Music is an incredibly integral part of the MySpace experience, and a high percentage of profile pages feature popular songs. Most of those tracks are copyrighted, and streamed without permission. Tackling the thorny issue, MySpace has now tapped audio identification experts Gracenote to filter unauthorized content. Moving forward, MySpace will proactively identify and block copyrighted songs, and remove the accounts of repeat violators. “MySpace is staunchly committed to protecting artists’ rights – whether those artists are on major labels or are independent acts,” said Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of the social networking giant. “This is another important step we’re taking to ensure artists control the content they create.”
The move was probably inevitable, especially following a string of lawsuits and tough statements from Universal Music Group. Earlier, UMG chairman Doug Morris pointed to major copyright violations at both YouTube and MySpace. “We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars,” Morris said during a Merrill Lynch conference in September. “How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly.” That may have stirred deep-pocketed MySpace owner News Corp., which has been sensitive about disrupting the carefully-created MySpace ecosystem. Now, with the latest move, users may be confronted with an abrupt surprise. Profile pages are an identity statement, and a streaming audio or video track is a huge part of that expression.