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Canadian Media Companies Target CBC's Free Music Site 215

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the maybe-nickleback-will-run-out-of-money dept.
silentbrad writes, with bits and pieces from the Globe and Mail: "A number of Canadian media companies have joined forces to try to shut down a free music website recently launched by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., claiming it threatens to ruin the music business for all of them. The group, which includes Quebecor Inc., Stingray Digital, Cogeco Cable Inc., the Jim Pattison Group and Golden West Radio, believes that CBCmusic.ca will siphon away listeners from their own services, including private radio stations and competing websites that sell streaming music for a fee. The coalition is expected to expand soon to include Rogers Communications Inc. and Corus Entertainment Inc., two of the largest owners of radio stations in Canada. It intends to file a formal complaint with the CRTC, arguing that the broadcaster has no right under its mandate to compete with the private broadcasters in the online music space. ... 'The only music that you can hear for free is when the birds sing,' said Stingray CEO Eric Boyko, whose company runs the Galaxie music app that charges users $4.99 a month for unlimited listening. 'There is a cost to everything, yet CBC does not seem to think that is true.' ... The companies argue they must charge customers to offset royalty costs which are triggered every time a song is played, while the CBC gets around the pay-per-click problem because it is considered a non-profit corporation. ... Media executives aren't the only ones who have expressed concern. When the CBC service was launched in February, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers said that when it set a flat fees for the more than 100,000 music publishers it represents, it never envisioned a constant stream of free music flooding the Internet."
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Canadian Media Companies Target CBC's Free Music Site

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  • by dark12222000 (1076451) on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:17PM (#39705539)
    It seems like the media groups would make more money (longterm) and have a better public image (which means more customers and more willing customers) if they embraced and advertised for CBC. Of course, then again, I suppose the lawyers wouldn't make any money and it's less immediate profit. Wouldn't want to think ahead.
    • They don't WANT a better image! They LIKE being the deadly copyright police!

      "Steal a loaf of bread - $50 fine and 40 hours comm service and 1 night in jail. Steal a song, pay up $150,000!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:18PM (#39705557)

    ... what the hell, guy?

    I am having a hard time even understanding what the hell is going on here. Of course the CBC has a right to compete with private broadcasters... that's sort of what they do. The CBC is there to ensure that people will still have free access to the best in broadcast media, for free, forever, and as far as I can tell the only music that's available for free download is music that the artists have said they're ok with the CBC offering.

    The problem is... where?

    • The problem is big media companies pay their execs (and apparently lawyers) too much money to be able to compete against it.
    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      The problem is... where?

      All the other Big Music people out there who are suddenly left out in the cold with their pants down. Never underestimate a woman scored, but never, ever underestimate what a business or company will do to not have to do work to keep making money.

    • by ThePeices (635180) on Monday April 16, 2012 @08:08PM (#39706009)

      The problem is that their business models are threatened by innovation, and therefore the innovation must be stopped ( usually by making the innovation illegal by new legislation ).

      The view of Big Media;
      Innovation is bad and can cause the loss of jobs and even entire industries to collapse. Old business models must be protected, and innovation threatens that.

      Our view;
      A static unchanging business that cannot adapt to the ever changing world is doomed to failure, in fact even deserves to fail.

      The real problem;
        - Rich companies being allowed to spend money to influence politicians.
        - Legislation for sale.
        - The "lobby" concept of bribery.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the problem is that the guy literally wants all music to cost. so he has a problem if you listen to your friend play the guitar too. he's a nutcase.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@ u b e r m00.net> on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:21PM (#39705583) Homepage Journal

    So now that I've got my initial reaction out of the way...

    12.0 Why is there advertising on CBC Music?
    Advertising is the primary means that allows us to fairly compensate the artists we play on CBC Music. We signed an agreement with the Audio-Video Licensing Agency (AVLA), which represents over 1,000 music labels. We are very excited to report that through this deal, all artists registered via AVLA will be paid for having their work broadcast on CBC Radio 2, CBC Radio 3, and our 40 web radio stations.

    Another reason we've decided to pursue advertising on CBC Music is that, in the current economic climate, CBC cannot afford to have a large new service like CBC Music that isn't self-sustaining. This revenue stream not only allows us to survive, but also helps us to grow and continue to expand CBC Music.

    Emphasis added.

    So I'm not sure of the full legalities of it, but according to the CBC Music FAQ [music.cbc.ca], they have acquired the right to stream all the music on their site.

    What's the problem? My guess is that these are companies that refused to sign, and they're bitching about the fact that they couldn't get the price they wanted for their music. Excuse me while I shed a tear or two.

    "The only music that you can hear for free is when the birds sing." In other words, if you haven't paid me and my friends to listen to music, you can't listen to it at all. What an asshole.

  • CBC are munchkining (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    they are using non-profit status to gain a competitive advantage over the rest of the market.
    FTA they pay lower royalties and get other concessions for having this status. This is out of the spirit of non-profit and in this case the industry does have a reason to be upset

    • by Chirs (87576)

      Have you looked at the music on offer? A lot of it is stuff that the other play-on-demand sites wouldn't bother providing because it's too obscure.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        but it's still music. that's the problem for them. user spending time on that == user not buying their service.

    • You're wrong. Non-profit corporations can perform all of the same revenue-raising activities as other corporations. A public charity may even turn a profit, as long as these profits are eventually invested in growth, compensation or furtherance of their core purpose (typically defined in a charter and by-laws submitted to the state).

      I think providing (legal) digital music streams is well within the provenance of a public broadcaster.

    • So start a non-profit to compete with them.. They pay their fair share as far as I can tell, making a profit from distribution of music is not a right.

  • by MrKevvy (85565) on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:27PM (#39705641)

    ... is when the birds sing."

    He picked a particularly ironic example [slashdot.org].

  • Grrr. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by multiben (1916126) on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:29PM (#39705675)
    I am so freaking sick of private companies who believe the only way to protect their profits is to legislate against other organisations threatening their market share. And I'm sick of governments and courts indulging them. Take it as an opportunity to better your services and provide something that CBC (or whoever you're whining about) doesn't - there are hundreds of ideas out there. You may actually surprise yourself and become more successful than you ever imagined.
  • by benjfowler (239527) on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:31PM (#39705703)

    The free market is WONDERFUL, until something happens that the fat cats, criminals and freeloaders of Big Content have their business interests threatened. The stench of hypocrisy is unbearable.

    If they can't compete with free, then they can either 1) do something else where they CAN make money; or 2) eat shit and die.

    • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:46PM (#39705823)

      To be strictly fair, it's not exactly a level playing-field. The CBC is a crown corporation, and is directly supported in part by taxpayer dollars. The current government isn't terribly friendly to the CBC these days, and would sell off or axe the whole thing if they thought the electorate wouldn't revolt, but still. Not exactly a textbook case for free market competition.

      Having said that, the CBC has paid it's licensing fees for the content, like any other corp, and is selling advertising to pay for the service, and is fulfilling its mandate of exposing Canadian and international listeners to Canadian artists, so I'm all for it.

      • Sorry, I cry foul. While I'm not up on the Canadian side, good for them to shake up the field. After all, the big Corps "buy" politicians, so why not throw a little leverage on the Free Music side for once!

      • by msobkow (48369)

        So the CBC is partially funded by tax payer dollars. And the BBC is funded by radio and television license fees. I'm not sure what Australia does, or other Commonwealth countries. But state/citizen/tax/license funded media has a long history.

    • It's not exactly a free market, since CBC is not a commercial entity, and plays by its own rules.

      That said, CBC is doing precisely what it was created to do, by design. There's still plenty of opportunity for willing companies to provide paid services - it's not like CBC covers all needs there are out there.

  • Canadian Content (Score:4, Informative)

    by Daas (620469) on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:41PM (#39705781)

    “These actions further distances the corporation from its mandate, while placing it directly on a collision course with private broadcasters who can only rely on advertising and subscription revenues to sustain their services,”

    Isn't one of the mandate of the CBC to promote Canadian art and culture? The CBC does a lot more to promote quality Canadian content then any other broadcaster on that list.

    "The only music that you can hear for free is when the birds sing." That guy has probably never been on the internet before... You know, the place where a bunch of bands are releasing their music for free because they love what they do?

    • by steveg (55825)

      Or because it helps them to make money? It drives their sales?

      • by Fluffeh (1273756)

        "The only music that you can hear for free is when the birds sing." That guy has probably never been on the internet before... You know, the place where a bunch of bands are releasing their music for free because they love what they do?

        Or because it helps them to make money? It drives their sales?

        Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?

  • The CBC is already paying royalties, apparently these guys just want them to pay MORE royalties.

    From the article:

    "In Canada, SOCAN applies different formulas for determining how much money it collects from various music-laying services, according to Paul Spurgeon, the group’s vice-resident of legal services. The formula tends to take into account the service’s Internet-based revenues, as well as the number of page impressions, or hits, the service gets. However the ratios are significantly diffe

    • A lot of artists under the Canadian system never see royalties - not that there is much from CBC play anyway. Middlemen tend to eat the royalties leaving artists with the crumbs. Nothing new - musicians have been screwed by business for decades, probably going on a century now.

      I *love* the idea of CBC music - especially as lots of independent music is on there. Very few people under a certain age listen to the horrible big-media radio stations that are broadcast. And I love the idea that Canadian artists
  • Going for broke. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Monday April 16, 2012 @07:53PM (#39705891)

    Perhaps this is false nostalgia - but even from reading history with the gilded age and robber barons, I don't seem to remember a time when industries were so, well, unafraid of being called on their bullshit.

    I mean - yeah, the meat industry has had bouts of defending deadly safety conditions leading to not infrequent outbreaks and deaths, and the tobacco industry flexed historic levels of political and legal muscle lying about their products and covering up science they knew to be true for decades - but they really did seem to at least fear being caught in a direct lie.

    It just doesn't seem that the music industry even cares about what they're saying - they just mix accusation, whole new concepts of honorable ownership they just made up a sentence ago, and blatant grabs for control as if it were a newly uncovered biblical virtue, and they the new prophet.

    The rhetoric borders on empire, or isolated dictatorship in terms of brazen doublethink-style selective "morality" that just amounts to everything belonging to them, under all circumstances.

    There's opportunistic jerks in all groups - it's kind of an intrinsic part of everything from game theory to classic social power studies in psychology - it's a basic part of how we explore and interact with eachother.

    It's just crazy that in so many nations, so much of the population ends up standing aside, so these particular jerks can be such horrible bastards on such a constant basis, and they're still allowed to buy themselves such a voice in and over our lives - right to the heart of the houses of power.

    They're a small parasitic part of the music industry - not a very big industry in the first place. Most other industries dwarf them. Why are they allowed to keep ramping things up seemingly without limit? At what point does this Napoleon meet his Waterloo?

    Ryan Fenton

  • If they're complaining about having to compete with a more advantageous cost structure established by the non-profit for royalty requiring songs, I take it there would be no objection to the CBC streaming public domain and Creative Commons licensed content? (I'm assuming Canadian law doesn't mandate royalties be paid for any playing of any content, but that's an assumption - somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.)

    On a broader scale, I sometimes wonder if we need to have a public conversation about the

    • (I'm assuming Canadian law doesn't mandate royalties be paid for any playing of any content, but that's an assumption - somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.)

      Canadian law does mandate royalties on playing content in public spaces, including the Internet. The collecting body is SOCAN. Those are the guys quoted in the summary complaining that their flat fees are too low.

  • I have programs like RarmaRadio and RadioSure and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of music sites that have free music. I mean, any kind of music. And they're not pirate stations or anything like that.

    Does Canada block those online music sites at the border? Or do these guys just pretend they don't exist?

    • A lot of streaming and on-demand music and video is blocked at the border. Off the top of my head I can think of Pandora, Spotify, Hulu and any other major network feed out of the US. Netflix exists in Canada, but with a good third of the content in its network streaming archives, and we don't get the dvds at all.

    • by dryeo (100693)

      Does Canada block those online music sites at the border?

      They're blocked at the border, but not by Canada, rather the States block a lot of content as they are only licensed in the States.

    • by Yaztromo (655250)

      Does Canada block those online music sites at the border?

      Canada doesn't block content -- there is no Great White North Firewall or anything like that -- but many of the sites themselves use geolocation and block access to Canadians. This is typically done because of either a) licensing restrictions, or b) not wanting to cut off their own profit streams here in Canada. In the first case, a service such as Pandora doesn't want to have to pay royalties to broadcast in Canada, and doesn't want to get dragged into court, so they block access to Canadians. An exampl

  • by Mishotaki (957104) on Monday April 16, 2012 @08:18PM (#39706087)
    they are a government funded network, we're already paying for it with out taxes!
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Which seems to be the basis of the complaint, that different status allows for lower prices thus being unfair competition.

  • Hey Canada, I don't hear music companies down here in Australia jumping up and down complaining about commercial-free ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission)-broadcast radio services such as http://abc.net.au/triplej [abc.net.au], the ABC's commercial-free music video program http://abc.net.au/rage [abc.net.au] or free on-line streaming services such as http://triplejunearthed.com/ [triplejunearthed.com].

    There are also a number of 'community' radio stations in Australia that have blanket licenses to permit them to broadcast copyright work as they please.

  • Greedy greedy greedy music industry!

    Taxes pay for the CBC where even the most obscure artists get free advertising at no cost to their publishers;
    Taxes on recording media generate money ostensibly meant to cover royalties for the pirating that the publishers have convinced the gov't will be occuring ... yes, every unit of recording media will be used for pirating.
    And the publishers get tax breaks for their role in promoting culture, blah blah blah
    And the real kicker, in response to the station a**hole who s

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