Archive for March, 2009

artists oppose RIAA tactics

March 12, 2009

For years music industry lobbyists, headed by the RIAA, have gone after illegal file-sharers – supposedly in the best interests of the artists. Unexpectedly, a group of top musicians has started its very own lobby group to avoid being exploited by these very same record labels, who tend to abuse copyrights for their own sake.

The music industry and its lobbyists often claim they protect the right of artists with their copyright extension plans and anti-piracy efforts. In reality, however, they tend to ignore the people who actually create the music, while making sure that a steady flow of cash goes into the pockets of the label’s bosses.

In an attempt to have their voices heard, a group of leading musicians have started their own lobby group, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC). The group includes members such as Robbie Williams, Radiohead and Travis and aims to end the extortion-like practices of the record labels and allow artist to gain more control over their own work.

Last year, Travis experienced the aggressiveness of the labels first hand. When the band encouraged fans to share one of their songs with friends, IFPI went after a fan who posted the song on his website. The IFPI realized that it made a mistake and backed off, but it clearly shows that the labels are out of touch with reality.

Unfortunately, the example above is just the tip of the iceberg. In Europe, music industry lobbyists have managed to strike deals with Internet service providers to go after those people who download music illegally. The artists were never involved in these negotiations though, and many of them oppose the aggressive stance of the labels which turns fans into criminals.

“The digital landscape is changing fast and new deals are being struck all the time, but all too often without reference to the people who actually make the music. Just look at the recent MoU on file-sharing between labels, government and the ISPs. Artists were not involved,” Brian Message, co-manager of Radiohead said.

Similarly, Europe is currently planning to extend copyright on audio recordings from 50 to 95 years, gently pushed by music industry lobbyists of course. Again, the musicians prefer a lowering of the current copyright term to 35 years instead.

The artists feel that the record labels are using copyright on the artists’ work to their advantage, restricting free access. “It’s like taking out a mortgage on a house, paying off the mortgage and you still don’t end up owning the house,” Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien said.

Another worry for the artist is the revenue on digital sales. Quite often, the deals record labels make for selling music online are vague and the artists don’t get paid at all. Last year we already reported on one such artist who found his music on iTunes, but never received a penny. Frustrated, he decided to upload his music onto BitTorrent sites so people could download it for free.

According to Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, who’s also a member of the newly formed lobby group, this is not an isolated incident. “The music companies did a deal with Nokia recently, so they could launch phones with access to all sorts of music. We think they all received advances from Nokia, but nobody is saying who got what – and we think some of that money should go to the artists,” he said.

The newly formed lobby of top musicians hopes to set the record straight, and is demanding fair compensation for all artists. They believe musicians should have control over their own work instead of being the puppets of record label bosses. We can’t say that we blame them.

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infringement is not theft! enough already!

March 3, 2009

Tell me how you steal an intangible concept.

Theft is the taking and carrying away of the personal property of another which has value.

Let’s take a download: if someone gets a download without permission, they haven’t stolen your music because you still have it. And they haven’t stolen any money to which you were entitled because you cannot prove that entitlement with any certainty. You never had the money in your possession. “Stealing” is an emotional word to make the act look evil. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement, not theft. It is actionable but it is not criminal unless the law says so (and that’s only defined as done for pecuniary gain. Here’s how the code described when infringement becomes criminal:

§ 506. Criminal offenses4
(a) Criminal Infringement. —

(1) In general. — Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed —

(A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;

(B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or

(C) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

(2) Evidence. — For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement of a copyright.

(3) Definition. — In this subsection, the term “work being prepared for commercial distribution” means —

(A) a computer program, a musical work, a motion picture or other audiovisual work, or a sound recording, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution —

(i) the copyright owner has a reasonable expectation of commercial distribution; and

(ii) the copies or phonorecords of the work have not been commercially distributed; or

(B) a motion picture, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution, the motion picture —

(i) has been made available for viewing in a motion picture exhibition facility; and

(ii) has not been made available in copies for sale to the general public in the United States in a format intended to permit viewing outside a motion picture exhibition facility.

A teen-ager downloading a song for himself without permission (or for his friends) is not engaging in a criminal act as defined by the law. Period, end of story.

Creators need to wrap themselves around the law as it is, not as they imagine it.

All the bullshit to the contrary,  is just simple minded nonsense.

Louis B. Mayer once said something like: I love the movies,
even when you sell it, you still own it.

change the copyright code

March 3, 2009

Allow private civil lawsuits for infringement by the original owners asnd asuthorsd of the creative property, but only allow actual
proven damages like any other injury lawsuit.

RIAA laying off emloyees

March 1, 2009

It’s been reported that the RIAA is firing people. Do a google
search for news on RIAA; these articles should show up.