Clear Channel + Patents
May 27, 2004 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Clear Channel Limits Live CDs. A company called DiscLive has been working with a handful of artists to sell concert-goers a live CD -- of the show they've just seen -- after the concert. However, "Clear Channel Entertainment has bought the patent from the technology's inventors and now claims to own the exclusive right to sell concert CDs after shows." More inside...
posted by sarajflemming (31 comments total)
I'm not clear on how owning this technology patent gives them exclusive rights to sell the CDs. They own the majority of the big-name venues out there; couldn't they just force DiscLive into one type of contract or another?

e.g. "You share the take with us [Clear Channel] or you don't get to sell on our property."

I'm confused. Hep!
posted by sarajflemming at 11:33 AM on May 27, 2004

What "technology" is there to patent? Can't you do this with microphones, a mixing table, and a bunch of burners?
posted by scarabic at 11:36 AM on May 27, 2004

That's what I"m wondering, scarabic.

From my DJ-friend Mark, in the 'burgh:
"Basically: it will cost other companies hundreds of thousands of dollars they don't have to challenge Clear Channel. So, they'll either go bankrupt challenging CC, or it'll take so long that by the time CC loses, they've already got the majority of the market share locked up in contracts and have shut the other companies out.

Either way, Clear Channel wins."

posted by sarajflemming at 11:39 AM on May 27, 2004

Slimy is right. I think we have a new contender for the "Evil Empire" title.
posted by JeffK at 11:58 AM on May 27, 2004

Fargin bastages...
posted by wsg at 12:05 PM on May 27, 2004

Whatever. Phish was doing this before CC decided it was profitable... it won't be hard to show prior use on this pathetic attempt to abuse the patent system.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:09 PM on May 27, 2004

"We want to be artist-friendly," says Steve Simon, a Clear Channel executive vice president and the director of Instant Live. "But it is a business, and it's not going to be 'we have the patent, now everybody can use it for free.'"

posted by jokeefe at 12:10 PM on May 27, 2004

Tomorrow: Clear Channel Patents "Live Entertainment"
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:14 PM on May 27, 2004

Fuck Clear Channel. Everything they've ever done has involved money over music.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:19 PM on May 27, 2004

For the record, the patented technology - whatever it is - works beautifully. I saw the Pixies here in Calgary last month, and twenty minutes after the second encore, I had a studio-quality recording of the entire show in a professionally packaged and labelled case.

DiscLive is/was a fantastic service that serves/served both artist and fan wonderfully. No wonder Clear Channel's opposed - it likes to keeps its big dumb monopolistic self in the way so that relationship never gets too cozy.
posted by gompa at 12:42 PM on May 27, 2004

Out of curiousity Gompa, if the Pixies played a Stevie Wonder song would they pay EMI Publishing $.085/unit sold that evening?

You run into a lot of copyright issues with live recordings, perhaps ClearChannel recognized the legal implications and are big enough to handle them. I highly doubt that DiscLive have the manpower to apply for compulsory mechanical licenses each evening, so maybe it was a good deal for both parties in the end.

Just trying to present the other side here.
posted by remlapm at 1:20 PM on May 27, 2004

Whooopsie. From DiscLive's web page I saw that they do handle all of the licensing.

Let's just hope no-one covers a Prince song!
posted by remlapm at 1:22 PM on May 27, 2004

I have the Pixies' set from Coachella. Nicely packaged, good recording for being live and instantly available, but it still sounds exactly like what it is: a live show recorded right from the boards.

This doesn't make any sense to me. As has been pointed out already, how is it possible to patent the recording of live music? The only difference between the DiscLive setup and buying a live cd in a record store is the amount of time involved between show and distribution.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:25 PM on May 27, 2004

I realized, after I asked that question, that it's generally ridiculous to wonder why the US Patent Office has done something illogical.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:29 PM on May 27, 2004

The problem with the US Patent System is that there is no incentive to disallow a patent... indeed, the incentive is to approve them ASAP.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:41 PM on May 27, 2004

You. Can't. Patent. An. Idea. God. Dammit.
posted by e.e. coli at 1:42 PM on May 27, 2004

JeffK : Slimy is right. I think we have a new contender for the "Evil Empire" title.

New? They been on my top ten list for a long time.
posted by Mitheral at 2:26 PM on May 27, 2004

e.g. "You share the take with us [Clear Channel] or you don't get to sell on our property.'

Its already like that -- they (and all promoters, for that matter) take a pretty hefty chunk of all t-shirt and other sales like that. I guess they decided that wasn't enough. Evil empire indeed. But really, I don't see the patent angle holding up... so what if a band doesn't want to use their software, and has their own way of doing it? Really, the only thing they can say is 'you can't do that under our roof' and then artists either use the CC service, don't do it at all, or play somewhere else. They coulda done that without the bogus patented technology hoo ha.
posted by spilon at 2:31 PM on May 27, 2004

it's companies like Clear Channel that spawn the Napsters of the world. you can only limit the public so much before they break free...
posted by NationalKato at 2:44 PM on May 27, 2004

God damned corporations!

When will the madness end? When do we rise up against our evil corporate overlords?
posted by Windopaene at 2:49 PM on May 27, 2004

Probably shortly after we get fired from our jobs with said overlords.
posted by Jart at 3:08 PM on May 27, 2004

scarabic - yes, the patent is pretty much just a description of using a microphone, mixing table, and a bunch of burners. I have a hard time imagining that there isn't prior art. HyBurn, for example, has a published press release on their web site only a month after the patent was filed, so unless HyBurn is the same people as filed the patent, they probably came first.
posted by hattifattener at 3:48 PM on May 27, 2004

Here's the patent. It seems to cover a system that a) captures music live b) breaks it down to smaller units (tracks) and c) allows each track to be recorded one at a time to multiple CDs over the course of the concert (so track 1 is being recorded to multiple discs while the band is playing track 2).

This actually does seem to be a reasonable thing to patent. They're not patenting selling CDs of a live show immediately after the show concludes, just one particular technological way to do it. Other approaches are possible.
posted by Lazlo at 3:50 PM on May 27, 2004

With 48x burners I wonder how much you gain by doing it track-at-a-time. I guess you can burn the last song in 10 seconds but the spin up/down times seem like they would negate any benefit.
posted by smackfu at 4:13 PM on May 27, 2004

Would being able to get a live recording of a concert you just attended encourage you to go down the front and shout obscene messages, like:
San Demus Highschool Football Rules!
or whatever.
So, can I burn tracks one and two whilst the artists perform three and four? Two at a time.

on preview: What smackfu said.
posted by asok at 4:27 PM on May 27, 2004

The first person to get "Metafilter" shouted onto a prestigous bands' recording gets a lifetime ban. Or a gold star... Or something.
posted by asok at 4:35 PM on May 27, 2004

This actually does seem to be a reasonable thing to patent.

Bah. A nice tight integration of existing technologies into a system that does something shouldn't be patentable.

Yes, I know, I'm using terms that are impossible to define sensibly and succinctly, I just don't see the inventor's light bulb over this one. It's like the one-click shopping thing Amazon holds. Lame.
posted by scarabic at 12:21 AM on May 28, 2004

I've been boycotting CC for a year. Missed several good shows.

Looking at the patent wouldn't it be possible to just record the whole show to a hard drive then burn to multiple discs? IOW, skip step C as mentioned by Lazlo?
posted by infowar at 6:05 AM on May 28, 2004

of course, you all realize that if the republican's get dislodged from the whitehouse in November, clearchannel is facing regulatory hell if only for all the games its played thus far.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:21 AM on May 28, 2004

I agree that Clear Channel is the Evil Empire, but don't you think it's a little scary that Frank Black now looks like Matt Pinfield with facial hair?
posted by jonp72 at 3:01 PM on May 28, 2004

Infowar: quick patent the idea...

hell perhaps I should extrapolate all the different possible ways of doing this and patent the lot, hummm? Sit back the rest of my life and make a living being a leech.
posted by edgeways at 11:42 PM on May 29, 2004

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