Here are two unrelated items involving the record industry. The first is about the origins of IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, based in London. IFPI is affiliated with the RIAA. (From 1999 to 2004, the head of IFPI was Jay Berman, former head of RIAA.). Founded in 1933, this is IFPI’s 75th anniversary year, usually an occasion for conspicuous celebration, but no announcement of such festivities have been made public.
Rasmus Fleischer, a doctoral student, has a blog post about IFPI’s origins and about changes in the wikipedia entry on IFPI. Here is the link to his post (HT to Nicklas Lundblad), IFPI was founded in Rome in 1933, and returned to Italy the following year. Even though Mussolini was appointed Prime Minister by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1922 (and Il Duce in 1925) as a result of the attempted coup and the March on Rome of that year, World War II on the European front was still 6 years off, and Italy’s (at least formal) alliance with Hitler’s Germany did not occur until June 10th of the following year, 1940. Italy’s anti-Semitic and other race laws were not passed until 1938.
Still, since 1928 the Fascists had been the only legal party and had been imposing Fascist ideology and symbolism throughout Italy. Wikipedia notes that “The fasces adorned public buildings, Fascist mottos and symbols were displayed on art, and a personality cult was created around Mussolini as the nation's saviour … .” It may be this history that makes IFPI uneasy, even though there is zero evidence of an association of IFPI with the Italian regime. IFPI’s sensitivity nevertheless seems acute: Mr. Fleischer did some investigation into changes on wikipedia’s entry on IFPI, which he details:
Previously, this fact appeared at Wikipedia’s page about the IFPI:
It was formed /…/ during 1933 in Rome, Italy, under the fascist government of Benito Mussolini by companies mainly owned or controlled by General Electric in the United States of America.
In April 2005, someone removed the mentioning of fascism, but the information about where and when the IFPI was founded remained, for anyone with a minimum of historical knowledge to draw her own conclusions.
Until August 25th, 2006. At that date the page was edited thoroughly by someone with the IP-address 22.214.171.124, erasing any mentioning about any kind of history of the IFPI. Since then, Wikipedia’s page about IFPI has remained like that.
That “someone” who erased the information about the IFPI’s foundation, was evidently an employee at the IFPI’s London headquarters. The IP address can be traced there.
The current relevant section of the entry reads: “The IFPI was formed in Rome in November 1933 to represent ‘the interests of the recording industry worldwide in all fora’ by promoting legislation and copyrights …. .”
The second story involves Sony buying Gracenotes, according to Forbes, for $260 million. According to Scott Jones’ website:
The Gracenote Media Database has information for approximately 55 million tracks and over four million CDs. It has been used by more than 150 million individuals worldwide totaling six billion searches over the past eight years. In 2006, the company penned a deal allowing Gracenote to become one of the first companies to offer legal downloads of millions of song lyrics.
Gracenote licenses access to its database and other services to online music services and hardware providers that enable individual users to explore the world of digital entertainment. Gracenote's content delivery engine provides the ability to aggregate and deliver rich third-party content that is directly related to music as it is playing. Gracenote became the Web's first "music browser" by allowing its licensees (including RealNetworks and Yahoo!) to recognize MP3s as well as CDs and to receive information about artists on the screen while users listen to music. By providing player partners, application developers and device makers the ability to serve targeted content in context to the music listening experience, Gracenote enables its partners to generate new revenue streams.
Gracenotes also has a Video Id service, called VideoIDSM, a fingerprinting technology, and counts Apple among its clients.