Kill the RIAA: a protocol

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Date: Wed Jul 26 2000 - 22:30:32 PDT

From: Jeff Kandt <>

I've downloaded maybe twenty songs with Napster in my life, but the
RIAA has gotten me pretty pissed tonight.

The major labels still haven't figured out a way for me to download
their "product" directly into my music collection. All of the music
in my 6gb and growing collection (well, all but those 30 I downloaded
with Napster) were ripped from CDs. These CDs came from somewhere
else in the world on trucks, wrapped in 8" of cardboard and
cellophane. This is obviously a very expensive model of bit
transmission, which is why the music labels can justify making so
much profit.

Since I discovered MP3s a year or two ago, I've purchased more
plastic slabs of bits than at any other time in my life. Industry
sales numbers and polls confirm that the RIAA is lying when they
claim MP3 is hurting CD sales. I'm buying albums I haven't had since
cassette tape, since vinyl. Music plays in my house almost
constantly. It's wonderful, but it's costing me a lot of money.

The music labels are going down and they know it. They're making a
last grab at milking undeserved money from copyrighted bits because
they know how little time they have left. They know Napster is only
the beginning. Gnutella is coming, Freenet is coming, something else
after that. But the music labels are greedy bastards and their
supply of lawyers is deep.

Well, the internet treats greed like damage and routes around it.

I'd like to pay the musicians for music I download, but I can't. Of
the 30 songs I downloaded, there are maybe five that I really like
and feel bad about not having paid the musicians for their work and
creativity. If I could easily send small amounts of tip money to the
musicians I listen to most, to thank them and keep them playing, I
would. If I'm willing to tip my musicians maybe others are, too.

I don't think most musicians are in it for the money. But even if
they are, I think they'd make more money under a voluntary payment
system where they didn't have greedy labels taking a huge cut off the

Maybe all we need is a system to make that easy. Easy for the
consumers so they'll remember to tip, and also easy for the artists
so they don't need to choose which of the (seven?) big labels they're
going to sell out to in order to get their CD in Wall*Mart. I'd like
to see even the smallest garage bands able to connect with their fans
wherever they are and turn their creativity into a steady stream of
both good will and revenue.

To get the ball rolling, I humbly submit a protocol for a voluntary
payment mechanism.

This protocol encourages free distribution of music (or whatever).
It embeds information about how payments can be negotiated in a
cryptographically secure way, and in a way that attempts to keep the
payment route back to the artist viable even years or decades after
the content was created.

Although the protocol attempts to assure that the embedded payment
information is legitimate, it fails if people strip the payment info
from the files before they distribute them. This is why I think it's
very important to make payment voluntary so as to remove any
motivation for doing that.

I would appreciate if some folks who know crypto would comment on its
feasibility. There may already exist such protocols; if so, I would
appreciate references.

Warning: I am not a cryptographer. There are probably gaping holes.
But like I said, I'm just trying to get the ball rolling.

The protocol description:$1469

Follow up clarifications and enhancements so far:$1477$1491$1488$1481$1473

Thanks in advance.


|Jeff Kandt         |  "When cryptography is outlawed, bayl bhgynjf      |
| |   jvyy unir cevinpl!"  -Brad Templeton of ClariNet |
|[PGP Pub key: |
|              or send a message with the subject "send pgp key"]        |

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