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Universal Music Suing MySpace

Universal Music has decided the best way to obtain licensing fees from MySpace is to sue them first, establish an infringement, and then do the deal. At least, that appears to be their strategy, according to the NY Times.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, is seen as part of a strategy by Universal to test provisions of a federal law that provides a “safe harborâ€? to Internet companies that follow certain procedures to filter out copyrighted works…If Universal can win in court, it is likely to gain leverage in negotiating licensing terms with user-driven services — just at the moment that those services are attracting deep-pocketed partners.

MySpace seperately announced a new tool that would allow copyright holders to flag videos used without permission. Right…pure coincidence, I’m sure.

Yahoo Buys Contest Site Bix, But Why?

I must admit to being a little perplexed as to why Yahoo decided it needed to acquire Bix, a company that provides online karaoke and contests.

The company does have 1 million users and has gotten to that size by offering contests with prizes worth as much as $50,000. But online karaoke?

I suspect this deal is as much about the people, as it is about the intellectual property. Here’s what TechCrunch has to say about the founder of Bix.

[CEO Mike] Speiser was previously the founder of Epinions…Yahoo! got a seasoned social media man to put in charge of a number of product management at the company’s most social products.

The fact that the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but likely less than $15 million, it’s highly likely this was a human capital driven deal.

StumbleUpon For Sale?

TechCrunch has heard whispers that StumbleUpon may be looking for someone to buy them for $50 million.

The deal doesn’t appear to have been widely shopped – one potential acquirer said that they met with the company recently, but only to explore possible business development deals, and that an acquisition was not discussed. I spoke briefly with StumbleUpon CEO Garret Camp this afternoon but he refused to comment, saying “we do not comment on rumors.â€? Fair enough.

I’m a big fan of StumbleUpon and I love it as a user (finding new sites) and a marketer (people finding my sites).

Reuters Buys Stake in Pluck

Reuters has announced they’ve invested $7 million in to Pluck which operates the recently formed BlogBurst distribution network for blogs.

[BlogBurst] connects newspapers and other media sites to 2,800 selected blogs, helping traditional media supplement their journalism with blog viewpoints…Reuters plans to offer Pluck’s BlogBurst blog syndication service to thousands of its media customers worldwide, the London-based company said.

Plucks decision to shutdown its RSS reader now makes a little more sense. Reuters obviously wants the company to focus on BlogBurst and the deal gives them a stake in consumer generated news.

Google Closes YouTube Deal

TechCrunch has news that Google’s closed the acquisition of YouTube. The final deal appears be worth $1.775 billion and the YouTube founders get $15 million in cash, to buy their Ferraris now.

The final price included $15 million in cash, 3,217,560 shares of Google Class A Common Stock, along with an additional 442,210 shares of restricted stock and warrants. The number of shares was determined by dividing the acquisition price, $1.65 billion, by an average value of Google stock over the last thirty days (this is a standard way of handling public company acquisitions). 12.5% of the stock is being held in escrow for one year.

Ning Allows Quick and Easy Social Network Creation

CNET has details of Ning.com’s public launch at the Web 2.0 Summit this week.

While the company has been operating for more than a year, this week was its official coming-out announcement.

If you’ve not heard of Ning, it lets you easily create you own social networking sites. Options include the creation of your own YouTube-style video site, and a MySpace-style social networking platform.

I’ve been playing around with Ning, and it gets my thumbs-up simply because of ease of use. I’ve already used it to create a local networking site for Internet marketers in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and even tested out their video service.

The company plans to offer new features and upgrades in December, which should make it even more compelling.

Skype to Offer Bloggers Live Chat Rooms

CNET has details of Skype’s plans to offer bloggers the ability to host audio chats from their own web site.

The next version of Skype will enable people to post a link on a blog or Web site that will take people to a public chat room when clicked on.

There’s no timeline for the launch, but Skype execs say the feature is coming “soon”.

Skype is also in talks with many social networking sites about offering services that would allow members to share content with each other in conversations.