Contact: Ancient Future Music

Open Market Digital Distribution

(This Open Letter was sent to the the Senate Judiciary Committee)


Honorable Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Chairman
Honorable Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member
Senate Judiciary Committee, United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators:

I am a proposed class representative for independent musicians in a class action suit against Napster. However, I support a compulsory license for file sharing on the Internet. On March 14, 2001, I sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee outlining my plan for a compulsory statutory license, with a copy sent to Napster CEO Hank Barry. On April 3, Mr. Barry made a plea to congress for a similar statutory license.

Representatives for the motion picture and recording industries were against the idea. "Government price-fixing never works," said Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America. The major labels have their own plans for Internet distribution, such as the Universal Music/Yahoo download site Duet. None of these sites, however, offers consumers what they want, which is one place they can get music from any artist. To legally offer music from every artist, a site would have to acquire licenses from every copyright holder individually, an impossible task.

In light of this, I have a new proposal for Open Market Digital Distribution. Once a record is released commercially, it would be subject to a compulsory license for digital distribution. A central online database would be set up through the US Copyright Office where copyright holders could set retail and wholesale prices for their music. Congress would set a statutory license fee for any copyright holders who did not choose to exercise their option to set prices. Once a copyright holder released a work to the public, any site could sell it without negotiating for rights provided that they pay the license fee.

Musicians, the recording industry, digital distribution sites and the public would benefit from such an arrangement. Record labels would get added distribution, and older catalog items would see a new sales life. File sharing sites could offer any music they choose and could also negotiate with copyright holders for bulk rates based on any promotional value they may be able to offer. The public would support this because it allows file sharing to continue.


Matthew Montfort
Musical Director
Ancient Future
World Fusion Music Ensemble
POB 264
Kentfield CA 94914-0264

Napster now respects copyright law, and Ancient Future tracks are available. Feel free to download and stream them all you like!

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