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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2010 @ 4:30am

    I've got to agree that Google has muddied the waters here - by making the offer, ironically, Google has actually given 'the mouse a cookie' and the mouse is trying to steal as much as it can get. I use the word 'steal' because the music industry has been notoriously difficult, backward and even unethical in how it has dealt with the emergence of digital content.

    Regardless of what's written in the fine print a.k.a. 'fair use' policies and whatnot, ultimately, the industry needs to decide what 'it' is exactly that they are selling?: is it the rights for personal listening to a specific piece of material, a tangible object such as a CD or MP3 file, or a specific license identifying a specific delivery (method of listening) for a specific piece of content. I'm sure the music industry would jump on the third choice - but the third choice would be ridiculously impossible to define as they would either need explicitly define a license for every possible iteration of use (god knows they'd die trying) which is limitless and ultimately impossible to enforce.

    Imagine life under the third choice - you buy a CD, but you can only listen to that CD; if you CD wears out, too bad - license dies with it; gave your CD to a friend? -he has to buy a license too; sell your CD? -nope, not allowed; rip your CD? -heck no - if you want to do that, you must purchase a supplementary license to transfer your content to another medium and that's only for use on your pink Ipod Touch with sparkles on it.

    The above is what the music industry is seeking - and it's purely because they want to legislate the world back to 1984 (pun intended) where all you could do was buy something on the medium it was intended until it broke/wore out - and then you bought it again. The answer is simple - license for personal use in any wave, shape or form - focus on illegal distribution but chances are, if you satisfy the first condition, the illegal part will drop off considerably. Piracy is the result of the Music Industry's draconian constraints on the consumer (remember how long it took to get LEGAL online downloads?) - not because consumers don't want to pay for their content.

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