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Why Are The Record Labels Demanding Money To Let People Stream Legally Purchased Music?


Lately, I’ve been playing around with various music locker services, just to get a better understanding of how they work and to be able to access my (legally purchased) music collection on various machines and devices. So far, they’re all a bit limited, but it shouldn’t be long until they get better. However, the industry has always hated music locker services, and insisted that they somehow violate their copyright, even when the lockers simply allow individuals to place shift their own legal music. There’s an ongoing lawsuit over Michael Robertson’s MP3Tunes for which a decision is expected shortly. At the same time, Apple has been trying to quietly enter the market without disturbing the record labels.

Why? Because the labels have this bizarre theory of copyright that says that even if you have a music locker with entirely legal and authorized music, you still need to pay license fees to stream the music from the locker. It’s difficult to understand how that makes any sense at all, either from a common sense or legal standpoint, and the labels may have a difficult time getting such a concept to stand up in court. But I’m reminded of the issue again as reports are leaking of Google’s proposed music service, which would include a music locker component. Apparently a big stumbling block, however, is that Google wants to charge $25/year for it, and do a 50/50 split with the labels.

The labels, of course, are quite upset at such a proposal, claiming it’s ridiculous, both in terms of the total amount and the revenue share. But I’m wondering what their complaint is here. If the music is legally purchased (or is given away in an authorized manner for free), then how can they possibly demand such exorbitant rates for streaming that very same music? This is going to backfire on the labels in a big way. Their constant refrain of “pay us every time you use,” is looking more and more despe