyers may claim that the establishments that use those iPods may then be contributing to copyright infringement. Of course, this is silly, and the RIAA lawyers will be sure to swoop down and charge high fees to anyone trying to run this sort of business (effectively double and triple charging everyone for some music). In the end, this means that most places will probably have to go back to playing bland, uncreative muzak instead of well thought out music prepared by a DJ. Aren’t intellectual property lawyers great?

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Comments on “iPod Muzak Isn't Same Old Song”

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Bob Bechtel says:

Separate the tunes and the sequence

A good DJ adds a lot of value by sequence selection and cross-mix. So, a model is to license the right to use the music on one hand (ASCAP/BMI permissions, and probably a separate cut to RIAA for actual performance use) and the DJ sequencing/mixing as a separate license. After all, aren’t the DJs entitled to protection of (and payment for) their intellectual property? There are several opportunities here: IP licensing of DJ sequence/mix (for the lawyers in the crowd), packaging of music with sequencing (for the middlemen), format definitions and software tools for capturing/recording/using DJ IP against a set of music (for the techies), reviews/compilations/competitions of sequence/mixes, etc. Whether there’s a viable business model in any of these is left as an exercise to the reader.

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