Monday, September 17, 2007

Music License One Stop Shopping: impossible dream or emerging reality?

How are the existing licensing schemes in the EU, Canada and the US affecting the development of digital music stores/subscription services, and which models seem to be emerging as the most mutually beneficial for licensors and licensees?

Eric Baptiste Director General, CISAC
David Basskin President, Canadian Music Reproduction Rights Agency
Sarah Faulder Public Affairs Director, MCPS-PRS Alliance
Jonathan Potter Executive Director, Digital Media Association
Tim Quirk Vice President of Music Programming, Rhapsody

panelists from left to right: DB(moderator), TQ, EB, SF, JP

03:25 PM EST - DB: One stop licensing, is it the impossible dream?

JP: The problem is complex, starting with simple steps such as finding out know who wrote what song and who owns it. This is not so much of a problem for the consumer but for the "investor". It needs to be simplified in order to make progress. There has to be a way to license music that people want to pay for and investors need to follow the legal process.

03:36 PM EST - SF: There was no competition previously in Europe but now musicians are shopping around. It's up to the "societies" to offer all the needs of rights' owners. This is the first step to the idea of "one stop shop".

EB: Most countries have copyright issues one way or another. There are a few points to keep in mind when dealing with the "one stop shop" idea. One is getting the creator/artist to be represented by a collective. The Santiago agreement was the closest to a "one stop shop" which was eventually stopped because of an European Union.

03:50 PM EST - TQ: Issues also become very expensive. Two separate owners (copyright/sound recorder) entities have to be accounted for. Setting up a system to track all uses is very expensive. Licenses do not overlap 100% in different countries. It becomes legal issues on top of legal issues. Laws exist now where no one can be paid for the music.

04:03 PM EST - SF: Blanket licensing has worked in Europe until now, we need to keep in mind we are in a great transitional period now.

DB: It is the known vs. the unknown. We have all this information, yet for the most part, nothing can be done with it. Frustration comes about when parties are expected to instantaneously follow newly established organizations. There are still many policies undecided or in the process of reaching an agreement.

04:15 PM EST - Audience questions

Q: I am composer and want my music on the internet. However, there are a lot of resources small and large. I would like there to be a law from the government to have a service to do that. What do you think of that?

DB: Most labels have thousands of data of unknown song titles with artists. Someone has to do the work somewhere and find these. Canada has rejected giving this responsibility to labels because they have already done a poor job with it. There isn't a single solution to this concept.

Q: Why would a new musician want to license their music anyways?

TQ: The hassle comes from societies and the collectives that are still developing. In the end, it's promotion that pays. There's no cost to being in the system. You reach an audience that you may not have on your own.

04:35 PM EST - DB: If we come back in 5 years, do you think any of these issues will be solved?

JP: Solve no, progress yes.

SF: Five years not a great deal of time, but will be closer to the ideal.

TQ: It will have become a lot easier.

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