Project Playlist, headed by former Facebook COO Owen Van Nattan, is currently defending a lawsuit filed by three of the four major record labels. The hold-out, Sony BMG, just yesterday announced it had entered into an agreement with Project Playlist. Of course, with the widget now banned from the two major social networks, Sony might not see much of the revenue it expected from the new deal.
The other three labels complain that Project Playlist distributes copyrighted tracks for free. In a lawsuit filed in April, the labels accuse Project Playlist of violating their copyrights by instructing users about how to download tracks and inducing people to upload infringing material, among other activities.
The allegations sound substantive enough to generate months and months of legal work. Yet, whatever the legal outcome of the case, it's clear that the record industry's revenue problems aren't going to be solved in a courtroom.
It's been nearly 10 years since Napster launched and the RIAA, despite a host of lawsuits against companies that allegedly enable copyright infringement, hasn't been able to control how fans listen to music online.
People have always found ways to share music, whether by creating physical mixtapes or via newer Web-based methods. Despite the steps the RIAA takes to target current technologies, it's inevitable that new technologies will emerge to make music sharing even easier.
Meanwhile, it's unclear how anyone benefits when three of the four major labels decide to shun companies like Project Playlist that have a huge fan base and that clearly want to find a way to compensate the industry.