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The Internet

CEO of MP3.Com Accused of Domain Squatting 136

Frac writes " Think Michael Robertson, CEO of mp3.com, is a pioneer of mp3s and nothing else? Think again. Apparently he is a domain squatter of various registered trademarks that don't belong to him, according to Wired News. A search on network solution's whois reveals that he has a large collection of domains under his belt, a lot of which are names of products that he doesn't own. They are registered under his name, and Filez and mp3.com, his companies. Domain names include tu-cows.com, audiograbber.com, talk-city.com, and metacrawler.net. "
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CEO of MP3.Com Accused of Domain Squatting

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    i don't see the big deal if someone registers a name of something or similar.... its always been first come, first serve.... now big companies want to cry over not getting their name.... well too bad they should have taken the net seriously sooner but why should we bend over backwards for them just cause they're late getting here?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've known this for at least 2 years. Michael and his old filez.com hobby don't like to play it fair. Don't you guys remmember when winamp was www.winamp.lh.net and mp3.com bought out www.winamp.com and www.macamp.com and then either re-sold or gave them back to the owners? Thats why the winamp.com page had a note about it and the macamp page (now renamed) was www.macamp.nu Sorry about the Anonymous coward stuff, will register in a sec - Tomcat http://boris.virtualave.net
  • Yes, the signal to noise ratio is very low with most of the music on there (figuretively speaking) - some of it's not bad though.

    Their Beam-It service rocks, though. I've beamed about 200 of my CDs so far and I use it all the time, even when I am at home because it is so convenient. To top it all off, it works great on Linux.
  • I personally dont care if he squats domains or not. Personally, I own tons of domains. I dont consider it squatting. I am not going out there and registering domains of other peoples trademarks. Just domains that I one day could use as a legit business. I am not trying to decieve people and redirect them to my website. I think thats the big difference between buying domains and squating domains. Squatting has to do with buying other peoples trademarks to confuse people. There is nothing wrong with buying tons (even thousands of domains) otherwise, that sound cool, and could be used.
    Regardless, I dont care about the past of this charecter. Mp3.com is one of the best sites on the internet. I whole disagree with anyone that says most of there stuff sucks. I really have never heard a band on mp3.com (in a music category I like, which is primarily everything buy Jazz, Country, World, etc..) that sucks. THe only ones I have heard that sucked was because of audio quality, not the music. Their electronica section just rules. So does alot of there AltRock/Pop area. Granted if you are a teenie bopper who likes to listen to backstreet boys (actually, there is some stuff you would like) and other Top 10 bands you might not find what your looking for.
  • Well in my completely biased subjective opinion, yes, I've found good bands on mp3.com:

    You're entirely right though - there's an awful lot of crap. But then, that's subjective too...

  • He bought the domain, so it isn't squatting exactly, more like having to keep a property you were hoping to arbitrage. Not that it was a bad ride.

    I was shocked to discover a colleague of mine at work squats on a number of domain names. But it was less disturbing and annoying than other situations where coworkers have tried to sell me vitamins or package tours.

    The bottom line is that Michael Robertson has turned out to be a capable leader of a significant and influential commercial venture. He didn't flame out or allow the situation to get away from him. I think he stands a good chance to end up in the Gates/Dell/Chambers category rather than the Kahn/Woz/Andreesen pile. It isn't an easy road, And it isn't as if he paid for "MP3.com" with bags of money form Chinese spys or bogus profits from futures contract straddles.

  • I meant
    http://www.networksolutions.com/cgi-bin/whois/whoi s?STRING=all+"person_name"

    Sorry..the html screwed it up.
  • I have personal compilation cds that I made myself that have several songs from MP3.com. When you listen to punk, almost all of it comes from the "underground" anyway. I listen without prejudice, and sometimes find some real gems that are just as good as anything I would buy in stores. (Anyone that likes pop-punk should check out Juvenile Wreck or the Preschoolers.)

    I think certain genres fair better than others on mp3.com. If you want Backstreet Boys clones that need big record label money to make videos and promote an image, mp3.com won't please you. However more DIY types of music, like punk, techno and hip-hop will do well on mp3.com.
  • I don't give a damn about fighting the system. I make money off the system. I think the GPL is going to destroy the software industry for years if it is not stopped. As for these musicians, several of the ones I like have CDs available you may purchase through MP3.com and I have purchased them. You should really do your homework before posting.
  • While 99% do suck dick, I have still found several dozen songs worth listening too (all from the European region too, maybe coincidence, maybe not). The thing is, the rankings system on MP3.com actually works and the best do float up to the top.
  • I totally agree with you. It's just like buying land that you think is someday going to be worth more then it is now. I do think it's a little ridiculous to sell domains for more then a couple grand, but hey whatever. Who cares, the point of this world is that it's free, and you can do as you please. And as long as nobody gets hurt, who fricking cares!
  • by Ulic ( 6715 )
    my.mp3.com rocks! That's by far the best thing to come off mp3.com.
  • A while back URB magazine did a "best of" sort of feature on mp3.com's techno artists, creating a list of artists, none of whom were on mp3.com's top lists. Mp3's had the audacity to state their suprise that none of their 'most popular' artist such as the rather dull Ghost in the Shell weren't on the list at all. A little bit of hunting around the electronic section should turn up the URB list.
  • Well, I would assume /some/ of the revinue from www.emusic.com goes back to the artists - there are some reasonable names there.

    And I do pay for music, from there.
  • It just goes to show you that most 'good guys' really aren't. I seriously doubt that he was ever in it for anything but the money.

    Is it just me, or is the DNS system seriously messed up. What ever happened to a bit of common sense?
  • by Zico ( 14255 )

    Doesn't he know that you're supposed to dump the old one and get a trophy wife after the IPO?

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • Someone go to www.kids.com, or one of the various other domains that C|Net has registered to bounce unsuspecting people to their damn portal. What is the difference here? I haven't seen anyone bashing CNET for the fact that they have a million domains that just dump you the content of CNET.com Yeah, we should burn them all!! =) -S

    Scott Ruttencutter
  • The name of that song is "Land of Confusion". Besides, you forgot to close an <A> tag.

    -- Genesis Zealot

  • This is slightly off topic, but when you search for mp3.com (http://www.networksolutions.com/cgi-bin/whois/who is?STRING=all+mp3.com).

    It stops at 50 entries. Is it possible to search for the remaining entries?
  • actually, there's a lot of talent if you check out their electronic music stuff..
    not a big fan of rock/popular though
  • Michael Robertson originally registered mp3.com becuase it was a very popular search term. He started out with the domain as a squatter. Since then however, he has taken the domain and created something really useful. Now domain registering is a first-come first serve basis, and domain squatters often take advantage of this. Michael, however, has turned something which we all tend to look down upon and actually inovated. So before you guys go beat him like a little girly man, remember that his domain squatting eventually transelated into inovation.
    I eat dog. Free DVDs [opendvd.org]. Horray!
  • Michael, however, has turned something which we all tend to look down upon and actually inovated. So before you guys go beat him like a little girly man, remember that his domain squatting eventually transelated into inovation.

    and how exactly do you innovate with other people's trademark, like win-zip, tu-cows, talk-city, metacrawler, windac, and audiograbber?

  • It is in fact hard to find decent things on mp3.com, but for whomever likes latin music (bossa) I do have two recommendations:

    Cilico+Amigos=Parceria [mp3s.com]

    and

    Rio Bahia [mp3s.com]

    I absolutely loved the first (Cilico...), and I bought their CD, hopefully others will do it as well.
  • considering the things that MP3.com puts in their Meta tags, this doesn't surprise me at all. robertson is definitely skewed towards being a social engineer...
  • Etoy.com [etoy.com] of Toywar [toywar.com] fame are swiss, like cheese (or whatever)...

  • A friend of mine offers his tracks on mp3.com also. (http://www.mp3.com/bri)
    By now he didn't make much money (about 50 $ or so) with it.
    His point is: "I don't want my music be bought by the people (although, thanks for the cash)! I want my music to be HEARD, to be ENJOYED by the people! It's fun to see the people dance to your music."

    About the music on mp3.com: There is crappy stuff, but then there is much brilliant music on also. I'm into trance/techno/acid and I've downloaded many files that really rock.

    But maybe, you want to have a look at the Internet Underground Music Archive at http://www.iuma.com.

    Sort of like the GPL works: The programmers fame lies in wether the GPLed programs are used by the people.

  • And The Internet Underground Music Archive:
    http://www.iuma.com

    And Noisemusic (for the Technofans)
    http://www.noisemusic.org
    more stuff is on the ftp-server
    ftp://ftp.noisemusic.org

  • And how exactly would this star system work?

    I picture it as a star-rating for "maturity" and overall "quality" and a brief, independent description of the music. Not a full, serious review, but enough to give people the idea of whether they might like it, and whether it's worth downloading.

    This implies that there's some absolute standard of musical quality, which is clearly untrue.

    It's clearly untrue across genres, but it's not clearly untrue within a genre (though that depends upon the genre -- techno might be an exception). I think it's pretty easy to distinguish between serious, professional bands (yes, there are quite a few on mp3.com) and half-assed, amateur garage bands (yes, there are many of these on mp3.com).

    I wouldn't personally trust anybody random stranger's taste in music enough to even bother to download what they considered worth listening to.

    Which is one of the reasons an independent site would have regular reviewers, each of whom gives e.g. a description of their musical tastes, and a list of their favorite bands. Readers would be able to get an idea of how close their tastes match up with the reviewer's, and then weigh the reviewer's opinion accordingly. This is more-or-less what I've been doing through USENET and discussion boards for years, and with pretty good success. There are a number of people whose opinions I trust enough to buy on their recommendation alone. There are many, many more whose opinions I don't trust.

  • I'm sure they have neato stuff, but I've only got one mp3 that came from that site (and I didn't get it myself) and I know it came from there because at the beginning of the song, there's an audio message that says "the best mp3s on the planet a mp3 dot com"

    blah on them!
    do they still do that? I'm guessing no, since they're being recommended here, but if they do.. then what do you use to edit that clip away?

  • Please find me one example of an artist on mp3.com that is being robbed(*). Please find me one example of a cracked and GPLed piece of software. When you have failed, you'll learn the value of checking your facts.

    And you are trying to tell me that I'm letting people rob me by putting my music online. I have a cheque at home from mp3.com telling the lie of that one. And even if I sold no CDs, I don't need the money. I have a good job programming computers. I have my music freely distributable because I'm far more worried about people hearing my music than making money. It's my choice what I do with my content.

    (*) I'm hoping this guy is smart enough to realise the difference between mp3 files and the mp3.com website

  • The fact that you choose to help them rob you is not relevant.

    Don't be absurd.

    you sound pretty absurd to me.

    furthermore, this isn't even the kind of funny troll post that i'm looking for down here. no, it's just strictly lame.

    :)

    sh_

    ps. moderators, could we just stick to leaving the top level post at 0? -1 is far too generous.
  • On one hand he represents a fight against the "old media rules", yet on the other hand he breaks the unwritten laws that he is trying to get written. Quite Sad indeed.
  • It's reminiscent of the time one SAT prep company -- might have been Kaplan -- bought a domain name that would, reasonably, better match up with a rival, which might have been the Princeton Review. They were forced to hand over the domain.

    Here, we have a chap who apparently buys other domain names, that are basically unrelated to his business EXCEPT that the likely users of the others are also, most likely, failry net-savvy. These folks might be perhaps more likely to be interested in MP3's.

    It would seem to be a pretty clear-cut case of squatting. Have any of the proposed anti-cybersquatting laws passed yet? I seem to recall some having provisions against registering names similar to trademarks in bad-faith...
  • by motardo ( 74082 )
    you can't forget about mp4.com
    -motardo
  • was a business man.

    he founded MP3.com based on looking at web search results.

    Robertson tinkered with several Internet ventures before focusing on the MP3 idea. Searching for trends in Net site traffic reports, "I like to look at the bottom," he says. "And from the bottom of those charts, I started seeing some sites that had MP3 in the name. I was curious about what exactly MP3 was. And that's exactly how we stumbled onto it."

    http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cte251.h tm

    so if you find it funny that a BUSINESS man would cyber-squat on a bunch of domains then you need to stop writing so much code and take a look in the WSJ. whadda think? this guy was doing it b/c he loved music?

    right.

  • Micheal bought the domain name for $1000 and his wife thought he was crazy... I bet she hasn't complained for a while ;)
  • He cant hold them forever.. he'll just lose them in court to the people who have respective trademarks, unless they put up a service called audiograbber, or metacrawler... although i doubt that.
    Its trademark infringement, and its up to the companies to shoo him off their trademarks
    --jay
  • Legally obtaining something is not the same as legally distributing. If one downloads an mp3 of a copyrighted work that is not freely distributed, it is one's own responsibility to make sure one owns that album prior to listening ..
  • MP3.com is not about pirating! MP3.com, if you've ever been there, and i believe you have implied that you haven't due to your lack of knowledge of the subject.

    MP3.com offers individual artists a forum through which they can distribute their electronic music (mp3s) ... sort of an artist community

  • It is ironic how rich and/or successful people get pointed at, or accused for that matter. For what? For actions and deeds, that many of us would have dealt with in the same way - If we only had the opportunity and vision Mr. Robertson had at that time?

    I definatelly do not approve of domain squatting. But I doubt that at the time Mr. Robertson registred these domain names, there was anyone that ever heard of the term 'domain squatting / cyber squatting'. Everyone bought domain names that 'might' become a success. Even if it was a name of a trademark registered name or what so ever.

    I am of the opinion that if someone should be blamed, accused and pointed finger at...then it would be InterNIC / Network Solutions, who provides in domain-names w/o putting any restrictions to it, i.e. preventing 'domain squatting' etc. I don't think anyone even worried about this at that time (did they? I didn't do a research on that :) Just sharing my opinion on what I know...of course I may be very wrong :P) They provided the golden opportunity and many made use of it. And it's only their right.. (not ethical? there are not many people thinking about ethics when it comes to money I think.)

    It's regretfull that wired.com news section is serving gossip, instead of real news. :o/

    Anyway - I just thought wired.com is full of BS in that article. I rate it the 'Monica smoked Bill's cigar' level. Bill is still where he was..if not more popular... Mr. Robertson got a mention extra..so did mp3.com - who are they kidding?

    (off topic) By the way, I saw that some of you were bashing on mp3.com. The whole concept was and IS great, no matter what you say. To those who couldn't find anything good (there is plenty imho), try

    http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/34/bassic.html (VERY good I think)
    http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/54/emma_h.html (..another excellent artist, very much EBTG like)

    Take care,
    Stepan aka the-lamb
  • someone else posted this as well I think...but just in case, try :

    http://www.domainsurfer.com [domainsurfer.com]
  • If he's a loser - what does that make you if you don't even have the decency (OR the guts) to reveal your name with that comment?

  • I just tried www.thirdworld.com and I came to ecards.com (It's the card that counts)
    Don't people have any moral left?

    And mp3.com is a good thing(tm) IMO
  • I love watching media companies quake in terror over MP3s.
  • it's pretty easy to distinguish between serious, professional bands (yes, there are quite a few on mp3.com) and half-assed, amateur garage bands (yes, there are many of these on mp3.com).

    You miss the point. I don't even like most of the music that is produced by "serious, professional bands". In fact, I like very, very little of what's produced in the music industry, mainstream or otherwise. But, I dig your point about "regular reviewers". There's some validity to that for most people. Just not for me, since nobody has even vaguely similar tastes in music to me.
    * mild mannered physics grad student by day *

  • Check out Evil Adam (http://www.mp3.com/eviladam/) if you like Heavy Industrial or Video Game music.
    --
    Peace,
    Lord Omlette
    AOL IM: jeanlucpikachu
  • You mean Ghost in the Machine....
    ...a quasi-good techo band.

    Ghost in the shell is an Anime, and many of the things you love about The Matrix were borrowed from it. Go and see it.

    It isn't as good as Matrix though.

    --

  • (referring to an advertisement that used to be on at the beginning of mp3.com mp3's.)

    doesnt exist anymore... don't worry about it.

    they used to put that on, like a lot of real-audio places still do. but then they realized... this is Free Music, make it free.

    (or at least that's what i choose to believe.)

    --

  • Here, Here!!

    Moderate this up...


    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC
    www.npsis.com [npsis.com]
  • Domain squatting is one thing, but having a domain name that suggests one type of content that redirects you to a site with totally unrelated content is reprehensible. For example, http://www.mp3search.org [mp3search.org] and http://www.mp3search.net [mp3search.net] both redirect you to http://wierdxxx.com, a porn site. [wierdxxx.com]

    However, this not only misleading people with suggestive domain names.... this is purposly registering domains that are similar to trademarked or well known names, and redirecting them to something completely unrelated. While it's not redirecting people to a porn site (hell, if I wanted a porn site, I could find one easily), but it's still misleading, and still using a name similar to a trademark.

    What to do about it though, is a tricky question. We don't want heavy handed tactics to become the norm. After all, we saw what happened with eToys.com (an on-line toy company) vs. etoy.com (which if my memory serves was a french art group.) However, there must be some way we can make such practices unappealing.

  • There is a guy who sometimes plays at a pub nearby that I frequent, and although he is an O.K. songwriter, he can't carry a tune worth a damn. He only got the gig because he is friends with the manager. But guess what, he gets on the top downloads lists! How? He always asks his drunken following (a dozen or so) to go download his song again so he can get on the top downloads list, and then he emails everyone who ever gave him his email address and tells them to do the same. That is why the top downloads list on MP3.com still doesn't help.
  • I remember a few years ago, when there was some controversy (?) about how mp3.com had also registered mp4.com. This was when layer3.org and mp3.com were almost "enemies." Also, I remember filez.com being pretty crappy...

    Oh well, just some thoughts.

    zsazsa
  • <CONSPIRACY>

    It seems pretty convenient that this article on his business practices comes out in the midst of the RIAA's attack on the world.

    "See, he's pirated all these domain names and then he moved to pirating MP3s. He's an evil hacker/communist/nazi/witch!!"

    </CONSPIRACY>
  • Grow up!
  • I notice that you also mention that they distribute "freeware", a.k.a. cracked ("GPL") software. This also is theft, and if it's worth downloading, even your pathetic low-quality excuse doesn't wash.

    Actually, as anyone who has been using the internet for any length of time at all knows, freeware means software that the creator(s) have allowed to be distributed for free. Internet Explorer and Netscape Comminicator are both examples of freeware, as is most MP3 players, all available for download at MP3.com. Considering the fact that MP3.com is a public company, who has a vested interest in keeping their stock price high, I really doubt they would ever distribute "cracked" software on their site.

    Stealing bad music is still theft. BZZZT. Thanks for playing.

    It seems like you aren't very knowledgable about which you speak. All mp3s on MP3.com are their because the artist put them there for people to download. Most of these artists are unknown and willing to give away music in the hopes people will like it and buy their album. How is this stealing?

    It appears to me that you have committed multiple felonies. Are you quite sure that you should be discussing this in public?

    You should ask yourself this question next time you post, if you don't want to come off looking like a fool. Oh wait... you posted anonymously. I guess you must have had your lack of knowledge pointed out to you before...
  • [shrug] Somebody claimed that they distributed cracked software, a.k.a. "GPL" or "freeware", on their site.

    GPL means GNU General Public License. If software is written under this license it is freely distributable. It is not cracked. Free ware is a term that means software that is available for free, with no charge. It is also not cracked. Cracked software is commercial software that has been illegally modified to no longer have copy protection, or demo software that has been modified to function as it was a full version. GPL and Freeware do not fall under the catagory "cracked".

    If the black market has reduced the market value of music to the point where musicians must give away their work for free, I would hardly say that mp3.com should be applauded for doing the damage.

    Most of the MP3s that are being traded in the "black market" are ones my famous major label acts. These acts still sell their cds by the millions, so I don't think music has been "devalued" just yet. The acts on MP3.com are generally unknown, unsigned acts. My friend has made his music available on MP3.com, under the name Amphibian, simply so that others can hear his music. To him music is a hobby he doesn't expect to get paid for. The internet allows him to reach a much larger potential number of people than he could by playing his songs to people who come over to his house. Many other bands have similar ideas about uploading their songs to MP3.com, or they feel that maybe if someone hears one song of their CD, then thet\y might buy the whole thing. This has been going on for years, in the form of cd and tapes of lesser-known bands included with CMJ and other music magazines. The internet is just a better channel for distribution, that's all. It's not like these musicians are worthless because of mp3 technology. Some of the music on mp3.com may be worthless with or without mp3s, but thats beside the point...

    And, yes, this domain name squatting is reprehesible, but a lot of companies use reprehensible business tactics. I'm not defending them, either- it is our duty to call them on it when we discover it and I'm glad the got caught. I just am trying to point out the misunderstandings about "freeware" software and the devaluation of the music market.

    josh
  • uhm, i dont ever remember mentioning pirated softwarz or illegal mp3's. napster does not assume the responsibility of the warz it receives. it is the users responsibility to post mp3s that are legally obtained. ok kidz, pirated sofwarz are bad mmmmmkay
  • with the invention of napster, searching for mp3's on the internet is pointless. why spend all of your time surfing the net for one song when you can hop on napster and get three or four with one search? robertson is just trying to utilize the internet trademark holes to bring users to his site via popular URL names in which users may think the trademark owns. how many people pay for their websites by advertising and banners? with things like alladvantage and dialpad, advertising can bring in a nice revenue. if traffic is increased on a site like the way is has on mp3.com because of the misdirected traffic, a nice little profit could be turned out. i feel bad for the poor college students whose universities ban napster and force them to use such methods as mp3.com to get their music.
  • Because the feds are morons. Sure MP3's shouldn't be banned, and problably couldn't be, but we all know how companies and feds deal with things that aren't illegal, but are really really grey (Nintendo thinks emulators are illegal, even though they are perfectly legal. There is nothing wrong with an emulator, but nintendo is still suing people over it. Same thing with sony. They could try the same thing with MP3's. They problably wouldn't get far, but it would scare alot of people off (they would probalbly claim it was a standard made specifically for pirating music or something)).

    And loser is spelled loser, not luser.

    piku
  • It seems like his MP3.com success was just dumb luck. It's just luck that MP3's took off, and since he had the domain in his possession decided to really make some money off of it. Watch when (hopefully if) MP3's get banned or something, he will disband the site real quick because he can't make any money off of it.

    piku
  • Kinda offtopic, but I wonder what's going to happen when all of the colleges ban napster.com =)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Domain squatting is perhaps the least of
    his "crimes". A few years ago some students
    offered a free FTP search engine to the world,
    running on hardware their university had provided
    for them as a research project.

    FTPsearch.ntnu.no was widely known to be the
    fastest and most comprehensive FTP search engine
    in the world, and the software was even free for
    anyone to download and use.

    Mr. Robertson apparently saw that this would be
    a sweet service to sell advertising for, so he
    set up www.filez.com and made it a sort of proxy
    for ftpsearch.ntnu.no (today ftpsearch.lycos.no).

    The traffic on the poor research PC the university
    had put up grew and all the while, Mr Robertson
    sold advertising on his leeching service.

    On the filez.com website there was no mention where the searches were performed, nor was Tor Egge credited with the creation of the software.

    After a while Tor Egge grew tired of this and
    added a delay for requests coming from filez.com.

    Robertson tried to counter this in various ways, but in the end he had to give up and actually install the search software on one of his machines and actually start doing some work.

    I am telling you this because the world needs
    to know that Robertson is a dishonest person. Robertson has a history of acting in bad faith. Robertson is the last person in the world you would want to bet money on unless you are willing to take the risks that the press might uncover some real dirt.

    Oh, and if you doubt the truth of this story I
    suggest you contact the norwegian press or even better, contact Tor Egge and ask him.
  • "Winzip" is only a trademark [marksonline.com] within Class 9 (Computer programs, electrical and scientific apparatus). It'd be perfectly legitimate to use "Win-zip" as the name for a fast window-washing service. (Sure, it's a stretch, but perfectly legal and legitimate.) The situation is comparable with the other names you've listed.

    A domain name cannot be a trademark violation by itself, since there's no way of knowing what class it's in with no context. It's only if the domain is used for a commercial purpose in a misleading or confusing way that there is a potential problem.

    --

  • http://www.networksolutions.com/cgi-bin/whois/whoi s?STRING=all+ does not show all teh domains registered by person_name. There could be more domains also.

    My theory is based on the arg that " "all" means to search all fields" :-)

    CP
  • Just because you pay for a domain doesn't mean you're not squatting.

    A domain squatter is someone who registers a domain hoping to sell it off in the future for a nice chunk of change. Say 10 years ago, you decided to register microsoft.com, hoping to sell it for a cool billion today. That's domain squatting.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • The only thing I don't know is the background of the guy who sold it. Here's an excerpt from the April 9, 1999 issue of the San Diego Business Journal (it's not a public domain article, so I'd rather not post the whole thing -- it might be available for free if the SDBJ has it on their web site):

    Funny thing is, Robertson doesn't know much about the music business.

    Oh, wait. He does have some music experience. The self-proclaimed band geek played the clarinet at Westminster High School in Orange County.

    Robertson's musical talent never matured, but he does know a thing or two about computers and the Internet.

    It was his interest and expertise in the Internet that brought him to MP3, which stands for MPEG1 Layer 3, a format that compresses audio files into compact files that can be stored on a computer hard drive and played back.

    Robertson found this technical treasure on the Internet in October 1997 after a suggestion by his director of sales at The Z Co., MP3.com's future parent company.

    Robertson liked what he saw and heard so much he purchased the MP3.com domain name for $1,000 from some "computer geek" a month later.

    Since then, Robertson has earned the reputation as a digital music guru, something that amuses him.

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • And how exactly would this star system work? This implies that there's some absolute standard of musical quality, which is clearly untrue. I wouldn't personally trust anybody random stranger's taste in music enough to even bother to download what they considered worth listening to.

    How about collaborative reviewing? You download a few songs, and then upload your ratings to the database. Then it could show ratings given by people who rated things similar to how you did. If I like band X and band Y, and you like band X, then the database would suggest band Y to you.

    Too bad Slashdot doesn't work like that...


    ---
  • ...mp3dotcom.sucks [wired.com]. I think MP3.com is a real joke, and anybody with enough bandwidth and storage space could do it. The only reason mp3.com is famous is because it got the name mp3.com. It is not any kind of damn authority on mp3s. I was laughing at its ipo, at the morons who bought mp3.com stock. If mp3.com MADE or did ANYTHING related to MP3s other than STORING them maybe they would be worth something as a company. As it is, their "services" (ie, providing free Hard Drive space to artists) can be gotten for free almost anywhere else on the web, including sites like idrive [idrive.com] and even Xoom [xoom.com]. Okay, so they have a fancy search engine and provide a nice centralized location for people who want to find new music, but those are like the only benefits of mp3.com that I can see. Their beam-it service seems to be the first innovative thing they've ever made.

    The thing that really aggravates me is when Robertson/MP3.com try to act like some kind of champions of freedom. Like with the beam-it thing, they tried to get people to their site to test it, and promoted beam-it as basically "standing up to the man," which everybody loves to do. They are defending our freedoms [mp3.com] in the face of the big bad record companies. Of course, this was just a ploy to get more hits to serve up more banner ads. That is the only thing that matters to them: how to keep people coming back to the site. And this domain squatting thing is just another example of that; it is another way to generate traffic to mp3.com so they can serve up more ads. Everything else is secondary, and it will be until something more profitable than selling ads comes along. For example, when it becomes more profitable to sell their database of email addresses, I'm sure they will do that. Or if somebody will pay them to track what songs you listen to with beam-it, I'm sure they will do that too. They are a business, and the only purpose of a business is the make money, so they cannot be faulted for trying to do that, in fact, I think by law they have to try and make money for the shareholders. But they must (ok, not "must" but "should") also be ethical, and stealing domain names from other people/companies (audiograbber et alii) is not ethical. But, again, the only thing that matters to them is money, and as long as it is more profitable for them to keep the name than to give it up (e.g., people stop visiting mp3.com in protest of their stupidity), they will keep the domains--unless legal action requires them to surrender them.

    On the other side of this, why wasn't audiograbber registered by its author while it was still in development? Domains should be registered before the product is announced, and probably two or three alternates wouldn't hurt in case you decide to change the name of the product. If I am about to release a new compression program called EvroZip, I'll make sure I have www.evrozip.com, if for no other reason than to keep anyone else from it.

    This is why I registered www.evanhoffman.com. Evan Hoffman is not a very common name, but I've found more than one. And I'm glad I did register it, because I've gotten five or six emails from other Evan Hoffmans who wanted the name. So while MP3.com isn't playing nice, audiograbber should have taken audiograbber.com long ago. As for cd-now.com, I don't know if an upstart (remember when cdnow was an upstart?) can go and register every permutation of their name (unless they have a war chest like Dubya--
    )

    But now CDNOW is huge, so I'm sure if they wanted cd-now.com their lawyers could get it for them.

    PS-Does anybody else remember when mp3.com was all about illegal mp3s? Does anybody remember Blex's Page of Good MP3? The true MP3 vets remember Blex.

    _________________

  • I'd like to see him innovate "win-zip.com" into something.
  • Phallus: I put my music on there because I want everyone to freely distribute my music.

    Clueless AC: The fact that you choose to help them rob you is not relevant.

    I have a confession. When I was nine years old, I stole a bicycle from my parents. Oh, sure, they called it a "Christmas present" ... but they fact that they chose to help me rob them is not relevant. I feel terrible about it.

    Oh, and I stole a promotional flyer from the grocery store, too. It said "Free, Take One" ... but the fact that they chose help me rob them is not relevant. I'm on a downhill slide, it's all so clear now...

  • mp3.com keeps track of the most popular downloads, which is a pretty good idea. It seems that that would help you zero in on the "good" stuff, right? Unfortunately, I found that it wasn't very useful. Perhaps most people download indiscriminately, or perhaps they have poor taste.

    ...or perhaps they look through the lists starting with the most downloaded stuff, and never get past the first few pages... (after all, if it were any good, lots of people would've downloaded it, right?) Of course, it doesn't help that a lot of bands mischaracterize their own music, and "spam" it to completely unrelated categories... Also, since I have a fast connection, I tend to download everything from a particular artist before listening to it... and then I listen to it while downloading stuff from other artists. I never preview stuff before downloading it...

    What I've really been longing for is a series of independent websites that act as indices into the massive mp3.com archive. An independent site could post reviews from people they pay to wade through all the noise, searching for the elusive signal.

    I agree, though I don't think it's necessary to pay people. I'd volunteer to help out with a bunch of quick reviews a month... and I'm sure a lot of other people would too.

    Such a system would have to be carefully designed of course, but even an independent opinion on what a band sounds like (not even a full review) and their relative "maturity" would be very useful.

  • c'mon geeks, get out a little. check out listen.com [listen.com], musicselector.com [musicselector.com], and epitonic [epitonic.com].

    j(geek and hip hopper--and on mp3.com [mp3.com]).

  • Please.... everyone who is on mp3.com is on there voluntarily.... have you actually been to the site. I put my music on there because I want everyone to freely distribute my music. Not everyone feels the need to control their music the way the commercial artists do.

  • I must say that, while it makes sense from a certain standpoint, that it's funny that they decided to reject the offer to transfer the domain to the 'rightful' owner because it was "past the deadline" and "the other party didn't accept the offer".
  • http://www.domainsurfer.com/ [domainsurfer.com]
    -------------------------------------------
  • Domain squatting is really getting annoying, I've registered a few just to put up a web page on them that says 'if you have a legitimate use for this domain, contact me and i'll *give* it to you' because I was afraid a squatter would take them over. bleh.
  • And how exactly would this star system work? This implies that there's some absolute standard of musical quality, which is clearly untrue. I wouldn't personally trust anybody random stranger's taste in music enough to even bother to download what they considered worth listening to.

    This is the problem with the whole "promote your band with free music on MP3s" is concerned: most of the world happily lets the media industry tell them what's good, and aren't in a hurry to change that. Other, non media sanctioned sounds are therefore, by definiton, not worth listening to. They're not interested in wading through thousands of songs to find something that they might have missed otherwise. The media industry has lots of money, and they use it to their advantage to process signal out of the noise. A free music system has no such signal processing capability.
    * mild mannered physics grad student by day *

  • There is nothing wrong with registering a few domains, heck we have guys that register over a 100 domains per day.

    I'm not sure what to make of this trademark issue though, its arguable both ways. But I don't think we can say that this mp3.com guy is squatting so long as he payed for the domains he registered.

    Just my two cents...


    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC
    www.npsis.com [npsis.com]
  • I'm sorry but your an idiot (don't -1 me yet, I have reasons :)

    Have you been to MP3.com? Obviously not. MP3.com is a FREE, PUBLIC DOMAIN MP3 server. Every MP3 on there is there because the creator wanted it to. Looking through the site you see ton's of unknown bands and such there having their MP3's hosted and links to where you can buy their CD's. They are using MP3.com to promote their bands and try to become popular. MP3.com isn't a bunch of known artists work (although there are a few), its unknown ones trying to get known.

    Perhaps you should do some research before you run your mouth.

    piku
  • by eldamitri ( 19790 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @10:49AM (#1207883)
    Actually, the story I read (long ago, so I don't remember the source, so treat it as folklore...) was that his motives were as you described, but that he bought the domain from someone else, and didn't actually register it himself. The guy who had originally registered mp3.com had registered it not for mp3's (he knew little to nothing about them) but because that was his login at his university or work or somesuch (his initials being mp). He was thus surprised that someone was willing to pay him for his domain name, and he sold it for not that much money.

    Again, the part about Michael not knowing much about mp3's other than that it was highly searched for on the internet is what I read, too.

    -Scott

    "there once was a big guy named lou

  • by Frac ( 27516 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @10:01AM (#1207884)
    I agree with you, although I do believe that there is some action that needs to be done. Now that Robertson has successfully IPO'ed mp3.com, it's time for him to return the squatted domain names back to their respective owners, for legal, it not moral reasons.

    I doubt a class action suit from all those trademark owners would look good for MPPP's price...

  • by Diamond Slicer ( 39462 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @11:19AM (#1207885) Journal
    DISCLAIMER: This is just my personal opinion... not a troll or flame. (annoying but necessacery because some people can't moderate)

    I am willing to bet that he registered the websites before mp3.com became very popular. Remember that it's success is fairly recent. As another poster mentioned above - he was in search engines. At the time he registered mp3.com. He probably was not thinking about making it into the music giant website that it is now.

    IMO however, now that mp3.com is one of the best music websites, he may change his opinion. If a website I had has become as successful as mp3.com, I would not want to ruin my reputation on the internet, by being labled a domain name squatter.

    Give him some time to recognize that domain name squatting is not the thing to do and I am willing to bet he will give up those webpages... anyways - just because someone wanted to make some money (by selling domain names - that he probably registered a while back - before it - cybersquatting - was the problem that it is now) is not a reason for the slashdot crew to slam him.
  • by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @09:43AM (#1207886) Homepage
    Has anyone ever actually pulled anything decent off mp3.com???

    thank god they didn't register napster.com! heh


    -FluX
    -------------------------
    Your Ad Here!
    -------------------------
  • by slothbait ( 2922 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @12:00PM (#1207887)
    This implies that there's some absolute standard of musical quality, which is clearly untrue.

    I won't argue with that point. However, you seem to be implying that, since there isn't an absolute standard, using someone else's standard is useless. It isn't. And it is *certainly* better than nothing. If some site, be it commercial, community-based, or a combination, would choose some representative individuals to sift through and rate things, it would provide a wonderful starting point for the rest of us.

    If you don't agree with their opinions, then no bother. You don't gain anything by their rating, but you also don't lose anything. The full archive is still there for you to dig through. But if the rater happens to have similar tastes, then that person has saved you a great deal of time by locating "good" music for you.

    You're dead on that record companies provide a filtering service for mainstream music. Unfortunately, they cut out a lot of music that we happen to like, so it never makes it to the radio and Blockbuster. With a rating system, that isn't a problem. If a reviewer doesn't like it, he gives it low marks. The piece is still there to be discovered by others, though.

    And what if you think all the reviewers are loco? No problem, you can band together with some others are pick out music that you want to emphasize.

    With mp3's, the community can provide its own means of distribution. I don't see any reason why the community can not provide its own filtering, as well. Picture this: a music 'zine web site, financed by banner ads, or a subscription or whatever, hires a few reviewers to maintain sections discussing different genres of music. These people keep abreast of the new music pooring into the archive and rate it as it goes by. They pick out their favorites, and discuss the strengths of various groups. Seems feasible to me.

    Or, if you don't like the centralized approach, you could simply have a listener-supported rating system where the listener base rates music that they download. Surely other people around here remember the Hornet Archive? It is now closed, but I used to follow it quite closely, and it would rate mod's as they were released. I don't see any reason why their system couldn't be applied to mp3's.

    I think a web music index to mp3.com could work. I've seen something similar work on Hornet. However, it would take someone who was quite dedicated to set it up. Hornet had Snowman, I'm not sure who could be recruited for an independent mp3 site.

    --Lenny
  • by Frac ( 27516 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @09:45AM (#1207888)
    mp3.com did [networksolutions.com].

    Robertson suggested the the advanced AAC format be called mp4, because it was the logical progression from mp3 (even though AAC is not really mpeg layer 4). Others then found out that Robertson had already registered mp4.com in advance, and accused him of trying to rename a format for his own benefit.

  • by slothbait ( 2922 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @10:01AM (#1207889)
    ...unfortunately you have to wade through *seas* of crap to find it. A while ago, I went off on a "screw record companies" trip and tried finding new music on mp3.com instead. It was a depressing experience. I found pounds of poorly recorded ska and kilos of uninsprired techno. I soon went back to the record store.

    mp3.com keeps track of the most popular downloads, which is a pretty good idea. It seems that that would help you zero in on the "good" stuff, right? Unfortunately, I found that it wasn't very useful. Perhaps most people download indiscriminately, or perhaps they have poor taste. Or perhaps there just isn't much to be had at mp3.com

    What I've really been longing for is a series of independent websites that act as indices into the massive mp3.com archive. An independent site could post reviews from people they pay to wade through all the noise, searching for the elusive signal. I can understand mp3.com not wanting to post star ratings themself, but it would be very nice if another site(s) could take this up, to give us some clue of what's good and what's not.

    Perhaps this could even be a community effort?

    dreaming on a Sunday,
    --Lenny
  • by Zico ( 14255 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @09:44AM (#1207890)

    If you've ever read an article bio of him, you've probably read how he got started with MP3.com. His field was search engines, and he noticed that one of the most popular searches that people were doing (if not the most popular) was for "mp3." He didn't really know much about MP3s, if at all, but when he noticed what a popular search term it was, he went and registered MP3.com.

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • by Frac ( 27516 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @09:49AM (#1207891)
    Some more information here from Dimension Music [dmusic.com]. Apparently Robertson simply refuses and ignores requests to have the rightful domain name handed back to their right owners. The programmer behind Audiograbber [com-us.net] is getting pretty upset, since mp3.com wholeheartedly endorses MusicMatch, audiograbber's competitor, and audiograbber.com redirects people to mp3.com.

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