QTrax, the free P2P music service, made a big splash today by announcing that it was launching with the support of all four big music labels. But at least three of the four — Warner Music Group (WMG), Universal Music Group and EMI – don’t have deals with the company. Which means if QTrax goes live as planned tonight at midnight, the startup could find itself in a sticky legal situation. UPDATE: Sony-BMG says it doesn’t have a deal with the company, either.
“Warner Music Group has not authorised the use of our content on Qtrax’s recently announced service,” WMG spokesman Will Tanous told SAI via e-mail. Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music label, doesn’t have a deal with QTrax either but is in talks with the company, says a person familiar with the situation. The LA Times quotes an EMI pr person saying that they’re not in either.
We haven yet to hear back from Sony-BMG, the fourth big major.
Here’s the QTrax response, as of 9:57 pm eastern Sunday night: “”We are in discussion with Warner Music Group to ensure that the service is licensed and we hope to reach an agreement shortly.”
QTrax officials had previously said they had deals with all four majors, which would give them access to a catalogue at least as big as the 5 million tracks that Apple sells through its iTunes service. But we’re told that the service’s previous deal with Warner, signed in 2006, expired last year.
Over the weekend, QTrax officials were still trying to convince Warner and UMG to sign on. On Saturday Robin Kent, who handles marketing for the company, allowed that its paperwork with labels might not be up to date. QTrax had “the blessing” of all four majors, he told SAI, but “two of the four are more happy about it than the other two.”
At the Midem music conference in Cannes, QTrax distributed press materials that included an endorsement from WMG exec George White. But that quote — “The Qtrax service represents an innovative business model, one that offers our artists another way to reach fans using the potential of peer-to-peer technology while ensuring they are fairly compensated for the use of their work.” — is more than a year old. It originally appeared in a QTrax press release from September 18, 2006.
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