Thursday, July 10, 2008

Last FM pays out - but not everyone's happy

Last.FM has started to pay artists directly for music listened to through its website.

Good news, huh?

Perhaps. But not everyone is thrilled. Merlin, one of the independent label umbrella groups, has issued a grumpy statement:

“The Program announced today does not appear to offer any compensation for any past illegal use of repertoire. It is unclear to us whether or not the terms and conditions of the Program are intended to prevent master owners pursuing such compensation.

· “As you will be aware, we have for the last few months been negotiating with regarding a non exclusive blanket licence and a settlement agreement on behalf of Merlin members. Unfortunately, these negotiations have stalled
- in particular due to’s unwillingness to properly address its illegal infringing activity.

· “Several provisions of the licence terms and conditions of the Program appear ambiguous and open to legal interpretation. We note that this would tend to lead to uncertainty as to the “true” meaning of the licence. The licence points
out that if you are unsure about any of it “YOU ARE ADVISED TO OBTAIN INDEPENDENT LEGAL ADVICE” - we would endorse that view.”

So, erm, Merlin is suggesting that if you're a label, you should, um, do exactly as Last.FM suggests you do. We'd love to see Merlin point to a legal document that isn't "open to legal interpretation", by the way.

Merlin attempts to bring major-style cartel power to the indie sector; by suggesting that you spurn jam today in the hope of jam yesterday, it's certainly showing an RIAA-like attitude to the digital market.