back to article Robbie Williams, Billy Bragg et al say downloads aren't illegal

A lobby group consisting of well-known UK musicians has argued that individuals should not be prosecuted for downloading illegal music from the interwebs. The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) was stitched together last autumn and is made up of 140 or so of Blighty’s rock and pop stars including Blur drummer Dave Rowntree, Annie …

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Pirate

Artists should own their own rights...

Oooh... the labels are not going to like that......

Jolly Roger because arrr...

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Dead Vulture

Robbie Williams admits his music isn't worth paying for...

Please! Please download my music! Please!

SOMEBODY LOVE MEEEEE.

Yeah, Robbie.

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Dead Vulture

Attention subs

'Billy Bragg et al say downloads aren't illegal' != 'argued that individuals should not be prosecuted for downloading illegal music' (also, presumably that should be illegally downloading music). There's a difference between wanting something to not happen and trying to use criminal prosecutions to make it stop.

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Happy

Billy Bragg

Top bloke.

He'd get my vote.

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Stop

Chairman Bragg

Billy Bragg on the board of directors. Whatever happened to the angry young socialist?

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Oh do fuck off

Cool, musicians who already have more money they can realistically spend in a lifetime telling me how to market my music. Oh, and Billy Bragg who I've never considered a musician or a songwriter - after all it's just a medium for your hypocritical Trotskyite shite isn't it Billy?

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xjy
Paris Hilton

Now let's see...

Breathing and fucking next...

(Paris, cos well, who'd want to pussycute her for this kind of thing...)

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Thumb Up

Death Throes...

of the major record labels now in progress.

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Silver badge
Pirate

re: Attention subs

"There's a difference between wanting something to not happen and trying to use criminal prosecutions to make it stop."

Indeed, and that is how it should be. Not everything bad can be legislated out of existence. By trying to do so we stand to lose more freedoms than its worth to compensate musicians or even have them create their music.

Entertainment - it can be great, but its rarely important.

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Pat

No one gets busted for downloading

They get busted for sharing (ie upoloading, usually with peers in a torrent).

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Ash
Joke

FAC?

Surely the Featured Artists Guild.

Yeah yeah, Trey Stone and Matt Parker have prior art. Still. Wouldn't be far wrong.

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Heart

But its not illegal anyway..

No-one is going to get prosecuted for "downloading" music, as downloading isn't against the law. Its only "making available" - eg: uploading which is against the law. Nice to hear the musicians in support though!

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Criminal prosecutions

Exactly how many downloaders have faced criminal prosecution for downloading? Sure, we have oink and his uploaders, but they're not your average downloaders.

So, saying that they are opposed to criminal prosecutions of downloaders is all a bit moot if there are no criminal prosecutions. I'd be much more interested to know where they stand on civil proceedings against downloaders. You know, the kind of cases brought by the RIAA and their equivalents.

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The nu Jerusalem (crying in Lot 49)

> Bragg told the Indie.... "If we follow the music industry down that road, we will be doing nothing more than being part of a protectionist effort.

When the world and its Bragg make talk as if protectionism was the devil incarnate, it behooves the rational person to take a closer look in the horse's mouth, i.e. at the bees' knees.

Going forward, it looks like the global economy could increasingly prefer barter to dollars, i.e. horse trading. Think of downloading as an invitation to barter.

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Why do we need an national education programme?

Surely less than 1% of the population will ever become professional musicians?

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Boffin

@Chris

" presumably that should be illegally downloading music"

Actually, no. It should be "unlawfully downloading music", as copyright infringement is a civil tort.

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Gold badge

Not stealing

Duplicating music has always been copyright infringement and unauthorised duplication.

Record company lobbyists always try to say it is theft, it is only theft when you are taking something physical from them which denies them use of that object, resulting in them having to pay money to replace it.

If you already own the item and rip it and share it then you're not stealing, you are performing unlicenced or unauthorised duplication. Once can also argue that since the music is degraded (to mp3 etc) that you aren't sharing a proper duplicate of the music. Much like a photocopy of a book is not as good as the original book. It's usable but you're not passing it off as the genuine article.

It is only once you try to sell it on to others and try to pass it off as the genuine article that you are committing a crime. The crime being fraud or counterfeiting.

This isn't about right or wrong, this is about the FUD war the record companies are playing.

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bit rich

What I'm hearing is "don't upset my fans, I don't care if you the company that have funded my more than pleasant lifestyle lose money (on something I get comparability little from), just as long as they keep buying gig tickets and advertising where I make my money"

Seems about right.

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Bod
Pirate

@But its not illegal anyway..

"No-one is going to get prosecuted for "downloading" music, as downloading isn't against the law. Its only "making available" - eg: uploading which is against the law. Nice to hear the musicians in support though!"

UK law it is. Downloading is a form of copy and you have right there breach of copyright, and there's no fair use in UK copyright law (unlike in US).

However it seems odd that they haven't gone to the extent as with kiddie and hard or "extreme" porn and decided that downloading = distribution (though if you download with P2P then it is distribution). Though with porn they go further and consider downloading to be "making" the porn, which of course carries harsher penalties and attracts better headlines in the press. I suppose they could go the same way with music and consider you are "making" pirate copies and distributing them.

Anyway, when it comes to music they just need to realise that there's no way to beat them and the traditional music distribution model is flawed. Try something else. On-demand models like last.fm and Spotify appear to be the way forward.

Besides, how different is downloading to the days when we'd tape stuff off the radio or copy our mates records and tapes?

Whatever happens, I just hope the record companies get shafted and the artists start to get a much bigger (and deserved) piece of the pie. It's the record companies who are the real pirates and have been for decades, long before the Internet.

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Unhappy

Hmm, not sure

I thought it was the case that artists already 'owned' the music they made.

That said, I personally can't see a problem assigning 'ownership' of a piece of music to the artists concerned automatically. Then the artist(s) would 'license' (ideally for a limited time) the work to a record company.

That said there's no one in the named list of artists whose work is in my library.

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RE: Hmm, not sure

"I personally can't see a problem assigning 'ownership' of a piece of music to the artists concerned automatically. Then the artist(s) would 'license' (ideally for a limited time) the work to a record company."

Copyright ownership is automatically assigned to the creator of the work upon creation, so no change needed there. If they then choose to license the work to the labels for a limited time, they already have that right as well. What they are looking for is a legally protected right to prevent anyone selling their copyrights outright to labels, and thus force the labels to accept their time limited license. Without this protection, other artists who are willing to sell their rights permanently will simply "undercut" these artists. Would you pay for a house that you could only own for 35 years if you could buy one for life at the same price?

And then they turn around and talk about the "protectionist effort" of the labels.

PS: Thanks, Kelly, for leaving comments open. Makes a nice change to be able to comment on music articles.

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@bod

"Besides, how different is downloading to the days when we'd tape stuff off the radio or copy our mates records and tapes?"

only in one way it is easer to do

rember the "home taping is killing artists" and "don't copy ythat floppy"?

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Bronze badge
Alien

WTF

<check date> no, it's not April 1...

<check medication> no, it's not a side-effect...

OK, when did I slip into a parallel universe?

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Go

Why do I download stuff?

Because I can.

Yes it's quicker and more convenient than borrowing a LP/Tape/CD/VHS/DVD et al and copying it. However the end result is (probably) an inferior (albeit slight) version of the original.

When I was at high school, we ALWAYS home copied LPs and Tapes, some even bought music, copied it and then returned it to the store for a refund/exchange. (wash, rinse, repeat)

No one was ever prosecuted back then.

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Uh, What Billy?

"Artists should own their own rights and they should decide when their music should be used for free, or when they should have payment."

Yeah, well, they do own their own rights. That is, if they don't sell them to the record company. Which is what everyone does. Anyone else uncomfortable with the idea of someone getting something back for free that someone else paid them for?

As for them not supporting prosecutions, I'm sure the record companies don't mind. It makes the artists look more like hip, down-wiv-the-kids types while making no difference to the legal status of a prosecution.

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Pirate

It's not often

that I agree with Billy Bragg.

He is right, when he says that the rights should belong to the artist.

A few years ago, there was a website called ALLOFMP3, they claimed that they had a fund called ROMS that was there for artists to collect royalties from the music that the company sold. Their service was, and still is unique, in that the punter paid for music by the megabyte, so one could have whatever quality or codec that one wanted... it was a beautiful thing.

There have been successful attempts by various organisations to stop the artists collecting their due royalties and the same organisations have been successful in stopping all but a few determined people form buying "data" from this site, on the somewhat spurious grounds that this organisation was run by criminals.

All I can say, is that they were always scruplously honest in any dealings I had with them and they provided a near perfect service, with the biggest music database I have seen.

The result of the activities of the various fat-cat organisations that conspired to shut the world out of their database, has been that their ex-users now get their music for free elsewhere.

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Hmmmm

Sure, you may argue downloading an MP3 is just downloading a degraded copy... but what if you're downloading an MP3 that was made to be sold as an MP3? Does that then come under software piracy / data theft?

Most folk who download are also uploading, too just because of the nature of P2P so only upload is theft / downloaders don't steal argument is a bit irrelevant for most folk.

The old home taping is killing artists. Ahh :) Yeah, well artists are still going, aren't they?

I'm all for downloading. I reckon artists can still make money because msot of the profit goes straight to the record labels anyway. I download loads but I also buy a shitload.

Here's something interesting; I'm going to make an album. I'm going to give it away free to anyone who wants it but I'm going to charge £2 + pnp for a physical copy. ON VINYL. \o/

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jj

Duh

At last - a realisation: "Probably shouldn't criminalise my fans..."

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Bronze badge

@system

"Copyright ownership is automatically assigned to the creator of the work upon creation"

Not entirely true. Any work that you create while under contract, is automatically the property of your employer unless otherwise agreed. Most artists do their recording _while under contract_ ie they sell their rights in advance, in exchange for facilities and occasionally a cash advance.

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Bod

Contracts and copyright

"Not entirely true. Any work that you create while under contract, is automatically the property of your employer unless otherwise agreed. Most artists do their recording _while under contract_ ie they sell their rights in advance, in exchange for facilities and occasionally a cash advance."

It depends on the nature of the contract. The automatic thing is that by default copyright is assigned to the creator on creation of the work.

However if you are an employee, your work becomes the IPR of the employer and thus the copyright (i.e. the "creator" is the employer). If you are not their employee but instead produce some work, perhaps under contract (e.g. commissioned work), then you hold the IPR unless otherwise assigned as part of the contract.

It's why most IT "contractors" are required to sign IPR agreements to ensure their work is the property of the company commissioning the work, as they are not automatically bound by an employee relationship.

In the case of artists, it is often the case that their copyright is under licence to the publisher, rather than totally assigned to them. The copyright still remains with the artist who creates the work, and the licence gives permission to use the work (often exclusively) with some limits and a potential expiry which returns all control to the artist.

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They would say that...

...after making their fortunes well before downloading became as popular as it currently is, and well before the CD market croaked and died.

Not so sure if some of the more starving artists would be as keen about getting nothing for their work.

In any case, gig money is where it's at, you even perks like free hookers in the form of gushing female fans.

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