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Music Media

State of Online Music: RIAA's Efforts Paying Off 311

melquiades writes "The NYT (regreq) has a new article about online music, suggesting that the recording industry's war against P2P is paying off: pay-to-download services are rising in popularity. "Largely because of tough actions by the record companies to combat free music sites through the courts, legislation and even through techno-guerrilla tactics, there is a noticeable change of sentiment in a small segment of the downloading cognoscenti. Though their numbers are low, many are the early adapters who spot a trend first." Though the article falls into the common fallacy of equating P2P with illegal copying -- I'm one of the numerous artists who wants people to download my music for free -- it sums up the state of affairs well, particularly in this quote from online music consultant Michael Haile: "Record labels know what consumers want. We all do. They want a Napster you pay for. We all know that. But why would the labels want that at all? Making CD's is like printing money.""
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State of Online Music: RIAA's Efforts Paying Off

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  • Really? I never knew that... I thought I just wanted to listen, and was willing to pay if that's the only way I could listen... I thought the record companies wanted me to pay. Or have the laws of economics been changed again?
    • That's why the blurb called them "early adapters". ;)
      • actually, I think their prefferred title is "the idle rich"

        If I had lots o cash to waste, SURE, I'd buy from e-music.

        Instead I took my 100 free songs and bolted.
        • by Wdomburg ( 141264 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:19PM (#4330531)
          >actually, I think their prefferred title is "the
          >idle rich"
          >If I had lots o cash to waste, SURE, I'd buy from
          >Instead I took my 100 free songs and bolted.

          Ummm... since when did $9.99/mo become something only "the idle rich" could afford? That's one bargain bin CD or DVD. Or about the cost of a dial-up account. Or lunch for two at a fast food joint.

          I don't pretend that e-music is to everyone's taste, since they don't carry a lot of "mainstream" music. For those of us with more eclectic tastes, though, it's a godsend.

          I download at least 20 or 30 albums a month. I don't have to worry about whether the person on the other end is going to disconnect. I don't have to worry about crappy encoding. I don't have to worry that the song I'm downloading isn't a 5 minute loop of someone taking a shit.

          And I regularly pull down *entire albums* in less than three minutes. Yeah, I really feel like a sucker.

          • by DragonMagic ( 170846 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:42PM (#4330747) Homepage
            Yeah, I feel like a complete sucker for getting nearly all of George Carlin's CDs at less than the cost of one of his CDs I bought before emusic.com started out.

            Really, the $10/mo. for unlimited downloads *IS* simply that. You download all you want for $10/mo. Period. End of story. If that's too much for you, perhaps you should listen to the Clear Channel controlled radio systems?
    • There are a couple issues in this posting and article I think people should pay attention to... First off, like so much to do with emergent technologies, NYT is dishing some very weak-ass reporting: I mean, the statement "But now, largely because of tough actions by the record companies to combat free music sites" is basically just some hot air and a couple of anecdotes (who decides exactly who the "downloading cognoscenti" are anyway?

      The other thing I think should really be payed attention to is, who's the clear winner (among the pay-for services) here:

      "EMusic, possibly the most popular music-subscription service (60,000 registered users), offers unlimited and unrestricted access. The downloads are fast, the audio is of good quality, there is no waiting, and most important, the odds of ending up with a virus that will destroy a teenager's homework folder are next to none. But because EMusic places no restrictions on the songs, major labels -- even Universal, whose corporate parent owns it -- have been reluctant to license their music. Working around this, EMusic is trying to attract fans of specific independent labels and niche genres, like electronic dance music and punk."

      This is a GOOD thing, this is what pay to download services on the internet should be about. Better access for people who might not drive enough product to justify distributing CDs all over the world, a chance to check out new music that's more cost-effective than the CD single. Now if these bands REALLY get smart they'll also start allowing royalty-free internet radio streaming* and non-mainstream music can REALLY start the long, slow, inevitable process of kicking the Biz's ass by way of simply being more damn efficient. My lips to God's ears, man...

      *(y'all who are gonna come on and tell me you can't do that are wrong, okay, you're stupid and you don't know the law. Copyright law and the first amendment say that anybody can stream whatever information they want FREE OF CHARGE AND FREE FROM ROYALTY CHARGES provided the person who controls the copyright gives them permission. The minimum royalty charges in the new internet radio laws ONLY apply when you start playing music that is registered through one of the royalty processing services, as long as everything you play is by private arrangement with the copyright holder you NEVER need to register as an internet radio station and therefor you never need to pay anyone a dime. There would have to be some seriously draconian and first-amendment shredding legislation to pave the way for anything else... nothing even close to that has been on the table yet.)

  • Yeah, right. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kamg ( 312270 )
    Record labels know what consumers want. We all do. They want a Napster you pay for. We all know that.

    No they don't. People want a Napster that you don't pay for.

    • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:43PM (#4330194) Homepage
      > Record labels know what consumers want. We all do. They want a Napster you pay for.

      Read it again. "They" seems to imply the record labels, not people, the way its quoted.

      But as an aside, I find it interesting how there are alot of people who want a pay-for Napster (mysql included), but nearly anybody that wants a free napster remains fairly voiceless, outed by a handful of people intent on reducing everybody but themselves as a freeloader.

      When you can choose from RIAA Media (CDs), Naspter, Pay-Napster, most people seem to comprehend that the "Pay Napster" is what is going to keep the music being made.

      But when you can choose from RIAA Media or just Naspter, people are going to use Naspter because they know that the Pay For Napster could exist .. its just the RIAA is dragging its feet. People won't turn down advancements in technologies, but they certainly will compensate for it if they have the opportunity.

      Thats what the RIAA doesn't get. People will take what they want, but will only repay for it if its actually feasible to do so (ie, price is fair and method of payment exists). Its not that everybody wants something for nothing, its simply that they won't deny themselves something if the supplier is too lazy, reluctant, or scared to figure out where to put the tip jar.
  • by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:29PM (#4330071) Homepage Journal
    Because they are downloading a lot more pirated porn, thank God for cable.
    • by StoryMan ( 130421 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:55PM (#4330312)
      Vice always drives profit.

      It pleases me to hear that porn and P2P music and video are (or have been) the new "killer application."

      An old guy I know wanted me to set him up with DSL so he could find out what all this hubbub about music is all about. (He really called it "hubbub", too).

      But I suspect he'll check out some porn, too. We all like porn and downloadable music. But very few us will admit it.

      BTW, how come someone hasn't set up a P2P network that allows me to stream music from my buddy's computer. Wouldn't this be the same as listening to music at a friend's house? Would the RIAA shut this down?

      Even cooler would be to stream video from my bud's computer. It's like we're in the same room together -- but we're just virtually there.

      Anyway, I set the old guy I know up with DSL. Got him to sign on, fork over the cash. He's got an install in the next few weeks, and I've got a free PS2 coming my way (on account the DSL folks are giving away a free XBOX or PS2 to whoever signs up by Sep. 30.)

      So soon he'll be able to check out that hubbub. (Is hubbub short for something? Or is it one of those words that sound like the thing they're describing? I've been in hubbub before -- and I've checked out a lot of hubbub -- but I'm not sure it ever sounded like 'hubbub' when I was checking it out.)
  • by dotgod ( 567913 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:30PM (#4330077)
    Nobody downloads music off of the internet illegally anymore. Please move on.
    • As I was reading the article I was thinking, "This is good. If the RIAA believes that it's curbing piracy, it'll take the heat off the rest of us that know how to do it right (IRC, Freenet, KaZaA Lite, newsgroups, etc)."
  • by asdfasdfasdfasdf ( 211581 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:31PM (#4330085)
    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that pay services have gotten much better in the past 18 months, with far more selection? Just maybe?

    No, no, it's because they killed napster. Idiots.
    • Agreed. I subscribed to Rhapsody last month. I consider $10/month a very reasonable rate for a service that gives me access to a large database of music, with consistent sound quality and a reasonable interface with good search functionality.

      My only complaint about Rhapsody is the lack of any Macintosh client. I'll probably be switching to a Mac at work soon, at which point I'll cancel the service.

      • I like them too, but my problem is this: you go to all this effort of setting up your playlists, getting artists saved in your catalog and defining your tastes, and listen to the music, and everythings fine. But you stop paying for their service and poof, its all gone, like it never was. Its like paying for access to your own music collection, continual. You get nothing to keep. Most of the albums I had bookmarked on there, I already owned and just liked to be able to use the interface to access it all at the computer, without needing to rip.
  • by LordYUK ( 552359 ) <jeffwright821@gm ... com minus distro> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:31PM (#4330089)
    Are there limits to what I can have at one time? How much are they? Are there lots of Audiogalaxy type material (rare songs, live songs, etc)? Is it fast, or would I get better downloads and searches using carrier pigeons? Most important do I get to burn the songs to CD, keeping them forever, or until a "contract" is up?
    • by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION ( 553878 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:42PM (#4330184)
      I've used Emusic. I've had no problems with download speed--usually maxing out my DSL, certainly faster than any p2p networks I've used. The downloaded songs are just mp3s, so you keep them forever. Selection doesn't rival audiogalaxy, alas, but they certainly have a lot outside of the mainstream. Of course you don't need to subscribe to see what songs/artists they have available--look at www.emusic.com.
    • I find emusic [emusic.com] to be great because they carry albums from several artists I enjoy. (They Might Be Giants and Banco De Gaia to name a couple). Go browse on the site; you don't need to be a subscriber to find out what is in their catalog and hear samples.

      They also offer completely unrestricted access. I regularly slurp several albums worth of MP3s from them into my collection. It's completely legal and supports the artists.
      • Hey, they have Noam Chomsky and George Carlin - maybe I'll subscribe! :)
        • by KelsoLundeen ( 454249 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:11PM (#4330451)
          I was in the studio a couple years ago when Noam Chomsky was recording his latest album. He and Cornell West had a little "talking" rap going on.

          Me, I sat off to one side just digging the shit out of it -- these two aged hippies just bopping and rapping like there was no tomorrow.

          I stayed late -- long after the session had ended. Noam and West were talking about what it means to be a "radical Christian." West (you'll remember) always refers to himself as a radical Christian. He derives his basic spiritual vibe from Chekhov, Hegel, and Miles Davis.

          But Chomsky was tired. He didn't feel much like sparring. He sorta stayed in the corner of the room, his feet up on a ratty sofa, and wondered whether or not there was any Chivas in the little bottle the soundman kept underneath the console.

          "No Chivas, Noam," said the soundman.

          West laughed at that. "Chivas? You're shitting me."

          "Not me, Cornell," said Noam.

          "Damn. If you want some badass Hegelian synthesis, I advise Jack, man. Jack D. all the way."

          Noam said he hadn't had a shot of Jack Daniels since the march on the Pentagon. Then he laughed and remembered how he and Norman Mailer and Allen Ginsburg sat out on the Washington Mall, burning incense, and screaming "Howl" at the top of their lungs.

          Man oh man. I'll never forget that recording session with Noam and Cornell.

  • by genka ( 148122 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:31PM (#4330090) Homepage Journal
    While admitting to downloading some redily avalble music, I mostly looked for some more obscure europian bands from 70s and 80s. They are long out of print, and there is no hope for new CDs. Now, thanks to RIAA, those musicians will be forgoten forever.
    • by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:34PM (#4330115) Homepage Journal
      actually, they want them to be forgotten. otherwise if you listened to good music from times gone by, you wouldnt buy the horrible shit they're pushing nowadays.
    • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:15PM (#4330488)
      thanks to RIAA, those musicians will be forgoten forever

      Obscure european bands from the 70s and 80s do not produce revenues for the colluding recording industry oligopoly.

      Neither do innovative niche forms, like ebm, trance, gothic/industrial, etc. Such forms require music industry executives to actually have a clue about the music and has less need for slick MTV marketing formulas.

      While we've all been worrying about RIAA, the death of shoutcast, pay-per-play licensed media, etc., many of us have missed the other side of the game being nailed by RIAA - their quiet partnership with the broadcast industry.

      Emerging dominant broadcasters like ClearChannel (who were given the go ahead to roll up more than the previous FCC limit of stations per market, slaughtering local staffing, and running most of the programming remote from a central location) have become a favorite partner for RIAA firms - got a new Britney tune? Write ClearChannel a check and you're guaranteed airplay and CD sales.

      ClearChannel's station rollup, the death of independent broadcasters, effective Congressional lobbying (my congress critters in both parties are strong supporters of RIAA and the National Association of Broadcasters/NAB), and Copyright Office hijinks might just put an end to creative music in the US.

      Then again, someone's got to buy all of these awful things [foxnews.com] piling up in the warehouses...


    • It's like musical Nineteen Eighty-Four. A great machine/organisation generates the music + artists, and shit that they don't want to exist does not exist. 2 + 2 = 5 and all that.

      I once manually searched through the entire audiogalaxy database of Cypress Hill tracks, 3000+! Loadsa rare shit :) already got most of the CDs.


    • by pezpunk ( 205653 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:13PM (#4330989) Homepage
      i'm another musician who wants people to download my music for free [theoverprivileged.com]. look. most musicians start off like this. they do it because they love it. then some record label comes along and fills the musician's head with promises of bags of money. over time it gets ingrained. must ... make ... money. then, when the label screws the artist, the label can blame the internet.

      my band's solution is to remove money from the equation. take our sounds for free (ok, pay for the hardware -- actual cd's, shirts, etc).

      why don't we care about the money? because, and this is the part that pisses other bands off most, we believe we actually OUGHT to have day jobs. yep. and we pull it off, too. we have mortgages and wives and 9-5 day jobs AND we tour once a year AND play gigs about twice a week. in the spring we're touring europe for 4 weeks. this is a lot of hard work. we do it because we love it, not because we want to make a fortune. and, in my opinion, great music has to come from a passionate and difficult place inside. not a comfortable one.

      ok now i'm rambling.

      anyway, point is, i have no sympathy for a greedy musician. a band CAN survive on enjoyment, love, energy, and passion, without the corrupting notion that the band is a "business". mine is living proof.
      • great music has to come from a passionate and difficult place inside

        That's true for a first album, mabe, but after that you're so wrong. Great music comes from writing about how hard it is to write music when the record producers are scammin ya and how that Other Major Artist is stealin ya rhyes and how you hate being compared to Britney and how you don't care if your fans don't understand.

        Hey, if it works for everyone else, maybe it'll work for you...
  • OMFG!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#4330108) Journal
    Imagine that the record companies are supposedly finding success in what we've wanted all along.

    The answer has not been to stomp out the P2P networks. They will always be a fact of life, especially as consumer bandwidth gets faster. The answer is to look at this new technology and figure out how to embrace it as a business model.

    P2P networks have flaws. Most kiddes can't label their MP3s correctly. Inevitably, The 1 person who has the song you're really looking for is on dialup. It goes on and on, but with P2P, you get what you pay for. Having a centralized pay for download service overcomes these issues. By paying a hosting company to host your MP3s, you're almost guaranteed good download speeds and properly labeled MP3s.

    Now, if they RIAA had listened back in 1998 when people were telling them this, maybe they wouldn't be so hated.
    • The answer has not been to stomp out the P2P networks.

      Just the thought of RIAA and Steve Ballmer stomping [slashdot.org] side by side makes me shiver. But it's in the interest of the consumers, I would assume...
  • by questionlp ( 58365 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:34PM (#4330116) Homepage
    News.com is running an article [com.com] on a study that KPMG did... in which they state that the ??AA need to embrace downloadable music and videos and to stop/reduce using copy protections to thwart piracy.
  • Uh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dohnut ( 189348 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:34PM (#4330119)

    pay-to-download services are rising in popularity

    That's kind of like saying this new car model we introduced last year is selling better than it was 2 years ago.

    • When Bill Clinton indicated that the average income of families in Arkansas went up 100% while he was governor. I specifically recall Perot stating, "Now see here, if you make 1 penny in a day, and then make 2 pennies the next day, that's 100% growth. But you still can't buy a cow patty in a Texas dairy farm for 2 cents." Yes folks, that right.. we now have 2, count em, 2 people using the Pay-Napster service! We have doubled our market share!
    • >>pay-to-download services are rising in popularity
      >That's kind of like saying this new car model we
      >introduced last year is selling better than it was
      >2 years ago.

      No, it's more like saying this car model that was introduced four years ago is selling better than it was two years ago. E-music has been around since June 1998.

  • Personally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:36PM (#4330132) Homepage Journal
    I just don't listen to music that i haven't already previously purchased the CD of anymore, unless i legally downloaded it for free. Fueling the RIAA is not something i care to do, whether it be fuelling their arguement that there is demand for their garbage, or whether it be fuelling them with money. I know this is redundant, but support local music.
  • by Erich ( 151 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:38PM (#4330143) Homepage Journal
    I don't want a napster I pay for. That means that the record labels would make money from other people's bandwith.

    However, I would like a place where I could download very high quality, RAW .wav or Ogg Vorbis or MP3 files for, say, $0.50-$1.00 each. Maybe $5.00 for a whole album. From a fast server. That are not in some sort of DRM vault.

    This way, I own the music. I can do whatever I like with it: burn it to a CD, put it in my portable player, whatever I want to do within my fair use rights. And I also don't have to (effectively) pay additional money by trying to hunt someone down with the file I want at the quality I want, with a good connection that won't stop halfway through the download.

    Merely having the record industry collect money for "allowing" other people to share music peer-to-peer is not sufficient.

    • I agree - I don't think that people are going to Pay for Downloading Music services because the RIAA is stomping on P2P networks. People like you and me are checking out the "pay for downloaded music" sites because we actually want to buy quality music without worrying about downloading a file and discovering a virus or that it's the wrong file or its in 64kbps encryption.

      I have no problem buying software/music/ebooks or the rest - as long as I can do so on my terms. I want my ebooks in text so I know 10 years from now I can still read them. I want my music in MP3 or Ogg so I know I can still convert them to a new media later and listen to them.

      So far, all the music download sites I've seen a) don't work with my Mac, b) don't let me download music to my iPod, c) either only let me "stream" the song, or only let me check out so many songs at a time.

      For now, then, I'll check out the options, say "Eh, fuck that" to most of them, and wait for someone to give me what I want - because those are the folks who are going to get my money.

      My money, my rules. Simple.
    • You've just described emusic.com, but with a better selection
    • I know a thousand people have said it before, but that is exactly what Emusic does [emusic.com]. Unencumbered MP3s from artists you would not necessarily buy in a store, all for 10 bucks a month.
  • Maybe they're not as dumb as we think - maybe they know that downloading music helps record sales, and maybe they actually DO want users downloading music.

    Just as long as the service that does it is theirs.

    What if the long term RIAA vision isn't that you can't get your DRM music off your CD, but you can only get it off and send it with software and hardware from the record companies (or their affiliates?) Maybe this is all just a play by the record companies - they only print their music in a format certain devices can read and transfer, and they only allow themselves or their affiliates (Sony records - sony cd players?) manufacture the equipment that can read the CD's.

    Now not only do they get to charge you for the CD, but they'll charge you $1 to send a song to your friend, and charge him $30/month for a license to the software that lets him play it....
    • maybe they actually DO want users downloading music.

      I don't know if they do, but they sure should. I have about 60 gigs worth of MP3s on my harddrive (encoded at either 128 or 160). Only about 3 gigs are from P2P. Another 10 gigs or so were actually purchased by me or my family.

      The rest comes from trading with friends. I would have paid for this stuff and downloaded it if it were more convenient -- it's kind of annoying to make 700 mb CDs over and over again, and then load all of it into my computer and then MusicMatch.

      But since there's no market, and I'm sure not going to go and buy it and rip it all myself (which would take forever) I'm getting it for free from friends. Lose lose, RIAA.
  • Well, I'm sure pay-to-download services are rising in populatiry. Prior to a year or so ago, there WERN'T any.
  • Actually.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WhiteKnight07 ( 521975 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:39PM (#4330153)
    Making CD's is like printing money.

    So is providing pay-for-use downloads, except you save on the cost of CD manufacturing.
    • Making CD's is like printing money.

      So is providing pay-for-use downloads, except you save on the cost of CD manufacturing.

      Not quite. You have to remember the system only works as long as the record companies get to take a 99% cut out of the net profits of the album. They can only do that now by duping the artists into believing that what they are doing would somehow require a great deal of startup capital (for CD pressing machines, etc). As soon as you start selling downloads, the myth of the cost to produce vanishes, and the artists will suddenly start to produce thier own digital music without any involvement by the RIAA... And they will start giving the record companies 5% of the cut, instead of 95%, and suddenly the RIAA is actually working for a living and not just printing free money.
  • I found a great site with free .ogg
    electronic/ambient music:

    They sell CDs too.
  • but NOT from the crapware sites like musicnet. Some well-known artists do sell their tunes online as mp3's, either individually [coolears.com] or though real mp3 services [emusic.com].
  • by techstar25 ( 556988 ) <techstar25 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:40PM (#4330174) Journal
    The RIAA would love to take all the credit and say that the music subscription sites succeed because the P2P services are getting worse, but that's simply not true. The guerilla tactics hardly put a dent in my p2p experience. It sounds to me like the subscription services are just getting better. They know what we want, they've just been afraid to offer it to us because they coudn't put together a viable business model.
  • by yog ( 19073 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:43PM (#4330192) Homepage Journal
    What's it going to be like when internet2 is pervasive? When every home is wired with fiber optics for 100 Mb net access, or 1000 Mb access or whatever? You will be able to download the equivalent of a present day CD in a few seconds. You will have a handheld with 100s of gigabytes of storage and, thanks to BlueTooth Rev. 17, you'll be able to beam an entire movie at DVD quality to a friend's handheld in a matter of seconds.

    In this future world, perhaps about five to ten years from now, how on earth will RIAA prevent music and video piracy? It seems doubtful that drm initiatives will succeed; people have an enormous incentive to bypass it, and as bandwidth increases, that incentive will only grow.

    I think eventually we'll have to come to some sort of compromise between the content producers, marketers, and consumers, and settle on some sort of "reasonable fair use" doctrine as once existed with cassettes and VCRs.
    • by Pinball Wizard ( 161942 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:52PM (#4330284) Homepage Journal
      the future world you are referring to won't happen when 7 companies supply 95% of media and a single company supplies 90% of all desktop software. Further, how many viable broadband providers are there? I bet you could count them on the fingers of one hand.

      Sigh, you should be right about this, but if you were the majority of people would already be using broadband. The very few powers that be have a vested interest in keeping their product(media, software,information) scarce, so although possible, your vision of the future is not likely to take place for a very long time.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:43PM (#4330197) Journal
    Why does the fact that pay-to-download services are on the rise, necessarily mean that the RIAA is "winning" this War On Filesharing (which is about as "winnable" as the War On (Some) Drugs)? Is the amount of filesharing actually going down, or is it unaffected (or even rising) while another market entirely (pay-to-download) is growing?

    Also, from the article:

    Just six months ago, this sort of talk would have been unthinkable, downright apostasy, among those who consider the giant recording conglomerates the bane of free-wheeling musical access and innovation.
    Maybe it's a nitpick, but they seem to be painting the situation as if we have two monolithic, unified forces here -- the RIAA and Evil Internet Pirates (tm) (or Righteous Anti-RIAA Guerilla Freedom Fighters (tm)). The use of the term "apostasy [dictionary.com]" implies that there is some kind of central body or authority to the P2P movement, which isn't true. I'm pointing this out because it's indicative of the mindset the "mainstream" is in -- they don't really know what the situation is, even those who are paid to write about it.

    It certainly could just be poor word choice, and the writer actually does know the difference, but since it's the New York Times, I'm inclined to think it's ignorance rather than poor editing.

  • "Record labels know what consumers want. We all do. They want a Napster you pay for. We all know that."

    Are you kidding me? Consumers don't want a Napster you pay for.... They want Napster. Period. Consumers don't want to spend money.
  • This is silly. I download to avoid the entire process of losing my money in the first place. If I have no other option but to buy a cd I just have to have, I'll drive to Bestbuy. Get my cd and browse all the new cool shit while I'm there.
  • What consumers want (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:47PM (#4330243) Homepage
    We want a napster that you DON'T pay for. We want to get lots and lots of music for free. Also, we want to, in the midst of all this, buy lots of CDs. In fact, we want to buy CDs more when we can download music for free. Why? Beats the hell out of me. But Napster in its prime was a win-win situation--record sales were at their highest ever, while people listened to more music than ever--and it might not be a bad idea to go back to it and wait until it breaks until we try to fix it.

    As a consumer, I DON'T want to pay for mp3s. Maybe I'm being a luddite, but I have a problem paying money for something I can't hold in my hand, even software. Maybe it might be different if I was able to download CD-quality audio, but I think I'd still rather buy a CD. I like flipping through the booklet while I listen to the music. I like getting stickers and posters and stuff with it, and I'll buy a CD with well-designed packaging over a thousand downloads any day. It's too bad labels just get cheaper and cheaper. Oh well--the CDs I sell will always be fun to look at (not to mention listen to); I guess that's the most I can do, outside of becoming a media mogul and dictating good design, thereby sacrificing the bottom line and getting fired.
  • by Dethboy ( 136650 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:49PM (#4330257) Homepage
    One Buck Forty or Die [pcmag.com]

    I thought this was one of the best things I've read on this well worn subject in awhile.
    • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @04:26PM (#4331103)
      Agree. Dvorak correctly points to the greed of the recording industry, identifies this as a distribution issue and avoids the trap of considering the fuss as some millennial struggle about copyright doctrine.

      Frankly, those who insist that this is a fuss about copyright, rather than money, by simply asserting their right to copy and distribute commercial recordings when and where they choose, copyright be damned, are playing into the hands of the recording industry. The recording industry wants this to be seen as a a life-or-death battle for the survival of copyright itself. It isn't. It's a fuss about getting the U.S. legal system to adjust the language and interpretation of copyright law in order to come to terms with new technological capabilities. Eventually, this will happen. But, if the recording industry is able to portray the other side as opponents of copyright and proponents of "stealing" digital media, then the adjustment will likely be expensive and draconian, affecting everyone's ability to use the net freely and openly.

  • by Ravensfire ( 209905 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:51PM (#4330273) Homepage
    Hopefully, some company out there will come up with a good system that will support a pay per download system.

    I want to be able to have a solid client, where I can set up my payment method, and manipulate account details.

    I want to have a searchable database of available titles.

    I want to be able to download the songs at different bit rates. I don't mind if the higher bit rates are a touch (and that means under 10% more!) more expensive - that's reasonable. Most people are satisfied at 128. Give the audiophiles what they want as well.

    I want to be able to download in different formats. MP3? Support it. Ogg? Support it. MP3 Pro? Support it. Get the idea - be flexible!

    I want to be able to get the difficult to find songs. I like electronic music. One of my favorite program from college was EM Soundscape on KBIA [kbia.org]. I hearrd stuff that you cannot find. I'd like a way to get that.

    I want to see the consumers and the artists benefit. Take care of them, record companies, and your bottom line will take care of itself.

    I'm not asking for too much, am I?

    -- Ravensfire
  • by Java Pimp ( 98454 ) <java_pimp&yahoo,com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:51PM (#4330274) Homepage
    Tough actions may be a contributing factor but more than likely it's the guarantee of good quality at a reasonable price. You know... what we've been asking for all along!

    Paying a reasonable fee for good quality music is a lot more attractive to me than hunting for mp3s on Kazaa that are poor quality, incomplete crap. You need to download a few different versions of the same song to find the best one because someone out there doesn't know how to use MusicMatch very well.

    The true pirates aren't going to pay anyway but they are a minority. The majority of us who could give a crap either way are just looking for the best bang for our buck. $20 for a CD with one or two good songs on it is an incentive for us to use Kazaa. A decent price and a guarantee of good quality music we want... of course we'll switch!

  • Recently the UK Govt found the CD producing cartel of price fixing, but only in the past.
    here [oft.gov.uk]

    They say that they can find no evidence of continued law breaking so they will take no action.

    and yet the prices stay the same

  • So some artists distribute their work legally on P2P networks. But what is the point? Wouldn't it be much simpler and more convenient just to publish a URL and serve files with http?

    People sometimes suggest that mirroring files saves bandwidth, but that can be done with http as well, and in general P2P services are quite wasteful of bandwidth, not choosing the most direct route for sending files but some meandering path between lots of peers. That's because they aren't optimized for efficient network usage, but for avoiding detection of who is sharing which files.

    If one day, everyone decided that they didn't want to download any more pirated MP3s, would we still need P2P networks?
  • ...pay-to-download services are rising in popularity.

    Oh, gee, the horror! You mean I actually have to pay for a piece of entertainment media! Fucking capitalist pig-dogs!
  • The groups that support the RIAA (the big 5) simply want what they have always wanted. To maintain ownership of the music, on both the production and consumer sides. The artists sign away the rights to music they create and the RIAA wants us to sign away our money for limited use. RIAA and company want to keep it that way on the consumption side. They assumed that CD was the answer, because you couldn't duplicate the CD cheaply.. problem solved. They didn't see that it would cost a few cents to copy CDs in the future. So they want to remove that control yet again. I'm not shocked by any of this anymore.

    Just as if there were a cure for cancer, who in the business world would release it to the public. Not only would people start to live longer, all the pharmaceutical companies would go broke. Or the 100% renewable fuel source.. the energizer battery that lasts a lifetime.. so on and so forth.. Music, food, and healthcare should all be free! *Love, peace and happiness*
  • The **AA organizations will only buy into the idea of P2P services if and only if it serves them to move us closer to a world where all media is pay-per-view or pay-per-listen. This is their ultimate goal, and Hilary Rosen and Jack Valenti, etc, sit at home and curse the fact that those lousy, cheating, criminal, consumer bastards can buy a CD or DVD and play it more than once without paying again.

  • "Record labels know what consumers want. We all do. They want a Napster you pay for. We all know that. But why would the labels want that at all? Making CD's is like printing money."

    In the case of selling the music online, wouldn't this be like making money without paying for the cost of ink and presses etc?

    However this is like drawing blood from a stone
    "Web broadcasters, whether lone teenagers or the Web sites of actual radio stations, will be required to make retroactive payments for all songs they have played in the last four years"

    Most laws are made for the now. Making a law, especially one such as this, retroactive is - to say the least - insane. If I did something that was perfectly legal 10 years ago, should I be jailed today if a law making it illegal suddenly becomes retroactively effective?

    Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do pay big companies an extensive amount of money - phorm
  • by LinuxWoman ( 127092 ) <damschler@@@mailcity...com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @02:58PM (#4330349)
    They're actively trying to twist the statistics to support their whiny anti-download position. I'm part of several polling groups and in the last few weeks I've done at least THREE polls (all from different polling groups) that tried to force you to answer "I don't buy cd's because I download everything I want for free".

    Fact of the matter is I, like many people I know, download music off services like kazaa because who wants to pay $20 for a cd to get one song just to find out the entire rest of the CD sucks... And most of us will never sign up for pay download services because if you actually use the service much it easily approaches the cost of buying cd's.
  • Damn. Every time one of these articles gets posted all it turns out to be is whining about the RIAA shutting down P2P sharing and someone's right to steal music. Unless you wrote and performed the music yourself that you're trading, what right do you have to trade it? Please someone intelligently defend the right to trade music you don't own the rights to. There's some good reasons and legitimate reasons to do it but I'm wondering if any slashdrones are capable enough of rational thought to come up with any.
  • by Coniglio ( 611472 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:05PM (#4330409)
    I just wanted to point out what should be a little bit obvious. The record companies own the music. As frustrating as that is sometimes, they make the terms because they own it. I am a software developer and am a bit concerned about the "freedoms" people expect from things that are software. Because something is a bunch of bits does not mean that it is free. Because you didn't have to buy something of substance like a microchip or a slurpee doesn't mean that it did not cost money to produce to pay people like you and I.

    It seems at times that some people have some "high moral ground" as they demonize companies - granted some companies are pretty easy to demonize - but are only really after something for nothing, a free lunch.

    Is it really illegal or is it "sticking it to the inherently evil big guy" or is it a moral stand or is it that "I just want free music because, well, then I don't have to pay for it, duh."

    If it is legal and okay and whatever, fine. If it isn't, how much is your integrity worth to you?
    • Record companies are obsoleted. The only thing
      you need is to have some start capital for
      - Band equipment
      - web site.
      That's it.
      Then you insert your tracks into P2P, and post it
      into your website. You have to mark the tracks with
      your web site address.
      If you have good music - people will go to your website
      and you then can sell CDs there for them.

      That's it. YOU own the copyright.
    • The only reason they own the music is because copyright law is horribly broken. No matter how you argue it, information is a concept, not a substance. It's not stealing. It's breaking copyright law. There is a big difference.

      Knowing how horribly broken copyright law is, I don't feel so bad pirating. I should be able to download Elvis for free. It's been long enough. It should be in the public domain by now. But it's not. Copyright used to last 30 years. Now it's been lobbied all the way to 90 years past the artist's death.

      I bet you break laws all the time without worry because you know the laws are morally wrong anyway. Seat belt laws anybody? The DMCA reverse engineering clause? People break that one all the time. Jay-walking?

      I'm also a software developer. I used to think my livelyhood depended on copyright law and IP in general. With the internet, IP has almost no value due to piracy. That includes software. Why buy that $9000 graphics program when I can warez it for free?

      Software isn't really my livelyhood. It's actually my software development skills that are my livelyhood. Even if software is worthless, people still need new software written, and they get charged for the service of software development.

  • Mod me down... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YanceyAI ( 192279 ) <yanceyai@yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:06PM (#4330417)
    ...for being offtopic if you want, but I just recently received a promo copy of The Vines new record. I told my husband that I intended to go buy the record so they could make the profit.

    Then it occured to me that if I buy it, the label gets the cash. I just mailed The Vines a buck instead.

    That's what we should do when we download music we really like.

  • Napster was a piece of shit - I want an AudioGalaxy.
  • Say what you want but all though the years most people who use these types of copying tools are making illegal copies. This screws the few who want to legitimately use these tools. It also screws everyone else because companies try to put bad copy protection schemes on their products. Long run no one wins.

    As for music you are stealing food from the families of musicians and songwriters families who have to live off the few cents royalities they get on a CD or when sheet music is sold. Same goes for movies being copied. Do some study on how the entertainment industry works, you are mainly cheating the artists you supposedly like.

    Sure you have a few artist backing your illegal copying, but look at who they are, mainly no bodies or has-beens who are glad someone even knows who they are.

    Bottom line because you think a company makes too much money its okay for you to rip them off. If you don't like a companies prices then protest by spending you money elsewhere and let them know you are doing it. When the companies revenues drop they will flinch and change. But by continuing to steal music you are going to screw everyone. Your theft will cause companies to get penality taxes on blank media, and screwed up copy protection schemes used. Companies will sign less new bands or more formula-music. Your cheapness pentalizes everyone else.
  • Contradictions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SheepHead ( 610180 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:09PM (#4330439)
    How can they quote someone in the opening paragraph, and then say something completely different later on?
    Ian Rogers: "The selection has finally reached a threshold I'm happy with, and the interface is good now. With other services before, there was a bad selection of songs, they were of bad quality, and they were hard to get to."
    And yet, the quality of the service has nothing to do with it, right? Because right after that, the author claims the "success" of these new sites is:
    largely because of tough actions by the record companies to combat free music sites through the courts, legislation and even through techno-guerrilla tactics, there is a noticeable change of sentiment in a small segment of the downloading cognoscenti.
    So, the fact that the first services sucked, had poor selection and were hard to use, means nothing - it's really "largely because of" legislation that EMusic and Rhapsody are succeeding?

    I find a lot of the rest of the article wrong as well. "Just six months ago, this sort of talk [about actually paying for music] would have been unthinkable, downright apostasy." No... actually, a lot of reasonable people were complaining that music was simply too expensive. You know, we've all been buying music for YEARS. We didn't all just forget about paying for things, we just realized that the music cartel has an unhealthy amount of control.

    "A downloaded file titled as an Eminem song, for example, could be a virus."
    I have no sympathy for you if you get a virus from an MP3. You should have noticed the extension was .exe, or .scr, or whatever. Really, do people get viruses from things they think are songs? Sigh..
    "But now there are other options: EMusic..."
    EMusic has been around for a long time... possibly that's how they got their 60,000 registered users. They cater to a niche market, because their unrestricted downloads scare most major labels, "even Universal, whose corporate parent owns it."
    If, however, EMusic had a better catalog, and Rhapsody offered actual downloads, users say it would be easy to see these subscription services succeeding.
    So, this online music thing could really work! Just don't put restrictions on the files, but attract major label acts which are afraid of unrestricted files. Rhapsody, you should stop being a radio station and be more like EMusic, but be sure to keep the major bands.

    Really, they're advocating some kind of huge website where you can find lots of varied bands in some kind of unrestricted format that you can download to your computer. Boy, this is starting to sound a whole lot like the service we've all been asking for! And it's sounding more and more like what Napster used to be, and what Kazaa is now. Strange how that works.


  • The RIAA has nothing to do with online pay services gaining in popularity.

    Why? Because there WERE no places (or at least no well known places) to buy music online during the reign of Napster and early P2P services. Well maybe MP3.com, but the RIAA sued them too.

    Instead it is rising because there has been a demand for this capability as soon as it became possible to create reasonable sized music files of a reasonably quality. It was basic economics which brought this about, not the RIAA. If anything, the RIAA has done everything they can to hamper services like this, even pay ones unless they actually CONTROLLED those services.

    That is what this has always been about for the RIAA, not piracy, but who controls the sales. They want there to be *only* RIAA pay services and no 3rd party ones and they will sue companies like MP3.com and such who sell non RIAA music unser piracy laws to try to make and keep it that way.
  • Want vs. Legal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 )
    What we (consumers or music-downloaders) want is not services we have to pay for. The less cost, the better -- with no cost being best.

    However, most of us do accept the fact that we have laws that require we pay for things. With a choice between illegal and low-cost, many of us will choose low-cost. (Doesn't mean that's what we really want, just that some of us are willing to pay rather than pirate.)

  • There are two main methods for obtaining music online: peer-to-peer file-sharing programs and legal subscription service

    As the poster mentioned, this definetly falsely implies that peer-to-peer programs are not legal.

    "File sharing has become such a dreadful experience," said Brad Hill, who writes books and articles about digital music, referring to the illicit music-swapping sites.

    Here's an introduction to one of his latest books. [digitalsongstream.com] From what little I've read though, he ultimatly makes different conclusions than the article.

    Also: Why do these articles alternately refer to peer-to-peer programs as "sites"? Sure, they have sites often associated with them, but it's a small part of the whole thing, a complete misnomer. Oh well.

    Other file-sharing services, like Kazaa, which come with pesky built-in pop-up advertising programs, have become unreliable and full of phony files, thanks largely to slyly intrusive actions by agents for the musicians or record labels. A downloaded file titled as an Eminem song, for example, could be a virus, another song entirely or perhaps even a repeating loop of the Eminem song.

    This section is appears to leaning towards FUD. Yes, Kazaa has become a minefield of spyware - but there is Kazaalight and other things out there to help, which is of course, not mentioned. Yes, there are viruses out there, but they cannot be transmitted through MP3 files, and most file sharing programs make a very clear distinction between executables and media files. As far as bad files go, Kazaa and others have a variety of helpful methods to help, from user comments on files, to more active methods being implimented in different P2P systems.

    If you're looking for new pirated movies or something, expect to occasionally waste time on mislabelled files - mostly by fans, really. This is understandable. But if you're looking to see if you like Carol King, you can expect to find the music you are interested in, without many problems. To imply that it is inconvenient and dangerous to search for music on a P2P network is misleading at best.

    "They exist, and some people will pay for them, but the mass audience that used to use Napster uses nothing right now."

    Well - when asked, most will TELL you they use nothing right now. The same word-of-mouth that made Napster so popular hasn't stopped because Napster has gone away. Even without that, anyone with access to a search engine would know about Kazaa and the like as long as they had any interest and willingness to install a program that simply asks for a username, password and share directory before allowing you access to anything you are interested in.

    The morals and ethics of file sharing with unaproved music files are definetly questionable - but the avaialbility and popularity of P2P programs are definetly not as questionable. I can't help but see most of this article as either anti-P2P FUD, or very poorly researched information.

    Then again, perhaps it's just knowingly false just to get interest, disagreement, and publicity.

    Ryan Fenton
  • "Largely because of tough actions by the record companies to combat free music sites through the courts, legislation and even through techno-guerrilla tactics, there is a noticeable change of sentiment in a small segment of the downloading cognoscenti. Though their numbers are low, many are the early adapters who spot a trend first."

    I love it. These fucking idiots in the record industry didn't even offer pay for download services when Napster and their ilk came on the scene. These dildos aren't inventing a new trend, they're finally getting a clue - many consumers find their product too damn inconvenient. I have to go to a physical location, find a physical CD, get assaulted by mind numbed liberal children who think their GenY hipness overrides my GenX old-n-bustedness, just to find the latest Incubus. God forbid I be unfortunate enough to not have a virgin megastore nearby when I want a copy of Nina Simone ("who?"). And then, what I have is stuck on a piece of shit plastic disk that - when scratched - is nothing more than a shiny coaster.

    Then enter P2P networks. I can get any song, anytime, anywhere, in multiple formats (ISO, CDA, MP3, OGG, WAV, et al). Hell, it's free too...I'd pay on a per song basis - but hey, that would eliminate 90% of the crap some 'arteests' put out today.

    The record industry may have gotten a clue just in time to save their asses for the short term and justify their narrow field of vision, but don't expect them to be around much longer if they don't overhaul their business models. Put out a quality product, give greater flexibility in buying the product, and learn to deliver the product - not expect it to be picked up.
  • by Fritz Benwalla ( 539483 ) <randomregs@gma i l . c om> on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @03:18PM (#4330521)
    Sorry, but as a musician allow me to respond to one point in this write-up (without, of course, disagreeing with the anti-cabalist pitchfork waving).

    You want people to download your music for free, I can only assume, because you have either what is called a "TRUST FUND" or a "DAY JOB." Once you have had some success, and rely (even in small part) on record sales to pay for supplies, like say, food, then you become not against free music, but a little more conservative on the subject.

    I and most of the musicians I know really do want people to be able to download tracks, spread the gospel, etc., but start getting nervous when a paid cd can actually seem *more* inconvenient than Kazaa Lite.

    What do I want in a label? I want them to get their heads out of their asses and be creative about finding new and better ways to market my music -- finding a good blend between locking up people who would rip us off, letting people share music they love, but most of all making the *purchase* of music the most convenient and satisfying way of obtaining it.

    The general perception among the working stiff musicians I know is that the one area that free P2P services has killed us is in "buy the hit" sales. It used to be that if someone heard your tune on the radio and liked it enough to want it, a certain proportion would tape it off the radio, netting you nothing. Another proportion would buy the single, and then another proportion would buy the entire cd for that tune and to hear what else was on it. My current possesion of an entire Kittie CD proves that I can fall into that category. The concern now is that Kazaa is the new radio-taping, but the ranks of people who fall into the net-you-nothing category have swollen exponentially. Keep in mind that for smaller-time musicians (lets take a lot of jazz musician as an example) solid airplay doesn't really net you much until it *translates* into something - better gigs, tours, or record sales.

    You can quote statistics all you want about the growth of the industry, but there's a very large contingent of musicians who are not super famous, but are known and making a living, for whom the sale of 100 cd's is meaningful in making the rent. If even a few download a single radio song off Kazaa and are satisfied enough to not bother with the cd, then that performer may have just lost someone who could have become a lifelong cd-buying fan if they'd committed to the whole thing.

    Soooo. . .I am not pretending to write a treatise on industry economics here, just trying to sum up some of the concerns (biases, myths, whatever) that I've heard from real people trying to make a living in music. People not beholden to record companies, but even more nervous about seeing 30 tracks and entire albums of their music show up on a service where they are free for the taking.

    Let the anti-cabalist orange-pelting resume. . .

  • Not every "big business" professional thinks like the knuckle-draggers at the media companies. The brainiacs at KPMG have been very critical of how the music biz has handled this issue. The music industry has been ignoring huge potential markets, which *is not* in the interest of their shareholders. Read more about it here:

    www.boingboing.net [boingboing.net]

    I see stuff like this all the time.
  • 10 cents each? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yardbird ( 165009 )
    "I just can't say enough about it," he said. "I get at least 30 albums a month or so at 10 bucks a month. That's 10 cents each."
  • ... is the plight of the Webcasters, which was briefly touched on in the article. There are a lot of great webcast stations out there (just got introduced to radioio.com... wow.) that are going to probably have to shut down their doors due to the excessive royalty fees that the silly Librarian of Congress set for them.

    That's not to say that such fees shouldn't exist. It's just that they are excessive, given many webcasters' revenues.

    The real issue here to me is the idea of paying for services. Many people are perfectly willing to pay for services, as long as the services add value for the users. I loved Napster (when I could get it to work on my campus)... the lure of free music was impressive. I've used Kazaa a bit, so I can say that free stuff is great... but even with Kazaa, there's the problem of not getting what you wanted. I remember downloading a song on Napster that I had been searching for for weeks... only to find out that the song I downloaded was a terrible cover of the original.

    As the article points out, consumers will pay for something if it is worth it. I've seriously considered eMusic a few times... it sounds like a pretty good deal. Likewise, if someone started up a webcasted radio station that "required" payment for listening, I would think about it (or in the radioio.com case, I'd pull that credit card right out and pay up, as long as it was reasonable... like $20 or so for a year). I have no trouble paying for entertainment or anything else, even if I can find it free elsewhere... especially if paying will get me something extra.

    It's all about value... I can either spend time on Kazaa and take my chances, or I can pay some reasonable bit of money for a guaranteed bit of entertainment. Seriously, this just makes sense.


    (Did anyone else notice the terrible math in the article?

    "I get at least 30 albums a month or so at 10 bucks a month. That's 10 cents each."

    Ummm... $10.00 / 30 albums != $0.10 ... = $0.33...

    *sighs* Where have the basic arithmetic skills of people gone?)
  • It is NOT because of their overbearing tactics that some people are weaning away from Napster/Gnutalla/Limewire/etc.

    It is because, primarily, they suck. Marginal results, unknown quality, often slow connection speeds.

    A serice like emusic.com will fill the bill, when and if they get more selection. $10/month, for straight mp3's at good d/l speeds, online previews. Lots of off-mainstream music, but no heavy hitters. No Pink Floyd, no Beatles, ad infinitum.

    Include some/all of those artists, and emusic will be a winner. $10/month is EASILY worth the ease of use over Napster and its clones.
  • here goes - I have an audible account and an iPod. Audible doesn't ship their files as mp3's - they're a propriatory format (.aa - AudibleAudio) that only work with computers you have an account set up on, up to three and you can't edit the files (like, to take out the "THIS...is AUDIBLE" intro to each track). BUT. You can copy the files to an iPod. You can burn them to a CD as audio (and technically rip it back, but it's a hassle, a waste of media and greatly increases the file size). You can do this an unlimited number of times. And if you cancel your audible account, you still keep the files.

    Here's the question: is this GOOD DRM? Is there such a thing? (going on-topic) with the exception of emusic, I haven't seen a p2p alternative that isn't DRMed to the point of unuseability. I'll pay for MP3's on a per track basis (that's essentially what I do at audible) that I can load up on my portable or rip.

  • Like in peer-to-peer networks, there is no central server in the system that contains a list of where all the data, or files in the cabinet, are located. Instead, each server has a partial list of where data is stored in the system. The trick for the researchers is creating a "lookup" algorithm that allows the location of data to be found in a short series of steps.
    This sounds similar to the problem solved by Freenet [freenetproject.org]. Nodes in the Freenet network each have approximate information about where they should route requests for data, allowing data to be retrieved quickly and efficiently. Freenet also addresses issues of how data can be trusted and authenticated.

    One important difference is that Freenet doesn't guarantee retrievability of data, rather the more popular and recent the data, the more chance there is that it can be retrieved. This makes it more like a publication system (think radio or TV) than a distributed file-system.

  • I would like to pay the piper. Unfortunately, I am paying the piper's trained monkey who caries the hat around and "skims" off his share.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.