Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Eminem takes a second bite at Apple

No, no, this isn't the lawsuit which Eminem brought when Apple used Lose Yourself in an iPod advert; this is an all-new lawsuit and one which could spark a sticky time - not just for Apple, but all the record labels and download sellers as well.

Eight Mile Style LLC and Martin Affiliated LLC have ordered Apple to stop selling unlicensed downloads of Eminem tracks on iTunes.

Unlicensed? But isn't iTunes the shining paragon of legal music downloads, that which makes the RIAA purr?

Up to a point, it turns out. At the moment, it's the record labels which give consent to songs going on iTunes, and the deal has been cut to suit them - Apple gives about 70% of the sales to the labels, and the labels, in turn, pass about nine cents on to the publisher of the music. What Eminem's publishing company say, though, is that as owners of the tracks being performed, rather than the actual performances, they should be involved in actively agreeing to the songs being made available digitally. In other words: they don't want to leave it to the record companies to cut a deal and then decide how small the slice the publishers will take. In other other words: the publishing industry wants some of that sweet digital bonus for itself.

Which could all get rather interesting - in effect, this has little to do with Eminem or Apple as such; it's a war between the record companies and the music publishers.

Let's hope they get it settled quickly, otherwise nobody will come out of it well - because if Eminem songs aren't on iTunes, there's not going to be any money for anyone. Except, perhaps, people flogging contextual ads on bittorrent search sites.