[icecast] Re: mp3pro and the mp3 streaming license]

Asymmetric asym at rfnj.org
Sat Jun 9 21:52:52 UTC 2001

At 14:45 6/9/2001 -0600, you wrote:

>Streaming music is $250 minimum, with, I believe, less than 2%
>royalties.  For $500 a year you can stream all the music in the world
>pretty much, prefectly legally.  If you make a profit, it's a royalty.
>But MP3's royalty here is higher than the royalty for the actual music.
>That is out of whack.  Especially in an age where we are diligently
>search for new ways to compensate artists.

According to the RIAA, their (SoundExchange) suggested flat rate is $0.004 
per performance.. which is hardly a flat rate at all, unless you look at 
how they currently negotiate rates.  A performance being defined as the 
number of clients that listen to a given title on a stream.  If you're 
streaming music with copyright owned by RIAA members on Live365 say, and 
that stream is full, that is 365 performances per song.. or $1.46.  With a 
quick rough estimate, I have about 1000 mp3s in my master playlist which 
spans about 60 or 70 hours, so I'll call it 70 hours for 1000 
performances.  That's ~125,000 performances a year, which equates to about 

Significantly higher than the Frauhofer license, unless you generate 
$9Mil/yr or more in revenue from your stream.

>Fraunhofer didn't invent parts of mp3.  Netscape certainly had their hands
>in the spec.  Microsoft too.

MS had their hands in it yes, NS maybe, but they're not currently a W3C 
member.  A full list of members is available at 

All the W3C 'specs' are released in an RFC style, free to all.. not NS nor 
MS nor anyone else can charge for implementation of recommendations made by 
the W3C.

Anyway, this is beside the point you were trying to make, which I do grok.. 
just picking nits for no reason here I guess.

I think something that is overlooked is that Fraunhofer didn't just pull 
this out of their ass, they are designated by the MPEG as the people to 
contact for licensing of Layer 3 audio technology for MPEG-1 and 
MPEG-2.  I'm going to step out on a limb here and assume that if any of the 
other members of the MPEG had a hand in the development of it (mp3) and 
wanted compensation/royalties, that those royalties would be distributed to 
other MPEG members by Fraunhofer.  If that is the case, then it's pretty 
obvious to me what could make the costs as high as they are; every MPEG 
member wanting their "fair share."

>Sure they do.  They pay for that code.  Then they pay extra for teh
>technology patents.  Look at the licensing fees.  They double when you
>use FhG's code.

I think this would support what I just stated above, if the royalties 
without the FhG code are distributed among MPEG members (or at least 
members who helped develop it) and the additional costs go to FhG alone.

>LAME uses 0 FhG code, and it still has to pay.
>Yes, these are normal patents, and this is how patents work.  But the
>patent system is also fucked.  And the FhG patents are a good instance
>of why.

I agree with this, I just don't think they're even close to the most 
fucked.  I saw some report on television a month or two ago about some 
people that while participating in a, for lack of a better term, medical 
experiment.  The people basically just had a bunch of tests done and left, 
maybe they were paid, I can't recall.  The result of this testing was that 
it turned out two of these people were totally immune/resistant to 
HIV.  Time and again, HIV was introduced into their blood, and it failed to 
infect it.  Now, if you want to examine this data or use the test that 
determined they were immune, you must pay outrageous fees to the company 
that did the tests.  Even if you contacted the two people and tested them 
yourself, you would be bound by law not to use that data without paying the 
licensing.  This is the hight of greed and criminal behavior when it comes 
to patent law, IMHO.  We could have some real work being done in the field 
of AIDS research, and a possible cure just around the corner, if it weren't 
for these jerks, and the lesser jerks that aren't interested in paying the 

>This isn't analogous.  FhG here is charging for a result of the content
>that you made.  It's like buying a toaster that also charges you for
>every piece of toast you make.
>Or, to do it the way FhG did, sell you a toaster for X dollars, and then
>later charge you y dollars per slice after you bought it, because they

I agree, it's not very cool at all in principle.  I just think that in this 
case, the principle put into practice is not nearly as upsetting or 
restrictive as it could have been.  If FhG wanted to, they could charge 
half a billion dollars to license their technology.  I don't think this 
applies however to the non FhG code, I'm going by gut instinct here, but I 
believe the MPEG sets those rates.

>This isn't true.  Only SOME of the time do you not have to pay.  The
>rest of the time you do.  For instance, encoders are _never_ free.

I meant you in a more specific sense, once for each case.  If "you" are 
writing a codec, or creating one in hardware, then yes you have to pay.. 
either just once, or per unit.  LAME doesn't have to pay $X every time mp3 
encoded data hits the internet that was encoded with it.  If FhG wrapped 
things up in a more convienient one-time fee for the developer of an 
"original work" (read: doesn't charge end users that use tools, only the 
tool makers) but charged them much more than they do, would that be acceptable?

I just don't think it's all that "wrong" for them to charge everyone who 
takes part in the chain, so long as they don't charge them too much 
(subjective I know).

>Since when?  Winamp was always donation ware, and I bleieve now it's
>just free to use.  Where's a pay for version of winamp?

Hmm looking now all the versions are free, but I thought there was a non 
free version at some point in the past.  Perhaps I was thinking about the 
various versions of real player and "winamp" spewed forth from my hands 

>That's all well and good.  I agree here.  But, what if I recorded
>winamp's audio output on tapes.  Do I owe them a royalty if I play the
>tape for someone else?
>This isn't a question of fraunhofer charging money for something they
>should be.  They are charging you money to send bits from poitn a to
>poitn b, if those bits are in a certain pattern.  There's no decoding or
>encoding going on here.  Just data transfer.

This paragraph answered your own question above.  If you're playing it on 
audio tape, it's no longer in the "bit pattern" of mp3. ;)  But anyway, 
they're not charging you to send a bit pattern from point a to point 
b.  They're charging point a and point b both for encoding or decoding that 
bit pattern.  You can send mp3 data around all day long with a new product 
you write, charge a million dollars a copy, and not pay FhG one red cent if 
your program doesn't encode or decode the data.

If it were otherwise, all the ftp, http, email etc software companies would 
be paying as well.. right along with cisco for making an "mp3 transfer 
utility" called a router, and belkin for making another one called a "cable."

>We're in a world were intellectual property law has gotten out of hand.
>Copyrights no longer seem to expire, patents are overly general and
>broud, and litigation is increasing.  Huge companies are getting bigger,
>exerting more influence over government and our daily lives, etc.
>The current state of affairs is probably not was what was envisioned
>when the provisions for copyright and patent law were written into the

I agree with all this.. but the politicians and judges are to blame, not 
the companies (which are just people, or run by them) who are trying to 
pull something shady.  Everyone at some time or another tries to pull a 
fast one.. if they try to pull a fast one in court, well, we're supposed to 
have people that can see through that.  In any instance where the "wrong 
thing" gets passed into law, only the lawmakers are to blame.. whether they 
were bribed, extorted, or just plain too dumb to see the forest for the trees.

>Devil's advocate is fine.  I think intellectual proper in media is a
>perfectly legimate thing to get bent on, and by no means am I only bent
>on this one instance of Fraunhofer's greed.  I'm bent on it all.
>I tell you, it's quite depressing.

Some things more than other, as the example in the genetics field 
illuminates.  Profiteering at the expense of music is one thing, doing it 
at the expense of all of humanity is quite another.


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