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My first thought: She should form a subsidiary company that releases her stuff on YouTube. Then she can give the sub her music as she sees fit. That way she can still control her YouTube presence, but Google has the right to do what it needs to do with the stuff she releases to it.

Would this work?

This is a very interesting suggestion. I think you might actually have a point. The reason I state this is because this type of licensing is how movie studios and production companies, um, well, cook their books to the best of their ability.

In the terms of technology and commerce, it seems very similar to licensing a patent / technology to a sub in a tax-haven jurisdiction. Isn't that what certain tech firms do (Google?) to minimize their exposure? What's good for the goose...

If I understand this right, this would have the subsidiary be ONLY distributing to Youtube, and a different one distributing to the other services, which would then fall within the "release it here at the same time you release it anywhere else" clause, right?

Seems like a clever hack, I like it.

Reminds me of the main character in Accelerando, spawning and retiring side businesses automatically to serve his legal needs and hide his assets.

I'm working in smart contracts; completing the "Manfred Macx user story" is one of my core objectives. :)

Point of note: that model is now explicitly illegal in UK company law -- any directorship must be occupied by a human being: if you interpose shells in the way, they're collapsed until a human being is identified as the responsible party.

(Let me also add that I approve of this. My opinions have shifted in the past 10-15 years and I now think that permitting autonomous corporations to exist -- or even continuing the doctrine of corporate personhood -- are a terrible idea for humanity (because they're effectively AIs that compete with us, and not in a good way).)

> any directorship must be occupied by a human being: if you interpose shells in the way, they're collapsed until a human being is identified as the responsible party.

But what if there really is no human ultimately responsible?

I' thinking, here, of a goal-driven agent that self-replicates by forming corporations, having those corporations purchase machine time on cloud hosting services, and then running algorithms (e.g. Bitcoin mining, e-commerce) which are more profitable on those hosts than the cost of said cloud resources.

The first such entity might be "blamed" on the person who wrote it—but what if its codebase includes code to detect beneficial open-source patches to itself (on Github et al), and spawn its descendants with those patches in place? Eventually there could be a whole ecosystem of these things doing different things, coded effectively "by the world" but running for nobody's benefit in particular but their own. They'd be "AIs that compete with us" in the literal sense. (And if you think about what a real autonomous AI agent would have to do to survive fault-tolerantly on the Internet, it'd probably look very similar; this is sort of a porto-AI-rights thing.)

As the history of fraud-detecting "algos" has proven, such pseudo-organisms would quickly be compromised by earth's apex predator: creative human attackers.

Thank you for posting. I've gone through a similar transition after reading the thought-provoking Accelerando. It will be cheaper for society to experience this provocation and immune response via Accelerando, rather than Ethereum et al.

On the other hand, a wide variety of layers-of-indirection exist in corporate finance and are widely wielded against the rest of society, sometimes aided by millisecond-level decision making such as HFT.

Until such unfair advantages are illegal, would it be better if more people had understanding and access to them, without gatekeeping lawyers? Many comments here are excusably about goose and gander, i.e. reciprocal proliferation.

What about an aggregation company to whom artists can give a global, non-exclusive, irrevocable license that only gets licenses to songs and albums if and when the artists want?

This company would not be owned by the artists but rather by a benevolent third party that promises to do no evil (no sarcasm intended).

I am still not sure how the revenue will flow back to the artists as they do not own this new totally legitimate facilitating entity though. Ideally, we'd want to retain as little money as possible and send as much as possible back to the artists. My motivation is to let artists be in the driving seat as much as possible which means they reap as much of the profit as possible and also bear as much of the risk of their investment as well.


I have no expertise to comment on the contractual merits of this general approach.

On the specific issue of payments: if there was a way to perform real-time "splitting" of bulk payments from distributors to the "broker", they could subtract their small fee and pay the artists at the same time.

Somewhat like PayPal Adaptive Payments, but with a potentially very large number of recipients per transaction. This way, none of the artists' funds are ever held by the broker, even for a short time.

There are lot of details here around varying fee percentages for different services, and ensuring that information does not leak between distributor, broker and payment gateway.

As long as you can ensure my contracts eventually halt :p

One is led to wonder if the terms are worded in a way to avoid this sort of hack.

I doubt she'd be able to transfer her existing YouTube channel to the new subsidiary. She would need to start from scratch.

Can a company that owns one channel be sold to another company, without losing the rights to their channel? If so, how would this be different?

If I've understood it correctly, the subsidary in the tax haven actually owns the IP and then licenses it out to the proper company at high rates. This way, the profits are shifted from the regular firm to the company in the tax haven, and as only profits are taxed the company can stay largely tax free.

Well, if the IP is generated in the US, then gets transferred (sold) to a wholly owned subsidiary at a "negotiated rate" (not mark-to-market), which is then charged back to the inventing parent who no longer technically owns the IP, it's a matter of paperwork...if I understand the situation correctly from what I've read...

It seems like it should, but the more likely consequence (at least based on inference from what Youtube customer service is like and Google's general attitude towards people who use their services) is that she would simply be banned from ContentID and have her Youtube account shut down.

That would be pretty great for her (or her lawyer), perfect opportunity to sue Google for posting her copyrighted stuff and making money off of it.

Then Google would have to block the sound on all the videos that use her music. That would be a lot of collateral damage.

Actually, it would be bad for YouTube users and that would violate YouTube's own claim that she can't selectively choose just the Content ID system based on their "all-or-nothing" proposition.

The DMCA protects Google.

Not if you have specific knowledge of infringing material being uploaded because you SCAN IT WHILE its being uploaded with Content-id and it so happens you already have content-id signatures of this artists work.

What a mess.

If this could work for an arbitrary number of artists sharing the same subsidiary, sounds like a business opportunity.

I was just thinking that this is reason 10,000 that artists, designers, developers etc need a guild. Getting them all together under a subsidiary would serve the same purpose.

Perhaps a subsidiary of subsidiaries so that as each is fined/sued/shut down, they can go bankrupt without harming the core.

There was a quote in a documentary called Four Horsemen I believe that said "the rich discovered that the poor were honest" and used that against them to contrive an infinitude of ways of ripping them off. For example bankruptcy is just one of many legal tools to a corporation but is a last resort for individuals, so corporate power grows over time disproportionately like a latch that catches profits but lets losses slip through. It would be nice to see some of the same legal avenues readily available to the little guy.

Collective rights management is one of the charter missions of the RIAA.


Like a record label?

Maybe... Record Label is-to Bank, as this thing is-to Credit Union?

Label Union? I dunno.

Artistic Union has a nice ring to it.

As in "United Artists"? Check their history :)

That epic story deserves its own movie :)


Wasn't this partially CD Baby's model for getting artists on to the iTunes store?

My first thought: this reopens the market for video streaming services.

YouTube may permanently suffer for this. Anyone who reads and understands the conditions will consider whether they can agree to Google's terms, and secondly, whether they can trust Google's future T&C updates.

Exactly this. This is the first thing i though of. You need multiple entities and multiple channels, so you can manage them independently and have different permissions on each.

Her fans are already uploading all her music in derived work, and she doesn't want to ban the derived work. The rep's argument seems to be that she can't allow derived work to be published unless she also publishes the original tracks in the premium service. Since Google is lumping these things together, the best this suggestion can do is allow her to only publish some of her music in the premium service so that she only has to ban some of the derived work. But what she wants to do is publish nothing in the premium service, but allow almost all the derived work.

That might work, but it might be better to ask directly. She should be able to control how her music is released. Someone should talk to Google directly about how that can happen and get a clear answer for everyone.

That's a good idea that could probably solve the release it to different services at different times issue, but it still doesn't split the exposure of Youtube from its forced monetization that she's having an issue with.

Indeed. But it allows her to control what gets monetized. I can feel Google's point of view on that particular issue- but it's not right for them to therefore say that they require you to turn over your entire library.

In my experience with releasing material, it comes down to the copyright owner releasing property. That means the owner is properly labeled on the contract, whether that's a label, sub corp, or individual matters not.

I think that solves some of the most severe issues.

But one problem with that plan, if I understand correctly, would be that the contentID program would not be available for music she hasn't released through youtube.

So if she releases a track to bandcamp exclusively, then a 3rd party uses that track in a video without paying a license, she still will be in the position of needing to identify that herself, and then issues a DMCA takedown request at her discretion.

But that scenario seems far more reasonable than the one Google is trying to force, where all her catalogue must be made available at all times and on their terms.

In CA this costs $800/yr minimum no matter the income.

I think the said company would have to hold the IP (intellectual property) to be able to register with YouTube, thus ending up in the same situation as now

But IP could still be selectively assigned to the subsidiary.

Yup, call it "Zoe's YouTube Band" and make every release under that, maybe add a slide whistle at the end of each track so it's unique, and BAM...applesauce...

Your thought is a good idea because it follows the principle: if you want to be in any kind of business: incorporate the darn thing!

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