The problem with Internet cafés as I see it is that they can never make everybody happy when it comes to music. They can quite easily please one crowd, but they can never please everybody. Back in the good old days, they tried to solve this in restaurants and bars by having a jukebox with a bunch of music stored physically inside it. Now we have jukeboxes that can download music, but that’s where the technology seems to have stopped.
So here’s my concept on the theme. You create a website that can only be accessed by those on the Internet café’s wireless router, and you post the address somewhere conspicuous in the café. Next, you allow the people in the café to stream their music through their laptops into a queue where it eventually gets played over the loudspeakers. This way, the people in the café can actually play their own music when they go to the café, share it with others, etc. The café servers would have an override button and volume control and the like, so they can control the masters on the whole ordeal (this would be to prevent the Kenny G lovers of the world). This permission could also be given to certain café members who had proven their good music taste. Actually, giving this permission to all café patrons might work too.
I think this idea could work with a little manipulation, but the question of copyrights will probably come up. My argument would be that the music is being shared non-commercially by the laptop owners, not the café, and that thus no infringements are being made by the café; that this would be no different than a laptop owner bringing speakers into the café and simply sharing their music. This would in turn shield the café’s of the world, leaving the music sharers liable.
Of course, the counter argument could be made that on a grander scale, what if the speakers brought in were huge, and what if the audience was that of the Superbowl, and not the café? In other words, how is this model different than a Superbowl host playing music during the Superbowl? To this I would respond that the Superbowl is doing it for money, whereas the cafe could arguably say they were doing it just to have good music.
The final idea behind this would be that the café could keep a database of the music their customers wanted to play, and that they could then know which single songs to actually buy, and to actually own the copyrights for.
It could almost work.
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