Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Piracy Incorporated

The Pirate Bay (TPB) is going to turn 14 years this year.

From its inception, it was a facilitator, spreading the disruption caused by Napster years earlier to even larger audiences. It showed the entertainment industries how they needed to change. But they didn’t change and it took companies like Netflix and Spotify to make this happen. And they did it by using the same technology made famous by The Pirate Bay. But while Netflix realised that money is in producing your own content, Spotify and other streaming providers have not. Licensing content from someone is not a satisfactory business model. Just ask HBO, formerly known as Home Box Office. Their early business model was all licensed content and they lost money year after year, while the movie studios got richer. It wasn’t until HBO went into original content, that they started making some serious cash. As soon as Spotify, Apple, YouTube and Pandora realise that they need to enter the recording business to produce their own content, the music industry will change and disrupt even more.

TPB had to stand strong against the pressure put on it by the MPAA and the RIAA and their sister organisations throughout the world. It has stood firm against government officials (loaded up in lobbyist dollars) trying to prosecute it. It was taken down, raided and it still survives. And it keeps on innovating even when court orders become the new normal, requesting ISP’s to block the web address or domain registries to deny any applications for TPB domains. Even in it’s home country of Sweden, court appeals and cases are still ongoing. Google was even pressured to alter (in my view censor) its search algorithm, so TPB doesn’t come up.

But TPB is still alive. It has become a vessel for people to access content they normally wouldn’t have access too. In the process, it has made the world a better place.

Metal music in general has grown to all corners of the world. Suddenly, every country has a metal scene and the larger metal bands that have the means to tour are suddenly hitting markets they’ve never hit before.

The high rates of software piracy in Eastern Europe caused an IT skills explosion.

Romanian President Traian Basescu, once told Bill Gates that digital pirating helped his nation build a budding software industry.
REUTERS Article on Eastern European Piracy

The high rates of music creation software piracy led to the electronic dance explosion coming out of Europe.

In the process, artists have gained decent followings. However, while bands in the past had followings, it was assumed that every single follower had purchased recorded music and that the band had made money. But that was not the case in the past and it still isn’t today.

I had music recorded on cassette tapes and video tapes to begin with.

  •  If the radio played a song I liked, I recorded it on cassette. I did this by pressing record every time a song started or was about to start and if I dug the tune, I kept the recording going. If I didn’t dig it, I stopped the recording and rewinded the tape to the last song, so I can start again. The rewinding part was easy when the tape was new, but when you started to record after a previously recorded song, you had to rewind to that point in time. The same process was carried out with video tapes. I was explaining this to my kids and they didn’t look amazed at all by my rewinding abilities.
  • I had friends of my brothers who had dubbed music on a cassette from someone else who copied it from someone else who copied it. So on some occasions the music I got was a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. It sure sounds like mp3 downloading to me.
  • My brothers had one friend who purchased a lot of music, but he wouldn’t let no-one copy it. I remember one time I borrowed the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire and “Blow My Fuse” from Kix from him, without asking or telling him. He reckons I stole it. What kind of thief am I, when I returned the borrowed goods?

So what can artists learn from The Pirate Bay?

The Pirate Bay spread via word of mouth. It didn’t embark on a scorched earth marketing policy. For an artist there is no better marketing strategy than word of mouth. That is how virality works. With social media, it can spread even faster. But you need to be able to follow it up, quickly and with quality.

  • Volbeat got traction in the U.S in 2012 on the backs of a song they released in 2008. This in turn started to bring attention to their previous albums. Success comes later in today’s world. In some cases, much later.
  • This is very different to say, Galactic Cowboys. Back in the late eighties, Geffen Records signed them to a deal and just kept on pushing the band onto the public with a pretty high-profile marketing campaign. The marketing budget was huge, the recording budget was huge, but the public just didn’t take to them. There was no word of mouth. No one spoke about them and when you brought them up in a conversation, it was a “who”. In saying that, I thought the band was innovative and excellent.

The Pirate Bay’s user base is growing and replenishing.

  • For the thousands that stop using the service, another thousand start using the service.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Metallica, another thousand started listening to Metallica.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Ratt, another 10 started to listen to em.

You do the math as why certain things get bigger or remain bigger, while other things reduce in scale.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, My Stories

Talking About Riffs – Progress Is Derivative (The Non-Metal Version)

Okay so what do we know.

We know that Robin Thicke released a song called “Blurred Lines” that ended up going nuclear all over the world. That means a lot of dough to share around.

We know that the family of Marvin Gaye have lawyered up with King and Ballow to sue Robin Thicke and song publisher EMI April/Sony/ATV for copyright infringement.

They claim that Robin Thicke committed copyright infringement on Gaye’s “After the Dance” to create his song “Love After War.”

They also claim that Thicke’s “Make U Love Me” shares a similar bridge and identical lyrics to Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.”

They also claim that “Blurred Lines” was stolen from Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”. To muddle the waters even more, allegations also abound that “Blurred Lines” was also derived from Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways.”

It is pretty obvious that the family of Marvin Gaye don’t care about derivative progress. All they care about is money. This is not about protecting Marvin Gaye and his legacy. A legacy is protected by people and fans of music. By simply having the conversation that “Blurred Lines” sounds similar is proof that Marvin Gaye’s legacy is protected.

Listening to “Blurred Lines” and reading the reviews of the song, you know it got me interested to check out Marvin Gaye and that is what matters in today’s times. Are people listening to the music?

Of course this lawsuit isn’t just about copyright infringement. There is an argument put forward against EMI, about how they strong armed the Gaye family, about how they planted false stories in the media, about conflicts of interest (due to EMI controlling both copyrights), about professional misconduct and breaches of contract

Of course the argument put forward by Thicke and EMI is that the genres of the songs are the same however the notes are different and as far as they are concerned no infringement occurred.

Regardless of how people view this argument. One thing is clear.

The family of Marvin Gaye have been ill-advised. Even if they win the lawsuit, they still lose “financially” in the long run.

The only financial winners here are the attorneys.

The Gaye family will lose out in the long run because artists will stop referencing Marvin Gaye. Once people stop referencing Marvin Gaye this will then lead to people not talking about him. He will be absent from the conversation. The only reason why this has all come up, is that people have talked about the similarities. The Gaye family even used those conversations as part of their counterclaim.

So once people stop talking about someone, in time that person/artist will be forgotten.

The shenanigans carried out by the Gaye family is a far cry to what happened to Bobby Parker. For those that don’t know, Bobby Parker was a blues rock guitarist that passed away recently at the age of 76. He wrote a song called “Watch Your Step” in 1961. The song was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Beatles hit, “I Feel Fine” released in 1964 had that riff. The influence of “Watch Your Step” also extended to “Day Tripper” as well. John Lennon even stated that “I Feel Fine” and “Day Tripper” were songs built on variations of the “Watch Your Step” riff.

Led Zeppelin used the riff in “Moby Dick” released in 1968.

However, in order to show the progress is derivative effect in action, the “Watch Your Step” riff evolved from the Afro-Cuban jazz composition “Manteca.” That is what music is all about. Evolution by derivatives.

However, Bobby Parker reaped few rewards from the song’s success as he sold the copyright to V-Tone records owner Ivan Mogull for next to nothing. In other words, he didn’t know enough about copyright and he got shafted. Sound familiar. Labels shafting artists.

So all you artists that sign record deals remember this. The label owns your copyright. And guess what the labels are pushing for. Long copyright terms. Look at the massive expansion of the “Duration of Copyright Term” between 1910 and 1998. Just at the time that movie studios and record labels started to appear. Just at the time that the RIAA and the MPAA started to appear and become lobby powerhouses.

At the moment, in the US it is sitting over 100 years due to the 1998 Sonny Bono Act. To top it all off, the Copyright monopolies want longer terms. Longer terms means that our culture is all locked up. The whole point of copyright was to serve and benefit the Public while giving creators a short-term monopoly on their creations. There is nothing that is coming off copyright because Corporations own the majority of the copyrights.

Talking about riffs, what about that riff in “I Want A New Drug from Huey Lewis and the News. It was a hit twice. Once for Huey Lewis and the News and another time for Ray Parker Jr., with “Ghostbusters”!

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