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[P]
Open Art, Closed Content?

By Demona in News
Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 01:55:51 PM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)
Music

Lines are blurring between content creators and consumers. Creators can have more direct access to consumers, more creative control over their own content, and keep a greater percentage of any profits realized from their works. That's been the theory behind most MP3 hype, but fiercely independent musicians extraordinaire King Crimson have chosen to release 181 minutes of highlights from a 1996 Mexico City concert in the much-feared and loathed Windows Media Format (that's .asf/x). The content isn't really locked beyond launching Internet Explorer and requesting an email address, then apparently allowing unlimited play and unrestricted access.


It could be fun to speculate on why Robert Fripp, who I've long thought of as the Richard Stallman of the music world (visit his Discipline Global Mobile page to see why, and note that it runs on Apache :) would choose a closed format over an open one. But more important than making the "right" choices that others feel are right, is that we be free to make choices others may consider wrong.

My only gripe at this point is that I can't listen to the concert under Linux without converting to MP3, and that's really a minor annoyance. What I find noteworthy is that King Crimson are once again doing what they do best: Blazing trails, making an honest buck without screwing anyone else, and making a joyful noise. With the power of the Internet, more than ever there can be ears that hear. If you're not familiar with the subtle power and beauty that is King Crimson, there's no better time than now to acquaint yourself with a band that has profoundly influenced nearly every facet of rock music.

[Footnote: As I see Fripp being the Stallman of the music world, so do I see Dave Sim as the Eric Raymond of the comics world. Read his notes on self- publishing to see why, consisting of a 1993 speech and editorials from nearly two years worth of his monthly comic. Both Sim and Fripp are surviving by doing what they love, and doing their best to remain free to do it their own way.]

[Footnote 2: Chris Johnson is probably the single most insightful /. poster regarding how technical issues affect content creators, as just about everyone else posts from the perspective of the consumer. Thinking outside the box reminds us there is a third option besides Coke or Pepsi, Tweedledee or Tweedledum.]

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Related Links
o King Crimson
o 181 minutes of highlights from a 1996 Mexico City concert
o Discipline Global Mobile
o Dave Sim
o notes on self- publishing
o Also by Demona


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Open Art, Closed Content? | 18 comments (18 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Yay! (5.00 / 2) (#1)
by rusty on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 03:40:37 PM EST

I'd just like everyone to note that this is the first story ever posted on kuro5hin.org solely by the collective will of the readers. I did not post this -- YOU did (I did vote for it, though). Look at the cam. I'm grinning. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#2)
by Demona on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 03:49:07 PM EST

Friggin' aye and begorrah, that was fast! I'd merely hoped that maybe a few people would have comments on its submission over the next few days, and this is way beyond my expectations. Dinner awaits; see you all here again soon for some hopefully meaty discussion.

-dj

[ Parent ]

Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#3)
by rusty on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 03:54:29 PM EST

That's funny. I thought it took forever. I've been sitting here reloading, thinking "Good lord people! Vote already!" For the record, I'd have posted this right away, but I wanted to wait and see what everyone thought. And secretly, I really wanted to get a story posted through story moderation.

The threshold's pretty low right now, due to the newness of the whole idea. Please do use your vote, folks. I'm amused by the controversy over my sister's story. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#5)
by joeyo on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 05:03:57 PM EST

The threshold's pretty low right now, due to the newness of the whole idea. Please do use your vote, folks. I'm amused by the controversy over my sister's story. :-)

It means that the site is starting to develop an identity of its own! Personally, I'm very curious to see what kind of stuff is deemed 'appropriate' and which stuff is moderated into oblivion.

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#6)
by Inoshiro on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 05:05:43 PM EST

Well, yeah. We've not reached the critical mass of 20 people who actually read the page daily, yet ;-) Once we do that, stories should come up fairly quickly..


--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#7)
by Nyarlathotep on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 05:32:17 PM EST

I'm amused by the controversy over my sister's story. :-)

It is a pretty great situation. I hope it hangs out there in submission moderation for a while longer.. as the contraversy should be enlightening to new users.

One question: is there a way to change our votes later? I might want to change mine to a +1 if the story ever gets close to being killed. :) what is the kill threshold?

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#11)
by rusty on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 10:55:36 PM EST

No way to change your vote. I purposely didn't want you to be influenced by what other have said and voted. You have to read it, and decide, all alone, once. Hell, even I don't know what the score is before I vote. I could find out, but it'd involve mucking with the database directly. There's no "admin" web interface to the story moderation. I was planning to write one, but I kinda like it this way.

Oh yeah, and the thresholds are currently 5% of registered users. Meaning, say I had a thousand registered users. The story would have to earn a total score of +50 to be posted. Same on the flip side, for the moment. I'll leave it to you to figure out how many users you think there are :-)

Oh yeah, and I can change the threshold at any time.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#12)
by Nyarlathotep on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 11:03:37 PM EST

Oh yeah, and the thresholds are currently 5% of registered users.

I don't think this will not work in the long term since you will have many more users then participating users, but it could be a while before it really matters.. and it is hard to say what a good threshold would be. Maybe 5% of users who have viewed the moderate sbmission page in the laat month or soemthing.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#13)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 12:36:40 AM EST

But the key is it's totally adjustable. All I have to do is change a number in the web form, and from then on, the threshold is different. I can also set a hard score that stories have to reach, instead of a percentage.

But regardless, what I really want to do is let users set their own score, and keep stories vote-able for their entire lives in the system. So if I set my threshold to "5", when a story appears on my page (because others have voted it up to a 5), It'll come equipped with a little vote selector, and I can take my vote then, influencing, perhaps, people whose thresholds are higher than mine.

So the number I set is just the default "if you don't change it" value.

I think the ability to adjust this as often as necessary is important. If and when theres a larger sample of people voting, I'll consider more mathematically sound ways of scoring stuff.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Yay! (none / 0) (#4)
by bmetzler on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 04:22:38 PM EST

Woah!!

Then that makes me the very first person to "cast" the vote that put a story on the front page. I feel so proud.

:)

Well, I hope more great stories follow

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Ideas (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by Nyarlathotep on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 05:57:11 PM EST

I think we should do something to make it more distributing mp3s over the internet a better promotion system then it is now. Here are a few ideas:

1) Add the ability to include html, graphics, etc. in an mp3's comments (there would eb a button on all the players to launch a browser to view the content). The artists would include things to keep people from stripping the content (like visual art and lyrics) and things to make themselves money (like advertisments for companies and advertisments to buy the artists merchendise (hats, shirts, CDs, longer mp3s). This would make internet music distirbution at least as profitable as internet comics distribution. I'd say weithout this feature artists have no choice but to evetually mix in advertisments with the audio which no one wants (it could be as tactful as "DJ Bubba commin at you from http://bubbamp3.com" but it will still be inferior to seperate visual data for both the artist and lissener)

2) Artist's need to think about what they do as a serivce, i.e. they need to have the idea I am going to release one really good song/remix a month and one ok song/remix a week so that their lisseners are forced to keep comming back to their site. You can then sell things like fan-club memberships which let you vote on what will be on the next CD and give you access to the all the songs from previous months (as opposed to just the good ones which the artist descideds to keep up permanently).

3) We need a way for internet artist to get their stuff out. Someone could run a publicity site which allowed pirate sites to submit their upload URL and then charged artists to upload their songs (with ads included) to all the pirate sites. This site would also do things like run bots on IRC and Napster to push the music on people. Hell, forget charging the artists to upload their shit, just make them give you versions with ads for your own customers included.

There are milions of ways for these people to make money, but they need to be a little bit more agressive then they have been in the past. mp3.com just dose not cut it since your music sits next to tons of other stuff and dose not really attract people's attention.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
MP3 Licensing? (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by dblslash on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 09:10:10 PM EST

Awright.


I've seen an awful lot of slashdot bashing on this site (most of it deservedly so), and some of it has been directed specifically to how rabid the slashdot community can get over licensing. That being said, I'd just like to ask a simple question, and perhaps point out a possible discrepancy in the above article.


Is MP3 an "open format"?


From what I've heard, it isn't. Not in the slightest. Not being a developer of any en/decoding mp3 apps, I didn't get the dreaded letter a year or so ago, and I haven't been keeping track of where things were going. What is the current licensing for MPEG-1 Layer 3 encoding algorithms? Anyone have any interesting/informative links?

Re: MP3 Licensing? (none / 0) (#10)
by rusty on Tue Feb 15, 2000 at 10:50:42 PM EST

The poster doesn't actually say that mp3 is an "open format" per se. It is strongly implied, I'll agree with you there. Is there currently a truly "open" (ie unencumbered) downloadable music format, that would be feasable to use for releasing 181 minutes of music?

I think the general idea though is that mp3 is at least "open" in a capitalistic kind of way. Even if Fraunhofer does want to charge (retroactively) for legal use of the code they gave away to begin with, at least they're not picky about who they'll license it to. Try getting a windows media player for linux. Ever. For any amount of money. That, my limited-range crystal ball says, is never going to happen.

I thought the gist of the story was that it's odd that this of all bands would choose to release music in a format that, whatever the cost, is inaccessable to some portion of their audience, rather than in a format which is accessable to anyone with a computer. I suppose you could argue "what about the people without computers," but that'd be nitpicking on a grand scale. And the "well it's not inaccessable, just get a windows box" argument, I'm not even going to answer. :-)

Overall I agree with the tone of the article, even if I'm not familiar with the band in question. Why would artists choose to shackle themselves to one platform? If I were a musician, I'd want my music to reach as many peope as possible. Hell, I am a programmer, and I want my code to reach as many people as possible. And take a look at the link provided to DGM music. Stated in the manifesto (after the splash page" are goals such as:

  • to operate in the market place, while being free of the values of the market place.
  • to be a model of ethical business in an industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fuelled [sic] by greed.
Is that the recording industry, or the computer industry? Is that DGM music, or the Open Source movement speaking?

I see the point. They seem to be oddly alienating the very audience that may very well be their most ardent supporters.

I have no reasons why, but it's something to ponder.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: MP3 Licensing? (none / 0) (#14)
by Demona on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 05:29:43 PM EST

Things I would change if I could repost the article: The headline is almost flamebait, and not necessarily wholly relevant.

Rusty writes:

The poster doesn't actually say that mp3 is an "open format" per se. It is strongly implied, I'll agree with you there. Is there currently a truly "open" (ie unencumbered) downloadable music format, that would be feasable to use for releasing 181 minutes of music?
None of the formats available are completely open in the sense that I think most of us would use the term. Monty's page (author of cdparanoia) has lots to say; he's working on a "a patent-clear, fully open general purpose audio encoding format". Also, the LiViD-dev list has spun off a new list as of last month to discuss the creation and implementation of the tentatively titled "Open Video Disc" standard to serve as an open and superior alternative to DVD; mail mailto:ovd-dev-subscribe@linuxvideo.org to subscribe to the list.
I think the general idea though is that mp3 is at least "open" in a capitalistic kind of way. Even if Fraunhofer does want to charge (retroactively) for legal use of the code they gave away to begin with, at least they're not picky about who they'll license it to. Try getting a windows media player for linux. Ever. For any amount of money. That, my limited-range crystal ball says, is never going to happen.
I'm rather surprised someone hasn't written a conversion utility by now, for any OS, to convert ASF to straight MPG; it's really not that proprietary compared to RealMedia, and better documented (especially since Real yanked most of the good technical documentation from their public website :(.

MP3 is open in a de facto sense, if not de jure, in that there are plenty of open (as in both free speech and free beer) decoders AND encoders available. I haven't seen Fraunhoefer shutting down sites like LAME lately; they were a bit nastier in the past.

I thought the gist of the story was that it's odd that this of all bands would choose to release music in a format that, whatever the cost, is inaccessable to some portion of their audience, rather than in a format which is accessable to anyone with a computer.
As you noted upon perusing the Discipline webpage, the choice to use the Windows-specific format is odd given the intelligence and philosophical beliefs of the musicians in question. Perhaps it was an informed decision, a question of expedience, or simply looking at the numbers and concluding that ASF offered the best tradeoff of quality and size; regardless, I'd like to know.

* to operate in the market place, while being free of the values of the market place. * to be a model of ethical business in an industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fuelled [sic] by greed. Is that the recording industry, or the computer industry? Is that DGM music, or the Open Source movement speaking?
Fripp is truly a mad genius, and not just when it comes to music. Looking at the fine print on most Discipline releases, one finds an interesting and subtle judo-reversal on traditional copyright:
"The phonographic copyright in these performances is operated by Discipline Global Mobile on behalf of the artists, which whom it resides. Disciple Global Mobile accepts no reason for artists to give away such copyright interests in their work by virtue of a 'common practice' which is out of tune with the time, was always questionable and is now indefensible."
You can tell this is a man who has been screwed long and hard, and is determined that he won't be screwed again. Almost like Stallman, Fripp uses copyright law against itself to make people aware of the rights of the artist and to better secure those rights.

Dave Sim is more traditional in his methods, and just as rabid about retaining 100% control/ownership over his work; yet for many years his comic has been a collaboration with another artist who draws all the backgrounds. Reading about their business relationship is quite enlightening in the context of this discussion.

-dj

[ Parent ]

Re: MP3 Licensing? (none / 0) (#15)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 06:52:26 PM EST

On the general theme of copyright, I've been mulling ways to "license" the content of this site. I'll probably post a story about it for everyone's feedback, but what I want to do is make this an "Open Content" site. Basically attach a copyright to everything that says anyone can publish it anywhere for any reason, for free, provided that credit is given the original author (whatever name they chose to write under) and kuro5hin.org as the original source.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
test -- ignore (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by gasull on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 12:08:55 PM EST

Just testing :-)

Meep (none / 0) (#17)
by Uber Bunny on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 01:59:51 PM EST

It didn't work :-(

What Would Google Do?
[ Parent ]
baaa (none / 0) (#18)
by Goatmaster on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 02:01:05 PM EST

The Goatman: Visitor from the Future!




... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
Open Art, Closed Content? | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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