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LA Times: Vivendi Chief Says He'll Crush Pirates

Jul 22, 2000, 16:42 (3 Talkback[s])


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"Jean-Marie Messier is not afraid of Napster. The 43-year-old Frenchman who runs Vivendi is betting the bank that Seagram Co.'s giant record division can stamp out digital piracy simply by offering better service and higher quality audio files to music fans on the Internet. Vivendi will crush Napster and other digital counterfeiters, Messier predicts, by hawking 'value-added' music subscriptions to the hits of Shania Twain and other Seagram stars online through mobile phones, personal computers and television."

"Question: You two just negotiated this humongous deal built on the premise that you can sell music online. Aren't you anxious that digital piracy will gut the business?

Messier: Piracy doesn't worry me. It really only works when there is no alternative. That's why Napster is so popular right now. When you have only one service available, that's what people have to use. But as soon as customers are given an alternative with higher sound quality and better service, that's where they'll go. Without question. ...

[Seagram chief Edgar] Bronfman: Let's step back a minute here. You can dress Napster up any way you want. But the fact is Napster takes other people's property and gives it away. That means Napster is very limited in what it can offer. We, on the other hand, own a historic catalog of diverse music and have direct relationships with current recording artists. That gives us an edge on delivering higher quality music to our customers. ..."

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