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Left to right: Moderator Emmanuel Legrand; Scott Bagby, Rdio; Richard Conlon, BMI; Thierry Desurmont, SACEM; Charlie Lexton, Merlin; Ben McEwen, PRS for Music; Mitch Rubin, Nokia; Jens-Markus Wegener, AMV Talpa (full size photo).

With a full panel during the “The Cloud… Is it Just a Legal Issue?” session in the Ideas Hothouse, today’s session – organised in association with CISAC and moderated by freelance journalist Emmanuel Legrand – started with a definition of just exactly what the music industry means when they say, “cloud.”

The response was mixed, with some saying it’s about content being stored in a “locker”, and others saying it was a marketing term. Regardless, most agreed that this complexity means there are a variety of models which seek better monetisation of the cloud.

Charlie Lexton, head of business affairs for indie body Merlin shared: “We look to licensing. There is a lot of focus on upload only, rather than upload, scan and match. We see that there has to be a scan match model in the future. We want to see these services aligned in the digital space. More like Rdio. That is what we want to see.”

Reflecting up on the marketplace and the consumer, Mitch Rubin, head of music publishing for Nokia, emphasised, “At the end of the day, we have to look at what the consumer is willing to pay. In our business, we have seen our models that have huge quantity might be better than a huge transaction fee. We need flexibility in licenses, so we can do experimental licenses. By and large, rights owners have been amenable to that. If that continues, everything will be in the right direction.”

Governments and rights societies are following closely and creating their own policy recommendations on how to engage in the cloud. Thierry Desurmont, V in charge of legal and international affairs for SACEM, explained the French approach:

“From the French perspective, the question is to know when someone has bought content, and if that content was obtained legally. This big question is being studied in France through a commission that has been created to advise the Minister of Culture on policies to be considered for copyright. (We know the move towards the cloud is inevitable), so we have to go with it and not fight it. We need to understand how this impacts rights holders. Last year, we collected €180M in France. We don’t want to jeopardise this for rights holders.”

Finally, the panel had mixed opinions on whether the cloud is indeed a licensing issue. Ben McEwen, director of online licensing for PRS for Music summed it up best: “From our perspective it is a value issue. It has something that has potential but nobody knows where that is going yet.”

Heather Blanchard is a global communications student at the American University of Paris, has been covering key sessions at midem this year, for midemblog and her own blog. Be sure to follow her on Twitter too!


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