Pay the Man to Play the Band

In an effort to smooth the way for websites that wish to legally reproduce copyrighted music, BMI announced last week that it has now become the world's largest online digital rights management company with the launch of its Digital Licensing Center (DLC) and "Klick-Thru" online copyright licensing system. The company says that the DLC is intended to help Internet companies digitally obtain a music-performance license through BMI.com, allowing them to publicly "perform" any of BMI's 4.5 million copyrighted works from its 250,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.

BMI's Frances W. Preston explains that "the Digital Licensing Center is the next step in BMI's mission to accelerate the development of new revenue streams for songwriters, composers, and music publishers. With the distribution power of new audio formats, digital licensing can create new careers and new revenue streams that will benefit the Internet medium, content creators, and consumers alike."

According to BMI, the music-performance license fees are based on the revenues of the licensee, and the fees generated are distributed as royalties to songwriters, composers, and music publishers based on actual usage of music on the Internet. For example, BMI states that annual license fees for small websites start as low as $250, and increase according to a website's annual gross revenues. Currently, the DLC serves smaller e-commerce sites, but BMI says it plans to expand the system in the near future to license larger sites, those making more than $25,000 in revenues per year. BMI adds that the DLC provides its online licensing services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in a totally paperless electronic environment.

BMI also says that some early users of the new process include Get Smashed Radio Broadcasting, BNET, Inc., Boxorox.com, Planet Live, Inc., Alaska Direct, and K2 Sports, Inc. BMI's Richard Conlon concludes that "we believe that by providing developers and dot.com companies with a simple, cost-effective solution for licensing the content on their sites, we can help monetize music copyrights in the digital world for our songwriters."

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