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April 29, 2010


Mister Music Blogger

I'm a music blogger who primarily posts approved mp3s (either sent to me by artists' representatives or made freely available by the label). I also occasionally post older songs that I do not clear (like, say, the Carter Family or the Fugs). My blog is strictly non-commercial (in fact, I even pay for my own file hosting, so I take a loss on it if you want to look at it that way).

Last year I received several "Dear Sir/Madam" emails from ASCAP -- at first inviting me to purchase a license ($288/yr plus a per-session charge) for my "business," then later threatening legal action if I did not purchase one. When I responded with questions, I never heard back from them.

I wasn't able to find anybody else in the blogger community who had been contacted, but this had all the earmarks of a fishing expedition.

(ASCAP has also tried to collect fees for music *embedded* YouTube videos that Google has already paid to license.)

In addition to ASCAP or BMI, the Harry Fox Agency also needs a cut -- they offer "mechanical licenses," which I think means the license for the recording, as opposed to the song. Currently rates appear to be 10 cents per copy (or download).

If all the licensing agencies were collecting on the freely-available promo mp3s, it's easy to imagine most music blogs shutting down and the independent-music industry tanking as a result. Which, I guess, is probably fine by the majors.


On a related note, Constantin Films has been ordering the removal of all those "Hitler Finds Out About..." mashup videos since they own the copyright to the original movie (the Oscar nominated "Die Untergang" - "Downfall" to those of us who don't read German).

At, they have a nice essay pointing out that A) there's a long history of writers 'adapting' other people's works - Virgil, Shakespeare, The Bible - and B) thanks to these mashups, "Downfall" is the only one of its cohort of Oscar nominees that people are still watching (it's currently #487 - overall, not just in Foreign Language Movies That No One Saw In Theaters - on Amazon, and was released on Blu-ray last year) thanks in some measure to the mashups.

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