HITS Daily Double
"Music is very complicated. It's gotten out of control so that studios never know if they have all the rights they need."
——attorney Nick Crincoli


The Solution: Distribute All Films Digitally Online As Silent Films!!!
While the movie studios were busy announcing that they, like the record labels, were prepping a system for making their content digitally available via the Internet (hitsdailydouble.com, 8/17), legal experts were busy scratching their heads over the biggest potential stumbling block in the studios way: licensing the music featured in those films.

"It's about time somebody thought about that," Forrester Research entertainment analyst Eric Scheirer told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm sure contracts from the MGM musicals of the golden era didn't mention the Internet. The issue is: Who's going to make money besides the studios?"

But classic films may not be as big a problem as more recent films, which feature a bevy of artists. While contract language like "media now known or hereafter devised" seems to give studios rights to films and the music in them no matter how or where they are distributed, it is fairly recent language.

According to the Reporter, if a movie's rights specify theatrical, video, television and DVD, for example, delivering a movie via the Internet might mean renegotiating rights to the music featured in said movie or releasing the movie online with different music inserted.

Of the five studios involved in last week's announcement, only Sony would comment for the record, expressing confidence that "all potential legal issues have been carefully considered and dealt with."

"Yes. Music rights would have to be recleared on some movies," another studio insider told the Reporter, "so we'll just pick the ones where we have rights in perpetuity."

"Music is very complicated," attorney Nick Crincoli told the Reporter. "It's gotten out of control so that studios never know if they have all the rights they need."

Crincoli added, "The problem is with music the studio doesn't own, whether it's a pop song or classical, there's nothing requiring rights owners to renegotiate those rights. Owners of that music will want additional money."

"The bottom line is a lot of music has been licensed into content that now needs to be recleared into digital," said EnableYourMusic president and CEO Steve Love.

Ah yes, cherry-picking titles for reasons other than popularity or consumer-desirability could only make for the most successful distribution model. That combined with the fact that the issue will probably be resolved on a movie-by-movie basis naturally makes this particular puzzle sound as if it will be resolved in a quick and painless manner.

Expect to be able to legally download all your favorite music and movies by the spring of 2010.