back to article Bringing P2P in from the cold

Attorney Chris Castle has worked for the original Napster ("one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century"), Snocap and in digital licensing for Sony and A&M. In the first installment of our annual catch-up, he wondered whether Google may have annoyed so many rights holders that it's rethinking its strategy. Here, he talks …


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  1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    It's A Shame...

    ...that cascade (torrent) distribution has been given such a bad name by the freetards. It is still a great way for content owners to serve mass market releases.

    If i were building set top boxes, i would include some sort of store/forward scheme.

    But i'll just have another beer instead.

  2. chr0m4t1c

    Terrible example

    "I have artist clients who are mystified that Megaupload and Rapidshare are selling their stuff - like in a classic counterfeiter model. These sites take their recordings, sell downloads, keep the money, and don't even think about paying you."

    That's because these site sell storage space and bandwidth, Rapidshare certainly has a policy of not allowing you to use them for copyright material and I do know that they will suspend access to anything they're informed about very quickly (often within half an hour), then delete it after 7 days if the uploader cannot prove rights.

    I think they even suspend accounts for repeated infringements.

    What next? Is Shell responsible for bank robberies because they sell fuel that's used in getaway vehicles?

    Oh, and if you want my sympathy you can put away the kiddie pr0n and snuff video bogeymen - save them for the Daily Fail.

    Fact is consumers are crying out for a new model that delivers much better value and convenience for them, but all we've seen so far is a lot of rhetoric and apparent price fixing that got a lot of the providers into trouble in the 90's and no-one willing to try any of the ideas that are out there.

    'cmon guys, try /something/ FFS.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I asked one of them - can you raise your hand and swear to God that there are no bad things on your system?"

    Who did you ask? Google? AOL? Yahoo? Microsoft? Any other search engine, directory, ISP and / or company with a large web presence?

    This is a disingenuous, straw man argument; reading it I lost all sympathy for the man. Not that I had much to start with.

  4. Ceiling Cat

    All I want from "Big Music" . . .

    Seriously. All I want from Big Music is for them to realize that $20+ for a new CD is not worth it.

    I'll pay that for a concert DVD, but not for a studio CD.

    The other problem is that they can't sell me "modern" acts. Despite all the abuse I have heaped upon myself over the years, the one thing I will NOT subject myself to is modern rock.

    Personally, I don't want a new distribution model - I just want a new pricing scheme, especially for 15+ year old albums.

    Mine's the one with the cassette release of Dark Side Of The Moon shedding it's ferrous coating all over the inside of the pocket.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Fundamental rights for the media industry

    "The most basic, fundamental duty of government is to protect citizens from harm – not to mention the human rights protections that artists have in UN treaties and covenants that they have all signed".

    That would be like the banker's fundamental right (given to them by governments) to rape the taxpayer.

    If only I had a right to income in perpetuity for work that I did decades ago...

    BTW its not only the Pirate Party that is out to abolish copyright:

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Caught up in his own little world

    Claiming ``the labels'' wanted to give snocap a bit of a spin after sueing napster out of existence isn't really endearing me, you know. In doing the former they lost credibility and the suefest afterward showed us that no matter how right they legally were, they were well and truly beyond the pale. And, for all I care, still are. See three strikes. See astroturfing. See lobbying. See doctored studies. See ignoring other studies. See ignoring all the signs on the wall. See ACTA.

    As for investing, well, that's what the essence of publishing is all about. Why does smaug suddenly need an ``outside investor''? Can't risk his own hoard? That's the essence of enterpeneurship, it's what investing means, you product of a silly industry.

  7. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    Fundemental rights

    If it is the "fundamental human right" of a "citizen" (in this case corporations) to continually press for the removal of rights and freedoms (for example the entire concept of the public domain) stripped from other citizens (individual people) or even from society as a whole…then we desperately need to review our concepts regarding fundamental rights.

    I believe corporations should never be given the rights of citizens. As an example...individuals should be allowed to own copyright. Corporations should not.

    Now, before a cloud of corporatists come out of nowhere and skin me alive for bashing their religion, I will explain a little in detail what I mean. I have no problem with the existence of media companies. If I, as an individual, hold copyright on my song all revenue related to the use, licensing etc. of that copyright should return to me, the individual. I still have need to market my work, legally defend my copyright, licence its use to others, etc. I can fund this myself or I can use an intermediary, (a corporation, etc.)

    If I use a third party, (such as a corporation,) a contract is signed that they provide X services for Y time period costing me Z dollars. They do not gain control over the copyright ever, because in my happy world corporations can’t hold copyright.

    “But what about software development, movies, or a dozen other endeavours that require massive monetary input…something no individual could ever possibly achieve?”

    There are a few different approaches to this. Perhaps a special class of organisation can be created that is legally allowed to hold copyright in such situations. All individuals who participated in the creation of the copyright endeavour own a “share” in this entity. Legally, no programmer on the team can be denied at least a part ownership in the work he helped create. Every actor, gaffer, etc. has a slice of the rights to that movie. The media corporations serve their function of distribution, legal oversight, marketing etc...but do so entirely on a contract basis, with no ownership of the work.

    No freetard could ever possibly state that pirating thus doesn’t hurt the artists, or others who worked on it...because they all own a direct share of their efforts and feel the impact directly.

    “Won’t this kill investment? What’s the point in millions of dollars of investment if you can’t own the copyright and milk it for the next eleventeen squillion years?”

    That’s the real question, isn’t it? I guess that depends on the individuals involved. In my mind, nothing prevents a media company from investing in a film...but it does totally change where the liability lives. Basically the money side of it all would work like this:

    1) Media Company has a wodge of cash, or several investors who are prepared to commit cash at the media company’s say-so.

    2) Artist or group of artists approaches Media Company with a “Great Idea.”

    3) Media Company reviews this idea, and says “I think there is a valid return to be made on this risk.”

    4) Contract is signed whereby all monies related to the work are returned to Media Company that invested in it’s creation until such point as costs have been paid. Wages for all artists involved should be part of this...but done cleverly enough so that the risk of creating a work is equally shared by the media company and those working on it. If it's a fantastic flop, no one (Media Company, actor, etc.) gets paid! (I realise this is glossing over some important financial voodoo, but this post is really long already...)

    5) After initial costs are covered, the second phase of contract kicks in whereby Media Company earns it's scrape for providing legal protection, marketing, distribution, etc. All other revenues are sent back to the rights holding entity to be distributed amongst those who worked on the project.

    Now, this means potentially less profit for the media companies, mega software companies etc. It means more work and careful vetting of new projects by investors. it also means an increased burden of risk and liability by anyone working on a copyright project.

    It does mean though that if the project is a hit, you don't get Microsoft Inc. earning eleventeen squillion, with the coders responsible for the critical, money earning features earning a pittance and/or getting laid off. It means that if an artist/programmer/etc. wants to make it really rich, they either have to create something awesome...or make a lot of somethings.

    The implications are huge, and require a lot more individual responsibility...but it also helps prevent these spectacularly overbloated megacorps who have enormous lobbying power and a vested interest in PREVENTING INNOVATION as well as STIFLING CREATIVITY.

    Now, the idea above might be total trash, I pulled it out of my ass over the course of fifteen minutes, so feel free to tear it to shreds and call me various names. The hope is not that the world ends up this way...but rather that it causes various people to think...and come up with something better.

    Our current corporatist model is totally effing broken. Rampant piracy is not an acceptable response, but neither is the asshattery that the megacorps pull off while flipping the bird to the people. So if my above idea is balls, (and it may well be,) let’s get some better ideas out here, and maybe set about trying to get the changes implemented.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Instead of ranting... a hormonal student, why don't you support the independents and the publishers? These groups have been fighting corporate music for a long time, and give artists fair deals. Most record labels aren't huge corporates (there are only four), but small guys.

      When the independent labels were trying to block mega-mergers - where were you?

      When the publishers took the majors to court for a higher royalty - where were you?

      I'll bet you don't even know where to start.

      1. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

        Who's ranting?

        That wasn't a rant, but an attempt at a real solution that everyone (meaning artists/programmers/etc., businessmen and consumers) could live with.

        You asked “When the independent labels were trying to block mega-mergers - where were you? / When the publishers took the majors to court for a higher royalty - where were you?”

        If you really want the truth, with the very few rare exceptions, all media and most software I have purchased over the past, oh, nearly a decade has been from what I would consider “independents.” When there were howls raised about blocking the mega-mergers, I wrote my MP like a good little boy…and even took the time out to visit with one and present thoroughly researched evidence as to why it was a bad plan.

        We’ve recently been having a bit of a political kerfuffle here in Canada. I have been taking part in my share of public meetings, talking to MPs and attending the odd protest here and there. Each and every time I make sure to bring up ACTA, as well as the massive copyright violations Big Content committed to the independent and individual copyright holders here in Canada. (

        I ask: “When Big Content came for your rights, and for the right to ‘own’ your culture, where were you? When Big Content destroyed the public domain, where were you?” Big content has the leverage, the lawyers, the lobbyists and the money. The rest of music/movie/software/etc. industry just hasn’t made a dent in slowing down their most egregious rights land-grabs.

        My point in writing the above comment was not ranting, but hoping to try for a real solution. Closing our eyes and wishing really hard that the problem will go away doesn’t work, Big Content will simply continue unfettered creating ever more draconian laws because no one opposes them. Voting with our wallets doesn’t work; the drop in sales is merely attributed to piracy which Big Content uses as an excuse for those aforementioned draconian laws. Raising a ruckus to try to get copyright dramatically altered (pirate parties of various countries) doesn’t help because Big Content will dig in its heels to desperately protect its revenue stream. Last but not least Piracy is part of the problem, not the solution.

        Asking that we try to put aside our prejudices and preconceptions to come up with a viable solution that actually works in the real world and satisfies all parties isn’t ranting my viewpoint at my fellow commenttards. (Which, had you read my comment in it’s entirety you would know.)

        It’s pleading with them for at least one of them to be smarter than me, and come up with a business model that works for everyone involved, (thusly having at least a chance of succeeding.)

        What are we left with? I honestly don’t know. Greedy people never stop being greedy...any solution to this mess has to keep the fatcats in dough or it flat out will never succeed. Consumers want easy and preferably cheap access to their own culture...without restrictions on its use. Artists/programmers/etc. want a more competitive and diverse playing field when choosing a label/software house/etc. to represent them. Any “solution” that doesn’t take into account all of these realities will ultimately fail.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Get a grip!

          You're still ranting, mate. Please try and get some sense of proportion.

          The global sound recording industry, what you call "Big Content" grossed $22bn last year. Google will made more money - that's just ONE corporation. Apple has $40bn in the bank and $40bn gross turnover. These are small companies compared to telecomms. IT is much bigger than "Big Content".

          The idea that BC is grabbing anyone's land is frankly nuts, their own property is going up in smoke all around them. Sounds like you have been reading the freetard blogs.

          You say you're not a tard and you want to do the right thing. So calm down, take a chill pill, I say. Blind hatred is not a good basis for thinking clearly about the future.

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          2. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

            @Anonymous Coward re: "Get a grip!"

            I had another comment written for this, but decided against it. I suspect nothing anyone could possibly say to you would ever cause you to comprehend my beliefs. (I don’t require other people to agree with my views, but it is often nice if they are willing and able to understand them.)

            Instead I will write a post aimed at the bit that sticks in my craw about your comment: the idea that I “blindly hate” anyone or anything. Putting aside a very specific and narrow class of uber-hipsters, I can’t say I “hate” anyone. I dislike some groups of people, and some belief systems...but “blind hatred” is a pretty strong accusation.

            I am a socialist (European socialism). As such I don’t believe in the communist approach of “everything owned or run by the government.” I also don’t believe that the “free market” should be allowed to run wild without any form of regulation. Instead, I believe in as free and open a market as possible...within the constraints of a reasonable society. (That depends heavily on the definition of “reasonable,” but I won’t bore the moderatrix with several pages trying to define it.) Suffice it to say that I believe strongly in the greatest good for the greatest number, but also that every individual should be given as much of an opportunity to choose their own path in life, make their own wealth etc. as is reasonably possible. It is not a black-and-white philosophy, and doesn’t lend itself easily to hating one side of an argument or the other.

            That said, I do admit to disliking (but not hating) corporatists. I believe in the fundamental rights of all human beings...I don’t believe that corporations have “fundamental rights” of any kind. (You will notice that the UDHR makes no mention of any form of fundamental rights for a corporation.) I don’t believe that corporations should have the rights of citizens, the right to vote, to contribute to political parties or campaigns, etc. I don’t feel this delves into “hatred,” let alone “blind hatred.” It is simply a philosophical difference.

            As to the “true believers” in corporatism and pure-line capitalism...I am not sure I can hate them. I pity them. I just can’t view them in a way that allows for me to hate them. The closest analog have to reference the believers in these philosophies are like a battered woman who keeps returning to her abusive, alcoholic mate. They show up with a black eye and a bruised face claiming all the while “he’s not always like that,” “he’ll change,” “it’ll be different, you’ll see.” Sadly, the abusive mate continues being abusive, and a few hundred years of corporate history show little different. Admittedly, people who believe in corporatism and pure-line capitalism cover a pretty significant chunk of the US, the UK and a small number of other countries. Fortunately, I have the option of never having to go to these countries if I choose not to.

            I don’t see societies, laws or belief systems that I describe as "the Cult of the Quarterly Bonus" as something to hate. (I surely don't view them positively; but I don't hate them.) Instead I view the societies, laws and belief systems that form “the Cult of the Quarterly Bonus” as something to pity. In the worst case they are to be viewed as damage that the rest of the world is trying to route around.

            So while I’ll not continue the above thread of comments, (the argument boiling down to a deep philosophical difference that has become circular and pointless,) I’ll wish you a good week, Mr. Anonymous Coward. Have a pint and enjoy yourself; life’s too short for “blind hatred” on anyone’s part.

            My sincere apologies to anyone who has had to read this meandering and pointless set of comments.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      So you had a generic, student, anti-corporate rant ... and you just decided to stick it on the music business.

      And in the simplified world you inhabit, everyone in that business is evil. They have to be, otherwise you'd have to think a bit.

      Like I said, you were nowhere when we needed your support. Major music labels are now stronger than ever in the market, because you sat on your hands.

      Keep ranting if it makes you feel better.

  8. Steve Roper

    A couple of things

    I do agree with Castle on the idea of a 5-year copyright being too short - it is. But current copyright law is WAY too long. The best option for copyright was the first one - the 14-year period granted by the original Statute of Anne. It's long enough for a creator to get a good profit from their work, and short enough to fuel a rich and healthy public domain. Even a 25-year copyright would be within the bounds of acceptability, but no more than that. But the current model of life plus half a century is just plain wrong.

    As to the fixed-price subscription deal - no, Castle is wrong on that one. He's assuming an equal distribution of revenue - every artist gets a fixed percentage of the take. It's no big deal to count downloads and distribute the money in proportion, e.g. a song that was downloaded 50,000 times in a month would earn its creator twice as much as would a song that was downloaded 25,000 times in the same period. And even if the site has thousands of new songs every month, many of those would only be downloaded a few times, if at all. The big players would still get their lion's share of the revenue pie with this system. And if a site becomes big and popular, does that not mean more money coming in? More downloaders = more revenue. No, he's being deliberately abstruse in ignoring the obvious here.

    Oh, and kudos to you Andrew, for enabling comments on a copyright-related article. Have a beer on me! ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward


      A 14 year copyright? When radio plays hits that are 30, 40, 50 years old?

      Not that old chestnut. You will have to explain (because you don't here) why you want to rob people of performance rights - presumably so you can save money and buy a new iPod.

      As with all freetards, Selfishness seems to be the start and end of your argument.

      1. Mayhem

        @ the idea of classic hits

        So what you are saying is that 14 years isn't long enough to make a sufficient living off of a recording? You need at least 30/40/50 years worth of income?

        Surely the point of copyright is to *encourage* creativity through protection, not stifle it through locking it away. At some point you have to let your child walk free, in life as well as in art.

        Copyright has been stretched and bent and manipulated to favour individual factions over its life. Is it not time to sit down and reevaluate terms back down?

        Should the performer be rewarded longer than the writer. Who was more creative?

        Should inventors reap benefits, or those that implement the invention?

      2. Steve Roper

        Re: Yawn

        So what you're saying is if I fix your computer I get to charge you a licence fee every time you reboot it for the next 30, 40, 50 years. That'd be great!

        Because that's what you're saying when you advocate long copyright terms. You want to spend a few days writing and recording a song and then not have to do anything else while you get paid for it for the next 50 years? Fuck you. And you have the cheek to call me selfish, you greedy fuck.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          You don't get it, do you?

          Repairing a computer is not regarded as having a special place in society, so you are rewarded for your labour. But the creation of great cultural works is. We want more of them, so we give creators this special privilege.

          You're just going to have to lump it, mate.

          Society will not reward someone who "spends a few days writing a song" 50 years later, unless people are actually enjoying it 50 years later, and paying money to do so. In which case, it must be pretty important to a lot of human beings.

          Pig-ignorant freetard.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Greg 10

        "rob people of performance rights"

        Well, the sentence is absurd by definition: what is proposed is to change the "rights" and give people a 14-years exclusive right to something that he can't possibly "own" (no, you don't "own" the song you composed, you "own" the copyright onto it).

        You "rob" someone of something when you take it illegally, not when you advocate a law that defines in one way or another what belong to whom.

        That the first abusrdity, on the terms used.

        But of course, AC, the most stupid part of your comment is not on the terms used. You should try and remember that copyright is NOT property. It is an EXCEPTION to the normal rule which is that ideas are not property.

        It is an EXCEPTION that was created for the very clear and documented purpose of HELPING innovation. Creating an incentive to create.

        IN NO WAY was copyright ever meant as a fundamental right (as opposed to what our interviewee pretends to believe) for anyone, but as a NECESSARY EVIL to push people into creating.

        Read the Founding Fathers about this.

        As a consequence, the question when considering a 14-years or life+50-years copyright should never be a question of interest of the artist, but of interest of the population: which copyright duration is best to encourage creation while putting as many things as possible in the public domain.

        If we could experiment with the world, the way to go, the way the Founding Fathers would have gone, would be to try every possible copyright duration, see if creation is helped or hindered, and choose the SHORTEST possible duration that does not exceedingly impedes creation.

        So the question here is: would there be significantly less creation if exclusive rights to the creation was assured for only 14 years?

        This should never be a question of ideology, and anyone who transforms this issue into ideology misses the whole point of copyright.

        This should be a question of simple efficiency.

        For instance, do many people think drug patents should last "life" (say, even just 30 years) plus 70 years just like the copyright on Mickey Mouse?

        That would be obviously completely stupid, drug companies don't need 100 years to make a return on investment, and consequently, the patent does not last that long.

        Why do people who are not in the least passionate about the question of 14 or 100 years patent for drug companies get histerical when one talks about a 14 years copyright for music?

        If I invent a drug, I'll be the only one to make it for only a few years, though I probably deserve rewards from society more than if I write a single, bad song. So why should an artist get life + 70 years?

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