Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Media Government The Courts News

Google Wins the Filesharing Wars? 200

Posted by Hemos
from the winner-takes-all dept.
The Importance of writes "Compulsory licensing schemes such as those proposed by the EFF have been critiqued, but now LawMeme has an interesting article that claims Google will win the filesharing wars if a compulsory license is adopted."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Wins the Filesharing Wars?

Comments Filter:
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:24AM (#6962497) Journal
    Yesterday in the subway, there was a man reading a newspaper written with about nothing but chinese characters.

    There was a word written in roman script, though, which I understood.

    The word was GOOGLE...

  • What's that you say? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptainAlbert (162776) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:28AM (#6962514) Homepage
    Compulsory licensing, eh? What's that when it's at home?

    Perhaps I haven't been following closely enough, but exactly who is to be compelled to license what, from whom? Is this a big license signed between big companies, or a little license signed by people who listen to music, or those who make it, or just those who download it, or is it a shrink-wrap license like you get with software? Is it free, or does someone pay for it? Who? How much? What does it all mean? Am I the only person who doesn't know? PLEASE MOM, I WANT TO KNOW? WHY? WHY?

    Ahem.
    • Compulsory Licensing (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A Compulsory license is one which defines a preset rate for anyone to use without discrimination. Eg. The radio stations have a compulsory license that allows them to play any song they like as long as they pay the rights holder an amount based on number of listeners.

      Musicians also have a compulsory license that allows them to perform or record any song written as long as the songwriter get payed a set amount.
    • by !the!bad!fish! (704825) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:37AM (#6962540) Homepage
      From EFF Makeing P2P Legal [eff.org]
      The first American compulsory was adopted when the music industry fought the Napster of 1909: the player piano. Sheet music publishers claimed that the creation of piano-readable sheets was against the law and that they should have the right to monopolize the booming piano roll industry. Congress disagreed and instead crafted a compulsory license that paid recording artists while protecting the new technology. Today, this license allows bands to record (or "cover") another band's song (so long as they've paid the $.08 per copy of the recorded track).
      • The most information I could find about this is:

        The upcoming Killing... reissue, which will reportedly not include MEGADETH's cover of the Nancy Sinatra classic "These Boots Are Made For Walking" after the original writer of the song, Lee Hazelwood, refused to grant the group the rights to re-release the track, will contain an as-yet-undisclosed "big surprise", according to the frontman. (http://www.angelfire.com/fl2/wvummetalshow/oldne w s.html)

        The original version was originally released on CD without '
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:01AM (#6962625) Journal
      I think it is something like the TV license. Not sure if the rest of the world has it so I will explain.

      In England and Holland you have to pay a license fee to the goverment (well a subset of it) for each receiver. It was originally a sum made up out of the number of radios, bw tv's and color tv's you had. Later this was simplified at least in holland.

      From this license fee the programs were funded. In england this is the BBC who own a couple of stations and are required by the law to supply programming to the intrest of the nation. In the netherlands we have license holders who according to the number of members they have, membership fee is about 5 dollars last time I checked, get a number of hours to fill on the various radio channels and a amount of slots on the tv channels. In holland they also get income out of advertising. England doesn't have ads. Hmmmm adfree simpsons.

      Because you need to pay the license fee on the basis of owning a receiver, not based on actual consumption you can say it is compusery. When the original home computers came out they used ordinary tv's, with receivers for their displays. This of course meant a hike in your license fees despite the fact that you did not watch any tv with them.

      On the other hand the fee was hardly gigantic and it ensured that tv was of a reasonable quality. BBC programs are known around the world for their execellence (no I don't mean their news service). Dutch programs slightly less because of the language barrier nonetheless they used to win international prices routinely.

      Plus it assured a restrained amount of ads. They are only allowed between programs. Plus programs are thightly regulated on things like sponsoring.

      Okay now I explained tv licenses. You may have heard of the BBC director proposing to put all their content on the net. You see because it is a semi-goverment company paid by the citizens according to written law you could say that these citizens have paid for the creation of the content and therefore OWN the content. So copyright in this case becomes far less of an issue. Even more because the BBC can rely on its income from the licenses it doesn't rely have to worry about how the content it creates is watched. No ranting about people not watching the ads, like fox did, because there aren't any. No ranting about people recording eps, in fact they have several time olds series they lost but they found copies made by viewers, and then sharing them because as long as their is a tv involved they paid to view the content.

      In holland we stopped the license fee since it was suggested that everyone owns a receiver anyway. So it is now collected through regular taxes. So it can be reasonably argued that any program is taxpayer owned.

      So their are some clear benefits to doing it this way. Sure americans probably hate it but they are a silly bunch anway.

      So why not use something similar for other content? Well the BBC is a monopoly, they get the all the money and they decide what to make with it. Of course there are all kinds of bounds and checks but a monopoly it is.

      In holland we got competition between license holders. Currently one license holder BNN is having an ad campaign to get more people to become members of them. They need X amount of members to get Y amount of tv/radio hours. The bigger you are the more and better hours you get. Although there are some minority stations that get some according to intrest group.

      But how would you do this with music? There is a lot of different companies. How would you decide how to distribute the money?

      But I think that a compulsary license would work something like what I described above. In any case at least for TV it has been proven to work.

      On the other hand we also have a different compulsary license in holland. Each DVD recordable has a .50/1.00 euro tax (depends on if it is + or - format) attached. Yes you read that right. The money goes to the movie industrie to compensate them for illegal copies. Of cour

      • government subsidies for dying industries incapable of survivng on their own in the environment today. Kind of like the government mandating that we save the dinosaurs. I think I should have that as well, my employer keeps expecting me to produce somthing worthwile or they won't pay me, I should be able to just do what I want, and my 'right to profit' should be assured just like these assinine corporations seem to think they have a 'right' to our money...

        FARK EM ALL...

        Amazing Dutch and British TV only win
    • "exactly who is to be compelled to license what, from whom?"

      It's just that sort of question people should be asking! I just wrote an article for Salon about the rhetoric [salon.com] and it was published simultaneously with a response by the EFF [salon.com].

      If you're not a Salon subscriber, you can click the free 'day pass' link for the full articles.

      By coincedene, LawMeme also reacted [yale.edu] to the pair of articles on Salon.

      I'd like to hear more specifics about alternative systems *before* I decide that they're any better.

    • Perhaps I haven't been following closely enough, but exactly who is to be compelled to license what, from whom?

      The compulsion in "compulsory licensing" is against the copyright holders. They are compelled to license their creations on terms specified by the government. (Of course, in practice their lobbyists play a major part in setting the terms, so the content industry isn't exactly a victim.) This is what allows public performances of copyrighted music, as long as royalties are paid according to the
    • PLEASE MOM, I WANT TO KNOW? WHY? WHY?


      It's another way for lazy bums to keep making money for not or little work.
  • Uses for P2P (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jd678 (577145) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:35AM (#6962533)
    So what this article is suggesting is compulsary licensing of P2P networks. I assume in this case it also requires licensees to ensure that no material is being shared that is subject to copyright control.

    Firstly, I cannot begin to comprehend the effort required to stay on top of the copyrighted material being shared around the network. File hashes can be used for sure, but imaging the resources required for checking and verifying this. Sure, a few automated systems currently exist for music, but when we're talking about w2k3 iso's, DiVX movies etc, these are going to require some serious resources, whether computing or man-power to acheive this. Certainly this will be required to satisfy the RIAA, MPAA et al.

    Secondly, assuming they acheive this, then what, in all honesty is the network going to be used for. Sure, there's currently the odd RH iso that get's distributed by bittorrent. With most sharers scared to offer their mp3 collection (ie combination of ripped of their own cd's and downloaded), few will bother weeding out their copyright free music to share. With no sharers, there's no network. Besides, at the moment indepedent music seems served quite happily by services such as mp3.com and others.

    • Re:Uses for P2P (Score:5, Informative)

      by StenD (34260) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:49AM (#6962589)
      So what this article is suggesting is compulsary licensing of P2P networks. I assume in this case it also requires licensees to ensure that no material is being shared that is subject to copyright control.
      No, compulsory licensing forces the content "owner" to license the content at a predetermined rate. An explanation of this is here [findlaw.com].
  • by overbyj (696078) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:36AM (#6962537)
    then they would certainly rise to the top. Their search engine is by far head and shoulders above the rest. It is fast and efficient. However, I am not sure of two things.

    The EFF can push all they want but I seriously doubt filesharing will ever become legal, even under a compulsory licence. The RIAA is now equating P2P with kiddy porn and therefore the reactionary dumbasses in Congress will jump on this now.

    Second, Google picks and chooses its battles carefully. The recent purchase of blogging company illustrates this. I think they would have to decide that it is worth the hassle assuming again, it became legal in the first place.

    In the event all this ever pans out, I, for one, will welcome our new Google overlords. (thought I would just go ahead and get that out of the way.)
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:28AM (#6962773)
      Perhaps Google could do at least a poor mans version of this right now?

      Suppose one had a GoogleNut tool. You query Google for a song. Google then distributes this Query to all of its distributed servers and on each one launches a Gnutella/Kaaza search, then replys with the a link that when activated uses your Gnuttell app/plugin to download the file from the location it found.

      the Added value here is that 1) google's network would act as a fast bridge across the mostly small-world Gnutella networks. 2) they could cache simmilar requests 3) they could also develop lists of nodes to block if they detected RIAA style hanky-panky (e.g. different file sizes or fingerprints).

      Since this mightbe more expensive than a regular search for Google, they could pay for it with say ultra-mercials while you download or make it a fee for service.

      • Suppose one had a GoogleNut tool. You query Google for a song. Google then distributes this Query to all of its distributed servers and on each one launches a Gnutella/Kaaza search, then replys with the a link that when activated uses your Gnuttell app/plugin to download the file from the location it found.

        A simple HTTP GET request to the machine with the requested file is all you need.. no need to launch Gnutella or any other plugin

        -dk
    • "The EFF can push all they want but I seriously doubt filesharing will ever become legal, even under a compulsory licence."

      File sharing has been perfectly legal for decades. We did this legally with modem-based BBSs in the 80s (maybe earlier), and we continue to do this legally with FTP and (more recently) software such as bit torrent.

      I'm well aware that you meant sharing copyrighted music files, so I'm asking everyone to stop saying "file sharing" when referring to distributing music files. A more accu
    • "I doubt file sharing will ever beome legal."
      Well, it has already been mentioned a few times above, but apparently it's still not clear to some folks. In fact, file sharing is already quite legal.
      And the kiddie porn thing. Well, that tactic is about as old as calling your political opponent a queer. It's dramatic and might get you out of a tight spot, but it's hardly a winning long term strategy unless you're dealing with a huge number of users that you can show are actual child molestors and th
    • The RIAA is now equating P2P with kiddy porn and therefore the reactionary dumbasses in Congress will jump on this now.

      We (and by this I mean the EFF/ACLU/etc.) should aggressively fight back and point out how the RIAA member companies are promoting sexual activity among minors through their provocative album covers and music videos.

      Child porn, indeed.

    • then they would certainly rise to the top. Their search engine is by far head and shoulders above the rest. It is fast and efficient. However, I am not sure of two things.

      You don't need a powerful search technology to find Madonna's MP3. Google's competence lies in providing relevant results to very wide range of general queries. You don't need this to only search for movies and music files which are more or less clearly labeled.
    • I agree.

      People have been predicting Googles IPO for years now. They haven't had an IPO for the simple reason that they don't care to. LawMeme assumes that because Google is a business, because P2P search results may have a large market value, and because they can (we may assume) do a P2P search well, then it must be something they're interested in.

      The problem with this is: Would Google evem be interested in P2P search results, even if it makes them more money? I mean, it sounds like a stupid que

    • Even trying to get Google to let you search for files by checksums hasn't worked. I've asked several times to be able to search for files by md5 or sha checksums. It'd make it a lot easier to find mirrors of things like iso images. Evidently they just aren't interested.

      This article does raise one point that I'd like to add to. For finding files any search engine will do. It doesn't need to be built into the protocol. Just make a tool that makes it easy to share files via http and create links to the server
  • Wrong and right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscoward&yahoo,com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:37AM (#6962541) Journal
    I don't believe the P2P companies are asking for compulsory licensing because they believe it is a good thing. I think they want it because then they can claim "we are seeking a legal alternative", knowing full well that although some kind of legalized P2P sharing is inevitable, it will take 5-10 years and the emergence of new media groups for it to happen, not some court ruling that "Hey, it's OK to download those trax now, d00ds!"

    However, I agree with the other half of the article, which basically says "Google is God", something that has been obvious for several years. For many people, Google is the Internet, something AOL and MSN never managed to do with their fluff-filled "portals". Whatever new things come along, Google will be there, doing them better, leaner, faster,...

    But it will be several dotcom lifetimes before Google will be the place to go to download no-longer-pirate tracks and movies. I don't think the P2P companies really have such a long horizon.
    • Re:Wrong and right (Score:2, Informative)

      by Katchina'404 (85738)
      I'm not sure if that many people "think" that "Google is the Internet" as you stated. Most fairly computer-litterate people realize that Google is a tool. Others (a.k.a. Joe Blow and his grand'ma) tend to think that the Internet is whatever their provider's portal is (ISP portal and/or MSN/AOL).

      What really bothers me is most people that think the Internet is the Web (i.e. the html/http protocols suit and their applications) or, worse, the Internet is Internet Explorer. I remember a friend's girlfriend w
    • Re:Wrong and right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dusabre (176445) on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:46AM (#6963837) Homepage
      Whatever new things come along, Google will be there, doing them better, leaner, faster,...

      Google is not God, it is not manifest destiny, it is not a historically necessary, it is not destined for anything. Google kicks butt for now. But there are other companies and technologies just waiting to gangbang it. Remember how quickly google appeared? It can be superseded just as quickly. Don't get religious on google, its just a company with good policy, clever technology and clever guys. Policies stagnate, technology goes out of date and clever guys leave. Hey, maybe yahoo can reinvent itself. Or maybe hotbot? Or maybe Ebay will turn its massive market power and revenue into a filesharing network?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:38AM (#6962544)
    I was bored, browsing AskJeeves (ask.com) to see what people were searching for (you can do that). One person (don't know if they were just stupid or what) was searching for "Where can I find the search engine Google?". I wouldn't trust one search engine to find another, now if they were looking for elgoog, ok, but they weren't. I suppose they could have been in china, but whatever.
  • by Talez (468021) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:42AM (#6962563)
    Come on. If google was the only search engine in town then I might agree with the idea but they aren't.

    If Google started being assholes to their users most of them will simply go and use another search engine to find things. But they don't. So people keep using Google and the wonderful features it provides.
    • by larien (5608) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:55AM (#6962607) Homepage Journal
      Google was the first search engine I found where you didn't get a porn site on the first page (well, unless you were specifically looking for one...) unlike most of the other search engines I used. Up till now, they've kept being nice, not doing popups or any other crap that other search engines do, but I'm a little worried that they might IPO and then become slaves to money, at which point the ideals may take a back seat to profits. If they do IPO, I hope that they realise that being a good search engine and playing nice is a large part of the reason they are so successful.
    • Come on. If google was the only search engine in town then I might agree with the idea but they aren't.

      Microsoft? A dictator?

      Come on. If Microsoft was the only OS/office suite company in town, then I might agree with the idea but they aren't.

      If Microsoft started being assholes to their users most of them will simply go and use another OS/office suite. But they don't. So people keep using Windows and Office and the wonderful features they provide.

    • Particularly I remember altavista was very well known and respected for their search engine. Then Google took over and dominated.

      The long-time "near-monopolies" like Intel, Windows are the exception, not the rule. Remember the GFX industry? 3dfx were king, head and shoulders above the rest. Then came nVidia, and suddenly dominated. Now, ATI is providing very competitive alternatives.

      Even my mom (who doesn't use a computer except to read the web at work) has asked me about Google. Though I had to tell her
  • monopolist (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gorny (622040) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:43AM (#6962567) Homepage Journal
    Well nice article and he clearly made some good points. But I'm not sure wether we want to have one (primary) source of information (searching) such as google. Monopolies tend to become to addictive to their own power which will make it even harder for them to give up. They'll try anything to fuck up the competition (look at some RedMond based compagny).

    And some more alarming privacy issues are listed on http://www.google-watch.org/.

    I'm still in favor of having the choice between several sources for searching/news/p2p/blogs. This will enhance the competition between the competitors and will make their services better.

    Look at all the OSS. Most pieces of software have several forks or similar/related projects which ultimately results in a better piece(s) of software for a specific task
    • Re:monopolist (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Talez (468021) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:57AM (#6962613)
      Google Watch always verged on the "tin foil" brigade to me.

      They still trumpet on about the Google Toolbar being spyware despite the fac that when you install the toolbar it spells everything out in plain english under a big red heading labelled "READ THIS CAREFULLY! IT'S NOT THE USUAL YADA YADA YADA!".

      They still trumpet on about Google's immortal cookie yet fail to realise *gasp* Google does have user preferences and uses the cookie to track those preferences. Some small part of me believes that the Google reps never responded because they died laughing about... THE COOKIE.

      They trumpet on about geotargeting but in reality its almost required by governments with lax freedom of speech policies who try to prevent their citizens from accesssing certain material. You can always turn it off in the prefs by telling google to go back to google.com for searching but now the legal onus is on you.

      While the site does have some valid points, most of them are either overexagerations or crying sour grapes. Personally, I think the only thing that really needs to be addressed is Google's transparency. Sure it's a fairly big concern to address but Google hasn't steppped far out of line yet. If they were to say, for example, sell every user's personal search data to the highest bidder I would be incredibly pissed and be calling for their blood.

      But they haven't.

      So I won't. And I'll continue to use Google while they remain like they are.
      • True.. you've got a good point there. But nonetheless the question remains if we are willing to accept one monopolist as the main entry of information on the web?
      • SCO used to be nice guys, too.
      • They still trumpet on about Google's immortal cookie yet fail to realise *gasp* Google does have user preferences and uses the cookie to track those preferences. Some small part of me believes that the Google reps never responded because they died laughing about... THE COOKIE.

        Although I mostly agree with you, I'd like to point out that you can "save" your Google prefs via the URL. I do not browse with cookies enabled, and Google remembers my defaults just fine - I go there via a bookmark, and the page I
      • And I'll continue to use Google while they remain like they are.

        I think if Google ever goes IPO usage will drop off dramatically.

        There is something to be respected about privately-held companies, as they are not subject to the whims and trends of a fickle investor group (many of whom can be easily led by a charismatic personality). Myself, I'd rather work for someone that can make real decisions and not rely on professional managers/political game players.

    • As long as governement doesn't interfere, there will always be competition for Google. Remember, as big as Google becomes, they will never have the right to adopt force as a business model. They must abide by the rules of voluntary association like everyone else. Should government decide to tilt the market via force, then we have something to worry about.

      Microsoft is a perfect example of how government contaminates the market with force. Microsoft would never have been able to dominate the market without e
  • Flaws (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mattcelt (454751) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:46AM (#6962581)
    1/ but there is little that keeps people from posting listings on multiple auction sites either.

    Well, except for the fact that you are contractually bound to sell the item only once!

    2/ Of course all these companies will swiftly shift to a Napster-like network when the law is passed.

    Not so. These networks exist because there was something that Napster was inherently lacking - privacy. And these networks will continue to provide that, because the RIAA/MPAA won't be able to sue to receive personal information if no law is being infringed. So anyone who wants to trade files anonymously will still use these networks.

    3/ What does Google do, exactly? They index what is already present, leveraging existing protocols and content. They will leverage what Gnutella/Kazaa/&c. currently present unless there is more money to be made otherwise. While it is possible that they will create their own filesharing system, I consider it doubtful they will.

    But of course, only time will tell. And if compulsory licensing (which makes so much sense!) does come through, it will be a huge win for consumers, no matter who provides the medium for distibuting it.

    Mattcelt
  • by mattso (578394) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:48AM (#6962586)
    Right now all compulsory licensing deals actually involve money. Radio stations pay money to play songs. Sure the compulsory license means they don't have to make a deal with each artist and record company, but there is still a non-zero fee involved. Any P2P compulsory licensing will involve some sort of fee (per download, per month, per something) and a system to collect that fee along with reporting what that fee was for so the money could make it back to the record company. In a P2P world like that no one is going to want to share files and bandwidth. It's one thing to give away files and bandwidth for free as part of a community, but if all your bandwidth and files are making a bunch of other people money I doubt your going to be so happy about it. The only thing compulsory licensing could do is create better versions of PressPlay type services. It is not likely to even apply to P2P as we know it. It would effect things like Apple's iTunes though, in ways they might not be so keen on. Unless that compulsory license involved a $1/track fee. In any case I don't see Google getting into this. It's not a search business, it's a content provider business. Which of course is why all the current P2P software companies are running on borrowed time, they have no content and no money to host it even if it was licensable. While they might think they can work out a model where uploaders are paid from the fees the downloaders pay(thereby giving people a reason to offer files) I doubt there is a company on earth that could handle all the tax issues making every uploader a small business would entail. Not to mention all the other issues involved in quality control and correct reporting of what the file was. The future of compulsory licensing is a bunch of businesses not in the P2P field but more like PressPlay and Apple. They host content, they charge for that content. If Google wanted to get into that I'm sure they could but I don't see it happening.
  • by acegik (698112) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:54AM (#6962600) Homepage
    Lets say that companies can go and centralize their networks - great, it will be much faster and efficient no doubt. But today the companies are not at risk any more, its the users! Users demand anonymity and centralized servers are far from it, the companies that will Prevail will be those who will give their users the best privacy they market can offer. So centralized networks will fail.
  • by plasticmillion (649623) <matthew@allpeers.com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:59AM (#6962619) Homepage
    I disagreed with pretty much the entire article, but one point in particular stood out: the assertion that Google is destined to dominate a world where copyrighted content can be legally distributed. This shows deep ignorance on the part of the author as to the reasons for Google's current success.

    Specifically, the problem of indexing the web is an extremely thorny one. There is a massive amount of content, almost none of which has any structure whatsoever, and much of which is of dubious interest (i.e. it's total crap). The page rank system used by Google is simply brilliant and deserves all the accolades heaped on it.

    Indexing a bunch of MP3s is a much, much simpler problem. As the author of the article points out, Napster had this pretty much nailed years ago. So Google's technical advantage is definitely questionable. What about its deep pockets, market presence, etc.? Sure, this indicates that Google might be a contender in this theoretical new market, but there are a couple of other companies out there with brands, deep pockets, etc. Say IBM, or eBay, or Amazon, or Microsoft, or Yahoo, or... okay, you get the point.

    To me this article is a perfect example of attracting attention by taking a superficially intriguing stance, basing it on today's much-hyped company to gain topical interest. Upon examination, the conclusions of the article don't hold water.

    • by fhwang (90412) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:11AM (#6963006) Homepage
      I wonder if indexing MP3s is actually easier than indexing HTML. Web pages link to one another, so there's a lot of human indexing that happens there. MP3s don't, so there might be other problems. I certainly don't think the file-sharing search problem is anywhere near solved. For example, there are a lot of mislabeled MP3s -- either the tags are "Unknown Artist / Track 8" or they're completely misspelled. Or you sometimes get the annoying thing where they're ripped from a compilation and the tags reflect that: the author is "Greatest Dance Hits" or even "Pottery Barn" ...

      Another need is that you might know a few lyrics of a song but not know who it's by or what it's called. My friend a while ago couldn't find that Bob Dylan song that goes "Everybody must get stoned" -- I had to tell him that it's called "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35."

      Google has a bunch of smart people working for it, but I don't know if they'd necessarily have a head start on this problem. It's not the same as indexing the web.
      • I was wondering whether someone would make this point. You're right that indexing MP3s isn't entirely trivial, and there is scope for innovation.

        But I still stick by my original point. As a matter of fact, I wrote a program that deduces title and artist information from MP3 filenames in two days, and it works amazingly well. I hardly think that Google's page rank technology could be implemented in this timeframe!

      • I would like to think that the average dedication of someone ripping and encoding music is inversely proportional to its popularity, so odds are reasonably good that there exists at least one correctly labeled copy of any musical recording. It's just a question of how to route around the legal impediments to central indexing.
      • For example, there are a lot of mislabeled MP3s -- either the tags are "Unknown Artist / Track 8" or they're completely misspelled. Or you sometimes get the annoying thing where they're ripped from a compilation and the tags reflect that: the author is "Greatest Dance Hits" or even "Pottery Barn"

        MP3 ID3 tags can be matched against long lists of known song titles and group / artist names. Such lists exist, e.g. at FreeDB.org [freedb.org].

        Another need is that you might know a few lyrics of a song but not know who it's
    • Indexing a bunch of MP3s is a much, much simpler problem.

      You aren't being creative enough.

      Why wouldn't Google leverage what they know about the web onto MP3s for recommendations? There are lots of people out there with a page listing a bunch of bands they like

      That's just for starters.

  • by wfrp01 (82831) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:06AM (#6962651) Journal
    I mostly support the EFF. But when they started promoting compulsary licencing, I decided not to support them. Perhaps they should revamp their support structure, such that if you donate money, you can direct it to a specific cause. And in such as way as the causes you *don't* believe don't indirectly benefit (by sharing the same overhead expenses, etc.) I'm not going to waste a penny on an organization that promotes ideas completely contrary to what I believe in.
    • I mostly support the EFF. But when they started promoting compulsary licencing, I decided not to support them.

      I have given EFF money in the past (and got the T shirt) but I agree, since they have jumped onto the compulsory licensing bandwagon I don't know what to think. This is a bad idea in so many ways that go against the traditional interests of the EFF. A big one is lack of privacy about what you're doing online. Any CL system is going to have to keep track of who is downloading what in order to f
  • by smd4985 (203677) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:08AM (#6962658) Homepage
    this author in this article has flawed reasoning. if compulsory licensing was ever introduced, a whole slew of companies would get into the game (search engines, p2p companies, M$, etc.) so the victor in the wars is hard to predict. i do agree p2p companies would have to modify their business plans, but i believe compulsory licensing would present as many opportunities as challenges....
    • As soon as there is compulsory licensing I'm getting into the game. I'll register each of my messages for royalites.

      (If necessary, I'll sing my messages. Although I might get prosecuted for war crimes.)
  • by Ath (643782) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:16AM (#6962693)
    The filesharing services would start differentiating themselves with new functionality etc.

    Some would die as happens with all markets with too much overall supply. While I agree that the majority of people would flock to fewer services, niche markets would exist just as they do right now in the music industry.

    The problem is that the cost of entering the music distribution market would drop considerably. Therefore you would see MORE services, not fewer, with each catering to market segments.

    The reason why compulsory license is opposed by the RIAA and their members is because it just legalizes exactly what they are trying to prevent: loss of control of music distribution.
    • "The reason why compulsory license is opposed by the RIAA and their members is because it just legalizes exactly what they are trying to prevent: loss of control of music distribution."

      Exactly. Why isn't the RIAA out there busting every pirate on the street corner selling CDs? Because the pirates don't threaten their control over their slaves -- I mean artists.
  • Links (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:18AM (#6962704)
    Thanks for linking to Google. Probably nobody reading this would have been able to find it otherwise.
  • I'm putting out stuff as public domain and not telling people about the fact that it is public domain.
  • by DOsinga (134115) <douwe.webfeedback@ g m a il.com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:29AM (#6962778) Homepage Journal

    Network effects will bring one party to the top, as is already happening. Kazaa is not the best p2p app, but the most used and therefore most people use it. If legal changes make it possible again to have a central database, Kazaa is still in the best position to capitalize on that, because most people are still using Kazaa for downloading stuff.

    Of course Google is bigger, but Google is bigger than eBay too and as the article states, eBay is the biggest auction site because of the same network effects. People go to eBay for auction searches and to Google for general searches, just as they go to Kazaa for music searches. If I type in the name of a song in Google, lots of results will appear, not just the mp3's.

    It doesn't mean Google couldn't go after this market. If they would, they would stand a pretty good chance of winning, but so would Microsoft or Yahoo.

    more from Douwe Osinga [douweosinga.com]

    • The LawMeme article also felt off topic. Discussing the competativeness of business models and essentially picking the winner of the File Sharing Superbowl? I'm not certain that the merits of centralized versus decentralized file sharing warrants broad discussion, especially when the focus is only on the eventual popularity of the essential companies. I'd rather see an article on the deeper implications of compulsory licensing for file sharing.
  • by mangu (126918) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:31AM (#6962795)
    Compulsory licensing is just one way for IP owners to perpetuate their hold on copyrights.How would one keep track of when a copyright expires? With compulsory licensing, the media companies would keep charging this tax forever.


    On the other hand, Google is a practical expression of the maxim "information wants to be free". Being able to find out where to get information is exactly the opposite of all "intellectual property" laws, whose purpose is to limit the people's access to information. If compulsory licensing comes into effect, how long until one is automatically charged a fee each time one looks into a website?

  • Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sphere1952 (231666) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:47AM (#6962866) Journal
    Slashdot is a P2P network. Every message put here is just as much copyrighted as the latest hit by Stupid Band of The Week, or that eBook you want to get your hands on.

    Compulsory licencing will end up being a tax on speech.

    • "Slashdot is a P2P network. Every message put here is just as much copyrighted as the latest hit by Stupid Band of The Week, or that eBook you want to get your hands on.

      Compulsory licencing will end up being a tax on speech."

      This has absolutely nothing to do with compulsory licensing of music files. Even if it did, you have it backwards. Compulsory licensing does not require the copyright owner to pay others. Compulsory licensing requires distributors to pay copyright owners.

      So if compulsory licensing
      • My posts look like music to me, and when Slashdot has to start paying out royalties Slashdot dies; which is an infringement of the right to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

        Everything they do to try to shore up the notion of intellectual property being applied to normal people is a direct assault upon the First Amendment. You can't have copyright laws apply to the public without stealing from the freedom to speak and be heard by willing listeners.
    • Slashdot is a P2P network.

      Which part of Slashdot's client-server model screams peer-to-peer to you again? It's really very simple. In a peer-to-peer model, your browser would be directly connecting to other browsers. In a client-server model, you make content available through a common centralized server. Very simple.;)
      • Slashdot is a peer. You're a peer. Welcome to peer to peer.
        • You're a peer. Welcome to peer to peer.

          The average person's ISP forbids her from recieving inbound HTTP requests on port 80. She cannot be called a peer to slashdot, or any major website, until consumer-targeted TCP/IP access services become fully bidirectional.
  • by javatips (66293) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:52AM (#6962894) Homepage
    The guy who wrote the article does understand end-users.

    Who is going to win is not the one with better technology. Technology is not important to the end-users. The user interface and convenience is what matter.

    Why do you think that Kazaa is more popular that Gnutella. That's because the search engine is more convenient... You can search meta data in addition to filenames. The underlying protocol or matching engine has nothing to do with it.

    Anyway, if I search for "Evanescence" music files, even the most crappy search engine will yield good results (especially if sorted by the number of hosts who have it - automatic google ranking!)

    The one who are going to win are the ones who are going to make filesharing part of their OS or services. The winner will be Microsoft, Apple, and maybe AOL could be a distant second (in the MS space).
    • Why do you think that Kazaa is more popular that Gnutella.

      Because Kazaa is a company and Gnutella is a protocol. One of them has marketers, publicists, lawyers, and user-interface designers. The other was written by a single programmer over a three-day weekend and then dumped to the world.

      The one who are going to win are the ones who are going to make filesharing part of their OS or services.

      Too late, it's already happened. Any new install of Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux comes with web-serv
  • The article seems to suggest file sharing is illegal. It isn't. Infact by creating this reply I've shared a file with slashdot. OH NO - LOCK ME UP! Sharing copyrighted files may well be illegal, depending where you are, but anonymous distributed filesharing (Freenet et al) make is near impossible to police. And of course, filesharing is a global activity; There are no border patrols and you don't need a passport. So the difference any new US laws or licensing will make is... zero Give up, go home and hav
  • Is it possible... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SeXy_Red (550409)
    That all the file sharing companies are doing it because they believe it is the right thing. After all, isn't the whole idea of file sharing that software should be for everyone and not just for a select few that can afford it? And isn't it true that most of the file sharing software that were mention are themselves bases off of open source code, further perpetuating the concept of free-trade?
  • by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:53AM (#6963328) Homepage
    The author is wrong, because there is no lock-in effect. Ebay, which is cited as an example, has a lock-in effect because with buyers and sellers, each additional buyer or seller increases the total pool available to each other. Ebay creates the lock-in effect by acting as a middle-man.

    There is no such lock-in effect for a filesharing service. A company like google can simple mass-burn CDs, or auto-download mp3s from elsewhere on the net and analyze them automatically for quality. If they can put catalogs online by the hundreds or thousands, they can certainly manage mp3s, given they are fully digital.

    An example of a company that DOES have a lock-in effect is Lending Tree. Again, like Ebay, they act as a middle man, in this case between lenders and loan consumers. The more banks they have, the more choices consumers have and the more likely they are to want to see LT's deals. The more consumers they have, the more potential business that pool represents, and so they are more likely to attract banks. (And that's why they were bought out, since it was becoming clear they had passed the critical mass point for that lock-in effect)

    There is no middle-man after compulsory licensing. There will be some services will all music on them. You'll D/L whatever you want. So it's traditional competition to attract customers.
    • The author is wrong, because there is no lock-in effect.

      The author is still right, but "lock-in effect" is mostly a red herring. Ebay has lock-in because the seller only has one physical product to deliver. Digital music files have no "conservation of mass" restriction to them.

      When/if compulsory licensing happens, the best way to search for a file will be on a centralized server-cluster. That requires software development and a big capital investment, two things Google has been mastering over the pas
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:50AM (#6963885) Homepage Journal

    The rest of us don't get government protected handouts when technological advance makes our skills obsolete.

    We don't rue the loss of the welder's job, the steelworker's job, the woodworker's job, the craftsman's job, the accountants job, when a machine makes it unnecessary.

    So, why all of a sudden does an INDUSTRY deserve protection. You don't need to have an industry to distribute music anymore, and you don't need to have a select few artists be turned into mega stars. Now, everyone's opinion, art, and songs can be pushed out there.

    Napster, Kazaa, the web, just reflect a basic economic reality. The supply of content is infinite and so the value of the commodity is zero.

    Being in favor of copyright laws in the digital age is like trying to bring back the horse and buggy. Being in favor of the "intellectual property era" is like trying to where the catholic church was right before they had this thing called the renaissance.

    We are now going through a second renaissance. So far, American industry seems hell bent on trying to stop it. It ain't the Terrorists that will sink the United States. It will be the gradual realization that intellectual property is absurd and that trying to enforce this artificial monopoly on the world is morally wrong.

  • So the article says that Gnutella et all are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to legalize music file sharing. I think he is operating under a bad assumption. He assumes that everyone that makes p2p software is doing it because they want to get rich.

    He is missing an important point. A large number of people that make p2p software do it because they want to be able to share music on the internet. That's it. That's the motivation. That ability is riches enough. Screw the money.

  • I think the industry is being rather dumb to pass on this so quickly.

    A quick attempt to dig up RIAA sales figures, of course, came up with a whole lot of contradictory information. So like any good researcher, I picked the one that best supported my argument. :D According to this article [azoz.com] the total dollar value of CDs sold (or maybe just CDs shipped, not sure) is somewhere in the area of $14 billion.

    Now then there are, according to reports, 57 million people using file-sharing services. Let's create a

  • Heck, I don't mind paying a license if that means that the mp3/divx/whatever is in fact the thing I want, and not some virusinfested or fake 700MB download.
    As long as they keep the price low - they'll compensate enough through numbers - I wouldn't mind. I think companies are starting to realise that they can make a shitload of money on this scheme. Imagine what, 3 million unique downloads a day? 5 million? Even if you got $ 0.01 for each download, how much would that amount to in a year?
  • The RIAA are idiots! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AstroDrabb (534369) on Monday September 15, 2003 @11:57AM (#6965261)
    They should come up with a consumer license. This license would allow a home user to download the songs they wanted and they would not be breaking any copyrights. The RIAA could charge $5 USD per month for this license. With an estimated 60 million Americans downloading files, that would generate 3.6 Billion USD per year! This doesn't even count the rest of the world that would bring this number into the tens of billions USD per year. They would be making FAR more money then they do now. This would also allow users to choose the way that THEY want to download music without all this DRM crap, OS/software requirements or copy protection. The file sharing services that offer the best features would rise to the top. If the RIAA would let me run thier organization for one year, I would bring in SO much cash they wouldn't know what to do with it. People love music and are willing to pay a FAIR price for it, on their terms. However, people are not willing to live with price fixing and over priced music and worse of all to be painted as a criminal for listening to music.
  • by Minna Kirai (624281) on Monday September 15, 2003 @12:47PM (#6965768)
    Let's assume that the big public support for fileswapping pushes the US Congress to take a compulsory-licensing approach to legalization. There are two paths it can take:
    1. Canada style: All citizens pay a tax which goes to buy content. This can be either per-capita, fraction of income tax, or a charge added to the sale/lease of fileswapping equipment/service. The government totals up all that money, and doles it out to performers in proportion to a statistically-estimated measure of their work's popularity.

      We can all imagine problems with this scheme- the overwhelming financial success of pornography is the only the most cringeworthy of the drawbacks. But I can imagine a nation experimenting with this scheme, if various controls are added to keep it "clean". Of course that leads to ways for the gov to softly censor creative thought, by withholding funds on obscenity grounds...
    2. US style: Taking a cue from the existing compulsory licensing of sheet-music from one performer to another, this system would permit anyone to duplicate copyrighted content, as long as he paid the author. That fee would be determined by a 3rd party, and the author would have no chance to forbid duplication by declining the fee. (Well, it's likely that works won't be subject to compulsory licensing until being published in some way. Privacy of rough-drafts won't be destroyed. But no "artist" can make a living without publication at some point)

      This would be the system that P2P United lobbyists will prefer, as it gives their companies a reason to get paid in the future. Somebody has to monitor what files are duplicated, and transfer the set-fee to the deserving author, and some Napster-like system could handle the job. Oddly enough, this shift responsibility for punishing unauthorized filetrading to Kazaa.com and its ilk- users are only allowed to trade through official channels, so passing files by email or floppy-disk will have to be punished!

      The funny part about this style of licensing is that once the system gets established, it'll look just like a mature, micropayment economy. Listeners download from Kazaa, Kazaa records what they took and each month prints out some cumulative paperwork: a bill for each subscriber, and a check for each musician. They'll take on exactly the business niche that micropayment middlemen [peppercoin.com] want to occupy.

<<<<< EVACUATION ROUTE <<<<<

Working...