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The latest issue of the newsletter begins by examining the news that UK music trade association the BPI sent its 50 millionth takedown request to Google earlier this month as part of an ongoing battle to limit the distribution of unauthorized recorded music online. At the same time, Google and Microsoft announced that they were making it more difficult for Internet users to search for images of child abuse, following criticism from the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, in July that the two search giants were not doing enough to prevent access to illegal images.
Inevitably after any announcement concerning the limiting of access to a particular type of content, there are calls to introduce similar measures to control access to unauthorized music and media content. Certainly child abuse is a far more serious crime than copyright infringement, and rights holders would not argue to the contrary. But what the latest Google/Microsoft initiative shows is that technology exists that can be used to tighten controls over content distribution. The big question is when those controls should be used, if at all.
Some good news from France – trade revenues from recorded-music sales increased 7.2% year-on-year in the first nine months of this year, according to trade association SNEP. A big jump in CD sales and rising interest in subscriptions boosted sales. Digital-album sales also increased, but single-track downloads fell, with trade revenues from the format down 16% year-on-year in 3Q13.
Not so good news in Japan – digital-music sales in the country are set to fall for the fourth consecutive year in 2013. New figures published by the trade body the RIAJ show that mobile music formats are continuing to suffer big drops in sales. Internet sales are growing but not fast enough to head off another annual decline. However, there is a glimmer of hope for next year, with quarterly Internet gains slowing the overall rate of digital contraction.
In addition to financial results for UMG, published earlier this month by parent company Vivendi, the latest issue also has a special focus on music apps. The rapid take-up of smartphones and tablets has led to a proliferation of apps. But apart from a few high-profile applications from leading artists, the music industry has scarcely embraced the medium, let alone figured out how to make money off of it.
Belgium comes under the Music & Copyright spotlight this time around. Belgium experienced a lower fall in trade revenues from recorded-music sales last year than in 2011 with digital sales increasing for the second consecutive year after a blip in 2010. However, digital remains a long way from compensating for the drop in CD sales. On the positive side, Belgium’s live sector continues to perform well despite a fragile economy, and royalty collections returned to growth in 2012 after a big fall in 2011.
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