I have laid off the digital music wars for the most part of late because all parties — from the small-minded, self-defeating, niggardly record labels, to the disingenuous, spyware and corrupted file-laden file sharing services, to the morally oblique file sharers — share culpability for the current miasma.
The legal services like iTunes, Rhapsody and their customers are doing their things somewhat above the fray, but the per-song services like iTunes charge way too much, and have have limited selection, as do the subscription models like Rhapsody, which at least afford the monetary sanity (for a high volume music consumer such as myself) of an all you can eat approach.
And to be honest, all of that copyright/licensing/legal minutiae — though critically important, the devil really IS in the details — bores the shit out of me: I had to change my shorts after thinking about it for the time it took to write the last sentence.
But Napster-founder Shawn Fanning’s (he is STILL only 23) latest endeavor, SNOCAP, is worth mentioning:
- SNOCAP officially announced today the first end-to-end solution for online music licensing and copyright management. SNOCAP will expand the digital music marketplace by finally making available on authorized services the broad and deep selection of content that has made peer-to-peer services so popular.
….“SNOCAP envisions a world where consumers can discover, share and purchase music from a massively deep, almost infinite catalogue– constantly updated with new and old releases, live, out-of-print tracks, and more,” said Shawn Fanning, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at SNOCAP. “By giving record labels and artists what they need to deliver their music over any digital platform, including peer-to-peer networks, we are finally realizing the full potential of the Internet as a source of music for fans everywhere.”
Fanning continued, “Today there is still a great divide and consumers are caught in the middle. There are some good authorized online music services but they have limited content and a comparatively small number of users. There are unauthorized services that have content and users orders of magnitude higher, but the service they provide is inferior and they are at odds with rights holders. SNOCAP is the means to bridge that divide for the consumer.”
The company also announced that it has signed a landmark agreement with Universal Music Group to provide technology and database services for the online distribution of the company’s entire catalogue. Universal has already begun to register its catalogue with SNOCAP, the first step in greatly expanding its digital offerings. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
….SNOCAP gives rights holders the comfort level they need to make their content available on P2P networks, enabling them to sell more music through more channels. After registering their music and copyright information in SNOCAP’s database, labels and artists can manage the online distribution of all their content through SNOCAP’s copyright management interface, which enables them to set business rules for each track, on a global basis. This one-stop ability to manage rights and distribution across multiple online retail locations decreases costs and increases revenue.
….With SNOCAP, consumers will finally have authorized options with comparable selection to today’s file sharing services, removing the threat of litigation, spoofed downloads, and the risk of spyware and other unwanted advertising. SNOCAP will eliminate degraded and poorly recorded files thus insuring higher quality and a better overall consumer experience.
Did someone say deja vu?
“Any kind of central server for a filter is a problem,” Michael Weiss — head of StreamCast Networks, the company behind Morpheus — told the BBC.
“It looks and feels like Napster circa April 2001.”
Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Luke appears to have gone over to the Dark Side.
So, by returning to the centralized server days of the original Napster to check the “acoustic fingerprint” of files, Fanning has not found “the solution,” but it is perhaps another interim step that is closer to the ultimate goal of a blanket license giving consumers legal access to the great cosmic jukebox in the sky, I mean on the Internet, that is the only clean, efficient way to make this whole thing work for everyone.