by Mike Masnick

LaLa Sings A New (Expensive) Song

from the let's-see-how-this-works dept

Lala.com, a company that's received a ton of hype for being not much more than a Peerflix clone with a nicer design, has revamped its business model in a big way, and is getting a ton of press from all over. There are so many news stories to pick from, so we'll just go with the AP report on Lala's new music streaming and download service. It's certainly a shift from the CD trading service the company originally had. Instead, they want to offer up the ability to stream songs for free -- while paying record labels for each stream. The company claims that it will cost them $140 million to pay for these streams -- which seems a bit pricey for a startup without much proven ability to make money. Lala hopes that some percentage of people listening to the free streams will then buy downloadable tracks, which they'll be selling for $0.99 with no direct DRM -- but which can only be transferred directly to an iPod and nowhere else. That certainly sounds like just a different type of DRM, rather than no-DRM. Right now, only Warner Music has agreed to take part. This is the second time Warner Music has apparently agreed to take part in a "DRM-free" music download service, and the last time didn't turn out very well, as Warner turned around and claimed that Michael Robertson's Anywhere CD didn't really have permission to offer DRM-free downloads.

Speaking of Robertson, there's apparently a second part of Lala's new service that isn't covered in most of the press reports. Gizmodo is claiming that the service will also scour your hard drive for music and let you access all those songs from any computer. If this sounds familiar, it's because that's pretty much the model that Michael Robertson had for his MP3.com service, that was basically sued out of existence seven years ago for copyright infringement. By the way, it was Universal Music, at the time headed by Edgar Bronfman Jr., who pushed for the lawsuit against MP3.com (and then eventually bought out the company, only to kill it). It's probably worth noting that Warner Music, the only label involved in this new deal, is now headed by (yup) Edgar Bronfman Jr.

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  1. identicon
    Adam, 5 Jun 2007 @ 2:22pm

    I think the MP3.com reference isn't appropriate

    MP3 was sued because they copied a ton of CDs without permission and unlimitedly streamed that music to folks who (theoretically) proved that they already legally posessed that music.

    In contrast, as I understand it, lala is serving as a true locker service, where the user has to affirmatively upload each and every track; it's a "storage" service, not a music-authentication service of sorts. They are (most likely legally by all interps) as a carrier, and by not physically copying all the CDs themselves, they're pretty reasonably shielded from liability IMHO.

    = Adam, who got a law degree a decade ago but only remembers pieces of the stuff :P

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