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The Internet

Feedback: Who Owns Ideas 255

The escalating battle between Net-using music fans and the music industry -- like many of those Washington political brawls -- is mired in name-calling. ("You're a thief!" "No, I'm not, corporate pig!") Lots of people e-mailed ideas for new models for distributing and selling culture online in the hope of moving the discussion forward. For their ideas, read more:

The escalating and increasingly symbolic conflict on the Net between music and movie fans and the entertainment industry seems to drive most people into one of two camps, Ro Sumner writes in response to last week's Slashdot discussion on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and the free music wars.

The problem, Sumner says, is that discussion halts around two central ideas:

"This is theft! Theft is wrong!"

Or: "No, it's not theft, and so it can't be wrong!"

His analysis is accurate. The discussion certainly gets framed this way by media, politicians, lawyers and law enforcement. And the issue is important, because this conflict will surely shape ones to follow between rapidly expanding open-source models of information that allow files to propogate like virii, and historically proprietary institutions -- banking, Wall Street, law, medicine, education and politics, to name just a few.

The battles springing up around the way music, TV, movies and other so-called intellectual property are transmitted digitally -- and in what contexts their creators are entitled to be paid for their use -- are shaping up in the way issues emanating from Washington so often do. They calcify into two eternally warring sides that never seem to persuade one another, and are thus unable to move the discussion forward.

One fantasy is that the Net, especially open source models of communication, offers the promise of a more rational approach. It makes possible an unprecedented range of open and civilized discussion, feedback, ideas and potential solutions. This is said hopefully, but knowing full well that most innocuous Net discussions can be nastier and more brutish than ones that would be called "heated" on MSNBC.

But something about this issue seems to transcend the usual head-banging. The Net's potential for this kind of discussion was reinforced again last week by intelligent and well-informed e-mail from lawyers, programmers, musicians and consumers. Concerns about intellectual property seem to rise above the usual squabbling. Everybody apparently agrees that something is wrong, a new approach needed.

The fact is, culture is already being transmitted freely all over the Net; that isn't likely to stop. But both artists and corporations have rights too, along with consumers. The existing reality isn't making anyone happy.

Sumner suggests focusing on the unworkable nature of the economic model that currently governs marketing culture. "Bits aren't widgets," he says, "and we shouldn't try to sell them as if they are. There are other models. The service model, the shareware model, the freeware/donation model, etc. I think that's the main point -- we need to pay the bitmakers directly, or as directly as we can."

Ian Stoba pointed out in e-mail that the discussions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act centered mostly on the consumers of digital music, not the producers.

"I don't know how well this is known outside the music industry, but no one hates the record companies as much as the artists. Giant record companies routinely write abusive contracts and just flat out steal from musicians," he noted. "The royalty musicians get for the sale of a CD is very small (like $15 per unit). The costs of producing the record, making the video, booking the tour, and marketing come out of the artists share, not the labels?" The artists do not see a dime of royalties until all the label's costs are repaid."

Stoba goes on to suggest that "the Net could be a radically more efficient distribution medium for the musicians as well as the people who buy music. A band could sell a CD over the Net for $1 and actually make more than they do selling it in a record store for $15."

Musician Matt Rose wrote that he was reminded of this quote from Bruce Sterling:

"This is the time to be thoughtful, be expressive, be generous. Be "taken advantage of." The channels exist now to give creativity away, at no cost, to millions. Never mind if you make large sums of money along the way. If you successfully seize attention, nothing is more likely. In a start-up society, huge sums can fall on innocent parties, almost by accident. That cannot be helped, so don't worry about it any more. Henceforth, artistic integrity should be judged, not by ones classic bohemian seclusion from satanic mills and the grasping bourgeoisie, but by what one creates and gives away. That is the only scale of noncommercial integrity that makes any sense now."

Sterling's idea of a "start-up society" -- as good a description of Net and Web culture as anyone has ever come up -- suggests patience, creativity, generousity and innovation. Nice ideas, but they don't seem to appeal either to lawmakers or large entertainment conglomerates.

Rose thinks that most musicians don't want to be millionaires; they'd rather have a lot of people hear their music. "A lot of them think that MP3's and the Internet are the distribution channels they've been waiting for. That's not going to happen if record companies don't let them do it. Every musician I know would be happier if MP3 distribution were an accepted way of getting people to listen to their music."

But some artists are understandably worried about releasing music on the Net; people may not want to pay for a CD at all when they can copy it for free. But Stoba says he's been thinking about a system that collects payment for playback, not for purchase, an echo of Sumner's idea.

"What about if consumers paid a very small fee (say .l cent per song played) every time they played a song?" Then a central distribution site (like MP3.com or iuma.com) could collect the usage stats and pay the appropriate royalties directly to artists. Program your player to skip the song you hate on a disc and you'll never pay for it. Play a cut 20 times in a row and the band will get paid accordingly. Stoba's even come up with a collection method: debit accounts established with sites that allow the MP3 player to automatically deduct money as songs are played. Some colleges and universities -- if the record industry wants to be generous and smart -- could collect revenue from music distribution on their sites, instead of dodging lawsuits.

Mikko Hanninen wrote to suggest that there are alternatives to the current copyright system -- like the "Street Performer Protocol" written by J. Kelsey and B.Schneier -- that could ensure that people who are responsible for creative work get paid, while digital information remains freely shareable online.

The SPP is an "electronic-commerce mechanism" designed to make it easier to privately finance public works. Under this protocol, people would put money aside, to be released to authors/artists/musicians in the event that their work enters the public domain. The protocol initially referred to marginal or alternative works, but it has some promise as a new economic model for dealing with Net copyright, in no small part because the Net changes the very meanings of "marginal" and "alternative."

People could pay a single, modest, single fee to an entertainment Web site, which could keep track of the music or movies consumers use and pay small royalties to the company, thus the artist. Like Sumner's debit account, this approach raises a number of privacy and technical issues.But the notion of setting aside some payment for artists is preferable to the cat-and-mouse-game now being played by the entertainment industry and millions of computer users.

That model also gives artists an initial payment, but recognizes that ideas and culture become free -- like it or not -- once they are distributed virtually. This is precisely the point where existing ownership debates tend to break down: there comes a point where content on the Net for practical purposes simply becomes public domain. Payment has to come before that, or not at all.

The first step in approaching issues like who owns ideas online is recognizing that total control over ideas is no longer possible. And it might not even be a good idea economically. The political aspects of the open source impulse driving at least some of the conflict over "free" music -- simple greed and desire are others -- argue that broad distribution of content makes it and the artists and creators of it more, not less valuable.

Their work is seen or heard by many millions of people, they have the opportunity to try out opinions, works and directions in front of their audiences, and they ultimately might be able to turn that reach into economic gain. Nobody's really certain yet. Commercial applications for open source software are becoming lucrative; perhaps there are implications there for other businesses as well.

Despite corporate warnings, "I don't think the current economic model for selling creative works such as books or music albums will collapse under the piracy and copyright theft on the Net," Hanninen writes, "but the fight about copyright censorship and enforcing will get ugly, and having an alternative would be nice."

The copyright fights have already gotten ugly; an alternative would be nice. It would also be nice if real alternatives emerged to the roadblocks currently in place.

Another post came from Spurius (Rei) via earthlink. "The critical issue that keeps surfacing is artist compensation," he writes. The answer he once advocated was a regular fee charged to gain access to all music. Though the fee would be small, it could add up to a substantial amount.

The problem, as Spurius himself acknowledges, is launching a comprehensive system. "Just neglecting the fact that most musicians currently are signed to long-term record contracts, even new musicians would be unlikely to be swayed to join some new system which can't guarantee anything, seems non-standard, technological, etc., unless they were extreme fans of open media."

Gaming models might offer some ideas for dealing with intellectual content, since that's another industry where the same issues press, Spurius suggests. A company that releases a game, instead of selling it, could offer membership to a service that permits consumers to download any game they choose from the server any time.

Instead of offering only its own games, a company could allow all companies to put their games on its server, including people who have already released non-commercial games.

Spurius's idea is to sell culture, beginning with smaller games and projects, and building towards bigger, more commercial products.

From Timothy Lord, Slashdot's managing editor: "A question that arises when it comes to alternate means of paying for content: 'If prices were lower, would revenues be higher?' If it only cost, say, $3.00 instead of $15 to grab the content of a CD, would enough people buy the CD from music companies or designated agents to justify the move? (From the point of view of the producer, I mean.)

"How about if middlin' quality files were freely available," Lord suggested, "and everyone was allowed to play, trade, store, collect them -- but the companies more jealously guarded high-quality transfers? Like a lot of people, I'd be much happier to pay $8 for 8 songs I like than $10 for eight I like and another four I never want to hear."

Lord's idea is interesting for several reasons. As hinted at before, corporations and copyright law don't distinguish between "popular" and "marginal" intellectual property. (Imagine the brawls among artists over which category they'd get put into). But cost could be tied to sales, either in the way Lord suggests, or inversely: the more people who buy a hit CD, the lower its costs. A number of websites already encourage consumers to mass - purchase products with the understanding that the greater the number sold, the lower the price. Given the size of the Net, that could result in cheaper music than ever before. But it would also require more imagination and daring than any record company has yet shown.

A lot of people wrote suggesting the creation of a commercial entity of some sort that would allow users to choose their own custom CD's, and to pay only for the music that they want. A number of sites have tried to provide this kind of service, including www.cductive.com/ ( now http://www.emusic.com/). But these sites are somewhat limited in that record labels determine the range of available songs as well as their cost.

A theme running through many of these suggestions is the single fee for aggregated downloads. Instead of paying separately for individual titles, for $50 or $100, consumers could download all the music and movies they want up to a certain number -- say 1,000. The potential volume is enormous. But the industry continuously overlooks the potential behind a vast new audience online.

This instinct to move the discussion past name-calling is significant. But the major problem with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is that it is not merely a point of discussion; it's the law that now covers intellectual property online. Only in recent months has it become apparent how noxious and one-sized a law it is. The DMCA is a statutory embodiment of the problem that stems from corporations becoming the primary contributors to the political process. Whose ideas are members of Congress going to support and protect? The people who fund their increasingly expensive campaigns? Or free music lovers on the Net, many of whom are disgusted by Washington politics?

The DMCA suggests that corporate pressure can reverse the way lawmaking ought to work: the law seems to have come before the discussion, as is clear from messages like this one from Brad Zimmerman:

"This week I've 'pirated' 1GB of MP3's via my 512K ADSL line. What I also know is that wholly because of MP3's I've bought three Aphex Twin CD's, a Apoptygma Berzerk CD, a Cleen CD, several Beastie Boys CDs, a Juno Reactor CD, etc. Later this month, I'll be buying a bunch of CDs (six, online) and they will mostly be stuff I've heard of via MP3s. What I do is still illegal, though. I know it. I do it anyway. I highly doubt I will ever be caught because I honestly believe there is no money in prosecuting me -- and the music industry, though blisteringly short-sighted, knows what makes money and what will lose money."

Zimmerman believes that most people involved in the free music discussion agree that "something" has to change and, in fact, a surprising number of people e-mailing me last week wrote that they would happily pay for music and movies -- providing that the amounts were small, the access substantial, and that the result was greater options and choices.

One reality moralists clucking about "piracy" don't quite grasp is that millions of people all over the world have amassed vast music archives in recent years, and are understandably loathe to give them up. This isn't about stealing a few songs -- it's about codifying the evolution of an entirely new kind of cultural system.

"Hey wait a minute," e-mailed Mike from St. Paul, "I've been downloading music for free since I was in middle school. I've acquired a rich love of different forms of music online -- jazz, folk, hip-hop, techno ... Now all of a sudden I'm a pirate? Give me a break. I could never afford to buy this. I love music and support a lot of musicians, believe me."

Many bristle at the idea that they can only buy music in the expensive, often mixed-quality form in which the record companies sell it.

Since this issue gets shrouded in moral chatter -- "theft," "piracy," "immorality" -- it seems only fair to point out that music industry works much the way drug cartels do, monopolizing music and its distribution, and exploiting dependence.

The hypocrisy involved in this industry yowling about "piracy" is almost too much to take(the record industry earned a record $15 billion in l999, despite its claims of huge losses exacted by "pirates"), and it obscures the plight of artists whose work circulates widely without payment.

"It is not OK for you to let teenagers (or anyone else) pretend that the 'piracy' of movies or music is morally OK," Zimmerman writes. "If we don't agree with the law, let's change it."

Well said. Until reasonable systems of compensation and distribution are in place, the music-industry / listener schism will only deepen, to the benefit of neither.

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Feedback: Who Owns Ideas

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This follows from simple economics. The price payed by consumers is equal to the value of the object purchased. If you are not willing to pay $20 for a cd, don't. Obviously, enough people value music to such a degree that this price isn't too high.

    Katz has openly rejected the law of supply and demand. Face it, you can't re-write the principles taught in econ 101 to suit your desire for free porn, free music, and free software. Don't want to pay for the *music*? Impose a Red Hat model, give the music away but make people pay for the players, or download time, etc.

    The point is, at some point money must be made. Zero price = zero demand. This would leave a lot more starving artists (not that I'm opposed to letting most "artists" starve...).

    If Red Hat et al. can do it, so can jonkatz. If the market for this is half of what the anti-patent mongers claim, they'll make a fortune. So, hop to it, nerdlings! I am waiting for my "free" music. I'll even offer $1000 in investment to the ones who start off with such a model.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know its tacky to reply to my own comment, but I wanted to expand on this:

    I can't see why I should be paid when someone listens to a recording of my music.

    I think pay-per-use is a dangerous system for content delivery and it interferes with the whole goal of copyright and intellectual property laws. Not that existing laws do such a bang-up job, but this would be one more step in the wrong direction so I am inclined to agree with you on this point. Media costs are it - pay per use is bad and should probably be illegal if fair use is impeded. For example, if you pay to listen to a song, you should then be allowed to listen to it as many times as you want. In fact, I think copyright laws did not actually place any restrictions on content other than actual unauthorized reproduction/distribution - it was never intended as a system to charge for content delivery, only media costs (plus a bit of profit for a few years).

    Any way, I agree that pay-per-use is not the way to go.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    See what these guys are doing with ideas and knowledge:

    www.knexa.com [knexa.com]

    This really could change things.
  • You are correct that people will always come up with cracks on protection/sales schemes, but this does not mean everyone will use the crack. If the pricing schemes are reasonable enough, people are generally willing to pay for a product. Of course what qualifies as reasonable varies widely and is heavily dependent on age, personality, etc. Even so, I don't think the threat of cracking is as great a threat as you make it out to be.
  • I know this is not common to everyone, but for me, sound quality is one of the number one reasons for me to purchase a CD rather than to simply hork a copy of the MP3. You take a song encoded at 128/44 and route it into a good stereo and then compare it to the same song played direct from the CD and there are worlds of difference. Granted, this does not stop your avg student who's best stereo might in fact be there comp, but it can make a difference a few years down the road when they have some money and actually want a decent recording.
  • Divx was a slightly different monster. With Divx, you paid for a copy of the media, but then had to pay everytime you wanted to watch it. In essence, it was a rental which you did not have to return. It offered no significant technical benefits over VHS and was overpriced to top it off.

    The ideas being proposed here are different. Most of the ideas proposed here suggest paying a relatively innocuous fee everytime you wish to listen to a song. This has the nice benefit that you only pay for the songs that you want to listen to and it really doesn't cost much unless you listen to them a lot (in which case, you could simply buy the CD). Depending on how it is implemented, you would not even have a copy on your comp, but would instead simply be paying for the stream. There are a lot of problems with this; the biggest being how do you listen to the music if you are not online, but this is nowhere nearly as bad as Divx, which was simply a blatant attempt to screw the consumer.
  • Up until the Columbine shootings, I had never heard of JonKatz. I may have by chance read an article or two, but I never bothered to look at the by-line. If /. was the source, then that was good enough for me.

    (That opening paragraph probably has some kind of cultural significance re: trust / media accuracy / blind consumerism, but I'll leave it to the philosophers. And, BTW, some of you may remember when you didn't have to filter your /., because it was ALL good... Another excersize for the reader: what happened?)

    It was only after the posting of the Downtrodden Goths/Geeks/Techies/Nerds articles that I began to notice "Katz" as a seprate breed of /. articles. For the record, I considered this a good thing. I figured if someone's writing articles about geek culture history and what-not, it'd be a cool counterpoint to the regular postings of tech news, star wars, and linux.

    Then I noticed the anti-Katz backlash. Like many, I just shook my head, thinking it was just normal flamage, to be ignored like any common troll. If they don't like Katz, they could just shut up and not read him, couldn't they?

    I've just changed sides. I don't know for sure what caused it, but if I never see another Katz article again it'll be too damn soon.

    So here's my parting shot:

    Katz, after squeezing the life out of the Columbine tragedy (which America seems to have forgotten due to being deluged with nothing BUT Columbine for a few months), completely misrepresenting the connection between the DMCA and the RIAA, harping on the old atoms vs. bits theories that were WIRED's bailiwick for the longest time, and trying to make yourself the Hero of the Geeks, you have lost ALL credibility. I am now turning on the Slashdot Katz Filter. RIP.

    Back to reading some News for Nerds, and some Stuff that Matters.

    --Threed
    Browsing at +2, or else on my Cell Phone. I see no trolls.
  • The profits from a concert performance probably are greater than what is made off of record sales.

    Of course, I refuse to deal with the record industry after they signed Richard Marx, so what do I know.

  • Jon quotes Spurius:

    most musicians currently are signed to long-term record contracts

    Most?!? No, most musicians are completely without record contracts. The miniscule percentage of musicians with contracts is only the tiniest bit of cream that rises... or crap that floats...

    Jon interprets Lord:

    But cost could be tied to sales, either in the way Lord suggests, or inversely: the more people who
    buy a hit CD, the lower its costs.


    Wouldn't it be more sensible economically that the more people who buy, the *higher* the cost? After all, more people would be willing to pay more for it.

    If the real world worked like Jon thinks Lord suggests, books in remainder bins, for example, would go for hundreds of bucks apiece. Other than the occasional loss leader, things that few people want tend to be inexpensive. See: "market".

  • And the thing is, this applies not just to music, but other forms of art as well. Take visual art. How can someone who makes digital imagery (stills, or animations, movies...) make a living by doing "live performances"? What about software developers? These are all really special cases of the same thing: digital media.

    But most programmers today don't get paid for each copy of their program. Rather we are commisioned to develop software. I wrote a lot of banking software and I was a salaried worker when I did. The bank did not sell the software, nor do I get paid each time they use it.

    Composers, painters and skulptors often are paid to do a specific work, without getting any money for each "viewing" of the work.

    The point is that you get paid for working, not for sitting around and collecting royalties.

    ...richie

  • While your experiences with they might be giants sound okay, I'd hardly assume that's how the rest of the music scene goes. Remember, they're a HUGE band, in a position where they have some influence. They also know they've got a LOT of loyal fans. Bands starting out don't have either of those luxuries.

    I am sure than any band that's starting up would LOVE to have a free MP3 of their songs shared by 1 million listeners.

    ...richie

  • It takes hours and hours and days and days in the studio to produce this, and there's often no good way to perform it live. What about us? How do we get compensated?

    Well, find someone willing to pay for your music or if you really are only interested in money become an investment banker.

    ...richie

  • Right. So we should try and create a culture that encourages sharing of code, as long as we get proper credit. A lot of open source projects are exactly like that.

    ...richie

  • It is sad and unfortunate that artists are often forced into unfair contracts by record companies. But without those companies is unlikely that these artists would ever become successful on their own.

    I don't know. There were famous artists in past centuries, who managed to be famous and make a good living without the record companies. You may have heard of Bach or Mozart.

    ...richie

  • But why can't the internet be used to filter the stuff that I want to hear? Why can't the net be used to promote it as well? The cost of distribution via the Net is zero. If you encourage your listeners to copy the files you don't even need a big server.

    The problem with record companies is that they spend too much money of the stuff that is not music at all, and to recoup their cost they need to sell millions of CDs at $18 a shot.

    The artists I like will never appeal to such a large audience. Does that mean they should never be heard from?

    I like to listen to a lot of jazz and blues. Some of the greatest jazz recordings probably never sold million copies. We are lucky that the musicians who made them prefered to make music rather than money.

    ...richie

  • Wow. Thanks for missing the point entirely.

    Many of these artists work on their music full time, and so need to make a living from it.

    Right. So they need to find a sponsor that is willing to pay for their work. Record companies do that today, but the artists must sell all the rights to their music and they completely loose control over their creations.

    So, if the current model doesn't work, and neither does the live performance one, are there any alternatives?

    There are alternatives. Start your own record label to produce and sell your music. Get a deal with a DJ or many DJs who play dance music in clubs, and let them have the fist shot at playing your stuff for a fee. Come up with a new piece for each weekend.

    Use your imagination...

    ...richie

  • To all of the free software advocates calling for the downfall of the IP system:

    IP is the only way that free software is supported. If there was no copyright system then I could take GPL'd code and make it closed source as much as I wanted to. Is this what you want?
  • Yes you could do that to the authors, but they could also "un-GPL" it as much as they wanted. In fact, licence terms really wouldn't have much weight at all.
  • The following comment delayed approximately one hour due to persistant internal server error on Slashdot's end of things

    I don't care for much of the new stuff, either, but your first sentence could have been (and probably was)written anytime in the past 40+ years. The same thing for the second if you change "cds" to "records".
    You are correct about teenagers being the target demographic, but that's because they have disposable income, whereas older folk have "real world" expenses--especially if they are the parents of teenagers--and are less likely to spend highly on "records", partly because the money has to go elsewhere (food, clothing, shelter, medical, dental, etc) and partly because the new stuff is aimed at the current crop of teenagers and not at them.
    Yes, there are exceptions to all of that, but not that many percentage-wise, and if you aren't careful how you talk and think about the music preferred by those younger than you, one day soon you'll find that you have turned into your parents. : )

  • Many years ago, before most people even heard of
    the web, Jon Luini and company started the
    Internet Underground Music Archives. A place where
    "alternative" and unsigned bands could distribute
    their music, bypassing the record companies.
    It was, unfortunately, yet another victim of
    politics and being just slightly ahead of its time.
  • No to both inquery.
  • This is to voice my dissatisfaction with Jon Katz's utterances. To begin with, many lives have been lost to antagonism. I've said that before and I've said it often, but perhaps I haven't been concrete enough or specific enough, so now I'll try to remedy that shortcoming. I'll try to be a lot more specific and concrete when I explain that Jon's cronies all look like Jon, think like Jon, act like Jon, and justify, palliate, or excuse the evils of his heart, just like him. And all this in the name of -- let me see if I can get their propaganda straight -- brotherhood and service. Ha! Stoicism and commercialism are not synonymous. In fact, they are so frequently in opposition and so universally irreconcilable that this makes his views seem beer-guzzling and even a bit scornful. We are becoming a nation of self-absorbed adulterers. Not that I've come to expect any better from sex-crazed proponents of vigilantism. If Jon is victorious in his quest to brainwash the masses into submission, then his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity. He is attracted to Dadaism like a moth to a candle. To a lesser degree and on a smaller scale, he is essentially describing a situation that does not exist.

    For brevity, I won't comment further on that, but rather on the way that Jon can't see beyond his own power-drunk perverted concerns. The fact that it is far too easy for him to use fear, intimidation, sedating substances, and other tools to convince stupid domineering election-year also-rans to pit race against race, religion against religion, and country against country is distressing, to say the least. In purely political terms, to ignore this issue is to discredit and intimidate the opposition. To cap that off, I am highly critical of those who tolerate or apologize for people who work with Jon. I hope it will not disappoint you to learn that anyone the least bit knowledgeable about his smarmy background would know that that's why I laugh when I hear his lackeys go on and on about hedonism. Oh, and one more thing. Jon's insults are based on hate. Hate, pessimism, and an intolerance of another viewpoint, another way of life.

    Forgive me if I ramble; I'm really upset, as I think you can tell. No matter how close he's come to making me get torn apart by wild dogs, Jon won't be satisfied until he finds a way to publish blatantly unconscionable rhetoric as "education" for children to learn in school. When I first heard about his demands, I didn't know whether to laugh, because his witticisms are so misguided, or cry, because contemptuous intransigent poseurs must be treated with political justice, not with civil justice, as they are decidedly not real citizens. By this, I mean that he has a blatant disregard for society's basic laws. One can examine this from another angle, and plainly see that most people want to be nice; they want to be polite; they don't want to give offense. And because of this inherent politeness, they step aside and let Jon take us all on an utterly reckless ride into the unknown. To put it crudely, he should practice what he preaches.

    Does Jon have trouble living with himself, knowing that his claim of fairness is demonstrably false? I am being totally serious when I say that he has come very, very close to making me fall into the trap of thinking there's no difference between normal people like you and me and gruesome misogynists. Jon, you are welcome to get off my back this time and stay off. Trumpeted so many times, his bromides have begun to feed on themselves, to generate their own publicity, to cow their opponents not by argument but by sheer repetition, and to leave a generation of people planted in the mud of a materialistic imprudent world, to begin a new life in the shadows of autism. So he thinks that we should abandon the institutionalized and revered concept of democracy? Interesting viewpoint. Here's another: He is capable of a large array of negative feelings.

    Again, nowhere in the Bible does it say, "The Universe belongs to Jon by right". As I mentioned before, the surest way for his henchmen to succeed is for them to put duplicitous thoughts in our children's minds. I mean, really. Does Jon have a point? I doubt it. The funny thing is, you probably know exactly what I mean. If our goal is to evaluate the tactics he has used against me, then we must consider various means to that end.

    Jon has more understanding of beer and milk regulations than of farsighted plans for the future. Consider the issue of judgemental surly incendiarism. Everyone agrees that unravelling the Gordian Knot that is Jon is not difficult when you realize the multifaceted nature of Jon and his assistants, but there are still some deranged riffraff out there who doubt that I don't know how to deal with stingy dodgy-types. To them I say: It makes perfect sense that Jon doesn't want me to call a spade a spade. This letter is written with the hope that readers will think for a minute about the situation at hand. Jon's detractors are correct in their observation that Jon's theories will stand in the way of progress as soon as our backs are turned. I consider Jon's announcements antithetical to my principles as a person concerned for the good of all.

    What I'm saying is this: Jon winds up on the wrong side of every important issue. More often than not, the pen is a powerful tool. Why don't we use that tool to step back and consider the problem of his personal attacks in the larger picture of popular culture imagery? We should weaken the critical links in Jon's nexus of irritable filthy separatism. Because few people realize that respect for the law is not enhanced by setting the bad example of breaking the law, because his smear tactics have earned him opprobrium, suspicion, resentment, and hatred, and because it is incumbent upon all of us to confront his ideas head-on, we can conclude that we live in a deeply troubled society.

    It is a grave injustice for Jon to make excessive use of foul language. I'm not going to say why; we all know the reason. In a broad-brush sense, there is no place in this country where we are safe from his helpers, no place where we are not targeted for hatred and attack. His undertakings are based on two fundamental errors. They assume that courtesy and manners don't count for anything. And they promote the mistaken idea that he could do a gentler and fairer job of running the world than anyone else. Calling Jon's toadies clueless snobs may be accurate, but I, hardheaded cynic that I am, recommend that we challenge Jon's self-satisfied assumptions about merit.

    Jon is obviously hiding something, by which I mean that when it comes time to take a stand, Jon invariably dives for cover. Although he babbles on and on about antipluralism, Jon has no more conception of it than most other wicked undesirables. Contrary to popular belief, if there's an untold story here, it's that I must protest his use of what I call subhuman stubborn spouters to make widespread accusations and insinuations without having the facts to back them up.

    Jon's feckless self-righteous memoirs leave the current power structure untouched while simultaneously killing countless children through starvation and disease. Are these children his enemies? What Jon does in private is none of my business. But when he tries to guarantee the destruction of anything that looks like a vital community, I object. His expostulations epitomize alcoholism in its truest form. The reason is simple: He shows a curious unwillingness to set the record straight. There will be public outrage if he tries to create problems that our grandchildren will have to live with. But it doesn't stop there. Jon Katz should just exercise some common sense and some common decency. Never forget that and never let him demand that Earth submit to the dominion of manipulative saturnine windbags.

  • Dude...

    It was a JOKE! I was only mimicking his style and long winded content, I really don't think that about him.

    What I really think:

    I really don't like Jon Katz as a contributor to this site. I prefer the succinct and fast paced "this, that and the other... link here, link there..." followed by discussion to the long winded diatribe that Katz presents followed by flame. I really wish that they would consider taking him off the staff. He has ruined the forum.

    Free Speech?

    I was expressing mine with comedy...

    Walk a mile for a camel?

    I have read Katz... I like some of his opinions, don't like others... and before you slam me for berating Jon, please take note: Katz called William Bennett a 'Blockhead'. *I agree with Jon on this* Now I in turn am calling Katz a 'Blockhead' for posting his lame content on Slashdot. If he wants to do something useful, write for Wired or The New Yorker... He does not belong on Slashdot!. IMHOWEMFS- Thanks.

  • Read Why Software Should Not Have Owners [gnu.org] and Why Software Should Be Free [gnu.org]. RMS makes the argument that creators should not have any special rights to the works they create, which completely goes against the idea that creators have the right to be compensated for their work on their terms. So for him, it's actually a bit stronger than what I said. He doesn't just want to force creators to give away their work -- he denies that they even owned it to begin with.


  • ...is possible. Lots of musicians e-mailed that they would be thrilled to bypass record companies if music fans would pay something for their music. The question is would they. And truthfully, my ideas aren't mine anymore. They aren't stolen, bu they are distributed for free all over the place, which is okay by me.

  • I thinkt is importnat..but how would competitors prove this prior art and disprove the validity of patents?
  • The in-between (record companies) have no particular right to exist; they're an institution that was established to aid in music distribution back in the days of physical media. Now that those days are over, it's time for them to be removed from the system, and we're trying to figure out the best way to do that, is all.

    Until someone else can perform the same services at a better price than the record companies, they have every right to exist. Of course removing middlemen will make it cheaper, but you don't need to get rid of the copyright system to take the middlemen out of the picture ( once the middlemen are gone, how do you make sure the artists can be compensated ? Ans: copyrights. )

  • If the copyright system were weakened then record companies might be forced to other business plans. The artists might get less money and the executives would get a lot less, but that's fine with me!

    If there truly is a way to distribute music more efficiently at a lower cost to consumers, then the record companies will be forced to adopt that method to save themselves whether or not the copyright system is weakened.

    Yeah, I know you don't care if the music industry and the artists starve, as long as you can get something for nothing. This is what I call the "freeloader" mentality.

  • The article clearly indicates one thing about the author's mindset -- he wants something for nothing. He wants a convenient way to circumvent compensating the artist and hide behind the popular "greedy-corporate-pig-record-companies" line.

    The fact is that the copyright model, despite charges that it is "outdated" is here to stay. Other models that make it easy to freeload do not seem to be economically viable ( if it was true that they were, why aren't we seeing anyone succesfully making money with such a model ? ) It's all well and good to say "you shouldn't use copyrights -- you can use the street-panhandler or service model" , but it doesn't really help much if these models are not shown to be profitable. If they are profitable, they will be profitable with or without the copyright system in effect, and if they are really superior to the copyright system, then everyone will move to those models whether or not the copyright system is dismantled. However, the freeloaders want the copyright system dismantled to force artists to use their ( unprofitable ) model rather than letting their model succeed or fail on its merits ( or lack thereof ) IMO, it's fine and good if artists want to share their work, but no one has the right to force anyone else to share. I can understand why all the warez kiddies might want something for nothing, but that doesn't mean we should pander to their need to freeload.

    As I've said before, I'm bothered that the free software community is starting to look like a freeloader community. I sincerely hope this mentality is confined to slashdot.

  • This sounds like what is happening with Redhat and Alan Cox, Linuxcare with Andrew Tridgell.

    As programers become well known for their work, companies that benifit from it can and sometimes do support them for the benifit of all of society.
  • http://www.opencontent.org/
  • I dropped this comment on this type of discussion before, and it still seems relevant, so here it is again:

    Artists need the royalty's from their CD's to survive... Only the mega popular acts actually make money on tours. Most artists go on tours to promote their CD's. It's more of an advertising expense than a revenue generator.

    If you really at all care for the artists, i strongly encourage you to give this [caralis.com] a read. You'll see that there's already plenty of people out there screwing artists over, that fans really shouldn't start as well.


    We all know that the recording industry aren't angels and are in fact devils in most cases... But without formulating a plan where artists will definetly get paid for their efforts, all the speculation about what MP3's can and can not do are moot, in my eyes.

    While your experiences with they might be giants sound okay, I'd hardly assume that's how the rest of the music scene goes. Remember, they're a HUGE band, in a position where they have some influence. They also know they've got a LOT of loyal fans. Bands starting out don't have either of those luxuries.
  • So what about the multimillionaire executive, the hundred-thousandaire programmers who've never had to break a sweat at work? Maybe they should all do what they do for free as well, then then repave roads for a living? Sound fair?

    The only people trying to give away all artists works for free around here are the people who aren't artists.
  • Why is everyone here content on lobbying to change what the creators of new things do with them? It was your choice to develop under the GPL... it wasn't mandated. You may even like the idea of it. But some people have ego's. They WANT to take credit for their creations. In terms of inventions or music or whatever else, they're also entitiled to make money from their creations. I'd hate the idea of seeing that right taken away.

    Yes, IP laws are screwy. Patents need an overhaul. Fair use is both being abused and needing to grant more rights. But when people mention that artists should do what they do for free, it's just absurd. /.er's code for free because they're able to, thanks to many having jobs where they code for a living and bring in a lot of money. Artists don't have that luxury.
  • [MAN-o-MAN! It took ten tries and over two hours to get this article to go through to the 'accept screen'. I hope I haven't littered /. with multiples.]

    If you want original solutions, you have to re-examine your precepts. E.g. "What is music?" [if you're impatient for solutions, click 'read more' to see the end of this article]

    Music has been around longer than man himself. I don't mean birdsong. Primate-style music-for-entertainment probably antedates homo sapiens, since modern primates, even in the wild, respond to it much as we do. It fills a host of psychological desires and has many physiological effects. If we dismiss the "true root" of music as merely primitive, or a bygone 'style' we risk a music culture that grows less satisfying and more faddish as it fails to fulfill needs it has long forgotten.

    Recording is NOT intrinsic to music. Until (roughly) this past century, recording music was impossible. I've been studying how 'recorded music' has been changing music itself (as have other technologies:the first widespread [vs. local] notation systems; printed and published sheet music; broadcast radio; etc.) It's almost horrifying to consider the options and modes that all but died out in the last 1500 years for purely techno-social reasons in Europe alone.

    In my study, I've seen history repeat itself through each successive technology and if I may be flip, the first step is always to brainwash the musicians into thinking "this is the only way". After all... without control of the musicians, you have nothing.

    Before recording, musicians made ALL their money (if any) by performing -- meeting the true needs of the audience. "Performance art" wasn't conceived in the 70's by the likes of Kristos and Laurie Anderson (to pick two famous, but not necessarily significant, names). In fact, what we call 'avant garde' performance art actually echoes many lost traditions of music. It only seems otherwise because we're using a narrow, commercially promulgated view.

    The fact that I even have to say this shows how good a job the 'music industry' has done, at making 'music' synonymous with 'recorded music'. But if it isn't a 'piece' or 'song', you've probably never heard it, so I can't even cite meaningful examples of what humans were doing all those thousands of years

    The 'music industry' read: 'recording/distribution industry') is a 20th century artifact of a developing technology. It basically didn't exist in the 19th century, and once hopes that (with the help of the current easier to use, musician empowering technologies) it will basically not exist in the 21st, unless we fossilize it in our thinking, laws, and commercial structures. I don't know when another 'fossil smasher' as big as the internet will come along

    Royalties were never the primary income for musicians (except for a tiny handful). Even headliners made most of their money on performances. It was originally as much a publicity mechanism as an income stream (early performers were wild for Demo Tapes of their best work and/or sold their records at a table after a gig for fans to take home) It was a potent tool in accessing and broadening the appreciative audience most musicians crave.

    This is the first role that was filled by each of the emerging technologies, from sheet music to record to radio to internet, because it is the one that most readily enlists the cooperation of musicians.

    Later, each technology grew to dinosaur proportions, and dictated to the musician by becoming a tastemaker. The radio station and music label chose what songs you heard or had much chance of hearing. This is an incredible power -- but it's the same 'access to the audience' that the musician originally wanted, now grown into a monster. Why? because he wanted it for himself but it had always been in the hands of others.

    If we are not careful, our new technologies will result in the same fate. We must take our understanding of how technology changes cultures create tools that empower the musician to reach the audience directly [he can have his own webmaster -- but if he's forced to become a client at "MusicianAccess.com", such sites will become a new corrupted industry interlinked with the rest.]

    Isn't it interesting that the standard 'fair use' doctrine is reversed in music? The individual
    private user is actively pursued and charge full price, while the commercial user (e.g. radio
    station) pays only a nominal fee? That's because of interlocking commercial interests


    We need artists (musicians, composers, lyricists) and artists need an audience. If we return to 'performance', instead of 'property' of as the basis for our model of payment, then we can eliminate the middleman. Instead of paying for audio track as "property" we'd pay for the 'perfomance' of making the CD,concert, whatever. The recording could een be free for private use, because the musician would already have been paid. (and unlike today, the commercial radio stations might have to truly pay for using the music their business is based on!]

    This does not cheat the artist. It just changes what he's paid for. Right now, the industry cheats him with the illusion that he can watch the royalties roll in if he hits the jackpot. In real life, he sweats out concerts and gigs for his real income (though a hit significantly raises his fee) while the label 'hits the jackpot' on the records.

    In the schemes below, the fees would be much less than the corresponding CD now costs. they would be on the order of the less than $2 of a current CD's price goes to royalties and studio production costs.
    • Patronage (subscription) - Is this so outrageous? Hardly. It's a very viable model in many areas of society, from a huge array of non-profits [e.g. 'Consumer Union'and their Consumer Reports magazine], special interest groups [AARP, NRA] cultural groups [most local symphonies, etc.], and numerous other institutions. Would you pay $5 directly to the [band of your choice] fan club to keep the free music flowing? Remember, they retain their current primary income from gigs, concerts, live media appearances, etc.
    • "Play-for-Pay" CD: The band agrees to release (or produce) an album, a specified number
      of people subscribe to it, assuring production costs and reasonable income are met. Subscriptions are not charged to the subscriber credit card until the threshold is met.
    • "Play-for-Pay" performances: The band agrees to a gig, concert, whatever in a specific
      city, when sufficient subscriptions are made. In this case there are several options:
      • Additional ticket sale beyond the threshold (after concert is announced) are bonus income
      • Pledge price deducted from ticket price (or given an even larger discount)
      • based on the budgets of programs like Boston's free 'Concerts on the Common', which has
        very popular headliners, I'd say we could readily fund FREE public concerts by major groups,
        using a very attainable number of subscribers. (Music wants to be free?)
      • Companies, groups, or radio stations can sponsor, too, as they often do today
      • subscribers benefit from 'helping the event happen' even if they don't attend, because
        the 'live in concert' MP3 will be circulating, free and legal, in the morning. The musician's
        commodity cannot be 'stolen'. He's already been paid. You can't pirate 'LIVE'!

    • Increased fees fo commercial use, free private use, as done in most fields.

    Clearly, these are just a very few of the possibilities. Imagine what a mob of talented Web entrepreneurs and Open-sourcers could do with this.

    It's terrifyingly simple. No one pays a painter or sculptor 'by the eyeball' (They just sell the piece, no strings attached), but the record labels claim a right to charge 'per ear' -- while simultaneously giving away the right to broadcast to millions for almost free.



    My new .sig: Join AMSAT [amsat.org]
  • **Maybe the times of multimillionaire artists just
    are over. In the future artists work open-
    source-styled, just for the enjoyment for
    themselves and everyone else, the only reward
    being publicity and respect. **

    Ain't gonna happen. Even if Bruce Springsteen gave away all of his albums tomorrow, there still would be many people willing to pay $70 a pop to see him perform live. There might be movement towards more openess involving taping of concerts to be freely distributable, but I see little way that bands that many people want to see will fail to become rich.
  • What planet are you from?

    Live performances are done to boost sales of recorded material, not the other way around.
  • Who pissed in your Wheaties this morning? Free speech is a wonderful thing, even at times when its abused. Before ye cast judgement on others, WALK A MILE IN THAT PERSONS SHOES, and take a long look in the mirror too. This vitriolic diatribe you call a "response" offered nothing constructive to the conversation. Sure, you stated your opinion, odd how your response is guilty of most of the things you accuse Jon of. Seeing anything in that mirror yet? I can only hope, and pray to God, that you put as much time, and energy, into positive things as you do negative.

    Its all about respect.

  • I have to register a hearty amen to the conflict of interest thing. Also, there seems to be a large number of patents out there that are slight variations of the same concept. The situation is out of hand and that is why I think advocates are pushing hard in the past year for reform. Too bad it has come to this.
  • (((I thinkt is importnat..but how would competitors prove this prior art and disprove the validity of patents? )))

    The would prove prior art as they would in any dispute afore. Usually you can take a design document down to a lawyer/notary and get it stamped as an official copy. Or you can send sealed certified mail contaning the information, as it becomes postmarked and logged. Those are just the ones I've heard of. The best idea is to apply for patents on your best, original ideas before anyone else.

  • check out my patent rant [lm.com] for a little more of what I wrote on this subject. It sorta runs with the same concepts you and I both mentioned above. The amazon patent covers something you do at wallmart. You scan your card (login + cookie) and the scan a product (the "one click" part) and give it to you (shipping). The one clicking part is merely a seperation of steps, and the "innovation" is merely in the perception of the process. Same system, slightly different interface.

    as to the matter of not knowing if someone is pulling a patent on something, check that something out. It's usually marked "patent pending". Whether this is REQUIRED I do not know.

  • You know, someone could simply set this up. Have a place for artists to register their songs, have a playback accessory which will log the plays, have a MusicTips program which people can run to send payment, and the payment center that gathers and distributes the payments back to the artists/recording services.

    Make it all voluntary so those who want to pay a little to support their favorites can do so... simply make the music cheap and have it easier to click "Pay All" or "Pay All Who Got Multiple Plays" (that's the "Pay those I liked" button).

    All that would only work for artists/recording services who are willing to make their stuff available...unless it's crossconnected to the existing royalties system and commercially-produced stuff is logged/reported.

  • How is this possible if stadiums hold 100,000 and record sales can reach millions (you figure if they fill a 100,000 person stadium they will be distributing lots of cds)???????????????????

    Perhaps on the small scale with indie bands and the like, concert revenue is larger since dedicated fans goto multiple concerts but only buy one copy of an album. However, once you scale up it doesn't add up.

    I'd be interested to see an example if what you say is realy true.
  • In order to make money the record labels have to push a single option to consumers. Non-free Speech and Non-free Beer. So if you only like two songs on an album you have two options. Pirate or by the entire album.
    The concept of digital music frees the consumer from these constraints. The problem is finding a business model that provides Free Speech and Non-free Beer.
    I wonder...how many companies sell you their product (not service) and give you the source code. If you look at Homesteading the Nosphere. ESR spends no time on this model. The reason being it makes the product way to easy to pirate especially if the open source licenses allow the software to be redistributed. The person who creates a business model that circumvents this problem will be very wealthy indeed!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Easy, just pirate the music, and mail a money order for $5.00 directly too the artist. He's paid for his ideas, you've paid for your conscience, the record company gets screwed over, and Uncle sam can be screwed over too (if the artist is so inclined). What could be sweeter then that?
  • "This is the time to be thoughtful, be expressive, be generous. Be "taken advantage of." The channels exist now to give creativity away, at no cost, to millions. Never mind if you make large sums of money along the way. If you successfully seize attention, nothing is more likely. In a start-up society, huge sums can fall on innocent parties, almost by accident. That cannot be helped, so don't worry about it any more. Henceforth, artistic integrity should be judged, not by ones classic bohemian seclusion from satanic mills and the grasping bourgeoisie, but by what one creates and gives away. That is the only scale of noncommercial integrity that makes any sense now." -Bruce Sterling
    OK: I caught this article in the middle of recording in the nice ADAT-based studio I've gone in debt for- I'm just about to lay a drum track over an instrumental called "Horse", one of the tracks for my album 'anima' that is about catching the spirit of different animals in musical composition. The geek connection here is that the Alesis D4 drum module wouldn't put out enough output to peak the ADAT's inputs, so I had to take it apart and rewire the headphone outputs to the aux jacks on the back, actually soldering special wires directly to the chip for a super-direct signal path. I'm pretty pleased with "Horse": I might still replace the rhythm guitars but it's looking pretty finished, and when I'm done it goes up on mp3.com- which brings me to the point of my post.

    HELL YES, I'd like to be listened to! I'm a damn musician! I've been playing for almost TWENTY years, and write good songs and think of interesting musical experiments for instrumentals, and 'musician Matt Rose' speaks for me bigtime.

    In fact, you know what? Currently I do not have ANY way in place for listeners to pay me. There's no CD yet. No T-Shirts ;) wups, sorry! I guess you'll just have to listen to my art FOR FREE. I guess you'll have to shake off the assumptions pounded into your head by a culture industry, that nothing's good unless it costs money and has the little alligator logo on it or says Ralph Lauren or Pokemon or Spice Girls on it, and you'll have to go download years of artistic work for FREE with my BLESSING because, slashdot geek-type open source people, that is what I want to do with it. Is that so hard to understand to opensource types? Isn't it kind of similar to the free software spirit? And, in fact, I also write some computer software- and GPL it. I'm not some random musician hitting Slashdot to hype- I post here all the time, my user page says Chris Johnson (580)! And I also compose music- a lot of it- and dearly wish for it to be heard. When I come out with political geek-oriented music (two songs in the works already, "Blue Collar Computer Technician Man" and "Options Vesting Party", the first is a heavy blues and the second insists on being country for some reason :) ) I want people to be listening.

    So, please do? Some of you broadband folks, general music enjoyers, anyone, everyone? I have songs up at http://www.mp3.com/RFW [mp3.com] which stands for The Room Full Of Windows, the 'song project' which will get the geek songs when I record them. I'll make recommendations too as there are a lot of songs there: If you like mean blues in the BOFH spirit, listen to "Staring Down The Phone". If you like sad pretty harmonies, "Just Another Someone Turned Away". If you want maximum angst done well, "December" is for you (or maybe it _is_ you ;) it was me at the time!) If you like a more upbeat rock check out "Stupid Faith In You". I got up to some Who-esque walls of guitar chords in "Color Me Gone" which is also upbeat and grooves really nicely. Finally, my personal favorite would be "The Rules"- it's sweet but intelligent and has a lot of humor in it, and sums up my geek outlook on life :)

    Then I also have instrumental music up at http://www.mp3.com/ChrisJ [mp3.com]. This is a bit sparser- contains a reggae lead guitar workout, "Variations On A Sicilian Poodle", a very long-play rock jam segmented into three parts to fit on mp3.com, "Extended Play" (think of it as like the rock version of techno background hacking music, also it is very high audio quality especially bass) and the first 'anima' track, "Whale" which is also the first track from my new studio which I'll record geeks in for free if they can journey here at their own expense (I can't be paying airfare :) ) These instrumentals, especially "Extended Play" and "Variations On A Sicilian Poodle" also work as killer audio test records, even in mp3 form- especially into the bass, I have a heavily custom board and the bass on these extends waaaaaay down into subwoofer territory, use it to show off your audio gear. iMac transparent subwoofers need not apply ;)

    Gah- now there's no time to lay down the drum track, I have to go return a CD-Rom burner! I'm not sorry *g* slashdot's a net-home for me and I gladly blow off audio work until later to communicate with my people :) I'll get to it later. But for god's sake, man- go listen to the free music! Get a fellow geek on the mp3.com charts. It's the only way you can give me anything for the years of work I put in, 'cos I have NOTHING to sell you. Everybody always says 'Oh, I will give the artist $5 to encourage them!' but I got no CD to sell at the moment so even if you love the music you can't give me money for it. So go download it again or tell somebody about the geek opensource-writing hardware-hacking crazy musician who wants to be heard. Maybe CmdrTaco would like me to record some free musical bits for Geeks In Space! I've listened to every GIS, it would be fun to give it some music that wasn't 303-music :)

    Gotta run! go take free music from me! these super army tanks are free and get 200 mpg and I'll come over and remix them while you sleep! (get away from me you freak! Don't you know everybody listens to station wagons?) ;)

  • For that matter, there are some of us who are doing OK money-wise and are simply stuck waving their little hands for attention in a crowded room the size of the Earth- the internet >:)

    It's all very well giving the Spice Girls $10, or Goo Goo Dolls, but the reason you know to download their mp3s is that you have _heard_ them. How about giving some of the netizens a bit of the time and attention that's normally shoved down your throat by the labels' starmaking machinery? How about every Slashdot reader musician who reads this, follow up to this post with the information where to download your music and a pointer to whatever it is you want to highlight.

    I'll kick it off with great seriousness as just today I released a track on mp3.com which I'm real proud of. Spent days on it and even rebuilt some of my equipment to produce this music. It's got a real 'old Pink Floyd' vibe to it and exemplifies what I myself want to see in 'non-industry-machine' music. It's for an 'animal themes' album, and is called "Horse", and is probably the single most different thing you could be listening to right now, plus it's _very_ high audio quality thanks entirely to geek ingenuity and willingness to tinker with the equipment ;)

    It is at http://www.mp3.com/ChrisJ [mp3.com] and dammit, I don't even care about who gets the 10$: I don't _make_ music to get money (if I want that, I can record people using world-class sound engineering skills and charge them, legitimately, for the service of putting my skills at their disposal). I make music to be listened to, and because I must, because I hear it in my dreams and because it moves my hands and feet when I'm not paying attention and because it makes me live. I don't want money for it- I want it to be heard!

    For radio fans there are many song-type songs at http://www.mp3.com/RFW [mp3.com]. I wouldn't want to underplay those even if my geek nature likes "Horse" best at the moment because of its sonic characteristics :)

    Who else of the slashdot readers creates music and wants a chance at a listening? Post a reply and I promise that I for one will go listen to every musician who posts a URL :) and for those of you who aren't musicians, the sick thing is that while you're talking about sending 10$ to the artist, most acts on a place like mp3.com do not even get ONE listen, at all. So anyone who follows up can be pleased in the knowledge that I at least will give them a listen, thus jumping them over 50% of the other acts in the ratings :)

  • God, I'm all over this story ;) however, I must speak up here. I'm the slashdotter who's been going on about recording other opensource geeks for free as long as they promise to release free mp3s and withhold nothing. However, before today I didn't have much to demonstrate to show what this would mean. Now... I do.

    http://www.mp3.com/ChrisJ [mp3.com] is the place you can find mp3s produced in my new studio- if you download only one track make it "Horse", though "Whale" is also recorded in the new studio. I flat out defy anyone to match that recording quality with anything short of a insanely expensive and sophisticated full recording studio. I am a sound engineer geek, this is my thing- and an open source geek, so I am _ready_ to provide that proper recording studio to other people like me. I just finished talking to an independent LA producer on a MUCK for whom I'm going to make guitar and bass samples- in return he'll get some more people listening to my art, which is all I'm asking of a person in his position. It's barter, and it's networking, and it works. And here I am- to most comers (where I'm doing it out of commerce not love) I'm billing $75 an hour for studio time which includes me in there doing everything up to production, studio musician, cheerleader and psychologist ;) I have had good results enticing and conning great performances out of musicians, such as getting a keyboard player to play more solid bass-keyboard parts by showing him what just bass+drums sound like (he cut the part way back- his tape ended up grooving like mad!) or getting a classical guitarist to transition mentally from a baroque piece to a flamenco piece ("No, the slightly muted note was _okay_... relax, let's put some _garlic_ on this performance! Get right into it, you're not playing Baroque this time").

    And again, I may be out of my depth for promotion and advertising, I may not be equipped to manufacture CDs, I may not be interested in judging music crap (I have found that you can bring music out of just about anybody if you're a good producer, so nobody is 'crap', they are mostly just badly handled), but I'm raising my hand to be counted as part of the 'new structure arising' to provide what people think you need major labels for.

    Because you don't need major labels for that. Period. >:)

  • Well, i consider musicians to be artists, and as such, consider their albums to be works of art (in the musical sense, I'm not talking about the cover art). Perhaps with some of the MTV-type crap albums are just collections of singles put on a single CD for convenience, but, in my opinion, the majority of what I'd term "quality artists" (some of whom I like, and some of whom I don't, but at least I respect them) create their album as more than just a collection of singles. If you're going to just download the 8 songs you like, you've pretty much destroyed the album. Sure, the individual songs may be good, but often the overall effect of the album enhances them. An example would be Nine Inch Nails albums - any one song from most of the albums would be much less effective out of the context of the album. The same can be said of many other bands/artists...
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    Jon, your ideas are your own, and believe me, no one is going to steal them from you. :)

    Yeah, all of us hackers are evil pirates. My web browser "steals" copyrighted images every day and makes copies of them. Those .au files I used to listen to were just as enjoyable as the radio. When I first thought up that bubblesort algorithm, I didn't know someone else had done it first.

    ...but the difference is, now that there is money involved, corporations are entering the picture and getting lawsuit-happy, and generally trashing the world that we built in the first place, and exploiting its features.

    I'd much rather live in a world where record companies did not exist, banner ads were illegal, phone and computer companies could not own media or patent simple ideas, musicians were supported by the goodwill of their fans, without anyone to take their excess money, and slashdot discussions were intelligent.

    But I think that's enough fantasy for one day...
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11].
  • s to the matter of not knowing if someone is pulling a patent on something, check that something out. It's usually marked "patent pending". Whether this is REQUIRED I do not know.

    What I meant by this is that if I come up with an idea for something that seems obvious to me, and I turn it into a product, I have no way of knowing if someone has filed for a patent on the same idea. I guess this means we all have to file for patents on every single idea we come up with, no matter how obvious, lest someone else receive a patent on the idea and prohibit us from using it.

    Sounds real nice if you work for the patent office. They're raking in the cash now that companies are patenting everything they can think of, just to avoid being sued. Sounds to me like the PTO has a major conflict of interest here. They're supposed to only award patents for non-trivial, non-obvious (to an expert in the appropriate field) inventions or ideas. Yet they also have to support themselves financially, which creates an incentive to either charge a lot or process a lot of patents. Since people would complain bitterly if they charged any more than they already do, they've gone with the second option. The whole patent system is now out of whack.

  • I suppose Rosa Parks should have just given her seat up because "breaking the law is the wrong way".

    Completely incorrect. The entire Rosa Parks didn't get up from her seat is that she wasn't breaking the law. She was sitting in the black-section of the bus and refused to give up the seat that was rightfully hers to a white person. She never broke a law.

    And comparing the MP3 thieves to the civil rights movement is like comparing those being prosecuted for the DeCSS program to the Jews during the Holocaust. It's a completely different order of magnitude and it does an injustice to those who actually weren't criminals.
  • As a consumer, i figure i pay $50-75/mo for music, mostly on CD. If digital music distribution reduced the cost for music, i wouldn't spend less - i'd just own more music! My music budget is limited by finances, not taste. If music cost 1/10 what it does now, i'd have ten times as much.

    And since any online distribution mechanism would cut out middlemen between the artists and the consumers, it would benefit both the artists (more money) and the consumers (more music). The only parties who would lose out are the layers of middlemen between us and our favorite musicians.

    I'm all for making sure artists get paid for their work. But the record industry execs who claim they are trying to protect the artists are liars and hypocrites. They screw over artists in more fiscally and artistically destructive ways than all the consumer "thieves" ever could.
    __
    (oO)
    /||\
  • XFree86, FreeBSD, Wine, Perl, Python, etc ... etc ... are all Free Software, they are not GPLed, you can make a closed, proprietary package out of them ... and last time I checked they were doing well.

  • My last broadcast gig was in '94 (we all got replaced by a computer), but I suspect it still works the same as it did the 20+ years up 'til then.
    Record companies send promotional copies to radio stations in the hopes of getting airplay. The program director and/or the music director get weekly phone calls and occasional in person visits from "reps", sometimes employees of the record companies, sometimes independant contractors, to find out what the station is playing, what the station is thinking about playing, whether the station and the record promoters can work together on some sort of promo (free T-shirts, etc.), and to generally try to get the station to play whatever the promoters are pushing that week. So far the station's not out any money.
    The station does, however, pay blanket licensing fees (larger in larger markets, as I recall) to outfits like ASCAP, BMI, SEASAC. Once a year, the station has to make a list of everything it played over the course of a "week" (sometimes that "week" isn't seven consecutive days but rather Monday of some week, Tuesday of some other, etc.) That data (which used to have to be compiled by hand, what a chore)is added and averaged with the data from all the other stations and those blanket fees are divided up among the "owners" of the various songs proportionately to the airplay those songs got, at least theoretically.
  • Somebody please moderate up the above. I suggest both "insightful" and "informative".
    I look forward to vindicating whoever does in metamoderation.
    Changing topic slightly, doesn't it seem that those on the "it's not theft" side of the arguement are mostly the ones wanting something created by someone else's labor and not their own?
  • If it was summarized, it wouldn't be Katz : )
  • Let's get a few things straight. Music and movies are not 'ideas'.

    So music doesn't carry any emotional value.. no ideas.. it doesn't communicate with you or make you feel different? You're probably a tree stump then. Everyone I know listens to music because there's a message in it - whether it's constructed with words or with musical notes.. but it's there. It's communicating an idea.

    They are actually a product. When someone steals this, they are stealing property, like taking someone author's novel or some company's car design. It's theft of an actual product, not an idea.

    I disagree. Music was made thousands of years ago to record our history... the trials of our day to day existance. It was a means of communication which survives even today. It is art. I will further state that intellectual property doesn't exist. You have physical, tangible property.. and that's it. You can't own an idea any more than you can own a sound or an image. If I copyright flipping you off and you give me the bird, can I sue you? You see, once you start saying that images, music, thoughts, ideas, are 'property' then you start fencing off which areas of MY mind I can be in. That's flat out wrong.

    People have no respect for musician's and their distributors rights. I want the system changed as much as anyone, but the fact is, there's a right way and a wrong way. Breaking the law is the wrong way. Changing the law is the right way.

    Haven't you heard of civil disobedience? I'm willing to break the law because I don't believe in it. "any fool can make a law, and any fool will mind it". Laws are SUPPOSED to be reflective of the ideals and values a society holds. I can tell you right now that our society on the whole does not agree with 'intellectual property'. It's a misnomer.. it doesn't exist.

    Now, that being said, you may not respond to, cricicize, modify, quote, or reverse-engineer in whole or in part, any of this post under the terms of the DMCA and international copyright law.

  • I am currently in the process of creating what I hope to be a successful portal site using PHP, and one of the areas is intended to be a distribution point for on-line music, for musical artists whose work I think deserves a chance to be heard.

    I also need to have a source of revenue to pay for the bandwidth, etc. required to provide the songs, and so I have thought about this long and hard. To date the best solution I have come up with is just what Tim Lord suggested, that is, I will make the same song available in the same place on the web page, but the encoding rate will be based on whether or not the person is a "site subscriber". Granted, subscribers can re-post the higher quality MP3 back to the web and essentially screw the artist (I'm out of the loop because I'm not paying for the bandwidth for the downloads of the reposted copy), but if I'm providing good music at a good cost, why would they bother?

    By the way, the big difference between this model and MP3.com is essentially the difference between an indie label and the big boys. I become an "indie producer", and the web becomes my marketing tool. So if I have the integrity to limit myself to musicians, etc. I want to push, I can make a decent amount of money, and most importantly -- push the majority of the financial benefit to the artists.

  • I'm doing research on the music industry, specifically the legal side of it, and this subject of payment is along the lines of what I'm researching. I have a big favour to ask of the Slashdot community:

    If any of you out there either have, or know someone who has, a contract from a "major" record label, with filled-in information on payment, royalties, etc (or heck, blank, even, I'll take what I can get), I'd be most grateful if you could send me a copy of it. You are quite welcome to black out any identifying information, just leave the bits about payment, terms, etc, intact (unless they specifically are secret). Your contract information will be kept absolutely confidential, and I will not reveal to anyone that I got my information specifically from you.

    If you can help me, please either scan in and e-mail it to me at wesmills@wyvern.org [mailto], or e-mail me for my mailing address. If you mail it to me, you will be compensated for the postage and so forth.

    Thanks in advance!

    --------------------

  • I think that many ideas are the consolidation of external influences. The ones that can put two and two together and sell or patent that idea deserve the spoils of said idea. One problem: some meta-ideas aren't -- that is, some ideas (like 1-click selling) are somewhat of a duh concept. Still, the system protects them (for ever-increasing amounts of time) and they make money. If a patent is too common, it holds no water as a money making device. Lots of patents, I'm certain, were taken out on the "little obvious things" in life. But that is where prior art comes in. It is up to the competitors to prove this prior art and disprove the patent's validity.
  • The aggravating thing is the local radio stations won't play local bands

    And even when they do on a regular basis it's 2 in the morning on Sunday.

    People forget that while the Internet is a global medium, it's great as a local one too. But, the penetration hasn't been there for local media outlets to flourish. Yet the highest percentage of users even now (based on age), are those most likely to be able to participate in a local music scene. So now "it just might work(tm)".

    Bands are very willing to listen, especially the small nobodies with dreams in their eyes. I've seen eyes light up when I tell a half-drunk bassist that I'm setting up a local music site. A station (stream) DEDICATED to playing local music. "Wanna go out tonight?" "Sure, who's playing where and what do they sound like?" "Visist LocalSiteX and find out..."

    Hmm, time to get to work.

    --
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Recordings of my music may create demand for my live performances. Why should I do anything to reduce the distribution of recordings?

    You shouldn't, but those who make money off the recordings have a good reason too. Elflord, if you're listening, this is the point I've tried to make over and over for you. Open distribution of music can only help an artist (unless they suck, but we all start out sucking). Support artists by paying them directly, the best way to do this IS GO WHERE THEY ARE! (very easy when they come visit you).

    Don't let billionaires tell you what is right and wrong. Lobby your congressmen. And especially support LIVE music, it really can't be beat.

    --
  • I'll volunteer to supply a non-theoretical payment system option (no, not imagining ours would be the only one out there, but it works!). It's already possible to make sending e-mail [flyingrat.org] cost something (only a proof of concept there, but it works!) and -- once again -- I'll click any Slashdot reader who asks me a small spot of e-gold to play with, so it's free (at first) and if you don't like it, you can ignore it. Last time [slashdot.org] nobody asked, but the offer is real.
    JMR

    Try a FREE account [e-gold.com] (no obligation, and we don't sell, trade, or give away information.)

    Was this worth $.02? [rootworks.com] (Yep, this one works, too.)

  • For intellectual property to work, people, i.e. folks on the street, must recognize it to be property in the first place, in an ethical sense (paraphrasing Summers' observation). Unfortunately, people consider this to be a matter of degree: "I am getting gouged by the record labels, hence it is not intellectual property, and I am justified in violating copyright."

    I think the critical logical element which is missing from both the copyright and patent discussions (both are IP issues, but are vastly different in the practice) is the idea of independent discovery/generation. This is has been the driving force behind the success of FSF/GPL in the "industrial" and "scientific" software arenas, and increasingly in the "consumer" arena. Let Bezos have his "1-click shopping" patent; however, if Barnes and Noble developed "1-click" on their own, let Amazon have no legal basis for "infringement."

    This kills several birds with one stone:

    • If some entity is charging way too much for their patent, someone else will step up to develop it themselves, instantiate their own patent, and charge less, to the benefit of the consumer.
    • Progress (scientific, cultural, etc.) will not be halted during the exclusivity period prescribed by current law.
    • There will be an opportunity to create a better product with out fear of litigation.
    • People have the right to their own thoughts and usufruct thereof, even if someone else thought of it first.

    I will concede that this crackpot idea is much more sticky to implement (in an ethical sense) for publishable works like music and art, but I think the idea has legs nonetheless. The reform idea I have proferred has been popular among certain Objectivist circles, but please don't let that keep y'all from considering it thouroughly on its face.

    One legally sound explication of these concepts is in the Oceania Constitution [oceania.org].


    *** Proven iconoclast, aspiring epicurean ***

  • "I want the system changed as much as anyone, but the fact is, there's a right way and a wrong way. Breaking the law is the wrong way."

    No, breaking, or at least changing, the law is the /only/ way. Remember, we aren't slaves to the law. The law is a tool we use for our own good. When laws start becoming outdated and impinge on that it is the /laws/ that must change not us. I suppose Rosa Parks should have just given her seat up because "breaking the law is the wrong way".
  • You would have to make it at least two clicks...
    One click is patented already.
  • There are many large record companies out there so thus it is not correct to say there is a monopoly. Artists have the freedom to choose which company the wish to sign with.

    There appear to be many large record companies, but in fact ownership is very highly concentrated. It is no secret that two or three large companies own almost everything, although the chain of ownership is sometimes obfuscated.

    It is a fact of the industry though, that the artist ends up with so little of the profits - it is quite a risk and investment to produce and promote a new, unknown musician. This is called "capitalism" and I, for one as many Americans stand by it.

    The artist takes a proportionately greater risk than the media company in this sort of contract. When did you hear of an artist putting a Time-Warner out of business? The opposite, however, is true many times over.

    The problem as I see it is that artists (and this extends beyond music) are relatively powerless when entering into contractual arrangements.Even if they have the resources to analyze and negotiate the contracts that are put in front of them, they have very little clout in the negotiation. It is quite similar to other labour-negotiation situations: in the absence of collective bargaining (and all of the complications that brings with it), rarely can an individual negotiate on a level playing field with an employer. There are simply too many workers/artists available, and most companies/employers tend, rightly or wrongly, to regard them as interchangeable. So, if artist #1 objects to the "standard" features of the contract they are being offered, go down the line until another artist accepts it.

  • Like many corporations offer you "free samples" or "free services", I do believe many record/movie corporations could offer either plenty of low-quality files or limited-quantity high-quality files to fans, while keeping the rights and ownership to the original CD.

    For instance: The Throbbing Appendages releases two singles "Not with you" and "Fsck my hard disk" as high-quality MP3 files on the Internet, and also sells a normal-length CD with 12 other songs on their web site. Or it could even release the entire CD as MP3, but also sell their "Live In Osaka" album, with tons of new songs and rare versions of the previous ones. Once the "Live In Osaka" CD is released, they may even offer for free what they used to sell.

    We have there a "win-win" situation: if The Throbbins Appendages do a good job, they'll get tons of downloads from their site, as well as fan contributions, while still selling lots of CDs from their web site. The fans get free MP3 files, are able to enjoy the nice music, and will certainly buy the CD once they get a credit card with their names on it.

    And if the band use Win2K for their web servers, their fans will get so frustrated by the slow download that they'll buy the CD anyway... =)

    Of course, that's only my US$ 0.02...
  • Support artists by paying them directly, the best way to do this IS GO WHERE THEY ARE!

    Amen brother! That's what my friends and I are trying to accomplish in Jacksonville--get the fans out to see the local bands. It's a hell of a lot more fun than seeing a band in a stadium or arena. The aggravating thing is the local radio stations won't play local bands (ok, one station in a city of ~1 million people puts out one CD a year with local bands on it, but still that's not enough.)

    Fortunately Jax is a pretty wired town $40/month for cable, and I've heard ADSL also dropped from $60 to $40. So a lot of fans can listen to near-CD quality music online. So we're putting together the web site now. The musicians are spreading the word because I've been going out to record them to put them online. I've had people express interest in sponsoring equipment, ADSL for live broadcasting of events, and even a billboard.

    The long term goal is to convince people that spending their money on local music has a much better return on investment than sending your money off to the big corporations.

    BTW, I just got the software [sourceforge.net] for 'gigs' part of the site up on Sourceforge. Only in available via CVS at this point if anyone wants to check it out. It needs work but it's fairly functional already.

    numb
  • Pay per play? Didn't we already thoroughly trash this idea?
  • > I hate to have the unpopular opinion in this
    > matter, because I too have a decent
    > collection of MP3s on my drive, but theft is
    > STILL theft, no matter how much utterly boring
    > verbiage Katz uses to justify it.

    As Katz said in the article...the whole argument
    breaks down into 2 groups. You obviously see
    copying as theft. Yes, theft is theft, however in
    MY viewpoint, and the veiwpoint of several others
    copying data is NOT theft.

    In fact, even according to the law its not "theft"
    Its not called "stealing" or "theft" its is called
    "copyright infingement" or "unauthorized copying".

    Whether that reduces to theft is not a cut
    and dry issue, and not everyone agrees with the
    assemsnent that it is theft.
  • I dunno about you but...I couldn't care less if
    someone uses my code. Wait no...I love the idea.
    If someone uses code that I wrote, either as a
    whole, or part of something entirely differnt,
    then I feel that I shoul dbe glad.

    There is nothing I like less then working on a
    program, finishing it, then have it NOT be used.

  • ... about this being a trench war...

    Hey, Sig, take a minute to read Hruntings post. There is really a point there: A recording and the ideas behind it *are* separate things.

    If I have an idea about how to make a car and fulfil that by adding material and work, I have something beyond my idea: A car.

    If I have an idea for a recipie and then add the ingredients and the time to cook it, I have something beyond my idea: a dish

    If I have an idea for a book and then add the material and the work to actually write it, I have a product: a book

    AND if I have an idea for a song and add the work to get a studio, musicians, material (instruments, DAT-tape, etc) and my own work, again I have a product:a recording.

    Some people are succesfull in getting paid (or at least recognized), simply for having ideas. Wether this is this is a godgiven right or not is an intresting subject, but beside the point. However, everybody deserves the right to get paid or credited for their *work*

    It should be up to the artist (or writer, or coder ) to decide the terms on which they release their *work* to the public. That should not be decided by record companies OR the slashdot readers.

    If an artist sells the right to their *work* to a record company, its *their choice*.

    If you really believe in the superiority of "free music", download mp3's that really are free, don't get the "pirated" mp3's claiming that you know better that the artist how they shoud release their songs.

    (Note: I don't claim to live as I learn...)

  • Why do I buy a CD? Because that gives me access to the music on it. If another medium (radio, napster, friends) gives me the same access, there is no need for me to buy the disc.

    Why do musicians release CD's? Because that has been the most convenient way to distribute the music to the consumers. Royalties are a welcome side effect. Most bands simply hope that they will get noticed enough to be paid to play the next time (wether live or studio). If another medium gives the same opportunity there is no need for the disc.

    So in the "old world" there is a nice for the record company. Artists are willing to sign bad contracts just to get an album out (hoping to have a better position next time) Consumers are willing to pay extra since the disc gives them instant access to the music. No more waiting for a good song on the radio.

    Enter the web. Suddenly the distribution is much easier. The studios used to be paid with a cut for services rendered. Now 90% of those services are obsolete. BUT THEY STILL WANT THE SAME CUT (in absolute figures)

    Dear RIAA. You still deserve a cut for studio time and advances to the artist. However, do not expect to be able to get that by charging for distribution.

    It is like a gas station. Today I pay for the gas by the litre, no extra charge. If the gas was free, the station would still have costs for the pumps, tanks and transport etc. Then they would have to charge for the service of being there, and not include that cost in the price of their gas.

  • Thanks, Well put. Please I didn't mean to infer that you were not a true open source supporter or not. My thought was only that from a business plan perspective that there will be a couple of rather large bumps in the road.

    Interesting marketing problem however, could be fun to solve. Good luck if you take if forward, if you need a hand mail me.P. Regards, Ernie

  • But some artists are understandably worried about releasing music on the Net; people may not want to pay for a CD at all when they can copy it for free. But Stoba says he's been thinking about a system that collects payment for playback, not for purchase, an echo of Sumner's idea.

    Interesting concept, however I don't think it will ever take off. For one there is not motivation to not use the latest warez that are out there to bypass whatever chargeback scheme is in place and also, Last I heard AC could use Napster and the like, just like everyone else. Unfortunately Stoba won't get much support for this flavor of solution because of the above two points, also if he pumps his ideas while waving the open source or copyleft sort of flag he will get bitten on the fact, he'll be making a cut off of every play as well. Too bad, a solution like this is interesting.

  • Read the original version, it says everything belong to me! ;)

    Actually, some antagonism (not war) is good. If everything agreed, then it would not force out bad ideas or force people to think and rethink their arguments and positions.

    Jons chronies don't look like him, they are him! Why do you think there has been some many pieces here about cloning?

  • I know I would love to pay for the music I listen.
    I just don't want to by the whole cd when I only want one song.

    It would be great if it was possible to:
    1) listen to music (radio etc.)
    2) decide if I want it for myself, to listen whenever I want
    2) pay for it
    3) the money would go to the musician who made it
    4) this would be really easy, one click to select a song and pay for it

    I don't know if this is possible right now, but I would think so. I just don't know where I could do it.
  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @08:03AM (#1179741)

    The problem is that nobody gets to see the patent until it's granted. Then it costs big bucks to dispute it in court. Corporations are concerned with the bottom line. If it's cheaper to just pay the royalties, that's what they'll do. Then the bad patent stays on the books and the little guys are the ones that get hurt. They can't afford to pay and they can't afford to dispute it either.

    The other problem is that they keep giving patents on blatantly obvious stuff. Things that are so commonly known that nobody bothered to document them. So someone goes to the PTO and says, "Check out this great idea i've got." The examiner (during his ~8 hour search, which presumably includes the time to do the paperwork) can't find any documented use of the technique, so he awards a patent on some trivial idea.

    The Amazon 1-click patent is a pretty good example of something that is obvious to someone skilled in the programming field. It was a pretty obvious use of cookies. Big deal. It doesn't deserve a patent just because nobody else had decided to implement it, or at least they didn't document it if they did. It's just too similar to too many other things out there. Are we going to hand out patents for every minor modification of an existing idea? I'm sure we will if the PTO is the only one deciding these things. That's how they make their money after all. The more patents they can crank out, the more money they make. Sounds like a pretty screwed up system, doesn't it?

  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:21AM (#1179742) Homepage
    Yes, but a lot depends on the specifics of the crack. If you've got a system where anyone can redistribute a file, and anyone who uses it automatically pays for that use there is a serious problem when someone redirects the payment to themselves.

    Frankly the system that was in place earlier in the 20th century was more or less decent, when coupled with common sense. Sadly we are in a bit of a common sense drought in certain circles, and the copyright laws have been getting more and more oppressive to the public (which is pretty contradictory as these laws are there for the public, not for the artists)
  • A simple idea, a really simple one, without risk of any kind, that would'nt change their revenue model at all, and that would enable them to sell MORE ...

    Here's the starting point: you've heard about a product, you want to get a grip of it. In the proprietary software business, 99% of the time, they allow you to download a crippled (functionality or time-bomb) version of the software. You want to try it, you download it, or request a demo CD. It's a good idea, it's respectful of the customer, and it fits extremely well in the proprietary software business model.

    Now, s/software/music/, s/product/song/. You've heard about that band, or you've heard it briefly ... and you want to hear more of it. Why don't they just offer a crippled, low bandwidth, freely redistributable version of the tunes they sell? Say, they encode it at 32kbps. It gives you an idea of it, you can somewhat enjoy it, but if you like it at least a little, you'll feel compelled to buy the high quality version without a doubt!

    And it's so simple to implement. And they would get benefits from people passing their files along to friends.

    BUT THEY DON'T DO IT! Because they don't get it. Instead, when they offer files on their websites, it's 10sec long excerpts, low quality, unsaveable real audio files. And they expressely repress you from distributing/copying it! (As if there was any kind of worth in them).

    Instead of trying to get the best out of the MP3+Internet medium, they fight it. They will lose. Good riddance.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:06AM (#1179744)
    There's a quote I'm reminded of which I will paraphrase:

    A man goes to a trade show and tells the security guard "I am the greatest thief of all time, and I will plunder this trade show". This worried the guard, so he kept an eye on the thief, and on his way out, searched the thief.

    The thief returned the second day and said "I stole many things yesterday, but today will be better!" The guard was now very worried, and at the end of that day searched the thief. After he found nothing he asked the thief "What are you stealing?" And the thief smiled and said, "I am stealing ideas!"

    The moral of the story is that ideas cannot be kept locked up in boxes, buried in vaults, or kept behind the magic of technology. They cannot be imprisoned.

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @08:32AM (#1179745) Homepage
    finished and produced tracks and film are not 'ideas'. They are intellectual property. They are actually a product. When someone steals this, they are stealing property,

    Please unbunch your panties. Thank you. Now, intellectual property is a weird beast. There are good reasons why it is legally separate from "general" property like land, widgets and beer. I'm not going to go into that right now, but any textbook on IP law will spell out it out nicely.

    Given that, what you refer as "stealing property" is legally called "copyright infringement". Please note this -- law does not call it theft. Because bits are different enought from physical property, different laws apply to them.

    Consider what a copyright is: it is basically a government-granted limited-time monopoly. It's also limited-rights monopoly -- such doctrines as "fair use" (until DMCA, at least) and "first sale" considerably limit what copyright owners can impose on users. So shouting "this is theft, didn't your mother teach you not to steal, you'll rot in hell you bastards" like the RIAA and MPAA are doing is not either particularly useful or accurate.

    there's a right way and a wrong way. Breaking the law is the wrong way. Changing the law is the right way.

    Well, this depends. I don't know about you, but my life is too short to spend it fighting all the laws I find ridiculous. The current laws neither arouse mystical awe in me, nor they dictate my own personal morality. So I have no problems at all in doing things that I belive are moral, but at the same time break some laws (to give a trivial example, I and 99% of Slashdot readers break speeding laws all the time. The rest 1% cannot tear themselves from the screen in order to drive anywhere).

    I don't believe there is an absolute moral imperative that says "Thou shall not break any laws, ever". Obviously, breaking laws may lead to quite severe consequences, and is not always (and, probably, even not usually) the optimal way to solve a problem. However, sitting on a high horse and pronouncing "You people are all thieves, and immature brats, to boot" does not strike me as a particularly reasonable position.

    Kaa
  • by goliard ( 46585 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @08:16AM (#1179746)

    You, friend, are an accoustic musician, as am I. For us, performing makes much sense.

    However, there are such creatures as "recording artists" in truth: artists who use electronic means to produce a recording as their work of art. For such as they, the concept of live performance is an absurdity.

    Sorry, just had to play devil's advocate. I am highly sympathetic to your point of view (More Gigs Good!), but it doesn't work for all of what we today consider music.
    ----------------------------------------------

  • by hypergeek ( 125182 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:48AM (#1179747)
    For the past century, the technology required to make quality informatic products (whether movies, recorded music, software, or published books) required large amounts of capital to get started, so big companies had an immense advantage.

    The march of progress, however, makes it easier and easier to create, market and distribute such content, enabling individuals and small companies to produce their own, and even make money in the process (no matter how ideological you are, there always lurks that bottom line).

    Whether indy labels, free music archives, independent filmmakers, or global enclaves of thousands of hackers making free software, these independent types are starting to provide content with more creativity and variety than was ever possible under the media behemoths. Soon they'll give the Big Guys a real run for their money.

    Of course, the Internet accellerates this trend a thousandfold. For Big Media, the Internet is Pandora's box, but for the rest of us, it's our Prometheus.

    Sooner or later, this independent effort will force all content providers, big and small to provide their wares at reasonable prices, and the Big Guys will feel the pinch... especially when the rest of the world realizes that they don't even need to pirate anything anymore, due to the proliferation of free and low-cost content.

    Although Big Media knows they need us, their dirty little secret is, We don't need them.

    And they're scared.

    --

  • by jjsaul ( 125822 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @08:07AM (#1179748)
    Notice how every example you stated was of the Catholic Church as patron? The patronage system did allow artists to work, but the artist's work was dictated by the agenda of the patron. Is this a bad thing? I don't know. But it does tell me that there are many forms of expression that are unlikely to attract a patron with the resources to give the artist the means and freedom to work.

    In a way, all commercial sale of art ( including performance licensing) is distributed patronage. A million individuals might pay $10 each to support an artist, acting as patrons or consumers - same thing. Or one person may pay $1 million. Which is more likely to result in a greater variety of expression?
  • by Raunchola ( 129755 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @06:42AM (#1179749)
    OK, didn't Jon Katz post a story similar to this a few weeks ago, albeit a few hundred lines less?

    That comment not withstanding, the whole point of the story is the same as the last one...we should all be able to download MP3s as we please, because it's some kind of "evolution of an entirely new kind of cultural system." I hate to have the unpopular opinion in this matter, because I too have a decent collection of MP3s on my drive, but theft is STILL theft, no matter how much utterly boring verbiage Katz uses to justify it. At least this time Katz acknowledges that some people knowingly download MP3s, rather than his last argument of "Well, they didn't know!"

    As you put it Katz, "culture is already being transmitted freely all over the Net." That doesn't mean that downloading MP3s from the latest Filter album is justified. I too would like to see a change in the current law on copyrights, but rather than babble on Slashdot about your absurd utopian views which drag three flames for every regular post, how about DOING something about it?

  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @06:49AM (#1179750) Homepage
    It's over the ease of distribution.

    The music industry would love to distribute music over the net as long as they get their cut. When casettes came out, they had the same concern as they do with MP3s. The MPAA had the same concern with BetaMax as they now have with DeCSS (imagined, not real).

    Especially now, where you can make unlimited copies that do now show generations, they are even more concerned.

    Some of it is valid. But, their actions are overactions and inappropriate.

    There are companies selling copyprotection for software at SD 2000 in San Jose. There will always be people making illegal copies, no matter how impossible (yeah right). But how much of this is really lost revenue?

    If I have a photographic memory, do I have to pay royalties everytime I repeat lines in a movie?

  • by Mathonwy ( 160184 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @06:40AM (#1179751)
    If artists arn't happy with big compaines.... And consumers arn't happy with big companies...

    If we could figure out some way of making sure that artists get paid, but can still distribute on the web, (and the above artical has several promising ones), and if we could convince enough artists that it was safe, then the other artists would probably eventually follow, and we could all just quietly move away from big companies, thus making everyone happy. (Except the big companies)

    of course, they're the ones with the cash, and so they probably wouldn't go down quietly, (I think they already sense that the end is near, hence DMCA and it's friends) but if enough artists and consumers simply walked away.... then the big companies would just quietly curl up and vanish.

    Wouldn't that be nice.
  • by zipped ( 163315 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:07AM (#1179752) Homepage
    I currently am one of the heads of an independent jamband record label (Lauan Records [lauan.com]). The jamband community has always been a huge supporter of tape trading (which is similar in many ways to people trading mp3s), in fact it is one of the fundamental ideas that jambands stand by to get their bands name out there (some popular jambands: Grateful Dead, Phish, Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors, Dave Matthews Band, etc.). What many jambands learned a long time before the Internet was available to all, is that free distribution of music can/will pay off in the long run. There is a reason why Phish packed in over 100,000 fans for their new years celebration (which was by far the highest grossing show on 12/31/99 anywhere).

    Everyone has to learn about a band before they can be fans of that band. Tape trading allows new fans to check out bands. It is It is very similar to swapping mp3s (or other formats) on the web, only it has been around a few decades longer. in fact, the web has allowed for quicker and more trades (see links at end of post for more info on this). This has resulted in a boom to the jamband scene.

    So others know, the scene is not made of just the big names you know of (and that many people think of as "hippie dippie bands"). There are in fact hundreds of bands in the scene that range from a more classical jam style to jazz to funk to Latino, etc. There is no one style of jamband (Check out Jambase.com [jambase.com] for dates of a jamband playing in your area).

    What I am trying to say is what the jamband community has known for a long time, allowing your music to be traded free of charge to the public, can pay off in many other ways in the long run (more ticket sales, album sales, merchandise sales, etc.). We are in a new age, where record labels need to learn that a 35 minute CD for $16+ is no longer acceptable, and the fans have the power now to prove this. As it has been said many times before, labels are going to have to figure out new ways of doing business because the old model just doesn't cut it anymore. These labels have to come to a realization, stop fighting the inevitable, and change their models of business. We are in an age where the consumer has the upper hand, and many more companies are learning this the hard way.

    If you are interested in seeing more of the jamband community and how it operates check out these sites (these are only a few of the thousands of sites on the web about/for tape trading, if you are seriously interested in more sites or information just follow the links from these pages):

    etree.org [etree.org] - This is a community dedicated to freely trading tapes (only of bands that allow it) via shorten format (a non-lossy form of compression).
    Sugar Megs [sugarmegs.org] - a community that trades full shows in the mp3 format

  • by Bigboote66 ( 166717 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @10:18AM (#1179753)
    Let's be realistic.

    I don't have the facts on this one - maybe someone else can find them - but personal experience and common sense says that an overwhelming majority of record company revenue comes from people under the age of 20. There's a decent amount to be made on 21-25 year olds, but once you get older than 25, the desire to follow the music scene & buy records drops precipitously. Just looking at the marketing for music tells you this - think of how much teen- and college-oriented music <magazines|promotions|television|commercials|produ ct placement|websites> there is compared to that aimed at the 30+ crowd.

    Music marketing is based on this. Record companies produce the albums/artists they do, because they know the revenue can be SCALED, through both exposure to the right consumers and through lifestyle "propaganda", establishing which acts are hot or not. They're not so interested in acts that they can't leverage though these techniques. You can't build a huge business on "quality" acts that sell on their merits, simply because there's no way to predict (especially before the album is made) what the general public is going to go crazy over.

    But you can predict returns on investment when you apply marketing over a broad range of music, aimed at a demographic that is easily manipulated through ideas of "popularity" and image ("I am what I listen to" is an almost universal identification badge for 18-15 year olds, at least the ones I know). Record companies are about leveraging the somewhat unpredictable, but nearly universal human behavior of listening to music into a predictable stream of revenue based on marketing.

    Now, combine with this the fact that MOST members of the age group in question are a point in their lives where they haven't really developed a strong ethic towards voluntarily giving away their money "just because it's right". Before you all start howling, yeah I know YOU aren't this way and that YOU support the artists and that YOU are happy to pay money for the stuff you think is good, but look around you - teenagers & college students are the prime customers for the record industry, and they're the prime "sharers" of intellectual property. Arguably college students are more motivated to do the right thing, but they also have much less disposable cash. The basic capitalist assumptions of limited resources and unlimited demand probably has no better example.

    The music industry knows who pays their bills - a segment of society who, given the chance, would gladly not pay a dime. Sure, people talk about going out & buying CD's after listening to downloaded MP3's, but how long is that behavior going to last? At some point we're going to reach the price/MB level where portable MP3 players like Rio are cheap enough that you will be able to carry days of music inside them, with a virtual Tower Records of material stored on your hard drive. Music will be, in all likelihood, sold through some medium whose end product will resemble a Rio-type device anyway, so what's the incentive to go out & buy the exact same thing you already have. Altruism? Maybe for the loyal 1% of the music listeners out there, but I don't think record companies will settle for a compromise of 1% of their current revenue.

    The same thing goes for computer games - I spend a lot of time reading gaming-related message boards, and the only people out there talking about pirating software are teenagers & college students. It's no wonder these industries are worried. But to put it in perspective, when Katz talks about the record _industry_ raking in "15 billion" last year, realize that's pretty puny in the world of consumer markets. Philip Morris alone rakes in about 10 billion a year on domestic revenue of tobacco - 20 billion on international revenue; now add all the revenue for RJ Reynolds, plus all the other tobacco companies around the world (a huge number of them are state-owned enterprises), then add cigar revenue & smokeless tobacco, and it pretty much makes music revenue look like a joke. I'm not making any value judgement on tobacco here - just citing an example of other industry revenue.

    I have absolutely no sympathy for the media copiers out there. I'm actually a programmer - I make money for my output, and people who copy my work are not doing me any favors, even if I'm only getting 1/15 of the sale of my work as "profit" (which is a pretty damn high return on investment, when consider how much capital the artist is risking). Let's not forget the artists are receiving a lot more than just money from their record company deals - they're getting fame & exposure (most artists know they could be making better money at day jobs) & the chicks. You hit it big, you get to pick out a runway cutie of your choice).

    So what's the real issue?

    Ironically, should the existing system go down the tubes, and the whole thing becomes a cottage industry of artists selling directly to their audience, I don't think much will change for people who enjoy listening to music. Unlike the other entertainment industries such as movies & computer games, producing the product in music doesn't require a lot of capital - it can still be done by an individual or small group, and boutique recording studios are everywhere now. Movie studios & software publishers still fulfill the role of financiers for their industries, and an "open source" model would probably wreck them - unless you're all happy consuming "Blair Witch" budgeted films for the rest of your life & playing shareware games (both of which have produced good products, but let's face it, we all like to consume big budget entertainment that can only be made if there's some guarantee of a huge audience seeing it, and if the risk of failed ventures can be distributed over the winners).

    But great music can be made & recorded on the cheap. While I was working at Philip Morris, they would periodically jetison product lines that they couldn't leverage anymore - two classic examples were Kraft caramels & Kraft marshmellows. Despite the fact that when people think of caramel cubes, they see the little white Kraft words wrapped around the outside, PM realized that it had become a commodity item, and that their branding could no longer allow them to carry enough premium to make it worthwhile. They sold off that portion of the business (maybe even the brand image) to the generic caramel manufacturers of the world. The media companies are probably going to have to realize that the days of making a billion dollar business out of music marketing will go the way of the buggy whip.
  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:42AM (#1179754) Homepage
    The moral of the story is that ideas cannot be kept locked up in boxes, buried in vaults, or kept behind the magic of technology. They cannot be imprisoned.

    Oh great, this has been categorized as Insightful. Wonderful. Let's get a few things straight. Music and movies are not 'ideas'. Pre-scripts, riffs, those may be ideas, but finished and produced tracks and film are not 'ideas'. They are intellectual property. They are actually a product. When someone steals this, they are stealing property, like taking someone author's novel or some company's car design. It's theft of an actual product, not an idea.

    Your analogy is akin to the man walking into a music store, listening to the music, and walking out with an idea for a rock song. If he takes Metallica's Master of Puppets and re-records it and gives it away or selling it without acknowledging that it belongs to Metallica (notice the use of the word 'belongs) and/or paying a fee to use it, it is a crime. It is theft of intellectual property. If, however, he listens to Master of Puppets and then records a song with the same sort of idea, of heart-pumping, hearing-destroying pounding, jamming, and yelling based on his Master of Puppets experience, then yes, he's 'stolen' an idea (what most people call 'influenced').

    People have no respect for musician's and their distributors rights. I want the system changed as much as anyone, but the fact is, there's a right way and a wrong way. Breaking the law is the wrong way. Changing the law is the right way. As soon as the immature brats who find the need to steal music in order to make their point grow up and learn to respect people, the sooner we'll get a system that benefits everyone.
  • by eldurbarn ( 111734 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @06:49AM (#1179755)
    I'm not just a geek. I'm also an author and a musician. From that perspective, here's my $0.02:

    I can't see why I should be paid when someone listens to a recording of my music. I just can't see it. I get paid when I perform. People come to hear me play (or I'm paid by the owner of the venue). WHYINHELL should I expect to be paid when I'm not doing anything?

    Recordings of my music may create demand for my live performances. Why should I do anything to reduce the distribution of recordings?

    If I'm selling a recording, I expect to make good the cost of the media. Distribution on the 'net kinda makes that point moot :-)

    My only concern are OTHER artists who play my material in live performance.

  • by Alkaiser ( 114022 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:26AM (#1179756) Homepage
    What I really like about this RIAA vs. everyone on the planet battle is that they keep crying about how the artists are hurt by MP3 transfer. Well, they posted huge profits...so they aren't being hurt. For a second, let's take a look at the RIAA argument.

    According to TLC in their VH1 "Behind the Music" interview, they got a whopping...56 cents per CD they released. (BTW, the 8% sales tax on the CD ends up being $1.12 on a $13.99 CD...twice what TLC got per album.) So, if their album sold 1 million copies (extremely successful.) they all got, total...$560,000. Or basically $186,667 for T, L and C, respectively. Meanwhile, there's $13,430,000 floating around from sales of THEIR album that they aren't getting. Granted, it does cost 3 cents/CD to press, master, and mass produce a CD.

    The RIAA wants to talk about *US* hurting the artist? Why don't they just GIVE the ARTIST MORE MONEY? The part in Katz' article about artists being able to sell their own music on the web at $1 a CD and make more than they get out of their record contracts is TRUE. (Although Jon really didn't have to rewrite Dune to make 2 or 3 points.)

    I'm a huge They Might Be Giants fan. Recently, they released an album on the web, in MP3 only format. It cost $8. While browsing around on Napster, every once in a while I look for TMBG songs, just to see what's floating out there. Although the producer said the album was "the most successful internet only album ever" I have NEVER found any of the TMBG songs from that album on Napster. (although there are upwards of 3 terabytes of MP3s shared on Napster on a given day now.)

    So why is this? Artist loyalty? Amongst pirates? Yes...it exists. Maybe people are tired of giving upwards of $13 million to bastards like Suge Knight and that music thief Puff Daddy. Hell...Jennifer Lopez couldn't even afford to wear a real dress to the Grammys...she had to wear a curtain. (nobody ever said all side-effects were bad.) I'd much rather pay $8 for an e-album where upwards of half went to support the band than pay $13 to a producer and a half dollar to the group that does the actual work.

    Producers do actually do some hard work, but it's not 24 times as much work as the artists do. I'm all for supporting the artists. But I ain't about supporting some guy sitting on his ass, and milking my groups, bastardizing their work, and then discarding them. It's time for a paradigm shift. It starts with MP3s and e-albums. Support them.
  • by 348 ( 124012 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:19AM (#1179757) Homepage
    Your right. Now that we've done all the complaining, next step is to get involved.

    Electronic Frontier Foundation [eff.org]
    US House of Representatives [house.gov]
    US Senate [senate.gov]
    Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) [gilc.org]
    Internet Free Expression Alliance (IFEA) [ifea.net]
    Digital Future Coalition (DFC) [dfc.org]
    TRUSTe Privacy Policy Certification Program [truste.org]

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @08:51AM (#1179758) Homepage Journal
    In order to get their music onto a CD and into a "record" store, musicians sign a contract. THAT's why they can't put their music out on MP3, and all of this distribution stuff is illegal. Let's say I come up with a company called "Net Music Distributers" and sign some musicians to a contract, then the terms of payment and distribution can be named in that contract - including (obviously) Net distribution.

    Music is being considered an idea, and placed on a similar plane to software, which is also an idea. But there's a rub, and you have to go to ESR's "The Magic Cauldron" to get it. 95% of software work is in-house, not for sale. Those 95% of the programmers are being payed for solving problems, not putting software on the shelf. (or other distribution medium.) Inasmuch as they may use, and thereby contribute to free software, it becomes a win-win situation. Their job is done, and there's more free software.

    But music is a bit different. While there is some 'captive music', like weddings and parties, most of the money in the music industry appears to be in the sales of recordings. From what I've heard, even/especially concert tours don't really pay, because they're so expensive to run. They essentially act as non-profit (for the musician, any way) advertisements for the recordings.

    We need a way to pay artists. We just can't lump them in with programmers. The same applies to games, along the ID software model. The engines have been released under GPL, but the artwork is still owned.

    Once we come up with a way to pay artists, and once some artists buy into it, the existing system is just legacy. It's in the contract.

    It's also interesting to note that the RIAA and MPAA are both downright paranoid about electronic distribution. Could it be because they know that they're ripping us off? How about that cassette tape that costs $10, and the CD that's CHEAPER to produce, but costs $16? The movie industry had a clue, once, when they reduced the price of movies from the $80 range down to the $20 range. But they appear to have lost it. The DVDs appear to be taking the lead from the audio CD. When the infrastructure is fully in place, I expect DVDs to cost less than VHS, but the price to always be a premium. How about taking the old computer price/performance curve and applying it the music/movie recording industries? They're bootstrapping off of our technology, and walking a different price/performance line.
  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @06:59AM (#1179759) Homepage Journal
    and if we could convince enough artists that it was safe, then the other artists would probably eventually follow, and we could all just quietly move away from big companies, thus making everyone happy. (Except the big companies)

    of course, they're the ones with the cash, and so they probably wouldn't go down quietly, (I think they already sense that the end is near, hence DMCA and its friends)

    That's it, exactly. Notice that the MPAA and RIAA aren't going after the so-called "pirates". They are attacking the format that (they claim) make the "piracy" possible -- even though it has lots of legitimate uses. They are going after the Web sites linking to open software (not copyrighted content), rather than the illegal copies they claim are flooding the market. They are suing people discussing the situation, not people causing it. Why?

    Becuase the MPAA and RIAA, like many animals on the verge of extinction, have an inkling that something's not right. They don't understand the Net but they sense a menace in it to their 20% to 30% overprofits. They understand that this is a cultural war, and that the fight isn't over encryption processes or exchange protocols. It's about the common perception of what is "allowed" and what is not.

    Sadly, too many on the other side don't understand this, and so we concede them every victory in the social and legal arenas...

  • by Zagadka ( 6641 ) <zagadka AT xenomachina DOT com> on Thursday March 23, 2000 @09:36AM (#1179760) Homepage
    I can't see why I should be paid when someone listens to a recording of my music. I just can't see it. I get paid when I perform. People come to hear me play (or I'm paid by the owner of the venue). WHYINHELL should I expect to be paid when I'm not doing anything?

    What about artists who simply can't do live performances? For example, electronica groups. Galbatron [galbatron.com] has been working for many months on their latest album. Shouldn't they get compensated for that work if others benefit from it? They can't do live performances, but they put huge amounts of effort into producing music that others enjoy listening to. If I want to have a copy of their music to enjoy, aren't I morally obligated to repay them on their terms?

    And the thing is, this applies not just to music, but other forms of art as well. Take visual art. How can someone who makes digital imagery (stills, or animations, movies...) make a living by doing "live performances"? What about software developers? These are all really special cases of the same thing: digital media.

    And now that I've brought up software developers, I know someone is going to say "look how well open source software is doing. People are making money off that...". Yes, people are. Distributors like RedHat are. Not developers though. RedHat is like a record label, in a sense (except musicians at least try and get money from their labels, while software developer just hand over their work for free). Look at the ideas Katz suggests. A lot of those ideas can very easily be economically controlled by labels, just as open source software is economically controlled by distributors like RedHat. Think about it: if anyone can distribute the same data, it's the one with the best distribution channel that wins. Technological superiority is no longer an issue, because if you improve your product, your competitor will have it out the door the next day in a prettier box than you. If you're a little guy, people won't even know about the cool stuff you've added until the bigger distributors have made it available.

    But I digress...

    I believe that when someone does some work, and others benefit from that work, the people who benefit have a moral obligation to compensate the provider on their terms. If you don't like their terms, go elsewhere. That said, I do disagree with DMCA, an I think that both the RIAA and MPAA are getting out of hand.

    While I do think it's wrong to keep an MP3 of a song that you don't have rights to (ie: didn't pay for, on the producer's terms), I think it should be fine to have MP3's of songs that you do have rights to (no matter what channels you got the MP3's through). That's fair use. It also seems that it should count as fair use when you download an MP3 of a song you don't own rights to, but you just want to listen to it a couple of times to see if you like it.

    Likewise, the whole DeCSS thing seems pretty ridiculous to me. Yes, I think people shouldn't be copying DVD's and giving them to all of their friends. But if I buy a DVD, and want to play it on my Linux box, or over at my friend's house (even if my friend lives in a different region) I shouldn't be prevented from doing that. Heck, if I want to copy all of my DVD's to my 40Tb RAID in my basement (heh, I wish...) then I should be allowed to do that.

    Despite the fact that I share the "common /. viewpoint" when it comes to fair use, I don't think that I should be able to keep copies of, or distribute copies of, things that I don't have to rights to. That means music, movies, or whatever. If people want to give their work away for free, that's great. But forcing them to do so isn't right. This is my big gripe about RMS, incidently. (well, that, and his ego) While I do think that free software is wonderful, which is why I've contributed to several projects, I don't think software developers should be forced to release their code as free if they don't want to. If you write the code, you can choose the terms. If I don't like your terms, I'll go elsewhere.

    Heck, I'd write more free software myself, if someone would tell me a viable business model. I've been actively looking for one for a couple of years now. I still haven't found a business model for open source software where the developers actually make money, rather than the middle-men (distros). If you can think of such a model, it could probably be applied to other forms of digital media as well. The problem is, if you ask for money at virtually any point, most of the /. whiners will complain that "it isn't free (like speech)!", which has effectively become a euphemism for "it isn't free (like beer)". [sigh]
  • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Thursday March 23, 2000 @07:25AM (#1179761) Homepage
    There has been one overriding and ingnored point throughout all of these debates. One that has not been discussed because then we might have to forget about our all important internet and focus on what the real world is doing.

    And that is simply that this is not a new problem.

    Everything that has been talked about here, from the inadequacies of the notion of IP to the woefully anti-consumer laws that have sprung up to protect it, but it is nothing new. We have seen people, and even Katz himself, quote Jefferson from over two centuries ago. And yet nobody picks up that this is not new.

    The Internet has not caused this problem, and quite frankly, the Internet is not going to solve this problem.

    So far every solution proposed has been that some sort of change is going to have to happen. From the one extreme of simply giving up the various ideas of property through the spectrum of changing the ways we pay artists and thinkers to the opposite extreme of creating technological ways to make sure everybody pays no matter the thought used. Yet, none of these will be satisfactory to everybody invovled.

    So here is what I propose.

    Let's go back to the tired and true method that was used centuries ago. Patronship.

    Why does this work? Well, people (the public at large) got to view/hear/touch/whatever the works the artists and thinkers produced. The artists/thinkers invovled got paid, a roof over their heads and a creative outlet. Everybody was more or less happy with the arragnement. If, as an artist/thinker didn't like your patron. You put yourself up as work for hire and ran out the time with your patron. Then you got the patron you wanted, and if you were important enough, your new patron would give you whatever you wanted. The patrons got the prestige of saying that you worked for them, and mostly fell overthemselves keeping you happy.

    And in the end, the public could take your ideas, apprecate them, and build off of them if they could afford (in terms of material, not licencing) if they so desired.

    Think about it: How many current artists have been inspired by works like the Cistine (sp?) chapple? How many by Beethoven and Handel? That's the system they used. It worked for them.

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