Innoform offers legal DVD downloads by year end

Sounds a good deal for me. But sure will need more details especially on the pricing...

MOVIE buffs will be able to download the latest DVD releases - legally - later this year, the first time such a service is available in Singapore.

The service will be offered by local company Innoform, which owns the home video distribution rights in Singapore for movies from studios such as Warner Home Video, 20th Century Fox and Shaw, among others.

The company said it is working on two services: One will allow users with a high-speed broadband connection to stream high-definition movies onto their computers for viewing, while the other lets them pick up movies from 20 kiosks around the island.

From Straits Times, "Legal DVD downloads".



Update: more search on 'Innoform' leads me to this old piece of news (in 2008) about how Innoform had allegedly infringed the composers' rights?! Is that the same Innoform? And how come there's no follow-up news about the case???

THEY are singing a different song.

No, not the patrons in karaoke lounges (KTV), but the parties tussling over music royalties.

For KTV operators, it's a song sung blue, as they have been told they must pay composers for the right to copy their compositions on to their karaoke-on-demand (KOD) systems.

Not fair, they cry. We are already paying for the rights to use these songs.

So upset were they that 40 pub operators and suppliers of KOD systems marched into the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) two days ago.

They wanted to lodge a complaint against Innoform Entertainment, a licensing agency which sold them the rights to copy 'music videos' into their KOD systems.

They had understood that the licence they bought from Innoform included the composer's rights, which they were now being asked to pay for.

The sheer number of complainants caused CAD to move them to an indoor basketball court in the Police Cantonment Complex before hearing their complaints.

The problem began when the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) sent a letter to about 300 KTV pub operators on 24 July.

'NO LEGAL PERMISSION'

It informed them that they did not have legal permission to copy the music and lyrics of composers into the KOD devices - computerised karaoke systems used by the KTV industry since 2003.

Compass wanted compensation of behalf of composers represented by four companies - Sony Music Publishing, Suwah Records, Touch Music Publishing and HIM International Music.

But the pub operators had assumed their annual payments to Innoform had covered composer royalties.

They were upset that the song CDs provided by Innoform had infringed the composers' rights and left them vulnerable to possible court action by Compass as a result.

Innoform collects $6,800 to $30,000 in annual KOD licence fees from each KTV operator, depending on their scale of operations.

The licence allows the operators to copy 'music videos' owned by 10 record companies, for which Innoform is the exclusive licensee.

They claimed that it is a common understanding in the karaoke industry that music and lyrics rights are included in the term 'music videos'.

One KOD supplier who wanted to remain anonymous, said it was like 'buying a 3-in-1 coffee only to find out later that you need to pay extra for the milk'.

Responding to the dispute, Innoform executive director Nancy Seah, 40, said Innoform had made it clear that their licence is limited to the rights owned by record companies over the visuals and sound recordings done by their artistes.

She said Innoform's contract with KTV operators mention that lyrics were not included in the 'music videos' sold by Innoform.

For example, the music for a song by Stefanie Sun might belong to a record company, but the lyrics might belong to a publishing company, she said.

Therefore, a KTV operator may need to pay different licensing agencies such as Compass and Innoform for the rights to a single song.

She said KTV operators should have understood that they need to pay for various rights or sought legal advice before setting up a KTV pub.

But most KTV operators interviewed were unsure as to the number of rights they had to pay for, and felt misled by Innoform.

According to them, the CAD was looking into the matter.

Mr Kelvin Lim, 29, who owns Raining Bar, said he was shocked Compass was asking for more money.

'We just want to know why we have to pay so much,' he said.

Annually, he pays $3,000 to Compass for music composition performance rights, $4,000 to Recording Industry Performance Singapore (RIPS) for music video performance rights and $7,000 a year to Innoform for reproduction rights for the KOD system.

'NOT CLEAR'

Mr Lim Chong Ping, 36, managing director of Octopus Holdings, a F&B investment company that manages 70 outlets, said: 'There is no clear definition of who owns what type of rights, nor what the rights are that pub operators need to buy.

'Paying for these rights is fair, but an operator would rather pay a single party at a fair price instead of paying multiple parties at a price that is set arbitrarily.'

He said the average KTV pub uses 20 to 30 per cent of their profits on copyright fees.

Compass licensing manager Melvin Tan said composers' rights have to be taken care of and he had sent the letters to inform pub owners that there are rights they have yet to pay for.

He said there are scenarios where rights belong to different parties but 'Compass's role is specific to the composers'.

'Composers give birth to the song, they are its soul and spirit,' he said.

Mr Tan said Innoform also needed to pay Compass and that it had already approached Compass for talks.

He said he could not determine how much extra copyright dues Compass has to collect.

Initial estimates are $3 per song.

From Asiaone, "Why must we pay & pay?". (17/08/2008)

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