das meint der liebe "rule breaker" thommy middelhoff dazu:
> Letter from the Chairman
> Dear Colleagues,
> Bertelsmann has delivered a strategic one-two punch in its effort to reach
the number-one positions in both the global music business and in media
e-commerce. We have entered into a strategic alliance with the
Internet-based music exchange Napster. Under the terms of the deal,
Bertelsmann will support Napster financially in the establishment of a legal
business model. In return, we will receive an option for the acquisition of
a stake in Napster. As the owner of a stake, we would have rights in the
file-sharing technology, the Napster brand, and Napster> '> s customer data.
In comparison with other international music companies, Bertelsmann thus
becomes an innovative pacesetter with this agreement and assumes the
position of technological leader.
> The strategic partnership with Napster represents a milestone for the
music industry and for the digital distribution of music over the Internet.
Bertelsmann has the opportunity to shape this business model in a dynamic
and customer-oriented way. We> '> re developing access to the largest music
database in the world for our customers. Today - about one year after its
launch - Napster has more than 38 million installed clients throughout the
world (i.e., private computers that exchange music files with the assistance
of Napster software). And more than 200,000 new users are being added daily.
Every day, between 20 and 30 million downloads of music files, handled
through the Napster server, are made. On average, more than one million
users are online simultaneously. The number of exchanged music files in the
month of October alone amounts to more than 150 million songs.
> It is true that this private exchange of music via the Internet has thus
far infringed upon the copyrights of artists and record companies, and that
it threatens the existence of the traditional music industry; therefore, a
lawsuit by the American music industry is pending against Napster.
Bertelsmann, however, wants to offer Napster the opportunity to transform
the current system into a legal business model with a loan. The challenge
will be to preserve the openness, variety, and convenience of the system for
customers and, at the same time, account for the justified interests of
musicians and music labels. Acknowledging our responsibility to creative
people, we want to make sure that the artists will also profit from this new
digital technology. We are also clear about the fact that Napster will
remain a system that is open to all music companies. I am certain that this
undertaking will be successful.
> The agreement with Napster meets the strategic goal of the Executive Board
to become the global number one in online commerce involving media products.
Our music companies at BMG are also being given a great chance to utilize
Napster for the digital distribution of their products, because one thing is
certain: file-sharing technology will be used in the future, no matter what
the outcome of the lawsuit against Napster may be. In the medium term, an
additional distribution channel will be opened up for our other content
businesses, as well, through the use of this technology. Therefore, we are
sticking to the course we have set: we will resolutely move forward with the
complete digitization of all our content and through this process achieve a
competitive advantage over other media enterprises.
> The deal with Napster is courageous and visionary. Bertelsmann will no
doubt be commended for it, but also criticized, and we have to be prepared
for that. I am fully convinced that we> '> re doing the right thing. I would
like to thank everyone who has made this deal possible, beginning with our
colleagues at BMG, who are accompanying us on this path; the staff divisions
of the corporate office; and especially Klaus Eierhoff and Andreas Schmi> dt
and the entire team of BeCG. Through his untiring efforts, his boundless
will, and his clear vision, Andreas has put this partnership into action.
> With Napster we are reaching a higher level of quality in media commerce
in terms of global reach, individual customer orientation, and digital
technology. This deal could one day achieve a similar importance for
Bertelsmann as opting for AOL in 1994. Clearly, it is absolutely fantastic
to be working for Bertelsmann in these eventful times!
> Yours truly,
> Thomas Middelhoff
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