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Court: Online services must pay up for song use

A federal district court in New York ruled Wednesday that the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is owed “reasonable license fees” by online media powerhouses AOL, RealNetworks, and Yahoo for the music streamed and distributed on their sites.

Court: Online services must pay up for song use

Currently, music streamed by sites owned by the three companies is advertising-supported and no dividends are paid to ASCAP.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York will now determine appropriate fees for AOL, RealNetworks, and Yahoo, all of which have applied for ASCAP licenses but have not been able to agree upon fees. The total payments to the group, which represents over 320,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers–not record labels–could reach $100 million. (Click here for a PDF of the court’s decision.)

The license fees would cover music distributed as early as July 1, 2002, and then up through the end of 2009. Because songwriters and composers often aren’t affiliated with record labels that distribute their music as performed by another artist, they presently are left without licensing fees from digital distribution on the three companies named in the court decision.

ASCAP President Marilyn Bergman wrote in a statement following the decision:

The court’s finding represents a major step toward proper valuation of the music contributions of songwriters, composers and publishers to these types of online businesses.

It is critical that these organizations share a reasonable portion of their sizable revenues with those of us whose content attracts audiences and, ultimately, helps to make their businesses viable. This decision will go a long way toward protecting the ability of songwriters and composers to be compensated fairly as the use of musical works online continues to grow.”


Gold-plated support comes to Amazon Web Services

Looking to take on more demanding customers, Amazon Web Services on Thursday rolled out two paid-support plans that give customers access to its engineers to resolve glitches.

Gold-plated support comes to Amazon Web Services

The company said it will offer two levels of support–gold and silver–for a fixed annual fee or a percentage of customers’ total usage of its services. The support plans are available for its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3), and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS).

Right now, Amazon offers pay-as-you-go pricing for its hosted services. Customers pay for how much they use the service. To get support for technical problems, they need to go to free forums.

The paid support is a sign that Amazon’s hosted computing is ramping up to take on a broader swath of clients, including large businesses.

Initially, Amazon aimed the hosted service at Web start-ups, but it’s signing on business customers too. BusinessWeek reported earlier this week that The New York Times and Nasdaq are now customers,

The support service also casts Amazon more in the mold of traditional IT providers such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun Microsystems, which all offer a variation on hosted computing.

“Guaranteed support will also allow us to develop even more substantial applications using Amazon Web Services, knowing that Amazon is there to support us,” Paul Horvath, chief technology officer of health care form-processing company TC3 Health, said in a statement.