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On Tuesday, the Recording Industry Association of America unveiled the online arm of its SoundExchange royalty-payment system, which will cover Webcasted music. SoundExchange is already the sole agent for collecting royalties for music broadcast over satellite and cable services. It is awaiting approval from the U.S. Copyright Office to become the sole agent for collecting and distributing royalties for music broadcast online. Copyright protection has become a flash point in the fledgling online music industry. The RIAA has sued high-profile Web companies, including the controversial Napster song-swapping service, for infringing on copyrights. “For the first time, performers and artists will be rewarded for the performance of their works online,” says John Simson, director of artist and label relations for SoundExchange. SoundExchange has already signed up 280 recording companies, and it expects to conclude deals soon with the Big Five recording groups — Sony Music, Universal Music, EMI, Warner Music and BMG — that will enable it to pay their artists directly. Fifty percent of the royalties will be distributed to the copyright holders — usually, the record labels. The balance will be divvied up among the artists. Rates haven’t been set yet but are expected to be finalized sometime next year in conjunction with the Copyright Office. SoundExchange also has signed deals with major online companies, including Yahoo. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: RIAA to Napster: Headbangers Have Feelings, Too Sleeping With the Enemy Score One for the Record Industry Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

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