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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.24 > 01Prev  Next

Non-Public Domain Tunes on AOL Must Pay a Royalty
By Rick Cooley

Hi gang,

The curtain fell on March 1, 1998.  In an agreement with the Harry Fox
Agency, over 10,000 downloadable files were REMOVED from AOL PCMUSIC
MIDI downloadable files system.  Some will be allowed back ONLY after
AOL pays royalties.  Now, an arranger can upload any files he chooses
BUT it must clear through HFA and they must clear it OR charge
appropriate royalties of AOL...  The downloads will continue to be free
to AOL customers BUT downloaders DO NOT HAVE FREE USE OF THE TUNES.
If they use it commercially, they do so at their own risk...

However, all tunes downloaded BEFORE March 1, 1998 are "grandfathered"
and are not subject to HFA royalties...  but I suspect that commercial
use will still be addressed someday soon by HFA  (ASCAP/BMI).  AOL was
by far the biggest "tube" for passing along copyrighted music and
arrangements.  There are now about 50 tunes for downloading on AOL...
all 200 year old classicals...  So called "original compositions" can
be freely and without fees uploaded and downloaded...  But they are
terrible, for the most part...


I suspect others who provide free files on the Internet will be next...
I visited some today and their policies have changed...  You can listen but
not (legally) download...  Even that may change soon...



 [ I sincerely hope that a mutually acceptable method is found for
 [ distributing non-royalty-free music on the Internet.  The existing
 [ rules that have been set up by HFA (and ASCAP and BMI) don't seem
 [ to work well here.  We're entering an era where electronic commerce
 [ "micro-transactions"  (transactions for small amounts accurate to
 [ a fraction of a penny) will be possible.  I'm hoping that some
 [ reasonable "royalty-on-download" might be possible.  To be sure,
 [ I'd cheerfully pay the original author's 6.5 cents (or whatever)
 [ to download a good MIDI arrangement of that tune.  It would be
 [ very easy to encode the "royalty recipient" into the non-musical
 [ portion of a MIDI file and arrange the payment.  Whether that
 [ payment is made by the sender or the recipient could vary from
 [ site to site.  Propagating a MIDI file which was so marked would
 [ be legal if the royalty was paid each time it was propagated.
 [ Such a scheme, or one similar to it seems like it will be technically
 [ easy to implement soon.  My fear is that the agencies that deal
 [ with the collection of royalties will remain in the pre-digital
 [ age for another 20 years.  I hope not.   --Jody

(Message sent Sun 24 May 1998, 21:42:48 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  AOL, Domain, Must, Non-Public, Pay, Royalty, Tunes

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