Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Sharing is Caring: Digital Distribution and Message on Hold

For visual, audio, or content distribution businesses entering the digital marketplace, take warning: the traditional boundaries of “ownership” are often thrown into question, if not disregarded entirely. These businesses are encountering an entire generation of consumers raised by “Freemium” and Open Source expectations: and if a business does not meet these expectations, then consumers will find a way to hack into those services – and feel justified. The fact that illegally downloading and distributing licensed music, pictures, and documents is facilitated by home-brewed P2P software only adds fuel to the fire.

I’m not chastising sharing, but also not condoning “sharing” without legal permission. On one hand, this Frontier mentality gives the Internet a unique culture – inspiring the rise of hundreds of entrepreneurs, start-ups, and new technologies – but on the other hand, without proper protection against plagiarism and stealing, artists and businesses feel threatened.

For traditional businesses to thrive (and of course, generate revenue), they need to adjust their practices to meet the demands of the Internet’s content-consumers, but still insure the integrity of their product.

In the Message on Hold industry, the entitlement of “sharing” has permeated offline and online mediums such as commercials, telephony, and virtual tours – even overhead music in shopping malls. Clients believe that once a program is purchased, they can distribute the recording over any medium – such as tv or radio commercials. This is not the case: as described in an earlier blog on Copyright and Music Licensing, Message on Hold has distribution and usage limitations.

That doesn’t mean a client can’t share their fantastic Message on Hold program with the world– just that the proper terms of use need to be established beforehand. Once the necessary boundaries are set, then creativity and customization can flourish.

For more information regarding , feel free to post on our Forum, or to contact our Client Relations department at


Resources: - the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers - list of distribution terms of use for photographs on flickr: a good working model that reconciles “sharing” with established copyright.

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