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Court Rules Playlist Customization Is Not Interactive 54

prostoalex writes "Is music played via customized playlist delivered interactively (i.e., via user participation) or non-interactive (i.e., decisions are made on the server side)? The question does seem metaphysical, but it took Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Yahoo! six years to figure it out via a protracted legal battle. User-driven playlists are bucketed with on-demand music services, while server-driven playlists are equaled to broadcasts, thereby causing different licensing mechanisms to take place. Yahoo! inherited the legal wrangle when it purchased a music startup Launch, which built a music recommendation feature. The court decision determined that recommendation algorithms that rely on usage data to build playlists server-side are still eligible for broadcast license, thereby substantially lowering the costs of operating a music recommendation site."
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Court Rules Playlist Customization Is Not Interactive

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  • Am I really listening to music?
    • I suppose that's up to the 'Final Authority' on the matter ... the RIAA. Let's ask them, shall we? Gentlemen, care to chime in?
      • Damn, and I though I was asking a profound metaphysical question which would provoke much contemplation, soul searching and head scratching. Who would have guessed the answer was so simple.
        • by impleri ( 982548 )
          Music is an a priori object. It becomes a "playlist" through the transcendental unity of apperception whereby it it is passed through the 12 categories of intuition as well as space and time before being able to be experienced by the self. Music as an a priori object can never be experienced in itself; in other words, we can never really listen to Music-in-itself without already having interpreted it through the 12 categories. This is roughly similar to Heidegger's idea of "thrown-in-the-music-ness," w
    • Am I really listening to music?

      And what is the music of an MP3 alone with no playlist to sit in ?
  • And a radio station that accepts requests didn't have to go through the same legal wrangling to be labeled a "broadcaster". While I know these legal questions have to be ironed out sooner or later, It is interesting to see the distinction in how Sony BMG, et al. see internet radio vs ol' style music radio.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And a radio station that accepts requests didn't have to go through the same legal wrangling to be labeled a "broadcaster".

      Well those requests typically are broadcast. Hence the person doing the broadcasting is a "broadcaster". A list of songs delivered to one individual based on their preferences is clearly not broadcast and the person operating the service should not be called a "broadcaster". The selection method doesn't have anything to do with whether you're broadcasting.

    • Except that with a radio station when someone phones in a request, everyone listening to that broadcast has to hear it. Often with internet radio each user will be listening to their own version of the 'broadcast', so if you send in a request then only you hear that song.


    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by naich ( 781425 )
      I always assumed that stations had a playlist that wasn't deviated from. To get a "request", they just wait until someone rings up asking for the song they were going to play anyway. Or maybe I'm just too cynical for my own good?
      • Depends on the station, really. I'd say that's true for anything owned by ClearChannel, though (so like 90% of non-public-radio stations out there).
      • I'd bet most stations have at least one request hour . . . the one I listen to does it during the lunch hour and I think during the "drive home".
      • Opie and Anthony did a whole expose on this years ago.

        Basically for any major metropolitan area, an "all request hour" will run about 15 songs. So the only way your request is honored is if you are one of those 15 songs. . . which is extremely rare.

        However, they WILL record your request and play it back later as a "request"; happens rather frequently.

        That said, I used to get requests regularly in East Lansing when I was a pizza delivery driver, but that's because I annoyed the shit out of them, calling

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "While I know these legal questions have to be ironed out sooner or later"

      I disagree. That's the antecedent that led to this collosal sqandering of time and money in the first place. Many here have long observed that the law and computing are irreconcilable. This is what you get when lawyers and politicians poke thir noses into matters they have no business in.
      Lawyers are wannabe computer scientists who never had the technical grades. They aspire to the same degree of rigor. But what do the lawyers do? They
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:35AM (#18925897)
    Pandora []: there is some user interaction to shape the channel with seeds for artist and/or songs to play similar to or avoid.
    • Open?

      Yo Grark
    • I'm going to email them. I hope it leaves them in the clear, but I doubt it. While they don't allow you to choose songs, they do allow you significant control over the factors that power the song selection algorithm.
    • by daeg ( 828071 )
      That was my immediate thought as well. I hope it leaves them some breathing room, but with the increasing fees, I highly doubt it.

      Those who want to save Pandora: call your Congressmen! Call your Senators! There is a small movement to permanently alter the royalty system.

      Make sure you let them know you think the royalty "board" is ridiculous, too. Why should the RIAA have a government-mandated monopoly over an art form?
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      By the way I read it, it should leave Pandora in the clear.

      I've been a paid Pandora subscriber for a while (my 9+ hrs/day, 5-7 days a week made me think that really it is worth the 3 bucks a month for their bandwidth). As a user, I can choose the direction of the music, but I cannot choose the song or artist that's "up next" (on demand). To me, that means decisions are being made on the server side as to the specific song that is going to be played next.

      Really, I view Pandora as server-side activity... same
    • utilizes even greater user customization, basing its music on the user's entire music library. It is still server-side (even the stand-alone player, I believe) so I bet they will be pleased!
    • This is a repost of an e-mail I posted in a previous /. thread. I urge everyone to follow the link and get a hold of your local representative. You can read more on their blog, including the following message: []

      Hi, it's Tim from Pandora,

      I'm writing today to ask for your help. The survival of Pandora and all of Internet radio is in jeopardy because of a recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, DC to almost triple the licensing fees for Internet radio s
  • "Metaphysical?" (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't think someone knows what that word means...
    • by thc69 ( 98798 )
      "He's not dead, he's metaphysically challenged!"
    • He probably means "overtly difficult, obscure, and philosophical" in a mildly humorous way i.e he's trying to say it's not worth all the haggle. I have to agree: I find reading the summary to be a waste of time, imagine the people actually involved.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dosquatch ( 924618 )

      I don't think someone knows what that word means...

      So I was sittn' in this bar - Toby Ornauh Toby's - with a full pint of beer in half a glass, thinkn' ter meself, if a hard drive thrashes in the server room, an' noone's there ta hear it, does it make a sound?

      That's when she walked up. "What's the difference between an orange?" she says, an' I knew in an instant she'd have my one hand clappn'. Aye, lad, those legs ran all th' way from alpha to omega an' back again. Her skirt hiked up as she crost her legs, and I could see she was wearn' the cutest pair o

  • Always nice to see the law actually functioning in the interest of the people as opposed to the interest of the money. Although, in cases involving RIAA and similar parties, it usually feels like a close escape when the ruling goes as it seems to have gone this time. Rather than that, I would like to be able to actually have full trust in the law in these cases, not feel like every battle is a close win, likely to be followed by another few losses for the people (f.ex. EU's IPRED2).
    • by KnyJG ( 710488 )
      Sorry, but this has nothing to do with "the law" as such. It is a legal battle between companies who disagree on the specifics of the contract they have with each other.

      Consumers are not protected in any way by this ruling, nor is it a sign that RIAA has a shaky legal foundation for its actions against consumers (although a lot of evidence from other cases seem to point in this direction).
    • Always nice to see the law actually functioning in the interest of the people as opposed to the interest of the money.
      What I wouldn't give to be able to see the world in such simple terms.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday April 30, 2007 @08:13AM (#18926127)
    What's the difference between me choosing what music I listen to and a radio station doing the same? Both is music, both plays equally long (provided we pick music that covers the same amount of time), then why is "my" selection more expensive than one someone else put together?

    Could it be that I can't be showered with current "hits" when I choose my music? Heaven forbid that people actually choose the music they want to hear!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KnyJG ( 710488 )
      Obviously music of your choosing is more worth to you than music other people choose (ignoring the time spent doing the choosing part). Basically if you can say you would rather have one over the other there is a difference in value to you. Of course this story is about using usage statistics to build playlists, which is something in between "no influence" standard radio and DIY total control music, which you would get for instance from iTunes if you paid for all the songs played.The record industry wants y
    • Payola.
    • by Alsee ( 515537 )
      What's the difference between me choosing what music I listen to and a radio station doing the same?

      The reason is simple and logical, once you grasp the fundamental desperate need and delusion driving it.

      There's a famous saying, it is hard to make someone understand something, if his salary depends upon him not understanding it. Music publishers' salary depends on the realities of old technology, and protecting that old reality. Their salary depends upon not accepting and understanding the internet, and to
  • The first thing that popped into my mind is why those two should be payed for differently.

    The customer gets to listen to exactly the same music. The only difference is that with a broadcast-system he does not get to choose when. But thats something that can be fixed by applying time-delaying equipment/software.
  • This is good news for services like [].
  • Seems dumb to base this based only on the playlist which isn't music at all but a list of instructions for the order of playing songs.

    If the music files are stored on the customer's local device, then there should be no licensing at all required no matter where the playlist originates.

    Now, if the data files themselves are on the server, and the playlist controls the order in which those datafiles are transmitted, then I can see why some folks might want a distinction. In one case I'd say there is indeed a

  • So, are request radio shows no longer "broadcast radio" and therefore have to licence their music differently? Or is it only if processing the requests is automated?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by falcon5768 ( 629591 )
      I have heard of RTFA, but jesus RTFS... The courts ruled that it was all "broadcast radio" If they had ruled differently THEN your statement would apply but since the Judge in this case actually had a brain, we don't have to worry about that now.
  • by zuki ( 845560 ) on Monday April 30, 2007 @08:41AM (#18926379) Journal
    When reading these types of thread about the record business special interest group finding ways to bend the law, I find something very depressing about the fact that those who are supposed to be in charge of the 'stewardship' of copyrights seem to be doing everything in their power to make sure that a lot of the music they own doesn't ever get exposed, and since nobody will ever know about it, that it'll never sell. But actually, there are a lot of music lovers out there donating their time to upload torrents of many obscure records which haven't been in print for a great many years, and most likely will never be made available commercially again... and in the same fashion there are also any who contribute to projects such as Pandora and

    So against all odds, and no matter the Kafka-esque hurdles these people are trying to put up at every possible moment, it is still comforting to know that despite their best efforts to muzzle non-top 40 music, a lot of it will survive because there are many others out there who care about it quite deeply, not for money, but out of LOVE, and because it is part of our cultural heritage.

    And in some way it is comforting to think that after putting out so much negative energy, bad vibes, and consistently having so few innovative ideas or vision on what is really needed in today's marketplace to make artists sell some records, (besides suing the pants out of everyone they can) the very people responsible for lobbying for all of this arguably short-sighted legislation are going to get what's coming to them, i.e.: the opportunity to re-tool and learn a new trade very soon.

    It's kind of futile to argue against a tidal wave; it's what this particular situation reminds me of.

    In the meantime, and until this takes place, there is no question that if I had a Net radio show or anything of that sort, I'd make sure that the servers streaming it are hosted somewhere which cannot be impacted by any such legislative measures.

  • So legally speaking, where does this leave someone who signs into discussion websites and writes comments like "hey, have you folks heard the new Information Society [] disc yet?"
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Monday April 30, 2007 @09:52AM (#18927039)
    The world is turning into something out of a low-budget SciFi episode, a planet overrun by procedural paper pushers defining the physical world by legal statute. Sadly, it's not fiction, and we have no heroes to save the day.

    The vast majority of good legal decisions are either "obvious" to anyone moderately sane (eg. dealing with an observed killing), or else they're shrouded in complexity that makes no single outcome fully just.

    The first type needs nothing more than recourse to a "Fair Witness" (Heinlein's term, but there's some of it in the Jedi concept too, minus fighting), a person whose reputation is based on objectivity and fairness and plain commonsense -- no need for technicalities and legal dickering to come into it at all, by the definition of "obvious". A societal judge without court and with only one Law, simple fairness.

    And the second type is handled equally well by the roll of a die --- after all, no single outcome is just. And dice do have the benefit of statistical fairness, which is more than can be said for the legal process where alleged "fairness" depends on your ability to afford good legal representation.

    There is something fundamentally flawed in a system where years of arguing are considered to somehow yield justice, as if the cost didn't matter and the time lost meant nothing. Even if all costs were met uniformly out of the public purse, this still would not address the sheer deep freeze that legal proceedings place on society. Time is our most precious commodity, yet as this example showed, this is totally unappreciated in law.

    Be that as it may, the current situation is nothing short of appalling, and getting steadily worse. We need a sort of French Revolution to lop off the heads of this new legal aristocracy, but I don't see that happenning --- we're stuck with this mess for the forseeable future, or at least as long as we're tied to this planet. Woes.
    • Constitution was written with "common sense" kind of law in mind, not the "loophole" kind of law it has turned into today. Bill of Rights was supposed to be left out for precisely this reason until states demanded it. Such rights were obvious and including them, as was argued in the Federalist Papers, would merely designate those rights as the only ones afforded to individuals. Hence the X Amendment(which has, sadly, also been shaped and perverted).

      However such foresight is incredible, I can only think that
  • Has the same basic effect.

    Gravity continues to exist.

    Interactive playlists continue to play.

    lusers continue to go into law because they can't grok computers.

egrep -n '^[a-z].*\(' $ | sort -t':' +2.0