Forget Laundering Unauthorized Music Via Music Match, What About AirDrop Darknets?

from the slipped-that-one-right-by-the-goalie dept

In my initial post on Apple's iTunes-in-the-cloud Music Match offering, I noted the ability to effectively "launder" unauthorized tracks through the service. That's because it will scan your drive for all tracks -- those from iTunes and elsewhere -- and make authorized high quality, DRM-free versions of all of those songs available to you on any device "forever." In theory, this means if you have a lot of unauthorized music, if you pay your $25 and join up, all of those unauthorized tunes become "authorized" via iTunes. Not surprisingly, it's this aspect of so-called "legitimizing" unauthorized files that seems to be getting so much attention.

To be honest, I don't think it's a big deal, beyond the simple note of surprise that the major labels actually allowed this to happen. Beyond that, all the buzz about "legitimizing piracy" is a bunch of hot air. The simple fact of the matter is that once people had these songs on their hard drive, they were effectively legitimized. The only lawsuits were really over distribution. And while there may have been some efforts (such as in the Jammie Thomas case and the Joel Tenenbaum case) to establish where certain files came from, those were minor points and wouldn't be impacted by Music Match. Basically, this whole focus on "legitimizing" those works is a red herring. No one was getting in trouble for those works on their hard drives, and just because they move into the iTunes cloud doesn't mean that anything changes. At all.

What may be a much bigger copyright issue is the one raised by James Grimmelmann, who points out the much-less-press-generating announcement of AirDrop, and how it creates local, encrypted, peer-to-peer networks over WiFi. As Grimmelmann notes:
This is going to be yet another darknet vector. Imagine walking into a cafe, browsing someone elses iTunes library, asking them for one of their albums, and getting it via AirDrop--all without knowing whose computer yours is interacting with. Sonys rule on dual use technologies almost certainly absolves Apple of liability from any resulting infringement. Instead, this is yet another example of how technological changes are increasing the velocity with which media circulate, regardless of what copyright law may have to say about it.
Kind of makes you wonder if the labels knew about that as part of their agreement over Music Match...


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 7th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Sounds like the RIAA

    "...beyond the simple note of surprise that the major labels actually allowed this to happen."

    The labels gets their massive amounts of money from Apple (if Google's $100mill wasn't enough, how much did Apple pay), they get their cut from iTunes, they get to double dip with this service, they get some money from the illegitimate songs, and they still get to sue if they find someone uploading (probably twice because it's on the iCloud). Apple probably gave them every single little thing they wanted that Google and Amazon refused.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 7th, 2011 @ 7:07am

      Re: Sounds like the RIAA

      The labels gets their massive amounts of money from Apple (if Google's $100mill wasn't enough, how much did Apple pay), they get their cut from iTunes, they get to double dip with this service, they get some money from the illegitimate songs, and they still get to sue if they find someone uploading (probably twice because it's on the iCloud). Apple probably gave them every single little thing they wanted that Google and Amazon refused.

      The reports we noted yesterday said $150 million advance on 58% royalty rate on the new service.

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 7th, 2011 @ 7:22am

        Re: Re: Sounds like the RIAA

        Oh, I didn't see that yesterday (watching E3).

         

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          AdamR (profile), Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:12am

          Re: Re: Re: Sounds like the RIAA

          Any rough estimates on how much they think this will pull in per year.(200,300, 400, million year) I wonder how that money gets divided and how the artist are going to get from that.

          I also believe this is going to make it easier for them to go after people as those tracks will be watermarked with people's iTunes account info, so they are triple dipping they hope.

          There's a lot of questions left out that need to be answered I wonder when all the pieces will fall into place and we get some real info.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 9:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds like the RIAA

            are the files watermarked? the whole benefit to Apple with this scenario is that they wouldn't need to keep multiple copies of the same song. Watermarking would defeat that purpose.

             

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 7:42am

    For those people willing to make the effort and spend the money and time to hide themselves on a tiny little wi-fi network, more power to them. Unless they go outside, they won't get new content, so in the end, the darknet is just an extension of the well lit net.

    People will spend thousands in order to avoid spending hundreds. It's cool.

     

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      John Doe, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:00am

      Re:

      People will spend thousands in order to avoid spending hundreds. It's cool.

      I disagree. I do know some heavy duty pirates and they are spending hundreds to save thousands. Which begs the question, how do you turn them into legit consumers? And how do you turn people like myself who neither buy or pirate into consumers? The answer is to lower the price. Myself and probably many pirates would buy at the right price assuming you get high quality, DRM, virus free files that I can play on any device at any time and share with at least my family. No way will people buy two or more copies of each song/movie/book just so that each member in the family can have it.

       

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      HothMonster, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      I don't see how I spend thousands creating a peer-to-peer network. Unless I assume an hour of my time is worth 5K than I might "spend" a couple thousand setting it up

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:22am

      Re:

      You underestimate the growth rate of these things. Also, it can be incredibly cheap to operate, since it only depends on the "generosity" of pirates (it's a distributed system, after all).

       

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    Todd, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    Labels could still sue

    AFIK there is nothing preventing the labels from asking, or subpoenaing, Apple for music match records and suing people for piracy. Who knows what data Apple is collecting. Apple could be checking metadata, fingerprints and hashes--all of which could be compared to files from p2p networks. Rather than laundering music files Apple could be collecting the world's largest database of possible music pirates, all there for the RIAA to subpoena. And even if Apple isn't checking fingerprints and hashes, the labels could deem anyone who has over a certain number of songs scanned as suspicious.

    So, you really need to think about the possible consequences of this before saying it will legitimize piracy when it may do the opposite.

     

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      HothMonster, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:05am

      Re: Labels could still sue

      Wouldn't put it past them. Maybe that is what Apple brought to the table got the industry to do with them what they wouldn't do with Google.

       

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    HothMonster, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:03am

    I think the big question in regards to people legitimizing their music is this: What happens to the new legitimate file when you stop paying for the service? Does it get locked down with DRM? Does it get deleted off your device? Pirates certainly aren't going to pay a yearly fee for the rest of their lives so their music can be "legitimized."


    http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2011/06/itunes-match-apple-takes-icloud-to-another-level.html

    "By scanning the user's music collection with iTunes Match, Apple appears to have one upped both Google and Amazon on speed and ease of use. iTunes Match replaces existing music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if Apple can match it. That makes the matched music available in minutes and uploads only unmatched music. What happens to these "replaced files", if you stop paying $24.99 a year is not yet clear."

     

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      Todd, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:17am

      *DRM-free*

      DRM-free should answer your question. If the 256K AAC files are DRM free then nothing should stop people from archiving them.

      Of course, what people now have are AAC files--files which won't play on many devices other than iPods. And, of course, the AAC files are now tagged with the users appleID, so if any of the file should accidentally get out into the wild (if your iPod or PC is lost or stolen, for instance), the user can be sued for piracy--something that wouldn't be as likely if the files they ripped from their CDs g

       

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        d_mat (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 5:05am

        Re: *DRM-free*

        I disagree, DRM-free songs have been sold on itunes (and amazon etc) for a long time now. itunes was one of the last, but now its been there for quite a while.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2011 @ 7:07am

          Re: Re: *DRM-free*

          I disagree, DRM-free songs have been sold on itunes (and amazon etc) for a long time now.

          Nobody said otherwise, so what are you disagreeing with?

           

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            d_mat (profile), Jun 12th, 2011 @ 9:53am

            Re: Re: Re: *DRM-free*

            I'm addressing Hothmonster's and Todd's comments. So yes, some people are worried about that some of these songs would somehow be locked down, which there is no indication of. And while there is always the possibility of extra caveats I don't think we need to start coming up with extra reasons why this might be a horrible service. There is enough to worry about without creating fears that are not warranted by an evidence ;)

             

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    AdamR (profile), Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    "AirDrop, and how it creates local, encrypted, peer-to-peer networks over WiFi. As Grimmelmann notes: "

    I though that feature was only between Macs?

     

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      HothMonster, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:29am

      Re:

      AirDrop is Apple program. Not sure if you can use it Mac to PC but I doubt it. I don't know of a client program like this for PC but that doesn't mean there isn't one, and you could always manually set up a peer-to-peer on a PC.

       

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      That Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:29am

      Re:

      Have seen stories of it being in iOS5....
      and once all of the cool kids have it, you know the rest of us will find a way to have it too.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:30am

    "just because they move into the iTunes cloud doesn't mean that anything changes. At all."

    Not true. I'm probably going to pay that $25/year price for access to my music library, including my downloaded songs, from anywhere. There's your change; Apple found a way to monetize my infringement.

     

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      Todd, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:53am

      Not really...

      "There's your change; Apple found a way to monetize my infringement."


      Not really. You could say that if Apple was charging per song for cloud services, but since it is a flat fee apple doesn't gain anything from your possible infringement.

       

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    lavi d (profile), Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    AKA

    Imagine walking into a cafe, browsing someone elses iTunes library, asking them for one of their albums, and getting it via AirDrop

    Isn't this known as "squirting"?

     

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    Overcast (profile), Jun 7th, 2011 @ 8:57am

    SO in other words.. it's not so much different than trading copies of cassette tapes or 8-tracks. Something people have done since day-one of the ability to record music..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 11:35am

    This service blows away Amazon and Google's. Congrats to the labels and Apple.

     

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      HothMonster, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      It may be better than google's but I won't know because I already uploaded my music to google and currently it is not costing me anything. We'll see how good google's service is by the time they start trying to charge.

      Yes congrats to the labels for demanding and receiving money for another companies work, tech, hardware, service, support and innovation. Congrats to taking profits away from a company to collect fees for songs I already paid them for. Congrats on being huge jags.

       

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