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Swapping Clock Cycles for Free Music? 281

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it dept.
droopus writes "USA Today is reporting on an innovative business model for the music business. Free music for your spare CPU cycles. Honest Thief says the firm has developed software, to be available in the second quarter of this year, that will enable file-sharing providers to capitalize on the unused CPU cycles of their members. That in turn would allow them to raise money to compensate artists for the use of their material. Honest Thief said the software, known as ThankYou 2.0, enables a peer-to-peer file-sharing client to turn the computers of digital music fans into nodes in a distributed net. By leasing out the processor power on distributed nets to research facilities the firm could generate revenues that would be distributed back to the musicians. Some very smart people have suggested this before, but this seems like the first real implementation. "
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Swapping Clock Cycles for Free Music?

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  • by ddstreet (49825) <ddstreet@iee[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:36PM (#5478922) Homepage
    I thought Kazaa already did this [slashdot.org]?

    Although, Kazaa hid it from the users, and kept the profits for themselves...

  • plain and simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yoha (249396) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:37PM (#5478930)
    your PC just sitting there is not worth $150/year. If it were, then the company would just buy one for $450, and depreciate it over 3 years.
    • by odyrithm (461343) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:38PM (#5478946)
      your forgeting to include electricity and admin costs.
      • Re:plain and simple (Score:2, Interesting)

        by odyrithm (461343)
        to add, just look at how well seti@home used spare cpu cycles and then tell me its not worth it.
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:20PM (#5479310)
        as pointed out, the company does not have to pay for the electricity costs of a million PCs.



        additionally,
        it does not have to pay for the air conditioning costs to keep them cool too. Moreover beyond money you dont have to generate the electricity to power and cool the waste heat. instead the heat is dumped in the users homes and is not waste: it subtracts directy from the heat bill. and uses clean-water, clean air, anti-war nuclear power instead of say oil or gas (for which we fight wars).

        Or even build a building, thus lessening development forces and consumption of water.

        also this halves smaller disposal problem of computers. certainly they save on disposla costs. But also the land fill has fewer computers in it total (i.e. the one on your desk and the one in their rack will go to the dump --thats 2 computers. Or if you share it then that's only one computer in the dump)

        by promoting electronic distribution (legal that is) of music we save the cost of millions of shipped packages every year containing CDs.

        Since I might be willing to pay more for broad band if I were effectively getting a rebate on my use of it, it will promote broadband usage and higher profits for the companies that provide it, while not costing me more.

      • Save on admin costs? You think they will be saving on admin costs?

        I assume that you have never worked on a software product that was distributed world wide to a bunch to dolts who don't know anything about their computer, but can load a P2P client. Trust me, if the company wants this to work, they will offer a 24/7 support line, and it will be full. It will be full all the time... with idiots... just like the ones every software mfr has. It could be cheeper to have that PC inhouse on a 10Mb network.

        2cents
  • by metallikop (649953) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:38PM (#5478944)
    I dont have spare cycles, i have mp3s to encode.
  • Great Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Camel Pilot (78781) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:38PM (#5478949) Homepage Journal
    Since the folks who download music are more likely to "borrow" that cd of Office it would make sense that the first few CPU cycles used will be to send MS or other software supplier a list of all unregistered software on your system. This idea really does work.
  • wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by playagame (652532)
    It sounds really great but it begs the question how much free music for how much cpu power and then what is the point if you are going to download other illegal music anyway, well I guess you may be able to find something in 192kbs that wasn't on kazaa.
    • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      it begs the question how much free music for how much cpu power

      Not really

      Has the entirety of Slashdot fallen for yet another "redefinition scam"? Lots of people talking about how great this compromise sounds, and failing to consider something which seems, IMO, very obvious...

      We already have COMPLETELY FREE music distribution. ClearChannel has currently cornered the market on it, but a few college stations still exist with a "real" playlist.

      The entire issue of internet radio just serves to blur some lines thanks to the magical argument of "but this uses DIGITAL transmission". I thought the Slashdot crowd had enough of a clue to see through that argument, and usually take companies to task for even daring to suggest using it.

      And now some company has very "generously" found a way to save all us poor little geeklings from having to pay for something we don't presently pay for anyway?

      ThankYou 2?

      FuckYou too.

      Go take your sad little attept to find yet another way to screw the consumers by "giving" them something they already have (in this case "services rendered" rather than actual cash payments), and leave us the hell alone.

      When the RIAA et al come to their senses and get a clue, I'll consider go back to paying their pleasure tax. In the mean time, my music collection has grown roughly 3x faster for the same money by buying $5/CD indie music directly from the artists (of which, the artist gets far more than they would for major-label discs), instead of $15/CD for canned formula-pop-hit trash.

      Bitter? Hell yeah! I've grown *SO* sick of hearing about various attempts to repackage something we already have for free (or cheap) and charge us more for it...
  • Uh, riiiight. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quaoar (614366) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:40PM (#5478966)
    As if research institutions have the money to pay people for all those clock cycles. Hell, people do it for SETI for free and SETI *still* has money problems.
    • Re:Uh, riiiight. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dutchmaan (442553)
      I may be wrong about this but didn't SETI's funding get cut BECAUSE they were getting so many free CPU cycles from their application.
    • As if research institutions have the money to pay people for all those clock cycles. Hell, people do it for SETI for free and SETI *still* has money problems.

      But, ahem.. they aren't giving money away. They are selling your processing time. Which means they are getting money, not paying it. SETI is using your processing time to do something with no pay. This thing would act as a reseller of your processing time and using the money to pay for your songs.

      Of course, it's hard to imagine your processor time is worth enough to pay for those songs.

      • Actually, the hardest part seems to be getting software developers to code a centralized application that does something sensible with packaging up data into small chunks to send out for distributed processing, efficiently gets the results back, and puts them together into a useful result.

        The idea of having millions of CPUs "on tap" to crunch a corporation's figures seems quite tantalizing. I think it loses much of its initial luster, though, when they start looking at what it takes to make it go.

        Not only do they have to code clients (possibly for multiple platforms, if they don't want only Windows users participating), but they have to provide a level of support (updates?) to said clients, ensure everything is secure (the data is useless if people are altering the results before sending them back, and the infrastructure can't catch that and filter/block it), *and* keep the "core" of it running, so it's efficiently picking up the processed data that keeps coming in, chunk by chunk.
  • by reaper20 (23396) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:40PM (#5478967) Homepage
    People already donate CPU cycles, if you really want to donate, try clicking on things in Kazaa, you'll know your donating enough cycles when you get a nice gray window that repaints your desktop as you move it. Take that distributed.net.

    At least now, I can have my PC slow to a crawl AND help artists.
  • But .....? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rudy_wayne (414635) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:40PM (#5478974)
    Aren't the vast majority of people still on 56k dial-up connections? Is it really possible to do "distributed computing" using computers that are constantly being turned on and off at irregular and unpredictable intervals?
    • Re:But .....? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmigaAvenger (210519) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:43PM (#5479008) Journal
      seti at home works well for dialup. you grab the large datapack, and hack away for hours/days. we aren't talking real time distributed computing

      besides, the dialup users are not the concern of the RIAA and friends. That one mp3 per hour doesn't amount to much, at least compared to when I queue up a couple hundred and average about 1 every 30 seconds.

    • Re:But .....? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Limburgher (523006) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:43PM (#5479011) Homepage Journal
      Yes, it is. Folding@Home, and possibly SETI, I can't remember, check for a connection before transmitting a packet of crunched numbers. I think Folding will even dial, transmit, downoad and disconnect, if you want it to, IRRC. Been awhile since that machine died though, so I could be mistaken.
    • Yes, it is. (Score:2, Informative)

      "Is it really possible to do "distributed computing" using computers that are constantly being turned on and off at irregular and unpredictable intervals?"

      Yes, if your system is designed right. Remember, seti@home doesn't require extensive communication to work, it handles 250K packets which are handled over several hours or a day, and then returned, and new information is gathered. This keeps the master servers from being hammered to death. Also, they're redundantly assigned, to make sure of data integrity, and if a client never returns a result, another one with the same packet probably will. It's no good for small jobs, but big jobs, like weather modelling, key cracking, analyzing RF signals, etc, should be fine.
    • Re:But .....? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Songblade001 (655086)
      Well, it would be feasible for any computationally intensive tasks like folding [stanford.edu], where it takes a long time to work on a single, relatively small work unit. A few minutes to download a work unit, a few hours to process it and voila! Of course, finding a suitable project that you can make money at would be hard.
  • by pardasaniman (585320) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:41PM (#5478978) Journal
    Looks like they can use all the CPU cycles they can get right now!!

    Artist: Where's the Cash?

    Honest Thief: All the cash we raised went into taking in that last slashdotting.
  • by quikgrit (638508) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:41PM (#5478979) Journal
    No, it wasn't /.ed after 4 posts...

    http://www.thehonestthief.com/ is the correct URL.

  • Sorry... (Score:3, Funny)

    by TheVidiot (549995) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:42PM (#5478995) Homepage
    My CPU is busy downloading MP3s...
  • Not really... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dunar (575371)
    If I'm giving up my clock cycles, it's not really free, is it?

    I have come to believe there is no "free music", just a point where ones tolerance is higher than the perceived level of annoyance caused by the "not free" (whether it's commercials, Carson Daily, or unused processor cycles...)
  • This could work... (Score:3, Informative)

    by gunne (14408) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:42PM (#5478999) Homepage
    ...but I don't think so. The RIAA & co. wouldn't be interested, beacuse they would not understad the concept. Believe me, they _never_ understand the concepts of new innovations.
    Since they will not understand it, they will boycott it and try to ban it.

    Geeks wouldn't want to install something that surely will be delivered with a 1096-page EULA stating that Honest Thief can do whatever they please with your CPU, whenever they please, and that they may close your account when they feel like it.

    And Joe Sixpack couldn't use it either, because his ISP would ban this bandwith hog.

    That's just the way it is, and I am _not_ pessimistic.
    • > Geeks wouldn't want to install something that surely will be delivered with a 1096-page EULA
      They would if the EULA had 1024 pages ;)
    • The RIAA & co. wouldn't be interestedthey would not understad the concept. Believe me, they _never_ understand the concepts of new innovations.

      On the contrary, they understand it very well.

      Big-business music saw the internet for what it was almost immediately: their death-knell. Not because it makes "piracy" easy, but because it makes distribution easy.

      Before the internet, musicians were beholden to the record labels, because they had no other choice - if they wanted to become "rich and famous", they needed someone to distribute their music.

      The internet changed that - it's now conceivably possible for an artist to distribute their music to a worldwide audience, without relying on a music label.

      The record labels see the writing on the wall. They know that the days of the "slave-labour" contracts are almost over, and they're doing everything they can to prevent it. We're just witnessing their death throes.

      Since they will not understand it, they will boycott it and try to ban it.

      They'll try to ban it alright, not because they don't understand it, but because they realize that it brings their demise that much closer.
  • Now all we need is automatic music mastering and effects software that makes use of all the spare CPU cycles... Then the studios can use the users cpus to make music(?) that the users can share in exchange for their CPU cycles...

    (?) - see the Backstreet Boys [backstreetboys.com] website to see why most studios produce is of questionable musicallity...
  • by writertype (541679) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:43PM (#5479007)
    I confess I don't understand the business model here. It seems like Honest Thief is offering to pay record companies from the proceeds from an arguably untested business model, which would generate an unknown amount of money that would be divided among an unknown number of people in an unknown number of ways.

    It seems to make more sense to offer the CPU cycles directly to sound production studios for post-production audio, to transform tomorrow's raspy-voiced bimbo into the sultry songbird that studios want and crave.

    Just the 2003 version of an ad-driven "free" ISP service, I'm afraid.
  • No way... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TopShelf (92521) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:43PM (#5479010) Homepage Journal
    This business model just doesn't make sense. HonestThief is going to compensate users with something they could get for free (illegally) anyway and in a way that's much less portable than cash - so where is the user's incentive? On top of that, HonestThief will have to provide the music store and infrastructure to provide that "payment," not just to the users but the musicians as well. Seems like a MAJOR distraction, as opposed to simply cutting checks for the equivalent value to the users.
  • Concerns... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX_the_Linux_Zealot (227666) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:44PM (#5479024) Journal
    As a business model, I could come to respect this as a method, but I do have some concerns:
    • Nature of data processing - I'd for one like to know what they'd want to use my computer for. It's pretty clear what Distributed.net and Seti@home do, but businesses often don't have the best interests of consumers in mind, so this would be important.

    • Compensation - I'd like to know how they'd compensate me for the CPU time. Operating computers isn't free, and the electricity costs of running the machine (especially in a desert like Phoenix) could outweigh the benefit, to where it would be cheaper for us to go get CDs. Also, are they compensating us by the packet, giving us a certain download limit, or is simply being connected enough?

    • Malicious Users - If they are compensating by giving access based on how much data return or CPU time spent, I'd next be worried that they wouldn't do an adequate job enforcing proper use. Remember, Seti@home is plagued by individuals faking packet processing, simply to increase their stats artificially, and they're not even being compensated for their troubles. Additionally, the possibility of abuse, like some high school student running the process on the 30 computers in his or her lab exists, and that would cause all kinds of abuse of equipment problems, that could leave the school district with the feeling that the abuse was committed by the company who made the software, rather than simply by the student.


    Barring these concerns, I would see this as possibly viable...
    • Re:Concerns... (Score:3, Informative)

      by override11 (516715)
      Compensation = .... Umm, you get to use their P2P network and download MP3's...

      I didnt even have to read the article to tell you this, just read the dang summary, sheesh...
      • This just opens up another problem. How do you ensure the system-- especially a P2P system-- is reporting accurately? How hard would it be for a node to mistakenly swap the billing records for something requiring 5 minutes of CPU time, with, say, a free-content song requiring no payback, or alternatively, something the producers demand 6 hours of CPU time for?

        How does it handle refunds (these files were bad, 32k bitrate, not what I expected?)

        Finally, I can't see this system working unless people can develop an overdraft-- download the songs, then pay for them. Nobody's going to wait 3 hours between downloads to pay them off one at a time. Of course, if you allow an overdraft, then they close the account and leave the firm holding the bag.
    • The example of the high school kid isn't really a valid one for 'malicious users.' The student wouldn't be abusing the system, he would just be trading MORE cycles for MORE mp3s. The lost processor time would be the responsibility of the administrator to reclaim.
  • Simpson's Did It! (Score:2, Informative)

    by _bug_ (112702)
    See here [com.com]. The evildoers were Brilliant Digital Entertainment [brilliantdigital.com].

    This time around its Honest Theif [honestthief.com].

    When will the naming of companies with oxymorons end?!
  • I don't leave my computers at home on all that much, though. Saving electricity and all.

    I'm not quite sure how you are going to get the RIAA clan to trade cycles for music. They much prefer dollars.

    -S
  • "Available in the second quarter" is not a real implementation, it's vapourware, at least for now.
  • clock cycles from a computer are worth Cents on the day.... hell we leave our comp on all day and it costs us jack-nothing almost.

    You can sell that distributed power to firms and even they are going to realize how much the true cost/value of such a net is.

    which in turn is going to make the value of selling such power go down... the revenue from even selling 80% of Kazzaa's distributed computing wouldn't match the "lost" sales of even just the TOP 40 artists or so "traded" on the P2P network. Much less the huge amount of other artists who become .... traded....

    the real solution is to stay ahead of the RIAA , MPAA, DRM, and paladium/itanium by cracking their shit quickly until the media industry is forced to re-shape itself into a more communal buisness model which would award the artists more and promote the local talent more.

    -- enter the sig --
  • I like this, and I get the feeling it just may work. People inevitably feel a bit guitly about file sharing; this will let them be free of said guilt, and let the RIAA get off their backs. Now we need to see the P2P apps bundling this with their downloads.

    Now, if they port it to Linux/Mac OS X (I say Linux because I'll just recompile it).

    This could work; and if the RIAA are smart, maybe there will be a court order for Kazaa to bundle it with their downloads, or for it to be required to be running this program when running any P2P app?

    Now, if only the RIAA will pull their heads out of their asses, they could be compensated for P2P programs, and be able to set up their own online music biz _without_ investing anything.

  • I think most applications/jobs that people run these days aren't CPU-bound, so I'd say that offering CPU cycles won't attract much of a customer base. I like the idea though - I just don't think offering CPU is as of yet something that will catch on. CPU cycles are just too cheap these days.
  • by Anand_S (638598) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:51PM (#5479098)
    Aww, man. I only have a Celeron 500. Does that mean I'm going to get stuck with "The Best of Perry Como"?
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by deanj (519759) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:53PM (#5479121)
    Just yesterday Eminem was wondering where he could get some spare CPU cycles to do his computations with. Good thing they thought of this!
  • by Gefiltefish11 (611646) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:53PM (#5479123)

    Geek perspective: If you let me dl your music (something I want), I'll let you have my unused cycles (something that is surely valuable).

    Evaluation: Fair trade

    RIAA perspective: You want to drive to my house, take my stuff, and drive away. In exchange for me allowing you to rob me blind (yes, this is the way the RIAA thinks, despite absence of evidence), you're offering to let me borrow your shitty old car while you're not using it??

    Evaluation: You're still a god damned thief, geek boy. Go to hell!

  • This sounds like a great option for all us musicians who download other peoples tunes and feel guilty about it...but don't stop. I wouldn't mind doing this at all with the provision that spyware not be included...and that I could control exactley what it looked at. (No! Don't report that copy of Sound Forge! Damn!)

    -Doc

  • I have to ask... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Salden (571264) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:57PM (#5479154)
    Since the article is slashdotted, is there some ratio of operations performed to bits downloaded? Would people with faster CPUs be able to download more music?
  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Monday March 10, 2003 @03:59PM (#5479171) Journal
    Ie, trojan horse?

    Unless such an endeavour was open source, why would you trust it?

    Frankly, these guys are asking for more trust than most people would extend their next-door neighbours. And abusing that trust would be far too easy.

    Yes, SETI, distributed.net have shown the altruistic potential of such software but we're not talking about non-profit organisations here, we're talking about corporations, and the only language that corporations know is the language of money. And people interested in making money don't always put other people's (data) security high up on their list of priorities.

    To be honest, I'd rather spend some hard cash buying music online or in the local record store. At least that way I know I'll never wake up one day to find that my system's been hacked by a script kiddie who was given the keys to my virtual front door by a "harmless" piece of software.

    A touch paranoid, perhaps, but better safe than sorry is my motto.
    • Cut out the RIAA (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday March 10, 2003 @07:01PM (#5480606)
      >I'd rather spend some hard cash buying music online or in the local record store

      Me too. Its somewhat hypocritical to condemn the RIAA and keep sucking the top 40 teat. There are plenty of indie bands out there which not only sound great (of course music taste is subjective), but also sell CDs for 10 dollars and throw eight dollar concerts. Its not like its hard to find lots [epitonic.com] of indie music [google.com].

      I'm getting tired of hearing how we can appease the RIAA. They don't want a truce, they want you to buy their shiny CDs at 16 bucks a pop, listen to their radio stations and commercials, and go see their overpriced shows plus play the ticketmaster tax.

      Capitalism is supposed to decentralize power, the RIAA is as centralized as you can get. Cut them out, ignore their products, and give your money to other markets.

      Even if selling cycles was 10x more profitable, they still wouldn't got for it. Maintaining the current system is much more profitable and they're already commited to DRM and already told MP3 traders to piss off.
    • trojan horse?

      It's called a sandbox. Assuming you trust HonestThief, they can write their software such that it safely execute the code of their clients. This approach can cut down on effective CPU throughput (think: Java) if it's not done right.

      Note that access to most resources (printer, screen, network, etc.) isn't necessary for the computations that HonestThief's client's code would be doing. They might provide a disk cache of some sort, or even an API to pass messages back out to the network to other processing nodes. I dunno.

      Of course, even trusting that HonestThief does write the daemon with an eye towards security and sandboxing, it will be hard for them to get it right on their first try (whether they're pre-verifying the opcodes or using a full blown java-esque approach).

      However, this doesn't really matter in the end: big clients spending lots of money on processing power have better things to do than to write virii for which they will go to jail. The biggest danger would be from criminals who subvert the program (prehaps by masquerading as HonestThief.com?).

  • The man behind this corporation doesn't have a very good name in the Netherlands. (Pieter Plass). He has already been trying to hype his 'honest thief' service on various occasions (the last years). Without releasing one single byte. [plass.nl]

    He has also shown in the past that he had no real knowledge about P2P, he just follows the buzzwords. Just look the silly honest thief site...

    Just some weirdo who desperately wants to become rich and who thinks he is very cool. I think this service will utterly fail.. (unless perhaps he convinced some skillfull developers with his peptalks, but I hope they are smarter...).
    • by MS_is_the_best (126922) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:03PM (#5479197)
      The man behind this corporation doesn't have a very good name in the Netherlands. (Pieter Plass [plass.nl]). He has already been trying to hype his 'honest thief' service on various occasions (the last years). Without releasing one single byte.

      He has also shown in the past that he had no real knowledge about P2P, he just follows the buzzwords. Just look the silly honest thief site...

      Just some weirdo who desperately wants to become rich and who thinks he is very cool. I think this service will utterly fail.. (unless perhaps he convinced some skillfull developers with his peptalks, but I hope they are smarter...).
  • Not viable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acidrain69 (632468) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:01PM (#5479183) Journal
    I highly doubt this will be a viable revenue stream for the music industries. Think about how much they get for an average CD as far as profit goes. Now compare that to your average MP3 downloader. Computer processing power is cheap. If your average person downloads an album a month (a SEVERELY conservative estimate) that is a $15-20 album that isn't sold. Over the course of a year, you are seeing $180-$240 given out in free downloads (that is the album cost @ 1 album/month). You may as well just BUY a board and chip and case for that price and network it locally. You can get a middle of the road AMD or Intel processor and board for that cost, and possibly fit in the case cost. If it has onboard lan, just pop some memory in and you're good to go. Use network booting, maybe a MOSIX cluster or something.

    Don't forget to add in the salaries of all the people who have to run this "P2P for cycles" system. Development costs. Administration. Those are people that could just be running the purchased cluster, instead of trying to milk P2P somehow. I think this is just a shot in the dark. Or a conspiracy to fingerprint downloads, as someone else mentioned.
    • Re:Not viable (Score:3, Informative)

      by infolib (618234)
      If your average person downloads an album a month (a SEVERELY conservative estimate) that is a $15-20 album that isn't sold.

      That's as far as revenue goes. Profit is not nearly that much. (I'd guess the retailer alone takes ~40%) With these costs shaved off, people will probably buy more music, perhaps generating more profit from less revenue. CPU cycles may still be too cheap, but you haven't proven it.

      What's worse, you're propagating that dead "every-file-downloaded-is-a-CD-sale-lost" argument. While there may be a (documented?) correlation, it's much more subtle. Besides, its so Hillary Rosen.
      • That's as far as revenue goes. Profit is not nearly that much. (I'd guess the retailer alone takes ~40%) With these costs shaved off, people will probably buy more music, perhaps generating more profit from less revenue. CPU cycles may still be too cheap, but you haven't proven it.
        True, but that just reinforces my argument, that they would not recoup enough on this. Your argument that this will generate more profit doesn't necessarily catch either. If this is available for free (especially since they are proposing this be legal file trading, liscensed by the big 4 or whatever), then there AREN'T profits generated from people downloading, but from researchers paying for CPU time. That doesn't mean they will buy more, any more than "every file downloaded is a CD sale lost". BTW, I didn't mean to propogate that argument. And I certainly take offense to the Hillary Rosen comparison :)
        • Consider also, the drop in costs for the labels. All they will need to pay for is studio time and the like... All those CD's that people now are not buying, you don't have the expense of distribution and packaging you do now. You aren't even paying for pressing the CD! This would cut their expenses immensely, which could make the relatively small revenue of this plan work. Granted, they will still be producing traditional CD's for those who dont' buy into this service, but they wouldn't be producing as many.

          I think its worth a try, so long as the beneficiaries of our cycles are disclosed.
          • Consider also, the drop in costs for the labels. All they will need to pay for is studio time and the like... All those CD's that people now are not buying, you don't have the expense of distribution and packaging you do now. You aren't even paying for pressing the CD! This would cut their expenses immensely, which could make the relatively small revenue of this plan work. Granted, they will still be producing traditional CD's for those who dont' buy into this service, but they wouldn't be producing as many.
            Studio time yes, but what are you cutting out of this? Cover art, distribution, what am I missing? Distribution of CD's shouldn't be very expensive. Think of the bandwidth problem: at some point, it becomes cheaper and faster to throw something on a 9 gig DAT tape and mail it 1st class than it does to send it over the internet. Now, granted, you are now compressing those 800MB/80 minute discs into MP3's, so you don't have to send as much down the line, but no one except the record companies is going to be able to determine which becomes cheaper. I'll agree that distribution costs are a factor, but think of it as an economy of scale. If you are sending like 200 lbs/kilos/whatever of CD's to a Best Buy down the road, what are the bandwidth costs to send those 200 lbs/kilos/whatever of CD's over the internet?

            What about limitations? It seems the recording industry is DEAD set against giving anything away (selling or otherwise) without protection in place. I personally am going to reject any copy protected (read: crippled) media. Why release this stuff for free on someone's CPU-fer-files P2P when it can just end up on Kazaa/Gnutella/WinMX/Freenet/blah blah blah etc etc ad nausseum? I think the cat is already out of the bag. P2P isn't going anywhere without totally crippling the internet, which IMO will destroy ISP's. Not that they won't have any business at all, but they will have a LOT LESS business.
  • by SirSlud (67381)
    You want to pay me for my unused PC cycles?

    Fine.

    You want me to pay for my music?

    Fine.

    Why tie one to the other? Sounds like a stupid idea to me.
  • by Illserve (56215) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:05PM (#5479215)
    Before I allow some peer to peer client the ability to let other users run programs on my machine.

    err... on purpose that is

    I'm sure Kazaa already has plenty of ways to let users do this, but ignorance is bliss.

  • by Freqdog (655406) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:05PM (#5479218)
    how it would work exactly is another question.. but clients could generate beats/tones/tempos/vocals and the p2p system would be the means of bandwidth needs..

    clients could vote if they like whats being generated and the music would shift accordingly..

    just an idea
  • by Richard Mills (17522) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:09PM (#5479244)
    There are some fundamental problems with this proposed business model, but I won't get into those. My problem with this is that spare CPU cycles that they intend to use simply aren't worth very much because of the slow and unreliable nature of the network connectivity that most users will have. While SETI@home and distributed.net work on "embarassingly parallel" problems that require very little communication, many, many problems that people are interesting in paying money to solve require regular communication between nodes and thus some guarantee on the quality of network service. Some amount X of spare CPU cycles on machines using 56K modem connections (or even cable or DSL modems) just isn't worth nearly as much as an equivalent amount of spare CPU cyles on machines connected by something like gigabit ethernet... or even switched fast ethernet.
  • by stevejsmith (614145) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:18PM (#5479301) Homepage
    This seems sort of ridiculous, only because of the power of our processors. Do you really thank that one x86 processor which is connected by no more than a 256 kb/s connectionis going to be worth more than $5 a year or so to the ILM? I think not. They want huge Sun servers with gigabytes of memory which can crush numbers that rival that of the bloat of your Mozilla installation which you use to download the software. The money that you'll be earning will not be enough to buy more than one CD every couple of months, let alone the massive quantities of anything you can get your hands on needed to fill that 200 gigabyte quota you need to get onto that amazing DC++ hub you'll be downloading.
    • Yeah, but there are currently 40 million users online on Kazaa ae I'm writing this. Now, 40 million times a couple of GHz per user distributed all over the net do add up to a couple of clock cycles that ILM could use to create Jar Jar Binks' grand children in Star Wars VII or whatever they like.

      Plus, they can buy it on demand when they need it and don't have to invest in hardware that gets useless after a couple of months.
  • Knowing the quality of the crap I see on these networks, these shared spare CPU cycles are likely to be ridden with floating point errors, cycles that stop short, cycles that loop the same instructions over and over again, and cycles from a PPC mislabeled as Pentium cycles.
  • by k3v0 (592611) <k3v0.k3v0@net> on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:44PM (#5479513) Homepage Journal
    broadcast everything over radiofrequency waves for everyone to hear and then play ads during the broadcast.... oh wait. that wont work...
    • It works for radio, because radio transmission is analog, and, if you make an mp3 from an analog signal, the mp3 will degrade with every copy. Ask the RIAA, if you don't believe me.
  • by mojotooth (53330) <mojotooth@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:45PM (#5479519) Journal
    Assuming a business model like the following, which may or may not closely resemble this 'Thank You' software:

    - User runs a distributed computing app on his computer, accumulating credits of some kind on a per work-unit basis.

    - User can cash in his work-unit credits for merchandise, music, software, whatever.

    This could have interesting impact on the whole "how much CPU power is too much" question. Suddenly there are more reasons than just bragging rights to have the fastest CPU on the block. I wonder if Intel or AMD would start to encourage this kind of thing.
    • Sure.

      We've even got a distribution network in-place already for the prizes: The public school fund-raiser companies!

      One ought to be able to get at least a 50-cent coloring book and a set of Hello Kitty stickers out of a couple of weeks worth of XP 2100. And of course, every kid who shows up to the meetings gets a free box of Cracker Jacks, even if they've only got a 386.

      I can see this proven, time-tested business model working quite marvelously.

  • by joe_janitor (628983) on Monday March 10, 2003 @04:45PM (#5479522)
    So... I can barter my cpu cycles for music through this system... that's nice. What if there were a way that I could provide my CPU cycles for others to use, and get some kind of "generic credit" in return.

    Then, I could use that "generic credit" to buy music, or EVEN OTHER THINGS! Hell, what if I could provide ANY service or product and get this generic credit??

    Maybe we could call it "money".
  • nonsence thinking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by peluche23 (546186)
    I guess I like the idea, but how much money will my dual Pentium computer at home will be making a year for the artists? Would they keep stats that tells you how much your PC made in profit for the music companies? That would be interesting, thinking of all my friends with either DSL or Cable Modems at home thart leave their computer on 24/7. So if you work 8 hours a day and sleep about 4, that 12 hours your PC would be working for them.
  • :Some very smart people have suggested this before, but this seems like the first real implementation.

    One dont need to be smart to proclaim the benefits of using idle PC time for the distributed computing. Quite [parabon.com] a [uniteddevices.com] few [entropia.com] companies [appliedmeta.com] are already doing just that.

    It's now purely the issue of effective marketing and sales, not the technology. And grabbing CPU cycles to compensate musicians is just another business plan, certainly neat in idea, but not exactly novel.

  • That's the network that RIAA/MPAA execs use to distribute revenues so that the artists see very little of it, right?
  • Thank You implies we should be thanking the RIAA for something, doesn't it?

    Oh yeah, thanks for suing us for not breaking the law and increasing your sales.
    Thanks for adding bad copy protection to CDs we purchase for way too much and own.
    Thanks for having no other recourse.
    Please use my computer to make more money.

    Please and Thank You.

  • Micro payments (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dark Bard (627623)
    Could be an interesting way to address micro payments. They maintain an on-line account that builds credits for the useage. This account could be accessed for any micro charges. Newspaper articles and such. I'm loath to hand out my credit card number to every site out there but a CPU useage account would be more like found money. Not sure how viable the whole approach is but there are definate uses for any funds that it would generate even if they have not off-line cash value.
  • I'm not sure I would do it. But its a reasonable idea, so long as you are at least notified of who is using your clock cycles and why.

    Ideally, there would be options as to what research projects you are willing to support. I would blow a gasket if my cycles were used to support research into abortion(personal feelings, if you support it, thats your business), but research into cancer drugs I wouldn't have any problem with...

    The minimum of course is knowing who you are supporting with those cycles. I wouldn't even consider it if I didn't have a list of what companies and organizations my cycles are being donated to.
  • by kien (571074) <kien@nospAM.member.fsf.org> on Monday March 10, 2003 @07:51PM (#5481003) Journal
    I'm glad to see this development occur, because now the recording studios have to expose their true motive, the one we've all known about for some time now: they don't care about their copyrights, they just want to preserve their distribution channels so that they can continue to engage in the same anti-trust actions that have made them so much money in the past.

    Here we have a company that is perfectly willing to pay them for their copyright claims. Yet, quoting from the article:
    Plass said the record industry, which fought a legal battle to shutter Napster and has a lawsuit pending against Kazaa, had been "quite hostile" to his initiative.

    Record-label executives believe the Netherlands ruling in favor of Kazaa will eventually be reversed and have said they will press ahead with an effort to enforce their rights world-wide.

    This pretty much reveals it all. In fact, that second paragaph is particularly interesting; "...and have said they will press ahead with an effort to enforce their rights". Anti-trust legislators around the world should really begin asking them exactly what "rights" they're really trying to enforce, because it's quite obviously not copyrights that they're interested in. And when a cartel believe it has a right to control distribution, governments should have an interest in protecting the public from the corruption of that cartel. And if the recording industry is not a corrupt cartel [cnet.com], then Microsoft is not a monopoly [albion.com].

    --K.
  • Obvious Comment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by philipkd (528838)
    Okay, if this is truly expected to work, it begs the question why hasn't its nonexistent ancestor ever worked? Why isn't there a business model where I can just get paid for my spare CPU cycles. Why give the money to the muscians. Just give it to me.

    Because such a thing hasn't been made by our uber-fast progress of dot-com creation, then most likely, it doesn't work.

    Suicide is the true mark of an advanced civilization - philipd

  • by jetmarc (592741) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:44AM (#5483388)
    I don't think that HonestThief can function, because

    1. RIAA won't let him distribute music electronically without restrictions (DRM) no matter how much he pays them per song. RIAA views at every unlocked MP3 as source of hundreds, if not thousands of pirate copies.

    2. CPU cycles are difficult to sell, especially when they are not reliable (client might just disappear for a month) and not trustworthy (client might sabotage the project by producing false computation results).

    I see a possible way for it to function, but it would be a complete rip-off. Note that this not related to reality at all - it's pure imagination. I possess no knowledge about HonestThief (I've not even read the article, just the Slashdot comments!).

    A. don't intend to pay the music producers at all, just prepare to disappear within a months (or go bankrupt)

    B. don't intend to sell the CPU cycles. Instead, consume them yourself. The best (but most illegal!) purpose would be to crack some cryptographic secret that can be turned into money later. You know, bank network security etc - let your imagination play..

    I'm not suggesting that HonestThief is planning any such thing.. It's just that I can't figure out how his business model can work.

    Marc

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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