The new Myspace is now open to all, shifting the aging social network’s focus toward building connections between musicians and fans. With an updated design and the star power of Justin Timberlake (one of the company’s backers), the site has garnered a lot of attention. Now it has its first official complaint.
Merlin, an U.K.-based agency that represents many independent record labels, says Myspace is using the music of its artists without permission. The group used to have a deal with the old MySpace and its MySpace Music service, but the agreement expired over a year ago.
“What we’ve taken issue with is the service launched without a license from us, yet with our music all over the service,” Merlin CEO Charles Caldas told Mashable. “It’s launching with hundreds of tracks and offering them free, on demand to consumers without the permission of the people who own the material, and certainly without remunerating them for it.”
Searching for Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend — two artists on music labels that are part of the Merlin Group — on MySpace turns up multiple tracks.
A spokesperson for Myspace told The New York Times that if any music from the Merlin group is on Myspace that it was “likely” uploaded by individual users. The rep also said Myspace would remove any songs if Merlin requested it.
That explanation doesn’t sit well with Caldas, who said Merlin is preparing a legal response.
“I don’t see ignorance as a justification for piracy,” he says. “If you’re offering music, without permission, that belongs to a copyright holder in a commercial environment, the onus is on you, the business, to make sure those rights are cleared.”
Music is the primary focus of the new Myspace, with an emphasis on mainstream artists. The service has a built-in music player and users — whether fans or musicians — can easily share songs, albums and playlists with followers. Users can also associate songs with their profiles, although unlike Classic MySpace, the songs don’t auto-play.
The new Myspace launched last fall in limited beta and last week shifted to anopen beta, timed to coincide with the release of Timberlake’s latest single, “Suit & Tie.” The service has not yet had an official launch.
Do you think Myspace should renew its deals with Merlin and other independent artists? And should it more aggressively police potential copyright violations? Share your reactions in the comments.
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