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What is the difference between this idea and what SNOCAP was trying to do? SNOCAP did not seem to gain any real traction here in their 6 years of existence....

Shane T.

Presuming that you could get all the performance rights organizations, publishers, record labels, digital supply chains, physical manufacturers, and broadcasters of any ilk to sign on to a huge repertory database, (which is nigh impossible, since they can't even agree to standardizing metadata over the last decade, - the DDEX project), who would pay for it? Who would run it? The costs, expertise, and labor needed to handle a global project would be massive, just in dealing with the changes to the database, let alone building it! Also, how would that stop the number one portal to infringement, google-searchable links to digital lockers? You couldn't scan every person's files that they're uploading, it would be the equivalent of searching a box of papers that you're sending with FedEx to a pal a few towns over.

Plus, even if all of the above did happen, and the funding and staff was found to run it, what would prevent a foreign country from not abiding by the rules you've now set in place? Nothing. Even after setting up a huge global cost-intensive bureaucracy, you'd still be right back where we are now: we have to have new legislation to block sites that constantly and repeatedly violate US law.

Charles Alexander

I like this better than anything else I've seen. The devil is in the details, right? And whether IP stakeholders want to give up control so that they can (hopelessly) keep control.


As long as we have Senators like Orrin Hatch that have been in Washington for 36 years etc. and that say things like “If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we’d be interested in hearing about that,” Hatch said. “If that’s the only way, then I’m all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize” the seriousness of their actions, he said.
As long as people like this are running our Country the legal gun (Gov.) is going to continue infiltrating our lives and become increasingly invasive


It's an interesting idea ( it does sound like Snocap, as said above) , and anything that can streamline some of the unecessary complexities of this business ( without being just a scheme to transform content creators into fodder for tech companies ) is certainly welcome.

I share however many doubts that Shane T. above expressed.
In fact , i don't quite see how this proposal relates to the title of the article "How to combat piracy"

Piracy , by nature and by definition, doesn't conform to rules and laws. All one has to do is to setup pirate servers in a place where copyright infringement is almost the rule ( russia ? china?), and voilà.. Why would they care about this registry ? You'll just be told "to get lost" if you don't like it ( as Pirate Bay does). P2P networks don't have to play by the rules either, because they're not really centralised, they're not a business with an adress.

However one slices and dices this subject, one has to realize that some form of enforceable laws are still needed.

Tom Murphy

Ian, you're right on.

Leaving this to the lawmakers will never result in a working model - the complexities of rights & uses is always way deeper than thought at first glance.

Those commenting with skepticism are right too. The business ramifications of a single registry would shake up the establishment too. Not just labels, but so too will the Rovi's & Gracenote's & Echo Nests be effected.

IMHO, its not a question of whether or how we standardize this - its a matter of when. The longer we have competing/proprietary/incomplete metadata standards, the longer we delay the inevitable. Fir digital media to TRULY thrive, standards will need to emerge.

I'm optomistic things like DDEX, GRD, and even to some extent UltraViolet and the Connected Media Experience may get us their sooner rather than later.


Don H

You said in your article:
"For example, if I upload a file to Rapidshare for free download, Rapidshare does an Audible Magic-style identification on the file then checks the registry to see if this content is available for free download. "

Failure, right there. It's already common practice to password protect content uploaded to cyberlockers. If they can't open it, they can't match it. At the moment it's usually just the password protection of packagers such as Rar or Zip, but it's trivial to use PGP instead.

Todd McKinney

I am very afraid that your proposed solution will run roughshod over fair use (as youtube is already doing). There is a post at least as long as this one that needs to be written to deal with the issues of pre-emptive censorship and content takedowns based on rules derived by people that thought they knew everything, but that really knew very little about the true scope of the problem space. It is not a devil in the details scenario. It is a devil is in the implementation problem. The world you describe would squelch way too much creative expression and experimentation to qualify as a net gain over the mess we have today.


Charles: I spent a career working in a gov't regulatory environment. The plan Ian proposes sounds good to me (at least right now) largely because it allows writers to control their own destiny for a change. Our choices for "who's in charge" seems to come down to: Special interest groups (RIAA + MPAA + Songwriters)---call it a co-op; versus a no interest regulatory entity (gov't run or tough-to-establish private sector, not-for-profit group) that comes with Ian's registry. Of course, that's where the "IP stakeholders" have to give up control. So here's my best point to make: The overall plan is the wheel; the ability to enforce it is the grease that makes the wheel turn. One will not work (for long) without the other. It's good to be having on-going content protection discussion. Way overdue. But for a viable plan to gain traction any plan considered needs to be accompanied by a discussion for enforcement. Here's another idea: let's approach the entire content protection problem through a back door or side door:)---instead of creating a model from scratch, is there one out there already we can adapt to or modify? Capitalism works great until there's no competition. Government regulation works fine until the very agency that's supposed to protect you is mired down in red tape and politics. Monopoly tends to dog the former, bureaucracy tends to undermine the latter. So what other model is already out there? Get ready to laugh---the pirates. They are a guerilla, lean/mean outfit. Call them a non-static grid operation that can call audibles as needed. I don't really know the mechanics of this model. But I DO know it's working. I believe the pirate model embodies a component of DECENTRALIZATION (unlike our two aforementioned models) and actually resembles the head and heart of the internet itself: global, and yet so personal. Next, pirates TOOK THE ISSUE TO THE PEOPLE. In a way, they are EDUCATING the public albeit at the expense of those who make a living via content creation. I'm out of my league here but if any of this facilitates the discussion......


"based on rules derived by people that thought they knew everything"

As opposed to... rules derived by a tech industry that thought they knew everything ?


Ian, thank you for this write up. While the intention is spot on, this is NEVER going to happen. SNOCAP "tried" and failed for the same reasons that this would always fail. Yes, there are many firms with the back-bone to run a DB of this sort, our Neurotic Media Platform included. But the challenge is in song identification and rights application, and that can never really be resolved:

1. You will run into huge ownership issues, especially cross-territorial (older model prevailing etc.), debates between labels, publishers and PROs that will lead to thousands of court cases.
2. You will run into a tone of uploads that are live takes by fans and can never be properly recognized. Many may be totally debated as fans introduce artists doing covers, or having a guest on stage, or otherwise using samples and whatnot in a live show where again, the ownership will not be clear and clean (and then X by territory…)
3. You will run into hackers that will quickly figure out how to run code to interfere with any big-brother identification system (sonic, watermark, whatever) to render a huge number of files un-trackable.

In summary, this will NOT curve the tidal wave of piracy, and is likely to introduce more confusion and costs (with lawyers laughing all the way to the bank) into the industry than the situation does presently.

I agree with you that SOPA as written is “not it” but neither would this SNOCAP-like pipedream. We need to search further into other and new ideas and methods my friend.

Shachar Oren
Neurotic Media

Bob D

I've been a database guy at BMI, Sony Music, Harry Fox, emusic etc. and I would love to have access to a single database with accurate split info and everything you mention. I would also love access to a Victoria's Secret model that owns a liquor store, unfortunately I don't think either are going to happen. Appreciated your article though.


Quite a number of ideas from the early noughties are alive and well after failing the first time round. The snag here is that the Majors obstructed everything (and still do) if it didn't fit their world view. What is new about Spotify? Nothing. What is right about YouTube that is wrong about Grooveshark? Hard to tell. Why did Listen fail to get traction?

As time goes by the old ideas that had legs will keep coming back until the Majors can resist no longer. Napster, we all know, was supposedly the death of the music business, yet now the Majors DO license very similar projects.

Don't forget the license database behind Snocap is the same thing as the Google Content-ID system (although it was probably better at the job).

Now is not the time to discard old ideas simply because they "have been tried before". As the Majors' power shrinks this is the very time they will actually be realised.


Thank you Ian Rogers for sharing this idea in a objective, non-manipulative way. At the very least, let's take this tone and run with it. Although I pretty much agree with everything here, I think some aspects of this idea already exist, some don't exist but can, and some don't exist and cannot.

MediaNet (and the like) facilitate a lot of the above ideas, in that they bring content owners and developers together, at the right price (as dictated by the openness of the platform). Unfortunately for some developers, not all content is created with equal value, so the idea of fully licensing 100% of the content out there does not necessarily fit into a model like this. For example, major labels have every right to act as "gate keepers" to their catalogs and demand huge advances, because they believe their catalog is more valuable. Truth be told, for better or worse, it probably IS more valuable. That's just the price of doing business. If a developer is unhappy with this, maybe they should specialize in independent music (i.e. hypemachine).

If we were to start with proper legislation, protecting the rights of content owners, solutions will inevitably emerge for those willing to give their content away for free (i.e. Google Music, Spotify), in some organized format. There is a free market solution to that, whether or not this organization is optimized for developers. This would be great news for websites, developers, artists willing to give their material away, but it still does not address the underlying problem: Where do you place the burden of liability in facilitating the sharing of content?

Ian is absolutely right that the answer to this question is more technical than it's been made out to be by big media vs. big tech. Hopefully going forward, we'll really get our hands dirty and address the real issues. We need more people like Ian Rogers speaking up with an objective outlook to mediate the arguments on either side of the table.


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