Odds and Ends from the BPI and the IPFI

A few non-related developments worthy of note.

Firstly, Tiscali have suspended their Mercora relationship following communication from the IFPI who stated that the service’s level of interactivity breached the terms of it’s European license and that Tiscali

“was paying to offer one type of service but was actually offering another very different one”.

Mercora’s model is a ‘legal p-to-p’ solution that enables people to stream music (regardless of whether it has been legally sourced) from other people’s computers. Mercora operate (or tried to) on the principle of webcasting licenses rather than digital distribution. Which besides the actual legality of the music on the network is a very creative interpretation of the law. Why should Mercora be covered by cheaper web casting regulations when Real and Napster have to pay full fees for on demand streaming services?

I was highly skeptical about the legality of Mercora’s European service when I soke to them about it at launch and I told them so. It turns out that my reservations were born out.
Secondly the BPI’s Peter Jamieson made a few interesting comments in his submission to the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media & Sport inquiry into New Media and the Creative Industries.

Highlights include

“We will not sue you for filling your iPod with music you have bought yourself”

Which is welcome reassurance but is a plaster (band aid for our US readers) rather than a cure. It’s a work around the existing legislation, which is by direct implication broken and in need of repair (see my previous post). A ‘clear distinction’ isn’t enough. It also isn’t enough for the music industry: if the law becomes interpretation of exceptions then that will open many a potential legal avenue of argument for intentional copyright infringers.

“Apple should make iTunes compatible with other players” and “It’s not particularly healthy for any one company to have such a dominant share.”

Poor old Apple, they almost single handedly kick started the digital music market into the 21st century, brought momentum back to struggling music revenues and more importantly made paying for music cool again. Now they’re victims of their own success and the BPI have added their voice to a growing list (including the French & UK legislature) calling for Apple to open up it’s DRM. There is a very solid argument for interoperability (which I don’t have space to revisit now) and it will be wise for Apple to start listening before they end up being forced. Currently they have no business benefit in opening up, but they may do in the medium term future, so it is in their interest to seize the initiative and dictate, or at least influence the timetable.

BPI to sue illegal website AllofMP3.com

The BPI’s General Counsel Roz Groome added that

“AllofMP3.com is illegal under UK law and it is illegal to download from it.”

The Russian based illegal music site that claims to be legal is finally beginning to face the music rather than just selling it. For some reason AllofMP3 have done an amazing job of appearing to be legal for too long now.