Music Industry Copyright Solved


Ok before I start on this topic I want to put a disclaimer out there:

  1. I do not in any way shape or form condone piracy, its robs artists of their well earned commission and is no better then stealing a piece of artwork from the Louvre.
  2. I do not condone intrusive DRM however I appreciate that DRM has its place if it is implemented properly.



Photo by: Simon Todd - © All Rights Reserved

Photo by: Simon Todd - © All Rights Reserved

One of the big problems that face major entertainment based companies these days is piracy, now I have heard of many many ways of the industry combating this problem, some good, some really really bad (invasion of privacy sort of bad). While I don’t know much about the industry as a consumer looking at the problem from the outside my solution would be something like the system I’m about to outline

Before going further its key to point out that the principles of this system relies on cloud computing/storage and Digital Rights Management Software (DRM). For those who don’t know much about these I’ll give you the quickest break down here after the jump but if you want to know more Google will be useful.

Cloud Computing/Storage: Computer processing or storage that exists on the internet, this information is less secure then having a virtual hard copy which means making the trade off between security for convenient access wherever you are in the world, this is not a place to store sensitive information however for the use needed here (transfer of media) it makes it ideal

Digital Rights Management (DRM): In a nutshell DRM is the use of software downloaded on to the computer along with the media it pertains to, in this case the music files. This software ensures that the user has sufficient privileges to play the media it pertains to or as you will see later will ensure that certain criteria are met so that playback may occur

Where The Idea Came From

Now that we have that out of the way we can continue to the actual solution.

The main concept of this idea came from a Gilmore Girls Quote:

Emily:Well, Lorelai, when you’re tasting anything, the first taste acclimates the palate, the second establishes the foundation, and the third is to make your decision.

Thinking about this idea got me wondering about how true that phrase may be and then i was reminded of an appearance of Stephen Fry at the apple music festival from a couple of years ago where he was talking about how the industry has approached the copyright issue and how most people turn to piracy because they either want to “try before they buy” or because they can’t afford the content at that time.

Considering these ideas lead me to think of the a system that would allow users to try the track out before they decided on the purchase and would allow users that don’t have the funds at the time limited access to the media. The system would work like this.

Main Concept

Via software provided either by the labels themselves (however this would have to be a collaborative project to make it appealing to the user) or through a third party such as Apple’s iTunes service the users would download a DRM protected track or album from the cloud onto a hidden and encrypted file within the users system for free.

The DRM restriction will only allow the track to be played 3 times before the user is informed that they have reached the limit of there free plays and must now purchase the track (this would be charged inline with industry standard charges such as those on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify). If the user chooses not to purchase the track then the file is then deleted from there system immediately.

However if the users decides to purchase the track then the user will then download a new higher quality version of the track that does not contain DRM and can be transferred to other players as they chose,l this file would also be downloaded to a freely accessible folder on there system such as “my music” on a windows machine. (As a side note the user will also unobtrusively be offered the choice to buy the track similar to the way the Spotify service currently handles things with the buy button inline with the track name).

As a back up to DRM included in the download of the lower quality “taster” track there is also a 3 stage verification process to ensure that the DRM file has not been tampered with.

Stage 1: The client software will be aware of the tracks that have DRM protection and will maintain its own internal count of the number of plays the file containing this will also be contained in a random, encrypted file to prevent tampering.

Stage 2: Each file downloaded from the cloud will be marked with DRM which is already established, now as each track is played a portion of this track will relay the tracks Unique Identifying Number (UID) to the online cloud service to enable the counter there to recognize the number of plays that the file has had to further ensure that no more then 3 plays are allowed. (It’s important to note, the UID mentioned here is not unique to the user but to the track and that every track has a different UID, this is belay privacy issues associated with private data and unique ID’s tied to the user)

Stage 3: Know as the “Fail Safe” if the any of the play counts do not match up (either on the track in the software or on the cloud) the un-purchased file will be locked out and deleted from the users system immediately unless the user chooses to buy the track outright. This provides protection from DRM and software tampering.

To Conclude

The music industry faces a delicate battle against piracy and it is one that so far they have yet to make clear progress on, services like iTunes provided by apple have made it easier for people to access a legitimate source of quickly available content which has helped the industry. Another service called Spotify has also helped allowing full access to tracks and on the premium services by allowing local storage for any track in its library for offline play.

Neither of these platforms are without there downsides however, the constant advertising bombardment of spotify has been noted as a problem for people as well as the fact that spotify is not available in many countries at the moment. Apples iTunes service also has its downside with its previews for tracks being on 30 seconds long which usually doesnt provide users much on a new track to base there decisions on.

By providing a service like this one the long term aim is an increase in the number of people legitimately purchasing tracks instead of download tracks via illegal methods, this would hopefully have the added long term benefit of re establishing some trust and respect for music labels for providing this service.

Further more similar schemes have been shown to work for other media providers such as television and film with the large rise in “catch-up” services allowing people to watch programs that have been on the TV in the recent days, for all intents and purposes the above proposal would probably be the closest that the music industry can achieve without actually giving it away for nothing. (which as much as the consumer would like it, isn’t good for the industry as a whole in the long run)

If you have any questions about the idea or anything to add then please comment below, if your from the music industry and your interested in this idea please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Finally, if you think this is a good idea and decide you want to make the system, don’t forget who thought of it and wouldn’t mind a cut of the profits for his dreaming the system up.

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About nomis78

Photographer, Gamer and Internet Blogger and All Around Loon. A simple guy whose a bit of geek and doesn't mind admitting it.

Posted on May 10, 2011, in Art, Copyright Issues, Culture, Music, musings, technology, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I look at it this way, if I go out and take your car, that is stealing. If I go to your car, then have a company make me an exact replica for free, then its not stealing since you haven’t lost anything.

    If someone pirates something I make and spreads it around, it actually encourages people to look at my products and those who really like it will buy it or related merchandise as well.

    You know what I mean? 🙂

    • while i see where you are coming from the situation you describe is not the same as seeing my car and having a companyt make a replica. With the car metaphore the care that you got would not be exactly the same because it would not be using the same parts as those are allready on or in my car.

      Now, if someone were to cover the track (with the correct rights assumed of course) and you heard that and looked into the original that would make you anaolgy work, as it is im afraid the two dont match up

  2. I’m afraid that I have to agree with Hyokin on this point. The issue is that the music industry – and in fact almost all content industries at this point – have failed to adapt to new technologies, and are fighting an uphill battle to try to stall progress and innovation and take things back to where they were. Record labels and movie studios want to be the gatekeepers in their respective industries, and the new technologies allow consumers to bypass them altogether.

    With your solution, you are on the right track. You’re just not going far enough. You are smart in seeing that you can use something free (the first three listens in your scenario) to add value to the actual product, and thus help sell that product. The problem is that you are still applying artificial restrictions to a product whose cost for production (at least in the digital format) will ultimately drop to zero. With a cost of zero, it then becomes an infinite good, and basic economics will tell us that if your supply is infinite, then the price must also eventually drop to zero.

    Record labels and movie studios, however, are not understanding this, nor are they understanding everything that this opens up for them in regards to new business models. If you have something that can be reproduced infinitely at no additional cost to you, then your mission at that point is to find a way to use that item to add value to a truly scarce good. On the most basic level, this can be seen as t-shirts, collector’s edition releases, or even concert tickets. However, there is no reason to stick to simple things like this. It is the music label’s responsibility to come up with new and amazing ways for us to spend their money on them.

    In short, all of the content industries need to take a step into the present and learn to start thinking on their toes. When they stop focusing on fighting piracy and putting up artificial restrictions and barriers, and start thinking of giving consumers a real REASON to buy, then they will ultimately do better than they ever have in the past.

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