11 December 2007

The (I)Meem They've Been Waiting for

The music industry has finally found an online music model it can live with:

Imeem, a social networking site that was in the recording industry's crosshairs earlier this year for allowing file-sharing on its network, has pulled off an impressive feat. This summer it settled its lawsuit with Warner Music by promising to give Warner a cut of advertising revenues from the site. Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that it's signed similar deals with all four major labels, meaning that Imeem is now the first website whose users have the music industry's blessing to share music for free.

But wait, even though it's a streaming site, it's not actually much different from all the download sites the music industry professes to hate:

it's quite easy to download music files from Imeem using third-party tools. And because Imeem's site doesn't use DRM, Imeem downloading tools are probably legal under the DMCA. So what we have here is the de facto legalization of Napster-like sites, as long as the record labels get a cut of the advertising revenue. It's an exciting development, albeit one that should have happened seven years ago.

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