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Schroedinger's streaming service just died


“but at least it's a law, created by a democratically accountable legislature.”

I feel like we need to stop lying to ourselves like this.

Copyright is getting ridiculously out of hand because lobbyists hold the power and the system is not really accountable anymore.


Congress doesn't even bother reading the bills they pass. Most of the actual details are deferred to the administrative bureaucracy.

That's where the real power is.


The deep state is a real thing. I don’t think it has to be explicitly negative, but there are a lot of unelected bureaucrats that hold a lot of power with minimal accountability and visibility.


Such as? Not trying to be pedantic, just looking for a more specific example. Are you talking about political appointees or public servants? If so, where? What agencies?


Are you talking about Government employees or lobbyists? BTW, notice that their power is circumscribed by the law. When that changes their powers change.


Yea its the corporations, lobbyists, think-tanks and those who pay them. Its consolidation of corporate power. Its fascism


It's a nice fantasy, but it's simply not the case in my experience. The details are deferred because you want to be able to adapt some things faster than you can change a law and you want it done with a comment period by subject matter experts, rather than by legislators.

In general, however, those agencies are slow moving (requires comment period, must decide given bounds, funding limited, etc) and pretty narrowly handcuffed / acting within the statute. Recently even those narrow powers have been rejected by the courts (see admin law judges, CFPB single director, etc).


>it's simply not the case in my experience

And how much US Congressional experience do you have?


If that's the case, that's because the people are choosing crappy politicians who let that happen. If a father of a family lets the five-year old decide where to live, what to eat, and what to buy, that doesn't mean the five-year old has the power, it just means that the father has voluntarily given the power to him. However, he could take it back whenever he felt like it.

Same thing goes for lobbyists. They would have zero power if politicians gave them zero power. If the population would be smart and informed, this wouldn't happen. So, what's happening now is totally a result of democracy, which of course is a totally ridiculous idea^1, but it's still democratic.

[1]: Let people who have absolutely no idea how to run things decide who should run things. That's like if the passengers of an airplane, having zero experience with aviation, deciding on who the captain should be.


> That's like if the passengers of an airplane, having zero experience with aviation, deciding on who the captain should be.

I guess they would vote for an airliner captain? E.g. most people go to doctors for medical adcive rather than new age mumbo jumbo. I don't see the problem in this particular case.


A surprisingly large number of people go in for the new age mumbo jumbo or, uh, old-timey mumbo jumbo. And that despite quite heavy regulation on medical claims and on the qualifications of medical practicianers.


Folks still need to get re-elected, even if it's heavily favoring lobbyists. That is still SOMETHING, rather than a company creating something out of thin air. In this the OP is correct. It's not a lie, and your vote counts.

For what it's worth, it's not so much lobbyists as the ability to generate dollars period (many lobbyists aren't actually very good at this), and there's still power there in numbers as seen in recent elections so don't sell yourself short if you have a compelling case to make. Just sayin'! :)


We need to have a national proposition system that let citizens put forth legislative bills into the ballots, to let the citizens vote on the strongly concerned matters. When Congress obviously is not doing their jobs, the citizens should have a way to pick up the slack. It's a better way to check and balance the sellout of the legislative branch to the lobbyists.


Please no. I lived in California for much of my life. Statewide propositions are plenty thanks.

It's too easy to get voters to vote for things that are deceptively drafted, and then you're stuck with it forever.




Our system was literally designed to prevent citizens from having any say. See the supreme court and the reasons Alexander Hamilton said it was needed


"Prevent us from having any say"??

Legislators are directly elected, president is elected somewhat indirectly but largely by popular vote, administrative rule making has notice and comment process, Article 3 judges are appointed by President and confirmed by legislature... everything derived from the will of the people. It sounds like you are upset that more people aren't as upset at the same things you are. That's not a problem with the government, that's a problem with the populace.

Organize a petition to have your congressional rep submit a bill for what you want. If they refuse, find someone to run who will do it. Actually do something, don't just post online about how the government isn't working... make it work for you!


I feel that both are needed, almost like a third house that is a populist based voting system. You get issues with mob mentality and it can cause tragedies just as easy as representative systems can.


That is lame counterargument from lazy and ignorant citizenry.

Democratically accountable legislature is still democratically accountable legislature when the citizens pay attention or participate or not. People are supposed to work their ass off in democracy when they fight for political power. Instead they treat it as a opinion contest that should have options they like.


> lobbyists hold the power and the system is not really accountable anymore

Yes, and the problem is not limited to copyright

totetsu Organizing for campaign finance reforms to return power to voters.


I like the format of your comment (leaving aside the political agenda):

"This is the organization. And this is the idea."

All I see on the sociopolitical HN threads is an avalanche of brilliant ideas. But ~nobody is organized, is trying to organize, or even is theorizing about it. It just feels so empty and futile, makes me weep deep inside.


I think he's talking about the original copyright law from 1790, back before congress lost the ability to pass productive legislation


Yea, too bad that doesn't matter because it was modified. So that literally doesn't matter


Well that was a top down undemocratic law designed to enforce censorship and stop the proles getting out of line, so not really.


Good news about the Four Tet decision. He's been a consistently high-quality, highly-innovative EM creator for over 20 years. Hopefully getting 50% of the streaming and download take instead of 13% will rock that industry.


By coincidence, after reading this submitted article and not knowing the named artist, I completed the game “Universal Paperclips” by “Everybody House Games” today, and the brief credit scroll listed

  ‘10 MIDI’ by Four Tet, (c) 2017 BMG
So off to listen to his content now.

(Edited slightly)


Is this just wordplay? When you click "Buy now", are you just buying a license?

Is "ownership" just a byproduct of physical goods? If I say I own a record, the proof is basically in the pudding. But how do I prove I own an MP3 file? I'd probably need to do something like show a receipt for it. But then again, what if I have shown that receipt to 100 people I've sold "my" copy of the MP3 file to? With physical reality, exact duplication is difficult, and is already covered under those existing laws.

It seems like computing was big on licensing, even when tech was nascent and there wasn't clearly reams of money to be made in it, there must be a reason for it.


The issue, as outlined in the article, is that artists get different rates for whether a song was "sold" or "licensed" (with licensing giving a much higher percentage to the artist), and while services presented their sales as license agreements to the end customer, they presented them as sales to the artists, allowing the streaming service to restrict user rights while also not paying artists the much higher percentage.

There are of course different ways to interpret what a sale of a digital good is (as you note), but legally speaking with regard to the status quo, it seems like something large might be changing. Either end users might find they have a lot more rights (the ones they've traditionally had for purchased items), or artists will get a lot more money because they've been getting screwed for decades for licensed works, or possibly we'll see new legislation codifying the current status quo to protect the large media companies (because for some reason legislators often seem to think past ability to make money is a reason in itself to protect the method in which it was done, regardless of legality).


I think it's important to note that streaming services mostly take a fixed fee. This dispute was between the artist and the label. The difference in royalties was part of the record deal and Four Tet reached a settlement with this former record label.


And then, along came the blockchain and NFTs... one receipt per purchase??

This obviously doesn't help the streaming services, but, this - or something similar would help solve the quantum entanglement of digital music.


While I understand that NFTs could be used as a receipt for a digital purchase - the NFT system would have to scale impossibly well to keep track of the infinite copies of infinite digital goods multiplied by the billions of people.

Blockchain might be amazeballs but it doesn't seem to scale THAT well.


This metaphor is really not appropriate. We are really just talking about the definitions for 'Sale' and 'License' in a contract which we haven't been given access to read.

NFT's don't solve this, unless we are talking about making licenses transferrable, but the author seems pretty clear that any form of license isn't acceptable in their eyes.


It depends on whether you consider the difference in royalty rates to be just wordplay.


> It depends on whether you consider the difference in royalty rates to be just wordplay.

Royalty rates are a completely different issue to the text shown when you are purchasing - but wouldn't you expect different royalty rates for different types of product/media as an artist?

As in, if I sell a vinyl record of your new single for $10 with your photo on the front and plaster it all over the record shops (with high distribution and manufacture costs) that the fee might be different than what I pay you for a $0.99 MP3 download (lower price but zero incremental cost), and that the $0.99 download fee might be different to the fee that the artist would charge for a live broadcast (highly dependent on licence context)?


No, certainly not. It does seem wrong for one group to claim one thing, and then another group to claim a different thing, both of which serve their own financial ends and not the actual content creators.

Having said that, I was mostly talking about the difference between licensing and buying from a consumer's perspective. There are still a ton of restrictions which come with "owning" something, but those are just ignored by the author because those were laws passed by a legislature and not a license term by a private company.


From a consumer perspective, ownership comes with first sale rights (e.g. the right to resell) but a license doesn't. There has been little progress so far on "owning" purely digital copies of anything because copyright holders oppose it and many activists oppose the DRM that would be required to enforce reselling.


We don't need DRM to enforce reselling. Equipment and methods to reproduce physical media are widespread today and there isn't a way to prevent copying and then reselling. Other than the marginal cost of CDs, Vinyl, cassettes, etc.

Purely digital just drops that cost from a few cents to nothing. DRM free music stores have existed for over a decade and already de-facto operate in this manner.

There isn't a practical reason to require DRM in order to have ownership over a digital copy of a song.


>But how do I prove I own an MP3 file? It's not your job to prove you own something but their to prove you stole it.


> their [job] to prove you stole it.

That's a sound legal principle, but unfortunately it doesn't apply in all situations and in all jurisdictions:

"If the defendant is considered to have a criminal lifestyle, the court ... must decide whether he has benefited from his ‘general criminal conduct’ and, if so, by how much. ... The burden is on the defendant to rebut any assumption made."


> But how do I prove I own an MP3 file?

Ownership of digital assets is determined by physical possesion and legal ownership of the storage medium in which those assets are.

The only exceptions to this rule are in copyright law (regulating what you can do with a copy you own) and personal data laws such as GDPR.


I own my files because you cannot take them from me. That is all that there is to it.


> But how do I prove I own an MP3 file?

The letters N, F, and T echo about in the background.


Which will then contain a link to the file, since storing the whole file on the chain is too expensive. Still, you'll now pay >50$ for each file, 98% of which are transaction fees - surprisingly surpassing the already horrible pay ratio of music labels.


> Which will then contain a link to the file

Why? You already have a copy on your local machine ("local machine" being anywhere you'd want to play that file). What's more important is the hash; if you really care about remote storage, IPFS kills both those birds with one stone.

> Still, you'll now pay >50$ for each file, 98% of which are transaction fees

There are other NFT-capable blockchains besides Ethereum, you know :)


You will also have to cross your fingers that your NFT's link to stays live for, uh, forever.


TIL Record Labels were double dealing the license vs. purchase royalties. That's really sad, and I'm glad somebody finally made some case law out of this that will benefit artists moving forward.

EDIT: I forgot it was settled out of court so it's not "case law" but definitely tells record labels that they will probably lose in the future. They must owe billions...


Except as noted in the linked BBC coverage, Four Tet's case was settled out of court (because he could not afford to fight it) and thus establishes no legal precedent for other artists to leverage.


I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know the appropriate term, but though not a precedent it certainly is a smell. Settling out of court might mean the label in question was of the opinion that they very well might lose if they went to court, this is bolstered by your point that the artist probably couldn't afford to fight it; this implies that the record label could have gone to court, confident they could bleed the plaintiff dry, but the risk of that strategy was too great.

So whatever the term is, it does crack the door open a little bit (hopefully).


>Four Tet

Wow... Haven't heard that name in a long time. Saw him at the MFA in Boston so long ago i can barely remember. Great artist, I'm glad he at least showed it could be a reasonable line of argument.


The album "new energy" has become one of my all time favorites.

Check out some recent work. He still produces some insanely hi quality tracks, not all under the "four tet" moniker. Some of the ungoogle-able "unicode hell" releases are very good, and his "KH" tracks are dancefloor killers.


Yeah, there's no chance that this golden goose could ever be killed in a modern democracy. If the companies would still be profitable paying 50% royalties, then the 38% difference between that and 12% royalties represents the amount the industry will be able to spend (without thinking about it for a moment) to bribe politicians, create fake public-interest organizations and think-tanks, and settle cases like this.


> to bribe politicians, create fake public-interest organizations and think-tanks

In other words to fool you, the voter. But if you've been fooled, how do you know these things? Are you acting on your knowledge and voting against those corrupt politicians and against those who agree with the propaganda? How does nobody else know this?


I'm sure people know but have given up since it's hopeless. It doesn't really matter who you vote for. Republicans and democrats alike can be bribed, er, sorry, I meant lobbied. I'd love to be wrong about this. Someone tell me which politician I can vote for to restore the length of copyright back to its original 14 years.


Could I sell my bandcamp account?

The irony of this is that bandcamp seems to be a far more direct-to-the-artist model than any streaming service (which is why I use it), because it (it's hard to avoid puns here) records which albums I've purchased so that I can listen to them via the app / website or download lossless copies of said albums for my own curated library and to be able to listen to offline. This, however, gives my account a certain value as to the content accessible through it, and therefore my account has some resale value* - but this resale pays nothing to the artist or label or bandcamp; it's much more like a physical item (other than that if bandcamp goes under then it's lost, or if bandcamp don't like their accounts being re-sold it could get terminated due to breach of terms of service or something like that).

* my musical taste means that this resale value is very low and it would be difficult to find a purchaser, but that's beside the point.


The terms of service might not let you sell it, but I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to change the email address and password on the account and give the login details to someone else in exchange for some money.


I can't believe how long this battle has been going on. It's been decades since the whole music industry reshuffle, and both artists and consumers continue to get shafted.


Given a two-decade gap between 12% and 50% artist revenues, it seems like a series of label-oriented class actions should begin brewing, to the tune of tens of billions.


I feel like this issue is brought on by the fact that it seems like copyright law hasn't been properly reexamined for the modern era. I support the notion that the ideal model is people pay the rightsholder in order to enjoy the media, and offering resale of pure-digital media instead leads to some weird "You make money based on the peak simultaneous number of owners, rather than the number of people who consumed it", which just doesn't make any sense to me as an economic model.

So yeah, you see labels calling the user purchase one thing, in order to make it line up with the intent of the consumer relationship, then on the royalties they call it a different thing to make it line-up with that intent. I don't feel the publishers are violating the intent of these relationships at all, it's just that copyright law being extremely out of date requires stupid language games. The correct solution is to re-examine copyright law to either establish that the intent is you pay the rightsholder to get access for you as a distinct individual, or that the intent is that you are purchasing resalable access, and be done with this nonsense.

I absolutely don't blame artists for trying though, the labels screw them so it seems fair that they should try to screw the labels.


You can resell books, movies, music, and games. Why should it matter if they're distributed through a digital or physical medium?

Copyright is just abused to milk as much money as possible and restrict usage.


Here's the news story without the editorializing. Maybe change the link?

Four Tet wins royalty battle over streaming music


..Or did it?


Just don't open the box, please. You'll ruin everything


More and more I feel copyright just doesn't make any sense in the digital age. Software engineers have already cottoned on and started doing open source, I hope we see a similar movement for art and media.


personal anectode: I'm born in 1986 and had internet since 1998. Immediately got into contact with IRC's XDCC file-sharing and Usenet bin groups. Never paid for music, started burning CDs in 1999 and owned the first commercial MP3 player. Only when Spotify came around, I started to pay for music out of lazyness to further take care of my HDD sized, tediously managed and tagged MP3 (and later M4A) library.

So at least for a large part of my life, that crazy industry didn't get a dime from me. Reading about their practices now makes me feel even less sorry.