Myspace teams with Gracenote to filter copyrighted songs

My space, your space, it seems everyone has a space these days. has become a part of life online for musicians and fans alike over the last year or so. It allows for easy updating, photo and song uploads, and easy networking. Everyone likes it because it’s easy and it works. Music has been an important part of the experience all along. The social networking site now boasts 90 million registered users, and most all of them have a profile page containing music. Most of that music is copyrighted material which has been uploaded and streamed without permission.

Following a string of lawsuits from Universal Music Group, Myspace is making the move to regulate the use of copyrighted material. Doug Morris, UMG chairman, has leveled accusations against both Myspace and Youtube.

We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars…

…How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly.

Those comments were made in September and it seems Myspace is trying to head off any legal action by dealing with it themselves. They have now employed Gracenote to help them identify and filter unauthorized content.

MySpace is staunchly committed to protecting artists’ rights ‚Äì whether those artists are on major labels or are independent acts…

…This is another important step we’re taking to ensure artists control the content they create.

Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of Myspace, seems to have misunderstood the issue: it’s the songwriter, not the artist, who’s rights have been violated. At least it is a move in the right direction. MySpace has not offered a timetable for when the filtering might begin.

Legal concerns aside, the filtering of copyrighted music tracks will considerably alter the freedom Myspace users have come to expect. Some have speculated that it could potentially create a perception of big brother amongst the users. I was part of a panel at the recent IBMA business convention that spoke about Myspace and the panel members were in unanimous agreement that Myspace was soon to lose it’s usefulness for artists. If users abandon the service due to the changes, this could be the first step in that decline. On the other hand, if an artist can clear the Gracenote hurdle by uploading their own material to which they own the copyright, this could clear the field somewhat making it easier for an artist to get heard.

Recently there has been a lively discussion on The B concerning the compensation of songwriters for live performances that are taped and traded. This recent move by Myspace has been pointed out by one of the commenters in that thread.