Hello Muxtape, Goodbye Muxtape?

For the past couple weeks, all kinds of folks have been hyping the Muxtape. I say live it up now, because it isn't likely to last. Why? The basic-yet-totally-vague requirement that your MP3 uploads must meet for Muxtape: "Users may not upload multiple songs from the same album or artist, or songs they do not have permission to let Muxtape use."

So, the first thing I think is, how do I know if I have permission to let Muxtape use a song? Apparently there's no way to know for sure. Muxtape doesn't explain itself, which could spell trouble with a capital R-I-A-A.

What was Muxtape thinking, exactly? The blog implies that it's a way for bands to post their original songs, but if you're a band you need to do more than just post your songs (you use sites like MySpace to collect fans' info, too). The majority of Muxtapes posted are begging for legal action. In fact, a cursory look at just a few random posts reveals rampant unauthorized duplication. (The only "safe" mix I can find is this genius offering from Catbirdseat.)

I'm going to get this out of the way now: Nice sorta knowin' ya, Muxtape. Find a good lawyer and make room for all the C & D's you're about to get.*

* Unless you're some elaborate means of entrapment, rigged by the RIAA, in which case I salute your sinister scheme and simultaneously shiver at the settlements you'll wring from the stupid saps who keep uploading illegally.


Chris B. said...

The vague requirement matches the vague law regarding fair use. There are tons of MP3 blogs now (check out Hype Machine for an aggregate) with a standard disclaimer that if you're an artist holding rights to the posted music, a simple e-mail will be enough to take it down.

I think the RIAA is more concerned with housewives sharing thousands of songs at a clip. And really, while I do believe in the prevailing laws, I also believe that MP3 blogs do more good for the music industry than harm. Muxtape is a perfect example.

I put up songs I downloaded from artists' sites, so while I never got permission specifically to do so, I could have put up a list of links, instead.

The bottom line is - you may be right. That said, enjoy it while it lasts.

PYLB said...

I hear you. I've been following the issues surrounding fair use since I started listening to Negativland in high school. However, I do not agree with a prevailing law when it is too vague and difficult to enforce. It shouldn't be law if no one can clearly define "fair use".

The RIAA is primarily concerned with its members' music, which is to say "major label" or distributed by a major label (read: most so-called "indie" labels). It's not about what's fair. It's about greed. (And it's as much about college students as it is housewives, from what I've seen.)

I don't think it's wise to fight vague with vague in this case, especially when you're the little guy in the equation. I'm not sure Muxtape is doing the music industry any good just yet, but we'll see how it goes.

Chris B. said...

Yeah, the RIAA can kiss my ass. Worse yet are the artists that step to the forefront to fight laws/practices unfair to them. I'm supposed to feel bad for Luke Skywalker for being scolded for his filthy trucker mouth, or mega-rich Metallica because so many people love and want to hear their music? Or Prince because he was being forced to make music after he signed a contract to make music? Holy Jebus!

Bottom line is that fair use is murky, murky stuff. Libraries, MP3 blogs, MP3s themeselves, iPod - all questionable and all would be illegal if the RIAA had its way.

Muxtape is no threat to an RIAA artist. The RIAA is a bigger threat to an RIAA artist. To a smaller, indie artist, Muxtape could just be the shit.

Chris B. said...

p.s. - love Negativland. Also a big fan of the Evolution Control Committee.