There has been a lot of ink spilled over the recent DOJ ruling regarding the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. I’d like to go into it in depth.
If you want to dive right in, you could do worse than to read the many, many comment submissions on the DOJ’s website. In fact, I sent one in myself (PDF).
But as an introduction, I’d like to describe the consent decrees themselves, and briefly go into why they exist. Continue reading
I recently read an article on “The Best Page In The Universe,” the venerable website started by Maddox, a.k.a. George Ouzounian. I only check it sporadically, so I missed this when it was first posted.
The article is called It’s time Hollywood kissed Google’s ass. It is worth reading in its entirety, but here are what I think are the good parts:
For all the constant bitching we hear from production companies and studios about piracy, no other company is doing as much to protect copyrights as Google. Companies like Viacom constantly mine the Internet for viral videos they can use for cheap content, while simultaneously filing billion dollar lawsuits. When people post their [Viacom’s] content on YouTube, they file takedown requests and shut down YouTube channels. But when they do it for millions of dollars, it’s okay[…]
Without a site like YouTube: the video market would be fragmented and thousands of smaller sites would take its place. Or worse, a competitor in a nation that doesn’t give a shit about US copyright laws. YouTube is Hollywood’s biggest ally. It’s time for Hollywood to loosen the reins because content creators everywhere are starting to get pissed off with these excessive and superfluous takedown requests.
If you want to see a video where he expounds on this idea, with lots of metal music in the background, watch: YouTube is the reason Hollywood still exists.
Be forewarned: in case you didn’t already know, Maddox is famous (or notorious) for his salty language and over-the-top persona.
So, apparently I am not the only one who realizes that John Degen is full of crap.
Rute Correia has written a reaction to Degan’s 5 Seriously Dumb Myths About Copyright the Media Should Stop Repeating, in which he attacks copyright”myths” that are anything but.
Correia’s article is called 5 Seriously Important Facts about Copyright the Media Should Keep on Repeating. It is worth reading.
And, for comparison, you can also re-read my article, John Degen Loses Argument Against Straw Man.
So, today I just sent some comments to the U.S. Copyright Office regarding issues with the DMCA, and how to fix them. I used the form at takedownabuse.org in order to do it.
Yes, I know the deadline passed over a week ago. (It’s been a busy month.) I fully expect the comment to be ignored. But supposedly the takedownabuse.org folks are turning late submissions into a petition, so who knows, maybe it will make a small difference.
So, without further ado, here is the comment. Continue reading
Sharky Laguana is still advocating against Spotify’s royalty model. His latest post on Medium is called Streaming Music is Ripping You Off. As you can guess from the title, it’s not an exercise in subtlety. According to Laguana, streaming music services like Spotify are saying “Your choices don’t count, and you don’t matter,” and that “You Are Worthless.”
Just as I stated in Sharky Laguana and “Fair” Spotify Royalties, I believe (along with others like David Touve) that Laguana’s numbers don’t add up. He also consistently uses loaded terminology (“click” vs. “listen”), false dichotomies (“10,000 fans who stream a song once, or one fan who streams it 10,001 times”), and other rhetorical mistakes. It is not an article that is making an argument; it is an article that is meant to be inflammatory.
In it, he attempts to generate outrage for a campaign called “Silent September.” This is the plan: “This September, when you aren’t listening to music, put your favorite indie artists on repeat, and turn the sound down low.” The intent is to “make the problem so visible that the major labels feel it would be better to switch to a different system where this kind of manipulation isn’t possible.”
He also wrote a FAQ for that campaign. And, since I already wrote an article controverting his numbers, I thought it would be more fun to do a “FAQ” of my own.
On July 14th of this year, Rethink Music released a report called “Fair Music: Transparency And Payment Flows In The Music Industry.” The report is available to anyone who provides a name and email address, and can be downloaded here:
Rethink Music is an initiative of the Berklee College of Music, specifically their Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. Their goal is to explore options in the music business; they’re hardly anti-copyright crusaders, and their focus is on working artists.
Yet, the Trichordist has spent multiple blog posts attacking them. In the end, their attitude seems to be this: “You don’t attack digital music services enough, so we’ll attack you.” And in the process, Trichordist made many claims that were misleading, and sometimes downright bizarre.
As you probably know, our frosty neighbor to the North is considering a bill that would extend the copyright of sound recordings. The always-excellent Michael Geist has been covering the topic extensively.
It should be noted that the copyright extension was inserted into the general budget with absolutely no public input or debate. (In this, it resembles the language that then-staff-attorney Mitch Glazier snuck into a 1999 U.S. bill, that would steal the copyrights of all musical recording artists. Yes: the Mitch Glazier that is currently Senior Executive Vice President of the RIAA.)
It should also be noted that nobody gave any indication that it was an issue. As Geist explains in his article The Great Canadian Copyright Giveaway:
Term extension for sound recordings and performances was nowhere to be found among the thousands of submissions to the 2010 copyright consultation, it was not discussed in the 2002 Canadian roadmap for copyright reform, and groups like the Canadian Independent Record Production Association and the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada did not raise it in their submissions on copyright reform. The music industry’s form letter did not discuss term extension and it was not an issue that was prominently raised in the 2012 copyright reforms. In fact, just last year the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage conducted a major review of the music industry in Canada with dozens of witnesses taking the time to appear or submit briefs. The final report and the government’s response never raise the term of protection for sound recordings and performances as a concern.
Geist goes into great detail about how this was almost entirely due to back-room lobbying by Music Canada (the Canadian version of the RIAA).
Unfortunately, for those who keep track of copyright policy, none of the above is either shocking or unusual. What is, however, is the story that major publishers have blocked competitors from pressing public domain sound recordings – and screwed over songwriters to do so.
April 23rd was the anniversary of the deaths of Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Garcilaso de la Vega, and in celebration, UNESCO has declared that day World Book Day. It is also called “World Book and Copyright Day,” but I don’t think the term is appropriate, since none of those authors’ works were ever under any form of copyright.
Someone who does think the term is appropriate is John Degan. This should not be any surprise: Degen is an outspoken copyright maximalist. He is currently Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada, and Chair of the International Authors Forum; he was formerly Executive Director of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, and Communications Manager for Magazines Canada.
So, Degen decided to write an article called 5 Seriously Dumb Myths About Copyright the Media Should Stop Repeating. Here’s the first problem with that article: nobody in the media is actually repeating the “myths” he’s supposedly debunking. Here’s the second problem: all of the “truths” that he uses to debunk these “myths” are misleading, one-sided, or flat-out wrong. Even when he’s arguing against his own straw man, he loses.
I haven’t posted much here recently. However, one of the articles I was working on was about the disagreement between Zoë Keating and YouTube, in advance of the launch of their Music Key service. (Tl;dr version: Google’s terms are not good, but neither are they “bullying” or a “shakedown,” as the anti-Google crowd has said.)
This is not that article.
Last Thursday (the 19th), Keating’s husband died from complications related to his cancer. I don’t know Keating personally, but I’ve always respected her outlook and attitude. I can only imagine the horrible things she must be going through right now.
So, I want to convey my sympathies to her, and to members of her and her husband’s family.
If you feel the same, then please consider donating to her, to help her and her family get through this trying time. Keating has set up a “donate” button on her website:
Once again, my condolences.
For those who don’t know (which is probably all of you), my brother is a programmer. He’s been one for many years, and has worked at a wide variety of software companies (including Amazon, Yahoo!, and Avid). A couple of months ago, he got hired at Google, working on the Android platform.
This is cause for celebration. The work he’s doing sounds interesting, he’s making a very good living, and from what I’ve heard, Google has a great work environment. It does, however, present an interesting conundrum for this blog.