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

Copyright Inc

There has been a lot of talk about Copyright and the Public Domain in the last month.

There was the whole Iron Maiden story about the band rewarding Copyright Infringers with Concerts. The website that ran with it issued an apology for falsely attributing Musicmetric quotes to the band, yet if you look at the markets that Iron Maiden has hit over and over again along with the “new markets”, all of those places are on the Musicmetric list of places that download Iron Maiden’s recorded music illegally. So even though the story proved to be false, there is some form of data out there that Iron Maiden is utilising to hit places where they have a low record sale amount but a high download rate.

Even their drummer, Nicko McBrian stated the same in the “Flight 666” documentary about their shows in India and Costa Rica. To paraphrase, he said something in the vein that Iron Maiden hasn’t sold any albums in Costa Rica however they sold out the sports stadium. So how did those fans get the music then.

Look at Metallica. They are also utilising some form of data to identify which new markets to hit or which markets deserve to be revisited. Their recent concerts in China proved this. The sale of Metallica music in China is low, however each concert was sold out. Peru is another new market that Metallica hit and will return too despite the fact that they have very low recorded sales.

I also just finished watching the Rush documentary, “Beyond The Lighted Stage” and in the documentary, Neal Peart is talking about their Vapour Trails tour of South America and how they didn’t know what to expect and in the end they played to their biggest ever concert attendance at Sao Paulo.

In other words, the Brazil tour took place in November 2002 . Napster launched in June 1999 and operated up to July 2001, Audiogalaxy launched in 1998 and operated up until 2002 as a file sharing system that indexed MP3 files. Limewire started operating in May, 2000 and Kazaa in March, 2001. So in three years of peer to peer mp3 sharing, Rush’s fan base grew extraordinarily.

At the beginning of each year, numerous works will have their Copyright expire and they will enter the Public Domain. There is an excellent post up at Techdirt titled, “The Grinch Who Stole The Public Domain” and it covers the works that should have entered the Public Domain in the U.S on the 1st January 2014, however for reasons that are still not clear to the public, these works have been taken away from the public due to a copyright extension that is in place up until 2019.

In the U.S, up until 1978, the maximum amount of time that a work in the US could be covered by copyright was 56 years. As the article states, a creator initially received a 28 year copyright term, which could be renewed for another 28 years.

So back in 1957, Ayn Rand knew that when she created “Atlas Shrugged” that it would be given back to the public to share and build on by January 1, 2014. Same goes for Ian Fleming and his James Bond book, “From Russia With Love.” The same goes for Dr. Seuss and his two books, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Cat in the Hat”. All of these authors went on to create further works, so it is safe to assume that that the 56 year Copyright monopoly the creator would have was more than enough incentive to create further works.

In relation to music, the following songs should have appeared in the Public Domain in the U.S.

“That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” (Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, and Norman Petty),
“Great Balls of Fire” (Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer),
“Wake Up, Little Susie” (Felice and Boudleaux Bryant)
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 in G minor (Opus 103; subtitled The Year 1905).
Elvis Presley’s: “All Shook Up” (Otis Blackwell and Elvis Presley) and “Jailhouse Rock” (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller).

The above musical works remain copyrighted until 2053 however based on their initial copyright terms, the works should be in the Public Domain.

The purpose of Copyright law was always to encourage the creation of works that would be put into the public domain to promote learning, knowledge and understanding. However, with large organisations controlling a lot of the Copyrights (and their power is growing each day), the law has been twisted into a system that is used to lock works up.

Then you have someone like Jimmy Page, who is really enjoying his Copyright monopoly by continuing to re-issue the same Led Zeppelin works he created between 1968 and 1980. Jimmy Page is a huge influence on my guitar playing. His body of work with Led Zeppelin, along with Coverdale/Page album were all brilliant. The new music he created with Robert Plant, “Walking In Clarksdale” was also a decent effort.

However, “The Firm” and his solo album, “Outrider” didn’t rattle any bones in me. Compared to Robert Plant who constantly creates new works, Jimmy Page has more or less sat back and monetised his copyright monopoly. Since 1993, Jimmy Page has overseen more than twenty three re-issues, re-mastered editions, live releases, greatest hits releases and more from the Led Zeppelin body of work.

While Jimmy Page is entitled to do what he does, Copyright’s intention was to give the artist incentive to create more works, not an incentive to rely on past works.

So while Jimmy Page is doing his thing on one side of the Copyright fence, on the other side there is the shameless releasing of songs by the big labels, purely to extend the copyright term of them.

In January, 2013, Sony released the “Bob Dylan Copyright Collection Volume” so that it could take advantage of an EU law to extend the copyright term on these recordings from 50 to 70 years. So instead of these works expiring in 2013 and entering the Public Domain, they got locked up for another 20 years. Nice one.

When Bob Dylan created these songs, Copyright was in place to offer him an incentive to create new works which he did. However, he also sold or licensed his copyrights to Sony and that is where the abuse kicks in.

Just recently (like December 2013 recent) Apple Records released 59 tracks from The Beatles for downloading on iTunes. These songs include outtakes, demos and live BBC radio performances. A Beatles fan and Blogger by the name of Roger Stormo said the following;

“The only reason why they are doing this is to retain the copyright of this material.”

You see, when “The Beatles” recorded the tracks back in 1963, they made a deal with the public. In return for a government-backed monopoly lasting 50 years, they would allow their music to enter the public domain at the end of that time. Like Bob Dylan, Copyrights got sold or licensed to the record labels. The recording industry then employed politicians as lobbyists and now European fans of “The Beatles” must wait another 20 years before they are able to enjoy and use the tracks as part of the public domain.

The biggest abuse here is that the tracks weren’t even available beforehand (in a legal way). They were safely locked away. Therefore it is safe to assume that the tracks weren’t earning any money for Apple Records. So releasing the tracks into the public domain would have resulted in no loss of revenue whatsoever to the label. However, for reasons only known to the label, they had an opportunity to extend the copyright of the songs for another 20 years and they did.

What about Saul Zaentz, the Fantasy Records label owner who passed away recently. For those that don’t know, he is famous for suing Creedence Clearwater Revival front man John Fogerty for plagiarising John Fogerty.

Yep, Zaentz was that upset that Fogerty struggled for years to free himself from the one sided contract he signed with Fantasy, following the breakup of CCR, that when it finally happened, Zaentz called his lawyers to arms.

Zaentz and Fantasy alleged that Fogerty’s 1985 hit “The Old Man Down the Road” was essentially the same as “Run Through The Jungle” from CCR’s “Cosmos Factory” album released in 1970. Since Fogerty had traded his rights to CCR’s songs in 1980 to cancel his remaining contractual obligations, Fantasy and Zaentz now owned the rights to “Run Through the Jungle”. Under Fogerty’s old CCR contract, Fogerty owed Fantasy eight more records. In the end, he refused to work for the label. The impasse was resolved only when Asylum Records’ David Geffen bought Fogerty’s contract for $1,000,000 on top of the rights that Fogerty sold away.

So when the “Centerfield” album topped the charts in 1985, Zaentz sued. How is that for Copyright abuse?

During the tour, the fans complained that he didn’t play any CCR songs, however Fogerty said that playing the CCR songs meant that he would have to pay performance royalties to copyright holder Saul Zaentz, and he didn’t want to do that. Copyright is used as an incentive to not play songs.

During the tour, Fogerty also spent time in court and in the end Fogerty played the two songs on guitar right on the witness stand and won the case.

On the theme of suing, Evanescence singer Amy Lee is also suing her ex-label Wind Up Records for more than $1 million over unpaid royalties. Of course there is more to the suit than just the unpaid royalties, however one the theme is the same. The abuse of copyright by large organisations.

So next time you read about the need for stronger copyright protection, ask yourself the question; For whom is that stronger copyright protection needed for. Remember that if I write a song today, it is copyrighted for the rest of my life plus 70 years. If I sell the copyright to an organisation for a fee, then they own this copyright until then.

I will leave you with the parting words of James Hetfield as he spits them out in Damage Inc..

Living on your knees, conformity
or dying on your feet for honesty

Which side are you on?

Techdirt – Public Domain –

Led Zeppelin Reissues Will Continue in 2015 –

Techdirt – Beatles –

John Fogerty Responds to Death of Creedence Label Owner Saul Zaentz With Stinging Video –

Evanescence Singer Amy Lee Reportedly Suing Record Label –

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

Creating News Every Day

I was telling people at work the Kim Dotcom story. At first I was surprised that none of them had heard of Kim Dotcom. Then I was even more surprised that none of them had heard of MegaUpload.

So I pointed them to YouTube and I told them to check out the raid on his house. I pointed them to articles on various web sites like Techdirt and Torrent Freak. I even pointed them to his Twitter account. Finally I told them that if it’s not in the prime time news or in the newspaper, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. T.V stations and the owners of the newspapers are all part of the Entertainment Lobby Groups, so they have no interest in running a story that is going to put the Entertainment Lobby Groups in a bad light.

It then got me thinking. Kim Dotcom has been painted as this money laundering criminal that needed SWAT teams to break down his door and arrest him in the early hours. Then you talk to normal people and they don’t even know who he is and have never heard of him. This just adds further evidence to the already known fact, that the U.S. Government acted on the hearsay of the Entertainment Lobby Groups.

These days, everyone must do their own analysis. Even though most people claim to be educated, they are not. They stick to the one thought, and dig down into the trenches defending that view point. You need to be critical of what you read. Seek differing viewpoints.

One thing I learned from University, is that authors of journals, research pieces and non-fiction books normally have a financial backer who has an interest in the piece. Who is paying the writers? Research funded by the MPAA or RIAA paints a very different picture of piracy and sharing compared to research funded by independent bodies.

In the end we always do what we want to do. We don’t need to get our news from traditional sources anymore. WordPress had a blog post on the Turkish Protests and the Police Brutality around it, from a Turkish resident who was living it. The Turkish media and news outlets had nothing. We are exposed to news 24/7.

The punch line is, if any musician / artist wants to survive the times, they need to be creating news every day.

Music, Piracy, Stupidity

Alice In Chains

Techdirt story

Why, Jerry, why?  I like it when artists speak their minds.  Once upon a time, the fans listened to every word and never questioned the words of their idols.  These days, it is different.  Alice In Chain’s need to wake up and realise that it is a different game now.

“something you’ve worked on and poured your soul into, and invested your money in, somehow it’s no longer deemed valuable. That’s fucked up, to me. “

No Jerry, it is valuable to the people who find it valuable.  Just because you spent two to three years creating your art, doesn’t mean that people will find it valuable to pay you for it.  The ones that want to pay, will pay.  They will also come to your shows, buy your merchandise and spend money on meet and greets.

The ones that don’t want to pay, will never have paid to begin with, even in the glory days of record label control.

To be honest, I heard the Alice In Chains comeback album and I didn’t like it.  They should have called the band something different.  So to be honest, I have no real interest in the upcoming album.  According to Jerry, I should care because he spent time pouring his soul into the new album.  Sorry guys, there is just too much competition these days for listeners attention these days.

Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Last Man Standing – Classic Bon Jovi song waiting to be rediscovered

I have been critical of Bon Jovi, especially around their latest release What About Now.  However, the band has created a lasting legacy and a lot of great songs along the way.  Everyone knows the hits.  They are the songs we go to the live show to see.  However, there are a lot of songs that deserve more attention than what they have received. 

This song has had some history.  It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Billy Falcon.  The studio version was meant to be on 2003’s This Left Feels Right greatest hits package, however, it ended up on the 100,000,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong box set released in 2004.  It was a laid back acoustic style ballad with slide guitar and all the country twang you can get into a song.  An acoustic live version of the song was added to the This Left Feels Right DVD.

It was then re-worked into a great rock song for the 2005 Have A Nice Day album.  The intro grabs you and makes you want to pay attention.  It’s no longer a ballad, but a real rocker.  This is the beauty of music.  You can try different variations of the same song.  The rockier Last Man Standing leaves the original version in the dust.

The theme of the song is about kids turning up to a circus/freak show act to see the last real performer of live music.

Come see a living, breathing spectacle
Only seen right here
It’s your last chance in this lifetime
The line forms at the rear
You won’t believe your eyes
Your eyes will not believe your ears
Get your money out, get ready
Step right up, yeah you, come here

I live in Australia.  In most cases, the bands that come down are the large arena bands.  Normally around Soundwave (February each year), I will get to some sideshows of the medium sized bands to come down for this festival.

This year I caught Bullet For My Valentine and Periphery sideshows.  Last year I caught Machine Head, Times of Grace, Shadows Fall and Chimera side shows.  I paid like $60 for those tickets.  I saw Motley Crue and Kiss last month and paid $200 a ticket.  I’m going to see Black Sabbath in a few weeks’ time and that is $160, compared to Coheed and Cambria at $60 the week before.

Basically the larger bands will try and grab more of the punters dollar as they have a larger entourage and then it will be the last man standing in the audience.

Once upon a time, rock shows where exactly that, people lined up around the side of streets just to get in.  These days, it’s not like that.  I have been reading articles where a lot of artists state that no new band can become a mega star like the artist of the old, and they always make reference to Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Bon Jovi, etc…

Bullshit, I say.  Artists are just as relevant today as they were in the past.  The difference is, in the past, artists created music and followed their muse.  If they sold a million or sold a thousand it didn’t matter.  These days, artists are in it for the money only.  If they sell a thousand, they see it as a failure.  The ones that are in it for the music end up breaking through.  Adele’s first two albums where so personal, she wrote those songs as a sort of therapy to get over her relationship problems.  She didn’t write them, thinking Rolling In The Deep will sell millions and 21 will move 13 million units plus.  The question is what Adele will do now.  Will she become another corporate money making slave?

You ain’t seen nothing like him
He’s the last one of the breed
You better hold on to your honey
Honeys, don’t forget to breathe
Enter at your own risk, mister
It might change the way you think
There’s no dancers, there’s no diamonds
No this boy he don’t lip synch

The debate, live vs. lip synch.  These days, it is acceptable to lip sync if you tell the people buying the tickets that you will be lip syncing.  However it is not acceptable to lip sync if you are telling the people that you are performing live.  There was that whole Britney Spears debacle here in Australia when she toured last time around, as she was lip syncing and didn’t tell the paying customers that is the case.

See those real live calloused fingers
Wrapped around those guitar strings
Kiss the lips where hurt has lingered
It breaks the heart to hear him sing
The songs were more than music
They were pictures from the soul
So keep your pseudo-punk, hip-hop, pop-rock junk
And your digital downloads

Artists used to play a tonne of live shows, to build an audience, to create a buzz and to get a recording contract that promised to make them mega starts.   These days, it’s not like that.  Artists can create something magical in the bedroom on a laptop, and reach a global audience of millions.  There is no need for the gatekeeper.   Bon Jovi wrote this song around 2002/2003 and you can tell he is trying to hold on to the old ways.  He’s even gone on record saying that Steve Jobs destroyed the music business and the album.  What he should have been saying is that Steve Jobs added money to the music business because the legacy record labels where too stupid and clueless to innovate and do it themselves.

If you like the country style of Bon Jovi, check out the ballad version.  It’s a live version that has Jon’s message in the intro about the song.

If you like the rock style of Bon Jovi, check out the rock version.

If you are a fan of Bon Jovi, check out both.

Copyright, Music

Creative Accounting = Piracy Losses

There is an excellent post over at the excellent Techdirt that talks about DRM’s in gaming and how it really doesn’t stop people from copying the game, however what it does do is hinder the real paying customers.

The part that got my attention is the comments about the losses due to piracy.  I am one of those people who doesn’t believe the crap the MPAA, RIAA and others spin on losses due to piracy.  If a movie comes out that i really want to watch, i will take my family and pay $80 to watch it.  If a band releases a song or an album that is worth buying, i will buy it.  There are also the bands that i buy before i even listen to a song.  I have a PAY TV subscription, that doesn’t cater for my needs and timetable, however i still keep it.

The reason why I am mentioning all of this, is that there are millions of others that are just like me.  Fans of art.  Fans of culture.  However, we the FANS of art are ignored by the legacy industries and their stupid lobby groups.  We the FANS are the PEOPLE and we form the PUBLIC.  We the PUBLIC are not mentioned when the legacy industries try to extend copyright or pass stupid far-reaching bills like SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, CISPA, etc…

In the post, the Super Meat Boy developer mentions that, “Team Meat shows no loss in our year end totals due to piracy and neither should any other developer.”

That’s the whole argument in a nutshell.  How many profit and loss statements or balance sheets are issued that show a loss due to piracy.   How can the record labels or movie studios quantify accurately what a piracy loss is, so that it can be an audited item on a balance sheet.

Commentor Josef Anvil suggested the following;

Since lawmakers have swallowed the “loss” argument from the content industry and want to pass more enforcement, then they should walk the walk.  They should begin allowing companies to write off their piracy losses on their taxes every year. One year of that and we would see if governments actually believed in those “losses”.

Can you imagine that?  A few years back the MPAA stated that piracy losses amounted to $58 billion.  Imagine the taxman seeing that amount as a loss on a profit and loss statement from Disney.  I am sure it will raise a few eyebrows.  Do you reckon the losses that Bon Jovi will get on their new album What About Now is due to piracy or due to a really bad album? 

What about the losses Disney suffered on John Carter?  It’s funny that when a movie is really bad the talk about piracy disappears.  $200 million is a lot of money to lose.  Let’s blame piracy.  The money that EA Games is going to lose over its stupid DRM on Sim City. Let’s blame piracy.  The money that Bon Jovi is going to lose over its crap album.  Let’s blame the pirates.

I remember seeing that Transformers 1 (T1) and (T2) where the most pirated movies over Bit Torrent.  Guess what T1 made $710M and T2 made $840M.  T3 wasn’t even on any all time torrent list and it made $1.3 Billion.  Why is that?

Maybe because the people that downloaded a torrent of T1 and T2 became fans and paid to watch T3.  Maybe those little kids that downloaded T1 and T2 because their parents wouldn’t take them to watch it, became fans and are now old enough to go to the cinema on their own and watch it.

One thing is certain, piracy is a load of bullshit, designed by the lobby groups so that they can get stupid legislation passed that puts them back in control of the distribution.