Major Record Labels Go After Yahoo China

    March 6, 2007

A consortium of record labels which include Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group have filed suit against Alibaba, which is an operator affiliated with Yahoo China, alleging copyright infringement by the site. The announcement comes as record labels, along with the RIAA, are cracking down harder than ever on digital music piracy.

It’s been an up and down week for digital music aficionados, and it’s only Tuesday.

Yesterday, word came down the pipeline that the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board had accepted SoundExchange’s proposal for overhauling the royalty structure for streaming audio content, a move that essentially killed both webcasting and Internet radio in one fell swoop.

Today, buzz reached a fever pitch surrounding the release of the Barnaked Ladies latest album. The event is significant, because the group released the tracks completely free of DRM and, at least initially, for free – a move that supporters of the movement against the RIAA’s tyranny embraced as a herald of even more victories to come.

But as Luke Skywalker discovered after he destroyed the first Death Star, the Empire has a nasty habit of striking back.

Digital Music News reports of the backlash from major record labels against Yahoo China:

Yahoo China operator Alibaba is now on the receiving end of a major lawsuit, one that includes plaintiffs Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group.  In total, a group of eleven music companies have targeted Yahoo China, alleging widespread infringement related to digital downloads, lyrics, ringtones, and other assets. 

The suit requests compensation of 5.5 million yuan ($687,500) and the immediate shutdown of offending pages.  According to information supplied by Chinese news agency Xinhua, the case will be heard by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.  The violations revolve around 229 Chinese and English songs.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said before? What arguments can I present that haven’t already been the object of much discourse from individuals who understand the intricacies of the music industry on a much deeper level than could ever hope to achieve?

The truth, however, is still the truth; record companies just don’t get it. Fighting to retain control of music distribution is a battle they’ve already lost. Musicians are finally beginning to understand that they don’t need the major record labels anymore in order to get their music out to a broad audience.

It’s all about control; and the record labels are in denial that they are still in the driver’s seat.

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