Bill aimed at Web-music duopoly

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Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Chris Cannon (R-Utah) introduced legislation
Friday that would require record companies to license their music to all Web
sites on equal terms.

The point of the bill is to make sure the major record labels don't dominate
the entire online music market, Boucher said.

Right now, the major labels are teaming up to build two competitive sites:
Pressplay and MusicNet.

MusicNet is a joint venture of RealNetworks Inc., AOL Time Warner Inc.,
Bertelsmann AG and EMI Group plc. PressPlay, formerly Duet, is a joint venture
between Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group that will be
distributed via the Yahoo! Inc. network.

If the two sites are allowed only to license music to themselves and to each
other, they will have exclusive licenses for 80 percent of recorded music,
Boucher said, effectively creating a duopoly that would control the entire
market.

The bill will 'promote a legitimate online music marketplace that will
benefit the public, the creators of copyrighted works and the technology
industry,' Boucher added.

The record industry strongly opposes the measure. 'This bill substitutes
government regulation for the marketplace,' said Hilary Rosen, president and CEO
of the Recording Industry Association of America.

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