Internet music ventures want Congress to grant them a blanket copyright license to make songs available online, while record companies want Congress to enforce laws already on the books, witnesses said during hearing on Thursday before a House panel.
Internet music company MP3.com wants Congress to extend existing copyright law so that the company can pay one fee into a single pool and thereby cover all the music copyrights they need to make their system work. "This model gives the users of copyrighted works assurance that they have the protection of a compulsory license even if they cannot identify in advance every person who might claim an ownership interest in the works being used," said MP3.com CEO Robin Richards. MP3.com wants to establish a service that lets users copy their CD collections on to the Internet and then access it from anywhere.
Meanwhile, established companies oppose any new laws. "The legal framework appears to be in place," said Edgar Bronfman, executive vice chairman of Vivendi Universal. "It is true that the industry still needs to work through some of the licensing issues that have arisen- concerns that are legitimate and thorny-but I believe that the requirements of the marketplace will dictate that they can and will be resolved without additional legislation."
Singer Lyle Lovett implored the committee to protect songwriters' and performers' rights to get paid for their works. Executives also told the committee about two new subscription-based music services that are about to come on-line-MusicNet and Duet-both of which are backed by major labels. - Paige Albiniak