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Protecting music by destroying records? Online protesters vs. the music industry

By amino in Media
Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 12:53:42 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

It was supposed to be a musical experiment when last december Brian Burton, aka 'DJ Danger Mouse' from White Plains, NY began remixing a contemporary rap album, Jay-Z's 'Black Album' with the 1968 'White Album' by the Beatles.

On one hand, this turned into an interesting musical piece of work and a big media affair on the other: 'EMI Group', who are controlling rights to all Beatles Music owned by Capitol Records Incorporated, started sending 'cease and desist' letters to Danger Mouse himself, record stores and online shops like FatBeats, hiphopsite.com and ebay asking them to destroy all remaining copies of the remix album and to stop all distribution and sale.

Today, Tuesday 24th of February, there is an online protest mobilizing websites to host the album and radio stations to play it on the air. Have a look at greytuesday.org to see who's participating.


The 'Rolling Stone' wrote it was 'an ingenious hip-hop record that sounds oddly ahead of its time' and the 'Boston Globe' called it the 'most creatively captivating' album of the year. It is questionable wether the 'Rolling Stone' or the 'Boston Globe' really know anything about Hiphop at all, but the remix album, which is taking its name 'Grey Album' from the two originals it used samples from, created a huge hype largely because of the fact that the music industry is trying to ban it.

In total, approximatly 3000 copies of the album were pressed by Burton himself and sent to a number of record shops, which is common for underground dj's and usually not connected to the prospect of big revenues. But the tracks were popular and beginning to be played in clubs. The media hype regarding its illegal status further spured a demand and the album was being shared all over the net.

Musically, the remixes are certainly interesting and some of them sound pretty good. However, a masterpiece it is not. How original could sampling the Beatles be? Especially in combination with a mediocre MC such as Jay-Z. Were it not an underground endeavor, certainly many would be hating it. But nonetheless, this scandal is exposing the questionable moral ground of the record industry and its profit-oriented copyright-fanatism. And it helps initiate an evaluation of the decade-long supression of musical creativity by the corporate world, which until now everyone took for granted.

1. What rational basis do corporations have in protecting copyrights on sonic airwaves?

Because this is what music ends up being, even though it might temporarily be abstracted on an analog or digital data carrier. Musical notes, too, could be reduced to a very basic pattern which, once copyrighted, could stifle any further musical work with the help of legal enforcement. This doesn't happen as long as corporations do have an economic neccessity for expanding the definition of copyright, however, they will try to restrict anything that goes any further than their very own understanding of creative freedom and which is therefore likely to weaken their guarantee on profit.

If the concept of copyright were put into an extreme, one could have protected the bit strings '10', '11', '01' and '00' and thereby claim rights on any successive digital data in the world. No state would allow this and noone in their right mind would think this justifiable. However, commonly practiced copyright is no less than a moderate form of this questionable claim on 'intellectual property'. It will only be enforced as long as current beneficiaries are able to interpret and enforce it for their own good. Or as long as social consensus allows for a restrictive form of exploitation of music and art (or intellectual product in general) to exist and dominate our culture.

The non-existance or the non-enforcability of copyright would essentially put the very legitimacy of the socalled 'copyright controllers' in question. These are the main beneficiaries of the current state of an artificially created scarcity in goods, upheld per law (namely: the prevention of free copying of artistic or intellectual content), who would otherwise no longer be neccessary for actual distribution of content due to technological progress. The record companies' role as a distributor of music has long been replaced by their role as an uncompromising 'royalty collector', often against the will of the artists themselves.

2. What moral basis do musicians have to expect a guarantee on financial revenues through the duplication of their music?

Nowadays, copies -especially in digital form- are created and distributed by the fan's extra effort at almost no additional cost at all. This helps ensure a bigger public exposure for the artist's work and a higher level of popularity, which in turn increases his/her prospect for paid for performances. And this, without the musician having to waste a lot of time thinking about distribution him/herself.

What we have here is a distribution system that could hardly be any better in regard to artistic content: because it is the fans themselves who are becoming the distributors, those contents which are considered valuable by them will also be shared more; bad art (such as bad music) will be shared less. This would be a natural distribution system regulating the quantity of content by the people's judgement, not by the profit-driven motivation of big corporations and their concept of a centralized distribution scheme.

'Publishing' music means to make it publicly available. For example on a website or a filesharing network. The rest will be subject to demand.

3. Why should the music industry have a permanent right to continuous revenues?

Over the past decades, the record industry has been cartellizing and exploiting their legally protected de-facto-monopoly in distribution of musical content, excercizing usury in media sales. I suggest, they have had revenues, which in a free media market they would otherwise never have been able to make.

4. Who ever asks the artists -especially once they're dead- if they'd really appreciate a rigid prosecution of copyright 'violators' as is common. Do they really have a big problem with their content being used for successive art?

It is extremely doubtful wether Frank Zappa, Bob Marley or John Lennon would really be outraged by young artists reinterpreting their work by using parts of their music, especially for non-commercial, or less-commercial purposes.

And even if so: these artists' piano melodies and guitar riffs are no more than bizarre sound fragments that had their inspirational origin who-knows-where, only to be captured on a volatile carrier at some point in time. Just like the noise of a river, they are to be put into public domain, because in the end, everything has a common physical and creative origin. Copyright protection is a temporary capital exploitation of artistic creativity by the profiteers of the present.

5. Shouldn't musicians and artists in general be happy about other people enjoying their art?

Is it a personal quality to sue radio dj's and online fans for playing or sharing your music? As a musician, shouldn't you be making music so other people can listen to it?

Commonly, after a live show, artists bow before the audience to thank them for accepting their art. It would be appropriate for musicians to thank people for listening to their music instead of suing them or prohibiting them from listening to it. The audience's gratitude, often in the form of money, is a reward the artist has to put effort into. But he or she, just like a street musician, has no preemptive right on payment.

Many freelance musicians on the net are now offering paypal accounts to upload money to. I'm not sure if this works, however, it is still self-explanatory for people to pay entrance fees at live performances because there, musicians are almost playing for you personally and there is a visible live effort.

Another good way for musicians to make money is to press their own records and offer them in exchange for money, believe it or not. Or to organize in labels or art collectives to make production and sale of their records possible. This makes a lot of sense especially for artists whose music is so underground you cannot even find it on filesharing systems; and of course for dj's working with vinyl. This way, there is still money to be made without the need to be restrictive; neither to sign with a major label.

Simple copying and sharing of music, digitally or analogically, usually is no extra effort on the artist's part, quite to the contrary: it is usually an extra effort on part of the fan who even spends money on bandwidth and computer resources to enable others to be exposed to the artist's music, while at the same time helping different industries grow and prosper - that of the internet service provider and related ones.

If big record companies think they have to sue even the last teenager for sharing their music online, it will have a predictable effect on the global music scene in that people will stick to sharing only alternative and independent music instead of corporate music. The majority of all music worldwide has no corporate affiliation, and usually, it is of better quality than whatever the majors can offer, too.

6. Finally, do we really need rules for art?

Is it really neccessary to subject every sample, cover version, public performance, copy, dissemination, listening and playing to fees and conditions? Is it desirable for society having to deal with license enforcement, 'cease and desist' letters and a parasitic secondary industry feeding on legal disputes when it comes to art?

All this, so corporate executives and bigheaded pop stars can have a financial guarantee for their disproportionate lifestyles. Is it too much to ask wether so called 'professional' musicians could earn their money like everybody else and pursue music as a hobby and be happy when making a little bit off of it on the side, like so many people do?

How much longer will it take for the public to realize that enforcing copyright does not protect the poor, independent artist, but the ones who are not in the need of being on the receiving end of legally backed subsidies.

Once more, the much hated music industry, this time represented by EMI, will not make themselves popular in pretending to be protecting art and creativity by vigurously enforcing their concept of copyright, while at the same time demanding the ban and destruction of something as harmless as a cut-up 60's rock record remixed with contemporary rap acapellas.

For Tuesday 24th of February 2004, the online initiative greytuesday.org organized a worldwide protest against banning the record and encouraged websites and radio stations to host and/or play it throughout the day. But why would you stick to playing it only for a day?..

You can download the album at illegal-art.org or from any good filesharing network.

Press release by downhillbattle.org
Wired-News article
Another one on Reuters
'Cease and desist letter' to the waxy.org weblog
'Cease and desist' letter to participants in the online protest
EFF.org: More info on the 'Digital Millenium Copyright Act' used to supress this piece of art
'Changing Copyright' by Negativland
An industry insider's text on how the major labels really work
downhillbattle.org: Everything you always wanted to know about music activism
DJ Danger Mouse's website
EMI Group's website
creativecommons.org: Online-Project for developing and offering free artist licenses
creativecommons.org: Try their 'license generator'

Some selected free music links:
http://psychofreud.com/ - offers all his music as a livestream, wicked stuff!
http://evolutionradio.org/ - 24h nonstop radio stream featuring music by users
http://www.detritus.net/illegalart/mp3s/index.html - experimental sound montages and alike..
http://www.themechanicsofdestruction.org/ - politically-motivated experimental music, free album
http://www.osmonline.com/ - indie label, offering their music as an interactive live stream
http://negativland.com/ - 20 year old band whose 'U2' single was banned from the public (available as a download)
http://slsk.org/ - Soulseek! an underground filesharing network also used by many amateur musicians sharing their own works with other users
http://www.magnatune.com/ - a revolutionary online label featuring over 100 artists from various genres; explicitly offers their music for free for non-commercial use and redistribution, as well as all albums for download (via 'license/non-commercial') and live streaming; all artists have a 50% share in all commercial revenues
http://www.google.com/search?q=free+music - go look yourself

This text is free of copyright restrictions and may be reused freely.

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Poll
Which music corporation would you want to see banned most?
o Capitol Records 2%
o Columbia Records 0%
o Elektra 2%
o Sony Music 20%
o MCA 0%
o Universal Music Group 28%
o EMI Group 23%
o Warner Brothers 7%
o RCA Victor 2%
o A&M Records 0%
o Virgin 2%
o Other 10%

Votes: 39
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o greytuesda y.org
o illegal-ar t.org
o Press release by downhillbattle.org
o Wired-News article
o Another one on Reuters
o 'Cease and desist letter' to the waxy.org weblog
o 'Cease and desist' letter to participants in the online protest
o EFF.org: More info on the 'Digital Millenium Copyright Act' used to supress this piece of art
o 'Changing Copyright' by Negativland
o An industry insider's text on how the major labels really work
o downhillba ttle.org: Everything you always wanted to know about music activism
o DJ Danger Mouse's website
o EMI Group's website
o creativeco mmons.org: Online-Project for developing and offering free artist licenses
o creativeco mmons.org: Try their 'license generator'
o http://psy chofreud.com/
o http://evo lutionradio.org/
o http://www .detritus.net/illegalart/mp3s/index.html
o http://www .themechanicsofdestruction.org/
o http://www .osmonline.com/
o http://neg ativland.com/
o http://sls k.org/
o http://www .magnatune.com/
o http://www .google.com/search?q=free+music
o Also by amino


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Protecting music by destroying records? Online protesters vs. the music industry | 52 comments (40 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
Beatles + Metallica... (+1) (2.75 / 4) (#5)
by Kasreyn on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 01:38:55 PM EST

...now that might have been slightly more interesting. (Metallica, for those who don't know, is a heavy metal band whose most popular, self-titled album was known as the "black album")

As for your questions...

1. No more right than a publishing house has to copyright a certain pattern of photons reflected off a page into a reader's eye. :-P Breaking things down into concepts like "sound waves" and bits makes them sound more complicated than they really are. FWIW, yes I agree that music can obviously be represented by numbers, but then so can anything else. Given sufficient richness of data, and an appropriate encoding scheme, you could describe a Lexus SUV in a single bignum. If someone set up their own home factory, decoded this bignum off the internet, and started making and selling Lexus SUV's, would you accuse Lexus of trying to control a number? I'd say they're controlling a car, and the number is just a representation.

2. Moral? I don't think this question makes any sense. Since when did morality have anything to do with money? Now legality and ethicality... But I can try to parse what I think you meant to say, which is "what right do musicians have to expect etcetera". To which my answer is, I'm not certain. I believe artists should be compensated for their efforts. However, I don't think their rights go so far as to require abusive legislation that hurts innovation and the public good, such as the DMCA.

3. None. The music industry is living in a dream world where the laws of capitalism only apply to those other poor schmucks over there, not us. See, under normal capitalist effects, if you stop working, you stop getting paid and eventually go broke. This would happen to me if I quit going to my job. However, the media corporations are using legislation to guarantee themselves an eternal profit, for no real additional effort, at the expense of the taxpayer and the consumer. They have no right at all to continuous revenues, any more than I would have the right to request continued paychecks from my employer without going in to work every day.

4. The problem here is twofold IMO. First off, copyright control often passes to the artist's estate, and secondly he may have signed it over to someone else or a corporation before dying, in which case he wasn't even controlling it in the first place. I have a simple solution, which is to put all of a person's works in the public domain upon his death; that may be too simple though. However, does Disney really have a right to keep the image of Mickey Mouse away from the public domain - where it will be most useful and enjoyable to the most people - so many years after the death of the original artist? There's a balancing act here, one which IMO the U.S. was doing a good job at until the media corporations recently started weighing down one side of the scale with huge sacks of gold. :-\

5. You can't enforce generosity. The law has to make room for greedy sellout artists who only care about making a buck - as long as they work for it. We can argue online all day about the foot-shooting metaphor of bands like Metallica hypocritically attacking the underground music trading scene which originally got them famous, but there's no law saying you can't be an asshole or a liar (outside of court). (good thing for me!) I would *like* a world where artists could live on the praise and kind words of their fellow men, but we don't live in that world. Instead, we spend 400 billion or so a year on machinery of death and pay tens of millions to high school drop-outs who can throw an inflated bit of dead pig 50 yards. So artists have to watch their income because our society doesn't recognize their importance yet. Some of them choose to remain in virtual or actual poverty and just subsist on praise and other kind words, others want the nicer things in life and have to go through the money machine of the industry to do it. I don't think we can fault the ones who want to make an honest living.

6. Of course. We have rules for everything else of value, and art is arguably one of the more valuable things human beings have. What else makes the short time between birth and death bearable? Now I would say they're carrying this too far, but we clearly have to have SOME rules. I once visited the Met Museum in NYC and stood not even 2 feet away from a Rembrandt self-portrait in oil. I'm not an art major, but I assume it was the original and probably worth at least hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. There was no glass or plastic casing, and only one guard in the room, and he was 25 feet away. If I had wanted to, I suppose I could have pulled out my knife and ruined it. I didn't want to. However, if I had, there are rules that say I would have been liable for the damages and prosecuted for destruction of property. Out there somewhere is probably someone who hates Rembrandt's art enough that he wishes he could do that (or at least, if no one cares that much today, there probably was such a person during Rembrandt's life). So clearly we need to have some rules, but I think the present situation is more than a little bit ridiculous.

More interesting subversive music can be found at http://www.droplift.org/.

I would continue to post longer, but I have to go. Unlike some people, if I don't work every day, I don't get to eat.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
thanks for the music link, but.. (none / 0) (#8)
by amino on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:06:24 PM EST

thanks for the link,

but when commenting on 6. you got off the scale. noone's talking about destroying people's art, let alone destroying their original artwork.

we're talking about building on people's art, using parts of the original and similar approaches.

making a copy of rembrandt's painting, then slicing it up and reassembling it to create a new piece of freaky art is not the same as destroying the original.

but thanks for your comment.

[ Parent ]

Beatallica (none / 0) (#41)
by Jebediah on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 04:07:42 AM EST

Seriously, google for it.

[ Parent ]
Love those guys (none / 0) (#51)
by dennis on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 08:14:25 PM EST

"The Thing That Should Not Let It Be"....now that's art.

[ Parent ]
i think everyone is missing this on p2p and music: (2.83 / 6) (#7)
by circletimessquare on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:03:39 PM EST

it's all about teenagers

no corporation, no matter how much power and money it has, and ever possibly defeat a million teenagers who are:

  1. hungry for music like no other age group (specifically pop music, which the big companies care most about)
  2. poor, with the least extra income, like no other age group
  3. infinitely networked in a way that is impossible to censor and infinitely clever like any "where there is a will there is a way" example you can think of
additionally, teenage boys will not stop making music just because they might not be gazillionaires like p diddy someday, it was always, since the dawn of time and all we had were coconut shells and sticks, it was always about impressing chicks

music is a passion of human existence, not a career decision or a corporate product. no one can own music, like no one can own a human soul.

music corporations as we know them are doomed, we don't want their aluminum discs anymore. sure they got their resurrected napster and their applicious ipod services, but where there is no need for a middleman, what other choice does the middleman have than to morph into a hustler?: promote acts, sell live performance tickets, broker advertising tie-ins, and set up music portals where viewers can get exposure to acts they might like... that is the future face of corporate music.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

#2 is not true (2.75 / 3) (#9)
by pauldamer on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:11:32 PM EST

USian middle class teenages actually spend a large amount of money to spend. Many have jobs or allowances and few save much of their income. This is why companies market so heavily towards them.

I do agree with you though. Their money is why the record companies are so pissed off. The teenagers that used to spend so much on their crappy music are now getting it free and spending their money elsewhere.

[ Parent ]

they do (did) spend a lot on music (none / 1) (#10)
by circletimessquare on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:17:32 PM EST

perhaps more than any other age group

but their absolute buying power is less than 20 or 30 somethings, for sure

a poor college student might be a dumb college student and spend his last $20 on a CD, but given the choice, he'd probably download it for free and buy a burrito instead

a 27 year old on the other hand, even though he doesn't demographically speaking, choose to, he could still buy $500 of CDs in an afternoon, no problem

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Damn.. (none / 1) (#16)
by Kwil on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 03:40:47 PM EST

..I guess that coveted 14-18 yr old marketing demographic that companies try for so much must be complete hogwash then.

Except it isn't. 30 somethings make a sh'load more money.
They also have a sh'load more bills, and wind up with less disposable income. Little things like car payments, rent, utilities, perhaps tuition, etc.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
nah... (3.00 / 4) (#33)
by JahToasted on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 04:14:55 PM EST

the 14-18 yr old demographic is so important because they have not yet been molded into good consumers like the older generations have. The older generations, being good consumers, are already programmed about what brands they like. Its pointless to market pepsi to someone who has drunk coke for the last 10 years and vice versa.

Teenagers are not yet set in which brands they buy and what music they like. So while their slate is clean, they are open to new products. That's why everything is marketed for them.

Pearl Jam can make an album and make no videos to promote it and the 25-34 year old demographic will still buy them. Britney Spears can make ten videos directed at getting that 25-34 demographic and not gain a single fan. So Britney makes videos directed at the teenage crowd, who are not as set in their ways, and possibly more gullible.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

+1 FP (none / 2) (#11)
by Pop Top on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:28:29 PM EST

Interesting and informative article on a subject that is simply too little discussed these days.

Money (1.37 / 8) (#12)
by unknownlamer on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:35:34 PM EST

The way to make money in the music industry is not to sell records but to tour.

Musicians who perform make money. Those who do not do not. This is how it always has been and always will be. Everyone that is obsessed with selling tons of records is stupid. The record companies are the only ones who care about that because they can't make money off of tours (the standard recording contract generally involves trading all your recording revenue to the recording company in exchange for them not touching anything you make from touring).

The only people who seem to suffer are "artists" with no talent that can't play live. And those crazy electronic musicians; they do need to sell records to make money. They are the small exception to the rule.



--
<vladl> I am reading the making of the atomic bong - modern science
Electronic music DJs (none / 0) (#17)
by Fen on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 04:01:10 PM EST

They can make their money DJing. No talking, just two turntables!
--Self.
[ Parent ]
Weak troll. (none / 0) (#25)
by ktakki on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 10:35:32 PM EST

The way to make money in the music industry is not to sell records but to tour.
US Gross record sales, 2002: $12 Billion.

US Gross concert receipts, 2002: $2 Billion.

Which is the larger number, 2 or 12? Take all the time you need to answer this one.


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

Elementary stats (none / 0) (#46)
by gidds on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 12:30:11 AM EST

Maybe; but without knowing how many people are releasing those records, and how many people are playing those concerts, those figures are completely meaningless.

("Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?")

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Not meaningless. (none / 1) (#50)
by ktakki on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 06:49:24 PM EST

It's a relative measure of two markets, one six times larger than the other. And there's no reason not to believe that the majority of bands are participating in both. True, there are bands that play live but do not record (e.g., cover and tribute bands), and there are artists that record but do not tour (Brian Eno, the Beatles from '66 to '70, certain dance music acts), but for the most part these are corner cases (with the exception of the Beatles).

Part of the reason that the live market is smaller is that it's even more of a zero-sum game than selling shiny discs. There are only so many venues in each market; their capacity is limited by size and fire codes. In many cities, the number of establishments that serve alcohol are limited by zoning and licensing boards (i.e., liquor licenses can be bought and sold, but no new ones can be created). Bands that regularly play sports arenas and stadiums have to work around the schedules of sports teams that are these venues' primary occupants.

All this means that, on any given night in every city and town, there are a limited number of "seats" available for live music. This scarcity is one of the upward forces on the price of admission (e.g., $300 tickets for a U2 show). Contrast this with recorded music, which is rarely, if ever, "sold out". There's nothing stopping a record company from pressing more units. On the contrary: it's what they live for.

Remember also that most venues, even ones that don't serve alcohol, have an age limit (16+ in most cases, sometimes 18+). A 12-year-old can easily buy a CD (at the mall, from Amazon, from iTunes), but most preteens aren't allowed to go to a concert unaccompanied. This is a big chunk of the record-buying public that's not allowed to attend a live show without a parent or guardian present. While that means an extra ticket or two sold, it introduces friction to the transaction.

Finally, it's been my experience that for the majority of bands (excepting top-tier acts that can charge top dollar and Grateful Dead-like jam bands that can rely on their fans attending multiple shows during each tour) touring is, at best, a break-even proposition. Taking a loss on a tour is considered a cost of doing business, because touring is meant to promote your recorded product. This is not to say that there aren't artists who live for the road, who enjoy playing 90 shows in 100 days, but many if not most artists consider this a necessary evil.


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

Confuses the central issue (none / 3) (#14)
by foon on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 03:02:51 PM EST

Talking about the "moral" rights of artists and consumers completely obscures the central issue, which is about the law.  Copyright law is very clear:  Piracy is illegal, and copyright owners are well within their rights to do what ever is necessary to stop it (in fact, they are obligated to).  Copyright protection exists so that creative works can have monetary value; if they can be copied freely, regardless of the copyright holder's intention, it essentially makes the work worthless.  

Rather than the owner deciding how their work should be distributed, and selling it for a fair price decided by the free market, they are reduced to begging consumers for whatever they think it is worth, which if they can download it for free is probably nothing.  And yes, one of the fundamental rights one has as a copyright owner is the right to transfer copyrights, and that means that the new owner, such as a record company, has all of the same rights.  In a state of unlimited piracy no recorded music can be produced profitably, and the infrastructure necessary to produce high-quality music recordings simply will cease to be.  So anyone who wants any kind of music recording to continue to exist should support the existence of and enforcement of all copyright laws.

Confusion (none / 0) (#15)
by freestylefiend on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 03:25:43 PM EST

Talking about the "moral" rights of artists and consumers completely obscures the central issue, which is about the law.

The law should have its basis in morality.

Copyright protection exists so that creative works can have monetary value;

I had thought that copyright currently exists to allow artists to control their works without keeping them secret. Surely it is only about monetary value if the artist decides to restrict distribution.

And yes, one of the fundamental rights one has as a copyright owner is the right to transfer copyrights, and that means that the new owner, such as a record company, has all of the same rights.

I agree with this, but artists should be careful with their copyrights if they want to realise their full value.

[ Parent ]

Re: Confuses the central issue (none / 1) (#39)
by drsmithy on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 01:38:27 AM EST

Talking about the "moral" rights of artists and consumers completely obscures the central issue, which is about the law.

Uh, the whole *point* of the law is to reflect and enforce morals.

Copyright law is very clear: Piracy is illegal, and copyright owners are well within their rights to do what ever is necessary to stop it (in fact, they are obligated to).

The law is not automatically right.

Copyright protection exists so that creative works can have monetary value; if they can be copied freely, regardless of the copyright holder's intention, it essentially makes the work worthless.

Which explains why prints of the Mona Lisa are worth just as much as the original, right ? And why people pay to see performers even if they already have the songs on CD, right ?

Rather than the owner deciding how their work should be distributed, and selling it for a fair price decided by the free market, [...]

It's not a free market, it's a monopolised market - that's whole point of copyright law, to grant a (allegedly temporary) monopoly.

In a state of unlimited piracy no recorded music can be produced profitably, and the infrastructure necessary to produce high-quality music recordings simply will cease to be. So anyone who wants any kind of music recording to continue to exist should support the existence of and enforcement of all copyright laws.

Because we all know that all the music in the world was created in the last couple of hundred years, right ?

The "doomsday scenario" of "no more music" is laughably easy to disprove. One need do nothing more than open a history book.

[ Parent ]

Decentralized issues (none / 0) (#43)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 07:56:04 PM EST

Some quick points here:

1) Copyright holders do not have the right to do anything at all to stop piracy (which is not necessarily illegal, btw) nor are they in any way obligated to do so.

2) Copyrights exist so as to promote the public interest, irrespective of the interests of authors. The public has two overarching desires -- to see more creative works made, whether original or derivative, and to enjoy those works in any way without restriction or limit. Copyright encourages the former at the expense of the latter, but only temporarily. The limited term length of copyrights then results in a belated fulfillment of the second goal as well. N.b. that too much copyright can have a perverse result, diminishing the public good, perhaps even making everyone worse off than if there were no copyright at all.

3) Rather than the owner deciding how their work should be distributed, and selling it for a fair price decided by the free market, they are reduced to begging consumers for whatever they think it is worth, which if they can download it for free is probably nothing.

And this is inevitably bad... how? Do recall the extant system of compulsory licensing, without which radio and covers would probably not exist. And if we didn't have covers, we'd all be cold in bed at night.

4) So anyone who wants any kind of music recording to continue to exist should support the existence of and enforcement of all copyright laws.

No. I want there to be a virtually unlimited amount of music, but I also want it for free. That's those two public goals mentioned above.

If I can't get that, then I will be a smart cookie and only be willing to put up with copyright law at all if it leaves me better off than if it didn't exist, and then only to the extent necessary for me to be comfortable, and to maximize how much better off I end up being.

This probably means scaling back the law from where it is now so that some things which are now illegal become legal. If this diminishes the amount of music, or its quality, etc. then that's okay, so long as I am nevertheless better off in the final analysis.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Pretty good article, (none / 0) (#18)
by debacle on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 04:18:52 PM EST

But it gets sort of long-winded at the end. Perhaps you should talk about older classical music, and how things went way back then.

It tastes sweet.
By Point: (none / 3) (#19)
by Kwil on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 04:20:13 PM EST

1. What rational basis do corporations have in protecting copyrights on sonic airwaves?

Because it makes them money. That seems fairly rational to me. You also answer it yourself: The non-existance or the non-enforcability of copyright would essentially put the very legitimacy of the socalled 'copyright controllers' in question. If something threatens you with non-existance, it seems only rational to fight that something. Your reducto ad absurdum to individual bits is false because a rational person realizes that there are limits, and that the limits have to be fuzzy. There's no hard and fast rule we can draw that says "25 notes the same counts as plagiarism, but 24 does not" unless we want to totally divorce reasonable human judgement from the process. Personally, I don't.

2. What moral basis do musicians have to expect a guarantee on financial revenues through the duplication of their music?

The moral basis is the good of the society. If musicians were not to receive some guaruntee of financial revenues, you can bet that many would choose not to record their music at all. This would be a net loss for people.

As for your hypothesis that crap sinks and cream floats, you say this despite considerable evidence to the contrary present on any peer-to-peer network. The sad truth is, it all floats.

3. Why should the music industry have a permanent right to continuous revenues?

First, they don't. Although it basically seems like it with the continual retroactive extensions to copyright. But that's a political problem moreso than one to do with the music industry.

However, the flip side of the question is, "If people are willing to pay for it, why shouldn't they?"

4. Who ever asks the artists -especially once they're dead- if they'd really appreciate a rigid prosecution of copyright 'violators' as is common. Do they really have a big problem with their content being used for successive art?

Except the copyrights being prosecuted don't belong to the artist. They belong to the record company, through a choice made of the artists' own free will. If the copyright holders have a big problem with it, it's entirely legit that they pursue action to stop it. However, beyond that even, if it's mine, it's mine to do with as I wish, even after I'm dead. So just as I'm able to will my house down to my kids, why can't I will down the right to profit from my work?

Now, when you get into derivitive works, you come upon a whole new can of worms. Since the idea of copyright is, much like patents, the ability to control the use of your own work, including the ability to profit from it if you so desire, the notion of creating a derivitive work goes completely against that. So just as I can't write the next Terminator movie without going back to the copyright holders, why should you be able to base your music on mine without coming back to me?

5. Shouldn't musicians and artists in general be happy about other people enjoying their art?

Shouldn't you stop trying to dictate what other people do with their work? I mean, really, that's the height of arrogance. If somebody is a particularly good carpenter, do you also feel you have a right to demand they make a fence on your property and they should simply be happy for the opportunity? Get real.

6. Finally, do we really need rules for art?

Apparantly so. Because otherwise people like you would rapidly make it either pointless or extremely difficult for artists to put time or money into specializing in art production.  We get greater value for money when we pay people for the activity they specialize in or are skilled at. Paying a carpenter to write music and hoping he'll make you a nice set of cabinets for free is foolish. Similarly, so is paying a musician to build your cabinets and hoping he'll bother writing you some music for free when he's done.

Now.. are the record companies going overboard? I tend to believe so, and if they continue to do so, the public will eventually slap them down. However, you're questioning a system rather than questioning the specific abuses. Focus your criticism.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


Expiry of copyright (none / 1) (#27)
by Highlander on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 02:20:29 AM EST

3. Why should the music industry have a permanent right to continuous revenues?

It doesn't.

Broadly speaking, copyright on a creative work expires 70 years after the creator's death. This is true in a lot fo countries.

See UK Copyright FAQ

The U.S.A. extended copyrights though, starting for works created in 1923. See CTEA

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]

Re: By Point: (none / 1) (#38)
by drsmithy on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 01:37:19 AM EST

The moral basis is the good of the society. If musicians were not to receive some guaruntee of financial revenues, you can bet that many would choose not to record their music at all. This would be a net loss for people.

Firstly, musicians were creating music long before copyrights.

Secondly, they would still have "some guarantee" of financial revenues - from, at the very least, live performances. Then there would be the value adds of properly packaged music (remember back when you got something in the CD jacket ?).

Because otherwise people like you would rapidly make it either pointless or extremely difficult for artists to put time or money into specializing in art production.

Again, people were making music long before copyright.

Not to mention, if you haven't noticed, the current system makes it "pointless or extremely difficult" for artists to put time and money into specialising in music since a) only a tiny minority ever get rich and b) it's more of a lottery than a talent competition.

We get greater value for money when we pay people for the activity they specialize in or are skilled at.

Ah, the good old "you only get what you pay for myth".

We've just had a bunch of higher education reforms here in Australia rammed through based on this myth. Universities are now allowed to charge up to 25% more than they have been previously. Apparently this is going to make them "more competitive" and provide a "better education" - but no-one has yet managed to explain the causal relationship between higher fees and a better education to me. The same applies to music. Personally, I'd rather listen to someone performing because they enjoy what they're doing than someone who is only doing it for a paycheck.

Now.. are the record companies going overboard? I tend to believe so, and if they continue to do so, the public will eventually slap them down. However, you're questioning a system rather than questioning the specific abuses. Focus your criticism.

Copyright is broken. It's a broken concept (physical property and ideas are so fundamentally different trying to equate them is simply futile). It can't be "fixed". It needs to be completely abolished and some other enabling some form of reasonable reimbusement put in place - and that alternative system needs to be *heavily* biased against corporate copyright holder abuse as they have demonstrated beyond any redemption their inability to act within the limits of reason or in society's best interest.

[ Parent ]

Yes.. (none / 0) (#40)
by Kwil on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 03:35:44 AM EST

..but no.

People were making music before copyright, yes.
Very few people.
Very few rich people who had the time and money or were able to find patronage.
And they generally weren't making music for the masses, they were making it for their patrons and for very local markets. National radio didn't exist. MTV didn't exist. Hell, the record distribution business didn't exist. Removing copyright will effectively kill those businesses. Maybe it can be made up in the peer-to-peer, but the market for any particular artist would be so incredibly fragmented that without a unifying force, the big tours would be a thing of the past. After all, why would you want to book a stadium for a concert in a city where maybe only a couple thousand people have even heard of you?

But you're right.. some people went out and did it anyway, and some people still do even without a contract. And some people still would.  Of course, you're completely neglecting that even today, a huge number of bands, even good ones, eventually just hang it up and turn it in if they don't manage to get label support eventually. They simply can't afford to keep doing it.. often realizing it's way too much effort for too little return.  Now if there was no label support even available? If all bands knew that the living-in-the-rusted-van road-trip was all it was going to be, can you honestly tell me that more wouldn't give it up sooner?  

Personally, I think it'd suck having never heard of Tool because they stuck to playing local venues, or to go to a Pink Floyd concert being played in the local pub, because part of a Pink Floyd concert is the incredible show they put on. And I'm sorry, but I really don't see a way you can ensure enough support using simple peer to peer networks, for the simple reason that people's tastes are always different. It's only because we have such a homogenizing force as the record industry, and national radio and television broadcasts that groups are able to hit that level of mega-popularity.

So yes, there would still be some music. But not as much, and it wouldn't be as widespread. And so my point still stands -- it would be a net loss for society as a whole.

As for the second part, you obviously didn't read my whole sentence, as the key point was "for the activity they specialize in or are skilled at." Your example about university tuition is thus a complete non sequitur.

It's not "You get what you pay for", but rather "You pay those who have the ability to do what you need."  After all, one assumes that you're not paying your university in hopes that they'll fix your car or something.

Now, this is off topic, but since you seem to be troubled by some basic finances, I'll explain. By allowing your univeristy to charge you 25% more, your government is enabling the university to have more funds without raising the burden on the tax-payer. More funds for a university are a necessity, because in the next 10 years there is going to be a serious faculty shortage as the faculty from the baby-boom generation retires and there are not enough professors to even replace those numbers, to say nothing about the new demand that will come from an increasing reliance on an information economy.  

At the same time, your government chose to do this by allowing tuition to rise rather than increasing their contribution to the university because raising the burden on the tax-payer can be seen as a bad thing that works to stifle the economy. (Personally, I think governments that do this are short-sighted. The benefits from a post-secondary education are massive and long-lasting and accrue well beyond the individual who receives the education -- so making it harder to access is a bad long-term strategy)

So how is this tuition increase making them more competitive and providing a better education? By allowing them to hire more professors and as such lower, or at least maintain the student-instructor ratio.

Copyright is not broken. It's based on the fundamental principle that what you create is yours, and, as yours, society will afford you certain rights that allow you control over it, in the hopes that doing so will encourage more people to create and not restrict creation simply to those who must do it in order to appease their psyche.  

However, it is being abused, in that the rights being asserted are beginning to stifle further creativity and restrict the spread of these creations more than society gains from allowing that control in the first place. So yes, it needs to be reset, possibly re-worked, and definitely re-asserted as being a gift of society to the artist. But not removed.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Re: Yes.. (none / 1) (#42)
by drsmithy on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 05:23:35 PM EST

People were making music before copyright, yes.
Very few people.
Very few rich people who had the time and money or were able to find patronage.

I am struggling to conceive of any definition of "music" for which the above statements are only applicable to the pre-copyright era.

In the past, people banged sticks together to make music. Or sang. Or stamped their feet. Or, as time progress, used devices that modern musicians would be able to recognise as musical instruments.

All people did these things. Not just a few. Not just the rich.

True, if you want to only include those who became famous for their music and performed it to a wide range of audiences, only a few rich people ever "made music". But, proportionally, the same thing happens today - only a few, rich people ever "make music".

And they generally weren't making music for the masses, they were making it for their patrons and for very local markets.

Just like non-rich-and-famous famous musicians do today. You think the teenagers in their back yard are trying to write music for African villagers ?

National radio didn't exist. MTV didn't exist. Hell, the record distribution business didn't exist. Removing copyright will effectively kill those businesses.

Cars killed the buggy-whip business as well, but few are complaining today.

Technology has rendered business models that revolve around profiteering from the monopoly granted them by copyright obselete. Personally, I won't shed a single tear.

Maybe it can be made up in the peer-to-peer, but the market for any particular artist would be so incredibly fragmented that without a unifying force, the big tours would be a thing of the past.

Indeed, because it wouldn't be like bands could leverage some easily accessible, pervasive medium to promote their work anymore. Something like a worldwide network that allowed instantaneous communication between like minded individuals...

After all, why would you want to book a stadium for a concert in a city where maybe only a couple thousand people have even heard of you?

Why would you indeed. How many bands do you think there are in the world today that can have sellout concerts in arbitrary cities ? Why do you think that (small) list would be a great deal smaller in a world without copyright ? On what basis do you assert it shouldn't be ?

Of course, you're completely neglecting that even today, a huge number of bands, even good ones, eventually just hang it up and turn it in if they don't manage to get label support eventually.

I'm not neglecting it in the slightest. Indeed, it's foremost in my mind because it conveniently blows away the theory that copyright keeps bands creating.

They simply can't afford to keep doing it.. often realizing it's way too much effort for too little return. Now if there was no label support even available?

The situation would be identical. There is little evidence - or even reasoning - to suggest otherwise.

If all bands knew that the living-in-the-rusted-van road-trip was all it was going to be, can you honestly tell me that more wouldn't give it up sooner?

There's little evidence - or reasoning - to support that conclusion.

Your assertion indicates you think that bands make their music from record companies. They don't, they make it from live performances. The only people raking in money hand over fist from CD sales are the RIAA.

Personally, I think it'd suck having never heard of Tool because they stuck to playing local venues, or to go to a Pink Floyd concert being played in the local pub, because part of a Pink Floyd concert is the incredible show they put on. And I'm sorry, but I really don't see a way you can ensure enough support using simple peer to peer networks, for the simple reason that people's tastes are always different.

If people's tastes are "always different", how can popular music exist today ?

There's little reason to think bands wouldn't be just as popular and just as big without copyright (as it is today). They'd still be able to get their music played all over the place - national radio, MTV, whatever - once they became well known enough, just like they do today.

It's only because we have such a homogenizing force as the record industry, and national radio and television broadcasts that groups are able to hit that level of mega-popularity.

There's little reason to think the death of the RIAA would also be the death of national radio and television broadcasts. Certainly, here in Australia, the best "music show" on TV is the one that runs on the taxpayer-funded ABC. Killing copyright wouldn't affect that in the slightest.

So yes, there would still be some music. But not as much, and it wouldn't be as widespread. And so my point still stands -- it would be a net loss for society as a whole.

There would be *more* music, as artists would be more free to reinterpret and be inspired by existing music *in addition* to the inevitable production of new music. Music would be more diverse and more available. Good (or popular) musicians would still become rich and famous.

I'm having trouble seeing any net loss to society there. Indeed, everything there seems a distinct improvement over the current situation.

As for the second part, you obviously didn't read my whole sentence, as the key point was "for the activity they specialize in or are skilled at." Your example about university tuition is thus a complete non sequitur.

I'm pretty sure Universities specialise and are skilled in education.

It's not "You get what you pay for", but rather "You pay those who have the ability to do what you need." After all, one assumes that you're not paying your university in hopes that they'll fix your car or something.

Given the alternative between someone who is doing something because they love it - being paid is a bonus - and someone who is doing a job to get paid, I would always go with the former.

Now, this is off topic, but since you seem to be troubled by some basic finances, I'll explain. By allowing your univeristy to charge you 25% more, your government is enabling the university to have more funds without raising the burden on the tax-payer. More funds for a university are a necessity, because in the next 10 years there is going to be a serious faculty shortage as the faculty from the baby-boom generation retires and there are not enough professors to even replace those numbers, to say nothing about the new demand that will come from an increasing reliance on an information economy.

So the faculty is getting smaller - thus costing less to run - but for some reason fees have to *up* to deliver a lesser service ?

O_o

So how is this tuition increase making them more competitive and providing a better education? By allowing them to hire more professors and as such lower, or at least maintain the student-instructor ratio.

This doesn't make sense. If lecturers are leaving, then the salaries they *used* to draw can be used to pay new, incoming lecturers. If enrollments are increasing, then so will the funds that come from those enrollments and they can pay for additional lecturers to maintain the teacher:student ratio.

Copyright is not broken. It's based on the fundamental principle that what you create is yours, and, as yours, society will afford you certain rights that allow you control over it, in the hopes that doing so will encourage more people to create and not restrict creation simply to those who must do it in order to appease their psyche.

The fundamental principle of copyright is that ideas and physical property can somehow be equated. To do this, copyright tries to artificially limit the inherently easy replication of ideas to emulate the inherently difficult replication of physical property. Thus, copyright acts to make ideas artificially scarce because the only ways things are valued is by their scarcity. Copyright is a completely *negative* principle because it seems to suppress the strengths of that which it is supposed to encourage. It's like having an infinite, clean source of energy but allowing a handful of people can get filthy, stinking rich by artificially restricting its output.

To see how ludicrous copyright is, consider that strictly speaking, anyone with a photographic memory or who can remember "significant" parts of songs is a living, breathing infringment of the principle of copyright. Consider that every computer in the world infringes the copyright principle simply by having one copy of a song on disk and another in memory.

However, it is being abused, in that the rights being asserted are beginning to stifle further creativity and restrict the spread of these creations more than society gains from allowing that control in the first place. So yes, it needs to be reset, possibly re-worked, and definitely re-asserted as being a gift of society to the artist. But not removed.

I am not saying that the ability for artists to be reimbursed for their time, or the legal protection for their creation should be nonexistant (ie: allow someone else to claim their work).

However, I do think that:

  • Non-profit reproduction should be legal (ie: music swapping).
  • "Copyright" length should be determined by a "reasonable level of return", not an arbitrary length (particularly for corporate-held copyrights). A "reasonable level of return" to me equates to the "cost" of creating the work (in other words, particularly popular works would enter the public domain sooner).
  • Derivative works should not be considered infringing (eg: rappers sampling other music) as long as credit to the original creator is given.
  • "Copyright" should not extend past the death of the creator, as I think their primary purpose should be to acknowledge and reimburse the creator and the creator only.
  • I am also against allowing copyrights to be transferrable, for the same reason. However, I haven't formed a rock-solid opinion on this particularly aspect yet.

    The objective behind the necessary evil of copyright was to stimulate creative work by allowing creators to be reimbursed and also to aid in recovering the (then very expesive) costs of reproduction. As time has progressed, reproduction costs have dropped dramatically while better communications have made gaining recognition and reimbursement orders of magnitude easier. That copyright terms have *increased* as these things have happened beggars belief, when considering their historical purpose.

    [ Parent ]

  • Talk about missing points.. (none / 0) (#45)
    by Kwil on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 09:48:13 PM EST

    ..it's like a bald porcupine.

    There's little reason to think bands wouldn't be just as popular and just as big without copyright (as it is today). They'd still be able to get their music played all over the place - national radio, MTV, whatever - once they became well known enough, just like they do today.

    Chicken and egg problem. They can't become well known enough until they hit mass media. They can't hit mass media until they become well known enough. "But peer-to-peer.." you cry, at which point I interrupt you and say "Bullshit. The music most traded on peer-to-peer is the stuff the mass media puts out, and you know that. Everything else is small potatoes and.. more importantly, remains small potatoes."

    This is the entire crux of the problem. I don't envy the radio-men their jobs, if times change and they lose them, they lose them. But the thing is, the mass media does perform a vital function right now in disseminating information over an extremely broad audience. Removing copyright removes the incentive for investors to get music played on mass-media.. because they can't make money at it. Right now, copyright forces radio stations to pay for the music they play. This encourages people to get music to the radio stations.  However, the benefit of simply selling the music has become so great that things are starting to turn back around to the days of payola, where the copyright holders are paying the stations to play it. You think they'd do that if the only revenue they could get were concert tickets?

    As a more direct example, we've got a few great bands here in town that you'll never ever hear of, simply because they don't fall into the mass media format. And yeah, their songs are up on the P2P networks, and they've had some modest expansion that way, but even that is mostly in the local scene. If they travelled to some place out of province or country, they'd be back to having to play in a seedy little bar, and probably playing second fiddle to some local band down there.  But I'll give them credit, they're still plucking away at it. I've asked one of them who is friend why, and he says it's for the music. Then I ask him if he expects to be doing it in ten years or so, and his answer is that unless they get some kind of label support, no way, as he'd like to have a family at some point.

    So here's the thing you don't seem to get.. to get into the mass media, it takes money. Either money in promotions (such as making a video), or money in direct payment to the mass media.  Without some way to profit beyond that money spent, investors won't be interested. If investors aren't interested it's not going to get into the mass media. If it doesn't get into the mass media, it doesn't get widespread promotion. If it doesn't get widespread promotion, you and I simply don't hear about the cool stuff that's out there.  It becomes hit or miss.

    Put another way, how much music from bands you've never heard of do you actually download from P2P networks? I'm willing to bet it's an incredibly small percentage of the total music you download, and even if it's not, then you're simply a far point on the statistical curve -- because most people only get the stuff they know. Because of this, new bands generally don't spread unless somebody is actively promoting them. Even then, unless you're talking major resources doing the promoting, it's still unlikely the expansion would be enough to warrant the band doing a major tour.  If they don't do a major tour, and they don't get mass media, then nobody's going to hear of them.  "But it's like that now.." you whine, and I agree, it is like that for most bands. Such is the nature of it. But right now there's still a few groups that get big and, because of their example, it inspires other people to make bands and try it out. After all, living like a rat for a while might be worth it if there's a shot at millions of people hearing your music. (And you'll note this has nothing to do with money, since you seem to think I'm positing that as the only motivation)

    Yeah, bands make money off the tours and not the albums, so why do you want to take away the most successful means of promoting their tours -- the mass dissemination of their music through privately held mass-media.

    Perhaps that reasoning is a tad more clear.

    Given the alternative between someone who is doing something because they love it - being paid is a bonus - and someone who is doing a job to get paid, I would always go with the former.

    Where do you get this bit about the motivation of a person? I said nothing about "why" a person does a job. What I'm talking about is whether they have the ability and skill to do a good job. Completely separate concepts. Although if you're serious, I do happen to know a guy who's kind of a pyro. He'd probably love to be an electrician..something about the sparks. should I send him your way next time you need some wiring done?

    So the faculty is getting smaller - thus costing less to run - but for some reason fees have to up to deliver a lesser service ?

    Which part of basic supply and demand don't you understand? The part where if demand for a service goes up the providers can charge more? Or the part where if the total supply of a service goes down, the remaining providers can charge more?

    The faculty is getting smaller and costing more to run because those who are left teaching can charge more. Enrollment going up does absolutely nothing to lower the over-all price of individual faculty, it only increases the demand, thus allowing those faculty left to charge even more.

    This doesn't make sense. If lecturers are leaving, then the salaries they used to draw can be used to pay new, incoming lecturers. If enrollments are increasing, then so will the funds that come from those enrollments and they can pay for additional lecturers to maintain the teacher:student ratio.

    It does if you understand basic supply and demand. The salaries they used to draw aren't enough to pay for the fewer number of new incoming lecturers. The increasing enrollments demands even more lectururers, so those salaries go up even higher.

    As to your thoughts on the nature of copyright:

    Non-profit reproduction should be legal (ie: music swapping).
    And it is.. if you have permission. Otherwise, it's not. And that's the case even today. Or do you mean even without permission?
    "Copyright" length should be determined by a "reasonable level of return", not an arbitrary length (particularly for corporate-held copyrights). A "reasonable level of return" to me equates to the "cost" of creating the work (in other words, particularly popular works would enter the public domain sooner).
    Well, assuming that by the above you mean even without permission, let's look at the cost of the work. Now, since I trust you believe similarly about software and books and the like, (copyright is copyright, no?) the cost for an average novel would come out to what.. about $8,000? After all, the cost of production is about a year's worth of (very low) wages. The cost of, say, Half-Life, should be somewhere in the high five-figure range?  Because by your scheme, they can only count on the sale of a single copy and after that it's perfectly legit to spread around.
    Derivative works should not be considered infringing (eg: rappers sampling other music) as long as credit to the original creator is given.
    I'm actually somewhat in agreement with this. The sticky part is, what counts as derivitive, and what counts as copying. If I change a single note, is it a derivitive work? ("See.. his song ends with a minor C chord held for 3/4 of a beat. Mine ends with an A minor held for 2 beats.. it's not a copy.")
    "Copyright" should not extend past the death of the creator, as I think their primary purpose should be to acknowledge and reimburse the creator and the creator only.
    You could use similar reasoning to argue that any money earned by anything should all be forfeit when the earner dies. After all, why should a widow receive the benefits of a husband's 401K program? That money was put in place in recognition for the work he did, not for what she did. If I build a company that makes widgets, should my family not have the opportunity to profit from my still earning company once I've died? It's not like people immediately stopped paying for their widgets on my death. Just like it's not like people will immediately stop paying for a book on someone's death. As long as the public is willing to pay, why should my family be barred from enjoying the fruits of my labor?
    I am also against allowing copyrights to be transferrable, for the same reason. However, I haven't formed a rock-solid opinion on this particularly aspect yet.
    And for the exact same reasons, why not? If I build a company, am I not allowed to sell it (and thus the right to profit from it) to another person? Why should it be any different if my company happens to be based on selling the writings of my mind?

    Now, I fully agree that copyright terms should not have increased. But that's arguing the details, whereas the original author's point was the the entire system should be removed.

    That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Talk about missing points.. (none / 0) (#47)
    by drsmithy on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 01:10:40 AM EST

    (Sorry for the long reply, this is a topic I've got a bit of passion for)

    Chicken and egg problem. They can't become well known enough until they hit mass media. They can't hit mass media until they become well known enough.

    No different to the problem that exists today. They get a demo tape on a radio station. They win a talent-search competition like those that run on JJJ (Australian taxpayer-funded "alternative" station where lots of bands get their first airtime). They get their songs featured on a popular website.

    "But peer-to-peer.." you cry, at which point I interrupt you and say "Bullshit. [...]

    I agree. While P2P is great for redistribution, it's a very poor medium for distributing advertising. Fortunately we already have solutions that work great for that and new ones that will potentially be even better (the web).

    The music most traded on peer-to-peer is the stuff the mass media puts out, and you know that. Everything else is small potatoes and.. more importantly, remains small potatoes."

    Most likely because of the RIAA "pigopoly".

    However, I'm still lost as to why you think all this music is suddenly going to disappear in a puff of electrons.

    This is the entire crux of the problem.

    No, it isn't. It's a false dilemma. There's no reason to think popular music will suddenly become nonexistant if it becomes legal to copy it. Indeed, anecdotal evidence would suggest the exact opposite (P2P makes popular music more accessible and, hence, more popular).

    I don't envy the radio-men their jobs, if times change and they lose them, they lose them. But the thing is, the mass media does perform a vital function right now in disseminating information over an extremely broad audience. Removing copyright removes the incentive for investors to get music played on mass-media.. because they can't make money at it.

    Investors ? Why not ? They care about ad revenue that is largely tied to audience size (ie: station popularity) and has little to do with copyright.

    The only people who would be negatively affected is the RIAA. "Media investors" would probably be jumping for joy because they wouldn't get taken over a barrel by the RIAA whenever they wanted to play a song.

    Right now, copyright forces radio stations to pay for the music they play. This encourages people to get music to the radio stations. However, the benefit of simply selling the music has become so great that things are starting to turn back around to the days of payola, where the copyright holders are paying the stations to play it.

    Radio stations would pay well known artists to play their music and to get "exlusives" on their next songs. Fledgling artists would be able to pay popular stations to get their songs played and get noticed.

    You think they'd do that if the only revenue they could get were concert tickets?

    Why would they only revenue they could get be from concert tickets ? People still buy CDs today despite the fact they can download music online quite easily. That's not going to change. Not to mention things like T shirts and other paraphernalia.

    As a more direct example, [...]

    Another great example of the lie that current copyright laws foster and encourage artists.

    So here's the thing you don't seem to get.. to get into the mass media, it takes money. Either money in promotions (such as making a video), or money in direct payment to the mass media.

    I "get" it perfectly. What *you* don't seem to "get" is that the actual costs to get into the mass media are far, far less than those in the existing completely broken system.

    Not to mention it doesn't necessarily take lots of money at all. It certainly *used* to, back before the days of the 'net and wide-scale, practically free distribution and creation methods, but this isn't 1980 anymore.

    Without some way to profit beyond that money spent, investors won't be interested.

    CD sales. Concerts. Branded clothes, toys, etc. There's a myriad ways to make money. In fact, pretty much every way that's *currently* used to make money would work fine.

    If investors aren't interested it's not going to get into the mass media. If it doesn't get into the mass media, it doesn't get widespread promotion. If it doesn't get widespread promotion, you and I simply don't hear about the cool stuff that's out there. It becomes hit or miss.

    Why wouldn't it attract investors ? Because the profitability wouldn't be quite as high ? That's the beauty of the free market - just because company A turns up their nose or goes bust because they can't sustain their business model, doesn't mean company B can't (or won't) step in and run with lower costs (by embracing the new technology) and lower profit margins.

    Put another way, how much music from bands you've never heard of do you actually download from P2P networks? I'm willing to bet it's an incredibly small percentage of the total music you download, and even if it's not, then you're simply a far point on the statistical curve -- because most people only get the stuff they know.

    I very rarely download anything from P2P networks. Most of the music I listen to is on the radio (traditional or internet).

    Because of this, new bands generally don't spread unless somebody is actively promoting them.

    And what's to stop anyone doing that ?

    Even then, unless you're talking major resources doing the promoting, it's still unlikely the expansion would be enough to warrant the band doing a major tour.

    It might mean a band has to spend a year or two building up a fan base before they could go gallavanting around the world, instead of doing it after their first paid-for-#2-debut-single, yes.

    If they don't do a major tour, and they don't get mass media, then nobody's going to hear of them. "But it's like that now.." you whine, and I agree, it is like that for most bands. Such is the nature of it. But right now there's still a few groups that get big and, because of their example, it inspires other people to make bands and try it out. After all, living like a rat for a while might be worth it if there's a shot at millions of people hearing your music. (And you'll note this has nothing to do with money, since you seem to think I'm positing that as the only motivation)

    So, basically, the doomsday scenario you're predicting is identical to what already happens ?

    Yeah, bands make money off the tours and not the albums, so why do you want to take away the most successful means of promoting their tours -- the mass dissemination of their music through privately held mass-media.

    I don't - and I'm completely mystified how you've managed to draw that conclusion.

    Perhaps that reasoning is a tad more clear.

    No, not really. Your entire line of reasoning - and accompanying doomsday prediction - seems to be based on the assumption that without copyright, no-one will be in the business of promoting music, because ... well, I still haven't figured out quite why you think that. It appears you believe that since sustaining current levels of profitability using obseleted business methods would be basically impossible, no-one would step in with newer, better methods and be prepared to consider the possibility of lower levels of profitability. Is that a reasonable interpretation ?

    Where do you get this bit about the motivation of a person? I said nothing about "why" a person does a job. What I'm talking about is whether they have the ability and skill to do a good job.

    You appear to be making the underlying assumption that the only way to determine if someone has ability and skill is from their bill.

    Which part of basic supply and demand don't you understand? The part where if demand for a service goes up the providers can charge more? Or the part where if the total supply of a service goes down, the remaining providers can charge more?

    In this particular example, the part where there's a shortage of lecturers. Evidently the US is different, because in my experience there's no shortage of people who'd be interested in taking those sort of jobs if the vacancies were available.

    The faculty is getting smaller and costing more to run because those who are left teaching can charge more. Enrollment going up does absolutely nothing to lower the over-all price of individual faculty, it only increases the demand, thus allowing those faculty left to charge even more.

    Increasing enrolments mean increasing revenue. The faculty doesn't get any cheaper to run, but they do have more money.

    Anyway, this is fairly OT. You're working on the assumption there's going to be a shortage of lecturers and I personally can't see that happening. It's certainly not something that was ever raised as an issue here - the line fed to the public was literally along the lines of "because our Universities can charge higher fees, they will be able to offer better courses", with no apparent causal link offered (the aforementioned "if it costs more it must be worth it" fallacy).

    And it is.. if you have permission. Otherwise, it's not. And that's the case even today. Or do you mean even without permission?

    Without "permission". This is simply to reflect reality - rather than to try and warp reality with some kludged-up legal fiction. If I hear a song on the radio, and can remember it, then I have effectively (illegally) made a copy of it in my brain. Allowing legal non-profit reproduction simply allows that to be (logically) extended to having the exact same "copy" of the song in my brain on a CD or a computer. However, it also allows the creator to make money by being the only person allowed to *sell* their creation - say to a radio station, or to fans with some value adding like a CD insert with lyrics.

    In other words, it allows music fans to swap music legally, but also stops others from profiting from the artists work. No-one but the artist can (legally) profit from their work.

    Well, assuming that by the above you mean even without permission, let's look at the cost of the work. Now, since I trust you believe similarly about software and books and the like, (copyright is copyright, no?) the cost for an average novel would come out to what.. about $8,000? After all, the cost of production is about a year's worth of (very low) wages.

    That depends. If a writer spends five years of their life creating a book, the I would consider a sum around the value of five times a fairly high-end salary to be reasonable. OTOH, if it's a written-in-6-months airport novel, it's only worth about a tenth of that.

    With these sort of personal works, I'd be quite confident the honor system would be more than workable. The creator gives a rough estimate of the time taken to complete the work, which is then multiplied by a suitable number to arrive at a final figure. Once the work has generated that much profit, it enters the public domain. The end result being the creator has been reasonably rewarded for his effort and society has benefitted by having more content publically available.

    The cost of, say, Half-Life, should be somewhere in the high five-figure range?

    Corporate copyrights would be subject to a much stricter regime, primarily because corporations have already demonstrated they will only abuse the copyright system and secondly because the legal requirement for financial accounting should/would make determining the actual cost of creation - accurately - fairly trivial.

    A corporation would file the cost of development of a work when it is finalised. Once that cost had been recovered in profits, the copyright would expire at the end of that calendar year. Punishments for trying to rort the system - for example by reporting a bogus cost of development - would be severe. All profits earned from the work would be forfeit (and returned to any customers whereever possible), a fine equal to the reported cost of development would be levied and the work would immediately be retroactively entered into the public domain.

    Because by your scheme, they can only count on the sale of a single copy and after that it's perfectly legit to spread around.

    The answer here is copy protection/DRM-like systems. Certainly, any and all forms would eventually be broken, but the vast majority of consumers will purchase the work simply for the convenience of not having to deal with it (as they do now). There would also be the opportunity for value-add products like online multiplayer systems to be designed to only work with purchased copies as well. I wouldn't expect there to be many more "legally-copied-for-free" copies than there would currently be "pirated copies" today.

    Redhat manage to make money selling a product that - for all intents and purposes - can be legally acquired for free. There's no reason to think other companies can't do the same.

    I should also clarify that my "reproduction for non-profit" purposes only really applies to non-business users. For example, a business copying something like Microsoft Office to use in its line of work is implicitly using the product "for profit" the second they generate any revenue (non-profit organisations would, obviously, not be using it "for profit").

    I'm actually somewhat in agreement with this. The sticky part is, what counts as derivitive, and what counts as copying. If I change a single note, is it a derivitive work? ("See.. his song ends with a minor C chord held for 3/4 of a beat. Mine ends with an A minor held for 2 beats.. it's not a copy.")

    IMHO this would be best dealt with on a case by case basis by a legal challenge, with - again - severe penalties for "wasting the court's time" to discourage frivolous claims. For example, while your example is clearly not different enough to be considered a "derivative work".

    You could use similar reasoning to argue that any money earned by anything should all be forfeit when the earner dies. After all, why should a widow receive the benefits of a husband's 401K program?

    (I'm assuming a 401k is an equivalent to what we call superannuation - a lump sum accrued by people as they work and paid out when they retire (or die, as the case may be).)

    The situation here is, IMHO, different. Superannuation is an actual, existing asset - effectively physical property - that was already earned and owned by a person to do with as they wish. A husband leaving his widow a super fund is really no different from him leaving her a car or a house.

    The other reason is because -as I said elsewhere - I think the point of "copyright" should be to acknowledge and reimburse the creators of a work. Someone who wasn't involved in creating the idea - did none of the hard work, so to speak - should not directly benefit from its protection.

    If I build a company that makes widgets, should my family not have the opportunity to profit from my still earning company once I've died? It's not like people immediately stopped paying for their widgets on my death.

    This is a patents issue, not a copyright issue (although I'm similarly disdainful of patents, I must admit).

    Your family would still be quite capable of earning from your profitable company as well - they just wouldn't be able to stop someone else using the design and selling duplicates (even then, they'd have the advantage of 6 - 12 months minimum while any competitors reproduced the design and geared up manufacturing, not to mention an already established customer base).

    Just like it's not like people will immediately stop paying for a book on someone's death. As long as the public is willing to pay, why should my family be barred from enjoying the fruits of my labor?

    But they wouldn't be. Your labour, by definition, ended at your death, hence so must its "fruits".

    Again, I'll agree this is a special case that deserves extra consideration.

    And for the exact same reasons, why not? If I build a company, am I not allowed to sell it (and thus the right to profit from it) to another person? Why should it be any different if my company happens to be based on selling the writings of my mind?

    Well, clearly if you aren't at the company any more it can no longer be based around selling the contents of *your* mind :).

    You raise some good points with respect to corporate copyrights and I must admit I haven't yet completely thought through practical and fair ways businesses that center around "intellectual property" could leverage it as an asset. My main interest has been in ways to curb corporate abuse, maximise the motivation to continually innovate and maximise the benefit to the individual.

    [ Parent ]

    a hugely ignored factor (none / 0) (#52)
    by loqi on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 10:39:20 PM EST

    It's only because we have such a homogenizing force as the record industry, and national radio and television broadcasts that groups are able to hit that level of mega-popularity.

    Congratulations, you're almost right. It's definitely because of the homogenizing force of the record industry that the groups that attain the mega-popularity they do nowadays get it.

    The "radio-friendly" niche of music is just that, a niche. But when you grow up sucking MTV's teet for all your music needs, you get audio tunnel-vision. If someone's voice isn't like the people you hear on the radio, it's bad. If chord progressions get too complex... bad. If lyrics get the slightest bit imaginative... bad.
    It's folly to think that people that grow up without much exposure to the [SUBJECTIVE] crap [/SUBJECTIVE] that dominates mainstream music today would choose to listen to these heavily promoted products, instead of real artists. From personal experience, this not the case.

    Even if crushing the record industry removed the support for the giants of modern mainstream music, so what. The worst thing that could happen is people end up listening to creative music. Music that, btw, comes from artists who MAGICALLY manage to make a living from their art without ever having had a song of theirs played on the radio.

    So yeah, most bands that just try and sound like what they hear on the radio go bust if they don't get picked up by a label, because that's the only way that narrow band of music ever gets appreciated. People that care to explore their tastes beyond spoon-fed [SUBJECTIVE] garbage [/SUBJECTIVE] aren't interested in Nickelback Jr.


    [ Parent ]
    I need your help (3.00 / 7) (#21)
    by CyborgPaul on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 05:46:53 PM EST

    I have recently installed in my head an electronic memory enhancement device. This EMED allows me to redirect the neural signals from my ears and eyes to a silicon chip. and then re-experience them at a later date. However there is a draw back. Any experience I have that includes some copyrighted material is blocked from being copied by federally mandated hardware. As such if your first date happened to be at the Cinema you will not be able to replay the experience, or if during an important lecture someone is playing Eminem outside you will not have access to to that crucial information. I have come from the future to ask you to raise the debate on this subject to ask questions such as. Does listening to something violate copyright? Why is the space between our ears invioable. What is the practical difference between silicon and non-silicon memory? I seek to prevent the future where any expansion of the human mind is controlled by corporations.

    Unfourtunately (none / 0) (#22)
    by CyborgPaul on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 05:53:24 PM EST

    My cyborg enhancements have not included an Auto-previewing module. Here is the text as it should be.

    I have recently installed in my head an electronic memory enhancement device. This EMED allows me to redirect the neural signals from my ears and eyes to a silicon chip. and then re-experience them at a later date.

    However there is a draw back. Any experience I have that includes some copyrighted material is blocked from being copied by federally mandated hardware. As such if your first date happened to be at the Cinema you will not be able to replay the experience, or if during an important lecture someone is playing Eminem outside you will not have access to to that crucial information.

    I have come from the future to ask you to raise the debate on this subject by asking questions such as: Does listening to something violate copyright? Why is the space between our ears invioable. What is the practical difference between silicon and non-silicon memory? I seek to prevent the future where any expansion of the human mind is controlled by corporations.

    [ Parent ]

    Dammit! (none / 2) (#48)
    by vyruss on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 02:00:39 AM EST

    Look what you've done now, you've gone and violated the Prime Directive. Boy, will Starfleet be pissed or what!

    • PRINT CHR$(147)

    [ Parent ]
    Unfortunately, (none / 1) (#23)
    by Armada on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 08:06:27 PM EST

    ... the only good songs are "What More Can I Say" and "Encore", which both seem to have some sample timing issues that could have been fixed by a better remixer. I'm not saying I could do better, but I know people who have never done professional sampling that could.

    I guess another decent one is the "Change Clothes" song, but Jay-Z's original is better.

    "99 Problems" could have been excellent had he taken the time to use more than just samples from one Beatles song. Oh well.

    I'm participating (none / 2) (#24)
    by Stereo on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 08:46:04 PM EST

    My mirror. I'm also sharing the album on the uni's WAN using MusicPublisher with iTunes :).

    kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


    This made Moomun's head hurt (none / 3) (#29)
    by moomun on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 05:42:56 AM EST

    Ow Ow Ow.

    Moomun thinks that musicians should survive by making many Hot Gay Pornos - that way they get to indulge their art and their wieners. The added advantage for the musicians/porno stars is that their porno work is protected by the DMCA, unlike their music which comes out on the moocher loving CD format.

    I mean the whole concept of paying them is just Unamerican. It's not like you get paid for what you do.

    Don't deny it - you are just hanging out to see Puff Daddy give it to the whiny white boy wannabee Eminim.

    Give it to me baby, uh huh, uh huh...

    <M>

    PS What do you think MJ - you could get yourself out of bankruptcy by releasing some of those kiddy tapes.

    Decade long supression? (none / 2) (#30)
    by Fon2d2 on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 12:53:05 PM EST

    It's been much longer than that. It's difficult to justify outright, but I'm pretty sure I'm against the total abolition of copyright. Personally I think successive art is very important for a rich and diverse set of artwork. Copyright completely stomps that. Everybody knows the music industry is effed up. And everybody on K5 knows the concept of copyright has been grossly distorted. Kind of preaching to the choir. It's pretty clear to me copyrights persist so strongly only becuase there's such a powerful incumbent lobbying group. If they were gone, it's not clear at all what direction copyright law would take. But I think there'd be a lot more music, cheaper, more diverse, and easier to explore, get into, and experiment with if we simply abolish copyrights. As proof I point you to the website ocremix.org. Granted it's a rather narrowly focused set of music, but some of the things they do outside the bounds of copyright and with no income stream impresses me.

    Oh yes, and another thing (none / 0) (#31)
    by Fon2d2 on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 12:58:08 PM EST

    Copyright law makes it impossible to make cultural references in an artistic manner which is a lot of what art is about, and certainly seems to be part of what this grey album is about. Personally I see nothing wrong with it, and I wanna know where I can listen to it before this thing gets blacklisted.

    [ Parent ]
    a very important addendum! (none / 3) (#32)
    by MechaA on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 01:17:54 PM EST

    anyone interested in soulseek:

    The correct URL is not http://slsk.org as presented in the article. This is a adware/spyware spoof site that stole the domain. Do not download that client.
    The correct address is http://www.slsknet.org.

    wish i'd caught that while the article was in editing, but oh well...



    k24anson on K5: Imagine fifty, sixty year old men and women still playing with their genitals like ten year olds!

    -1, mentions "creative commons" (1.25 / 4) (#35)
    by Hide The Hamster on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 07:51:24 PM EST




    Free spirits are a liability.

    August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

    come back to reality (none / 0) (#44)
    by gtx on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 09:36:54 PM EST

    so in other words, what you're telling me is that if i write a song that has a deep personal meaning to me, say i wrote it for somebody close or something equally sentimental, and some fucking dj with spiky hair decides to make and release a techno club mix of it, i should be okay with that because i shouldn't/don't have the right to restrict use?

    fuck you, i won't release it then.  end of story.

    -c


    --------
    i don't have anything clever to write here.

    Sorry, but (none / 1) (#49)
    by trhurler on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 05:43:41 PM EST

    This cause gets no sympathy from me. Without intellectual property rights, you wouldn't have the means to even communicate this shoddy message; it would never have been created. This guy did something he knew would land him in legal trouble, and he deserves the result.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    Protecting music by destroying records? Online protesters vs. the music industry | 52 comments (40 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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