By - Spacelab Research Staff
In tough economic times, the tough economics come a callin.' Muxtape posted a cryptic and minimal note on its home page this week, saying only "Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA." Such a short message will usually feed all sorts of speculation on the web. Later the Muxtape blog added a bit more saying "No artists or labels have complained. The site is not closed indefinitely. Stay tuned. Beta users of Muxtape For Bands: you are unaffected by this outage."
Muxtape allows users to create the modern-day online version of a mix tape, creating a playlist of songs that can then be shared with others.
So of course you shouldn't speak about legal proceedings or discussions as they're happening, and Muxtape is probably having a sit down with some RIAA lawyers or reps about licensing or royalties or infringement or any of the types of things that the RIAA would find worthy of discussing with a site like Muxtape.
After the recent wave of online postings about the troubles that Pandora has been facing with profitability, the Muxtape story fans the flames of a fire that's burning around online business models that have thrived in popularity over the past couple of years: offering a music service that focuses solely on streaming content without licensing the material. If those sites don't add any value or content of their own, then they are basically just reworking OPC, other people's content. Sites that don't add in their own content are now facing licensing and infringement issues at a growing pace.
CNET's Josh Lowensohn writes "Back in April, my colleague Daniel Terdiman chatted with the Electronic Frontier Foundation's senior intellectual property attorney, Fred von Lohmann, who said that a site like Muxtape was only able to scrape by if it did not reach a critical mass, and if it had good legal ground both in principle and on paper. We may be only beginning to see if the latter holds true."
Tech Observer at Portfolio.com posted part of the RIAA Statement that reads "Muxtape was hosting copies of copyrighted sound recordings without authorization from the copyright owners. Making these recordings available for streaming playback also requires authorization from the copyright owners. Muxtape has not obtained authorization from our member companies to host or stream copies of their sound recordings.
I hope Muxtape has a good legal team.