Spotify hit with dodgy $1.6B lawsuit
Here's something you don't see everyday: a big music publisher suing Spotify for allegedly streaming "thousands of songs" from artists like Tom Petty, Neil Young and more without paying.
Apparently Spotify subcontracts licensing work to a third-party, which seems like a properly short-sighted decision if you're a music company, which dropped the ball here — but the story is not what it appears.
The actual issue at hand isn't that Spotify didn't have a license at all, it's that Spotify attempts to force music publishers into using a different kind of license entirely called a "public performance" license.
The music industry is a complicated machine with many different license types. Spotify has blanket "public performance" licenses for music but does not buy "mechanical licenses" — the different is vast, and important here.
Mechanical licenses are an old-industry term invented when CDs, tape cassettes and other forms were prevalent. If you wanted to reproduce music on a CD, you'd buy the mechanical license — but in the digital world that's obviously irrelevant.
Music publishers want Spotify to pay mechanical licenses because they cost a ton more and require deep amounts of information on how widely they're used.
Spotify has had this exact type of lawsuit before, which is still ongoing, and argues that it's not 'reproducing' anything. Instead it's playing it as a performance, and the user never owns a copy, therefore the other license applies — which seems sane.
Look, the actual problem here is the music industry are dinosaurs, with few publishers coming to the party with relevant licensing schemes because they're scared by Spotify's scale. Spotify may not pay fairly, but it also doesn't seem to have many actual options.
The reality here is Spotify's not going away anytime soon. Provided it's not suffocated by losing a lawsuit, it plans an IPO this year and it's clear the success of streaming is here to stay — the industry, however, would like to preserve its profit piles as long as possible.
Unfortunately, the headlines are a little overzealous here. I suspect Spotify will either win or settle this successfully, and as The Hollywood Reporter points out, a new piece of legislation partially resolves this.
Peter Thiel's funds are all-in on Bitcoin
Not only are Peter Thiel's funds pouring cash into Bitcoin, they're betting they can use it to fuel the Founders' Fund long-term — it's now their largest investment.
Intel hardware flaw may require throttling
A kernel security flaw in old Intel processors appears to need a software fix for most platforms as it exposes private data stored in the kernel — a big problem if you happen to be a cloud provider hosting lots of virtual machines.
This affects every platform, including Windows, macOS and Linux — and the fix may result in worse performance. Initial reports suggest the impact is not good, but this is still developing right now and there's little in the open.
I'll be watching this and will share more as it develops, as it feels like many of these reports are anecdotal at best right now.
Perhaps most interesting of all: the bug is under a non-disclosure agreement right now. It's likely to get a proper name, à la Heartbleed, at some point because this is not common to see.
YouTube at crossroads after Logan Paul stunt
If you've seen a bunch of confusing YouTuber drama about someone called Logan Paul over the last week, you'd be forgiven for being confused — I am too. This piece explains the problem well, and that YouTube is willingly allowing dangerous, abusive content to stay on its platform.
YouTube's problem is that it needs creators, in the same way Twitter will never ban Donald Trump, so it will only slap them on the wrist in most circumstances to appear impartial and continue attracting viewers.
Moderation is hard, but this was an unfortunately large slip up.