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GoodNoise, Harry Fox deal ‘legitimises’ MP3

Mechanical copyright licence agreement puts MP3 on a par with CDs, LPs and cassettes

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Web-based music company GoodNoise has been granted a licence to deliver songs digitally in the MP3 format by the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), the licensing arm of the National Music Publishers' Association. The move is a major step in the legitimisation of MP3, loathed by the big record labels yet loved by Internet-based music fans and firms alike. Under the licence, the number of songs downloaded from GoodNoise and affiliated sites will be regularly totalled and, on the basis of that figure, a so-called 'mechanical licence' fee will be paid to the HFA a large proportion of which will then be passed on to publisher of those songs. A mechanical licence specifically permits the duplication of music onto a physical medium (the current legislation counts digital delivery as physical duplication), as opposed to granting a public playback licence. Essentially, the agreement between the HFA and GoodNoise establishes that fact the MP3 is as valid a music delivery mechanism as CD, LP and cassette. GoodNoise says it was already paying mechanical licence fees to its 15,000-odd music publishers on an individual basis -- what's important about the new deal is that it plugs GoodNoise, and thus MP3, into a major part of the mainstream music industry. As part of the deal with the HFA, GoodNoise will embed a licensing number in every downloaded song, identifying the song's publisher to the song's customer. That's similar to the digital watermarking scheme which many other MP3 music suppliers, along with music software specialist Liquid Audio, recently backed under the Genuine Music Coalition (GMC) banner (see MP3 companies to launch anti-piracy coalition), of which GoodNoise is a member. That said, the company's doesn't appear to refer to the GMC, and still says: "GoodNoise supports pure, open MP3s," which isn't entirely true of the GMC's version of MP3. ® See also MP4 launched as successor to MP3 music format Secure Digital Music Initiative launched to kill MP3 Adaptec, GoodNoise develop consumer MP3 system

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