Certification Mark For Legal Music Souces Hopes To Make Music Matter.


Musicians, retailers, music labels, songwriters, and managers have united under a new collective named Music Matters designed to educate consumers about the value of music and to encourage and assist consumers in identifying and purchasing online music from legal sources.

With such partners and supporting sites as iTunes, Rough Trade, Spotify and Play.com, and even former music pirate Napster, Music Matters carries out its mission through two main avenues, the first of which is providing a series of short animated films by several renowned artists regarding what inspired them to make music, and the second is the launch of the MUSIC MASTTERS trustmark (or certification mark) which uses a elaborate certification regime to identify legitimate legal music services for consumers. The gold e-badge MUSIC MATTER mark functions as stamp of approval for music retailers who display the mark on their websites to identify themselves as certified provider of legal music.

Certification marks, however, are neither new nor exclusive to the music industry and should be an important consideration for brand owners. Unlike a trademark, which is used to identify the commercial source of goods and services, a certification mark is used to certify the nature, quality, regional origin or characteristics of the goods or services and/or that the provision of services was by members of a union or other organization that meet certain standards. Examples include the GROWN IN IDAHO mark (owned by the Idaho Potato Commission), the UL logo (owned by Underwriters Laboratories) and the GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SEAL OF APPROVAL (created by the Good Housekeeping Institute).

Certification marks are of great value to both their owners as well the merchants who display them, allowing consumers to identify products that meet certain criteria and allowing brand owners to set themselves apart in the industry. There are, however, significant legal considerations and requirements which should be carefully explored and understood before seeking a certification mark. For instance, for the owner of certification mark cannot use the mark in connection with its own goods and services for which is it certifying others. Moreover, the owner is required to create and implement objective testing standards and criteria against which goods and services may be measured and may not discriminate against those who meet the criteria. Additionally, the owner must monitor and control other’s use of the mark to ensure its proper use.

Whether Music Matters will have any significant effect on the wave of pirated music remains to be seen…but in this author’s humble opinion, it’s a good start and serves to remind us all that music really does matter. You can read more about the collective here.

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