Always A Gatekeeper: RIAA Backs .music Proposal… If It's Only Limited To 'Accredited' Musicians

from the gates-have-come-down dept

For years there have been a few efforts underway to try to create a .music top level domain. While I’m not totally convinced such a TLD really is needed, it’s been interesting to watch the RIAA’s allergic reaction to the general idea. About a year ago, we wrote about how the RIAA was complaining that any such TLD might (gasp!) be used to infringe, and arguing that ICANN shouldn’t allow it unless it was completely locked down. Apparently, the RIAA has now found the plan it likes, siding with a company called Far Further on its bid to run .music, and going against the company that has fought the hardest for .music… a company called dotMusic. If you want to understand why the RIAA is now endorsing Far Further’s proposal, it’s pretty simple:

Its .music would be restricted, along the same lines as gTLDs such a .pro, to card-carrying members of what the company calls “accredited Global Music Community Members”.

“It’s not open to everyone,” Styll said. “You’d have to join an organization.”

Amateur bands would have to be members of an accredited songwriters association to get a .music address, for example.

In other words, it goes against the reality we know today, which is that new technologies are allowing anyone to become a musician. Instead, it’s based on the obsolete notion that only those in a special club are “really” musicians. What you end up with is exactly what the RIAA wants: a system where it gets to “accredit” musicians. In other words, a system where gatekeepers still matter. Of course, what they don’t realize is that if .music uses such a system, it almost immediately becomes irrelevant, and sets itself up as an exclusionary club in an era when such things aren’t necessary any more.

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Companies: far further, riaa

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Comments on “Always A Gatekeeper: RIAA Backs .music Proposal… If It's Only Limited To 'Accredited' Musicians”

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127 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

And of course, being an accreditted musician would mean signing over the rights to your music to an RIAA-member label, so you can get screwed over for the rest of your life. Funny, this would give musicians the problem that the RIAA is saying piracy does: have your music distributed and used without you receiving a penny. Absolutely pathetic by RIAA, yet completely expected at the same time.

I wonder if they and their members could be taken to court over anti-competitive practices if this were to get implemented, due to them intentionally trying to shut down all musicians that are not part of one of their labels. Of course, then the question would be if it would be investigated, or if the government is too busy investigating Google for succeeding by providing what consumers actually want.

Anonymous Coward says:

You are always looking at a way to slam them, rather than considering that what they are doing might actually be good and useful.

The ideas is that .music would be all about music, not about anyone who can just pay for a domain. It would help to assure that the sites aren’t scammers, people with fake “you need to download this codec” to listen to the music, etc…

It’s a situation where a gatekeeper isn’t a bad idea… Where the gatekeeper helps to build the brand and gives the public the assurance that these sites are at least truly music related.

Your negativity is so strong, you cannot seem to see any of the good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Common sense? If the RIAA is backing a proposal, it’s because it benefits them to ridiculous degrees. This proposal would give them control over who’s considered an “accredited musician.” You honestly think, given this and their history, that they won’t require musicians to drop their pants and bend over in order to get onto a .music domain?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

Show me where that is the case, because that is a big fat lie.

Well for starters, you can look here to see how little musicians actually make from label deals:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100712/23482610186.shtml

And next you can check out how the labels don’t want to give back the musicians the rights to their own music:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110816/09574115549/dear-musicians-riaa-is-about-to-totally-screw-you-over-again.shtml

jsl4980 (profile) says:

I say let them do it. Who would ever think a band wasn’t a real band because they don’t have a .music website. No one would ever care or notice if the set this system up.

I’ve never stood out side of a concert and said “I am not going in there. That’s not a real band they have a .net website.”

How many people go directly to a band’s website instead of clicking a link from a Facebook post, tweet, newsletter, or RSS feed? No one will ever notice the address, no one will ever care.

Please allow the RIAA to waste their money on something incredibly pointless. Any idea that helps the RIAA waste funds their is a wonderful thing.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re:

Okay, here’s a case. It happens to be the most recent one I’m aware of, but of course it’s only the latest in a very, very long line: Sale Or License? Sister Sledge Sues Over ITunes.

One of the links in that story points here, and this touches on my point from yesterday about how record companies are doing their best to see that musicians who are national or world treasures die quickly and impoverished — since of course sick and/or broke musicians can’t sue them. It includes a quote from Joyce Moore, wife of Sam Moore — of Sam and Dave, one of the seminal groups of blues and soul. (If you don’t know them, then read the Wikipedia entry and learn.) And then look at how their record company is STILL screwing them over, decades later — probably figuring that if they drag it out long enough, Sam and Dave will be dead and the record company’s bloated, greedpig executives can just keep the money…or maybe settle out-of-court for ten cents on the dollar.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

I'll do the Accreditation

I hereby declare the founding of the AAAAA! Otherwise known as the Association of America Accrediting Association of America, my organization will be in charge of deciding who the legitimate “Association of Americas” are and who are not. Our first act of business is to declare the AAAAA an accredited Association, all other associations will need to submit applications to the AAAAA in order to receive their accreditation and begin issuing legitimate accreditations in their respective industries.

The MPAA and RIAA are welcome to apply as authoritative accreditors of the film and music worlds, however they should remember that without our graciousness they’ll be relegated to the status of ‘pirate association’ operating outside the providence of an actual Association of America. Don’t mess with the legacy player I’ve just invented or we’ll slam the gates shut on your tangentially related business prospects.

Robert (profile) says:

Re:

Do you have any real data? Silly studies from an anti-consumer monopoly like the RIAA members hardly qualify [especially when the ‘facts’ cannot be replicated and sources cannot be identified, so the claims go unquantified, unverified, and unbelieved – except by those in Congress/House of Commons/House of Lords purchased by lobbyists].

Works both ways. I would trust the SkyIsRising report because at least it is transparent. It doesn’t use upper echelon numbers from 1986 counterfeit studies (which also provide worse-case-all-hell-breaking-loose numbers).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

ask aol how being a gatekeeper on the internet has worked out

they’ll be the gatekeeper into non-existence

the internet culture has shown that it will not accept your pitiful choices/limitations, nor will it allow you to ram it down our throats

the internet is now the crowd-sourced middle man giving us the choices we want

you are not needed; go away

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Not that you actually want information, but both of those articles are about and link to source material supporting the idea that record labels undervalue and steal from musicians.

But you just want to make noise, don’t you? It’s okay. The more screaming you do, and the more valueless screeds you post without any factual evidence, the more people will reject your position outright.

And the more people reject the idea that associations of media conglomerates and trade groups have value or the right to have their priorities made into law, the better off we’ll all be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Can’t you read?

“accredited Global Music Community Members”

That means whatever an organization decides its members need to do you got do it or you are not accredit, if they want people to sign off their rights away they will need to do it for whatever reason is there just like scientific journals ask others to sign off their rights so they can exploit those or else you don’t get in, that is also why scientific journals are trying to make laws that forbid others from posting on free open journals, which means probably this would be the next step for the RIAA to outlaw any other venue that music can be shown to the public so people have no other place but the .music TLD and be forced to accept whatever rules they will impose there.

This is bad in so many levels.

Anonymous Coward says:

I'll do the Accreditation

You forgot to push for the criminalization of the use of other TLD’s for music at all, since it is all pirates and those pirates musicians can’t go roaming freely they must be stopped from showing off their music without a proper venue were everything is controlled and the rule of law can be maintained at the expense of the public of course.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

Anyone can be a musician. There’s nothing to it. I’m actually just as special as the Beatles. I’ve also decided that I’m an astronaut.

Umm, nobody said that anyone can be a good musician. But anyone can try.

You actually make the point quite nicely. Space agencies are the gatekeepers for the astronaut industry, because they are the only ones with the means to put someone in space. Once upon a time, record labels were similar gatekeepers, because they were the only ones with the means to record and distribute music. Technology changed the latter – and you can bet that if we ever invent a DIY spaceship, it will change the former.

Jason says:

Re:

You know what. You are right, any music you make is just as special as the Beatles, or it should be.

Making music is an exercise in expression, it doesn’t need to be a certain kind, it doesn’t need to be a certain genre, it doesn’t even need a certain quality to be able to be judged as worthy by someone. Ask any parent that’s listened to their young child sing a tune.

When some organization gets to decide how people can express themselves, we have a problem.

Your attitude in your post is much more troubling though because of the fact that if you can’t see that music, all music, has the power to move people.

You must be dead inside.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

I'll do the Accreditation

Ah, good point. I’ll need someone at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to immediately seize the RIAA.com and MPAA.org domain names as well as all affiliated domains from other TLDs. The only legitimate and legal URL for these Associations of America are RIAA.AAAAA and MPAA.AAAAA using the AAAAA TLD we just proposed for Associations of America. (Domain name registration pending accreditation as an official Association of America and numerous registration fees and bi-weekly dues compliance)

Anonymous Coward says:

Why would the RIAA have their word to say at all? ICANN rules clearly state that one can oppose the registration, but only if they own the copyright or trademark being registered. ICANN decides, and MAFIAA doesn’t have a word to say (imagine .movie?).

The fact that it’s a big deal should concern people, not because of the RIAA actions, but because ICANN are actually listening to them, which proves they’re not impartial and could even stretch to not following their own rules.

THIS is why we need to decentralize everything that has to do with the structure of the internet from US-based corporations and government.

isaac Kotlicky (profile) says:

Come on, Mike!

Stop banging this old drum!
Everyone knows they enjoy things better when an authority tells them it’s good!

We need faceless, profiteering organizations telling us who is worth giving our money and paying attention to. Lord knows we can’t ask our friends or think for ourselves…

Sheesh.
I bet you’re one of those people who “like” things too…

Anonymous Coward says:

Another trooltastic post from Mr. Masnick. Just because someone can create sounds doesn’t make them a musician, regardless of what tool they are using. I have some wire strippers but it damned sure doesn’t make me an electrician. A tool does not instill anyone with talent; it allows someone to use their talent. If they don’t restrict the domain registration, you will end up with something that is meaningless. By restricting it to musicians (and yes by musicians I mean professional musicians – not hobbyists) they will maintain the reason for the domain.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

If record labels did nothing but rip off musicians, then no one would sign with them and their owners would be in jail.

Umm. Not sure where anyone said label contracts were illegal. Unfair, one sided and misleading maybe, but not necessarily illegal.

As for the “no one would sign with them” part, before all these new distribution and marketing models came about to compete with the labels, a musician had only two choices, sign with a label or disappear into obscurity. It wasn’t really a choice at all.

lavi d (profile) says:

dotBlackHole

This would be great if it were ALL and ONLY RIAA musicians, and the music was locked down as tight as possible and nothing but 22khz, 1-minute streams, no cover art larger than 320×240 pixels, etc.

Then, the RIAA could stop trying to destroy the internet in order to “stop piracy” and everyone else could go on about their lives.

As the commenter up thread said, we need a .movie and .cable domain too.

Robert (profile) says:

Re:

Actually enjoy using your wirestrippers. You can wire whatever you like. If you screw up and fail, it’s all on your head as your insurance company will not pay you a dime.

Anyone can create music and the public will decide what is good and what is not.

There are many people who do better as hobbyists than professionals (as programmers, musicians, actors, electricians, etc…).

They won’t maintain shit by restricting, it’s only to block competition!

Talent should NOT be judged by some corporation who’s bottom line depends on exploiting talent. There are far better musicians on YouTube than some “professionals” as you call them who are under the employ of the labels.

You will NOT end up with meaninglessness because of a lack of restriction.

Here’s the problem with capitalism in this day and age, it doesn’t work because it isn’t capitalism if you have to have laws to restrict who can compete!

Music is no different. If you have to restrict who can compete (ie: those willing to sign away their rights to their art), instead of relying on actual talent (those unwilling to sign away their rights) then you do not have a free market. You have a monopoly.

The Internet did more for culture and creativity than the labels ever did. Hollywood only had creativity when they had the balls to screw Edison’s MPCC group. Now look how’s acting like their one-time nemesis?

Sorry, but you are flat out wrong!

V (profile) says:

Re:

“You are always looking at a way to slam them, rather than considering that what they are doing might actually be good and useful.”

It isn’t. You apparently are SOOOO intent in trying to find good that you’ve put on shades AND blinders.

I know many indie musicians… heck… I come from a FAMILY of indie musicians.

I can tell you right now, none of them would want to pay and be in an organization that doesn’t nothing for them… all for the “HONOR” of having a .music domain.

It’s not like music is a regulated industry – like education or medicine – that REQUIRES accreditation or licenses. Music is something ANYONE with talent – and arguably those without talent – can engage in.

There is no reason to have a gatekeeper and EVERY reason to NOT have one.

To say otherwise displays either ignorance, stupidity or a propensity for Cool Aid drinking.

“Your negativity is so strong, you cannot seem to see any of the good.”

You blind devotion to an evil corporate entity has so blinded you that you can’t see the OVERWHELMING bad, instead trumpeting the teeny, tiny little spec of good that MAY or MAY NOT come out of it.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re:

What an ass. Trooltastic? Dont you mean trolltastic? Never met a trool. (I am sure they are nice though LOL)

Damn cant even TROLL right.

mu?si?cian – One who composes, conducts, or performs music, especially instrumental music.

“Just because someone can create sounds doesn’t make them a musician” – Pure opinion, and a crappy one at that. (My opinion)

Can we please have the paid trolls back that flooded TD while SOPA was going on? All these hobbyist trolls just suck.

RD says:

Re:

“By restricting it to musicians (and yes by musicians I mean professional musicians – not hobbyists) they will maintain the reason for the domain.”

Yeah because every professional musician is born whole with full talent from birth and vaults directly to the top of the music world and lands a record contract the first time they play a single note. They never have to train, work, struggle, practice, or wallow being a nobody for even a millisecond, because professionals just spring into being, no one ever turned their hobby into their job in the history of mankind.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

What exactly do you think the process of become “accredited” will involve? I doubt they will let people who are not signed to a label get “accredited”.

Also, the internet is worldwide, who would regulate Chinese, Indian, Russian, etc. “accreditation”. Another stupid idea from some of the stupidest people to every exist. Ohh, RIAA, when will stop putting your hand on the stove.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

And yet now they do have all these new distribution and marketing models and they still choose to sign with labels.

I know asking you this is pointless, but, do you have some data to back that up with?

It’s my understanding that a lot of artists are now DIY or signing limited distribution or marketing contracts with the labels while still retaining the copyrights to their work. Which isn’t the same thing as the old sign over all your rights to get the advance which you then have to recoup contracts.

If I am wrong on this, please prove it to me.

Watching ignorant nerds try to demonize companies they know nothing about is most amusing.

While I may be a nerd, I don’t believe I am ignorant. And I am not really trying to demonize anybody here, but after reading story after story about the labels screwing the artist over at every turn (and I have been reading those stories for many years before I even discovered Techdirt), one has to start believing there is some truth to it.

drew (profile) says:

Re:

really? you actually wrote this? really? wow that’s pretty impressive. What about all those professional musicians who signed up to the major labels and got dropped after an album? Are they professional musicians? What about the cruise-ship singers who earn their living singing but have never created an original bit of work in their lives? Where, exactly, is your line of professionalism drawn?
I ask because i want to make damn sure i stay the right side of it.

drew (profile) says:

Re:

yep, turns out there’s no monopoly on being dumb, nor is there on being greedy.
Doesn’t mean there’s any value in it either.
Thing is, via the old model, a very small number of people got stupidly rich* and that’s always going to appeal to a pretty broad segment of the population who’ve bought into the myth.
An increasing number of people have done the reading and done the maths though, and they’re looking at the old model and working out that, unless they’re really, really lucky, there are better models out there.
If you’re a music fan and want to support musicians you should be pretty happy about this. If you’re connected to the legacy businesses you wouldn’t be. Where are you?

* some of them were even artists

Zuni (profile) says:

Backhand deals by RIAA

The new .music TLD is part of the new business model for the RIAA, and a great way for them to raise revenue. Part of the deal with any organisation wanting to own the .music TLD involves paying the RIAA part of each registration fee and renewal fees, which could amount to $millions in the future, and after the TLd has been allocated, the bid winner can ‘sell’ it on after 6 months, so the RIAA could end up owning the .music TLD… or Sony Music, BGM, Warner

I know as I was part of a group who meet with the RIAA end of last year looking for their support which they promised to our group if we would cooperate with them.

Same rules apply for many of the other TLDs which will be created including .movie, .news etc

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

I want to be the judge of what constitutes music and what constitutes noise. You could pretty much discard most pop and experimental music before we even begin.
Techno? That’s a computer, not a composer, in fact, if it uses a synthesizer or electronic playback system, I don’t believe it qualifies as music being performed by a musician.

Arbitrary rules are awesome.

Angry Voter says:

When will the RIAA and MPAA members be charged with tax evasion?

There was a big article in The Economist explaining how they do it with tricks like the ‘Double Dutch Sandwich’ and other tricks so all their losses are claimed in the US and most of their profits are claimed overseas, hidden from the IRS and the artists.

They should be charged under the RICO act.

Michael says:

Why am I not surprised?

This is prototypical mega corp behavior. They want to create an atmosphere of exclusivity in order to control and profit from as much content as possible. Only the big hit-makers they select get a decent slice of the pie (because they distribute all royalties based on ‘surveying’ approx. 1% of national radio play) — everybody else is left with scraps, if that. Meanwhile, the RIAA is making a fortune by pocketing a substantial portion of the artists’ royalties. Along with the major labels, the RIAA are experts at cooking the books and cheating the system to ensure that it always works to their benefit.

If they want to create their own exclusive club, who cares? Let ’em. Most business-wise, self-respecting artists will steer clear of this scam and continue to produce regardless of what the RIAA is up to. Nobody needs these mafia middle-men in order to produce artistic works, let alone profit. As the saying goes, 20% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re:

Oh heck, it wasn’t all that long ago, pre-iTunes that you did have do download various and sundry codecs to get the music to play. Even from the gatekeepers, along with DRM and host of other crap.

Then came Napster and the mp3, sonic vomit that it is.

It may be a situation where a gatekeeper may (just may) be a good idea. The problem here is that the gatekeeper is the RIAA and they don’t give a damn about musicians or their customers or the musicians fans.

The reality is that with RIAA member companies there’s lots to be negative about. Their track record is enough, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TPP and other nonsense is more then enough to be negative about them and their intentions.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re:

You’re being sarcastic, right? I mean you have to be to have written something this inane.

And just who decides who is or is not a musician? You want to limit it to professionals but I know tons of amateurs who can play circles around pros in different genres but mostly just do it for fun so they never perform or play for money.

And you the hell are you to say they’re not musicians? Or the RIAA for that matter.

Karl (profile) says:

Far Further vs. Roussos

This is actually not as big a deal as you might think.

The person who came up with the idea for .music, Constantine Roussos, basically said he would do the same thing:

Music community members will verified through our .MUSIC-accredited “Community Member Organizations (CMOs)” which will serve as trusted gatekeepers of .MUSIC domain registrations, ensuring the safe, secure and responsible launch of .MUSIC, preventing gaming, piracy and malicious conduct as well as protecting their members’ .MUSIC brand trademarks from being cybersquatted or abused. Accredited CMOs for .MUSIC include:

– Music Trade Organizations
– Digital Aggregators
– Government Arts Councils & Music Export Offices
– Accredited Music Communities

CMOs are invite-only and only reserved for trusted organizations that have a history of activities that serve the music community and their members.

.MUSIC (dotMusic) Supporters

(Also, it is a bit ironic that the RIAA complains about people “stealing” the fruits of musicians’ labor, yet has no problem “stealing” the fruits of Roussos’ labor.)

Though it doesn’t mention it in the article, a list of “accredited organizations” can be found on Far Further’s web site. It is not limited to RIAA clients; it also includes PRO’s like ASCAP, BMI, and SEAC.

Now, that still wouldn’t be enough to represent the global music industry (in particular, America is rather over-represented). There is no mention of TuneCore or Jamendo, for example. Simply glancing at my own collection, over half the music I own is not produced by members of a PRO (and certainly most were not when they were starting out). That does seem to make it more of a gated community geared towards older, already-established acts.

The kicker, however, is SoundExchange. They are an accredited organization, according to Far Further. They are also required, by law, to collect digital royalties for all musicians (whether you want them to or not). Registering with them is free, so if that’s the only barrier to entry, then it’s not such a “walled garden” after all.

…Having said all that: Is this anything an artist would actually want to do?

In addition, the content of .music web sites would be policed in a similar way to .xxx or .cat, with regular spidering to ensure the content does not break the rules.

?We?re definitely looking at content, and besides the vetting process, in the registrant agreement there?ll be a warrant you?re not going to violate anyone?s intellectual property rights,? said Styll.

?We?re retaining the right to conduct searches,? he said. ?If we find evidence of infringing activity we?ll give you the opportunity to correct that, or we can take down the site.?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want major media industries conducting searches on my website, looking for an excuse to shut me down.

Furthermore, with anything like this (which is more a “service” than an actual domain), there are questions about the rules. Would you have to stream music in a DRM-laden format? Would you be prevented from releasing CC music? If you put your own music on the Pirate Bay, would they be allowed to remove your site? How much are you allowed to integrate other services (e.g. Soundcloud), and how easy would it be? Would you even be allowed to run your own backend (e.g. install Drupal rather than whatever web software they’re using)?

And why oh why would this walled garden be in any way preferable to something like BandCamp, which pretty much accomplishes exactly the same thing, without needing the approval of a board of censors?

My predictions for how this will turn out:

– The .music gTLD will move forward. Roussos will be squeezed out (among other reasons, his views on stopping piracy are 180 degrees opposite the legacy players’).

– The RIAA membership will set up .music sites “on behalf of” their artists, and will control the content of those sites. Artists won’t have much say in the matter, since they’re not the rights holders. Still, the RIAA believes, for some reason, that this will make other musicians want to join up.

– Musicians, like anyone else, are “bandwagon jumpers” when it comes to signing up for online entities. They will wait for everyone else to get a .music domain first. Nobody does, and .music becomes the de facto location for the RIAA alone.

– It will get a few hits at first, but peter out rather quickly. Nobody trusts the RIAA as far as they can throw them, and nobody wants to be limited to “official” sites alone. Not even artists.

– As it’s failing, Far Further and its affiliates will demand that search engines place .music sites at the top of their search hits. Search engines refuse, because that’s crazy.

– As it’s failing even more, Far Further et. al. will demand that search engines remove every single link from artist searches that don’t lead to a .music site. Search engines will refuse, because that’s even crazier.

– Far Further et. al. will sue Google. (They won’t sue Bing or any other search engine, naturally.)

– After years of costly litigation, Google will win. Public statements from the RIAA about how “Google profits from piracy” will follow.

– By then, every artist on .music will have said “eff this” and moved back to their .com domains.

– Or just stayed on BandCamp.

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