ASCAP Goes After Online Pirates with EZ-Seeker

Are order and justice coming to the lawless frontier of the Internet? The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers has a new tool for cracking down on unauthorized use of copyrighted material on the Internet. Developed by Online Monitoring Services, EZ-Seeker is "web crawler" software that tracks down music and then issues license forms to the users of that music. The announcement followed by less than a week the news (see previous report) of the Recording Industry Association of America's $750,000 settlement from makers of unauthorized "DJ compilations" of hit songs.

EZ-Seeker recognizes both titles and watermarks, and will be used by record labels and distributors to find their material on the Net. Once a song has been found, its use can subsequently be tracked by copyright owners to ensure compliance with licensing agreements. The system will be made available in customized versions to performing-rights organizations throughout the world.

ASCAP's License Agreement allows website operators to "lawfully perform on their sites any or all of the millions of musical works in the ASCAP repertory." Websters may chose from one of three rate schedules to determine their annual fees: Rate Schedule A is for websites that are "music intensive"; Schedules B and C are intended for those who are current in their payments, who submit their annual reports on time, and who employ technology that enables them "to furnish the required information." All of ASCAP's forms are kept on a secure server.

According to the organization's own website, the number of authorized sites has taken a "quantum leap" since the licensing program was begun in 1995.