RIAA readies for legitimate Net music sales
But doesn't bother to explain how
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) - most famous for bringing court cases against MP3-based companies like Napster and Diamond Multimedia - has "reached agreement" with National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) on how to allow licensing of music over the Internet.
In a press release, the two said the system will be run through a subsidiary of NMPA, The Harry Fox Agency. Harry Fox will co-ordinate with the record companies that are members of the RIAA - including Universal, BMG, Sony, Time Warner and EMI - and with Web-based distributors.
"This opens a new era in the licensing of music on the Internet," said Edward P. Murphy, President and CEO of NMPA. That right, this wonderful alliance will "set forth" a whole range of "streamlined procedures under which musical works may be licensed expeditiously". It goes on a bit with guff like this, teasing you to read further and find out what on earth they're all talking about.
"The new arrangement with HFA will expedite licensing for digital downloads very substantially, enabling our companies to make more music available to consumers more easily and more quickly" - this is about as clear as it gets. What's that you say? A load of hot air?
Well what would you expect from the RIAA? This is apparently a major unveiling of an amazing new strategy, yet even the most basic facts on how it will work are missing. We're not doubting that they've come up with something, but the question is: are they simply behaving like typical arrogant music industry types or are they worried their plan will be torn to pieces by the press? Either could be true.
This is also likely to be seen as evidence that the RIAA is finally coming round to the fact that the Internet has become a major distribution medium for music. It is also a belated offering. If the two companies had stated their intention to work like this a year ago - rather than try to sue everyone that strayed too near - they might have found a smooth transition. As it is, they have their work cut out for them. ®