Schroedinger's streaming service just died

237 points1
Waterluvian11 hours ago

“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.

GaylordTuring1 hour ago

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.

zdragnar11 hours ago

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.

bitexploder10 hours ago

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.

sailfast8 hours ago

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?

thaumasiotes1 hour ago

Here is a right-coded example of a hypothetical agency behavior with many claimed historical occurrences:

Suppose you are the EPA and you'd like to implement some environmental rule that might or might not be strictly within your legal powers.

You work out a deal with a friendly organization and they sue you for improper stewardship of the environment (with details, obviously, according to the rule you want to implement). Then, instead of fighting their lawsuit, you settle it, agreeing to their demands -- which consist of the rule you wanted to implement. That rule is now one you are obligated to enforce pursuant to a legal agreement, instead of something you implemented on your own authority. This structure tends to prevent normal accountability mechanisms from working.

(As a side note, I'm always surprised, when I see descriptions of this tactic, that it's permissible for an agency to agree to take actions that are notionally not within the power of the agency. I would be interested to know more about what exactly is going on there.)

vajrabum10 hours ago

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

feet10 hours ago
feet10 hours ago

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

sailfast8 hours ago

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).

sailfast8 hours ago

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'! :)

totetsu4 hours ago Organizing for campaign finance reforms to return power to voters.

kubanczyk3 hours ago

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.

ww52010 hours ago

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.

toast05 hours ago

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.

feet10 hours ago

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

clucas9 hours ago

"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!

ceejayoz8 hours ago
oyashirochama9 hours ago

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.

krnlpnc10 hours ago

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

Yes, and the problem is not limited to copyright

ntoskrnl11 hours ago

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

feet10 hours ago

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

Schroedingersat10 hours ago

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

nabla94 hours ago

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.

raverbashing7 hours ago

"Easy" solution: have the people who got rich with alternative platforms lobby as well

8bitsrule12 hours ago

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.

sailfast8 hours ago

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...

googlryas14 hours ago

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.

kbenson12 hours ago

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).

texec12 hours ago

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.

hbossy1 hour ago

>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.

clownbaby13 hours ago

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.

_carbyau_10 hours ago

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.

Closi12 hours ago

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.

mannykannot14 hours ago

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

Closi14 hours ago

> 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)?

googlryas14 hours ago

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.

wmf12 hours ago

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.

mpnordland12 hours ago

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.

yellowapple12 hours ago

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

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

Sebb76712 hours ago

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.

yellowapple10 hours ago

> 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 :)

lelandfe11 hours ago

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

flir11 hours ago

Store the file's hash instead?

EMIRELADERO13 hours ago

> 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.

antihero13 hours ago

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

BLKNSLVR9 hours ago

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.

timando7 hours ago

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.

ghostly_s14 hours ago

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.

cco12 hours ago

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).

scoofy14 hours ago

>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.

isoprophlex6 hours ago

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.

pessimizer13 hours ago

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.

sacrosancty13 hours ago

> 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?

ntoskrnl10 hours ago

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.

lxe14 hours ago

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.

xbar14 hours ago

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.

mosfetarium13 hours ago

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.

TheAceOfHearts2 hours ago

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.

skybrian9 hours ago

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

Four Tet wins royalty battle over streaming music

shtolcers14 hours ago

..Or did it?

dylan60414 hours ago

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

underlines10 hours ago

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.

Closi14 hours ago

> The confiscation of your rights to your digital media depends on the fiction that you are licensing the music, not buying it. The fact that there's a giant "buy now" button on the interface notwithstanding, tech and entertainment companies maintain that you are engaged in a licensing deal, like an advertiser buying synch rights for a hamburger commercial.

This post makes everything seem needlessly complicated - you are buying a licence, there is no contradiction here.

How else would digital media / sale of MP3's work without licences? Is the author suggesting that everyone should legally be able to freely transfer/distribute their MP3's to anyone with no legal limit?

I don't see any alternative to licences mentioned anywhere in the post - just lots of handwaving about some sort of wave function collapse (where wave function collapse just means a contract that has different terms for a digital purchase instead of a physical purchase).

fabbari14 hours ago

> where wave function collapse just means a contract that has different terms for a digital purchase instead of a physical purchase

That's not what the article states. The author is saying that the same transaction - IE: my 'buying' a track on iTunes, for example - is considered a license transfer, between me and the record company, and a sale, between the record company and the artist.

This superposition of license and sale for the same transaction is collapsed into a license - so: no transfer rights, no right to make copies, etc. - when the record company it talking to me.

On the other hand - when the record company is talking to the artist - the superposition collapses to a sale, so the artist gets 13% of the value instead of the 50% they would get if it was a license sale.

Closi13 hours ago

It's just a sale of a licence.

If I'm a Domino's franchisee, and I pay Domino's a different commission for an order placed online vs a customer walking into the store, the pizza isn't in a state of quantum superposition - that's just making a simple concept overly complex by incorrectly throwing quantum words at it. The concept is just that different things have different prices in the master agreement.

If I'm a movie theatre that happens to sell a DVD of the same movie, when a customer comes in they also aren't in a shrodingers-cat quantum dilemma superposition state, it's just the simple idea that different things have different prices and different compensation structures for artists.

benreesman13 hours ago

The quantum superposition thing is just a cheeky metaphor for a sketchy-sounding accounting practice, I wouldn’t read too much into the wave-function collapse analogy.

Closi13 hours ago
function_seven13 hours ago

Why are the labels paying the "sale" royalty to their artists if no such thing is occurring? Was the track sold or was it licensed?

Closi13 hours ago
PaulDavisThe1st14 hours ago

> How else would digital media / sale of MP3's work without licences? Is the author suggesting that everyone should legally be able to freely transfer/distribute their MP3's to anyone with no legal limit?

What would be wrong with the same first sale doctrine that applies to physical instances of digital media (such as CDs) ?

CD: You buy it, you are free to resell it to someone else; you are not free to make copies.

Digital data only: You buy it, you can resell it someone else (0); you are not free give additional copies to anyone else (1)

(0) not likely to happen (1) you can of course make your own copies, eg. for backup or across devices

Would enforcing such a legal structure be possible? Yes and no. Everyone knows that once you could rip CDs, the legal structure for that format was already severely challenged by people's actual behavior, so there's nothing particularly new there.

Closi13 hours ago

> Digital data only: You buy it, you can resell it someone else (0); you are not free give additional copies to anyone else (1)

Sounds like you are buying a transferable licence?

(If this isn't a licence, what would you call it? As presumably once you have 'sold' it, it can still reside on your laptop but you aren't allowed to play it).

PaulDavisThe1st13 hours ago

It's not a license. It's a purchase of an item that becomes your own possession, and a law that covers what you can do as far as resale (also applies to books).

It's not a license because it cannot be revoked by whoever sold it to you.

Closi12 hours ago
EMIRELADERO13 hours ago

> How else would digital media / sale of MP3's work without licences? Is the author suggesting that everyone should legally be able to freely transfer/distribute their MP3's to anyone with no legal limit?

How about a simple purchase of a copy, with its use being limited only by current copyright law? A.k.a, no copying, redistributing, derivative work-making, etc. (Absent fair use cases)

Closi13 hours ago

How is this practically different to the current situation? (i.e. what can I do here that I can't do at the moment?)

EMIRELADERO11 hours ago

Fair use I pressume.

smallnix14 hours ago

I understood the point of the post to be about musicians not getting licensing royals.

Closi12 hours ago

It's a post that talks about the specifics of what a contract defines as a 'sale' and a 'licensing' vs what OP personally defines a 'sale' and a 'licencing' to mean, without actually sharing how the contract defines 'sale' and 'licencing' (which will be explicitly defined in a definitions section).

But IMO because there isn't that much substance there, this idea that a 'sale' might have different definitions is referred to as a 'quantum state' rather than sharing the actual definition of 'sale' used whatever contract they are referencing.

mbfg13 hours ago

in another world, it is still alive.

jonplackett13 hours ago

> eat its cake and have it, too

Someone been watching Manhunt

jjmorrison5 hours ago

Did it tho?

deltaonefour6 hours ago

>Schroedinger's streaming service just died

It's both alive and dead at the same time. Like the cat.