jackofallgeeks: (Contemplative)
So, I pay attention to copyright law. At least a little bit, mostly where
it crosses paths with thechnology like with digital music and movies. The
production industries in music and movies are in a bad space because,
traditionally, they've had a lot of control over their content. If
you wanted music, you bought CDs. If you wanted movies, youi got the VHS,
or the DVD, or bough a ticket to see it in theaters. Now, though, all that
content is digital, and can be sent all over the place -- and more to the
point copied -- very easily.

These industries want to paint unauthorized copying as theft. They say
illegal downloaders are stealing. This is a bad application of theft
because, traditionally, when you steal something you deny it to some other
person. If you steal my car, I can't use it. If I steal your bread, you go
hungry. Property laws, of which 'stealing' is a consequence, it based on
the fact that physical items are limited by their very nature. But if I
copy a song no one loses it, I just gain it. it's like a flame which can be
passed along infinitely without diminishing anyone's possession of it. It's
like a thought: I don't lose it by giving it to you.

Still, some people I argue with hav e this perception that if you get
something for free when it's being sold elsewhere then you're stealing. You
are obligated to buy it from the seller by virtue of the fact that they're
selling it. But this doesn't hold up. Imagine someone comes out with
FooBar candy, a delectible snack. Target sells FooBar for $1.00 and Walmart
sells it for $0.50. Is Walmart stealing from Target? What if
Walmart starts giving it away, are they stealing now?

Now, imagine FooBar is made of a gooey substance which is able to
reconstitute itself, so that if you break one in half each half will
'regrow' into a full FooBar bar. Say I buy one of these, and then start
breaking off pieces and giving all the regrown pieces to all my friends. Am
I stealing?

Now, don't get me wrong, I believe in playing by the rules - if a band says,
"please don't share my music," I do my best to comply out of respect for the
artist, though I think it's dumb. If I share the music then they get new
fans, and I think most bands would rather be popular than not. Now, it does
present a troubling business problem: how do you make money if you're giving
music away for free? But the point it that it IS a business model problem,
and there ARE ways to fix it. Nine Inch Nails has been doing some really
interesting stuff, all of which takes advantage of having a loyal fan base
(which can be grown and cultivated by giving away your songs, much like
little advertisments that people will willing watch again and again). NIN
has shown that you can still sell CDs (which, peing physical, ARE limited
and not easily reproducable) as long as you can make having the CD worth
it. The point is using your infinite product to spread the flame, and then
use the blaze that results to drive sales on things that are *actually*
limited.
jackofallgeeks: (Default)
Tanya
Anderson
, who's trying to get a class-action lawsuit against the
RIAA after being Wrongfully Accused herself, is something of a hero to me.
But wow, even I wouldn't have given her four shots to get the
filing right. I really hope this one goes through, because I think the
judge has been more than generous (and maybe even sympathetic) and I don't
expect a fifth filing to be allowed.
jackofallgeeks: (Setsuna)
Contrast Radiohead
saying they will not repeat the "name your own price" stunt with Nine Inch Nail
giving fans The Slip, NIN's latest
album is free to download and released under the Creative Commons liscence
(meaning you're legally encouraged to share it). It also comes with a note
from Trent Reznor: "thank you for your continued and loyal support over the
years - this one's on me."

This kind of attitude makes me want to give them money. Which is
amusing and I'm sure not altogether serendipitous: over the weekend I got an
email from NIN with touring dates. DC tickets are on sale either the 3rd or
the 8th, and I think I'm going to go see them. (I don't recal when theyr'e
going to be here, June or something.) Anyone else in the area a NIN fan?
jackofallgeeks: (Contemplative)
I think I really like what This
article, on a recent music-industry conference, is showing us. The
conference apparently started off by declaring that "Music 1.0 is dead."
(Aside: I hate calling things Foo X.0) The article goes on to talk about
how the industry execs are figuring out that their modles aren't working,
that no one wants CDs, and digital distribution is necessary. What it looks
like they haven't figured out yet, though, is that Labels as such are
obsolete.

The point was brought up at one point, where someone asked if Labels had
anything to bring to the table besides their back catalogs -- music that's
already been made. Someone noted that Labels provide a vital service:
"anyone who has spent an hour or a day listening to demos understands the
labels' place in the food chain". The article goes on to explain that the
idea is "labels provide both filtering and then marketing of music. Without
their help, promising artists would be lost in a sea of noise and would be
almost impossible for music lovers to discover."

And this is, of course, a load of bull. Back in the day, filtering was
probably needed because let's be honest, not everyone who WANTS to make
music is very good at it, and radio stations and the like don't have the
time or resources to screen every demo everyone wants to send them.
Instead, they relied on the record labels (and friends of friends) to get
worthy music. That music get played, those bands get popular, and their CDs
sell. But in the world of the Internet and social networking, you don't
have to be discovered any more. Home recording is even getting cheaper
year-to-year, so Labels can't even claim a monopoly on recording studios
since you could have one in your den. You record a few tracks, put them up
on MySpace or something, spread them around; you build up a fan base and
then you're the Next Big Thing.

I'm generally not a fan of collective-intelligence, wisdom of the masses, or
anything else that generally says "let the Great Unwashed decide!" (Yeah,
I'm a little elitist.) But when you're talking about something like music
that's TARGETTED at the masses, why NOT listen to what they're telling you?
When 50,000 people 'friend' a band on MySpace, that's a popular band
regardless of if they've been 'screened' by a Label. So what does a Label
have to offer that band?

I think music is tending toward, and ought to tend toward, a more
grass-roots sort of thing, where people make music and distribute it and
become popular based on their talent and creativity, not based on whether
some stuffed-shirt record execs think their music "makes it."

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John Noble

August 2012

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