A solution to Internet music

Ok, let’s have a sensible solution to the Internet music distribution controversy. A sensible approach is not to want music to be free. A sensible approach is not to use DRM either. A sensible approach is to focus on the quality of the listening experience, wide availability of the material, and happy users & artists.

First, there are different kinds of music. At least the following can be separated: (1) new MTV/radio feed, (2) back catalogue in stores, (3) non-published but protected stuff (4) download-free music (copyright expired, creative commons etc). The last is not a problem, others are.

So let’s take (1) first: new feed. I turn on my MTV, it’s U2. Apple’s website, the same guys. I turn on my car stereo, it’s again the same U2 and Vertigo. Streaming on and on. I don’t feel quilty downloading the same stuff online. I don’t think I should pay for it. MTV, Apple and radio do already, millions of times. Singles, big hits. It’s the demo stuff. I think that what they put in the big feed should be consequently free to rip and distribute. By an implied license or whatever. The same as you publish a homepage; it’s implied that anyone can download the stuff and forward it (as a link) to friends.

Then (2), back catalogue, which I think is the main problem. I don’t think P2P is ok for that stuff. There won’t be a choice for artists if Kazaa, Grokster et al and any Torrent community would be “legal”. Consequently music would be free. 90% on the albums that are not frequently played on the radio are not producing anything unless sold in a bundle. I’d keep that possibility with the artists. However, I’d require that labels can’t mandate DRM, can’t mandate quality and can’t mandate format. It’d be allofmp3.com instead of iTunes. CD-quality with cd-price, mp3 192 kbs quality with 1/5th of the price or so. And no DRM whatsoever. Basically CD-model to Internet mode, mutatis mutandis.

Finally (3), bootlegs of favourites and any stuff from nonames. This is not a straightforward case. I’d like to see any bootleg of Jimi or Stones to be free out there for anyone to download. For the sake of culture. However, I’d keep artistic control definitely with the nonames. So this one boils down to a privacy analogy. If you are a public person, any yellow paper can write about you, take pics and publish them on cover. However, if you are a noname, there’d be a privacy violation.

Free markets for beans

Everyone knows Starbucks. Some of you might even know their strict copyright policy.

Here is a picture I took today in Santiago de Chile:

Everything from the interior to logo design is derived from the original – which interestingly has a shop on the same street just two hundred meters from this one. What can you say? In my opinion this is a creative way to increase competition and customer choice. Conservatives may talk about problems with intellectual property but I think they won’t ever win if we go and ask caffeine addicts like me.

Show me your chain-culture

Lessig’s new book on “free culture” is out and well commented everywhere. I think I’ll join those who have issues with it. The prose and arguments are ok, but the general idea of a chained permission culture simply doesn’t buy me in. Culture has never asked, never will, any permissions from anybody. I agree there is a sub section in our current concept of culture, which we may call “commercial culture”. It plays with things like copyright and licenses. However, most of the stuff we do is never going to be under that permission bullshit. At least it is exremely hard to imagine such a world where browsing the web, chatting online and simply expressing oneself would not be permitted unless paid for. Masses can not be overriden. That would need much more than writing stupid laws and vague lobbying within the commercial media…