Real Censorship | nycRUEN

During the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), critics of the legislation portrayed its process of identifying foreign black market domains and then blocking them from gaining easy profits from, and access to, the US online audience, as “censorship” — full stop.

It bothers me that representatives from Google or the EFF, Reddit, etc. are so quick to lump in the attempt to protect artists rights with the political censorship of China or Iran. It is entitlement of the privileged at its worst and demonstrates to me how desperate some people are to excuse freeloading by any means necessary. But, the wonders of technology simply do not excuse clear cases of exploitation.

READ THE FULL POST AT nycRUEN:
http://nycruen.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/real-censorship/

Slaves of the Internet, Unite! | The New York Times

A familiar figure in one’s 20s is the club owner or event promoter who explains to your band that they won’t be paying you in money, man, because you’re getting paid in the far more valuable currency of exposure. This same figure reappears over the years, like the devil, in different guises — with shorter hair, a better suit — as the editor of a Web site or magazine, dismissing the issue of payment as an irrelevant quibble and impressing upon you how many hits they get per day, how many eyeballs, what great exposure it’ll offer. “Artist Dies of Exposure” goes the rueful joke.

READ THE FULL STORY AT THE NEW YORK TIMES:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/slaves-of-the-internet-unite.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

BitTorrent 99% Infringing, 100% Disinformation… now with Ads.

We’ve reported before on BitTorrent’s claim that they are “not designed for piracy” despite multiple studies and research finding over 99% infringing content being distributed using it.

The latest comes to us from AdLand.tv who are offering commentary on BitTorrent’s recent move into outdoor advertising that first appeared in Gizmodo.

The opening of Gizmodo’s article reads thusly:

“Torrenting” is kind of a dirty word. It makes you think piracy, doesn’t it? Well it shouldn’t. Torrenting isn’t illegal. It’s not even morally ambiguous. It’s just a way to send data, and it’s awesome.

Yes. That’s right. Keep telling yourself that. Guns don’t kill people. People do. It’s not the syringe, it’s the heroin. It’s not the file sharing platform enabling copyright infringement; its the millions of users using the site to infringe.

Baa, baa, baa, Sheeple.

As usual the folks at AdLand have a wonderful way of exploring the ad campaign by BitTorrent.

“The internet should be regulated people-powered.”

What other industry do you know that has near zero regulation except Big Tech? We have Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food And Drug Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to name a few of the regulators. Big Tech doesn’t even police itself because if it did, it would be losing money by the truck load. This isn’t even up for debate.

People-powered, my ass. In the immortal words of our dear president, we didn’t build that. Someone else did. They built the internet, the websites, the software. The search engines. The email programs. Just as someone else created the content you’re helping yourself to for free. Don’t fall for this “people-powered” bullshit at all. The artists and musicians (you know– the people) do not make money off torrent sites from the ‘exposure.’ This has been reported on ad nauseam. The only people who have the power are the Big Tech companies getting rich off of content they don’t own.

READ THE FULL POST AT ADLAND.TV:
http://adland.tv/node/156095#sJh2zH6EcHXqaxFB.99

Google’s Fallacious Piracy Self-Study (Part 1) | Music Tech Policy

The Context

Even if you discount the moral hazard involved with funding a study of yourself, the Google survey of Google’s involvement with piracy is a breathtaking document. I would suggest that the self-study rests on a number of core principles for Google’s business:

1. Nothing to See Here, Move Along: First and foremost is Google’s deep and abiding desire to deflect criticism in the press, avoid civil lawsuits and settle criminal investigations. It has both succeeded and failed at all three. The fact that a company tries to avoid these things is not special; the degree to which Google tries to manage them is quite special.

The self-study is itself an exercise in all three and supports the most important public perception that Google draws on daily to succeed in its consumer facing business: Sympathetic trust. To paraphrase an old California pol, you know all the bad they’ve done, but you like them anyway.

This magical thinking only lasts for so long. Whether its Eric Schmidt’s New York soundproof man-cave from which no scream can emerge, doing a favor for journalist Tom Brokaw by providing a private jet for a Silicon Valley speaking engagement with jet fuel subsidized by the American taxpayer, siphoning piles of data to the National Security Agency under circumstances the average citizen will probably never learn the details of, or paying a $500,000,000 fine for violating the Controlled Substances Act for indiscriminately promoting the sale of prescription drugs (e.g., to addicts and kids), the press and the public is starting to wake up to the game.

And not just the game, but the magnitude of the game. As a senior chief once said, sorry pal, the BS filter is full.

Read The Full Post At Music Tech Policy:
http://musictechpolicy.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/googles-fallacious-piracy-self-study-part-1/

Media Lecturers at London School of Economics Misquote Professor Danaher | MTP

Not only did the LSE lecturers fail to provide the proper context for the Danaher et al conclusions, they also missed what I believe to be the most important issue of all when it comes to ad supported pirate sites (which is all the big ones).

There are no lost sales. All sales are monetized. If they are going to analyze the economics of file barter, they should take a hint from Google’s UK policy manager: Ad supported piracy is big business.

And none of the money flows to the artists. Including the knighted ones who as a group probably added a zero to the UK GDP–and that is something that the London School of Economics should be able to actually measure accurately.

In case you were interested in what Professor Danaher actually said in his team’s study, you can watch this video from Canadian Music Week:

READ THE FULL POST AT MUSIC TECH POLICY:
http://musictechpolicy.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/media-lecturers-at-london-school-of-economics-misquote-professor-danaher/

“It’s Madness” Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on LSE Piracy Report

We’re not sure how The London School Of Economics (LSE) could get something so basic so wrong as to suggest that because a some contemporary major label and heritage artists may be making more money from live shows (arena concert grosses) that somehow basic artists rights are not important for protection.

The New Music Express reports that Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich get’s it right in response the the LSE’s shortsighted misunderstanding about artists revenue streams.

“T-shirts and tickets are nothing to do with ‘copyright and creation’, which is the supposed subject of this document.

I hope the government sees how ridiculous this document seems to people who make records.

The authors are ‘pro piracy’ and they wish to influence the UK government’s upcoming review of digital copyright law.

It’s madness.”

Indeed.

It appears that the LSE report would be suggesting that artists never should have been paid royalties from the distribution of recorded music because there have always been other ways to make money from music.

If one were to truly let this logic sink in, it would appear that the LSE is making a general argument against all copyright because the distribution of copyrighted works is only a loss leader to live performances, synchronization fees or endorsement deals. This is of course absurd on every level.

This lopsided logic from LSE seems to favor illegally operating internet corporations distributing music without consent or licenses. We know that there is a lot of money being made in the illegal distribution of music online and the LSE’s report seems aligned with the economic interests of those who knowingly exploit artists for profit.

We expect better from such a respected institution then to ignore the economic interests by companies and corporations that are profiting illegally from advertising supported music piracy.

Perhaps it’s this report in DigiDay (parent company The Economist) that says it best.

Visit the top torrent search engines, and you’ll find ad calls from Yahoo, Google, Turn, Zedo, RocketFuel, AdRoll, CPX Interactive and others.

According to AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, it’s an easy problem to fix, but ad companies are attracted by the revenue torrent sites can generate for them. Kelley said his company refuses to serve ads to torrent sites and other sites facilitating the distribution of pirated content. It’s easy to do technically, he said, but others refuse to do it.

“We want everyone to technically stop their customers from advertising on these sites, but there’s a financial incentive to keep doing so,” he said. “Companies that aren’t taking a stand against this are making a lot of money.”

Thankfully Jonathan Taplin and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab did some fantastic work earlier this year researching and studying how Ad Networks profit from piracy.

RELATED:

Over 50 Major Brands Supporting Music Piracy, It’s Big Business!

Copyright: The Inverted Human Pyramid | The Cynical Musican

You are no doubt aware of the hearings currently being undertaken by the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet – part of a major review of existing copyright law (and if not, I just told you). As can be expected in this enlightened (or, at least, interconnected) age – recordings are available on the web and I’ve been trying to catch up with the debate.

Whilst watching the hearing from two weeks ago (with representatives from the “rights holder side” present) I couldn’t help feeling that none of the witnesses was able to articulate just why copyright was so important to the nation as a whole – not just the small portion of it that actually owns marketable copyrights. Given that the House of Representatives represents all Americans, it would seem that such an explanation is deserved.

This got me thinking of how I would go about explaining it and I offer it for your reading pleasure.

READ THE FULL POST AT:
http://thecynicalmusician.com/2013/08/copyright-the-inverted-human-pyramid/

Record Labels Invest $4.5 Billion Annually In Artists… Pirates, $0… Any Questions?

So record labels invest in the careers of artists about $4.5 Billion annually in A&R and Marketing. Meanwhile, there are 200,000 infringing sites exploiting artists work and paying them nothing that we can see from the looks of the Google transparency report.

To be precise at the time of the writing of this post there are 281,340 infringing sites on the report with the #1 offender having received over 7.5 Million DMCA takedown notices! Seriously, 7.5 Million… and Google can’t determine that this is a site “dedicated or primarily used for infringement.” Wow.

FIRST DISCLAIMER:

Now look, we don’t always like record labels, but when we do, it’s because they are actually paying artists and investing capital into developing careers (hello Trent Reznor returning to a major label). Ninety percent of new releases financed by labels don’t recoup or break even, but the bands still gain the marketing and PR benefit from the labels investment after the deal ends (hello Thom Yorke and Radiohead).

SECOND DISCLAIMER:

Any wrong doing should be unacceptable. We’ve heard far to many stories of artists being exploited by record labels, publishers, managers, booking agents, concert promoters and a wide range of those offering services from radio promotion to independent PR and marketing. If anything, the internet has added to this list a whole new group of opportunists including the ad tech industry, pirate sites, cyber lockers and more.

So yes, any wrong doing against artists and creators should be unacceptable, even if it happens online.

So here’s some quick notes from the report published by the IFPI:

* Record companies’ total investment in A&R and marketing tops US$4.5 billion annually according to IFPI’s Investing in Music report

* Labels have maintained A&R spending at US$2.7 billion, representing 16 per cent of global recorded music revenues, despite the economic recession

* US$1 million to break a new artist in major markets

* More than 70 per cent of unsigned artists would like a recording contract according to two new surveys

Record companies remain the primary investors in artists, maintaining A&R spend despite declining overall revenues in recent years. Labels spent US$2.7 billion in 2011, only marginally down on 2008 (US$2.8 billion), despite an overall decline of 16 per cent in the trade value of the industry globally over the same period. Revenues invested in A&R increased from 15 to 16 per cent of industry turnover between 2008 and 2011.

Music companies invest a greater proportion of their global revenues in A&R than most other sectors do in research and development (R&D). Comparisons show music industry investment exceeding that of industries including software and computing (9.6%) and the pharmaceutical and biotech sector (15.3%). The comparisons are based on the European Commission’s 2011 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard.

Two new surveys, conducted in the UK and Germany in 2012, show more than 70 per cent of unsigned acts want a record deal, with marketing leading the perceived benefits of record company support.

Ok, then you have this… those who pay nothing, invest nothing, and pocket everything for themselves… this is the future you want? When artists complain about tiny payments from Spotify it’s important to note the reason why they can get away with paying so little, is because of all of those who pay nothing at all.

200kinfringingsitesAnd most of this is financed by Fortune 500 Companies flowing money through online ad networks like Google and others. The situation has even gained the attention of The White House, although we’ll see what good it does.

So if you want to get paid, focus on removing the bad actors from the marketplace and restoring fairness. Our hope has always been that the internet would in fact create a new middle class of professional musicians, by the means of their own choice. Unfortunately what we’ve seen is just more exploitation.

The Lie is Falling – Dr. Price sizes the Piracy Universe | Illusion Of More

In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch (Paul Newman) sits astride his horse outside the same boxcar of the same train he’s successfully robbed over and over.  Frustrated by the railroad owner’s ceaseless but futile attempts to thwart the hold-ups, Butch proclaims, “If he’d just pay me what he’s spending to make me stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him!”  Of course it isn’t true, is it?  Neither the character nor probably the real Butch Cassidy would likely have given up the life he knew for something as boring as just money.

If you wanted to watch this classic film directed by George Roy Hill right now, you could do so on Netflix or Amazon Prime or rent it from iTunes for four bucks. None of these innovations existed just a few years ago, and those who have repeatedly insisted that they “only use pirate sites because affordable, flexible, online alternatives don’t exist” are starting to sound a little dumb.  This is especially true as of yesterday, with the release of a new report by Dr. David Price of London-based NetNames, entitled Sizing the piracy universe.

READ THE FULL POST AT THE ILLUSION OF MORE:
http://illusionofmore.com/piracy_universe/

Third Nyan Cat Award For Web Based Idiocy: Cathy Caverly of Creative Commons.

Nyan Cat awards are given for outstanding achievement in disinformation, web myths and general web based idiocy.

I just read with some amusement this article in the UK Guardian whereby author Phillip Pullman rightly calls piracy “Moral Squalor”. But that’s not the part that’s funny. It’s the quote that they use for “balance” from Creative Commons Chief Cathy Caverly.

“By default, copyright closes the door on countless ways that people can share, build upon, and remix each other’s work, possibilities that were unimaginable when those laws were established.”

NO IT DOESN”T. IT JUST MEANS THAT YOU HAVE TO ASK PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR OF THE WORK IF YOU USE IT PUBLICLY AND/OR COMMERCIALLY EXPLOIT IT. HOW CAN ANY DECENT HUMAN BEING BE AGAINST THAT?

Permission is the foundation of civilization or have you forgotten that Ms Caverly?

But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Chief of Creative Commons would utter such idiocy. For they claim they offer a license “that lets creators take copyright into their own hands”. WTF? It actually does the opposite. Isn’t this a false statement? False advertising? Fraud? Reading that statement I can’t imagine there are NOT artists out there that unwittingly put their now valuable work into Creative Commons thinking they were gaining more control over their work when in actuality they were doing the opposite. I’m not a lawyer but isn’t there a problem misleading people in this manner?

Plain old normal copyright IS creators right to their works in their own hands.

Creative Commons licenses are a permanent surrendering of some or all of your copyrights as an artist. To use the same analogy these CC licenses take creators’ works from their hands.

Now some people see Creative Commons as a elaborate put up for a particular large Internet corporation that would like nothing better than to monetize every book, film, photograph and song without ever having to ask permission of the author. They often point to Sergey Brin’s (Google) financial support of the organization and the fact that his mother-in-law is the vice chair. Or they point out that their board is completely dominated by people with ties to technology companies and opponents of Copyright. I don’t agree with this. The pseudo-intellectual Creative Commons movement was afoot long before Google existed. Still one can certainly argue that Creative Commons are “useful idiots” and I won’t object.

But here is the question that no one is asking:

“Why are Creative Commons licenses even necessary?”.

For you can do everything you do with Creative Commons that you can do with old-fashioned-non-googly copyright! For instance I allow the non-commercial sharing of recordings of my bands live shows on the non-profit Internet Music Archive. There are thousands of our recordings on the internet music archive. All I had to do was state on our website that we allow this. Voila. Thousands of recordings appeared.

Neither do we object to fans posting ukele cover versions of “Take the Skinheads Bowling” on their facebook pages. And may I remind you that the Grateful Dead enacted their famous taping policy without a Creative Commons license?

Photographers who wish to freely share their photos in any manner commercial or non commercial may state so on their websites without using a Creative Commons license. Plus they have the added advantage of being able to change their minds later. Something that is not possible with a Creative Commons License.

Why is it left to me rather than a real journalist to point out that there is no point to Creative Commons licenses? Where are the grown-ups?

Well perhaps I’m too hasty. There may be ONE point to these Creative Common licenses:

They serve to confuse the public as to the true nature of copyright. And that looks suspiciously like propaganda to me. “Useful idiots” indeed!

Therefore we hereby present our 3rd Nyan Cat Award to Cathy Caverly of Creative Commons. Enjoy.