Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Rockin In The Free World

I’m a great believer that information should be easily obtainable.

Just recently, I heard “Rockin’ in the Free World” again. The last time that I remember hearing that song was on some MTV awards show. It was the one that had Neil Young and Pearl Jam playing it together. Fast forward almost twenty years later and we have a megalomaniac that no one cares about, using the song for a presidential campaign.

If I associate the song with anything that is happening today, it will be about music and how it is free. Back in the nineties it would have had a different meaning.

But let’s look at the title, “Rockin’ In the Free World’.

What does “free world” actually mean these days?

Back in 1989, the free world to me came down to democracy “being free” and communism being “oppressive and restrictive”.

In 2015, Australia, the U.S and the majority of the democratic, free nations, are spying on its citizens for the perceived “greater good”.

In 2015, democratic nations are trying to pass secret bills that the people who voted them in cannot see or know about, however the Corporations that finance their campaigns are allowed to see the bills and ask for changes.

In 2015, democratic nations are imprisoning whistle-blowers who expose their secrets, labelling them as terrorists and dissenters.

In 2015, our courts of justice are overrun with requests for the courts to approve the handover of personal information to the ones who pay the most.

In 2015, copyright is used to suppress free speech.  If you don’t believe me, a court in France has ruled that a magazine violated copyright law.

What did the magazine do that was so bad?

They had an article that showed people how to access illegal sources of music and movie content online.

Isn’t it funny how on the one hand, the “free world” that we know has become restrictive and oppressive while on the other hand, a lot of the information or content that was once restricted, is now free because of people sharing.

People are sharing because they are infringing on a restrictive law called copyright. And the response by the industries affected is to pay politicians a lot of money to write and pass even more restrictive laws.

Even when technology companies like Spotify and Netflix or the pirate sites themselves show our governments that giving customers what they want is better than restrictive legislation, what do our governments do in response?

They pass legislation that is restrictive and oppressive. Australia has now joined other democratic “free world” countries in introducing site blocking legislation in order to keep media companies happy.

Copyright was designed to protect the creator.

However, as the Recording, Book and Movie Industries started to grow, business people came out from their corporate offices and stuck their claws into Copyright. So what we have today is business people defending the copyright monopoly, while they are robbing artists and their fans dry. These same defenders of the copyright monopoly are laughing all the way to the bank while exploiting the system in a legal way.

Seriously, would an artist need a copyright on their works 70 to 90 years after they have died. Of course not, but the companies that built their business on obtaining copyrights sure have a need.

Artists create not because they can make money off it as individuals, but because of who we are. We have been creative creatures from the start of civilisation.

Meanwhile, while the Australian government bends its backside to the legacy media companies, Netflix keeps on making huge inroads in the Australian market, with over 1 million users since its April launch this year. The reason why this number is staggering is that Netflix’s competitors in Australia have about 300,000 users combined.

Surely this is proof that Australians do pay for movies and TV shows if they are provided in a way that is convenient to them. And we are paying for a Netflix subscription that doesn’t have nowhere near the content that the U.S version has. But we still pay, because it allows us to watch their content, when we want to watch it, over and over again.

Not in a time slot like PayTV. Keep on rocking is what I say.

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

Random Thoughts

The Grammy nominations are out and as usual the metal category reads like a comedy. Why even bother, no one cares. The Grammy’s are as relevant as the sales metric. Maybe next year they will be renamed into the Streammy’s and some magic formula will be used to find nominations.

What is it about people or organisations sense of entitlement these days?

Consumers of music are finally given a choice (legally and illegally) on how to consume their music and all the middlemen come out screaming for the Governments or the courts to write new laws or set precedents that protect their business models. In the current case, you have the publishers BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music via copyright troll “Rightscorp” using a 1998 law to compel ISPs to support its pre-internet business model. These organisations think that shaking down people is the way forward.

Sort of like Billboard. Seriously, what kind of fucked up maths goes into their charts. Hello, look at everything that is successful and you will see one common theme. They all kept it SIMPLE. Steve Jobs knew it. Daniel Ek knows it. Sean Fanning knows it. Mark Zuckerberg knows it. However, the people at Billboard have no idea. Someone, decided that 1,500 streams of any song equals an album sale. WTF. How does the stream count of any song reflect the influence (if any) of an album?

It’s good that Billboard is focusing on what people are listening to however it is bad that they are trying to recreate that listening metric to show a fake album purchase. Buying an album does not mean one listens to it, oftentimes people only listen to the hit. Report that.

The charts are there to purely satisfy the recording industry. It was never about the consumer. The recording industry and their press outlets all want to “high-five” each other on the number ones. And then what. 99% of the classic albums never got to Number 1. “Back In Black” from AC/DC never reached Number 1 in the U.S. “Led Zeppelin IV” never got to Number 1 in the U.S. “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica never reached Number 1.

I get it. Change is inevitable. For all the talk about monies, and what are those “poor start-up independent bands going to do” in the current free music industry it’s funny to see that more indie/self-funded music is being made now than ever before. Do you think the new breed of musicians are sad because recording studios or CD plants have closed?

Of course not.

While the recording industry promotes what it has lost, it fails to see what fans of music have gained. And by those fans gaining , the recording industry gains.

In Australia, the Government posted all of the individual submissions to the Australian Government’s Piracy Discussion Paper online and one of them caught my attention.

“I have spent a lot of time and money on my song to be mastered and distributed through CDBABY and iTunes. In the last 4 months since my song was released there has been over 30,000 hits on Utube [sic] where someone has uploaded it. To make matters worst [sic] there is only about $80 in the bank from the sales. Can someone tell me how to stop this.”

The first thing that comes out of that rant is how misinformed the “musician” is.

First, if someone put the song up on YouTube, then they are obviously a fan. Connect with them.

Second, YouTube’s has a Content ID system. There are players out there that can assist with this. Find them.

Third, 30,000 views on YouTube means an audience. Surely that is a good thing. What steps are in place to mobilise and grow that audience?

Fourth, without YouTube, how would that artist reach 30,000 people. Of course that would be via a record label. Which means gatekeepers and the chance of not being signed.

Final point, no one is rushing out to buy CD’s again or mp3’s.

Another that got my attention was the following;

“I am a writer so I want copyright to be protected to protect my livelihood.”

It’s hard to believe that people are in an industry without fully understanding why Copyright came into being. In a nutshell, Copyright was always about promoting the progress of society by returning works into the public domain once their copyright expired. Once upon a time, it did and it worked brilliantly and now (since about the Seventies), not so much as Copyright got twisted into what it is now.

Copyright was never about having people’s livelihoods depending on it.

Also there is no evidence that stopping copyright infringement leads to more purchases of music, movies or books.

After reading through a bit more of the submissions, I was dismayed at some of the words used like STEALING and THEFT.

It’s COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

No one has stolen nothing. iTunes still has the song for sale, Spotify still has the song for streaming, YouTube has multiple copies of the song for viewing. Amazon still has the book for sale in both hardcover and e-book format.

What the people have done is COPY the work.

It’s not that hard to understand, however people need to do the research to educate themselves.

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