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Education Music Entertainment

Colleges Secretly Test Music-Industry Project 208

Posted by samzenpus
from the area-51-flavors-and-then-some dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The music industry is still pushing Choruss, a controversial blanket-licensing scheme, but it is far less innovative than first described. Six colleges are setting it up now, but they refuse to have their names released because the issue is a political landmine — and who wants to be associated with the recording industry?"
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Colleges Secretly Test Music-Industry Project

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    and that is no secret

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @03:52AM (#29992288) Homepage

    The Canadians have their blank CD tax ostensibly because blank CDs are used to copy music. Great. But is it then legal to copy music in Canada? No. How does that even work?!

    Doing this other blanket licensing stuff will enjoy similar respect in that anything acquired will be decidedly illegal until proven otherwise and even with proof, there is little doubt in my mind the recording industry will respect it as legal.

    • by TrancePhreak (576593) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:25AM (#29992454)
      Last I heard it was legal in Canada to make a copy of a borrowed CD for yourself, as long as you don't sell it. This was the basis for the CD taxes.
      • by DeadDecoy (877617) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:57AM (#29992622)

        The music industry created a loophole in Canadian copyright laws when it asked for a levy on blank audio media. These $0.21 to $0.24 levies on blank media raised millions of dollars for music publishers, but also legalized copying in the digital age, to the consternation of the music industry. Canadian courts have ruled that consumers have the right to copy any recording from the original copy even those they do not personally own. This consumer right has been extended by the courts to include peer-to-peer downloads.

        Canadian Copyright Law [wikipedia.org]
        So Canadians are allowed to make copies regardless of ownership because they are already taxed for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think it only applies to music that's put onto media covered by the levies, it's ambiguous whether it covers p2p downloaded content on your iPod and it remains illegal to upload music so no seeding.
          • Hard drives, iPods and tapes also get taxed. USB keys as well I think.

            • No they don't. There was proposed legislation to make that happen, backed by Big Content. Just prior to the legislation being passed, however, Big Content started campaigning against it because they realized that it would, in fact, legalize p2p sharing in Canada. The legislation never got passed and there remains a bit of a legal haze around the issue.

              Quite frankly, I don't think Big Content cares what happens in Canada when they can make their point using American law suits. International treaties, sure, b

        • I remember when I bought my first iPod there was a form I could fill and send in to get the "blank media" tax refunded.

          This was some years ago so I don't know if it still works that way.

        • by sukotto (122876)
          Iirc, it's legal to download music in Canada. It's illegal to provide downloads
          • by schon (31600)

            Iirc, it's legal to download music in Canada.

            Correct, but only if you are downloading it for your own personal use.

            It's illegal to provide downloads

            Incorrect.

            There is no law against "making available", and "making available" is not covered under copyright. If you deliberately make copies to provide them to others, that would be illegal. If you make copies for yourself (by downloading or ripping them), and those copies just happen to be shared by filesharing software, that is not illegal.

            • by sukotto (122876)
              How do you handle the case where you've shared your music folder, then you download a song for personal use? Do you keep multiple music folders? Some can be shared and others cannot? That seems kind of onerous.
              • by sukotto (122876)
                Here's the part where I wish /. had a brief "whoops, I didn't mean that" button. I misclicked "submit" instead of "continue editing" :-( (The "you must wait before publishing another comment" thing also sucks in this case)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mirix (1649853)
      What's exceptionally comical is that indie bands, burning CDs of themselves - still pay the levy to big music... wtf?

      I do think it's made burning dubs de facto legal though...
    • But: Do we care?

      No, really! Are we really so weak and pathetic to care, whenever the designated crazy person of the world goes on again, declaring him a new set of rights?

      I don't see this ever happening.

      Oh, those who have a very twisted view of what is "politically correct", and the weakest spines in the whole universe, will cave in so the dwarf.

      But unofficially, everyone will simply ignore them. Hell, look at Sarkozy. Officially: "Oh hell yeah, we need the 3 strikes law". Unofficially he shares so much mus

      • Oh boy... I'm sorry for the typos. I swear, I proofread it. It's just that this is the first thing I did in the morning. I should have proofeaten my breakfast first, perhaps. ^^

      • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:55AM (#29992608) Homepage

        Individuals do not have access to government. Government is influenced by money. The corruption is plain and obvious for all to see and neither the government nor those who are influencing government with money are the slightest bit ashamed.

        • Government is influenced by money, but those in government are primarily influenced by a maintenance of their power. They also absolutely love to use this power, and love even more to acquire more of it for themselves. The bribes and corruption are only symptoms of this root cause.
          • So what exactly happens in the absence of government? Or a Representative Democracy? Would abusive, rich, powerful individuals just disappear?
            • by russotto (537200)

              So what exactly happens in the absence of government? Or a Representative Democracy? Would abusive, rich, powerful individuals just disappear?

              No, of course not. They form a government, and things go on as always.

            • by blueZ3 (744446)

              You should read Martin Greenberg's Freedom [webscription.net] (link to sample chapters at the Baen free library)

              It contains a number of excellent Sci Fi short stories about the absence of government.

        • by tibman (623933)

          I can call the government and have a chat, anytime. Police, fire dept, senator's office, VA, and other stuff i'm sure. I guess i could call the FBI but i have no idea why i would need to? The president is wayyy to busy to talk to me though : /

    • by belmolis (702863)

      In Canada it is legal, under Section 80 of the Copyright Act [justice.gc.ca], to copy a recording for one's personal use. It is not legal to distribute copies.

    • by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:04AM (#29992648)
      the cd tax is so flawed it's not funny. only artists who sell over a certain number of cd's ever see a cent, so if i'm a local band who produces an album, burns it to 3000 cd's to try get some kind of exposure, your album is actually taxed and some cocksucker affliated with *AA profits off it via the tax you paid....
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)

        3000 is probably the wrong number to use in that argument, you can get 1000 cds stamped (and printed and shipped) for $750, your sales better be awful incremental if burning blanks a few at a time makes more sense than risking the $750 for nice looking stamped discs. $1100 gets you retail ready packages.

    • by s4ltyd0g (452701)

      commenting to undo an erroneous mod

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      From TFA:

      On the basis of those initial talks, the colleges would pay the music industry a blanket licensing fee, similar to what radio stations pay to air popular songs. There was also discussion of the record labels' signing a "covenant not to sue" for any illegal downloading of their songs by users on participating campuses, he said.

      If there's no sueage covenant, why in the HELL would any school even consider this hare-brained scheme? I hope the names of these schools (if indeed they exist; Warner is a ly

    • by mpe (36238)
      The Canadians have their blank CD tax ostensibly because blank CDs are used to copy music. Great. But is it then legal to copy music in Canada? No.

      Unless the music isn't for sale in Canada. Though this is more due to the Canadian judiciary being relativly sane than anything else.

      How does that even work?!

      More money for the (big) record companies.
  • Anonymous Cowards? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by plastick (1607981) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @03:54AM (#29992302)
    Sure they're scared of being sued! Just look at the track record.

    You know, this wouldn't even be so much of a problem if the music industry (these publishers) charged a reasonable price for a CD that costs them a few cents to make. You know... a CD with 7 songs on it where 5 of the songs suck, 1 song is ok, and you really only wanted that 1 song you paid the $30 bucks for.

    Instead, they want to sue Apple over royalties for the 30 second song previews on iTunes.
    • by weston (16146) <westonsd AT canncentral DOT org> on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:55AM (#29992604) Homepage

      wouldn't even be so much of a problem if the music industry (these publishers) charged a reasonable price for a CD

      I don't think that $12-$15 (or a buck or two per track) is really an unfair price for even a half-decent CD, really (and I don't think many people pay $30). It may be vanishingly cheap to transmit bits or print them into plastic and foil discs, but it's a lot of work to create music. Paying for it is one good way to make sure the people who make it can keep doing it. Not that it's not good for artists to sometimes sell lower or even give music away, and not that I don't agree there's a lot of crap out there that isn't worth paying for. Just that the most common prices don't seem unreasonable to me given the work involved in making music.

      The labels and publishers, on the other hand... increasingly irrelevant middlemen and control freaks who add a lot of overhead and a questionable amount of value.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:59AM (#29992936) Journal

        Fair price is a misleading question. The real question is whether they are pricing their product in the best way to maximise profits and I strongly suspect that they are not. I pay about the cost of an album every month to a company that lets me rent DVDs (two at once, as fast as I can watch them and post them back) and stream an unlimited number of TV shows and films. In comparison with this, an album seems stupidly expensive. According to iTunes, I haven't listened to any of my albums more than 128 times and very few more than 30 times. There aren't any that I've been listening to with 100% of my attention, so in terms of money per time spent entertained, music is much more expensive than video.

        At the current prices, I'll buy 2-6 albums per year. If you priced an album at $1-2 then it would be an impulse purchase. If I heard a song I liked on Radio Paradise, then I'd buy the rest of the album to see if I liked it. Perhaps I'm unusual, but I suspect that I'm no. The cost of producing music has dropped a lot in the last few decades, but the cost of buying it has not. Meanwhile, the cost of other forms of entertainment has dropped a lot and music seems proportionally much more expensive. I've read a couple of studies indicating that around 5-15/track is the optimum price for maximising profit when selling music but the music industry seems to think that 99/track is the right price (which is fine) and that they should expect the same number of sales that they'd get with 5/track (which is completely unreasonable) and then blame piracy for their failure to adapt.

        Coincidentally, Ars published quite a nice round up on this subject today [arstechnica.com].

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          When I was in college, I didn't buy "new" music. I bought it USED and at seriously discounted prices. The used music stores on campus did brisk business. It should be little surprise that those with the least amount of cash are spending the least. The whole "problem" is just more visible now.

          A kid has never had to pirate in order to deprive the label of it's cut.

          The labels were living in a bubble caused by a format change and an attempt to kill off the single.

          Well, the single refused to die & there is n

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Perhaps I'm unusual, but I suspect that I'm not

          Well, I'd do the same and I'm pretty unusual, I suspect you are too.

          Why is it I can buy a DVD for $5 but a CD is $15-20 (or more)?

      • by koiransuklaa (1502579) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @06:53AM (#29993202)

        I don't think that $12-$15 (or a buck or two per track) is really an unfair price for even a half-decent CD, really (and I don't think many people pay $30).

        /me raises hand...

        Normal CD price here is 20€ which at current rates is $29.5. Add to the insult the fact that there are no web stores that would sell non-DRM music to a linux user in Finland (I'd love it if someone proves me wrong, btw).

        • by EvilIdler (21087)

          http://www.klicktrack.com/klicktrack/home [klicktrack.com] have Memento Materia and other strangeness.
          MP3s at highest bitrate. About the rates of iTunes.

          http://www.emusic.com/ [emusic.com] might or might not accept you. They seem to be doing a lot of strange things to non-American visitors, but their selection is wide enough to lie for ;)
          Plain MP3 or XUL-based downloader. Cheaper than iTunes.

          http://magnatune.com/ [magnatune.com] for independent artists.
          FLAC, Vorbis, MP3, AAC, WAV. No iTunes comparison, but you can either buy downloads or CDs cheap for

        • by mpoulton (689851)

          Add to the insult the fact that there are no web stores that would sell non-DRM music to a linux user in Finland (I'd love it if someone proves me wrong, btw).

          www.gomusic.ru

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 05, 2009 @07:18AM (#29993320) Journal

        If we had a free market and sane copyright terms I would agree with you. The way I usually end any argument about "artists rights" and the *.A.As is this-

        Steamboat Willie is STILL under copyright. The man has been worm food (or a Popsicle, depending on whom you believe) for going on half a century but one of his FIRST works, one made when airplanes were made out of cloth and antibiotics were still but a dream, is STILL under copyright.

        If we hadn't had the public domain stolen from us thanks to treasonous bribery we all could go to a nice public domain website and download all the music up to the mid 70s for absolutely free. Artists could use that material to create new and exciting works by remixing, sampling, and using snippets in their original compositions. Instead thanks to treasonous bribery in all likelihood your grandchildren, if they are very lucky and live to be VERY old, might actually one day see the music of Jimi Hendrix and the Stones make it into the public domain. That is of course if that damned mouse doesn't cause copyrights to simply be extended forever, again thanks to bribery.

        So while I haven't heard shit from an RIAA artist I would bother even stealing, I say if you like it please steal the fuckers. After all they have stolen from you, me, our children, our families, by robbing our public domain from us to fill their greedy pockets. The copyright system was a CONTRACT nothing more. In return for a LIMITED copyright We, The People, got a richer public domain. But the contract has been broken, and until We, The People, are again allowed a place at the bargaining table all rights granted by that contract should be ignored. Considering they are ignoring our end of the contract, why shouldn't we do the same?

      • I don't think that $12-$15 (or a buck or two per track) is really an unfair price for even a half-decent CD, really

        It's not horrible, but I think part of what ticks people off is the impression that the record labels save lots of money by distributing online and also get a bigger cut of the price, and yet they keep the price the same and sit around complaining about how they're not making enough money. I don't think people are quite as upset about paying the $10-$15 for an album as they're upset about that money going to, as you say, "increasingly irrelevant middlemen". The perception is that, if you cut out that midd

      • I agree, new music generally is reasonably priced. Here in Canada second-hand CD's ~$10 (or less) and new CD's ~$15-$18. The problem I have is that older music is far more expensive: $20-$30. In any normal business costs go down over time not up -- the music industry works backwards in this regard.
      • by Inda (580031)
        I used to write music at school. I even have a GCSE qualification in music.

        Writing music is easy. Writing music is quick too. Someone at the top of their game could knock together a decent tune in a day. Another day to add some words. Another day for some polish.

        The only reason I can see for long timeframes is that the artists are not at the top of their game and hence should not expect as much as the get... or expect everything they get.
    • You know, this wouldn't even be so much of a problem if the music industry (these publishers) charged a reasonable price for a CD that costs them a few cents to make.

      Well, since all valuation is subjective, I don't think anyone can come to a fair price. What you see as fair may to me be horrendously expensive.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Nonsense.

        The DVD market is a very effective counterexample. There is a WIDE range
        of prices between formats and different works of various ages and levels
        of popularity.

        You've got The Wizard of Oz selling for $50 while an 18 month old action
        movie is in the bargain bin for $5. "Classics" or cult hits with a
        dedicated fan base continue to fetch higher than retail prices while the
        "Top of the pops" quickly get devalued.

        The price of the actual physical product is quite meagre. People get real
        snail spam for disk pri

  • by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:14AM (#29992386) Homepage
    How's this for an idea. A band signs with a college instead of a record label. The college pays the band, everyone at the college gets their music for free.

    Yeah, probably not the greatest of plans, but much better than a college handing it's own students over to the RIAA.
    • How's this for an idea. A band signs with a college instead of a record label. The college pays the band, everyone at the college gets their music for free.

      Awesome. And the band gets an education from the college, instead of the record industry!

      Though to be fair, I'm sure the record industry is a very educational experience...

    • The college pays the band, everyone at the college gets their music for free.

      You have a strange definition of 'free'. Plus, that's just one band. This is nothing like the college handing its students to the RIAA. Read the article.. the spokesperson actually speaks some sense, apart from his bullshit about "being excited which price point is optimal for the recording artist" or whatever he said. Presumably that means the cheapest they can pay them while still keeping them onboard.

      This kind of service is a *good* idea, it's just the fact that it's being controlled by the RIAA that is

  • What about... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Andorin (1624303) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @04:39AM (#29992512)
    ...the people who don't listen to music, or don't want to financially support the RIAA, or have any other reason to not want to pay for this license? Is there an opt-out option? A quick glance through TFA didn't say so either way.
    • There are people who don't listen to music? That's probably the saddest thing I've ever heard.

      As for the rest of it, that's the nature of Taxation. Everyone pays because everyone can benefit, and it's up to them if they choose to. The cost won't be covered by only some paying. Plus, there's the deficit to be made up from people unable to pay.

      Tax isn't bad when it's done right; I.e., when the revenue raised is appropriated appropriately.
      • by russotto (537200)

        There are people who don't listen to music? That's probably the saddest thing I've ever heard.

        You need to get out more. Or watch international news. Or local news in any large city. Or those Christian's Children Fund commercials with Sally Struthers. There's far sadder out there than not listening to music. Some of us just don't enjoy it.

        As for the rest of it, that's the nature of Taxation. Everyone pays because everyone can benefit, and it's up to them if they choose to.

        And the case for using taxation

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      What about this:

      The most unusual feature of Choruss is that users would be able to download any song in the collection to their own computers, with no restrictions. Unlike Apple's iTunes, which charges about a dollar per song for unrestricted downloads, this would be an all-you-can-grab song buffet. Want to make CD's? Sure.

      What if they want to make CDs, and then they want to sell those CDs? Copyright only governs the creation of a copy, but once a copy is created you're generally allowed to sell it. Does the license forbid such reselling? Is it enforceable?

      • For the record, I would pretty well assume that the license does forbid every selling or giving away your copies, and that if that's not legal, Congress will make it legal and if it shouldn't be enforceable, the courts will enforce it anyway.

        I'd still be interested if someone has more informative answers to my questions, but in a larger sense I was trying to call attention to the increasingly confusing terms of ownership in our society. When I "buy" a CD, I own the CD. If I buy the same album as a digita

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Z34107 (925136)

      I attended an IT conference last year where Choruss was discussed. Given the regard we /.ers have for the technically-minded, I was surprised at the attitudes other college's IT directors had towards this system.

      The main complaints they had about music piracy were having to deal with RIAA notices and bandwidth sucked up by P2P. My own campus is fairly enlightened - not-too-terrible packet shaping and a per-MAC address bandwidth cap. Each student gets 1 Mb/s and any relevant RIAA bitch notes.

      Other campuse

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From TFA:

      Another substantial change from the early days of the proj ect is that the licenses now would be with individual students rather than with colleges—although on some campuses, student governments or other groups may agree to pay the fee on behalf of students.

      It's not a direct answer, but could be relevant. If the licensing scheme is with individual students now, I would bet that the students have to sign or agree to something in order to participate. Thus, if they don't want to participate, ideally they just could avoid that license agreement. But you are right, the article is scant on details regarding that particular aspect and it wouldn't surprise me if any opt-out option that was there got mired and intertwined with some other form of student regi

  • And music was supposed to be entertainment..

  • by supersat (639745) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @05:14AM (#29992694)
    ... is this paragraph:

    Noank Media, a company based on a Harvard University research proposal, is working on a blanket-license program that would charge colleges and other institutions a flat fee. Users would install software that would count every time they played a song, for the purpose of distributing royalties to the musicians.

    What? How do they expect that to work? Are service providers going to force me to install some metering software? How will it count plays on portable music players?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Andorin (1624303)
      They'd better have a Linux version. Or are you going to have to run Windows or OS X if you buy into this license?
      • by mathx314 (1365325)
        Even more likely: only Windows. When I came to college I was offered a subscription to Ruckus, a now-defunct service where you could download music for free but only listen to it before your subscription expired at the end of your time at school. Of course, everyone with a Mac or Linux (yeah, there were a few) were out of luck.
      • by EvilIdler (21087)

        OS X? Dream on. They'll tell you the same as they do when you want a Linux version: Tell you to install Windows. The fuckers.

        This system is as usual initiated by people who don't know anything about technology. You'd think they at least knew about iPods (generic MP3 players might be a stretch - the average person over 50 is a technological moron ;). Hacks to stop the counter will be ready by official launch day.

    • by user4574 (1645049) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @07:11AM (#29993296)
      Whether they have some kind of intrusive metering software or not, what I'm wondering is how they think they can pull off paying out per-play royalties to artists from a flat-fee, unlimited-download subscription model. The maths, they don't add up.
  • by smoker2 (750216)
    Huh, Choruss sounds a lot like My Precioussss ...
    figures.
  • I have a dream... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hatemonger (1671340) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @10:17AM (#29995078)
    Imagine an ideal world where artists make their own music; they pay for their own recording and mixing. If they want to make a million dollar music video, they get a loan from a financial institution. Music distributors like MTV and radio stations go out and find music rather than contractually accepting whatever the large recording companies decide will be popular. Whenever I pay $10 for an album, it all goes to the band. And, since we're talking about hypothetical ideal worlds, I'd wave a magic wand so that modern music wouldn't suck.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by businessnerd (1009815)

      If they want to make a million dollar music video, they get a loan from a financial institution.

      Interesting thought, but you just come right back to a record company model. Let's say you're a financial institution in the business of giving out loans. An artist comes to you saying that they want to shoot a music video to promote their debut album. You are likely not going to give this artist any money unless you can be convinced that this artist will be profitable and be able to repay the loan. So what

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