As European broadband adoption ramps up the battle for digital music here continues to intensify, as a variety of vendors here prepare themselves for the onslaught of the US dominant iTunes Music Store.
AOL UK has agreed a licence with UK artist royalty agencies the MCPS-PRS Alliance. This allows AOL UK to provide a "comprehensive online music content service," AOL said. The agreement grants AOL access to "around ten million" songs and clears the requisite composer and publisher rights required to offer music online.
The music industry needs to feed such legal services. New figures from Internet research firm Sandvine show that threatened lawsuits have so far failed to deter Europeans from using the Internet to take music, movies and video games. Such traffic now accounts for 70-80 per cent of European 'Net traffic, they claim.
Litigation has taken a tiny slice off of US file sharing traffic – 5 per cent. The movie houses may face a threat in Europe, as the report indicates users here are more willing to download movies.
Jay Berman, chairman and chief executive at the IFPI told the BBC: "It's important to remember that the aim of the legal actions is to raise awareness and support the legal services in their development; it's not just about reducing file-sharing".
The price anomaly between downloadable music and ringtones is also open to question. Offering ringtones may attract music service providers as a business proposition, yet pressure from the labels is causing these prices to climb, even as intensified competition between online music service providers here appears likely to drive song prices down.