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-- David Renzer, Universal Music Publishing Group's global chairman and CEO, warns 2010 could be publishing's most challenging year. This is the not the sunny optimism that usually surrounds publishing, the more healthy sibling of recorded music. Health is a relative term, of course, as publishing is not immune to the forces reshaping other parts of the industry. "Not only do we have the continued downward trend on mechanical income but we've got to hope that the impact the recession has had on sync licences turns around, particularly in the commercial area," Renzer told Music Week. He added 2010 will be the first year ever the major performing rights organizations will see challenging times. "Again it's recession-related when you've got advertising impacting on the radio industry," he said. "Their overall blanket deals are up and they're coming in and it's difficult to get those licences to increase or be on a par to where they were before." (Music Week)

-- A judge has dismissed EMI's lawsuit against the CEO and co-founders of now-defunct Seeqpod. One defendant, who created the Favtape site that used Seeqpod's underlying technology, reached a settlement with EMI. Seeqpod was a music search site that indexed music files found across the Internet. Not just a plain search engine, however, Seeqpod's search results were playable. Warner Music Group filed a complaint against Seeqpod in January of 2008. The company filed for bankruptcy in April of 2009. (GigaOm)

-- Napster will get a relaunch in the U.K. as a part of Best Buy's entry into the market. U.S.-based Best Buy bought music subscription service Napster in 2008 with the intention of using its retail and marketing heft to bundle the service with PCs and mobile phones. Best Buy also has a 50% stake in U.K. retailer Carphone Warehouse. Napster's VP of sales and marketing for Europe says Best Buy's opening in the U.K. presents "big opportunities" for bundling the service with devices. The company is testing just such a bundle with Dell, he said. (Music Week)

-- Add Jason Sturgeons to the list of artists who are forming their own record labels. The country singer, who had previously released music through Mercury Nashville and Stroudavarious, will put out his new album on his own Krankit Records imprint. Krankit is a joint venture with Fontana-distributed Artist Garage. (Music Row)

-- MySpace chief product offer Jason Hirschorn will leave the company after nine months on the job. (TechCrunch)

-- Digital distributor TuneCore has named Steven Rosenberg its new senior VP, business development. Prior to joining TuneCore, Rosenberg was VP, head of Americas business development & strategic alliances for Thomson Reuters.

-- In a speech in late January, President Obama emphasize the work he is doing - especially with China - to protect U.S. intellectual property. An excerpt: "I've given instructions to my trade offices -- and we actually highlight this at the highest levels of foreign policy -- that these are issues that have to be addressed because that's part of the reciprocity of making our markets open... And one of the things that we're also doing is using our export arm of the U.S. government to help work with medium-sized businesses and small businesses, not just the big multinationals to protect their rights in some of these areas, because we need to boost exports." As Copyright Alliance points out, similar remarks were made by Gary Locke, the Secretary of Commerce, at a U.S.-China Business Council conference. "The United States government continues to have concerns about China's commitment to robust IPR protections and enforcement," he said, "both at the local level and in national policies that give Chinese firms an unfair competitive advantage." (White House, via Copyright Alliance)

-- SiƓn Simon, the U.K. minister appointed to push the Digital Economy bill through, will step down to run for mayor of Birmingham. The bill, which if passed will put into place a series of anti-piracy measures, is currently in committee at the House of Lords. (The Guardian)