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Compilation Blues
September 4, 2013 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Ministry of Sound launched legal proceedings against Spotify on Monday

"Ministry of Sound regularly releases collections of dance hits. The compilations are not on Spotify, but the label says Spotify infringes copyright because some users' playlists mirror the albums' track listings. Ministry of Sound said "a lot of research goes into" creating the compilations. Spotify did not comment"
posted by we are the music makers (84 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that's stupid.
posted by jsturgill at 7:27 AM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Imma retroactively copyright all those mix tapes I gave to girls in high school.
posted by planetesimal at 7:29 AM on September 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


The entire argument is that "users of the service were putting legally-accessible songs in the same order that we did". That's insane.
posted by inigo2 at 7:29 AM on September 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


"What we do is a lot more than putting playlists together." No, it isn't. That's what you're doing. Now, you might be doing a really good job of it. You might use research to do it. But that is, in fact, all you're actually doing.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:31 AM on September 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


How would Spotify make MOS happy? Blacklisting certain combinations of songs? Prevent anyone from naming playlists like Ministry of Sound compilations? The latter would be pretty straight-forward. Heck, even the former could be done, too. But what if someone transposes a few tracks? Or instead adds or omits songs, includes a different remix version, etc.

And why not go after YouTube for similar offenses? Do they?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:32 AM on September 4, 2013


The Sound Of Dubstep Classics

Either I'm old or they're dumb.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:33 AM on September 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


"What we do is a lot more than putting playlists together." No, it isn't. That's what you're doing.

Well, there's the pretty packages, and the marketing. OK, making playlists, graphics, and marketing. That's it.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 AM on September 4, 2013


Now That's What I Call Spurious!
posted by griphus at 7:34 AM on September 4, 2013 [54 favorites]


Either I'm old or they're dumb.

Alas! Early dubstep can be traced back to the aughts. It's much less WUBWUBWUB and instead either just WUBWUB or soft, creepy, and wubwubi'mkindofnervousanduncomfortablewubwub.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:36 AM on September 4, 2013


Wub me tender
Wub me true
Never let me go
posted by Wolof at 7:37 AM on September 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


- The Sound Of Dubstep Classics

- Either I'm old or they're dumb.

- Alas! Early dubstep can be traced back to the aughts.


Featuring Skrillex / Knife Party / Nero / Chase & Status / DJ Fresh / Magnetic Man / Benga / La Roux

They're dumb.

That's a "best-of" compilation, which is the laziest sort of thing ever. Collaborate with Spotify, make your playlists official, and shut up about legal threats. Compilations are only good to provide a collection of singles at a price below purchasing those singles interdependently. But when people are streaming music, there is no per-track price to them.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:38 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I came in to go Yay! because Spotify is a shitty thing for musicians and all, but then I read why they were suing and that is the stupidest reason for a lawsuit ever.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:38 AM on September 4, 2013


Portcullis of Stupid
posted by panaceanot at 7:39 AM on September 4, 2013


Featuring Skrillex / Knife Party / Nero / Chase & Status / DJ Fresh / Magnetic Man / Benga / La Roux

Wow that's only slightly lazier than what I thought it would be, which was just Untrue with the tracks shuffled.
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ministry of Sound's mistake was not including a clause in its licensing deals with labels and artists to make it their binding responsibility to ensure that their copyrightable material was not tracked identically in someone else's licensed compilation or playlist.

It's hard to imagine that the play order of someone else's creative property is copyrightable. As filthy light thief suggests, save for its own artists' material, all MoS owns is the packaging and a set of limited licenses.
posted by waterunderground at 7:42 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're trying to claim intellectual property in the order they arrange songs for whom other people have copyright.

Its laughable really. Its as if they are claiming you can't ever play the songs in the order they put them together, even if you also already own the rights to the music yourself.

I don't see this working.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:46 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never been 100% on board with the whole "record labels are just trying to protect their outdated business model!" argument, but this? This is exactly, and nothing other than, a middleman trying to use the law to protect a business which no longer generates value. This is literally a buggywhip manufacturer suing Ford Motors.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:47 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Featuring Skrillex / Knife Party / Nero / Chase & Status / DJ Fresh / Magnetic Man / Benga / La Roux

They're dumb.


Also features Hyph Mngo apparently. I'm not sure what that track is exactly, but there's nary a WUB to be found on it.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:48 AM on September 4, 2013


It's the person putting the buggywhips in a certain order on the shelf suing Ford Motors.
posted by inigo2 at 7:49 AM on September 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


> It's hard to imagine that the play order of someone else's creative property is copyrightable.

It seems like this is about as copyrightable as a phone book (which isn't); does anybody with a legal background see otherwise?
posted by jepler at 7:49 AM on September 4, 2013


Yeah, I guess at least a buggywhip can be put to other uses. This is so transparently pathetic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 AM on September 4, 2013


Pathetic, laughable, stupid... They are going to win, aren't they?
posted by alasdair at 7:51 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


PrisonPlanet Forum }} MOS Suit: False Flag Operation To Make Spotify Seem More Rational And Then Obama Takes Our Licensing Fees, or Not? [Page 1,2,3...75]
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:51 AM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I recreated the Reality Bites Soundtrack on a different service for a college friend (sort of as a joke, sort of as a 'I really wanted to do it') -- and now you're telling me doing so was, according to somebody, a subversive act. There's probably some sort of Janeane Garofalo quote from that movie that really fits this moment.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:53 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh my blog, I'm so short! Blurg!

(isn't that one?)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:56 AM on September 4, 2013


I love how you guys all seem to think that this won't result in a maximalist view of copyright law becoming the de facto standard and making everyone's lives just a little worse purely out of the fear of getting involved in a hideously expensive lawsuit that can crush a business whether they're in the right or not.
posted by mhoye at 7:59 AM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah I've made some mix tapes because I really wanted to do it, too.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:59 AM on September 4, 2013


I like how they insist they do more than compile playlists, then sue Spotify over compiled playlists.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:01 AM on September 4, 2013


Beat Mixing is the devil.
I warned people.
posted by Mezentian at 8:01 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


It contends that the law protects "the expertise and creative effort involved" in curating titles such as The Sound Of Dubstep Classics and Ibiza Annual 2013.

Hahahahah
posted by fingerbang at 8:03 AM on September 4, 2013


Early dubstep can be traced back to the aughts.

Wow, all the way back that far, huh.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:03 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surely not, NO ONE WAS ALIVE THEN!
posted by elizardbits at 8:04 AM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh hey it's that fucking band that always appeared when I searched Napster for Ministry
posted by churl at 8:05 AM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also features Hyph Mngo yt apparently. I'm not sure what that track is exactly, but there's nary a WUB to be found on it.

It's the Anti-WUB.
If you put a donk on it, you crack a seal.

Then you need to kill Grimes, but don't do that. It would make me sad.
posted by Mezentian at 8:05 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The UK copyright law has limited protection for "database rights" which according to this:
In order for copyright protection to arise the selection and/or arrangement of the contents of the database must be original. A special test of originality applies in relation to databases created after 27 March 1996. Such databases are original "if, and only if, by reason of the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database the database constitutes the author's own intellectual creation".
So in theory they have the slimmest of cases under UK copyright law since they're an artistic choice not an arbitrary arrangement such as alphabetically. This isn't the case under US copyright law because you have no copyright protection for databases and their ilk.

I return you back to your regularly scheduled "LOL GOOD LUCK WITH THAT MOS".
posted by Talez at 8:07 AM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]



It contends that the law protects "the expertise and creative effort involved" in curating titles such as The Sound Of Dubstep Classics and Ibiza Annual 2013.

Hahahahah


Yeah, that's is a damn fine example of British understated wit. I really hope whatever person at the BBC who wrote the paragraph is proud of themselves.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:07 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're trying to claim intellectual property in the order they arrange songs for whom other people have copyright.

It's not impossible if they argue their compilations are a database of material, and thus capable of being protected as a separate copyright work.
posted by AlienGrace at 8:08 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beat Mixing is the devil.
I warned people.


Yeah, but MoS don't even do that. This is a step beyond the ongoing argument over the continued relevance of mix CDs that have to compete with podcasts with no licensing concerns and much faster turnaround time; as others have pointed out, MoS being nothing to the table of any value, just a selection of the last year's most obvious hits, cheap & garish design and the marketing muscle to make these tracks even more ossified and inescapable than yet were before being compiled.

Making a compilation or mixtape can certainly be a creative project, and there are plenty out there I would defend, but this approach has outlived it's usefulness.
posted by Merzbau at 8:09 AM on September 4, 2013


I really hope whatever person at the BBC who wrote the paragraph is proud of themselves.

I have a new career goal: to be that awesome.
posted by Mezentian at 8:09 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guys I just looked this up and the Ministry Of Sound isn't even a real government department, wtf
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:10 AM on September 4, 2013 [25 favorites]


IANAL, but there is precedent for creative selection and arrangement of items being copyrightable (even in the U.S.)

Of course enforcing this would be a nightmare, as users could easily work around by changing the order slightly or adding a couple songs, splitting up playlists etc. which just makes the service less usable. Pop will eat itself, indeed.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:10 AM on September 4, 2013


So in theory they have the slimmest of cases under UK copyright law since they're an artistic choice not an arbitrary arrangement such as alphabetically.

Hmm.. No specific restriction on the length of the list. So, I just have to make a ton of 2 track playlists, and sue the hell of spotify (and youtube, and anywhere else that allows playlists), and retire to an island.
posted by inigo2 at 8:11 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


MoS don't even create Jive Bunny style megamixes?
WHAT IS THE POINT?

Guys I just looked this up and the Ministry Of Sound isn't even a real government department, wtf

It's okay. They can ring a ding dang your dang a long ling.
posted by Mezentian at 8:11 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's especially laughable because the content of their playlists are already public knowledge: Wikipedia - YouTube - their own damn website
posted by Rhaomi at 8:13 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just made a mixtape containing the US National Anthem followed by Hail to the Chief. I will license this carefully-curated track ordering for one trillion dollars per performance
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:15 AM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


At least there's prior art to stop you, EMRJKC '94.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:22 AM on September 4, 2013


I just made a mixtape containing the US National Anthem followed by Hail to the Chief.

Did you add a drop and a donk? It will help your case.
posted by Mezentian at 8:22 AM on September 4, 2013


Mezentian: Also features Hyph Mngo apparently. I'm not sure what that track is exactly, but there's nary a WUB to be found on it.

Ooh, future-step! Maybe neo-broken beat? Or post-dubstep. Or simply beautiful.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:24 AM on September 4, 2013


Sooo, theoretically someone could just run a massive mix and compile with a very large song database, print it all off on a huge txt file post to the internet then sue anyone everywhere who mixes any combination of music onto a single source? Sue every single radio station in the world for copyright infringement.


the real stupid here is not the idea, hell people come up with all sorts of stupid ideas but keep them under wraps (I highly suspect corporate lawyers spend a % of their time just communing up with new ways to make work for themselves) , but the temerity to say this is a GOOD idea I think we should go find someone and extort some money out of them for this.
posted by edgeways at 8:26 AM on September 4, 2013


A few years ago I recreated Now That's What I Call Music 17 (1990) on youtube except I left out Paula Abdul, Phil Collins, and Tina Turner. I thought I was just basically fast forwarding (like I did with my cassettes) but in truth I was avoiding legal action.
posted by vespabelle at 8:27 AM on September 4, 2013


Mezentian: Also features Hyph Mngo apparently. I'm not sure what that track is exactly, but there's nary a WUB to be found on it.
Ooh, future-step! Maybe neo-broken beat? Or post-dubstep. Or simply beautiful.


Nowt to do with me, laddie.
posted by Mezentian at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2013


It's especially laughable because the content of their playlists are already public knowledge: Wikipedia - YouTube - their own damn website

Something being public knowledge doesn't invalidate copyright; that only applies to trade secrets. The whole point of copyright is to make things public knowledge.

Not that this suit isn't inane.
posted by Mitheral at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ministry of Sound said "a lot of research goes into" creating the compilations.

"Yeah, we're going to need to add some more OONTZ to this mix. Get that annoying coked-out intern down here and see which temple of artificially flavored malt beverages hired his trustafarian friends as promoters."
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:30 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have the hazy idea that there's something from legal precedent for typeface collection that's applicable.

As for phone books, I think a large part of the failure to demonstrate originality is because the ordering choice (alphabetical) is trivially obvious. Whereas selecting songs that segue into one another in order without being jarring is not ; otherwise why would radio stations have ever had DJs rather than an automated system?
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:31 AM on September 4, 2013


Automated systems are harder to bribe.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:36 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


...otherwise why would radio stations have ever had DJs rather than an automated system?

Too difficult to bribe robots.
posted by griphus at 8:38 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


OH FOR
posted by griphus at 8:38 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


no.. two
posted by edgeways at 8:40 AM on September 4, 2013


Early dubstep can be traced back to the aughts.

Huh?
posted by aught at 8:42 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Imma retroactively copyright all those mix tapes I gave to girls in high school.

I don't know much about UK copyright law but, if this succeeds, what is to prevent exactly that?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:44 AM on September 4, 2013


Home Taping Is Killing Music
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:49 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Imma retroactively copyright all those mix tapes I gave to girls in high school.

I don't know much about UK copyright law but, if this succeeds, what is to prevent exactly that?


Looking up the UK Legislation website, the extension of copyright protection to databases was added in 1998 so unless it applies retroactively it likely only applies to databases created after 1998.

Also, I don't know the details of how EU law interacts with UK, but this ECJ case of a compilation of German poetry on CD-ROM arguably isn't too far removed from Spotify playlists of Ministry of Sound tracks.
posted by AlienGrace at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about UK copyright law but, if this succeeds, what is to prevent exactly that?


Well, presumably, since they were never were published in the first place it's going to be jard to prove they were copied unless you were sueing your exes in a bizarre act of revenge.

Though, even then, the small matter of said compilations being an might of copyright. violation themselves might prove an obstacle.
posted by tallus at 9:00 AM on September 4, 2013


The owner of MOS was in Private eye recently regarding donations to the lib dems by its owners and the planning meeting vote on a new tower block - here is an online article on the libddemvoice website (so slightly biased).
posted by marienbad at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2013


Yeah - at work our software provider tried to use the "database copyright" thing. It's in the US at least... This conflicted with the public right of access, so they had to create an export format that allows people to access the data without the "proprietary organization of the data" which is really bullshit. Then, they charge x amount per entry for the "conversion fee" sneaky bastards.

So yeah, I can see that this might actually succeed. I hope common sense rules, because, how utterly absurd.
posted by symbioid at 9:03 AM on September 4, 2013


Guys I just looked this up and the Ministry Of Sound isn't even a real government department, wtf

You keep up that talk in public and you're gonna end up in room 140 (BPM).
posted by mintcake! at 9:04 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


140 bpm? I don't think Ministry play Hard House, although I don't really know what they do actually play, or what bpm it is.
posted by marienbad at 9:08 AM on September 4, 2013


Home Taping Is Killing Music

and it's fun
posted by philip-random at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2013


Early dubstep can be traced back to the aughts.

Huh?


Jason Kaye & Steve Gurley - Set It Out (1997) El-B ft Rumpus - Bubble (2000) Oris Jay - Biggin' Up Da Massive (2000)
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:37 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh I dunno, as a condition of my parole I'm only allowed to listen to that one 'Sesame's Treet' record so I assume all music is in that ballpark.
posted by mintcake! at 9:56 AM on September 4, 2013


Spotify is a shitty thing for musicians and all,

Because it gives them access to an audience that's willing to pay to listen to them and pays higher royalties than radio?

spotify and pandora are the ONLY reason that I still buy albums. I don't have time to sit in a record store for hours on end anymore. if I hear about something cool, I'll look for it on spotify and give it a listen. if I like it I'll buy it.

If people think that they are getting a bum deal from contracts that have already signed regarding royalties, then they should take action to change those contracts.
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:57 AM on September 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


What happens if a streaming service posts a "Billboard Top 40" list or something?

Can I put my "Top 10 Rockabilly Songs" list on some site and then sue if someone streams that list?

OK, I'll manufacture 100 copies and list them for sale. Can I copyright and sue now?
posted by CrowGoat at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2013


Guys I just looked this up and the Ministry Of Sound isn't even a real government department.

It must be. It's at the Elephant and Castle, really close to all those Dept. of Health buildings.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:25 AM on September 4, 2013


It's not impossible if they argue their compilations are a database of material, and thus capable of being protected as a separate copyright work.

Right, but doesn't that mean that every compilation ever made in the history of mankind has a copyright, thereby subjecting all personal playlists to scrutiny? I can't save a list of the same music in the same order as my friends?
posted by phaedon at 10:46 AM on September 4, 2013


140 bpm? I don't think Ministry play Hard House, although I don't really know what they do actually play, or what bpm it is.

I want Al Jourgenson to make a Happy Hardcore record.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:49 AM on September 4, 2013


I am going to generate every possible combination of every top 40 song over the past decade and BOOM revenue stream.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2013


Right, but doesn't that mean that every compilation ever made in the history of mankind has a copyright, thereby subjecting all personal playlists to scrutiny? I can't save a list of the same music in the same order as my friends?

Yeah, but when you start making money by copying others playlists, maybe it's a different example at that point.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:09 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ministry of Sound? More like Politburo of sound, amirite?

I just hope nobody has registered 'amirite?' as a trademark
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:13 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ministry of Truth Sound
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:18 PM on September 4, 2013


Yeah, but when you start making money by copying others playlists, maybe it's a different example at that point.

How are the users making money from their playlists?
posted by MikeKD at 4:01 PM on September 4, 2013


Spotify is making money by being useful and allowing users to put songs in a particular order, something that only used to be possible if you were an elite DJ crew or anyone else with a CD burner.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:27 PM on September 4, 2013


(props for the Sonic Youth referencing post title!)
posted by anagrama at 4:10 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mister Bijou, check the username of the commenter.
posted by asok at 4:36 AM on September 5, 2013


MoS can go DIAF as far as I am concerned, they are takers not givers to culture.
posted by asok at 4:37 AM on September 5, 2013


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