Why Are The Record Labels Demanding Money To Let People Stream Legally Purchased Music?

from the isn't-that-music-that-I'm-free-to-listen-to? dept

Lately, I've been playing around with various music locker services, just to get a better understanding of how they work and to be able to access my (legally purchased) music collection on various machines and devices. So far, they're all a bit limited, but it shouldn't be long until they get better. However, the industry has always hated music locker services, and insisted that they somehow violate their copyright, even when the lockers simply allow individuals to place shift their own legal music. There's an ongoing lawsuit over Michael Robertson's MP3Tunes for which a decision is expected shortly. At the same time, Apple has been trying to quietly enter the market without disturbing the record labels.

Why? Because the labels have this bizarre theory of copyright that says that even if you have a music locker with entirely legal and authorized music, you still need to pay license fees to stream the music from the locker. It's difficult to understand how that makes any sense at all, either from a common sense or legal standpoint, and the labels may have a difficult time getting such a concept to stand up in court. But I'm reminded of the issue again as reports are leaking of Google's proposed music service, which would include a music locker component. Apparently a big stumbling block, however, is that Google wants to charge $25/year for it, and do a 50/50 split with the labels.

The labels, of course, are quite upset at such a proposal, claiming it's ridiculous, both in terms of the total amount and the revenue share. But I'm wondering what their complaint is here. If the music is legally purchased (or is given away in an authorized manner for free), then how can they possibly demand such exorbitant rates for streaming that very same music? This is going to backfire on the labels in a big way. Their constant refrain of "pay us every time you use," is looking more and more desperate.

Filed Under: lockers, music, streaming
Companies: google


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  1. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), 17 Sep 2010 @ 4:28am

    I wrote this piece of satire years ago to explain this very situation:

    The RIAA and the MPAA sues Monster Cable for copyright infringement.

    December 8, 2006 on 8:03 pm

    Hollywood –The RIAA and the MPAA held a joint press conference this afternoon to discuss their class action lawsuit against Monster Cable Products, Inc. and other manufacturers of audio and video cabling and wires.

    The chief attorney in charge of the lawsuit, William Donaldson, stated that “it’s been clear for some time that when someone plays a CD or DVD that a copy of the content is being created and sent over wires. At no time has anyone from a wire or cabling manufacturer asked permission to make such copies. And to make it even worse, some manufacturers such as Monster claim to increase the quality of the picture or sound with the use of their cables. That would certainly be an unauthorized derivative work in direct violation of 17 USC 106 (2). It’s a simple fact that we have to sue these monsters to make them pay their fair share.”

    Spokesman for the audio and video cabling industry, David Clark, said that the lawsuit is without merit. “Clearly the end-user who buys a CD or a DVD has the right to play the content and without wires, that’d be impossible.”

    Donaldson responded by saying that there is no license in any DVD or CD sold which gives playback rights. “When a consumer buys a CD, for example, he’s licensing a single copy. That’s the copy he holds in his hands. Can someone show me any language in the packaging where the consumer has the right to play it back? I’m serious, that’s just ludicrous.”

    While some in the cabling and wire manufacturing industry are hoping to work out a licensing structure similar to those imposed on cassette and blank CDs, it is felt by the copyright industry that such a system is not applicable here. Adds Donaldson, “With blank CDs you can only record one copy. Cassettes were only good for three or four copies at best. But with wires, they’ll copy millions of songs in their lifetime. Such an egregious infringement cannot be settled with a one-time licensing payment.”

    The lawsuit will require all manufacturers of electronically conductive materials to bring their products into compliance with the broadcast flag. “After we succeed in our lawsuit,” continues Donaldson, “all wires will contain devices that track infringing content copying. These devices will wirelessly transmit information as to what content was copied to our headquarters. We’re not being greedy with this proposal, we’re only asking for a dollar per song, two dollars for each half and hour of television programming, and $10.00 for each movie. That is addition to the 433 trillion dollars we’re asking for in estimated past economic damages.”

    Monster Cable founder Noel Lee was shocked by the gouging being perpetrated by the copyright industry. “Sure, we sell cables that cost us 5 cents for a hundred bucks. But god, expecting to get paid multiple times every time a song or movie is played is beyond greed.”

    Donaldson stated that “anyone who thinks we do not have the right to compensation for this infringement is certainly a communist, as any God-loving American believes strongly in property rights. Except when a poor neighborhood needs to be torn down to make a strip mall, of course.”

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