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    • CommentAuthorcjstevens
    • CommentTimeJul 25th 2008 edited
     (3092.1)
    Hey WC.

    This has been grating on me for a while and this seems like the best place to vent my frustrations and anger.
    This was an important enough issue to make the front of the FT yesterday, and basically what I can understand is this:

    Record/Media companies have pressured (through GOV) the ISP's to clamp down on illegal dowloads of music/video content, which to my mind raises many issues.
    The first is privacy. Apparently ISP's will now issue warnings for those downloading material. Firstly, how is this possible. Is there a certain body of employees dedicated to monitoring downloaded content??? Is this not a absurd and ironic counter-productive tool, similar to the gov administering congestion/emmision charges to motorists. Surely the implementation of this exceeds the revenue accrued. Who is watching what I download, do they have this right??
    Secondly, this is my view...

    I hear a band/artist on the radio. I download ( for free) some tracks. If they are good and worthy of my time, I will possibly buy an album/ go to a gig/possibly even buy some merch. We have to adapt as society. I look at piracy as a filter of content. 'Quality sells itself.' If something is good it will prevail.
    The music/ film industry keeps blabbering on about how it looses millions a year in revenue etc. If this is the case, how come a crack head like Amy Winehouse (Who's music I have appreciated for years), or actors like Will Smith- received 40 million for Hancock) can obtain such a vast pay packet?
    I know the counter argument is that the other employees of the industry will rally against me saying the film crew/ editors/ technicians/whatever are getting knocked, but I have to ask: Why get involved with the industry at all? No one is forcing you to be in the film/music industry.

    Here is my point....

    People don't give a fuck about art anymore. To my mind, music is art. You are a musician, you wanna make good music and if you get paid then, well ..bonus.

    It seems in our age of Pop Idol madness, record contracts come over content. Think about it. I know Radiohead were already established, but they let you choose how much you wanted to pay for In Rainbows. Prince sold his album to a paper (Mail I think) and did a load of sell out shows. Even Mc bloody Fly released content free with a paper.

    It just seems to me that the only people really bothered about this are the big record/media dominators, worried about earning 10 million, when they could be earning 50 million. It all comes down to greed, and this ties into a capitalism rant. On the front of the Spectator this month was the heading 'Does Class Matter?' with pics of Lewis Hamilton and Kate Moss, and I started thinking.. and this is my quote of the week:
    Class is a myth, perpetuated by people with money and power to mainatin hegemongy.
    I don't actually think CLASS ever existed. We have all been duped!
    I don't think people care about what they are producing anymore, they just want to guarantee how much they can earn. Look at the Artic Monkeys. The first real band to achieve dominace and success through download (legal or illegal, who cares? word of mouth is worth more than record sales statistics).
    I'm drunk and maybe rambling, but you get my drift. Basically successful musicians/artists prevail, regardless of piracy. What you gonna do, stop me lending a cool Calvin Harris album to my mate cause technically I'm not legally allowed to do so?
    It just seems to me to be another example of corporate greed in overdrive, pushing to maximse profits, regardless of quality.
    These are just my angry pissed views. Please feel free to disagree.
    I love Whitechapel.
  1.  (3092.2)
    For me, the definitive quote about 'piracy' is years old, from Matt Groening's 'Life In Hell' strip:
    "Home taping is killing the music industry.
    Instead of making billions and billions of dollars, we're only making billions of dollars."

    I have to disagree about class, though. That shit may be fading a little these days, but it still has claws.
    •  
      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJul 26th 2008
     (3092.3)
    First of all I'll say that I don't agree with what all these ISPs are doing. If I were in a position to choose my ISP, I would move away from any of those who have a part in this business of watching what we're downloading and trying to 'educate' people. I have a feeling that in future other ISPs will start to market themselves as offering privacy, i.e. not sending you letters for downloading music etc.

    I'll also say that just about everybody engages in file sharing. I've downloaded stuff for free, I don't think I know a single person who knows how to do it who hasn't at some point. And yeh, if I like something I'll buy it when I can.

    Having said that, there are really no good arguments for it. It all basically boils down to 'I like getting free stuff and I'm pissed off that people want to stop me from being able to get it'. The main argument here seems to be that old one of 'artists should be in it for the art not the money'. It's all very easy to sit back at home and be so very noble about it, but it's not really your decision to make. You're deciding on behalf of all artists that they shouldn't be bothered about making money. Of course artists do it mainly for the enjoyment, but that's not an excuse for stealing from them. It's like if you were a chef, and you did it because you loved cooking fine food, and people started walking out of your restaurant without paying, and said 'yeh well you do it for the enjoyment of cooking don't you, so you shouldn't be worried about the money'. Should we not bother paying nurses more because they do it out of kindness?

    Sure yeh, some artists make millions, but I don't understand what gives people the right to decide how much money someone is allowed to make. I'm not some kind of mega-capitalist or anything, but I don't understand how stealing from one person is better than stealing from another.

    And then there's the whole 'yeh well it's big corporations innit, they're all corporationy'. Of course record companies try and increase profits, that's what businesses do. Somehow it's worse if it's a big company? People paint a caricature of fat-cat corporations, again because it suits them.

    Regarding the Prince and McFly CDs by the way, Prince's label actually struck a deal with the paper worth millions; the paper obviously make money out of selling advertising space in the paper with which the album was distributed, the label get paid by the paper for the right to give it away with the paper - for one day I might add. So it's not really the same as just giving the album away for free on the internet.

    The class thing I'm not even going to get into. I have a feeling this thread will be closed anyway.
    •  
      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeJul 26th 2008
     (3092.4)
    I, too, see a closing imminent. So I'll get in my two cents.

    As a musician, I spent many thousands of dollars promoting my band (and bands we played shows with), gear, various supplies, rehearsal space rent, and gas. I poured many hours of work into writing, arranging, and recording my music, as well as putting time into learning recording techniques. I loved every minute of it and every dollar spent.

    BUT

    I made no money. Literally none. In my hometown it's impossible to make money unless you're a cover band. And we were against playing exclusively covers. We weren't into that. So we recorded a couple demos, we put out a couple EPs, and we didn't make any money off of those either. It's easy to say that an artist needs to be in it for the art and not the money, but most working musicians barely make enough to subsist on. Most of those Swedish metal bands? They go home to their day jobs when the tour is over. When an artist finally reaches a point of being successful, it's an incredible relief.

    I agree that the industry as it is now is a despicable waste of human creativity, but it's rarely the artist's fault. They're just trying to make money to live. Someone mentioned about Metallica today that they can't possibly be doing it for money anymore. They have so much money their grandchildren won't know what work is. Radiohead, Trent Reznor, Pink Floyd, the two remaining Beatles, they're not hurting for cash. But they should still get paid for their work. If millions of people are willing to give them a dollar for their work, that's still millions of dollars. (Artists rarely get that from sales. They usually get pennies on the dollar.) If I got up in the morning and went and wrote a magazine article, would I not want to get paid? Just because I enjoyed doing it doesn't mean I shouldn't get paid.

    There's a real stigma out there, and it's sort of a two-way street, that artists and musicians should be starving and shivering in a warehouse somewhere because that's "just the way things are" and most of the time, said artists and musicians are more than willing to propagate that myth. (It's actually spelled out pretty well in a book by Caroll Mitchels called How to Survive as an Artist.) There's no reason you shouldn't get paid for your work.

    The problem is that the industry's been antiquated and resistant to change for a long, long time. It's built on a model where it could control all distribution, because the only way to get music was through a physical, tangible fixed media such as a vinyl record or published sheet music. But the combination of pro-sumer level recording equipment and digital distribution, the whole paradigm shifts. The labels are no longer in control, and the LABELS aren't making money. The movies STUDIOS aren't making money. The reason artists get so much money is because they bring EVEN MORE money to the labels. Before the industry, musicians made a living off the kindness of others; they were hired to work in a certain place or write music for events or whatever. As soon as people realized they could make money off other people's popularity, they created the music industry.

    Say you're a carpenter. You make really good chairs. We agree that I'll reproduce and distribute your chairs, and for all the money I make from it, I'll give you a piece. Same concept. It's just now that piracy allows people to get the plans for the chairs on the internet, and the raw materials plus the free plans is cheaper than the chair bought from the store. So the guy that made the original chair gets screwed because someone else is making his chair without paying him for it.

    The problem that the labels (and artists, to a lesser extent) are having is that they can't figure out a good way to charge people for the chairs or the plans. While still maintaining the same profit rate.

    I agree, the industry is full of greedy, bloodsucking fuckers. But at the end of it, the content generation portion, there's still a human being that's just trying to do a good job.
    • CommentAuthorjona
    • CommentTimeJul 26th 2008
     (3092.5)
    Points well made Liquid and Rickie.

    I think people forget that "Real" people make the music they are downloading. It is part of the curse of the Web - everything becomes blurred and anonymous. I'm not entirely sure that the ISPs have the power/know-how to monitor everything that is downloaded otherwise they would quite easily be able to report to the authorities paedophiles and the like. It seems to be working on the basis that a lot of people (the majority? or it may just be me) don't actually know how the Internet works. So it is relatively easy to use tactics that are being employed in regard to the downloads. They figure a signifigant minority will lay off the downloads for a while, which lets the ISPs off the hook.

    I agree that artists should be paid for what they do. After all it is a job, how they make a living; they aren't a charity or philanthropic venture. Of course they love doing it but that don't pay the bills.

    I suspect very little will change in the long term. The reps for the ISPs that I saw on TV were all looking very uncomfortable about this.

    yeah downloading is fun (probably, I don't have the nous to know how to do it) but people need to be paid; regardless of if they are Paul McCartney or RickieP00h
    • CommentAuthormlpeters
    • CommentTimeJul 26th 2008
     (3092.6)
    jona, rickiep00h and liquidcow are right. Their points apply to all forms of art.

    Just wanted to say that.
    • CommentAuthorbiglig
    • CommentTimeJul 27th 2008
     (3092.7)
    My worry is that time spent on this sort of thing is time not being spent on working out a new business models for selling artistic work. So far as I can see, in music, a few methods are being used to get round the "internet broke my business model" problem.
    • "Make money with the things people can't bittorrent" like live shows. This isn't really new: and of course artists have always made more money this way because there are fewer middlemen. The main problem with this is that it limits the size of your audience, as Rickie explains. I want to pay to go to every Marcella Detroit concert there is, but she works in California and I don't.
    • "Make it easier to pay for music than to steal it". Apple have made a fortune with this. If I want a record (ouch, showing my age) then three taps on my ipod to get it vs. poking about in the internet's bowels for an hour or two is worth £8 to me. This seems to be the one that's worked most so far.
    • "Bait and Switch". Make it free to get the regular product, then when people are hooked upsell them to something better, like Radiohead did. The causal downloaders won't bother with the deluxe version, so it's not common on the torrent sites, so the people who want the better one are more likely to buy it. Not sure about this one: if you're a huge Radiohead fan you'd buy the deluxe anyway, wouldn't you?
    • "Make a personal connection with your audience". Everyone here should know about that one. We're probably all in favor of reducing the revenue stream of greedy media conglomerates but if I were to download the new Wil Wheaton or Tom Reynolds or Warren Ellis book from some dodgy website I'd know it means less money for them and their families - and I care about what happens to them. Especially if Ellis can't afford enough Red Bull, and as a result posts the Joe 90 titles on the internet again and giving me a third batch of the heebie-jeebies. Brrr! /li>
    These methods have some things going for them, but are they all there is?
    • CommentAuthorcjstevens
    • CommentTimeJul 27th 2008
     (3092.8)
    BigLig I'm with you 110% and I think you have correctly identified how the industry needs develop. This is exactly what I think. Sell Cd's with extra video content, inclusive art and photos, make people want to buy your product instead of churning out unnecessary albums as gap-filler and pot-boilers. I think the industry and some artists have bought all these problems of piracy on themselves.
    I completely respect musicians/artists/filmmakers like Rickip00h, and hope that if you are still active, that you are successful and start earning some good cash for what you enjoy, but I do think this whole issue should cause people to look at the reasons for piracy, the tech thats available and do something positive that benefits everyone, themselves included.

    Take Warren as an example. I first discovered him as a writer 3 years ago, when working in a library, I noticed Lust For Life TPB. I borrowed it FREE. Now anything I can't get from the library I will try and buy. I love Transmetro and Sleepless and the mini series' so much that I have EVERY single issue, because I am a collector and want to pay for the hard copies.
    Remember you don't need a connected PC to get stuff free. Any chump can get a library card and get a book/film/CD - even order in the stuff they dont' have, and it is free, and say you borrow a CD, even a 12 year old PC has a CD copier. The library is a public service, promoted by the government, but paperback writers are not stupid enough to try shutting them down. It is counter productive. I'm also aware that the creators get a percentage of the money, but this is still a significant factor.

    I completely respect the views of Liquid Cow Jon and mlpeters, and think you raise very valid and important points that should not be overlooked, but I do honestly think you are looking at things in a slightly idealised way. I really believe that in a way an artist does have to suffer, as the suffering improves the art. You can't EXPECT to earn big money being an aspiring musician/filmmaker, hell if you could even more people would be trying to do it than they are already, and with this abundance, the quality of the output would be affected.
    Once again I think this is a really interesting issue that raises questions of ethics, privacy, laws, freedom and liberty, art and culture, politics and sociolgy. I have no idea why people were saying that this thread would be closed, as to my mind WC is the best place for this sort of debate.
    •  
      CommentAuthorNygaard
    • CommentTimeJul 27th 2008
     (3092.9)
    Information can, rather obviously, be a means of production. Whether of a utilitarian or aesthetic nature, information can be used to create things people think they need. (Some things are luxuries, some things are necessities; but it's not my business to tell you what you need or don't need. I assume you're the one in the best position to know.) That information can also be made a commodity in itself is secondary. That cancer cure will enable a doctor to cure you regardless of the way he aquired it. Therefore, it is a more basic means of production than skills or machinery; a computer is useless without software, and a factory will never be built without a blueprint, a vaccine can't be made without a recipe.

    This puts a new thing - information technology - in a familiar split; between the people who believe everyone has a right to the things they think they need, and the people who don't. Forget about those damn kids and their noisy mp3's for a moment, and think big. Most people fall somewhere in between on this question. There probably are people who wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire, because "that's MY valuable piss thank you very much". But most people aren't like that. We do some pretty complicated cost-benefit analysis before we decide to help someone else, or share something, with what's at stake as one of the most important variables. When you're on fire, your life is at stake, and people will usually go to great lenghts to help you, free of charge. They'll tell you to roll around on the ground without asking for royalties first. They will not turn up at the hospital to demand that you pay for the water or the ruined blankets.

    This goes into the information sharing problem as well - with the cancer cure, lives are at stake. Witholding that information gets uncomfortably close to murder, and would not be a widely popular move. What is percieved to be at stake, the context of the piece of information, and what kind of production it enables, makes up a large part of its worth as a commodity.

    Quite a bit of your discussion seems to be about determining what's at stake for the artists - people who use their skills to create new and inspiring information. Can a musician make a living without an artificial scarcity of recordings? I have no clue. But if we're going to discuss media filesharing, rather than more pressing information issues - I'm wondering if we could have a look at the other end of the transaction. What's at stake for the music fan, or the comics reader? Enough to justify taking what he wants rather than pay for it? (That's assuming he has the option of paying for it. A lot of people don't.) Are they "on fire"? Is it immoral to deny them access to the free data they have decided they need?
    •  
      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeJul 27th 2008
     (3092.10)
    What's at stake for the music fan, or the comics reader?


    Since the general issue of freedom of information is a much larger subject than that presented on this thread, I'm just going to address this and let the reader extrapolate what they want.

    I'm a terrible hypocrite. I won't deny that I've downloaded a pretty fair share of songs, movies, and the like, but if it was stuff I could generally buy, I would. If it's stuff I can't, like a bootleg of a live show that I attended or a music video that hasn't been released on DVD or whatever, I'll be all over it. If it's a movie that's not in print, like Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie was for the longest time, I'll probably download it. 90% of the time, if I download something, I'll likely buy it. This is a personal preference. I've been exposed to a lot of new music through the internet and filesharing. But really, would my life be over if I didn't download anything? Hardly.

    Most real music nerds I know still buy their albums. They learn to budget. By ending filesharing you go back to tape trading. And we all know what home taping did to the record industry.

    I think a lot of the freedom of information talk derives from the fact that it's so much easier to GET that information now. In 1978, you had to be really well connected to hear of some punk band from halfway across the world before anyone else. Now you just have to know a couple people, read some blogs, and get the whole album for yourself in a format you can take anywhere and play on nearly and piece of electronic equipment that you may have purchased in the past five years. And it's not just music, but most visual arts as well, including film and TV.

    So what IS at stake? Nothing. You slow down and commodify an instantaneous and free market, fans adapt. They always do. It's the infrastructure that has mostly resisted this.
  2.  (3092.11)
    I think I'll come back to this thread later when I have a bit of time, but I'd just like to make four small points, neither particularly well argued at the moment. My personal views are that copyright is a *good* thing, it's just being used to try and clamp down on things that we have always assumed to be true (even though they haven't been).

    1)
    I were to download the new Wil Wheaton or Tom Reynolds or Warren Ellis book

    You can download my book for free, it's a CC licensed work available on archive.org and many other sites (and I'm going to be firing off letters to various ebook readers so they are aware they can 'stock' it as well) - It certainly hasn't stopped it selling loads of physical copies, the proof in it being that Harper Collins are going to release my next book in a similar way.

    2)Is it technically possible to detect which packets of mine are 'illegal'? I'm assuming that they are going to try and automate the process in which point they are handing over the job of a judge to a computer programme. Thirdly, have these people never heard of the Tor project? If it can get past the great firewall of China I'm sure that it's going to befuddle anyone else trying to control what sites we are 'allowed' to visit.

    3) I use bittorrent for non-infringing uses, am I going to get an anonymous letter telling me that I've been naughty? Are the ISPs and record companies in league with Microsoft to stop me from downloading Linux? (Yes, that last comment was a joke).

    4)A lot of artists believe that they have the right to live off the work that they create, that they can give up the day job and do nothing other than play music, write books, knit sweaters. I think that the separation between the fact and this fiction is fuelling a lot of these fears that "If only people weren't downloading things illegally I'd have my house in Beverly Hills and a woman on each arm". While it is certainly true that a few people can make enough money to live off by doing what they love, it certainly isn't true or a great majority of people.
    •  
      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2008
     (3092.12)
    In response to the last point there, and some of what cjstevens says, I realize it is totally idealistic to expect to be able to live off your art, I'm not saying that without illegal file sharing all musicians would be living in manions. Most of the bands I like have day jobs, and I also know that bands like Opeth are able to live off their music, but only about nine albums into their career. What I'm saying though, is that is no excuse. By stealing from someone you are taking away any chance, however small, of them being able to make a living. It's not even a case of making a living, just being able to make a little extra money, or make enough to be able to carry on doing what they're doing, even without making a profit. And again, it's not really up to us to decide whether someone should want to make money off of something. I don't walk into HMV, say 'huh, that band's never going to make it big', and swipe their album.
  3.  (3092.13)
    @liquidcow
    I agree with you absolutely, it's just that I think this disconnect fuels a lot of anger and misunderstanding on both sides - it obviously isn't right to ilegally download any artists work. But I am perhaps conflating this issue with the EU's desire for a copyright term extension so that "artists can have a pension". Unlike the rest of us who have to *save* for our pension rather than do something and expect to live of a few days work for the rest of our lives.
    •  
      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2008
     (3092.14)
    Oh yeh that 95 years thing is a load of bollocks, it's just a load of rich people like Cliff Richard wanting their kids to never have to earn a living. I think it's alright to make money off it in your own lifetime, but I don't see why they shouldn't have pensions that work like everybody elses. But yeh that's kind of a separate issue.
    • CommentAuthorWilf
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2008
     (3092.15)
    it's just a load of rich people like Cliff Richard wanting their kids to never have to earn a living


    Lol! Cliff Richard, kids? You could have used a better example there!!
    •  
      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2008
     (3092.16)
    Yeh good point. I don't really think about Cliff Richard that much so I forgot about that. He is one of the people who's been trying to get the copyright extension business done though. Maybe for nieces and nephews.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2008 edited
     (3092.17)
    I think it is the artist's choice. Warren chooses to make FreakAngels free and that's his prerogative. However, if I scanned all the back issues of Doktor Sleepless and made them available on my server for free, I'm sure Avatar's lawyers would soon be trying to shutdown my server.

    The people hosting the pirated material seem to be very quick at replacing their servers if they are impounded, so the music industry have convinced the government that it is easier to go for the people downloading the pirated material. They don't need "people" to look at what you are downloading, they just need a database of pirate server IP addresses and compare that to the sites and quantities people are downloading. It's a very cheap alternative to actually shutting down the servers.

    (I think Reynolds and I were at the same party in Whitechapel on Thursday, judging by the photos)

    [EDIT]
    I forgot one other thing. I don't download pirated stuff as a rule. I don't download films or whole TV series from a torrent. All those people that do are clogging up my internet and preventing my legitimate downloading of porn!
    •  
      CommentAuthorNygaard
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2008
     (3092.18)
    I'm thinking that if the stake for most creators is as Reynolds puts it, and for fans as rickiep00h says, aren't we really talking about a storm in a glass of water here? If creators really are getting cheated out of a living (and I'm not saying they aren't), that's terrible. Being cheated out of making a bit of extra money off a hobby, or an extra limo, not so terrible. But I haven't seen convincing numbers either way.

    I kind of suspect that a lot of file sharers either wouldn't buy or wouldn't be able to afford the media they are sharing. In which case the advertising value could potentially outstrip any loss estimate. Wouldn't it be nice, if that turned out to be true? :)

    I think a case could be made that there's *something* at stake for fans as well - there's a value in aesthetic enjoyment, inspiration, enriching your mind. It can't be compared to a situation where the difference is making or not making a living, but if artists' living isn't really threatened, aren't we, at worst, talking about two opposing interests in access to luxuries rather than to necessities? Some file sharers seem to argue that case, while others actually try to go as far as to represent access to media as a necessity. Either by bunching media in with undeniably necessary information, or by arguing that the value of media access is vastly higher than generally assumed?
  4.  (3092.19)
    @liquidcow
    Regarding Opeth: Mikael Åkerfeldt recently posted about this on his forum. His stance was that while they may be losing money now, Opeth would never have reached their current level WITHOUT illegal filesharing. So he's ambivalent about the whole thing.
    •  
      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2008
     (3092.20)
    @entzauberung

    I think a lot of bands regard it in much the same way of tape trading in the 80s. I mean, Metallica's Lars Ulrich intentionally spread tapes of their demo in the underground metal community to spread the word. Same concept, different medium. That's the main reason I was confused when Metallica initially took on Napster. But now I see their side of the argument.

    That duality, I think, is why I'm so curious as to what is coming out of the whole thing. I think Reynolds is definitely on the right track, though. Metallica themselves have adopted some of those very tactics to "combat" illegal sharing. From a money-making standpoint it's good, and from the POV of a group like Radiohead or NIN, who have a definite visual arts interest, it's another area to explore creatively. I also think it may put some bands at a disadvantage in a "CD plus a zillion extras" market, especially smaller bands. Not that they aren't at a disadvantage in the money sense as it is, but you know what I mean.

    *Full Disclosure: Written while listening to Beck's Modern Guilt album, which I have yet to purchase. Will do so on Friday, likely.*