We're not exactly sure how they finagled it, but Universal Music announced it plans to collect a share of the thin margin Microsoft's going to make with each Zune, receiving an unspecified amount for each player sold. In typical RIAA boot camp style, Doug Morris, CEO of Universal said, "We felt that any business that's built on the bedrock of music we should share in." So, if we have this straight, according to Universal, any music-playing device sold should provide some profit to them -- even if that device will never play a song recorded by Universal. And likewise, Microsoft has no problem setting a new precedent to butter up a big label partner like Universal to possibly be seen as a favorable alternative to the Jobsian iPod-stranglehold on legal music distribution when Apple's Universal contract is up. (Remember, this isn't the first time the music industry said it wants a cut of hardware sales.) Is it us, or did something start to seriously reek in here?

[Thanks, Eric]

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Universal Music get fee for every Zune sold