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MP3.COM, RIAA
AGREE ON SOMETHING
Not An Official Sign Of The Apocalypse, However
It’s nice to see MP3.com and the Recording Industry Association of America finally finding something that both of them agree on, even if it is something as mundane as mechanical licenses—the healing has to begin somewhere.

While asking the government to include Internet-delivered music part of the government-mandated compulsory mechanical license isn’t quite as ground-breaking as Hilary Rosen and Michael Robertson becoming Aimster buddies, the fact that MP3.com and the RIAA have petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office to make that change, shows how screwy this whole Internet music thing still is and how many separate issues need to be resolved before music legally delivered over the Internet can become widespread.

As the Hollywood Reporter, er, reported, as sides are chosen on how to treat digital downloads, on-demand streaming and the like, the National Music Publishing Association and the Songwriters Guild of America are against making digital music subject to mechanical licenses. “Such a rulemaking would exceed the authority of the Copyright Office and very likely harm the development of legitimate music delivery services on the Internet,” the two said in a joint filing with the Copyright Office.

In the case of mechanical compulsory licenses, if the user pays the royalty, as determined by the Copyright Office—to a government-run fund or directly to the copyright owner—then they can use the copyrighted work. The downside, and the part the Guild and NMPA are worried about, is that copyright owners lose their ability to negotiate separate terms or turn deals down.

Interim Napster CEO Hank Barry spoke in favor of compulsory licenses when he testified before Congress last month, but with Napster pretty-much a non-factor now, does that really matter?

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