Universal Targets Music Streaming Site

Compared to other music stores like iTunes, Deezer is a relatively new French music streaming site. Their big selling point is their legality – which is something that Universal is challenging.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The company was paying royalties to French collectives and landing deals with record labels. The great part was that anyone can add to the Deezer library. The case is reminiscent of the legality of AllofMP3 who also paid royalties to the local copyright collectives, yet the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) have been doing everything they can to get the website shut down for months.

Sources say that Universal is targeting the streaming site because Deezer never contacted them to authorize the streaming of their music. Deezer denied Universals claim and said that they were in talks since March.

This isn’t the first time Deezer was caught under the gun for copyright complaints. In March this year, the streaming music site, then known as Blogmusik.net, was shut down by societies representing artists and producers. It was since re-opened as Deezer when the company and the collective societies like SACEM reached a deal. Deezer has since been landing deals by independent labels and partnerships with ISP’s.

Universal music reportedly then made a “thinly veiled threat” to target Deezer and “the companies that promote it.” The latest disapproval from a major record label will probably re-open the debate on the legal ramifications of a music store who operates legally in its home country, and the global enforcement jurisdiction of intellectual property owners.

More importantly, what about the major record label’s view of themselves as being innovative? One of the major criticisms of major record labels has been that they refuse to embrace innovation. The debate has been around at least since the fall of the original Napster file-sharing service. The criticism is sharply denied by the major record labels who have since re-opened Napster as a music store. The major record labels also tried shedding their image of ‘a bunch of people who aren’t innovative’ by signing deals with iTunes and selling music online. When criticism arose from their DRM (Digital Rights Management) strategy, two companies eventually started selling DRM-free music in select online music stores – first EMI, then, strangely enough, Universal. If Universal wanted to be seen as a company that embraces change, this latest clash with Deezer will definitely be a set-back.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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