Music streaming to be incorporated into Top 40?

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The BBC report that music bosses are considering incorporating music streaming into the Top 40. That would mean listening statistics from Spotify, Deezer and other top music streaming sites would be considered in calculating the most popular songs.

The Official UK Charts Company said it was “bound to” include streaming and subscription services at some point, but not for at least another year.

Because listeners do not pay per track – if at all – those plays would be likely to carry less weight than normal sales.

It’s a change which would totally shake up the charts.

At present, songs are considered for the charts at the point of sale. By considering music streaming, songs are considered at the point of use. It’s an important distinction. Take Pink Floyd – chances are not many people are buying Pink Floyd music at the moment: there are no new singles or albums being released. Yet, many people are listening to Pink Floyd at the moment. By shifting the focus from point of sale to point of use, there would be a huge change in the charts, benefiting popular artists who produce timeless music.

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According to Martin Talbot, managing director of the Official Charts company, “Knowing what a stream is worth compared to a purchase of a download, for instance, is very difficult to identify at the moment, but that’s obviously going to be the next step,”.

This is going to be a big problem. Whatever weighting is assigned to streaming, it is going to be possible for people to manipulate the charts by incessantly streaming the same song. I remember when downloads were added to the chart: there was a big campaign to try and get The Wurzels into the charts. It never happened in the end: it took too many people to part with 99p for the prank to have worked. However, it’s not hard to convince a million people to stream a song from Spotify when it’s free. In fact, post a link to a song on Twitter and most people wouldn’t even know what the song is until after it loads. A Twitter meme can easily influence the charts.

The good news for consumers is that this is likely to increase the number of songs available for streaming. At present, there are big gaps in the catalogues of Spotify, Deezer, and other music streaming sites. Once streaming becomes part of the chart, I believe music companies will be much happier to open their catalogues to these sites. Because otherwise their competitors would have a huge advantage in the charts.

French Anti-Piracy Law ruled to be unconstitutional

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I’ve argued many times on this blog that it is disproportionate for somebody to lose their internet access for copyright theft. Regular readers will know that France had passed a law which would mean people would lose internet access after downloading pirated material three times.

I argued that this was unfair – it stops somebody from participating in online shopping, banking, communications, etc. And it seems like the French Constitutional Court agrees with me by ruling the new law unconstitutional.

The judgement of the French Constitutional Court:

“Moreover, whereas under section nine of the Declaration of 1789, every man is presumed innocent until has has been proven guilty, it follows that in principle the legislature does not establish a presumption of guilt in criminal matters,” wrote the Council. This basic principle applies “to any sanction in the nature of punishment, even if the legislature has left the decision to an authority that is nonjudicial in nature.

“Freedom of expression and communication is so valuable that its exercise is a prerequisite for democracy and one of the guarantees of respect for other rights and freedoms and attacks on the exercise of this freedom must be necessary, appropriate and proportionate to the aim pursued.”

So that’s great news for the people of France.

I feel it is very important that we begin to have electronic rights enshrined into law. Just as the right to free speech and to participate in society are fundamental tenets in modern society, our laws need to be updated to reflect the fact that electronic communications and technology play such a large role in our everyday lives.

To reiterate: I don’t agree with piracy or believe that copyright theft is a good thing. I believe that it is important that our rights don’t get eroded as society becomes digital.

Via Think Broadband.

Britons say broadband is an essential utility

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BBC News reported yesterday on research carried out by the Communications Consumer Panel showing that UK consumers are increasingly considering broadband to be an essential utility.

The chair of the Communications Consumer Panel Anna Bradley said: “The key message is that people think broadband is at a tipping point.

“It’s fantastically useful for everyone, essential for some now, but will be essential for everyone in the near future.

“It is being compared by consumers to gas and electricity – things which they think we all ought to have access to, almost as a right.”

Those questioned in the survey said people who did not have broadband would be at a disadvantage, missing out on services such as shopping, banking and public services as they were increasingly being delivered online.

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I’ve argued before on this blog, several times, that I believe internet access should be a fundamental right. Internet access is becoming a pre-requisite for being able to participate in society: being able to manage your bank account and finances, apply for a driving license and passport, keep in touch with friends via social networking sites and email, accessing entertainment via iPlayer and YouTube and shopping online at Amazon or eBay.

I’ve argued that it is disproportionate for somebody to lose their internet access for copyright theft, like in a draft law in France. It would seem like the British public agree with me on this one and our MEPs are backing us. Let’s hope that our digital rights continue to be protected.