back to article ISPs demand record biz pays up if cut-off P2P users sue

ISPs are calling on the record industry to put its money where its mouth is on illegal file-sharing, by underwriting the cost of lawsuits brought by people who are wrongly accused of downloading or uploading music. ISPA told The Register today it is worried about the cost to its members if users targeted by rights holders for …


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go ahead punk make my day

Wait for the first ISP to be caught out working as a lapdog for the recording industry and watch their subscribers migrate...

conversely, watch the uptake for the first one that tells 'em to get fecked....

there's your market forces for you...



My old man still calls up his mate from the local boozer and asks him for xyz release on DVD for £3. The same way people have for the last 15 years +.

Does that make my old man a criminal or pirate?

What about me that does it over BitTorrent instead....?

And for the record, I've brought 5 DVD's this year and been to see around 6 films at the cinema.

For music I buy less, cause it's mainly crap. Though I did by Chicane's album a few weeks back after hearing it on BitTorrent.


1908 all over again

When the British Red Flag Manufacturers Institute tried to get a law passed that all car manufacturers should confiscate their customers cars because they were exceeding 4mph and depriving their members of flag selling revenue, and 100's of flag carriers would be out of work.

It's thanks mainly to the "downloaders" and their quest for more speed we have anything above 1mb connections now. The knock on effect to the UK economy from higher speeds far exceeds the piffling £1bn the BPI claim they're losing.

If a law was passed and could actually be made to work, most people would be renewing their connections at far less speed & cost. Filesharers will be the driving force for fibre to the home and even more speed - the bloody useless Government isn't doing anything about keeping the UK in the 21st century.

A second point the Government need to ponder if such law was passed is suddenly half the population becoming wise to encryption and using proxies - not just for nabbing a few torrents but all Internet use - they'd have to spend a £1trillion upgrading GCHQ to keep reading our emails, etc.

I'll get my coat now and I think I'll do 80mph down the motorway after just paying the plumber cash in hand for fixing the boiler. I'm a bad boy :-)


Sheer entertainment

I'd like to publicly thank all of you for entertaining me over this last hour or so with your comments and insightful views. I've never spent so long reading about one article.

On a quick side-note, I wonder what will happen with the likes of rapidshare, megaupload, yousendit, speedyshare, and the likes who host hundreds of thousands, if not millions of copyrighted materials zipped into .rar/.zip files.

/salute, viva el reg


Why not just have the post office open every letter and parcel too?

I suppose they could also ask the post office to open, and scan every letter and parcel just in case the end user or sender (who would have to provide passport / photo ID and finger prints to post the letter) might write something dangerous or send a photocopied item of literature which could be subject to copyright...

Or, heaven forbid, a CD-R


Monitoring invasive?

Surely ISP's and search engines (well lets face it, Google since it is the most popular probably) monitor where we go, what we buy, what we search for etc.

They do it for marketing and for throttling purposes (fair use of unlimited service).

That being the case, surely any contracts would allow for monitoring of this kind?

Then the only problem is disclosure; and to whom.

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Totally agree. The majority of people who use P2P do not download Linux torrents or use CVS/SVN for source code. The fact is if you want music published by a major label you have to play by their rules. The alternative is to buy second-hand music (remember that) or buy music published by independent labels.

Personally I don't care that the major labels or rich rock stars are losing money. The people who are losing out are those who work then make music and gig in their free time. Even bands who care not one bit about making vast amounts of money need to cover their costs somehow - home studios and guitars cost money.

The fact is that the BPI should be irrelevant by now, but the file sharers are keeping them in the limelight. Their business model is obviously failing, but it should be failing because people buy from the artist directly.

Black Helicopters


If I go to a shop and use it's wi-fi connection to download a ton of music, then leave - what then?

Then the buggers watch me on CCTV in the shop, leaving the shop, waiting for the bus, sitting on the bus listening to my mp3 player, getting off the bus, walking down the street...



Why not just have the post office open every letter and parcel too?

> I suppose they could also ask the post office to open, and scan every letter and parcel just in case the end user or sender (who would have to provide passport / photo ID and finger prints to post the letter) might write something dangerous or send a photocopied item of literature which could be subject to copyright... Or, heaven forbid, a CD-R

Hey, that's a great idea! This would have stopped the Revenue from losing those Child Benefit CDs. And it would also put an end to terrorism, drug dealing, illegal immigration and benefit fraud. Not to mention curing cancer and stopping global warming. Why isn't the Daily Mail screaming about this and why isn't the government introduced this yet? Are they waiting for ID cards?



""We still need to establish the proof points"

(In voice of Zoidberg): "Ah the proof points, I always forget the proof points"



"The fact is if you want music published by a major label you have to play by their rules. "

Oh yeah ?

Who's the customer here ?

Customers lay the rules.

If I'm not happy with their rules I'll just buy elsewhere, this is the law of offer and demand to its simplest.

This is why legal download companies are switching to DRM-free formats.


Just a lil' side note for the sake of it:

Mid december I came accross the test of PC game "The Witcher".

I started grabbing the demo from fileplanet at a whopping 80kbs speed; fook that.

I checked on torrents and newsgroups, no *demo* to be had there, but a full game.

Ah well, I took the full game from newsgroups over an encrypted connection for which I pay monthly, around 1200kbs is much nicer.

Install game, play for a few hours, like it.

End result ? I asked my gf for the Collector (and pricey) edition for Xmas.

P2P nets them a sale yet again.

I can quote some games I bought after getting them "illegally" (either before ADSL was widespread via friends, or by downloading nowadays), by chronogical order:

-Baldur's Gate 1 & 2 + addons

-Icewind Dale 1 & 2 + addons

-NWN 1 + addons


-Temple of Elemental Evil... basically the whole Dungeons and Dragons series really.

-Total Annihilation

-Jagged Alliance 2.

-Dungeon Keeper 2.

-Silver (a nice RPG actually).

-Black and White.




-Supreme Commander.

-Two Worlds.


-and The Witcher lately.

Hey I was almost forgetting, World of Warcraft.

Yeah right, girlfriend and I wanted to try it out but there was no Demo offer yet, downloaded a version via torrents, installed, played 30 mins on a private server and we both got ourselves a copy + account.



They need to stop considering everyone like thieves really.

I consider games I download more a demo version to be honest, seeing I get full versions at around 1mbs via newsgroups, as opposed to 2gb demos at 80kbs via fileplanet.

Don't like ? Uninstall and remove the heavy ISO.

Bioshock ? beeeh, I'm definitely glad I didn't buy it, played it a full hour before uninstalling.

F.E.A.R ? Same.

This reminds me I need to write to the editors of the Witcher and tell them to put a demo available via torrent and newsgroups btw.


Don't tell us - tell your MP

Just a quick reminder - get your MP's details from and explain to him or her that this idea is unworkable, and that you will be following their response if it becomes an act, and if they vote for it, you won't be voting for them. For that matter, irrespective of whether you vote or not, telling your MP what you think is the only way to get through to the legislation-happy fools who are making this country a joyless hole to live in.

Anonymous Coward


>Well, since copyright is a civil matter, and civil case is for redress, NOT

>punishment (at least in the UK), if the lost sale was never going to happen,

>there's no loss and therefore no redress.

It would be damages and such an organisation would have to demonstrate and quantify the damage done, it's not necessarily the cost of a lost sale. Not least of course is their legal fees.

(Most of these cases would be small claims in the UK so legal fees may not be payable of course)

>Unless you want activist judges making the law up to suit themselves...

Of course not, that's why the government is going to bring in stupid regulations that bypass the whole legal position. The ISP level cut off will not involve judges or law for that matter.


Sound like a plan

The Reg (or anyone else) have not made it clear yet how this will all work. As far as I can see at the moment the music industry will do the monitoring then having found the "offenders" will send details to their ISP who will then take action.

Easy so far but then we need a central register of net users for the ISP's to control. It would be the only way to prevent users switching and leaving their "records" behind. On top of that we need systems in place for maintaining those records, issuing warnings and even an appeals process for those instances where the information was in error. Will there be time limits where records are deleted or will they be lifelong?

I suppose my point here is that all of this is beginning to sound very expensive and no doubt those costs will be passed on to the consumer. As I don't use their product (music biz) why exactly am I being required to pay for them to police their own problems? Will I be able to get a cheaper connection If I don't "offend"?

I can see the problem the music industry has but in the end it is just that - their problem. Quite why we will all be expected to effectively pay an MP3 download tax when most of us don't download them is beyond me.



How do you know what most of the BT traffic is? Are you a backbone supplier and already inspecting all packets?


So that's just a guess, then.

Oh, and JonB, yes, what damage is done when the record company

a) wasn't getting a sale

b) didn't expend any effort making the copy


A friend of mine like David Bowie's early stuff but not the later stuff and it wasn't getting much airplay. Too expensive to buy a CD on the off-chance.

He saw a CD of 15 Bowie albums (recent ones) at a flea-market for £5 and bought it. Turns out he doesn't like Bowie's latest stuff.

Now, the only loss they made was the £5 for the "taster" and they didn't want to sell it, so that was their fault.

If "lost opportunity to make a sale" is a genuine loss, then for about forty years the last recording by Adrian Bolt and the London Philharmonic of Host's "The Planet Suite" was out of print and unavailable. By edict of the label.

By not printing for forty years (only recently have they made a CD and they managed to screw that up, probably because the master was buggered by being unused or they had no master and this is a 2nd-gen copy), they denied Adrian Bolt and his estate any chance of getting money for his work.

Real damages, apparently.

The revenue agencies hold on to money because "they can't find the artist", such obscure acts as Dolly Parton or Madonna.

Real damages for which they were not punished.

So why should I care about similar damages on their part?


That old chestnut

When somethings good & fair, people use it for example, consider public transport outside London:

Its generally expensive & crap because its late & never goes where you want it to, so we use our cars.

If the music & films were the right price in the first place and we wernt ripped off left right & Chelsea, then there wouldnt be an issue because the majority of us would just buy it.

Theres always going to be a small minority who think otherwise, regardless of all the obstructions & controls who would of course acquire it anyway.


Surely not the beeb as well

So, does this mean that aol will report me for using the bbc iplayer p2p stuff ?

This is obviously going to be a lot of fun....


Armed Police Response to Pirate

You see, this is what happens; you download questionable (either in authenticity or quality) music, copy to your MP3 player, listen to it at a bus stop and armed police pounce. What are they going to do -after- such a law is passed?


on the subject of stealing...

...can someone remind me how the revenue made from music sales is divvied up??



Well simply because programmers and open source enthusiasts are a minority. Just as I am guessing then so are you, but if you want a bet on who is right then I'm game. It's not as if you need to inspect packets as most people use websites to download the torrent.

There are plenty of way to try out new music - and Amazon are good for previewing music. There is a difference with a "try before buy" approach a minority of unauthorised file sharers take, and the case of some children who have never paid for music in their life.

Fair point about "out of print" music though, although some of this music is available through the artist themselves - sometimes even for free.

@Dam - well no the buyers don't make the rules that's the point. You can't go into Tesco and take anything you like for free. I couldn't expect to break into your house and take what I liked could I? You are within your rights as a consumer to avoid companies you don't wish to do business with, which includes members of the BPI/RIAA.

It seems that anybody who attacks unauthorised file sharers is automatically lumped in with the BPI/RIAA.


Joke icon, because the idea of this law is.

Why? That's the question. It won't stop piracy, piracy will evolve as it has done, and is doing, to other forms not monitored.

And I for one do NOT welcome our new packet sniffing overlords.

Anonymous Coward


Damage done includes the cost of legal representation to protect their rights, it may be expensive. They may be able to demonstrate damage to their bsuiness, I guess this is where all the conflated billions of lost sales comes in.. Peer to peer systems would do you enormous harm in this case because you would also be making it available for upload (unless leeching, but then you'd have a tricky defence there) thus conspiring in a group to damage their business.

I agree though that I doubt getting caught downloading a single CD would be expensive in Britain. But most of those that do download, have hundreds of CD's.

There are a lot of people simply nicking stuff, and obviously some solution has to be brought to bear, other than the frankly ridiculous "I'll give you a fiver for everything you've ever produced." suggestion.

Anonymous Coward

A true story.

15 years ago, I purchased maybe 4-5 Albums a year, this was mainstream music that I would hear on the radio.

In 1998 I discovered Napster and MP3 downloading.

Since then I have been subject to more varied types of music and ever since 1998 my purchase of albums has been in the 10-15 per year range.

Basically, If I like what I download, I buy the album.

Ok, I never buy a single and probably never will, but in all fairness, the last single I purchased was back in 1983.

Exposure to newer types of music and bands must be the best thing to come out of filesharing, I cannot be the only one with this story to tell, I am sure lots of other downloaders of music, also purchase more now, than before.

I don't know the figures of lost revenue from downloading music, but by looking at those houses on MTV cribs, it's not doing any harm that I can see.

If I was a new artist trying to make it, I would put my stuff out there on the p2p networks, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

The record companies don't know how easy they have it, their music is being distributed worldwide in seconds, if people want to buy the music, they will.

Stopping people downloading wont stop people copying. Remember tapes?

My advice is, by all means download something to evaluate it, if you think it's worth the money, and you have that money, buy it.



Did Cary Sherman do any work copying the disks sold?

Not sure who she is, so I can't comment.

When Cliff Richard learnt how to sing or play music, did he continue to pay his teacher for the benefit this learning has had on his wealth?

Cliff would have paid his teachers on a per lesson basis, this is how teaching is paid for (do you pay your school teachers now you've left? no?) There is no requirement for payment after the event.

Did Britney spears mix her latest CD and if not, is she giving the studio engineers a continuing payment for making the CD listenable?

There are two ways that studio engineers are paid, one is per session, so no further payment required, the other is by sales, so in answer possibly he is getting payment, although it would more likely be from the label, rather than the artist. It is the same with session musicians.


Next time you flush your lavvie, tip the plumber for the benefit of a free flowing toilet.

No need, you pay for the design work done in the toilet, particularly its flush mechanism, when you buy the toilet - you don't seriously think that you are only paying for the constituent parts do you?


Smoke and mirrors

I am a musician. I stand no chance whatsoever of being "discovered" by a record label, so I am quite happy to see the complete destruction of a top heavy, greed driven cartel organisation, that has lived off the talents of others for generations, strangely, people will still make music, as they always have done.

I just joined Be* from Tiscali, the bandwidth shapers, who were very reluctant to give out a MAC number until threatened. Be* routers have presets for most of the P2P networks as default, make your own mind up about what that means.

This has very little to do with music, and everything to do with surveillance, because as the Tories found out years ago, you can do what appears to be the right thing, whilst proceeding with your own nefarious little agenda. Tories = Labour.

Vote Liberal if you like, the civil service will not change, and the fat money men will still be fat money men, governments exist to continue the Status Quo (pardon the pun)

Small victories, we will do what we have always done. Find a new way to do what we want. Go retro, copy from your local library, blockbuster (tm), whatever, it's all a smoke screen, until we all get our RFIDs implanted, which we will promptly hack.

Wireless peer to peer local community networks anyone?



"@Dam - well no the buyers don't make the rules that's the point. You can't go into Tesco and take anything you like for free. I couldn't expect to break into your house and take what I liked could I? You are within your rights as a consumer to avoid companies you don't wish to do business with, which includes members of the BPI/RIAA."

You miss my point.

My point is, they can make up as silly rules as they like.

In the end if customers don't like them and choose to take their business elsewhere, the labels end up selling nil.

Hence: the customers "make" the rules.

It has been literally years since I last bought music on CD (or at all, with the exception of this album last year) and I hardly ever download any.

Actually thinking back on it I think the last CD I bought was Nyana from Tiësto say what, 4 or 5 years ago.

And it's got absolutely nothing to do with downloading, it's just that:

- I'm happy with the music collection I currently have

- I'm happy to put a comical movie in the drive, toggle media player classic's display to NULL, and listen to it in the background

- Web radios work as well as our old radios and don't imply buying anything

- One can actually record tracks from web radios in all legality, google for "streamripper".



The point is that Cliff would not be enjoying a continuing stream or the ongoing pleasure of creating his own music if it had not been for his teachers.

So if the normal method of paying for someone doing something for us (like, entertaining us or teaching us) is a one-off payment then to gain more, more work must be found, why doesn't this apply to Cliff et al? He doesn't do a lick more work to get the single "Devil Woman" to the public, so why does he get paid?


"programmers and open source enthusiasts are a minority"

As are artists who have a *job* as artist.

And most of those are buskers.


So the ISP's will go bust, or at least end up putting the prices up

Why's that I hear you ask

for the sake of argument lets say they can see what it is your downloading (ignoring all the legal issues)

Well if we have a one strike system then well at least half the customers will get banned and at that ponit the other half will say hang on I am no longer going to download anything I may as well reduce my broad band to the lowest package, no point in having all that bandwidth and nothing to use it for.

if its a three strike system then its the same again only the ISP' may keep all their customers and just losse all the revenue.

Oh and if they decide to use the old "you have downloaded 50GB of data you must be doing something illegal" well hold on a minute a lot of Broadband users have xbox 360's and they go on live and as you can now download HD movies at 5GB a go there is going to be a hell of a lot more people creeping up into the multi GB downloads



I'm no expert but from the multitude of sources I've tried to gather information from over the years I believe most artists will make around 1p per album sold in physical media from their record deals (a really amazing deal apparently is about 10p). To make this the artist has to spend time in the studio, this used to be weeks/months but from what I understand is now more likely days for the newbies, longer for the 'big guns'. They almost never master their own records (think radiohead are one of the few if only to have done so) so the record company can rightly lay claim to some the creation aspect of the record and thus gather revenue. It used to be the case that almost everyone from managers to producers used to pop in to the studio to play a couple of triangle notes so they could get some performance rights on a track. Add to the fact that like book publishers the record companues will usually negotiate as part of any deal the sole distribution rights (should they wish to distribute it) for a long long time.

These record companies behave much like loan sharks for artists. You get signed on a £x album deal for an advance (loan) of £x. They determine the interest rate of that advance and will spend that advance usually without the express consent or knowledge of that artist on marketing, travel, legal, clothes etc etc. In other words, they are as good as lawyers at the billing process.

I remember once reading that a judge had said during a record pricing dispute trial (the outcome of which was dropped after the RC's agreed to pay a fine of over $600m to settle and to claim they were blameless) that the record companies accounting practices for computing royalties were ridiculously complicated to the point of being delibrately obfuscated. More difficult to crack than some mafia money laundering cases I believe was the soundbite from a DA department.

The record companies usually determine the amount of studio time an artists receive and the timing of it with the option to accept or reject the material submitted to them thus ensuring they have a measure of control over the length of any deal in years and the content an artists puts out (while the interest builds nicely on that loan). Sprinkle on top of this complete and total control over the distribution chain and you got yourself a nice little racket, save for the one or two pesky lawsuits for racketeering and price fixing which cost a few hundred mill.

Now enter the digital age. Cheaper and cheaper end to end cost of CD's vs Tapes and Vinyl plus distribution with any physical media at all, all good so far. Pass those savings on to the artists or customers did they...?

Not sure what the situation is rgd distribution media royalties but if it is similar to the issue that has caused the hollywood writers strike for the movie industry then I guess artists are not doing so well on that front, another score for the RC's

So .... Why don't I save my money on buying the RC's sh!t, go to a gig where I can expect to pay anywhere from £5-£50 depending on the venue and artist, I'm led to believe that this is where artists make their money. I can also buy tshirts, cd's etc directly from them. Moreover with things like myspace and iTunes even the little man can have mp3s for sale or to help gather interest in the gigs and make more than a traditional record deal would net them.

Whilst it is a slightly dubious thing to hang a point on cos it's a one off, Radiohead have publically stated that they made more from their little pay what you want experiment than they have done from record sales with parlaphone from their entire 15? year careers. I'm not trying to say that is the norm but they must've sold tens of millions of albums over that period and received a very very small percentage for that to have been the case.

so why don't we all get together, government, artists unions and consumer groups (no RC's please) and decide to create a univeral tariff of some sort where the artist's union can collect say around 2p per album, doubling the average artists coffers, increase the amount the chancellor can get his paws on and put this nasty protectionist business out of pasture where it belongs.

I want to support artists and see them get the money I'm willing to pay for their music. £5 for everything they've ever done is a hell of a lot more than they currently make so why not go down that road.

In an age when I can carry around 20k albums in my pocket, the value must readjust itself to that if things are to go legit. Otherwise people keep taking it for free. Who has about £200k in the other pocket to pay £10 each for all those albums ..... only the RC execs, that who!


Anonymous Coward

The Music Business

As the late great Hunter S. Thomson said:

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

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P2P - Easy target. Apathetic government

Hmmm. Odd how P2P has hit the news.

Yet the billions of spams sent daily that costs the industry worldwide hundreds of millions of pounds daily seems to be an issue that no government cares to talk about.

Most of the spam is funded by organised crime yet doesn't no one seems to take this menace seriously.

You can't even report an E-crime to a police station!

If the government wishes to legislate the internet in the UK, lets see them tackle the issue properly instead of targeting P2P with a knee jerk reaction. Of course P2P users are easy targets - spam requires much more investigation to find the perpetrators.

Sounds like our government are taking the easy option out for a quick fix.

Anonymous Coward

>£5 for everything they've ever done

I'll give you a quid for everything you own, it's not like there's any other way I'd buy it.

What's that? "No"?

Ah I'll take it anyway, what's your address again?

The record companies may be crap, but the solution to that is to simply not buy any of their products, not to go aorund stealing anything that isn't nailed down.

What donkey ends their comment with "Next!" like you've dismissed the argument, you haven't.


@ JonB

Eeeeeeeeee Awwwwwww ;)

Sold for a pound! Now I'll just 'copy' everything I own to a million or two disks and sell them for a pound too for the next 75 fact if I don't live that long my kids will collect them on my behalf. Pretty good deal I think akin to the chess board grain of sand. It doesn't sound like much but I'd likely do far better out of it than the current business model.

I agree with you that you stop buying their products and not steal, just because they have been getting away with some pretty dubious business practices for a long time does not make them in the right to protect them. What I don't agree with is the way in which they are trying to deseperately protect their existing business model through legislation before their coffers run out and leave ISP's and the public shafted by their death rattle.

Begone foul and greedy business suits and let a more diverse and exciting industry replace it where artists get our money for appreciating their efforts instead of the IMO useless middle man 'steal' it all.

Theives! ... oh sorry




"...The point is that Cliff would not be enjoying a continuing stream or the ongoing pleasure of creating his own music if it had not been for his teachers.

So if the normal method of paying for someone doing something for us (like, entertaining us or teaching us) is a one-off payment then to gain more, more work must be found, why doesn't this apply to Cliff et al? He doesn't do a lick more work to get the single "Devil Woman" to the public, so why does he get paid?..."

Teaching and creative arts are different things, they work in different ways. Being a musician [analogy alert!] in much more like being a small inventor, you can choose to be like the guy who invented matches and let everyone have your invention for free, or you can be like Henry Crapper (IIRC) who licenced the Turbo-flush toilet flushing mechanism. There are many inventors who can't afford to exploit their inventions and licence them to others, who produce them on the inventors behalf. These licences, like in music, last for a certain amount of time, after that they are considered 'fair game'. Another example of this is how the pharma industry works, develop a drug, produce it for however long you are allowed to, then accept that generics will be made.

We won't get good musicians, making interesting music, if we don't have a licensing system for music. (This is unless somehow a benefactor system starts up, which is highly unlikely.) The majority of popular music will either end up being computer generated pop-tat, or guitar bands. You can't make descent music without descent instruments/equipment and you can't get them if you can't make money from your music.

If you don't like the current licensing terms (and I am not suggesting they are anything like perfect), don't buy from BPA/RIAA, that is the surest way to bring about change in the system. If, however, music is consistently stolen from them, this only serves to suggest to them that their output is worth bothering to steal and therefore worth their while promoting the bands who make it and prosecuting the people who steal it/offer it for theft.



I agree with most of what you are saying but I think it's a mistake or at least misleading to say;

"..[Radiohead] made more from their little pay what you want experiment than they have done from record sales with parlaphone from their entire careers"

I have only seen one statement regarding this issue, in the Wired interview with Thom Yorke*, and he states the following;

"In terms of digital income, we've made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever — in terms of anything on the Net. And that's nuts. It's partly due to the fact that EMI wasn't giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff."

Digital income. Not "Record sales".

"These record companies behave much like loan sharks for artists"

This I do agree with. Steve Albini's old essay "The Problem with Music is relevant here;




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