Wednesday Informer: Pre-Holiday Edition

It’s a short work week here at NewMusicBox, but before we go give thanks, eat our turkey, and take a nap while mom does all those dishes, I thought I’d share just a few news items that have come across my desk this week.

National Public Radio tired of being intelligent, would rather be popular. National Public Radio has been steadily decreasing its classical and jazz music programming and replacing it with more news and talk radio. Like a misguided teenage girl, they have been motivated to make the shift because those formats are more popular, an unusual benchmark for the organization. Listeners who tune in NPR’s affiliate channels for their classical music fix have been crying foul for years, but now even the National Endowment for the Arts is on the lambasting bandwagon.

Anyone considering trading in their composing career should think about law school. And then go to work for Universal Music Publishing Group, because they are ready to sue anything that even looks at copyright law funny. Though they did reach a licensing deal with YouTube, Universal has filed a lawsuit against MySpace for allowing users upload copyrighted music and videos without authorization. They also sent a cease-and-desist letter to those guys from Bank of America who recently rose to Internet notoriety for their atrocious reinterpretation of the U2 hit “One.”

If Santa gives you an iPod this year, give it back. In an article that appeared in Billboard magazine, Universal CEO Doug Morris outlines the agreement struck with Zune, Microsoft’s recently launched iTunes/iPod competitor. The deal snags a percentage of the sale of the digital players in addition to licensing fees for downloads and subscriptions. Why would Morris request such a thing? “These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it,” he explained. And nothing expresses your love for your customer base like calling them all criminals.

And you though copyright law was confusing before. If you think Universal’s sue-happy strategy is shortsighted in today’s ever-expanding tech market, be thankful you don’t live in Australia. Proposed changes to the Australian Copyright Act could result in criminal charges being levied against those who copy media—even media they legally own in one format—between devices such as iPods and computers. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, “Even if they can’t prove you were negligent and you genuinely didn’t know you were breaking the law, the strict liability provisions mean you could still be issued with a $6600 fine.”

Operation Rock Me Amadeus. Meanwhile, the drug dealers of Chicago show us how to mix crime and high art with real style.

One thought on “Wednesday Informer: Pre-Holiday Edition

  1. sgordon

    And nothing expresses your love for your customer base like calling them all criminals.

    Well… if they’re not paying for the music, they’re not customers, are they?

    I say kudos to Universal. They’re out of line with the “One” parody guys, sure, I’ll give you that – but on every other front you mention – myspace, Zune – they’re protecting artists’ rights. I don’t think it’s short-sighted in the least.

    Seth Gordon

    Reply

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