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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday October 12 2019, @03:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the trying-to-be-clever dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1337

Get the popcorn.

New blockchain-based music streaming service Audius is a copyright nightmare

New startup Audius says its blockchain-based music streaming service is the solution that finally pays attention to indie artists' needs. It's also full of pirated material.

Audius' website says "music platforms were at their best when they listened to what artists and fans wanted - not corporations or major labels" and that uploaded tracks can "never be censored or removed." TechCrunch called Audius' blockchain move its "secret sauce," while Yahoo finance said it is "adequately addressing the most pressing needs within the industry." But one of the most pressing problems in music right now is copyright. Audius contains infringing material — such as an unlicensed version of Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea's "Problem" — that, if its promotional materials are right, the company cannot remove.

[...] "They say 'We don't have the ability to deplatform you or censor you.' What I hear when I read that is, 'It's going to be real difficult for us to take down anything that you put up,'" says Kevin Casini, a professor of entertainment law at the Quinnipiac School of Law in Connecticut. "They're trying to speak as if they're talking to people who are afraid of this bogeyman intermediary. And they're also saying, 'Hey, this is a new spot where you can, at least for a brief amount of time, upload something, and we're not going to look at it and see what it is.' It seems that they know this is something that is going to happen quickly for them, and they're signaling and advertising to the people that actually know what they're saying, which is: 'You can come here and do it.'"

[...] But the problem is, all of the things Audius says it's solving with the blockchain — a more direct line between fans and artists, discovery, self-monetizing — can be done without the blockchain. In fact, this is being done without the blockchain on Bandcamp and Patreon, among others.

[...] "On the surface, a lot of people think, 'blockchain is perfect for this,'" says Jack Spallone, senior product manager at ConsenSys. "Not quite. If [the music industry] could use Excel really well, it might not even be an issue."

Audius is trying to avoid SoundCloud's copyright issues by not hosting the user-uploaded content itself. Its open-source protocol, built on blockchain, means that the responsibility of hosting and making uploaded content available is spread out among people who register as node operators. They say this method should protect them from liability and the claws of major labels. This is actually an open question. Copying and distribution initiated by the user but carried out by a system has insulated some companies in the past, but it has not been a sufficient argument for others.

[...] Whether this business model holds up in court or not, lawsuits from major publishers or labels could easily wipe out Audius' capital. And if you're buried with lawsuits, you have no money for anything else. It remains to be seen how labels and other rights holders will react to Audius, which has, in a short time, become saturated with infringing material.

[...] Even if Audius isn't directly liable for infringement, it can still be held secondarily liable if a court finds it promotes "its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement."

Experts are skeptical about whether being on the blockchain is enough to protect Audius from washing their hands of bad actors. Historically, services like Grokster used similar arguments. After all, Grokster didn't host any material; it only allowed the means for people to share files with each other. But it lost that fight in the Supreme Court, and it shut down in 2005. "That's what all the early peer to peer services said too and it didn't super work out for them," says John Bergmayer, legal director at Public Knowledge.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by fustakrakich on Saturday October 12 2019, @08:08PM (6 children)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday October 12 2019, @08:08PM (#906418) Journal

    Site gets a court order to either take down the infringing content or the host will be ordered to close the entire site

    Yeah, the problem is still the centralized nature of the business and the internet, makes the takedowns and lawsuits just too easy.

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  • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Sunday October 13 2019, @12:09AM (5 children)

    by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Sunday October 13 2019, @12:09AM (#906467) Journal
    And as the article points out, p2p still has problems. Just get a USB key already. Sneakernet is safe and fast. Even sneakernet over USPS can transfer 100 gigs in 2 days for a buck.
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    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday October 13 2019, @12:22AM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday October 13 2019, @12:22AM (#906472) Journal

      Where are you going to get your 128 GB of pirated files? A friend? Will the friend use P2P?

      Is your advice for music or more broad? I guess someone could get a huge 100+ GB dump of music and not want any more for years. A little sooner if it's FLAC.

      http://jango-raid.tk/ [jango-raid.tk]

      It's possible to get loads of content these days without downloading it.

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      • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Sunday October 13 2019, @12:40AM (2 children)

        by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Sunday October 13 2019, @12:40AM (#906478) Journal
        I have no need, but I'm sure people have terabytes of music and movies in their collections. Researchers have abandoned the internet for shipping multiple hard drives or complete NASes because it's quicker and cheaper to ship it both ways than to download it.
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    • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Sunday October 13 2019, @02:35AM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Sunday October 13 2019, @02:35AM (#906501) Journal

      p2p still has problems

      Well yeah, p2p is only p2p on an ad hoc network. It doesn't work in the current kludgy client/server setup.

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