Thanks for getting in touch with the post you made about Amie Street’s forthcoming change in download policy. Although I know this isn’t necessarily an ideal change for you, I hope you might understand that as a digital music retailer we have to walk a fine line between keeping our customers satisfied and still respecting the wishes of the record labels that provide us with music. With regard to this relationship we have with record labels, I was hoping to clarify some things with regard to ‘licensing’ and the cost of internet sales.
Although many users see a qualitative difference between the sale of a digital album and the sale of a physical CD, the legal framework surrounding royalties and payments is not different – a digital album is still considered a ‘product’ accompanied by license for personal use as opposed to a ‘license to a product’. As you might not be aware, that means that every distributed download of a song (note: download, not purchase) is considered equivalent to the creation of a physical CD and so accompanied by a mandatory mechanical license fee of 9.1 cents per song, an amount set by the US Copyright Royalty Board. (To be more specific, I believe the rate is technically 9.1 cents or 1.75 cents per minute of playing time, whichever is greater.)
Within this legal framework, your purchase is for one copy of the album in question and a situation such as a hard disk crash is seen by record labels and publishers as roughly equivalent to breaking a compact disc; just as you would have to repurchase the CD in such a situation, you would also have to repurchase the MP3 if you haven’t backed it up elsewhere. We will continue to offer DRM-free MP3s to all of our users, however, and provide no hindrance to making backups of your content as you desire.
I understand that you might not see it this way but as a business we must respect the laws of the country in which we operate; although we would prefer to continue with our existing manner of handling downloads, this is a policy change about which we have absolutely no choice.
Once again, I appreciate your understanding with regards to this situation, and please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.
The luddites at the Copyright Royalty Board apparently fail to realize that there are millions of songs available for free on the internet with no limit on the number of downloads.
Sigh. I am just going to let the bold parts of the letter speak for themselves. I wish AmieStreet and all other digital media vendors the best of luck in this market. They are doing their best to provide an excellent service in the face of true adversity.