Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Inimical to the public good

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    Why would there be a lesser level of protection for my personal communications just because their over one sort of network and not another?

    Well that's a fair argument.

    The one that gets spouted here and elsewhere that "service providers shouldn't have to have some responsibility for how their service is used" is weak and has plenty of examples to counter it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    "I used to think that Michael Palin was the funniest Palin ...."

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    What exercises me is that buying music online is barely cheaper than going into a shop and purchasing the CD. Yet by my doing the former I have saved the record company all that CD burning, sleeve notes printing, jewel case assembly and distribution etc.

    I note that there is a new phenomenon whereby on iTunes etc you cannot buy individual songs from certain albums as people were cherry picking. I can see this as viable, but only if the price is reasonable.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I don't mind paying $17 for an album on iTunes, but I resent not being able to do the same thing I could do with my free copy or the CD - let my family listen to it, lend it to a friend, take it with me wherever I go, not have to worry whether it's going to play or not on different devices.

    Actually, that's not the practical problem I have with iTunes: I can bless five different computers and they'll sync to an unlimited number of iPods and iPhones. As DRM goes, it's not terribly irksome.

    My problem is the stupid industry war which sees the major labels try and beat down iTunes' dominance -- which was handed to it by virtue of DRM -- but not letting iTunes sell in a DRM-free format, and Apple will make only its DRM-free tunes available at a reasonable (256k) bitrate. It is a major pain in the ass for me.

    All of these things I can do with downloaded files - what you as a music distributor has to do to get my dollar is provide a better than free service. This isn't hard; as already mentioned here, metadata is a key feature, high resolution album art, lyrics, notes and trivia - all these are easy add ons using existing technolog

    Yup. Where are is the sleeve art? The liner notes?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I propose that lowering the $ cost of a legal download to something like $1 per album would make it more advantageous (i.e. less total cost) to legally download than illegally download.

    At $1 an album, though, it's not worth colllecting the money. eMusic is the closed I've come to the ideal download service. It has a great community and the MP3s will play on anything.

    It does, however, requite the commitment of a subscription. US$11.99 monthly for 30 tracks; US$19.99 for 75, etc.

    I do think Mark underrates the importance of the internet dynamic in selling records. Cut Off Your Hands are all over Hype Machine, and most probably without permission. But when it comes down to it, do you want to be on Hype Machine or not? The answer is totally yes.

    Personally, I infringe copyright all the time by sampling Hype Machine tracks. It doesn't cost the copyright owner anything for me to do that. And then I buy what I really like.

    I once had to point out to a famous uber-geek that the fact that he could buy an album for a buck on AllofMP3 was not a good thing -- because no one but the Russian mafia got the money -- and I was kinda shocked that he didn't quite get it. He seemed to think that the only good worth paying for was the server capacity, and it didn't matter who got the cash.

    Ditto for another uber-geek, who couldn't quite see that downloading an artist's whole career in one anonymous torrent was a kinda shitty thing to do.

    OTOH, as I have explained in the past, I was genuinely shocked by some of the RIANZ/IMNZ submission to the copyright amendment bill.

    I'm like, can't we all get along?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • mark kneebone,

    Hey Russell, one thing worth noting is that originally it was I Tunes who wanted to place DRM on the music it sold. It was its own unique DRM so the tracks wouldn't play on other players other than apple products. Also we do use the web extensively for promoting music, it is an amazing and wonderful tool to talk to many people in a way that doesn't treat them as a moron, particularly for genres that don't have any radio coverage (metal etc), but we are starting to stray into a different argument now, sites such as the one you have pointed out have taken it a step further than allowing people to grab music as they wish, they are actually selling advertising around it and making money from copyright they don't own, which is a whole step up from stealing something. They are actually providing a means to download music and profiting from those who choose to do so

    Mr Christie the reason I say the notice and notice take down action was unworkable was that they were proposing 28 days total from when an ISP was notified to when the person infringing copyright was given their second notice to remove content. 28 days is a very very long time before someone takes action and as we are all aware pulling something down after it has even just a small moment on the web is useless as it has already been copied and reposted, you have to stop them doing it in the first place if you are going to try at all

    Since Oct 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    So, just to broaden this out a little, does the Act also enable to people to allege copyright infringement for things such as databases?

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    they were proposing 28 days total from when an ISP was notified to when the person infringing copyright was given their second notice to remove content.

    Ah, so "completely unworkable" has simply become a timing issue. Any thoughts on a timeframe that is fair to all parties?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @Mark, re Hype Machine:

    but we are starting to stray into a different argument now, sites such as the one you have pointed out have taken it a step further than allowing people to grab music as they wish, they are actually selling advertising around it and making money from copyright they don't own, which is a whole step up from stealing something. They are actually providing a means to download music and profiting from those who choose to do so

    Woah. That's to completely underestimate the vision and skill of the college student who created Hype Machine, and the real and potential benefits it offers your industry.

    Hypem is an aggregator for hundreds of MP3 blogs (run by everyone from professional DJs to ordinary music fans). It presents posts to those blogs in real time, in such a way that the tracks posted are playable but not downloadable, but also allows users to click through to the original blog posts.

    Technically, it's quite a feat, given that the original tracks are strewn across a variety of download services -- there's some clever cacheing going on there. Hypem also adds links to buy every track or (if the track's not available to buy digitally, which is quite often the case with those zeitgeisty remixes) the artist on eMusic, iTunes and Amazon MP3. (When I filled in their user survey earlier in the year, I said that my main wish was to be able to purchase music there on site. It'll come.)

    The "Popular" list essentially represents what's on the go right now. No post can remain on it for more than three days. You can also drill down by most popular artists and blogs.

    The text at the top of the page says:

    "The Hype Machine follows music blog discussions.

    Every day, thousands of people around the world write about music they love — and it all ends up here."

    Some other dude described it thus:

    "It's like listening to the iPod shuffle that the zeitgeist carries around in his pocket"

    Yes, it carries some advertising -- up till recently, exclusively from independent labels and targeted releases on Amazon MP3. It's now part of the IndieClick ad network, which sells across a group of edgy, indie sites. Basically, it's the kind of audience you'd want to advertise your record to.

    I's just crazy to think of Hype Machine as being some sort of dodgy rip-off. I know local artists who find the blogs they want to send tracks to via Hype Machine, and the fact that those blogs are Hypem-indexed is actually a good part of their value.

    But in the end, the reason you'll eventually want to do business with it, or something like it, is that it engages and satisfies me, the guy who's been spending money with the music industry nearly every month for three decades. Actual fans who buy stuff deserve a listen.

    Phew ... vented!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    They are actually providing a means to download music and profiting from those who choose to do so

    And the music industry still can't get its collective head around monetizing the Internet?

    Oy vey.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Good vent, Russ.

    What I don't get is that there _have_ to be some people in the music industry who get the net, on sheer weight of numbers. Why do they make it so hard for themselves, and us?

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    be nice to the environment and buy that off itunes.

    SXCD disagrees.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    XKCD, dammit. Bloody typos.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The flaw in your analogy Mark is that if I steal your car you can no longer drive it (or sell it), if I steal your shirt you can no longer wear it (or sell it). If I copy your album I do not deprive you of the ability to sell it because these bits were made for copying.

    The phrase you are looking for is "non-exclusive and non-rival". But a more important word is "unenforceable". Technology has shifted the playing field, and made it impossible to stop people from copying and distributing music, TV, or any other digital information on the internet - and there's no way that jinn is getting back into its bottle. Pouting and screaming and throwing your shoe won't change this, any more than it saved the weavers from the mechanical loom, or human computers from electronic ones. The recording industry's business model is simply obsolete, deprecated, no longer supported by reality. Either its finds a new one, or they go out of business, EOFS.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    28 days is a very very long time before someone takes action and as we are all aware pulling something down after it has even just a small moment on the web is useless as it has already been copied and reposted, you have to stop them doing it in the first place if you are going to try at all

    You might as well try to hold back the sea (yes, yes, I know, OK?). Eventually someone will post your material, and if people like it, it will spread.

    The technology exists. Better to learn to cope with it than waste time wailing about it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    Unfortunately for the music industry, a revolution occured that broke the (effective) monopoly of physcial distribution and wiped away much of the process by which demand was monetised. The risks of physical distribution have been overcome by scalable infrastructure and a digital product. (ignorning the promotion activity)

    With the playing field radically altered, consumers are a lot less keen to buy at the old monopoly price.

    Sadly for musicians & the recording industry (as distinctly separate from distribution) the huge reduction in the saleable price of a track, has impacted the perception of value for their labours.

    For the distributors, the cost of their protection/regulation far outweighs the benefit which they seek to derive. Their market changed and they have failed to adapt. They are lumbering bohemeths in an age where light & nimble will get the job done.

    I wonder if the book publishers are trembling at the prospect of the e-book breaking their physical monopoly in a similar way, or perhaps they are salivating, waiting for their industry's iPod moment. Perhaps it's a combination of both.

    Belgium • Since Nov 2006 • 464 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I kind of think of it as - the asteroid has hit, nuclear winter is kicking in, the dinosaurs are in denial, they're running around claiming they're OK because they have lawyers - they can afford lots of lawyers - meanwhile the mammals are hiding in the cracks evolving

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Woah again. Let's not be raggin' on Mark or the rest of IMNZ. They are actually the good guys -- although I'm still a bit surprised by his last post.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    there have to be some people in the music industry who get the net, on sheer weight of numbers

    i think you'll find that they will be the companies that make money because they aren't carrying rights-enforcement costs, or spending money trying to ensure they can externalise to ISPs...

    that hype machine example of RBs is a great example of the approach i was hypothesising.

    all the bloke has done is changed his business model from "distribution" to "collation". sounds to me like the brother read here comes everybody.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • mark kneebone,

    Russell-I use Hype machine it is a good service and I find some good tunes on it-my old promo manager used to live on this site and blast it through the office. My comment was more aimed towards sites that are using content to build value on other peoples copyright without compensation to the people who create it. Examples are sites such as You Tube, google video, Kazaa etc. I realise that I am about to open up an entire world of pain by saying this but if you are going to use peoples copyrights to bring people to a site and then advertise around it then you should pay for the content you are profiting from

    I am fully aware that we as rights holders gain promotional value from people seeing our clips and then become interested in the act and maybe purchasing the CD as a result or going to a show. But this is not a new model or argument. In every western territory in the world radio use the same examples and pay a fee for it, usually a percentage of gross. Now in some cases the 4 Major Labels have done deals to compensate under threat of being sued, but the Independents (28% of the world market and 85% of the music released in NZ) are left out. This is a simple divide and conquer strategy from the media companies so that they don't have to deal with paying Indies.

    For the past two years I have been on the board of an organisation called Merlin (www.merlinnetwork.org/home), there are 15 of us on the board and it includes people like Martin Mills (founder of the Beggars group) and Kevin Arnold (founder of IODA)-the whole list o the board is on the website. The whole aim of this organisation is to represent over 2000 labels in trying to create a level playing field for Independents when it comes to new media and emerging markets and models. It has been one of the most rewarding and frustrating things I have ever been involved in as trying to deal with the legal team at You Tube is like trying to catch sand in a wind storm, but progress is being made slowly but surely and the first deals are being signed that will allow NZ bands to receive income from these types of services and sites. Sorry if I come across as a little defensive, but 2 years of US justice department antitrust applications and 2am board calls has left me a little jaded when it comes to a debate over whether or not people should be compensated for their rights being used by someone else.

    I am fully aware that most people look at the music industry and think that it is incredibly slow and behind the times, and to be honest it is a mostly fair call. But progress is being made, particularly here in NZ, largely thanks to some good work cooperation between the indies and the majors and a set of personalities who from both sides who realise that working together is the only option for success.

    To be perfectly honest if someone wants to blog about one of my bands I am stoked about it, in the same way if Nick D decides to play a Minuit track on bfm I am happy for the exposure. But if you are going to build value around such a thing then everybody should share in the spoils

    Like I said the web is a great tool for music, hell for a lot of people it is the only tool for music, but revenue gained from it has to be fair

    Mr Christie, it is not just a timing issue. 28 days is unworkable because it has a zero deterrent value to the people who are using copyrights they don’t own. Telling someone off is no deterrent at all for using copyrights you do not own, there has to be another way.

    Since Oct 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Mark, call me Don, please. Only the cops call me Mr. Christie and whilst your status is becoming elevated to that level WRT Copyright enforcement we have until February until that becomes reality :-)

    I asked what number of days would be workable. Notice-notice is not simply "telling someone off" it is about ensuring people subjected to takedown notices have at least a chance to respond. I ask again, what would be an acceptable number of days for that response?

    You also haven't answered my 2nd question. Why drop the fines for frivolous take down notices?

    Finally, when are you going to sue Russell for encouraging us to break the law through the use of the Hype machine - or will you only pick on people you don't know, like our kids?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Independents (28% of the world market and 85% of the music released in NZ) are left out. This is a simple divide and conquer strategy from the media companies so that they don't have to deal with paying Indies.

    This is a very fair comment and your description of your dealings with youtube etc. are valid. I *do* think that Independents actually have a chance here to break the dominance of the main labels but probably *not* through aligning themselves with the strategies used by those labels.

    You complain about sites earning advertising dollars, well, offer your own indy Hype machine. Don't worry about the dollars yet, they will flow.

    Do you have figures on total music sales in NZ for the last 20 years, BTW, including ringtones, callertunes, radio play and Internet sales?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @Mark

    I realise that I am about to open up an entire world of pain by saying this but if you are going to use peoples copyrights to bring people to a site and then advertise around it then you should pay for the content you are profiting from

    But don't NZ On Air pretty much insist that any video they fund now appears on YouTube? It's a messy old world, alright ..

    I am fully aware that we as rights holders gain promotional value from people seeing our clips and then become interested in the act and maybe purchasing the CD as a result or going to a show. But this is not a new model or argument. In every western territory in the world radio use the same examples and pay a fee for it, usually a percentage of gross. Now in some cases the 4 Major Labels have done deals to compensate under threat of being sued, but the Independents (28% of the world market and 85% of the music released in NZ) are left out. This is a simple divide and conquer strategy from the media companies so that they don't have to deal with paying Indies.

    You're talking about YouTube's revenue share deals with copyright owners? That is interesting -- and a bit depressing.

    For the past two years I have been on the board of an organisation called Merlin (www.merlinnetwork.org/home), there are 15 of us on the board and it includes people like Martin Mills (founder of the Beggars group) and Kevin Arnold (founder of IODA)-the whole list o the board is on the website. The whole aim of this organisation is to represent over 2000 labels in trying to create a level playing field for Independents when it comes to new media and emerging markets and models. It has been one of the most rewarding and frustrating things I have ever been involved in as trying to deal with the legal team at You Tube is like trying to catch sand in a wind storm, but progress is being made slowly but surely and the first deals are being signed that will allow NZ bands to receive income from these types of services and sites.

    Good luck with that. Seriously.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You complain about sites earning advertising dollars, well, offer your own indy Hype machine. Don't worry about the dollars yet, they will flow.

    I think there's a structure there already -- you can scrobble your Hype Machine listening to Last.fm, for example.

    Australia's Modular Records (an "indie" in which Universal Music has a 50% stake, artists range from Jack Johnson to Wolfmother and Ladyhawke) has been very adept at harnessing that world -- but they have also dropped $6 million along the way.

    It doesn't appear to be for lack of sales, though -- Wolfmother went 5x platinum in Oz -- so much as spending a hell of a lot of money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    28 days is unworkable because it has a zero deterrent value to the people who are using copyrights they don’t own. Telling someone off is no deterrent at all for using copyrights you do not own, there has to be another way.

    Mark, as you observed, you've got a period measured in fractions of a nanosecond in order to pull material from the 'net before it ends up in the permanent file. So why does it matter if the period is 28 days? Even if it's a week you're still waaaaay outside the archival period of the average intarweb crawler, and once that point is passed you gain nothing by acting faster.

    If you make the period too short, you deprive people of the chance to seek competent legal advice. At this point it's incredibly tempting to make a deeply cynical remark about the RIAA tactic of trying to stop people from consulting lawyers, who might tell them just how bullshit it all is, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're just trying to do the impossible and limit the spread of infringing material.

    Why should the ISP be involved beyond passing on the notice from the alleged rights-holder (I say "alleged" because we've seen plenty of cases from the US of take-down notices being sent without any colour of right)? Why should they take an extra-judicial enforcement role? We don't expect them to do it when their customers are viewing objectionable material, we just expect them to pony up the info when presented with a search warrant. If you want people to sympathise with you, stop trying to drag third parties into your actions. Your beef is with the ISP's customer, not with the ISP. We don't hound Transit/councils and the car manufacturers in the event of a fatal car crash (except where the crash was actually caused by some negligence on their part), but they're clearly enablers of the driving that lead to the crash.

    Also, lay off the "stealing". Downloading isn't theft, it's copyright infringement. The law says what theft is, and downloading ain't it. You do your cause absolutely no favours by misusing terms to try and extract a gut response. It might play with the unwashed masses, but it doesn't play here. And people on here speak to the unwashed masses, and are quite prepared to call you on the "stealing" bullshit. It's copyright infringement, nothing more and nothing less. Until your industry can convince the pollie tubbies to change the law such that copyright infringement meets the legal definition of theft, with the accompanying attention of properly-appointed law enforcement bodies, please don't twist words.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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