On August 31, 2007, Bertelsmann AG, a German media company, settled for a payment of $130 million to the National Music Publishers Association, bringing to a close the Napster lawsuit that started in the year 2000. Napster, the company that popularized peer-to-peer sharing of content over the Web, was charged with copyright infringement, and Bertelsmann AG was targeted for providing financial support to Napster.
A quote from the article at Wired:
The National Music Publisher Association’s $130 million payday Friday follows millions of dollars Bertelsmann paid to settle claims that its investment propped up the Napster copyright violating machine. Last year, the media concern agreed to pay the world’s largest label, Universal Music Group, $60 million to settle the allegations. EMI got an undisclosed amount in March and, in April, Warner Music Group settled with Bertelsmann for $110 million.
An end to copyright violations?
Far from it. Though Napster later entered the arena as a subscription-based service, this by no measure means that peer-to-peer sharing is no longer used. Torrents are a popular means to share content freely over the Net. Media companies have traditionally acted against new technological developments, targeting certain scapegoats but in no measure putting an end to the real issues behind privacy.
A model around peer to peer
Perhaps media companies have to redesign their business models around peer-to-peer networks. The target audience for companies is indeed there. As mentioned by Bertelsmann’s chairman, Thomas Middelhoff, “Napster has pointed the way for a new direction for music distribution, and we believe it will form the basis of important and exciting new business models for the future of the music industry.”
Will the media companies work out a business model in this age of seamless data transmission?
More news links:
BMG settles Napster infringement case (Hollywood Reporter)