Warner: When in doubt, sue someone

Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation has the details on a lawsuit that Warner Music has launched against Seeqpod, a music search engine that has become popular over the past few months — largely because it is super-fast, and allows users to play songs directly in their browser after they find them. Songza.com is another similar music-search engine, although the user interface is much more stripped down (it was developed by Aza Raskin, the 24-year-old son of legendary Apple designer Jef Raskin), and it recently announced a deal with Seeqpod.

As Fred notes in his post, this lawsuit is just the latest attempt by the music and content industries to go after anything that functions as a search engine, on the argument that if they allow people to search for copyright-infringing files then they are contributing to that copyright infringement (which was the central point of the Napster and Grokster cases). What makes Seeqpod.com and Songza a little different is that they actually allow you to play the file, even though it resides somewhere else.

It will be interesting to see where this one goes, if only because it has implications not just for search engines but also for other music-related services, such as the Yahoo Music built-in mp3 player the company launched not long ago — part of Yahoo exec Ian Rogers’ vision of a distributed music network that finds content wherever it is and makes it playable. There are other services as well, including G2p.org, that let you find music easily (and I just found another one about 10 minutes ago called FindTheTunes.com). Can the record industry stop them all?

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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