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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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May 17, 2004

Free Ringtones

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Posted by Ernest Miller

I've always wondered how the heck the music industry has made so much money on ringtones (currently, a $3 billion market). Typical charges are $1-$3 for a 30-second snippet of a song that plays poorly on your phone while you can get a high quality version of the whole thing for $0.99 on iTunes. Well, as I suspected, that business model is coming under threat.

The Mercury News reports on software from Xingtone that let's people use their existing music collections to make ringtones (Do-it-yourself ringtone software encroaching on potential profits, some record labels say):

The Los Angeles company's $15 software, sold online, allows anyone with average computer skills to take an MP3 file or favorite CD track, trim it to create a 30-second ringtone and send it to the phone with the press of a button -- just like a text message.

Reactions to the software are mixed (which is an improvement from the likely reactions 5 years ago). Some music distibutors see the software as a marketing tool, others worry that it is cutting off a digital revenue stream just as it is taking off. Cell phone companies also have a mixed response with some blocking user-created ringtones while others don't worry about it much.

Despite the mixed response, I wonder if music distributors are really ready to forgo a potentially "massive" market. I wouldn't risk serious money that a lawsuit against the service won't eventually be launched.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use


COMMENTS

1. cypherpunk on May 17, 2004 8:28 PM writes...

Not unlike popcorn at the movie theaters. It's always overpriced, but you know in advance and take that into consideration in deciding where to spend your entertainment dollars. The theaters do their best to enforce bans on people bringing in their own food, but some people try to sneak it in anyway.

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