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EFF's New File-Sharing Scheme 244

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the letting-the-music-play dept.
carpoolio writes "Wednesday at the Future of Music's Music Law Summit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation proposed a new licensing plan so file-sharing sites can operate, and musicians can get paid. The idea is based on the ASCAP/BMI radio music licensing schemes. But still, the RIAA seems happy to continue suing, and wait for iTunes and Napster to catch on more."
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EFF's New File-Sharing Scheme

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  • by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot AT liselle DOT net> on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:06AM (#8406935) Journal
    The EFF write-up is pretty solid, and seemed to address all of the questions that came to me as I was reading it. However, I have a few problems with it, and this is only on the first pass:

    1) In regards to getting artists on board, their solution for people who don't want to participate says to me: don't join, and don't get money while people take your music, and fellow artists get paid for your work. That's harsh. What if the artist has an issue with the collection agency?

    2) The payment system: how is this any different than Napster's subscription? It's somehow less expensive (only 5 bucks, estimated), and has access to more songs (everything instead of 500,000 tracks)? How does that work? I understand that most of the costs of distribution will be absorbed by the fact that P2P puts the loads on peers, not a central server, but is this even realistic? I am skeptical.
    The concept is simple: the music industry forms a collecting society, which then offers file-sharing music fans the opportunity to "get legit" in exchange for a reasonable regular payment, say $5 per month. So long as they pay, the fans are free to keep doing what they are going to do anyway...
    3) Wait a minute...If you stop paying, do you lose the rights to the music you downloaded? I scanned the document twice, and please correct me if I missed something, but it seems you can only legally use your music if you're still paying out to the industry. That's my primary reason for disliking Napster 2.0, and it's enough to sink this idea, in my mind.

    I love the EFF more than butterscotch and jellybeans, but this proposal gives me the creeps.
    • "If you stop paying, do you lose the rights to the music you downloaded?"

      From what I read of the article there was no talk of DRM so you could keep the music. Just depends on the format the music is in that you downloaded.
      • by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot AT liselle DOT net> on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:16AM (#8406986) Journal
        From what I read of the article there was no talk of DRM so you could keep the music. Just depends on the format the music is in that you downloaded.
        I wasn't worried about DRM so much as I was RIAA stormtroopers knocking down your door and bagging you for copyright infringment. I am concerned that if you stop paying, you lose legal protection. It's almost like a government-mandated Mafia.
        • by turnstyle (588788) on Friday February 27, 2004 @09:20AM (#8407401) Homepage
          "I wasn't worried about DRM so much as I was RIAA stormtroopers knocking down your door and bagging you for copyright infringment."

          Of note, under the title "What about file sharers who won't pay?" they say:

          Copyright holders (and perhaps the collecting society itself) would continue to be entitled to enforce their rights against "free-loaders."

          What does that sound like to you?

        • FWIW, the RIAA has been suing two groups (WRT to MP3 redistribution, anyway) - the operators of P2P systems, and (when that started to falter) those who place music online (via P2P systems or otherwise) to be downloaded (whether because of deliberate action on their part, or because their P2P client automatically puts downloaded files up for downloading by others.)

          End users who have MP3s and have not passed them on to others have been left alone, regardless of whether those MP3s were obtained legitimately

    • by apparently (756613) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:17AM (#8406991)
      EFF, that.
    • by millahtime (710421) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:26AM (#8407029) Homepage Journal
      "If you stop paying, do you lose the rights to the music you downloaded?"

      Well if you canceled your service then they wouldn't know wether you had the music still or not. If they came after you and said you still had it then there would be an invasion of privacy if they knew for a fact. If they just came after figureing you would have kept it then that would not only deter anyone from using the service but also would have legal ramifications for going after someone like that.
      • "Is it Fred's turn to pay this month, or are you the one who is downloading this month? I have a few songs I'd like to get, if you've got time right now."

        The EFF is treading on thin ice. What have they produced to qualify them as participants in the discussion?
        • by TopShelf (92521) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:59AM (#8407212) Homepage Journal
          The numbers they toss around in the article are the stuff of high-school freshman fantasy. They figure that 60 million Americans use file-sharing software (yeah, right), and that all of them would sign up for $5 a month (yeah, right), and that it would cost nothing for the music industry to set this scheme up, run it, and market it (yeah, right), netting $3 billion in annual profit to the music biz.

          I hope these guys don't do their own taxes!
          • Exactly my thoughts as well. Why wouldn't they simply keep using Kazaa, Morpheus or whatever they are using now without paying $5/month? Not to mention how they would determine who is an "artist," not that only music gets shared online - how about software and movies? How will they reliably tell the popularity, unless the service is centralized, and filenames and/or file signatures pre-determined? What if people encode their files in different formats, bitrates, and with different encoders? Who would you tr
    • by ZackSchil (560462) on Friday February 27, 2004 @09:00AM (#8407224)
      I don't think you understand. This proposal involves no DRM, no centralized corporation, no hybrid collection-agency and Peer to Peer network or anything. This suggestion is to simply kindly ask music sharers to pay $5 a month ($60 a year). If written into law, I'm sure most mainstream filesharing programs wouldn't mind integrating with a collection agency's servers to manage payment.

      If an artist opts out of the collection agency, they'll continue to receive what they currently receive from online music trading: absolutely nothing. If a user stops paying his fees, he will still own all the music he downloaded while still paying because they'll just be MP3/M4P/FLAC or whatever format he used to download them. Whether it's moral to pay $5 one month, then go on a downloading spree to last several months is up to the user to decide. (Though I doubt it, seeing as the main cause for piracy is the sheer convenience) The whole system is voluntary,

      In short: P2P networks stay as they are but optionally hook into a non-profit collection agency. Think of it as a filesharing tax to help artists.

      I personally think the plan sounds awesome but leaving payment to the goodwill of music fans makes me think it hasn't a snowball's chance in hell as long as the RIAA maintains its vice grip over the artists' throats.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I've been systematically ripped off by the music industry practically all my life. For years, I built a CD collection that was overpriced, and like so many others, I was a victim of price-fixing. $13.86 just doesn't cover all the CD's I've bought.

        Then, they tell us that those CD's aren't actually our property, to dispose of as we wish, but really licenses to listen to the CD. Fine - So where's my free replacement when I scratch my disc? Or if its stolen, like so many were from my college dorm?

        And, if
      • In short: P2P networks stay as they are but optionally hook into a non-profit collection agency.

        Key word: "optionally". Why would people pay money for a subscription if they can just hop on to another P2P network and get everything for free?
        • Key word: "optionally". Why would people pay money for a subscription if they can just hop on to another P2P network and get everything for free?

          Why switch networks at all?

          You don't get it: Everything would be exactly and precisely as it is now, where you can use any software to download any song any time any where as much or as little as you like. If YOU so desire, you can pay $5 per month. You don't pay the P2P network provider, they don't make sure you've paid. You pay the collection agency and in ret

    • 1) In regards to getting artists on board, their solution for people who don't want to participate says to me: don't join, and don't get money while people take your music, and fellow artists get paid for your work. That's harsh. What if the artist has an issue with the collection agency?


      But the music/record/distribution world that we knew before, is gone. People are downloading their stuff for free anyway right now. For better or worse, the consumer has them over a barrel now for the first time, and the
    • It seems to me that the industry will rabidly attack any share network they don't control- the bottom line is profit (maximize and maintain it).
    • by asdf 101 (703879) on Friday February 27, 2004 @10:09AM (#8407926)

      I agree with your doubts on the workability of this.


      Additionally, I was wondering:

      1. If the profits are going to be divvied based on a tracking system, wouldn't a system like that vulnerable to highjacking -- an artist / label setting up multiple download servers transacting between themselves across interchangeable IP address. This is unlike radio, where the control is in the hand of the content pusher and easier to regulate versus here where it is also with content puller too. That duality makes it more vulnerable to hijacking.
      2. This would effectively kill the "gatekeepers to the land of distribution" ability of the record-labels -- and that would ensure a serious lack of support from them. The ability of the record-labels is clearly diluted in the age of the internet, but that they still have legality from it. Essentially, atleast in the near term, a solution like this could well plummet to oblivion from lack of a decent library of content in the face of a record-label boycott.
      3. There are so many other new solutions [divendo.net] coming up [mercora.com] that are more bent on driving user choice (versus compulsory / obligatory licensing) and that ensure a more legal regime from incetivizing pay-for-doanloads rather than -- again -- compulsory / obligatory licensing regimes in one form or the other. Incentive driven pay-to-share services that drive consumers to pay will surely be more effective that those that obligate / force them to do so.


      I think that the EFF is getting carried away by "rigtheousness" here.

    • by Alsee (515537) on Friday February 27, 2004 @04:36PM (#8411939) Homepage
      3) Wait a minute...If you stop paying, do you lose the rights to the music you downloaded?

      You're buying into an RIAA fiction here. According to US copyright law [cornell.edu] there are six rights avaiable for licencing, but they really only amount to three different rights:

      (1) A licence to make reproductions
      (2) and derivatives

      (3) A licence to distribute

      (4) A licence to public display
      (5) or public performance
      (6) including Digital Audio


      A licence to create reproductions, a licence to distribute, a licence to public display, period. A licence does not exist unless someone is licencing you one or more of those rights. There is no such thing as a licence to use.

      Once you have a copy, you own that copy. You have every right to play it as much as you like whenever you like. You have every right to create a back-up of it, or to play it backwards, or to use it in a school project, and on and on and on.

      So if you stop paying then you can keep playing whatever you already own, but you can no longer create/distribute new copies of them by sharing them on P2P.

      P.S.
      According to another clause of another clause [cornell.edu] of US copyright law, when you buy a box of software you also have every right to install and run that software without any licence whatsoever. EULA's are not in fact licences unless they are granting you reproduction, distribution, and/or public display rights as listed above. EULA's are in fact an attempt to impose a contract. You have the right to decline a contract at will, but if you decline it you obviously do not gain any benefits offered by that contract. Of cource most EULA's offer you nothing you'd want anyway - you already have the right to install/run the software.

      Any attempt to enforce EULA's rests entirely on arguing that the buyer somehow willingly chose to agree to that contract. While courts generally bend over backwards to allow people to willingly create contracts, claims that merely buying a box indicates agreement to a contract are legally very questionable. The very purpose of the UCITA bill floating around is to turn all EULA's into valid enforcable contracts.


      -
  • Am I the only one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pan T. Hose (707794)
    ...who after reading the article thinks that it might not work with Freenet very well?
    • by Poulpy (698167)
      ... but it's not limited to encrypted P2P networks.

      It won't work with any P2P application that is not providing detailed downloads/uploads statistics to the music industry (or any other third party that is supposed to determine how much of the cake is each artist entitled to get): they can't possibly monitor every exchange on every P2P network.
      • "they can't possibly monitor every exchange on every P2P network."

        Exactly right.

        And that's also why this system *ignores* works by less-popular artists, that's how statistical sampling works.

  • by millahtime (710421) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:07AM (#8406938) Homepage Journal
    Will it really be the musicians getting paid or the Labels?? If it's like CDs than it will be mostly the labels making the money.
    • There would probably be a transition - people who've already signed their lives away to the labels would be stuck, while independent musicians would get everything. Some folks would probably still be happy to give 95% to the labels - mostly those with no real talent, who rely on the label's marketing machines. Others might strike other deals.
      • by evilad (87480) on Friday February 27, 2004 @10:35AM (#8408192)
        Independent musicians would still get almost nothing, unless they were popular enough to get a large share.

        This scheme doesn't work for me because I have absolutely no interest in sending money to Celine Dion and Britney Spears. I want my money to go to smaller artists.
        • I don't think this is a valid argument. If 999,999 people download the latest Britney song, and 1 person downloads the new [insert favorite artist here], then Britney gets 999999*5 = $4999995, and your favorite artist gets $5. Sure, it might not be your money that ends up in the hands of that artist, but that shouldn't really matter.

          I really can't think of a better way than popularity to distribute the money.

          For the record, however, I do think that the scheme is a stupid idea.
  • Orders of magnitude. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mumblestheclown (569987) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:07AM (#8406940)
    There are orders of magnitude diffence in what the artists and the **aas can realistically make under the current scheme compared to what they can make under the EFF scheme.

    It's not enought to say "we have an alternative scheme." It's probably not even enough to say "we have an alternative scheme by which you can make equivalent money." Instead, you need to credibly be able to say "we have an alternative scheme by which you can make superior money." If you can't do that, you got nuttin.

    • by rokzy (687636)
      er, orders of magnitude difference in what direction?

      seems like $5/month per person is a hell of a lot more than someone buying one or two $10 albums a year.
    • Please go read the artcile yourself.
      The 3 billion is overstated through, as it does not include lost sales via other sales channels like cd's etc., nor does it include the investments that the record companies need to make to produce the music.

      The other reason I think it will not work is because it is very disruptive for the established industry. It directly states that it aims to cut out the middle men like record companies and retailers. These people will not like to be pushed out of the way/job, and wil
    • You need to say: we're taking the music anyway, you can't stop us, this way you'll get some money. The rulings on blank video and audio tapes were a recognition that enforcement was impossible. Despite high profile busts etc there are millions of us sharing millions of tracks.

      Many people I know buy an album rip it and share it with total strangers without even thinking about it. You can't fight that, it's how we use our music now, the labels that adjust and reposition will survive and prosper, those tha

    • Collectively charge for filesharing, and the labels will have to spend much less on marketing. Let things go unchanged, and the labels will have to spend much less on marketing.

      The reality is, they will make less money either way, and will need to reprioritize their spending either way. A collective plan, or charging a penny or less a track, are the only ways I see them adjusting to what the populace wants (and now knows is possible).
    • by Tomcat666 (210775) on Friday February 27, 2004 @09:11AM (#8407332) Homepage
      It's not enought to say "we have an alternative scheme." It's probably not even enough to say "we have an alternative scheme by which you can make equivalent money." Instead, you need to credibly be able to say "we have an alternative scheme by which you can make superior money." If you can't do that, you got nuttin.

      I doubt it's about the money, it's about control for the RIAA and its members.

      So the only way to get them to use this scheme is to say "we have an alternative scheme by which you can make superior money and have more control over the music distribution than for CDs."

      And that isn't going to happen with free (as in beer and as in freedom) file formats that the EFF is proposing.
    • by LuYu (519260) on Friday February 27, 2004 @09:58AM (#8407802) Homepage Journal

      There are orders of magnitude diffence in what the artists and the **aas can realistically make under the current scheme compared to what they can make under the EFF scheme.
      What the RIAA/MPAA stand to make and what the artists stand to make are two entirely different things. The RIAA/MPAA do not represent the artists. They never have, and they never will. They are greedy middlemen gouging the consumer with monopoly rents and ripping off artists with cryptic contracts and questionable legal tactics.

      Seen in this light, if the artists were to make a quarter of the money that the RIAA/MPAA makes off of the artists, they would probably see a massive increase in their finances.

      Remember, 100% of 8 dollars is better than 5% of 12.

  • by nadavspi (631105) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:08AM (#8406945)
    "If everyone is paying $5 a month, that means that 'Ice Ice Baby' has as much value as the Beatles catalog does. And I just don't think that is a wise or logical thing to do." -David Sutphen, RIAA vice-president Up Next: Vanilla Ice has released his new title: "Fuck you too RIAA" on the web
  • Fair is good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:09AM (#8406953)

    Artists need to be compensated for their work

    (except the ones that show you how hard they live on cribs , the show that rubs the consumers face in how much they fleeced you for)

    • Re:Fair is good (Score:2, Informative)

      by millahtime (710421)
      Do the artists own the rights to their music??? Many times not. So, the person getting paid is the owner of the rights being the Label.
    • Artists need to be compensated for their work

      True. But how much of those $5 do you think will reach the artists?

      Those TV-show casted Xgroups get paid monthly like any ordinary employee. The composer, who did the songs for them, got paid per job. If they got a good contract, they may also get revenues like 10 cents per sold CD.

      In the end, from those $5 only the meta-collector and the big labels will benefit -- no matter, if I dowload their crap or not.

      I get the creeps when I hear another "star" or

    • Let me get this straight... you want people to make some money, but not TOO much? If a person is rich, that means they fleeced someone to get it?

      People like you are the reason why class warfare works for the Democratic party.
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acehole (174372) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:09AM (#8406954) Homepage
    Just wondering, if an artist didnt have a record company to promote their music, just how well would they really do?

    As things stand at the moment, artists without a record contract don't seem to do as well, but in what ways will this change? who will promote them? the artist themselves? or the filesharing system?

    • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nordicfrost (118437) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:19AM (#8406998)
      Well, I can name two artists from Norway doing reasonbly well before getting a record company involved. Ephemera [ephemera.no] started their own company, did their own promotion, recording and tour arrangement. Huge success, big in Japan even.


      Ugress [ugress.com] tried to contact the big record companies without success for a long time. Finally, they said "fuck this" and released the music via Audiogalaxy. Soon a burned CD ended up on the office desk of the Norwegian State Broadcasting company youth music director who gave it the heavies rotation on the Petre A-list. Sony contacted them, and they said piss off, you didn't want us before now we're a hit and can do our own promotion.

      I'm sure there are hundres mor of these examples. These two are just for Norway, the last year or so.

      • True, but those bands are AFAIK producing quality music. Many of those artists/bands that make big money today are dependant on advertising and their record company/label to sell.
        Personally I think it would be a good thing if the major (RIAA) comapnies died and took all the boybands with them in the grave. But many of the artists that are big today would not survive without all the advertising and hype. Not that that should stop evolution though.

        So maybe, just maybe, P2P and smaller independant labels c

    • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by e6003 (552415) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:21AM (#8407006) Homepage
      That is the $64,000 question. Right now it can't be answered and the RIAA is determined it won't be, since of course loss of control over distribution is their real problem with P2P, not the potential monetary losees. If P2P were completely legal and say industry-sponsored download sites emerged, we'd probably see swapping not so much of the music itself but playlists. A lot more effective than admittedly useful practice of linking to independent/unsigned artists' web sites? This IMO is where the RIAA companies COULD go if they chose - there's the problem you touch on of of too much music available for everyone to plough through. There's a golden opportunity for a Google-like service to index all this music - whilst the function of the record companies that truly is obsolete is distribution, the function they might still usefully perform is filtering the vast array of music sources down to a user's persoanl preferences.
    • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Darth23 (720385)
      Record companies may be able to widely promote SOME artists, but they do so by making the artists pay for almost all the costs associated with the promotion, including various forms of payola [wikipedia.org]. Can you imagine if you got a job with a company, and that company made you pay for all your on the job training?

      The Record companies' current model is to have a few big selling artists, rather than more decently selling ones, placing artificial limits on who can make it big.

      Also, in the last several years, and med

  • Bad premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:10AM (#8406956) Homepage Journal
    The premise that you could get a significant number of file traders who already know and understand that they are in violation of copyright law to voluntarily cough up five dollars to pay for the 'right' to file share, when not paying has no consequence except the user's guilty conscience, seems to me to be a little more than optimistic.

    It is a good step in the right direction to show the record labels new and interesting ways to make money, but in the end any solution must rely on the power of the law to enforce the payment of artists.
    • Re:Bad premise (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Arioch of Chaos (674116) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:15AM (#8406979) Journal
      I think that there is actually a fair number of people who would be prepared to pay. As long as the price and other conditions are fair (e.g. no annoying DRM).
      • Re:Bad premise (Score:3, Insightful)

        by goldspider (445116)
        How many non-Slashdot-reading college students give a shit about DRM? A few maybe, but consider the following reasons why a cash-strapped college student isn't paying for music:

        1. They're not paying because of a moral objection to the RIAA's business practices.
        2. They're not paying because they don't trust DRM.
        3. They're not paying because they don't have to pay.

        Think back to your college days; chances are you weren't independently wealthy. Considering that, which scenario do YOU think is the mos

    • Re:Bad premise (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aheath (628369)
      Except that this scheme allows for the license fee to be included as part of the monthly bill for network access. To quote from the eff article:

      "How do we get filesharers to pay up? That's where the market comes in -- those who today are under legal threat will have ample incentive to opt for a simple $5 per month fee. There should be as many mechanisms for payment as the market will support. Some fans could buy it directly through a website (after all, this was what the RIAA had in mind with its "amnesty"

      • As you say, it is analogous to a 'tape tax', but there is still an element of voluntary self-reporting to pay this tax - as the parent post points out. For ISPs to offer a bundle that enables users to download all they want would presumably require that they also give those who do not want to download music a cheaper package or to eat the cost of the 'tape tax' (highly unlikely). This opens the possibility that down-loaders will not self report so that they can save money. It might work if ISPs put an ad
    • by stomv (80392) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:31AM (#8407052) Homepage
      Consider:

      * The percentage of downloads that head right to static IPs in dormrooms -- the artists would get paid by them, via their universities (after all, $45 per year per student payment to not have to deal with the RIAA harassing the sysadmin of a univ is a good deal). Besides -- they'd just charge the students via fees anyway.

      * That ISPs will market this in with their products. Using lots of bandwidth? The ISP monitors you to determine if you've signed up for their (+$5 for music) plan. If you aren't and you've got lots of .mp3 files flying by, than the ISP makes a nice little bounty by turning you in to the collection agency.

      Between universities and ISPs, methinks that there would be payment from the users responsible for the majority of downloaded files. The majority of users? I don't know -- perhaps that as well.
  • Who gets paid? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arioch of Chaos (674116) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:10AM (#8406957) Journal
    Personally, I do not really support this kind of soulution. The problem is that I cannot see how the money can be divided amongst the rights holders in a reasonable way. The same goes for taxes/fees on blank media, by the way. How can anyone know what I download or copy? If they cannot know that they cannot distribute the money fairly and if they can . . . Well, then there are serious privacy implications.
    • If they cannot know that they cannot distribute the money fairly and if they can . . . Well, then there are serious privacy implications.

      Two words: Anonymous statistics.
  • by terraformer (617565) <tpb@pervici.com> on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:11AM (#8406963) Journal
    ...but the last article regarding "the edge" [slashdot.org] has a lot to offer this topic. Why would the RIAA agree to a licensing scheme like this, despite prior precedent in this country and countries like Canada, when they can conspire to control the content with those that control the delivery of said content.
  • iTunes works (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:11AM (#8406964)
    What's the problem with these guys? The music industry should support the online music services that already work, such as iTunes and Napster 2.0 . Suing people left and right will not help, on the contrary, sooner or later everybody will be so fed up with lawsuits against kids that the rights of the music industry will be curtailed. Wait till the first annoyed judge throws out a case as frivolous.
    • Re:iTunes works (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ooby (729259)
      Steve Jobs has admitted that Apple is using iTunes to drive iPod sales and iTunes is making no profit [slashdot.org]

      In comparison to iTunes and Napster, I'd prefer the EFF's option. It basically provides a selection from whatever is floating around the internet including less popular and ultra-obscure artists and labels. I also think that a second tier bandwidth price option is not unreasonable (provided that the price itself isn't ludicrus).
  • Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krapangor (533950) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:11AM (#8406965) Homepage
    The music industry decides what licensing scheme to choose. And they'll surely take the one with which they can squeeze out a maximum of profit out of the hip-hop and goth kids.
  • by robslimo (587196) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:12AM (#8406971) Homepage Journal
    as with ASCAP, etc in the radio market, I'd say it wasn't possible. With that precedent in mind, I think it (or something similar) will happen, just not very quickly because of the politics involved.

    1. RIAA is busy [over]reacting to file-sharing
    2. RIAA will never be able to stop file-sharing
    3. There's gotta be a compromise. Maybe this is it.

    • There's gotta be a compromise.

      I think we are already past the point where a compromise with the RIAA is still possible. Most people will simply not accept any plan where the RIAA or its successor or anything similar to it is allowed to exist in any form.

      An acceptable compromise would be one where the artist is the one in control of the distribution of their work, and also the one who actually gets paid. Which is exactly the opposite of the current situation.

    • If it hadn't been done before... as with ASCAP, etc in the radio market, I'd say it wasn't possible
      There are 5000+ (?) radio stations in the USA.
      There are 30 million+ (?) Internet connections in the USA.

      So how are they planning to enforce this?

    • 1. RIAA is busy [over]reacting to file-sharing
      2. RIAA will never be able to stop file-sharing
      3. There's gotta be a compromise. Maybe this is it.


      Why would the RIAA wish to compromise? The most profitable demographics (meaning teenagers buying Puddle of Mudd or Britney, and yuppies re-buying the White Album) isn't buying fewer CD's because of the lawsuits, in fact the "bad publicity" is largely among people the RIAA sees as unprofitable troublemakers already.
  • by e6003 (552415) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:12AM (#8406972) Homepage
    Considering their real problem with file sharing is not the loss of money but loss of control over music distribution, anything that tries to tackle their public complaint whilst not addresing their real beef is bound to be rejected. Kudos to the EFF for trying but I think this is still 12 to 24 months ahead of its time. Congressman Boucher and Congresswoman Lofgren to the white courtesy phone please...
  • Napster (Score:5, Funny)

    by Trillan (597339) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:16AM (#8406985) Homepage Journal

    I'm still weirded out every time I see Napster as a company that the RIAA likes. Am I the only one?

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:20AM (#8407004)
    iTunes and it's imitators work. They are popular, past any analyst's imagining. What possible percentage is there for the RIAA to climb back up atop that great hill they only recently cleared just to piss in the well?

    You know as well as I that for every existing P2P client system that goes legit, two more "rogue" systems will pop up because "Music Must Be Free!"

    Through intense marketing, clever user interfaces, relatively lax DRM, and brutal scare tactics and legislative knuckle-dusting, the RIAA has begun to put the genie back in the bottle. You think they're ging to throw in with their ol' friends the EFF now? Sh'yeah...
    • by e6003 (552415)
      It's true that iTunes "works" in the sense that people are using it, but as some point out [downhillbattle.org] it's just a perpetuation of the same tired "selling discrete amounts of music for a defined price" model, and the artists are really no better off than under the current system. This is my fundamental objection to all these online music stores. Also don't forget the BBC Talking Point [bbc.co.uk] which recently aired about these issues. Interestingly, for ages I never saw the BBC post comments which pointed out the "loss of con
      • it's just a perpetuation of the same tired "selling discrete amounts of music for a defined price" model, and the artists are really no better off than under the current system.

        If your record label is an evil megacorp intent on draining every ounce of creativity from your body for profit then you're going to get screwed no matter what format the music is on.

        Apple has a bunch of indie labels able to submit to iTunes. What's stopping a band from fronting up the cash for the recording studio and then passin
  • by CrosbieFitch (694308) * <crosbie@cyberspaceengineers.org> on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:22AM (#8407008) Homepage
    The trouble with blanket licensing is that there's no way for punters to say "I like this more than this". If everyone and their dog download a particular ditty for their phone's ring tone, does it make it more valuable than a movie soundtrack which only a few people really love, but love a lot?

    Why should a quick tinkle on a xylophone be better rewarded than months of work on an orchestral masterpiece?

    A better way of capturing music's artistic value is to auction it directly to the interested audience, e.g. using The Digital Art Auction [digitalartauction.com] .
    • Your problem is better known in economics as "The Labor Theory of Value". Karl Marx was a huge proponent of the same. Predictably, Adam Smith & other capitalists totally disagree with it.

      You ask "Why should a quick tinkle on a xylophone be better rewarded than months of work on an orchestral masterpiece? "
      Why ? Because that's the way the world is. If you spend 8 hours a day building a highly creative straw statue in your backyard while I spend same 8 hours mindlessly slogging in a corporate IT outfit,
      • by CrosbieFitch (694308) * <crosbie@cyberspaceengineers.org> on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:40AM (#8407097) Homepage
        Nevertheless, it is possible that 100 people may be willing to commission a music score for $1,000 each - it's that valuable to them. Whereas, 100,000 people may be happy to pay $1 for a ringtone.

        In a fair market, the orchestrator would look forward to $100,000 rather than a measly $100, that the xylophonist who just happens to be able to do a 20second cover version of stairway to heaven can get.
        • Again, you are wandering in the Marx garden of utopia. You say - "In a fair market, blah blah...". There are no fair markets, only free markets. Big difference.
          Marx said, if man could co-operate instead of compete, then we would have all kinds of products, a great variety, instead of just mindless imitations of the same product each trying to undercut & outsell the other.
          Malthus read this, rolled his eyeballs & said - yeah and if man was ostrich, then we wouldn't have the notion of private property
    • Or just let the music be free and let people pay for concerts etc.

      IMO an artist is someone who makes something because he want to express himself or makes something which the artist himself like.
      On a sidenote: It would be funny if politicians made people pay to hear their views on things.

      An artis with a huge following would earn a lot of money from doing concerts and selling different kind of mercendise. Also, a burnt CD in the bookself looks really lame.

      Why not just let there be a donate button on an ar
      • Why not just let there be a donate button on an artists page, so you could donate money to him if you liked his music.

        I'ld really like to be able to donate money directly to artists. I downloaded the new Offspring cd (yes, illegally. I'm a bad girl) and it's really good and I would like to give them money for it, but apparently if I buy CD they get less than $1 and the rest of the money goes to the mean RIAA.

        I'm pretty sure as long as the RIAA is around though, we're not going to be able to direc
  • explain to me this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by masterQba (699425) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:24AM (#8407022)
    The software and video game industries also continue to show strong growth and profitability. Each one of these industries has taken steps to adapt their business models to the realities of file sharing. In what way did the gaming industry adapt to p2p filesharing?
    • Good question

      have you noticed that most games nowdays include both single/online element?

      whereas the single element can be played without having a legit CDKEY, but if you want to play online, then you will actually have the buy the game.

      So single player mode is more like a demo anyways.
      • Well, you could also play across a LAN or on a direct connection with someone who has a server that is not checking keys.

        Even though I've found it somewhat limiting to only play online with people I know, from my own recent experiences with the ut2004 demo, playing with people you don't know and can't voice chat with is just as much fun as playing with bots.
    • by h0mer (181006) on Friday February 27, 2004 @10:30AM (#8408133)
      Microsoft threatening modchip distributors, system locked out of Xbox Live if a mod is detected, Nintendo using a proprietary disc format (the streaming method is not a viable way to pirate).

      Once again, Sony has the system that's the easiest to pirate. Doesn't seem to hurt them though.

      Another contributing factor is that games have a much better entertainment value to cost ratio.
  • by GuySmiley (71599) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:26AM (#8407028) Homepage
    It seems to me that if the bands and recording studios could make distribution agreements directly with iTMS/Napster/etc, the whole RIAA can be avoided and declared irrelevant. As it stands, ~60 cents of the purchase costs goes to the label, of which a few pennies go to the band. Bands could increase their cut 10X and the price per download cut in half. Everybody wins.

    The record labels only exist to market and distribute pop music and those functions can be completely done by other means now. I have found some of the /best/ music on line in the last few years and none of it is available at a music store.

    To take this even one more step off-topic, you can argue that the whole MTV half-time boobie stunt (which has now mutated into a weird free-speech thing)was simply to steal the thunder of the iTMS/Pepsi/arrested-by-the-RIAA commecial. It shows that the labels are not needed and can /easily/ be done away with. MTV, the sock puppet for the industry, makes money by worshiping the 'stars' promoted by the labels. Heck, when was the last time you saw a music video on MTV? When was the last time you saw a 'music star' actually sing? It is not about music anymore. MTV can can get flushed down the crapper too.

    All music related marketing and distribution can be done on-line. The old business model is dead and not needed or wanted. The first major band to sign directly with iTMS/Napster/whatever will turn the tide.

    Clearly, I need to calm down and have a cup of coffee. Sorry for the early morning rant.
    • "The record labels only exist to market and distribute pop music and those functions can be completely done by other means now."

      That is oversimplifying it a bit. They also provide the (not insignificant) funds to have the recordings made. Additionally, running a successful sales marketing campaign is not easy. As much as we all like to revile salespeople and marketers, there is an art and a science to the practice, which is why degrees are issued in those fields.

      "I have found some of the /best/ mu

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:27AM (#8407034)
    Lets hope Riaa will co operate in the name of everyone AND Riaa's survival in an age when hard distribution is no longer so important.
  • by tompoe (581543) <tompoe@fngi.net> on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:33AM (#8407064)
    The premise for any proposal that promises musicians be paid for every download, seems missplaced. It's the Digital Age, stupid - - - - a mantra that must be repeated 1000 times anyone thinks BMI/ASCAP offer even a remotely legitimate role in our society.

    Performance rights can easily be handled through Digital Age Fan Clubs, who better, right? Time for ASCAP/BMI/RIAA/MPAA to disappear. Musicians are doing just fine, thank you.

    The Internet is the independent musicians' radio. Why take it away by imposing old business models on it?
    Tom
  • OK.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apreche (239272) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:40AM (#8407100) Homepage Journal
    That's a pretty good idea. They're just missing one thing. I wont pay. I'll never pay. As long as someone besides the person who writes and performs music is making money from that music I will not pay a half a cent for it. That's all there is to it.

    The business model of the future is the penny arcade/homestarrunner model. Acquire a large loyal fanbase. Actually BE good people who make quality art and gain the trust of your fans. Allow your art to be distributed freely all around the globe without a care in the world. Make money from merchandise, voluntary donations from fans, and "legitimate" advertising (google and PA style advertising NOT weather.com or superbowl style advertising).

    The real problem here is this. The RIAA can think of a ton of business models that work considering new technologies. While the organization as a whole is "evil" the people that make it up are not all stupid drones. They know. The thing is that there is no longer a business model which will turn musicians into multi-zillionaires.

    Musiciains can live with a new business model and make enough money for food and rent and all that. What they can no longer do is make millions of dollars at the same time some record company also makes millions. It just wont happen anymore. Until the record company accepts that, they are going to keep suing us.
    • Re:OK.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pastis (145655)
      "As long as someone besides the person who writes and performs music is making money from that music I will not pay a half a cent for it."

      And what about those who tapes and films?

      You do realize that this is pretty stupid?

      I guess you don't buy food, because someone else than the producer is making money of it. You must be making your own then.
      I guess you produce your own clothes, or did you prefer to live naked?
      I also guess you have a computer, but your must have built yourself, every single part from scr
  • Rules must be internalized - they always are. When's the last time the EFF composed a song, or signed up an artist ? The only rules that'll get accepted in any industry are ones that emerge from within that industry - not from outside. Now if a bunch of EFF folks join RIAA as management, and then propose these rules, that's different...
  • by B.Smitty (604089) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:52AM (#8407172)
    I think using a Nielson-like scheme to determine the value of works is inherently flawed in this system. It relies on sampling a relatively small number of households who have access to a relatively small number of potential choices. This will inherently concentrate value towards the handful of songs and artists preferred by the sample group.

    For this to produce 'fair' results, all paying customers would have to be part of the sample group.

    Instead, perhaps the distribution of money should be left up to the license purchaser. If I want my $5 this month to go to 'Ice Ice Baby', then so be it!

    P2P software & media players could, by default, record downloading & listening habits to form a basic percentage allocation, which I could modify each month, if I felt like it.
  • by NoGuffCheck (746638) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:56AM (#8407186)
    just had a brain explosion! despite my total lack of musical talent I have just knocked up a 3 minute sound file of a bell ringing. I AM NOW AN ARTIST, as soon as this idea get off the ground Ill drop my latest work onto one of the P2P sites, and await my royalty cheques... lovely.
  • by Bastian (66383) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:58AM (#8407209)
    When it starts carrying music I'm after. To me the whole point of this electronic format thing is trying to hunt down music that I can't get in stores because the stuff is out of print. Beyond that, I'd rather have CDs since I can't afford an MP3 player and I like to listen to music when I'm not at the computer, too. As it stands, I spend about an hour trying to find something I want every time I get a winning Pepsi cap. I'd try finding new musicians, but the samples they provide are so short there's no way to tell if I'm going to like the song or not - even if it's 2 minutes long and meant for the radio, at least give me a verse and not just a little bit of the hook.

    Then again, I'm the kind of musical reject who actually buys Klezmatics CDs and has never actually heard "Hey Ya" all the way through (not through any effort of my own, it's just that I don't listen to the radio that much). I guess I'm really not their target market. But God Forbid I download MP3s of music they haven't published since the 1970s, because somehow copying something they aren't selling is stealing their profits!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    is that the broadband providers would in effect finance the music industry: they would provide near illimited bandwith to the consumer, at a fixed cost ($40/month) to allow the 'evergreen', ever growing, revenue to flow to the pockets of the music industry... Somehow, I don't think they'll go for it.
  • by fest321 (757101) on Friday February 27, 2004 @09:43AM (#8407622) Homepage
    I must say, I'm not particularly impressed by this proposal. It strikes me
    there are two major problems, both related to the fact that the system is
    voluntary.

    First, how do you make the majors join the collective society? Those with the
    most popular catalogue have the least incentives. I cannot image a major
    label releasing a major act under such a license unless it's fairly clear
    that the collective society has real money to distribute. But if the most
    popular acts are not included, users could face the problem of having paid
    their fees and still being sued.

    The second question is: How do you get users to pay? The EFF suggests that all
    the 60 million people now using p2p networks will pay. This is, to put it
    mildly, very optimistic. Because, really, what's the incentive to pay? Users
    can still download, regardless whether they pay or not, and if a user doesn't
    share his music files, then the RIAA will never know what he have on his hard
    drive. In other words, a few 10 thousand people willing to share their large
    collections would make it possible for a few millions to simply download and
    then disconnect, gaining all the advantages from the network without paying,
    and, importantly, without risk of being sued.

    A number of studies have shown that p2p networks are, indeed, not all that
    p2p, because a small number of nodes serves the vast majority of content. But
    if only that small number of people are actually paying, it will make majors
    even more reluctant to release their content.

    But, on a somewhat more positive note, the failure of such a voluntary
    proposal would make the case of a compulsory license more stringent (which
    also the EFF sees as a possibility).
  • by what the dumple is (682010) on Friday February 27, 2004 @09:47AM (#8407666)
    Like, free legal downloads for $6 a month. DRM free. The artists get paid. We explain how... [theregister.co.uk]? This article is interesting because it breaks down $ amount for revenue lost by *aa and the cost for an agency to collect fees to arrive at this amount.
  • I am a member and big fan of the EFF, but their treatment of this topic leaves me unimpressed. The RIAA are fighting to maintain the status quo and their increasing irrellevance in the digital age, and they will continue to use any sleazy means at their disposal. Those of us on the other side are fighting to destroy them. I support downhillbattle [downhillbattle.org].
  • So we keep talking about how THEY don't get it.

    We complain about how the media conglomerates restrict choice, produce fewer artists every year, cheat the artists they do sign, and then overcharge us to boot. We complain about the mainstream garbage and the same six songs on ther radio over and over again.

    We complain about how file sharing gets restricted and the draconian and inconsistently applied copyright enforcement tactics.

    So you're telling me that there's all these musicians out there that can'

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday February 27, 2004 @10:38AM (#8408217) Homepage Journal
    Of course the RIAA is happy with the situation. The new webcasting licenses, which the Copyright Office just finally installed this month, puts all webcasting license administration in the hands of SoundScan, which is an RIAA spinoff. They have completely screwed BMI, ASCAP, every artist, and (of course) you: they get to charge a toll on every passage of a copyrighted work across the Internet. And most important, they get to control the entire IP world, not just collect the money. The structure of the fees means that the RIAA member companies remain an exclusive club of publishers, with no threat from DIY publishers on the more level playing field of the Net. So the rich get richer, and the content-holders get more content (pun intended). This is the most monstrous monopoly yet, with the RIAA owning the rights to control and profit from every IP exchange across any network. The bad guys have won. Unless, perhaps, this EFF proposal (or one like it) can bring power back to the people while keeping content makers (artists) adequately represented in the compensation loop. Send a postal letter to your Congressmember/MP/second-cousin-Prince/UN-minister supporting a fair share plan, before you have to buy RIAA stamps.
  • Lost Cause (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday February 27, 2004 @10:48AM (#8408324) Homepage Journal
    We all need to get it thru our heads, the *IAA industries are no longer interested in supporing their customers.

    They would rather restrict and sue custmers ( and bilk artists as well ). this is their business model, not 'customer service' or ' product value'

    Creating 'yet another' payment system for P2P does not intrest them at all. And why should it? They have a virtual monopoly built on screwing people out of their money..
  • by Numen (244707) on Friday February 27, 2004 @12:03PM (#8409114)
    I'm not quite sure why so many people are runing around trying to resolve the leaking ship that is the music industries business model. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks that the burden is upon the music industry to produce a new model that is to the liking of it's customers whom they wish to part from their cash.

    People got used to saying "vote with your wallet" as some sort of wise-crack. Guess it came as a shock when millions did just that.

    *shrug* I think the idea of trying to persuade the music industry to patch its leaks and to offer 101 different ways in which it might patch its leaks is odd... it is however crazy while said industry acts in such a petulant fashion.

    Let the music industry worry about it's own leaks. The music industries lost billions is not something that should cause the EFF sleepness nights, and there are frankly better things it could concern itself with than where Popstar X is going to get their next gold plated toilet seat from.

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