Parlophone Has the Nerve to Challenge Google…

If Google can’t control the content that gets uploaded onto YouTube, why isn’t there one pornographic clip, anywhere?  If Google is merely indexing the internet through algorithms, why aren’t promised changes to those algorithms having any discernible impact on infringing links?

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It’s these types of questions that are starting to color the ’embrace technology’ rhetoric, and making big labels like Parlophone reconsider their strategies towards Google.  According to details now surfacing in the Telegraph, Parlophone has decided not to license Google Play’s cloud, particularly scan-n-match functionality, even though it has licensed rivals like Spotify, iTunes Match, and Amazon’s Cloud Drive.  Parlophone controls content from the likes of Coldplay, Blur, Pink Floyd, Kylie Minogue, and Bat for Lashes.

The details are murky at this stage.  It should be noted that Parlophone is still licensing a-la-carte, paid downloads on Google Play, which automatically slots content into Google’s cloud after purchase (no content upload or scan-n-match needed).  The sticking point seems to surround scan-and-match, which speeds the upload process enormously by instantly matching songs from a collection instead of manually uploading each one.

In our testing, we’ve had success purchasing Parlophone content from Play (a Coldplay track), and uploading a Parlophone track purchased on iTunes (Bat for Lashes).  But it was difficult to tell if that track was being ‘scan-and-matched’ or manually uploaded, thanks a fast connection.

A future pullout may also be planned, but the presence of a ‘boycott,’ as the Telegraph phrases it, has been been contested.  Billboard, typically a mouthpiece for major label interests, claims a boycott is complete fiction, while citing a label source.  But neither Google nor Parlophone will comment on the matter, which suggests a fire belongs to this smoke.

The reasons for an impasse may run deep.  Maybe there isn’t enough money on the table, though we’ve seen one artist spreadsheet showing iTunes Match paying more than Spotify.  Which raises an entirely different sort of issue: the Telegraph report cited alienation among labels over Google’s policies towards piracy, including everything from search results algorithms to YouTube takedown policies.

And, this sort of classic double-speak. “The way that our search engine works is a completely separate algorithm from anything we do on Google Play,” Sami Valkonen, head of international licensing for Google Play said back in November.

“Our search algorithm is a very complex beast and how it works, I have no clue.”

Google (and Apple, and Amazon) would argue that cloud payouts are additive to download purchases.  But of course, that assumes that the uploaders actually paid for the tracks being uploaded, rather than downloading them through BitTorrent or — you guessed it — Google.  “Google has been at loggerheads with many music companies over its approach to piracy, partly because it will not automatically demote links to websites which include potentially illegal content,” the Telegraph’s Katherine Rushton relayed.

“Parlophone’s refusal to join the service will be seen as a major blow to Google, which has been battling to persuade music companies it can be helpful to them.”

Stay tuned as more details unfold.

33 Responses

  1. Casey
    Casey

    Let me get this straight… they refused to give Google licenses for a cloud service that does not technically need licenses? How is that going to be even remotely effective?

    Reply
    • jw
      jw

      What it prevents them from doing is skipping the upload portion of the process. Via licenses, Google can scan a user’s collection & stream preloaded tracks. Without the license, those tracks will have to be uploaded by the users.
      Depending on the size of your collection, the upload process could be a huge deterrent. I only ever got part of my collection up on Play, & some uploads are corrupt & won’t play at all. (Granted, I could easily reupload those, but the only reason it really even registered is because some of the tracks were Garth Brooks tracks, which aren’t on Spotify & I didn’t have synced to my phone.) I’m sure that their uploading is more reliable now than then, but if either of these services are going to be successful, even if only in the interim, they’re going to have to rely on matching, rather than uploading.
      That said, I’m sure there’s an amount of upload the public is willing to endure, & I don’t think 1 label’s boycotting is going to make a big difference, even if it is Parlophone.

      Reply
      • Casey
        Casey

        That would have an impact then. But it still seems like the only one that is going to be hurt by this is Parlophone.

        Reply
          • jw
            jw

            I’m not sure you really understand the process here.
            User signs up for Google Play, automatically downloads Google’s Music Manager software, they select their music directory, software scans their music collection, most of those songs automatically appear in their account, then software spends the next 10 to 30 minutes uploading the Parlophone artists’ tracks (depending on bandwidth & number of tracks, obviously).
            It’s really not that significant. It doesn’t have legal ramifications or anything. And it won’t lead to a licensing exodus any more than Big Machine’s Spotify policy has lead to a Spotify exodus. In fact, this is a much, much smaller story than Big Machine’s Spotify policy, which isn’t really a big story.

    • Visitor
      Visitor

      “I don’t think 1 label’s boycotting is going to make a big difference, even if it is Parlophone.”
      Google is the world’s leading Piracy Search Engine.
      The company is committing History’s biggest robbery as we speak.
      You’re really naive if you think people will allow this to go on.

      Reply
    • jw
      jw

      I think you need to look up the definition of robbery.
      These ownership/streaming hybrid services, like Google Play & iTunes Match, are transitional services. I don’t think Google or Apple are looking at these services as longterm plays, they’re gateways to full on streaming. So it could be said that Parlophone is doing itself a disservice in that it’s not fully supporting the transition to a more sustainable model based on principles that are well on their way to being irrelevant. I suggest that streaming will make piracy obsolete, & so Play is, in a sense, a much more practical, forward looking solution to Parlophone’s problem (in the sense that it’s transitioning users away from the ownership mentality, which breeds piracy) than what they would suggest, which is altering search results. (To be clear, I’m not offering an opinion on Google’s search results.)
      Obviously they’re trying to make a point, one they wouldn’t make by, say, removing all of their videos from YouTube. Which they could do, but they know that it wouldn’t benefit them in the longrun. Depending on the window of relevance of these types of services, they may eventually come to the same conclusion about Google Play. Of course, when streaming fully takes hold, & piracy is made obsolete (along with the idea of content ownership), they’re going to, in hindsight, look silly for making this point in such a counterproductive way.

      Reply
        • jw
          jw

          Subscribers to streaming services, obviously. And to a lesser extent advertisers.
          To be clear, when I say content ownership, I’m not talking about content rights, I’m talking about consumers owning content, rather than just streaming content.

          Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          Isn’t the sheer volume of amatuer video on YouTube itself proof that people are absolutely willing to create content for no money?

          The issue here isn’t creators, it’s distributors and other assorted middlemen. There’s new distributors on the block, and if their methods are preferred, the old middlemen will fade away, even if their companies have to be bought up by the new players. Maybe Google buys Universal, maybe Universal buys Google, maybe Google buys Comcast…

          Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            My hope is that Apple buys Google and turns it into a legitimate company.
            They could do it any day. Would solve quite a few problems.

  2. Visitor
    Visitor

    In a few hours, the big 4 labels will tell Google to remove 10 million criminal links, according to torrentfreak:
    https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-set-for-historic-10000000th-google-url-takedown-130204/
    Two of the most infringing sites — I won’t link to them here — each get more than 30% of their traffic from Google.
    These numbers are probably true for the rest of the Piracy Industry as well.
    This means that Google is directly responsible for at least 30% of the billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands job the world loses because of piracy each year:
    According to Unesco, 10 billion Euros and 185,000 jobs were lost in 2008 because of piracy in the EU.
    Source:
    http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=40884&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
    According to Institute for Policy Innovation, $58 billion and 373,000 jobs were lost in 2007 because of piracy in the US.
    Source:
    Siwek, Stephen E.,The True Cost of Piracy to the U.S. Economy, report for the Institute for Policy Innovation, Oct. 2007.
    Do the math. The world can’t afford Google anymore.

    Reply
    • Capitalist Lion Tamer
      Capitalist Lion Tamer

      This means that Google is directly responsible for at least 30% of the billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands job the world loses because of piracy each year:
      It means nothing of the sort. If you care to stretch it, it means the users searching for those links are responsible. Google indexes the web. It doesn’t just gather links to infringing material and splash them all over the front page, hoping someone clicks through.

      Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        “It means nothing of the sort”
        Sorry, but it’s exactly what it means.
        And I can promise you that a lot of politicians will find it interesting that so much money and so many jobs are lost every year — directly because of Google.

        Reply
        • Casey
          Casey

          Actually, they don’t. Politicans could not care less because most of them don’t believe it and for good reason.

          Reply

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