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Progress in Digital Copyright Management

In a time when Napster, Gnutella and other file-sharing systems are threatening the revenue models of record companies and artists alike, companies offering solutions for protecting copyrighted material and systems for accurately tracking royalties have their work cu out for them.

One company breaking new ground in this area is AudioSoft, which bills itself as a digital copyright management provider. The company has teamed with numerous technology and industry partners to deliver a comprehensive royalty-management solution. Streamingmedia.com spoke with Giacomo Biondi-Morra, VP of business development, about AudioSoft's system and its potential role in the continuing online copyright protection saga.

Q: Where does AudioSoft fit into the digital rights management field, and what can it offer companies interested in copyright protection for their streaming content?

A: AudioSoft is not a digital rights management company, because it does not do content protection technologies anymore, nor is it a clearing house. AudioSoft is a worldwide digital copyright management company for music on the Internet. Essentially, we provide information services that facilitate the management of copyright royalties on the Net. We do not protect audio, we do not flow money -- we flow information.

Q: How does AudioSoft's system work?

A: We capture the information from webcaster servers at a very granular level (each event with volume and metadata information), then flow the information to our Oracle-Sun systems to refine it with music industry codes, territorial information about where the user is located.

We partner with the leading technology providers, namely RealNetworks, Reciprocal, Magex, and Intertrust to capture the information. To refine the massive flows of information we get, we use Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Digital Island and Cognos for the delivery part.

Finally we present and deliver the information to the various interested parties of the music industry, namely webcasters, e-retailers, music labels, copyright collection societies, and marketing survey companies. Some services are free; others that require more refinement are payable.

Q: When do you expect content producers to feel the positive effects of systems like yours?

A: Our system adapts the complexity of the Internet world to the physical world, so they are immediately generating royalty revenues. We essentially monitor with the ultimate precision how music is consumed on the Net, without interfering with the consumer's privacy, since we do not want to know who they are but where they are. We then present the reports to the webcasters so they can automatically declare the playlists to the copyright collection societies to pay the corresponding royalties.

Q: How can you guarantee that a composer, for instance, will be paid after a live webcast of a concert?A: We do not guarantee the composer will be paid -- we flow the information so he can be precisely paid by the webcaster to the copyright collection society and then by the latter.

Q: Are there other applications for the data you collect and provide?

A: Webcasters can use the information for marketing purposes and better know their audience to increase their revenues. Services to e-retailers will be available later as we are focusing on the streaming side today.

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