Envisional points to 'another Napster in the making'
Envisional, the UK-based Internet monitoring company, today warned that
that the current craze for downloading musical ringtones to mobile
phones has created massive intellectual property abuses that have the
potential to cost the music industry as much as $1 million dollars per
Envisional has identified hundreds of sites on the Internet that make
ringtones available for download to mobile phones. While most sites
charge users for each tune they download (around £1.50 per tone on
average), industry analysts investigating the ringtone phenomenon say
very few of these companies ever return any royalties to the record
companies who own the copyright to the tunes. The record companies are
entitled to a fee of 7.5 US cents for every tune downloaded meaning
that, with hundreds of sites allowing hundreds of thousands of ringtones
to be downloaded every day, the music industry is suffering massive
losses due to copyright abuse.
Ben Coppin, Chief Operating Officer of Envisional, said, "Reliable
figures on the total ringtone market are very hard to come by, but we
know that one site has seen more than thirty thousand downloads of a
single ringtone - Mission Impossible - in a two month period with a
further 270 tones available from that one site alone. Averaging out the
number of downloads for each tune and multiplying that figure by the
number of similar sites quickly brings the possibility of potential
music industry losses to over one million dollars per day in the future.
These are very rough estimates - and we'd be delighted to see market
analysts qualifying these figures - but there is no doubt as to the
scale of the problem. This is another Napster in the making."
Envisional's research found that the problem was largely created by
teenagers downloading their favourite artists - Eminem, Limp Bizkit,
Destiny's Child and S Club 7 being the most popular - and
thirtysomethings copying hits from the 1980's. TV shows such as Big
Brother and the A Team were also popular and there was a growing trend
towards downloading specialist tunes such as those from Indian
'Bollywood' movies, and seasonal tunes (around Christmas, for example).
Clare Griffiths, a lawyer at Intellectual Property specialists Briffa,
explained that the legal issues surrounding the practise of downloading
ringtones were extremely complex - both for the site owners and the
consumers. "Copyright in the music will be infringed by taking a
'substantial part' of a musical work. The most recognisable melody of a
song, even if it is only 10 seconds out of 3 minutes, could be
substantial copying. The moral rights of the song writer may also be
infringed through the derogatory treatment of their work, having a
beautiful melody reduced to a ring tone could be seen as damaging to the
integrity of the music."
"There is also a question of who may be liable for the infringement. It
is the person doing the copying that is infringing. This will be the
company/person putting the tunes on a website for download, but the act
of downloading by individuals is also creating another copy on the
person's phone and so both could be liable. Individuals who key in the
tunes for themselves are also making copies and so cannot evade
liability this way. The application of the existing law to these new
scenarios can also throw up interesting debates: for example, is the
song being broadcast/performed when the phone rings, especially in a
public place, further infringing the rights of the copyright owner?"
About Envisional's Discovery Engine:
Envisional uses an advanced, rules-based language to automate a
discovery process beyond the scope of human capability. It helps
businesses find out what is being said about them, their clients and
competitors or a particular field of research.
It aims to help organisations in three distinct ways:
Revenues - For content publishers, the Internet has enabled intellectual
property theft - of the spoken word, still and moving images and music -
on an almost unimaginable scale. The discovery engine identifies
breaches of copyright, enabling organisations to take appropriate
Reputations - For global brands, the Internet is the world's biggest
rumour mill. Many of these rumours are generated by individuals with
axes to grind and are extremely damaging. Last year, a rumour started
spreading that KFC had created a GM chicken without a beak or feathers
for use in their restaurants. If this kind of misinformation is left
unnoticed and unchecked, it can bring a company to its knees.
Research - the Internet is a vital source for those involved in research
of any kind. However, the thousands of different URLs being returned by
search engines for any query waste huge amounts of a researcher's time
and money. Companies need to automate the drudgery of ploughing through
these URLs in order to improve researchers productivity.
Traditional search engines cannot provide any real precision in
information retrieval, making it difficult, expensive and time consuming
for organisations to address these problems. Envisional's Discovery
Engine technology addresses precisely these shortcomings.
Iain Frazer-Halpin/Matthew Ward
Tel: 01753 44 8840/8875
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.
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