×

Napster still in Bertelsmann good graces

'Out of the one-time pirate, a business will be born,' Middelhoff sez

BERLIN — Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff pledged his support Tuesday to Napster, the controversial online music site that the German media giant now has a stake in.

“Out of the one-time pirate, a business will be born,” Middelhoff affirmed, speaking of his conviction of the central role that the exchange of media data will play in the future entertainment biz. “Of course Napster will be put into a legal form that protects the rights of artists and producers,” he added.

In his keynote speech to producers gathered in Potsdam for Babelsburg 2001, the country’s leading production confab, Middelhoff conceded there was still legal ground to cover, but he dismissed criticism that people might not be willing to pay for Napster when they can use similar services free.

According to Middelhoff, the Internet is now fully integrated across all of Bertelsmann’s business areas. It invested DM1.6 billion ($746 million) in the Internet this year, and Middelhoff said the $1.2 billion-$1.9 billion that the company had invested to date has returned in the range of $9.3 billion.

Middelhoff’s appearance came after two days of discussion on the ins and outs of European production, featuring participants Nik Powell of the U.K.’s Scala Prods. and Peter Aalbeck Jensen of Denmark’s Zentropa Prods. Local participants included Roland Pellegrino of film production fund CP Medien and Andrea Willson of Deutsche Columbia TriStar.

Both Friedrich Carl Wachs of the indie consortium Producers’ AG and Georgia Tornow, general secretary of the Film20 initiative for independent producers, spoke out in favor of better conditions for indies.

They want the government to prevent a closed shop after local broadcasting giants Bertelsmann and the Kirch Group gained majority control of commercial airwaves following media consolidation.

They are also pushing for a change in financing that would give independent producers copyright of projects they develop.

The two-day confab, which ended Tuesday, is part of Intl. Mediaweek Berlin-Brandenburg, which runs through Friday.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • fundo logo

    Google‘s Area 120 Is Testing Fundo, a Crowdfunding Service for Creators (EXCLUSIVE)

    Google’s skunkworks lab Area 120 has been quietly testing an events-centric crowdfunding service for YouTubers, Variety has learned. Called Fundo, the service allows creators to invite their fans to virtual meet & greet sessions and other paid online events. A Google spokesperson confirmed the testing in a statement provided to Variety: “One of the many [...]

  • Telling Lies - Logan Marshall-Green

    Sam Barlow's 'Telling Lies' Government-Surveillance Thriller Game Sets Release Date

    After more than two years in the works, “Telling Lies” — the investigative thriller from acclaimed game creator Sam Barlow — is ready to take the stage. The game, produced with and released by Annapurna Interactive, will be available next Friday, Aug. 23, via Steam and Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores. “Telling Lies” will [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Will Stop Letting Copyright Holders Seize Revenue via Manual Claims on Very Short Music Clips

    YouTube is pushing back against overzealous copyright policing by music companies. Starting in mid-September, the video giant will forbid copyright holders from making manual claims to commandeer revenue generated by YouTube videos that include very short music clips (e.g., five seconds of a song) or “unintentional” music (like music from passing cars). “One concerning trend [...]

  • Chelsea Handler memoir book buy online

    Chelsea Handler Bonds With Alexa in iHeartRadio Smart Speaker Promo

    iHeartRadio has teamed up with Amazon to promote Chelsea Handler’s podcast “Life Will Be The Death Of Me.” Beginning this Thursday, users of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and other devices with Alexa built-in can opt to get their mornings started with Handler cracking jokes and exchanging banter with the smart assistant. Users simply have to [...]

  • David Messinger, Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Hires CAA Veteran David Messinger as CMO

    Activision Blizzard tapped David Messinger, a former 15-plus-year veteran of CAA, as its first corporate-wide chief marketing officer. Messinger, based in Santa Monica, reports to Coddy Johnson, Activision Blizzard’s president and COO. It’s the first time the video-game company has appointed a CMO who will oversee the global marketing operations across all of Activision Blizzard [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content