Eliot Van Buskirk on digital music's legal woes

The Editor-in-Chief of explains how startups are dealing with archaic copyright laws

Entrepreneur interview by Faith Merino
October 17, 2011
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Anyone who has ever downloaded music online is at least vaguely aware of the legal challenges that digital music services have run into over the years.  Pandora was nearly wiped off the map in 2007 when the Copyright Royalty Board hiked the performance royalty rates for Internet radio by more than 100%. Spotify had a few legal hurdles of its own to surmount before it could finally expand to the U.S.  And then there was the saddest case of all--the shutdown of Napster.

In this interview, Editor-in-Chief Eliot Van Buskirk chats about the legal issues that digital music startups have had to confront and how the problem is being solved now.  In short: it comes down to APIs, which are now helping to solve the problem of money, lawyers, and getting the meeting, according to Van Buskirk.

"The only thing that evolves about the copyright laws is that the term that it extends to gets longer every time Mickey Mouse is about to fall into the public domain," he explained.  "Sonny Bono passed the Copyright Extension Act and now every time Mickey Mouse becomes something anybody can make a T-shirt out of, that's when they extend it."

But have consumers just become complacent with the instant availability of digital everything that commerce and the music industry just hasn't been able to keep up?

"Yeah, we're surrounded by awesome stuff all the time," said Eliot.  "The key is that when you hear something that you like, you've got to tag that thing like a dolphin, because it's so easy to not even take note of something like that."

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