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Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Dec 6, 2004.
I just read an interesting article in the NY Times regarding a recent study of file sharing.
Well, swell. Maybe there is an unexpected answer to the question of whether downloading cuts into sales and consequently dimishes profits. That is a question for business-operators.
The question for ARTISTS is whether we get to control the dissemination of our creative product. This report is like saying, "It doesn't matter if you steal one jelly-bean because no one will lose money." WRONG. Downloading without permission is wrong whether it costs me money or not.
I don't disagree with your position on the ethical side of things. Personally, I have never downloaded one of the things--in part because I don't have enough sense to figure out how but mainly because I see it as taking money from someone else.
I would have assumed that profits/income would have been drastically cut by the napster phenomenon. It just struck me as interesting that a study strongly suggests this is not the case.
I haven't read the article yet but from some of the other discussions I've heard on the topic a lot of points were brought up.
1. There are a lot of people who trade music they don't even listen to. They're sort of like anarchists or virus writers who do thing just because they can and it's fun and it doesn't seem like it hurts anyone, but it's illegal so there's a bit of a thrill in it for them. The point being that a LOT of the music downloaded illegally is never even listened to and just so, never would have been purchased, so their estimates of the financial impact of downloading have always been very high.
2. A lot of people became fans of artists they never would have heard of otherwise, and ended up purchasing albums they couldn't find online.
3. The music industry got a lot of press from the whole situation ( and there's no such thing as bad press in the long run, even tho the industry was not painted in the best light and a LOT of their bad practices were brought out into the light of day). But music is now more popular than it has ever been, so for example, if music was (for round numbers) a $1 billion industry 15 years ago, and today it's a $3 Billion industry, but $0.5 Billion is lost to downloading, well they are still making 150% more than they were then which is a HUGE market grwoth for any industry.
So in the end what many people say is that downloading is wrong and illegal, but it's revitalized the industry and ingrained it into the life of a generation.
I agree entirely, but it is also the case that record labels often seek to control the dissemination of the artists' product, often against their wishes. A lot of large, established acts who have come out against p2p filesharing (eg Metallica) have done so as they have (financially) a lot to lose from diminished record sales. Conversely, less well known acts (eg Wilco) are in favour as it increases their profile. While a record label obviously has the right to govern its artists as it sees fit, should it inhibit the right of smaller bands to disseminate their creative product to the widest audience?
On a personal note, as a grad student in constant penury, I would often download songs to see if an album was worth my money before buying it, and I have bought many records I would not otherwise have done by this method. However the poor quality of most of the files obtained from p2p networks makes it difficult to imagine actually listening to them repeatedly rather than just buying the CD! Oh, and now I'm working and have dragged myself above the poverty line I still "try before I buy" - does this make me a bad person?
Not if you do it the right way. There are a lot of new systems in place where you can LEGALY download a music track or full album and it will let you listen to it 3 times and no more after which you can buy the rights to listen to it forever or just delete the file, since it won't play again. The P2P networks and such are illegal for downloading copywrited works that the owners do not want shared in that maner, no matter what your intentions. It's kind of the same as saying "I'm going to go rob the bank to see if I need some money, and if it turns out I do need the money then I'll go in and withdraw it from my account and give it back to them." If Wilco or other artists are OK with it then that's fine, but you will find them in the legitimate download arena also, like iTunes, Amazon, etc.
But it doesn't necessarily make you a bad person, you're just skating an ethical line many people chose to ignore.
I assume you're tongue's in your cheek. (Your tongue is not in my cheek and I thank you for that.)
Seriously, though: So many bands and labels let us download or stream a snippet. That's perfectly legal and perfectly proper.
I capture boatloads of streams, for my personal use and not for circulation. To me, that's proper because the artist has either a) chosen to put the music out there for me or b) "chosen" to sign his rights away.
It's all but impossible to deeply engage the issues related to morality of obtaining product signed-away by a musician to a label. Essentially, none of us have complete freedom of choice in our economic lives.
Oh well -- gotta back to work.
Not quite the same - money is money regardless, but dropping $20-30 on a CD (I was a grad student in the UK where CDs are more expensive) only to find out that 80% of it is dross is no fun.
There are many channels through which legal music downloads can be obtained, however many of them are very limited - Amazon has a lot of stuff, but not ususally so much from bigger artists, and iTunes/Real whoever else are all operating the same b0rked Digital Rights Management (ie you can pay us to download this song, but then we say you can only listen to it on computer A or mp3 player B - how about if a record label sold CDs you could only play on their branded CD player? would they sell?) The whole issue of music copyright is a pretty interesting one, just as it is interesting to note that this type of argument has been had many times before, back to the days when pianists argued that pianola rolls were removing their ability to make a living
If you are interested, check out this lecture given by a guy who knows a lot more about it than me:
I could be wrong, but I think it's actually illegal to video tape shows on TV, or tape shows on the radio - the TV companies broadcast shows, but by doing so, they don't give up their rights to those shows, so ripping internet streams is another similarly grey area.
This is part of the problem with much of the current debate over copyright and DRM - it can't distinguish between people making personal copies for their own private use, and people making copies to fileshare or hawk on street corners. I for one will be interested to see where it all goes, but ultimately filesharing is not going to go away, and just as pianola rolls, radio, cassettes, CDRs and all the other advancing technologies that record companies have freaked out about over the years haven't destroyed recorded music as we know it, I don't think filesharing will either.
I have no problem with filesharing. I have learned of so many amazing musicians through filesharing which = buying CDs which I would have never bought + going to see gigs of those musicians. It is a great tool for music education. And if I really like the music, I WILL buy an audio-CD, which sounds better than any mp3, and which has nice packaging.
The RIAA brainwashed the public into thinking that this is a bad thing, because they couldn't sell as many million of their Spritney Bears Cds.
David Bowie said, "let them download, we have enough money already......."
I think I need more coffee......
Amen bro! mp3s are all well and good, but I like having a CD with all its associated liner notes etc. from which I learn more about artists, their collaborators, producers, gear etc. etc.
So much of our society is based on the fact that by and large, the majority of people are honest, having the RIAA (and now the MPAA) tell us that we're all crooks is a bit rich. Yes there are bad people who will use p2p for bad things, but overall I think most people (such as our good selves ) will use it honestly.
I also don't wanna hear any more record companies or the RIAA talk about "supporting artists". The only thing they care about is their own damn paycheck, NOT musicians.
Nobody cared to find Henry Grimes all these years and take him out of poverty with a royalty cheque. I wonder how many sessions with him had been reissued in the meantime.......
Yes, you could be wrong, in fact you are.
US courts decided many years ago that taping TV and radio shows for personal use is 100% legal.
It's distributing these recordings without permission that's illegal.
What's now being argued by media companies is that while you have the right to make copies they need not make it possible for you to do so (i.e. copy protection on DVDs, restricting access to ripping technology, etc.).
As Reported in JazzTimes (Jan/Feb 2003):
Marty Bandier (head of EMI Music Publishing) discovered and distributed more than $80,000 in royalties to Blue Mitchell's widow, Thelma Mitchell.
"Fungii Mama" was sampled by Basement Jaxx for a song on its 2001 CD, "Rooty". It also ended up in Intel Ads.
Up until that time, Ms. Mitchell was living on her Social Security checks.
As far as "royalties" for Henry (or any other musician who worked as a sideman on a recording), what royalties are you talking about? A sideman gets paid a straight amount for doing a recording, the only "royalties' involved are for the leader of the date or for the publishing company of the compositions used on the date. if one of the musicians created arrangements (which are not copyrightable), they generally were paid lump sum seperately.
Now I'm not saying that record companies have not nor continue to screw musicians who don't bother to take care of themselves, but it's naive to say that if record companies STOP making money because everybody's stealing their product that they'll continue to record musicians out of some sense of artistic responsibility.
I could be wrong, but I think it's actually illegal to video tape shows on TV, or tape shows on the radio - the TV companies broadcast shows, but by doing so, they don't give up their rights to those shows, so ripping internet streams is another similarly grey area. No it's not. You CAN make copies (generally defined as "scholarly use") of copyrighted material, you just CANNOT DISSEMINATE IT FOR PROFIT. You can't take somebody else's intellectual property and make money from it without giving them some of the money. It's as simple as that. When you play somebody's tune in a bar, generally that bar has paid to a performing rights society (and the bigger the metropolitan area, the more heavily that's enforced). When you put somebody's tune on a recording that you sell, you generally have paid for mechanical rights to do so. If I make o caopy of a tune to reherase and play, that's fine. if I make a copy of a bunch of tunes and bind them and sell them, I should be paying royalties to the publishers of those tunes. Who, in turn, pay the composers.
So you can buy a CD and make a copy of a tune. But as soon as that goes on a filesharing site, that gets a revenue stream from selling advertising, mailing lists whatever, that entity is making money off of the intellectual property of another person. And unless they are giving that person money, or that person has given them leave to do so, THEY ARE STEALING.
You walk into a bakery, they got a little tray up by the register with some little cut up pieces of lavender cucumber scones. WHich they are giving away because they want people to try them cause they think they are good and if people try them, they'll come back and buy them. But that does NOT mean you can go behind the counter and grab whatever you want because "if I like it, I'll buy a dozen."
Way to go Mrs. Mitchell. Hope more follow suit.
Sorry Ed. I'm kinda talking about other related topics through this thread....I'm a bit off topic without telling anyone.
I think I shot myself in the foot imagining that the record companies should be humanitarian in their efforts. No...wrong planet for me.
Apologies, as a recent immigrant I am not yet completely familiar with the intricacies of the US legal code
Having actually thought about it I think there was a case (Sony vs. ??) that established the 'fair use' law with regard to home video taping and extended to other recording media which is currently under scrutiny. (I am fairly certain that it is still illegal in Britain [my home country] to tape TV/radio shows however, whatever your intended use.)
So, to take the law to its logical extreme, if I so desired I could buy a CD, make 1000's of copies and distribute them for free as I saw fit, thereby decimating the sales of said CD, and bankrupting the record company.
I'm confident that the record company in question could make a case for your giveaway exceeding any "scholarly use" clause.
...but I don't believe the biz when it says illegal downloading is costing them all this dough. Typically they'll point to declining revenues and sales and put the load right on download. I think there are least two other much better reasons to account for their woe:
demographics -- there are relatively fewer young folk around now that the Baby Boom has peaked, and its Echo has had its Nirvana and everything; and,
really, really crappy music; I'm not anti-pop music, far from it. But let's get serious, where are all the good tunes these days?
Agreed, but if I was wealthy enough to do it in the first place, I probably wouldn't care what the record company thought...
How do they get away with selling VCRs and cassette recorders in the UK, then?
That's not personal use any more. You can make the 1000s of copies if you like for your own use (one for the car, one for work, whatever) but you can't legally distribute them whether for profit or not.
This is a very important distinction for musicians, since we'll often copy a recording and give it to bandmates so they can learn the music. We'll also write up charts of copyrighted material and hand them out to bandmates. Technically, this is all illegal but most of us do it anyway.
This was the original purpose of this thread. The article linked in the first post offers another take on the conventional wisdom that record companies/artists are losing millions due to file sharing. In a nutshell, the article describes objective research suggesting that file sharing has a minimal impact on music sales. I found that interesting.