Warner Music Continues The Trend: No Innovation Unless It Owns A Piece Of It

from the chilling-effects dept

Warner Music has a rather long history of being first in line to sue pretty much any new and innovative online music service out there. While it doesn't get nearly as much attention, we've heard repeatedly from people that Warner offers many of those sites a deal: give us a big chunk of the company and we'll drop the lawsuit. The lawsuit is merely a big stick used in the "negotiation" to get a piece of the company. So, when you see a lawsuit and then a settlement, involving Warner Music, often the reason is because the other company agreed to hand over a hefty chunk of equity. It's difficult to think of any major online music service that Warner hasn't threatened, sued or received an equity chunk from.

According to TechCrunch, that activity on Warner Music's part has now killed off an attempt by Facebook to open up its own music service. The company had been working for nearly a year on such a service, but Warner simply wouldn't allow it -- especially since it already had ownership stakes from a bunch of other players, and didn't want the competition. This is exactly the sort of chilling effect on innovation that we're consistently talking about. It's rather ridiculous that one company can hold up new and useful ways of listening to and sharing music. When things like the DMCA and other copyright extensions came out, the RIAA insisted that it would never try to block any new devices or services, but its members -- and Warner Music, in particular -- have never lived up to that agreement. Warner Music especially overvalues the music, and undervalues any service that makes that music more valuable -- and thus needs to block or kill off any such service that it can't own in some way. That's not the intention of copyright law, at all. In fact, it's a drastic abuse of copyright law.

Filed Under: chilling effects, innovation, lawsuits, music
Companies: facebook, warner music group


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  1. identicon
    Ryan, 15 Jan 2009 @ 3:48pm

    Faith in Government

    I'm not sure why everybody, while agreeing that such laws (or the interpretations and enforcement of such laws) as the DMCA, copyrights, trademarks, etc. need to be changed, they insist on waiting for government to change them. Government is controlled by special interests, which means that many times techdirt seems to mistake malice for ignorance (perhas knowlingly).

    It was explicitly stated by the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that when the existing government fails to uphold its contract with the people, it is the latter's right and duty to rebel against it--this was the entire justification for the American Revolution.

    As has been pointed out before, music sales are not being particularly hit hard by file sharing. Rather than attempting to initiate change via government and legal action, a grassroots movement of civil disobedience needs to be made to force it. Do not buy anything owned by Warner music. Make it so difficult for them to profit that they are forced to either sue everybody or give up. In retrospect, everybody agrees that such ideas were noble for racial equality and gender equality--there's no reason why similar actions cannot be taken now, much more easily with less risk of punishment.

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