Aims to simplify process for content providers.

Malaysian labels plan to simplify digital distribution of music by setting up a "one-stop" digital licensing center.

Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (RIM) chairman Sandy Monteiro says the idea is to streamline the complex process whereby content and service providers obtain the licenses needed to use music, especially for master ringtones.

Master ringtone providers currently have to obtain separate licenses from RIM, Phonographic Producers of Malaysia (PPM), Performers and Artists Rights Malaysia (PRISM), Music Authors Copyright Protection (MACP), and the Malaysian Publishers Association (MPA).

PPM, MACP and PRISM collect royalties for broadcasting and public performance. PPM collects royalties on behalf of record labels, MACP for composers, songwriters and publishers, and PRISM for artists and musicians.

"It's still a work-in-progress proposition, with RIM acting as the one-stop center for facilitating licensing rights and fees collection," says Monteiro. "There are a number of hurdles to cross, including administrative fees to be charged by RIM and the standardization of licensing rates."

RIM CEO Tan Ngiap Foo admits that getting the various industry associations to cooperate is difficult, since in Malaysia the legal framework for digital music licensing is still unclear.

"We can define the rules of the game by working together," says Tan. "We estimate that more than 50% of the content providers operate illegally now. This loss can be minimized through a 'new media' plan covering tracking, distribution and pricing."

Local affiliates of the four major international record companies directly license masters for use as master ringtones to content providers.

RIM says 28 local record companies have authorized the one-stop licensing project.

"All the relevant associations are part of our new committee to handle master ringtones distribution for the domestic record companies," confirms Tan. "We plan to be operational by mid-October."