posted May 25, 2001

Two RIAA Lawsuits for the Price of One Music & MP35/25/2001; 5:02:14 PM First up this week was Aimster, being sued for copyright infringement. Aimster is a clever little service that piggy-backs on Instant Messaging and allows people to exchange files securely and easily, and of course music is one of its most common uses. Aimster has a page where you can find out what Aimster is.Next up is Launch, which allows you to tell the service what music you like, and rate what it sends you, so it tends to start sending you more music you like and less you dislike. RIAA is suing Launch for contract violation.Launch has the legal licenses to play music, so we're not talking about a rogue service. The lawsuit revolves around the level of control that Launch grants its users. According to the terms of the music licenses RIAA grants, the user cannot control the songs that are coming up on the station. (See many more of the rules at this help page, from 'The music lobbyist alleges that Launch's licenses with Universal, Sony, BMG and EMI do not allow for the level of interactivity and customization offered by LaunchCast, which allows users to decide how often they want to hear particular songs. After LaunchCast users rate songs, albums and artists, the service "learns" to play the types of music the user wants to hear.'I think this is a classic action of an effective monopoly. LaunchCast is an innovative service, advancing the state of the art in music service, and striving to do it in a legal fashion. RIAA is suing, but I suspect that were any reasonably-priced license available from RIAA to broadcast the songs in this manner, LaunchCast would have aquired it. By making it impossible to aquire a license, the monopoly is effectively and totally banning innovation in the music market. This is inimical to the spirit of the intellectual property system.


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