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Über-Middleman: Reshaping the Broken Landscape of Music Copyright

56 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2007  

W. Jonathan Cardi

Wake Forest University - School of Law


By 1993, the streaming and downloading of music over the Internet was technologically and commercially feasible, yet nearly a decade passed before the music industry took its first serious steps toward addressing the public's demand for online music. Critics explain this lengthy delay either by suggesting that technology has finally outpaced an antiquated Copyright Act or by pointing to the intractable pricing dilemma created by rampant Internet music piracy. Without questioning the accuracy of these observations, this Article suggests that they miss the heart of what the Register of Copyrights recently referred to as a "crisis in music licensing." It is the organization of the music industry itself - an industry in which the administration of music copyrights is splintered into a dizzying array of middlemen - that has thwarted the commercialization of online music. This Article explores the inefficiencies created by the fractured administration of music copyrights and offers a controversial remedy: a regulatory merger of the licensing functions of the various intermediaries.

Keywords: music, copyright, digital, Internet, Harry Fox, ASCAP, BMI

JEL Classification: D4, D6, K10, K11, K39

Suggested Citation

Cardi, W. Jonathan, Über-Middleman: Reshaping the Broken Landscape of Music Copyright. Iowa Law Review, Vol. 92, p. 835, 2007. Available at SSRN:

W. Jonathan Cardi (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

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