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Tens Of Thousands Of Students Have Signed Up For Choruss… Even Though No One Knows What It Is?

from the am-I-missing-something? dept

A bunch of folks have sent in the story in The Register about Jim Griffin’s appearance at the World Copyright Summit, where he apparently told the crowd that “tens of thousands” of students at universities have agreed to voluntarily pay for Choruss. But, unfortunately, nobody seems to know what it is. Plenty of folks have been asking for an actual description of what it is — and every time we’re not told anything other than that it’s “an experiment” that we’re not to criticize. So, I’m curious who these tens of thousands of students are, and exactly what they’ve signed up for. If any of them is willing to share with us the details of what they signed, that would be great.

At one time, we were told that Choruss would be mandatory, but lately, Griffin has suggested that it will be voluntary. A voluntary system is much better, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction, if that’s true. But there are still plenty of other problems with such a system, many of which I’ve outlined elsewhere. It still seems like the entire program is based on a negative benefit (“you won’t get sued”) rather than a positive incentive (“here’s a reason to give money in exchange for something you want”) and a distortionary effect on the market (i.e., inserting unnecessary bureaucracy into a market, such that artists will actually make less). But, the fact that supposedly tens of thousands of students have agreed to pay for this when no details of what “this” is have been offered seems quite odd.

Separately, I should note that in our last post about Choruss, we solicited questions to be sent to Griffin which he has promised to answer. Due to my own hectic travel schedule, I haven’t had time to go through the responses yet and whittle the list down to a more reasonable level, but I’m hoping to do that shortly. Alternatively, Griffin is free to answer questions and discuss these issues in the comments, but to date he has preferred not to do so, which is his right, of course. Still, if you have any additional questions for Griffin, feel free to add them in the comments, and I’ll include them in the potential list (which will be narrowed down, so as not to overwhelm Griffin).

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Comments on “Tens Of Thousands Of Students Have Signed Up For Choruss… Even Though No One Knows What It Is?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Say an artist wants to voluntarily distribute his music via some peer to peer program (or youtube or his website or whatever) and he doesn’t want some unnecessary third party (like the RIAA or MPAA or “Choruss”) to profit from the distribution of his music. He should have that right. He should be able to offer free music that he created on youtube without having some unnecessary third party (like the RIAA or MPAA) get royalties. She should be able to sell her music on a website (ie: have people pay by credit card or whatever) with NO unnecessary third parties profiting from the sale. He should be able to put it on a peer to peer program (though peer to peer programs should not offer music illegally) where people can download it freely (if the author allows it) and have ZERO third parties profit from the download if that’s the authors will. What we need to do is ensure that Choruss does NOT in any way take away from that. Also, we should ensure that Choruss doesn’t get bundled in with ISP fees and such (like what the stupid cable companies do to extort money out of us) so they don’t profit from people who want the Internet and don’t want to pay for Choruss, want to be able to download music freely from artists that freely offer their music, and not have Choruss or some unnecessary third party profit.

Bettawrekonize (profile) says:

Mike posted a comment here http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081209/0144083060.shtml where he said “Given the recording industry’s history with not being able to “find” some big name musicians, just take a guess how well this will work here?”

Hephaestus posted a comment here http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090521/1714594965.shtml

Where he said

“The one thing I want out of this is ….

to know where the money is going. So my question is …

will you open your books to the public and show that the artists are getting paid?”

I have thought of this and came up with a solution. The solution is

Youtube has a counter on their videos telling EVERYONE how many people played a video. Why not put that on downloads. If an artist puts his song on the Internet and wants to get paid per person who downloads, when someone downloads it he can go on the website (as can anyone else) and see how many people downloaded his song. Based on that he can asses how much in royalties is owed to him. He, and anyone else, can ensure that the counter works because the artist can go to the website on another computer and download and see the counter go up. If it doesn’t go up, he knows he’s being cheated and he can successfully sue for significant damages. If it does go up then he knows he will be payed royalties. Others who download can see the counter move up too and they will notice if there is something fishy going on if the counter doesn’t move up when it’s supposed to. Of course this could lead to other problems where people create worms that spread and click on a link (changing the URL of course would then be the solution) but these problems can occur with or without a counter. There could also be a problem where the RIAA may lie and say that worms and programs pretending to be users are responsible for a bunch of the clicks when they’re not so that they can avoid paying royalties. A solution (for now), of course, is to put one of those art pictures with letters where people see an image of letters and have to type it in in order to hear the song.

another solution is to change the URL every once in a while, the URL that the link links to (this won’t affect the counter and won’t ruin peoples ability to ensure its integrity). This will prevent bots from constantly “clicking” (or referencing or loading or whatever) on the same URL.

and this system even lets people run experiments to ensure integrity. Say an artist in Texas has a cousin in New York. He can call his cousin in New York over the phone, have him click on the link to listen to the music, and see that the click in New York registers on his computer (on the counter, ie: the youtube counter) in Texas. If it doesn’t, then we know something fishy is going on and we can put it on blogs and sue. It would be hard for the RIAA to get away with this since everyone and their mothers can run experiments ensuring the integrity of the system with an open counter (like the one we have on Youtube).

After thinking about this for a while I realized there is an obvious loophole, if many people are clicking on a song at approximately the same time (ie: within a second) how do we know that the counter isn’t going to count both of them as one person? I will address this problem shortly.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Has anyone thought we are the solution....

This is gonna scare the crap out of the recording industry…

I have seen a ton of wonderful Ideas here, and there is no one size fits all solution in this information age. So we could build a mix and match solution based on the artists desires, not the cookie cutter approach the big 4 use.

So that said……….

Maybe we should all get together and build this music distribution system ourselves. We can do the following…

1) Artist set payment amounts ($0.00 USD – $ anyamount)
2) Music Auctions
3) Central credit card clearing system (think paypal or “PayMuse” )
4) A simple server based plugin that anyone can run on their website.
5) A central catalog of music.
6) A tiered payment schedual (think AmWay) For people promoting the artists music.
7) Touring support
8) Tee shirt / coffee mug / booble head / etc Sales
9) Remixing agreements and royaly schedual
10) Short run CD and DVD production
99) …. I can go on for hours on this

Anyone wanna Join me in setting this up. I mean we all Bitch and complain about RIAA, MPAA, etc. Why not do something to hasten the death of the Recording industry and replace them with a kinder gentler industry.

PayMuse – I really gotta copyright that … LOL

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Has anyone thought we are the solution....

13) Help Wanted / Resume / Job tracker for finding Promoters, Roadies, etc.
14) Touring scheduals and ticket sales.
15) Central point for all an individuals or groups e-mail, social networking (facebook etc)
16) Fan Sites Links.
17) contests (Remix, Favorite Artist, etc)
18) promotional givaways
19) ……

Bettawrekonize (profile) says:

To address the simultaneous click problem we need to assign everyone a unique click number when they click to download/listen to a song. Then wee need a page that lists everyone’s click number. Below the link that you click to listen to a song there is a link that has pages of peoples click numbers. Each page may have, say, 1000 click numbers and when you listen to/download a song you are given a specific click number and the page number that the click number will show up on (the last page of course). The click numbers are assigned sequentially. At the bottom of a page with click numbers there is a URL that says next page, previous page, it lists a couple of the next pages (like many forums do and as is done at the bottom of a Google search where you can jump to page 3 or 4 , 6, 10, etc…) and may have other navigation option links (ie: jump to last page, jump to first page, skip 10 pages ahead or behind, etc… just like many forums have at the bottom of their pages. Perhaps even a box people can type in the page number and directly jump to it).

Well, you may think, this doesn’t really solve anything, the site may still assign two people the same number. The solution, allow each person to submit a short comment before downloading/listening to the song, that comment will appear next to the submitters click number. It’s very unlikely two people will submit the same comment at the same time so the system can’t simply assign two people the same click number since it must display both unique comments next to the click numbers (and anyone can then verify, from any computer, that their click number made it through at the correct page, at the correct location, with their unique comment next to it). So the page will look like this

CL = Click number
D = Date/Time
C = Comment

CL – D – C


01 – 6/12/2009:9:30PM – Hello!
03 – 6/12/2009: 9:31PM HELLO@!

Notice how click 02 does not show up. That’s because, in this example, the person who was assigned that click number was interrupted by a phone call. He comes back and submits his comment and downloads the song (or listens to it). The page updates.

01 – 6/12/2009: 9:30PM 06 sec – Hello!
02 – 6/12/2009: 9:32PM 05 sec – Hello!@
03 – 6/12/2009: 9:31PM 02 sec – HELLO@!
04 – 6/12/2009: 9:32PM 06 sec – Hi!
06 – 6/12/2009: 9:34PM 07 sec – Hi!*

Each user can then go to the page with his click number (and he can do this from any computer) and ensure that his click number showed up with his specific comment. Also, it’s not necessary for every click number to be there sequentially, some maybe absent if someone got a click number but never submitted it to download the song (ie: they closed it out before putting in a comment and downloading the song). In this case, click numbers will be skipped (ie: click number 05 may never show up). With millions of users verifying that their clicks show up it would be very difficult for the RIAA to cheat artists (since it would quickly make it on many blogs, there would be a huge backlash, and people would sue).

In this way, the artists can also verify how many people clicked on their song and ensure the appropriate royalties. If the RIAA and other collection agencies are serious about transparency and making sure artists get paid, this is the system they should adopt. The only reason not to is if they want to scam artists by lying to them about how many people listened to their song.

Bettawrekonize (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In addition, it might be a good idea to display how much of the song got downloaded (ie: was the download 80 percent complete, 92 percent complete, 100 percent complete). So it may look something like this.

01 – 6/12/2009: 9:30PM 06 sec – 90% – Hello!
02 – 6/12/2009: 9:32PM 05 sec – 100% – Hello!@
03 – 6/12/2009: 9:31PM 02 sec – 100$ – HELLO@!
04 – 6/12/2009: 9:32PM 06 sec – 84% – Hi!@

Of course those who downloaded the song know how far along the download process they reached.

Bettawrekonize says:

Re: Re:

“Also, it’s not necessary for every click number to be there sequentially, some maybe absent if someone got a click number but never submitted it to download the song (ie: they closed it out before putting in a comment and downloading the song). In this case, click numbers will be skipped (ie: click number 05 may never show up).”

Or, in these cases, it can still be displaced as being 0 percent downloaded. Of course this means bots can flood the pages with 0 percent completed downloads. The solution, make users type words from images earlier in the process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Youtube already pays royalties to these collection agencies for music videos but if the artists don’t want them to, why should they? Why not have the distributor (ie: Youtube) pay the artists directly instead (ie: via pay pal or whatever) every time someone watches a music video (that is if the artists sign up)? That way not a cent will go to these unnecessary third parties if that’s what the artists want.

Woadan says:

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it were to be found that those who were signed up were done so by their college or university. We know that some administrations at these institutes of higher-learning are kow-towing to the industry. It wouldn’t be too much of an intellectual leap to assume that they simply turned over a list of their students names and email addresses. Students have no rights to privacy any way, right?

Bettawrekonize says:

If you like my system, I also came up with a system, based on the one I put here, to help curb voter fraud. It has shortcomings and perhaps others here can work on them.

I give different versions of the same idea, one that values privacy over transparency the most (it offers complete privacy) and another that values transparency over privacy the most. Perhaps we should implement a system in-between or maybe someone else can improve my system so that it ensures the relevant transparency without giving away unnecessary information about voters over the Internet. You can read my idea here http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090608/2201455173.shtml and tell me what you think. It’s pretty long though.

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