BMI grants music licenses to MSN, Yahoo

U.S. performing rights organization Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) said Tuesday that it forged a long-term deal granting music licensing rights to Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Music and Yahoo Inc., in a move that highlights the industry's desire to legitimize music on the Internet.

Although the financial details were not disclosed, the agreement gives the two Internet titans access to the performance rights of BMI's catalog of over 4.5 million songs and musical works.

Royalties collected from public performances on the Yahoo and MSN sites will be distributed to the songwriters, composers and music publishers that BMI represents, the organization said.

The deal adds another feather in the caps of the Internet companies, which are currently gunning for position in the burgeoning Net music market. Yahoo just unveiled its new music offering, Launch, on Monday, offering users streaming music, downloads and artist news and information [See, "Yahoo spins Launch music site" Dec. 17]. Launch's music download subscription service is not yet available, however, because it is being provided by the still-unveiled Pressplay service, backed by Vivendi Universal SA and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. Ditto for MSN Music, which has also signed a deal with the service.

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