Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Sickness

I haven’t done a copyright post for a while, but I haven’t stopped reading on the subject. Because once you have been exposed to the laws of copyright and how those laws are meant to protect the creator but all they do is protect the organisation who holds the rights, well, I just can’t look away. Because the creator never had a proper seat on the negotiation table. In order to get a chance to make music, they had to give away their rights to their music for a long time.

First up is a little snippet on how much an organisation makes by holding on to copyrights. The organisation her is Sony.

For a three month period, Sony was paid just over $654 million for streaming. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s some serious money.

How much of it went to the artists, well that is a different story? And because Sony has a publishing arm, that division also received $375 million. This is $375 million which is meant to go to songwriters.

Again, how much of this makes its way to the songwriters, is unknown?

And I’m not sure if people are aware, but Copyright laws do have a termination clause, which allows an artist to reclaim their copyrights after 35 years have expired.

But the labels like Sony are not letting go easily. So these cases are in the courts, because the labels know that if they don’t have an extensive copyright collection of songs, they have no income. Because at this point in time artists who released big selling albums in 1985 can reclaim their rights to those albums.

Next year, Jon Bon Jovi can reclaim the rights back for “Slippery When Wet” and then he will own his biggest selling album, with all streaming monies to go back to his organisation. The year after, in 2022, Guns’N’Roses, Whitesnake and Def Leppard can reclaim back the rights to “Appetite For Destruction”, “self-titled 87 album” and “Hysteria”.

Do you reckon the labels will allow that to happen so easily?

They will either throw some extra millions at the artist or off to the courts.

And here is another one on payments to musicians.

PRS For Music is an organisation in the UK which collects copyright payments on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. For the 2019 year it collected a record £810m. The amount involves a few different segments, like public performance, streaming, radio, TV and international. With public performances being put on hold because of COVID-19, streaming subscriptions are becoming popular.

But the streaming money pie is not distributed evenly. What the labels get and what they pay back to the artists is based on contracts and what monies have been given to the artist vs what needs to be paid back. And if the artist owns their own rights, then they are in position to negotiate better especially if they have had some success in the past. Metallica and Motley Crue come to mind, as artists who own their own rights.

The thing that streaming companies do wrong is that they treat it as a pool of money and then they work out what ratio each artist is entitled to, based on the streams played on the artists songs divided by the total streams for the service.

So even though fans of Metallica, Tool, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, etc, listen to those artists, their subscription monies are also distributed to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and all of the rest of those high streamers.

I know as a consumer, I want my subscription fee to go to the artists I actually listen to and not to a central pot, where the money is divided on a percentage basis against every single artist on Spotify. But the system is as fair as it could be right now.

And here is what happens when an IT organisation creates a streaming service to allow music to the spread to the masses because in reality, the labels were negligent in their duty of care to the artists to do it much earlier on.

So for Spotify it’s court case after court case. Because people who contribute nothing to culture and made some serious money because they hold the rights to other artists songs, still want that money train to continue.

There is this dude from the U.S called Jake Noch who has an independent label called Sosa Entertainment and he has his own collecting society called PRO Music Rights.

So Spotify removed his labels recordings from the service because Noch was manipulating the streaming count of his labels music.

This scam is common, where the teams behind artists, create enough streaming accounts to just stream the music of the artist so they get a bigger piece of the pool of monies distributed to the rights holders. Noch didn’t like how Spotify pulled his labels music and he sued. He accused Spotify of “unfair and deceptive practices” and Spotify called him a “fraudster”. And via his collection society PRO Music Rights, he has accused every other streaming service of copyright infringement.

It shows the amount of manipulation involved here by a record label, who hired a bot farmer to set up millions of streaming accounts (all of them on the free ad-supported tier) who would then listen to the songs on the service. 99% of the revenue for Sosa Entertainment came from the free-ad supported tier.

Smells on Payola, it is Payola.

Finally, remember those MTV shows from the 80’s which actually had music videos and interviews. Well the Internet Archive uploaded heaps of em. It shows the early stages of MTV and the steps they took to become a cultural icon. All of the material is from a user’s own VHS tapes of MTV recordings.

But these have been taken down on copyright grounds. Basically an organisation which holds the rights to an artist has made a claim to censor a part of history. Or it could be the VJ themselves via an organisation. Whatever the reasons, history is being censored and locked up. Copyright was never intended to censor. From day one, back to the 1700’s it was to give a creator an incentive to create more works by giving them a monopoly to monetize their works for a certain period of time.

And it gets worse and will only get worse, because after the death of the creator an organisation holds on (in other words, locks up) the copyright for another 70 years after death and they are pushing for another 20 more to take it to 90 years.

P.S. Remember the British invasion in the 60’s and early 70s.

It happened because all of the blues and folk music created between the 1930 and 1940 had expired and become part of the public domain because they all had 28 year terms. Classical music was already in the public domain and a lot of jazz standards were as well.

And suddenly we had artists who pieced all of these styles together.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

The Public Domain Issue

January 1 of each new year is meant to be when certain works come out of copyright and into the Public Domain. However, each year, the Corporations in charge seem to lobby hard to get the terms extended. As such, the public domain is becoming less and less.

An artist is bringing a class action suit against Spotify for Copyright Infringement. It’s a perfect example of how far removed copyright is at this point in time, especially when Spotify obtained the music they have on their service from the record labels. The users didn’t upload it. Is YouTube such a perfect citizen when it comes to paying for mechanical licenses?

The case to free “Happy Birthday To You” a song penned in 1893 and still under the copyright control of a corporation is another example of the great Copyright Hijack.

The whole “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” copyright suit is another example of what a farce copyright is. A corporation had the rights to the song and they made a lot of money from licensing it out. Now a judge has ruled that the rights will go back to the children of the creators. It’s worth noting that the creators of the song died between 1975 and 1985. As far as I am concerned this song from the 1930’s is MEANT to be in the Public Domain and out of copyright. Read the article to see the absurdity of it all.

Here is another example of copyright stupidity.

Canada had shorter copyright terms, which meant early Beatles recordings entered the public domain. The record labels didn’t like this, so they lobbied/bribed hard in secret and copyright was extended on sound recordings for 20 years that are still under copyright without any debate or public discussion. Anyway a company called Stargrove Entertainment saw an opportunity to make money by releasing a CD of public domain Beatles music. By default it became a top seller in Canada and that’s when the Empire known as the Record Labels decided to strike back, because hey, the 60 year monopoly they had on the sound recordings was not enough.

Some of the Record Labels tricks included;

  • While the sound recordings are in the public domain, the compositions remain under copyright. So Stargrove paid the standard licensing fee and the record labels via the publishing companies they owned, decided to not approve the mechanical license and refunded Stargrove’s royalty payment.
  • Universal then interfered with the distributor so they could resolve “the public domain issue.”
  • Universal started posting negative reviews online of the Beatles CD.

Let’s remember the purpose of copyright. It gives the creator the right to stop people from copying their works for a certain period of time. Basically it is a monopoly given to the creator, so they have an incentive to create more works. Once upon a time that monopoly lasted 14 years and as soon as corporate entities started to make money from this monopoly, the length of time increased to life of the author plus seventy years.

In order for creators to be granted a monopoly on their works for a period of time, the trade-off was that once the copyright term expired, the works would fall into the public domain, which would mean they could be shared, adapted, improved, remixed and basically new stories be created.

I am still dumbfounded as to how people believe that a copyright term of 70 years after the death of the creator is a normal copyright term.

What incentive does a creator have to create more works when they have departed the land of the living?

It’s all about money and its driven by the blockbuster albums that continue to make money for decades. However, the majority of other creative works might have enjoyed a brief window of success and sales during a period of time and their value is very low compared to the block buster releases. Labels try to sign the artist for five albums on a 360 deal, with the promise to negotiate the original deal depending on how hot the artist becomes. It never happens without any incidence or litigation.

For example, Dokken and RATT had platinum certifications in the Eighties. If you look at their output it was five albums. The label made money and the bands saw money and success. In 2015, the value of their musical output is not the same in the eyes of the corporations compared to the value of Bon Jovi’s, Metallica, Motley Crue or Bruce Springsteen output. Metallica wasn’t as big as Ratt and Dokken in the Eighties, but we all know how that turned out after the behemoth “Black” album in the Nineties.

So from a copyright term perspective, the self-titled Metallica album is of a higher value compared to Dokken’s or RATT’s discography. And it is because of these blockbuster albums that Copyright terms get extended. Metallica and their heirs or the corporate entity that will own their rights will get richer while Dokken and Ratt fade into obscurity, locked up in 100 year copyright terms.

This article states that Copyright should be about 30 years.

Copyright should last a more-than-generous 30 years, and no longer. The Lord of the Rings would have been in the public domain in 1986, 13 years after Tolkien’s death. He would have been fine and his great trilogy would still have been written. Mickey Mouse would have been in the public domain in 1959. A tiny minority of wealthy creators would be somewhat poorer under such a scheme. But our culture would be vastly richer.

That would mean “Smoke On The Water” would be in the public domain and not locked up for a century plus. It would mean the Black Album would be in the public domain by 2021 for others to build on and enhance. It would mean that “Were Not Gonna Take It” would have entered the public domain in 2014.

I am sure Deep Purple, Metallica and Twisted Sister would be able to cope with that?

It would mean that Dokken and Ratt songs from the Eighties would be in the Public Domain for people to build upon and re-create, which means the songs live on and our culture is richer. Cast your mind back to the whole Sixties British movement, including the Beatles success is due to building upon blues works from the 1930’s.

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Imagine A World With Copyright Terms Reduced To 40 Years..

Should songs still be under Copyright forty years after they have been released?

In Australia (as well as a lot of other countries) a copyright for a sound recording or a film lasts for the life of the creator + 70 years.

In my opinion this is ridiculous.

Is this what Copyright has become? A pension fund for the creator and their family members. Also with large Corporations technically owning a lot of the copyrights of creators, it is safe to say that Copyright has become a weapon to stifle creativity.

It is common for people to see that the purpose of Copyright as a means to compensate the creator of the content. Hell, that is what Wikipedia states as well, along with the large labels and movie studios . In fact, Copyright was never designed solely for this purpose.

In Australia it was stated that the purpose of Copyright law was;
…to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. On the other hand, as copyright in the nature of a monopoly, the law should ensure, as far as possible, that the rights conferred are not abused and that study, research and education are not unduly hampered.”

In the U.S, the Constitution’s clause on Copyright and patents states:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

In today’s terms, both countries are saying that the purpose is to reward the creator and to ensure that maximum creativity is happening.

John Lennon didn’t sing imagine a world with reduced copyright terms however he should have.

Let’s just say that the copyright of a song is 40 years from when it was first released. To make the law even simpler, let’s just say that the 40 years starts from when the song is first released. So if the song is remastered 10 years later or released as a live version, it doesn’t matter. The 40 years starts from when the song is released.

That would mean that all songs from 1972 and before would have been in the public domain at the start of 2013.

That would mean albums from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Cream, Rolling Stones, Yes, Pink Floyd and many others would be in the Public Domain.

Would that affect those bands in any way?

Would it affect the people who wrote the songs?

Lets look at Led Zeppelin. If copyright is 40 years from when the song was first released that would mean that Led Zeppelin I to Led Zeppelin IV would be copyright free. That means all of those songs are available to use.

Imagine all the music that would be created by building on the material. Image all the music that would be created by remixing, sampling and re-using the songs. All of those songs would available for people to re-record without any restrictions. It will not diminish the original songs in any way. It would give them a second life and a new audience.

Why should any creator in 2013 be stifled by over-reaching copyright laws when it comes to creating art?

The acts from the Sixties and Seventies, brazenly borrowed and built upon songs that already existed. Keith Richards even said that you can’t copyright the blues. All of those bands infringed heavily on other people’s copyright. However back then the Copyright monopolies didn’t exist, so it was okay.

Surely the 40 year monopoly that artists from the Sixties and Seventies have on the music they created is sufficient compensation for their creations. However copyright is still seen as a major profit line in the business model of artists. Since the Government and the large players have focused almost exclusively on monetizing via copyright, they will argue until they are black and blue any attempt to change copyright as they see change as an attack on their incomes.

Seriously, who do you think will be holding the copyright to the Led Zeppelin songs, 10 years after Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have passed. Trust me, it will not be the family members. It will be the corporations and the record labels. They will hold the monopoly on these songs. You can see it happening now with Disney and how they are stopping Mickey Mouse from entering the public domain by lobbying for longer copyright terms.

So what new songs would these corporations be creating by holding a monopoly on the copyright. The answer is simple. NOTHING.

Remember that Copyright was also designed so people are inspired to create more. So what has Jimmy Page created in the last 15 years. The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with that either, because he can rely on his copyright monopoly and issue box sets every 2 to 3 years. Since 1990, Jimmy Page has issued 13 box sets of Led Zeppelin’s seventies output. In 23 years, Jimmy Page has released the same music, over and over again 13 times.

Remember, copyright is to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. So what happened to the further creative works.

I love Jimmy Page and he is a huge influence on me. However, apart from the excellent Coverdale/Page project and his reunion with Robert Plant, his creative output has been poor since the start of the Nineties. Even in the Eighties, Jimmy Page’s output pales in comparison to Robert Plant’s recorded output and work ethic.

By the way did you see that BitTorrent traffic is down in the U.S? How can that be, especially when the labels and the movie studios are still screaming piracy and copyright infringement.

It’s funny what some innovation can do. That is how you compete today. You innovate, not stagnate. NetFlix and YouTube account for 50% of all net traffic.

However in Europe and other parts of the world, access to the latest films and TV shows is not as instant so unauthorised BitTorrent users continue to grow there.

The labels and their back-handed politicians will argue that their six strike policy is the reason why BitTorrent traffic is down. I would argue back that all that has done is increase the use of Dark Nets.

This is what the article said on that;
“The use of “dark nets” such as Tor and encrypted digital lockers is growing in popularity. These can be harder to track.”

So get ready for the next round of b.s from the labels and their lobby groups. We need Google to do more to stop copyright infringement, we need dark nets to be busted to save our children, we need cloud services stopped because they encourage racketeering and copyright infringement on a grand scale.

They will complain about everything, except innovate. Spotify wasn’t created by the music industry. Pandora wasn’t created by the music industry. iTunes wasn’t created by the music industry. The iPod wasn’t created by the music industry. NetFlix wasn’t created by the movie industry. Napster wasn’t created by the music industry. YouTube wasn’t created by the music business.

But the entertainment industries spin it like it was them that created these legal alternatives. The truth is they where dragged kicking and screaming into these new technologies.

BitTorrent traffic down: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24911187

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