Mobile tone tunes withdrawn


Hundreds of mobile phone ring tones are being scrapped after their composers got fed up of having their tunes reduced to electronic beeps.

About 300 pop songs, TV themes and film tunes including songs by Nirvana and soundtracks to Titanic and The X-Files will no longer be available to download after a list of those to be removed were sent to vendors.

Among those on the list were tunes from EMI’s music publishing arm, who have said they were acting on the behalf of those who made and owned the music.

But it will cost them handy sideline earnings as the UK ring tone market has seen a huge rise in popularity over the last two years.

“All catalogue owners, writers and artists have the right to approve the use of their repertoire, including use in ring tones,” a spokeswoman for EMI Music Publishing told BBC News Online.

“It’s our obligation to respect their wishes and to protect their rights.”

Those being withdrawn account for a “tiny fraction” of its repertoire, she said.

Millions of mobile phone owners have been able to choose which tune they wanted to alert them when they received a phone call after entrepreneurs took advantage of the evolving phone technology and the users’ desire for individuality.

Some estimates say the value of the UK ring tone market was expected to shoot up to £50m per year in 2002 – from just £2.5m in 2000.

The music publishers earn 10% of the fees paid when someone downloads a tune – meaning they make between 10p and 30p per download.
“It’s entirely up to them what they [music publishers] do in terms of their copyright because it’s their property,” said Adrian Crookes, spokesman for The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS).

A spokesman for one ring tone company, Stealthnet Interactive, which provides tones for a number of outlets, said that they had received the list and that the tunes would be removed as a part of the licensing agreement.

TV and film themes are some of the most popular jingles because they do not go out of fashion as quickly as current chart songs.

But many also see them as one of the most annoying things about mobile phones when the electronic jingles start playing in a train carriage or on a bus.

Earlier this year, veteran songwriter and producer Pete Waterman slammed ring tones for being “rip-offs” and “blatantly nothing like the song”.

Evolving technology means that ring tones as we know them may not be around for long – and the beeps could be replaced by more sophisticated tunes when more advanced phones come on to the market in the next few years.