Spotify has been stuck in painful negotiations with GEMA, Germany’s main music rights group, over how much it wants from the company for each song that gets played. While Spotify may well try to cut deals with the major labels, who all have a stake in the company, GEMA has remained steadfast with notoriously high rates compared with other collection societies. Spotify had been delaying its move into Germany because the startup apparently was so complicated that it simply launched its service for Germans without a contract with rights holders group GEMA. Harald Heker (GEMA president) said during the association’s annual press conference that negotiations with Spotify are still ongoing, with a final meeting scheduled for March 26. GEMA’s standard rates call for payments of up to 0.006 Euro per song played – an expensive proposition for any music service that offers up songs for free. Spotify says: “Spotify offers a legal service in Germany. We are in ongoing discussions with GEMA to formalise a long-term agreement. We are paying composers and lyricists in Germany, just as we pay composers and lyricists in all other countries in which we operate.”
This July major US Internet service providers, including Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable, will start assisting copyright holders in their fight against online copyright infringement. They will begin fulfilling their obligations under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed last year, which will see the providers send out copyright infringement warnings to their millions of customers. The ISPs agreed to take steps to “educate” allegedly infringing customers through an escalating system of notices, warnings, and other measures. The first so-called ‘Initial Educational Steps’ will advise customers that copyright infringement is illegal and a breach of the ISP’s terms of service, that legal alternatives are available, and that continuing to infringe may have consequences including account suspension or termination. Should several attempts fail, ISPs will be able to send a Mitigation Measure Copyright Alert (FAQ here) which again requires customer acknowledgment. It will advise that a customer has received prior warnings and as per the ISPs terms of service, a ‘Mitigation Measure’ will now be applied to the account. Mitigation measures can include throttling of upload or download speeds, a temporary reduction in service quality to one step above dial-up, redirection to a landing page so that the customer can be further ‘educated’, or even account suspension.