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May 12, 2005
Record Labels Squashing Cover Ringtones?
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).
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