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Listen.Com Removes Interactive Elements From Service

In return, the RIAA withdrew its attempt to have the company removed from the standard Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) rate-setting policy.

In a move that ends a complicated series of lawsuits and counter-suits for embattled online music concern Listen.com, the company has withdrawn from a suit filed by Digital Media Association (DiMA) and a group of music sites. In doing so, Listen made a pact with the RIAA to remove some features from its service that record labels find objectionable.

Two interactivity features, one that allow listeners to either skip a song entirely, and another that allows users to rate songs to influence the tracks playlists have been removed from Listen.com’s offering. In return, the RIAA withdrew their attempt to have the company removed from the standard Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) rate-setting policy, allowing Listen to participate in the ongoing statutory license negotiations.

“We’ve got a new radio service coming in the fall and that’s what we need to focus on. The rate and skip for us are not as important as it is introducing a subscription service,” President and CEO of Listen.com Sean Ryan told GAVIN. “Using the TuneTo technology we acquired, it’s going to be pretty compelling. There’s some vagueness with the DMCA about what’s possible under the rules of user influence. Rate and skip is an issue that we’re very interested in, and it’s an issue that will be decided by the courts, as it should be. For us, it’s just not a fight we need to have right now. We just want to focus on new product development.”

DiMA filed a declaratory lawsuit against the record labels earlier this month in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, asking to be granted legal protection against being excluded from the statutory license to be set later this year. The DiMA litigants are attempting to avoid classification as “interactive” which, under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, require such companies negotiate independent licensing agreements with copyright holders. By being deemed non-interactive, sites would pay a compulsory flat fee to copyright holders.

The RIAA maintains that DMCA defines “interactive” as a program that is specially created for the recipient.  

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