[LINK] Is copyright dead? [WAS: Special Report: The Future Of File Sharing]

Chris Gilbey chris at perceptric.com
Sun Jun 7 13:40:52 EST 2009

Three issues raised by Kim and others in the thread

Artists Rights; Payola; Radio vs P2P, Rip-Off¹s

Payola happens in the US. Has done for years, but not in Australia (as far
as I know). Having said that, there are reasons that some people are more
influential than others in every field: the occasional dinner, bottle of
wine, and those other more nefarious bonding rights of passage that take
place in professional football clubs are also present in the music industry
as they are in other more prosaic fields of endeavour. In fact I was
surprised that when that whole thing with the Bulldogs hit the media that
there wasn¹t a sudden expose of rock¹n¹roll excess on the road...

³Radio pays, P2P doesn¹t². Well lets put this in perspective. It was only in
the late 70¹s or early 80¹s that a deal was negotiated between the radio
stations in Australia and the Record Companies for a Performance Royalty to
be paid by radio for the use of recorded works. Up to then the radio
stations had paid APRA for the right to reproduce the songs on the air. It
had long been argued by the radio stations that they provided a marketing
function to the record industry that aided them in monetizing their content
via the sale of the records promoted by radio. That sounds to me, awfully
much like what people involved in P2P claim right now. So what we have here,
I would suggest, is a situation where judgement is being made on rights and
wrongs based on looking at a moment in time ­ now ­ rather than a trend over
many decades. Also let¹s not forget that the fees paid are based on a
percentage of ad revenues. I would posit that as P2P networks move from the
underground they will start to become more involved in revenue generation
rather than being revolutionaries. At that time there will need to be
negotiated agreements between content owners and P2P providers. It will
require all of them to come to the table and be flexible and try to
understand that if P2P networks are not legitimized that ultimately the only
people who will lose will be the creative people.

The content owners, per se, won¹t lose out. They will resort to suing as a
tactic, and then as and when they win their gains will go straight to the
bottom line. It would be highly unlikely that they would take a position of
distributing a win from a law suit across the catalogue that they represent.
And if they did, it would only cause arguments and create unfortunate
precedents (in their view). So the songwriters and artists will sit at the
bottom of the heap.

³Rip-Offs². I am sure that there are rip offs. Have to say that I don¹t know
of any case of:

 ³With copyright as it is now we see artists get ripped off by publishers
all the time². 

Artists are signed to record companies. Songwriters are signed to
publishers. So though the artist and the writer may be the same person, the
deals are different. And though the entity that they sign to may be owned by
the same corporation, the management is normally different. As noted earlier
in the thread, companies that take risks want a good return on their
investment. Artists and/or writers that feel that they need the
distribution/promotional clout or the creative input or the validation of a
record company or the administrative or creative value add of a publisher do
so of their own free will. Personally I think that with the reduction in
cost of tools for recording that is present in the market now, there should
be no real need to go to a record company for initial finance. But what
record companies do very well is to understand the marketplace and its
vagaries. So they can be pretty useful when an artist and his/her/their
manager are somewhat untried at the game of promotion...

³Artists Rights²

I think that the music companies tend to roll out this phrase just before
indulging in an Orwellian misinterpretation of the true facts. What we
really need to do is to focus on fan/consumer rights.

If you go into Amoeba Records in San Francisco any day of the week, you will
see people browsing racks of 2nd hand CDs that they purchase, take home,
burn and then bring back to trade in to repeat the whole exercise. That is
according to my understanding, legal, since you are allowed to keep a back
up copy of the content that you buy. I believe that most people forget that
they are supposed to deleted the back up file if they sell the original
piece of recorded media.... It is legal to download content where the
copyright is licensed under Creative Commons, but not if it isn¹t. How is
anyone supposed to know which piece of content they are allowed to download
and which they are not? And the content companies don¹t want to see the
introduction of legislation that puts a levy on blank discs/hard drives etc,
because they don¹t want to legitimise their use.

The problem is absolutely that the content companies don¹t want to deal with
the reality of the marketplace. They all spout Ayn Rand free market
economics, but at the end of the day, they want to control the game to only
be played the way that they used to work before digital.

It is a P2P world, and everyone needs to figure out the business models that
will function in that new environment.

Content companies are saying that this is in fact what they are doing, by
trialling different concepts for monetization in different countries. But
the one thing that they are not doing is acknowledging the possibility that
P2P is a promotional tool, just like radio....

End of rant!




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