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L.A.M.P. Service Shut Down for Now, Creators Try to Get Labels’ Approval

By Shuai Chen


The creators of MIT’s Library Access to Music Project shut down the service last week, after the company that sold MIT the music library told the school that they may not have the legal right to do so.

L.A.M.P. creators Keith J. Winstein G and Joshua C. Mandel ’04 voluntarily shut down the service as a precaution, and hope to restore the service. Winstein maintains that L.A.M.P. is fully legal and holds all of the proper licenses.

Last Friday, the creators issued a statement on the L.A.M.P Web site: “MIT took on the responsibility of having the proper public performing licenses from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. After the LAMP service was launched, Loudeye informed us that some of their assurances to us may have been mistaken. We are therefore temporarily suspending the LAMP service while we pursue clarifying discussions with Loudeye, the record labels, and music publishers....”

MIT voluntarily halted L.A.M.P.

Loudeye Inc., a Seattle-based vendor of digital music, sold MIT over 3,500 albums and the licenses to the music for $30,000. However, the company informed MIT last week that they should not have sold the rights for the music to be used in a service like L.A.M.P., according to a report by The Los Angeles Times.

The announcement came after two major music copyright owners, Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music Group and Harry Fox Agency, complained to Loudeye Inc.

After Winstein and Mandel heard of the complaints to Loudeye, they temporarily shut down the L.A.M.P. service.

“Loudeye promised us that they had permission to sell us music and they did sell us music, but at this point, we don’t know whether Loudeye, in fact, had permission,” Winstein said.

“The official comment is no comment,” said a spokesperson for Loudeye.

Loudeye Inc. had previously issued a press release statement on Oct. 27, the day of L.A.M.P.’s official launch, championing the merits of L.A.M.P.

“LAMP is an innovative approach to enabling legitimate digital music distribution at universities. With MIT making the LAMP code open, we are encouraged that other organizations and universities will deploy similar legitimate music services,” said Jeff Cavins, Loudeye’s president and chief executive officer in the Oct. 27 press release.

“Our work with MIT and the LAMP project demonstrates the flexibility of the Loudeye Media Framework to support next generation and emerging business models in the digital music space across all different segments,” Cavins said.

“Loudeye should not have let this happen,” Digital Media Analyst Phil Leigh told The Seattle Times on Wednesday. “They’re moving very fast and they just made a misstep here. It’s going to cost them from a public-relations perspective.”

L.A.M.P. works to return to the air

The recent setbacks have not deterred MIT or the L.A.M.P. creators. Winstein and Mandel are currently in talks with the labels to make settlements so that the L.A.M.P. project can continue.

Winstein said that they are working to offer five major labels payments to use the music, even though they already legally own the licenses to the music. He stressed that while Loudeye does not hold the proper license to sell the music, MIT does hold the rights to broadcast the music over L.A.M.P. channels.

Winstein said “We will know what’s going to happen in a few weeks.”

Students hope for music’s return

Many MIT students remain optimistic that L.A.M.P. will return to their computers and television sets, and hope it will happen soon.

“MIT is within all their rights, and they are just being extra cautious, which I appreciate. And it will be up soon so it doesn’t really matter,” said Alicia M. Zha ’07.

“I hope it’s back on because I really enjoy it,” said Sergio A. Bacallado ’07.

Dylan A. Consia ’07 said “I think it is too bad they shut it down. I hope they cut through the red tape.”

“It seems like it’s not a problem with L.A.M.P., just the people they got the music from, so I have full confidence in the future success of L.A.M.P.” said Aaron P. Walker ’07.

L.A.M.P. conceived in 2001

L.A.M.P. is a campus-wide music service created by Winstein and Mandel. Students choose which songs they want to hear from an online database, and their selections play over a channel on MIT cable.

The creators hoped to bypass much of the legal red tape associated with peer-to-peer music services, such as KaZaA, by playing the music in analog rather than the heavily restricted digital format.

The 3,500 albums in the service’s library were all picked after gathering student’s input from a survey.

The L.A.M.P. project first began in 2001 when Winstein and Mandel received funding from MIT’s iCampus Alliance with the Microsoft Corporation to pursue the project.

Keith J. Winstein is a news editor for The Tech.