Bono on Theft
People who don't produce books or music probably can't understand the impact of copyright infringement on those who dedicate their lives to their art. Most people assume that when an artist releases a CD, they will earn millions. Only the mega-stars, such as Bono, earn millions.
Both writers and musicians are usually paid an advance by their publisher or label to record a cd or write a book, but they won't receive royalties until all publishing / marketing costs are paid in full first. In the case of music labels, often the musician OWES the label the advance they received to produce the recording of their music.
People 'expect' to pay for a book, because books are rarely downloaded.
Musicians face a completely different situation: anyone can upload music, –to earn points and kudos on their networks and forums. So, the independent musician continues to struggle.
The following excerpts from six articles cover the issue well.
by Mark Hefflinger, March 13, 2009–
London - The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), a group of U.K. artists including Billy Bragg and Radiohead that aims to give voice to musicians in industry issues, held its first meeting this week in London, and voted to oppose any laws that would criminalize music file-swapping. "If we follow the music industry down that road, we will be doing nothing more than being part of a protectionist effort. It's like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube," FAC board member Billy Bragg told the Independent.
The 140-member group also said that sites like YouTube (NASD: GOOG) and MySpace (NYSE: NWS) should adequately compensate artists with a cut of the advertising revenue generated by their music videos, a nod to the current dispute between YouTube and U.K. royalty society PRS for Music that saw thousands of videos pulled from YouTube in the U.K. this week.
"As this revolution gathers pace Featured Artists must seize the initiative. We are looking to forge a new deal, built on fairness, with our fans, the music industry and governments," said FAC board member and Blur drummer Dave Rowntree.
By TERESA KÜCHLER, 13.03.2009,
–EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The Swedish Pirate Party - a group of online radicals who back free downloading of music and films from the internet - is taking advantage of a series of high profile anti-piracy cases to stage a pan-European electoral assault for 2009's European elections.
"The battle over our privacy and the hunt on filesharers is fought down in Brussels. That is why we want to go there," the party's leader Rickard Falkvinge told EUobserver.
The group's electoral platform is based on three principles: to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected.
"Not only do we think these are worthwhile goals. We also believe they are realistically achievable on a European basis. The sentiments that led to the formation of the Pirate Party in Sweden are present throughout Europe," reads a party declaration.
It was in 2006, after a new law forbidding the downloading of copyright protected material from the internet, such as music and films, was introduced, that a group of Swedish file sharers decided to start a political movement, attracting over 4000 supporting signatures within the first 24 hours of the party's launch.
A list of possible future MEPs has now been drafted, and the party is convinced it stands a good chance of winning a seat in the European assembly.
"All the way up to the election in June, controversial legislation surrounding our issues are in the pipelines. The debate puts the spotlight on us, and attract voters," Rickard Falkvinge said.
The Pirate Party has already surpassed the long-established Green and Left parties in number of active members, while its youth wing, "Young Pirates", has become the second biggest political youth group in the country.
The group needs an estimated 100,000 votes to cross the country's four percent threshold in the election - a number the party thinks can be achieved by appealing to those who normally would not bother to vote but who do regularly share their strong views on computer freedoms: students, particularly at technical universities.
Thursday, March 12th, 2009 by Patrick Ross
U2’s Bono is unlikely to be the most sympathetic spokesman for online music theft, because in our society it seems we have anointed ourselves with the right to determine the “appropriate” level of a creator’s compensation. Bono admits in USA Today that he is in fact not the right spokesman
“because people think people like me are overpaid and overnourished, and they’re not wrong,” the U2 singer says. “What they’re missing is, how does a songwriter get paid? There’s no space for a Cole Porter in the modern age.
“It’s not the place for rich rock stars to ask for more money, but somebody should fight for fellow artists, because this is madness. Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it’s a sacred thing, so I’m a little offended.”
He should be offended. All creators should be. Anyone can download without authorization a song written and performed by Bono. Only Bono can write and perform that song exactly that way. He has a gift but he also has a skill that has come from decades of hard work (read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers to see how much repeated performing and composing as young musicians helped The Beatles reach the creative heights they did).
Would-be economist bloggers love to treat creative works as a utility, an odd argument. Yes, when digitized “Put Your Boots On” becomes a bunch of ones and zeroes, not unlike the pair of hydrogen atoms attached to single oxygen atoms running through plumbing pipes. But turn on the faucet and the molecules remain indistinguishable. Play the latest U2 track “Put Your Boots On” through your PC or iPod and it becomes something unique.*
It is the notion of treating a unique creative work as a utility that leads to the intellectually vacant argument that creative works should be priced at the marginal cost of distribution, i.e., near zero.
Bono goes on to say:
The Internet has emasculated rather than liberated artists, he says, noting that the record industry has lost billions in value.
“From punk rock to hip-hop, from heavy metal to country, musicians walk along with a smile and jump like lemmings into the abyss,” he says. “The music business has been thrown to the dogs legislatively.”
That indifference will vanish once “file-sharing of TV shows and movies becomes as easy as songs,” Bono says. “Somebody is going to call the cops.”
Last year in Cannes I heard U2’s manager, Paul McGuinness, express himself passionately against copyright infringement. He made some excellent points, but his language was such that he made it easy for some to dismiss him:
For McGuinness, it’s clearly “hippies” in Silicon Valley, who love music but don’t understand it. “They have a disregard for the real value of music,” he says. They also, he feels erroneously, “don’t think of themselves as makers of burglary kits.”
All of those Silicon Valley geeks looking for the killer ap? “The real killer ap is our clients’ recorded music,” he told the audience of band managers, who burst into applause.
He also noted that online infringement is eroding the mechanical royalties of songwriters. Note Bono cited songwriters as well. They are the forgotten victims of infringement, the ones who can’t make money on touring or T-shirts. (See Canard #4 on the fallacy of earning income only on rivalrous goods and services.)
Bono and McGuinness know a wee bit more about the music industry and the compensation of musicians, songwriters and music publishers than does, say, a tech blogger who likes to harp on marginal cost. It is very helpful they are speaking out, but Bono is right, we need more voices.
RiP: A Remix Manifesto: He’s been downloading so long , it looks like up to him,
by Barry Hertz, National Post, March 12, 2009
Toward the final leg of Brett Gaylor's exhausting pseudo-documentary, a group of schoolchildren are asked whether or not they download music off the Internet. Almost everyone raises their hand in the affirmative, but when asked if they consider their behaviour illegal, only a lone teenage boy offers a confession. It's a rare moment of self-awareness in Gaylor's otherwise logic-impaired film, which will give both artists and lawyers alike more than a few heart palpitations.
As the title explains, RiP is more of a cinematic essay than a proper documentary, with writer-director Gaylor laying out his "manifesto" against the artistic hindrances of copyright law early on. Basically, he's arguing for a marketplace where people are free to use and repurpose others' works for their own pleasure or art, intellectual property law be damned.
Technically speaking, Girl Talk (a.k.a. biomedical engineer Gregg Gillis) is a criminal: If he got permission to sample all the tracks used on his breakout album Feed the Animals, it would have cost millions of dollars.
The solution to this legal quagmire? Well, Gillis is content with bucking the industry for as long as he can by using a "fair use" defence, all the while creating undeniably excellent, dance-your-pants-off music. Gaylor, however, wants to tear the system apart from the inside out. Although his principle that creativity should never be stifled by those with money and power is laudable, his manifesto is so riddled with legal holes and inconsistencies that the entire film sinks with his slap-dash arguments.
For starters, Gaylor never realizes that if people were free to download other artists' works without consequence, then he himself would be out of a job.
Gaylor may try and distract audiences by using clever animation sequences and breakneck editing, but RiP never shakes off its hipper-than-thou sense of righteousness. Perhaps the film's worst offense occurs when the director visits the favelas of Brazil, where mash-ups are practically a national pastime. After marvelling at the artistry occurring within the shantytowns, the director stupefyingly proposes that the future of art and commerce lies not with the over-branded environs of New York or L.A., but within the copyright-free slums of Rio, oblivious to the fact that he is standing hip-deep in abject poverty.
If Gaylor is so enamoured with the concept of a world without copyright law, then I invite him to try and make a living in one. The Canadian taxpayers may be a generous lot, but once he steps into the world of commercial film - the one where investors expect some sort of return, artistically or otherwise - I suspect he might change his mind.
By Nate Anderson, March 13, 2009
Labels say that it's not just about the concerts and the merchandise; people will still pay for access to recorded music, but not like they used to. The future is monthly or yearly payments for access to all the tunes you want.
Selling CDs at $12 a pop is quickly becoming an untenable business model. Digital downloads, while significant and growing rapidly, don't make up for the CD's decline. Things have gotten so bad in the music industry that people have begun to wonder whether selling recorded music will even be a viable business model a decade from now or whether music will become nothing more than a promotional item used to sell concert tickets, band T-shirts, and copies of Guitar Hero.
The music industry recognizes that the times, they are a-changing, but even those open to generous blanket licensing schemes aren't interested in just giving the stuff away gratis. A new report called "Let's Sell Recorded Music!" highlights the possibilities—and the pitfalls—of creating legal services that can compete with free while still bringing in the cash.
Blanket licensing to the rescue
The report arises from a series of meetings that MusicTank hosted last fall in the UK. ISPs, record labels, collecting societies, and others came together not to talk about P2P enforcement or copyright education, but about how they could create compelling legal alternatives. The consensus? It's all about subscriptions.
Few respondents support placing a levy on Internet Service Providers to replace lost revenue.
TORONTO – While music industry executives huddle to come up with digital media strategies during this week’s Canadian Music Week conference, a recent survey by Angus Reid Strategies indicates that they may face significant headwinds in public opinion.
- 45% say people who use peer-to-peer file sharing services to download music and movies are regular Internet users doing what people should be able to do on the Internet
- Only 3% believe file-sharers are criminals who should be punished by law
Full topline results are at the end of this release.
From March 6 to March 9, 2009, Angus Reid Strategies conducted an online survey among 1,395 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted by age, gender and region according to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Internet Use Survey to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canadian Internet users. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
A majority of Canadian Internet users see no major problems with peer-to-peer file sharing, and most react negatively to the notion of a levy on ISPs that would help to compensate musicians for the music they create.
In the online survey of a representative national sample, nearly half of respondents (45 per cent) say those who use peer-to-peer file sharing services to download music and movies are “just regular Internet users doing what people should be able to do on the Internet.”
An additional 27 per cent admit these people are “doing something they shouldn’t be doing” but say “it’s not a big deal.”
In contrast, only three per cent agree with what has often been the music industry’s position that file sharers “are criminals who should be punished by law.” As for an appropriate remedy, one quarter of Canadians (25 per cent) feel that “technology should be developed to stop this.”