Record Labels Don't Want To Answer Questions About Their Own Use Of File Sharing

from the whoops dept

The details here aren't entirely clear, but in one of the cases the RIAA is trying against someone for file sharing, lawyer Ray Beckerman (famous for defending plenty of people accused of file sharing) got the court to ask the record labels in the case to explain how employees at the labels actually used peer-to-peer file sharing apps in sending songs to radio stations. Beckerman is now complaining that the labels are refusing to answer, pretending that the judge asked a different question (about whether the labels -- not the employees of the labels -- signed up for file sharing accounts). In answering that question, the record label lawyers never even consulted the promotions department to find out if they had used file sharing apps, and simply answered based on what the head of procurement said (one assumes, they said that the company had not officially signed up for such an account). It would be nice if there were a little more background here -- but reading between the lines, it sounds like people in the promotions department were likely using file sharing apps themselves as part of a promotional campaign, and the record labels don't want to admit it, as it could hurt their case. In the past, there have been reports of the record labels using file sharing as market research, but I hadn't heard of them using it for any kind of promotions.


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  1.  
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    kantankerus, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 1:19am

    why would anyone hear anything about this ???

    i am not cutting them any slack, but, why wouldnt they utilize anything free ?

    what netter source of info is there for them ?

    the results from the radio are from what they allow.
    results from record sales are also mostly what they are pushing.

    p2p file sharing are what the people want.

    what better indication is there ???

     

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  2.  
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    max, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 1:47am

    it is not that they shouldn't use it...
    it is that they should not use a program and then sue others for using it.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 1:52am

    HUH?

    I always thought there'd be some sort of network for radio stations to get free songs but I didn't expect it to be a P2P network. I assumed record labels would host their own server with restricted access. Should RIAA sue me because I once recorded some music off the radio (back in the day where tapes were common and people were like "What's an mp3?") and this counts as sharing? By all rights, the RIAA are hypocrites (how come THEY are allowed to share media) and should be shut down. Just like the MPAA.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 2:11am

    Missing the point

    The controversy over this incident has been exaggerated until we loose sight of the real issue. There is no problem with the technology; peer-to-peer is used by many legitimate groups, including those in the movie, music and games industries. Industries which are worried (and take legal action) against file sharers.

    The big difference is whether you are legally entitled to share the information on a peer-to-peer network.

    People are being sued for copyright infringement – not the use of a technology. It’s comparable with burning a CD which one is legally entitled to (say a backup of a downloaded iTunes album) to copying a CD from a friend.

    The first is legal, the second is illegal. The fact that they both use the same technology is coincidence.

    Anyone who is illegally downloading music (or movies, games, books, etc) is aware what they are doing is against the law and they are taking a risk. It’s that simple.

     

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  5.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 11th, 2006 @ 2:55am

    Re: Missing the point

    The big difference is whether you are legally entitled to share the information on a peer-to-peer network.

    Indeed. But, if that were the case, then why won't the labels admit that they used these products for perfectly legal reasons? There's no reason to deny it if they used them legally...

    So, I think it may be you who is missing the point. We all know there are legal uses for P2P file sharing apps. The question is why are the labels so cagey about it?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 3:09am

    Re: Re: Missing the point

    The question is why are the labels so cagey about it?

    As per the article:

    In answering that question, the record label lawyers never even consulted the promotions department
    It seems to me the lawyers are being cagey. Not the labels. Pedantic? Maybe, but the liscence and redistribution rights a record label has for material it owns would seem to cover them for the promotional side of things.

     

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  7.  
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    Music Pirate, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 3:40am

    Who wants to see the RIAA walk the plank?

     

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  8.  
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    wayne, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 5:49am

    Re: HUH?

    Ill admit i did not know this untill the other day myself, but when you purchase a tape a certain percent of that tape purchase goes to the music industry, i cant remember the year but there was a court case that tapes where used for that and the court ruled that it was true thats what tapes where used for so they bumped up the price and gave a portion of the tape money to the music, they cant do that with cd's cause of how many other uses there are for them right now in life.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:14am

    What kind of filesharing are they using? it could be anything from private to public, and if its private the filesharing could be as simple as a vpn into a shared folder. the only way i could find this controversial is if theyre using public filesharing like kazaa. Personally i think the whole thing is dumb cause most likely theyre encoding high bitrate songs into a database that the record labels or the radio stations host and then they just play the files. they most definitely arent using the shitty low bitrate songs that are offer on public p2p.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:17am

    Of course.. the RIAA can do whatever they want. Us, as consumers, must simply pay them without question.

     

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  11.  
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    David, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:37am

    Reason for Denial

    I think there is a very simple reason for the Record Label's dodging of the P2P question. Handling so many lawsuits at once, the RIAA's role has effectively shifted from an everyday plaintiff in a court case to an enforcer of the law utilizing the judicial system as its weapon. As such, they feel that they need to appear to be completely untouchable and act as if they have a 100% internally consistant set of tried and true laws which they operate from. Any damage done to their credibility hurts their image and makes them appear fallible, and when they're dealing out "justice" to thousands of people at a time, accepting the possibility of being wrong is simply too great a risk to take.

     

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  12.  
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    Sean, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:54am

    The Root of the Problem

    I may be in the minority with this statement, but the RIAA continues to look ridiculous by perpetuating the notion that a series of sounds can be owned.

     

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  13.  
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    Conscientious Objector, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 7:10am

    Re: Reason for Denial

    Oviously the lawyers are avoiding the questions. Clearly the reason is uncertainty. It's very likely that some employees inside the RIAA use p2p for "illegal" purposes. p2p has become rampant in corporate networks with employees trying to use the availability of higher bandwidth to load up their iPods. I've run into this with every network I've worked on in the last 2 years. And, it could be the case that the RIAA did not have employee policies forbiding such company network usage in place at the time of the question. So, if they admit that they use p2p even legally, then there will be subpoenas, inquiries, allegations, and generally embarassment for the RIAA and it's lawyers. It's better for them to avoid the question entirely if possible so as not to be made the fool.

     

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  14.  
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    Conscientious Objector, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 7:14am

    Re: The Root of the Problem

    Why can't they be owned? A series of characters can be owned. A series of amino acids can be owned. An idea can be owned. Let's see you come up with something innovative and lucrative and then have it used without your permission or without any compensation. Then you would have been "owned."

     

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  15.  
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    jonjon, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 7:27am

    The industry more guilty than anybody

    Im work with a label, email (yahoo and google) and usendit are used a lot to send music and recordings and most times they dont take the time to use pgp tools or secure a zip file. It turns into a 30 minute discussion on why I return any tracks sent to me entcrypted when I am done with my portion of the project. I had one somewhat progressive producer use bit torrent and has come to love encryption tech.. In my experience most of the time when something gets out on the internet it usually thru some morron at the label in marketing/promotions or one of the mindless members of the artist enotourage. I was at the BMI awards the week before last and this guy left an ipod in his seat when the y were leaving. I gave it directly to artist manager and he was thanking me becuase their was stuff for his next almbum on it.

     

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  16.  
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    steve, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 7:49am

    LOL i work for some radio stations that use P2P to get music. They justify it because they pay the BMI and ASCAP fees. BUT that covers the playing of the music on AIR. they are still required to OWN the music. Buying the music is not the same as Playing the music.
    One day the RIAA will fall.... one day

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 8:14am

    What's the difference between recording the binary code that makes up a song and the frequencies given off by the radio? As far as I know recording music off the radio is fine (correct me if I'm wrong).

    If I'm filming a video (with sound involved) and there happens to be a song playing in the background, am I illegally recording music? Would I have to destroy that tape?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    If I'm filming a video (with sound involved) and there happens to be a song playing in the background, am I illegally recording music? Would I have to destroy that tape?

    That's not who is being targeted though. The RIAA are targeting people who are choosing to download instead of buying.

    Like it or not it's the same as shoplifting the CD. It's simply the electronic equivilant.

     

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  19.  
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    josh, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 8:36am

    Radio station use

    Having worked for a few radio stations I know that there a number of ways labels use to distribute their music, as well as a number of ways radio stations go about getting their music.
    As suggested in an earlier post labels do have their own private servers which host music (from artists on their labe only, not other labelsl) and stations are given access to these files (which to an extent can be extremely limited as depending on the station's format, many songs are unavailable due to genre restrictions). Or there are other programs which work as restricted P2P wherby the labels pay a company to host songs from all the labels, and distrubute them accordingly to stations across North America. But in both cases, permission has been granted for this procedure.
    In the case of the biggest stations in a market (trend setters or large market stations), they get every song (and versions of that song) they need without question (sometimes by downloading from a secure site or via CD). In the case of medium and small market stations, sometimes label Promotions forgets to service you with the new stuff and you're in a crunch to add it to remain current so the stations resort to P2P sharing, or someone brings in the CD (if they have it or buy) and just rip the song into the library, both of these methods are technically illegal but the RIAA and CRIA (Canadian industry) say shit cause it still benefits the artist through free airplay.
    If the RIAA is going to get all high and mighty, why don't they start bustin the chops of Clear Channel and other major media corporations whose radio stations partake in P2P sharing all the time. Or who also partake in public broadcast of recording without express written consent and all that other BS. If that were to happen I would be slightly less angry with RIAA, but until then the RIAA are a bunch of pricks. Luckily I live in the land of igloos, strong beer and legal file sharing, so I have no fear of CRIA.
    On a side note I also have no fear of CRIA or the RIAA because I don't really share music. I just buy it. If you really like something buy it. If you think Chamamillionaire might just be a fad (a la Vanilla Ice or Menudo) then think twice before buying it. Part of the problem is also that people want more than they can afford and we feel entitled to everything and therefore think we earned the right to download this music.
    Please note I think that musicians got way too crusty about this and shouldn't be making a peep at all (cause I pay for their expensive guitars, bentleys and drugs or in the case of Metallica, your whiny Dr. Phil like group therapy - Get some balls and grow a penis), but until the law changes, I think to an extent it needs to be respected, as do the artists rights.

     

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  20.  
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    An Interested party, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Missing the point

    I think the point here is very simple.

    Are the promtions company sharing the file:
    Backstreet Boys - Incomplete.mp3
    or the file
    3839129329u215250120524.mp3

    Becuase if they share it as some obscure file name, then only Radio Stations are downloading it, becuase they know what it is.

    If the post it as "Backstreet Boys - Incomplete.mp3" then they share part of the "blame" for me getting the file.

    And even if they share the file with an obscure name, they still may be considred partly at fault.

    I belive in Canada it is legal to download mp3's, but it is not legal to be the one uploading. So it is a big deal if the record companies are using p2p services.

    Another good question, is they themselves, or via an outside agency, monitor p2p networks to get stats on trends or popularity of music. I.E. How many copies of a new song are out there, how fast is it spreading, where are the downloaders physicaly located, what other music do they listen to? There is tons of marketing information as well as information on how popular a song really is available on these networks.

    The degree to which the record companies use p2p apps may play into how "legitimate" they are, and anything used in a case regaring a downloader, and ends up public record, can be used by the next napster or kazza in their trial.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 9:01am

    What I find funny is, if you play a personal cd you own in a waiting room, or some other public place, and other people hear it, you can be sued for copywrite infringement. Just wait until the RIAA starts hitting those people up.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 9:27am

    Re: The Root of the Problem

    I have patented the sound "dada" and any baby out there that wants to use it is going to have to pay me.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 10:17am

    Re:

    If I'm filming a video (with sound involved) and there happens to be a song playing in the background, am I illegally recording music? Would I have to destroy that tape?
    According to the RIAA, the answer would be yes. And then pay a penalty for having recording it without permission in the first place.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    What I find funny is, if you play a personal cd you own in a waiting room, or some other public place, and other people hear it, you can be sued for copywrite infringement. Just wait until the RIAA starts hitting those people up.
    Ah yes, the "public performance" clause.

     

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  25.  
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    An Interested party, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re:

    Like it or not it's the same as shoplifting the CD. It's simply the electronic equivilant.

    This is not the case. For multiple reasons. If you bake 4 loaves of bread, and I steal one from your store, you are out the materials and time, and even, the space you use to market that item.

    Whereas with music, there is Copyright law. Copywright law was set up to balance the good of the individual creating a "work" and society in general. Then there is the doctrine of Fair Use. Which gives the end user the right to backup, copy, rip, record off of the radio, and yes, even give such a copy to friends. No matter if it is analog or digital.

    There are good laws, and there are bad laws. No reasonable person would argue, that stealing a loaf of bread, no matter how hungry you are, has not harmed the person who created it. He is out what he invested in physically producing that loaf.

    When you are talking music. You have the person who "created" the work, who then "sold" his rights away by contract to a company who now "owns" the copyrighted work, who have had the copyright, designed to protect the artist duing a large part of his lifetime, to now protecting a companies stronghold on making money off of the music even when it is not in the public interest. It may be legal but how moral is it? They want you to pay if you play the music in public, in a waiting room. If you write the lyrics down and give them to a friend. They want to pay the artits as little as possible, often cheating them by cooking the numbers. They want to extend copyright so they can "own" anything that is still making a buck for eternity. They want to shut down the sales of used CD's, because, they only profit from the sales of new music through channels they control.

    The two do not have a black and white comparison. And downloading from a p2p network, may not be legal, but it is also not the same as piracy or theft of a physical object. If anyone is harmed and who that would be, is not the same either.

    Is the music listening public harmed? Will it lower the quality of music out there? Will it keep good bands from producing high quality music? Is the small retailer who sells new CD's harmed? Is the superchain who buy CD's cheap and interests are at odds with the small retailer hurt? Is the record label who is getting exposure and often epxerience the increase in sales of the highly profitable back catalog albums? Is the artist getting hurt? The top 2% of artits could be losing sales of todays top charting song, but 98% of artits actually benefit from the exposure.

    Wheres I know that the baker who put the loaf of bread on his shelf, and had it stolen, did suffer a loss.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 11:41am

    Whereas with music, there is Copyright law. Copywright law was set up to balance the good of the individual creating a "work" and society in general. Then there is the doctrine of Fair Use. Which gives the end user the right to backup, copy, rip, record off of the radio, and yes, even give such a copy to friends. No matter if it is analog or digital.

    Fair use only goes so far... if you make a copy of a cd, and give it to a friend, it is still infringement.. Fair use is also not firmly written anywhere, so the exact meaning has been varied in court cases. It is certainly not an idea you want to try to defend stealing music with.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 11:44am

    Wheres I know that the baker who put the loaf of bread on his shelf, and had it stolen, did suffer a loss.

    He would still suffer a loss if he didn't sell the bread... or if someone made copies of that bread in a matter replicator and sold it next to his shop.

    check-and-mate.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 1:35pm

    to 27, the point is someone else bought his bread

    what is happening is the store next to him isn't charging for bread due to matter replicator.

    the question is, would the baker still be out of bread of the free bread didn't exist?

    if the taker of free bread had no intent of paying for his bread, his bread would still be on the shelf.

    if the taker had the intention of buying it, but found it cheaper...then the baker lost out on his money. however it is hard to tell if the taker would have paid

     

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  29.  
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    Are you Kidding, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re:

    >>If I'm filming a video (with sound involved) and there happens to be a song playing in the background, am I illegally recording music? Would I have to destroy that tape?

    That's not who is being targeted though. The RIAA are targeting people who are choosing to download instead of buying.

    Like it or not it's the same as shoplifting the CD. It's simply the electronic equivilant.

    response: No it isn't you flaming moron. It's still illegal, but it's not the same thing as stealing inventory. No real property has been stolen, just data copied. If I were to copy a song illegally, I haven't taken that CD from the person who originally had it, just made a version that I would or would not have bought otherwise.

     

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  30.  
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    jsaltz, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 3:49pm

    This is such an abomination. I hope those record labels die in a bonfire. 'nuff said.

     

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  31.  
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    Brian, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 3:49pm

    Re: why would anyone hear anything about this ???

    The reason they don't want to admit to using p2p is because they have said publically and in court that all p2p use is for illegal activity.

     

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  32.  
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    Dave Johnson, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 4:40am

    Re: Re:

    No it isn't! Downloading a song is like taking the CD from the store, copying and then returning the orignal back to the store. There is a subtle but critical difference.

     

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  33.  
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    JeloRoc, Sep 21st, 2006 @ 10:21am

    rule # 4080 record labels are shady

    I work street promotions. Street promoters are the ones who act as middlemen for the record labels and their potential consumers. We distribute flyers, put up posters and among other things we also supply club DJ's with just released or advanced copies of music from the labels. The marketing departments at these labels also push us to get their music on to underground mixtapes. Which is f'd up because then the LEGAL department sometimes goes after these poor DJ's who put the label's copyrighted material on their tapes! I know this is a bit different than what this article was about but it just goes to show the mentality at these major labels. They want their cake...and your's too...

     

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  34.  
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    Don, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 5:01pm

    Share

    How about a an MP3 is a song. each time the song is shared then a dollar is charged to the person downloading it.

    The person sharing it gets 5 cents. The "legal owner" of the song gets 90 cents. The service providing the share network gets 5 cents.

    So its all shared.

     

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  35.  
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    WEE Two year old post whore, Mar 26th, 2008 @ 10:39pm

    weee hoooo

    Nothing like posting on a two year old topic. Anyway Fuck the record industry, because this is 2008 and Trent Reznor got it right by dropping his label and releasing "Ghosts" so that the money goes direct to him. RIAA are the equivalent to the MOB. They do nothing but scare people, and try to make as much money for themselves as possible. They don't give a shit about any artist under their namesake except when it comes to the artist being late with a new release or not having a "radio" hit.

     

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