Artists, labels and users

The previous blog post about Flagrant managed to raise a number of issues that we had never dealt with before here at MusicBrainz:

  • When an artist comes to MB and asks that their data be removed, what should we do, if anything?
  • Should an artist be more important than the users? How about music labels?
  • How can we tell that someone mailing us is in fact that artist or a valid representative of that artist?

These are very difficult questions to answer and given the feedback from the community to this issue, its clear that people feel strongly about this. Also the favor does not seem to be towards the artists, which intuitively I do not agree with. Rather than deal with these very sticky situations that involve recognizing one person or group of persons more than others, I would like to suggest the following much simpler course of action:

  • Every MusicBrainz user is treated the same inside of MusicBrainz.
  • Users may have different powers, depending on their past history inside of MusicBrainz. (MusicBrainz is a meritocracy)
  • All users start with the same level of power, regardless if they are an artist, a label, a representative of either, or a normal music lover.
  • Neither an artist, a label, nor any user can request data be removed from MusicBrainz, unless they have a clear legal argument. Given that MusicBrainz indexes only factual data at the moment, this is going to be very unlikely.

This policy is enforceable since it makes everyone equal. If an artist or a label wishes to enter/remove data to/from MusicBrainz, they must use the moderation system just like everyone else. Please post comments and let me know what you think of this proposal!

P.S. Thanks to our board of directors for chiming in on this important topic!

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3 thoughts on “Artists, labels and users”

  1. I agree completely with this proposal. It solves three key issues:

    1. User vs. Artist vs. Label vs. Lawyer vs. …: A user is a user is a user. Some users are “more equal” than others, a’la the already referenced meritocracy. So be it. It’s a stable system here that seems to work well on the whole.

    2. Authentication: An email out of the blue cannot be authenticated without other exercising channels of communication. Authentication should be peformed through MB’s existing user authentication mechanism.

    3. Edit Accuracy: Editing of the database is performed through the well-established (auto)moderation system, subject to all of its checks and balances. People can validate the assertions of the moderator and vote on the action.

    Thanks for thinking about this and coming up with a solid proposal.

  2. I fully agree and appreciate the way musicbrainz has chosen to handle this situation.

    It is very difficult to insure true note.. and that is the only difficult part of what this decides. I almost think if the artist/label feels strongly enough they should give a link in to Musicbrainz with a “we have requested not to be listed with this service” on their official page.

    2 fold benefits of this. It gets musicbrainz more notice, even if that is semi negative. It’s been proven in the past that negativity can do wonders for ranking. 🙂 and, then I think it should be a vote of the users. At least that proves that it’s truly the artist, or the record label.

    Of course, as usual I would welcome the “devil’s advocate” view, because I know this is an extreme suggestion, but as a fellow user, and how difficult it is even for Musicbrainz to accept and insure the legitimacy, it would be even harder at the user level to note that. Anyone can make up “any name” just as on MySpace, or any other service.

    Nyght aka Beth

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. While I can’t understand why an artist would be opposed to being listed in the MB database, I don’t think I would personally advocate honoring such requests, anyway. The data being stored by MB isn’t proprietary, and I doubt it could be considered intellectual property. If artists don’t want people to have knowledge of their bodies of work, then they shouldn’t publish their work to the public in the first place.

    The only situation where I could see an issue is the storage of an individual artist’s birthdate. Some people may consider a birthdate sensitive information, and publishing it on such a public medium could be considered a privacy issue if argued correctly.

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