Monday, 10 September 2012
Continuing with the recent digital music theme, the July/August edition of World Intellectual Property Review features a great article about Mixcloud entitled "Mixing things up: how a digital start-up got to grips with copyright" (available here). Mixcloud is a British start-up online music service which functions much like an internet radio. The site allows users to upload and stream content (such as mixes or podcasts) but not to download it. Essentially, it's a radio version of Youtube. In the UK.
It is interesting that the co-founder, Nico Perez, notes that because the EU market is fragmented across political borders, the economics of negotiating licences do not stack up. That makes it very expensive for any digital music start-up to operate, particularly in the UK and Germany and is cited as a reason for investors' cold feet. By contrast, the US has a universal copyright law across all of its states, which allows licensing societies to cover a far greater economic market. This creates a much larger economic incentive than exists for any of the 27 member states of the EU on their own.
In these straitened times, every single economy is crying out for growth. It is clear there is huge potential for rationalisation across the digital music sector if copyright can be harmonised in the same way as trade marks. It is unfortunate that there does not appear to be the appetite from EU politicians for a harmonised EU copyright regime – something which wipes the slate clean and starts again would at least be neat. Despite the claims of Silicon Roundabout etc. it seems that Euro-fatigue has taken its toll and any political capital is likely to be spent on 'more pressing issues' such as banking or raiding the Ecuadorian embassy. That would be a shame.