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Restrictive Copyright Plays Into Music Industry Myths

Dwayne Winseck’s Globe column dissects the music industry claims and find that the total industry has grown over the last 13 years. Winseck links the claims to copyright reform, concluding that “only once the myth that the music industry is in peril, and that it is the canary in the coalshaft for all media, is discarded will we get copyright laws fit for these digital times.”

29 Comments

  1. Bill MacEachern says:

    Good luck with that myth
    and stop calling it a myth. Myths generally have some basis in fact. These are flat-out lies, where the teller knows they are lying.

    The public doesn’t really care and the lobby will continue to lie as long as it thinks lies are in its best interests. What’s needed are articles from Winseck et al in every major paper, in synchronicity over many days, detailing the evils of the Canadian media lobby and how their gloom & doom scenarios are merely theatre meant to scare legislators into giving the lobby more and more of whatever it wants. We all know this would never be allowed to happen.

  2. Crockett says:

    It’s not the artists who are in peril …
    Artists, writers and creators are the sustenance of the big labels, the problem is they only throw back the bread crumbs. Smart artists are finding new ways to take back control and earn a better take for themselves.

    Big media is running scared and perpetuating the pirate ‘war’ myth to keep the pinions in line. Good products at a good value with good service = good sales. A simple formula that has worked since the invention of marketing and is forgotten when the top gets too heavy before it tumbles to the ground.

  3. Crockett,

    Define “pinion.”

    Otherwise, you may be right. I can’t think of a single “smart” artist in the stable of Sony, Warner, EMI, etc.

    Except maybe Elvis Costello, Snoop Dogg, Richard Thompson, Katy Perry, Norah Jones, Kings of Leon, Lily Allen, Green Day, etc. The poor representation they’ve been getting from their labels is just scandalous, isn’t it?

    Fight the power!

  4. Crockett says:

    Smart … like a falling stone
    Yes John, members of an industry that has seen a 66% drop in profits in half a decade. There will always be superstars to entertain the ballroom crowd but the smart ones know when to jump a sinking ship.

  5. Wait, what? I thought it was a “myth” that the music industry was in peril?

    Which standard free-culture line are we spinning in this comment stream anyway?

  6. Degan,
    Nice you once again interchange the music industry and the recording industry.

    Music industry is fine. The recording industry, not so much

  7. Crockett says:

    Thanks db, it get’s tiring repeating myself ūüėČ Some people are very intelligent and focused on their issues but can fail at times to see the bigger picture.

  8. Oh, I see. All those artists I mentioned — they are “not” part of the music industry?

  9. not refering to your comment abouut the artists. Justthis comment:
    “Wait, what? I thought it was a “myth” that the music industry was in peril?

    Which standard free-culture line are we spinning in this comment stream anyway? ”

    So your list of artists are you saying they are all going broke?

  10. @Degen
    Sigh. No John, but depending on what they are doing they could be part of music industry which is contracting rather than expanding.

    FYI,

    UK Music Industry Economists Admit: Music Industry Getting Bigger, Not Smaller
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090723/0351345633.shtml

  11. Don’t sigh, Darryl. Just TRY to understand a discussion for once. A quixotic quest, I know, but sometimes effort is its own justification.

    Crockett implied that the “smart” musicians were leaving major recording labels. One of those favorite free-culture fun-facts that are not facts at all. You guys really need to consult more with each other on how your are going to ridiculously oversimplify every issue.

    Why should a successful company not fight to protect its rights and the rights of the brilliant artists it represents, even as it builds business in other areas?

    You guys sure never let your blatant wrongness stand in the way of a weird, fruitless argument.

  12. It’s more that you implied there was contradiction between the recording industry doing badly but the music industry still doing well. Demonstrably false of course, but don’t let that stop you from trying.

    Since it is the recording industry and the major labels that are floundering, I expect the smart non-ubber-celebrity artist are leaving. Your point?

    As long as they aren’t “protecting” their rights at the expense of mine, I say the Megacorps should go wild. Sadly that is not what is happening.


  13. I’m not going to argue about the differences between the recording industry and music industry. Mr. Degen, you list a small group of elite artists, what about all the other thousands of musicians caught up in the recording industry making no money.

    I wish I could find the interview, but I once read an interview with Fred Schneider of the B-52s who said they made no money on the sale of the albums until 10 years in and their 6th album and generally kept day jobs to pay the bills.

    Now, could they have attained success without recording industry help? Probably not, though I don’t agree with their business methods, but that’s where the recording industry still excels, getting upstarts going. They have the financial backing and contacts.

    I argue that any well-established artist should jump ship and go independent. The profit margin is vastly higher and you have full creative control as well as access to a world of technologies the recording industry has been ignoring for years. Prince, Metallica, Radiohead, and many others are starting to follow this trend. It’s never been conclusively proven what effect and to what degree, if any, “piracy” has on the recording industry profits, BUT when a mega-band, like Metallica jumps ship (Whose album sales consistently go multiple times platinum, 15x for Black Album), the industry will definitely feel that loss, far more than a few downloaded tracks. In an extreme case, say 15x platinum at $20 an album, that’s $300,000,000 in lost revenue if Metallica had done this independently.

    “Why should a successful company not fight to protect its rights and the rights of the brilliant artists it represents”

    Of what rights do you speak? Company rights? I’m sure General Oil probably used this line. Microsoft too. They’re gleaming examples of big American capitalism and they’re nothing compared to the atrocity the recording industry has been allowed to become. What about the artists rights? Under most of these stupid contracts, artists have no rights, the company basically owns their soul, their every thought. I once saw an interview with John Romero of “Night of the Living Dead” fame. There are a couple characters in his movies he said he would love to do back stories on, feature zombies, like Bub (Day of the Dead) and Big Daddy (Land of the Dead). When he looked in to it, he found that he would have had to pay outrageous royalties to use the characters HE created, so he dropped the idea. The entire copyright and contract system is flawed when things like this can happen. I’ve seen interviews with musicians, Willy Nelson comes to mind for some reason, who’ve complained of similar issues.

  14. I implied what now?

    So this is the new tactic — revise history, and then criticize the new history.

    I’m still waiting for Crockett to let us all know what a “pinion” is, but while we wait how about you explain the meaning of “non-ubber celebrity artist.”

  15. IamMe,

    Am I arguing that all artist contracts are fair and beneficial to the artist? I worked (professionally) for years to improve creator contracts, and helped bring a creator class action suit on copyright and contracts to the Supreme Court of Canada. None of what you mention justifies the arbitrary removal of creator or rightsholder rights.

    You may think big recording companies are stupid, and you may find good examples of that stupidity here and there, but as long as they don’t break the law they have a right to their stupidity. If all the talent flees from them and the market destroys them, then they weren’t capable of survival. That’s completely different from pulling the legal rug from underneath them and denying them any control of the product they produce.

    I’m not sure you can generalize the struggles of professional artists and place all the blame on one business model, or expect it all to change because of new technology. It’s a hard business. We don’t make it easier by removing artists’ rights.

  16. Crockett says:

    Here you go John …
    Pinion – usually the smallest gear in a gear drive train … a cog in the machine.

    Sorry to keep you on the edge of your seat.

  17. Crockett says:

    Ah, the smell of hypocrisy in the morning …
    John, here’s an interesting intersection of the music industry and the individual rights you are so fond of defending.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/riaa-backed-warrantless-search-bill-advances-in-california.ars

    Go RIAA!

    Rights when convenient … I love it.

  18. @Degen
    John, I actually agree with almost everything you said and wasn’t aware of the class action suit. My apologies.

    What I do have issue with is the RIAA/MPAA/CRIA trying to take away my rights in the name of theirs. This warrantless search is a prime example. They should not be able to get my information without a warranted court order. Much like the John Doe cases in the US, it will become nothing more than a witch hunt tool for the purpose of filing more John Doe law suits. Have I downloaded music? Absolutely!!! I grew up around the whole Napster craze. How about movies? Sure, mostly foreign stuff legal under the Berne Convention at that time, but yes. You might call me a criminal. Now what about my collection of 600+ audio tapes, 600+ CDs and scores of albums purchased on-line. Add to that the nearly 2000 movies I own, mostly DVD/BD these days, but there’s still some VHS from back in the day. I’d call myself a pretty good corporate citizen. I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find one person in a thousand that spends as much as I do on media…all without DRM, all without spying on me, all without big brother. They want to paint a black and white picture of “these are the pirates and these are the good consumers”. Well, John, I have shocking news. Most people under 40, are somewhere in between and these heavy handed laws will only drive people further down the rabbit hole. Do I buy my music? Absolutely, all of it these days, thanks to the Internet what I like is available for reasonable prices and not outrageous “import” prices like we used to see back in the day, but still only if I can preview it first.

    If and when all this crap comes in to being and we’re in the crapper like the US with the DMCA and everyone is suing everyone’s mother, I will buy less simply because I won’t allow myself to be tracked.

    Another big one is DNS blocking. The US wants to block entire domains at the root level. That’s going to be a disaster for the Internet. The RIAA, MPAA, CRIA will cripple the world digital economy if countries keep bowing to their pressure, or taking pay-offs, either way, the effect is the same.

    So, while I’m sympathetic to their problem, there are better, more consumer friendly ways to achieve their goal. You can’t FORCE someone to buy your product. And while there are surely some lost sales, most of those who download music, probably have never listened to half of what they downloaded probably wouldn’t have bought it to begin with, so who cares. Look at it as free advertising. I hate censorship and I hate being spied on, both of which they’re trying to achieve, not for public safety, but for $$$$$, which is not acceptable, so I will fight them every step of the way on it.

    How many civil liberties are you willing to give up in the name of the bottom dollar? Privacy? Freedom of information? Due Process? We’re looking at losing all of them.

  19. …correction…
    Before someone else points it out, yes, most DVDs/BDs are encrypted and some argue this is DRM. Encryption, by itself, is not DRM and it’s their prerogative to use it. It’s when they start telling me how many times or when I can watch something that it becomes a problem. When it comes to pass that I can’t legally break the encryption for my own use, then it becomes DRM and that’s problematic.

  20. @IamME
    Legal protection is not what defines it as DRM. It is their use of it to control access. Both when (as you said) or where you can watch it. The DRM on DVDs is specifically designed to control where by dividing the planet up in 7 distinct markets. DVD’s from these markers are specifically designed (along with the players) to NOT play DVDs from other markets. That IS DRM! I’ve had to rip several imported DVDs I have purchased through Amazon.co.uk, using software which under the proposed new legislation, would be illegal.

    But your right. I have no problem with their use of DRM. I have serious issues with laws telling me I have to respect it.

  21. @Darryl
    Good Point. I hadn’t considered the region coding. I haven’t had to think of it for while since I have a region-free player…which would also become illegal. It might be a good time to run out and get another one just to have on-hand since after C-32 reborn, we won’t, legally, be able to buy them anymore in Canada. Anti-innovation? They’re pretty cheap on eBay. Off brand region-free players are usually less than $60.

  22. Good lord, people — warrantless searches? Spying? Have you never heard of regulatory inspection? Are you also angry that automobile manufacturers must have their equipment inspected by regulators (spied upon in warrantless searches!) to make sure it won’t kill or maim their employees?

    I repeat, as long as they don’t break the law…

    I’m well aware of the thin and precious line between individual rights and the law. It’s front and centre in most freedom of expression disputes. There are no easy ways to define it, and my position is that one should almost always err on the side of individual rights. Copyright, for instance, protects an individual’s right to say “no” where their own creative work is concerned.

    Crockett, please, who are the pinions in your analogy, and why are there lots of them? What then is the rack?

  23. Regulatory inspection
    That is a different issue, it is a safety issue, which I clearly stated as an exception. It’s also much more akin to an audit than it is spying or searching. But, again, it’s a much different issue when safety is concerned.

    “I repeat, as long as they don’t break the law…”

    But they’re trying to to have the law changed so they can do thing they cannot LEGALLY do today and should not ever legally be able to do.

    John, don’t be so naive. They don’t want to monitor our Internet connections to ensure our safety, they want to monitor us to ensure we’re all good little girls and boys and that’s not good enough. They can’t tap my phone line without just cause and a court ordered warrant. They can’t enter my home without just cause and a court ordered warrant. Why should monitoring my Internet usage be any different? Currently a warrantless search is not admissible in court. If we make exceptions for the recording industry, it opens up Pandora’s box. They are still corporations, they are not government, they aren’t even government affiliated. They are not law enforcement. If warrantless access is allowed to stand for the RIAA/MPAA/CRIA, then that sets a dangerous precedent that if one corporation is allowed such access, then why not others? How about Google? Why not Microsoft? How about Electronic Arts? Hell, I could set up a corporation and demand the same information under the same precedent. It would become the Internet equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. When personal information is involved, it must have just cause and court oversight…period.

  24. Degan,
    So now you are equating inspections to ensure safe working conditions and warrantless searches?
    Hmmm, one is to protect the lives of workers and one is protect the interests of a corporation… Yup definitely the same.


  25. “I have a region-free player…which would also become illegal.”

    Not to mention the ability to play a DVD in a GNU+Linux operating system.

  26. Crockett says:

    Why sign away most of your pay and control for so little or nothing?
    @Degen “Why should a successful company not fight to protect its rights and the rights of the brilliant artists it represents, even as it builds business in other areas?”

    Are you sure it actually is the same company fighting to protect the rights of it’s artists that is building business in other areas? Or is it a different type of endeavor all together by people who refuse to sign up for those ‘lucrative’ contracts?

    The labels have lost their main purpose as promotion is no longer their sole purview. You can be absolutely horrible but the whole world knows who Rebecca Black is.

  27. I’m well aware of the thin and precious line between individual rights and the law.
    But John, you come across as seeming to think rights are only important if it works in your favor or that of your friends. Warrantless searches are fine as long as it turns up a score for the media industry?

    Are not rights of privacy and due process on your list?

  28. Marvin Goldberg says:

    need help from smart minds
    My band was given the opportunity to be the opening act for a prominent international touring artist. The problem is they wont pay the band a penny, as is often the case, saying “do you want the opportunity or dont you?” . If we were signed to a label, they would have funded our tour, but because we are an independant band we have to raise funds ourselves in order to perform the shows. Does anyone think the bank will lend me money for my somewhat promising business venture? We will need to send 4 band members plus 2 assistants to europe for a month. Hotel and airfare will be very expensive, as we are playing 15 shows that require air travel to attend. The tour will last 30 days. We have to pay for 180 hotel rooms (6×30) plus 96 air fares. I fear that the bank will laugh at my proposal. Can anyone make any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Marvin

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