Sony Stops Licensing Of Digital Streams As It Allows DRM-Free Music
from the interesting-timing dept
The timing on this one may be something of a coincidence, but it’s worth noting that at just about the same time that Sony is getting a ton of press for finally realizing that DRM doesn’t make sense, the company has also told the Harry Fox Agency to stop licensing its music for digital streaming (via Mathew Ingram). As Ingram points out, this decision is really about the rather arcane details of copyright law and two (of the many) different license requirements that are out there. The RIAA labels have all been pushing (not surprisingly) for whatever combination of licenses that will bring them the most money. This isn’t new, of course. We saw it in the battle over what licenses satellite radio had to pay. The same battle is now happening with digital streaming services. The Digital Media Association has asked the copyright board for a ruling saying that an audio stream should only be required to pay a performance license (as it’s a performance) rather than a reproduction license (like for a product that’s actually being distributed). Because of that, Sony has basically said it won’t be distributing any more music for streaming until this is settled. It’s likely the other labels will follow as well. It’s hard to see how they can really argue that an audio stream isn’t simply a performance, since the whole point of a stream is for it to be fleeting, like radio, rather than a fully stored download. Yet, when you’re unwilling to look at new business models, it’s no surprise that you look for any opportunity to use whatever laws and government subsidies you can to your advantage.