Might the relationship of digital music to CDs set a precedent for the relationship of e-books to print books? If so, then it might be wise to take notice of the outcome of Eminem’s former producers’ lawsuit against Universal Music.
The lawsuit hinged upon digital music sales, such as iTunes downloads. Eminem’s producers argued that the sales should be more like licensing music for use in commercials or movies, since there was no physical product changing hands. This would have meant more money to the artist and producers, less to the labels. However, the court did not see it that way, choosing to side with Universal that (at least as far as licensing fees goes) selling digital downloads is the same as selling CDs.
Of course, music licensing is much more complicated than print publishing and not all the same rules necessarily apply. Still, a precedent that says publishers are permitted to pay artists the same small cut out of sales of a digital medium with smaller reproduction costs than a physical medium could be seen as a little troubling.