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

Jack Moffitt jack at icecast.org
Sat Jun 9 22:30:33 UTC 2001

> performances.  That's ~125,000 performances a year, which equates to about 
> $180,000.
> Significantly higher than the Frauhofer license, unless you generate 
> $9Mil/yr or more in revenue from your stream.

The rates are in arbitration, and I doubt they will come out anywhere
near that amount.  It just isn't feasible, even for large companies.
Reember, tradidional radio doesn't have to pay these, even if they are
broadcasting online.  Nor are they subject to the compulsory license.

There's still a possibility that the DMCA will be dismantled before the
arbitration is even finished.  You shouldn't have to pay the RIAA
anyway, and the fact that they are even involved is astrocious.  

> 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.

Exactly.  All standards should be done thsi way.  Including audio.
That's what we're here for.

> 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."

Fraunhofer has 12 patents by my count, that represent the sole
intellectual property on the MP3 format.  They are all licensed by

If you build something that is MPEG, you can license the patents from
MEPG i believe, and MPEG's charter states that these will be fair and
reasonable.  But time and practice have shown us that they are anything
but.  And it's only worse with MPEG4, especially since the patent pools
aren't even done yet, resulting in a similar situation to the lack of a
compulsory interactive music license.

> >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.

They definately do this as a Patent license + Code license.  While there
may be other people with intellectual property claims on MP3, afaik,
Thompson is the only one getting paid.   I'm pretty sure MPEG is charged
with distributing money, but if you pay thompson directly, thompson (and
fraunhofer) keeps the money.

> 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.  

You make it sound as if this is a done deal?  Remember, these royalties
didn't exist yesterday :)  Who knows what the future brings, or whether
the rates will go higher.

I would also claim that Thompson can't get away with as much murder
these days, because of Vorbis.  They know that if the rates are super
super high, people will move to vorbis, if only for financial reasons.

I will also claim that this will happen anyway.  There's no advantage to
MP3, and it's expensive.  Vorbis wins.

> 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.

MPEG sets rates on MPEG.  Thompson sets rates on mp3 if you deal
directly with thompson.  I imagine that's MPEG rates would be higher, or
else, no one would bother talking to Thompson directly. It's not as if
they are easy to communicate with.

> 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. ;)  

That example was a more general one.  Since do people pay for derivative
works?  I can't think of any example of this off the top of my head.
Usually when you buy something, the stuff you create with it is free.
Compilers are another good example.  You pay Microsoft for Visual C++,
but you don't pay them royalties on programs you create.

> 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.  

Oh really?  So since icecast does niether encoding nor decoding, why is
a person using icecast getting charged?  See my point here?

> 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.

Not true.  The streaming royalties are on transmission.  streaming has
nothing to do with encoding or decoding.

I don't see were streaming royalties can be applied to any intellectual
property that Thompson or Fhg owns.  There's no decoding.  There's no
encoding.  I'm taking files, spitting them out over the network, and who
cares what happens.  Now I have to pay for that?

> 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."

You don't think Fraunhofer will try this? :)  Live365 pays ASCAP, BMI,
and is signed up for the compulsory RIAA license.  Even though you'd
think they wouldnt' have to.  I guess they do it on behalf of their
users.  I think shoutcast pays this as well.

Recordable CDs are taxed.  People are proposing media taxes on general
computers, because they can play mp3s which could be pirated.

Don't underestimate the lengths to which these corporations will go.

> 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.  

But these corporations are also putting money into the hands of the
judges and the politicians.  Campaign finance is a huge issue, and to
ignore it and say the politicians are atonomous is downright ignorant.
Corporations do exert political influence, otherwise, why do you think
that the MEGA HUGE computer industry is beholden to the lousy $50b a
year music industry?  It doesn't make sense.  The media industries have
far better lobbying and influence than any of the new tech industries.
And it shows, because we are losing on every front, because we didn't
help make any of hte laws we are being prosecuted and sued under.  Where
were companies like napster when the DMCA was enacted?  There was barely
time for DiMA to get organized to at least participate in those days.

> 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.

Or rather, the people who elected them are to blame.  But since we're
given only a few choices, and the rest can't afford to stand out without
selling out, you can't really blame the people either can you?  The
system is as fault.  It's been corrupted by greed and coporate interest.

> 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.

We all have to pick the battles we're passionate about and that we're
willing to fight for, because we can't fight for them all :)

I agree that there are far nastier things afoot, but I think personally
I can make the most difference in this one.  It may not save lives, but
I think it will make the world a better place.


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