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Attorney Proposes Licensing Music Distribution, Not Downloading

February 22, 2007

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Bennett Lincoff, an “intellectual property law attorney”, has recently proposed a new solution for the end of the DRM battle: licencing music distribution instead of music downloading. By altering copyright law so that the only right consumers would need to license from record labels is the right to distribute music would make downloading or streaming free; consumers and owners of networks would only need to secure licensing in order to redistribute a song.

Wired News published a summary of Lincoff’s proposal,”Fixing What Is Badly Broken”. Read an excerpt and comment. Do you think this could be the way to go?

(Links to: full summary; full article)

“Recently, I published a Musical Licensing White Paper through my web site. In it, I propose an alternative to the music industry’s traditional sales-based revenue model for purposes of digital transmissions of sound recordings and of the musical works embodied in them. (…)

“To begin with, consumers would not incur any liability merely for surfing the web, accessing streaming media, or downloading music files. Copying for personal use also would not require authorization. To be sure, consumers still would be required to pay network operators for Internet access, and they may be required to pay audio service providers for their activities on particular web sites or services. But whether consumers listen to streams or download recordings; make one or many copies of a recording for personal use; or use recordings on one or several playback devices would have no effect on their obligation to music industry rights holders. None of this conduct would require consumers to obtain licenses or pay license fees under the digital transmission right; and should not otherwise.

“On the other hand, consumers would need licenses whenever they act as digital audio service providers in their own right; that is, whenever they are responsible for the digital transmissions at issue. By way of example, consumers would need authorization if they operate music-enabled personal or hobby web sites; or if they upload music files to a web site or service that does not have its own license under the digital transmission right authorizing this activity by users of its service (known as a ‘through-to-the-user license’); or, if they offer recordings to others through participation in a P2P file-sharing network, or similar service, that does not have a through-to-the-user license. (…)

“(…) Licensed transmissions of recorded music would be made available from the largest number and widest array of sources, anytime, anywhere, to anyone with network access; and consumers would be free to enjoy music when, where and how they themselves decide.”

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