COPYRIGHT
Record Labels, Music Publishing, Internet

A recent report published by NPD in the US shows that the threat of legal action against individuals who download copyrighted songs and swap files has led to a reduction in the number of infringements. The number of US households acquiring digital music via p2p file-sharing services declined by 11% from August to September and the total number of music files downloaded decreased 9%, says the company. However, the report also shows that the public image of record labels has suffered badly.

In Malaysia, the record industry has resorted to ‘digital watermarking’ preview CDs sent to journalists after numerous album titles were found on the Internet before release but after review copies had been sent to the press. The watermarking is a series of invisible and unique digital codes embedded onto the CD which allows investigators to trace the source of the download.

However, and in contrast to the problems reported by the record industry, US collection society Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) which represents music publishers and artists such as Britney Spears, Sheryl Crow, Pink and Eminen has announced increased annual revenues for last year, pre record industry actions. The performing right organisation distributed royalties of more than $533 million, the largest distribution to BMI’s songwriters, composers and music publishers in the company’s history. Royalties increased by $50.6 million or 10.5% from the previous year. Foreign collections also increased. This is particularly interesting in a period of rapid decline in CD sales; the increased distribution can be partially attributed to cost efficiency at BMI; the revenue increases to new forms of broadcast licensing and new income sources such as mobile ringtones.

Again in the US, retailers expect bumper sales of MP3 players, i-Pods and other digital record devices this Christmas, fuelling the recording industry’s efforts to restrict illegal downloads and promote legal downloads. However, Apple founder Steve Jobs threw spanner into the works when he announced that of the 99c Apple receive from each download on its i-Tunes site, the record industry takes 65c – leaving no profit for Apple from the transaction after costs have been taken out. Jobs pointed out that Apple could still make money from retailing hardware but expressed concern that legal download sites without a hardware side might not have a sustainable business model.

In the United Kingdom, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) which clamps down on piracy, has reported that they had seized 1,225,654 pirate DVDs this year – up 389% on this time last year.

See: http://www.musicdish.com/mag/?id=8908
See: http://www.musicdish.com/mag/?id=8945
See: http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=internetNews&storyID=3837657§ion=news 
See: http://star-techcentral.com/tech/story.asp?file=/2003/11/17/technology/6716052&sec=technology www.fact-uk.co.uk