Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

What Is Democracy?

Wikipedia states that “democracy” originates from the Greek word dēmokratía which means “rule of the people” and it’s the opposite to the word aristokratia which means “rule of an elite”.

So how does “democracy” really work for us?

Every three to four years, we tick a box on election day, to elect a leader that has been pre-selected by the ruling elite. In Australia, the Prime Ministers the people have voted in have been thrown out by their own parties ruling elite half way into their terms.

So how does the rule of the people exist?

There is a great post from last year by Ilya Somin on democracy that I have kept in my inbox for a post like this.

Recent debates over the meaning of “one person, one vote” and the lessons of ancient Greek democracy for the modern world highlight an important truth about democracy: it can’t be democratic all the way down. Lincoln famously said that democracy is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” But before “the people” can govern anything, someone has to decide who counts as a member of the people, what powers they have, and what rules they will vote under. And that someone usually turns out to be a small group of elites.

Yep, democracy has elitism at its heart. Before people can vote, someone has to decide who the people will vote for and how and for which policies.

Before a democratic process can even begin to function, some nondemocratic process has to make the rules. And those rules will have a major impact on the choices available to “the people” once they finally begin to have a say.

While the majority of people don’t care about laws and how they are made, they should care about the elites massaging the laws to benefit them.

All of this brings me to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement which has been negotiated in secret. Corporations (a form of elitist’s) and their lobby groups (another form of elitist’s) have a seat at the table with the people voted in. The only time the people hears about the terms of the agreement are from leaked documents. And it’s a bad agreement that gives corporations the power to sue Governments, if the sovereign government passes laws that interfere with the corporation’s profits. It’s taking government granted monopolies into the world. If TPP goes through, it would be a government granted world monopoly.

What about Copyright?

Money and wealth are in control of it. The corporations have taken a monopoly granted to a creator and made it into a corporate monopoly that expires 70 to 90 years after the creator’s death. And these corporations are now trying to skew the copyright laws to benefit themselves.

I came across an interesting story about “This Is Spinal Tap”. I had that movie on VHS cassette. Due to video tape destruction and lending it out to people, I purchased the original tape 4 times and eventually got it on DVD.

Harry Shearer from “The Simpsons” fame was one of the main co-creators of “This Is Spinal Tap”. He also starred in it, as the bass player, Derek Smalls. Who can forget the image of Derek stuck in the pod during the concert, unable to get out due to a malfunction or when Derek was going through the airport screens with a cucumber wrapped in foil in his pants?

Shearer and the other creators are meant to get 40 percent of net receipts however he hasn’t been getting paid, so he served papers to Vivendi and StudioCanal for $125 million.

The movie is a classic and it’s hugely popular. The fictional band is also hugely popular. However;

Despite the film’s legacy and Spinal Tap’s enduring success as an actual band able to sell out arenas, Shearer’s company Century of Progress Productions alleges that the four lead creatives have received just $81 in merchandising income and $98 in musical sales income in the past three decades from the franchise.

Have a read of the Hollywood Reporter article for more detail, but it’s these two points that prove copyright is a corporation business.

  • Harry Shearer is NOT ALLOWED to reprise “Derek Smalls”, a character that he created and played due to threats from the studio.
  • Harry Shearer does not have the rights to the songs he wrote and co-wrote for the movie. In other words he cannot do anything to monetise his own songs. However, there is a termination provision in the Copyright Act that allows the creators to cancel the copyright grants to the corporation and regain their rights. However, 35 years needs to pass before it can happen, and the termination claims need to be in by a certain period.

There is a saying in I.T that whatever sticks around long enough will break eventually. Copyright is no different. It’s been around for a long time and due to laws passed to benefit corporations in the 60’s and 70’s, copyright in its current state, is buggy like you wouldn’t believe.

The fact that copyright has given rise to new jobs around “music forensics” is enough to make me break another guitar.

Read the article, even just for the following quote;

“is evidence of one truth about the world of music copyright: There can be a lot of money involved.”

And when there is money involved, the main recipient would do anything to keep that money fountain flowing.

Standard
Music

A Capitalist Democracy

In the valley of the kings
Na-na-na
Na-na-nahh!
You’re workin’, slavin
Into death every day
Set us free

John Sykes delivers the above in the outro to the Blue Murder epic “Valley Of The Kings”. Replace the word “Kings” with the word “Rich” and you get the following verse;

In the valley of the rich
Na-na-na
Na-na-nahh!
You’re workin’, slavin
Into death every day
Set us free

And it got me thinking about what democracy actually means these days?

Wikipedia states that “Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.”

Wikipedia also states the term originates from the Greek word dēmokratía which means “rule of the people”. It is the antonym to word aristokratia which means “rule of an elite”.

In other words, Democracy means that “the people rule”. So are the people ruling?

In 2013, the people’s’ rule comes down to ticking a box every three to four years on election day for people who have been pre-selected by the ruling elite. Sounds pretty democratic to me.

The Australian people in 2007, elected Kevin Rudd as it’s Prime Minister and by 2010, he was knifed by the Ruling Elite of the Labor Party and replaced as Prime Minister. So much for the “rule of the people”. The people voted in the Prime Minister, so shouldn’t the people have the chance to throw him out of office at the next election. Not in Australia. The Labor Party replaced him. Sounds pretty democratic to me.

What about the recent TPP negotiations led by the U.S? Did you know that the TPP has been negotiated in secrecy. The only time the public hears about the terms of the agreement are via leaks because the public should trust their elected officials to do the right thing. That fact that certain interest groups, like the record labels and the movie studios are allowed to participate in the negotiations and other groups that counteract those views are not. It sure sounds like the rule of the people.

When interest groups and copyright monopolies lobby hard, they know which politicians pockets to hit. This is where the Rule Of The Elite comes into play in democratic nations. Money and wealth is in control. The people who have it, have built up a monopoly from their ivory towers. And they will do anything to keep it.

In relation to copyright, these industries have taken a government granted monopoly that is given to a creator of works and turned it into a corporate empire, where the copyright term expires 70 to 90 years (depending on the country you reside) after the creator’s death. And they are lobbying hard to even remove current Public Domain works and place them back under Copyright. Sounds pretty democratic to me. Did the people have a say in this? Of course not, we trusted our elected politicians to take care of our needs.

In short, our ‘democracy’ is a charade. Our democracy is corrupt and riddled with bad laws, that more or less do not apply to the ruling elite. As Geoff Tate sings in “Speak”;

The rich control the government, the media the law

How many people have participated in a meaningful way in how society is organised and run? The answer to this is probably NONE.

Sacred Reich released “The American Way” back in 1990. Has anything changed in the last 23 years.

This was once the land of dreams
Now these dreams have turned to greed
In the midst of all this wealth
The poor are left to help themselves
A capitalist’s democracy
No one said that freedom’s free
Lady liberty rots away
No truth, no justice
The American way

That is the democracy we have. A capitalist democracy. We have allowed this to happen. Corey Taylor nailed it with the lyrics in “All Hope Is Gone”.

We’re the problem,
but we’re also the solution

Our fascination with accumulating wealth has allowed us to give away more and more of our freedoms. Quoting from “Eye Of The Beholder”.

Independence limited
Freedom of choice is made for you my friend
Freedom of speech is words that they will bend
Freedom no longer frees you

Freedom of choice is indeed made for you.

Standard
Music

Cry For Freedom

White Lion had the balls to tackle the subject of apartheid when all the other bands in 1989 didn’t. That was a long time ago. 1989. The Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Blues Rock, Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal movements where all riding high, at the peak of their mainstream successes.

It is unfortunate that the Eighties degenerated into a state of generic and clichéd derivative lyrical themes and subjects involving sex, partying and drugs.

When bands branched away from that, it was very hit and miss.

White Lion fell into that crowd of misses as the label “Atlantic” would still push the pop metal or pop rock edge of the band. The tours and marketing had White Lion sandwiched amongst bands like Motley Crue, Skid Row, Kiss, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Blue Murder and Badlands.

Of course, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Kiss, Alice Copper all had big wins in 1989. Whitesnake released a great album however it didn’t get traction. Call it karma for David Coverdale killing off the promotion on the John Sykes, Blue Murder album.

Actually, Blue Murder and Badlands released timeless and serious albums that in 2013 are seen as cult albums.

Music culture was built by artists taking a stand on a subject. The history of rock and metal is littered with bands that made big statements.

It’s the guitar sound. The way it swells and hallucinates with each shifting chord change. You cant help but be drawn in.

“The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free”

Growing up in democracy it was hard to fathom how people could be suppressed and denied rights for such a long time. South Africa was never in the news in Australia. It was like a decision was made from the powers that be that South Africa will not be reported at all costs.

Despite the song having a thread of hope, there is still desperation and the idea that freedom was still far away.

“So stand up and cry for freedom
And keep the dream alive”

“Cry For Freedom” is the kind of track that can be played when any uprising to oppression happens. It could have been played during the Arab Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Syrian Civil War. It never loses its power.

“Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed i face my fellow man”

“The children are taken away
And families destroyed
And millions have died from starvation
We can’t go on this way”

And the way it ends, it just makes you want to play it all over again.

Credit Michael Wagener, who produced it and still captured a sound that was rock enough to satisfy the rock community. In the end it makes the track connected to the rest of the album.

The “Cry For Freedom” video has 730,603 views on the 80s Classic Metal channel.

White Lion really tried hard to depart from the rock clichés however the public at that time didn’t want to be reminded about the world. All we wanted back then was to let our hair down and escape from the working week.

Vito Bratta mentioned in his 2007 Eddie Trunk interview that the songs from “Big Game” didn’t really work in a live setting, especially in a rowdy hard rock setting.

It was a concert at the Wembley Arena on Wednesday 01 November 1989 that decided the fate of the album and the rest of the tour.

Mötley Crüe where the headliners with White Lion and Skid Row supporting.

Sandwiched between a wild and energetic Skid Row and a newly sober but still dangerous Motley Crüe, White Lion didn’t have a chance.

Skid Row sang about belonging (“Youth Gone Wild”), sex (“Big Guns”, “Sweet Little Sister”, “Rattlesnake Shake”), street violence (“Piece Of Me”, “18 & Life”) and relationships (“Can’t Stand The Heartache”, “I Remember You”).

White Lion sang about Greenpeace (“Little Fighter”), broken homes (“Broken Home”), organized religion (“If My Mind Is Evil”) apartheid (“Cry For Freedom”), broken romances (“Wait”), sex (“Dirty Woman”, “Hungry”), life on the road (“Radar Love”, “Goin Home Tonight”), a mystic healer (“Lady Of The Valley) and the state of the world (“When The Children Cry”).

All important subjects however the majority of the rock crowd didn’t want to hear heavy themes in 1989 from a rock band. Those kind of heavy themes were coming from thrash metal bands. With the death of Nelson Mandela, this song is back in my life.

Standard