Turntable.fm: Can Internet Radio Consist of Rotating Guest DJs? (Part 12 in our Online Music Service Series)
September 14, 2011 by Rick Sanders | Category: Blawg, Blog, Online Music Series | Tags: #onlinemusicseries, copyright, fair use, internet, music, Pandora, statutory licensing, streaming, Turntable.fm, webcasting
Is Turntable.fm Too Cool for the Webcasting Tribe?
In our last two posts in this series, we saw how Pandora had to jump through about twelve hoops to come under the statutory webcaster license (just for the right to pay statutory royalties!), and even then, its business model was found to be legal only a couple of years ago. Yet, compared to Turntable.fm, Pandora’s business is straightforward. Turntable.fm’s innovations have earned it raves from the technocrati–and make for a fascinating copyright case study.
Whereas Pandora uses a computer algorithm to generate personalized playlists for its users, Turntable.fm encourages users to act as tastemakers, then further encourages the tastemakers by creating a kind of social competition, with the audience as judges. It’s a kind of warp-speed American Idol but for cool kids and recorded music. Turntable.fm is still in beta, so its final form isn’t necessarily set. The description that follows is based on reports by users and Turntable.fm’s own FAQ.
I Am the DJ, I Am What I Play
Turntable.fm enables users to set up “rooms,” which are typically themed by music genre. Visitors may opt to be a “DJ” or simply an audience member. If you choose … Read More»
Pandora Almost Wasn’t: the Definition of “Interactive” (Part 11 of our Online Music Services Series)
When “Unique” Doesn’t Mean “Special” (and Why that Actually Makes Sense)
Last time, we looked at how venerable Pandora fits into the legal ecosystem of online music services. It’s a webcaster, which means that, if it plays its cards exactly right, it can avail itself of a statutory license for the right to stream sound recordings. It turned out this is an arduous task, but Pandora (and many other webcasters) have been up to the task. Except for one thing, which could have blown the whole project out of the water.
The first requirement that a webcaster must meet to be eligible for the statutory license is not to be an “interactive service.” The Copyright Act provides a lengthy definition of interactive service, but it boils down to (1) playing requests, or (2) creating a program “specially” for the user. It’s easy to avoid definition (1). But what does it mean for a program to be “specially created for the recipient”? The most successful webcasters are successful because they can create programs that are unique to the user. Does that make them also “special” to the user?
As it happens, in 2001, the music industry sued one such … Read More»
September 8, 2011 by Rick Sanders | Category: Blawg, Blog, Online Music Series | Tags: #onlinemusicseries, copyright, copyright royalty judges, internet radio, music, Pandora, statutory licensing, streaming, webcasting
Pass the Tests, Join the Webcasting Tribe
Pandora has actually been around for a long time. It launched in 2005. It bills itself as “internet radio,” but that’s not quite right. There are no disc jockeys making song selections. Instead, it uses its famed Music Genome algorithm to choose songs that Pandora thinks you’ll like. You probably know how it works: you enter the title of a song or the name of an artist, and Pandora provides you with a stream of music that is musically like that song or artist, automatically.* The alternative was to place genres into increasingly narrow genres and sub-genres. This requires a lot of hard work by taste-makers, who must be constantly updating their genres and sub-genres in light of new music. (Anyone remember the old Listen.com?) Some truly great artists were very difficult to classify. Some songs were like WALL•E’s spork, neither fork nor spoon.
* You can also choose music by genre, but that seems to defeat the point.