Roll Call : Musicians For An Ethical Internet

The conversation is now clearly about the unethical practices of corporations and companies profiting from the illegal exploitation of artists work without consent or compensation. As the 13 year war against Artists Rights has waged on, more and more artists are recognizing this fundamental truth, and speaking up.

Many artists are expressing the need for an Ethical Internet that should preserve all the rights and freedoms enjoyed in the physical world. Anyone who proposes that one set of rights (privacy, labor & fair compensation) must be sacrificed to protect another set of rights (freedom of speech), should be seriously questioned. Internet and tech companies need to innovate beyond the old model of illegally exploiting artists work as the basis for their unimaginative models and work to create new fair and ethical businesses.

Bono, Elton John, Eminem, Prince and others don’t need anything that Piracy is said to offer such as promotion, which is laughable at best. The Pirate Bay has made, and continues to make MILLIONS OF DOLLARS annually from artists via advertising (from Google) while providing no compensation to the artists what-so-ever. This is truly immoral and unethical, as well as being unacceptable as a legitimate business.

We hope that more artists will continue to speak up in favor of artists rights online in the pursuit of an ethical internet. What follows is a list of previous artists comments, compiled and attributed to their respective sources on the subject.

“…somebody should fight for fellow artists, because this is madness. Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it’s a sacred thing, so I’m a little offended. The Internet has emasculated rather than liberated artists…”

“My first question is this: Do people in the entertainment industry have the same rights as other Americans to fair pay for fair work?”

“The guy [Sean Parker] has $2.5 billion he made from figuring out ways to steal royalties from artists, and that’s the bottom line.”

“I am of the view that the unchecked proliferation of illegal downloading (even on a “non-commercial” basis) will have a seriously detrimental effect on musicians, and particularly young musicians and those composers who are not performing artists.”

“I think that shit is fucking bullshit. Whoever put my shit on the Internet, I want to meet that motherf***er and beat the shit out of him, because I picture this scrawny little dickhead going ‘I got Eminem’s new CD! I got Eminem’s new CD! I’m going to put it on the Internet.’ I think that anybody who tries to make excuses for that shit is a fucking bitch.”

“The idea of making a living from selling musical recordings is sort of a quaint idea and is no longer really feasible… But I do think that if music is going to be free, then sandwiches should also be free. There should be some consistency and we should learn to cooperate better.”

“…piracy is primarily motivated by greed – it’s a business, and apparently a very good one. There’s nothing wrong with someone making money, but if they are making money by commandeering and exploiting my work, and not even sharing any of those earnings with me to boot, then it shouldn’t be controversial to suggest their actions are less than admirable.”

“Theft of American products and ideas is no longer the hobby of teenagers with laptops; it’s big business, as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative warns in a recent report on the world’s most notorious illicit markets. And they’re not just stealing movies and music; they are stealing America’s jobs and  future.”

“Nobody’s making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google…It’s like the gold rush out there. Or a carjacking. There’s no boundaries.”

“I feel that what we artists were promised has not really panned out.  Yes in many ways we have more freedom.  Artistically this is certainly true.  But the music business never transformed into the vibrant marketplace where small stakeholders could compete with multinational conglomerates on an even playing field.”

“Just because technology exists where you can duplicate something, that doesn’t give you the right to do it. There’s nothing wrong with giving some tracks away or bits of stuff that’s fine. But it’s not everybody’s right. Once I record something, it’s not public domain to give it away freely. And that’s not trying to be the outdated musician who is trying to ‘stop technology. I love technology.”

“Make no mistake, however, that the culture that has been bred over the course of the last 10+ years of simply thinking that all music should be available for free is wrong, and immoral; plain and simple.This mentality has created an environment where it is more and more difficult for artists, particularly up-and-coming ones, to survive and sustain themselves. We, as artists, love and appreciate our fans more than you know. We know that we could not exist without you, but we don’t steal from you, not in any way, not ever. Wrong is wrong, no matter what color you paint it, or how you try to spin it.”

“No commercial gain may be sought by websites offering digital files of our music, whether through advertising, exploiting databases compiled from their traffic, or any other means.”

“What pisses me off is having over 91 percent of my personal intellectual property stolen, often before it even has the chance to be finished and released to the world. As a professional musician, a lot of time, hard work, and money goes into making a record. As an independent musician, that money comes directly out of my own pocket. ”

“Digital online piracy is making it nearly impossible for Canada’s emerging artists to make it”

“People are trapped in the culture where music needs to be free and you don’t need to pay for it… who are you to have the right to tell me that I shouldn’t demand payment or feel a certain way for seeing people put my music out there like that? If I chose to do that, that’s one thing. But I didn’t choose to do that. That music was stolen.”

“The world over, people are stealing music in its millions in the form of illegal file-sharing. It’s easy to do, and has become accepted by many, but we need people to know that it is destroying people’s livelihoods and suffocating emerging new British artists.”

“I could have been dropped from my record deal because so much was spent and so much of my album was leaked and not paid for. But luckily my label had great belief in me. File-sharing has had a very, very negative effect on my career, as it has on many others.”

In closing, perhaps this quote from Hemingway is also appropriate as food for thought:
“The individual, the great artist when he comes, uses everything that has been discovered or known about his art up to that point, being able to accept or reject in a time so short it seems that the knowledge was born with him, rather than that he takes instantly what it takes the ordinary man a lifetime to know, and then the great artist goes beyond what has been done or known and makes something of his own.” – Death in the Afternoon



4 thoughts on “Roll Call : Musicians For An Ethical Internet

  1. So if The Pirate Bay & Megaupload are making such inordinate piles of cash from advertising revenue, then why is no one in the music business copying the model (if it’s as good as we’re led to believe)?

    OK I’m playing devil’s advocate so go easy on me as I’m trying to figure out potential solutions

    An authorised royalty paying torrent tracker/file locker should be able to give stuff away for free and pay its royalties via ad revenue shouldn’t it?

    Being “legit” would mean its content is 100% reliable so should quickly kill off than the current non royalty paying sites where the content is often poor or has a nice hidden payload of a virus or two

    Being “legit” would also allow them to operate a “pay what you like” model in parallel so people who actually want to get involved in paying the artists they love, can donate and directly and specify who/what they are paying for.

    And like Shitify/Rapidshite the “legit” site could offer premium membership where people get quicker downloads/less ads/no waiting times.

    Requires a leap of faith from the artists into the world of “free”. Requires the “legit” site to pay proper royalties at an agreed level that isn’t peanuts. Requires the big labels to sit at the table and not sell their catalog down the river..

    How does that sound?

    1. Hi Rob.

      What you suggest is similar to what many on our team here would like to see. And indeed this idea is getting kicked around by many on both sides of this debate. Our thoughts are that with minimal or no legislation a system like this could be privately created. A sort of “fair trade” designated music sharing ecosystem. It would require some of the big actors like the search engines and ISPs to lend some support. For instance my google chrome browser already warns me if i’m about to visit a “dangerous” site, why not do something similar? Inform the user that “this site shares no revenue with the artist”. On the other hand a simple legislative remedy that allows the rights holder to go after the advertising revenue that supports the unlicensed sites.

      But first a cautionary tale. The strange but true story of Snocap.

      In 2003 Sean Fanning of Napster fame managed to get virtually all the major labels and publishers to license their content to something called Snocap. Snocap then would have “blessed” and legitimized any P2P services that wanted to participate. It would have created a “fair trade” file-sharing ecosystem. What happened? Not one P2P or other file sharing site agreed to participate. Basically Snocap was a carrot, but without a stick none of these services was gonna give up any of their revenue. Too bad. We wouldn’t be having this conversation now if things had worked out differently.

      I find it strange that there is almost nothing written in the tech blogosphere about this very important chapter in web history.

      But thanks rob. we appreciate your suggestions.

  2. Many musicians still have a memory of Lars Ulrich and the unfavorable push back he received from the pirati community. Times have changed and it will be the musicians, filmmakers and authors who will speak out and successfully expose illegal downloading’s destructive impact on their ability to pay their bills, feed their kids, pay their rent, etc.

    The distortion of the truth by the Pirati is palpable, speak your truth.

  3. Question – is there any legit “policing” authority to shut down known piracy sites? If so,
    one place to start is private university LAN’s. Both of my step-kids’ went to private colleges and both of them, much to our chargrin!!!, bragged about how “every” kid at the universities uploaded and downloaded their entire MP3 files. When we, as their musician parents(!) kept telling them that this was nothing short of theft, they continually replied that ALL of their friends did it and that the school’s LAN’s were air tight to outside control, e.g., no outside authority could do anything about it.
    The kids illegally share films, as well as music.
    It’s always made me sick, and I surely wish that someone would stop the universities’ practice of allowing this.

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