Lot’s of quizzical…yes, that’s what it was, quizzical…reaction to the announcement by HFA that they will be handling a few items for Amazon. First of all, I have to say that it’s always encouraging when one of the Gang of Four tech oligarchs (per Eric Schmidt) like Amazon does something on the top of the table. Something, anything (to quote Todd Rundgren).
The last time we heard from Amazon about its cloud offering they had launched it without warning in the dead of night, always a sure sign that someone is confident in their rights. If they did it once, they’ll do it again.
Notwithstanding that the authors and artists helped Amazon get started, the company has shown little gratitude (something to remember in current and future dealings with the oligarchs, minioligarchs and wanna be oligarchs in the “Gang”–a word that is no doubt absent from Google’s FTC correspondence). The Amazon cloud service is exhibit A.
One might think that Amazon would have helped itself by hiring HFA. As usual, however, the oligarch stumbled out of the gate. The last time we heard from Amazon about licensing their cloud service, it was on a carpet bombed NOI cover letter sent by MRI in their signature “hey idiot” correspondence style saying (let me paraphrase) “News from the Czar! You, too, can be one of tens of thousands of rights holders who are too stupid to do long division and will be attracted to give MRI your data by a $1 million pot of money to be divided amongst all of you fools. Click here to agree to our hillbilly terms and get your $0.01 check, boychik!”
Or something like that.
So what happened to MRI? Maybe they’re still in there somewhere, but I gather from the press release that they have been replaced by HFA. And if you’re like those readers who have reached out to me, you’re wondering if HFA (emphasis on the Harry Fox Agency) is representing their publisher principals or Amazon?
Strangely, no one seems to have gotten that explanatory letter. Yet.
From what we are hearing, it seems more and more inevitable that the publisher licensing and collections part of HFA will need to be more like SoundExchange in the near future–the easy way, hopefully. HFA performs an important function for their publishers, but we would not want to wake up one day and find out that HFA has gone the way of Rightsflow into the Satanic flames. This would solve the principal’s dilemma in exactly the wrong way.