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CRM/DRM: Infrastructure for the Celestial Jukebox
Unformatted Document Text:  We use case studies of Musicnet, Emusic, and Pressplay to represent realignments of Big Five interests and technology practices behind the creation of the MSPs. 4 Rhapsody, an ostensibly independent service that has licensed portions of the Big Five’s catalogues, and Emusic, which features the catalogues of independent record labels, are considered for comparative purposes. 5 As they monetize and restrict access to music files and streams that only recently had been free and widely available, MSPs have had limited, but growing, success with consumers. Certain factors in the business model remain in flux, such as the selection of a subscription or “pay per play” approach, as well as the longevity of downloads. MSPs may represent a transitional form of media organization; their long- term role may be to serve as intermediaries for collecting royalties and cross licensing catalogues for the Big Five, although a full cross-licensing arrangement among ostensibly rival firms would invite antitrust action. The MSPs’ next of kin, film studios and book publishers, are faced with similar choices. Nevertheless, the MSPs are ascertaining the market for online music delivery on the Big Five’s terms and, as such, provide a template for the Celestial Jukebox. We argue that the Big Five’s collusive behaviors and vertical integration may predispose MSPs to abuse market power on the Internet, and the surveillance systems and individuating controls of CRM/DRM introduce new privacy risks for consumers. 6 In what follows, we discuss the political economy of the Celestial Jukebox as an expression of “pay-per society” in which an intellectual commons is privatized and meted out by culture industries (Mosco, 1990). We then examine MSPs as institutional sites for specific CRM/DRM integrations and applications. We conclude with a discussion of the potential economic, political, and cultural costs of the Celestial Jukebox’s lockdown via CRM/DRM . The commercialization of the Internet The development of the Celestial Jukebox to date indicates that the Big Five, who claim that they are merely protecting their intellectual property and creating value for investors, intend to create an Internet “toll booth” for traffic managed by their proprietary systems. The tollbooth or jukebox metaphor is an increasingly accurate description of industry reality, reflecting the Internet’s gradual transformation into a distribution channel for media conglomerates. Commercial activity on the Internet was outlawed in the U. S. until 1991 (Alderman, 2001). The Internet backbone was operated under US government contract until the privatization of NSFNET in 1995 (Winston, 1998). At the same time, a boom in hi-tech products and services helped the U. S. recover from an economic recession. Firms in technopolies like Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, Washington D. C., the North Carolina Research Triangle and Austin boosted 4 For a visual organizational scheme of the online music offerings, see http://david.weekly.org/pho/graph/record.png . 5 Rhapsody literally claims to be the arrival of the Celestial Jukebox. http://www.listen.com/rhap_about.jsp?sect=juke 6 RealJukebox and Windows Media Player already have raised the eyebrows of European regulators (Brandon, 2002), and the U.S. Department of Justice is considering Pressplay’s use of Microsoft's APIs by Pressplay. Both outlets have also attracted an antitrust investigation for digital rights management (Infoworld).

Authors: Burkart, Patrick. and McCourt, Tom.
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background image
We use case studies of Musicnet, Emusic, and Pressplay to represent realignments of Big Five interests
and technology practices behind the creation of the MSPs.
4
Rhapsody, an ostensibly independent
service that has licensed portions of the Big Five’s catalogues, and Emusic, which features the
catalogues of independent record labels, are considered for comparative purposes.
5
As they monetize and restrict access to music files and streams that only recently had been free and
widely available, MSPs have had limited, but growing, success with consumers. Certain factors in the
business model remain in flux, such as the selection of a subscription or “pay per play” approach, as well
as the longevity of downloads. MSPs may represent a transitional form of media organization; their long-
term role may be to serve as intermediaries for collecting royalties and cross licensing catalogues for the
Big Five, although a full cross-licensing arrangement among ostensibly rival firms would invite antitrust
action. The MSPs’ next of kin, film studios and book publishers, are faced with similar choices.
Nevertheless, the MSPs are ascertaining the market for online music delivery on the Big Five’s terms and,
as such, provide a template for the Celestial Jukebox. We argue that the Big Five’s collusive behaviors
and vertical integration may predispose MSPs to abuse market power on the Internet, and the
surveillance systems and individuating controls of CRM/DRM introduce new privacy risks for consumers.
6
In what follows, we discuss the political economy of the Celestial Jukebox as an expression of “pay-per
society” in which an intellectual commons is privatized and meted out by culture industries (Mosco, 1990).
We then examine MSPs as institutional sites for specific CRM/DRM integrations and applications. We
conclude with a discussion of the potential economic, political, and cultural costs of the Celestial
Jukebox’s lockdown via CRM/DRM .
The commercialization of the Internet
The development of the Celestial Jukebox to date indicates that the Big Five, who claim that they are
merely protecting their intellectual property and creating value for investors, intend to create an Internet
“toll booth” for traffic managed by their proprietary systems. The tollbooth or jukebox metaphor is an
increasingly accurate description of industry reality, reflecting the Internet’s gradual transformation into a
distribution channel for media conglomerates. Commercial activity on the Internet was outlawed in the U.
S. until 1991 (Alderman, 2001). The Internet backbone was operated under US government contract until
the privatization of NSFNET in 1995 (Winston, 1998). At the same time, a boom in hi-tech products and
services helped the U. S. recover from an economic recession. Firms in technopolies like Silicon Valley,
Boston, New York, Washington D. C., the North Carolina Research Triangle and Austin boosted
4
For a visual organizational scheme of the online music offerings, see
http://david.weekly.org/pho/graph/record.png
.
5
Rhapsody literally claims to be the arrival of the Celestial Jukebox. http://www.listen.com/rhap_about.jsp?sect=juke
6
RealJukebox and Windows Media Player already have raised the eyebrows of European regulators (Brandon, 2002), and the
U.S. Department of Justice is considering Pressplay’s use of Microsoft's APIs by Pressplay. Both outlets have also attracted an
antitrust investigation for digital rights management (Infoworld).


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