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Copyright Board Lawyer Responds On Pandora's End

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the cutting-off-the-air-supply dept.

Music 174

mattnyc99 writes "A month ago we talked about the impending death of streaming music site Pandora thanks to a very backwards fight over royalties. PopMech follows up with an article that, besides noting how insane it is that Pandora has to pay record labels for the bad songs that users skip, also gets the (three-member) Copyright Royalty Board to try and defend itself about why the government is determining royalty rates for the music industry. Quoting: 'It was uninvited,' says Richard Strasser, senior attorney for the Copyright Royalty Board. 'I don't think anybody was jumping up and down with joy in the government that they have this responsibility, but the former systems just weren't working out.'" No one seems to be trying to defend or explain why Internet radio is being hit so much harder than satellite or broadcast.

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Why internet radio is hit harder (1, Flamebait)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031349)

No one seems to be trying to defend or explain why Internet radio is being hit so much harder than satellite or broadcast.

That's an easy one. Cause people use the internet to steal copyrighted material.

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25031413)

The reason is regular people can be broadcasters on the internet. This is not very appealing to large commercial cartels. They want to make royalties not just on the content but also the the broadcasting hardware. It ain't cheap or easy to start an XM radio or regular O-T-A radio station. The commercial interests want their cut â" so they seek to drive any one out of business who is doing internet radio.

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (2)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031619)

They want to make royalties not just on the content but also the the broadcasting hardware

What's to stop me from using my choice of broadcasting hardware if I was in the terrestrial radio business?

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (4, Insightful)

Chatterton (228704) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031667)

Except the cost of such material, and the authorization to use some part of the radio spectrum? Hum, nothing.

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (5, Informative)

computersareevil (244846) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031673)

1. An FCC license.
2. Commercial broadcast hardware.

Have you priced either? Very effective at excluding undesirables...

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (4, Insightful)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031731)

They want to make royalties not just on the content but also the the broadcasting hardware

What's to stop me from using my choice of broadcasting hardware if I was in the terrestrial radio business?

In the USA, that would be the FCC [wikipedia.org] , which operates its Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) "tasked with overseeing equipment authorization for all devices using the electromagnetic energy from 9 kHz to 300 GHz. OET maintains an electronic database of all Certified equipment which can be easily accessed by the public."

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (5, Insightful)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031493)

No one seems to be trying to defend or explain why Internet radio is being hit so much harder than satellite or broadcast.

That's an easy one. Cause people use the internet to steal copyrighted material.

People can't "steal copyrighted material" from satellite and broadcast?

I think I've got a better explanation. Broadcast and satellite are channels that require very high initial investment, thus locking out small competitors. Internet radio can be set up by anyone, and thus is harder for an industry cartel to control.

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (4, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031703)

It was sarcasm.

It's just as possible. For some reason, though, the internet is the one that scares content providers. Maybe it's the democratic nature of the web, as you point out, but I suspect a lot of it's just illogical fear.

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031797)

Oh, I think the fear is very logical, for the reasons that have been pointed out. Gotta maintain that barrier-to-entry to keep the markets under firm control. Otherwise, you know, we might have a free market, and the only people who want that are the very ones being excluded.

Re:Why internet radio is hit harder (5, Interesting)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031995)

It was sarcasm.

It's just as possible. For some reason, though, the internet is the one that scares content providers. Maybe it's the democratic nature of the web, as you point out, but I suspect a lot of it's just illogical fear.

Maybe, but one argument against mere "illogical fear" can be seen if you read Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture [free-culture.cc] , where he describes his experience in trying to pass the Public Domain Enhancement Act [wikipedia.org] .

The act proposed one small change to current copyright law: that after 50 years, a copyright holder would have to pay $1.00 for each ten years of it's existing copyright protection to maintain copyright protection, otherwise the work goes into the public domain. This would allow old commercially nonviable works to go into public domain after a reasonable period, yet imposes only the most trivial burden on maintaining protect for the tiny minority of works that are still commercially valuable after that period. However, the industry fought the bill tooth-and-nail and defeated it, for stated reasons you can see at the Wikipedia link which sound pretty disingenuous to me.

I tend to favor Lessig's argument, as summarized by WP:

"Proponents, however, have suggested that the real threat this poses to copyright holders is that a huge wave of previously unseen, unused, and forgotten works would spill into the public domain, free for anyone to tamper with. The PDEA would not compromise currently used copyrighted works like Mickey Mouse. Content that is being used, or even content whose owner is aware they 'own' it can be protected for a minimal fee. They suggest there is no reason to oppose it other than the fear of competition from the influx of new content."

And *that* is what I think they really fear about internet radio, not that people will steal their content, but rather *compete* with it.

Oh come on now (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032403)

I think your point about initial investment costs is valid.

However, I call shenanigans on the idea that people steal copyrighted material from satellite and broadcast. Do you honestly think that people passing around material recorded via their TV antenna can compare with the piracy that happens through people sucking down songs from m3u threads or Live365 and the like?

It would be more sophisticated to respond that people use the Internet once they made the copy, however they get the copy. But still, making a copy of a digital source is so much more likely! I think it's disingenuous and UNHELPFUL to deny the issue.

Very nice (0, Flamebait)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031355)

...a very backwards fight over royalties... ...how insane it is... ...Copyright Royalty Board to try and defend itself... ...No one seems to be trying to defend or explain...

It's so nice to see unbiased articles about copyright here on /.

Re:Very nice (-1, Redundant)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031551)

Welcome to Slashdot, you must be new here.

Re:Very nice (-1, Offtopic)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032631)

Damn, whoever mod'ed you troll was having a bad day. Redundant maybe...

Why is parent insightful? (0)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031555)

Why was this insightful? Evilpiper didn't even explain why he believes otherwise!

Anyway, it's a fight between a decentralized system and a centralized system.

Personally, I only occasionally listen to university radios as most of the time I discover music through my friends. I then simply go to youtube to listen to that band or project and youtube proposes other videos that might interest me.

In other words, Youtube IS better than what Pandora was since you have multiple suggestions of videos/songs from the same artists and similar artists. Also, I don't think youtube pays royalties...

As always, if they want to protect their old ways of doing business, they are obviously late.

YouTube vs Pandora (1)

daedae (1089329) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031997)

I don't know, I'm pretty sure YouTube pays royalties on material... at least, as long as it's been identified.

I think I'm in the opposite camp from you, I prefer Pandora because it's much more likely to feed me artists I don't know. Most of the music I play on Pandora ends up having, for related videos, more by the same artist, amateur covers of those tracks, or other tracks from the same record label. And such as it is, I'm usually the friend who introduces everybody else to new music.

Re:Why is parent insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032391)

YouTube is NOTHING like Pandora, at all. One is configurable streaming radio that doesn't let you directly control hat you listen to beyond some parameters that gives you what you will probably like, the other only gives you what you look for explicitly.

Re:Why is parent insightful? (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032699)

I think you're confused over what Pandora does. It doesn't find you music people like you liked, it find music that is like a certain band or artist or belongs to a certain genre and mixes of all of those. I can tell it to play Ska bands, and Ska bands that sound like The Specials, and get a mix of ska bands mostly consisting of 2 Tone Ska. It doesn't find you music other people with your tastes liked. It shows you your favorite bands' or songs' influences and those influenced by them. This is a great way to find stuff you'll like, but unless it sounds like something you're searching for, you won't find it. Searching for Sublime won't get you Matisyahu.

youtube - for music?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032759)

I then simply go to youtube to listen to that band

You can't be serious, are you?

A number of times I had gone to youtube to hear a friend's music suggestion.

What an insult to the ear. Over-compressed, clipped, sampled at only 22KHz, and streamed at 64Kb/s. Why even bother? Posting a MIDI to be played over a 1st generation soundblaster would have sounded better.

Alas, youtube seems to be the place new music is frequently "auditioned" - and I use the word in the same sense that a kid uses "baked" after playing with their easy-bake oven.

Re:Very nice (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031691)

Ok, so what do you believe? This is like saying that because someone could potentially have another opinion that opinion is totally justified as the majority's. Otherwise you can criticize the local news for not reporting the man who claims that aliens just invaded down the street.

Sometimes it's not bias (2, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032189)

Sometimes something truly sucks, and there is no way to put it in a positive light.

The recording industry grinding independent internet radio stations to paste being one good example.

Re:Sometimes it's not bias (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032595)

Sometimes something truly sucks, and there is no way to put it in a positive light.

It's not a question of positive / negative. That assumes a quality judgment in the first place, which should not be involved in fair reporting.

This is an extremely very clear case of bias... Phrasing like to try and defend itself makes it extremely obvious the submitter has already passed judgment, even before hearing the described forthcoming justification from "the other side" of the argument. That is no longer reporting, since it doesn't present FACTS, but spouting off an opinion (biased as it is).

Let's try an example, shall we... Take the hypothetical example of a news story on flat-earthers. Now write a few headlines for the story.

Unbiased: Some believe Earth is flat, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Biased: Some stupid people believe the backwards theory that Earth is flat.

Also Biased: Experts attempting to show that Earth is flat, having difficulty fighting entrenched round-earth theory.

All are factually correct, and "truely sucks" describes nothing better than flat-earthers. But that doesn't mean you can't tell the truth without bias.

Well, hell (2, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031377)

Why doest Pandora just strike up with indie studios and go mono e mono with musicians for play rights?

And if Congress is forcing internet radio companies to pay to some RIAA-hole, countersue them under RICO. After all, they're pooling their money. And isnt payola illegal?

Re:Well, hell (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031457)

Screw that; why doesn't Pandora just pack up and move to the Bahamas or Grand Cayman? They'd get a nice, tropical island location (though they'd have to worry a little more about hurricanes), and they wouldn't have to worry about this RIAA silliness.

Re:Well, hell (2, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031475)

mono e mono

Unless you were referring to simulated stereo, you mean "mano a mano".

Re:Well, hell (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031521)

And, while we're at it, "hand to hand" probably isn't a great way to describe a partnership. Maybe "mano en mano"?

Re:Well, hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032123)

"Hand to hand" is correct; the expression is derived from Spanish bullfighters competing to win favor with the crowd. It refers to any competitive relationship.

Re:Well, hell (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032687)

The GP was describing a cooperative relationship, though, in which case "mano a mano" wouldn't really make much sense.

Re:Well, hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25031541)

Actually, he was talking about monkeys.

Re:Well, hell (1)

achenaar (934663) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031985)

Well, when your talking about music mono e mono could well be mono (one mono copy on a disc) and e-mono (one mono copy streamed over the web) which aside from not being stereo, would be super :)

Re:Well, hell (4, Funny)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032083)

Or it could mean 2.71828183 channel surround sound.

Re:Well, hell (2, Funny)

achenaar (934663) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032169)

lolgarithmic :)

Re:Well, hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25031617)

Not only did you misspell "mano a mano", you completely misused it. It implies competition or combat.

Re:Well, hell (4, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031771)

Why doest Pandora just strike up with indie studios and go mono e mono with musicians for play rights?

Because the demand for indie music is dwarfed by the demand for big-label music. I know I'd stop listening to Pandora most of the time if they stopped offering music from the 70s and 80s that I listen to the most.

And if Congress is forcing internet radio companies to pay to some RIAA-hole, countersue them under RICO. After all, they're pooling their money. And isnt payola illegal?

Please explain exactly how the RIAA could be prosecuted under RICO. I don't mean to pick on you, but I often see remarks that the RIAA should be prosecuted under RICO, and I have yet to see a clear analysis of how exactly they violate RICO laws. And as for payola, this is the opposite of payola. The big labels are not paying for airtime.

What I'd like to see is an anti-trust suit against SoundExchange. We won't see one, of course, because it'd be political suicide to take on the RIAA when they own the political system.

What I'd really like to see is a retreat from fascism (call it corporatism if you like), but that sure as hell isn't happening any time soon.

Re:Well, hell (4, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032031)

Yes, payola is illegal. It's also standard operating procedure, and nobody gives a damn that it happens (or nobody in a position to do anything, at least).

And let's face it - Pandora wouldn't be nearly as successful as it has been if it could only play indie music. Say what you want about quality, but there's a tremendously larger audience for mainstream music, pretty much by definition (now technically mainstream and indie aren't mutually exclusive, but it tends to work out that way more often than not).

Re:Well, hell (1)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032209)

Why doest Pandora just strike up with indie studios and go mono e mono with musicians for play rights?

And if Congress is forcing internet radio companies to pay to some RIAA-hole, countersue them under RICO.

I don't believe it works like that. If you run a commercial non-interactive radio station, you pay royalties to an organization like SoundExchange*. It doesn't seem to matter if you're playing music created/produced by someone who is not a member of SoundExchange - you still have to pay them - so going indie doesn't help.

* Side note - I think the law that this works under can support several SoundExchange-like organizations, but at present time they are the only group recognized under the law to collect these royalties.

Sound Exchange (5, Informative)

tobiah (308208) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032927)

If you go to the SoundExchange website, they have a list of thousands of musicians for whom they collected revenue but have not contacted them for payment. Their right to those funds expires after a certain period of time, and SoundExchange would keep 50% in any case.
In most case musicians would prefer to have their music broadcast as widely as possible. It is possible to opt out of representation by SoundExchange, but then the guidelines are written so that they have to waive ALL rights to revenue from that track. They can also make exceptions for particular webcast sites, which is made quite difficult and challenged aggressively.
One exception is polka music, a group representing American polka music negotiated a broad agreement with SoundExchange that polka stations don't have to pay any revenues.

Because it wouldn't fix anything (4, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032287)

Thanks to Soundexchange. [wikipedia.org]

You have to pay royalties to the RIAA for any music you broadcast. Even if the artists you are playing are not RIAA members. They can, however, become RIAA members and get their precollected royalties, of course.

And no, I'm not bullshitting you. It's actually law. Here's the original Slashdot thread about it. [slashdot.org]

Pity (5, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031391)

I have been listening to Pandora, discovering new artists, and had begun to buy music again (most of my music collection is CDs bought in the Eighties). Guess I'll just go back to listening to my 'oldies' - I can't be bothered to keep fighting the music industry to accept my money.

Re:Pity (3, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031695)

You wouldn't be alone. I stopped buying CDs in the early 90s; just had no source of inspiration for finding new music anymore. Someone recently showed my Pandora, and that was actually my first thought: find new music and start collecting again. Oh well, I'm older now, and wine is actually quite enjoyable to collect (& eventually consume) even though it's more expensive ;-)

Re:Pity (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032479)

Just switch to www.last.fm.

Re:Pity (5, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031805)

I have been listening to Pandora, discovering new artists, and had begun to buy music again

Please consider checking RIAA Radar [riaaradar.com] when buying music that you find through Pandora. When you pay for content published on RIAA labels, you are literally paying people to fight against your interests as a music fan.

If people would simply stop rewarding stupidity, the RIAA would melt like the penny-dreadful movie villains they are.

Re:Pity (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031881)

That is assuming that you are buying new music. if you buy used CDs you aren't supporting the RIAA at all, while still being "legal".

Re:Pity (1)

daedae (1089329) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032097)

Unfortunately, this leaves you stuck between "download now, buy later" or "haunt your local CD shop and hope somebody else has sold them the new CD you want."

I significantly grew my CD collection from used discs of music pre-2006, but for the last two years most new CDs I'm interested in I just pick up on release day.

Re:Pity (1)

Woldry (928749) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032891)

while still being "legal".

... for now.

Re:Pity (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032121)

Most people's options suck. The majority of music I like is under an RIAA label, and that's true for almost everyone. Either I steal it (bad), pay for it and support the RIAA (definitely bad) even though I'm _slightly_ supporting the artist (definitely good), or I go without it entirely (bad).

Unfortunately, I'm not giving up the music. So I either have to steal it (and risk getting sued) or have to support the very organization that spends all of its time working against me and itself. Which would you suggest? I've done both, and don't really care for either option. If pirating it and donating directly to the artist was an option I'd do it, but that's never the case for RIAA-signed artists.

Re:Pity (2, Informative)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032887)

You present the problem that many find themselves in, but thats merely because you're working off the assumption that there isn't much non-riaa controlled music out there (there's lots, its just not as easy to browse). Granted, it's not publicized as well but there are a lot of good suggestions in this older thread [slashdot.org] .

People often forget the option of searching for independent groups for genres they enjoy and paying the group (good) without it going anywhere near the RIAA (also good). Remember if you find yourself saying "oh it's just too much effort keeping track of who is RIAA and who isnt technically", this is a STRATEGY of the riaa not a failing of the independent artists who remain unaffiliated in any way.

Re:Pity (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031811)

Hate to just pile on - but completely agree. For me, Pandora died a while ago (since I'm in Canada).

I haven't bought a ton of music lately, but what I have has been:

1. Stuff I found on Pandora. Their model was such that you were constantly bumping into new things that I actually liked (because of their excellent related music search). I've found 4 or 5 artists I really like, and have bought at least one album from each.
2. Stuff I ran into on YouTube - most recently, episodes of Mitchell & Webb. After seeing a few bits on Youtube, I just had to get all their stuff (and if there was more to buy on iTunes, I would - but of course there's only certain things they'll sell in Canada).
3. Stuff I found on eMusic, or on the (very) old MP3.com.

What's keeping me from buying more media?

1. It's hard to be find other stuff I like. The radio is useless, I don't have much time to watch TV, and the bulk of online content doesn't have samples, doesn't play in Canada, etc. I'm sure there's more stuff I want out there, but I'll have to be very lucky to run into it and I don't have time to search through garbage.
2. It's hard to buy what I want. Good luck, for example, getting new episodes of Dexter here (or Mitchell & Webb) online. I promise I would pay. There's all sorts of stuff I do pay for. Just take my money!

Re:Pity (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032009)

I'm in the same exact boat. But now, I'll make a point of only buying used CDs and records, rather than dropping cash to the RIAA member companies.

I have disposable income. I believe that pirating is immoral, and I don't do it. I don't listen to terrestrial radio (even in the car). I have canceled my satellite subscription. I don't go to shows. I don't watch any music-affiliated television.

Sure, I'm an outlier case, but my primary means of exposure to new music I'd like to buy is being destroyed by the companies that stand to profit the most from it.

One other thing: regardless of how this shakes down over the next few months, I just want to send a big thanks to Tim Westergren, Will Glaser, Jon Craft and the rest of the folks from Pandora (Joe Kennedy, fellow Jersey guy included) and the Music Genome Project. You've made my life more enjoyable. I hope this works out for you.

Re:Pity (1)

LiquidDeath (771564) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032283)

Same here. If it weren't for Pandora I wouldn't have been exposed to any new music. I do not listen to music on the radio, nor do I pay attention to TV's music channels. Every album I've bought this year has been due to Pandora exposing me to new artists. The RIAA is clearly out of touch with consumers. Sadly, it seems we will have to wait for the current generation of music execs to die/retire for any kind of real change. In the meantime industry pioneers, such as Pandora, will continue to get pummeled by the dinosaurs.

There's No Explanation For A Good Reason (4, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031419)

They are just waiting for the net radio enthusiasts to postulate. Then, they label net radio advocates as "extreme and uncooperative" as the excuse for not saying or doing anything.

It's important to remember the RIAA members control distribution. Letting net radio operate at a discount or even the same rates as broadcast is a non-starter. RIAA says, "net radio is cheaper, so give me more money. Well, actually, just give me more money..." And broadcasters are quite happy with that too.

Best stance is to let the lack of an explanation rest as is and use the FOIA, if possible, to get at communications about the issue.

Remember this, too... (5, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031523)

It's important to remember the RIAA members control distribution. Letting net radio operate at a discount or even the same rates as broadcast is a non-starter.

It's also important to remember that the RIAA members also own most of the radio stations. The internet is their competition for earlobes, which they could otherwise sell to advertisers.

Re:There's No Explanation For A Good Reason (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031545)

Well... that is, strictly speaking, a reason, but I don't think we can really call it a "good" reason. What you said is pretty much the definition of a bullshit reason.

The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (4, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031463)

The ISPs are hitting internet radio too with their monthly bandwidth quotas. Once you start to pile up usage, every bit counts:

31 days * 24 hours * 60 minutes * 60 seconds * 128 kbps (16000 bytes) = 42854400000 bytes per month. That's nearly 40 GiB of data, only for radio.

Even if you get real and cut it back to working hours and assume 8 hours of radio per day on weekends, that's still a whopping 13.3 GiB of data only for radio.

Re:The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (1, Informative)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031669)

Check your math. kbps is kiloBITS. Not bytes. Still adds up fast though when you start thinking about multiple streams.

Re:The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031801)

128 kbps = 128000 bits.
128000 bits / 8 bit per byte = 16000 bytes.

That's what I wrote above (128 kbps, 16000 bytes).

Re:The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031833)

Check YOUR math. The parent already accounted for the difference between bits and bytes. Notice where they said (16000 bytes)

16000 * 60 * 60 * 24 * 31 = The answer he gave...

So his answer is actually correct. Well Played tho.

Re:The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (1)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032055)

Ack, I stand corrected having completely misread the paranthetical. Coworkers who contantly mistake bits and bytes doesn't help ;)

Re:The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (4, Insightful)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031717)

who the hell listens to internet radio for 8 hours every single day in a month?If you're considering listening while at the office, that's not bandwidth you should be concerned about so that's gone. The only people we have left using that kind of bandwidth are radio junkies who need some kind of noise playing all the time and who work from home/are unemployed. That's not a very big market, and to a person who needs to listen to that much radio, 30 GB out of 250GB per month (taking the recent Comcast announcement) isn't that much.

Re:The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031855)

My mistake, you're right that listening to internet radio at work has nothing to do with your monthly bandwidth quota at home.

Also, I'm not talking about decent quotas like the 250GB you mention, I was more concerned about the kind of quotas we have over here in Canada (usually around 35GB per month, and that's a combined download+upload quota).

Even if we only count the weekends, that's still about 3.5GB, which is still 10% of the quotas around here.

And before you make the usual "find a better ISP" comment, there is none. Bell, Videotron and Cogeco control it all, giving you (at best) a choice between Bell DSL and Videotron or Cogeco cable, all three with very low monthly quotas.

Re:The ISPs are hitting internet radio too (1)

dhanson865 (1134161) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032049)

Those are lots of numbers but it doesn't fully address Pandora.

One of the nice things about Pandora is that it doesn't stream in the traditional sense. It DLs a mp3 in the background as quick as possible and then plays from the local cache. If you watch your bandwidth it'll DL at high speed for a few seconds then sit idle through several minutes of music, then just before the song ends it'll DL the next song. While the FAQ states that it streams at 128 kbps, I'd call that a very dumbed down version of reality.

This also lets you pause a song indefinitely and it will resume from that paused point if you switch "stations" during the paused state or if you switch stations without pausing it will pause automatically.

FWIW the storage Pandora uses is part of Adobe Flash so if you want to modify the cache settings you would follow this link to bring up the settings http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager03.html#117498 [macromedia.com]

I haven't bothered to check to see if that storage is flushed on a reboot. At the least I'm assuming it is kept so you don't have to waste bandwidth replaying a song later in the same multihour session.

It's not perfect but I'll actually miss it should Pandora go away.

My Troll Post (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25031535)

RIAA Monthly Ledger
CD Sales....$10,000,000
Internet Royalties....$3,000,000
Perceived Internet Theft......$3,200,000
Lawyer Bill......$7,000,000
Customer Loyalty and Fair Use....Priceless

simple explanation (4, Informative)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031549)

No one seems to be trying to defend or explain why Internet radio is being hit so much harder than satellite or broadcast.

The explanation is pretty simple. If you follow the history of the battle over internet radio royalties, you'll quickly see that it is all about stream ripping. The music industry is convinced that millions of people are "stealing" music by recording streaming radio with free tools like streamripper.

They initially attempted to get congress to pass legislation to force all internet broadcasters to use DRM in their streams. When this went nowhere, that's when they began the royalty assault. The plan is to simply force internet radio broadcasters out of business with exhorbitant royalties. Looks like it's working, too, with the demise of Pandora.

Re:simple explanation (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031653)

The explanation is pretty simple. If you follow the history of the battle over internet radio royalties, you'll quickly see that it is all about stream ripping. The music industry is convinced that millions of people are "stealing" music by recording streaming radio with free tools like streamripper.

It's not just about stream-ripping. It's also about controlling the market. Internet radio destroys the ability of the major labels to determine what music gets played, which means that they lose the marketing oligopoly they currently hold.

Re:simple explanation (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031909)

It's not just about stream-ripping. It's also about controlling the market. Internet radio destroys the ability of the major labels to determine what music gets played, which means that they lose the marketing oligopoly they currently hold.

I've heard this argument made many times before (mostly on Slashdot), and while it's tempting to believe it out of a general hatred for the major music labels, somehow I just don't buy it. I just don't believe that internet radio is really that powerful, that it really actually completely undermines the "market oligopoly" (as you put it) in some way that traditional radio (which includes thousands of small, independent, and public stations which already play whatever they want whenever they want with no input whatsoever from "the industry") can't do.

Re:simple explanation (1)

Espinas217 (677297) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032119)

What Internet radio can do (and Pandora was actually doing) is delivering customized music, a different set of songs, to every listener. What they were doing was giving the listener the power to choose what to listen. The only medium that can do that is Internet 'cause you can give every listener a customized stream. You just can't do that with broadcast. With traditional radio your choices are limited at the station level, with Internet radio and services like Pandora you can choose at song level and there is little the big labels can do to force you to listen to a particular artist/song

Re:simple explanation (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032259)

I agree that Pandora, in its customization feature, offers something that traditional radio can't offer. I'm not a Pandora user, but my understanding though is that the "customization" is at the level of "play me more music like this", not "play me only music by the following 4 bands." So in that respect, it is still a venue whereby people are introduced to new music constantly. Which many people have pointed out here already.

But with all due respect, this fight is not about that. The music industry is not trying to destroy all of internet radio because of Pandora's customizable streams.

Re:simple explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032673)

I agree that Pandora, in its customization feature, offers something that traditional radio can't offer. I'm not a Pandora user, but my understanding though is that the "customization" is at the level of "play me more music like this", not "play me only music by the following 4 bands." So in that respect, it is still a venue whereby people are introduced to new music constantly. Which many people have pointed out here already.

Yes but you also have the option to skip a song so if a label wants you to hear the new hit you have to option to skip it.

But with all due respect, this fight is not about that. The music industry is not trying to destroy all of internet radio because of Pandora's customizable streams.

The music industry is figthing for the power to feed their most rentable products to the people and Internet radio gives less power to them and more to the listener. Pandora is just one example of that.

Re:simple explanation (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032249)

I just don't believe that internet radio is really that powerful, that it really actually completely undermines the "market oligopoly" (as you put it) in some way that traditional radio (which includes thousands of small, independent, and public stations which already play whatever they want whenever they want with no input whatsoever from "the industry") can't do.

Well, first, I believe it's an effort to nip internet radio before it competes o a massive scale. The competition is there, and making inroads...

Second, who do you think really controls terrestrial radio? Not to get all tinfoil-hattish, but the consolidation of terrestrial radio stations has really reduced the variety of radio that's available. The RIAA companies want homogenized radio, which maximizes their profits. Clear Channel et al deliver that. Advertisers want huge conglomerate radio station networks. Clear Channel et al deliver that.

As for the small, independent, and public stations that play whatever they want... what kind of market share do you think they have? I live in a major metro area... I have very few choices. And none that really cater to my tastes.

Seriously, the power of the major labels derives from one thing only -- their ability to market their artists. Any threat to this ability could potentially kill their marketing power, and thus their business.

There's a reason that current law forces internet radio stations to pay SoundExchange even for indie artists -- it's to kill off the the playtime of those indie artists.

Re:simple explanation (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032493)

Well, first, I believe it's an effort to nip internet radio before it competes o a massive scale. The competition is there, and making inroads...

That could be, and I can't prove it otherwise. I'll just say what I said before: I don't believe it. This is attributing a tremendous amount of foresight to an industry that has not otherwise been well known for its forward thinking.

Second, who do you think really controls terrestrial radio? Not to get all tinfoil-hattish, but the consolidation of terrestrial radio stations has really reduced the variety of radio that's available. The RIAA companies want homogenized radio, which maximizes their profits. Clear Channel et al deliver that. Advertisers want huge conglomerate radio station networks. Clear Channel et al deliver that.

I completely agree with this. Personally I stopped listending to commercial FM radio about 15 years ago. The "hogomonization" has produced a product that is so awful, so banal, so tedious, so vapid, that it is now seems actively painful to listen to it in even small doses. It's also interesting to note that the commercial FM radio industry has been steadily declining over the last decade or so, much the same way as CD sales have. I'm sure the extremely poor quality of product (not to mention the endless ads) is responsible.

As for the small, independent, and public stations that play whatever they want... what kind of market share do you think they have?

I don't know; I'm sure it's not much compared to commercial radio. But I'm NOT sure that the collective "market share" of indie radio is any smaller than the collective market share of internet radio. My gut says that indie radio nationwide probably still outdoes internet radio on a listener count basis. I guess I'd have to see some real studies on that to be persuaded otherwise. So I still assert that if the real reason for destroying internet radio is to stop the broadcast of "non-RIAA-approved" music, they would be going after indie radio as well.

Seriously, the power of the major labels derives from one thing only -- their ability to market their artists. Any threat to this ability could potentially kill their marketing power, and thus their business.

I agree with this in general. I just don't believe that this is the main reason they are trying to kill internet radio right now.

There's a reason that current law forces internet radio stations to pay SoundExchange even for indie artists -- it's to kill off the the playtime of those indie artists.

Other Slashdotters with a lot more knowledge of SoundExchange than myself have already posted very detailed explanations of why SoundExchange exists and the purpose it serves. Those explanations generally do not include "killing indie arties" as the primary purpose for SoundExchange. This sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

Re:simple explanation (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032863)

It's also interesting to note that the commercial FM radio industry has been steadily declining over the last decade or so, much the same way as CD sales have. I'm sure the extremely poor quality of product (not to mention the endless ads) is responsible.

To be fair, competition from downloaded and shared music has had a major impact on terrestrial radio as well. But it's interesting to note that the decline in FM radio parallels the deregulation of the FM radio industry (in particular, the restrictions on ownership of multiple stations in a market) and the massive acquisition spree by Clear Channel.

So I still assert that if the real reason for destroying internet radio is to stop the broadcast of "non-RIAA-approved" music, they would be going after indie radio as well.

The difference is that protections for indie radio have been encoded in law for some time. But they are just as hated by Clearchannel (as competitors) and the RIAA-labels (as non-marketing-channel music sources).

Those explanations generally do not include "killing indie arties" as the primary purpose for SoundExchange. This sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

It's not the primary purpose. But there are thorns thrown in to hinder indie artists.

So I may be coming off as a conspiracy theorist, there is some speculation on my part.

Re:simple explanation (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032897)

That could be, and I can't prove it otherwise. I'll just say what I said before: I don't believe it. This is attributing a tremendous amount of foresight to an industry that has not otherwise been well known for its forward thinking.

It absolutely does not require foresight. Internet streaming is a distribution channel and the RIAA will not allow a distribution channel to exist that does not give them majority control via royalty schemes that force internet streamers to be no more than sharecroppers. If they can't control it they'll destroy it by imposing a usurious business model.

Re:simple explanation (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032303)

I think most people would be hard pressed to state local radio stations off the top of their head that aren't controlled by Clear Channel and thus the RIAA.

The other issue is that they've always been up against massive websites with thousands of listeners or even millions so since they didn't get their first they will try whatever means to close it down. In the case of Pandora, it is in no one's best interest to close it down since they already have a large membership but they can't afford increased licensing fees because of the licensing structure. The structure itself is what is screwing Pandora over since every user typically has multiple stations and you have to pay per station. I know my account is no exception but I have over 20 stations just for me. That's already a large amount of money that Pandora must pay just for me let alone all of their other listeners who I'm sure have an even larger number of stations than I.

Re:simple explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032163)

exactly. What happens when Pandora starts mixing non-RIAA artists in with RIAA artists?

Re:simple explanation (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032531)

They already do. And what happens is that they still need to pay the Royalties to SoundExchange, who, if the artist is unregistered with them, distribute the cash (less their cut) to two music unions. The artist is then forced to collect the royalties from the unions.

IIRC there is an option for an artist to opt-out of the SoundExchange royalty collection scheme, but it would require the artist to individually license with any station that plays their music. Cost-prohibitive for both the stations and the artists.

Re:simple explanation (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032867)

That is true to some extent if the users can customize their channels (i.e. every user is listening to a unique playlist), but "paying for promotion" (i.e. Payola) would probably still work on Internet radio if everyone was listening to the same set of pre-determined channels (albeit somewhat diluted by the larger number of channels possible on the Internet...a channel for every niche and every niche in its own channel).

Re:simple explanation (1)

aaandre (526056) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032931)

Seems that they don't want more money. They want full control, strict, enforced laws and then, much, much more money.

They are building a pay-per-play economy (or, see-an-ad-per-play), and we are the lobsters slowly being boiled.

Profit!

Re:simple explanation (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031743)

You mean that I can't record normal radio? And that I can't record YouTube (Where many record companies have music videos) ? Wrong.

Re:simple explanation (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032059)

You mean that I can't record normal radio? And that I can't record YouTube (Where many record companies have music videos) ? Wrong.

Let's see...hmm....read my post again. Did I say you couldn't do that? Nope. Nice straw man, though.

Hint: it's all about relative difficulty. As we all know, due to the analog hole, if you are motivated enough, you can copy ANYTHING. But setting up an automated system to record an analog FM radio broadcast to your harddrive is a lot more work for the average joe than simply downloading and running streamripper. Add to that the fact that streamripper can parse mp3 tags in the broadcast stream and automatically split it up into individual music files ready for playback, and I suppose you can imagine how a the music industry could get their panties in a wad.

Re:simple explanation (1)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032013)

I just started using Pandora recently. I looked into stream ripping, but it was more of a hassle than it was worth.

It is FAR easier to hook up my computer to my tuner and record directly from the radio or the cable stations I get on the TV.

It's a damn shame this whole thing, I had finally found a venue to discover new music. Back to the record stores for some used classic vinyl I guess.

If the music labels can't figure out that Pandora is bringing the people who haven't bought a CD since the 90's back into their market, and then shuts Pandora down, fuck them, I'll keep working on my used vinyl collection and pirating the music I can't find used. These guys really need to get a clue.

Re:simple explanation (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032671)

I just started using Pandora recently. I looked into stream ripping, but it was more of a hassle than it was worth.

I've never tried to rip Pandora, so I can't speak to the difficulty involved. But for a tradional internet radio station that broadcasts a continuous mp3 stream receivable by programs such as Winamp, nothing could possibly be simpler than recording the stream with streamripper. Download, install, enter URL, done. Beyond that, automating the daily recording of your favorite show requires just the one additional step of a cron job, or a "Scheduled Task" under Windows.

Another industry gets offshored (3, Insightful)

computersareevil (244846) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031577)

Won't this just mean that there won't be any U.S. Internet radio stations? They'll either fold up or move off-shore. They won't be able to conduct any "business" in the U.S., but short of the Great Firewall of Comrizon/Vericast, the MAFIAA won't be able to stop U.S. users from streaming.

Re:Another industry gets offshored (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031647)

Exactly. Why is it that politicians can't realize that the real reason companies are taking jobs overseas is because of all the annoying regulations we have in the US that stops anything from getting done unless you have a $1,000,000 initial investment.

Re:Another industry gets offshored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25031769)

The problem with that is that if your company is based in the US and operating overseas it still has to abide by US laws, in addition to the laws of that nation. Of course, moving a company completely would be different.

Re:Another industry gets offshored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25032835)

Most countries have signed treaties that respect US copyright law, so no matter how idiotic the law, the international community suffers as well.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25031583)

Pandra exposes me to music I would otherwise not
not hear. Pandora has inspired me to purchase CDs which I would otherwise not have known about.

Silly, stupid, foolish RIAA

Great sport (0, Offtopic)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031651)

That's very nice of Pandora to cease its activities for the arrival of the Pandora UMPC/console [openpandora.org] . Helps clear the confusion out.

Why the government (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031697)

Why is the government determining royalty rates for the music industry?

Maybe it's because that same government is who declares that compulsory licensing must happen in the first place?

It wouldn't make sense to have compulsory licensing if the price could then be negotiated. The copyright holder could just say, "Ok, $1 million per play if you want access to my song," and then no one would be able to license it.

Either get rid of compulsory licensing, or deal with the fact that the associated rates are legitimately within the scope of government. The whole point of this type of licensing is that people didn't want to deal with a free market.

Flame 'em for the rates being absurd; don't flame 'em for being Big Bad Government poking their nose where they aren't wanted. Their involvement was wanted; the licensees (internet "radio") depend on it.

Re:Why the government (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032195)

It wouldn't make sense to have compulsory licensing if the price could then be negotiated.

Huh? With most of the copyright compulsory licenses, the price is in fact negotiated, with the result that the actual price is usually far below the compulsory license rate.

Re:Why the government (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032201)

If the government is going to regulate pricing, wouldn't it legally have to be equal for everyone lest they run afoul of some non-discrimination law? It seems to me that whether they set rates at $50k/song/listener or $0.0005/song/listener, those rates need to be the same regardless of the broadcast medium. Obviously getting an accurate listener count for radio is impossible, but they should be obligated to use the same estimates they provide to their advertisers (whether they're knowingly inflated or otherwise).

Then again, the government doesn't really care about breaking the law, so that's probably already the case.

What? (1)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031747)

... the former systems just weren't working out.

Weren't working out for who, exactly? More than likely it was pressure from radio stations, bars, et cetera for regulation on an increasingly out of control royalty scheme put forth by the cartel of the Big Four. So what did this government do? Regulated it for the labels, not for the people who are getting gouged to hell and back on what, in my opinion, is backward and stupid anyway. Royalties simply for playing a song? Hell, why doesn't Penguin start charging people every time they read the books they publish? Because that would be insane and nobody would deal with it for long. So why do we still deal with the same shit from this government-sponsored cartel?

Quote FTA (1)

EComni (998601) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031845)

According to SoundExchange's Ades, the problem is that Pandora's user-friendly service isn't really designed to make the money it should. "They're giving away music for free. Who's not going to want that?" Ades says. "The question is: 'What is Pandora doing to raise revenue?' They're attracting listeners with the music, but they're not requiring listeners to pay for the music. Pandora's failure to monetize their business is why they can't afford the rates."

I'm sure if Pandora went to a flat $15/month subscription and kept half of the 16 million years, the industry would still try to regulate them out of business so OTA radio (and payola) still reigns supreme. IIRC, iTunes had quite a rough patch with the industry, and that's friggin' iTunes. How the hell can the industry give iTunes a hard time? It's scary that how corporations have enough pull that they can almost literally make their own laws just to keep things the way they've always been.

It'll be a sad day when my absolute favorite music listening method dies. To add another anecdotal reference, I've found SO much music, so many artists, even an entire genre, since I've started listening to Pandora about half a year ago. I'd subscribe to them in a heartbeat.

Seems obvious to me. (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031861)

"No one seems to be trying to defend or explain why Internet radio is being hit so much harder than satellite or broadcast."

Why do either, when all that would serve to do is draw attention to the disparity, and invite enough consideration that the real aim become apparent? Which is to strangle a nascent medium in order to have control over it.

Consider FIOS. Massive pipes to the doorstep, geeks rejoice. If anyone had said at that time that Verizon would be getting into the television business most would have snickered, but isn't that what Verizon is now advertising? And AT&T, didn't they run off all the small to medium DSL colocation, only to finally birth U[gh!]-Verse?

Could this be a reason net neutrality be such a hot button issue with the lobbyist set?

This isn't about "paying the artists", it's about supporting dinosaurian business models, control, and another round of vertical integration, with a "Clear Channel of the Web" as the end result.

Why not move offshore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25031879)

Why doesn't Pandora move to a place where there are no such regulations?

Radio... meh (2, Interesting)

achenaar (934663) | more than 6 years ago | (#25031907)

Am I the only spod in the universe that for ages has thought that radio sucks ass anyhow?
Seriously, the only thing I've chosen to listen to on the radio was the Mark and Lard show on Radio 1 when I was about 14.
Picture this proposal:
"How about you flip on your radio and we'll play you music that you may or may not like, followed by advertisements, bullshit interviews, more advertisements, and more music that you may or may not like. How's that?"
Compared to:
"Fire up your MP3 player/ocremix.org/shoutcast/last.fm/google with "index of" "parent directory" thingiwannalistento.mp3/whatever else and you can hear whatever YOU WANT TO HEAR ad free, bullshit free etc."
The very definition of a no brainer.
I understand that the last one of my suggestions in the second proposal is effectively illegal since no money ends up in the relavent shitface's pocket, but still, how hard is that question to answer?
Jesus, even before the internet I didn't listen to radio music because I had no control over it.
Why should I?

why pick on Internet radio? (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032143)

"No one seems to be trying to defend or explain why Internet radio is being hit so much harder than satellite or broadcast."

Two words - "no payola"

Re:why pick on Internet radio? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032773)

Yes, the music companies aren't paying Pandora to play. I strongly suspect there are no ratings or audience statistics that would indicate to the copyright owners exactly what they might be getting by licensing Pandora to play their material. No advertising rate information that would indicate how valuable businesses consider Pandora to be in terms of listener attention.

What this all comes down to is it seems worthless to have the music played by Pandora. If they still want to, for no reason apparent to the copyright owners, they get to pay a lot for the privilege.

Compulsory rates are basically a default (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032371)

I think many people are a little unclear on how compulsory licenses work. Once that is understood, a lot becomes clearer.

For most things you might want to do that require permission of the copyright owner, how much that costs you, if anything is entirely up to whatever agreement you and the copyright own make. If you are unable to come to an agreement, you can't go ahead with your proposed use of the copyrighted material.

For some particular uses of some kinds of work, copyright law provides a different default. If you and the copyright holder can't agree to terms, you can pay an amount determined by the Copyright Royalty Board, and go ahead with your proposed use, even if the copyright owner does not want to give you a license.

The Board generally sets these rates higher than what the market rate would be. In most cases, the party that wants to use the work and the copyright owner comes to terms, and agree on a rate well below the compulsory rate.

It is quite sensible that the compulsory rate is set high, as its a rate of last resort, for the case where the copyright owner is going to be forced against their will to license the work. Also, it would probably not be possible for the Board to set a rate that is close to market rate, even if they wanted to, as market rate would vary quite a bit from work to work. At best, they could approximate the average market rate for the type of work in question, but then that would greatly mess up the market, as for about half the works, the compulsory rate would be lower than the market rate!

In the Pandora case, we have that rare situation where the copyright owners and the party that wants a license are not able to agree to terms, leaving Pandora with the choice of stopping, or taking the expensive compulsory license.

It's A Good Thing (1)

Composite_Armor (1203112) | more than 6 years ago | (#25032913)

That I Didn't Buy A Squeezebox...
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