Monday, December 11, 2006

Free Online Concerts: Radio or Theft?

Networking technology is requiring us to rethink and reinterpret existing intellectual property law. Does the nature of the technology require us to change the legal understanding or status of copyright as it stands now? What rights should be associated with Web content?

An upcoming battle over these questions may soon arise over Wolfgang’s Vault, a web site run by Bay Area entrepreneur Bill Sagan. The site is currently streaming free online concerts archived by the late promoter Bill Graham. The site currently has over 300 rare concert recordings – Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and many others. Sagan considers the vault concerts to be an Internet Radio Station and is currently paying performance and songwriting royalties on all the music streamed from the site; in addition Sagan has expressed commitment to IP rights:

“We have done everything we can to protect this music from those who would copy it illegally. Our music files are not easily-copied MP3s and are delivered, solely, through a Secure Flash Audio Stream, only accessible by registered users. As security technology evolves, we will employ it to further protect this music.”

Others believe that only the artist’s label has the right to distribute the music. How should the rights be expressed, and should the expression of the rights be used for notification, enforcement, or payment negotiation?

For more information: Intellectual Property Rights

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