A collective sigh of relief was let out Thursday, as a panel of federal judges who determine royalty rates for recordings ruled to renew the current royalty rate until 2012. The ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of three judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress, applied directly to mechanical royalties (which as we mentioned before, are the fees paid directly to songwriters and publishers of music, not the performers).
The currently royalty rate of 9.1 cents was lobbied to receive a 66 percent increase by music publishers, concerned about losing income as music sales decline. Labels and retailers pushed to judges to adopt a new model that would determine royalty payments as a percentage of wholesale revenue, however neither of these suggestions made the ruling.
One document in the hearing, submitted by an Apple executive, had threatened that a significant inflation in royalty rates could potentially force them to shut down the massively popular iTunes music store, which has sold over 5 billion songs to date. While Apple sees substantial sales, they operate with very thin margins.
There are still some in the music industry that have claimed that new rulings such as these might not be enough to satisfy the insatiable rise of illegal file sharing. “Whether these developments will be sufficient to return the music industry to health is not clear,” said Jonathan Feinstien, a music lawyer at the Krasilovsky & Gross firm in New York.
Apple has threatened to close its iTunes music store, if the Copyright Royalty Board approves a hike in the royalty rate on music sales. The board is to give its decision on Thursday. The National Music Publishers’ Association is pleading for a hike of 66% in royalty rates. On the other hand, digital store owners are demanding a cut in royalty rates.
"If the [iTunes store] was forced to absorb any increase in the ... royalty rate, the result would be to significantly increase the likelihood of the store operating at a financial loss -- which is no alternative at all,” Apple’s VP Eddy Cue warned the board in a filing.
Do you believe Apple can take such a drastic step?
The online music industry has always been a touchy one, but today the world came a step closer to ending online royalty disputes. An agreement that’s being called a “breakthrough that will facilitate new ways to offer music to consumers online,” songwriters, music publishers, record labels and digital music websites have concluded a seven year dispute over mechanical royalties and limited music downloads.
Mechanical royalties are the fees paid to songwriters, composers and publishers of music, not the person that only preformed it or the record company that produced the recording. Limited music downloads are downloads with restrictions attached, such as the model used by Napster To Go. iTunes, however isn’t considered limited use because you can listen to your songs as often as you want, without a monthly fee.
As landmark as this settlement is, it still leaves a big hole on the controversial topic of Internet radio. Sites such as Pandora and Live365 remain in a high-stakes standoff with SoundExchange, the company in charge of collecting the fees for artists and record companies. The reason that sites such as these were left out from the normal Internet radio agreement is because they allow users to select the music that they want to listen to, as opposed to simply listening to a pre-determined stream of songs.
According to speculation, the ban came after a popular pro-Tibetan album, Songs for Peace, went on sale on iTunes on August 8. On Friday, Apple acknowledged the sudden unavailability of iTunes in China and said that it was investigating the matter. However, it is not known whether or not access to iTunes has been resumed there.
There was always a disconcerting political undertone to the Beijing Olympic Games besides a few controversies in the middle. Nevertheless, it was a great show with some scintillating performances by some of the world’s best sportspersons. I choose to be apolitical but you are free to voice your unbridled opinions in the comments section.
MTV is busy optimizing popular comic book Invincible, using a process called Bomb-xx, for distribution through iTunes, Xbox Live and MTV Mobile, besides airing it on MTV2. The enhanced version of the comic book will not be a conventional animation but, on the contrary, an audio visual compilation prepared using actual scans of the comic.
One can perceive it to be something between a usual comic and an animated cartoon. The first six installments of the series will become available through the abovementioned digital distribution services on August 22.
It is indeed a novel idea as this way the peculiarities of the comic might not be compromised as is usually the case when a comic is turned into an animated cartoon. Not all comics travel well across to TV screens just like most videogames turn out to be contemptible movies.
Apple’s ingenious anti-hacking strategy for the iPhone launch – the phone must be activated in-store - resulted in long queues outside stores, as customers waited for their new iPhone 3G phones to be activated. But the iTunes and AT&T servers connived against the eager customers and crashed. However, the bedlam has subsided and now activations are going along at a canter.
He blamed digital distribution and rampant file-sharing for broadcast TV’s woes. He has a point as digital distribution hasn’t even fully taken off and the Youtubes and iTunes might just be the precursor of bigger things to come, and digitally distributed content will hold sway be it game consoles or TVs.
However, broadcast TV is not going anywhere in large parts of the world that still don’t have a high broadband penetration rate. We have all been told how a certain technology or gadget is headed for its grave only for it to survive; even the radio has managed to survived till now. Tell the whole world what you think about broadcast TV’s fate in the comments section.
Here is a bit of news that might have music lovers rhapsodic. RealNetworks-owned online music service Rhapsody has MP3 music sans any Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection. This entails that users can do anything with the music they buy. If you thought that piracy fearing labels would never back such an initiative then you were wrong.
Major labels will continue to make their music available through Rhapsody. They perceive DRM protection to be some sort of a sales impediment as it deters many music lovers from buying such music online – scarecrow effect. Rhapsody’s online music store offers a single song download for $.99 and an entire album for $9.99. Rhapsody has certainly taken the attack to iTunes.
iTunes has registered more than 5 billion song downloads hitherto and has also emerged as the most frequented online movie store in the world. The increasing popularity of digital distribution channels like iTunes points to the end of the storage-media era - perhaps good riddance.
Apple Ceo Steve Jobs, who himself is a digital distribution champion, must be happy with the fact that iTunes is pioneering the digital distribution revolution. Movie buffs are renting and purchasing 50,000 films every single day from iTunes to go with the amazing feat of 5 billion song downloads.iTunes is Apple's golden goose and Steve Jobs, by the look of it, the fabled King Midas.
Apple’s tight connection with Disney (owner of the ABC television network and Pixar animation studio), its support for high-definition H.264 video, and a slick set-top box for playing your favorite TV shows and movies in your living room, render the iTunes Store an attractive proposition for home-theater enthusiasts. Too bad its video is limited to 720p.