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MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:11 am

- The value proposition of the internet media companies (You Tube, etc) has always been to give people access to copyrighted music for a fraction of the alternative cost. That value attracts people, and while they are there, you sell them advertising. Same business model as a stolen goods salesman charging a small fee to give people access to a pile of stolen property.

- The copyrights for music were not enforced, so the product has been devalued. This can come back (and is coming back).

- A stream is the same as a download. To say otherwise is to deny reality. The penny rate should be the same. Ownership is access. 24 Hr access to a song is ownership. It is up to the distributor to keep track of who has or has not paid for their copy.

- The cost of the enforcement of copyright is a business expense for the digital music providers and must be born by them.

- Internet digital music providers are distributors.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:56 am

DC-Choppah wrote:A stream is the same as a download.
Must we go through this again?
The other points are debatable (as we've shown previously) but this is just factually wrong.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby CS70 » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:13 pm

blinddrew wrote:
DC-Choppah wrote:A stream is the same as a download.
Must we go through this again?
The other points are debatable (as we've shown previously) but this is just factually wrong.

I think the "ownership is access" point is quite a good explanation of what DC means?

It seems a bit of a syntactic distinction only. For example, technically you don't own any software (they're all just licensed to you) but in practice most people using Word or Cubase etc would say they own it?

If I can stream a song anytime I want, it's the same as owning it, isn't it? The only difference is that the license is not perpetual... but then also a CD is not really perpetual, because at a certain moment it will not play anymore..
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby desmond » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:39 pm

CS70 wrote:If I can stream a song anytime I want, it's the same as owning it, isn't it?

I don't think so. If I *own* something (say, a CD), I'm free to do what I choose (within reason) with that thing - consume it how I choose, lend it to friends, sell it etc. If I choose to keep it for my lifetime, if I'm responsible and look after it, I'll always have access to it and be able to enjoy it.

But streaming services (and indirectly, labels) still very much control that relationship to that media. It can be withdrawn/removed at any time, outside of my control. The agreement terms can change at any time. My account can be revoked at any time. The payment terms may change requiring me to pay additional money to access the content that I already previously had access to for free. Advertising may be inserted into that content. Etc etc.

The bottom line is that ownership comes down to control, and for media I own, *I'm* in control, and for streaming media - who knows who's in control, it probably changes month by month - but it's certainly not me.

Anyway, forgetting any legal distinctions for now, one of the key main difference to me between my own library of music I've bought, versus having a streaming account and being able to listen to anything, is that *I can rely on the music I have bought to be there* - I will never have content I own removed from my library by another company, or have the terms of use change at a corporate whim, and I will never have to pay additional money to continue to access my content.

I know this has bitten people who have, in one example, bought Disney movies on iTunes and when the legal agreements didn't work out Disney pulled all it's movies, so people's iTunes accounts which previously had Disney movies they'd paid for now had all their movies removed...

So no, I do not at all equate access to ownership. To very different words, with very different meanings. I mean, I have *access* to all the world's websites...
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:37 pm

What Desmond said. ^^^

In practical terms, if I go on a long car journey I can plug in my phone and play the downloaded songs from the memory. Reliably, consistently. Likewise when I get back on my daily commute, or if I go away for a weekend somewhere remote.
I can't do that with a stream.

Similarly content that I've 'bought' on Netflix or Prime occasionally disappears because there's a licensing squabble between providers and 'my' content is no longer available.
That doesn't happen if I've got a download rather than a stream.

So it's not just semantics, there are real, practical consequences. So they are different things and conflating them just muddies the water for everyone.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby CS70 » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:05 pm

desmond wrote:
CS70 wrote:If I can stream a song anytime I want, it's the same as owning it, isn't it?

I don't think so. If I *own* something (say, a CD), I'm free to do what I choose (within reason) with that thing - consume it how I choose, lend it to friends, sell it etc. If I choose to keep it for my lifetime, if I'm responsible and look after it, I'll always have access to it and be able to enjoy it.

It's not about the ownership of the physical support (obviously you don't have a cd when you stream) but of the information. DC is talking about the information.

I'm able to access my Spotify all the time and able to enjoy it - given of course that I have the necessary infrastructure (access to a working network connection). But that's the same with any support layer.. can't enjoy a CD if I don't have access to a CD player.

But streaming services (and indirectly, labels) still very much control that relationship to that media. It can be withdrawn/removed at any time, outside of my control.

Not really. You have a legal licensing contract that entitles you to access that information. There may be glitches due to errors of course (and therefore access on a streaming platform may be more fragile than a physical platform as a CD.. but not sure about that :), but Spotify cannot arbitrarily deny or change that access without your consent.

The agreement terms can change at any time. My account can be revoked at any time. The payment terms may change requiring me to pay additional money to access the content that I already previously had access to for free. Advertising may be inserted into that content. Etc etc.

When you subscribe, there is a formal, legally enforceable agreement between two parties. This is no different than any other service. You use electricity to run your CD player and that electricity is delivered to you via a service contract - you still own the electricity you use, in the sense that it's physically there to run your laser. You don't own the support platform (well, only a small part of it, the termination cabling, just like your terminator - the phone).

The bottom line is that ownership comes down to control, and for media I own, *I'm* in control, and for streaming media - who knows who's in control, it probably changes month by month - but it's certainly not me.

It does not change without your agreement? As anyone working with software products know, the legal departement of any SW company worth its name is kept quite busy by drafting and maintaining the license agreements. Lots of consumer consider it just yadayada but it seldom is. It defines what you own (or not)

Of course you're right that there's a difference: services are, by their own nature, more subject to change that physical products... and if you do not agree to a particular change, you may need to stop using that service. But - critically - you will do it without penalties whatsoever, because it is not a breach of contract. Whereas if you want to unilaterally stop using a service that it's time-bound before it expires, it can well be that you can't or you need to pay a penalty (say a yearly gym subscription, for example).

Anyway, forgetting any legal distinctions for now, one of the key main difference to me between my own library of music I've bought, versus having a streaming account and being able to listen to anything, is that *I can rely on the music I have bought to be there* - I will never have content I own removed from my library by another company, or have the terms of use change at a corporate whim, and I will never have to pay additional money to continue to access my content.

As an aside, the legal distinctions are not at all irrelevant - contrarily to what too many people think, they *are* what defines any formal relationship we have. Without legal distinctions, there's no ownership whatsoever (other the temporary one granted by a having a bigger club than the people nearby, and a good ability in swinging it).

As of the point about changing the content - it's not something structural to streaming or not, but rather a property of the specific contract you sign (hopefully, with open eyes).

I know this has bitten people who have, in one example, bought Disney movies on iTunes and when the legal agreements didn't work out Disney pulled all it's movies, so people's iTunes accounts which previously had Disney movies they'd paid for now had all their movies removed...

So no, I do not at all equate access to ownership. To very different words, with very different meanings. I mean, I have *access* to all the world's websites...

On the Disney thing... I sympathize, but well, that's the challenge with not reading contracts before signing them. Or, if Disney was in breach of contract, you could have sued - exactly like if a CD you purchased did not contained the information you thought it id. And you probably didnt for the same reason.. not worth it economically and in energy.

As for access and ownership... owning a physical support does not mean you own the information.

I have, for example, all the original Star Wars trilogy DVDs but no longer have any DVD player, and I'm not interested in getting one. So I don't really own Star Wars. These days I want to show the movies to my son, and I'm actually contemplating a temporary Disney subscription just to do so..

I understand it'd be nice to go about by "common sense" and forget all the complexities involved, but that's one if the main reasons for which musicians often get shafted..
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:20 pm

The only useful thing regarding the subject line is that it helps keep the issue of fair compensation to the content creator in front of the public. And possibly the name of any MP who briefly takes up the cause.
I can’t imagine fair compensation will happen in my lifetime as that would mean value and respect for creators and artists would have dramatically shifted in our culture.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:23 pm

Bearing in mind the government of those same MPs advice to people in the artistic sector a couple of weeks ago was 'retrain and find other jobs', I'm not holding out much hope.

But download/stream distinction aside, there are very important discussions that need to happen, but they probably need to happen in LA/Washington (or possibly Stockholm) because that's where the businesses are based.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby desmond » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:25 pm

CS70 wrote:It's not about the ownership of the physical support (obviously you don't have a cd when you stream) but of the information. DC is talking about the information..

I know. It was an example to keep things simple (trying to tackle every facet means a lot of typing). But really, I'm talking about my information - the digital information in my manually curated iTunes library - much of it of course came from CD's, some from downloads, some of it my own content etc.

CS70 wrote: You have a legal licensing contract that entitles you to access that information.

Not if the large corporation somehow decides they want to change their T&C's (pretty much always in their favour, and to make sure they retain as much control as possible). As a consumer, you basically have three options in this scenario - agree to the new terms, disagree and no longer use the service, or fight them legally (which is basically more or less impossible unless you have bottomless bank account.)

CS70 wrote:Spotify cannot arbitrarily deny or change that access without your consent.

I'm pretty sure that all these companies have clauses in their agreements that they can change, withdraw, or terminate user accounts for more or less any reason they deem justifiable.

CS70 wrote:When you subscribe, there is a formal, legally enforceable agreement between two parties. This is no different than any other service. You use electricity to run your CD player and that electricity is delivered to you via a service contract - you still own the electricity you use, in the sense that it's physically there to run your laser. You don't own the support platform (well, only a small part of it, the termination cabling, just like your terminator - the phone).

I understand this. Have you ever read reports of people using online accounts from various companies that have been shut off - sometimes for no understandable reason - and you can't speak to anyone about it? Google, Amazon, Apple, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, plenty more. Apple have terminated (paid) developer accounts for no reason, shutting off business owners from their markets and their revenue streams. YouTube arbitrarily take down or demonetise people's personal content because a Moog filter sweep they made on a video while performing happens to be automatically filed as a copyright complaint because some algorithm matched it to a similar sounding Moog filter sweep on a record.

These account suspensions, terminations, etc for these kinds of services *happen all the time* and the user, regardless of whatever contract terms they think they have, is almost always *powerless* to do much about it.

If you're on, say, a free Spotify tier, I'm pretty sure that Spotify can suspend your account if they want to, and you don't really have much rights or say in the matter. Or they can decide to remove the free service and require everyone to pay a subscription or go away. I'm not saying they will, but I'm saying they *can*.

CS70 wrote:Of course you're right that there's a difference: services are, by their own nature, more subject to change that physical products... and if you do not agree to a particular change, you may need to stop using that service.

Yes, I believe I covered this pretty well - I can lose access to my content because someone else controls the terms of use, and the terms of use can become onerous or very different to how it was when I signed up.

CS70 wrote:As an aside, the legal distinctions are not at all irrelevant

I didn't say they were irrelevant, I said "forget them for now", meaning I didn't want to go into a long legal debate about definitions of terms (also: not a lawyer).

CS70 wrote:On the Disney thing... I sympathize, but well, that's the challenge with not reading contracts before signing them, isn't it?

I don't think the specific contract is the point. The point I made was that in these cases, someone else is calling the shots, and I cannot depend that the media I'm enjoying now I will be able to continue to enjoy in the future, because someone else controls my access to it - unlike my own content. That's it.

CS70 wrote:As for access and ownership... owning a physical support does not mean you own the information.

I know. It's not about CD's, as I said - simple trivial example to quickly illustrate some points.

CS70 wrote:I have, for example, all the original Star Wars trilogy DVDs but no longer have any DVD player, and I'm not interested in getting one. So I don't really own Star Wars. These days I want to show the movies to my son, and I'm actually contemplating a temporary Disney subscription just to do so..

I'm not saying streaming services are bad, aren't useful, or whatever. I'm just calling out the poster above who basically equated access on a streaming service to ownership, and why this is not, as I see it, in real practical terms, the case.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby CS70 » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:54 pm

desmond wrote:I'm pretty sure that all these companies have clauses in their agreements that they can change, withdraw, or terminate user accounts for more or less any reason they deem justifiable.

I group this in one.. And I agree, because I already had mentioned it.

Thing is, when you buy something, you buy that something, not something else - be it physical products or services.

I agree it'd be nice that there were companies which had the services you want with the conditions you want, but probably there aren't. Once again, the issue you mention is not about streaming vs. physical products, the issue is the products you'd like vs the products that someone is willing to sell.

But this thread is not about that. It's about the "fair pay" that is the subject of this thread. Not about the products that we'd like existed, but don't... and neither was DC's remark, on which I commented.

That is the context. "Ownership equates access" when it comes to musical content and the way musicians should (I believe) be payed - because, in that context, what matters is that you can access a song or not in a given moment and pay for that access.

That is why I remarked that it was pretty clear what DC was talking about.

There's gazillions other contexts in which owning a CD or download a copy of the digital data in a sandbox on your phone are different... for one, you obviously don't have a CD when you stream, as I said. But they are fairly irrelevant for this thread.

There is one aspect however which *is* relevant - and it is that you don't get the same product. At the moment, it's unfeasible to stream the original, CD quality data, so what you stream is technically lower quality (even if it may not necessarily be perceived as so).

That could justify, if you want, a different - lower - price for play than a CD purchase.

I understand this. Have you ever read reports of people using online accounts from various companies that have been shut off - sometimes for no understandable reason - and you can't speak to anyone about it? Google, Amazon, Apple, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, plenty more. Apple have terminated (paid) developer accounts for no reason, shutting off business owners from their markets and their revenue streams. YouTube arbitrarily take down or demonetise people's personal content because a Moog filter sweep they made on a video while performing happens to be automatically filed as a copyright complaint because some algorithm matched it to a similar sounding Moog filter sweep on a record.

These account suspensions, terminations, etc for these kinds of services *happen all the time* and the user, regardless of whatever contract terms they think they have, is almost always *powerless* to do much about it.

All true and agreeable, but again, when one enters an agreement with YouTube, he/she signs a contract - it's not yadayada. It's not "arbitrary" insofar one has accepted the possibility of that change in the contract.

There are a number of fundamental rights that cannot be waived away by a contract, of course, but YouTube publication rules aren't among them.

If you're on, say, a free Spotify tier, I'm pretty sure that Spotify can suspend your account if they want to, and you don't really have much rights or say in the matter. Or they can decide to remove the free service and require everyone to pay a subscription or go away. I'm not saying they will, but I'm saying they *can*.

Er.. yes - but so what? If you are on a free tier (even not considering that you are not paying anything, which changes the context quite a bit) you have still signed an agreement which includes that your account can be suspended etc etc... In particular, whether or not you are aware of it, you are formally agreeing that you will look at advertisements and not use the platform in a way to eliminate the advertisement part. Which is the usual cause for suspension. Spotify _wants_ you to be there (hopefully so that you convert.. or maybe not, not sure what their business model is this week), so they have zero interest in arbitrarily suspending you. If they do is because they constitute your actions as a breach of contract.

Which you could, in theory, litigate - because a contract its is.. so not powerless, no.

Again, as an analogy in physical terms, a DVD often contain advertising at start and sometime isn't skippable.. but that's what you can buy. You buy what you buy, not what you're thinking of buying.

I didn't say they were irrelevant, I said "forget them for now", meaning I didn't want to go into a long legal debate about definitions of terms (also: not a lawyer).

Yeah, I made that comment because it seems fairly common to me that most people are unwilling to go enough in the details. It's not about being a lawyer or not, but be willing to look at the complexity. The only things that practically matter in these kinds of "fairer environment" discussions are the "legal" ones. Don't need to be a lawyer but things aren't simple and common sense - as a musician - gets you shafted. That's the world we live in. And incidentally why lawyers make way more money than musicians :D


I don't think the specific contract is the point. The point I made was that in these cases, someone else is calling the shots, and I cannot depend that the media I'm enjoying now I will be able to continue to enjoy in the future, because someone else controls my access to it - unlike my own content. That's it.

Someone's calling the shots because you - as a buyer - have agreed to that.
You seem to construct that as a kind of oppression (apologies if I am mistaken) but it's not.

I'm not saying streaming services are bad, aren't useful, or whatever. I'm just calling out the poster above who basically equated access on a streaming service to ownership, and why this is not, as I see it, in real practical terms, the case.

As I wrote above, in the context in subject, it seems pretty plain that streaming and ownership are similar enough. It's simple looking at facts that apply in the context and reaching a logical conclusion - not necessarily my preference (I am not invested in neither streaming or CDs, nor have particular liking for any or care for them at all - I just like to make and listen to music).
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:40 pm

CS70 wrote:As I wrote above, in the context in subject, it seems pretty plain that streaming and ownership are similar enough.
I don't think this is shown in the debate above. And it's a really important point about that debate.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby desmond » Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:46 pm

CS70 wrote:Er.. yes - but so what? If you are on a free tier (even not considering that you are not paying anything, which changes the context quite a bit) you have still signed an agreement which includes that your account can be suspended etc etc...

It's not about contracts - I agree and have already covered these in my previous posts. That contracts exist for services is not and was never my point.

My point is simple, and that I'm not sure you acknowledge it (but let's not draw this out). The fundamental difference, for me, between content from a streaming service, versus my "owned" content (however you want to define that) is that for my "owned" content, there is no third-party that can remove, or change, or be in control of my access to that content.

That's it, but that's a big one, for me, and one that invalidates the access = ownership comment.

I understand that I super enjoy a TV program on Netflix, and if I choose to no longer be a Netflix subscriber, I'll lose access to that content. That's fine, and that's what I signed up to Netflix for - there's no expectation of ownership of Netflix shows, but there is an expectation of access to their available content - it's what you're paying for. I understand that if I wanted to watch it again next year, but for rights reasons that show was longer on Netflix - I wouldn't be able to. That's the deal, and I understand it as a consumer.

But if I bought the DVD, or the DRM-free digital download of the show, because I liked it, and *wanted to be sure I could always watch it without any third-party involved* - then this for me is a clear difference of "ownership" of a piece of media over "access" to the stream content.

This seems such a clear and obvious difference I'm surprised that you keep coming back to "well that's what you sign up for with a streaming service contract", which we all know, and is obvious... :roll:

CS70 wrote:Someone's calling the shots because you - as a buyer - have agreed to that.

See above.

CS70 wrote:You seem to construct that as a kind of oppression (apologies if I am mistaken) but it's not.

No - your word, not mine. All these things are thankfully, consumer *choices*. (Well - for the most part - it may be that in a lot of cases - say a Netflix TV show, there *isn't* a legal download/ownership option, so a streaming option is all you get).

I'm not arguing that any of this is good, bad or otherwise. I'm arguing that for me, there *is* a fundamental difference that factors into my consumer buying choices.

The version of my favourite album in my library will always stay that version, whereas the version of that album on a streaming service may be replaced with a different, remastered version, or even with different songs (yes, I've heard many cases of this happening) - the service provider are of course in their rights to do this, and it will all be part of the contract I signed up for (blah blah we all understand this) but it doesn't mean I *like* it that way, and I'm certainly not in control of it.

CS70 wrote:As I wrote above, in the context in subject, it seems pretty plain that streaming and ownership are similar enough. It's simple looking at facts that apply in the context and reaching a logical conclusion

Hmm. "Similar enough", I might agree with. But that wasn't the comment I was calling out, which was equating them, and I fundamentally don't agree on that, based on my arguments above. This also seems "logical" to me, but if you can't see, or don't agree with the point I'm making then that is of course your preroragative... ;)

I think we've probably bored everyone enough with this, so we'd probably better move on...
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby CS70 » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:45 pm

desmond wrote:That's it, but that's a big one, for me, and one that invalidates the access = ownership comment.

Fair enough, I don't see that particular distinction as very relevant to the subject of the thread (and the point that DC was making, and with which I agreed), so no point in commenting further...
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby CS70 » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:48 pm

blinddrew wrote:
CS70 wrote:As I wrote above, in the context in subject, it seems pretty plain that streaming and ownership are similar enough.
I don't think this is shown in the debate above. And it's a really important point about that debate.

I'm not surprised my friend - on this particular subject there is no rational argument that would show you otherwise :D No harm done, we don't get to decide anything anyways and it's Friday and life's good. :)
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:47 pm

The thing is MPs are meeting to discuss streaming payments, not download payments.
I don't think anyone is arguing that download payments are unfair are they?
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