Gerald Kearby, president and chief executive officer for Liquid Audio, testified today before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Online Entertainment and Copyright Law. The hearing, which will take place in Washington, D.C., has been called by Committee Chairman Orin Hatch to discuss issues involving the online distribution of copyrighted materials. Throughout his testimony, Kearby pointed to the need for companies in converging industries to partner together to create viable digital distribution technologies that also protect rights holders.
“Over the last several months I have been dismayed and frustrated by the extraordinary traction in the marketplace and public attention awarded to companies that do not respect the law, and do not respect the copyrights of creators and producers,” he said. “I am dismayed because it is difficult to compete with companies that have seemingly unlimited resources combined with disrespect for the law. But, I am as frustrated with the response of the copyright owners in litigating rather than competing. That response has been detrimental to themselves, to the recording artists and to otherwise trusted partners such as Liquid Audio,” he added.
Kearby further testified that as a result of Napster, tens of millions of consumers who otherwise would have been willing to pay for online music have been conditioned to expect music for free. The creators and producers of entertainment content have subsequently been focused on the defense of their copyrights. This has diverted valuable resources away from talking with legitimate partners that can help develop competitive alternatives.
“Napster has proven there is a market. Now the rest of us must work collaboratively to compete. In addition to litigating where appropriate, creators and record labels must turn to their trusted partners for assistance – not only Liquid Audio but also several other trusted partners, including our technology company competitors.” Kearby noted that in 1998 Liquid Audio became a founding board member of the Digital Media Association (DiMA), a trade organization of more than seventy member companies that provide legitimate, copyright-compliant music and audio-visual services for consumers, creators, and business partners.
Kearby told the Committee, “We appreciate the efforts of the members of this Committee, and their encouraging remarks that record labels and content owners should work with all of the legitimate participants in the online music community to create a secure and competitive marketplace.”
Gerald Kearby began his 25-year music industry career as a sound engineer for bands such as the Grateful Dead, Diana Ross and the Jefferson Starship. Kearby was one of the first pioneers in the digital music industry when he built components for the first digital audio editing tools for LucasFilm Limited.