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Vivendi's Slaughter

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)
November 25, 2003
When Vivendi (NYSE: V) completes its sale of the domain to CNET (Nasdaq: CNET) next week, it vows to erase its servers of the more than 1.2 million songs uploaded by roughly 250,000 recording artists.

While it would be a stretch to equate this wipeout to the destruction of historical relics in the Middle East or the burning of Rome, it's probably the only remaining online presence for many of the unsigned musicians who either aren't aware of the dwindling list of online music site alternatives or have simply moved on.

Conspiracy theorists may ponder that Vivendi's Universal Music simply wants to bury the indie upstarts and cement the lure of attaining a major label record deal, but it may prove to be a shallow grave. founder Michael Robertson, who tired of being sued by the five major labels so he moved on in pursuit of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) legal eagles with his Lindows endeavor, is trying to get Vivendi to allow his friends at to host the tracks marked for deletion. Digital media specialist has also gone public with an offer to take over the library's hosting reins.

More companies might speak up between now and when Vivendi shuts down the site a week from today. Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL)? Wouldn't 250,000 artists and their grateful fans just love to come over to iTunes and be won over by those sleek new iPods? America Online?

If Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) is serious about beefing up the unique content offerings on AOL to start growing its subscriber base again, you can't get any bigger than owning the Grand Central Station of garage bands.

Gateway (NYSE: GTW)? You've got the growing product lines and a ton of cash, how about growing your attentive audience?

Yes, the days are numbered. But if you know musicians at all, you know that they're not ones to go down quietly.

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Perhaps not on the level of the destruction of the library at Alexandria by a religious group who thought that it was filled with heretic writings. Wanton loss of intellectual property is still a shame. Perhaps Fahrenheit 451 is another analogy in fiction of loss of learning.

And bless those in Napoleon's army who recovered the Roseta Stone.

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