Copyright, My Stories, Stupidity

Takedowns – Copyright Style

It’s all happening in Australia.

Our government wants companies like Google and Facebook to pay news creators for having their articles appear in search results or when they are shared on a social media feed.

Google is negotiating with them while Facebook said “fuck you” and blocked or restricted all news content on the platform.

The thing is, these news outlets have never adapted to the changing marketplace that the World Wide Web brings.

They put content behind paywalls and it’s not working as good as the news content providers hoped it would do. Physical sales are down.

They have articles on the site with a lot of ads running on the side. Most of the article’s that generate money from ads are click bait stories and not the proper well researched long form articles.

So if you’re a serious journalist, there is a very high chance that your well written story that takes 15 minutes to read will be ignored because click bait short stories end up rising to the top.

And it’s all in the name of copyright.

Copyright allows the news creators to say to Google or Facebook that these companies are using copyrighted material without permission or proper compensation on their services.

And if you are in doubt as to how much power copyright has, look no further than the Beverley Hills Police Officers.

The officers are playing copyrighted music at each arrest and stop, so if they are filmed and that video is shared, they are using copyrights take down tool to remove the videos on copyright grounds.

Remember that the intention of copyright is to give the creator a short term monopoly on their art so they could make money from it.

And then once that term expired, the art enters the public domain so future generations can use it to create.

Add enforcement to it.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Crooks Continued

The “playing live” income stream is non-existent at the moment. But it’s not just artists who are losing out.

Venues also make money by having live music and collection agencies also make money by charging venues a license fee which allows the venues to have live music.

But the collection agencies feel they should be making more money in a pandemic from live performances.

PRS is an organisation in the UK which collects and distributes artists’ royalties. And they thought it was a great idea (a lot of sarcasm here) to introduce a new fee for livestreams because “hey how could they miss out and not get a slice of the pie”.

As the Vice article states;

Livestreams with a revenue below £250 will need to pay a flat rate of £22.50 for this licence, which doubles to £45 for revenues between £251 and £500. This means that for those hosting an online event with a revenue of £250 or less, a minimum of 9 percent will go to PRS.

So do you reckon the independent artists are happy about this cash grab from PRS.

And what makes it worse, artists need to wait at best, six months before they receive any royalties less admin fee from these collection agencies.

And the new tax is basically a punishment to the grassroots artists who would have a small turnover.

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Music, Stupidity

Stupid

On one of the email’s I subscribe to “Stream N Destroy”, it mentioned that Morgan Wallen was the most streamed artist last week (Feb 5 2021 – Feb 11 2021), with 92.3M steams. To compare, Queen was mentioned as the most streamed artist from rock bands and they had 12.1M streams in total.

So I went to Spotify to check him out and it’s country. It’s a double album and a quite a few songs sounded cool, so I added them to my 2021 playlist. I checked out some reviews and it was all negative.

This morning I was over at Vice, which is becoming my go to site for news on a lot of different subjects and there is Morgan Wallen again.

But the article isn’t signing his praises. Instead a drunk and staggering Wallen was caught on video calling a drunk friend, the n-word.

Wallen went into damage control and apologised.

But it was too late.

His label suspended him, his songs were removed from some platforms like iHeart Radio and if any of his songs appeared on official playlists on Spotify or Apple Music, well, they got removed from those playlists as well. And in the space of a few days, he was also removed from being the most streamed artist.

Which goes to show how quickly you can fall, regardless of how long it took to rise to the top of the pile. He appeared on “The Voice” but he didn’t win. A lot of people in the industry didn’t believe he would make it. He did make it and is doing his best to prove the critics right.

And I don’t get it.

He’s obviously mates with a black person, he’s gone out drinking with him and they both got pretty smashed. I guess it’s all a charade.

Wallen might play country music, but his lifestyle is decadent. He’s been arrested for public intoxication before and got into trouble for breaking COVID-19 protocols and making out with coeds. But the Country music promotion machine was behind him, and they used his boozing, hard parting ways to push him as the next big star.

As the Vice article states, there are a lot of other country artists who are of different colour and deserve the same promotional push that Wallen got, but they seem to be bypassed in favour of a white skinned artist.

Maybe the lyrics to “Outlaw” from his new album act as a foretelling.

“I never thought I’d get caught
Yeah, at least that’s what I thought”

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Theater Of Copyright

It looks like the “Stairway To Heaven” case going to die?

For those that don’t know, Michael Skidmore (from here on in, known as “The Trustee”), is the trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, which has the rights to the songs written by Randy Wolfe and his time in the rock band Spirit. The song in question here is “Taurus” and the similar feel and structure that both songs have.

My view on this is easy, a dead artist cannot hold a copyright and the law which changed copyright terms to last the life of the artist plus 70 years after death is a stupid one.

Because this is the rubbish you get. But Jimmy Page didn’t win because of the silliness of dead people holding copyrights.

Jimmy Page won because the sheet music is different. But “The Trustee” believes that the court should have been able to hear the sound recordings. But that rule allowing sound recordings came into place in the mid 70’s and the songs in dispute here are under old laws.

Anyway, the case got booted.

But for how long will “artists of the now” be taken to court over copying claims from the trustees or heirs of dead artists. Institutions cannot charge fees to the dead, so how can the dead claim a copyright and be paid for it and whoever passed a rule to allow copyright to be transferred to others has committed a wrong to the public domain.

Did you see that Universal Music Group announced a $1.2B Hotel, Performance Venue and Casino in Mississippi? It’s also going to do a similar venture in Atlanta and Orlando.

You see, this is what happens when artists give away all of their rights to the labels. It gave the labels power. They used that power to lock up culture for the life of the artist plus 70 years after the death.

But David Crosby still tells everyone streaming is the enemy. Gene Simmons as well. The enemy to an artist is ignorance and a fixed mindset. There is a lot of money in recorded music. As long as you hold the copyright to the recorded music.

Otherwise why would companies spend a lot of money buying the copyrights to popular songs. The return on these songs because of streaming payments is always going up, while stocks on Wall Street go down.

And look no further than Frontiers Records from Italy. They are releasing a lot of product compared to other labels because their President knows that music scales and will keep paying forever.

And the Labels, they are pieces of work. It’s a power play. You know how artists are trying to reclaim their copyrights back from the labels after 35 years, which is legislated in Copyright Law, but the labels are fighting hard to keep the rights. So while those court cases are ongoing, the labels are now counter suing the artists for selling their own albums on their websites or for using the album art on their websites.

So the artist make the labels rich and somehow the artists are the problem.

And Copyright keeps getting very ugly because artists sue each other.

You see an idea is an idea. I could have an idea for a song here in Australia, and there is a very high probability that other people would have a similar idea, somewhere else in the world. And when one song becomes a hit, then expect a writ, because even though ideas are not copyrightable, there is also someone who believes they are.

But.

And there is always a but when it comes to Copyright.

If there isn’t a court case for similar ideas, then there are cases over licensing, samples and whatever else lawyers can fit into the grey world which is Copyright.

Not sure if you have seen the stories about Tracy Chapman suing Nicki Minaj over a sample from Chapman’s song “Baby Can I Hold You” which appears on an unreleased track from Minaj called “Sorry”.

The song “Sorry” was pulled from the album’s release because the label couldn’t get clearance to use the sample. Minaj even begged Chapman over Twitter to approve it, but Chapman is anti-samples.

And even though the song was pulled, it still didn’t stop the song from getting played on radio stations and once the song was aired, the fans quickly ripped it from the broadcast and sent it out onto the worldwide web.

Hence the court case. Chapman wants payments and Minaj says there are none.

And the arguments have all gone off track and no one really knows what the hell they are arguing and counter arguing over. Anyway, Minaj won the case.

And labels just keep doing wrong on behalf of the artists. Here you have a label called Trax Records who specialise in dance and house recordings being accused of fraudently filing sound recordings to the U.S Copyright Office of other artists and claiming the recordings as their own.

Sony Music is also doing everything it can to keep as much money from old artists in the Sony bank account. Sony paid $12.7 million to settle a case and is allowed to deny any wrongdoing. It’s amazing what $12 million buys. The fact that these old songs are still under copyright, long after the artist has passed away is an issue for me.

I guess Copyright just lives on and on and on and the courts are kept busy with cases and the labels keep ripping creators off, while they invest in start-ups, make billions and then build casinos.

All in the name of Copyright.

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Copyright, Music, Stupidity

Clive Palmer and Dee Snider

Dee Snider and Jay Jay French along with Universal are still waiting on an outcome of their copyright infringement suit against Clive Palmer for using the melody of “Were Not Gonna Take It” for his political ad of “Australia’s Not Gonna Cop It”.

Good luck guys.

In case you are not aware, this is the same Clive Palmer who sued the state of Western Australia (WA) for $30 billion dollars over an iron ore mine dispute.

He lost that one after the WA government passed a retroactive law stopping suits like this.

He then took the same state to court again, but this time to challenge their border closure. For those who don’t know, WA closed their borders to the rest of Australia and so far they have gone 100 plus days with no Covid-19 cases.

He lost that one as well.

Now he’s talking the WA Premier to court for defamation because the comments made by the Premier “injured Palmers feelings”.

This one is still pending.

And somehow amidst all this there is that copyright case from Dee Snider.

And amidst all of this is Palmer donating to certain political parties so he gets his way.

Good luck Dee.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Feed The Copyright

It’s not even funny how much money the legal fraternity makes from music and Copyright issues. The legal teams of labels, artists and the heirs of artists make money from Copyright disputes. The legal teams of the same group make money from just representing those groups in contract negotiations and so forth.

But depending on what you read, streaming services are the problem because they don’t pay enough. Because these services also make money. While the streaming companies are running at a loss, the value of the people at the top of the Executive doesn’t diminish and their stock value is high.

Everyone is making money from so many different things except the artist. But it’s the artist who creates the content that engages with a person, who then becomes a fan and decides to spend their money on the artist.

This is what happens when artists are never allowed to be in the negotiation room when legislation is being drawn up.

When Corporations like the record labels are involved in the negotiations with their list of politicians on their payroll, well legislation looks very one sided. And when the labels get artists involved like Sonny Bono, these artists gets a handsome payday from the labels for their involvement which is probably a lot more than they would get from sales or even streams of their recorded music at that point in time.

So artists are now waiting for a judge to clarify whether they can reclaim their rights from record labels, even though the Copyright legislation states that they can.

The labels are digging deep with their counter arguments to prove that the termination requests are invalid. There best one is to say that the songs are “works for hire” which means that the label was an employer and the artist an employee, however the label didn’t meet any commitments that an employer needs to meet to be classed as an employer like annual leave, long service leave, sick leave, retirement pension contributions and yearly review of said salary and bonuses and so forth.

And the lawyers make even more money.

Remember when the streaming bodies disagreed with the Copyright Royalty Board on the new rates they need to pay to songwriters for streaming.

Well this disagreement went to an Appeals Tribunal and it’s all going back to the Copyright Royalty Board to renegotiate/review and to be a bit more transparent as to how the CRB do things or come up with things. Of course, this will be another public relations nightmare for Spotify, but then again they are the labels biggest client.

And it’s more money from the artists diverted to lawyers.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Streaming Hate Continues

The record labels and music news sites that benefit from reporting positive articles about the labels, talk about the billions of dollars the music industry made in the financial year just before Napster hit.

So from a simple viewpoint, when Napster hit, sales of music started to decline. For the RIAA and the record labels, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move. But the sales of music had been falling for some time.

What happened during the 90’s just before Napster went worldwide was a lot of re-purchasing.

People started to re-purchase the music they already owned on vinyl and cassettes on CD’s. These re-purchased items, in most cases re-mastered or super deluxe editions with bonus content at higher prices would skew the record label figures to make it look like new recorded music was bringing in billions of dollars when in fact it was people purchasing old catalogue items. And once we had those albums on CD, we didn’t really need to re-purchase them again.

But Napster also highlighted a gap in the business models of the labels. People liked to have access. If anything, people liked to have terabytes of culture saved on disk drives.

Some artists maintain that it was the right action to go after Napster. Others can’t wait for Spotify to die. They must think that people would just go out and buy their albums on physical again. The hard core always will but the majority won’t. They’ll revert to downloading.

The Napster gap allowed people to share their music collections (bootlegs and original recordings) in a very simple and convenient way. Napster got popular because of it, and the labels should have created something to match it.

But the labels did nothing, and more sharing applications kept coming. Then a small company called YouTube did fill the gap that Napster was really servicing. YouTube allowed people to upload their music collections. And YouTube today, generates billions of dollars. These billions could have been in the profit and loss statements of the record labels but they messed up.

We are 22 years post Napster, and the record labels did absolutely nothing to counter it, except scream for legislation and gestapo like police powers.

You want to know who is the labels biggest client. Spotify and the other streaming services.

You want to know who artists see as their biggest enemy. Spotify, but not the other streaming services..

The arrival of YouTube and eventually streaming services put a dent into the traditional sales model, but did these sharing and access platforms assist in increasing the crowds for artists?

Iron Maiden came back with Bruce Dickinson on “Brave New World”, bigger than ever and played to sold out crowds in countries they’ve hardly sold any recorded product in. Even the album “Brave New World” did nothing sales wise.

Twisted Sister and Motley Crue also came back bigger than ever post Napster and played to their biggest ever crowds until they retired. Then again Motley Crue just faked their retirement.

Did sharing of music assist in these high concert attendances as well?

To use the record label analogy of post Napster sales and pre Napster sales, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move. The same can be said about music being shared illegally and bands playing to their largest audiences ever. One event is causing the other to move.

And here we are in 2020 with a pandemic killing off the live show and no one really knowing how it will look once it is over. And the record labels are winning, making money from streaming revenue while the hard rock artists who have a presence want streaming to die.

But it’s the labels with the greatest share of the streaming revenue.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Record Label Review Payola

Remember the time when you read a review and it praised the album, maybe they mentioned a song and your thinking, “what the”.

Once upon a time, reviewers had an opinion and some critical analysis took place. And it was their subjective opinion. And as fans we would take a chance on an album based on a review and if we agreed with the reviewer, we would put that reviewer as a trusted source.

And the record labels didn’t really care about these opinions from reviewers as they were already cooking the books and charts with the record stores and radio stations. But they got busted doing it and suddenly, the labels needed a new outlet for their payola.

So the labels started to pay people to deliver favorable reviews. And these reviewers suddenly had a nice label income coming in.

And if a reviewer posted a review that was critical of an album, well the label reps would call them and tell them how their review is killing their business and that particular release and how they all gotta work together.

In other words, post positive reviews or your record label money will disappear.

And if you kept to your guns and pointed out deficiencies on albums then eventually the labels would drop you as an approved reviewer and move on to someone else who was more than happy to be positive.

But most reviewers are music fans to begin with so they will always have an opinion for and against the new music. And it’s a shame if they don’t state it for the sake of money.

Here are the Twitter posts which inspired this post from a Andrew McNeice who runs the MelodicRock website.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Snider and Palmer

It was Al Pitrelli, his Widowmaker guitarist that pointed out to him (in the early 90s) that every time he heard “We’re Not Gonna Take It” back in the 80’s, it reminded him of the Christmas song “O Come All Ye Faithful”.

Then of course, Twisted Sister did a Christmas album In the two thousands and they re-did the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” music with the words of “O Come All Ye Faithful”.

So fast forward a decade and bit later from that Christmas album and you have one of the most hated business people in Australia, deciding that his “Australia’s Not Gonna Cop It” is based on the Christmas Carol.

Umm no.

It’s based on “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

But like other business people in the world, he lies. Clive Palmer just continues to lie. Nothing is his fault, he can’t admit any wrong doing nor does he know how to apologise. But to lie and not pay his workers, god damn it, Palmer is good at it. Very good at it.

And I hate Copyright lawsuits, but I’m all in with the Snider camp on this one, because Palmer’s camp asked to use the song from Twisted Sister but they didn’t want to pay the license fee for it. So it all comes down to Palmer not paying for something, again. Sort of like how he didn’t pay his workers.

It’s a showdown in August.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

The Trolley Dilemma

This whole mask argument reminds me of the trolley dilemma.

There is a runaway train, coming down the tracks towards five workers who cannot hear it coming and if they do spot it, it will be too late to save themselves. But as disaster is coming close, you realise that you can choose to divert the train from the main track by pulling the lever. You will save five people on the track, but you will also kill the lone worker on the other track.

Killing one to save five.

An alternative variation, is that two people are standing on a bridge above the train tracks. And you see the large man standing next to you. You are thinking that his size would be able to stop the runaway train. So would you push him off the bridge, killing one to save the five further down the track.

In the alternate version you are actually responsible for the death by pushing the person and in the original dilemma, you are responsible for diverting the train towards that person.

So Dee Snider is asking one of his detractors, a person called “HairMetalGuru”, who has an issue wearing a mask because it encroaches on his freedom, which the dude doesn’t really know, is already restricted.

The Government has laws to spy on you and gather data on you. The banks are allowed to get a credit history on you, and decide to give you credit. And if you don’t repay it, well, they have the right to close in on you and bankrupt you or foreclose on you.

Then there laws that further restrict your freedom from the utility companies, which they use to suspend your services if you don’t pay on time. Plus all of the laws around how fast you can drive, how much you can drink before you can drive, how old you can be to actually drink and how old you can be to actually drive. I guess living in a free country means giving up freedoms to be secure.

Anyway this is Dee’s post;

On the outside chance that by you wearing a mask might prevent another human being from getting sick or dying, you can’t find it in your heart to compromise your freedom and put one on. Personally I can’t deal with that thought. Just askin’.

To me it feels like the trolley dilemma. Wear a mask so you don’t infect people but you might infect yourself if you don’t handle it properly.

What’s your view?

And the same arguments on masks are held everywhere. It’s like a worldwide echo chamber.

The main one against wearing masks which gets traction is that you can get sick by bringing the virus home with you on the mask if you don’t dispose of it.

So that means single use masks should be used.

But most of the masks that people are wearing are reusable masks, which means, people are wearing them, then putting them in their pocket or their bag and then wearing them again and then putting them in their pocket or their bag and then washing them.

The arguments of people that they will not wear a mask because it restricts their freedom is BS. In order to be secure, we all give up freedoms.

If you don’t believe me, don’t go home tonight to your fixed address. Use your imaginative freedom, to go and make your bed where you want tonight. A U.S citizen did that in a parking lot of a fast food joint and got shot by police because of it.

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