MusicNet gets first public showing before Congress

Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of RealNetworks and interim CEO of MusicNet, gave a brief glimpse and short synopsis of some of its functionality during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. Glaser said MusicNet will allow users to download and stream songs. He demonstrated how MusicNet lets users conduct searches for music by title or by artist.

"Now, our demonstration today looks very similar to (what) you might have seen if Napster was demonstrated," Glaser said.

Yet, Glaser said one of the functions of MusicNet that will be different will be notification that a user's license to a song has expired and needs to be renewed. Consumers will license songs for a particular period of time, probably for about a month, he said. Different affiliates will have different ways of licensing songs, he said. MusicNet is expected to resell its content to other online distributors.

"It's very easy to renew the license," he said. "What that allows us to do is track and compensate the rights holders all the way up the food chain, including both the performance rights and publishing rights holders.

RealNetworks and America Online have agreed to license the MusicNet platform, which Glaser has said should be ready for distributors by the end of the second quarter or the third quarter 2001. BMG, Warner Brothers and EMI Group each hold a 20 percent stake in the company, while Real Networks holds the remaining 40 percent in MusicNet.

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James Evans

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