Music industry blasts piracy, French copyright law

23rd January 2006, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, Jan 22, 2006 (AFP) – Online music sales are finally bringing in the bucks for the piracy-battered music industry but there may still be no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of MIDEM, the world's most influential music trade fair, which opened its doors in Cannes Sunday,

CANNES, France, Jan 22, 2006 (AFP) – Online music sales are finally bringing in the bucks for the piracy-battered music industry but there may still be no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of MIDEM, the world's most influential music trade fair, which opened its doors in Cannes Sunday,

That was the mixed message from a bevy of music and hi-tech heavyweights on the eve of the opening.

On the bright side, latest figures released on Thursday by the global recording industry body, the IFPI, showed that digital music has expanded rapidly around the globe.

Today, there are 335 legal online music services, compared with 50 two years ago and last year, single track downloads more than doubled to 420 million, proving the most popular online music product.

On the downside, music piracy is still rife, particularly on illegal Internet peer-to-peer (P2P) music file-sharing services.

Last year saw big advances and key legal victories in the record industry's fight against massive illegal Internet peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing, the head of the IFPI said Sunday.

Speaking in Cannes, John Kennedy called on the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that give users access to the Internet to start policing it by denying access to persistent illegal file sharers.

And he condemned the French government's recent move to enable users to download unlimited digital music and films for personal use.

The judgements by four courts in three continents, including Australia, Korea and the United States, represented "a real sea change world-wide" and one that will help the budding digital music business grow, Kennedy told reporters on the opening day of the world's MIDEM music trade fair.

"We believe we are containing the problem," Kennedy said, describing as misleading recent press reports that the court cases were not stemming the haemorrhaging caused by the enormous online piracy around the world.

He argued that the industry's decision to instigate some 20,000 lawsuits against individuals who illegally share music over file-sharing networks across 17 countries "are changing consumers' attitudes".

Legal downloads of single music tracks more than doubled in 2005 to 240 million, helping the music industry to achieve a three-fold increase in global revenues to US $1.1 billion, the IFPI reported last week.

But these revenues would have been even larger if it had not been for illegal file sharing, which continues to be widespread around the globe.

Of the one billion songs downloaded from the Internet in France last year alone, just 20 million were bought legally, EMI Europe chief executive officer Jean-François Cecillon told a MidemNet conference Saturday.

"That's not even theft, that's pillage," Cecillon said.

As for the situation in France, Kennedy said he was optimistic that France would not go through with its proposals, which would legalise Web piracy.

Such a measure would kill France's own music industry and "I can't believe that at the end of the day, the French government will want this," he said.

But Internet piracy aside, Kennedy remained optimistic about the emerging market for digital music. He said he believed that digital music revenues will rise steadily over the next few years and should account for 25 percent of total music revenues 2010.

In addition, the rapidly expanding number of new digital music channels including radio, video, podcasting (do-it-yourself audio or video broadcasts) and the controversial move towards legalising some of P2P (peer-to-peer) services, is creating a crowded sector where everyone is jostling for a slice of the digital pie.

But whilst the plethora of new music devices is good news for music and hi-tech gadget fans, the big problem for the music industry is still about surviving in a sector where the rewards are, at least for the moment, small.

Speaker after speaker appealed for the price of single song and video downloads to be raised from the current virtually standard rate of one euro.

"Digital distribution is still very much in its infancy," the chairman of music giant EMI, Eric Nicoli, told participants on Saturday.

The digital music revolution that is transforming the music scene worldwide has attracted record numbers of participants from across the music, mobile telephone, Internet, video and radio sectors to this year's MIDEM.

Some 9,500 top executives from 92 countries have jetted into this small French Riviera resort town for the five-day show, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Mobile phone companies are out in force for the first time at this MIDEM including the world's largest mobile phone handset maker Nokia as well as Sony Ericsson, whose new Walkman music phones are proving a big hit with consumers.

But the trade fest will not only be about the latest hi-tech digital music trends.

The five-day event will also be big on the live music side, with more than 70 bands and world artists from across the music spectrum slated to make MIDEM's 40th anniversary rock through the night, as well as the day.

The trade fest will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart, one of music's best-loved composers, with a pyrotechnical musical extravaganza.

Another highlight will be this year's MIDEM Personality of the Year Award, which for the first time will go to three well-known music personalities.

The award will be made to the three people behind the massively successful Live Aid and Live 8 concerts, Bob Geldof, Harvey Goldsmith and John Kennedy.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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