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Donna Wentworth
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Ernest Miller
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Elizabeth Rader
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Jason Schultz
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Wendy Seltzer
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Alan Wexelblat
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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 12, 2005

Record Labels Squashing Cover Ringtones?

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Mobile Content News reports that major recording labels are pressuring cellphone carriers not to carry cover versions of hit ringtones (Labels Attempt To Monopolize Ringtone Industry):

“In our own situation, the labels have told the mobile operators that the non-original ringtones are “illegal” or would confuse the public (despite big disclaimers on most sited or ads stating they are not the originals),” said Slep [funder of cover ringtones provider MusicalContent.com]. “Because the mobile operators do not want any undue hassle and value their customer base so strongly, they have succumbed to the pressure tactics of the labels. Many of the aggregators that have supplied the operators with the polyphonic ringtones were forced to drop carrying the cover version material we supply under this pressure, or else the labels threatened to NOT supply the original version tracks.” [emphasis in original]
This is wrong on so many levels it isn't funny. Obviously, if these allegations are true (which wouldn't be surprising), we have the major record labels engaged in egregious anti-competive practices. Furthermore, why the heck is this even an issue? Apparently because the cellphone companies will only let you get ringtones through them. Why shouldn't you be able to download ringtones from any provider? Thank you, bogus telecommunications regulation that operates in conjunction with copyright to reinforce anticompetitive practices.

One strange aspect of this is that there is apparently an anonymous blog dedicated to ringtones by the artists themselves and against the cover versions ("The newest ringtones - truetones, polyphonics, wallpapers from the artists and record labels themselves") (Ringtone Releases).

via BillboardPostPlay

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


COMMENTS

1. Anthony Wayne on May 13, 2005 12:33 PM writes...

Independent ringtone providers would welcome the chance to sell MP3 ringtones, also called Real Ringtones, by the original artists. Unfortunately, the artists and the record labels are not being realistic in understanding the pricing models. The labels think that they are entitled to 50% of the sales price. Add to that that most young adults and teens pay for ringtones via premium SMS which costs the provider 45%. Where is the money in this equation for ringtone providers to sell ringtones by 50 Cent? There's a lot more money in it by selling "clone tones" by 49 Cent!

Permalink to Comment

2. Bob Bentz on May 13, 2005 12:36 PM writes...

You hit the nail right on the head, Anthony. We wish we could offer Real Tones by the original artists, but we'd be losing money if we did. The sites that are selling them can only be using them as loss leaders to get customers to their sites.

Permalink to Comment

3. Branko Collin on May 13, 2005 9:13 PM writes...

I've used the snitching form on the web site of the "Netherlands Competition Authority" (NMa) to rat on the labels. I don't know if this is a problem over here too, but if it, we'll soon find out.

Permalink to Comment

4. Angel on May 16, 2005 1:05 AM writes...

Hello,

I'm webmaster of ringtones.duble.com site.
I've just visited your site at http://www.corante.com/

I like your site very much. Would you like to do link exchange?
I can add link to your site here http://ringtones.duble.com/sites.htm

If you agree, please send me Title and URL of your site and
place this link on your site please:

Title: Ringtones
URL: http://ringtones.duble.com

Waiting for your reply very much.
Thanks.

-------------
Best regards,
Angel

Permalink to Comment

5. Branko Collin on May 20, 2005 11:22 AM writes...

I received a reply today:

"The NMa has not received many indications that force is being used with regards to the sale of ringtones. Thank you for your report about the USA."

Note the interesting choice of words. They do not say that they have not received such indications, nor that they have received just the one (which could be mine), but they say "only a few". (Dutch: "De NMa heeft tot op heden weinig signalen uit de markt ontvangen [...]")

Permalink to Comment

6. NCPinDc on May 25, 2005 12:54 AM writes...


I have not made a point of posting comments to copyfight. However, I do not know why the owners of a copyright in a musical composition should not be able to limit distribution without compensation. A ringtone is a derivative work of a registered copyright whether the 'tone has been recorded by the original artist or a cover artist.

Pricing points is an issue for the retailer. You have to pay to play.

Permalink to Comment


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