back to article Lowery: The blue-collar musician at the eye of the copyright storm

A few days after we linked to his long, exhaustive talk about the state of the music business, musician and songwriter David Lowery hit the headlines in the USA. In a blog post replying to NPR intern Emily White, Lowery summed up how the 'don't pay for music' argument sounded to him: "Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! …

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TLDR

Although in fairness I got about half way down page 1 then scan read the rest.

Is it me or did Lowery miss the point that pretty much the only route for money to reach these starving musicians is through the greedy megacorps?

There's a huge number of talented musicians working their arses off every day to eke out an existence doing what they love best but if the only 'router' of funds to them is a massive self-interested corporation that had been greeding it in for years with adversely-worded contracts, 'breakage' and 'recoupment' then actually the megacorp is the point of failure for raising the lifestyles of the muso's, surely?

I'd much rather send thirty quid to the Ozric Tentacles directly and download all their albums than £240 to get the same remuneration to them via a £210 kickback to a record company. At least, if I hadn't pretty much got all their stuff via the expensive route already. DOH.

I think the root of the whole issue lies with the megacorps they're....

Lazy - don't deserve my money

Litigious - Aggression breeds comtempt

Viewed as being in the 1% - general social fail at the moment

Greedy - Permanent social fail, all the time

Petty - If you're going to be like that I'll keep my money

Vindictive - I refuse to support that behaviour with my money

Prehistoric - Up your game and I might buy something

Protectionist - Your protect your income and I'll protect mine - by hanging on to it

If even you don't agree with all those descriptions you really only need to agree with any three of them to understand that the main barrier to well-earned revenue flowing to artists is these companies themselves. Yet no-one has yet come up with a credible alternative, either, at least perhaps one that hasn't been crushed into the dirt by these companies anyway. Sure the downloaders are denying musicians income in ways they don't realise (musicians do still get paid mechanicals on downloads, right? That's a direct financial loss to them) and many of these downloaders/rippers/seeders view it as a lifestyle if not some odd sort of career, it's also a lie to call a download a lost sale, too. While megacorps continue to behave and be perceived as they are now then they will still be the single greatest barrier to artists' income for the foreseeable.

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Re: TLDR

" did Lowery miss the point that pretty much the only route for money to reach these starving musicians is through the greedy megacorps?"

Adele. Independent label.

Maybe you've heard of her :)

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Re: TLDR

Adele was with XL Recordings, related to the Beggars Group. Their current roster includes Sigur Ros, Radiohead (and Thom Yorke's solo works) and The White Stripes. In the past, they handled The Prodigy, among many others, so they're not exactly unknown. They're quite big by "indie label" standards. They're also "independent" only in the sense that they're not owned outright by a major recording label, but they do have very close ties with Columbia Records.

I do think the "Mega Corporations" get a lot of stick here and it's not entirely deserved. Yes, many industry CEOs are old, crusty and need a good ousting and replacement by people who actually "get" technology. But that's the norm in any industry that's been around this long. Transitions are painful when the very business model upon which your business is founded is being chipped away beneath you and you don't know how to solve it. All those employees have bills to pay too, you know. These corporations are just a big collection of people, most of whom are not rich and are just as much a part of that 99% as you are, all trying to earn a crust; they're not inherently nasty; their bosses are just fighting increasingly desperately to keep their jobs.

Now...

There are two key challenges facing musicians today:

1. How do I make my music?

2. How do I get my music noticed?

Both steps originally required the assistance of those mega-corp major music labels. They paid a loan up-front to the musicians, taking a gamble that the album would make a profit. (Most did not.) This still happens today, but for a much, much smaller roster of artists who are considered more likely to hit the jackpot. Risk-aversion increases rapidly when your industry is being threatened with major disruption, so this is hardly a shock.

Today, you still need outside funding if you're working with orchestral music, but for most genres, you can create a perfectly commercial track in your bedroom, with the only expense being that of getting it mastered professionally if your home setup isn't up to it. (Mastering is all about getting the most out of a recording and making it sound good on all the various media, in all the various supported combinations of sound reproduction, such as simple stereo, 5.1 surround, Dolby Digital for cinemas, etc. This requires seriously expensive audio kit and an engineer with very good hearing.)

That just leaves the second stage: getting yourself [i]noticed[/i]. When the barriers to entry in any industry are lowered by technology, the industry inevitably goes through a painful phase where pretty much anybody thinks they can make a hit single—and they try and do exactly that.

This was most obvious in the early days of DTP and website design, with any number of horrific, eye-gouging, multi-coloured, multi-font excrescences appearing overnight as people with no training whatsoever decided they could have a go at it too. Mercifully, the days of Geocities websites are (mostly) over.

But it also meant that an aspiring musician with actual talent now had to get himself noticed in a massively expanded ocean of mediocrity and shite. Marketing and self-promotion come into play. Concerts can help, but you can't just go hiring Wembley Stadium or the O2 if nobody's ever heard of you: You need to invest time, effort and, yes, money into making people aware of you and your music first. You need to climb the ladder and keep on climbing, exposing yourself to the media, doing photo-shoots, the odd panel show, umpteen interviews, etc... despite little of this having anything directly to do with the songwriting or performing you so love to do.

THIS is where those mega-corporations do have a lot to offer: they have connections, they know people, they can get you airtime in adverts, or even a movie if you want. They can speed the process up dramatically.

Fundamentally, when you're running any business, your goal is to improve the bottom line. And the music industry really is an business. Artists who are happy to give away all their songs aren't in that industry: they've self-selected themselves out of it and shouldn't get to vote on how it works.

For the remaining 99% of "lower middle class" musicians, engineers, producers, lyricists, etc. making music is how they pay their bills. These people have a right to be paid for their labours as you have a right to get paid for yours.

If anyone disagrees with that on principle, they shouldn't get to vote either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TLDR

And how do you think you know about the Ozrics? I know about them because they were promoted on a tour and I went to see them. The promotion was by the music industry.

I have various Ozrics albums, and the ones from before they got a record label are shockingly badly produced, after this they are far better.

I know about Eat Static because I know about Ozrics, but I know that they weren't in a position when they started to own and produce their music because of how much it cost, this was because they had a contract with a record label.

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Re: TLDR Tldr2.

I gave up when I realised the man was talking about out of date digiware that costs an amateur about 20 to 30 pence to produce retail.

Should an artist require a book, he will be forced to pay something like 4 quid apiece for each book because he can't hope to sell more than 3 or 4 hundred first editions.

So if a CD by a professional musician costs say 5 pence to produce and another 5 to distribute, why the hell does the artist expect us proles to pay more than a tenner for the privilege of hearing his work?

Said amateur author has to sell his book at willing local shops at a tenner apiece to make a couple of quid per volume.

If the mass market available to amateurs on the internet were utilised musicians could sell their work at reasonable rates. Why is a corporation like Apple the only one to realise this?

And why are all the others acting like yobs?

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Re: TLDR

You did admit to not really reading the thing so it's no surprise your comment stinks of freetard fail.

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Re: TLDR Tldr2

"So if a CD by a professional musician costs say 5 pence to produce and another 5 to distribute, why the hell does the artist expect us proles to pay more than a tenner for the privilege of hearing his work?"

He doesn't expect you to do anything. He hopes that sufficient people will like his music and find that it gives them sufficient enjoyment to fork out around a tenner (often less). For those who don't like the music sufficiently to pay a tenner, then there's the option of taking your money and spending it on whatever gives you more pleasure than that CD.

Your production cost estimates are (for smaller CD runs) wrong by an order of magnitude, but even those costs (say 50p for a boxed, sleeved, printed CD) don't cover the musician's instruments, recording equipment/studio hire, paid accomplices (session players, electricians, odd job monkeys), sleeve artwork, digital mastering, distribution, selling and distribution, remittance management, promotion and advertising, etc etc, and that's before the commercial risk in pre-ordering several thousands CDs, or the usually implicit cost of financing of such an investment.

And as an author you're "forced" to pay a whole £4 a book. By whom? Are the Syrian regime's butchers holding author's knackers to ransom: "Pay four GBP per book for a four hundred book edition of Post Modernist Romantic Poetry by Bashar al Assad" or we cut them off!" I don't think so.

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Re: TLDR

* Adele is still very much with XL Recordings, which is ONE OF the four Beggars Group labels (Matador, 4AD, Rough Trade are the others).

* Beggars helped set up AIM and Impala and derailed the Sony BMG merger. It is fighting the Universal EMI merger.

* Beggars is not a member of the BPI

* CBS doesn't exist except as a brand name for Sony Music, and hasn't existed as a label since 1988.

If you ever visit Beggars HQ or XL you will know what a small indie label looks like. "Big" in indie terms means fifty people in a crowded room, with no office for the CEO. Major labels send five times that to the Brits every year.

Perhaps it's ignorance of the music business on tech sites that explains the politics people choose?

Martin Mills interview: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/04/martin_mills_beggars_group/

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On the other hand...

" The digital rights groups have made themselves irrelevant by saying no to everything. "

In a market notorious for protectionism and attempts at unjustified land grabs . . . Imagine where we'd be now if this hadn't been fought against? iTunes only for iDevices? Sony music only working with Sony kit? Music that reports your listening back to the publisher, and actively verifies your right to listen. God help you. If the system thinks you might have copied something.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On the other hand...

Historically speaking the early gramaphone records all ran at different RPMs, in order that the different recording companies could have their own copyright in the whole process, this was pretty quickly realised to be an undesirable situation. Most developments in recording and reproduction technology have been joint ventures between different recording companies.

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Terminator

no objections

To musicians and artists getting fair recompense for their efforts - but to portray all the advocates of SOPA/ACTA/DEA as blameless exploited victims is stretching the truth, more than a little.

Don't misunderstand, I don't pirate - I either pay the price that is asked, or do without - but I grow weary of a predatory business model that seems to be predicated on abolishing personal ownership and substituting a license rental model. Perpetual payment for content - lovely. Especially in a country where even format shifting is technically illegal. They may not pursue individuals ( yet), but they could.

I agree that artists are not adequately compensated - time for them to explore direct distribution - vide Louis CK.

I won't steal from them, but nuts to big media anyway.

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Re: no objections

Copyright is about providing a temporary monopoly over intellectual works in order to extract economic value from those efforts in the hopes of spurring the creation of additional creative works. It must also inherently recognise the need for works to pass into the public domain (while they are still culturally relevant!) and it must contain rational fair use exceptions.

Copyright infringement is wrong, and society needs protections against it. Putting aside the loaded word “deserved,” there is a strictly pragmatic reason for us to compensate creators: if we don’t, both the volume and quantity of new works being created will decrease dramatically. These people have to make a living too; with 7 (soon 10) billion of us, the competitive pressure for resources is so high that we simply cannot support a renaissance-era category of creators who “simply create in their spare time.”

Nobody has spare time; to avoid destitution you either inherit enough wealth to get a great start to life, or you work 12-16 hours a day. Given the economic context; copyright infringement is unjustifiable; it directly deprives society of the talents of creators by creating an environment in which there is no realistic way for them to be able to devote adequate time to creation.

But copyright maximalism is equally ethically bankrupt. It attempts to shift the balance the other way; making creators into a special category of individuals whose labours are valued more highly than those of systems administrators, doctors, lawyers or teachers.

If I help build a road, I am paid for my labours per hour…but that road belongs to society. We all get to use it. Other roadworkers may come along and build on top of my work, learn from my technique or destroy it in order to lay pipes/repair faults/what-have-you.

If I fix a server, I am paid for my labours, but that server is then used by other users who benefit from my efforts. Other systems administrators may check the logs to see how I fixed things, alter my settings, or combine my efforts with theirs to create something new.

Neither the road worker nor the systems administrator gets to tithe their work beyond the initial payment for their labour. The roadworker does not get a toll for every person who passes over the patch he laid, nor the sysadmin a % of the ad revenue generated by each view.

Creative works are built upon those works that went before. Nothing is created in a vacuum. The whole of human experience is built upon the tropes and memes of our antecededents, whether through genetic memory or learned behaviour.

To suddenly claim that the labours and efforts of one category of people – intellectual property creators – is so important – that these intellectual property creators must simply be so privileged – that we must immediately reverse the whole of the human learning, experience (and yes, the creative process itself!) to protect their “moral economic rights” is beyond lunacy. It is arrogance. Arrogance born of nothing more interesting than greed.

Creators need to see economic benefit from their creations. Most people on this planet will agree with this. But this does not translate to the either notion that for creators to see economic benefit they must have complete unrestricted control over all use cases of their works nor that they should retain this control indefinitely (and by extension that this control should be infinitely heritable.)

Balance is required. The needs of the individual weighed against the needs of society at large. The people will no more tolerate autocratic control over knowledge and experience than we will accept that same level of protectionism or exceptionalism for any other special interest group.

You may stone me for saying so; but the writer is no greater than the road worker. The singer no more deserving than the sysadmin.

And if I am a filthy freetard for saying so - and for espousing the beliefs above, which appear to be both the original basis for copyright and increasingly the stance taken by post-aughties copyright legislation - then I accept the label with pride.

PLASE NOTE:

My opinions on this matter are mine alone, and do not represent the opinions of The Register, Andrew Orlowski, the BOFH, the Vulture logo, the copyright symbol, members of W3C, any HTML tag, or any other entity real or imagined.

Y’all make up your own mind now, ya hear?

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Re: Re: no objections

You're waving that red herring around, Trevor.

We *do* value original artistic work, and original inventions, more than we value holes dug in the road. We think new creations are unique and important. We value them even if they are built on previous work - what we value is the new bit added to or inspired by the old work. The new bit is what thrills and amazes us.

That's why we have IP, to encourage more of them.

Now you're entitled to disagree - perhaps holes in the road are pretty important to you. Whatever floats your boat.

Your argument does not label you as a "filthy freetard", Trevor but something much worse. It indicates that you're someone who doesn't understand the value of originality and places a low value on the creation of new work. Which puts you outside the parameters of the debate.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, you're a smashing lad, but you've laid out your case, and it's the de facto autistic/machine view of creativity.

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Pirate

Re: no objections

Well Andrew, I do disagree. I hold creativity in high esteem...just like I hold the endeavours of all people who contribute to our society. I don’t happen to hold one “type” of labour in more esteem than the other without some damned good reasons. Those reasons usually are things like “saving a life, pushing the frontiers of knowledge or advancing the frontiers of human endeavour.”

Writing a novel or composing a song – unless you happen to be at the absolute pinnacle of your craft – does not in my estimation fall into any higher esteem than building a road or fixing a computer. Mind you, a truly exceptional road builder or systems administrator deserved above-par recognition just as would a composer or writer whose works will echo through the ages. (Consider that some of those truly exceptional roads have been around for centuries, for example!)

I value creativity, and I value originality. But no, I simply don’t believe that creators are more deserving than non-creators. And other than “because it should be so!” I have heard no remotely convincing arguments to explain to me why I should. Religions also use “because it should be so,” and yet I still believe in dame science.

What exactly makes your version of “should” more important than mine? What exactly makes your ethics and morals so almightily important that they “should” be considered whereas mine “should” be discarded? What exactly entitles one set of beliefs to trump another; to shape society and become law?

Because that’s what we’re talking about here…not “what is law,” but rather, “what the laws should become, and how they should evolve to meet technological changes, societal changes and so forth.” Copyright maximalism is not law. Not yet, and certainly not everywhere.

Indeed, the pendulum has even swung the other way; popular resistance to maximalist approaches is so strong that the US has temporarily ceased exporting it, and may even be looking to export fair use.

Once, only landowners of a specific gender and race had any rights at all. Eventually, the people rose up, and decided that this shouldn’t be so. It changed. Here, now, technology has brought us to an equally important crossroads in the definition of intellectual property. “The past” can be – and is – interpreted in many ways, depending on your bias. But what IP will be in the future is an open battleground, where there are many conflicting moral and ethical viewpoints.

You continually present yours in a hostile and righteous manner; but I bow before neither god nor man; no preacher of faith will tell me what to believe. Science - peer reviewed evidence, preferably backed by a strong consensus amongst experts within the field - can sway me, but rhetoric never will.

But it gets worse! Copyright maximalism – which you seem to champion repeatedly – isn’t even about the creators. It is about the exceptionalism of copyright holders, which in the modern world is rarely the creator.

To add to this poo, copyright maximalism is built on a false premise: that creativity can occur in a vacuum. Under copyright maximalism, nothing new would ever enter the public domain. (Except possibly “orphaned works,” I.E. the works of individual creators which are not owned by media-holding cartels.)

So each new work must be entirely original, or else derive only from those works which existed before the extant copyright scheme took hold and moved creativity into a special category.

This limits the possible avenues of creation for new creators. If you want to create something based upon a currently-culturally-relevant conceptual universe, you must work for/with/under the aegis of the cartel that owns it.

Let’s take a practical example:

In the copyright maximalist world, the Bastard Operator From Hell belongs to the copyright owner until the end of time. The characters cannot be reused, even the common tropes, memes and terms could be challenged, if they were reused in a similar context by a similar work.

So if I wanted to write a BOFH story, I would have to go get permission, have it vetted by the copyright owner and otherwise subsume my creativity to his economic interest. That BOFH story then won’t be told, and likely won’t appear in an alternate “universe,” for fear that it would be “too similar” and I’d end up owing eleventeen squillion times my mortgage in “damages.”

Now, let’s look at how this could work in a non-copyright-maximalist world:

The BOFH, having become a cultural icon to two generations of nerds gathers a massive following. Like-minded creatives who have similar experiences to draw on start to create derivative works. Simon and the PFY’s antics flow from a thousand keyboards and tell the tales of a thousand minds.

Someone throws up a subReddit; the terrible ones are downvoted into obscurity, to be deleted in shame. The great ones rise up, to be considered on par with – or perhaps even surpassing – the works of the original author himself.

A whirlwind of creativity occurs around these characters; the universe they established, the tropes, memes and terminology forming a common platform for systems administrators everywhere to tell their tale.

Branches emerge. Before Simon worked at a megacorp, he was an SME admin. These are the tales of the SME admin. PFY1 leaves to form his own consulting company, becoming a BOFH in his own right. These are his tales, and those of his unfortunate PFY…

In a non-copyright-maximalist world, I don’t have to first create the universe in order to make apple pie. If I want to end my systems administrator tale of woe with an ominous “kzert,” then I can do so…in the knowledge that I won’t get sued into a singularity, and my audience will understand…because the memes and tropes of the shared BOFH universe are in the public domain for all people – creators and consumers – to benefit from.

So I do take extreme exception to copyright maximalism. Copyright maximalism puts copyright owners on a pedestal; “better” than me, the systems administrator. Based on the (usually false) assumption that they are representing “creators,” copyright maximalism demands they be given rights and considerations regarding their labour – or labour they purchased – that simply doesn’t apply to my labour.

For me to ever accept copyright maximalism you have to first explain how the labour of a creative is deserving of more protection than that of a doctor, teacher, lawyer or systems administrator.

And then, after you’ve convinced Trevor Pott, Systems Administrator that he is worth less than Trevor Pott, Writer…you get to explain to Trevor Pott, writer why it is that in order to tell a fictional tale of Systems Administration woe I should never be able to have a PFY or a kzert or a sysadmin named Simon who mysteriously removes floor tiles.

But Snow White? Let’s write the HELL out of that one.

Until then, I am going to hold fast to the idea of balanced copyright, and I will continue to believe copyright maximalists are as ethically bankrupt as any “freetard.” Neither side of this debate offers a damned thing except rhetoric, and sticks, sticks, sticks.

I believe in the requirement for the occasional appearance of a carrot.

Contrary to popular opinion however, my beliefs can be altered. With sufficient evidence.

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Re: no objections

Note for the record: I submitted a post basically applying with Gizzit101 which accumulated over ten thumbs up (either 0 or 1 thumbs down). Woke up this morning and it had been retroactively 'rejected', and Andrew had posted several comments. Wonder what happened there, then.

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@Andrew (was: Re: no objections)

Trevor's young & idealistic. Give him some slack ... At least the kid can wright[1] a written article. These days, that's a rare talent ... Drop the irons and give him his head. He has Clues[tm].

Eventually, he'll become just as jaded & disillusioned as the rest of us, and I'm quite looking forward to his typoing[2] over the next couple decades, even if he does hate me ;-)

[1] No, that's not a typo ...

[2] Nor was that.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: no objections

Copyright is being minimalised, not maximised. Online, it really doesn't exist.

You want proof? Here you go:

1) As a punter, I can download any film ever made, any song ever recorded, for free, to my hearts content. Nobody is going to cut me off. Nobody is going to fine me. Nobody is going to send me to prison.

(The only media giant that puts people in prison for non-payment is the BBC: 71 imprisoned in 5 years, 142,000 criminal cases last year).

2) As an indie filmmaker or photographer, I have no redress against pirates. I can write take down notices all day, but the legal system does not fulfill basic social justice. The incentives are aligned to encourage people profiting from piracy.

Situations 1) and 2) can not exist in a world where copyright is getting stronger, only in a world where copyright is getting weaker.

Pretending otherwise is a quite dogmatic, ideological denial of reality. Most people don't, except in academia and in the tech blogosphere echo-chamber.

(As for term extensions, they are only as good as their enforcement. Copyright terms may as well be 100,000 years for all the difference it makes. The "true" length of copyright is about five minutes - as long as it takes to get onto Rapidshare or the Torrents. But freetards love to feel victimsed - and you are adopting freetard arguments wholesale - because their politics requires a) victimhood and b) a crisis.

Copyright is also being minimalised in other ways. Quite explicitly by ideological bureaucrats, such as the IPO, for example. All these are assaults on the rights of the creator, and investment and economic opportunity are draining away from all the cultural sectors.

Soon we'll be back to charity and sponsorship - which never go away, because some plutocrat will want his mug painted, Coca need music for adverts, etc. Some victory against the 'maximalists', huh? Not one many people wish for kids.

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Re: @Andrew (was: Re: no objections)

I think self-esteem has a lot to do with it. Cults rely on low self-esteem, 'Free Culture' (sic) is no different to any other cult. If the individual's sense of self is strong, then they'll respect individuality themselves. They'll be correspondingly less inclined to think all ideas are borrowed, there's no such thing as originality, aka "we are robots, all we do is copy"

Also, techy people who've just discovered the "copyright cause" as a big personal crusade do go nuts for it. I wrote about it here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/11/freetard_karaoke_nurse_had_low_self_esteem/

"A sure sign of an obsessive is a 2,000-word comment that appears below a story. With copyright-related stories, one of these can be guaranteed to appear appear within minutes. They only ever come from one side."

That's true in this comment thread as many others at El Reg. The copyright camp makes short coherent points. The anti-copyright camp responds with massive essays, containing the Kitchen Sink.

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Re: @Andrew (was: no objections)

The idea that rhetoric as a "short coherent point" is fundamentally superior to a more nuanced discussion that actually addresses the issue is one that suits the particular style of argumentation employed by copyright maximalists. It is really no different than those who attempt to control the discussion regarding climate change, sexual preference rights, the cancer-causing cell phone boogyman or any of a dozen flavours of renewable energy fanatic.

Regardless of if you actually bring the word God into the argument, the copyright maximalist arguments are presented no differently than a bible thumper from Westboro. You, Andrew, are operating entirely by the book.

You strip the nuances from your opponent’s argumentation in order to present an absurdly simplified argument that is easy to dismiss. Essentially, you turn legitimate issues raised by others into strawmen by refusing to acknowledge the complexities involved.

If I turn that exact same tactic on your arguments then what I get is “copyright maximalism matters because copyright maximalism matters.”

Your arguments can essentially all be boiled down to exceptionalism: “creators are more deserving than others, are downtrodden, poor, underappreciated and taken advantage of. More to the point, it’s morally wrong to infringe copyright because it just is.”

Well I don’t buy that any more than I buy anything else that was revealed to someone by a voice in their head.

I’m neither a Borg drone nor an autistic; I make up my own mind. Based on evidence. Name calling, rhetoric and attempts to shame based on a manufactured morality are irrelevant.

I refuse to buy the argument that we need ever more enforcement until we reach the mythical point that copyright infringement is impossible. I argue that pursing an extreme on behalf of a minority in untenable; doubly so when acceptable compromises do exist.

Among those compromises is altering enforcement to make copyright infringement more “parking ticket” than “half a mortgage per MP3.” Once you get in that range, people will accept greater enforcement and even assist with it.

Another compromise is acknowledging that most people who infringe copyright don’t do it because they want free stuff. Most do it because it is significantly easier than the alternatives, and comes with far fewer restrictions. If you want public acceptance – and assistance – in the hunt for copyright infringers, you need to make it a completely marginal activity by making obtaining legitimate content as easy as piracy.

It is however a lot more profitable to simply moralise and demand the right to externalise the costs of doing business while claiming both hardship and moral exceptionalism.

Unfortunately for copyright maximalists, the hoi polloi are starting to be educated enough to see that sort of déjà moo for what it is.

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Re: Re: @Andrew (was: no objections)

You've just repeated your last comment "Maximalist! maximalist! maximalist! maximalist!" without addressing any of the points subsequently raised.

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Re: @Andrew (was: no objections)

I disagree. I've answered the points raised; you simply don't like the answers. The issue is that we have a fundamentally different belief regarding the role of intellectual property in our society.

I do not believe that intellectual property holders have a fundamental moral right to perpetual monopoly over their works. You do. Until that is resolved, none of the rest of this really is relevant.

You claim we need more enforcement. I say we cannot accept more enforcement until we have assurances that we aren't walking to a society of omnipresent powerful enforcement combined with perpetual completely restricted copyright.

You wave the moral right of creators around as a reason to deprive the rest of society of rights (and to push maximalism.) I say that the moral all work belongs to society, and it is our job to ensure creators can earn a living, not milk the works until the end of time.

The fact that piracy can and does occur is not of itself reason enough to justify copyright maximalism. Not pragmatically and not ethically. Nothing you have said changes my mind in this regard.

Yes, I agree that more enforcement of extant regulations is needed. That said, I believe that the copyright maximalists have more than proven they do not have the best interests of society in mind; that enforcement has to come at a price. Their agreement to meet “the needs of the many” in the middle:

more enforcement, in exchange for hard limits on the maximalisation of copyright and the enshrining of technological neutrality regarding fair use.

You can argue “what good are laws that we don’t enforce” all you want. That’s a facetious argument. If the laws are on the books they can be enforced, and eventually…they will. Some enterprising fellow will come up with a way to drive the cost of enforcement down and then exactly what laws are no the books – and what punishments are attached to them – matter a great deal.

I will only ever support increased funding for enforcement if that enforcement is attached to restrictions on intellectual property. Rigidly defined term limits and fair use rights enshrined in laws that cannot be overturned without far more effort than mere lobbying money would ever dislodge. Multiple international treaties, if I had my druthers.

I quite simply do not – and can not, given the extent of my other philosophical beliefs – support the idea that intellectual property holders have a fundamental moral right to control every aspect of their works (and all potential derivatives) until the end of time. Every argument you make that is based on that premise will garner opposition from myself and those like me.

So yes, I have very much so addressed the issues you raised. I simply don’t find them important enough to cast aside the issues I raised. (Which you have dismissed with little more than proclamations of autism and hivemind thinking.) I still believe that both sides of the intellectual property debate raise valid issues that must find a compromise if society is to function in the modern era.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Boilerplate freeculture arguments, I'm afraid

“So yes, I have very much so addressed the issues you raised”

No, you haven’t even begun to.

Copyright is much weaker today for various reasons, one of them being that it cannot be effectively enforced online. (You seem to agree in principle that it should be, but something stops you completing the argument to its conclusion). So it is ineffective, it doesn’t work. An entire new area of life has opened up that is copyright-free.

In light of this, the mantra of encroaching “maximalism” you repeat is a fiction, a paranoid fantasy that exists entirely between your ears. Much like the radical environmentalists, your politics requires a “crisis”. Encroaching maximalism, evoking a new Dark Age, this is the “crisis” you need. But it has no substance in reality. You tend to reject reality where it does not suit your argument, for example, by refusing to accept that © is enshired as an individual property right in international and national law.

Trevor you also do something freetards do either implicitly or explicitly. Creators rights are human rights, but you make these human rights conditional on a beauty contest, based on what you consider virtuous.

Robert Levine has a nice rebuttal to this, in Eamonn Ford’s Q Magazine feature “Who Are The Freetards?” from earlier this year.

"If you follow that to its logical conclusion, you get to this idea that your rights vary according to how nice you are - which ought to scare the living shit out of anyone."

http://news.qthemusic.com/2012/07/column_-_how_free_is_ruining_e.html

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Re: Boilerplate freeculture arguments, I'm afraid

Re: Boilerplate freeculture arguments, I'm afraid

If you want to roll copyright law back to just-post-VCR, and then start increased enforcement, I'd support you. The issue at hand however is more complicated. Copyright enforcement in practice may not catch every infringement online, but it does get many individuals. This includes many innocents are forced to pay a significant chunk of their life's savings to defend themselves when their use of the material was clearly in the bounds of fair use. (Not to mention the practise of copyright trolling; shaking down innocents for money with the mere threat of a copyright case.)

Copyright law allows for harsher punishments, and it doesn't have the limitations it did before. If we allow the kind of omnipresent surveillance required to catch every copyright infringement, we're basically ruining the lives of a significant chunk of our population for a minor civil infringement. The punishments have become so disproportionate, the techniques used in enforcement so inaccurate (high % of innocents) that I simply cannot support enforcement expansion.

And what if we do? Now we monitor everyone all the time - guilty until proven innocent! - for infringement...but society has gotten nothing in return. Copyright holders in this future have power to ruin a man; in return, society sees nothing but the continued diminution of fair use and no new works entering the public domain.

You demand enforcement without any consideration regarding the consequences of that enforcement. Libertarianism for your chosen cause; the burden of externalities upon the rest of society. Your arguments are based off rhetoric and elitism. Intellectual property holders are "special" to you; their needs come before others.

I sense a pattern in your vitriol and ad hominem attacks, Andrew. You consistently rise up in defence of any cause in which there is a call to have an industry begin to pay the cost of something it has externalised for decades. You level claims of catastrophism at those who disagree with you. You question their sanity, their motivations, I have even seen the odd conspiracy theory article.

You have even come very close to saying outright in your last comment that I am incapable of critical thinking because I look at the same data as you, draw some of the same conclusions, but not all. “Your brain doesn’t work right if you don’t agree with me” is a recurring theme.

This is not a good look, Andrew. I have presented you with several arguments that you simply brush aside without addressing, only to assert that I am not addressing your issues because I don’t agree with you.

So let me be explicit here: I am presenting to you a slippery slope argument. A slippery slope argument can be a logical fallacy, but only if a mechanism by which the chain of events is to take place is not provided, nor evidence that this chain of events is likely.

I do thus address your issues. I believe that your concerns are invalid, because were society to follow your suggestions then I firmly believe there would be very negative consequences; ones that society would be nearly powerless to undo. What’s more, I believe there is compelling evidence to prove that these consequences will indeed occur; and a long established history to back it up.

My argument is backed by literally thousands of peer-reviewed papers from the top minds in their field. (Dr. Michael Geist, University of Ottawa being one excellent example.) My argument is based on experimental evidence: we have seen maximalism tried, and failed. On the other hand, societies that reject it are flourishing.

So you are 100% correct in that this entire debate mirrors the debate you engage in over climate change, amongst others. Where other people decry a series of likely consequences to actions, and demand that corporations pay externalities associated with their businesses in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the possibility of those consequences becoming reality, you take up the fight.

Even when the overwhelming bulk of scientific evidence is against you – re: climate change – you can, will and do simply dehumanise your opponents. (Catastrophists! Autistics! People incapable of “proper” thought!)

At the core, the debate – be it climate change or intellectual property – has the exact same fundamental philosophical divergence between us:

I argue that the consequences of any social policy must be thoroughly examined, tested and subjected to expert consensus. In areas where consequences for inaction are disproportionately negative for society at large, regulation should be used to ensure the welfare of the many, preferably whilst avoiding too dramatic an impact on the few. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

You argue that social policy should be as “hands off” as possible; that “the market” should decide. Governments should intervene only when the status quo of an industry is changed; when they can no longer externalise a cost they had traditionally been able to. The moral right of the few outweighs the needs of the many.

We can go around and around here Andrew. At the end of the day, I believe that the social policies you propose will have dire consequences. I believe those consequences are significantly more dire for significantly more people in our society than the extant arrangement.

Simultainiously, I believe that society has not yet reached the optimal balance between the needs of society and the needs of creators. I believe there are a great many changes that need to take place if intellectual property is to serve everyone in society fairly.

Apparently however, the changes I would see implemented – the balance between the needs of the many and those of the few – is anathema to you. You argue only extant implementation, demanding a change-and-see approach with no examination of consequences excepting as they would apply to the group you consider “more equal” than the majority. By considering the many; by examining the consequences of your approach and seeking to minimise them, I am a catastrophist.

If that is your view of me, so be it. I cannot continue to go round with you on this topic; we are diametrically opposed on a fundamental philosophical level. We will continue to disagree vehemently about nearly everything higher level than that.

What has come from this however is the understanding that I simply shouldn’t reply to your articles; our viewpoints are so divergent the conversation can lead to nothing excepting animosity and logic loops.

So cheers sir; we’ll have to find other topics to discuss in the future. Ones where we are less divergent in our views.

P.S.: regarding copyright and international law? International law recognises that it is separate and distinct from traditional property. Thus why - so far - there are time limits on it. Despite the massive push to make it perpetual. So I maintain my position that it is not "property" in the morally perpetual sense that you continually use. It is a temporary monopoly granted to ensure that a creator can see economic reward from something that – ultimately – belongs to society at large. But now we’re back to fundamental philosophical disagreements…and apparently different interpretations of extant law filtered through those philosophies...

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See this is my problem with the music and movie business. There is all the talk of lost sales and people being poor and then loads of talk of the "stick" part but very little on the carrot side. If you dont even out the carrot side the stick will just put all of this further and further underground.

Reduce the length of copyright to a more reasonable 10-20 years and then have a proper enforcement or open up the rights side so its easier for people to get access to the products on different media or any of hundreds of other things that prove the industry is trying to meet half way. There will be people who wont be placated but the majority will be happy to meet half way.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

I agree that the term of copyright in recordings is too long, but as by far the vast majority of music and film which is pirated is current to the last year or so, what difference do you think it will make reducing the term?

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Re: Hmm...

I see that as redressing the balance between copyright, which we as a society grant artists, and enforcement of that copyright. Currently no song out today will ever be out of copyright in my time. So speaking purely selfishly why would I support harsher penalties to an industry that isn't willing to play fair? By giving up that massive length of time you are showing that the industry isn't demanding or living in its own wee bubble where they can dictate what they like, as they are portrayed right now let's be honest. The return for this is that we society more rigorously defend that copyright.

I am yet to hear anyone of the people demanding more punishment and more regulation come out with anything they are willing to give in return. Like I said more business models are needed but look at the mess of international copyright and access to music library's for services like spotify and play music.

The same basic theory would apply to movies games and tv.

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The majority of peole downloading aren't going to change their minds just because the copyright has been shortened. That's not why they do it. Most peole download because it's free and easy.

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Alert

"Most peole download because it's free and easy."

"Most people download because it's free and easy."

Sometimes it's relative, and people download because the media companies make it hard not to.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

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Gold badge

Re: "Most peole download because it's free and easy."

The Oatmeal's "Game of Thrones" comic resonates with nearly everyone I know who feels the need to engage in copyright infringement. Every one of them wants to be able to pay for the content they consume. Alas, we're Canadian, and the media companies often simply decide we aren't allowed. (Or they make it possible, but so unwieldy that a psychological barrier is breached, and the ethics of copyright infringement stop mattering when compared to the frustration and hatred for the publishers caused by overwhelming megacorporate derping.)

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, more whiny self-entitled "creatives". If you want to make a living out of music then fine, but don't cry about how it's no longer like the old days where record companies colluded to fix prices and created artificial scarcity our of an infinite good in order to make lots of money for very little effort.

People were making a living by performing live music long before recorded music ever existed. I'm not saying it's going to make every artist rich, but the days of knocking out a few songs and reaping in massive amounts of cash are gone forever. If you're motivated by money then get a real job instead of expecting the rest of the world to accommodate to your desire to get rich by performing a hobby.

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Facepalm

"get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

Freetards don't wish to pay for music so musicians should get 'real' jobs and professional musicians should downgrade themselves to hobbyists simply to accommodate the freetards.

Good job freetards can't download the services of other professionals, isn't it ?

Dentistry, for example.

Had your teeth put in for stealing music by an angry hobbyist wielding a guitar? Download some teeth!

Broken leg? Download some surgery!!

Being sued ? Download some defence. Need your car fixing? Download a mechanic ...

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Anonymous Coward

No problem. If you don't want to pay for music, then we won't make it. And don't start whining about how "music was so much better in the old days".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

Yeah, the thing is the dentist/surgeon/lawyer/mechanic generally gets paid for every time he/she performs the task they're being paid to do, they don't just do something once and then make infinite duplicates of it to sell at an inflated price point. If that were the case then, yes downloading teeth/surgery/legal defence/mechanical repairs would be fine too.

If anything you've just reaffirmed the point I was making; if you're a musician and want to make money then perform gigs and actually work for it, rather than crying that you can no longer rely on an antiquated and artificial 20th century business model that lets you sit back and collect royalties.

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Syd

Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

Actually, the upper-end of the medical profession (surgeons/ dental surgeons/ etc.) are *highly* vulnerable to being replaced by technology within the next 50 years. You will be diagnosed by a computer that scans your body, and you will be operated on by nanobots which don't even need to break the skin. It is going to be an interesting process too - I don't expect the medical profession to go down without a fight; but go down they will.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a Deal

Odds are your music isn't any good if it means so little to you you'd stop making it as soon as you stop getting paid. Most artists I listen to these days just stick their work up on SoundCloud and YouTube for free.

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then we won't make it

Sounds fair to me. If you don't get paid enough to make you happy go do something else.

I have somewhere between 600-700 CDs but in the last year I've only bought one (and I bought that one directly from the band that was playing at a festival).

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FAIL

Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

The Dentist, surgeon, mechanic only get paid once.

The mechanic is not expecting to get paid every time I drive my car, and I'm sure they don't expect there grandchildren to get paid for the work they did today.

A lot like a live performance...

The record companies are not selling a service, they are selling a copy of something, and you can always make another copy.

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FAIL

Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

"... dentist/surgeon/lawyer/mechanic generally gets paid for every time he/she performs the task they're being paid to do, they don't just do something once and then make infinite duplicates of it to sell at an inflated price point"

Still a performance of ability though, isn't it ?

You wouldn't pay a back street dentist £10 for a filling any more than you would pay .99p to listen to a song made by someone unable to play an instrument.

If it were possible to digitise, for ease of copy, the services of a dentist/surgeon/lawyer/mechanic then I'm sure the freetard movement would come up with many a justification for what is, essentially, putting people out of work so the freetard can get free stuff.

Freetardism empowers the corporations.

Freetardism sticks it to the individual, not the man.

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Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

Italian singer-songwriter Max Gazzè (who those of you outside Italy won't have heard of) is a pretty big deal in his home country. He's famous enough there that he gets recognised in the street, and he's been pretty successful as Italian musicians go over the past ten years or so.

And, yes, he gives a lot of concerts. During the summer, he's gigging at hundreds of towns and villages around the country, often out on the road for days, for very little return—many of these concerts are benefit gigs for the likes of the earthquake-hit Emilia Romagna. I know this because he's a relative—I've even watched him recording a track. (That process takes days, incidentally. Not everyone musician has "DJ" or "MC" in their name and sits in front of a computer with a copy of Garageband, Reason, or Acid Pro, to knock out a remix or dance track in an afternoon.)

And yet... he's made a tiny, tiny fraction—usually only five figures in any one year once everyone else has taken their cut—of what an investment banker makes for not having a fucking clue what it is he and his colleagues actually do for a living. That banker is paid ridiculous sums of money to click a few buttons that move vast sums of money around in a glorified international online casino, placing vague bets on financial "products", the contents of which appear to remain a complete mystery to all involved. Oops! We just bankrupted Iceland and brought the US, the UK and the entire Eurozone to its knees! Sorry! Can you give us some money to tide us over and keep us in the manner to which we have become accustomed? We promise not to do it again! Scout's honour!

And yet the ire of the technorati is focused with laser-like precision on... artists. People who actually create something are getting punished, while the arseholes who created this global recession...? They're merrily spending their multi-million-dollar bailouts and bonuses. You know: the bailouts our governments unilaterally decided to pay them out of our own damned pockets. And those bonuses are apparently required in order to "attract the best talent". (Again: this is the same "talent" that has been placing billion-dollar bets on financial bullshit packages that they don't even understand. Remember that whenever you hear of more bonuses being paid.)

Are we punishing these bankers? No. They get rewarded. Handsomely. At our expense.

Are we punishing the politicians who blundered so badly? No. They, too, are simply re-elected and rewarded.

There are far, far more deserving targets of your ire than people involved in an industry that's going through a painful transition. Musicians, writers, photographers, game developers and filmmakers have just as much right to earn a crust as you, or anyone else. The creative industries will adapt. What they need are viable solutions, not a horde of ignorant whiners complaining that they have to pay for services rendered.

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Facepalm

Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

"If anything you've just reaffirmed the point I was making; if you're a musician and want to make money then perform gigs and actually work for it, rather than crying that you can no longer rely on an antiquated and artificial 20th century business model that lets you sit back and collect royalties."

Lets say an album costs $20k to produce (studio time, album artwork, etc.). In the real world a musician sells many copies of this album so that the costs to an individual consumer are relatively low but the investment on the album is recouped and if they're lucky they might even make a profit*. In your world selling more than one copy is corporate fascism so the musician is forced to sell one copy priced to cover the production costs and make some profit, lets say $25k. Who the hell is going to pay $25k for one album?

If all music is performed live and nobody is willing to pay for it to be professional recorded because they'll never make their money back, does this mean that all recorded music will be in the form of shaky smartphone videos recorded at a gigs? Bugger that for a game of soldiers.

*Yes, the music cartels will be involved at some point taking an unreasonable cut but this is a side issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

@Tom 35 - How do you propose that a musician can earn a living if they are only paid once? Who would pay them? How much would they be paid? Who has the rights to the music after the payment?

What about the musicians who can't or won't play live? What about musicians with families who can't do epic world tours, in order to earn a fairly small amount of money? (Only very large bands rake it in from tours.)

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Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

Getting paid once is orthogonal to the main point - which is that creative professionals are *professional.*

Being *professional* means it takes you a long time to get good at something. You have to learn a lot, practice a lot, and then - eventually - you can start making some money.

If you're an amateur, you are not a professional - by definition. Since no one sane is going to want to see a weekend doctor, dentist, car mechanic, lawyer, what exactly is it about working in the arts that makes people suddenly think 'Oh hey - no one needs to do this job full time. A hobby is just fine'?

Because - you know - working 14 hour days in a studio, or on tour, or in a serial TV show, or on a movie set, is just piss easy and not real work at all.

"The record companies are not selling a service, they are selling a copy of something."

Where do you think the original thing that gets copied comes from?

Here's an idea - maybe somebody actually has to take the time to make it.

I know that's a revolutionary concept to the freetards, but there it is.

And if you have a problem with, presumably you wouldn't mind me hacking into your bank account and copying the balance there.

It's all just bytes, after all, and why should you care if your cash is copied all over the internet?

Oh wait - you're going to tell me that's different, aren't you?

So now you're saying that money should be copy protected? And you believe in copyright after all then?

Ah. So when it's *your* stuff it's suddenly a Big Deal.

Yeah. Whatever.

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Music Schmoosick

I can knock off a relatively good poem in about half an hour. Come back to it a day or two later to give it a once over, maybe change a phrase or a couple of words. Another half an hour.

I dare say a good musician can do something similar. There are thousands of words to make rhymes with, so it is all very easy for me. There are only 7 notes and therefore not many thousands of combinations to couple. It shouldn't be too hard to knock out a newish tune, if your audience is young, silly and inept. Pop misusick isn't even concerned with four part harmonies.

People with pimples singing about broken hearts. FFS!

Not even that these days, just rhyming swear words. How hard can that be?

Writing a book takes a few months. Few authors can knock out 2 an year of any merit. But musicians will all too frequently knock out shit. Even good ones such as Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, god help me what about Stravinsky and Rites of Spring?

Any old tat can be given the Warhol treatment. The target customers are children after all.

> If you don't want to pay for music, then we won't make it.

Give me a break you tit.

In every town in Britain you can find gifted musicians singing their own stuff for free, just happy to be in a groove on open mic. night. Now GTHOOI.

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Re: "get a real job" ? Interesting concept ..

@ AC - "How do you propose that a musician can earn a living if they are only paid once?"

You miss my point. The original post that I replied to was a load of crap. It compared people who preform a service and only get paid once, to the selling of copy of something, that can it's self be copied.

But since you asked, the same way as everyone else in the world? How do all the technicians, artists, studio floor sweepers earn a living when they only get paid once when they make a record?

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Re: Music Schmoosick

> It shouldn't be too hard to knock out a newish tune, if your audience is young, silly and inept.

No need to bother for the young. Just recycle the old tunes. The teenFlex keeps finding "new" songs that I point out I heard 30+ years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Marcello...

... Then don't make it. :D

I know many artists who do their work as a hobby. Most who get jobs see it as a privilege not a right.

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Re: Music Schmoosick

"I can knock off a relatively good poem in about half an hour. Come back to it a day or two later to give it a once over, maybe change a phrase or a couple of words. Another half an hour.

I dare say a good musician can do something similar. There are thousands of words to make rhymes with, so it is all very easy for me. There are only 7 notes and therefore not many thousands of combinations to couple."

You must really, really hate The Beatles then. Their early songs included such deep lyrical gems as: She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah! And the not at all trite and shallow: Love Me Do

Both "timeless classics". Apparently.

Personally, I can't tell the difference between those song lyrics and any of the modern teenage angst shite currently in the charts, but I appear to be in a minority shared, it seems, with yourself.

Incidentally, there are rather more than "seven notes" in music. I can see 49 of them. Just because they're labelled here in the West using a cyclic system based on letters and numbers, it doesn't mean there are only "7" of them. Each pitch is different.

By your logic, there are only ten numbers, and arithmetic is therefore all lies.

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