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Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie
by Brian McWilliams, PC World News Radio March 17, 1998

Next time you think about posting a MIDI file of your favorite pop song on your personal home page, better run it by the folks at the Harry Fox Agency first. HFA, a subsidiary of the National Music Publishers' Association, is evidently being more aggressive in protecting the copyrights of the 18,000 musicians and publishers it represents.

The company today announced a licensing agreement with America Online in which AOL planned to revise its guidelines for members who post MIDI files to its message boards.

While it's still okay to create and upload MIDI files to AOL, if the tunes were written by artists represented by HFA, AOL members will have to disclose that when they post the file. And each time someone downloads the file, AOL has agreed to pay HFA a royalty fee of 7 cents. According to AOL's Rich D'Amato, the agreement didn't result from any formal legal action from HFA.

Unlike formats such as MPEG3, MIDI files are not actual duplications of original recorded material, but instead are computer-generated music files. And while it's okay to create a MIDI file on your PC of say, a favorite Rolling Stones tune, HFA spokesperson Margaret Drum says you can't distribute it on the Internet without paying a royalty to the original artist.

[by Brian McWilliams, PC World News Radio March 17, 1998]

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