Interactive TV Provider Licenses Music

A California company that recently launched an interactive Internet TV channel accessible by wireless PCs has obtained an Internet licensing agreement with the association that collects royalties for songwriters and music producers.

Kanakaris Wireless , of Aliso Viejo, Calif., said the deal with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP, permits its AK.TV global channel to air any of the millions of music works in ASCAP’s repertory. CEO Alex Kanakaris said the move is a key step before it begins offering music videos to consumers via wireless Internet connections.

ASCAP licenses the right for public performance of recorded or live music and collects royalty fees for its members, which includes 120,000 U.S. composers, songwriters and publishers of all kinds of music (plus many more worldwide). Its licensing is common -in most cases it’s mandatory- for the legal replay of copyrighted music in most public venues such as bars and restaurants, clubs, concert venues and most stores.

AK.TV, which launched last week, said its licensing agreement with ASCAP is the first for a wireless Internet initiative; ASCAP already licenses music to Web sites.

AK.TV offers video to viewers via handheld devices using handheld Pocket PCs, as well as other computers like laptops and desktop PCs. Its video programming includes old TV shows, such as Bonanza, and older movies such as “A Star is Born” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. The company has a database with about 500 encoded feature films which it is licensed to run on its channel.

It also offers a merchandising venue, selling movie and pop culture trinkets from “Austin Powers”, “Planet of the Apes” and other movies, as well as a venue to purchase e-books and read excerpts.

CEO Alex Kanakaris sees his 15-person company as providing a service that advances the interests of three business segments: makers of hardware, such as Pocket PCs (“It enhances why people buy Pocket PCs; this is something cooler and better”); telecom providers selling wireless connectivity; and content and broadcast providers, who could use Kanakaris’s technology as “a different way” to transmit content to consumers.

Though slow to develop in the U.S., Kanakaris predicted the growth of next-generation wireless use will expand from Scandanavia, Europe and other areas to the U.S., boosting demand for his company’s technology and services.

“The company’s goal is to emerge as a leading content provider for wireless delivery,” he said.

Kanakaris said the company operates two offices in southern California and plans to open a third in Berlin.

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