We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing


3:00 pm - August 30th 2009

by Tom Watson MP    


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Today’s Sunday Times published a thoughtful contribution to the filesharing debate from Peter Mandelson. In it, he not only displays his understanding that the Internet, when used well, is about dialogue but also shows his stoicism at the route one style of conversation that takes place in the blogosphere ;-)

To those who have raised their voices about the proposed changes this week, let me say that I hear their concerns. I have read their blogs and can live with the abuse (I’ve had worse)

I see the article as a positive step and should be seen by digital rights campaigners and concerned ISPs that the door is still open. Now is the time to firmly make their case in the consultation on P2P.

I hope that the officials and special advisers to Lord Mandelson who may be reading blogs and briefing him might remember that the music industry have got past form at trying to pretend that technological advance isn’t happening.

home-taping-is-killing-musicThey might also consider the what the BPI said at the invention of the CD ROM and recordable DVD. The bottom line is that they want the government to enforce scarcity on the Internet where it simply can’t be enforced.

They should also take a look at the Monty Python team who are laughing all the way to the bank with their You Tube Channel. As the Pythons say:

For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It’s time for us to take matters into our own hands. We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we’ve figured a better way to get our own back: We’ve launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube.

No more of those crap quality videos you’ve been posting. We’re giving you the real thing – HQ videos delivered straight from our vault. What’s more, we’re taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new HQ versions. And what’s even more, we’re letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there!

But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.”

I suggest the government specifically approach the following people and organisations, all of whom have differing views but will give a different take on what the future might look like:

Featured Artists Coalition
The Open Rights Group (disclosure: I am a big supporter and hope to play a greater role in the organisation in the future)
Eric Garland of Big Champagne who might share some very accurate and disturbing bit torrent numbers. He might also say that some in the industry suggest that this could be seen as an opportunity and not just a threat.
Will Page, Economist of the PRS

Peter Jenner

Please also don’t forget to share you views on the in the comments section of this dowloading post.

[From that post]
What you can do to make sure that future filesharing legislation doesn’t go pear shaped:
1. Make your views known to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. The consultation on legislation to address illicit P2P filesharing ends on 15th September. I haven’t drafted a response yet but I will before the deadline.

2. Share your ideas and views in the comments section of this blog. I will make sure your views are brought to the attention of relevant ministers, as I did with the “cinema style ratings for the Internet” issue.

3. Sign up to the mailing list for the Open Rights Group. You don’t have to agree with everything they stand for to stay in touch with the one group that aims to represent the interests of ‘Net users to government and political parties.

——————
Article cross-posted from Tom Watson’s blog.

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About the author
Tom Watson used to be civil service minister in the Cabinet Office. He is MP for West Bromwich East and tweets here
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Technology ,Westminster

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Reader comments


“We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing”

Well I would except someone would nick it and share it with their mates.

Isn’t it weird with technology that no matter how it is used as long as the rich use it to make money and deny others the right to earn a crust it is fine and those opposing it are Luddites and stupid. However, when technology is used by a few people to endanger the massive profits by a few millionaires then all hell breaks loose?

When people lose their livelihood to technology and the forces of Globalisation the Labour Party are silent as Trappist monks, but the thought of Simon Cowell losing a tenner’s worth of CDs sales to some guy in his bedroom and the business secretary is incandescent with rage? The Labour Party are nothing short of paid lackeys of big business and will use every stick in its considerable armoury to batter the little guy into submission.

The same companies baulk at paying tax in this Country and are willing to ‘import CDs’ into the Country from non EU Channel Island (not illegal, Over to you Mandleson for an explanation) but squeal like stuck pigs when two people decide to swap a couple of million 1s and 0s’? Either they accept State Control or they do not.

I am with the Liberations on this; the Government should withdraw completely from this market squabble and let free enterprise decide the best business model for the future of music. If I, a free born British man choice to use the services of a business cited in a Country that has deregulated and disengaged from the bureaucracy of ‘property rights’ then why should the State interfere. I thought ‘freeing the market’ is the mission statement of ‘New Labour’, if so, tell the big record companies to go and fuck themselves and retool for the twenty first Centaury same as everyone else has to.

interesting contribution to a very difficult debate. for once, i wouldn’t like to be the one making this decision. the record industry have a history of foretelling their doom on the basis of a new piece of technology. the explosion of things like myspace have shown how cheaply songs/albums etc. can be made and distributed, which shows the cost of cds in shows in a new light.
that, however, is a different matter from how acceptable it is to share something in contravention of copy right

Jim – instead of ranting then, why not follow the suggestions by Tom?

Sunny @ 4

It is a strapped chicken, Sunny. The great and the good will pass Mandleson’s proposals on the nod. Whover loses out on this one, it won’t be Sony, EMI and the like. The music industry were quite happy to pay Miarah Carey 20 million to walk away form a multi album deal, so why plead poverty?

Perhaps music will cease to become the multi billion pound industry it is now. Perhaps the the Gold and dimond encrusted lear jets will be sold for scrap, I doubt it, somehow.

Maybe we will see a return to punk ethos? Perhaps a few bands will get into it for the music and make a few quid tiuring then go back to day jobs?

the money in the music industry is still huge by normal people standards. The money spent on some videos, albums, artists, promotion etc. is still huge. they are not that impoverished

As a musician (a very obscure one, certainly, but still…), I do find the “we’re sticking it to The Man” element of this debate depressingly simplistic.

Yes, U2 (just to pick an easy target example) are low-tax-seeking corporate millionaires.

But there’s plenty of folk in the industry like myself who’ve maybe played on a couple of minor albums, done studio/radio sessions with other artists, written bits of stuff here and there, that sort of thing.

And true, a lot of us are trying to embrace all the opportunities offered by t’internet, but please, don’t make the “everything should be free” crowd’s mistake of thinking copyright is only for massive corporations and their big meal-ticket stars.

Using Monty Python as an example, for instance, wasn’t particularly representative. They’ve been making their returns from copyrighted material for decades before file sharing became possible, so are in a decent position already.

But then, I would be saying all this, I’m in thrall to The Man…
🙂

8. Alisdair Cameron

The Open Rights Group (disclosure: I am a big supporter and hope to play a greater role in the organisation in the future)

Is that Tom Watson’s exit strategy then, post the next election? (*joke*, Tom)
This may be one of the only times I might agree with Tom Watson (provided he is 100% sincere about Open Rights, backing full freedom of Govt data, which could provide the raw material for 1,001 new tech start-ups etc, and isn’t the Govt’s data as much as the public’s).
However, I do find Mandelson’s positioning on this very troubling, because of the as-yet-not-convincingly-repudiated stench of favouritism and by-passing of proper democratic process (changing tune mid-consultation after special lobbying and holiday chats) and because of the crap he seems to take at face-value from the record companies who issue false/made-up statistics (every download = a lost sale at full price, right, sure it does…the peer-reviewed evidence indicates that file-sharing increases demand for purchases), use lousy DRM, so that consumers believe they are buying something and then will own it, only do find that they don’t when trying to port it over to some new kit (check the EULA), over-price things and are trying to maintain profit levels of the 80s and 90s which were rapaciously ramped up by selling consumers music they already had, via making the old tech obsolete before its time, and inflating the price of the replacement CDs etc. They had their ‘glory’ days of being able to use new tech to fleece everyone back then, but now bleat because newer tech is making them redundant (well, tough, biter bit and all that): all that matters now is the artist and the consumer, not much room for middle-men taking the lion’s share of the loot, and thank goodness for that.

Andy @ 7

My comments are not about ‘sticking it to the man’, nor do I think ‘everything should be free’ either. What I am saying is that people who are all too keen to recognise ‘the new reality’ of Globalisation, the Internet and “new technology” being the executioner of old working practices, skills and industries, find themselves standing King Canute like as the tide of internet piracy.

We are constantly being told that Government are powerless to stop capital being transferred in and out of a Country without the Government’s by your leave. We are told it would be silly to try, it would futile to try and tax such transactions thanks a whole heap of reasons. Further, we cannot control where goods and services are provided from and we are powerless to stop CDs being manufactured offshore, yet Mandleson feels able to prevent the flow of ones and zeros being fired down a phone line?

I am not saying ‘hey you have lost your livelihood, good’. I am saying you cannot stymie technology or the culture that goes with it. That business model is failing, like so many other people. The difference is of course, when Murdoch replaced “Hot Metal” with DTP and call centres in India closed British ones, no one seemed too bothered that thousands lost their livelihood. Nothing can be made to slow the progress of capitalism.

If they are powerless to stop illegal child porn in any meaningful way, if they are unable to block billions of spam emails going into my inbox. I have recently changed my E-mail address because I was getting fifty spam emails the filter could not pick up, then why is it the can find someone copying the latest Lilly Allen single between two points on the globe?

Jim,

er…I didn’t say *you* were. 🙂

A fair bit of Watson’s article reflected, I thought, some of the poorer aspects of the debate.

That’s all.

Think you’re being a wee bit absolutistic in yer analysis though, to be honest. Video hasn’t killed the radio star (although the current financial problems are going to hit advertising revenues for sure) – partially thanks to the internet. It might take the disappearance of the stuff the “I want everything for free” folk actually..er..want to change some of their minds a little..? we’ll see. Certainly the emergence of a direct relationship between artists and fans can only be a good thing.

Cheers,
Andy

I now have taken a new approach for the music industry to my friends in the bands The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Toto, Survivor, Foreigner, Elton John Band, Alan Parsons Project band, Michael McDonald and so many others. A brand new business model based on DIRECT SALES between Musician and Music fan with up to 80% going to the artists (read ‘no middle man’) and this is soon to come to fruition using the name MTunz where musicians sell their tunes direct and take control of the music business
Tony Bramwell and Jack Oliver who both worked for the Beatles like this concept a lot and we will soon be looking for investors. We will also be using up to ten new technologies to help us address the issue of 95% Illegal downloads and have some amazing new concepts to show investors. The ‘FREE MUSIC’ business model simply does not work for professional musicians and so we have to work to a middle ground where both the fans and the artists will be happy, as well as some major sponsors who will be helping us with this launch in Feb 2010
MTunz – By musicians for musicians
Changing the face of the music industry ……………………………….

My concern is about the practicality of detecting when someone downloads ‘pirated’ content.
In a world where hotels offer free wireless access, home wireless networks are insecure, and computers often are infected and controlled remotely, you can imagine a situation where we British will be further left behind in the Internet Age.

What you can do to make sure that future filesharing legislation doesn’t go pear shaped:

Some other things you can do:

1. join the Pirate Party

2. join the Pirate Party’s Facebook group and invite all your friends on Facebook to do the same.

Politicians care about bribes from big business, which is why they’re pushing this forward. But they care even more about getting re-elected. If they know that large numbers of voters care strongly about this issue, they will think long and hard before antagonising them.

@5 Jim: The great and the good will pass Mandleson’s proposals on the nod. Whover loses out on this one, it won’t be Sony, EMI and the like.

You’re right, Jim, it’s the public that will lose out, not the music industry. We’re all doomed.

UNLESS we organise and do something about it. The suggestions in the post and in my @16 response are a good place to start.

Look at it this way: would you rather pay 10 quid to the Pirate Party now, or a 50 grand fine to the music industry fatcats in 5 years time?

@7 Andy Gilmour: As a musician, I do find the “we’re sticking it to The Man” element of this debate depressingly simplistic. There’s plenty of folk in the industry like myself who’ve maybe played on a couple of minor albums, done studio/radio sessions with other artists, written bits of stuff here and there, that sort of thing.

This is an entirely reasonable concern. The Pirate Party is not against musicians and other creative people, we’re against the music industry fatcats who want to destroy our centuries-old civil liberties just so they can make a bit more profits. (Incidently, don’t believe the music industry when they say they’re doing badly, according to the latest PRS report its turnover rose by 4% last year, which is pretty good considering we’re in a recession. And live music brings in more money than recorded music anyway.)

One way I think musicians could get paid is through a fund, perhaps raised by a broadband tax.

@8 Alisdair cameron: Is that Tom Watson’s exit strategy then, post the next election?

I’ve already invited him to to join the Pirate Party 🙂

@9 Jim: I have recently changed my E-mail address because I was getting fifty spam emails the filter could not pick up

Have you tried using gmail? I find that nearly all the spam is correctly put in the spam folder. I only see maybe one a week.

It seems to me that the government’s response to the perceived problem is in completely the wrong direction. Their view is of a music industry with volumes of exports and they seem determined to enable big companies to regain control of the industry.
Their principal idea – get the ISPs to do more spying on our browsing habits and give data to big companies will not work and is typically authoritarian.

The government need to realise that IP law is broken at the moment and that new models need to evolve to ensure that people who create music can generate income. One person who does get this is Andrew Dubber at New Music Strategies
http://www.newmusicstrategies.com/ and the government should be listening to people like him rather than backwards looking record industry dinosaurs.

(And I am someone who pays for music and keeps legit versions of software)

Bryan Chalmers

re: “First, taking something for nothing, without permission, and with no compensation for the person who created and owns it, is wrong. Simple as that”

Oh noes! Libraries must be banned because all those readers give nothing to the creator! Selling a CD or book second hand must be banned because the new owner is not compensating the creator! Sue Blockbuster who blatantly allow someone rent a movie and do nothing to prevent that person from letting all his friends watch it at the same time without paying any further compensation to the Movie Industry! Pirates! They are all taking something for nothing! It’s wrong! Simple as that!

Or… perhaps we could have an accurate examination of the situation and recognise that there are no such insultingly simplified moral absolutes that the copyright lobby continually present.

20. Matt Munro

“And live music brings in more money than recorded music anyway.”

There’s a degree of circularity in that argument. Revenues from pre-recorded music sales have fallen so far that live music has to make up for it, or the artists wouldn’t get paid.
When I were a lad (early 80s – Mid 90s) live tours were basically a loss leading promotional tool, subsidised by later profits from album sales. Ticket prices were lower in real terms and even many “big name” tours only just broke even, with the big profits made on sales of the subsequent album. That model is now defunct as sales do not generate enough income to cover tour costs.

I’m not sticking up for record companies, just pointing out a fact.

Firstly, broadband tax can eff off.

Secondly, it’s all very well sticking to to The Man, and suggesting that business must adapt or die, which is fair enough, but there seems to be support of obtaining for free something that isn’t being offered by the rights owners for free. What happened to walking away if you don’t like the price? No, we want the product now and we don’t want to pay a dime. Great to see so much support for that idea. /sarcasm

Radiohead’s experiment is instructive – many people did not pay anything for the music. (If they didn’t value it, I wonder why they bothered to download it. Never mind.)

To Andy Gilmour (commented above)

Andy, file sharers are not what prevented you from being paid a decent amount of money for your time and talent when you played on those minor albums. The music “industry” has for years ripped off the artists and musicians very successfully, while at the same time working very hard to reduce the choice available to listeners. Their dream world is one in which every single person goes out and “buys” the one tune each week that they decide should be a hit, and then pays forever to listen to any previous recording every time they listen (and to double-dip by taxing any providers [e.g. radio stations] and players [e.g. shops] at the same time), while at the same time paying out a pittance to the artists who make the music in the first place. The whole accounting structures of the music recording set-up are predicated on musicians being willing to bet on being the next US/Madonna/Metallica instead of fighting for a decent share in a reasonable return. This does not mean perpetual copyright – it certainly doesn’t mean giving Sir Cliff Richard control over the recordings of him for evermore, nor does it mean granting Sir Paul McCartney the right to appropriate folk tunes and then threaten to bring suit against anyone playing the original tunes he ripped off (Mull of Kintyre, in case you don’t know that tale). All music builds on what came before. The world doesn’t owe musicians a living, but if they’d stop buying into the lottery scam run by the record companies maybe we’d have more music, better off musicians and a living breathing musical culture instead of payola, created boy/girl bands, and the tail of the music industry wagging the dog of the greatest development in human communication technology since movable type and the printing press.
For more sense on this from fellow musicians, try reading Janis Ian and John Perry Barlow.

@Matt Munro, post 23

“…live tours were basically a loss leading promotional tool, subsidised by later profits from album sales”

For most musicians, they make no profits from album sales. Steve Albini, who is a record producer, gives the numbers:

http://www.negativland.com/albini.html

quote: “The band is now 1/4 of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 on royalties. The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month. The next album will be about the same, except that the record company will insist they spend more time and money on it.”

24. Matt Munro

I never said the musicians made money from album sales, the record company did.

From my limited knowldge of music industry financing, how much the musicians get paid, individually and collectively, depends on what they managed to negociate with the record company when they signed a contract, and on who does what in the band. Like writing the music/lyrics and holding the publishing rights is more lucrative, long term, than being the drummer.

@Matt Munro, post 27.

OK. So, if the majority of musicians make no money from the music industry (which I think is a fact but I have no reference to cite), despite the music industry making lots of money on the back of these musicians, should musicians or the public care if record companies go bust?

The record companies claim to be acting in the interests of musicians but actually aren’t,except for the very small number of big stars like Madonna, Cliff Richards, Micheal Jackson etc. They are sharks and are only interested in their own finances.

Would music still be created in the absence of that music industry? (I think so.)

Would we no longer see big stars like Madonna? (probably … and as far as I’m concerned… so what?)

Ukliberty @ 24

Whether or not we like it, the technology is there and the culture is there too. Once upon a time you had to buy a record, tape and latterly a CD to own the music. We could buy c60 tapes and many of us did, but that did not destroy the music industry because people bought music that they passionate about owning. People bought the Stones or Bowie or the pistols because they had (rightly or wrongly) an emotional connection. There is one album I bought in about 1979 that I still listen to, not the same actual album, you understand, that was scratched to buggery. Since 1979, I have owned two vinyl albums and I have three copies of the CD, one I gave to my brother. I would never download that illegally, because it means something to me. Record companies who produce popcorn music deserve to die in my book.

From the Nineteen sixties to now it has been relatively easy to control intellectual property because you could easily control the medium that music was being sold on. That is no longer the case. Most of us here will have read/write CD players and MP3 software on our computers, we can transfer music between peers quicker than we can go down the market. The concept of ‘intellectual property’ is moribund the technology has rendered it useless.

Funny how this is exactly the thing that the Liberations would normally be outraged about. Authoritarian snooping, draconian powers, the State propping up failing businesses against progress, oh and the unelected Peter Mandelson! Yet, for some reason they cannot bring themselves to condemn this move to strengthen the State’s powers against the poor. Why is that? Where are the howls of protest? Where are the ‘nanny state’ blogs?

Could it be the ‘Libertarian movement’ are only interested in the freedom of the rich and powerful to give the poor and powerless a good shoeing? Could it be that those who with to destroy the state, are willing to ‘let this move slide’, because it protects the wealthy?

Dr. Adams at #25,

err…I know. Industry I’ve been involved in for over 20 years, and I haven’t been asleep for the last decade, would you believe?

“Andy, file sharers are not what prevented you from being paid a decent amount of money for your time and talent when you played on those minor albums. The music “industry” has for years ripped off the artists and musicians very successfully, while at the same time working very hard to reduce the choice available to listeners.!”

I never said they did. Again, no sh*t, Sherlock.

And please, I’m sure you didn’t intend to come across as condescending, but sheesh…what was your assumption – musicians are somehow unintelligent/unaware? That *I* was? (gosh, I must modify my style of posting to be less casual and include references in future – and perhaps post my degree certificate online). So I needed a (very) basic lesson in stating the bleedin’ obvious? Oh dear.

You’re undoubtedly aware that Robert Fripp, fer instance, was arguing against the music industry model very cogently 30 years ago, and proposing alternative models of working (www.DGMlive.com). Well, would you believe that those of us who were paying attention back then have long agreed wholeheartedly that things have to change? And been trying to do something about it? BUT…

I was criticising some elements of the *original article*, which were over-simplistic, and straying towards the “no copyright on anything” end of the market.

That’s all. Nothing more.

Ho hum.

28. Matt Munro

“@Matt Munro, post 27.

OK. So, if the majority of musicians make no money from the music industry (which I think is a fact but I have no reference to cite), despite the music industry making lots of money on the back of these musicians, should musicians or the public care if record companies go bust?”

Not sure there’s a simple answer to that. The relationship between musicians and the suits has always been a marriage of conveneince/faustian pact depending on which side you sit on.
Record companies have historically, of course, exploited artists and the public (what else would you expect from global profit maximisers) but without them where does the income come from to launch new talent – There needs to be a new model to replace the old one but what is it ?

Matt @ 31

“but without record companies where does the income come from to launch new talent – There needs to be a new model to replace the old one but what is it?”

People are still starting bands and writing music for the joy of it. I have a mate (my Partner’s nephew) who is in his own band. They have a facebook page which they have music on it. They have a small fanbase who turn up at gigs and buy tickets. They all have real jobs and music is a hobby. They may never be as rich as U2 or Girls aloud, but they do it for the hell of it. Isn’t that what music should be about?

If they ever do get signed to a record deal that would be icing on the cake, no doubt they would make a couple of quid from the process. The talent is still being produced, so no worrieds there. Perhaps there will be more pub/scout hut bands and less slide rule, autotune production type bands in the future.

Propping up failing business models and scouring the interweb thingy for ISPs will not allow the evolution required.

Once we see record companies to crash and burn, we will find a successful model emerge.

Jim @29, perhaps I didn’t make it clear enough that I supported the artists, and I couldn’t care less about record companies, and that all must adapt or die; nevertheless there is a curious (to me, anyway) cultural acceptance that it is OK to freely copy and share music, films and video games (and soon it will be e-books), rather than pay the price the seller has set or walking away.

Again, Radiohead’s experiment is interesting: we do not know the full details, but we know that some people paid large amounts, some people paid ‘about right’ amounts, but many paid nothing – not one single, solitary dime. The latter had their reasons, of course: “I bought their other albums”, “I’d go to their gigs”, “I bought a T-shirt once”… Jebus.

The point being that a lot of this principled talk about “The Man”, intellectual property and evil record companies ripping off music artists is in fact unprincipled bullshit, and you can safely bet the same people who happily rip music would be the first to moan if I ripped off them.

Could it be the ‘Libertarian movement’ are only interested in the freedom of the rich and powerful to give the poor and powerless a good shoeing? Could it be that those who with to destroy the state, are willing to ‘let this move slide’, because it protects the wealthy?

The first part of my view is that if you create something – whether it is a table, stained glass, music, or book – you should be free to set a price and potential consumers are free to pay, negotiate, or walk away.

The second part is that if someone acquires said creation without paying the price, that person has done wrong, and if he makes that available to others he has done further wrong.

The third part is that in principle the creator should be allowed to penalise the wrongdoer.

Tom – OP

Today’s Sunday Times published a thoughtful contribution to the filesharing debate from Peter Mandelson. In it, he not only displays his understanding that the Internet, when used well, is about dialogue but also shows his stoicism at the route one style of conversation that takes place in the blogosphere

Was that a green custard moment? You can never tell with you NuLab lot.

Basically you, I and just about any one else knows that the media industry, including the music industry is full of shit – simple as that really.

Take our own dear Susan Boyle, she was a massive hit on new media (Youtube) and will sell records the world over time and time again.

Was that a genuine reaction by those who view the ‘net? Must be – she is still getting hits even now. Yet, whomever she signs up for – I presume she has already but I have no idea which company – they will make a small fortune off of her back.

It is up to the music industry to change – not the punters. If they cannot get in line with the ‘net, it is they who are wrong. Change their business model. All they want to do – with the help of people in government, you were there so you know – is keep on raking in the cash and not adapt.

NuLab have brought about draconian laws because they aim to please those CEOs – and as long as you, or I should say those who are still apart of the government, pander to them they will go for more and more laws to keep their profits high.

So – what is the answer?

Mandy and any who advise him should say to the music and media industry “We have plenty on our plates at the moment and you are a free company to do what you want – now go and find a way to make your millions. We have people to get back to work and an economy to run.”

Ukliberty @ 33

Musicians were making music long before the start of the record industry and will be doing so if the music industry dies*. I do not think the music industry or record labels are ‘evil’ or if they are, they are no more evil than any other industry.

The point you raise regarding ‘theft’ is an interesting one. First of all, the concept of ‘theft’ in this context is a pretty odd one because nothing tangible has been stolen. It is a construct that has been invented to aid big business to make a few quid.

If you take a few planks of wood and make a table, you have made a physical product. If I come to your house and have it away on my toes with your table then you have lost a table. I can understand that in simple terms. If I come to your house see that table and build a similar table then you have lost nothing. Your table is still there in your front room and now I have a similar table in my house.

The analogy is comedy. I spent time at the Edinburgh fringe, last week. I heard some cracking jokes some of which I hope to pass on in conservation, but the original funster has not had his joke stolen has he? He has made a joke and crafted it to perfection, worked on the set up and the timing and now some halfwit has stolen his joke to make him look good, but of course big business do not theoretically lose money on the deal so no-one bats an eyelid.

On the other hand think about the typesetter. He has learned his craft and perfected the craft to perfection. Suddenly the computer comes along and BANG! A pissed up journlist can Desktop publish his copy into a newspaper and the typesetter is out on his ear. The ‘Government of the day’ sat round a table with Murdock to prevent technology from depriving the poor , hardworking typesetter from losing a crust? No, not quite. The ‘State’ sent in a phalanx of its police to smash the strike and the typesetters so Murdock could squeeze millions more out of publishing.

*I think it unlikely.

@Philip Hunt: Look at it this way: would you rather pay 10 quid to the Pirate Party now, or a 50 grand fine to the music industry fatcats in 5 years time?

Philip like most people I would rather pay a tenner or even twenty quid a month for decent legal P2P file sharing services. I want good quality files, no DRM, a proper package like eMusic and high speed transfers that don’t kill my VoIP connection.

(With Bittorrent I can’t even browse the web).

Just give people what we want, we will gladly pay. No more lawsuits.

But that wouldn’t let you be a Pirate Party hero would it?

34. Matt Munro

Jim @ 32

Absolutely, and what used to happend is the most talented/lucky got spotted and ended up being rich/famous, generating huge revenues income which the record company used to find and promote other acts (all those coke snorting A&R men cost a fortune). What we have now is dearth of genuine musicians who learned and honed their craft, often over many years, in smoky pubs and clubs and in their place we have supergroups who are basically just a commodity, and manufactured shite from people who wouldn’t know one end of a guitar from the other.

Jim,

The point you raise regarding ‘theft’ is an interesting one. First of all, the concept of ‘theft’ in this context is a pretty odd one because nothing tangible has been stolen.

I didn’t mention theft. In fact you’re the first person in the thread to do so.

If you take a few planks of wood and make a table, you have made a physical product. If I come to your house and have it away on my toes with your table then you have lost a table. I can understand that in simple terms. If I come to your house see that table and build a similar table then you have lost nothing. Your table is still there in your front room and now I have a similar table in my house.

I’ve spent time trying to design The Best Table Ever (maybe it cleans itself and folds away afterwards), you copy it, manufacture and sell it and you don’t see anything wrong with that.

I don’t work for free but I admire those who do, such as yourself.

UK @ 38

Nor will you have to for the forseeable future, BUT, let us suggest that we at some point in the far future, we get to technoolgy like Star Trek’s replicators, which is somewhat analogous to the system we have with ‘replicating’ music. then the patent laws, such as they are will cease to exist in any meaningfull sense. Our options will be supress the technology or change our economy.

Of course by that time our economy may haved changed anyway. 🙂

Jim @38, why does the ease of acquiring something make a jot of difference to the morality of acquiring it?

My time is valuable to me, particularly all that time I spent designing the Best Table Ever. I’m not suggesting you enslaved me when you peered through the window and copied my design, but I think you did wrong whether we have Star Trek replicators in the future or not. It seems to me you’re not addressing that point; I should be free to put a price on the product of my labour, and you should be free to walk away if you don’t want to pay it, and it is wrong for you to otherwise acquire it. Well, I think it is wrong – do you?

UKLiberty @ 40

The morals are less important to the practicalities involved. Counterfeit goods are
mass produced and distributed as commercial enterprises. If I copy your patented table in such a way that violates your patent then you can conceivably invoke the State’s law against such a violation. I don’t know how old you are but when I was young there were professional bootleggers who would copy Albums and concerts and produce illegal copies of such material. In fact, most decent record collection would have several bootleg albums in it. Considerable kudos was gained from owning a copy of say, a Led Zeppelin bootleg. That type of thing would relatively easy to stamp out because they are commercial ventures and few people could afford the pressing plant etc to produce bootlegs

However, once the technology became available to become a bedroom industry then policing it become virtually impossible. You can produce a reasonable, passable copy of a CD for a few pence then enforcing copyright really becomes a futile task. You may stop an industrial sized operation mass-produced counterfeit operation working from a pressing plant and a garage and a market stall, but every school, office and factory floor has a bootlegger. Furthermore, everyone with broadband has access to bit-torrent sites too.

Once anyone can copy music, it really becomes a waste of time. The Government are really having to invoke fairly draconian laws; laws it would be unwilling to invoke against others in society.

When big businesses flout the law concerning the weak, the Labour Party look to ‘codes of conduct’ or voluntary gestures etc. When millionaires are looking for protection, Mandleson decides that the State can snoop on its citizens and record ISPs.

I don’t blame Sony for trying to protecting their profits, that is the nature of the beast, but I despise Labour who are only interested in ‘light touch’ regulation, until their friends start to lose money. Scumbags, bring on the next election and let us see the Labour Party put ‘saving big business’ on it manifesto pledges!

“If I copy your patented table in such a way that violates your patent then you can conceivably invoke the State’s law against such a violation.”

Hmm, this has got me thinking.

To get a patent you have to show originality in your idea, that you haven’t copied or ripped it off anyone else.

So instead of copyright for musicians, how about we use the patent concept – a musician has to demonstrate that nobody else has come up with the music before. This means bands who blately rip off others, or just use lame recycled riffs that have been done a million times before don’t get any money from sales. Those who genuinely innovate and create something new do.

I predict the vast majority of bands on major labels will end up bust under this system.

“What we have now is dearth of genuine musicians who learned and honed their craft, often over many years, in smoky pubs and clubs”

They are still around, but if you expect to hear something new, creative and original then you won’t hear it on the radio. You have to seek it yourself. Which is why file-sharing has ultimately been a very positive thing – record companies are no longer gate-keepers, most minority musical subcultures and subgenres have become more popular as a result and the bands concerned may not yet make money from sales (they never did) but they can now tour.

Jim @41, you wrote 339 words, taught granny to suck eggs, but didn’t answer my question.

Never mind.

UkLiberty @ 43

I thought I had answered your point. Still, I have another go.

If I steal that table from your house that is wrong and punishable by law. The usual channels exist, police courts etc.

If I copy your design and sell it as my own, well you still have your table, so nothing has been physically stolen.

You can argue the morals of that till the cows come home, but it is not going to change the fact that copying and distributing music is physically easier than copying a table design.

Shops like HMV go to great lengths to protect their profits from shoplifters. They have the ability to do so and I would totally condemn anyone stealing a CD from a shop.

Manufacturing and distributing those tables and bootlegs mean that the police have a reasonable chance of catching the copier in the act, so the authorities have something to go on, but protecting something being stolen that doesn’t actually exist? Music files transferred between two peers without anything physically changing hands? You have to spy on the entire population to do that and by then it becomes a futile gesture. The pirates are always one step in front of you, the technology changes faster than you can legislate and monitor

The same with the Star Trek replicators. Counterfeit goods can be tracked and rogue manufacturing plants and distribution chains can be found and broken up, but if the technology exists to replicate goods with a single command and the equipment is freely available (as freely available as CD burners and P2P links) then the copyright and patent law becomes obsolete.

You can argue the rights and wrongs about that all day and night, but unless you can reasonably enforce the law then the law is useless.

“unless you can reasonably enforce the law then the law is useless.”

I think this is a pretty valid argument; ukliberty, I think that you are probably right that someone copying your table is doing you wrong (morally), but that does not necessarily mean it has to be illegal; there are lots of immoral acts that are not illegal in this country, for example: adultery.

It may be that we simply end up in a state in which society frowns upon filesharing in the same way that it does on other immoral acts, but does not seek for it to be made illegal. In fact, there are several reasonable reasons for downloading an album without paying for it: I downloaded a couple the other day to see if they were any good. One was, the rest weren’t, so I bought the Pendulum album and deleted the rest. I downloaded the Little Boots album because I couldn’t be bothered to take the CD upstairs and rip it to mp3s.

In fact, several of the things that most people consider entirely reasonable to do with their music are currently illegal – both of those examples above. Copyright law is fucked up and it’s time for it to change.

Tom — agree that the Big Champagne numbers are very precise (Heroes has been downloaded 54,562,012 times. You have to love those eight significant digits. Or this simply spurious precision?

But I don’t think that a high degree of precision necessarily equates to a high accuracy. Indeed it suggests that the person doing the arithmetic is more LIKELY to have made other mistakes in measurement.


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  7. Openrightsgroup

    We need to make our voice heard on file sharing: @tom_watson blogs for @libcon http://is.gd/2J6rV #threestrikes #3strikes

  8. Open Rights Group

    We need to make our voice heard on file sharing: @tom_watson blogs for @libcon http://is.gd/2J6rV #threestrikes #3strikes

  9. Tom

    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing http://bit.ly/eh47r

  10. Ian Dolphin

    RT @Openrightsgroup: We need to make our voice heard on file sharing: @tom_watson blogs for @libcon http://is.gd/2J6rV #3strikes

  11. Charles Pace

    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing http://bit.ly/TNmng

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    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing http://tinyurl.com/lzrftd

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    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing: What I am saying is that people who are al.. http://tinyurl.com/lzrftd

  14. Steve Tamburrino

    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing http://bit.ly/NwvIo

  15. mannm

    RT @sharing: @Openrightsgroup We need to make our voice heard on file sharing: @tom_watson blogs for @libcon http://is.gd/2J6rV #3strikes

  16. Ahmed Kaley

    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing http://bit.ly/2Z2B9I

  17. Openrightsgroup

    We need to make our voice heard on file sharing: @tom_watson blogs for @libcon http://is.gd/2J6rV #threestrikes #3strikes

  18. Tom

    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing http://bit.ly/eh47r

  19. Ian Dolphin

    RT @Openrightsgroup: We need to make our voice heard on file sharing: @tom_watson blogs for @libcon http://is.gd/2J6rV #3strikes

  20. Williams Mambe

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  21. Steve Tamburrino

    Liberal Conspiracy » We need to make our voice heard on file-sharing http://bit.ly/NwvIo

  22. mannm

    RT @sharing: @Openrightsgroup We need to make our voice heard on file sharing: @tom_watson blogs for @libcon http://is.gd/2J6rV #3strikes

  23. Joni Hardin

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