BMI bows tracking system for Web music

Performing rights org BMI, which licenses music for broadcast on radio and television, is using Internet technology to track the use of music on the newest and least-regulated mass medium: the Internet itself.

BMI has announced the creation of MusicBot, an automatic tracking system that crawls through the World Wide Web, gathering market information and music trends while doing its primary job of monitoring music in cyberspace, watching for unauthorized Webcasting of music by artists registered with BMI.

At the same time, BMI is introducing three new types of music licenses that it said will simplify the legal performance of music on the Internet: a Web site-wide license, a music area license and a corporate image license. BMI’s own Web site,, includes downloadable license agreements and related information.

BMI has also created a new media licensing team. Members are Vincent Grosso and Gideon Klein. Grosso is an 18-year AT&T alum, who joins BMI as assistant veepee, new media business development; Gideon Klein is former consultant to Jupiter Communications.

“BMI is working to make it easy to add the value of music to Web sites,” said John Shaker, senior vice president of licensing. “At the same time, we want to make sure that music rights holders are encouraged to let their music be performed online with the confidence that they will be properly compensated.”

Called a Web robot, the tracking system combs the Web continuously, looking for broadcast music. The system generates a list of sites that contain music, which BMI can check against its licensing records. The organization then will contact those sites using unauthorized music and offer them proper licensing terms.

Legal action against unauthorized Web sites using BMI music is a possible, though extreme, measure. BMI has been licensing music to Web sites for well over a year, said a company spokesperson.

MusicBot is an automated tracking and database technology that BMI developed with consulting firm EdgeNet Media. The tracking system is intended to operate 24 hours per day, every day. Early data gathered by MusicBot indicates that nearly 2%, or 26,000 of the 1,300,000 sites on the Web, have audio or rich media files.

BMI said the technology is part of a series of initiatives designed to address the intellectual property concerns of the 200,000 copyright holders the organization represents, while meeting the demands of Web developers for high-quality musical content on their sites.

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